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Latest from Bill Caiaccio

    Congressman Doug Collins, who is one of President Trump’s biggest defenders, wants to challenge United States Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp. Collins applied for the job, but Kemp chose Loeffler instead to replace retiring Senator Johnny Isakson. “It just makes people make some pretty difficult choices,” said WSB Political Analyst Bill Crane of a potential race between Collins and Loeffler in the November special election. Do they support the president, or do they support the governor? The political dynamics are fascinating. It could create a potential nightmare for Republicans, if Democrats put up a united candidate, while Loeffler and Collins split the GOP vote. In that scenario, “The Republican Party could very well lose that seat,” Crane said. Candidates from all parties will appear on the same ballot in the election, unless state lawmakers create a partisan primary. Governor Kemp is promising to veto any effort to end the so-called “jungle primary.” Collins is working with Democrats in the Georgia legislature and Republican House Speaker David Ralston to have the rules changed to a partisan primary. Atlanta’s Evening News host WSB’s Erick Erickson said that may not be a good idea. “Collins is going to fracture the Republican party,” Erickson said. Kemp was hoping the GOP would be united behind Loeffler in the race to fill the remaining two years of Isakson’s seat, but it’s shaping up to be anything but that for Republicans. “It will make a very interesting and spirited open primary race, and will divide the Georgia Republican party base,” Crane said.  As for who might be favored between Collins and Loeffler, Crane gives the edge to Collins, who has been a vocal defender of President Trump during the impeachment process. “Activist Republicans, who are most likely to show up and participate and vote early, are going to be leaning in support of their president and Doug Collins,” Crane said.  It remains to be seen how many Democrats will enter the race. So far, entrepreneur Matt Lieberman and federal prosecutor Ed Tarver have said they will run. The Rev. Rafael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church is also considering a run. However, infighting among Republicans may encourage a higher profile candidate to get into the race. “This will put pressure on Stacey Abrams, in particular, to give another look at running for that seat,” Crane said. Democrats were already eyeing Georgia with two U.S. Senate races up for grabs. Republican Senator David Perdue is also up for re-election.
  • A big-name Democrat throws his hat into the ring in one of two U.S. Senate races in Georgia next year. Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff announced Tuesday he will challenge Republican U.S. Senator David Perdue in 2020. Ossoff became well known in metro Atlanta after nearly winning what was the most expensive U.S. House race in history in 2017. Ossoff narrowly lost a special election runoff in Georgia's 6th district to Republican Karen Handel, but Ossoff says he gained valuable experience in the process. 'What I learned is that I will not be intimidated,' Ossoff told MSNBC while announcing his candidacy. Ossoff joins three other Democrats who are challenging Perdue: Business executive Sarah Riggs Amico, who was last year’s runner-up for lieutenant governor; Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.  The 32-year old Ossoff may stand the best chance in a head-to-head race against Perdue, according to WSB political analyst Bill Crane. 'He would be one of those names that should cause some concern among the Republicans,' Crane said. Ossoff already has the endorsement of Georgia congressman John Lewis. Even if Ossoff wins the Democratic nomination, he would still face many challenges. While Ossoff is well-known in metro Atlanta, 'That won't be the case when you're in the Macon, Columbus, Augusta, Savannah, Athens, etc. media markets,' Crane said. Crane believes Ossoff may also struggle to find votes in rural Georgia. 'His political leanings are well to the left of what most of the state outside of the metro markets will be,' Crane said. Georgia will be in the unique position next year of having two U.S. Senate races. In addition to Perdue's seat, there will also be a special election to fill the remainder of the term of outgoing Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down due to health reasons. Asked why he wants to challenge Perdue rather than run for Isakson's seat, Ossoff told the Atlanta Journal Constitution because Perdue 'is one of the least effective and most out-of-touch members of the U.S. Senate.'  Democrats are targeting Georgia with two Senate seats up for grabs next year. 'The Democratic senatorial commission, and the DNC, really wants to pick off one if not both of those seats,' Crane said. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 advantage in the U.S. Senate. Democrats hope to regain the majority in 2020, and Georgia will play a key role in determining which party will be in power.
