The Associated Press

Alabama's unemployment rate has dropped to 6.3 percent, but it remains above the national average.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced Friday that Alabama's rate declined from 6.6 percent in September to 6.3 percent in October. That's the same rate Alabama recorded a year ago. The October rate is higher than the national figure of 5.8 percent.

Bentley says Alabama is seeing healthy growth in jobs and is seeing a decline in the amount of unemployment benefits being paid.

The Associated Press

Gov. Robert Bentley wants Alabama colleges to identify students or instructors returning from Ebola-ravaged countries in West Africa.

Bentley wrote in a letter to college officials that students and instructors from West Africa may return home for the holidays to visit family and friends.

The governor asked that schools provide the names of anyone planning travel to West Africa, their contact information and return dates. The Decatur Daily reports state public health officials should be notified when travelers return to Alabama.

A federal appeals board has upheld the firing of the former director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System.

The Veterans Administration terminated James Talton in late October for neglect of duty. He appealed to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. The board has issued a 32-page decision upholding the termination.

USGS National Earthquake Information Center

A small earthquake rattled west Alabama in the pre-dawn hours.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 3.8 quake occurred about 10 miles northwest of Eutaw around 4:25 a.m. Thursday.

The quake was about 3 miles beneath the surface of the Earth.

While the earthquake was strong enough to be felt, officials say no damage is being reported in the rural area.

Official U.S. Navy Imagery / Flickr

Federal labor officials have issued 12 citations to a coastal Alabama shipbuilding company and are proposing that it pay a $41,500 fine.

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials said Wednesday that among the nine serious violations the Austal USA ship building company has been cited for is failing to install railings on all staircases, allowing workers to be overexposed to copper fumes during welding and failing to ensure that employees follow safety procedures.

council of state governments

A lead prosecutor says ethics charges were brought against House Speaker Mike Hubbard because a grand jury found evidence of crimes and not for political reasons.

Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis issued a statement Tuesday responding to accusations by Hubbard that the case is political.

Davis says he has no political allegiances to anyone, including Attorney General Luther Strange, who appointed him.

A judge has delayed House Speaker Mike Hubbard's trial on ethics charges until 2015.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker pushed back a Dec. 8 trial date at the request of the defense. Walker will meet with prosecutors and defense lawyers on Jan. 7 to discuss a timeline for the case.

A grand jury last month indicted Hubbard on felony ethics charges. The indictment accuses Hubbard of using his public positions to obtain work for his companies and to solicit investments from lobbyists.

National Weather Service

Temperatures plummeted across Alabama after storms left flooding and scattered damage across the state.

Al.com reports that crews from the National Weather Service were being sent to Pike, Bullock and Russell counties to determine whether tornadoes snapped trees and caused other damage in those areas.

Weather service reports show temperatures fell as much as 15 degrees from midnight until morning rush hour Monday. And forecasters say overnight lows could drop to the mid-20s as far south as the coast.

telegraph.uk

State officials say they've gained approval for nearly $10 million in projects aimed at restoring Alabama's coastline after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Gov. Robert Bentley on Monday said $9.6 million for four Alabama projects has been approved by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He said projects address conservation needs to restore some of Alabama's natural resources affected by the disaster.

Alabama Businessman Settles Securities Fraud Case

Nov 16, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The former chief executive of a company that planned to build railroad cars in north Alabama will pay $21 million to the Retirement Systems of Alabama as part of a deal settling 11 counts of securities fraud. TheTimesDaily reports that Greg Aziz also will reimburse about $1 million to state and local agencies for investigative costs. The charges against him will be dropped. Aziz was accused of organizing a scheme to defraud the pension system of $350 million by supplying false information during a funding deal.

Crimson Tide defeats #1 Mississippi State

Nov 15, 2014
APR

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Blake Sims, T.J. Yeldon and No. 4 Alabama's relentless defense delivered on a big stage, and the Crimson Tide held off No. 1 Mississippi State 25-20 on Saturday. The Tide (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 5 CFP) reasserted itself as a national title contender with a dominant first half and some clutch play in the fourth quarter. Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs (9-1, 5-1, No. 1 CFP) kept fighting to keep their first-ever reign going for a sixth week. They couldn't conquer Alabama at raucous Bryant-Denny Stadium, though.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Thousands of people are pouring into Tuscaloosa for the football game between top-ranked Mississippi State and Alabama, and transportation officials are urging caution. Traffic will be heavy Saturday on U.S. 82 between Tuscaloosa and Mississippi, and it's always busy on Interstate 20/59 on game days in Tuscaloosa. The Alabama Department of Transportation says motorists should be careful in a work zone on the interstate, and they're planning additional police patrols. The game begins at 2:30 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

triplepundit

Election officials on Wednesday will count provisional ballots in a closely watched state senate race.

Longtime Sen. Roger Bedford of Russellville trails Republican Larry Stutts by just 60 votes, according to unofficial returns.

Voters can cast provisional ballots if they do not have the required photo identification or if they do not appear on a polling place's list of voters. The votes only count if election officials determine the person was rightfully eligible to vote.

Bedford's supporters say they will hold out hope until the last vote is counted.

uab.edu/news

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Alabama State University have been given a federal grant to research and reduce disparities in cancer rates.

UAB officials said in a statement Tuesday that the $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute will allow both schools to execute cancer-related research and training focused on helping underserved communities.

commons.wikimedia.org

Once-powerful Democrats are challenging legislative districts drawn by Alabama Republicans that have helped shrink Democratic representation to just eight seats in the state Senate - all of them from districts in which African-Americans are a majority.

Black Democrats say the GOP did it by misusing a landmark voting-rights law, intended to ensure the right to vote for southern blacks, to instead limit their voting strength. They argue that Republicans relied too heavily on race to draw new electoral maps following the 2010 census.

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