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BC-GA--Georgia News Digest, GA

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The state at 3:30 a.m.

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RALEIGH, N.C. —Two more people were charged in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor's father, bringing the number to at least eight people who authorities say were involved in the elaborate plot. Federal authorities unsealed kidnapping charges Wednesday against Jakym Tibbs and Quantavious Thompson, who's known by the street name "Kirkwood Quan." Kirkwood is a neighborhood in Atlanta. The FBI said the men should be considered armed and dangerous, and the agency offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to their arrest. By Michael Biesecker. SENT: 614 words.


ATLANTA — Major League Soccer announced its newest team Wednesday, unveiling an expansion team for Atlanta that will begin play in 2017 at the city's new retractable roof stadium. The team will be owned by Arthur Blank, who also owns the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. He donned a traditional soccer scarf and was serenaded by a burgeoning fan group that calls itself "Terminus Legion," a reference to the city's former name. By Paul Newberry. SENT: 374 words.


SAVANNAH, Ga. — A major grower of Georgia's famous Vidalia onions said Wednesday he had begun shipping his crop early to supermarkets in defiance of the state agriculture commissioner, who has warned that a new regulation prohibits farmers from sending onions to market before Monday. Delbert Bland of Glennville, who grows onions on roughly 3,000 acres in southeast Georgia, has been waging a legal battle since last fall with Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. Their dispute revolves around a rule adopted with the backing of many farmers seeking to keep unripe Vidalia onions from reaching store shelves. By Russ Bynum. SENT: 429 words.


NEW YORK — In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting. Over the last two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research is reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. By Mike Stobbe. SENT: 601 words.


COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has asked a federal judge to rule in the state's favor in a lawsuit seeking to keep viable a nuclear reactor fuel project at the Savannah River Site near Aiken. In court papers filed earlier this week, Attorney General Alan Wilson and other attorneys for the state asked for a decision without a trial. Federal officials have until May 1 to respond to South Carolina's motion. After a speech in Atlanta on Wednesday, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he had discussed with Russian officials the possibility of finding another way to dispose of the plutonium. By Meg Kinnard. SENT: 565 words.


ATLANTA — The Obama administration's transportation chief visited Atlanta on Wednesday to tour two large-scale projects. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited the new streetcar vehicle maintenance facility and the Eastside Trail of the BeltLine project as part of his national "Invest in America" bus tour, which is meant to highlight the importance of federal investment in transportation and infrastructure. SENT: 168 words, photos.


ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation Wednesday to expand a scholarship program that will enable more medical students to practice in high-need areas. The legislation calls for some Georgia Medical Student Scholarship recipients entering certain primary care and specialized medical practices to work in underserved areas with a high level of need, Deal said in a written statement. The scholarship program provides up to $20,000 to qualified state residents to help pay the costs of medical school, Deal said. SENT: 261 words.



ORLANDO, Fla. — Emergency managers, forecasters and local government officials from Texas to Maine are meeting this week at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando. National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb and Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate will address the conference Wednesday. The six-month Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1. This year, the hurricane center is trying new color-coded maps to clarify the dangers of storm surge for coastal residents. The graphics will be posted online and will show how far from the beach the water would spread and how high it would rise. UPCOMING.


— SHERIFF'S DEPUTY-BATTERY — Ex-DeKalb County sheriff's deputy convicted of battery in 2012 brutality case.

— INSURANCE ENROLLMENT-GEORGIA — Ga. insurance commissioner releases health care exchange enrollment numbers.

— PEPPER SPRAY-STUDENTS — Up to 100 Georgia students hit by blast of pepper spray in high school hallway, police say.

— VOTER REGISTRATION — Thousands using new Web-based Ga. voter registration programs ahead of upcoming primary.

— HOUSE CLERK'S CAR STOLEN — Thieves steal car belonging to House of Representatives clerk outside Georgia Capitol.

— HERB EMORY-MEMORIAL SERVICE — Public memorial service for Atlanta traffic reporter 'Captain' Herb Emory set for Saturday.

— FALLING GLASS-DOWNTOWN — No injuries reported after glass falls from downtown Atlanta office building.

— PEDESTRIAN KILLED — Pedestrian, 45, is struck by car and killed in Cobb County.

— ENERGY SECRETARY — US energy secretary raised alternatives with Russia for destroying US weapons-grade plutonium.

— VALDOSTA-SEWAGE — Heavy rain leads to sewage problems in south Georgia city of Valdosta.

— FACEBOOK-THE NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH — Man who had dispute with Facebook group leader sentenced to hard labor for indecent exposure.

— SILICA EXPOSURE-PARTNERSHIP — Labor officials launch Ga. partnership to reduce silica dust exposure in construction industry.

— TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY — US transportation secretary to tour Atlanta BeltLine and streetcar maintenance facility.

— FORT KNOX-TRAINING — Live fire exercise scheduled at Fort Knox, 3rd Battalion preparing for Afghanistan.



ATHENS, Ga. — Quarterback Aaron Murray still has some convincing to do after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery in late November. Even so, Murray believes he alleviated many potential concerns about his health after working out in front of 23 NFL teams at Georgia's pro day Wednesday. By George Henry. SENT: 656 words, photos.

The AP.

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