MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Attorneys for a group of poor Alabama schoolchildren and their parents are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to considering scrapping Alabama's property tax system. The group argues that the system was set up to give wealthy landowners low rates, ensuring limited funding for public schools attended by minority children in Alabama's rural black belt.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state which challenged the rights of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to operate three casinos in Alabama.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports that U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins ruled Friday that the state has no authority to prohibit the activity on Indian lands.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said in a statement that Alabama officials intend to appeal the court ruling. A spokesperson said the appeal would be filed as quickly as possible with the full Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has casinos in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. Their casinos have electronic games, but no table games. The Poarch Creeks are among 243 tribes conducting gambling in 28 states.
NASA ROVER RACE
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- An annual engineering competition staged by NASA is under way in Huntsville with a new look.
NASA's two-day Human Exploration Rover Challenge will conclude Saturday at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Almost 90 student teams from 19 states, Puerto Rico and four other countries are racing human-powered vehicles over an obstacle course. The competition teaches students to solve engineering problems and challenges.
The event was called the "Great Moonbuggy Race" for two decades. The space agency retooled the race this year to look forward to the challenge of exploring the solar system rather than backward at the U.S. lunar landings in 1969 and the early `70s.
Teams build rovers that can roll over terrain included a simulated Martian surface.
ALLIGATOR ALLEY-SNAKE BITE
(AP) -- A man who stepped out of his car in Alligator Alley to view one of the deadly reptiles was bitten by a poisonous snake.
Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said the 29-year-old man from Boynton Beach was bitten on the foot by a water moccasin Saturday evening after he and his girlfriend made a stop to check out an alligator at mile marker 49 on I-75 eastbound. The highway is also known as Alligator Alley.
Jachles said officials from the Miami-Dade venom unit responded and an air rescue helicopter from the Broward County Sheriff's Office flew the man to the Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Weston, Fla., where he was stabilized.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- A Gainesville music store that supplied music legends such as Tom Petty, the Allman Brothers Band and Bo Diddley with instruments and other equipment is closing its doors.
Buster Lipham hoped to sell out of the remaining inventory at his Lipham Music by Saturday. Lipham is retiring at 70 and closing the store.
The Gainesville Sun reports that Lipham was known for offering credit to teenage musicians for Gibson and Fender guitars, allowing them to pay off the instruments on a weekly basis. Lipham also employed Petty and Don Felder, former guitarist for The Eagles.
Lipham said clever marketing helped advertise his store to touring bands. If a band bought equipment from him, he would pay for the lettering on their vehicles, adding "equipped by Lipham Music."
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Recounting her history-making adventure 50 years later, Jerrie Mock plays it down as a fun way to see the world.
The native of Newark, Ohio, became the first female pilot to fly solo around the globe when her single-engine Cessna named Spirit of Columbus landed in the state's capital on April 17, 1964. She covered more than 23,000 miles in 29-plus days while stopping in places such as Casablanca, Cairo and Calcutta.
Her trip came 27 years after Amelia Earhart's mysterious disappearance in the Pacific. Mock's flight had harrowing moments such as a nearly disastrous fire and a mistaken landing at an Egyptian military base.
Now 88 and living in Quincy, Fla., Mock says what others call a major accomplishment she calls "fun."
A commemoration is planned Thursday in Columbus.
State officials approve Everglades plan
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The process to get federal funding for long-planned Everglades restoration projects is underway, now that the state agency that oversees those projects has approved the $1.9 billion plan.
This week, the South Florida Water Management District's governing board approved a resolution signing on as the local sponsor of the Central Everglades Planning Project. That's a plan to redirect more water south of Lake Okeechobee into the central Everglades and south into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
The vote affirms the district's ability to meet its financial responsibilities for the projects that will take more than a decade to complete. The costs are to be split evenly between the state and the federal government.
The plan is now being reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
MIAMI (AP) -- One of the few surviving whooping cranes from a failed attempt to establish a Florida-based flock of the endangered birds has made a rare appearance at Lake Okeechobee.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Tim Dellinger says a surveyor recently spotted the female crane in Glades County on the lake's western shore.
The bird was one of 37 chicks hatched from 289 captive-bred cranes released between 1999 and 2008. Dellinger tells The Miami Herald that less than a dozen birds from the flock survive, including just a handful of the chicks.
Dellinger says other animals ate the cranes as their wetlands habitat continued to shrink. He remains hopeful for their resurgence, though, and urges anyone who spots a crane to report the sighting on the wildlife commission's website.
ATLANTA (AP) -- WSB-TV reports that its longtime traffic reporter "Captain" Herb Emory has died.
The television station's website quotes the Douglas County Sheriff's Office as saying that Emory stopped Saturday to help at the scene of a car crash in Atlanta when he had a heart attack. The report said Emory was brought to WellStar Douglas Hospital, where he later died.
WSB said Emory had served as an Atlanta traffic reporter since 1971 and had been with WSB Radio and Channel 2 Action News since 1991.
Emory spent many hours a week in a helicopter hovering over Atlanta's infamous traffic jams, offering words of support and empathy with a chipper, empathetic voice.to frustrated drivers.
He was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame in 2008 and received the inaugural Excellence in Motorsports Journalism Award in 2012.
COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) -- An Alabama woman has helped a Fort Benning soldier reclaim a writing journal he lost after being deployed to Afghanistan in 2003.
Kerri Clemons of Arab, Ala., met Sgt. First Class Bryan Bailey at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus on Friday.
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports Bailey was freshly deployed to Afghanistan 11 years ago when he decided to keep a journal.
Bailey later lost track of the book. But Clemons found it in a second-hand store in 2004 and began trying to locate Bryan.
Clemons recently contacted a friend at WAFF-TV in Huntsville and the station did a story. Several people contacted Bryan after seeing the piece, and he contacted Clemons.
Bryan thinks the journal got mixed up with other books that were shipped back after the deployment.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- For the second time in the past two days, a Georgia teenager has been killed by a car while running away from a dog.
Fulton County police say a pitbull began chasing 17-year-old Davon Jiggetts after he stepped off a bus around 1 a.m. Saturday in Riverdale, near Atlanta. Police say he ran into traffic to escape the dog and was killed when a car struck him on Old National Highway.
In east Georgia, an Augusta teenager died early Thursday after being struck by a car while running away from a dog.
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office says 13-year-old Demonta Collins dashed into traffic on Milledgeville Road as he ran from the dog. He was struck by a 2001 Acura and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.