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SENATORS-FISCAL CLIFF

Ala. senators weigh in on fiscal cliff deal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby are sharply divided on a deal that was proposed to avoid tax increases on the middle class and major cuts to government spending.

The Senate early Tuesday voted 89-8 to approve the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012 — a deal Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky negotiated. The proposal prevents tax increases on the middle class, but imposes higher rates on higher incomes.

Sessions issued a statement Tuesday saying the legislation is necessary to end a period of uncertainty that may impact the country's opportunities for economic growth.

Shelby says he does not support the agreement, and the country needs to exercise fiscal restraint.

CHURCH BURGLARIZED

Ala. church damaged in storm targeted in burglary

(Information from: Press-Register, http://www.al.com/press-register/)

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a church that was damaged in the tornado that hit Alabama on Christmas day has been burglarized.

AL.com reports a burglar kicked in the front door of Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church and stole microphones and amplifiers Sunday night. Authorities say several church windows were also broken.

The church on St. Charles Avenue has been closed since last week's tornado.

Authorities say the burglary was discovered by people who were at the church Monday taking inventory for insurance purposes.

FATAL SHOOTING-BURGLARY

Ala. man sought by police in fatal shooting

PIKE ROAD, Ala. (AP) — Montgomery County sheriff's officials say they're searching for a 24-year-old man in connection with a fatal shooting.

AL.com reports Jason Curtis Ferguson is suspected of shooting 19-year-old James Thomas McCollum during a botched burglary Monday morning.

Officials say Ferguson ran from police Monday and ditched his car in the woods.

Ferguson became the subject of a search that involved officers chasing him on foot, dogs tracking his scent and a police helicopter.

State Troopers and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation are helping sheriff's officials with the investigation.

Pike Road is about 15 miles southeast of Montgomery.

BODY FOUND

Police working to identify body of decomposing man

(Information from: Times Journal, http://www.selmatimesjournal.com/)

VALLEY GRANDE, Ala. (AP) — Police in Dallas County are working to identify the body of a man that was found at the edge of a pond in a ravine.

The Selma Times-Journal reports the body was discovered Saturday and is believed to be that of a 60-year-old Valley Grande man who was reported missing before Thanksgiving.

Police say a trailer key and some articles of clothing were found near the body. Officials say the decomposing body is undergoing a forensic examination.

Valley Grande is about eight miles north of Selma.

ALABAMA STATE PRESIDENT

ASU forensic audit likely to cost over $500,000

(Information from: The Birmingham News, http://www.al.com/birminghamnews)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Representatives for Gov. Robert Bentley say the state will likely spend over $500,000 on a forensic audit surrounding contract concerns at Alabama State University.

AL.com Monday reported the audit is the result of former university President Joseph Silver claiming he was told not to investigate contracts he found to be suspicious. Silver was placed on administrative leave in November before he and the university settled on a mutual separation agreement.

The university agreed to pay Silver $685,000 to resign from the position he held for about three months. A stipulation of the agreement calls for Silver to participate in any audit, investigation or lawsuit related to his employment with the school.

After his resignation, Bentley said he would help assemble a search team to find a replacement president.





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