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    Lee Burks worked in fire and emergency medical services for 21 years, often working two jobs to support his family of four. 'My daughters played travel softball. We would get the bill information for how much a pitcher's mitt was going to cost or how much a new ball bat was going to cost, and I would relay that to how many hours I'd have to work extra on the ambulance.' Burks told Channel 2 Actions News he loves helping make a bad day a little better. But he missed many holidays, birthdays and softball games to make ends meet. 'We realized we really couldn't pay our bills, so I'd have to work more and more hours,' Burks said. 'I always wondered what they were going to think because I wasn't there,' he said. 'I always wondered, 'Was I being a good influence, was I being a good father?'  ' A few years ago, he took his talents from the ambulance to the movie set. Burks now works as a paramedic for the film industry.  'I don't feel like I have to worry about financially what we're going to do or how we're going to come up with the money,' he said. According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for emergency medical technicians and paramedics in metro Atlanta is $36,740. That's less than what medical secretaries ($36,980), opticians ($37,990), and welders ($38,890) make, according to the same data.   Many hospitals have started hiring paramedics to work in emergency rooms, offering higher pay than counties can offer. LATEST INVESTIGATIONS: 2 deaths, dozens of prostitutes and neighbors living in fear: When will it end? Georgia man among 12 deaths linked to poppy seeds you can buy at the store Drug cartels worship ‘narco saints,’ making them more dangerous, DEA says '[Paramedics'] scope of practice is such that [hospitals] can get tremendous benefit from having them in the ER,' said Clayton County Fire Chief Landry Markson. 'We can't compete with that private sector money.'  According to Merkison, losing employees to industries that can pay more is just one of the struggles local fire departments face.  'The thing about paramedic certification, it's an incredibly challenging curriculum,' he said.  Many metro Atlanta counties, including Clayton, have raised the bar for required training. Recruits must earn either Advanced-EMT or paramedic certifications. While that extra training allows workers to provide patients with a higher level of care, it can cost them thousands of dollars and take up to 18 months to complete.  'It becomes overwhelming and daunting to a lot of folks that have other time commitments,' Merkison said. 'When you look at their family life and their family responsibilities, the addition of now paramedic school just becomes a situation that's not winnable or workable.' Once they're trained, EMS workers have to consider the emotional toll.  'What is this doing to our nation's first responders, the amount of tragedy they see?' asked Merkison. 'People are starting to ask themselves, 'Am I cut out to deal with that?'' All those factors contribute to more unfilled positions across Georgia.  'Those shortages are only becoming worse and worse,' said Kimberly Littleton, the executive director of the GA EMS Association (GEMSA). According to Littleton, the entire state is suffering from shortages, but the situation is more severe in rural areas. She says that can lead to delayed response times when people need help quickly.  'They expect to call 911 and get the provider they are needing,' she said. 'When you don't have that to offer to the citizens of an area, you're failing your citizens.' Littleton works with departments and committees across the state to try to attract more providers into emergency medical services.  She told Channel 2 Action News that a state committee is looking at creating an online option for part of the required basic EMT training. She also said that GEMSA is working to set up an EMS pension fund. In Clayton County, Chief Merkison says his department works hard to keep their employees happy and healthy. 'The Board [of Commissioners] constantly looks for ways to up their salaries,' he said. 'Eighty-seven percent of our budget is personnel services.'  Clayton County Fire & Emergency Services also recently implemented an education incentive plan.  An employee's base salary goes up by 3.5 percent if they earn an associate's degree, or 6.25 percent if they receive a bachelor's degree. As for Lee Burks, he misses responding to calls.  'The camaraderie that you get with people when you go into a situation that's unknown, and you know they have your back and you have theirs, the ability to go in there and take somebody that's having a bad day and make it better -- there's nothing better,' he said. 'I miss it all the time.' But Burks enjoys the extra time he gets to spend with his daughters and granddaughter.  'It's nice to say, if she wants something, we'll get it. If she needs something, we'll definitely get it, but I don't have to worry about it now,' he said. 'You've never looked at a bill for diapers and wondered how many hours on set that is?' asked Channel 2 Action News. 'No, not now. That's a blessing,' Burks replied.
