Maura Currie

On Second Thought Producer/Reporter

The face of local news in Macon, Georgia, is changing. After nearly four decades, Friday is Oby Brown's last day at The Telegraph in Macon. Brown's departure comes amid what another outgoing editor called a "transformation" of the newspaper. Brown joined us in the studio to discuss the way local news is changing and reflect on his longtime career covering the news in middle Georgia. 

Leighton Rowell / GPB

This week we talked about the psychology of newlyweds, an unsung civil rights hero and the future of local news. So, as always, we invited a group of smart people to help us break down the week's biggest headlines.

Natalie Pawelski, vice president of Cater Communications, conservative radio host Greg Williams, Kennesaw State University Roxanne Donovan and Decatur-based author Nicki Salcedo joined this week's Breakroom.

Last month, investigators in Atlanta recovered about 500 pounds of methamphetamine hidden inside Disney figurines. That's worth about $2 million. Drug Enforcement Administration officials not only say that Atlanta is a hub for crystal meth distribution; according to the DEA, meth also the "No. 1 threat" in the metro area.

Sanford Health / Flickr

A new study from Johns Hopkins University finds that 1 in 8 organ transplants in the United States involves organs from someone who died of a drug overdose, adding another set of ethical questions to a hot-button issue.

 

With higher rates of homelessness and poverty, as well as diseases such as HIV, the demographic makeup of donors who have died of overdoses is radically different from that of the “normal” pool of organ donors.

 

Could organs from patients who overdosed actually pose health risks to the people who receive them? To answer this question, we turned to Dr. Christine Durand, who co-authored the study.

 

New research on anxiety in the workplace finds in some cases, anxiety can actually help improve employee performance. Georgia State University psychology professor Page Anderson developed a technology to help people with social anxiety by using virtual reality. The software simulates real life settings that cause patients anxiety, helping them learn to cope before they have to confront the same scenarios in the real world. 

The Carolina Parakeet was a wild bird in lots of senses of the word; it flew throughout the Southeast and Midwest, including along the Georgia coast. Revolutionary War soldiers and Manifest Destiny explorers journaled about their bright green plumage and “disagreeable screams.” And they were thought to be poisonous, because they ate cocklebur seeds that were harmless to them but toxic to cats hoping for a feathered meal. The birds went extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, researcher Kevin Burgio is using their migration patterns and physiology as a means to explore how we can save at-risk species today.

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Across the country, record numbers of women are running for elected office in this year’s midterms — and a lot of them are running for the first time. In Georgia, the highest-profile race is the Democratic race for governor, which is pitting Stacey Abrams against Stacey Evans.

 

Elsewhere in the state, more women are running for legislative seats than in years past. Since 2016, the number of women seeking state Senate seats has increased by 40 percent and the number seeking spots in the state House is up about 20 percent. For Democrats especially, the 2018 midterms are a huge opportunity, with the party vying for spots in 121 spots (the most since 2004). Many of those candidates are first-timers, many are in historically red districts and many are women.

John James Audubon / Wikimedia Commons

The Carolina Parakeet was a wild bird in lots of senses of the word; it flew throughout the Southeast and Midwest, including along the Georgia coast. Revolutionary War soldiers and Manifest Destiny explorers journaled about their bright green plumage and “disagreeable screams.” And they were thought to be poisonous, because they ate cocklebur seeds that were harmless to them but toxic to cats hoping for a feathered meal.

The birds went extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, researchers are using their migration patterns and physiology as a means to explore how we can save at-risk species today.

For Mark Sanchez, being a peach grower means "you pretty much stay worried all year. That's because for peaches to bloom in the spring, peach trees have to stay cold in the winter. At Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley, Georgia, that means getting 650-850 "chill hours" — or hours under 45 degrees Fahrenheit — between November and February. But last year, conditions didn't even come within range. By Sanchez's estimate, Fort Valley only got about 550 cold hours. Whereas a typical peach season goes through mid-August, Lane wrapped up operations in early July. So after this year's cold winter, Sanchez, Lane's CEO, is more optimistic. We talked to him about what we can expect from this year's peach season and what makes Georgia the peach state even though other states have surpassed our production levels. 

Food can evoke so many rich memories. A book by Savannah food writer Jonathan Barrett captures some of the stories tied to Southern recipes. We talked with Barrett, author of the new book Cook & Tell, in 2017. We also heard from freelance writer Amy Condon, who contributed her own story to the book.

What does it mean to have an awakening? For Christopher Paul Curtis, it meant finding his calling in his 40s. After working for more than a decade in Detroit's automobile manufacturing industry, Curtis began writing children's books about the African American experience. His 1996 novel "The Watsons Go to Birmingham" earned him a John Newbery Medal, making him the first African American man to win this honor. He won again in 2000 for "Bud, Not Buddy" and in 2008 for "Elijah of Buxton." We spoke with Curtis in 2017. 

Spring has arrived in Georgia. Are you ready to relax outside with a good book? We asked Literary Atlanta podcast host Alison Law and Decatur-based author Nicki Salcedo to tell us about the best new books by Southern writers. We also talked with the Breakroom gang about the most discussed news items of the week.

