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Pete Combs

    In the midst of a bountiful holiday season, the people of southwest Georgia and the Florida panhandle are struggling. Two months after Hurricane Michael roared ashore near Panama City, they’re still disoriented by the breathtaking extent of the storm’s destruction. While we celebrate the holidays with friends and family, hurricane survivors like Yalonda Crews, who are living under blue tarps, in hotels and shelters say, “We’ve been forgotten.”
  • President Trump's allegations of partisanship aimed at members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team could have wide-ranging and long-lasting effects on the American judicial system. LISTEN TO A FULL REPORT FROM WSB’S PETE COMBS BELOW:
  • He looks great in tights, wears a red cape, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Superman turns 80 this year and he’s getting the birthday treatment this weekend at a huge sci-fi convention called Dragon Con in Atlanta. For years, Dragon Con has been the go-to place for fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror. This year, 85-thousand people are filling downtown hotels. There will be a huge parade on Saturday, before the five-day convention winds down on Monday.
  • “If you watch people—how they interact—they interact mostly with their digital devices,” Zellmer tells WSB’s Pete Combs. “To then get into a car and viscerally experience what can be done on a track is something people appreciate obviously. And we’re very happy about that.” In this case, the experience involves driving on a closed track in a way you can’t drive on the highway. At the Atlanta Porsche Experience Center, that involves pushing both car and driver to the limits of their abilities. For 90-minutes, paying customers drive company cars on this road course. That may not seem like a long time, but Porsche bets it’s long enough to fall in love.  It’s also a learning experience. Drivers are instructed by Porsche experts who ride along, providing tips and cautions all along the way.  The course is set up in several parts.  “There’s a road course that’s designed to mimic a windy road in the North Georgia Mountains,” says Operations Manager Geoffrey Lowdermilk.  There’s a kick plate course where the road actually turns underneath the car, forcing it to slide. “That’s an effective way to learn how to control oversteer by turning into the slide,” he points out.  There’s also a multi-faceted off-road course built specifically for the Porsche Cayenne, an all-wheel drive SUV.  “You’d be surprised at what that vehicle can do right off the showroom floor,” Lowdermilk says with a smile.  Finally, there’s a “launch pad,” where drivers can feel the wind in their hair, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in around 3.2 seconds.  How do customers react to a brand land like the Porsche Experience Center?  “I just wanted to experience it more than I would if I was driving it around the block at the Porsche dealership,” says Suwanee retiree Terry Jordan. As he’s speaking, a bright blue roadster speeds up to a circular pad of polished concrete. It’s a drift pad, where drivers fling their Porsches into a sliding 180 degree turn, tires screeching all the way. “You know, like that,” he says, motioning over his shoulder.  It’s hard to be objective about the Porsche Experience Center once you’ve driven the course, met the people who work there, dine in the elegant café and see the remarkable collection of fine sports cars parked all over the property.  And that’s quite the point.  Porsche says the Experience Centers are a boon to sales and to the company’s cache. The point, says Zellmer, is that people want this sort of hands-on experience. He believes “brand lands” will work in a number of industries worldwide.  Says one employee at the Porsche’s Atlanta facility, “It’s like Disneyland for adults who like to drive really fast.”
  • A vehicle of interest has been identified in Tuesday’s QuikTrip robbery. 
  • An extremely dangerous robbery in Cobb County has police looking for the suspect who got away. WSB’s Pete Combs explains.
  • Long before McDonalds, before Burger King or Wendy’s – the Varsity was founded in 1928 by a former Georgia Tech student named Frank Gordy. The fast-food phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down, even as it prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary with a birthday party on Aug. 18. WSB Radio’s Pete Combs spoke with Gordon Muir, president of the Varsity and grandson of founder Frank Gordy, and employees who have worked for the chain for decades about the Varsity’s legacy. LISTEN TO COMBS’ FULL REPORT HERE.
