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Georgia Politics

    One of the nearly dozen candidates being considered at the moment to become next director of the FBI has Georgia ties.  Larry Thompson is a current University of Georgia professor. His resume also includes time as U.S. deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, as well as a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta.   “Very well respected, life-long Republican, African-American, very well known in D.C., and was discussed more than once by Presidents in both parties for the position of both Attorney General, and at least once to head the FBI previously,” says WSB Radio political analyst Bill Crane. “He’s getting a little up there in years, so given this 10-year appointment, that may be a knock against him. But he’s very well regarded politically, in the legal community, and in the law enforcement community.” The 71-year-old Thompson, according to the Associated Press, is a candidate in a group of others that include several lawmakers, attorneys, and law enforcement officials. 
  • A backlog of tens of thousands of voter registration applications is facing local elections officials ahead of next month’s runoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. The need to process them comes after a federal judge last week ordered registration reopened until May 21 ahead of the June 20 election. And it has left the three counties in the 6th District scrambling. To see just how many applications there are and how election officials expect to get the work done, click here to read our premium story only on myAJC.com.
  • Gov. Nathan Deal signed a measure Thursday that would allow college students and others to carry concealed weapons on campus, despite vetoing similar legislation last year amid an uproar from gun control advocates. The measure, known as the “campus carry” bill, would allow people with firearms permits to carry concealed guns onto public college and university campuses, and it has been long sought by conservatives and Second Amendment activists who cast it as a crucial safety measure for students, faculty and staff to protect themselves. Deal nixed a similar gun measure last year after lawmakers defied his personal request for more exceptions to the expansion. His scathing veto invoked a 2008 opinion by then-Justice Antonin Scalia that described colleges as “sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed.” In a statement, Deal said he signed the measure because it may have greater significance for students who are going to or from a campus and may have to travel through “dangerous territory.” “At the present time, assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection,” Deal said, “even those who are weapons carry license holders, because they are either going to or coming from a campus where no weapons are allowed.” The governor said he was willing to reopen the debate this year as long as lawmakers acceded to his demands, and they struck a compromise that appeared to do just that. House Bill 280 is designed to bar guns from on-campus child care facilities, faculty and administrative office space, and disciplinary meetings. Critics said that allowing guns on campus would create an unsafe environment and lead to more killings and suicides on campuses. They hoped an apparent grammatical error in the measure — a missing comma in one section — would scuttle the bill. And they tried to remind Deal of his veto at every turn. “This flip-flop will be what Georgians remember about our governor for years to come – that he bent to the Washington gun lobby,” said Lindsey Donovan, who heads the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “This will be the legacy he leaves behind.” Still, there was little mystery about Deal’s decision. He had telegraphed for weeks that he was going to sign the legislation, often saying that it was “significantly different” from last year’s version of the bill. “You have to give credit to them doing that. I had made some of these suggestions last year, and they were not heeded,” Deal said of the legislative compromise in a recent interview. “This year, not only did they take my suggestions, they added a few of their own.” The governor’s office said the legislation would take effect July 1. Read more of the story on MyAJC.
