Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

Vice LoPresti/Flickr via npr.org

Gov. Robert Bentley has created a task force to look at the potential uses of drones in agriculture, conservation and law enforcement.

Bentley says the new Alabama Drone Task Force will review the Federal Aviation Administration requirements for the use of drones in Alabama and establish the necessary guidelines.

State Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan is chairman of the task force. McMillan says it's time for Alabama to be proactive with ideas that enable the rapidly developing drone technology to be a positive innovation for the long term.

The Montgomery Advertiser

Alabama school Superintendent Tommy Bice says he's accepted a two-year contract extension that comes with a $52,000 raise.

Bice told al.com Thursday that the extension will enable him to be bolder in his work with the governor and Legislature.

Bice says he asked for the extension, but not the raise. The board approved it last week. It boosts Bice's annual salary to $250,000.

iapnews.com

The Democratic challenger to Attorney General Luther Strange accuses him of being an absentee officeholder more interested in cracking down on bingo than violent crime.

Strange says his opponent, Democrat Joe Hubbard, has a campaign largely financed by gambling interests.

Associated Press

Republican Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his Democratic opponent, Parker Griffith, faced off Thursday in back-to-back campaign speeches.

Griffith took repeated jabs at Bentley as he addressed county commissioners' annual convention in Orange Beach.

Griffith called Bentley a failed governor who hasn't addressed the state's struggles with education, health care, prisons and unemployment. Griffith said Bentley lets fear of the tea party dictate his policy decisions.

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania / stateimpact.npr.org

A Texas company is giving up plans to generate electricity with wind turbines along a ridge in northeastern Alabama.

The Gadsden Times reports that Pioneer Green Energy is abandoning the $2 million project because rules imposed by the Alabama Legislature were too restrictive.

Pioneer Green attorney Charles Stewart says the project has been canceled in Etowah and Cherokee counties.

Associated Press

Republican Gov. Robert Bentley and his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, will make dueling campaign speeches in Orange Beach.

Bentley and Griffith are scheduled to address the annual convention of county commissioners Thursday afternoon. Griffith will speak first, followed by Bentley. Organizers say the candidates will not debate and will not be on stage at the same time.

Sarah Robinson/Selma Times-Journal

Dallas County schools officials say a teacher accused of having sixth grade students re-enact the shooting of an unarmed Missouri man has been put on paid administrative leave.

County schools superintendent Don Willingham told the Selma Times-Journal Wednesday that he's conducted interviews with the teacher, a parent who criticized the lesson in a Facebook post, and the principal of Brantley Elementary School.

amazon.com

A new book tells the story of the tornado that pummeled Tuscaloosa during the outbreak of April 27, 2011.

Sports Illustrated writer Lars Anderson of Birmingham has written "The Storm and the Tide: Tragedy, Hope and Triumph in Tuscaloosa."

The 240-page book was released Tuesday. It tells the story of the twister that killed more than 50 people in Tuscaloosa and how the University of Alabama football team tried to help the community heal.

tripadvisor.com

The state marine laboratory at Dauphin Island is expanding.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab has started work on a new research center for the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Network director Ruth Carmichael says Alabama has historically had a lack of resources to deal with stranded marine animals including whales, dolphins and manatees.

She says the new lab will help researchers answer questions about what causes strandings and deaths of marine mammals on the Alabama coast.

Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer of Raleigh

Organizers of regular protests at the North Carolina Legislature are being joined by NAACP leaders in a half-dozen other states to launch a week of demonstrations.

The North Carolina NAACP says that Friday will be the first of seven days of demonstrations. In North Carolina, a coalition led by the NAACP has protested at the Capitol nearly every week during the past two legislative sessions.

redsticknow.com

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says Alabama was the only state that had a higher unemployment rate in July than it did a year ago. July marked the second month that has happened.

The bureau says Alabama's rate of 7.0 percent for July compared to 6.5 percent a year earlier. The other 49 states had rates lower than a year ago.

The same thing happened in June. Alabama's rate of 6.8 percent was higher than the 6.5 percent measured a year earlier.

The national unemployment rate has declined over the last year from 7.3 percent to 6.2 percent.

bsc.edu

Alabama Democrats have picked a history professor at Birmingham-Southern College to run as the party's candidate in the 6th Congressional District.

Mark Lester will face Republican Gary Palmer in the Nov. 4 general election. The Republican-leaning district is currently represented by retiring U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus.

The party's executive committee named Lester to replace Avery Vise, who dropped out of the race earlier this month.

Cary Norton for The New York Times

Annual recruitment has ended for sororities at the University of Alabama with black women making up just 1 percent of new members.

The university released a breakdown of the 2014 sorority pledge class Saturday amid questions over whether the groups accept blacks as new members. Its numbers showed 2,054 women accepted bids to join sororities. Of those, 190 were minorities — including 21 black women.

With more budget problems likely ahead for the state, some legislative leaders say they're open to the idea of a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The tribe currently offers bingo games, which resemble slot machines, but would need an agreement with the state to add table games or another location.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says he's not aware of any ongoing discussions but that everything is on the table as the state seeks long-term budget solutions.

Michelle Lepianka Carter / AP

Traditionally white sororities at the University of Alabama are ending their annual recruitment period amid questions over whether the groups are accepting blacks as new members.

The university says it will release a racial and ethnic breakdown of this year's sorority pledge class once recruitment concludes Saturday.

