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.

Janaza Services of Georgia funeral director Ahmad Rashad, 66, is an Athen's native and diehard University of Georgia Bulldogs fan. The founder and CFO Abdullah Tahir Siddiqui first began work on this project in 2012.
Alison Guillory / WABE

Amidst the controversy surrounding a proposed mosque and funeral home in Newton County in recent weeks, the state’s first Muslim funeral home quietly opened in Norcross Monday.

The red brick funeral home, Janaza Services of Georgia, is easy to miss. The funeral home is in a quiet, mostly residential neighborhood off Buford Highway. Its name, Janaza, comes from the Arabic word for funeral.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

From Home Depot to the Secretary of State’s office to Grady Hospital, the Atlanta area has had its share of data breaches.

Alison Guillory / WABE

According to Georgia Tech’s informal reports, the university has had fewer deaths by suicide per year than the national average for schools of its size.

But the university’s leaders are now working to eliminate all suicides with a new campaign: Tech Ends Suicide Together.

Georgia Tech would be one of the first schools in the United States to adapt and implement a model used in health care settings.

Zero Suicides

Georgia Tech Computer Science Assistant Professor Bistra Dilkina worked with three student interns during this summer's Data Science for Social Good internship program. She helped students develop an online tool for New American Pathways.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

It can take a while for refugees to get the paperwork they need to get a driver’s license or be able to afford a car. So they need easy access to public transit, supermarkets, schools and low rents. So the city of Clarkston, just outside Interstate-285 in DeKalb County, is an ideal location.

But Clarkston is just 1.4 square miles and it’s running out of space as refugees decide they actually want to stay there.

The resettlement agency New American Pathways helps place more than 500 refugees in metro Atlanta each year. Many end up in Clarkston.

DeKalb County Police Department / Associated Press

  

This story was updated at 12:00 p.m.  

A white, former police officer who fatally shot an unarmed, naked black man is scheduled to make a court appearance on Friday.

Former DeKalb police officer Robert Olsen was indicted earlier this year on a number of charges, including felony murder, aggravated assault and making false statements. 

Authorities said he shot and killed 27-year-old Anthony Hill in March 2015.

Atlanta Police Department Chief George Turner said General Electric can help him analyze data on turnover rates and help it investigate why officers are leaving the city of Atlanta.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has asked General Electric to help the Atlanta Police Department improve its relationship with residents.

Starting salaries for Atlanta officers is between $34, 726 and $42,128. While it’s competitive with some neighboring cities, the department has recently been losing at least 100 officers a year, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Alison Guillory / WABE

If you have trouble hearing announcements by MARTA train conductors, you're not alone.

MARTA plans to spend $40 million to install 300 new display boards, add 500 more speakers and replace 4,000 older speakers to address complaints about its audiovisual system.

The new signs, which will double the number it currently has, will be larger than the current signs. And instead of a black backdrop, the signs will look like TV screens with ads, stock information, news and other updates.

An aerial rendering of the Edgewood-Candler Park transit-oriented development. It will include apartments, restaurants, retail and a performance hall.
Courtesy of Columbia Ventures LLC

MARTA broke ground on the first of six "transit-oriented developments" at its Edgewood-Candler Park MARTA station Monday.

A private developer, Columbia Ventures LLC, is building the $40 million project at no cost to MARTA.

The development, called “Spoke”, includes a 224-unit apartment complex, park, restaurant and performing arts center.

Eric Kronberg has lived in Edgewood since 1999 and has been working with neighbors on a vision to redevelop the area for over a decade.

Jamarion Robinson was 26 when he was fatally shot in East Point. A private investigator who says he found evidence left at the crime scene including two projectiles fired from guns and blood on the walls suggesting he was dragged down the stairs.
Courtesy of Monteria Robinson

The family of 26-year-old Jamarion Robinson is calling for the FBI to investigate his death.

Robinson’s family hired a private investigator who has said he found evidence left at the crime scene including two projectiles fired from guns and blood on the walls suggesting he was dragged down the stairs.

Robinson was being served an arrest warrant in East Point when he was fatally shot by U.S. Marshals on Aug. 5.

Ozzie, a shorthaired terrier mix, was the only dog in the experiments that chose food over his owner’s praise 100 percent of the time. “Ozzie was a bit of an outlier,” Berns says, “but Ozzie’s owner understands him and still loves him.”
Courtesy of Gregory Berns

A few years ago, Emory neuroscientist Gregory Berns had what he calls "a crazy idea" to see if dogs could be trained to sit still for brain scans in order to find out what they might be thinking.

