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State investigators looking into death at Georgia jail

FORSYTH, Ga. (AP) — State investigators are looking into the death of a man who was being held in a Georgia jail. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation news release says the Monroe County Sheriff's office on Wednesday asked the GBI to examine the death of 40-year-old Joshua D. Marshall. The release says Marshall was arrested after a domestic dispute and became unresponsive during a fight with jail employees. Life-saving efforts were unsuccessful and Marshall was pronounced dead at a hospital.


Georgia board spares prisoner's life hours before execution

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s parole board has spared the life of a prisoner hours ahead of his scheduled execution, commuting his sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Jimmy Fletcher Meders, 58, had been scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 7 p.m. Thursday at the state prison in Jackson. But the State Board of Pardons and Paroles released its decision granting him clemency around 1 p.m. The board held a closed-door clemency hearing for Meders Wednesday.


Wounded baby whale gets antibiotic shot to improve grim odds

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Scientists have given an antibiotic shot to a badly injured baby whale off the coast of Florida, hoping to improve what they say are grim odds for the endangered sea animal. Barb Zoodsma of the National Marine Fisheries Service said Thursday a boat crewed by experts injected the right whale calf in waters off Fernandina Beach using a syringe fired from an air gun. The young whale has severe cuts, likely caused by a boat propeller, on top of its head and to its mouth. An aerial survey team first spotted the wounded whale and its mother off the coast of Georgia last week. The boat crew that injected the whale calf Wednesday included veterinarian Hendrik Nollens. He said odds are still against the baby whale surviving.


Starbucks, home of the $4 latte, is moving into poor areas

DETROIT (AP) — Starbucks, the home of the $4 latte, is expanding a program to open coffee shops in poor neighborhoods. The Seattle-based company plans to open or remodel 85 stores by 2025 in rural and urban communities across the U.S. Each store will have event space, and Starbucks will work with local United Way chapters to offer programs like youth job training. Starbucks has opened 15 community stores since it announced the project  2015, including ones in Ferguson, Missouri, and New Orleans. The company says the stores are profitable and feature the same menu and similar prices as regular Starbucks.


Expert: Georgia election server showed signs of tampering

BOSTON (AP) — A computer security expert says a forensic image of an election server central to a bitter legal battle over the security of Georgia's election administration showed signs of tampering. The server was left exposed to the open internet for at least six months but was wiped clean in mid-2017. That was just days after election integrity activists filed a lawsuit seeking an overhaul of what they called an unreliable and negligently run state election system. The expert's findings are based on an FBI copy of the server's contents made before it was erased. State officials have said they've seen no evidence that any election-related data was compromised.


Kemp pushes teacher pay raise in Georgia State of the State

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has made raising teacher pay a top goal during his second annual State of the State address. That stance could put him on a collision course with state legislators over budget priorities. The Republican governor announced Thursday that his budget proposal includes a $2,000 pay raise for public school teachers. But House Republicans have made cutting the state’s top income tax rate a top priority. Kemp is also touting plans to offer higher tax credits for adoption, make reforms to medical billing and fight gangs and human trafficking.


Georgia lawmakers: Tighten internet sales tax collections

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers have reached a deal to tighten sales tax collections by online businesses including Amazon, eBay, and Airbnb. The House and Senate both passed a conference report Thursday, sending it to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. The measure would take effect April 1, meaning it would bolster revenues in the current budget year which ends June 30. It would also ease concerns over the next budget year. Lawmakers will begin writing that 2021 budget next week. The measure is aimed at collecting sales taxes from third-party sellers whose commerce moves through online marketplaces.


Students: Military contractor shouldn't be part of MLK event

KENNESAW, Ga. (AP) — Some student groups at one of Georgia's largest universities say an executive of a defense contractor should not be speaking at Thursday's school-sponsored Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon. The Kennesaw State University students say his involvement goes against the civil rights leader's anti-war legacy and his message of nonviolence. The school says the MLK Legacy Luncheon speaker will be Roderick McLean, a vice president at Lockheed Martin. The university says the event is intended to honor King's legacy. But a statement from KSUnited and local civil rights leaders says the choice of speaker shows KSU's support of war. The students are planning an alternative event.