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Photos: President Trump, Melania host 1st White House state dinner

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania hosted their first White House state dinner, welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

Delta passenger with multiple sclerosis says airline employees tied her to wheelchair

A woman with multiple sclerosis says Delta Air Lines employees tied her to her wheelchair because she can’t sit up on her own and they didn’t have the chair she needed.

>> Watch the news report here

Maria Saliagas travels to Europe with her husband every year. When she was diagnosed with MS five years ago, she didn’t want to break her tradition of traveling with her husband.

>> Southwest Airlines cancels dozens of flights amid inspections after deadly engine failure

She said Delta normally accommodates her by making sure staff members have a proper wheelchair that has straps to help her sit up straight.

When she flew out of Atlanta on April 1 and arrived in Amsterdam, Delta didn’t have a chair with straps, so employees tied her to a regular wheelchair with someone else’s blanket, said her son, Nathan Saliagas.

>> Memorial service held for woman killed during Southwest Airlines flight

“They took a dirty blanket and tied her forcefully with it, and she has bruise marks on part of her arm because it was so tight and she started crying. That’s when that picture was taken,” Saliagas said.

A Delta representative sent WSB-TV a statement about the incident, saying: 

“We regret the perception our service has left on these customers. We have reached out to them, not only to resolve their concerns, but also ensure that their return flight exceeds expectations.”

>> Read more trending news 

The family returns to Atlanta on April 30.

When the family complained to Delta, they said the airline offered them 20,000 free SkyMiles, but they said that's not enough. 

They want to see a policy change regarding how Delta handles passengers with disabilities.

WATCH: Car thieves abduct 6-year-old from day care parking lot

A 6-year-old child was abducted early Tuesday after two car thefts at a Georgia day care, authorities said. 

>> Watch the video here

About five minutes after the car thefts, the child was seen on surveillance video walking back to the Childcare Network Daycare, Clayton County police Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said. It’s not known where he was abandoned. 

Three men are sought in connection with the crimes at the day care, located in the 6000 block of Fayetteville Road in Riverdale, police said. 

About 7:25 a.m., Clayton County police were called to the day care in reference to two stolen vehicles left running and unattended. 

Surveillance video showed a silver Nissan Altima parking next to a gray 2016 Chrysler 300. A man in the front passenger seat of the Nissan jumped into the Chrysler’s front passenger seat. Moments later, the Chrysler drove away. 

Not long after the theft, the Nissan drove to another location in the day care parking lot and made an abrupt stop at a white 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, Clayton County police said. The Hyundai, which had a 6-year-old inside, was also left running and unattended.

A person in the back seat of the Nissan hopped out, got into the Hyundai and sped away, police said. 

>> Read more trending news 

In under a minute, all three cars were seen on surveillance video leaving the day care parking lot. 

Shortly after, the child was seen walking back to the day care and was reunited with his mom. He was not injured. 

Police later found the Hyundai Santa Fe at the intersection of East Faytetteville Road and Evans Drive — less than a mile from the day care. The Chrysler 300 has not been found

Earlier this year, Clayton County police rescued two girls after someone stole an SUV with them inside from a gas station. A baby and her 4-year-old sister were dumped on the side of the road miles apart in freezing temperatures. Authorities arrested Khyree Swift and a 16-year-old in connection with the crime. 

Anyone who may have information on Tuesday’s case or the identity of the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 404-577-8477. 

'Tick explosion' coming this summer, expert warns

Now that summer is just around the corner, experts are warning that ticks will be coming back in full force.

>> Watch the news report here

One tick expert in New England told Boston's WFXT that the warmer weather will cause what he called a "tick explosion."

The tiny, pesky and possibly harmful arachnids are about to spring into action, and everyone should be extra vigilant.

>> Tick spreading in the US gives people meat allergies

"They're up and looking for a host hoping something will walk by that they can latch on," said Dr. Thomas Mather, aka "The Tick Guy."

Mather said this season is prime for ticks, and his website, tickencounter.org, shows the type to watch out for in New England this season is the deer tick because it spreads Lyme disease.

"It's very important because around here it's the worst for Lyme disease more than anywhere else in the nation," Mather said.

The website also lists high tick activity in most of the eastern United States, as well as the Midwest, Plains states and West Coast. Deer ticks are the most prevalent species in the Northeast and Midwest, while Lone Star ticks dominate in the Southeast and much of the Central U.S. Wood ticks are more common in the Mountain region, and Pacific Coast ticks are prevalent on the West Coast, the site said. Learn more here.

>> Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals

Stephen Novick of Boston-based FlyFoe said his business is extremely busy since the ticks never really went away.

"We had a mild winter, didn’t freeze too much, and because of that, the animal populations were active longer, and that enabled the tick populations to be active," he said.

