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Latest Alabama news, sports, business and entertainment:

   Stalemate in Congress threatens Ala. ALL Kids coverage
   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The director of Alabama's ALL Kids subsidized
health insurance program is warning that a stalemate over federal
funding could soon force the state to end some children's coverage.
   Director Cathy Caldwell said it's very possible that enrollment
will be reduced in the next several months.
   She calls it --quote-- "a very sticky situation."
   ALL Kids is Alabama's version of the State Children's Health
Insurance Program -- called SCHIP.
   Congress started it 10 years ago to cover children in families
that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford
private insurance.
   Lawmakers are locked in a debate over how much money SCHIP needs
as they reauthorize the program for another five years.
   Congress has twice passed bipartisan legislation to expand the
program by $35 billion over five years.
   But President Bush -- with support from Alabama Republicans -- has
vetoed the measures, and Democratic leaders have fallen just short
of the votes needed to override his opposition.
   Ala. school board OKs background checks, hires 2 presidents
   MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The State Board of Education has
approved a policy that requires criminal background checks on
existing employees and job applicants to the two-year college
   The policy is effective immediately and could cause some current
employees to lose their jobs.
   It generally prohibits the hiring of those convicted of a felony
or crime involving moral turpitude.
   Chancellor Bradley Byrne said the Department of Postsecondary
Education will begin searching for a company to perform the checks.
   The nine-member board's vote for the policy came after they
hired two new college presidents at Shelton State and Trenholm
State colleges.
   Mark Heinrich will head the Shelton campus in Tuscaloosa, and
Samuel Munnerlyn will run Trenholm in Montgomery.
   Byrne said he will consider keeping convicted felons on the
system's payroll depending on the offense, the person's job
performance, and how much time has passed since their conviction.
   The policy is similar to one the Legislature passed for K-12 in
2002, but it doesn't have the same confidentiality restrictions.
   Police tool: Electronic billboards create digital wanted posters
   MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Mobile police are turning to digital
billboards to help catch wanted criminals.
   The eye-catching electronic signs can are being used as a 21st
century version of the Wild West wanted poster.
   Mobile police spokeswoman Nancy Johnson say they think the
boards are going to be highly effective and a great asset.
   Authorities across the country are also using the technology to
search for missing children and to warn the public in emergencies.
   With digital billboards, police can now display a suspect's face
to thousands of people, sometimes almost immediately after a crime
is reported.
   They can also be used for AMBER Alerts for missing children and
to deliver weather bulletins.
   One-time suspect in Ramsey killing seeks background check
   BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- John Mark Karr, a former Alabama
resident who gained notoriety for falsely confessing to the murder
of JonBenet Ramsey, has requested a criminal background check of
himself as part of a job search in Georgia.
   Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said the 43-year-old Karr
unexpectedly showed up at the Birmingham Police Department
yesterday (Wednesday) seeking the screening. He said Karr received
a form confirming he had no convictions in the state.
   Karr made headlines last year when he confessed to killing
JonBenet, who was found beaten and strangled in her family's home
in Boulder, Colorado, on December 26th, 1996. He was later cleared
of any involvement with the crime and has been living in the
Atlanta area.
   Karr grew up in Hamilton in Marion County.
   Vanity Fair plans to add 200 jobs in Alabama
   MONROEVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- Vanity Fair Brands says it will add 200
jobs at its Monroeville plant after closing a distribution center
in South Texas.
   Company officials say the division of Fruit of the Loom will
consolidate a Mission, Texas, distribution center into its
Monroeville plant by the end of next year.
   The company did not disclose the types of jobs or pay scale.
   Kentucky-based Fruit of the Loom last January purchased the
intimate apparel line for 350 million dollars from North
Carolina-based VF, which makes clothing.
   Vanity Fair Brands include Lily of France, Bestform and
Vassarette, with operations based in Alpharetta, Georgia.
   Honda to unveil Pilot prototype at Detroit auto show
   DETROIT (AP) -- Honda will show off a prototype of the
next-generation of its Alabama-built Pilot sport utility vehicle at
the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month.
   The vehicle is manufactured in Lincoln (Talladega County).
   Honda said the new Pilot is sleek and futuristic-looking and
will have advanced safety and fuel efficiency technology.
   A Honda spokesman said details about the technology and other
features will be released during the auto show's media previews.
The previews run from January 13-15.
   The spokesman said the new version will have the same
functionality as the current vehicle, which seats eight and has
medium-duty off-road and all-weather capability.
   The current boxy-looking Pilot made its debut in June 2002 as a
2003 model. The base price for the two-wheel-drive model currently
is $27,595.
   Hunters find body in Troy woods
   TROY, Ala. (AP) -- Police believe human remains found yesterday
(Wednesday) by hunters in a wooded area in Troy are those of a
missing Pike County woman.
   62-year-old Burnese Rudolph vanished from her home on July 29th,
2006. Her car was found in a rural area of Troy about a month
   Authorities said several personal items belonging to Rudolph
also were found near the remains.
   Relatives of Rudolph were escorted to the scene by Police Chief
Anthony Everage. They told the Troy Messenger they believe Rudolph
may have been the victim of foul play.
   Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, a police spokesman, said investigators
hope to have more information after an autopsy is conducted by the
Department of Forensic Sciences.
   Survey shows no change to drought situation across Ala.
   BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- The latest U.S. Drought Monitor survey
shows virtually no change to drastic drought conditions in Alabama.
The data released yesterday showed many areas in the Southeast
could have the driest year on record. Some records date back to
   The report states Tuscaloosa is more than 30 inches below normal
rainfall. 49 percent of Alabama remain under D-4 drought conditions
-- the worst on the scale.
   All but 6 percent of the state, its southern most region along
the coast, are feeling some stage of drought.
   One-third of the Southeast is plagued by D-4 drought and its
getting worse. It includes 49 percent of Georgia, 46 percent of
South Carolina, 21 percent of Tennessee and 6 percent of Virginia.
The most dramatic increase was in North Carolina where 66 percent
of the state is now under D-4 conditions -- that's a 10 percent jump
from last week.
   The lingering conditions could last, according to the survey,
into next summer.

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