News

A federal judge has denied an Alabama death row inmate's emergency motion for a stay of execution.

Chief U.S. District Judge William Keith Watkins issued an order denying Christopher Brooks' request yesterday.

Brooks is scheduled to be put to death Jan. 21 for the rape and bludgeoning death of Deann Campbell more than 20 years ago. The execution would be Alabama's first in more than two years.

More than 100 religious group leaders are pleading to Alabama’s governor to soften his stance on the state accepting Syrian refugees. 

Pastors sent a letter to Governor Robert Bentley’s office in Montgomery, saying faith includes a requirement to welcome strangers and love neighbors.

The letter was signed by dozens of moderate clergy members and other religious leaders from around the state. It was initiated by Greater Birmingham Ministries, an ecumenical organization in the state's largest city.

beachfront mansion
Jay Reeves / AP

Alabama is using a chunk of BP settlement money to renovate a beachfront governor's mansion that's been abandoned on the Gulf Coast for nearly two decades.

Work began earlier this month near Gulf Shores to fix the 7,500-square-foot gubernatorial mansion that was never repaired after Hurricane Danny badly damaged the home in 1997.

A spokeswoman for Governor Robert Bentley says no taxpayer money is being used in the project. She says BP grant money remaining from the 2010 oil spill is being used to cover the cost, estimated at as much as $1.8 million.

Alabama is in store for a very wet Christmas, and forecasters are currently tracking the threat of severe storms and possible tornadoes. The National Weather Service in Birmingham has indicated parts of central and southern Alabama will be at risk of severe weather Wednesday afternoon and evening. Strong storms may produce tornadoes along with golf ball-size hail, 70 mile per hour winds. John De Block is the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He offers some simple safety advice in the event of severe weather.

A solar panel park large enough to power 50 homes a day is being built in Alabama. APR’s Stan Ingold reports it is being built by a private company that will sell the electricity generated at the site to Tennessee Valley Authority.

Spokesman Steven Pitts for contractor ACE LLC Solar tells The Decatur Daily that the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based PJ Kraft Enterprises is developing the $690,000 solar energy-producing system. They are using nearly an acre of land in Elkmont, Ala. PJ Kraft is a company that invests in renewable energy projects.

historymakers.com

Ozell Sutton, a longtime civil rights activist who was associated with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has died. He was 90. 

His daughter, Alta Sutton, told The Associated Press on Sunday her father died at Saint Joseph Hospital in Atlanta on Saturday. She said the family had celebrated his birthday nearly a week ago. Ozell Sutton marched for equal rights alongside King in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 and was present at the Memphis hotel where King was assassinated in 1968.

A push for casino gambling in Alabama has lost its highest profile advocate in the Alabama Legislature.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says he won't sponsor casino legislation in the upcoming session as he had originally planned.

Marsh says he did not think the votes were there for the casino legislation so he will move on in the upcoming session.

The Republican Senate leader said hoped that lawmakers would consider casinos because of the potential revenue for the state.

Mindy Norton

Most Christmas manger scenes include animals, because the Christ child was born in a stable.  And besides Joseph and Mary, they were the only witnesses to the birth of Jesus.  So it seems only natural that we would want to include our pets in family celebrations, especially at Christmas!

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Alabama's unemployment rate is up slightly from a month ago. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports, officials say it isn’t entirely bad news…

Labor statistics released today show the state's jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percent to 6 percent in November.

A statement from Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington says the increase isn't necessarily bad news because it indicates more people are entering the workforce.

Alabama’s embattled Department of Corrections is now being criticized for housing youth inmates in adult facilities.

41 youth offenders are currently locked up alongside adult inmates at corrections facilities in Alabama. That’s according to a report released earlier this month by the Campaign for Youth Justice, a national advocacy organization.

Carmen Daugherty is the policy director for the Campaign for Youth Justice. She says housing youth inmates alongside adults contributes to those youths landing back in prison in the future.

An Alabama legislator has asked the governor to remove the Confederate flag from the uniforms of state troopers.

The uniforms include Alabama's coat of arms: A shield with the Confederate battle flag and the flags of Great Britain, France, Spain and the United States — the four nations that have held sovereignty over Alabama.

Montgomery Rep. Alvin Holmes sent a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley yesterday asking him to issue an executive order to change the uniforms.

If any Alabamians missed out on signing up for coverage associated with the Affordable Care Act, there is still time to do so. APR’s MacKenzie Bates explains.

HealthCare.gov says it will be extending Tuesday’s deadline to sign up for health insurance to tonight. The reason is high demand among health care consumers who wanted coverage starting January 1. The new cutoff point is tonight at midnight PST.

Officials say the surge in consumer demand caused some applicants to wait at the call center or while trying to log into HealthCare.gov.

Forecasters say parts of Alabama could see severe weather including possible tornadoes tonight and tomorrow. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has the details.

The National Weather Service is warning Alabama residents of possible severe weather moving into the area this evening through tomorrow morning.

abandoned grocery store
Carmen K. Sisson

Close to two million Alabamians currently live in areas with no grocery stores or access to fresh produce. That’s something the state government hopes to change.

This year, the Alabama state legislature passed the Healthy Food Financing Act, aimed at providing incentives for grocers to open stores in underserved areas of the state. But the legislation doesn't currently include any funding for the program.

Ellie Taylor is the president of the Alabama Grocers Association. She says it was important to get the framework in place first, and then find funding.

