-A Christmastime wave of severe weather continued yesterday as a tornado touched down in Jefferson County, Ala., including through the southwest portion of Birmingham, the state's largest city.

Witnesses spotted the funnel outside the city about 5 p.m. An hour later, the National Weather Service confirmed that first responders were on the scene along Jefferson Avenue in a working class neighborhood about eight miles from downtown Birmingham.

Lt. Sean Edwards, a Birmingham police spokesman, said trees are down and people were trapped inside damaged houses, adding that several people were taken to hospitals for treatment of minor injuries, but further details were not immediately available.

Obama: Never take troops for granted


- President Obama says "we never take for granted" what U.S. service members do to help keep the American people safe and free.

Obama says "it's tough" being deployed overseas and that while his administration has brought home thousands of troops, many are still serving in dangerous places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

He referenced the six American service members who were killed this week in a suicide attack at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

Obama spoke during his annual Christmas Day visit to service members stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, as well as their families. He was accompanied by his wife, Michelle.

Obama says U.S. troops help keep Americans free and the country strong. He declared himself "extraordinarily grateful" for everything they do every single day.

that we know someone would go in and take," he said.

Migrants try to enter Spain by sea, 2 die


- Two people drowned and at least 12 others were injured when they tried to get to a small patch of Spanish territory in North Africa by swimming from Morocco and scaling a barbed-wire fence that juts into the sea, Spanish and Moroccan news agencies reported yesterday.

The dead and hurt were among more than 200 people trying to reach the enclave of Ceuta, which borders Morocco and is across the Strait of Gibraltar from mainland Spain.

More than a million people hoping to escape war and poverty have made their way into Europe this year, according to migration monitors, but attention has been focused on two more common routes-across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece or across the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.

Queen Elizabeth II's Christmas message: Light can triumph


- Queen Elizabeth II used her Christmas message yesterday to proclaim that light can triumph over darkness in these perilous times-and to comment on the joys of having a new great-granddaughter, Princess Charlotte.

Elizabeth, who this year became Britain's longest-reigning monarch, acknowledged the difficult times the world faces but said there is no cause for despair, no reason to give up hope. The queen's speech has been a tradition in Britain since Elizabeth first delivered a Christmas message live on radio in 1952.

"It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'."

- Associated Press