  • Right now, the United States has a $1.5 trillion student loan debt crisis. So imagine if you could pay off your loan simply by playing a trivia game on your phone. It's called Givling and it's basically a crowdsourcing app. Everyone gets two free games a day and you earn points with trivia -- and also by watching ads and shopping with sponsors. One woman says she won $50,000. 'It'll go directly to my lender and I'll just watch that balance drop,' she said.  The app does have its critics. MONDAY AT 4: We're looking at the concerns players have about the whole process.  TRENDING STORIES Morehouse commencement speaker to pay off Class of 2019’s student loans Texas girl, 8, found safe after kidnapping, police say; suspect in custody Former cafeteria worker who let student not pay for his lunch offered job back  
  • After much thought and deliberation, we decided to continue with shooting ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ in Georgia next month,' Imagine Entertainment partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer told The Hollywood Reporter. However, the Acadamy Award-winning producers said, should “this law go into effect in January, we will boycott the state as a production center.' “This law” is House Bill 481, which outlaws most abortions once a doctor can detect a fetus’ “heartbeat” — usually about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant. 'We felt we could not abandon the hundreds of women, and men, whose means of support depend on this production — including those who directly contribute on the film, and the businesses in the community that sustain the production. We see Governor Kemp’s bill as a direct attack on women’s rights, and we will be making a donation to the ACLU to support their battle against this oppressive legislation. On Friday, actor Jason Bateman, star of the Netflix show “Ozark,” said he will no longer work in Georgia if the controversial abortion legislation recently signed by Gov. Brian Kemp survives court challenges. » Kemp signs anti-abortion ‘heartbeat’ legislation, sets up legal fight “If the ‘heartbeat bill’ makes it through the court system, I will not work in Georgia, or any other state, that is so disgracefully at odds with women’s rights,” Bateman told The Hollywood Reporter. The actor’s Netflix show “Ozark” and HBO show “The Outsider” are currently filming in Georgia. He also filmed “The Change-Up” here in 2011. » Writers Guild of America warns Georgia that ‘heartbeat’ bill may cause Hollywood to flee the state In late March, more than 40 Hollywood celebrities signed a letter sent to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Gov. Brian Kemp saying they will push TV and film production companies to abandon Georgia if the “heartbeat” abortion bill is signed into law, AJC columnist Rodney Ho reported.  Speaking at the Georgia Republican convention Saturday, Kemp acknowledged the growing fallout after he signed the anti-abortion law.  “I understand that some folks don’t like this new law. I’m fine with that,” he said. “We’re elected to do what’s right — and standing up for precious life is always the right thing to do.” Kemp added: “We are the party of freedom and opportunity. We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.”» Kemp postpones film event in LA amid ‘heartbeat’ bill fallout Howard, however, is hardly a C-list celebrity. As an actor, he has starred on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Happy Days, and the movie “American Graffiti.” As a director and producer, he has won multiple Academy, Emmy, People’s Choice and Critics Choice Awards. » Alyssa Milano tells Hollywood to leave Georgia after ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill passed the Senate
  • Billionaire Robert F. Smith, who received an honorary doctorate at Morehouse College’s Sunday morning graduation exercises, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school. But during his remarks in front of the nearly 400 graduating seniors, the billionaire technology investor and philanthropist surprised some by announcing that his family was providing a grant to eliminate the student debt of the entire Class of 2019. “This is my class,” he said, “and I know my class will pay this forward.” The announcement elicited the biggest cheers of the morning. TODAY AT 6 ON CHANNEL 2: We're speaking with the investor about his committment to Morehouse graduates. 'My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans!' -Robert F. Smith told the graduating Class of 2019 @RFS_Vista #MorehouseGrad2019 pic.twitter.com/etG8JhVA46 — Morehouse College (@Morehouse) May 19, 2019 TRENDING STORIES Atlanta teacher named Georgia Teacher of Year for first time in decades Texas girl, 8, found safe after kidnapping, police say; suspect in custody Former cafeteria worker who let student not pay for his lunch offered job back Tonga Releford, whose son Charles Releford III is a member of the Class of 2019, estimates that his student loans are right at about $70,000. “I feel like it’s Mother’s Day all over again,” she said. The gift has been estimated at $40 million. Tonga’s husband, Charles Releford III, is also a Morehouse graduate. He said their younger son, Colin, is a junior at Morehouse.   He doesn’t know who the keynote speaker will be at Colin’s graduation ceremony but is hoping for a return performance by Smith.   “Maybe he’ll come back next year.”