Birmingham police are investigating a fight that broke out during a City Council meeting. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports the incident left the mayor and a councilman pointing fingers at each other

“So the investigation is ongoing, we still have a lot of work to do because the report has not been completed at this time,”

This is how the day began for Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper…

“the mayor was injured, he is going to a local hospital”     

Birmingham Mayor William Bell and City Councilman Marcus Lundy are hospitalized following what’s described as a physical altercation. Witnesses say both men left the city council chamber, and a fight ensued. Bell was taken by a private car to a local hospital for treatment, while Lundy was transported by an ambulance. Police Chief A.C. Roper says assault charges may be made in the case, but he did not specify whether that action would be taken against Bell or Lundy or both.

Alabama death row
EJI

The Alabama Supreme Court has refused to stop an execution scheduled for next month.

In a unanimous decision yesterday, justices refused inmate Christopher Brooks' request to stop his execution. A federal judge is expected to rule soon on Brooks' request for a stay.

Brooks is scheduled to be put to death Jan. 21 for the rape and murder of Deann Campbell more than 20 years ago. The execution would be Alabama's first in more than two years.

The Supreme Court has sided with a lesbian mother who wants to see her adopted children, blocking an Alabama court's order that declared the adoption invalid.

The justices issued an order today in a case that puts on display legal challenges facing gay and lesbian parents even after the Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples have the right to marry.

A historical marker in the town of Brighton remembers a black coal miner who was lynched in 1908. The Equal Justice Initiative placed the marker near Brighton City Hall. The Montgomery based legal organization said the Brighton marker is the first in an effort to mark lynching sites in the South. William Miller was taken from his jail cell and lynched by a white mob after he lobbied for better wages for black coal miners. The group says the nation must confront the truth about its past in order to heal.

Henry Heisman

Dec 13, 2015

History was made in New York City this past weekend for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Junior running back Derrick Henry became the second player in the school’s history to win college football’s highest individual award.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates files this report on Henry, whose name may always be followed by the words Heisman Trophy winner…

Forecasters say they're expecting high winds in parts of central and north Alabama. The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory that will be in effect between 4 p.m. Sunday and 4 a.m. Monday Forecasters say they're anticipating winds of between 15 and 20 mph with gusts of up to 35 mph. Officials say the high winds could topple trees and branches. Forecasters say trash cans and holiday decorations should be secured and drivers of high-profile vehicles should use extra caution. The forecast also calls for up to a one hundred percent chance of rain overnight, and into the morning

A historical marker will be placed in the town of Brighton today to remember a black coal miner who was lynched in 1908. William Miller was taken from his jail cell and lynched by a white mob after he lobbied for better wages for black coal miners. The organization said the Brighton marker is the first in an effort to mark lynching sites in the South. The Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based nonprofit legal firm, will help place the marker near Brighton City Hall. The group says the nation must confront the truth about its past in order to heal.

Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry won the 2015 Heisman Trophy over Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Now, speculation is beginning on how the Crimson Tide standout will do in the NFL draft. Henry is expected to declare his intent to go professional after this month’s Cotton Bowl game against Michigan State, and the College football championship, if Alabama wins.

Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry won the 2015 Heisman Trophy over Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Today’s ceremony in New York City followed a rare trifecta at the ESPN Home Depot College Football awards on Thursday. The Alabama standout took the Maxwell Award (best college football player,) Walter Camp Award (player of the year,) and the Doak Walker Award (best running back.) Despite his performance this year, Henry was not the top choice among all pundits.

The Pug Father [Flickr]

So many pets are waiting in shelters for a home and an owner to love them; and they're ready to love you back, if you will just give them a chance.  What better gift can you give yourself for Christmas than a furry companion to share all your holidays and everydays?!

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Health officials in Alabama are warning beach goers to be on guard due to a red tide bloom along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. Anyone with respiratory problems should avoid mists from the affected waters, which means avoiding the beach despite unseasonably warm temperatures. Red tides release toxins that can contaminate shellfish and kill fish. They also can cause human respiratory problems, along with irritation of the nose, throat or eyes .Officials in Mississippi and Louisiana closed beaches and oyster beds due to the potential for fish kills and human health problems.

Health officials say a high concentration of red tide cells are being found in waters along the Alabama coast. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

 An advisory issued by the Health Department says the microscopic sea organisms are being found in waters along the Baldwin County and Mobile coasts.

That includes water off the state's prime beaches plus Mobile Bay, Weeks Bay, the Mississippi Sound and Bayou La Batre.

A committee from the United Nations may have something to say about human rights violations in Alabama today. The UN panel is looking into discrimination against women in our state. The representatives from The United Kingdom, Israel, Costa Rica and Poland visited Alabama’s black belt region as well as Oregon and Texas. The group spent nine days gathering first-hand information on how women are doing. Female workers in Lowndes County were asked about their pay and overall job conditions. The UN human rights report will be presented today during a press conference.

Twenty-Five Alabama counties are approved for a Natural Disaster Designation from the U-S-D-A. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

Farmers in the 25 designated counties are eligible to be considered for assistance from the USDA-Farm Service Agency.

Governor Robert Bentley sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last month, requesting assistance for farmers in Alabama counties or the counties the USDA deemed appropriate. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation will investigate whether Alabama violated civil rights law with closures and service reductions at rural driver's license offices. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

 U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says it is critical that license services be free from discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in programs that receive federal funds.

The department says it has not reached any conclusions.

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