Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

The chief executive officer of the nation's largest public utility has announced his plans to retire.

Bill Johnson of the Tennessee Valley Authority revealed his plans during a board meeting Wednesday in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Johnson joined the federal utility in 2013. He turns 65 in January.

TVA says it could take months while the board searches through internal or external candidates. Johnson will remain CEO while his successor is picked and trained to lead.

Editor's Note: On correction from the AP below...

The man appointed by President Donald Trump's administration to run the Environmental Protection Agency's Southeastern regional office and who once was Alabama's top environmental official has been indicted, along with a former business partner, on state ethics charges in Alabama.

Bellefonte plant
Wikimedia.org

The businessman trying to buy a mothballed nuclear power plant from Tennessee Valley Authority has been given an extension to complete the $111 million purchase.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports Franklin Haney signed an agreement on Nov. 14, 2016, that gave the former real estate developer two years to complete the purchase of the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in north Alabama.

TVA has now extended the deadline to Nov. 30.

wikipedia.org

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was on hand in Mobile, Alabama, to christen a U.S. Navy ship.  

Al.com repoertsthat the USNS Puerto Rico was christened Saturday at the Austal USA shipyard, where it was built. Sotomayor broke a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow, a Navy tradition.

The Puerto Rico was the 11th of 12 Expeditionary Fast Transport ships to be built by Austal under a $1.9 billion contract.

Alabama's growing population means state driver licenses will get an additional digit.  

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says it's adding an eighth digit to all new driver licenses issued by the state beginning Dec. 1.

The department says people who hold the roughly 5.9 million valid licenses already issued by the state won't be affected by the change. Their seven-digit licenses will remain valid.

Alabama's largest health insurer will stop covering OxyContin prescriptions as part of an effort to deter opioid abuse.

AL.com reports Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama announced earlier this week that it will stop covering the standard formulation of OxyContin and its generic variation, oxycodone ER, on January 1, 2019. The changes are part of the insurer's opioid management strategy for commercial members.

Nearly one in 10 voters in Alabama are currently characterized as inactive and will need to update their addresses in order for their votes to count in next week’s midterm elections.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says 301,914 voters are currently listed as inactive. He says those voters can still cast ballots on Tuesday, but they must fill out a form at their polling location in order to update their address.

Most of those voters were declared inactive during state voter roll maintenance, when the state was unable to reach the person by way of mailed postcards.

The state of Alabama plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state's effort to ban the most commonly used second trimester abortion procedure.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall's office on Tuesday asked the court for additional time to file its petition for review.

In 2016, Alabama lawmakers voted to ban the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. A federal judge blocked the law as an unconstitutional restriction on abortion access.

In August of this year, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the decision.

The race for Alabama’s governor has commanded much of the media attention heading into next week’s midterm elections. But there’s also a heated race for the currently-vacant position of lieutenant governor.

The two candidates seeking to fill that office say they want to use the position — which has limited official powers — to drive the political conversation in Alabama.

Republican state Rep. Will Ainsworth and Democratic minister Will Boyd are both vying for the position.

Colombia capitol
Wikimedia

Authorities in the nation of Colombia say they are reopening an investigation into whether a coal company based in Alabama financed a paramilitary group during the South American country's bloody civil conflict.

The investigation into the Drummond company is expected to focus on irregular payments allegedly made to a contractor already found guilty in relation to the murders of two labor leaders.

It’s long been accused that Drummond financed an umbrella paramilitary group, but those claims have repeatedly been dismissed in U.S. courts.

Double-nickel — the 55-mph speed limit— is still common on highways across the South.

Now, Alabama is adding a new limit: A quarter and a penny.

Al.com reports, Alabama 135 now has a 26-mph (42 kph) speed limit through Gulf State Park.  

It's on a stretch of highway in south Alabama. The speed limit there used to be 35-mph (56 kph).

The idea is that drivers will take note of the speed limit since it is an unusual one, Gulf Shores Police Chief Edward Delmore said.

Alabama Supreme Court
Chris Pruitt / Wikimedia

Six former members of the Alabama Supreme Court, including three Republicans, have signed a letter urging voters to pick Jefferson County Circuit Judge Bob Vance as the state's next chief justice.

The former justices endorsed Vance, a Democrat, over Republican Associate Justice Tom Parker in the Nov. 6 election. Parker is a current member of the court.

In the letter endorsing Vance, the justices wrote he is "clearly the most qualified candidate for this high office."

Vote Here
Danny Johnston / AP

Today is the final day to register to vote in order to participate in next month's election.

People can register online to vote until 11:59 p.m. this evening. People can also register in person at their local county board of registrars' office until the close of business, which is typically 5 p.m.

Registration forms sent through the mail must be postmarked by today.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says it's crucial for Alabamians' voices to be heard this election:

Alabama congressional candidate Mallory Hagan says a concerning number of the state’s voters have been removed from active voter rolls.

Hagan says over 55,000 voters in the 3rd Congressional District have been disqualified or labeled inactive since February of 2017. Hagan has announced a committee of lawyers who will volunteer to assist voters and monitor voter suppression concerns.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said last year that 340,162 people were put on inactive voter status, a precursor to removal.

Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant
TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun a scheduled outage at its Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama to prepare it to generate additional electricity.

The utility recently issued a news release saying it will install 332 new nuclear fuel assemblies and perform a final round of modifications. Browns Ferry Unit 1 will be the second of three Browns Ferry units to generate an additional 155 megawatts of electricity.

Unit 3 began operating at the new power rating in July. Final modifications will be installed on Unit 2 next spring.

Sheriff's deputies in one of Alabama's largest counties are now armed with body cameras.

Jefferson County deputies are now officially wearing the equipment after nearly a year of testing and evaluating the technology.

Supporters say recording encounters between citizens and officers reduces police violence and protects officers by providing objective video evidence.

Skeptics argue body cameras create privacy concerns for both officers and citizens.

President Donald Trump has approved federal disaster aid relief for four Alabama counties affected by Hurricane Michael.

The emergency disaster declaration covers Dale, Geneva, Henry and Houston counties, which are near the Florida panhandle where the hurricane made landfall last week.

Gov. Kay Ivey recently issued a news release saying Saturday's declaration means the counties will get funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance Program to help local governments cover costs associated with preparing for and responding to Michael.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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."

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