  • Tracey Nance Pendley, a fourth-grade teacher at Burgess Peterson Academy in Atlanta Public Schools, earned the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year award tonight. “Tracey’s Georgia Teacher of the Year recognition speaks to her love and passion for our students and for teaching and to the tremendous impact she is having on our students’ lives and on their future,” said APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. “This is an incredible honor for Tracey and for APS as it’s the first time in nearly four decades that one of our teachers has won this award. We are so proud of Tracey for being a shining example of what teaching excellence is and should be, and we are grateful to her for being a part of our APS family.”  Pendley is the current holder of APS’ Excellence in Teaching Award,  which highlights the district’s best, brightest and most accomplished classroom educators. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Atlanta Families Award for Excellence in Education.  TRENDING STORIES Morehouse commencement speaker to pay off Class of 2019’s student loans Texas girl, 8, found safe after kidnapping, police say; suspect in custody Former cafeteria worker who let student not pay for his lunch offered job back According to the state Department of Education: 'Pendley graduated from Furman University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and religion and completed a master’s in teaching in 2009 through the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program. She has been a classroom teacher in Atlanta Public Schools since 2012; prior to that, she taught in the Chicago Public Schools. 'Tracey Pendley was a child who benefited deeply and irreversibly from her own education, and she chose to pay that forward to her own students,” said Georgia Superintendent  Richard Woods. “The passion and joy she brings to her classroom are inspiring, and her focus is right where it belongs: on the relationships with students that serve as the foundation of all meaningful learning, development, and growth. I am honored to name her the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year.” As a child, Pendley found hope in her education, and describes her own life as “the story of the impact that great Georgia educators have on students.”  “As I attended nine different schools and managed the uncertainties of life with a single parent who was an addict, my teachers provided the stability and encouragement that my twin brother and I needed,” she said. “I had several superhero teachers who showed me what a huge impact an engaging, loving, and trust-filled education has on a child’s life. Our teachers were our cheerleaders, our role models, and sometimes, even our caretakers.” While a student at Furman University, Pendley took over management of the Clubhouse Gang, an afterschool program for students in underserved neighborhoods. Along with volunteers, she met with students twice a week to mentor them and help with homework. After college, she initially began work on a doctorate in sociology, but realized that she belonged in the field, with students. “When students leave my classroom, I want them to know that they are loved, uniquely talented, and that learning from their mistakes is the key to becoming successful,” Pendley said. “I never want students to be held back by the numbers they receive on papers, but rather, I want students to know that their growth is what matters – growth as a confident individual with integrity, growth in their relationships, and growth in their academic abilities.” As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Pendley will represent Georgia teachers by speaking to the public about the teaching profession and potentially conducting workshops and programs for educators. She will also participate in the competitive selection process for the 2020 National Teacher of the Year. 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year:  Tracey Pendley Burgess Peterson Academy, Atlanta Public Schools  2020 Runner-Up:  Stephanie Peterson, Westside Elementary School, Lowndes County Schools  Kristen Applebee, Georgia Academy for the Blind, State Schools  Amy Arnold, Colham Ferry Elementary School, Oconee County Schools  Dr. David Bishop Collins, Fernbank Science Center, DeKalb County Schools  Carlos Hernandez, General Ray Davis Middle School, Rockdale County Schools  Lewis Kelly, Newton High School, Newton County Schools  Kiana Pinckney, Palmetto Elementary School, Fulton County Schools  Teresa Thompson, South Tattnall Middle School, Tattnall County Schools  Francisco “Frank” Zamora, Johnson High School, Hall County Schools
