NASA’s new rocket program designed to eventually carry astronauts to Mars has a new   

  man at the helm. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more.

            John Honeycutt has been named the new manager of NASA’s Space Launch System program.

            The program is currently in development at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center and aims to construct the largest rockets ever built.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says it is pulling examiners out of 31 part-time satellite driver’s license offices because of budget cuts.

The agency made the announcement today. The examiners currently travel to the locations during some days of the week.

The agency said the change will save money on travel costs.

Secretary Spencer Collier says the impact on citizens will be lessened because of online renewals and other options.

A Selma-based auto supplier is continuing its lawsuit against a former employee they fired, after a Montgomery County judge ruled whistleblower protections don’t apply.

A recent decision by Birmingham leaders to raise the city's minimum wage has gotten a lukewarm reaction from some workers.

Minimum wage employees in the city say the measure sounds like a step toward financial stability, but it has also prompted concerns about an increasing cost of living.

The Birmingham City Council passed an ordinance late last month to establish an hourly minimum wage of $8.50 by July 2016 and $10.10 by July 2017. Future increases would be tied to inflation. Alabama has no state minimum wage, so the federal wage floor of $7.25 per hour applies.

Immigrant detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center are at the center of a civil rights complaint over abuse and visitation rights.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds an average of 300 foreign detainees in Etowah County awaiting deportation. The advocacy group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement says there's evidence of widespread abuse at Etowah. They filed a formal complaint earlier this month.

Christina Mansfield is a co-founder of CIVIC. She says she heard reports of abuse on her first visit to the facility in 2013.

The fight over political redistricting in Alabama is headed back to federal court.

A three-judge panel will hear arguments later today in Montgomery over whether legislators relied too much on race when they drew legislative district lines.

The Birmingham City Council has passed a resolution increasing the minimum wage to over ten dollars an hour. APR’s Alex AuBuchon reports it won’t happen all at once.

The Birmingham City Council passed an ordinance during their meeting today that will eventually increase the city’s minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents ($10.10) per hour.

The Birmingham City Council will consider increasing the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Local media reports the council could vote on an ordinance as soon as this evening.

Dozens of people rallied outside City Hall after a council meeting last month to show support for an ordinance requiring all businesses within the city and those contracted through the city to raise the minimum wage.

Birmingham's City Council president is defending the group’s recent decision to raise their salary from $15,000 to $55,000.

Some council members have said they have been asked to do full-time work on part-time pay.

Local media reports the nine-member council voted 8-1 to approve the raise last week and faced questions Tuesday night on the way the increase was handled. The vote was added last minute to a meeting agenda as an addendum and was passed with virtually no time for public comment.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is cutting off Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood in the wake of undercover videos implying the group was selling fetal tissue to research groups.

Governor Bentley called Planned Parenthood's practices "deplorable” in a statement yesterday. He says he doesn't want Alabama to be associated with the group. Bentley says the state is terminating an agreement with Planned Parenthood Southeast to serve as a Medicaid provider.

A patient being treated for Ebola-like symptoms at UAB Hospital has tested negative for the disease.

Jefferson County Medical Director Edward Khan says the patient recently visited a country with active Ebola cases. The patient began developing symptoms and notified authorities, and was admitted to UAB Hospital last night. Authorities have not released the patient’s identity or the country visited.

A federal judge says he will rule by Friday on a female prisoner's request for an abortion.

U.S. District Abdul Kallon made the comment after hearing arguments yesterday in a lawsuit filed by the woman.

The unnamed prisoner filed suit against Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton seeking a court order that would let her leave jail to travel to Huntsville for the procedure.

A.G. Gaston
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

A new report provides the specific economic impacts of decades of climate change both in Alabama and throughout the United States.

In Alabama, the largest issue is expected to be increased temperature. By 2040, the report estimates that the state will see up to 33 additional days per year above 95 degrees. That would result in a nearly 9% drop in crop yields, a 7.5% jump in energy demand, and nearly 500 additional deaths per year.

Preserving History: The A.G. Gaston Motel

Jul 28, 2015

One of the most hallowed sites of Alabama’s Civil Rights Movement is in danger of vanishing. The A.G. Gaston Motel was a staging point for Martin Luther King Junior, Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy’s equality efforts in Birmingham. A-P-R’s MacKenzie Bates takes a look at the history of the Gaston Motel and the effort to keep this landmark around for future generations…

The Chairman of Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee says a drunken driving charge shouldn’t cost him his job.

State Senator Cam Ward says drinking alcohol and driving was a Huge mistake on his part.

The Alabaster Republican doesn’t believe he should quit either his senate seat or his industrial job with the city.  The reason is, Ward says he wasn’t working when he was stopped by police.

A Senate leader said earlier that he doesn't plan to strip Ward of the committee chairmanship.

Blue Bell is beginning a trial run of ice cream production at its Sylacauga plant after a national recall due to a series of listeria illnesses.

Alabama Health Officer Don Williamson said yesterday that Blue Bell notified his department that it will begin a trial run of production later this month. The ice cream will not be sold to consumers. Williamson says both state health officials and Blue Bell will test the product for listeria.

