Defense drops bid to exclude media from jury selection in Arbery trial

ATLANTA — Defense attorneys on Thursday withdrew a request to bar the news media from an important part of jury selection in the trial involving the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Media companies, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN, The Associated Press, and WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News, had opposed the motion to keep the press out of the courtroom during individual questioning of potential jurors for the Oct. 18 murder trial. “We very much object to the closure,” Atlanta lawyer Tom Clyde, who represents the media outlets, told Judge Timothy Walmsley at the outset of a daylong hearing....

Senate Democrats target Georgia law to push voting bills in Congress

ATLANTA — Attempting to revive stalled federal voting rights bills, U.S. Senate Democrats built their case Monday in Georgia by using the state’s voting law as an example of the kinds of restrictions they’re trying to stop. The rare field hearing of the Senate Rules Committee collected testimony from voting rights advocates and Georgia’s two Democratic Party senators who spoke against new voter ID requirements for absentee voting, limits on ballot drop boxes and the possibility of Republican-led takeovers of local elections management. “They’re trying to find new ways to mess with the fundamen...

Georgia Republicans center campaigns on false claims of election fraud

ROME, Ga. — The organizers at the door handed out soft-pink "Trump Won" signs to each attendee. An out-of-state radio host spouted far-right conspiracies. Speaker after speaker insisted that Joe Biden couldn't have won the November election and that Georgia couldn't be a blue state. The gathering this week in Rome might seem like a pro-Donald Trump fantasy convention. But this was no fringe group. Some of the biggest stars in the Georgia GOP were in attendance. State Sen. Burt Jones, a wealthy executive who is expected to run for lieutenant governor, was given a hero's welcome. A fellow Republ...

Stacey Abrams nominated for an Emmy for voiceover work on 'black-ish'

Buried in the secondary categories for the Emmy nominations was a name that is normally in headlines about politics: former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and longtime voting rights activist Stacey Abrams. She was nominated for an Emmy for "outstanding character voiceover performance" for her work on the ABC show "black-ish." During an animated election-themed episode last fall when lead character Dre (Anthony Anderson) was running for Congress, Abrams provides him advice. Abrams in this category is competing with some major Hollywood talent: the late Jessica Walter (FX's "Archer"), Maya Rudo...

Civil rights tourism starts to regain footing in Atlanta

ATLANTA — Tom Houck, who spent his younger days chauffeuring Martin Luther King Jr. around town, is getting back behind the wheel — figuratively. Fifteen months after the raconteur shut down his Civil Rights Tours Atlanta because of the pandemic, he is set to reopen this weekend. The relaunch signals the cautious return of niche tourism in the city known as “the birthplace of the civil rights movement.” It also comes as more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 — although fewer in Georgia than in many other parts of the country. “Even though Georgia is not at the top of the list, the vacc...

Biden order targets airline fee refunds for delayed bags, Wi-Fi issues

ATLANTA — An executive order signed Friday by President Joe Biden cracking down on anti-competitive practices includes airline fees. The order directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to consider requiring airlines to refund fees when baggage is delayed or when the plane’s Wi-Fi is broken, according to a fact sheet released by the White House. Biden’s executive order, signed Friday afternoon, also directs the DOT to consider issuing rules to require clear disclosure of fees for baggage, changes and cancellations. Today, airlines are required to refund baggage fees only if a bag is declare...

Asian American voting grows in Georgia, and with it, political power

ATLANTA — Myeong Hwa Jang moved to Georgia in March 2020 and, despite the coronavirus pandemic, immediately set out to be part of the Gwinnett County community to which she relocated. She got to know some Buford neighbors. She explored the county parks. And not only did she vote three times between last June and January — she signed up to be a poll worker, too. Jang, a naturalized citizen who was born in South Korea, said voting is an American responsibility. She urged neighbors to participate as well. "Our local leaders have to know Asian Americans care for the county, the state, the country,...

