Oil, money, politics: Keystone XL hits a snag
April 23rd, 2013
04:22 AM ET

Oil, money, politics: Keystone XL hits a snag

The politics of oil and ecology have put President Obama between a rock and hard place, as he faces a decision on whether or not to permit construction of a new pipeline. The squeeze just got tighter with a new, negative environmental assessment.

The Keystone XL pipeline will give America energy independence, thousands of jobs, important industrial infrastructure and won't cost taxpayers a dime, say proponents. Many of them are Republican lawmakers.

It is dangerous, inherently filthy and must be stopped, say opponents, some of whom are Democrats who helped get the president elected.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Barack Obama • Business • Canada • Climate change • Democratic Party • Earth • Economy • Energy • Environment • Global Warming • Jobs • Montana • Nature • Nebraska • North Dakota • Politics • Protest • Railroads • Republican Party • State Department • U.S. • World
April 11th, 2013
06:51 AM ET

Tornadoes strike Missouri, Arkansas

Residents in Missouri and Arkansas are grappling with the aftermath of a series of storms that spawned at least two tornadoes.

At least 24 homes in Hazelwood, Missouri, sustained severe damage from Wednesday night's storms, the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management said.

One tornado touched down in the St. Louis suburb, ripping the roofs off of several homes, Hazelwood communications manager Tim Davidson said. No serious injuries were immediately reported.

Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri after a series of storms pummeled the St. Louis area and elsewhere across the state. Nixon will tour damaged areas Thursday, his website said.


Filed under: Arkansas • Missouri
Voter ID law vetoed in Arkansas
A bill in Arkansas would require voters to show state-issued identification.
March 25th, 2013
07:54 PM ET

Voter ID law vetoed in Arkansas

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed a bill Monday that proposed residents produce photo identification before voting, the governor's office said.

"Senate Bill 2 is, then, an expensive solution in search of a problem," Beebe wrote in a veto letter written to the state Senate. "[It] will cost approximately $300,000 in tax dollars to implement. ... I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens."

The bill, passed by a 22-12 vote of the Senate last week, was supposed to take effect on the first day of 2014. The state House passed the legislation 51-44 on March 13.

 

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Filed under: Arkansas • Politics • U.S.
Arkansas lawmakers back strict abortion bill
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed the bill, but his veto was overridden by the legislature.
March 7th, 2013
03:32 AM ET

Arkansas lawmakers back strict abortion bill

Overriding a veto by Arkansas' Democratic governor, the state's Republican-controlled House and Senate approved a bill to ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy - the most restrictive such law in the country.

Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the bill Monday, saying it "blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court."

But on Wednesday, the Arkansas House voted 56-33 to override the veto, following a 20-14 override vote a day earlier in the state Senate.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Abortion • Arkansas • Politics
December 26th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

Official: At least 100 homes, businesses damaged by storms in Alabama

[Updated at 1:16 p.m. ET] At least 100 homes and business were damaged in the city of Mobile, Alabama with an additional 20 to 25 structures damaged just outside of the city, an Alabama Emergency Management official said.

Eleven other counties are reporting structural damage, however August did not have exact numbers.

Pike County, south of Montgomery, reported that one adult male was severely injured by the storm, however the extent of his injures were not known.

[Posted at 9:27 a.m. ET] At least 215,000 power customers are without power in the Gulf Cost region due to a weather system that moved thru the region yesterday and overnight, according to local power companies

[Posted at 9:17 a.m. ET] Major Chris Heathscott, spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard, says they have deployed resources for ambulance support in Pulaski and Faulkner counties.

Fourteen personnel, and seven ambulances are providing ambulance support in the region. Heathscott, says that the area has had 6-8" of snow. Little Rock is in Pulaski County.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Tornadoes • Weather
October 29th, 2012
09:42 AM ET

3.9-magnitude earthquake strikes northeastern Arkansas

A 3.9-magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Arkansas Monday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey

The quake was centered about six miles from Parkin, near the Tennessee border, at a depth of 3.2 miles.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Earthquake • Natural Disasters
August 15th, 2012
12:42 AM ET

CNN Prime Time: Paul Ryan's first interview; police show how man shot himself

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VP Pick Paul Ryan gives first TV interview

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan gives his first one-on-one interview since becoming the nominee.

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Police reenact mysterious death

Police say Chavis Carter shot himself in the head when he was handcuffed in the back of a police car. They demonstrate how it may have happened.

