News

The U.S. Senate has confirmed a man from north Alabama to serve on the federal bench in the state.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said Thursday the Senate had confirmed Liles Burke of Arab to serve as a federal judge for the northern district of Alabama.

Burke is currently an associate judge on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. He has authored decisions by that court in more than 1,200 cases.

He was nominated by President Trump in September 2017.

Before his service on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, he was a District Judge in Marshall County.

Industry insiders, students, and many others will be gathering in Tuscaloosa today to talk insurance.

Today is I-Day, or Insurance Day, at the Bryant Conference Center at the University of Alabama. The event has been going on for 35 years and offers insurance professionals the chance to learn from leaders in their field.

This year’s theme is Insurance Evolution: Resilience in a Tech-Disrupted World.

A search and rescue team from Tennessee has been deployed to Alabama ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Michael.

The Memphis Fire Department says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked Tennessee Task Force Type 3 to report to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

The department says a team of 80 firefighters, doctors, engineers and dog handlers departed Tennessee yesterday.

The task force will be responsible for wide-area and swift water search and rescue efforts.

A nonprofit organization in Alabama has some tough news about kids in Alabama.

VOICES for Alabama’s Children has released its annual Kids Count Data Book, aimed at helping lawmakers and advocates understand the issues facing Alabama’s kids. The report says child poverty is on the rise, with 26.5% of Alabama’s children now living in poverty.

Infant mortality in the state is also high, at 9.1 per 1,000 live births compared to the national average of 5.6 per 1000 live births.

It’ll be free to hop on the bus this week in Tuscaloosa.

The Tuscaloosa News reports the city's transit authority is offering free rides across the city as it unveils an entirely new bus route.

Executive Director Russell Lawrence says the authority changed some stops on other routes, leading to the decision to waive the $1 for bus fare or 20 cents to transfer citywide.

It's the system's first new route since 2011.

Tropical storm Michael has formed just east of the Yucatan Peninsula. Southwesterly wind shear is impacting the developing storm causing deep thunderstorm activity. Despite the wind shear, forecasters were expecting this system to become tropical storm “Michael” before day's end. Tropical storm warnings are flying for western Cuba and the tourist spots of Tulum and Cozumel along Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Anti-smoking advocates say they hope to strengthen smoking restrictions across northwest Alabama after Sheffield passed a tighter ordinance. However, restaurant owners say the city is hurting their businesses and smokers are urging a boycott of Sheffield. The city ordinance banning smoking in public spaces begins later this month. The group Smoke Free Shoals told the Times Daily that it hopes to get Florence, Muscle Shoals and Tuscumbia to follow Sheffield's move. However, officials in Florence and Tuscumbia say they're uninterested in changes.

Adopt a Dog Month

Oct 6, 2018
DodgersMom Photography [Flickr]

Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue group saves that animal's life and changes yours for the better in ways you cannot imagine.  And it will make a space in the shelter to give another dog a chance to find a home!

****************

Alabama's Democratic candidate for attorney general wants the state Ethics Commission to review campaign contributions to his opponent. At issue is $735,000 in Attorney General Steve Marshall’s war chest. Joe Siegelman believes the money from the Republican Attorney General Association violates the state ban on transfers between political action committees. Marshall and RAGA maintained the contributions are legal.

An Alabama judge says, at least for now, the city of Huntsville does not have to hand prosecutors copies of a statement made by a police officer charged with murder.

News outlets report Judge Donna Pate ruled yesterday that Officer William Darby's statements to an internal police review board are protected unless he decides to testify at his trial.

Prosecutors had sought the statements. Pate ordered the city to give prosecutors other records from the internal review of the shooting.

The relatives of a man who died in an Alabama prison say officials provided inadequate medical care before his death.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports the family of 45-year-old state inmate Michael Eddings says workers at Ventress prison in southeast Alabama were "deliberately indifferent" to his condition.

Eddings died on Sept. 24 after a bacterial infection developed into meningitis.

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the case of an Alabama death row inmate who lawyers say suffers from dementia and can no longer remember killing a police officer in 1985.

Justices will hear arguments today as to whether it would be unconstitutional to execute 68-year-old Vernon Madison. Madison was convicted of killing Mobile police officer Julius Schulte in 1985.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said death row prisoners must have a "rational understanding" that they are about to be executed and why.

Tobias Klüpfel [Flickr]

Sure it feels good to scratch an itch, but in a pet it could be a sign of a flea problem.  While it's important to keep your pet healthy (and that includes keeping fleas and ticks away), consult with your veterinarian about the best and safest products to use on and around your furry friend.

*******************

Public health and corrections officials are responding to an illness outbreak at an Alabama prison that left one inmate dead. The Alabama Department of Public Health said Friday that here has been a pneumococcal disease outbreak at the Ventress Correctional Facility in Barbour County. Three inmates were hospitalized and one inmate died after developing meningitis. Health officials says the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria can cause illnesses ranging from ear and sinus infections to pneumonia and meningitis.

This program was produced by the four member APR news team, with no budget. Alabama’s prison system and justice system are in the national spotlight and not for good reasons. The State’s prisons are one hundred percent overcapacity. Alabama is criticized for spending the least amount of money per inmate per day in the nation, for rehabilitation, housing, and supervision. This $26 daily amount is blamed for the State’s 30% recidivism rate.  Alabama likes to trumpet its Wrongful Incarnation Act, which is supposed to compensate people sent to prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

Help Wanted: Alabama's Rural Health Care Crisis

Sep 28, 2018

June 6, 2018 marks fifty years since the death of Robert F. Kennedy. Reporters covering his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination established the RFK Journalism Awards, which recognize coverage of the disadvantaged, or victims of social injustice. APR is honored to join the 2018 RFK laureates with our documentary "Help Wanted: Alabama's Rural Health Care Crisis." The news team's effort will also be recognized with the National Edward R. Murrow award in New York City next month. Pat D.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is voting on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination. A full Senate vote on the nomination is expected as early as next week. Click headline to watch the proceeding live...