  • They thought it was a dud – a three-inch artillery shell on display at a museum in Marietta.  But it wasn’t.  It was actually one of several shells that could have exploded at any moment. WSB’s Pete Combs reports Amy Reed, curator at the Marietta Museum of History, always assumed the 150 or so artillery shells on display were all safe. But her friend, historian Michael Hitt, had been nagging her for weeks to get them checked out. He was worried they weren’t duds at all. So, Reed called Marietta Police. Several officers checked out a number of shells that showed no indication of having been rendered inert. They found seven.  “They said, ‘Okay, well, this one’s not good, so we’re going to take it with us,” Reed recalled. “Then they took a couple of others and said, ‘Okay, we’ll be leaving now!’” Reed says, in retrospect, she wasn’t scared. She’d moved the 3-inch shell circa World War I from place to place within the museum. She even knocked it over once. Rather than afraid, she felt lucky. “They told me to buy a lottery ticket,” she said, “because it was a miracle….” The heavy, 3-inch round was apparently fired toward Kennesaw Mountain in 1917 by a group of officer candidates training to take over the newly-created Camp Gordon, which was located where DeKalb-Peachtree Airport is now. The battery of guns fired hundreds of shells toward the mountain. But at the end of their training exercise, historian Michael Hitt says the cadets’ aim went wild. Several shells flew over the top of the mountain. One landed near the present-day intersection of Stilesboro Road and Mossy Rock Road at the edge of the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield, killing two men and a woman. Another shell found its way to the museum. It, along with several shells from WWI and the Civil War were safely detonated at the Vulcan quarry in Kennesaw by the Cobb County Police Bomb Squad and explosives experts from Dobbins Air Reserve Base.   Hitt and Reed are no longer worried about the possibility of finding live bombshells at the museum. But they do worry about the likelihood there are countless live rounds buried in the backyards of homes all over Cobb and DeKalb Counties. Hitt is especially worried about sites near PDK, site of a housing construction boom. He hopes police in Brookhaven and Chamblee will send out precautionary warnings to residents of the former Camp Gordon site—beware of unexploded ordnance.   “If you find something like this,” Hitt warned, “don’t go playing with it.” “Yeah,” Reed agreed, “don’t go putting it on your mantel.”
  • The first numbers are coming in, and it looks like Georgia’s new Hands-Free Law is saving lives. In July last year, statewide, there were 136 wrecks where cell phones were a factor. WSB Radio’s Pete Combs reports that after the law went into effect, that number was down to 107.  The law does not just apply to texting or talking on the phone, The AJC’s Amanda C. Coyne reports. You cannot go through your Spotify playlist, browse Twitter, play Candy Crush or take a selfie on Snapchat unless you’re lawfully parked.  The law bans the phone from touching any part of the driver’s body, even when stopped at a stop sign or red light.  You can adjust a GPS app or device while driving.  In Gwinnett County, the first violation comes with a $50 ticket and one point on your license. The penalty for a second violation is a $100 fine and two points on your license, and the third violation carries a $150 fine and additional points on your license.  During a ride-along in Marietta, Police Officer Jared Rakestraw tells WSB’s Pete Combs the state’s new hands-free law does seem to be working.  The number of accidents involving cell phones last month, when the law went into effect, was 27 percent lower than a year ago.  And that is why Rakestraw says he is still out here – looking for cell phones.
  • A little Jonesboro boy should be celebrating his birthday.Instead... as WSB's Pete Combs reports... the boy is missing... and authorities are increasingly worried about his safety.