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Hope Solo: I have a bad rep

Olympian and U.S. soccer champ Hope Solo talks to Piers Morgan about her reputation in the media.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Arkansas • Budget • CNN Prime Time • Crime • Drugs • Economy • Finance • Justice • Marijuana • Mitt Romney • Olympics • Politics • Soccer • Sports • TV-Anderson Cooper 360 • TV-Piers Morgan • Uncategorized
April 11th, 2012
01:59 PM ET

After another spectacular exit, Petrino eyes football return

Bobby Petrino’s firing Tuesday as University of Arkansas football coach was the latest chapter in a colorful career that has seen great success on the field but also less-than-flattering headlines.

Arkansas’ athletic director said he fired Petrino because, in part, Petrino didn’t immediately disclose that a 25-year-old female member of his staff was with him when he crashed his motorcycle on April 1.

A university review also determined the woman had had a consensual relationship with the married father of four, and that he had hired the woman – out of 159 applicants - days earlier without disclosing their relationship, Athletics Director Jeff Long said.

Petrino “engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletics staff before and after the accident,” Long said Tuesday.

Not the kind of statement you’d want from a former boss if you’re looking for your next gig. But the 51-year-old coach has been getting jobs despite a reputation for a lack of candor, and he’ll likely get another chance, SI.com’s Andy Staples writes.

“Some school will eventually hire him. He wins football games. That makes up for any number of foibles,” Staples writes.

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Filed under: Arkansas • College football • Football • Sports
September 13th, 2011
05:48 PM ET

At least 1 injured in Arkansas courthouse shooting

At least one person was injured in a shooting late Tuesday afternoon at a courthouse in Crawford County, Arkansas, police said.

A suspect in the shooting is in custody and also is believed to have been shot, Van Buren police Detective Jonathan Wear said.

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Police: Arkansas meteorologist found asleep in tub next to dead man
KARK meteorologist Brett Cummins was allegedly found asleep in a hot tub next to a dead man.
September 7th, 2011
10:12 PM ET

Police: Arkansas meteorologist found asleep in tub next to dead man

Police are investigating the death of an Arkansas man whose naked body was allegedly found next to a sleeping TV weatherman in a hot tub after a night of drinking and drugs.

The owner of the home awoke Monday morning to find the body of 24-year-old Dexter Williams at the bottom of an empty tub, his face blue and purple and a chain resembling a dog collar around his neck, according to a Maumelle Police report.

Asleep next to him was KARK meteorologist Brett Cummins, 33, who had arrived at Christopher Barbour's home outside Little Rock accompanied by Williams around 8 p.m. on Sunday, Barbour told police.

The three drank and snorted drugs, though Barbour told police he did not know what kind, Officer Gregory Roussie said in a report. The three continued drinking in the hot tub until Barbour retired for the night around 11 p.m., falling asleep on his couch.

Barbour awoke to the sound of Cummins snoring and discovered the two in the hot tub, which had been drained of water, he told police. After he awoke Cummins, the two realized that Williams' face was discolored and his skin cold to the touch, prompting Cummins to scream and run to the living room, where he vomited, Barbour said.

Maumelle Police and fire rescue arrived at the home around 8:10 a.m. and found Williams' body in the tub with blood pooling around his head, Sergeant David Collins said in a report. In the master bedroom he found a pill bottle next to a pair of khaki cargo shorts on a storage ottoman at the foot of the bed.

No arrests had been made as of Wednesday, Lieutenant Jim Hansard said.

FULL POST

Gotta Watch: Story behind Little Rock 9
September 4th, 2011
01:20 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Story behind Little Rock 9

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared all laws establishing segrated schools unconstitutional. That meant African-American students could legally attend all-white schools. By 1957, the NAACP registered a group of nine black students to attend Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.  The school board agreed to comply with the 1954 ruling and approved a plan for gradual integration that would start that school year. 

On September 4, that group of students, later nicknamed the "Little Rock 9," attempted to enter Central High on the first day of school, but a crowd of angry students and hundreds of National Guardsmen blocked them from entering. The incident grabbed national attention - and the attention of President Eisenhower. As a result, the nine students attended the school under federal protection, opening the door for black students across the country. In today's Gotta Watch, we're featuring highlights from that historic day and reaction from the Little Rock 9 as they look back on their experiences three decades later.

