Tasnim Shamma | WABE 90.1 FM

Tasnim Shamma

Reporter

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.

Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Atlanta NAACP leaders said developers in the city of Atlanta have made a lot of promises to the black community and sometimes failed to deliver.

Two examples they cited were the Georgia Dome and Turner Field. The projects received public money, developers made promises about improving the mostly African-American neighborhoods around them and then didn’t deliver what was promised.

A member of the public wearing a full face veil is seen in Blackburn, England, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2013.
AP Photo/Jon Super

A South Georgia lawmaker withdrew a proposal Thursday evening that would have prohibited people from wearing face veils or masks in public.

Republican State Rep. Jason Spencer of Woodbine, Georgia said he faced “political scrutiny” on the pre-filed legislation, which was opposed by both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers.

Face Veils

Nearly 200 people marched in downtown Atlanta from the CNN Center to SunTrust Bank to demand the CEO stop financing the Dakota Access Pipeline Project on Tuesday afternoon.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is 1,500 miles away from Atlanta, but nearly 200 people marched downtown Tuesday to protest a Dakota Access Pipeline project.

Atlanta environmental activists said they're concerned about the impact of a pipeline on the reservation’s water supply and sacred lands.

Activists also said they worried about loss of environmental protections in metro Atlanta under President-elect Donald Trump, who is not convinced of scientific evidence supporting climate change.

Jason Lary is chairman of the Stonecrest YES Committee. He launched a campaign to form the city of Stonecrest in 2012.
Glenn L. Morgan / OCG News

Voters approved two new cities in metro Atlanta last week: Stonecrest in DeKalb County and South Fulton in Fulton County. Cityhood leaders are now getting ready to form new governments.

About four years ago, DeKalb County resident Jason Lary noticed a trend:

"Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Peachtree Corners. Every city that branched off flourished. Flourished. And without raising taxes," said Lary.

A rendering of the new Georgia State Panthers football stadium. The team plans to play its 2017 season here after it renovates the former Atlanta Braves baseball stadium. The Board of Regents approved the $22.8 million purchase of Turner Field Wednesday.
Courtesy of Georgia State University

The University System Board of Regents approved the purchase of Turner Field by Georgia State University on Wednesday for $22.8 million.

Downtown Campus

Georgia State President Mark Becker said the 38-acre former Atlanta Braves stadium site gives the University, “a complete downtown presence.”

“From housing, student facilities, recreation, athletics and academics, it puts all the pieces together finally,” Becker said.

Some employees in Atlanta outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they were anxious about President-elect Donald Trump leading the nation and appointing public health leaders who are against mandatory vaccinations.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Employees at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the mood in their office is somber.

The employees of one of the largest federal agencies in Atlanta said they're concerned about job safety, funding and new public health policies under Donald Trump's presidency.

At the General Muir deli across the street from the CDC, a few employees talked to WABE, asking that their names not be used. One microbiologist said her colleagues were crying in the hallways. 

Dwight Brower is Fulton County's election chief. He shows off how the elections machines are physically secured. The county is one of three that will have DOJ poll monitors.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

There will be lots of people watching the general election closely on Tuesday.

That includes the U.S. Justice Department, which is dispatching 500 people to 28 states, including Georgia.

Observers will be in three Georgia counties: Fulton, Gwinnett and Hancock.

The monitors will interview poll workers and look out for civil rights violations, such as discrimination based on race or language.

Ronda Hinton said it took her 20 minutes to vote early because there was confusion over whether she was registered to vote. She successfully cast hear ballot early in Fulton County at the Southeast Atlanta Public Library on Tuesday.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Georgia voters made history this year with more than 2.3 million people casting their votes early – surpassing a record set in 2008.

A total of 2,381,416 people cast their votes early or with an absentee ballot. In 2008, 2,129,316 people cast their votes early.

In metro Atlanta, several counties – including Gwinnett, Cobb and Fulton – beat their early voting records set in the last presidential election.

At a Chevron gas station in Midtown Atlanta, gas prices were $2.69 on Thursday, a few days after the Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline explosion.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

It will take a little longer than first predicted for repairs to be finished on the gasoline pipeline that supplies the Atlanta area.

In an update on its website, Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline Company said it now expects repairs to be completed Sunday afternoon. The pipeline has been shut down since an explosion in Alabama earlier this week, in which one worker was killed and four were injured.

But most drivers in metro Atlanta are not racing to gas stations to fill up their tanks just yet.

Northbound traffic on I75-I85 headed Downtown
Alison Guillory / WABE

Here’s a huge surprise: traffic is still the top concern for metro Atlanta residents.

In an annual survey by the Atlanta Regional Commission, transportation was the top concern for the third year in a row. 

In Atlanta, even the rapper Ludacris has trouble getting to his concerts on time.

But Ludacris isn't the only one complaining.

