University of Alabama football

Workers in the Tuscaloosa area could see their wages go up soon.

Mayor Walt Maddox and the city council plan to consider an ordinance that would hike the local minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The proposal prompted a march down University Boulevard to City Hall on Martin Luther King Day. The group called for economic justice and a higher minimum working wage.

Deidre Stalnaker is the Communications Director for the City of Tuscaloosa. She says she’s not entirely sure what impact the move will have on area businesses.

Christopher Brooks
Alabama Department of Corrections

The state of Alabama executed Christopher Brooks last night for the 1992 rape and murder of Deann Campbell.

The execution was the state’s first in more than two years and the first to be carried out in Alabama using the controversial new sedative midazolam. Some say midazolam carries a high risk of botched executions, and there is currently a pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s lethal injection procedure.

But Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn says last night’s execution went “exactly as planned”.

The federal government is charging a major Hyundai automotive supplier in Selma for threatening to fire employees and close the plant to keep workers from unionizing.

Lear Corporation is a Fortune 500 company that owns a car seat manufacturing plant in Selma. National Labor Relations Board regulators accused the company of intimidating employees for trying to unionize. Workers say one of their main complaints is stagnant wages; many employees have been with Lear for decades and still make little more than $10 an hour.

University Blvd
Mackenzie Bates / APR

Alabama fans in Tuscaloosa are celebrating the Crimson Tide’s 45-40 win over Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship. APR’s MacKenzie Bates takes us to campus where the partying held strong long after the final whistle.

Alabama fans piled out on to University Boulevard right outside of the Tuscaloosa campus to cheer as the Crimson Tide won the program’s 16th National Championship.

Tight end O.J. Howard had five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 9:48 left in the game

Pelham football
Brynn Anderson / AP

An Alabama judge has given House Speaker Mike Hubbard until Friday to ask for a delay in his impending ethics trial currently scheduled to overlap with the upcoming legislative session.

Lee County Judge Jacob Walker gave Hubbard's lawyers a Jan. 15 deadline to file a motion to continue after a departure in his legal team. Hubbard's lead lawyer, Mark White, was given permission to withdraw from the ethics case Friday. White cited an undisclosed conflict of interest as his reason for leaving the team.

Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again suggesting that gay marriage is illegal in Alabama, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Moore issued an administrative order yesterday advising probate judges not to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He says the state Supreme Court never lifted its directive from March advising judges to abide by the Alabama constitution.

Thousands of workers who had lost their retirement benefits in the wake of Walter Energy’s bankruptcy will soon be getting them back.

The Birmingham Business Journal reports that federal agency Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will be taking over paying benefits for more than 2700 current and future retirees of Hoover-based Walter Energy.

The agency is stepping in as Walter plans to sell the majority of its assets. The company has had a hard time finding buyers, and any potential buyers say they won’t take over the pension plan.

Alabama is drying out and cleaning up from tornadoes that hit Christmas night. Flooding is also a concern as the state heads toward the New Year’s holiday.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-0 tornado hit Tuscaloosa County Friday afternoon with winds of seventy five miles per hour. Two hours later, a confirmed EF-2 twister touched down in suburban Birmingham. That storm is confirmed to have damaged more than 70 structures, from minor damage to total destruction.

beachfront mansion
Jay Reeves / AP

Alabama is using a chunk of BP settlement money to renovate a beachfront governor's mansion that's been abandoned on the Gulf Coast for nearly two decades.

Work began earlier this month near Gulf Shores to fix the 7,500-square-foot gubernatorial mansion that was never repaired after Hurricane Danny badly damaged the home in 1997.

A spokeswoman for Governor Robert Bentley says no taxpayer money is being used in the project. She says BP grant money remaining from the 2010 oil spill is being used to cover the cost, estimated at as much as $1.8 million.

Etowah County Detention Center
Hannah Rappleye / NBC News

A federal judge has authorized the force-feeding of one detainee on hunger strike at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Etowah County.

