The Associated Press


Unemployment Rate
5:13 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Alabama Unemployment Rate Rises To 8.5 Percent

The Alabama Department of Industrial Relations says the state's unemployment rate is up again. Alabama Dept. of Industrial Relations

Alabama's unemployment rate has risen for the fourth consecutive month to 8.5 percent for August.

The figure announced Friday by the state Department of Industrial Relations represents more than 183,000 unemployed people.

Alabama's unemployment rate has been going up since measuring 7.2 percent in April. It was 7.4 percent in May, 7.8 percent in June and 8.3 percent in July.

Alabama's unemployment rate a year ago was 9.1 percent.

Politics & Government
7:17 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Alabama remembers POW/MIA's


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A ceremony will be held in Montgomery to commemorate national POW/MIA Recognition Day. The ceremony will be at 11 a.m. Saturday on the south lawn of the Alabama Capitol. It will include remarks by World War II prisoner of war Seymour "Sy" Lichtenfeld of Mobile. Lichtenfeld was captured in 1944 by the Germans while fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He was sent to Stalag IV-B in Brandenburg. Suffering from frostbite, he and 5,000 other American POWS were forced to march 110 miles to another camp.

Alabama Immigration
5:11 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Mexican Government Reviewing Complaint On Ala. Law

The NAFTA Initialing Ceremony from October 1992 with then President George H.W. Bush.
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum Wikimedia Commons

The Mexican government is reviewing a labor union's complaint that Alabama's crackdown on illegal immigrants violates an international trade agreement.

An official with Mexico's labor department confirms the review in a letter released Thursday by the group that filed the complaint, the Service Employees International Union.

The labor organization and a Mexican attorneys group filed a complaint in April.

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Gulf Oil Spill
4:56 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Study: Virtually All Ala. Tar Balls From BP Spill

Study says virtually all tar balls now washing up on Alabama's coast come from 2010 BP oil spill.
Ben Raines/Press-Register The Press-Register

A new chemical analysis shows that virtually all the tar balls now washing on to the Alabama coast are directly linked to the BP oil spill more than two years ago.

The report released Thursday by Auburn University says that tar balls caused by the spill are hundreds to thousands of times more common than another type of asphalt-like tar deposit that's been in the Gulf for years.

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Two-Year Colleges
4:42 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Ala.'s 2-Year College Head To Earn $271K A Year

Board votes on new two-year college chancellor Mark Heinrich's salary.
Shelton State Community College

The new chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system will receive more than $270,000 a year.

Mark Heinrich has agreed to a three-year contract that will pay him $250,000 annually in salary. It will also provide a yearly housing allowance of $21,000.

The State Board of Education approved the deal Thursday. Heinrich has agreed to the terms but still has to sign the contract.

The board voted last week to hire Heinrich, who has been president of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa.

Arts & Life
7:56 am
Thu September 20, 2012

'Wendy Fest' Set in Mobile for Kids of Slain Mom

Friends of a Mobile woman who was killed outside her home earlier this year are holding a benefit to help the children of the slain woman.

An event called "Wendy Fest" is planned for Thursday night in the port city to help the two children of Wendy Fisher, a widowed single mother who was shot to death in July.

A block-style party with food, auctions and music will be held at the Haberdasher, where Fisher was working at the time of her death. It's on Dauphin Street, a popular entertainment district in Mobile.

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Infant Mortality
5:15 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Ala. Infant Mortality Rate Reaches Low, Still High

Alabama's infant mortality rate reaches record low.
David Herholz Flickr

Alabama's infant mortality rate has reached an all-time low, but it's still high nationally.

Figures released by the state health agency on Thursday show Alabama's infant death rate was 8.1 infant deaths for every 1,000 births last year.

The figure is a record low, but it's high compared to the most recent national average. The U.S. rate was 6.1 deaths per 1,000 births in 2010, the latest year available.

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September Referendum
5:11 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Gov. Bentley Succeeds Where Predecessors Failed

Governor Bentley succeeds where previous two governors failed. Office of the Governor

Gov. Robert Bentley has done something neither of Alabama's last two governors could do: Get voters to turn out in a special election to pass a major initiative defining their administrations.

Bentley said the constitutional amendment withdrawing money from the Alabama Trust Fund didn't involve moral issues like Gov. Don Siegelman's lottery vote in 1999 or tax increases like Gov. Bob Riley's $1.2 billion tax plan in 2003.

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Retirement Incentives
4:53 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Ala. Governor Working On Retirement Incentives

Governor Robert Bentley is looking at retirement incentives to help save the state money long term.
State of Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley says he's getting close to proposing retirement incentives for state employees and he may follow that with retirement incentives for public school employees.

Bentley said Thursday he's got no goal yet for the number of retirements, but the state would cut its expenses by $82 million if 1,500 employees retired.

Bentley said retired teachers would have to be replaced, but the new employees would be younger teachers making less pay than veteran educators. He said 5,000 retirements would save $100 million.

Voter Turnout
4:46 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

22 Percent Turnout For Alabama Special Election

22 percent of Alabama's voters turned out for the September 18th budget referendum.

About 22 percent of Alabama's voters turned out to approve a constitutional amendment withdrawing $437 million from a state trust fund to help balance the state General Fund budget for the next three years.

Unofficial returns compiled by The Associated Press show about 600,000 of Alabama's 2.67 million voters participated in Tuesday's special election, and they approved the constitutional amendment 65 percent to 35 percent.

September Referendum
4:39 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Alabama Voters Approve Budget Proposal 2-To-1

Alabama voters have passed a constitutional amendment to balance the state budget.
Vox Efx Flickr

Alabama voters have decided by a 2-to-1 margin to support the withdrawal of $437 million from a state trust fund to help balance the General Fund budget for the next three years.

Gov. Robert Bentley called it a temporary funding bridge to maintain essential state services while state officials work on right-sizing government.

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Business & Education
8:36 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Historically Black Ala. Colleges Get Big Grants

Alabama State University is receiving nearly $4 million in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Education.

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding millions in grants to historically black colleges in Alabama.

The five-year grants will affect curriculum and teaching programs, campus building improvements and the purchase of scientific equipment.

Politics & Government
8:31 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Ala. Casino Boss Gets Delay in Going to Prison

A federal judge has pushed back the date for Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley to report to prison.

Gilley was scheduled to begin his sentence of six years and eight months on Sept. 24, but U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued an order Tuesday pushing it back Tuesday until Oct. 9 because Gilley is scheduled for surgery Wednesday. Court records about the type of surgery were sealed at Gilley's request.

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Politics & Government
8:26 am
Wed September 19, 2012

BP Agrees to Relax Requirements for Claims

Workers remove oil from the beach at Gulf Shores on June 12, 2010. The Coast Guard and EPA are tightening oversight of waste disposal from the Gulf oil spill.
Kate Mercer/Press-Register The Press-Register

BP has agreed to relax several documentation requirements regarding the submission of claims filed after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Plaintiffs' attorney Steve Herman and Jim Roy said in a statement Tuesday that the changes will speed the processing of claims and "get the people and businesses of the Gulf paid quicker."

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Arts & Life
8:23 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Actress Rosario Dawson to Speak at UAB

Actress and activist Rosario Dawson is speaking at the University of Alabama as part of a campus celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Dawson will appear Thursday night at UAB's Alys Stephens Center.

The New York native has been featured in many films, including "Men in Black II," ''Josie and the Pussycats," and "25th Hour."

Besides her acting work, Dawson co-founded the non-partisan organization Voto Latino in 2004. The group encourages young Hispanics to register and vote.