  • A federal judge on Thursday ordered Georgia to temporarily reopen voter registration ahead of a hotly contested congressional runoff in the 6th District. U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten made the ruling as part of a broader lawsuit by a Washington-based advocacy group, which last month accused Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote. Voter registration shut down March 20 ahead of the deciding runoff June 20 for the 6th District election, which is being held in the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta. Batten, however, ordered registration immediately reopened until May 21. A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the office will seek to comply with the order. 'Brian Kemp swore an oath to uphold and defend Georgia law,' spokeswoman Candice Broce said. 'That is what he did, and that is what he will continue to do.” The suit, filed by The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of five civil rights and voting rights organizations, claims Georgia law cuts off voter registration for federal runoff elections two months earlier than it should be allowed to. Kemp’s office, which oversees elections in Georgia, has called the suit a political effort by liberal groups to attack him as a Republican officeholder. The office has also noted that the law has been in place since Democrat Cathy Cox was secretary of state more than a decade ago.  Batten, who was appointed to the federal court bench by President George W. Bush, held the hearing Thursday in Atlanta after the groups’ asked for an emergency injunction. The 6th District raced has become a nationally watched barometer on the early effect of Donald Trump’s presidency, with Democrats making a run at what has been considered solidly GOP area. Democrat Jon Ossoff among a field of 18 candidates won 48 percent of the vote April 18, falling short of the necessary 50 percent to claim victory outright. He now faces Republican Karen Handel, a former secretary of state who has made an effort to consolidate GOP support and got a fundraising visit last week from Trump. It is unclear whether reopening registration will have a tangible effect on the runoff’s outcome. An analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month found that voter registration in the 6th District increased only 2.5 percent in the months since the presidential election. That tied for the fourth-lowest increase among Georgia’s 14 congressional districts in new registrations since then.
  • UPDATE: Atlanta’s U.S. Rep. John Lewis urged a cheering crowd to “be brave, be bold,” in pushing for gun control, while declining to say President Donald Trump’s name out loud while referencing the president’s visit Friday to the NRA conference. “I must say to the NRA that you are not welcome here in the 5th district, you are not welcome here in Atlanta,” Lewis said. “We need to make our cities, our states, our neighborhoods free of gun violence.” “The man who came yesterday and spoke, it was the first time since Ronald Reagan that (a president) would come to speak to the NRA,” Lewis said. “Sometime you have to get angry, you have to have a sense of righteous indignation. Well, I have it, I’m fired up.” ORIGINAL POST: More than 200 gun control advocates have begun a rally Saturday in Woodruff Park, trying to offer a counterpoint to the National Rifle Association’s annual convention that was meeting blocks away. The protest was smaller than organizers had expected, but those who attended said it did not dim their passion. It was the second NRA-related protest in as many days at the park, where on Friday about 300 people staged a “die-in” before marching to the convention site. Among those here is Marietta mom Lucia McBath, who lost her son five years ago when the 17 year old was shot and killed in the parking lot of a Florida convenience store during a 2012 argument over loud music.  “I’m here along with all these other moms to let the NRA know we’re not going to stand for this extremist agenda around the country,” McBath said. “And we’re not going away. The fear mongering, the untruths -- we’re definitely going to let them know we’re not going to stand for it. We’re not going to let them keep pushing it, especially in this state I live in in Georgia.” McBath said that while her son’s death was devastating, it also galvanized her into action. She now works with Everytown for Gun Safety, a national gun-control group that’s active in Georgia and organized Saturday’s rally, and is a member of the Everytown Survivor Network traveling the country speaking on the issue. The NRA, a powerful political advocate for gun rights, has also been a formidable opponent of gun control laws and has advocated for policies that include national reciprocity among states for people who have a weapons carry license. More than 80,000 people were expected to attend the convention, which is the NRA’s showcase event for the year and also features hundreds of exhibitors.  President Donald Trump spoke at the convention Friday, the first time since Ronald Reagan that a sitting president has attended the gathering.
