HONG KONG (AP) — Oil prices rallied today after U.S. lawmakers passed legislation to avoid a "fiscal cliff" that would have pushed the world's biggest economy into recession. The U.S. House of Representatives voted near midnight to send the bill to President Barack Obama after a frantic day of political brinksmanship in Washington. Benchmark crude for February delivery rose 95 cents late afternoon in Hong Kong to $92.77 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.02 to finish at $91.82 per barrel in New York on Monday.
PELHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's state parks have an alternative to sitting around the house on Jan. 1. Six state parks will be offering what officials are calling "First Day Hikes" on New Year's Day. The events are free guided hikes that are meant to encourage people to spend time outdoors. Visitors still have to pay park admission fees, however. The hikes will be held at Alabama's largest state park, Oak Mountain, in suburban Birmingham; DeSoto in northeast Alabama; Gulf State Park on the coast; Joe Wheeler near Decatur; Lake Guntersville; and Monte Sano park overlooking Huntsville.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The tax package negotiated by President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans and passed by Congress will protect 99 percent of Americans from an income tax increase. But that doesn't mean that most of them won't see their taxes rise. In fact, the vast majority of workers will pay higher federal taxes in 2013, largely because a temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes expired on New Year's Day. The tax package did nothing to prevent that from happening.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama legislator has proposed a measure that would make the right to bear arms a fundamental right in the Alabama Constitution. That right is already in the U.S. Constitution as the Second Amendment. Republican Rep. Mike Jones of Andalusia told the Web site al.com his proposal would allow state voters to make it part of the state constitution. He said this would make it more difficult for state courts to restrict the right to gun ownership.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says officials aren't sure whether the state will qualify for federal aid to help with recovery from the Christmas Day tornado outbreak.
Bentley's comments came Thursday in Prichard, where he is touring damage left by the storm. A twister left millions in damage at a trucking company the governor visited.
Bentley says the state is still compiling damage assessments from the storms, which hit multiple counties across the state. He says officials are trying to determine what sort of aid the state and local governments could receive.
A group that promotes environmental awareness says Alabama made some big gains in 2012.
The Green Resource Center for Alabama has released its 5th annual Green Progress Report. It says the extension of the Forever Wild land trust program was one of the state's top environmental achievements.
Voters approved continuing the program in November. The 20-year-old program has let the state buy 220,000 acres of land to be used for hunting, fishing, bird watching and other activities.
Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore is seen drinking a hot beverage from the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama's mobile canteen in midtown Mobile on Dec. 26, 2012. Cantore was covering the tornado damage that occurred on Christmas Day.
Relief agencies and volunteers are helping out victims of the tornadoes that hit Alabama on Christmas Day.
The American Red Cross says volunteers have distributed bottled water, shovels, rakes and clean-up kits to people in Mobile and Prichard, where dozens of homes were damaged. They've also provided tarps to people whose roofs were damaged.
The Salvation Army says it has fed more than 1,000 people in Mobile, and it's also providing food in Troy. A tornado caused widespread damage in the southeast Alabama county.