AFP via Getty Images

1,000 Georgia residents who were caught double-voting in Georgia's primary could face felony charges and jail time.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Tuesday that his office would investigate and, if appropriate, bring charges against anyone who voted twice in June.

Residents who were caught double-voting had cast their vote by mail and then in person on the day of the election.

"A double voter knows exactly what they’re doing, diluting the votes of each and every voter that follows the law," Raffensperger told reporters on Tuesday. "Those that make the choice to game the system are breaking the law. And as secretary of state, I will not tolerate it."

Raffensperger, a Republican, said there weren't enough double-votes to change the outcome of the primary elections.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump and other Republicans warned of the potential for voter fraud with mail-in ballots. But Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, dismissed any suggestion of voter fraud.

Hogan said voter fraud is rare and he accused Raffensperger of wasting the taxpayer's time investigating double-voters.

"It is clear that rather than do his job of promoting the safety and security of our voting process, the secretary of state is instead pushing the GOP’s voting conspiracy theories and disinformation," Hogan said.

Viral Twitter photos that show students crowding a Georgia high school hallway resulted in the suspension of a student who took the photos.

The photos were taken at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia on the first day of school this week. The school is less than 50 miles northwest of Atlanta.

The photo shows students - many not wearing face masks - crowded in a packed hallway on their first day back to class since the coronavirus pandemic.

More photos were tweeted from the same high school on Day 2 that showed even fewer students wearing face masks.

15-year-old student Hannah Watters was suspended for 5 days for posting the images on Twitter, according to her mother, Lynne Watters, who said she filed a grievance with the school Thursday morning.

"I expressed my concerns and disagreement with that punishment," Lynne Watters said in a text message to the Chicago Tribune.

In an email to Fox News, North Paulding High School principal Gabe Carmona said a few cases of Covid-19 positive students with mild, flu-like symptoms "have already been identified."

Paulding County School District, Brian Otott, defended his decision to reopen schools, saying the viral photo was "taken out of context" because the students were only in the hallway between classes.

"There is no question that the photo does not look good." Masks are not required at the school, Otott said, although the administration strongly encourages masks for students and staff members.

Otott said mask wearing is not mandated at North Paulding High School.

"Wearing a mask is a personal choice," he wrote, "and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them."

Scott Sweeney, Georgia Board of Education Chairman told Fox News, "Mask wearing is not something that we can mandate... from the state board of education standpoint."

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp refused to mandate face masks in the state, preferring to leave the decision to local communities.

Recent studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concludes face masks - which were designed to stop bacteria - are not effective against viruses such as the coronavirus, which is 100 to 1000 times smaller than bacteria.

"We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection," the article said.

The New England Journal of Medicine noted "the truth about mass mask wearing, and that the main if not only benefit of masks is that it eases anxiety of some people.”
 

Copyright Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the photograph(s) or video(s) used in this post. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" of photographs for purposes such as parody, criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, and research.

Photo may have been deleted

YouTube, Getty Images

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp banned face mask ordinances in the state, saying face masks can't be enforced in any city or county in the state.

Kemp, a Republican, signed a new executive order on Wednesday night extending his previous EO after the state experienced a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

The new order keeps in place restrictions on public gatherings of 50 or more people.

The new order extends social distancing and shelter in place guidelines for nursing home patients and medically fragile.

But Kemp prohibited face mask mandates, saying face mask laws are "too restrictive" and violate the individual rights of healthy people who choose not to wear one.

While lawmakers such as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta have mandated face masks in their cities and counties, Gov. Kemp said the mask ordinances can not be enforced, meaning citizens who don't wear face masks will not be cited or fined.

Mayor Bottoms announced she contracted the virus - despite wearing face masks for months.

Studies have shown face masks increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus because people repeatedly touch their faces.

Failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams slammed Kemp as "incompetent", while the mayor of Savannah lashed out at Kemp, saying "He does not give a damn about us."

"Every man and woman for himself/herself," said Savannah Mayor Van Jonson, a Democrat. "Ignore the science and survive the best you can. In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!”