A day that changed history – Take a look at this historical footage from the very day the so-called Little Rock 9 were blocked from entering their school.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Civil Rights • Courts • Education • Gotta Watch • Hate crime • History • Human rights • Justice • U.S.
How can West Memphis 3 walk free?
August 19th, 2011
01:11 PM ET

How can West Memphis 3 walk free?

Three men convicted of killing three West Memphis, Arkansas, boys in 1993 were freed following a court hearing Friday.

The men - Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin attended the hearing in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Echols had been sentenced to death, and Misskelley and Baldwin were given life sentences in the May 1993 slayings of Steven Branch and fellow second-graders Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. The boys' bodies were mutilated and left in a ditch, hogtied with their own shoelaces.

So how exactly were the convicted men able to go free?

New DNA evidence failed to link the men to the crime, and the state Supreme Court ruled in November that all three could present new evidence to the trial court in an effort to clear them. A decision was pending on whether the three would get a true trial. In essence, the deal made today negates the need for that.

The three struck a deal with the prosecution by entering what is known as an Alford plea, which means they didn't admit to any actual criminal act, but they did acknowledge the prosecution probably has enough evidence that it would lead to their conviction.

Under the deal reached Friday Echols and Baldwin entered what is known an Alford plea on three counts of first degree murder. Misskelley entered similar pleas to one count of first degree murder and two counts of second degree murder. Craighead County Circuit Judge David Laser sentenced the three to the 18 years already served and imposed a 10-year suspended sentence - meaning they could be returned to jail if they violate the law.

"In a nutshell, you are pleading guilty not because you admit that you did something wrong but because you are concerned the state has enough evidence to prove you guilty," attorney B.J. Bernstein said. "This is a common thing in tough cases, where a defendant is just adamant; I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it. They won't confess to it, but the evidence is so strong they are going to lose."

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Filed under: Arkansas • Courts • Crime • Justice
West Memphis 3 to be freed after plea reached in 1993 murders
August 19th, 2011
12:59 PM ET

West Memphis 3 to be freed after plea reached in 1993 murders

Three men convicted in the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, were ordered released after entering new pleas following a court hearing.

Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 18 years in prison with credit for time served, a prosecutor said. They were to be released on Friday.

Critics of the prosecution argue no direct evidence tied the three to the murders and that a knife recovered from a lake near the home of one of the men could not have caused the boys' wounds. More recent DNA testing also demonstrated no links, according the mens' supporters.

The case drew national attention, with actor Johnny Depp and singer Eddie Vedder and other celebrities, trying to rally support for the men's release.

John Mark Byers, whose son Christopher Byers was one of the three victims, said he believes the three men are innocent. He said releasing them without exonerating them of the crime is an outrage.

"They're innocent. They did not kill my son," Byers said before the hearing.

But the father of another of the victims, Steven Branch, blasted the apparent agreement.

"I don't know what kind of deal they worked up," Steve Branch told CNN affiliate WMC-TV. "Now you can get some movie stars and a little bit of money behind you and you can walk free for killing somebody."

Echols was sentenced to death and Misskelley and Baldwin were given life sentences in the May 1993 slayings of Steven and fellow second-graders Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. The boys' bodies were mutilated and left in a ditch, hogtied with their own shoelaces. Prosecutors argued that the men convicted, teenagers at the time, were driven by satanic ritual and that Echols had been the ringleader.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Crime
Heat a threat to man and machine
The National Weather Service says it's dangerously hot in 15 states.
August 4th, 2011
12:41 PM ET

Heat a threat to man and machine

Dallas has seen a solid month of triple-digit temperatures, and 15 states are under National Weather Service heat advisories. To put those figures into some historical and scientific context, here's a round of hot-weather factoids. If you're in one of those 15 sweltering states, please drink a glass of water while you read them.

  • NOAA has records of heat-related fatalities going back to 1986. For the first decade of data, the number of deaths did not top double digits until a disastrous 1995, when 1,021 people died. According to NOAA, about 700 of those deaths were in Chicago.
  • Between 1986 and 1997, the median annual number of heat-related fatalities was 36. Between 1998 and 2010, it was 158.
  • Seven high temperature records were broken Wednesday, and six were tied in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri.
  • In parts of Missouri, the previous record was from the day before. Wednesday's high of 110 degrees beat out the all-time high of 106 that was set Tuesday.
  • Participants in the raw foods movement do not eat food that has been prepared at temperatures greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. They should therefore steer clear of picnicking in Dallas or Oklahoma City, where today's forecast high is 110 degrees.
  • Scientists say the average temperature on Earth during the Cretaceous period was just a chilly 82 degrees, though individual locations were much hotter.
  • Apple recommends not operating its iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone in temperatures greater than 95 degrees. They can be stored at up to 113 degrees, but parked cars get hotter than that.
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Filed under: Arkansas • Heat • Kansas • Missouri • Oklahoma • Texas • U.S. • Weather
July 26th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Valedictorian sues school: Was she snubbed because of race?

