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Georgia says new voting system on track, critics skeptical

ATLANTA (AP) — Lawyers for Georgia assured a judge Friday that the state's new election system is on track to be ready for the presidential primaries in March. However, critics pushed for a more concrete backup plan in case things don't go as planned. A lawyer for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said some counties already have the new election management system and voting machines. He said all counties will receive the election management system by Feb. 1 and will have the voting machines by mid-February. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the state is cutting things close and a needs a backup plan for using hand-marked paper ballots.


3 more linked to neo-Nazi group arrested in Georgia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Police in Georgia say three men linked to a violent white supremacist group have been charged with conspiring to commit murder. Friday's announcement comes a day after three other members of The Base who were believed to be planning to attend a pro-gun rally in Virginia were arrested on federal charges. The arrests are adding to rising fears that Monday’s rally in Richmond will turn violent and could potentially become a repeat of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Experts say members of The Base train in military-style camps, want to create a white ethno-state and have pledged violence against minorities.


Aide of former Atlanta mayor wants new trial in records case

ATLANTA (AP) — An ex-aide of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has requested a new trial to appeal her conviction of violating the state's open records laws. Jenna Garland previously served as press secretary under former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. She was convicted in December on two misdemeanor counts of violating open records law after she directed a subordinate to “drag out” a records request that a local TV station had made. Garland's attorneys filed a motion requesting a new trial last week. One of Garland’s lawyers, called it “the first step in the appeals process.” Garland was previously sentenced to pay a total of $1,500 in fines.


Georgia sets execution for man convicted of killing 2 people

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia man convicted of killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend more than 20 years ago is set to executed later this month. State Attorney General Chris Carr announced Friday that 66-year-old Donnie Clevelan Lance is scheduled to die Jan. 29 at the state prison in Jackson. Lance was convicted and sentenced to death in the November 1997 killings of Sabrina “Joy” Lance and Dwight “Butch” Wood Jr. Lance would be the first person executed in Georgia this year.  Jimmy Fletcher Meders was scheduled for lethal injection Thursday, but the State Board of Pardons and Paroles commuted his sentence.


Virginia's highest court upholds weapons ban at gun rally

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia's highest court has upheld a ban on firearms at a pro-gun rally in the state's capital next week. The Supreme Court issued its decision late Friday, rejecting an appeal from gun-rights groups that said the ban violated their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The court did not rule on the merits of the case, however. The justices said they did not have enough information to decide whether a lower court judge had ruled appropriately. State officials had asked the court to uphold the ban. Gov. Ralph Northam said officials had received credible threats of "armed militia groups storming our Capitol” during the rally scheduled for Monday in Richmond.


Beyond teacher pay raise, agency cuts lurk in Georgia budget

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's new budget funds raises for teachers and low-paid state employees. It also provides increases for K-12 schools, colleges and Medicaid to account for population and cost increases. But other state agencies would be in line for cuts, sometimes sharp ones. Crucially, Kemp's budget also doesn't include the second phase of an income tax cut supported by many fellow Republicans. Even without the cut, revenue growth would continue to plod compared to recent years. The $2,000 pay raise for teachers would complete Kemp's campaign promise of a $5,000 raise after lawmakers allocated the first $3,000 in 2019.


Delta and its pilots ask mediator for help in contract talks

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines and its pilots want Washington to help them agree on a new contract for the pilots. The airline and the pilots' union agreed Friday to seek federal mediation to wrap up negotiations that started back in April. The union wants better pay, more benefits and more hiring. Delta earned $4.8 billion in 2019, and it's been the most profitable U.S. airline over the last several years. The negotiations are being watched on Wall Street for indications of higher costs at Delta.


Georgia middle school teacher arrested for child molestation

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia middle school teacher faces charges of child molestation. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that 24-year-old Rumah Byrapaka, of Evans, is accused of texting nude photos and explicit messages to a 13-year-old boy. The Augusta Chronicle reports Byrapaka also allegedly kissed and indecently touched the victim at Hephzibah Middle School, where she worked. The Richmond County School system said the student's mother reported the alleged relationship and an investigation began. The school system says Byrapaka has been placed on paid administration leave. It's unknown if she has an attorney who could speak on her behalf.