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Latest from Judd Hickinbotham

    The Falcons' president and CEO says Atlanta fans may know the name of the team's new home any day now.   Rich McKay updated the stadium project for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce Monday, saying you can expect a name announcement sooner rather than later.   McKay praised the Braves' choice of SunTrust Bank as its naming sponsor for their new ballpark in the Cumberland area. He says the Falcons would love to have a similar partner to make a long-term commitment.   As for the structure itself, McKay says the construction on the stadium next door to the Georgia Dome is 30 to 35% complete.   He says the pouring of concrete is about 90% complete, and work on the steel structure is set to begin by the end of August.   According to McKay, the construction is on schedule to be completed in time for the beginning of the Major League Soccer season in March 2017.
  • Another major addition could be coming to rejuvenate the old GM plant site in Doraville.   Amtrak is in talks with both MARTA and Norfolk Southern to put a new train stop at the Assembly project near I-285 and Buford Highway, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.   It would make the area a major transportation hub.   It would be in addition to the millions of square feet of shops, offices and residential areas planned for the site of the former GM plant. Demolition was expected to be finished this year.   The project may also include a movie and sound studio.   Amtrak reportedly tried a couple years ago to move out of its historic station in the Brookwood area on Peachtree Street.
  • Cobb County may have hit another speed bump as it prepares for the opening of Suntrust Park.  A document obtained by the AJC says the 1,100-foot long pedestrian bridge spanning I-285 to the new ballpark may not be ready for Opening Day 2017. In fact, it says it may be not ready until September of that year, when most of the season is already over.  The AJC has already reported the estimated cost to build the bridge may go much higher than the current figure of $9 million.  The Atlanta Regional Commission has said the bridge and a planned circulator bus system to and from the ballpark are critical factors. Otherwise, thousands of Braves fans will try to cross busy Cobb Parkway (Hwy. 41) on game days.  An estimated 25,000 additional cars are expected to flood the area around I-75 and I-285 for sold out Braves games at Suntrust Park.  A Braves spokeswoman tells the AJC the team remains hopeful the bridge will be ready by April 2017, but the team is making contingency plans just in case.
  • A new study finds taking the keys from elderly drivers may keep them physically safe, but it may come at the cost of their mental health.  The report from Triple-A and Columbia University found a senior who loses the freedom to drive suffers serious cognitive decay.  A person over the age of 65 whose driving privileges are taken away sees his or her chance of depression nearly double.  Triple-A's Garrett Townsend says they can suffer other issues, as well.  'They're more likely to suffer from depression,' said Townsend. 'And nearly five times as likely to enter into long-term facilities as those that remain behind the wheel.'  They're social circle closes in, which can affect their brain and attitude.  But at some point, to keep them safe, they need to get out from behind the wheel.  The study found families who take the keys away from an elderly loved one need to have a game plan to keep his or her brain functioning properly.  'To strategically put something in place so that they can still maintain their mobility and independence once they retire from driving,' said Townsend.  The study finds eight out of every ten Americans over the age of 65 are still on the road.
  • As Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Hawks new owner Tony Ressler kick around the idea of a new arena for the team, WSB listeners have some strong opinions. The comments from the Open Mic feature on the WSB Radio App all had a similar tone. 'Renovating Philips Arena is a big waste of money for the city,' said one user. 'My message to greedy Kasim Reed is, 'No Way,'' said another. One person had an interesting idea, with the Braves planning to move to Cobb County after the 2016 season: 'Kasim Reed, you can have Turner Field, turn it into a basketball arena if you want to.' Among the dozens of comments on the WSB Radio Facebook page, most struck a similar tone, with several calling renovating or replacing Philips Arena a waste of taxpayer money. While some comments say giving the Hawks a new home is rewarding mediocrity, others said the team deserves an upgrade after an impressive 2014-2015 season. A few comments suggested the Hawks move to Cobb County, like the Braves, to boost attendance, while another sarcastically suggested moving the team to Arkansas. Reed said he would be open to moving the Hawks somewhere within the city limits, mentioning the current site of the Atlanta Civic Center, or a possible second unnamed location. His comments come after Ressler said he would like to see the 16-year-old Philips Arena either renovated or replaced.
  • An Atlanta lawyer is the latest to file suit against several airlines, accusing them of colluding to keep ticket prices sky high.   The class-action suit filed by attorney David Bain lists Delta, American, Southwest, and United Airlines as defendants. He filed it on behalf of a Massachusetts traveler.   The suit, filed in the Northern District of Georgia, says the airlines conspired to fix, raise and maintain ticket prices.   A Delta spokesman, once again, denied the claims in a statement released Tuesday.   The Department of Justice is looking into the accusations.   Lawyers in other states have filed similar suits, with the goal of a class-action case that would include millions of fliers. They could consolidate the suits.