Georgia community on edge after golf course killings

KENNESAW, Ga. — As he observed the pickup truck stuck in a sand trap on the 10th hole at Kennesaw’s Pinetree Country Club golf course Saturday afternoon, club member Tom Dowling figured the driver had suffered a medical emergency. Golf pro Gene Siller volunteered to investigate. “It could’ve been any of us who went up there,” said Dowling, who estimated there were 50 to 60 golfers in the clubhouse when the white truck was first spotted roughly 400 yards away. Wearing bright red pants in honor of Independence Day, Siller could still be seen from the clubhouse windows as he neared the vehicle. A...

Trump sees Herschel Walker as 'unstoppable' candidate in Georgia, but many in GOP are wary

ATLANTA — Herschel Walker hasn't lived in Georgia for decades. He's never held public office, doesn't attend the sort of Republican events that are mainstays on the political calendar and has bypassed the backslapping fundraising circuit that helps decide winners and losers in the state's premier races. And yet Walker is viewed by many Republicans as the front-runner in next year's GOP primary to challenge U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, even though he hasn't yet entered the race that other contenders joined weeks ago. Walker's sudden rise in Georgia politics from his estate in Texas has alternatel...

The Weather Channel embracing more climate change coverage: ‘This is a full-scale assault on this topic’

The Atlanta-based Weather Channel said it’s committed to tackling climate change with more vigor than it ever has. In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nora Zimmett, The Weather Channel’s chief content officer and executive vice president, said they are “doubling down on climate. Climate and weather coverage are completely linked. It’s the most important topic of not just our generation, but generations to come. We have a front seat.” She said the channel has been addressing the subject for years but not on a regular basis. “We intend to do that now,” she said. “American sent...

Justice Department sues Georgia over new voting law

ATLANTA — The U.S. Justice Department sued Georgia on Friday over a new election law that includes restrictions on voting, setting up a legal showdown over Republican-led changes that President Joe Biden and other Democrats cast as disproportionately harmful to Black voters. The challenge seeks to overturn portions of Senate Bill 202, the 98-page rewrite of election rules that imposes new voter identification requirements, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, shifts early voting days and gives the Republican-controlled Legislature more oversight in elections. It’s the first major voting rights...

Women accused of stealing $100,000 worth of merchandise using Walmart app

Two Arizona women are in custody after allegedly stealing more than $100,000 in merchandise from several Walmart stores by making it appear they had already paid for items through an app on their mobile phones. Mary Garcia, 47, and Melinda Rodriguez, 38, were arrested June 17 and charged with multiple counts of organized retail theft, according to reports citing the Mesa Police Department. The pair allegedly carried out the scheme in several Western states, including Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado and Texas, before they were eventually caught. An investigation began in March when a loss p...

Unruly passenger who caused Delta flight diversion was attendant on inactive status

ATLANTA — An unruly passenger who caused a flight disturbance that diverted a cross-country Delta flight to Oklahoma City on Friday was a flight attendant on inactive status, according to the airline. Atlanta resident Stephon Jamar Duncan, 34, was on Flight 1730 from Los Angeles bound for Atlanta. Crew members said Duncan “was exhibiting strange and paranoid behavior,” the police report says. He was stashing personal items in various places throughout the plane, such as tennis balls with writing on them, trash and food. “Duncan was ignoring flight crews’ orders to remain seated and stop distur...

Georgia election investigation looks into Fulton County ballot drop box forms

ATLANTA — The Georgia secretary of state's office is investigating whether Fulton County kept track of all absentee ballots returned in drop boxes before November's election. "New revelations that Fulton County is unable to produce all ballot drop box transfer documents will be investigated thoroughly, as we have with other counties that failed to follow Georgia rules and regulations regarding drop boxes. This cannot continue," Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday. Fulton is the fourth county to face an investigation into allegations it failed to complete absentee ballot transfer ...

Church leaders protest Georgia voting law and seek federal oversight

ATLANTA — Religious leaders rallied Tuesday at the Georgia Capitol against laws that they say weaken voting rights, promising to protest companies that fail to take a stand and pressure Congress to pass voter protections. The faith leaders, representing over 1,000 churches, said they will use Georgia’s new voting law to show the need for a bill pending in the U.S. Senate that would restore federal oversight. They plan to meet with a dozen senators in Washington next week to seek their support. “Our democracy is at risk,” said Bishop Reginald Jackson of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, w...

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