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Public radio for Athens and Northeast Georgia with NPR and local news
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  • Retail Spending Dips For 3rd Straight Month As Infections Surge

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 20:08:00

    Updated at 9:07 a.m. ET Restaurants and bars are reeling from persistent spikes of coronavirus cases and related restrictions, driving retail spending in December down for the third month in a row. Even as people continue to splurge on shopping, they have cut back on going out to eat and shop. Plus, the earlier-than-usual holiday shopping season meant online shopping as well sales of electronics and appliances dipped in December. Gas stations saw the biggest jump in spending last month, up 6.6%, as people traveled for holiday visits despite health warnings. Overall, retail sales last month fell 0.7% compared to November, although they were still higher than a year earlier, the Commerce Department said Friday . This measure is a major part of the U.S. economy, which continues to be battered by the pandemic. It includes spending on household goods, clothing and housewares as well as outlays on gasoline, cars, food and drink. Loading... The economic downturn has been unusual because

  • Strict Security Measures In Place Across The Nation Ahead Of Inauguration Day

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 18:42:00

    Law enforcement officials are bracing for possible serious security breaches and violent assaults ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's swearing in next week. State and federal officials are taking no chances as the countdown begins for Inauguration Day. The heightened security comes after a violent siege at the U.S. Capitol last week from pro-Trump supporters that resulted in the death of five people and forced lawmakers into hiding. The FBI is seeing "an extensive amount of concerning online chatter...about a number of events surrounding the inauguration," according to the bureau's director Christopher Wray. Some events have already been impacted by threats. A rehearsal for Biden's inauguration originally scheduled for Sunday has been postponed because of security concerns. Biden's team has also canceled an Amtrak trip from Wilmington to Washington set for Monday, according to multiple reports. The FBI has warned state governments that the agency is tracking plans for armed protests

  • When It Comes To COVID-19, Iran Is Dealt A Double Whammy

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 18:18:00

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

  • Multiple Men With The Same Name Form Paul O'Sullivan Band

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 17:04:00

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

  • True Friendship Knows No Time And No Distance

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 17:04:00

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

  • Mask-Wearing, Social Distancing Improve, But Too Slowly, Survey Shows

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 17:04:00

    Americans are being more careful to avoid catching and spreading the coronavirus but are still not being careful enough to slow the pandemic, especially with worrisome, apparently more contagious new variants looming. That's the conclusion of the latest findings, released Friday , from the largest national survey tracking behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. "It's good news-bad news," says David Lazer of Northeastern University, who is helping run the survey with colleagues at Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern universities. "The good news is we've improved a lot in terms of mask-wearing and social distancing. The bad news is, to bend the curve they really need to be much better," Lazer says. Lazer's consortium has regularly surveyed about 20,000 people in all 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia since last spring. The latest data come from 25,640 people who were surveyed Dec. 16 and Jan. 11. Mask-wearing reached an all-time high of about 80%, the survey found. In addition,

  • 'I May Not Get There With You': An Eyewitness Account Of MLK's Final Days

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 17:04:00

    Clara Jean Ester was a college student at Memphis State College in Tennessee when she bore witness to a series of pivotal moments in civil rights history. As a junior, Ester joined the Memphis Sanitation Strike in 1968, alongside African American sanitation workers who were calling to demand better working conditions and higher wages. A young Clara Jean Ester graduated from Memphis State College, now known as the University of Memphis. Now, Ester is a retired organizer and Methodist deaconess in Mobile, Ala. Clara Jean Ester She was there at around that same time that Dr. Martin Luther King gave his final speech. She was also there the next day when Dr. King was assassinated. At StoryCorps in Mobile, Ala., earlier this month, Ester, now 72, remembers the last days of Dr. King's life. On the night of April 3, Ester remembered packing into a crowded congregation at Bishop Charles Mason Temple in Memphis, where King delivered a sermon in support of the striking sanitation workers.

  • Why Billions In Food Aid Hasn't Gotten To Needy Families

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 16:07:00

    When schools shut down in the spring, that raised immediate worries about the nearly 30 million children who depend on school food. Those worries were essentially borne out, with researchers reporting a large rise in child hunger. According to a report from Feeding America , 1 in 4 households with children experienced food insecurity in 2020. "These are just levels that we've never seen before," says Diane Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern University. Typically, she says, when families are having trouble stretching their food budget, the adults will go without food before allowing the children to go hungry. But in April, with shutdowns at their most acute, nearly 20 percent of mothers said their children themselves didn't have enough to eat. That's compared with fewer than 5 percent in 2018. School food programs have been working hard: offering groceries, pre-prepared meals and everything in between. But as we've reported , it often isn't enough. One federal program did make a

