Tasnim Shamma | WABE 90.1 FM

Tasnim Shamma


Tasnim Shamma joined WABE 90.1 FM as a reporter in November 2014. She comes to Atlanta from Charlotte, where she spent more than two years at the NPR member station WFAE. 

Prior to that, she was a Kroc fellow reporting, writing, editing, blogging and producing for NPR’s Digital News Desk, Weekends on All Things Considered, the National Desk in Washington, D.C. and the NPR member station WLRN, based in The Miami Herald newsroom.

She graduated from Princeton's Class of 2011, where she was executive editor for multimedia for The Daily Princetonian. She worked as a video intern, copy editor and reporter at The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Sports Illustrated and Newsweek in New York City and The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. She grew up in Queens, New York and now lives in Lilburn with her husband.

John Rempel, a quality control and training specialist at Georgia Tech's AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center, demonstrates how the screen-reading program JAWS communicates information from a webpage to a user who might not be able to see it.
Al Such / WABE

One in every eight Georgians – more than 12 percent – identifies as having a disability. Whether it’s a physical or learning disability, it can be difficult for those people trying to access the internet.

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Pedestrians enter the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Friday, April 24, 2009 in Atlanta.
AP Photo/Gregory Smith

Georgia banks were having a rough time, even five years after the recession. Hundreds locked their doors and never reopened as customers defaulted on their loans.

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But in 2016, FDIC-insured banks in Georgia made $3 billion dollars in profit, a nearly 5 percent increase from 2015.

John Haas / WABE

Mercedes-Benz USA next week will ask the city of Sandy Springs  to rename Barfield Road, adjacent to its new headquarters, to Mercedes-Benz Drive.

The name change would mean a new address for its neighbor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wendy Sharp works at the Mormon church and lives just a mile away. She said she feels sad watching the trees fall down, but swallowing a proposed name change is even more difficult.

Outside metro Atlanta, GDOT launched CHAMP, a new highway assistance program for the major interstates.
Courtesy of GDOT

Drivers in metro Atlanta have come to rely on HERO units, Highway Emergency Response Operators.

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Now Georgia’s Department of Transportation has launched a similar program for the rest of the state’s major highways.

CHAMP, the Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance Program (CHAMP) is similar to HERO. However, HERO, with its signature bright orange trucks are primarily in metro Atlanta. That program's focus is emergency response and traffic control.   

Atlanta Streetcar near Centennial Park
Alison Guillory / WABE

The Atlanta Streetcar is offering other cities a lesson – in what not to do.

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In the District of Columbia, the executive director of the District Department of Transportation said he will keep the streetcar free for the next four years.

''Save My Care'' is a national, two month, cross-country bus tour protesting the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It stopped in front of the Georgia Capitol on Feb. 20, 2017.
Al Such / WABE

Keeping the Affordable Care Act was the focus of a rally in Atlanta Monday that drew more than 200 people to Liberty Plaza in front of the state Capitol.

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It was part of “Save My Care," a national, two month, cross-country bus tour protesting the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

At the rally, Georgia residents shared stories of near-death experiences and surviving cancer.

A salesman at Stoddard's Range and Guns shows off a pistol's safety features.
Lisa Hagen / WABE

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which covers districts in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, ruled Thursday against a Florida law banning doctors from asking patients about guns. 

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In Georgia, doctors can ask if you own a gun and provide safety tips. Jerry Henry, executive director of Georgia Carry, a gun rights advocacy group, said he doesn’t think they should.

The president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Jibari Simami and Clark Atlanta University president Ronald Johnson shake hands after a new agreement was signed between schools.
Mario Boone / Clark Atlanta University

Clark Atlanta University students will soon be able to take classes at Georgia Piedmont Technical College and vice versa, thanks to a new public-private partnership announced Wednesday.

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Essence Jones, a 19-year-old freshman at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, is studying business management at the school's main campus in Clarkston.

Harry Lightsey, GM's executive director of public policy on emerging technologies, spoke at the Senate Science and Technology Committee’s hearing on self-driving cars on Thursday.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

There is a lot of fear around self-driving cars, but it's not just the public that is unfamiliar with these cars of the future.

Georgia lawmakers are trying to figure out how to regulate autonomous vehicles and what to regulate.

Minimal Regulations

At the State Capitol, more than 50 people gathered around Heather Maxfield. 

"We want to be able to test autonomous vehicles here in GA in controlled situations,” Maxfield said. “What we would not want to see is regulation that would hamper them from testing or utilizing the autonomous vehicles.”

Al Such / WABE

Claire Sterk was inaugurated as Emory University’s 20th – but first female - president at the Glenn Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday.

At the same time, about 200 students, staff and faculty members were walking out of their classes and offices in protest.

Emory Walkout

At the school’s Quad, they demanded Sterk declare Emory a sanctuary campus.

Emory University junior Clementina Nyarko said she and her friends skipped their Spanish class Wednesday morning.