Deer, chipmunks and rodents all carry ticks. Spraying is one way to keep ticks out of your yard.

You may even opt for a garlic-based, organic repellent or a store-bought pesticide.

"The pesticide is the lowest rated by the EPA, so it’s also super safe," Novick said.

The pesticide is used for flea and tick collars for pets. 

>> Read more trending news 

Spraying has to be done once a month to keep ticks at bay, but for many it's the best alternative as it provides peace of mind.

Ticks usually hide in tall grass, so if you go hiking or walking in the woods, make sure to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants or get tick repellent clothing, use bug spray and always check yourself for ticks after being outdoors.

Checking for ticks is always important because if you happen to have been bitten, the quicker you remove the tick, the less likely it is that it will transmit any diseases.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Rapper ‘Ralo’ flew drugs across U.S., sold them from apartments he rented, police say

An Atlanta rapper, accused of running a cross-country drug operation, was denied bond Tuesday, according to WSB-TV. 

>> Read more trending news    

Terrell Davis, known by his stage name “Ralo,” faces a federal charge of possession with intent to distribute. Authorities allege Davis sold drugs from several apartment units he rents in Atlanta dubbed “Ralo’s Hood,” WSB reported. Davis and eight of his associates, believed to be part of his purported gang Famerica, are named in an 11-page criminal complaint. 

The complaint states Davis and his acquaintances traveled to California twice to retrieve 964 pounds of marijuana — worth nearly $2 million — with the intention of selling it in Atlanta. Davis was arrested April 15 at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport after he initially refused to leave the aircraft, authorities said. 

>> Related: Feds: Famous rapper Terrell “Ralo” Davis caught flying into Atlanta with nearly $1M worth of pot

Following Davis’ arrest, federal authorities raided three separate locations in southwest Atlanta allegedly connected to the case. 

According to the affidavit, Davis and roughly 10 people boarded a Dec. 18 chartered jet from the Fulton County Airport to Sacramento, Calif. Four days later, the group returned to the Fulton airport, where federal and local surveillance teams saw Davis and the other passengers transfer 37 packages wrapped in white holiday paper from the jet to an Econoline van, which was registered to Davis’ southwest Atlanta address. 

An employee with the charter company offered to help unload, but the passengers declined, the affidavit said. 

Shortly after the van was loaded, the Georgia State Patrol arrested three men wearing “RaloFamgoon” attire inside the vehicle, which was spotted driving in the dark without lights on, according to the complaint. Authorities said they found 520 pounds of marijuana worth $1 million in the van. 

>> Related: Federal raid at Atlanta apartment tied to rapper’s arrest, officials say

A day after those arrests, Davis posted a picture of himself by a swimming pool with the caption: “I’ve lost more than a man have gained in a lifetime ... have you ever lost a million dollars at one time???” A week after the post, authorities said they received a passenger list from the flight and connected Davis to the men

Four months after the shipment, federal officials were notified Davis and eight others traveled to Northern California again. This time they allegedly transported 17 packages containing marijuana weighing 444 pounds back to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, according to the affidavit. 

The packages, worth $880,000, were loaded onto a Chrysler 300. Not long after the car left the airport, the GSP stopped it and federal authorities took eight people into custody. 

Davis, who remained on the plane, initially refused to comply with authorities’ commands. He later exited the aircraft, which allegedly smelled of marijuana, when police dogs were brought in to assist. 

>> Related: Rapper Meek Mill released from prison after 5 months

One of Davis’ supporters, Kalya Freeman, told WSB that despite the allegations, Davis often gave back to the community: “He’s a good person. He supports what we do. He supports everybody.”

Atlanta’s ex-mayor Kasim Reed doles out $500k in bonuses, gifts on way out

Just days before former Mayor Kasim Reed left office, his administration showered select city employees with more than $518,000 in bonuses, and gifts that were presented during an “executive holiday party” at City Hall.

>> Read more trending news 

The spending spree has left the police union outraged, taxpayers fuming and council members questioning its legality.

During his last days in power, Reed awarded at least $350,000 in bonuses to his senior staff; ordered $42,500 in checks to the eight members of his security detail; gave away $36,000 by drawing names out of a hat during a holiday party raffle in December; and awarded $31,000 to lip sync and ugly sweater contest winners, also at the party.

But none of the holiday giving came out of Reed’s wallet — it all belonged to city taxpayers.

And that’s not the full extent of the spending.

>> Related: See who got bonuses from former Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed

Former human resources commissioner Yvonne Yancy handed out an additional $57,500 in bonuses to 11 members of her staff just days before she left City Hall for the private sector, on Dec. 31.

In response to questions from the AJC, Reed issued a three-paragraph statement.

