August 1, 2012 Morning Edition News

90.3 WBHM The Alabama Educational Television Commission has voted to hire a Birmingham law firm to represent the commission in a lawsuit filed by ousted Alabama Public Television executive director Allan Pizzato. The commission voted 6-0 yesterday to hire the Birmingham law firm of Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt. The commission chairman, Ferris Stephens (pictured above), says the commission feels Pizzato's lawsuit is without merit. That lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Stephens is ineligible to hold a commission position because a state statutes says states "no member of the commission shall hold any other office". Stephens is an assistant attorney general. Stephens has denied earlier reports that Pizzato and chief financial officer Pauline Howland were fired because they opposed airing a controversial documentary series by evangelical Christian activist David Barton. For extensive background on this story, click here.


Some students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are calling for the campus Chick-fil-A restaurant to close after a company executive's comments caused an uproar in the debate over gay marriage. WAAY-TV reports members of UA Huntsville's Gay-Straight Alliance wants the restaurant shut down. GSA Founder and President Heather Shelton says having the restaurant on campus is not consistent with the university's anti-discrimination policy. She says the group plans to take up the issue with Sodexo, which operates the campus Chick-fil-A. Another student, Adelle Sutton, disagrees. Sutton said Chick-fil-A is a Christian company, and that people should be respectful of everyone's opinions. Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press this month that the Atlanta-based company was "guilty as charged" for backing "the biblical definition of a family."


Alabama Department of Public Health officials confirm there have been four positive cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis found in horses in Dallas County. Officials say there are additional reports of cases in horses in Elmore and Montgomery counties, but those cases have not been confirmed by laboratory tests. And in Baldwin and Mobile counties, four sentinel chickens have tested positive for West Nile virus. State Public Health Veterinarian Dee W. Jones says these positive tests in horses and chickens means the virus is present in the mosquito population and those mosquitos pose a risk to risk to humans.


A study on possible effects of the 2010 BP oil spill indicates dispersants may have killed plankton -- some of the ocean's tiniest plants and creatures — and disrupted the food chain in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the nation's richest seafood grounds. For the study, Alabama researchers pumped water from Mobile Bay into drums, then added oil, dispersant or both to simulate the spill's effects on microscopic life in the waters of the bay. It found the two smallest kinds of plankton grew in drums topped by oil slicks, but their numbers fell in drums containing dispersant. Scientists say the study indicates the spill could cause major future impacts. One called its findings scary. The study was published yesterday in the online journal PLoS ONE.


Alabama House Speaker Republican Representative Mike Hubbard is the new chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference. Hubbard was elected chairman of the organization that includes legislators from 15 Southern states at the organization's annual meeting yesterday in Charleston, West Virginia.