Five miles from the Port of Savannah, developers will add five million square feet of storage space on 500 acres of land recently sold by the Georgia Ports Authority.
Georgia Ports Authority

The Georgia Ports Authority recently sold 500 acres of land for a private developer to build warehousing, distribution and transload facilities.

This is in response to growing demand from businesses for more storage space. The Georgia Ports Authority said it expects this sale will help it get closer to becoming a U.S. gateway port.

In 2015, more than 10.3 percent of all U.S. container exports left from the Port of Savannah.

At the Rivals on Five sports bar in Stone Mountain, fans were loud and pumped during the first three quarters of the game but grew quiet when the New England Patriots made their historic comeback at the end of the game.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The Atlanta Falcons lost Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots 34-28 in overtime Sunday night.

Football fans left sports bar and house parties dejected after what's considered the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

At the Rivals on Five sports bar in Stone Mountain, the crowd was loud and pumped for the first three quarters of the game.

But when the game went into overtime: a first in Super Bowl history, things got quiet, and waiters started handing out free shots.

Mary-Pat Hector held a press conference Thursday about potentially being disqualified a month into her campaign. She is 19 years old and a student at Spelman College.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Next week, DeKalb County elections officials will decide how you old you have to be to run for office in the new city of Stonecrest.

A 19-year-old Spelman student, Mary-Pat Hector, is running for City Council, but one of her opponents is contesting her candidacy because of her age.

"I'm not fighting this just for myself, but for young people all over the country who believe that they could, but who are not being allowed to run for office," Hector said.

An Indivisible chapter in Atlanta called The Red Clay Rebellion met Tuesday in front of Senator David Perdue's downtown Atlanta office. The national movement is working to resist President Donald Trump's policies.
Courtesy of J.C. Burns

On Saturday morning, Margo Smith served coffee and muffins to about a dozen women in her living room in Clarkston.

"I, like many people, am just appalled about what's happening since Trump became president,” Smith said. “It feels like we've got to fight to maintain our democracy."

Saturday was the first meeting of Indivisible Clarkston, one of many small grass-roots groups that have formed in the Atlanta area to resist President Donald Trump's policies.

Coca-Cola CEO, Muhtar Kent
Courtesy of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is the first Fortune 500 Atlanta company to come out against President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

Tech companies like Google and Microsoft responded loudly against the executive order this weekend.

But many of Atlanta's largest publicly-traded companies aren't talking about it.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said he doesn't support President Trump's executive order and is working to help employees who may be affected.

The D.C.-based policy group, the Alliance for Transportation Innovation, kicked off a month-long cross-country roadtrip in Austell on Thursday with an Easy Mile electric autonomous shuttle. The group is pushing for less government regulation of self-drivi
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Coming soon? Self-driving cars on Atlanta roads as the city gets ready to make its streets "smarter" to accommodate these new vehicles.

The D.C.-based policy group, the Alliance for Transportation Innovation, kicked off a month-long cross-country roadtrip in Austell on Thursday with an Easy Mile electric autonomous shuttle.

The group said it's pushing for less government regulation of self-driving cars and more public acceptance.

Faye DiMassimo is general manager of Atlanta’s transportation projects.

A factory worker in Jackson, Minnesota uses Google Glass to help her on the assembly line.
Courtesy of AGCO

Google Glass didn’t do so well when it first launched, and is no longer in production for consumers, but the high-tech glasses are getting a second life in manufacturing.

One of the pioneers of this technology is an agricultural manufacturing company based in Duluth, Georgia called AGCO.

Minnesota Plant

At one of AGCO’s factories in Jackson, Minnesota, Heather Erickson is building an engine before it goes on to the assembly line.

City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta University Center Consortium leaders announced the launch of a new camera surveillance program. The president of Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, is pictured right.
Al Such / WABE

The Atlanta University Center Consortium and the Atlanta Police Department unveiled $700,000 worth of security cameras and license plate readers on Tuesday.

During Dr. John Wilson Jr.'s first week as president of Morehouse College in January 2013, there was an armed robbery on campus, and a few days later, a student was shot near the campus. Since then, Wilson says he's been asking the city of Atlanta for help.

The Atlanta Braves stadium at SunTrust Park is nearly complete. Comcast is the major anchor tenant at the new complex known as The Battery.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The Atlanta Braves said Wednesday they've got nearly all of the bases covered when it comes to dealing with traffic for opening day at SunTrust Park.

The team is adding parking, providing free shuttles and launching mobile apps to help fans get to and from the stadium and surrounding retail area known as The Battery Atlanta.

Christina Marshall-Valdez is the CEO of Taelur, a web and mobile platform that connects plus-size women to clothes that fit them.
Alison Guillory / WABE

Downtown Atlanta is home to one of the first programs in the U.S. dedicated to funding and developing startups founded by black and Latino women.