“Rewarding employees for service and performance is not new and has been common practice in the City of Atlanta,” says the statement, issued through Reed’s spokesman. “These bonuses were appropriate and Mayor Reed believes that the individuals who received the bonuses were worthy of them based upon their contributions to the City of Atlanta’s unprecedented growth and fiscal stability.”

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore called the spending “disgusting” and “illegal.”

“It just reminded me of someone having money and throwing it in the air and letting everybody catch it,” Moore said. “It’s just unconscionable. Let’s just make it clear: It’s not legal to do this. Just make it point-blank clear. He had absolutely, positively no authority to issue any of that to anybody under any circumstance,” she said.

“The mayor can only do what is authorized by the council. He did not go through the proper channels,” Moore added.

Moore pointed to a city ordinance that prohibits increasing “the salaries or other remuneration in any form of any officer or employee of the city during the fiscal year, except by ordinance” approved by the City Council.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose campaign was endorsed by Reed, did not respond to the AJC’s questions about the appropriateness of using taxpayer money for contests and raffles. She also declined to respond when asked if the bonuses were appropriate and whether she would award them at the end of the year.

“Decisions around the bonuses were made without input from the current administration,” the statement said. “However, Mayor Bottoms will continue to carefully evaluate best practices, prioritizing ways in which city business can be conducted in a transparent and responsible manner.”

‘A bunch of questions here’

The city’s code stipulates several circumstances under which employees may receive bonuses.

Police officers can receive retention bonuses of $3,000 after 5 years of service. Some employees can receive 2-percent bonuses for being bilingual or by earning a special certification. The city also provides longevity bonuses up to $750 for employees who have been with the city for 25 years or more.

City ordinances do not appear to authorize payments or bonuses of arbitrary amounts for unspecified reasons.

“There are a bunch of questions here,” said Councilman Howard Shook, who chairs the City Council’s Finance/Executive Committee. “I couldn’t think of a worse time to dole out bonuses of this nature from a political perspective. Everything is so unsettled. Morale is so low. Everyone is waiting for the next piece of bad news.

“Obviously, we are all now going to contemplate what guardrails need to be put around this process,” Shook said.

The Georgia State Constitution’s gratuities clause prohibits public agencies from granting donations, gratuities and “extra compensation to any public officer, agent, or contractor after the service has been rendered or the contract entered into.”

An unofficial opinion from the Georgia Attorney General in 2002 dealt with whether public hospital authorities could offer prospective employees signing bonuses. It said they could “if the authority receives a substantial benefit in exchange for the signing bonus.”

>> Related: See the unofficial opinion from 2002 here

Georgia State Rep. Chuck Martin, a Republican, and chairman of the state house’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee, said the gratuities clause generally prohibits taxpayer money from being spent without taxpayers receiving something in return.

“If those types of bonuses hadn’t been done previously, it would seem to me to call into question the reason for them here,” said Martin, a former Mayor of Alpharetta. “If I was a taxpayer in Atlanta, I would certainly wonder: Wouldn’t that half-a-million dollars been better spent recruiting people to work for me in 2018 and beyond?”

Reed did not address the AJC’s questions about whether metrics were used to determine the amounts of bonuses; nor did he say what the city would receive in return for giving the bonuses.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Carr did not respond to an email about whether the gratuities clause applied to the City of Atlanta’s recent bonuses. Shook said he couldn’t recall similar payouts during his 16 years on the City Council.

Read more here.

Prince’s family sues Illinois hospital, Walgreens in singer’s overdose death

Members of Prince’s family have filed a lawsuit against an Illinois hospital and the Walgreens pharmacy chain, contending both could have done more to prevent the legendary entertainer’s opioid overdose death in April 2016, according to news reports.

>> Read more trending news 

The suit follows a decision made last week by the Carver County Attorney Mark Metz against filing charges in the superstar singer’s death. Following a two-year investigation, Metz, of Carver County, Minnesota, announced Thursday that “Prince died from taking a counterfeit Vicodin pill that contained fentanyl, a dangerously powerful opioid,” but that investigators could not determine who sold the “Purple Rain” singer the pill. Authorities fined the doctor who prescribed Prince painkillers in a friend’s name.

A week before Prince died, he was treated at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island, Illinois for an overdose. His plane made an emergency landing in Moline after he had played a show in Atlanta, and he was briefly hospitalized after overdosing on the plane.

>> Related: Music legend Prince dead at 57

The suit by the six heirs to Prince’s fortune accuses the doctor who examined the entertainer of misidentifying the pain pill the singer took before his overdose as a Vicodin, when it was instead a counterfeit laced with fentanyl, the Minneapolis Tribune reported. The suit also accuses the hospital of failing to appropriately identify and treat the overdose.

In addition, the suit names Walgreens because it gave prescriptions meant for Prince to his longtime friend and manager Kirk Johnson. 