  • The state Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill requiring that manufacturers change the taste of antifreeze.  State Senator Judson Hill presented the bill to the chamber.  It is aimed at preventing the poisoning of pets and humans. 'Hopefully, none of us know that antifreeze has a sweet or a semi-sweet taste,' said Hill.  'This bill requires that all antifreeze sold in Georgia now include a chemical that will make antifreeze bitter.' The bill passed 43-4, and must go back to the state House for a minor change approval before its final passage. The poisonous properties of the sweetish liquid used to cool engines were highlighted in the trial of Lynn Turner, who was convicted in 2004 of killing her husband, Glenn Turner, with antifreeze in 1995.  She was already serving a life sentence when she was convicted in 2007 of fatally poisoning boyfriend Randy Turner in 2001, likely by lacing drinks or foods like Gatorade and Jell-O with antifreeze.  The Humane Society of the United States says an estimated 10,000 animals are poisoned each year after ingesting ethylene glycol, the highly toxic substance used in auto antifreeze and coolant.  The liquid causes kidney failure, and the early symptoms can mimic intoxication or flu.  Children and domestic pets may drink large quantities of the liquid because of its sweet taste.State Representative Tommy Benton introduced the bill on behalf of a Jefferson woman whose dog, Chief, died after eating meat a neighbor had laced with antifreeze. According to a 2010 legislative fact sheet by Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals in support of the bill, the Poison Control Center says 6,000 children suffer the same fate annually, and that over the previous three years in Georgia, an average of 241 people were reported to Georgia Poison Center after having suffered antifreeze poisoning.  Most cases are not deadly, and patients are treated in hospitals. For pets in particular, however, very small amounts of antifreeze can be fatal.  Veterinarians say if a cat walks through a puddle of the liquid, and then licks its paws, that can be fatal.  Five tablespoons is enough to kill a medium-sized dog, according to information from Washington State's College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • State lawmakers have gone home a day earlier than expected for Spring Break with no decision yet on tax reform. House and Senate leaders, unable to reach a compromise on a controversial tax bill, decided to spend the next week tweaking the bill behind closed doors and hold a vote when lawmakers return. The measure stalled Wednesday in the House after Democrats raised issues with figures from Georgia State University's Fiscal Research Center that showed middle income Georgians, those making between $80,000 and $180,000, would pay several hundred dollars more in income taxes rather than have their taxes reduced. Senate leaders raised their own concerns and worked to revamp the plan so no one would pay more.  Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville), chair of the Senate Rules Committee, tells WSB's Sandra Parrish that after spending another day negotiating with House leaders, he believes the two sides are closer to reaching an agreement. 'The income tax numbers are looking better and the plan helps individual citizens substantially, I believe,' he says. He says the Senate is leaning towards a plan to extend a proposed tax credit of $92,000 to cover those in the middle income bracket .  In exchange, tax credits on energy proposed for manufacturing companies would be phased in over three years rather than giving the tax breaks all at once. House Majority Leader Rep. Larry O'NEILL (R-Bonaire) says he has not yet heard that proposal, but agrees that both the House and Senate are making progress. 'We working and modeling over and over, and now we're going to have a whole week to work on it,' he says. When lawmakers return April 11th, they will have just three legislative days to pass the measure.
  • ATLANTA (AP) Jason Marquis picked up a milestone victory against a familiar team. Laynce Nix and Jayson Werth hit three-run homers for Washington to send Marquis to his 100th career win, though the Nationals had to hold on at the end for the 7-6 triumph after Atlanta nearly wiped out a big lead Tuesday night. Trailing 7-1, the Braves scored five times in the eighth off Marquis and two relievers. Pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad hit one to the wall in the ninth that was hauled in just a few feet short of a tying homer. Marquis (4-1) gave up seven hits and three runs in 7 1-3 innings to improve his career mark to 100-93. The 32-year-old beat his original team, picking up his first 14 wins with the Braves from 2000-03. ``It was exciting, obviously, that I got 100 here,'' he said. ``It's definitely a special part of my career. Who would have ever thought when I first broke in that I'd get to this point? But I guess a lot of hard work and good fortune with health has allowed me to do that.'' Dan Uggla capped Atlanta's big eighth with a three-run homer, but Drew Storen got the final three outs barely for his eighth save in eight chances. ``The way we came back makes me feel good about this ballclub,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Atlanta's