It's called the BIG incubator and on Saturday, four teams are graduating from the three month bootcamp.


Christina Marshall-Valdez is the founder of the start-up called Taelur, the French word for tailor. On her computer, she selects images of clothing, styles and body parts.

"The quiz is what's informing our artificial intelligence, so that's the engine for our site," she explained.

Sabina Begum counts her money at her milk collection center in Bangladesh. Krishi Utsho is one of the CARE teams selected for its first accelerator program.
Akram Ali / CARE

The Atlanta-based global humanitarian aid group, CARE, is taking a page from the startup world.

CARE employees will get a chance to pitch their ideas in Atlanta next week as part of its inaugural Scale X Design Accelerator to get $150,000 in funding to implement their ideas.

Nonprofit Development

Chief Innovation Officer Dar Vanderbeck says the goal of CARE is to “save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice,” and there are always lots of new ideas on how to do it.

Georgia Tech computer science professor Ashok Goel had extra help in his Knowledge Based Artifical Intelligence class: an artificial intelligence teaching assistant named Jill Watson.
Al Such / WABE

Science fiction often presents artificial intelligence as funny-looking robots or machines like HAL from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

At Georgia Tech, one professor tested this out with his students using artificial intelligence or AI as his teaching assistants. 

Artificial Intelligence

AI or artificial intelligence is already in use in the form of self-driving cars and as part of many advanced web programs, including Google searches.

GDOT Transportation Management Center in Atlanta
Alison Guillory / WABE

The State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) plan to open Georgia’s first “reversible" express toll lanes on Jan. 28.  

They include two additional lanes along 12 miles of Interstate-75, south of the city of Atlanta.

Reversible lanes will let drivers drive north toward the city during the morning rush hour and south the rest of the day, between 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Transportation Technology

The Port of Savannah is poised to rapidly increase service to an arc of inland markets, from Atlanta to Memphis, to St. Louis, Chicago and the Ohio Valley. Key to expanding rail service is a $128M project linking Garden City Terminal’s two rail yards.
Courtesy of Stephen B. Morton/Georgia Ports Authority

The Georgia Ports Authority says one of its top priorities this year is building what it calls the "Mid-American Arc."

It's a $128 million project that would connect the CSX and Norfolk Southern rail yards leaving the Port of Savannah.

The arc project will double rail capacity in Savannah and improve its link to Atlanta and cities in the Midwest.

Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Kevin O'Donnell, the founder of Modobag, the "world's first rideable luggage."

The latest electronic device Delta Air Lines' has forbidden on its planes is a rideable suitcase.

Those are rolling bags you can sit on and ride through the airport.

Just like hoverboards, Delta Air Lines said the problem is with the lithium ion batteries.

The Georgia Ports Authority said more than 3.4 million container units moved through the ports of Savannah and Brunswick in 2016.
Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press

Georgia's ports are on track to declare this year as their second busiest ever.

The increase in traffic volume was a surprise turnaround for the state.

With the exception of February, during the first half of this year both imports and exports moving through Georgia ports were down from last year.

The holiday season has been unusually warm the past two years. Supplies of Christmas trees were still coming in the day before Thanksgiving here at Big John's Christmas Trees in Buckhead. Big John's owner expected the holiday weekend to be  a big one
Jim Burress / WABE

It was a warm Christmas along most of the East Coast on Sunday, including in metro Atlanta, where it was the second warmest on record.

Last Christmas, metro Atlanta saw a record high temperature of 75 degrees, just a one degree difference from this year's high of 74.

That's the second highest since 1878, when temperature records started to be collected.

Sidney King, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said for the second year in a row winds from the Gulf of Mexico brought moist air to the Southeast.

The Atlanta Streetcar during a usual trip.
Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

The city of Atlanta launched a mobile app for the Atlanta Streetcar after nearly a year-long delay.

The city's deputy chief operating officer, William Johnson, said the app should help the city generate a little more revenue.

Right now, he said, only about 53 percent of riders are actually paying for tickets.

About 200 people marched near the Capitol ahead of Monday's vote, chanting "Dump Trump, save America."
Ali Guillory / WABE

Georgia's electoral college members have voted for Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.

In downtown Atlanta, electors were smiling as Gov. Nathan Deal made the announcement 

"All the ballots have been tabulated and Donald J. Trump has received all 16 votes of the Georgia electors for president," Deal said.  

Threatening Letters

Electors said for weeks they've been bombarded with phone calls and emails asking them not to cast their vote for Trump.

Georgia Tech's new Coda building is expected to be complete in early 2019.
Courtesy of John Portman & Associates 2016

Georgia Tech's College of Computing Senior Associate Dean Charles Isbell says we're already looking at the future.

Construction has begun for the new Coda building, which will include the school's High Performance Computing center, in Midtown Atlanta.

"We're trying to construct a building that is as vertical as it is horizontal so that people are constantly moving up and down as well as left and right to interact with others," Isbell said.