News

  • A mother in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, is heartbroken, claiming her son was kicked out of Walmart because of his disability. Buddy, 24, is 6-foot-2 and nonverbal with special needs, but he communicates with noises that can sometimes get loud. His mother told WPXI that while he and his service worker were inside the Walmart in Baden, they were approached by a worker who asked them to leave. Tammy Sheets said an employee who claimed to be a manager asked them to leave because of the noises her son was making. “She (the service worker) said, ‘Are you serious?’ Because she was shocked. And he said, ‘If he is going to continue to make those noises then yes,’” Sheets said. Sheets doesn’t know if her son understood what happened, but she said he cried afterward. She called Walmart’s corporate office and filed a complaint. She also called the American Civil Liberties Union. WPXI reached out to Walmart. A spokesperson said they are aware of the situation and that this was a misunderstanding. Walmart officials claim the employee did not ask them to leave the store. “I don’t know if he was sad or embarrassed or both, but that hurt me as a mother. … I’m here, I’m supposed to defend him,” said Sheets. Walmart updated its statement Wednesday, and the full comment is below: “Our associates and customers reflect the diverse communities we serve and our doors are open to everyone. This was an unfortunate misunderstanding, and at no point did we ask or tell these individuals to leave or exit the store. Our management team has experience serving customers and family members with autism and working to ensure they have a positive experience in the store.”
  • Two Calhoun State Prison officers in Morgan, Georgia, were arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs and other items inside a popular microwavable sandwich. The two female officers were arrested Monday after a metal detector alerted investigators to about 112 grams of meth and tobacco inside a Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pocket, according to WALB. Officer Corlethia Lattimore was charged with drug trafficking and Imani Ferguson was charged with conspiracy and giving illegal substances to inmates. Both were charged with violation of oath of office. Calhoun County Sheriff Josh Hilton told WALB that there have been almost a dozen arrests in the last year of people trying to smuggle contraband into the prison.
  • Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg took fire from all sides Wednesday in a contentious Democratic presidential debate that saw him questioned on race, money and calling women “fat broads.” In the course of the two-hour event, Bloomberg, in his first debate appearance, was forced to defend his policy of stop and frisk and was asked if he would, there onstage, release from non-disclosure agreements women in his company who have complained about a hostile workplace. Bloomberg was hesitant in some answers and seemed nervous when answering other pointed questions, many thrown at him by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren displayed a take-no-prisoners attitude for much of the debate, going after not only Bloomberg but everyone else on the stage over issues such as health care, climate change and taxing the wealthy. A recurring argument between Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar turned heated at one point with Klobuchar asking Buttigieg if he was saying she is dumb. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, also got into several sharp exchanges with Bloomberg, saying he doesn’t believe a billionaire should be allowed to “buy an election.” Former Vice President Joe Biden, who likewise went after Bloomberg and his wealth, also took a swipe at Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan. “When you asked Bernie how much it cost last time he said...' We’ll find out,’” Biden quipped. “It costs over $35 trillion, let’s get real.” Here’s how the debate went: Live updates: Closing statements 11 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: The debate ends as the candidates are asked to give closing statements. Klobuchar says it’s about heart and Trump doesn’t have one. She then asks people to go to her website. Bloomberg says people should go to his website, but he’s not asking for money. He says Trump isn’t doing the job – he’s not a manager, he can’t build teams. Buttigieg says time is running out but he is the candidate who can build the largest coalition to defeat Trump. “I grew up fighting,” Warren said. She talks about the hard times she had as a youngster and wonders why the US is still in hard times. Biden begins to talk and protesters begin to yell. They are escorted from the room. He resumes his statement saying he is running to help people. “I know what it’s like to get knocked down.” Sanders says he is the candidate for universal health care and taxing millionaires and billionaires. Who wins at the convention? 10:45 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Todd asks each candidate if the person with the most candidates should win the nomination, not the person with 1,991 – a majority of the total number of Democratic delegates to the national convention. Everyone but Sanders says no, the process should play out as the rules dictate. Sanders says the process is skewed with super delegates and that must be addressed. Perfection 10:43 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Klobuchar: tells Buttigieg she wishes 'everyone was as perfect as you” after he attacks her on her record. “You’ve memorized a bunch of talking points, and a bunch of things,” she says.Buttigieg begins to speak in Spanish. Helping with Trump’s re-election, according to Bloomberg 10:40 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Bloomberg takes a swipe at Sanders’s explanation of Democratic socialism. “I can’t think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation,” Bloomberg said. “This is ridiculous. We’re not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didn’t work.” Burnin’ down the party Biden on guns Who is the president of Mexico? 