A recent high school graduate from Arkansas is suing her school district, claiming it refused to recognize her as the school's sole valedictorian because she is black.

Kymberly Wimberly, 18, earned the highest grade point average in McGehee Secondary School's 2011 graduating class. She did so as a young mother, according to the complaint she submitted to the U.S. District Court for Arkansas' Eastern District. She was named the school's valedictorian and then later given co-valedictorian status with a white student who had lower grades, her complaint says.

Kymberly Wimberly

No legal response has been filed by lawyers for the school district or any other school or district representatives, according to court officials. Superintendent Thomas Gathen said he has yet to be served with any sort of court documents. Because of this, Gathen said he was unable to comment on several individual issues brought up in Wimberly's complaint.

"The issue that someone’s trying to paint is that this was a racially motivated," Gathen told CNN. "That wasn’t an issue with (the co-valedictorians). This is strictly an academic issue and a policy issue, not a racial issue."

Wimberly is seeking punitive damages of $75,000 and recognition as the sole valedictorian of her class. Wimberly's complaint also argues the McGehee school district, in southeastern Arkansas not too far from the Mississippi River, habitually withheld access to challenging classes from black students.

Wimberly said students were told at a schoolwide assembly that advance placement classes were very rigorous and that only those who really thought they would thrive with intense workloads should elect to take them. Then, individual students were taken aside and told that the classes really weren’t all that bad, she told CNN. The overwhelming majority of those students were white, she said, adding that she was the only black student in her AP literature class and one of two in calculus.

“Black students are meant to stay in regular course levels and mostly play sports,” Wimberly said. “That’s what were good at that that’s what we should stick to - that’s the mentality of McGehee.”

Wimberly said she had one teacher, for AP biology, who encouraged all students to take the class. Its racial makeup was half black, half white, and was more reflective of McGehee's student population, which is 46%  black.

The case has been gaining increasing attention since Courthouse News Service reported on it Monday.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Civil Rights • Courts • Education • Justice • Race • U.S.
South gets a major buzz on every 13 years
The 13-year periodical cicada has big red bug-eyes to go with its orange legs and wing parts.
May 24th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

South gets a major buzz on every 13 years

The brood is back, and it's gonna be noisy.

Trees, posts, walls and other vertical surfaces throughout the American South are being covered this spring with billions of periodical cicadas: red-eyed insects that emerge, like Chicago Cubs fans' pennant hopes, for a few weeks just once every 13 years.

The bugs are perfectly harmless to humans, unless you count annoyance caused by the remarkable amount of noise the love-starved little critters make. The male cicada's mating call has been compared to a circular saw, only more shrill - and that's just the way the lady cicadas like it. FULL POST

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How the Mississippi River levees could fail
A levee near Tomato, Arkansas, is typical of those that line the sides of the Mississippi River. They can fail in several ways.
May 9th, 2011
09:14 PM ET

How the Mississippi River levees could fail

Pictures can't describe the misery playing out along the Mississippi River for those unprotected by flood levees and walls. Some homes, farms and businesses will be 25 feet underwater for weeks until the water recedes.

The river is still rising from Memphis, Tennessee, to the south. In Memphis, where the river is expected to crest at a near-record 14 feet above flood stage on Tuesday morning, the water was moving at 2 million cubic feet per second on Monday. At that speed, water would fill a football field at a depth of 44 feet, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Earthen levees should keep most of the larger towns and cities safe as an extraordinarily high volume of water runs down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. But levees can fail, in part because moving water has tremendous force. This force will try to erode, saturate, undermine and destroy everything in the way.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Louisiana • Mississippi • Tennessee • Weather
On the Radar: Flooding in U.S. heartland, Obama at WTC site, slain gay activist
Friends help remove furniture from a flooded house in Tiptonville, Tennessee, on Wednesday.
May 5th, 2011
10:39 AM ET

On the Radar: Flooding in U.S. heartland, Obama at WTC site, slain gay activist

Flooding in Midwest, South The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it intends to continue a controversial plan to breach a levee on the Mississippi River to help stop catastrophic floods in several states. The group wants to open the final crevasse in the Birds Point-New Madrid levee, moving ahead with a plan to blast holes in it to ease unprecedented flood pressure. The Corps started the blasting Monday.

