The Georgia Mae Morning News

Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden has issued a new audiotape urging Muslims to launch a jihad, or holy war, to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Bin Laden also condemns Arab governments for preventing their people from acting to “liberate Palestine.” The authenticity of the tape, which was posted Wednesday on Islamic militant Web sites, has yet to be confirmed. But reports indicate that the voice resembles that of bin Laden in previous messages. ABCNews.com

President-elect Barack Obama pushed congressional Democrats yesterday for the quick release of $350 billion – the second half of bailout funds to prop up the economy’s still struggling financial sector. But since the first half went to banks instead of mortgage relief and since the banks are still in deep trouble, many members of Congress are upset over how poorly the massive bank bailout has been handled so far. CBSNews.com

Marcus Schrenker, the financial manager who officials say faked his own death in a plane crash after scamming his customers, has been found after an apparent suicide attempt. Schrenker was found at a campsite near Quincy, Florida, with deep cuts on his wrists. CNN

Mobile’s azalea trail maids plan to represent Alabama at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration parade. But the president of the Alabama NAACP thinks the costumes are humiliating and represent slavery and will send the wrong message. County commissioners and trail maid participants disagree, however, and still plan to participate in the event. This year 39 of the maids are white, 11 are minorities. Group organizers argue the group is inclusive, not exclusive. WTVY

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