Berns began the "Dog Project" after more than two decades of studying decision-making in humans.

Berns' latest experiment, with 15 dogs from Atlanta, found that dogs are motivated less by how many treats you give them and more by social rewards like praise. 

A Pennsylvania lottery kiosk promotes the record $1.4 billion Powerball Jackpot in a mini-mart in Monroeville, Pa., Jan. 11, 2015.
Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

Alabama is one of only six states that doesn't sell lottery tickets, but that could change soon.

Lawmakers in Alabama are divided on whether to legalize the lottery there to help fund Medicaid.

After years of opposition, the governor of Alabama now says legalizing the lottery is the only way to cover Medicaid costs.

Lucy Dadayan, a senior researcher with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, a New York-based think tank, said if they do, it could cut into Georgia's lottery sales.

Courtesy of Post Properties/MAA

A real estate firm in Memphis, Tenn., Mid-America Apartment Communities, is merging with Atlanta-based Post Properties in a deal worth nearly $4 billion. 

The merger makes the combined company one of the largest publicly-traded landlords in the country.

The new company now oversees more than 105,000 apartment units.

Ron Cameron is a senior vice president and principal of the multi-family advisory group at the real estate services firm Colliers International in Atlanta.

The University of Georgia's Science Learning Center cost $48 million and includes 33 labs and two 280-seat lecture halls.
Rick O'Quinn / UGA

The University of Georgia is holding a dedication ceremony Wednesday on a new $48 million science learning center.

The science learning center will have 33 labs, and it's purposely designed to get students talking and working together.

It includes flexible chairs in the auditorium and tables with computers strategically placed throughout the lecture rooms. 

 A private developer Corvias Campus Living built Georgia State University's newest dorm, Piedmont Central on Piedmont and John Wesley Dobbs Avenue. The developer will not have to pay local property taxes and can collect rent from students.
Courtesy of Georgia State University

Georgia State University's newest dormitory on Piedmont and John Wesley Dobbs Avenue is called Piedmont Central. 

It's the first dorm at Georgia State University to be built under a new public-private partnership.

The University System of Georgia has accumulated billions of dollars in debt trying to keep up with student housing demand.

MARTA Chief Operating Officer Richard Krisak says $700 million in funding has been identified and approved for 250 new rail cars.
Alison Guillory / WABE

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is now getting ready to replace up to 350 rail cars over the next decade. MARTA Chief Operating Officer Richard Krisak says $700 million in funding has been identified and approved for the 250 cars.

Some of MARTA’s 318 train cars date back to 1979, when the transit system began rail service. Krisak said the lifespan of most train cars is a maximum of 40 years, and newer cars would be safer and easier to maintain.

Courtesy of Rob Felt/Georgia Tech

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite. In 1958, the United States followed with Explorer 1.

Today, there are more than 1,000 of these large satellites revolving around the Earth sending radio signals back to us, which get converted into pictures of the oceans, weather forecasts and even DISH TV.

Many of these satellites are the size of a 7,000-pound hippo and can take decades to design and build.

A Google Fiber van in Atlanta
Courtesy of Google Fiber

Google Fiber announced Tuesday it’s open for business in five Atlanta neighborhoods.  

It also opened a new customer service center and event space, which it calls a "Fiber Space," inside Ponce City Market. 

Residents in Midtown and Piedmont Heights have until Sept. 29 to sign up for Google Fiber's Internet, phone and TV service. 

Morningside/Lenox Park, Old Fourth Ward and Virginia Highland residents have until Dec. 8. 

Jim Burress / WABE

This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation is beginning to add lanes on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County.

It's the latest in an effort to add toll lanes to the busiest interstates in metro Atlanta.

GDOT is adding 10 more miles of toll lanes northbound and southbound between Old Peachtree and Hamilton Mill roads on Interstate 85. It would be an extension of the 16 miles of toll lanes on I-85 that stretch from Chamblee-Tucker Road in DeKalb County up to Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County.

Five participants of Mental Health Court graduated Thursday from a 24-month treatment program that teaches people skills and how to access resources to manage their mental illness.
Kristie Garrett

Five participants graduated Thursday from a two-year program at Cobb County's mental health court. It's one of 24 mental health courts in the state for people diagnosed with mental illnesses. 

Cobb County Mental Health Court coordinator Adrienne Bowen said it keeps individuals charged with felonies out of jail and saves money in the long-term.

Jonathan Bachman, File / Associated Press

A political group called The Satanic Temple is looking to add what it calls an "After School Satan Club" at Still Elementary in Powder Springs

The Cobb County public school does not currently have an “After School Satan Club” but it has found itself in the middle of a discussion about the separation of church and state.