Tim Hudson lasted only five innings, his shortest stint of the season, after tossing a one-hit shutout against Milwaukee in his previous start. Hudson had allowed only one homer all season before the Nationals took him deep twice. But the Braves starter certainly didn't get much help from his defense, which committed two errors and had two other miscues that were generously ruled hits. Four of the seven runs off Hudson were unearned. ``Huddy pitched well,'' said Nate McLouth, who made perhaps the most crucial error when he dropped a flyball in the fourth. ``He didn't deserve that. That ball I dropped, there's no excuses.'' Nix took advantage of McLouth's error with a homer that pushed the Nationals to a 4-0 lead. Werth, off to a slow start after signing a $126 million contract over the winter, appeared to put it out of reach with another three-run shot in the fifth. But the Braves almost pulled it out. Eric Hinske and Chipper Jones had run-scoring hits in the eighth before Uggla drove one out in left-center off Tyler Clippard. ``It was a little scary there,'' Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. Early on, the Braves played some frightening defense. Roger Bernadina led off the game with soft roller to first that was scooped up by Freddie Freeman. The normally sure-handed fielder started trotting toward the bag and inexplicably dropped the ball before he got there for an error. After Bernadina stole second, Ian Desmond hit a grounder up the middle that was bobbled by shortstop Diory Hernandez, filling in for ailing Alex Gonzalez. It was ruled a hit but just as easily could've been Atlanta's second error of the inning. Werth grounded into a double play to bring home Washington's first run. Hudson cruised into the fourth, still having allowed only the one questionable hit, and retired the first two batters. Then, more defensive problems. Adam LaRoche hit a tricky grounder toward first that ricocheted off Freeman attempting a backhanded scoop. Originally called an error, it was changed to a hit. But Freeman's disgusted reaction made it clear he should've made the grab. Wilson Ramos followed with a flyball to right-center that gave Atlanta a second chance at the third out. McLouth called for the ball running over from center, then took a peak at Jason Heyward running over from right. Perhaps he was mindful of a collision the two had last year that left the much-smaller McLouth with a concussion. Whatever the case, the ball caromed off McLouth's glove for an error, extending the inning. This time, the Nationals really made Atlanta pay. Nix drove a low fastball deep into the right-field seats for his fourth homer of the season. ``I took my eye off the ball to see where Heyward was,'' McLouth conceded. ``I just took it for granted that I was going to catch it.'' The Braves picked up their first hit off Marquis in the bottom half, Martin Prado leading off with his fourth homer to make it 4-1. Werth canceled that out and then some with his drive over the left-field wall in the fifth, another big two-out hit for the Nationals. ``A month ago, I would have swung and missed,'' Werth said. ``Two weeks ago, I probably would have hit it foul. A week ago, I would have hit it to the third baseman.'' This time, he hit it out. NOTES: Gonzalez sat out after tweaking his left hamstring Sunday. He said the injury is ``nothing to worry about'' and he could be back as soon as Wednesday. ... Nix started for the Nationals because Mike Morse has a tender knee. Riggleman said he went with Nix mainly because he could cover more ground defensively, but he came up huge on offense. ... Braves RHP Derek Lowe threw his normal side session with no problems. He came out of his last start with a large blister, but plans to make his next scheduled start Thursday in the series finale against the Nationals. ... Freeman did make a nifty catch over his shoulder, but it was generally a miserable night for the rookie. In the seventh, he was thrown out inexplicably trying to stretch a single into a double with his team down by six runs. (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)    
  • The Cherokee County woman who called called 911 Monday claiming that she had been kidnapped and stuffed into a car trunk has been arrested for falsely reporting the alleged crime. Jail officials told the AJC that Lisa Bode was booked into the jail just before midnight, charged with making a false report of a crime and making false statements. Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison has scheduled a 9 a.m. press conference to release details about the incident. Bode, 44, of Ball Ground, called 911 around 2 p.m. Monday and told dispatchers she was put in the trunk of a gold car and was heading south on I-575. 'That's the information she provided to 9-11 dispatchers,' said sheriff's Lt. Jay Baker, who declined to give specifics about the phone call because the investigation is continuing. Bode said she was kidnapped after her black Ford Explorer broke down on I-575 near the Cherokee-Pickens County line. Cherokee Sheriff’s deputies have found Bode’s vehicle. Baker said officers flooded the area looking for a gold car but were unable to find one. Return to ajc.com for details. Staff writer Kristi E. Swartz contributed to this article.