Chief U.S District Judge Karon O. Bowdre authorized the force-feeding last week, if needed, for a detainee reported to be in deteriorating health. Bowdre also authorized medical monitoring of other detainees participating in the hunger strike.

48 detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center began a hunger strike two weeks ago today, on Nov. 25. 15 continue to participate.

A man convicted in the shooting death of an off-duty Birmingham police officer has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. APR’s Stan Ingold has more.

42-year-old Patrick Johnson was sentenced Monday. In October, he was convicted of felony murder in the 2014 shooting death of Birmingham Police Officer Keary Hollis.

A jury reached a deadlock on a verdict in May, and Johnson was tried again in October.

The University of Alabama Systems' chancellor is spearheading a coalition from kindergarten to four-year institution leaders to advocate the state's education system.

The Alabama Unites for Education coalition launched last week to protect the state's education budget. The Tuscaloosa News reports the group includes the leadership of the University of Alabama System, the Alabama Community College System, and the Alabama Department of Education as well as the presidents of UA’s three campuses and Auburn University.

Alabama Crimson Tide
Mackenzie Bates / APR

The Alabama Crimson Tide won their 25th Southeastern Conference Championship Saturday, defeating the Florida Gators 29-15.

Heisman Trophy favorite Derrick Henry rushed for 189 bruising yards and the Tide sealed its spot in the College Football Playoff, beating #18 Florida with a dominating defensive performance.

The Crimson Tide (12-1, No. 2 CFP) held the Gators to a total of 3 yards in the second and third quarters. Florida (10-3, No. 18 CFP) only managed an 85-yard punt return from Antonio Callaway and a late touchdown that made little difference in the game.

Time is running out if you want to speak out about the settlement from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Residents have until the end of the day today to express their concerns over the deal between BP, the Gulf States and the federal government. The goal of the settlement is a dollar for dollar restoration of the damage done by the spill.

Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden says all accounts will be taken into full consideration.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in Alabama today to mark the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Clinton will be speaking at 11 a.m. this morning at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery. The church was pastored by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the boycott.

Clinton’s speech falls on the anniversary of Rosa Parks' arrest for refusing to give her bus seat to a white passenger on December 1, 1955. Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of Montgomery buses to protest segregated seating.

The Alabama state report card on its infrastructure will be released in December by the American Society of Civil Engineering. APR student reporter Taylor Swinney has more.

The United States as a whole has not graded well over the years, coming in with an overall D+ in the American Society of Civil Engineering's last report in 2013.

Andrew Herrmann is the former President of ASCE. He says Alabama citizens pay more a year to drive on roads and bridges that are not in good condition.

Demonstrators emptied liquor bottles outside the Alabama Capitol to protest the closing of driver's license offices in Black Belt counties.

Selma state senator Hank Sanders told the Montgomery Advertiser that state agencies are leaving money-losing liquor stores open in the impoverished areas while closing rural driver's license offices.

The crowd chanted "Give us the ballot, not just the bottle" during the Monday protest.

The event was one of several demonstrations over the closures.

Downtown Rescue Mission
NASA

The city of Huntsville is working to make the holiday season special for local families.

Every year the Downtown Rescue Mission helps the homeless and families in need during the Thanksgiving holidays. The Mission provides Thanksgiving boxes filled with items to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. The boxes include a frozen turkey, stuffing, yams, a fruit cocktail and rolls.

Tonia Beverly is the Director of Events and Business Partnership at the Downtown Rescue Mission. She says that these packages give families something to be thankful for during the holidays.

Elliott Spillers
Pete Pajor / Crimson White

Students at the University of Alabama repeated a list of demands for more diversity on the Tuscaloosa campus.

A student march started at Malone-Hood Plaza and ended at Gorgas Library, where the students' eleven goals were restated. The group “We Are Done UA” wants a safe space for students of color, a diversity class for freshmen, and a way to report hate crimes and sexual abuse on campus, among other things.

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley is putting his rhetoric against Syrian refugees settling in the state into action.

The governor has directed state agencies to try to block the relocation of any Syrian refugees in Alabama.