  • What We Know So Far: A Timeline Of Security At The Capitol On January 6

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 16:00:00

    The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was either a security failure, an intelligence failure — or both. How could security forces in the nation's capital be so swiftly and completely overwhelmed by rioters who stated their plans openly on a range of social media sites? President Trump had even tweeted on Dec. 19: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!" Washington, D.C., is known for its multitude of law enforcement agencies — a fact reflected in the agencies involved in security on Jan. 6. The Metropolitan Police Department has jurisdiction on city streets; the U.S. Park Police on the Ellipse, where Trump's rally took place; the U.S. Secret Service in the vicinity of the White House; and the U.S. Capitol Police on the Capitol complex. And then there is the National Guard. In the 50 states and Puerto Rico, the Guard is under the command of the governor. In Washington, D.C., however, the Guard is under the command of the president , though orders to deploy are

  • With Impeachment Trial And Relief Plan On Deck, Harris Stresses Need To 'Multitask'

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 16:00:00

    On Wednesday, Kamala Harris will become the first woman, and the first woman of color, to serve as vice president of the United States. Twelve years ago, hundreds of thousands of people filled the National Mall to watch Barack Obama make history as the nation's first Black president. But when Harris takes the oath, the mall will very likely be nearly empty. A surging pandemic had already led President-elect Joe Biden and Harris to urge supporters to watch the inauguration from home. Now, after a deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump, thousands of National Guard members have been deployed to protect the transfer of power against more violence. The brazen attempt to block Congress from certifying Biden and Harris' November election victory was unprecedented. But for Harris, the undercurrents of hate and racism it represented were not. "It was the same thing that went through my mind when I saw Charlottesville. I mean, it's the same thing that went through my

  • Federal Government Executes Corey Johnson For 1992 Murders

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 14:02:00

    On Thursday night, the federal government executed a drug trafficker responsible for seven murders in 1992, despite his attorneys having claimed moving forward with the execution would be "cruel and usual punishment" because of his recent COVID-19 infection. Corey Johnson, 52, was executed at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana and pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. He is the 12th person to be executed by the government since July, after the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17 year hiatus. Dustin Higgins is the last person scheduled to be executed before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Higgins, who is scheduled to die on Friday, also contracted COVID-19 while in prison. Biden has indicated he may seek to abolish federal executions. From 1989 to 1992, Johnson and others ran a crack cocaine trafficking operation in Virginia, according to the federal government. In response to perceived slights and drug trade rivalries, the Department of

  • Georgia Lawmakers to Begin Legislative Session

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 09:29:34

    Georgia legislators headed back at the state Capitol this week. Lawmakers are expected to address a number of topics including police reform, voting laws, and redistricting, among others. We spoke with District 117 Representative Houston Gaines regarding the 2021 session. "There's no doubt that this legislative session is going to look unique as we continue to face challenges as a community, state, and country, and we have to address those head-on. While of course at the same time, things are looking different but it also feels different with the challenges before us." Gaines says there are several immediate issues facing Georgia residents. "Families are hurting, small businesses are hurting, so we have to do all we can to keep our state healthy, as we fight the health side of COVID-19. There's also a lot of other healthcare issues we've got to address this legislative session. We've got the economic side of what's happening in our country. We have a lot of individuals who are out of

  • Gov. Brian Kemp Delivers State of the State Address

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 09:16:28

    Governor Brian Kemp delivering the state of the state address today. The governor struck a conciliatory tone during his speech. “As we begin a new year, a new legislative session, there are some who want to look to the past, assign blame, settle old scores, and relive and relitigate 2020. Today, I think we should take the advice of those wise farmers. Let’s clear the fields and start planting.” Kemp focused on the state’s battle against COVID-19 and efforts to provide relief. “Through the end of 2020, Georgia allocated $250 million in CARES Act funds to augment staff at nursing homes and hospitals across the state with an additional 70 million planned thru early March,” according to Kemp. The governor also emphasized the strength of Georgia’s economy in spite of challenges caused by the pandemic and that Georgia will not face budget cuts this year. “Other states are looking at further cuts to employees and essential services. For aid, they are now forced to turn to a dysfunctional and

  • Justice Department Knew 2018 Border Policy Would Separate Children From Families

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 06:50:00

    Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions knew his "zero tolerance" policy on illegal entry along the Southwest border in 2018 would separate children from their parents, a watchdog office reported on Thursday. Despite warnings that the government couldn't care for the children, he pushed forward with the policy. As a result, more than 3,000 children were separated from their families. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a critical review which found the department "failed to effectively prepare for and manage the policy's implementation." Trump administration officials "significantly underestimated [the policy's] complexities and demonstrated a deficient understanding of the legal requirements related to the care and custody of separated children." The review concludes that the Justice Department's "single-minded focus on increasing immigration prosecutions came at the expense of careful and appropriate consideration of the impact of family unit

  • $1,400 Checks And Help For The Jobless: What's In Biden's Plan To Rescue The Economy