Musician and barista Jed Drummond said he co-founded the Atlanta chapter of the Satanic Temple two months ago.

Theresa Davis of Atlanta's Art Amok! Slam Team reads from one of her books of poetry at Java Monkey Speaks in Decatur. The Java Monkey Slam Team will represent the host city of Decatur in the National Poetry Slam.
Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

More than 400 poets from all over the United States will spend this week in Decatur, competing in the National Poetry Slam, which is being hosted in Georgia for the first time. 

Poets in San Francisco hosted the first National Poetry Slam competition in 1990.

Host city coordinator Daryl Funn won a bid to host the competition in his native city of Decatur in 2013.

Cumberland Community Improvement District Board chairman Tad Leithead said a ramp at the first entry point to reversible tolls on I-75 is at Aker Mills, but there is no direct access. A ramp would address major traffic and safety concerns for the area.
GDOT

A highway ramp at Akers Mill Road in Cobb County, Georgia, may cost more than five times the original estimate.

A ramp near the new Atlanta Braves stadium would provide direct access to reversible toll lanes being built along Interstate 75. The toll lanes would go southbound in the mornings and northbound in the afternoon.

Cobb County Board of Elections

With about 64 percent of the vote, retired Marine Colonel Mike Boyce easily won a runoff election last night against incumbent Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee.

Once in office, Boyce said his priority is having a transparent government.

Boyce said one reason he beat outgoing Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee is because of how Lee handled the contract for the new Atlanta Braves Stadium.

Lee's critics said the deal was not transparent and lacked public input. 

But Boyce said, the contract is a done deal and the county needs to move forward.

The popular political gathering place, Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta, is set to reopen on August 6 after months of renovations.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

A popular political gathering place in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood of Atlanta is set to reopen next week after months of renovations.

On Monday morning, Brian Maloof, the owner of Manuel’s Tavern, invited a priest from his family's church to bless the bar as more than 50 employees and customers watched.

Middle Eastern Custom

The Rev. John Azar of St. John Chrysostom Melkite Catholic Church chanted in Arabic while Brian Maloof guided him through each room of the tavern.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran was at the center of a debate on Capitol Hill recently as members of the U.S. House of Representatives debated a federal “religious liberty” bill.

At the first hearing on July 12, Cochran shared his story of being fired by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday not to tear down Central Library.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Atlanta's Central Library downtown will be getting an upgrade.

After many months of public debate on whether to build a new library or renovate the existing one, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday not to tear down the building.

The Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library system will now select an architecture firm to work with it on designing the renovated spaces and coming up with the actual cost.

Voters cast ballots in Georgia's primary election at a polling site in a firehouse Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Early voting continues this week in the race for DeKalb County's District 4 Commission seat.

Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton faces challenger Steve Bradshaw in what both candidates said has been a very negative and divisive race.

Analysts say interest in the race could mean a slightly higher than usual voter turn-out in a mid-summer runoff election.

Barnes Sutton has mailed out flyers saying Bradshaw is not a true Democrat. Both candidates are African-American. Included on the Barnes-Sutton flyer is a photo of Bradshaw with his wife, who is white.

Pokemon Go at Oakland
Kyra Semien

Since last week, several museums and cemeteries in Atlanta have noticed large crowds of teenagers and young adults showing up.

Most aren't there primarily to learn about history or to pay their respects to the dead, but swiping their phones while they play a game on it.

Pokemon Go is a mobile app that requires players to physically visit sites to catch fictional creatures called Pokemon and uses a technology called augmented reality, where images and sounds are added to what you see in front of you.

Zeinab Said Hessen owns a clothing business in Clarkston. She fled her hometown of Wau, Sudan in 1994. She said she fears for her family in South Sudan who she hasn't been able to reach in three weeks.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Some metro Atlanta residents are watching the conflict in South Sudan closely and say they are worried for their families.

This weekend, South Sudan marked its fifth independence day, but it was overshadowed by fighting that may mark the start of a second civil war.

At least 150 people have died and thousands are displaced in South Sudan after fighting broke out in the capital of Juba last week.

South-Sudanese In Atlanta

City of Sandy Springs

Sandy Springs is waiting on state approval to change its ordinance for buildings. 

The city wants to require developers to use metal or masonry framing on any new buildings taller than three stories or more than 100,000 square feet.

Sandy Springs Fire Rescue Chief Keith Sanders said cheaper wood framing used in most apartment complexes these days is more flammable.

Lightweight Construction

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