  • With metro Atlanta baking in the August sun, the extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone working outside. In the Southeast Region, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is investigating two fatalities and two hospitalizations related to employees working in the heat. OSHA's Assistant Area Director for the Atlanta West office, Jeffrey Stawowy, tells WSB there are precautions to help protect workers. He recommends 'Providing water, rest and shade at frequent intervals.' The most at-risk jobs are construction, transportation, agriculture and landscapers. Stawowy said you should be able to recognize when someone's body is reacting to the heat and how to take corrective measures.  As the weather gets hotter, he said it's important to increase the frequency of breaks. OSHA offers an app that calculates the heat index for a specific work site. 'It tells you what kind of risk the current weather is,' Stawowy said. The app also includes information on how to stay safe and how employers can protect their workers in extreme heat. OSHA says extreme heat kills dozens of workers every year and sickens thousands more. They advise employers to plan for emergencies, train workers on prevention and monitor employees for signs of illness.  
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said he is 'beyond frustrated' and it's 'ridiculous' there is still no agreement on federal disaster aid to help Georgia farmers and others impacted by hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Speaking to WSB’s Scott Slade on Atlanta’s Morning News, Governor Kemp said its time to put politics aside and “get something done.” >>LISTEN TO SLADE’S FULL INTERVIEW WITH THE GOVERNOR BELOW. More than 200 days after Hurricane Michael devastated Georgia and Florida, Kemp wonders what’s taking so long. “The longest disaster bill we’ve ever had before was Hurricane Sandy, up in New Jersey. It took a little over 55 days, now we’ve been over 200,” Kemp said. Despite the lack of an agreement, Kemp said Georgia’s delegation is doing its part. “I know Senator Perdue and Senator Isakson have been working for over a month, probably closer to two, to get something done in the Senate,” he told WSB. Kemp and nine other governors in states affected by natural disasters have written a letter to the president and congressional leaders in Washington D.C. requesting “urgent attention” to help their states recover. Kemp vowed “To keep the pressure on them up there and hopefully they can get something done.” Unfortunately, he said “politics is at play there, which is very frustrating to our farmers.” WSB’s Jamie Dupree reports the U.S. House approved a $19 billion measure for disaster relief Friday, but Congress may be no closer to a final agreement because President Trump objects to extra disaster relief for Puerto Rico. It remains to be seen what happens next to the bill. Democrats are hopeful the Senate will approve it, despite the president’s opposition.
  • It may be the most anticipated Initial Public Offering this year. Ride-sharing company Uber begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, but should you add it to your portfolio? WSB Money Matters host Wes Moss said, “Investors are really playing Hail Mary economics,” if they decide to buy Uber stock. “It might, might, might work out. Hail Mary’s happen but not very often,” Moss said. The concern for WSB’s money expert is Uber’s lack of profitability. Moss said, “It’s hard to know what a fair price is for a company that’s bleeding money.” He said Uber may be the most unprofitable company to ever go public. While it could turn a profit one day, Moss said “A lot of things have to go right for that to happen.” He said it could take a decade. “If you’re an investor with an iron stomach, this might be for you, Moss said, but if you’re a more conservative investor that can’t handle lots and lots of years of maybes, then I’d probably stay away from it.” Uber announced on Thursday it was pricing its IPO at $45 per share, which was at the lower end of its targeted price range. Uber’s main rival, Lyft, went public six weeks ago with an IPO price of $72, but has lost about a quarter of its value since. Uber has a market value of $82 billion, which is five times more than Lyft.
  • Stacey Abrams decision not to run for the United States Senate in 2020 could have a major ripple effect on Georgia’s political future. First and foremost, it may be good news for the incumbent, Republican Senator David Perdue.  WSB Political Analyst Bill Crane said, “There are probably a lot of Georgia Republicans smiling, with David Perdue possibly having the biggest toothiest grin.” He said Perdue “would have faced a substantial challenge if Stacey Abrams had gotten into the race.” Abrams is considered by some as a rising star in the Democratic party. She narrowly lost the election to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp last year, and she delivered the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address. When asked what would have made Abrams a difficult opponent for Perdue Crane said, “Her name recognition, and though we don’t know how lasting it will be, the passion she inspires among her voters.” He said, “Ms. Abrams has an organization, financing and quite a list in place already to make that challenge more formidable.” With Abrams out of the Senate race, it opens the door for other Democrats considering a run but who have been waiting to see what Abrams decided. A likely candidate is former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who said she will make a formal announcement on Wednesday. Crane said others who may get into the race include former Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, who is currently CEO of Dekalb County and U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop and David Scott.  No matter who challenges Perdue Crane said, “It is difficult to oust sitting U.S. Senators regardless of their party.” As for what’s next for Abrams, she may still be weighing a run for president or vice-president, but Crane said, “She might be better suited to a rematch against Governor Kemp in 2022.” 