  • Team USA's World Cup victory can be felt beyond the soccer field. Local stores are seeing a big bump, as well.  Nick Johnson, store manager at Dick's Sporting Goods in Buckhead, says sales of the women's jerseys were doing well before the World Cup, but once the tournament started, and as the team kept winning, it was tough to keep those jerseys on the shelves.  'It's number one,' Johnson says of jerseys sales at his stores. 'Team USA is outpacing Braves sales. The Women's World Cup is actually leading the way for us.'  He says Atlanta fans love their soccer.  'The soccer interest is definitely here,' Johnson tells WSB.  He says he was watching the games with excitement, both as a fan and as the manager of a busy store.  'Winning cures all, certainly for us in terms of sales. So we've had great success with it.'  Now that the Atlanta United FC has unveiled its logo, he expects to get MLS jerseys as soon as possible.
  • A new report on retirement in the country gives Georgia mixed results. The report from LPL Research gives our state an overall grade of C, although the state's rankings vary depending on several factors. From a holistic standpoint, though, Georgia does not do particularly well, scoring D's in both health-related categories. The report finds Georgia doesn't have enough doctors, especially gerontologists, dentists, and mental health specialists. The AJC says the state ranks 38th in the country in overall wellness. Georgia also ranks among the lowest in the country in uninsured residents. The numbers aren't all bad for the state, though. Georgia ranks eighth in the country for financial benefits. Those benefits include a low cost of living, high median household income, and low tax burden. Costs are also low in Georgia for home health aides. The state gets a ‘B’ for nursing home costs.
  • A fake Delta Facebook page fools thousands of followers looking for freebies. In broken English, the page claimed the Atlanta-based airline was celebrating 100 million customers by giving away prize packages. Those packages were said to include gift bags with $5,000 cash, as well as free plane tickets. It said it would pick lucky followers who shared and 'liked' the page. A reporter with BuzzFeed spotted the page. It was later taken down by Facebook, but not before users shared it more than 64,000 times. It also garnered more than 37,000 likes. Similar fake pages targeting airlines, including Delta and American Airlines, have popped up on Instagram in the past few years. The scams do not ask for money, but only want followers. They become a big headache for airlines trying to clean up the mess. 
  • Independence Day may not be until Saturday, but you can expect to see the roads getting heavy starting Wednesday.   'It's going to be a busy, busy summer travel holiday,' AAA's Garrett Townsend tells WSB Radio.   The official start of the travel period began Wednesday and will run through Sunday.   Townsend hopes having the actual holiday fall on a weekend will help commuters.   'It could spread it out a little bit,' said Townsend. 'Everyone won't be in such a rush to get back on Sunday. Hopefully that will ease out some of the traffic getting back into the Atlanta area.' Overall, AAA projects 41.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday weekend. It projects about 1.1 million Georgians will do the same.   It should be the busiest Independence Day weekend on the roads since 2007 for a couple reasons.   'We see there's rising income driven by a strong employment market,' said Townsend. 'And then also the gas prices remain well below last year's level.'   As always, he reminds everyone in a car to be safe by wearing a seatbelt and avoid distracted driving. He says anyone who plans to drink should get a designated driver.
  • Judd  Hickinbotham

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  • A 22-year-old police officer died in Oklahoma on Monday morning after he and a man exchanged gunfire when the man ran during a traffic stop Sunday night, Tecumseh police said. >> Read more trending news The officer, identified as 22-year-old Justin Terney, died of his injuries. The suspected gunman remained hospitalized Monday morning. Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney said Terney was shot multiple times after stopping a vehicle around 11:30 p.m. Sunday near the intersection of Benson Park Road and Gordon Cooper Drive. Kidney said Terney was working with dispatchers to verify information given by one of the vehicle’s passengers, a man, after becoming suspicious that he might have been giving Terney false information. As dispatchers were telling Terney that it appeared the man had an active warrant for his arrest, the man ran from the stopped vehicle and toward nearby woods, Kidney said. Terney fired a stun gun at the man. “The (stun gun) doesn’t have any effect on (the suspect) and he continues running through a wooded area, over a fence,” Kidney said. “About 25 yards inside that fence area, the officer and the suspect both exchanged gunfire.” Authorities took both the suspect, whose identity was not immediately known, and Terney to a hospital, where Terney underwent surgery for hours overnight. Kidney confirmed that Terney, who had been shot about three times, died Monday morning. The suspected gunman remained in intensive care with four gunshot wounds, according to KFOR. Terney joined Tecumseh’s police force about a year ago. “My department’s not doing good,” Kidney said Monday morning, adding that in the 22 years he has been with the department and the 38 years the chief has been with the department, this is the first officer-involved shooting for Tecumseh police. “We haven’t had to live through this yet,” he said. “We need everybody to rally around and support us.”