There were nearly 4,000 "confirmed cases" of coronavirus in Georgia and almost 2,800 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

But some residents on Twitter complained that their loved ones are being tested "multiple times" - with each positive test counted as a new case.
 

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Rapper DaBaby and organizers behind his Saturday night concert near Atlanta have come under fire on social media for failing to protect concertgoers against the coronavirus.

Several fans took to social media to say they tested positive after attending his rap concert in Georgia, where organizers failed to enforce social distancing measures.

The "Suge" star ignored coronavirus concerns and pressed ahead with his Fourth of July celebration at the Cosmopolitan Premier Lounge in Decatur, even though positive tests across the state have spiked in recent days.

Prior to the gig, promoter MyDJDre told TMZ the venue would only be at 40 per cent capacity to allow for attendees to socially distance while inside the club.

Organizers said they would turn away fans at the door if they failed to wear a mask or refused to have their temperature checked upon entry.

But concertgoers did not socially distance or wear masks as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder inside the packed club which has room for 4,000 people.

DaBaby was also supposed to be limited to having a three-person entourage with him during his performance, but he arrived at the venue with a bus load of people and brought a crowd up on the stage too.

After the footage began circulating on social media, many concerned users shared their disapproval at the apparent lack of concern for public safety.

Responding to the club's DJ, who boasted about DaBaby's gig attracting "the whole city" in an Instagram post, one person remarked, "I wouldn't be bragging that 'the whole city came out' in the middle of a pandemic."

"This is so irresponsible. You should be ashamed," read another comment.

Another user tweeted: "I absolutely love Dababy and his music but this is such an awful idea. Risking thousands of lives for a silly a** concert is so foolish. Cancel this ridiculousness."

A third user wrote: "For god's sake man America stay home do you not fear death at this point? Who's going to a dababy concert to just see this guy lip sync all of his songs that sound the same anyway."

DaBaby and MyDJDre have yet to respond to the latest backlash.

Photo may have been deleted

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

LeBron James voiced his concerns about the plethora of glitches that marred Georgia's primary elections on Tuesday.

The Lakers star questioned whether the faulty machines and long lines were "structurally racist."

"Everyone talking about "how do we fix this?" They say "go out and vote?" What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?" James tweeted.

James responded to a reporter who noticed the lack of problems voting in the suburbs: "I come over to this side of town, and white folks are strolling in. On my side of town, we brought stadium chairs."

An investigation has been launched into the voting machine breakdowns and long lines which resulted.

Atlanta voters were forced to wait as long as four hours to vote.

Multiple counties reported problems with the voting machines, and confusion reigned over coronavirus rules.

Georgia also received over 1.2 million mail-in ballots -- a record for elections in Georgia.

Georgia usually receives around 40,000 mail-in ballots in any given election, UPI reported.
 

Photo may have been deleted

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed they are reviewing new surveillance video that shows Ahmaud Arbery was trespassing inside a property under construction.

The new video conflicts with the narrative that 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog when he was confronted on the road and fatally shot by father and son white supremacists in Brunswick, Georgia.

Arbery was gunned down on Feb. 23 in Satilla Shores, a working class majority white neighborhood in Glynn County in south Georgia.

The triggerman, Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, former cop Gregory McMichael were arrested on Thursday and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault by the GBI.

Cellphone video shows Travis McMichael and Arbery wrestling over Travis' shotgun before Arbery was shot 3 times and bled out on the ground.

Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, said her son was out jogging in the neighborhood when he was shot and killed.

Photo may have been deleted

Screenshot: GBI

But new surveillance video obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper shows a person who appears to be Arbery walking near a construction site just down the road from his fatal encounter with the McMichaels.

Arbery, wearing a white t-shirt and khaki shorts, is seen entering a house under construction through the open garage. He disappears from camera view and moments later, he quickly emerges from the house through the front door.

A neighbor wearing overalls stands across the road observing the construction site. A car passes, and a minute later, Arbery runs down Satilla Drive toward Travis McMichael's house.