This summer, Atlanta City Council voted to give the Bobby Jones Golf Course to the state in exchange for a parking deck and state property near Underground Atlanta.
Chris Ferguson / WABE

The management company that operates five Atlanta golf courses said it purposely chose not to submit a bid after the city of Atlanta issued a new request for proposals on its golf properties this summer.

American Golf said the primary reason was the city of Atlanta’s sale of one of its most lucrative golf properties, Bobby Jones, to the state.

American Golf has been managing five golf courses for the last 30 years: North Fulton, Candler Park, Bobby Jones, Brown's Mill and Alfred ''Tup'' Holmes. 

New Management

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act are going up in Georgia.

That's according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, which says the average hike in metro Atlanta will be 13 percent before tax credits.

According to the report, metro Atlanta residents eligible for tax credits won’t see a change in their premiums, if they're open to switching to another health care plan.

Tokhir ''T.R.'' Radjabov, 32, is running for state House representative in State House District 108, which covers Lilburn and the surrounding area in Gwinnett County. He converted the sunroom of his Lilburn home into his campaign headquarters.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Tokhir Radjabov, or "T.R.," is aspiring to a third career. He retired at the age of 27 after launching three businesses and working as a nurse.

Radjabov is now 32 and he’s running as a Democrat for state House representative in a majority Republican district of Gwinnett County.

If Radjabov wins the seat, he would be the first Muslim-American in the Georgia General Assembly.

Alabama Roots

A short, black beard frames Radjabov’s pale, white face. He’s Muslim, but he’s comfortable quoting from the Bible.

Dr. Jonathan Eisentat is the GBI's chief medical examiner. He says the number of heroin-related deaths is doubling, so there's a need for more investigators and more morgue space.
Alison Guillory / WABE

More than 1,200 people in Georgia died of a drug overdose in 2014, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To keep up with the increase in these cases, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Medical Examiner's office in south DeKalb County is spending $4.5 million to expand its morgue and office space.

Morgue Space

President and CEO of NPR Jarl Mohn during a national road tour of NPR member stations.
John Haas / WABE

President and CEO of National Public Radio Jarl Mohn is on a coast-to-coast road tour of member stations. He stopped in Atlanta recently and spoke with WABE’s "Morning Edition" host Denis O’Hayer on the business model of public radio, digital media and the future of the network.

“I think if you attempt to make everybody happy, you probably fail,” Mohn said. “I think what we have to do is not overly complicate things. We have to think about what sounds good, what sounds right, what fits with our brand and what sounds like the future.”

Mohn said the network isn’t trying to find exact replicas of shows that have new hosts or hosts who are retiring like "A Prairie Home Companion" and "The Diane Rehm Show," but is experimenting with different sounds that fit the brand. He said it will require giving shows longer than the six-month test runs most traditional media outlets allow.  

“It is a hell of a challenge. It’s very difficult to do,” Mohn said. “Because every one of those shows, which are big monster hits, took years to develop. They were not overnight hits. None of them were. They took time to develop. So there are a lot of ideas out there and if we discover that idea tomorrow or this afternoon, it’s probably going to take years before we can really see the success.”

Mohn started his career as a DJ in 1967 before joining MTV as an executive in 1986. He later created E! Entertainment Television, spent time at VH1, CNET and served on the board of XM Radio.

Willie Grover voted early in Fulton County at the Southeast Atlanta Public Library for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The final presidential debate between the top two candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, is Wednesday night, but more than 146,500 Georgia voters have already cast their ballots.

Heyward Young, a resident of Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward, said he doesn't need to see any more debates and is looking forward to the end of the election.

AP file

Early voting begins on Monday, Oct. 17. To prepare, Fulton County has launched a new early voting website.

Dwight Brower is Fulton County's election chief. Brower said the website will help with cutting down on long lines.

"We had no wait time that the public could access before,” Brower said. “Now anyone that has access to the computer before they go to the poll, they can actually see the estimated wait time. It's just another tool that the citizen voters have."

The Atlanta Urban Design Commission calls the former Trust Company of Georgia building at 2160 Monroe Drive NE historic. It will be considered for landmark designation by Atlanta City Council on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Al Such / WABE

The "round bank" building in Piedmont Heights may soon become a city of Atlanta landmark.

The city's Urban Design Commission meets Wednesday evening to discuss the fate of the building whose design was once a modern trendsetter for banks.

David Southerland, executive director of the Georgia chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said the round bank building design was unique to Atlanta in the 1960s and spread around the Southeast soon after.

“There's only one or two left in the region, so it's important to keep it," Southerland said.

In this Monday, Aug. 31, 2015 photo, a Coke truck delivers Coca Cola at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

A new study has found Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and its main rival, PepsiCo, gave money to nearly 100 national health organizations between 2011 and 2015.

