Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a half-dozen people in Alabama have been diagnosed with the West Nile virus this year. Alabama public health officials tell The Tuscaloosa News (http://bit.ly/NLpY5v ) that it's the highest number of cases in the state in three years. The virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, causes symptoms such as fever, body aches, joint paints, vomiting, diarrhea or rash in about one out of every five people who are infected. Authorities say most people infected with the mosquito-borne virus won't get sick.

Florida Atlantic University

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is holding a public hearing about crackdowns on illegal immigration in Alabama and other states. The panel will meet in Birmingham on Friday to hear from both supporters and opponents of the laws. Speakers include Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who's pushed for such measures nationwide, and Republican state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, a sponsor of Alabama's law. Critics of the measures are on the agenda, but they're complaining that members of what they call hate groups are being allowed to participate.

Ala. Ranks 4th Nationally For Obesity

Aug 13, 2012
Paul H. / Flickr

A new study says Alabama is the nation's fourth-fattest state. The report released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 32 percent of Alabama's adults are obese. That's slightly better than the obesity rates in Mississippi, Louisiana and West Virginia. The state obesity rate for 2011 is a little less than the number from 2010, but the CDC says the two numbers can't be compared because it changed statistical methods. So it's hard to gauge whether there's been any real improvement in fighting obesity. Alabama health officials are trying to get people to slim down.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU has dismissed Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu from its football program for violating school and team rules. The junior defensive back, who was nicknamed Honey Badger, was a surprising Heisman Trophy candidate last season. He was suspended for a game last year for failing a drug test. Coach Les Miles would not specify the reason Mathieu was kicked off the team. The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, citing an unidentified person close to the player, reported that Mathieu failed another drug test.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Former Gov. Don Siegelman's daughter has created a petition on the Internet that asks President Barack Obama to grant him clemency. Dana Siegelman's petition says her father was wrongfully convicted on government corruption charges, and it asks the president to restore justice. She's already received more than 1,200 signatures. Siegelman's daughter created the petition after a federal judge resentenced him a week ago. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller sentenced Siegelman to six and one-half years in prison, but he will get credit for nine months already served.

abc.au

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada (AP) — The island of Grenada has erupted in celebration over the small Caribbean nation's first-ever Olympic medal. People danced, cheered and waved flags in the streets Monday after Kirani James won the gold medal in the 400-meter run with a time of 43.94 seconds. Hundreds had gathered at outdoor viewing sites to watch the race. The 19-year-old is the first non-U.S. runner to break the 44-second barrier in the race. His time is the fastest ever by a Caribbean athlete in the 400-meter.

Alabama Jobless Rate Up to 7.8 percent in June

Jul 20, 2012

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's unemployment rate rose to 7.8 percent in June, an increase that state officials are calling seasonal.

The Alabama Department of Industrial Relations released the state's jobless rate on Friday. It was up four-tenths of a percent from May's unemployment rate of 7.4 percent, but it's still well below the jobless rate from a year ago.

Alabama Public radio news director Pat Duggins reports on today's vote by the University of Alabama board of trustees to name Dr. Guy Bailey, of Texas Tech, as UA's new president. The appointment is a homecoming for Dr. Bailey, who earned a bachelors degree in Tuscaloosa, and then a masters in 1974.

Study says Gulf oil spill might have lasting impact

Jul 10, 2012
NASA Goddard Photo and Video / Flickr

New research by an Auburn University professor and other scientists suggests that the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill could have significant impacts on microscopic life that might not become apparent for years.

Auburn professor Ken Halanych and scientists from the University of New Hampshire, the University of California Davis Genome Center, and the University of Texas at San Antonio, published their work last month in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

California has long been a trendsetter. But when it comes to reducing smoking and lung cancer, the Golden State's success hasn't taken the entire nation by storm.

Just take a look at the chart, which shows lung cancer death rates among white women by the year they were born.

