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Civil rights group leader: arm yourself against police
48 mins ago

Civil rights group leader: arm yourself against police

By  •  Local

The president of the Georgia chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said Tuesday that black Americans should exercise their Second Amendment rights by defending themselves against hostile police officers.

“I am going to advocate at this point that all African Americans advocate their Second Amendment rights,” Georgia SCLC President Samuel Mosteller said at a Tuesday news conference in Atlanta. “You stand there, [police] shoot. You run, they shoot. We’re going to have a take a different tack in order to send a message to the majority community that we are not to be victims.

A spokesman for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights group founded on the principle of nonviolence, did not immediately respond to an inquiry by Tipsheet Tuesday night asking if the organization stood behind the comments.

Mosteller’s remarks come after a month in which two black Georgians were fatally shot by police.

Police in Smyrna, Ga., last week shot 23-year-old Nicholas Thomas in self-defense in a failed arrest attempt. After serving an arrest warrant for a probation violation, Thomas stole a nearby Masarati and, according to authorities, used the vehicle as a weapon. He died on the scene.

Watch video of Mosteller’s comments after the jump. Read More

Programming notes: Morning Tipsheet’s back
8 hours ago

Programming notes: Morning Tipsheet’s back

By  •  Local

Tomorrow, a newly-redesigned Georgia Tipsheet will relaunch its popular morning news digest, the Morning Tipsheet, a must-read distillation of all the news made by—and important to—the state’s political and media class.

If you’re already subscribed, good: you’re awesome. If not, fix that now by subscribing below the jump and becoming awesome yourself. Read More

Perdue, Isakson tell Air Force to keep A-10 fleet
11 hours ago

Perdue, Isakson tell Air Force to keep A-10 fleet

Both of Georgia’s U.S. senators have joined an effort by New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte in pressuring the Air Force to abandon its plans to divest a fleet of close air support aircrafts.

The Air Force signaled last year it wanted to retire the A-10 “Warthog” attack jet, but key congressional lawmakers (and defense analysts, including those at the Council on Foreign Relations) criticized the plan as reckless and said it would deny ground troops critical close air support when engaged in close enemy combat.

In a pair of letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, Ayotte and nine other GOP defense hawks, including Georgia’s Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, call the A-10 divestment plan “premature, misguided, and dangerous” and have asked that the defense authorization legislation for the next fiscal year explicitly bar Air Force from grounding the aircrafts.

“When we send our troops into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation to ensure that they have the very best support possible so they can accomplish their missions and return home safely,” one letter, a copy of which was provided to Tipsheet by a Perdue aide, reads. “There is an overwhelming consensus among our ground troops, special operators, and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) that the A-10 is the Air Force’s best close air support aircraft and that it provides CAS capabilities that no other current aircraft can. 

“For that reason, we remain concerned that if the Air Force is permitted to prematurely divest the A-10 before an equally capable replacement reaches full operational capability, the quality of CAS available to our ground forces will decline and Americans will be killed and injured unnecessarily.”

Read the text of both letters after the jump. Read More

Group running anti-RFRA ads in LA trade paper
15 hours ago

Group running anti-RFRA ads in LA trade paper

A gay rights group is running advertisements on the website of a popular Los Angeles entertainment publication to brow beat the film industry to oppose more forcefully religious liberty legislation that remains stalled in the Georgia General Assembly.

The 158 feature film and television productions shot here in Georgia during the last fiscal year generated an economic impact of $5.1 billion, according to the state Department of Economic Development.

GUAD_VarietySo far, the famously vocal industry has remained silent in the debate over religious freedom, even as other major corporate sectors voiced their opposition.

But Georgia Unites Against Discrimination, a partnership between local Georgia Equality and Washington, D.C-based Human Rights Campaign, hopes the new advertising campaign will loosen Hollywood’s lips in the final two days of the legislative calendar.

The ads are running on the website of Variety, the influential trade publication of the entertainment industry. An official for the group declined to specify the scope of the campaign and instead would only say they were spending “a significant amount.”

The group is sponsoring a series of advertisements on the website, including leaderboards, skyscrapers, and a full branded skin. See the website take-over after the jump. Read More

Another collegiate sports conference ‘concerned’ with RFRA
1 day ago

Another collegiate sports conference ‘concerned’ with RFRA

The American Collegiate Rowing Association said Monday it was “deeply concerned” with religious freedom legislation under consideration in the Georgia General Assembly.

The rowing conference, which for the last four years has hosted its national championship at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue, said in a statement that it’s worried the legislation could negatively impact the sport’s gay and lesbian coaches, athletes, and spectators.