The chairman of the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee says he's seeking professional help after his arrest on a DUI charge.

Alabaster Republican Senator Cam Ward released a written statement this morning following his release from the Shelby County jail.  Ward says his failure at dealing with stress resulted in what he calls "incredibly reckless decisions."

A federal judge says Alabama counties must abide by court decisions allowing gay marriage. APR’s Stan Ingold reports U.S. District Judge Callie Granade issued an order updating a previous ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Judge Granade says state probate judges can't discriminate against gay couples because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled gay marriage is legal everywhere. But her order doesn't affect counties that have stopped issuing all marriage licenses.

The judge had put previous decisions on hold to allow time for the justices to rule.

Alabama’s state prisons were built to hold 13,000 inmates. They currently house over 25,000.

That makes Alabama prisons among the most crowded in the nation, and state politicians fear the crowding may soon bring federal intervention to the troubled prison system.

In an effort to relieve some of the overcrowding, lawmakers approved changes to sentencing and probation standards this spring as well as a bond issue for additional prison beds. The changes include the creation of a lower level felony class and the planned hiring of 100 additional probation officers.

Many of Alabama’s senior citizens that qualify for food and medical assistance don’t receive those benefits because they haven’t signed up for the program.

The city of Foley is partnering with the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission Area Agency to help those seniors find out if they’re eligible for assistance and to enroll in benefit programs.

The City of Birmingham will be playing host to a prominent legal official tomorrow. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the Attorney General’s national tour stop.

Recently appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be visiting Birmingham tomorrow as part of a nationwide Community Policing Tour.

A 12-year-old boy from Bay Minette, Alabama, recently discovered a rare fossil in Greene County.

The University of Alabama says Aiden Taylor was on a week-long trip with the university's Museum Expedition when he found a fossil of a reptile that roamed the planet millions of years ago.

Over 250 mayors from across the country attended the 83rd annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco.

The gathering was held June 19-22 and allowed mayors the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas on how to deal with issues within their cities. They also debated and adopted dozens of resolutions that will be submitted to the United States Congress.

Among the delegates was Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell. I asked Bell about his involvement with the conference, some of the policy suggestions he supported, and other issues in Birmingham.

Mayors from Alabama and across the country are wrapping up a big conference today in San Francisco. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more about the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The 83rd annual Conference of Mayors is wrapping up today. It’s an opportunity for mayors to collaborate and share ideas for dealing with issues in their cities. They also develop policies that are voted on and eventually submitted to the U.S. Congress.

Hangout Music Fest, Nepal Fundraiser in Birmingham

May 15, 2015

The sixth annual Hangout Music Fest kicks off this afternoon on the beaches of Gulf Shores.

The three-day music festival features more than 80 performances by some of the biggest music names in the world, like Beck, the Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket and plenty more.

Forty thousand people are expected to head to Gulf Shores for the event, which means a big economic boom for the community. Grant Brown is the Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director for the City of Gulf Shores.

Selma Audit, Alabama officers honored in Washington D.C.

May 13, 2015

Selma city officials are asking for a state audit.  A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports the investigation may determine why the city's tax revenue during the Bloody Sunday 50th anniversary was lower than anticipated.

Mayor George Evans told the Selma Times-Journal the city's tax revenue for the month of March was roughly sixteen thousand dollars more than it was in March 2014. That's despite thousands of extra visitors coming to town for the anniversary weekend.

Martin Jay Creasman
Alabama Department of Corrections

A 51 year old escapee from a Morgan County prison has been arrested on accusations that he stole a pickup truck and crashed it into two women, killing them both.

Birmingham police allege Martin Jay Creasman stole a pickup truck from a Birmingham auto shop, then crashed into a car containing 92 year old Margie Lovell and 69 year old Linda Jones. The two women were on their way to a church meeting. The Avondale United Methodist Church released a statement on Twitter saying Lovell and Jones were "well-loved" and "pillars of [their] congregation".

President Obama brought his Middle Class Economics plan to Lawson State Community College in Birmingham.

The Commander-in-Chief covered everything from Washington policy to a fairly new government agency called the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau. The CFPB was created as part of Wall Street reform after the 2008 financial crisis. It's an independent consumer watchdog, and President Obama says they've already made a big impact.

President Obama visited Alabama to talk about economics. The Commander-in-chief arrived in Birmingham aboard Air Force One for a speech at Lawson State Community College.

The President told the crowd what’s good for the middle class is good for America. The White House is criticizing a budget plan in congress which includes tax breaks for the wealthy.

Mr. Obama also targeted Pay Day Loan operations which charge high interest rates…

President Barack Obama will be in Birmingham this afternoon to talk about the economy.

The President will be speaking at Lawson State Community College on consumer protection issues and the contrast between his vision for the American middle class and Republican efforts to undermine that vision.

According to a White House press release, Congressional Republicans are continuing to roll back progress toward a safer financial system and stronger economy, encouraging the types of abuses that led to the 2008 financial crisis.