Emory University, the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation are among a half-dozen Atlanta-based groups receiving funding from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

Fulton County leaders cut the ribbon in front of the new Select Fulton office space in the Fulton County Government Center. The new center places the Development Authority and Economic Development Division in one office space.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

There are 14 cities in Fulton County and, if you're a company looking to relocate in or near Atlanta, until recently you might have had each of those cities vying for your business.

Fulton County has had both an economic development division, where people were working to attract new business, and a development authority with the folks working out the details.

Select Fulton County's CEO Alan Nash said it was difficult for business project managers.

“They didn't know who to call, we'd add confusion to the thing," Nash said.

The historic Covington courthouse in Newton County.
Johnny Kauffman / WABE

Newton County has now dealt with months of debate and protests over a proposed mosque, Muslim cemetery and funeral home.

The county has now approved use of the land for that purpose. But now commissioners are concerned about how the dead will be buried.

University System of Georgia's Board of Regents Executive and Compensation Committee goes into executive session to interview Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens for the presidency of Kennesaw State University.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The University System Board of Regents will vote at its next board meeting on Oct. 12 on whether the state Attorney General Sam Olens should become Kennesaw State University's new president.

Olens interviewed with board members for more than an hour Tuesday to become president of the third-largest school in the University System of Georgia.

"Outstanding" Interview

Delta Air Lines reached an agreement in principle on Friday with the Air Line Pilots Union, which represents Delta Air Lines pilots. Off-duty pilots picketed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in June calling for higher pay.
Elly Yu / WABE

After more than a year of negotiations, Delta Air Lines has reached a contract deal in principle with its pilots.

Pilots and Delta management have been been negotiating for more than a year and a half. 

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said the National Mediation Board helped the two sides reach a comprehensive agreement in principle on Friday.

The new $1.5 million command center at the Fulton County Courthouse will be able to access all cameras in Fulton County government buildings.
Alison Guillory / WABE

More than 11 years since an accused rapist, Brian Nichols, killed three people at the Fulton County Courthouse in March of 2005, the county has opened a new, high-tech security command center.

Doris Downs was chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court at the time of the shootings.

"We have over 50 courts presiding over massive calendars of very serious disputes, so it is critical that security is our utmost concern,” Downs said.

The Christian nonprofit City of Refuge, based in Atlanta's Westside, will receive $7.5 million in funding for emergency housing, job training, health services and youth development programs for Atlanta residents.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola and the city of Atlanta announced a $7.5 million donation to a nonprofit that provides job training in Westside Atlanta.

The City of Refuge is a Christian organization that helps residents with jobs, youth development, emergency housing and health care access.

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made the largest investment so far in the group's $25.5 million capital campaign.

Notorious ZIP Code

The Georgia Tech Urban Honey Bee project studies how bees are able to live in cities.
Dan Raby / WABE

Three Georgia Tech professors accepted a Golden Goose Award at the Library of Congress last Thursday. It's awarded to federally-funded research that seems silly but has a significant impact.

In 1988, Georgia Tech professors began research on how bees collect nectar as a colony by tracking 4,000 honeybees.

After a successful test run in Atlanta, Uber is expanding Real-Time ID Check, a new security feature, which uses Microsoft Cognitive Services to match photos, to cities across the U.S.
Courtesy of Uber

Uber drivers now have a new job responsibility: taking selfies.

After a successful pilot program in Atlanta, the ride-hailing company is now requiring all U.S.-based drivers to upload selfies to verify their identity.

If there's no match, their driver account gets blocked.

There have been a couple of incidents in Atlanta over the past year where customers said they were robbed or assaulted by Uber drivers or people claiming to be Uber drivers.

TSA explosive agents explain why it has security procedures in place during a demonstration of hidden explosives.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Transportation Security Administration officers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport said security procedures will stay the same for travelers for the foreseeable future.

In the airport security line, taking off your shoes, jacket and belt, and emptying your pockets are practically rituals.

That's because the trend of using ordinary things, like pressure cookers as explosives, isn't going away.

TSA explosive specialist Mark Trice said the TSA changes the rules when there are valid threats they are notified of.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

 

North Georgia, including the metro Atlanta area, has been in a drought so long, it's officially a long-term drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday escalated the state from a short-term to a long-term drought.

A long-term drought means it has officially passed the six-month mark.

Georgia's Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black also owns a cattle farm in the city of Commerce in Jackson County. Black said he's praying for rain.

UCB is the first big pharmaceutical company in the technology hub near Georgia Tech, but it's the 15th innovation center in Tech Square.
Courtesy of the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Smyrna-based pharmaceutical company UCB opened an innovation center in Tech Square on Tuesday.

UCB is the first big pharmaceutical company in the technology hub near Georgia Tech, but it's the 15th innovation center here.

It joins AT&T, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Delta, Anthem and other big corporations who have established “corporate innovation centers" in Midtown Atlanta.   

‘Fast-Fail’

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