“[W]e are deeply concerned with legislation being considered by the Georgia General Assembly … that could negatively impact our athletic community, coaching staff, and fans,” the Monday statement reads. “In particular, we are cognizant of the impact such legislation could have on the LGBT coaches, athletes, and family members who attend the regatta annually.

“ACRA does not stand for discrimination in any form, and we will continue to monitor the issue in Georgia should this legislation be signed into law.”

The group said in the four years it has hosted its championship in Gainesville, the hometown of Gov. Nathan Deal, it has injected $2 million into the local economy.

Earlier Monday the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association told NBC that the athletic association was also “deeply concerned” that Indiana’s newly-approved religious freedom bill could become a vehicle to discriminate agains gays and lesbians.

Read ACRA’s full statement after the jump. Read More

Denied a meeting, or failed to schedule one?
1 day ago

Denied a meeting, or failed to schedule one?

A lobbyist for the Georgia Baptist Convention says he and a group of local religious leaders were denied a Monday meeting with Governor Nathan Deal to discuss religious freedom legislation that remains stalled in the state House.

Mike Griffin, a pastor who whips votes on behalf of the church confederation, said on Twitter that “no time was found” by the governor or his staff to meet with the dozen-plus faith leaders who crashed Deal’s office on Monday. (Griffin also posted a picture of the mostly-stone-faced crew from the governor’s parlor in the state capitol.)

But a Republican with knowledge of the governor’s schedule tells Tipsheet that Griffin and co. had not previously scheduled a meeting with Deal, whose calendar was already blocked out.

“There was no meeting schedule,” the GOPer said. “The General Assembly is in its last days of session and the governor’s calendar is busy. Most items on his schedule—as you would expect for a governor—are booked weeks in advance.”

Deal’s Monday morning schedule, of which a portion was shared with Tipseet, included a speech at an event honoring Georgia’s Vietnam War veterans, a weekly senior staff meeting, a huddle with lawmakers, and a bill signing. Read More

(S)toked for RFRA
1 day ago

(S)toked for RFRA

A church that claims the smoking of marijuana as a sacrament has filed paperwork of incorporation with Indiana state officials, claiming the state’s new religious freedom legislation allows their members to sidestep preexisting drug laws.

The First Church of Cannabis Inc. petitioned Indiana’s Secretary of State for nonprofit status the same day that Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to Indianapolis’ ABC News affiliate RTV6.

Indiana’s drug laws do not allow for recreational or medicinal marijuana—and federal courts have found that government has a compelling interest in regulating its use—but church founder Bill Levin said he believes the new law could provide a vehicle to relitigate the issue, RTV6 reported over the weekend.

A separate group, the Colorado-based Green Faith Ministries, says it’s fielded “several inquires” about planting a church in Indiana in the wake of the law’s passage.

Like Indiana, Georgia’s laws do not allow for the recreational use of marijuana, but the general assembly this week legalized a non-euphoric form of marijuana for the treatment of eight acute conditions, including seizures and terminal cancer. Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign the bill later this week, when the legislative session ends. Read More

Atlanta’s Super Bowl bid caught in religious freedom crossfire
2 days ago

Atlanta’s Super Bowl bid caught in religious freedom crossfire

The nation’s largest gay rights advocacy group has asked the National Football League to reject Atlanta’s bid for the 2019 Super Bowl if a controversial religious freedom bill passes the state legislature this week.

In a Sunday letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Human Rights Campaign says Georgia’s proposed legislation, which has already cleared the state Senate but remains tabled in the lower chamber, “directly contradicts the NFL’s nondiscrimination policy and values of acceptance and inclusivity.”

“Should this bill become law, Georgia will not be a welcoming place for LGBT people or many other minorities,” HRC President Chad Griffin wrote in the letter, first published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I strongly urge you to consider whether that is the type of environment in which you want to bring a Super Bowl, and the associated revenues, prestige, and media spotlight.”

The league requires that a stadium be open at least two football seasons before it may be eligible to host a Super Bowl. Atlanta’s new stadium, on which ground was broken in summer of last year, will just make the cut for the 2019 event.

According to an economic impact study of Super Bowl XLIX, held earlier this year in Pheonix, Az., estimated the championship game injected as much as $500 million into the local economy. (Note that alternate reports placed that number far lower, between $30 million and $130 million.)

Last week the NFL said it was reviewing Indiana’s parallel religious freedom bill, signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence last week, but told reporters it had reached no determination on whether it would affect the league’s consideration for events, like the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Read Griffin’s letter in full after the jump. Read More