For those women born since 1933, lung cancer death rates in California have dropped by more than half. In Alabama, they've more than doubled.

Savannah, GA – A federal agency says seaports in the Southeast region need the most help getting ready to trade with supersized cargo ships expected to arrive soon through an expanded Panama Canal.

A report to Congress released Thursday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says ports on the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts may need up to $5 billion to deepen their harbors to accommodate the giant ships. A major expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to wrap up in 2014, and the U.S. has no ports south of Virginia or between Florida and Texas with waterways deep enough for them.

Montgomery, AL – Governor Robert Bentley has created a task force to streamline the state's 22 agencies with law enforcement functions.

Bentley said Thursday that he wants the Integrated State Law Enforcement Task Force to identify savings of 10 percent by Oct. 1 and create a consolidation plan by Dec. 15.

Bentley and task force chairman Spencer Collier said their goal is to reduce staff through attrition rather than layoffs, and find ways to save money without jeopardizing public safety.

Birmingham, AL – Three more people have quit a board linked to Alabama Public Television following the firings of two network executives.

An official says chairman Gordon Martin; vice chair William E. Smith; and C. Scott McLain resigned from the Alabama Public Television Foundation Board. That's a private group with duties that include helping the network raise money.

Opelika, AL – A judge is delaying the trial of an Alabama fan accused of poisoning Auburn's cherished Toomer's Corner oak trees.

Defense attorneys for Harvey Updyke have asked the judge to move the trial to a different location. Judge Jacob Walker said Thursday that he would set a hearing date to consider the request.

Montgomery, AL – Authorities have set a date for the resentencing of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

Siegelman is scheduled to appear in federal court for the resentencing on Aug. 3 in Montgomery. He is out of prison on an appeal bond after his 2006 bribery conviction.

The U.S. Supreme Court this month rejected Siegelman's latest appeal.

Auburn Toomer's Corner poisoning trial delayed

Jun 21, 2012
Toomer's Corner in Auburn Alabama
hz536n/George Thomas / Flickr

A judge is delaying the trial of an Alabama fan accused of poisoning Auburn's cherished Toomer's Corner oak trees.

Defense attorneys for Harvey Updyke have asked the judge to move the trial to a different location. Judge Jacob Walker said Thursday that he would set a hearing date to consider the request.

Montgomery, AL – Alabama legislators aren't getting to attend national and regional conventions at state expense this summer.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey have told legislators that they won't approve travel requests for the remainder of the fiscal year because budget cuts have put a serious strain on legislative operations. That includes a 10.6 percent cut the governor ordered for all state programs in March because state revenues were falling behind appropriations.

Opelika, AL – An attorney for a man accused of poisoning the two oak trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner renewed calls for a change of venue and continuance.

A lawyer for Harvey Updyke said Wednesday his client needs a new jury pool after a student newspaper reported that Updyke had confessed.

Attorney Everett Wess said before the second day of jury selection started that Updyke denied telling The Auburn Plainsman during a break that he did it.

The newspaper said on Twitter it stood by the report, and the reporter was subpoenaed.

Montgomery, AL – A joint legislative oversight committee on prisons is planning to meet to discuss reports of increased violence in Alabama prisons.

A legislative panel has scheduled a meeting for 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Joint Briefing Room at the Alabama Statehouse to discuss reports of rising inmate-on-inmate violence in prisons. The Legislature's Joint Prison Oversight Committee will also discuss allegations of prison employees sexually abusing women inmates at Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka.

More Quit Ala. Public TV Boards After Firings

Jun 19, 2012

Montgomery, AL – Two more leaders have quit Alabama Public Television following last week's firings of two top executives with the network.

Montgomery attorney and former federal judge Vanzetta McPherson has resigned from the Alabama Educational Television Foundation Authority, which lost three members last week. Also, Blue Cross Blue Shield President Terry Kellogg has resigned from the board of the APT foundation.