  • If you have outdoor plans today, don't forget to pack bottled water and sunscreen. Sunday will start a trend of summer temperatures with highs in the upper 80s and a few spots could even hit 90.  Meteorologist Eboni Deon said our first 90 degree day last year was May 12.  We're tracking the near-record highs for this time of year that you can expect in your neighborhood this week, LIVE on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. It's going to get hotter later this week with highs reaching the mid 90s. No relief in sight through next week. pic.twitter.com/5RJIHmEBix — Eboni Deon, WSB (@EboniDeonWSB) May 19, 2019 Mostly sunny and very warm today. Early afternoon temps will warm into the mid to upper 80s. pic.twitter.com/5quXpudVXY — Eboni Deon, WSB (@EboniDeonWSB) May 19, 2019 Isolated showers are possible for some areas Sunday night and into Monday. Deon said there is a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain.  The hot and dry weather pattern will last through next weekend. Highs will warm into the lower to mid 90s with lows in the upper 60s and lower 70s. A few showers are possible overnight and Monday as a front approaches. Rain chance will be low around 20%. pic.twitter.com/ckzAOoNW21 — Eboni Deon, WSB (@EboniDeonWSB) May 19, 2019 Deon looked into the record books and here are the Atlanta records for this week.   5/19: 96°-1938 5/20: 94°, 1941 5/21: 96°, 1941 5/22: 94°, 1941 5/23: 95°, 1941 5/24: 95°, 1996 5/25: 93°, 1960
  • Police say a woman is dead after a stabbing at a shopping center in Roswell Saturday night.  The suspect was also injured and taken to the hospital. He is in serious condition.  Several police cars, officers and ambulances responded to the Old Lake Place shopping center on Alpharetta Street around 8 p.m. Police said the stabbing happened at Dalias Events. Video shot by Channel 2 Action News showed young people crying and hugging each other in the parking lot and police tape strung across the business.  Police said the suspect was seriously hurt before they got there. The victim's identity and the suspect's motive have not been released.  TRENDING STORIES: Columbine school shooting survivor found dead in home Celebrity chef offers to hire lunch lady fired after giving lunch to student who couldn't pay Georgia country star Travis Tritt's tour bus involved in fatal crash  
  • A group of bold thieves has struck again, stealing thousands of dollars in gold from a second metro Atlanta Hindu temple.  Just a day after thousands of dollars in jewelry was stolen from a Hindu temple in Cumming, thieves hit another temple in Riverdale. Cameras in both places caught what police believe is the same group of thieves in the act.  Channel 2's Aaron Diamant is at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta in Riverdale, where ceremonial jewelry was taken off two statues of Hindu deities Friday afternoon. Look at this picture closely. They’re part of a crew suspected of ripping thousands of dollars in gold jewelry from two local Hindu temples in 48 hours. The urgent plea from temple leaders...at 11. #NightBeat @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/EpittQVqlx — Aaron Diamant (@AaronDiamantWSB) May 19, 2019 On Thursday, around $15,000 worth of jewelry was taken in a similar theft from the Sri Maha Lakshmi Temple of Atlanta in Cumming. Channel 2's Justin Wilfon first showed you video of a group of robbers distracting the priests while others stole the jewelry. Police said they pretended to be tourists.  TRENDING STORIES: Columbine school shooting survivor found dead in home Celebrity chef offers to hire lunch lady fired after giving lunch to student who couldn't pay Georgia country star Travis Tritt's tour bus involved in fatal crash Diamant spoke to leaders at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, who said they have great security, and yet the robberies still happened there as well.  Temple president Sheela Lingham described the theft in her sanctuary as 'bold.'  'It was kind of brave and well-planned,' Lingham said. “It’s very upsetting, and then we cannot believe it because we have 24-hour security.” The temple's surveillance cameras captured images of the crew snatching thousands of dollars worth of ceremonial gold chains and pendants from sanctuary statues.  Sairaam Surpapaneni, treasurer at one temple, said the thieves knew exactly when to hit and how to distract the priests.  “They waited for an opportunity for a specific time that nobody is there at the temple and then they took the opportunity.” The back-to-back robberies have Lingham sounding the alarm across the Hindu community.  “It looks like they're definitely targeting Hindu temples, that’s why we wanted to warn we are trying to catch…call other temples and tell them to warn,' Lingham said.  Both temples' leaders hope putting these surveillance pictures out there will help catch the thieves. In the meantime, they are stepping up security.  'We have to be cautious,' Surapeneni said. 'We will take all the precautions short-term and long-term, going forward. 
