On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
90°
Chance of T-storms
H 92° L 71°
  • cloudy-day
    90°
    Current Conditions
    Chance of T-storms. H 92° L 71°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    92°
    Today
    Chance of T-storms. H 92° L 71°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    90°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of T-storms. H 90° L 72°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Opinion Blogs
One Man's Opinion: A Culture of Life
Close

One Man's Opinion: A Culture of Life

One Man's Opinion: A Culture of Life
Photo Credit: WSB Radio/Bill Crane
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-District 7, Blue Ridge) at the Atlanta Press Club.

One Man's Opinion: A Culture of Life

"For this past couple of sessions, if not longer, we have been making it a priority in our caucus and in the Georgia House, to define and refine our state in its offering of a culture of life. These are not empty words, and our priorities are being supported with programs, with personnel and with funding," said Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-District 7, Blue Ridge) in his remarks to the Atlanta Press Club on Monday, March 9, 2020.

It is longtime considered conventional wisdom, particularly during election years, that the Republican Party would like to throw Grandma from the train, cut all social services and safety net spending to the quick, and give out only tax cuts to the rich and well-off. That is particularly in evidence on social media, though the Fourth and Fifth Estates hold their own share of the blame for perpetuating these misconceptions. 

Currently, in the great state of Georgia, it is a GOP-led House and General Assembly, as well as strong leadership from Georgia's Governor and State Senate which in actuality are proposing a stronger foundation across this state towards a culture of life. And they are putting their money where their mouths are. 

The AJC
General Assembly House Floor.
Close

One Man's Opinion: A Culture of Life

Photo Credit: The AJC
General Assembly House Floor.

Though HB 481 of two sessions ago, during the first legislative session for Governor Brian Kemp, codified significant restrictions for legal access to abortion (still pending under challenges in federal court), these new protections being proposed by this GOP body extend to almost every vulnerable population segment in the state. 

Following solid reporting by The Atlanta Journal & Constitution on the poor state and declining conditions of many assisted living, senior care and nursing homes, the House is responding with new regulatory authority, as well as additional funding for four new inspectors within the Department of Community Health. This problem, years in the making, won't be solved overnight, but both the regulators and their oversight (the General Assembly) now are placing a keener eye on these concerns. 

The House has also passed the first Parental Leave benefits for both mothers and fathers who are state government employees. This leave will be available not only for post-partum childbirth but to adoptive and foster parents. State House leaders hope this new benefit and offering will be catalytic for additional private sector consideration and adoption, versus cumbersome and often ineffective mandates. 

The freshly proposed House budget includes another $1,000 pay raise for all classroom teachers and certified educators, closing on funding a campaign promise of a $5K comp adjustment by Governor Kemp, and bringing Georgia teacher salaries to the highest in the southeast. And for the third or fourth consecutive budget cycle, the General Assembly and Governor will be fully funding Q.B.E., the Quality Basic Education Act, enacted by Democratic state leadership in 1985, but never fully funded until the administrations of Governors Nathan Deal and Brian Kemp. 

And though the budget wrangling between the House, State Senate and Governor's office is far from done, the House is taking a hard stand on re-storing funds proposed for reduction in the GBI Crime Lab, with particular sensitivity to the backlog of rape kits across the state, finally eliminated in 2018. In the criminal justice arena, the House also proposes restoration of budget cuts proposed for Accountability Courts, which are particularly critical in reversing the challenged life trajectories of many addicted to alcohol and drugs. 

© 2019 Cox Media Group.

FILE: Gov. Brian Kemp. (Photo: ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Close

Governor announces plans to reduce testing in Georgia

Photo Credit: © 2019 Cox Media Group.

FILE: Gov. Brian Kemp. (Photo: ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

And despite this apparent spending spree in support of many of the state's most challenged populations, the same leadership team is proposing an across the board individual income tax rate cut, to a flat tax rate of 5.375 percent for all individuals and a new corporate rate of 5.75. This effectively will return roughly a quarter billion in currently collected revenues primarily to individual taxpayers. 

The House caucus and leadership team have their work cut out for them, because in addition to differences of opinion with the other chamber and Executive branch, there are 180 members of this House, each often with their own opinions on budget priorities. And 'cross-over' day, requiring passage by at least one chamber for a budget or other legislative initiative to live on, looms imminently later this week. 

So as with the Corona Virus looming large in all headlines and news coverage, it is important to separate facts from fiction, innuendo from institutional memory and budget realities as well as to occasionally READ budget documents, as that is the most proven way to really see where your elected officials actually place their priorities. Happy reading.