Montgomery, AL – The Poarch Creek Indians and an attorney for a county commission trying to tax the tribe disagree about the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The court ruled Monday that a lawsuit seeking to shut down a Michigan tribe's casino can proceed in court. At issue is whether the casino could be built on tribal land taken into federal trust after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Opelika, AL – Lawyers in the trial of Harvey Updyke want to know about the favorite school of potential jurors.

Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of the Alabama fan, who's accused of poisoning two oak trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner. Eighty-five prospective jurors filled Judge Jacob Walker's courtroom.

Among the questions submitted by Updyke's attorneys is one asking whether potential jurors would ``make a decision based upon the defendant being a University of Alabama sports fan.'' The trial is a few miles from Auburn's campus.

Montgomery, AL – Alabama's governor says he will likely be forced to make double-digit spending cuts if voters reject a constitutional amendment that would let him balance the state's General Fund budget by taking money out of a state savings account.

Bentley told a Montgomery civic club Tuesday that more spending reductions aren't a good plan. And he's cautiously optimistic voters will approve taking $146 million from the Alabama Trust Fund annually for three years.

Excitement buzzes in the air of a large arena in Fort Worth, TX as the loudspeakers boom with the announcer's voice. "Ladies and Gentlemen! TGRA would like to welcome you to Fort Worth, Texas!" The Texas Gay Rodeo Association is putting on its 29th gay rodeo and more than 100 people are ready to watch or compete. Excitement buzzes in the air of a large arena in Fort Worth, TX as the loudspeakers boom with the announcer's voice.

Excitement buzzes in the air of a large arena in Fort Worth, TX as the loudspeakers boom with the announcer's voice. "Ladies and Gentlemen! TGRA would like to welcome you to Fort Worth, Texas!" The Texas Gay Rodeo Association is putting on its 29th gay rodeo and more than 100 people are ready to watch or compete. Excitement buzzes in the air of a large arena in Fort Worth, TX as the loudspeakers boom with the announcer's voice.

Montgomery, AL – Some supporters of Don Siegelman want President Barack Obama to grant a pardon that would prevent the former Democratic Alabama governor from returning to prison for his 2006 bribery conviction.

Siegelman is currently out of prison on an appeal bond. But the U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected his appeal, and he may soon face a new sentencing by U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery.

Montgomery, AL – An Alabama fan is about to go on trial on charges of poisoning two oak trees that are fixtures for fans of archrival Auburn.

Attorneys will begin picking a jury in Lee County on Tuesday for the case against 63-year-old Harvey Updyke Jr. The courthouse is less than 10 miles from the Toomer's Corner oaks and Auburn's campus.

Updyke and wife Elva were in court Monday for the deposition of an expert witness who is unavailable later in the week.

Montgomery, AL – A $25 billion national settlement with five big mortgage companies is helping balance Alabama's operating budget during lean times.

The office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange received $26 million from the settlement. Of that, $19.3 million will be used from 2013 through 2015 to pay for operations in the attorney general's office and in district attorneys' offices statewide.

Senate budget committee Chairman Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said that's freeing up money to help other state programs in the $1.68 billion General Fund budget for fiscal 2013.

Montgomery, AL – Alabama immigration activists are praising the Obama administration's decision to quit deporting many younger illegal immigrants.

The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice says the change announced Friday is a step in the right direction.

Coalition member and recent high school graduate Victor Palafox says he is in the country illegally after being brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents as a child. Palafox says the administration's announcement is an ``enormous victory'' for young people across the country.

Tuscaloosa, AL – The board of the University of Alabama System approved tuition increases Friday for the three campuses, starting with the fall semester.

Tuition for the Tuscaloosa campus will go up 7 percent to $9,200 for two semesters. Birmingham will increase 8.5 percent to $8,400 for two semesters, and Huntsville will rise 8.6 percent to $8,794 for two semesters.

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