  • Once again, the Masters proves why it is the best golf tournament in the world, and it’s not even close. Some will argue they like seeing pros struggle, as is the case at the U.S. Open or the uniqueness of links golf at the Open Championship, but I’ll take the drama at Augusta National any day. I kept hearing the word “wow” uttered on TV during the CBS broadcast and in the press room during the final round Sunday.  Tiger Woods’ dramatic win may go down as the best Masters since Jack Nicklaus won his sixth green jacket in 1986, but it wasn’t just the fact Tiger won that made this Masters so special. The golf course proved once again why it’s also the star of the show every year, no matter who’s battling for the green jacket. How many times have we seen Masters dreams die on the 12th hole. With all the talk of making holes longer, the 150-yard par-3 continues to confound the best players in the world. The same hole where Jordan Spieth lost the 2016 Masters is where Italy’s Francesco Molinari lost the lead it seemed he would never let go this year. On the par-3 16th hole, the same hole where Nicklaus came within inches of an ace on the way to his 1986 victory, Tiger nearly did the same. And who can forget Tiger’s chip in on that famous hole leading to his win in 2005. I dare you to find a better set of par 3’s on any course in the world, and the par 5’s on Augusta’s second nine aren’t too bad either. Because it’s the only one of golf’s major championships played at the same venue every year, we’ve come to know the holes so well. The same holes that can produce eagles and birdies also produce train wrecks, like the double-bogey made by Molinari on the par-5 15th. As far as Tiger is concerned, two of the biggest moments in his comeback have now occurred in Georgia. He won at East Lake in the Tour Championship last fall and now Augusta National. Some have said this is the greatest comeback in sports, after multiple back surgeries and his well-documented personal problems. While that is debatable, what Tiger proved Sunday is that he could still have a chance at beating Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional major titles. He most certainly has a good chance of matching the record six Masters titles by Nicklaus. His game may not the same as it was in his prime, but what Tiger has is his intelligence, and I believe he still carries an intimidation factor.  It seems by their reactions Sunday some of the best players in the world were affected by Tiger’s presence. How else do you explain four contenders going in the water on the 12th hole on Sunday? Whether you like him or not, Sunday’s scene of Woods hugging his kids after leaving the 18th green was a special moment. Even Woods, not one who gets choked up easily, got emotional when remembering hugging his own father after winning his first Masters 22 years ago.  Tiger Woods is good for golf and good for sports in general. He’s one of only a few athletes who makes most people stop what they’re doing to watch. And the Masters proves once again why it’s must-see TV each April.
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is not saying when he may sign the controversial “heartbeat” bill, which would restrict abortions in Georgia. The governor supports the bill passed by Georgia lawmakers during the recently completed legislative session. “We value life in our state,” Governor Kemp told WSB’s Scott Slade on “Atlanta’s Morning News.” The governor said he is not concerned about talk of an economic boycott, if he signs the measure. “I don’t believe there will be dire consequences for supporting life in our state,” Kemp told WSB. >>LISTEN TO THE GOVERNOR’S FULL INTERVIEW BELOW. Some in Hollywood are threatening to stop film shoots in Georgia to protest.  Actress Alyssa Milano is leading the effort. She says the measure is “unconstitutional.” As for when he may sign it, Governor Kemp said, “We really haven’t set a date for any of the bills to sign yet.” He told AMN, “We’ve got a thorough review process that we go through on every bill just to make sure there’s nothing in there that we missed.”  While Kemp said he’s “In no real hurry” to sign any piece of legislation, he told WSB the deadline is May 10. The bill would ban most abortions in Georgia, as soon as a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat, which usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy. “The abortion issue is a very tough issue,” Kemp said. “Even if you don’t agree with the legislation that was passed, you can certainly agree we value life in our state.” After the bill was passed, The Writers Guild of America released a statement saying if Kemp signs the law “It’s entirely possible that many of those in our industry will either want to leave the state or decide not to bring productions there.”  