9:55 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Klobuchar is asked about her inability to name the president of Mexico during an interview a few days ago. She says his name, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, just slipped her mind. Buttigieg says that shouldn’t happen because part of her job as a senator is overseeing border issues, and he suggests she is not as prepared as she says she is. Warren steps in and defends Klobuchar, saying forgetting a name happens sometimes. Sexist remarks 9:50 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Warren pounces on Bloomberg for his answer on allegations that he made sexist remarks to women in his company, Bloomberg LP.Bloomberg says he will not talk about it, and that when someone makes sexist remarks at his company, “we investigate it. And if it’s inappropriate, they’re gone that day.”Warren cuts in and asks why he won’t release women from confidentiality agreements they signed relating to sexist comments and a hostile workplace.“I’m sorry the question is are the women bound by being muzzled by you and you could release them from that immediately? Understand, this is not just a question of the mayor’s character. This is also a question about electability.”He says he will not release the women from the agreements.The audience boos.“I hope you heard what his defense was. I’ve been nice to some women,” Warren said. ‘I can’t go to Turbo Tax’ 9:40 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Bloomberg explains why he has not yet released his tax returns. It’s a massive job to do that, Bloomberg says, and the results will be in the thousands of pages, he said. “I can’t go to Turbo Tax,” he says. Stop and frisk 9:37 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Bloomberg explains his stop and frisk policy: “I thought my first responsibility was to give people the right to live,” he said, but “it got out of control.” “I’ve sat, I’ve apologized, I’ve asked for forgiveness,” Bloomberg said. “We stopped too many people.” Warren responded, “This really is about leadership and accountability,” she said. “It targeted communities of color; it targeted black and brown men from the beginning. You need a new apology.” Health care is the issue 9:20 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Warren attacks the health care plans of everyone on the stage. She says Klobuchar’s could be written on a Post-It note. Buttigieg’s plan is a campaign slogan, she says. Klobuchar responds: “Post-it notes were invented in my state.” Fireworks from the start 9:10 a.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Sanders gets the first question. It is about Bloomberg and why he, Sanders, would be a better choice for president. Sanders says Bloomberg has baggage that will keep him from bringing in people for Democrats. Bloomberg says he doesn’t think there is “a chance of the senator (Sanders) beating Trump,” pointing to Sanders’ plan for Medicare for all. Warren goes after Bloomberg saying there’s one candidate who has referred to women as “fat broad” and “horse-faced lesbians.” “No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” “We are not going to win,” Warren said, “If we substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.” Klobuchar said she was happy to see Bloomberg on the stage until she saw a memo from Bloomberg’s campaign that suggested she get out of the race. Biden says, according to an NBC poll, he is the one who can beat Trump. “Look at your own poll,” he tells the moderators. Buttigieg says the nominee could end up being one of the “two most polarizing figures on this stage.” Then he suggests, “Let’s put someone forward who is actually a Democrat.” xxxx The debate is about to start 8:53 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: The candidates are taking the stage now. Who’s Number One? 8:40 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Sanders is now the front-runner in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, replacing Biden. He is holding around 30% support in national polls. However, the leader in primary results, which is what matters in gaining the nomination, is former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He’s up by one delegate over Sanders. Steyer isn’t there, but his money is 8:31 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Tom Steyer is not on the debate stage tonight. The billionaire entrepreneur has spent upwards of $14 million on ad buys in Nevada and is on the Nevada ballot, but he did not get enough support in polls to make the stage. When will we know Nevada’s results? 8:25 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: The Associated Press is reporting that Democrats will not commit to releasing Saturday’s Nevada caucuses results on Saturday. According to The AP, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said several factors, including early voting and potentially high turnout, could affect the tabulation and timing of results. In addition, Nevada, like Iowa, will be reporting three sets of data from the multistage caucus process. The rules 8:16 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: The rules for the night will allow debaters one minute and 15 seconds for answering questions they are given by moderators, and 45 seconds for follow-up responses at the moderators’ discretion. In past debates, those rules have often gone straight out the window with people jumping in on their own and, at times, hijacking the stage Health issues 8:03 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Bloomberg’s and Sanders’ campaigns have been trading barbs today. Sanders’ press secretary claimed this morning on CNN that Bloomberg has had “several heart attacks.” Bloomberg’s campaign called her out, saying Bloomberg has never had a heart attack. Sanders, himself, has been questioned about his health following the heart attack he suffered in the fall. 7:43 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Robert Reich, who was in Presidents Gerald Ford’s, Jimmy Carter’s and Bill Clinton’s administrations, offers a list of questions Michael Bloomberg may have to answer tonight. Live updates are beginning 7:30 p.m. ET Feb. 19, 2020: Welcome to live updates from the Democratic presidential debate. Six candidates are in Las Vegas getting ready for the debate which comes three days before Saturday’s Nevada caucuses.