Read More

News

  • A recently released study by the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan suggests that the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine helps lower the death rate in hospitalized coronavirus patients. An analysis of 2,541 patients hospitalized with coronavirus between March 10 and May 2, 2020, found that 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died as compared to 26% who died that did not receive the drug, according to The Detroit News. The mortality rate for hospitalized patients ranges from 10% to 30% globally, while the overall in-hospital mortality for the study was 18.1%. The study, which was conducted at six hospitals within The Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan, was published Thursday in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. “The findings have been highly analyzed and peer-reviewed,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System, who co-authored the study with Henry Ford epidemiologist Dr. Samia Arshad. “We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring. Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug. And other studies are either not peer reviewed, have limited numbers of patients, different patient populations or other differences from our patients. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration said the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating the coronavirus. Citing reports of heart complications, the FDA said the drugs’ unproven benefits “do not outweigh the known and potential risks.” In a separate announcement, the FDA also warned doctors against prescribing the drugs in combination with remdesivir, the lone drug currently shown to help patients with COVID-19. The FDA said the anti-malaria drugs can reduce the effectiveness of remdesivir, which FDA cleared for emergency use in May. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are frequently prescribed for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and can cause heart rhythm problems, severely low blood pressure and muscle or nerve damage. The agency reported in June that it had received nearly 390 reports of complications with the drugs, including more than 100 involving serious heart problems. Read more about the study here and here. https://www.henryford.com/news/2020/07/hydro-treatment-study https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(20)30534-8/fulltext The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • There are new rules in place for the holiday weekend if you plan to rent an Airbnb. The company says guests under 25 years old with fewer than three positive reviews will not be able to book an entire home close to where they live Airbnb didn’t reveal how it defines what is “close.” Airbnb said it wants to weed out any potential problems, specifically unauthorized house parties and feels this is the best way to do so. The company says it’s a nationwide policy, but it is most relevant for a handful of cities. The company says its technologies would block that guest from booking. “No one policy is going to stop all unauthorized parties. We’re also conscious that just because you’re 25 or older doesn’t mean that every single person in that group is booking for the right reasons too,” spokesperson Ben Breit told WSB-TV. Guests under 25 with at least three positive Airbnb reviews and no negative reviews won’t be subject to the restrictions. Airbnb began stepping up efforts to ban “party houses” last November after five people were shot and killed during an unauthorized party at an Airbnb rental in Orinda, California. At the time, Airbnb set up a rapid response team to deal with complaints from neighbors and started screening “high risk” bookings, such as reservations at a large home for one night. In a message to hosts, the company said reducing unauthorized parties is even more of a priority right now as states try to avoid coronavirus outbreaks. “With public health mandates in place throughout the country, we’re taking actions to support safe and responsible travel in the United States,” the company said. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, were charged Thursday with felonious assault after pulling a gun out on a Black mother and her children when a confrontation escalated outside a Chipotle in Michigan. Each of them had a loaded firearm and concealed pistol licenses. Deputies seized the two handguns, Sheriff Mike Bouchard said. On Thursday, the couple was arraigned and were given a $50,000 personal bond.  “As part of the bond conditions, they must turn over all firearms, not engage in any assaultive behavior, and may not leave the state,” sheriff’s officials told The Detroit News. The Detroit News first reported on the three-minute video posted online that shows part of the interaction. Takelia Hill, who is Black, told the newspaper that it happened after the white woman bumped into Hill’s teenage daughter as they were entering the fast food restaurant. The video footage [WARNING: Contains graphic language] starts after that, in the parking lot. A woman since identified as Jillian Wuestenberg is heard arguing with Hill and her daughters. Wuestenberg climbs into the vehicle, rolls down the window and says, “White people aren’t racist,” and, “I care about you,” before the vehicle she was in starts to back away. Her husband, who had led his wife to the vehicle, turns to the camera and asks, “Who ... do you think you guys are?,” using an expletive. Then, as someone is standing behind the vehicle, Jillian Wuestenberg jumps out and points a handgun in the direction of a person who’s recording. She screams at people to get away from her and her vehicle. A woman shouts, “She’s got a gun on me!” and urges someone in the parking lot to call the police. Wuestenberg then lowers the gun, climbs into the passenger seat and the vehicle drives off. Cooper, the prosecutor, told The Associated Press that her office viewed the available video and looked at the facts before filing charges. “It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that tempers run high over, basically, not much of an incident,” she said of the initial alleged spark that caused the confrontation. Bouchard said people are “picking sides” and that threatening calls were made to the sheriff’s office dispatch center after the videos were posted online. “We don’t see sides. We see facts,” he said. “There’s a lot of tension in our society, a lot of tension among folks and people with each other. I would just say this, we are asking and expect our police — and rightfully so — to deescalate every situation they possibly can, and we should be doing that. But I would say that needs to happen with us individually in our own lives and situations, that we interact with each other and deescalate those moments.” The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • The United States Geological Survey reported that a 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck this morning near Puerto Rico around 9:55 a.m. EDT. The quake was felt across the U.S. territory and is the latest in a series of tremors that began in late December and have damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes. Ángel Vázquez, who oversees the emergency management agency in Ponce, said a house collapsed in the town of Lajas. The house was empty and slated for demolition, according to Kiara Hernández, spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Security. Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, told The Associated Press that the tremor is an aftershock related to the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck in early January, killing at least one person and causing millions of dollars in damage. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • With The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race postponed this year, the Atlanta Police Department warned people against running or walking the course on the Fourth of July. APD noted in a tweet Friday that the course will not be closed to car traffic on Independence Day. With hashtags including #MyPersonalPeachtree and #APDCares, the police department said in the tweet that people should avoid running or walking the course on Saturday for safety reasons. >>Read MORE on AJC.com. [Summary]
  • The Washington Redskins issued a statement that they will “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.” “This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Majority owner Daniel Snyder said in the the statement. Snyder had previously shown no indication he would change the name since buying the team in 1999, but was quoted in the release. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he supports “this step.” The title sponsor of the Washington Redskins’ stadium, FedEx asked the NFL team to change its name in a statement Thursday. The company paid the team $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Amid the national debate over race, pressure has been mounting on the organization to abandon the name called a “dictionary-defined racial slur” by experts and advocates. Investors this week wrote to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors asking them to request a change. FedEx is believed to be the first to take action. Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store Thursday evening according to The Associated Press. The other 31 NFL teams were listed and a search for “Redskins” came up with no results. The team last week removed the name of racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame at FedEx Field, and a monument to him was removed from the site of the old RFK Stadium. Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser also said the name was an “obstacle” to the team returning to the District. The team’s lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and it is still talking to Washington, Virginia and Maryland about building a new stadium. The Associated Press contributed to this story.