  • President Trump and his Republican friends on Capitol Hill are declaring victory after the much-anticipated Mueller report found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. WSB political analyst Bill Crane said, 'The president's legal troubles and challenges are not over, but I think he has a lot to kind of claim victory about.' One of the first to see the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller was Republican Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. 'The special counsel’s investigation was long, thorough and conclusive: There was no collusion.' Now that the report is out it remains to be seen how much the American people will get to see. In an exclusive interview with WSB's Monica Matthews, Collins said 'The public should see everything they can see.' Collins said 'This is something that is very important. Democrats talking point is just to dump everything. You can't do that.' Collins said Attorney General William Barr 'has made it very clear he will put out as much as possible, so that the American people can have assurance what Bob Mueller found is the actual truth.' That way 'Nobody can go looking for shadows behind the curtain,' Collins said. Democrats have a different view. U.S. Representative Hank Johnson of Lithonia, one of the top Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, says the full Mueller report should be made public. Johnson told the Atlanta Journal Constitution 'There are a whole lot of questions that need to be answered and we certainly can’t answer those questions by relying on the conclusions that Barr says Mueller reached.' Another one of President Trump's supporters on Capitol Hill, Republican Congressman Jody Hice of Monroe, tweeted 'We knew this two years ago: Zero collusion.
  • As bad as the damage is in Georgia from Sunday's tornado outbreak, Governor Brian Kemp says we're very fortunate. 'It is a miracle we haven't had a loss of life,' the governor told Atlanta's Morning News. More than 20 people lost their lives just across the state line in Alabama, but so far there are no reports of fatalities in Georgia. A day after touring tornado damage in west-central and South Georgia, Governor Kemp told WSB the State of Emergency will remain in place for as long as needed in Talbot, Harris and Grady counties.  'We see the damage, and some of the folks I talked to that rode the storm out in their home that was devastated it's amazing,' Kemp said. The governor has also been impressed with the way people are pitching in to help those in need. He said, 'A lot of folks there are already serving food and helping their neighbors.' LISTEN TO GOV. KEMP’S FULL INTERVIEW WITH WSB RADIO’S SCOTT SLADE BELOW: Kemp said he's not sure yet if the damage in Georgia will qualify for federal disaster assistance. The governor did speak to President Trump who Kemp said, 'Offered his full support and the help of the federal government.' While folks are cleaning up from this latest natural disaster, Governor Kemp is also concerned about South Georgia farmers who are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Michael last fall. The governor will travel to southwest Georgia Tuesday along with Agriculture Secretary Gary Black to get an update from farmers and provide an update on efforts to get them federal aid. 'This should have been done already.' Kemp said, 'The president continues to offer his full support.' Governor Kemp is calling on members of congress to pass a bill proposed by Georgia Senators David Perdue and Johnny Isakson.  'We're hopeful we can get this done, but we cannot continue to wait. Our farm families need that done right away,' Kemp said.
  • Bill  Caiaccio

    Anchor/Reporter

    Bill Caiaccio has been working for WSB since 2014. 

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  • Three suburban Denver officers were fired Friday after they took a photograph showing a chokehold in front of the memorial for Elijah McClain, who died after a confrontation with officers from the Aurora Police Department, officials said. McClain, 23, was pronounced dead on Aug. 27, 2019 -- a few days after he went into cardiac arrest following a struggle with officers from the Aurora Police Department, KUSA reported. A third officer involved resigned on Thursday, the television station reported. A fourth officer, who took the photo also was fired. “I speak for all men and women of APD we are ashamed and sickened over what we have to share with you,” Interim APD Chief Vanessa Wilson said at a news conference. According to documents released by the Aurora Police Department on Friday, the photos were texted to Officer Jason Rosenblatt, who responded with “HaHa.” Rosenblatt is one of the three officers who responded the night of McClain’s death, and Williams said he has also been fired. The officers depicted in the photos were identified by APD as Erica Marrero, Kyle Dittrich and Jaron Jones, who resigned from the department on Thursday. Jones resigned Tuesday, and the department announced his departure on Thursday. Check back for more on this developing story.
  • 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]