Alabama has lost its multi-billion-dollar bid to build the next trainer jet for the U.S. Air Force at the historic home of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Developers had proposed Tuskegee's Moton Field as a site for Italian defense firm Leonardo DRS to assemble the T-100 trainer, but the Pentagon chose Boeing for the project instead.

Boeing will receive a $9.2 billion contract to produce more than 350 T-X trainer jets in addition to simulators and other equipment.

flood SUV
Albertville Fire & Rescue

Flash floods in north Alabama trapped people in homes and vehicles yesterday, and forecasters say the threat could last through today.

Torrential rain from a cold front moving through the state caused water to quickly cover roads and low-lying areas near Birmingham. Video and photos showed homes surrounded by water and motorists trapped in cars and trucks.

A mobile home park was evacuated in Brighton because of rising water, and fire officials say at least two people were rescued in the city.

Oliver Robinson
ballotpedia.org

Federal prosecutors are looking for nearly three years in prison for a former legislator who has admitted to taking bribes to fight environmental cleanup efforts in Birmingham.

Former state Rep. Oliver Robinson will be sentenced in federal court today. Court documents show prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 33 months in prison.

Prosecutors say that sends a message of deterrence but also reflects Robinson's "early acceptance of responsibility."

Fourteen Alabama prisoners have earned theological degrees under a new seminary program in the state’s prison system.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says the first inmates graduated from seminary studies under the Birmingham Theological Seminary Prison Initiative Program.

The privately funded program allows inmates to take seminary classes taught at the Bibb County Correctional Facility. The program lasts two years.

Ten inmates earned certificates in biblical studies and four earned masters of arts in biblical studies.

Alabama's Mobile County is confirming its twelfth case of West Nile virus. The county's health department reported its first case was reported in August. The health department says mosquito activity peaks at dusk and dawn. Officials said the best ways to prevent bites are to wear long pants and shirts, use repellent, and avoid standing water. Humans with the virus or other mosquito-borne diseases often have symptoms of high fever, severe headache, nausea, stiff neck, confusion, muscle weakness, paralysis, disorientation, and seizures. In rare cases, the virus can cause coma or death.

The Alabama Hospital Association launched a campaign this week to push for expansion of the state's Medicaid program. Politicians in the Deep South have often opposed expansion, but the Alabama Hospital Association is urging citizens and policy makers to think of expansion as they would any other economic development investment, arguing it would benefit communities and the entire state health care system in addition to the estimated three hundred thousand people who would gain health care coverage, add thirty thousand jobs, and twenty eight billion to the economy.

World Rabies Day

Sep 22, 2018
RabiesAlliance.org

Rabies is prevented, by vaccinating animals that come in contact with humans.  If it's been a while since your pet was vaccinated  make an appointment with your veterinarian this week.   

***************

"Drag Queen Story Hour"

Sep 19, 2018
APR's Pat Duggins

The cities of Mobile and New Orleans now have more in common than Mardi Gras and Jazz. The public libraries in both towns now offer a unique twist on story hour for children. APR’s Pat Duggins headed to the port city for its inaugural event. He brings us the voices of protesters on both sides of the issue of inclusion for Mobile’s LGBTQ community. This story was covered as a collaboration between Alabama Public Radio and the University of Alabama's Center for Public Television, where Duggins worked alongside a student video team.

Alabama's prison system is facing a hearing on how it provides mental health services to inmates.

Al.com reports U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson has ordered a hearing in Montgomery later today on why the Alabama Department of Corrections should not be held in contempt of court for failing to meet deadlines for increasing mental health staffing.

Thompson ruled last year that mental health care in Alabama prisons was "horrendously inadequate" and violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Alex AuBuchon / APR

The four girls killed in a church bombing in Birmingham in 1963 were remembered over the weekend during a memorial service on the attack’s 55th anniversary.

Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson were all killed September 15, 1963 when a bomb placed by Ku Klux Klan members ripped through Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Saturday’s service also honored two boys, Johnny Robinson, Jr. and Virgil Ware, killed in separate incidents shortly after the bombing.

The federal government has until mid-November to respond to the state of Alabama's lawsuit seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants from U.S. Census counts.

Last week, a federal judge gave the U.S. Department of Commerce and Census Bureau an extension until Nov. 13 to reply to the lawsuit. Lawyers had said the Department of Justice components needed additional time to finish "evaluating the arguments that the government will make in this matter."

Alabama's Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn the death sentence of a Birmingham man convicted in a 2009 robbery and shooting. The high court is directing a Jefferson County judge to sentence Anthony Lane to life without possibility of parole. The ruling came after the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered Alabama's courts to reconsider the death sentence in 2015. The Justices cited cases that say states can't execute people with mental disabilities. However, even after that, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals had reaffirmed that Lane should get the death penalty.

The Alabama Department of Education wants more money for school security and other programs next year. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that State Schools Superintendent Eric Mackey says he wants more money for reading and math programs, as well as for pre-kindergarten special education. Mackey says additional funding is also needed for transportation and school nurses. The Superintendent told the state board of education that the $30 million for school nurses would not add one nurse in Alabama. He said state funding for the nurses would free up local money for other programs.

Pages