  • If U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is going to win Georgia’s Democratic presidential primary, as he vowed Saturday at his first campaign appearance in the state this cycle, he’s going to need voters like Wade Jackson. Jackson, 40, actually voted for Sanders in 2016 when he won just better than a quarter of the vote against Hillary Clinton. The lopsided result was due largely to Clinton’s overwhelming support from African-American residents. This time around, Jackson, a black Georgia voter, said he’s undecided for now about which Democrat he’ll support. He’s still considering a few of the nearly two dozen Democrats who have entered the presidential race. “People are waiting to see if he is who he says he is,” Jackson said. Coming to Augusta was a good start, he said. “He’s got to come to our communities and ask for our support,” Jackson said. Without them, Sanders doesn’t likely have a chance of winning any of the Southern states, where black voters make up the largest bloc of the Democratic electorate. “He’s done his homework this time,” said Kenneth Sullivan, a 25-year-old African-American voter. The Augusta resident said he noticed black faces everywhere behind the scenes, although there still weren’t many in the crowd of nearly 1,600 people who attended Sanders’ speech at the Jessye Norman Amphitheatre on the shore of the Savannah River. Sanders was introduced by black activist/author Cornel West, who has been front and center in Sanders’ outreach to African-American voters. “This goes far beyond skin pigmentation. It’s not about sexual orientation,” West told the crowd. “It’s about truth.” In his speech, Sanders quoted abolitionist Frederick Douglass and touted his new education plan named after Thurgood Marshall, America’s first black Supreme Court justice. But the centerpiece of his campaign pitch remains economic inequality. “You are living in the wealthiest country in the history of time and you have people working two or three jobs just to get by,” Sanders said. Some of the most expensive homes in Augusta loomed in the background. “For the first time, the younger generation will have a lower standard of living than their parents.” He said proposals he made four years ago that were considered radical at the time now have mainstream support. “I get accused of being radical and extreme. I am not,” he said. “The American people believe in Medicare for all. The American people believe if you work 40 hours a week you should not be living in poverty. The American people think the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour.” In 2016, Sanders was criticized by some for focusing almost solely on economic matters at the exclusion of social issues tied to race and gender. But on Saturday, he denounced restrictive new abortion laws passed in Georgia, Alabama and elsewhere and “the broken and racist criminal justice system.” He also leveled sharp broadsides against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and President Donald Trump. “If you don’t have the guts to participate in fair, full and open elections get the hell out of politics,” he said, referencing Georgia’s governor. Then, appealing to a belief among some Democrats that the election was rigged in Kemp’s favor since he served as overseer of the state’s election system while he was campaigning against Democrat Stacey Abrams, Sanders drew his biggest applause of the afternoon when he said, “And I know that Gov. Abrams agrees with me.” Sanders also reached out to Trump voters, saying he understood why many found his message appealing. “You’re worried your job might go to China,” he said. “You’re worried your kid might not be able to afford college.” “Unfortunately, it turns out Donald Trump is a pathological liar and what he told the American people he had no intention of fulfilling,” he said. The choice in 2020, Sanders concluded, was between “an oligarchy, to an even more authoritarian government, with a president who holds the Constitution in disdain.” “I have a better alternative, to bring our people together with an agenda that works for all of us and not just our wealthy campaign contributors,” he said.
