The Associated Press

Accuracy in Media

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A U.S. State Department spokesman says CNN reported on the personal journal of slain American ambassador Christopher Stevens over objections from his family. The news channel posted in a story online Saturday that it found a journal belonging to Stevens four days after he died in a Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. State Department spokesman Philippe Reines says CNN broke a pledge to the late ambassador's family that it wouldn't report on the diary. Reines is a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Department of Revenue is trying to streamline the process for state residents to file taxes and apply for licenses. Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee said Friday making more services available online will speed up the process, cut costs and make the filing and application process easier. . Magee said the new effort includes moving the majority of the remaining business taxes to online. The department sent out notices in June advising residents of plans to move to more electronic filing. / 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. Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby at 5.8 percent, Coffee at 7.1 percent, and Blount, Limestone and Madison at 7.2 percent.


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.

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.

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.

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. Heinrich's predecessor, Freida Hill, was paid $289,900 annually.

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.

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. / 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.

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.

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. The turnout was in line with the 20 to 21 percent predicted by Alabama's chief election official, Secretary of State Beth Chapman.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Election officials say the turnout for Alabama's single-issue election is light. Voters are deciding Tuesday whether to take $437 million out of a state trust fund to help balance the state General Fund budget for the next three years. Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen says the turnout in his south Alabama county could end up between 10 and 13 percent. Election officials in other counties say turnout picked up when the rain stopped, but it's still going to be small. Montgomery County is an exception. Elections Director Justin Aday said turnout could end up being 25 to 30 percent.

A new survey by a group campaigning against obesity finds that Alabama is the sixth-fattest state in the nation.

A study by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 32 percent of Alabama's adult residents are obese. It says 63 percent of the state's residents will be obese by 2030.

The survey found that neighboring Mississippi is the fattest state in the nation, with a current obesity rate of 35 percent. The report predicts 67 percent of Mississippi's adult population would be obese by 2030.

BOC / Alabama State Treasury

The legal battle over Alabama's financially troubled prepaid college tuition program is headed back to the Alabama Supreme Court. A Montgomery judge ruled Monday that a law passed by the Legislature in the spring to permit reduced tuition payments is constitutional. The state Supreme Court had asked Circuit Judge Johnny Hardwick to review the law before the high court considers it. If the Supreme Court agrees with Hardwick, then the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan will be able to pay reduced rates rather than full tuition. / The National Weather Service

Forecasters say north Alabama remains under a flood threat following storms that will dump as much as 7 inches of rain on the region before they leave the state.

Heavy downpours caused flooding in northwest Alabama on Monday, and the weather service says northeast Alabama is now most at risk.

Forecasters have issued a flood warning that includes all or parts of Colbert, DeKalb, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan counties.

AP Photo/Press-Register, John David Mercer

Officials are conducting a large training exercise along Alabama's coast to prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies.

Helicopters and other equipment will be near Perdido Pass in Orange Beach on Tuesday for what's being called "Operation Raging Winds." The training will include helicopter rescues and beach patrols along the coast.

Organizers are trying to get the word that the activity is for training and isn't a real emergency situation. While the main tourist season is over, thousands of visitors are still in the area. / National Weather Service

Alabama's northern counties are under a flood watch as potentially heavy rains move into the state. The National Weather Service says storms crossing into the Tennessee Valley will bring rainfall totals from 1 to 3 inches by Tuesday, as some areas could receive as much as 5 inches of rain. The heaviest precipitation is expected to fall overnight Monday. Forecasters say northeastern Alabama should receive the heaviest rains. The weather service says streams along the Tennessee River will rise because of runoff from the storms.

Robin Conn/The Huntsville Times

A longtime Madison County pilot and a student have been identified as the victims in a crash that killed two people when an airplane went down at an airport during an event for aviation enthusiasts.

WAAY-TV ( ) reports that George Myers and 17-year-old Chris Schmitt died when a plane went down Sunday at the annual Moontown Fly-In in Madison County.

Myers owned the Moontown Airport at Brownsboro, and the teenager was learning to fly.

Wikimedia Commons

The woman who admitted shooting six coworkers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville could receive royalties from the university for an invention that's expected to start generating revenue soon.

Bishop and her husband, Jim Anderson, invented a cell incubator that has been developed for sale by InQ Biosciences. UAH owns the patent, but Bishop and Anderson are in line for part of the royalties.

Ben Raines/Press-Register

Sand Island along the Alabama coast has disappeared beneath the waves.

The Sand Island Lighthouse is still standing alone in the water. But the island that was rebuilt by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers last year got eroded by Hurricane Isaac. The Press -Register ( reports that parts of the island are a foot under water.

Alabama prisons officials are headed to court to defend a long-standing policy that segregates inmates who have tested positive for HIV.

The American Civil Liberties Union says in a lawsuit filed by HIV-positive inmates the policy is unconstitutional and makes it difficult for some prisoners to participate in prison programs. / Office of the Governor

Most of Alabama's request for $9.4 million in federal assistance following Hurricane Isaac would pay for beach repair or sand removal. The state released to The Associated Press a copy of an aid request that Gov. Robert Bentley wrote to President Barack Obama this week. About $6.2 million is being sought to repair beaches in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach or to remove sand that covered roads on Dauphin Island. Another $846,000 would go to Dauphin Island for roads and public utility repairs.

The Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery will offer free admission Saturday in remembrance of the 49th anniversary of the deaths of four girls killed in a bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

The church was a center for civil rights meetings and marches. It was bombed by Ku Klux Klan members on Sept. 15, 1963, killing four school girls who were preparing for a church service. Killed were Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. Three former Klansmen were later convicted of the bombing.

Kate Mercer/Press-Register / The Press-Register

The Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council is gathering in Mobile to discuss the region's future after the BP oil spill.

Gov. Robert Bentley's office says he will be on hand for the meeting Friday afternoon.

A statement from Bentley's office says the council is officially beginning its work of long-term restoration from the spill.

The panel will decide how to spend fine money paid by BP.