This year's Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists were announced Tuesday. We listened back to interviews with four past and present honorees. Renee Montagne was named a 2018 finalist for her investigation examining racial disparity in maternal deaths. James Forman Jr. won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for his book "Locking Up Our Own:  Crime and Punishment in Black America." We also revisited conversations with Alfred Uhry, who won the Pulitzer for drama in 1988, as well as Bill Dedman, who in 1989 won the prize for investigative reporting.  

What makes Vidalia onions so special that they get their own festival — and declaration as Georgia's official state vegetable? We asked Delbert Bland of Bland Farms in Glennville, Georgia. He's been in the Vidalia business for decades and gave us a taste of the history and science behind this sweet onion.  

In 1981, actor Bruce Campbell first took on "The Evil Dead." The cult hit spawned two sequels, video games, Marvel comic books and a television series. "Ash vs. Evil Dead" airs its season finale later this month. We talked with Campbell last year as he prepared to attend Walker Stalk Con in Atlanta. He shared his thoughts on low budget, his cult star status and getting the chance to reinterpret the title character. 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would halt its Legal Orientation Program, which provides legal advice and information to detained immigrants. The DOJ has also suspended a telephone helpline. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says this isn't the only obstacle immigrants face when it comes to legal assistance. In a new lawsuit, the SPLC claims federal immigration officials make it difficult for detainees to communicate with their attorneys. In the lawsuit, the Southern Poverty Law Center calls out two Georgia detention centers as part of the problem. SPLC legal director Lisa Graybill and immigration lawyer Hiba Ghalib talked with us about immigrants' access to legal assistance.  

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The South has a lot of nicknames. "The Bible Belt." "Dixieland." And when it comes to health, we're known as the Stroke Belt.

 

Studies say stroke risk in this 11-state region, which includes Georgia, is 34 percent higher for the general population than elsewhere in the United States.

 

LaRaven Taylor / GPB

This week's Breakroom panel looked back at the week in news. Former NPR correspondent Kathy Lohr, film critic Stephen Brown, freelance writer Anjali Enjeti and "Greg's List" host Greg Williams chimed in on Mark Zuckerberg's congressional hearing, mass resignations at Atlanta's city hall and the controversial portrayals of Asian characters on shows such as "The Simpsons." 

Saturday marks two months since a school shooting killed 17 students and educators in Parkland, Florida. Since then, we’ve heard public outrage transform into ever more urgent calls for reforms to the nation's gun laws. Antoinette Tuff knows first-hand what it’s like to come face-to-face with a school shooter: On Aug. 20, 2013, she was working at Decatur’s Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy when a 20-year-old gunman entered with an AK-47 military assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition. Tuff talked the gunman down, and no one was injured or killed. She tells us whether teachers should be armed.

As the weather warms up, you may spot more outdoor cats in your neighborhood. For pet owners, raising a cat to be indoor versus outdoor is a very sensitive subject. We talk about the ethics of cat ownership with Barbara King, College of William & Mary professor emerita of anthropology.

In the year since President Trump took office, a new wave of social movements has rippled across the country. March for Science Atlanta brings together scientists, data geeks and average citizens to push for policies that support and reflect research. The group will hold its annual Rally for Science April 14. The Rally for Science keynote speaker is Emory University professor Linda DeGutis. She previously served as director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC. DeGutis will speak on the importance of gun violence research. We spoke with DeGutis and March for Science organizers Louis Kiphen and Allison Halterman.

Courtesy of March for Science Atlanta

In the year since President Trump took office, a new wave of social movements has rippled across the country. March for Science Atlanta brings together scientists, data geeks and average citizens to push for policies that support and reflect research. The group will hold its annual Rally for Science April 14.

Why do young people do stupid things? From the “condom snorting challenge” to the “tide pod challenge,” we looked at some of the dangerous trends popular among teenagers.

A group of neo-Nazis is planning a rally later this month in Newnan, Georgia. Some people in Newnan worry this rally could get violent, and there's a Change.org petition to urge the city not to allow the rally. Is it possible to reform extremists? GPB Special Correspondent Celeste Headlee spoke with two people who left their life of hate behind them.

The ransomware attack that crippled Atlanta a few weeks ago isn't the only high-profile cyberattack Georgia has faced in recent years. Two years ago, a security researcher gained unauthorized access to a server used by Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems, which stores the data of millions of Georgia voters. At the time, the data breach wasn't illegal under Georgia law —  but a new bill awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal's signature could change that. Senate Bill 315 defines unauthorized computer access as a crime under Georgia law, which would make data breaches easier to prosecute. Some people in the tech industry, however, worry SB 315 could actually hinder their ability to do their jobs.

Connor Carey / Wikimedia Commons

The ransomware attack that crippled Atlanta a few weeks ago isn't the only high-profile cyberattack Georgia has faced in recent years.

Two years ago, a security researcher gained unauthorized access to a server used by Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems, which stores the data of millions of Georgia voters.

At the time, the data breach wasn't illegal under Georgia law —  but a new bill awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal's signature could change that. 

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