Some who live where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers meet said it has helped. The Ohio River level at Cairo, Illinois, has dropped nearly 2 feet since Monday afternoon. Officials said they believe the levels would be up to 3 feet higher now if the levee had not been detonated.

Despite the plan, many areas were inundated as the Mississippi River spilled out across huge swaths of farmland, creating massive flooding from Minnesota to Louisiana. Part of westbound Interstate 40 was shut down in eastern Arkansas on Thursday due to flooding, state police said.

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Filed under: Africa • Al Qaeda • Arkansas • Illinois • Mississippi • Ohio • On the Radar • Osama bin Laden • September 11 • Terrorism
Flooding closes I-40 in Arkansas
Biscoe, Arkansas, was flooded on Wednesday.
May 5th, 2011
06:35 AM ET

Flooding closes I-40 in Arkansas

More than 20 miles of westbound Interstate 40 in eastern Arkansas is closed due to flooding, state police reported early Thursday. The closure is between the towns of Hazen and Brinkley, according to Lt. Jackie Clark, who said he expects the eastbound lanes to close later in the day.

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Filed under: Arkansas
April 27th, 2011
11:41 PM ET

Live blog: 42 killed in Southern storms; heavy damage in Tuscaloosa

An apparent tornado cut through the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, area shortly after 5 p.m. CT (6 p.m. ET).

[Updated at 11:41 p.m. ET] Three deaths have been confirmed in Ringgold, Georgia, after severe storms moved through late Wednesday, bringing the five-state death toll from Tuesday night's and Wednesday's storms in the South to 42, according to authorities.

In Ringgold, eight people were taken to a hospital, according to Gary Sisk with the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department. There was no word on the severity of the injuries, he said.

The town in northwest Georgia was hit particularly hard. One tornado appeared to remain on the ground for at least a mile, said Sisk, adding that some buildings were completely demolished.

At least 25 people have been killed in Alabama, including 15 in Tuscaloosa; at least 11 were killed in Mississippi; one was killed in Arkansas; and one other person was killed in Georgia, according to authorities.

[Updated at 11:23 p.m. ET] An apparent tornado struck the northern Georgia community of Ringgold in Catoosa County, damaging multiple structures including a hotel, which has collapsed, Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan said. Information on injuries in Ringgold wasn't immediately available.

An apparent tornado also was reported in southern Georgia's Walker County, where 30 homes were destroyed, Paulk-Buchanan said.

[Updated at 11:02 p.m. ET] Storm-related deaths have now been reported in Tennessee and Georgia, bringing the five-state death toll from Tuesday night's and Wednesday's storms in the South to 39, according to authorities.

One person was killed in Trenton in Georgia's Dade County, and at least one person was killed in Tennessee, officials in those state said.

At least 25 people have been killed in Alabama, including 15 in Tuscaloosa; at least 11 were killed in Mississippi; and one was killed in Arkansas, according to authorities.

[Updated at 10:28 p.m. ET] At least 15 people were killed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Wednesday as severe storms swept through the city, Mayor Walter Maddox told reporters.

Statewide in Alabama, at least 25 people in died as a result of storms and tornadoes, the state's emergency management director told CNN Wednesday. At least 11 people were killed in Mississippi and one was killed in Arkansas as a result of the storms.

In Tuscaloosa, hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed, and hundreds more were damaged, Maddox said. Dozens of roads are impassable, he said. Maddox said the city's infrastructure had been "decimated," noting that thousands of residents were without power.

Video from CNN affiliates there showed a massive whirling cloud darkening the sky as it approached Tuscaloosa shortly after 5 p.m. CT.

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa has canceled classes and suspended normal operations for Thursday, the university said on its website.

[Updated at 10:17 p.m. ET] At least 11 people were killed in Tuesday night's and Wednesday's severe storms in Mississippi, the state's emergency management agency reported Wednesday. This brings the three-state death toll from the Tuesday-Wednesday storms in the South to 37.

In Mississippi, more than 40 injuries have been reported by local officials as a result of the storms, the agency said, and the number of deaths could rise.

At least 25 people have been killed in Alabama, and one was killed in Arkansas, according to authorities.

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Filed under: Alabama • Arkansas • Georgia • Mississippi • Tennessee • Weather
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