According to ABC News, Travis called police 12 days before the shooting to report seeing a Black man enter a nearby construction property. The man ran off and Travis waited out front until police arrived.

Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing Arbery's father, said the new video doesn't change the facts that Arbery was simply "out for a jog," and his murder was not justified.

"Our office has reviewed the surveillance video which appears to show a person, believed to be Ahmaud Arbery, entering a property under construction," Crump said in a statement on Saturday. "The individual remains on the property for under 3 minutes before continuing to jog down the road. This video is consistent with the evidence already known to us. Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog. He stopped by a property under construction where he engaged in no illegal activity and remained for only a brief period. Ahmaud did not take anything from the construction site. He did not cause any damage to the property. He remained for a brief period of time and was not instructed by anyone to leave but rather left on his own accord to continue his jog.

"Ahmaud's actions at this empty home under construction were in no way a felony under Georgia law. This video confirms that Mr. Arbery’s murder was not justified and the actions of the men who pursued him and ambushed him were unjustified. We reiterate, Ahmaud Arbery did not take part in ANY felony, had no illegal substances in his system, was not armed yet was shot three times with a shotgun at close range."

Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr., spoke to Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB at a rally on Saturday.

"If he committed a crime, why don't you call the authorities?" Marcus Arbery said. "But you came at him like you were hunting an animal."

Photo may have been deleted

Screen grab: YouTube.com

Two white men were arrested Thursday and charged with the death of an unarmed Black male who was gunned down while running through a majority white neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga. on Feb. 23.

Georgia authorities charged Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, former cop Gregory McMichael, 64, with murder and aggravated assault in the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.

Photo may have been deleted

Glynn County Detention Center

The suspects were booked into the Glynn County Detention Center late Thursday.

The McMichaels and a neighbor pursued Arbery in a pickup truck and a car as he ran down a street in Satilla Shores, a majority white, middle class enclave in Glynn County.

Arbery was shot three times, Glynn County Coroner Marc Neu said. He died at the scene, "bleeding out" within minutes.

Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, said her son was out jogging. But the McMichaels claimed Arbery was a "burglary suspect," and they believed they were within their rights to kill him in self-defense.

Arbery's death sparked national outrage that peaked Wednesday with the release of a cell phone video that showed the violent confrontation between Travis McMichael and Arbery before he died.

The Glynn County police on Wednesday called in the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) to determine who leaked the cell phone video to the media.

Brunswick defense attorney Alan Tucker identified himself Thursday as the person who leaked the video to WGIG radio station.

In a statement to News4Jax, Tucker said he wasn't representing any side in the case. He said he released the video "because people had the right to know" and "because my community was being ripped apart by erroneous accusations and assumptions."

Tucker did not say how he obtained the video. The shocking cell phone footage put tiny Brunswick, Ga. in the international spotlight.

Outraged celebrities and politicians weighed in on the case. Former Vice President Joe Biden said the video is "clear" and Arbery was ambushed and "killed in cold blood." He wrote that his heart goes out to Arbery's family and he called for a transparent investigation into the "murder".

President Trump was criticized for not commenting on the case earlier. Trump told reporters on Thursday: "It's a very sad thing... but I will be given a full report this evening."

Whoopi Goldberg was among those who criticized President Trump for waiting to comment on Arbery's death. "If two Black men shot a white guy, Trump would be outraged," she said.

Photo may have been deleted

Photos: Handout, Getty Images

A Georgia prosecutor on Tuesday recommended a grand jury review of the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man who was killed by two white men while running through a majority white neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia on Feb. 23.

District Attorney Tim Durden announced he would present the case to the grand jury to determine if any charges should be filed against the two men.

A graphic dash cam video, that showed the fatal shooting, was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday.

Former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in on the case on Twitter.com Tuesday. He said the video is "clear" and Arbery was ambushed and "killed in cold blood." He wrote that his heart goes out to Arbery's family and he called for a transparent investigation into the "murder".

The video footage shows Arbery, 25, running at a jogger's pace along a leafy street in Brunswick's south end on Feb. 23. He was confronted by a former cop, Greg McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34.