  • A human brain was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S - Canadian border last week in a shipment that was only identified as an “Antique Teaching Specimen.” An inspection on a mail truck entering the United States from Canada in Port Huron revealed a package that contained a human brain inside of a clear glass mason jar, according to WKBW. The package originated in Toronto and was on its way to Kenosha, Wisconsin, before it was intercepted by agents. The item did not have any paperwork or legal documents and was denied entry into the U.S. “Individuals looking to import shipments such as this, need to remember that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a strict Import Permit Program that must be adhered to. This is just another great example of just one of the many things CBP officers do to protect our nation on a daily basis,” Area Port Director Michael Fox told WKBW. According to WDJT-TV, authorities are investigating how to dispose of the brain.
  • A Louisiana man accused of shoplifting items from a Walmart dragged a sheriff’s deputy across the store’s parking lot in a car as he tried to flee, authorities said. Joseph Ray Hollingsworth, 44, of Independence, was booked on several charges, including theft, resisting an officer, battery of a police officer, aggravated flight from an officer by vehicle and possession of a stolen firearm, according to a news release by the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office. Saturday, officers working security at the Walmart were alerted about a man, later identified as Hollingworth, allegedly stealing items from the store, WVUE reported. Deputies detained Hollingworth and put him in handcuffs, but he was able to get free and fled, NOLA.com reported. Hollingsworth got into a vehicle and a deputy dived on top of him, the website reported. According to the Sheriff’s Office news release, Hollingsworth was able to start the vehicle and drove away, dragging the deputy alongside him. Hollingsworth eventually crashed into a basket corral, and the deputy was able to put the vehicle in park, WVUE reported. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a search of the car revealed a stolen handgun and plastic bags containing methamphetamine residue, NOLA.com reported. In the news release, deputies said Hollingsworth had active warrants issued by the Walker Police Department and had a suspended driver’s license, according to WVUE. Hollingsworth and the deputy were treated for minor injuries, the television station reported. Hollingsworth is being held in lieu of $67,500 bail, according to arrest records.
  • Former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Greg Robinson was arrested Tuesday and was being held in a Texas jail on drug distribution charges, authorities said Wednesday. Robinson, 27, who started 14 games for the Browns in 2019, was booked by the Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday, according to El Paso County jail records. Robinson was arrested at the Sierra Blanca border checkpoint near the U.S.-Mexico border, AL.com reported. Robinson faces a charge of possessing marijuana with intent to sell, ESPN reported. Robinson has played six seasons in the NFL. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft and was the first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams. He played collegiately at Auburn University. Robinson played the 2019 second season in Cleveland on a one-year contract, and the Browns already told his agent the lineman would not be re-signed by the Browns in 2020, according to cleveland.com. He will become a free agent March 18, the website reported.