  • Amid a wave of new anti-abortion laws passed in several states this week, celebrities — from A-list musicians like Lady Gaga and Rihanna to Hollywood heavyweights like Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon and Jordan Peele — are using their platforms to express their outrage, ABC News reports.  But as 'heartbeat' abortion bans face legal challenges across the country, Hollywood's influence is coming into particular focus in Georgia, where enticing tax incentives have helped transform the state into a production and filming oasis. The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which was signed into law in 2008, provides a 20% tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more in the state and grants an additional 10% tax credit if the project includes a promotional logo provided by the Peach State. RELATED STORIES: Kemp blasts ‘C-List celebrities’ threatening boycott over anti-abortion law Peele, Abrams to shoot HBO drama in Georgia, donate fees to fight ‘heartbeat' bill Abrams and 4 presidential candidates blast anti-abortion laws As activists prepare for what is set to be a prolonged legal battle -- which could make it all the way to the Supreme Court -- the 'Hollywood of the South' is becoming a battleground where the entertainment industry is split on, among other issues, whether to boycott the state. Why Hollywood has sway in Georgia Earlier this month, Georgia became the fourth state this year alone to pass a 'heartbeat' abortion ban when the state's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio also passed laws this year that ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen about a month and a half after a woman becomes pregnant. Before signing the law, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp acknowledged that the state would likely face legal challenges. 'I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law but our job is to do what is right not what is easy,' Kemp said. Georgia is home to a multi-billion dollar film industry and, according to a study by the non-profit FilmL.A., more best performing films were made in Georgia in 2016 than any other state or country. Twelve of the 100 best performing films were made in California that year, while 17 were made in Georgia, which ranked in first place. According to Project Casting, dozens of films and TV shows are filming in Georgia in May alone, including one of the most popular -- the Netflix hit 'Stranger Things.' Then-Gov. Nathan Deal announced in April 2018 that the state's film and TV industry generated a total economic impact of $9.5 billion during the 2018 fiscal year, with 455 productions shot in the state representing $2.7 billion in direct spending. But the abortion debate has forced companies to question whether they should continue doing business in the state. While several production studios indicated they would not film in Georgia in light of the anti-abortion bill, the biggest production companies have remained silent so far, as they track how the law will play out in court. “Film and television production in Georgia supports more than 92,000 jobs and brings significant economic benefits to communities and families. It is important to remember that similar legislation has been attempted in other states, and has either been enjoined by the courts or is currently being challenged,' a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) told ABC News. 'The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor developments.” The MPAA is a trade association founded in 1922 and now represents the five major film studios in Hollywood — Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., and Netflix — a leader in the streaming service industry. ABC News is owned by Disney. Actress Alyssa Milano — an outspoken political activist who has also been vocal in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements — was one of the first to call for a boycott of Georgia, telling The Wrap, 'I will do everything in my power to get as many productions as possible — including ‘Insatiable’ — to move out of this state which continues to put forth oppressive, hurtful policy that contradicts everything the entertainment industry stands for.' Several smaller production companies, including “The Wire” creator David Simon's Blown Deadline Productions, Mark Duplass and his Duplass Brothers Productions, Killer Films and CounterNarrative Films slammed the law and vowed to boycott the state. 'I can’t ask any female member of any film production with which I am involved to so marginalize themselves or compromise their inalienable authority over their own bodies. I must undertake production where the rights of all citizens remain intact. Other filmmakers will see this,' Simon tweeted. 'Killer Films will no longer consider Georgia as a viable shooting location until this ridiculous law is overturned,' CEO Christine Vachon tweeted. 'Don’t give your business to Georgia. Will you pledge with me not to film anything in Georgia until they reverse this backwards legislation?' Duplass wrote. 'No Georgia filming on any of our projects until the unconstitutional & anti-woman law is gone,' Neal Dodson, who runs CounterNarrative Films with J. C. Chandor, tweeted. And actor Jason Bateman, who is starring in Netflix' “Ozark” and HBO's “The Outsider,' which are currently filming in Georgia, told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday that he will boycott Georgia if the “heartbeat bill” goes into effect. “If the ‘heartbeat bill’ makes it through the court system, I will not work in Georgia, or any other state, that is so disgracefully at odds with women’s rights,” he said. ABC News has reached out to the governor's office, but a request for comment on the proposed boycotts was not immediately returned. However, some of the biggest critics of the anti-abortion legislation fear that the boycott could backfire. A group of women from the Georgia film and media industry, who oppose the anti-abortion legislation, urged Hollywood not to boycott the state in a Change.org petition that has garnered nearly 2000 signatures. 