Travis McMichael and Arbery struggled over a shotgun while Greg McMichael pointed a .357 magnum at Arbery from the bed of his pickup truck.

Three shots rang out. Arbery was shot in the chest and collapsed face down in the roadway. He died where he fell, bleeding out on the pavement. There were no arrests in the case.

Before recusing himself, George E. Barnhill, the district attorney for Georgia's Waycross Judicial Circuit, wrote a long letter explaining why he didn't bring charges against the McMichaels.

Calling Arbery a "burglary suspect," Barnhill concluded Travis McMichael "was allowed to use deadly force to protect himself."

But Michael J. Moore, an Atlanta lawyer, told the New York Times in an email that Barnhill's opinion is "flawed".

Moore said the McMichaels appear to be the aggressors in the confrontation, and they were not justified in using deadly force under Georgia's self-defense laws.

"The law does not allow a group of people to form an armed posse and chase down an unarmed person who they believe might have possibly been the perpetrator of a past crime," Moore wrote.

President Trump has not weighed in on the Arbery case.
 

Photo by Linka A Odom/Getty Images

The line queued down the block outside one Atlanta barbershop on the first official day of Georgia's reopening.

Friday, April 24, was the first phase of Gov. Brian Kemp's plan to reopen Georgia. On Monday, Kemp announced that local establishments could reopen for business following a one month lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Photo may have been deleted

Graphic: WSB-TV

Customers waited in line after 7 a.m. outside Peachtree Battle Barber Shop in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

Matt Maddox was one of the customers waiting in line to get his hair cut amid the fear and uncertainty.

"I certainly don't want to spread it to anyone so I've got a mask, but I'm not really concerned," Maddox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If you're cutting hair or you're a waiter, you haven't been working, so it helps get the economy started again."

At Studio 151 in Dallas, Georgia, the first appointment was at 6:20 a.m., according to the salon's owner.

Stephen Richardson's salon in Dallas, Ga, started losing business the week of March 10, according to the AJC.com. By March 26, he was ordered to shut his doors because he wasn't an essential business.

"I went from 100% to zero," Richardson told the AJC. He said he had to comply with a 14-page list of safety guidelines issued by the state. He added some of his own to keep his customers safe.

"We have our very own concerns, but we need our clients," he said. His protocols include one client at a time and temperature checks at the door.

By noon Friday, Richardson and another stylist were seeing a steady stream of clients.

"People are pretty much getting in and out," Richardson said. "I give the clients credit. Every client that has shown up has had a mask."

Barber shops and hair salons were grateful to do brisk business after a month of no revenue. But Some businesses were so devastated by the coronavirus lockdown that they will never recover.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp refuses to order a statewide lockdown, while Democratic-controlled states go to extreme measures to control the spread of the flu-like Covid-19 virus.

According to the AJC.com, Kemp ordered a series of measures to control the spread of the virus. But he stopped short of infringing on the rights and civil liberties of millions of people who will not get sick.

On Monday, Kemp announced he is instituting a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people and he ordered a shelter in place for "medically fragile" people for two weeks.

Ordering the medically fragile to stay indoors makes more sense than restricting the movements of healthy people, keeping restaurants closed, and destroying the state's economy.

The news comes as President Donald Trump indicated he will lift restrictions and allow businesses to reopen in many states by next Monday.

The AJC reports Kemp faced "increasing pressure" to impose stiffer restrictions on the residents of his state.

He said the ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people ensures the spacing of "at least six feet between people at all times" so that businesses such as grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, and home improvement stores can remain open.

"We are all part of the solution. If your friends, neighbors or local organizations are not complying, call them out. Or report them to us," Kemp said.

"The fight is far from over, but we are in this fight together," Kemp continued. "Look out for your fellow Georgians and pray for their continued safety, as well as the safety of our first responders, healthcare workers, the elderly and the medically fragile."

The novel coronavirus has infected over 100,000 people in the United States, although only 46,000 cases are confirmed. That puts the fatality rate far under 1% and closer to the influenza fatality rate of 0.1%.