“We will have much to say when the time is right,” the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the family, John Goetz, told the Star Tribune

“We have client interests to protect at the moment, including our theory of the case. What happened to Prince is happening to families across America. Prince’s family wishes, through its investigation, to shed additional light on what happened to Prince,” Goetz said.

>> Related: Prince’s doctor fined for drug violations in singer’s death

Prince was 57 when he died on April 21, 2016, at his Paisley Park home of an accidental overdose, six days after the overdose on the plane. 

 

’Schoolhouse Rock’ composer, jazz musician Bob Dorough dead at 94

Gen Xers and millennials may not recognize the name, but they’ll certainly recognize the music and lyrics Bob Dorough wrote for “Schoolhouse Rock.”

>> Read more trending news 

Children who grew up in the 1970s and 80s watching Saturday-morning television invariaby saw and can probably recite Dorough’s “Conjunction Junction,” one of the best-known Grammar Rock cartoons, or maybe “Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Abverbs Here.” 

Dorough died Monday from natural causes at his home in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press. He was 94 years old.

Dorough was the artist behind the “Multiplication Rock” math series, creating all the lyrics and music for the series, which was part of ABC’s educational “Schoolhouse Rock” series, according to USA Today

>> Related: Longtime NPR broadcaster Carl Kasell has died from Alzheimer’s disease at 84

He also wrote the song, “Devil May Care,” which jazz legend Miles Davis recorded, according to Dorough’s biography.

Dorough was born in Arkansas and raised in Texas, where he “immediately fell in love with music upon joining the Planview Texas High School Band,” his biography said.

He gained musical experience after serving in the Special Services Army Band Unit from 1943-1945, playing multiple instruments, including the saxophone, clarinet and piano.

>> Related: Actor comedian Harry Anderson of 'Night Court' fame dead at 65

Dorough, a 1949 graduate of the University of North Texas, studied composition and piano and went on to perform in jazz clubs in Los Angeles and Paris, but it was a commission in 1971 to “set the multiplication tables to music” that led to his most well-known gig. Dorough became the musical director for “Schoolhouse Rock,” and entertained and instructed unsuspecting children from 1973 until 1985.

In 1995, Dorough signed on with jazz label Blue Note Records and recorded three albums for the label.

Dorough’s funeral is scheduled for Monday in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania. 

Rapper Meek Mill released from prison after 5 months

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered the immediate release of rapper Meek Mill.

TMZ reported that the 30-year-old, whose birth name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was denied bail last week by Judge Genece Brinkley. Brinkley had been criticized for having what some considered a bias against Meek.

>> Read more trending news 

In November, Meek was sentenced to two to four years in prison after violating probation for a drug and weapons case when he was 21.

The Associated Press reported that Meek will be on bail while he appeals the gun and drug convictions.

Activists and celebrities, including JAY-Z, T.I. and Kevin Hart, have shown support for Meek. At the time of the sentencing, JAY-Z said Brinkley’s sentence was “unjust and heavy handed.” Hart visited Meek in prison earlier Tuesday with 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin.

Related: Meek Mill sentenced to at least 2 years in prison for probation violation

“We are thrilled that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has directed Judge Brinkley to immediately issue an order releasing Meek on bail,” Meek’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said in a statement. “As we have said all along, Meek was unjustly convicted and should not have spent a single day in jail. We are also pleased that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has noted that Judge Brinkley may opt to remove herself from presiding over any further proceedings in Meek’s case in the interests of justice. Meek is excited to be reunited with his family, and we, along with Meek, intend to continue to shine the light on a justice system in need of reform to prevent any other citizen from being put through what Meek has endured.”

Related: JAY-Z, T.I., and others slam Meek Mill sentence as ‘unjust and heavy-handed’

Meek himself issued a statement that was posted on his Twitter page. He thanked his supporters and advocates while voicing plans to bring attention to people of color in prison and move on with his career.

“I’d like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time,” the statement said. “While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive.

“To the Philly District Attorney’s office, I’m grateful for your commitment to justice. I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues. In the meantime, I plan to work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction and look forward to reuniting with my family and resuming my music career.”

Father punches woman trying to kidnap his son, police say

Police in Tennessee say a father's quick actions stopped his 5-year-old son from being kidnapped Monday.

>> Read more trending news

A man called authorities Monday to report that a woman had grabbed his son and tried to run away from him.

The father punched the woman and got his child back, according to police.

Authorities identified the attempted kidnapper as Gina A. Ricard, 53. Officials said after the incident, she went to a nearby fire station and told them that she tried to stop a kidnapping.

According an arrest affidavit, Ricard was incoherent and said that she “believes God told her (to) help.”

She was arrested and charged with attempted aggravated kidnapping.

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