'It would be a great comfort to move to another place where the fights felt fair and the battles were easier to win. But that would be giving up and we are not quitters. To those who choose not to come to Georgia because of the actions of our government, we understand your reasoning,' the petition says. 'But please know this: Georgia’s hardworking women and many men in this industry will continue to be the resistance from the inside. 'With our voices, our art, and our daily boots on the ground, we’ll keep working for the leadership we deserve,' the petition continued. 'Your condemnation is understandable, but what we really need most is allies. Change is coming. Your support and encouragement is appreciated, however you can give it.' Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams -- who has also been rumored to be considering a run for the presidency -- echoed the sentiment and urged producers not to boycott Georgia. Instead, she urged supporters to help local organizations that are fighting the legislation. “While I support those who want to live their values by not bringing their resources here, I do not want to harm the citizens of Georgia who are doing this work,” Abrams told MSNBC on Thursday. 'I appreciate the energy & passion of those who have called for a boycott - publicly or quietly. While we differ on strategy, we are in solidarity,' Abrams also tweeted. 'Your determination to bring attention to their hateful works & right this wrong should be lauded. Looking at you @Alyssa_Milano.' In response to an Abrams tweet, Milano pledged to donate $10,000 to 'the grassroots orgs on the ground fighting against hurtful policies in Georgia' and challenged corporations that she has partnered up with in Georgia to match her donation. Directors J.J. Abrams of Bad Robot Productions and Jordan Peele of Monkeypaw Productions announced in a joint statement that they will continue filming HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” in Georgia, but pledged to donate their salaries to the American Civil Liberties Union and Fair Fight Georgia. “Governor Kemp’s ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Abortion Law is an unconstitutional effort to further restrict women and their health providers from making private medical decisions on their terms,' they said. 'Make no mistake, this is an attack aimed squarely and purposely at women. We stand with Stacey Abrams and the hardworking people of Georgia, and will donate 100% of our respective episodic fees for this season to two organizations leading the charge against this draconian law: the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia. We encourage those who are able to funnel any and all resources to these organizations.” And Georgia state representative Dar'shun Kendrick, a Democrat who is critical of the law, urged Hollywood not to boycott the state. 'I have constituents who benefit from the film and industry in GA. So instead of boycotting, I am advocating for taking BACK the House and Senate to majority democrats,' Kendrick tweeted. Several celebrities, including Kerry Washington, have pledged to donate to grassroots organizations to fight the law, but as this plays out in court, it has yet to be seen how the biggest players will respond. Missouri became the latest state on Friday to push controversial anti-abortion laws forward when the Republican-led House passed a series of sweeping abortion restrictions, including an 8-week ban. The legislation, which includes an exception for medical emergencies, but not for cases of rape or incest, is set to be signed by the state's Republican Gov. Mike Parson. 'I’m beyond upset about the passing of new abortion bans in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, and Ohio. This is Unconstitutional and Abhorrent. We can not tolerate this attack on women’s fundamental rights,' Witherspoon tweeted. And on Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a controversial abortion ban into law that makes it a felony for doctors in the state to perform abortions in all cases, with the only exception being when the life of the mother is threatened. It does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Ivey also acknowledged that the law will face legal challenges in a statement on Wednesday. 'No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973,' she wrote. 'The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.' Oscar-nominated director DuVernay cautioned that what happened in Alabama could impact the nation. 'Don’t shake your head at Alabama and then keep going about your day. Realize that this is a warning. It’s Alabama and abortion today. It’s you and your rights tomorrow. Your silence will not save you. So speak up,' she tweeted. And several celebrities, including Rihanna and Lady Gaga, slammed the male lawmakers who voted for the laws. 'Take a look. these are the idiots making decisions for WOMEN in America. Governor Kay Ivey...SHAME ON YOU!!!!' Rihanna wrote, along with a photo of all 25 white, male Alabama state senators who voted for the bill. This story was written by Deena Zaru for ABC News.

News

  • A man accidentally fatally shot his 23-year-old daughter as she was trying to enter the family home early Sunday morning. >> Read more trending news  Investigators said Nadeja Jermaineque Pressley was coming home around 1:15 a.m. when she was shot through the door by her father, who thought an intruder was trying to get inside, WYFF reported.  The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting.