  • A woman fought off a knife-wielding man who broke into her southeast Atlanta home Saturday night. Adrien Gass said she was terrified when the man burst into her home on Memorial Drive and chased her with a knife. 'I said, 'I have money.' He said, 'I don't want no money. I want the car and I want your life.' And I said, 'Not today,'' Gass said. The mother of three told Channel 2's Matt Johnson that she threw a piece of furniture at the intruder, who chased her down the hall. 'I know he's bleeding because I attacked him,' she said. Gass said she locked herself in a bedroom. The attacker kept kicking the door and it hit her in the mouth while she held on to it. 'All my might, yes. I would not let that door go,' she said. Gass said she escaped by jumping out a window and the intruder left with nothing. 'I lifted up the window and pushed out and ran as fast as I could to the neighbor's house,' she said. Atlanta police said just three minutes earlier, a quarter of a mile away on Allendale Drive, someone carjacked a husband and wife at gunpoint. 'He was in the car, got the keys and gone,' Tris Siciginanosaid. Siciginano said the thief stole her husband's car and she believes the two crimes are related. 'It was too much in one night and the descriptions are so close,' she said. Police have not said if the crimes are related, but neighbors said they are staying vigilant. No arrests have been made.
  • Police have found no evidence that the man who killed four people in London last week was associated with the Islamic State group or al-Qaida, a senior British counterterrorism officer said Monday. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police said Westminster attacker Khalid Masood clearly had 'an interest in jihad,' but police have no indication he discussed his attack plans with others. Basu, who also serves as Britain's senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing, said Wednesday's attack — in which Masood ran down pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a policeman guarding Parliament — 'appears to be based on low-sophistication, low-tech, low-cost techniques copied from other attacks.' Masood was shot dead by police after his deadly rampage, which police have revealed lasted just 82 seconds. Police believe Masood — a 52-year-old Briton with convictions for violence who had spent several years in Saudi Arabia — acted alone, but are trying to determine whether others helped inspire or direct his actions. Detectives on Monday continued to question a 30-year-old man arrested Sunday and a 58-year-old man arrested shortly after Wednesday's attack. Both were detained in the central England city of Birmingham, where Masood had recently lived. Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that Masood was 'a peripheral figure' in an investigation into violent extremism some years ago. But Basu said he was not a 'subject of interest' for counterterrorism police or the intelligence services before last week's attack. Masood was born Adrian Elms, but changed his name in 2005, suggesting a conversion to Islam. His mother, Janet Ajao, said Monday she was 'deeply shocked, saddened and numbed' by his murderous actions. In a statement released through the police, Ajao said that 'since discovering that it was my son that was responsible I have shed many tears for the people caught up in this horrendous incident.' Basu said there was no sign Masood was radicalized during one of his stints in prison, the last of which was in 2003. 'I know when, where and how Masood committed his atrocities, but now I need to know why,' Basu said. 'Most importantly, so do the victims and families.' As Basu appealed for anyone who spoke to Masood on the day of the attack to come forward, the British government repeated calls for tech companies to give police and intelligence services access to encrypted messages exchanged by terrorism suspects. Masood used the messaging service WhatsApp just before he began his attack. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Sunday that such services must not 'provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.' Tech companies have strongly resisted previous calls to create back-doors into encrypted messaging, arguing that to do so would compromise the secure communications underpinning everything from shopping to tax returns to online banking. Rudd is due to hold a previously scheduled meeting with internet companies on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, James Slack, said tech firms 'should be helping us more' to prevent terrorism. 'The ball is now in their court,' he said. Slack said that if agreement was not reached with the companies, the government 'rules nothing out,' including legislation. Meanwhile, the families of the dead and injured set about the difficult task of going on with their lives. The family of an American victim expressed gratitude Monday for the kindness of strangers as they insisted some good would come from the tragedy. A dozen members of Kurt W. Cochran's family gathered to face the media, sharing their shock and sense of loss. Cochran, from Utah, was on the last day of a European trip celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary when he was killed on Westminster Bridge. Cochran's wife, Melissa, suffered a broken leg and rib and a cut head, but is steadily improving. The family offered profuse thanks to first responders, British and American authorities and people who had sent notes, prayer and donations. 'Last night we were speaking as a family about all this, and it was unanimous that none of us harbor any ill will or harsh feelings towards this,' said Sarah McFarland, Melissa Cochran's sister. 'So we love our brother. We love what he brought to the world, and we feel like that this situation is going to bring many good things to the world.' ___ Jonathan Shenfield contributed to this story.