Bentley signed an executive order Monday after announcing his opposition to Syrian refugees settling in Alabama over the weekend. The order directs state agencies to use all "lawful means" to prevent the resettlement of refugees.

Governor Robert Bentley has announced he won’t allow any Syrian refugees to relocate to Alabama.

Bentley released a statement Sunday saying, "After full consideration of this weekend's attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way."

Tommy Bice
timesdaily.com

Alabama Department of Education Superintendent Tommy Bice says he will propose raising teacher salaries over the next three years.

Bice said yesterday his department would recommend raising teachers' salaries 5 percent in fiscal year 2017, which begins next October.

The state government will have the final word on public school spending next year. According to the department, the raise would cost $160 million.

Bice says he will seek additional raises in 2018 and 2019, with the goal of bringing teacher salaries in line with inflation.

A lawyer for VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor says he hopes to have the casino reopened by Christmas, despite a court order allowing the state to keep his seized gambling machines.

McGregor's attorney Joe Espy says VictoryLand will have to obtain new machines in order to reopen. However, Espy believes the casino will be able to do that.

The state has been in a long-running legal battle over the slot machine look-alikes.

The attorney general's office seized over 1600 electronic bingo machines and $260,000 in cash during a 2013 raid at VictoryLand.

Three Tuscaloosa Police officers are on paid leave following a videotaped incident that went viral on the internet. According to APR’s Pat Duggins, even Police Chief Steven Anderson admits he was disturbed by it.

The graphic video shot from inside a Tuscaloosa apartment shows local police officers pushing their way inside, and pulling two University of Alabama students out. A Taser and a nightstick are used as the officers forcibly subdue and arrest the young man and woman. Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson says the images left him with some questions.

The Tuscaloosa Police Department has launched an internal investigation after videos emerged of a team of officers using a Taser and baton during an arrest early Saturday morning.

The officers were responding to a loud music complaint at an apartment near the University of Alabama campus. Multiple videos of the incident show an officer speaking to the apartment’s occupants, who refused to exit the apartment and questioned whether the officer was within his rights to search the residence.

Eric Parker
Brynn Anderson / AP

A second trial for an Alabama police officer accused of using excessive force on an Indian man ended yesterday in a hung jury.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala declared a second mistrial yesterday in the case involving former Madison police officer Eric Parker. Parker’s defense attorney asked the judge to acquit his client.

Alabama has reopened most rural driver license offices for one day each month.

The offices began reopening this week on a limited basis following national backlash over a plan to close them permanently.

In September, The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced plans to close 31 offices where state workers had given driving tests one day per week.

The agency said the closures were necessary because of budget cuts. Critics said the closures created a hardship for rural residents and only saved the state $100,000 a year in travel costs.

Eric Parker
Brynn Anderson / AP

Federal prosecutors are trying for a second time to convict former Madison police officer Eric Parker of using unreasonable force when questioning an Indian man in February.

57 year old Sureshbhai Patel appears to have been slammed to the ground by Parker in a police dash camera video.

Robert Posey is the first assistant U.S. attorney for the northern district. He says the prosecution has good evidence on their side.

Alabama death row inmates are seeking alternative methods for execution. APR student reporter Parker Branton reports on their latest arguments.

Death row inmate Tommy Arthur says he’d rather face a firing squad rather than undergo lethal injection in Alabama.

He and Anthony Boyd are pleading their case to change their method of execution. They join five other death row inmates who have filed lawsuits claiming the state’s current three-drug lethal injection protocol for executions as cruel and unusual punishment under the United States constitution.

Pilgrim's Pride
John Bonzo / Wikimedia

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed multiple lawsuits against chicken processor Pilgrim’s Pride.

According to an AL.com report, the agency is accusing the company of discriminatory hiring practices in Alabama and North Carolina.

A complaint filed last month by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Compliance Programs accuses Pilgrim’s Pride of systematically discriminating against African-American, Caucasian and female job applicants at its poultry plant in Athens.

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