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 06:04:00

    Updated at 8 pm ET President-elect Joe Biden has long pledged he would deliver an aggressive plan to address the raging coronavirus pandemic and the painful recession it spawned. On Thursday, he did just that, proposing an ambitious $1.9 trillion relief plan that includes $1,400 stimulus checks, additional benefits for the unemployed, as well hundreds of billions of dollars for struggling businesses and local governments. "The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight," Biden said during a televised address, six days before taking office. "There's no time to waste. We have to act and we have to act now." Biden's plan comes just weeks after Congress passed a $900 billion relief plan that took weeks of painful negotiations. But economists have said the economy would need additional help as new coronavirus infections continue to surge, and as the daily death toll from COVID-19 exceeds 4,000. The pandemic is dealing fresh blows to the U.S. economy, with more than 1.2 million

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder And 8 Others Criminally Charged In Flint Water Crisis

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 05:26:00

    The Michigan Attorney General's Office Thursday announced criminal charges for eight former state officials, including the state's former Gov. Rick Snyder, along with one current official, for their alleged roles in the Flint water crisis. Together the group face 42 counts related to the drinking water catastrophe roughly seven years ago. The crimes range from perjury to misconduct in office to involuntary manslaughter. The drinking water debacle is linked to at least 12 deaths and at least 80 people sickened with Legionnaires' disease after untreated water from the Flint River caused lead to leach from old pipes, poisoning the majority Black city's water system. Snyder, a Republican who left office two years ago, is facing two counts of willful neglect , both misdemeanors which each carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine up to $1,000. The attorney general's announcement cites other charges as follows: Jarrod Agen – Former Director of Communications and Former Chief

  • Pandemic Fuels Record Overdose Deaths

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 05:16:00

    After their son died, Jackie and Robert Watson found a stack of popsicle sticks in his Milwaukee apartment. He'd written an affirmation on each one. "I am a fighter." "Don't sweat the small stuff." "My kids love me." Brandon Cullins, 31, had been working with a drug counselor, who advised him to write the messages to himself. Picking up the popsicle sticks, the Watsons were able to see how hard their son wanted to kick his battle with cocaine. But they also wondered why he hadn't asked them for help. "We saw him losing weight and acting differently and we would approach him and talk to him about it and it was always a denial," said Jackie Watson. Cullins had three children and a contagious smile. His death in January 2020 came after years of fighting his addiction. "It doesn't seem real," Jackie Watson said. "He was so full of life and so happy. He was trying. He was struggling but really trying to get better and trying to fight that." The Cullins' case reflects what is happening

  • A Medical Treatment For Meth Addiction Proves Effective In New Trial

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 05:12:00

    For the first time, a medication regime has been found effective for some patients with meth addiction in a large, placebo-controlled trial. It's welcome news for those working with the growing number of people struggling with meth addiction. "It's progress and it's quite significant," says Dr. Nora Volkow , director of the National Institute on Drug Addiction, which funded the two-year clinical trial involving roughly 400 patients. The study was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine . Unlike opioid addiction, for which medication-assisted treatment is the standard of care, no medication has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use with meth. In the trial, patients in clinics around the U.S. suffering from methamphetamine use disorder were treated for 12 weeks with a combination of medications — naltrexone and bupropion — or placebo. The treatment helped 13.4% of patients with their addiction, compared with 2.5% of the placebo group. While a

  • As COVID-19 Ravages His Force, LAPD Chief Looks To Boost Confidence In Vaccine

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 04:42:00

    In Los Angeles, COVID-19 cases continue to soar at an astonishing rate . In the first seven days of the year, for instance, roughly seven people died each hour . Ambulances are lining up in front of hospitals, waiting to unload patients into overcrowded intensive care units. Mobile morgues have rolled in as the death count rises. And many experts say the worst is still yet to come. The coronavirus is taking a heavy toll on the some 13,000 employees of the Los Angeles Police Department. To date, five officers have died due to complications related to COVID-19, and six are currently hospitalized, one in grave condition, according to police Chief Michel Moore. More than 2,000 Los Angeles police personnel have tested positive as of earlier this week. Like elsewhere in the country, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is already underway in Los Angeles. In an interview with NPR's All Things Considered , Moore says he is hopeful that police officers will start receiving them in the next 10 to

  • Putting A Roof On Risk With A COVID-19 Vaccine Jab

    wuga.org Friday, 15 January 2021 04:41:00

    It's 8:45 a.m. on a weekday in Washington, D.C., and if anyone needs a reminder why the coronavirus vaccine is important, there's one arriving at the Takoma Metro stop: an almost empty train pulling up to an almost empty subway platform at the height of rush hour. One year ago the World Health Organization held its first news conference on a new coronavirus emerging from Wuhan, China. Incredibly, I'm on my way to mark that anniversary by joining some six million Americans who have already been vaccinated. As I board the train, there are five other passengers on a car with 62 seats. I take my place as far from each of the others as I can — much as they must have when they boarded — reminded of the importance of social distancing by a metallic voice emanating from overhead speakers: "Facial coverings are required at all times while riding Metrorail and Metrobus." Everyone is, indeed, masked. I'm traveling across town to a location that's dispensing COVID-19 shots two-trains-and-a-bus

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