  • HOOVER, Ala. (AP) Tony Kemp drove in three runs and two Vanderbilt pitchers combined to throw a 1-hitter as the Commodores beat Georgia 10-0 Wednesday in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament. The Commodores (45-9) scored four times in bottom of the seventh to end the game, which was shortened by the 10-run mercy rule. Vanderbilt starter T.J. Pecoraro gave up one hit before leaving the game in the fourth inning with a forearm injury on his right arm. His replacement, Kevin Ziomek, allowed no hits over the final 3 2-3 innings. Offensively, the Commodores pounded out 14 hits, 11 of them off Georgia starter Michael Palazzone. Vanderbilt will play South Carolina in the second round, while Georgia (28-29) will face Auburn in an elimination game. (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

News

  • Great Britain lowered its security threat level from “critical” to “severe” on Saturday, Prime Minister Theresa May said. >> Read more trending news Earlier, police hunting a suspected network behind Salman Abedi, the bomber who killed 22 people on Monday night during a concert in Manchester, said they had made two further arrests overnight as they closed in on other possible cell members, Reuters reported.  As a result, soldiers who have been assisting police would be withdrawn from Britain's streets at midnight on Monday. 'A significant amount of police activity has taken place over the last 24 hours and there are now 11 suspects in custody,' May said. May cautioned, however, that the lesser threat is still a dangerous one. 'The public should be clear about what this means. A threat level of severe means an attack is highly likely,” she said. “The country should remain vigilant.' The threat assessment has returned to the level it was at prior to the Manchester attack. In Manchester, events planned around the spring bank holiday will go ahead with additional security, including a significant number of armed officers, police said. British officers do not usually carry guns, CNN reported. Events include the Manchester Games, the Great Manchester Run, and a stadium show by bands including The Courteeners, all of which are likely to attract big crowds. This weekend also marks the start of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar, CNN reported.    
  • A Cobb County mother was jailed after her 5-year-old son said she beat him with a belt and a broom, hit him in the head and stomped on his stomach. Nakeisha Lashay Logan of Mableton faces first-degree child cruelty, battery and family violence charges in connection with an alleged May 17 attack. The boy, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile victim, said during a forensic interview that he tried to hide under the bed to avoid the “terrible” beating but Logan beat him with a broom and threw a box of toys at him, a magistrate court warrant states. RELATED: ‘I’m going to rape you’ man allegedly tells mother in front of kid Mom, friend jailed after child suffers broken bones, electrical burns Babysitter charged after 5-month-old breaks 4 bones After the box of toys hit the child in the shoulder, Logan grabbed his head and smashed it repeatedly on the floor, according to the warrant.  The warrant adds that Logan stomped on the child's stomach, making him feel nauseous.  The warrant doesn’t state who called police, but by the time an officer arrived the boy’s bleeding cheek had scabbed. His face was still red and swollen, Officer Sydney Tschappat wrote. Police took the boy to a nearby hospital and arrested Logan. She was being held in the Cobb County Adult Detention Center on a $50,000 bond. In other news:
  • Police say a metro Atlanta couple locked the woman's 86-year-old mother in her room and used furniture to block the door closed. Katie Son and her husband are both charged with cruelty to an elderly person. Officers say 86-year-old Bong Le managed to escape out a front window. She was found a couple of blocks away, wrapped in a blanket and sitting under a tree. Investigators say she smelled like urine and feces. Her daughter and son-in-law, who are now out on bond, told Channel 2's Tony Thomas that they were just trying to protect her from herself. 'Did you lock your mom up?' Thomas asked. 'No. No sir,' Son replied. Gwinnett police say they found tables, chairs and other items stacked high against the door of the downstairs bedroom in the home. 'It looked quite unusual,' Cpl. Michele Pihera said. But Son said it was all to keep her mother safe. She said when she and her husband went to work each day at a Hall County nail salon, her mother couldn't be trusted alone in the house. 'They told our officers that the reason they had stacked up the furniture was to prevent the mother from going into the kitchen to access the stove or access any kitchen utensils,' Pihera said. TRENDING STORIES: Police search for teens accused of setting off fireworks inside grocery store Watch your step! Snakebites on the rise World falling in love with Georgia father's letter to Ariana Grande Deputies still have questions. 'It's very possible they were trying to prevent her from getting into the food or any kind of items to eat,' Pihera said. She says the state of the room was disturbing. 'They found human feces and what looked like human urine that looked like it had been smeared into the carpet or never even cleaned up,' she said. She said that, combined with the furniture, led to the arrests. 'You combine the lack of access to food and water and the living conditions and that's what led our detectives to take out warrants for their arrests,' Pihera said. Neighbors didn't want to talk about what happened, but said they recognized Le as the woman who didn't really have a memory and would get lost easily. She's now in the hospital. Her daughter and son-in-law have been ordered not to go near her.