  • Emergency crews are investigating after a reported incident occurred on board a plane at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. In a statement to WSOC, airport officials said, “There is an investigation of a security incident on board an aircraft. More information to come.” Dozens of people were escorted off the plane and first responders came to the aircraft.  >> Read more trending news  Officials have confirmed the investigation involved a Jet Blue airplane departing from Charlotte, North Carolina, heading to New York on Sunday morning.  A JetBlue spokesperson told to WSOC the flight has been delayed. “JetBlue Flight 218, scheduled to depart from Charlotte to New York this morning, has been delayed for additional security screenings out of an abundance of caution. Local law enforcement is on-site and we are working to get customers on their way to New York as soon as possible.” According to David Lathan, a passenger on the plane from Rockingham, North Carolina, the aircraft was taxiing to the runway when the pilot had to stop. Lathan claims the pilot told the passengers there had been a bomb threat and gave them directions. “He said that there's been a bomb threat,” Lathan told WSOC., adding that the pilot said, “There’s going to be a policeman come up to the door. They’re going to open the door. When they do, get your luggage, and exit the airplane.” No other information has been released.  The investigation is ongoing, WSOC reported.
  • Two men are behind bars facing charges of inducing panic after allegedly surfing on the swollen Great Miami River. >> Read more trending news  Passersby spotted the men in the water shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday. Andrew S. Cook Jr., 25, and Garrett M. Pickiering, 26, said they also had asked someone to call for help after they apparently fell into the river in the area of State Route 47 and Port Huron Drive. “We had prepared for a water rescue,” Sgt. Joel Howell, of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, said. “We weren’t exactly sure if they were in the water.” Deputies received word that the pair, who were wet and carrying an oar, were just south of town. “They ended up going to jail for inducing panic, the reason being they left after asking somebody to call for help for them,” said Howell, who added that Cook and Pickiering apparently admitted to seeing at least one deputy respond. Cook and Pickiering were each booked into the Shelby County Jail on suspicion of inducing panic. They await Monday morning court dates, according to online records. Howell said the river is especially dangerous because it is flooded over the banks, full of debris and has a swift current.
  • A Mississippi teen is fighting for her life after being shot in a drive-by shooting in Jonestown, Mississippi. >> Read more trending news  Family members said Lamonshae Williams was shot in the stomach during a graduation party overnight. She was rushed to Regional One in critical condition. Williams graduated from Coahoma Early College High School on Saturday. Relatives told FOX13 she graduated sixth in her class.  Another victim who was shot at the scene was treated at a local hospital and is expected to be OK. Lamonshae's mother Luetisha Gardner said she is heartbroken about the situation. She told FOX13 that Lamonsha's older sister was killed a few years ago. Jonestown has very limited police coverage, so Coahoma County deputies are currently handling the case. Officers have not identified any suspects at this time. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
  • A year ago, the world watched as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married at Windsor Castle’s historic St. George’s Chapel. Less than a year after their nuptials, they welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. On Sunday, the couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary. >> Read more trending news  Harper’s Bazaar reported that the couple has shared behind-the-scenes moments from their big day in an Instagram post on Sussex Royal. Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: A relationship timeline The video slideshow begins with a series of black-and-white photos that include images of Markle holding hands with her mother, Doria Ragland, and Prince Harry pretending to hitchhike to his wedding. Audio of “This Little Light of Mine,” which Sussex Royal said was selected by the couple for their recessional, can be heard as the images are displayed. The video slideshow ends in color images of the big day and wedding bells. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also shared a message to supporters, saying, “Thank you for all of the love and support from so many of you around the world. Each of you made this day even more meaningful.” Watch the video below.
  • Billionaire Robert F. Smith, who received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College at institution’s Sunday morning graduation exercises, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school.  But during his remarks in front of the nearly 400 graduating seniors, the billionaire technology investor and philanthropist surprised some by announcing that his family was providing a grant to eliminate the student debt of the entire class of 2019.  >> Read more trending news  “This is my class, and I know my class will pay this forward,” he said. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony. The announcement elicited the biggest cheers of the morning. Tonga Releford, whose son, Charles Releford III, is a member of the class of 2019, estimates that her son’s student loans are around $70,000. “I feel like it’s Mother’s Day all over again,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Smith’s gift has been estimated at $40 million. Tonga Releford’s husband, Charles Hereford Jr., is also a Morehouse graduate. He said their younger son, Colin, is a junior at Morehouse, an all-male historically black college. The father said he doesn’t know who the keynote speaker will be at Colin’s graduation ceremony but is hoping for a return performance by Smith.  “Maybe he’ll come back next year,” he said.