But it's not clear exactly when the statistics might be available.

The campus in Tuscaloosa became embroiled in controversy a year ago after the student newspaper reported some white sororities had rejected blacks as new members because of race.

The EPA will soon begin removing contaminated soil from about 30 homes as part of its cleanup at a Superfund site in Birmingham.

AL.com reports EPA officials announced the plans Friday and said the soil exceed higher risk levels where children are present in the Harriman Park, Collegeville and Fairmont communities in North Birmingham.

aaroads.com

A new shortcut is opening to Alabama's beaches.

A nearly 13-mile stretch of road called the Baldwin Beach Express opens completely to traffic on Friday. Some sections of the road already have been in use.

The road ties in with Interstate 10 north of Robertsdale and connects with the Foley Beach Express to the south.

The highway allows tourists to bypass the towns of Loxley, Robertsdale and Summerdale. Traffic sometimes backs up on Alabama 59 through the county.

Federal investigators say a 2013 barge fire in Mobile is linked to the facility failing to isolate tank-cleaning operations from potential sources of ignition.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators said in a report that Oil Recovery Company workers were stripping two barges of residual gasoline on April 24, 2013. Investigators say the barges vented flammable vapors during the cleaning process.

Al Hicks/New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation

Federal wildlife officials are hosting a series of information sessions about a proposal to list a type of bat as endangered after a disease found in Alabama wiped out part of the species.

Officials say they're looking to list the long-eared bat as an endangered species because of white-nose syndrome. The disease has killed millions of cave-dwelling bats and has been tracked to Alabama, at least 24 other states and parts of Canada.

The Montgomery Advertiser

The Alabama State Board of Education has offered Superintendent Tommy Bice a new two-year contract and a pay raise.

Al.com reports the board voted 6-2 on Wednesday to offer Bice a new contract, which would call for his $200,000 salary to be increased to $250,000.

Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey's Chris Christie is visiting Birmingham to support a fellow Republican governor, Alabama's Robert Bentley.

Christie is scheduled to stop in Birmingham on Wednesday for a public event with Bentley and two private appearances.

Christie and Bentley will tour the non-profit Southern Research Institute and meet with reporters.

Afterward Christie and Bentley will attend a pair of private events for the Bentley campaign.

blog.al.com

Alabama lawmakers will face another grim budget outlook when they return to Montgomery next year and Gov. Robert Bentley says he wants their ideas for long-term solutions instead of a one-year money fix.

Bentley has asked legislative leaders to bring him ideas in advance of the 2015 session.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh of Anniston says he wants legislators to make bold changes to try to solve the state's long-term problems.

pgatour.com

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says the PGA Tour is coming to Alabama next year.

Bentley said Monday the new tournament will be played July 13-18, 2015 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National in Opelika. Shaving product company Barbasol will sponsor the tournament for four years.

Bentley says the tour will generate millions in tourism revenue and put Alabama in the international spotlight as some of the world's best golfers visit the state.

straighttoale.com

Leaders in Huntsville hope beer and music will spruce up the site of an old middle school.

Officials say two craft breweries and a concert venue are planned for an old school west of Downtown.

Plans call for converting part of the school into a 40,000-square-foot brewery for Straight to Ale, which is now located in a warehouse. Yellowhammer plans to build a new 6,000-square-foot brewery at the site.

The city plans to open an open-air amphitheater between the two breweries at the site of the old Stone Middle School.

The Alabama Democratic Party is expecting to hold an appeal hearing early this week over contested results in a Jefferson County Commission race.

AL.com reports District 2 candidate Sandra Little Brown beat challenger Shelia Smoot by 26 votes in a primary runoff election but the results were challenged by a Smoot supporter.

Cynthia Goldsmith/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A team of researchers at Auburn University are working on a potential treatment for viruses like Ebola.

The deadly virus has killed more than 900 people in Africa. Two American aid workers who caught the virus were recently flown back to the United States so they could receive treatment at a specialized hospital in Atlanta.

Michelle Lepianka Carter / AP

Traditionally white sororities at the University of Alabama are beginning membership recruitment with a handful of black members for the first time.

The campus was engulfed in controversy last fall following reports some white groups rejected blacks because of race.

Administrators changed the rules, and the school says previously all-white sororities had a total of 21 black members in the spring.

The number of blacks in the 17 historically white social sororities remains small. The sororities had about 5,300 members total last school year.

Cassie Fambro/AL.com

Several groups are planning to push the Mobile County Commission to authorize the installation of atheist, Pagan and Universalist displays after authorizing a Christian one at Government Plaza.

http://brooks.house.gov/about-me / Wikimedia Commons

A Republican congressman from Alabama says Democrats are engaged in a "war on whites."

Congressman Mo Brooks made his comment on conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham's program. He said the Democratic Party claims white people hate everyone else and that it's part of President Barack Obama's strategy of dividing people on the basis of race, sex and class.

The remarks came in a discussion on immigration legislation passed last week by the House that could result in increased deportations.

ferris.edu

The first black Episcopal bishop in Georgia will speak at a weekend event in west Alabama honoring civil rights martyrs.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Wright of Atlanta will address a pilgrimage honoring Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels and others killed in Alabama during the movement in the 1960s.

The event will be held Saturday in the Lowndes County town of Hayneville, where Daniels was shot to death by a volunteer deputy on Aug. 14, 1965.

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