  • Toni Rosenberg has spent the past week chatting non-stop with her half-sister, Florence Serino, 82. After all, they have decades worth of memories to catch up on. The two met for the first time May 16 at a crowded airport gate in Fort Lauderdale. Rosenberg, a Boca Raton resident who was given away as a newborn in a secretive “black market” adoption, tracked down Serino just last year. “We both have big mouths,” Serino, who lives in Irvine, California, said with a laugh. The two have spent the past week shopping, eating and sharing memories, stories and photos of two families that, despite living on opposite sides of the country, are inextricably connected. Rosenberg even learned that she had biological cousins living just miles from her in Boca Raton, she said. Serino introduced them. “It’s crazy to think I had family right there,” said Rosenberg, the only child of her adoptive parents. >> Read more trending news The sisters have spent hours looking at old family photos, including ones of the pair’s biological mother Ilene Gallagher, which Serino brought with her from California. “If you saw my mother walking down the street, you’d say immediately, ‘She must be related to Toni,’ ” Rosenberg said of her resemblance to Gallagher. The union has brought immeasurable joy to Rosenberg and her family and friends, Rosenberg said. But a sadness still lingers. Serino plans to fly back to California on Tuesday. “All this time has gone by and we could’ve shared children and grandchildren,” Rosenberg said. “We could’ve had more years ahead of us.” The sisters aren’t sure if they’ll meet again in person. A 2,200-mile flight is a financial and health strain on most, let alone on two elderly retirees. “It’s kind of hard to think far ahead,” Rosenberg said, adding that they’re strategically packing half-a-century’s worth of conversations into a two-week visit. “How much time does God give us?”Read more about the sister's journeys to meet one another here.
  • The Hall County Sheriff's Office says they are investigating the discovery of a body floating in Lake Lanier just south of Don Carter State Park. Deputies say they body has likely been in the water for more than a day. The victim is that of a white man, possibly in his 30s. Authorities are working to ID the man. They said there is no obvious signs of trauma. We have a crew headed to the scene and will have the latest on this developing story on WSBTV.com and on Channel 2 Action News at 6:00.
  • Police say the drowning a 3-year-old in a swimming pool Saturday afternoon is likely a 'tragic accident.' Emergency responders were called out around 1 p.m. to a home along Waterford Drive in Cartersville where a child had been found unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing in the family's pool. Bartow County EMS says 3-year old child drowned at this home's private pool in Cartersville. pic.twitter.com/D4Amic1MzH-- Chris Jose (@ChrisJoseWSB) May 27, 2017 Family members were doing CPR on the little girl when emergency responders arrived at the home. They took over from there. TRENDING STORIES: Witness: Officer fatally shoots man breaking up fight at Sweet 16 party Georgia soldier killed in overseas crash Child killed, another injured in crash The child was taken to Cartersville Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. The Cartersville Police Department said the investigation is ongoing.