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The list of nicknames and titles for filmmaker John Waters is long and legend. Waters is more than a filmmaker. He’s an actor, writer, fashion icon, stand-up comedian and art collector. He performs in Atlanta on Friday with his one-man show, “A John Waters Christmas.” We get his take on the holiday season.

Thomas Hicks was once a local hero in the small mining community of McCaysville, Georgia. He was the town doctor who made middle-of-the-night house calls. But Hicks had a terrible secret, one still reverberating today. From 1950 to 1965, he sold more than two hundred babies on the black market. Some parents knew, others were told their children had died. These children are now fully grown adults, still known as the “Hicks Babies.” We talk to Melinda Dawson and Kriste Hughes about their search for birth parents. 

A record number of guns were confiscated this year at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Though that follows a national trend, the Atlanta airport led the nation in the number of guns found for another year. We discuss this with Kelly Yamanouchi, a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who focuses on airport-related stories. Tom Barton, a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, also joins us. 

Last month, Moody’s Investors Service issued a stern warning to states: address climate change or risk a credit downgrade. That report says Georgia is one of a handful of coastal states facing the highest risk from climate change. We talk with climate change reporter Christopher Flavelle of Bloomberg News and Jennette Gayer of Environment Georgia.

The Trump Administration’s immigration crackdown has led to an uptick in arrests nationwide. New federal data show arrests in Georgia and the Carolinas are also up from the last fiscal year. The president’s push to be tough on illegal immigration also includes policies to build a massive wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Historian Kenneth C. Davis explains that anti-immigrant sentiment is older than America itself.

New FBI data show an uptick in reported hate crimes. Nationwide, 2016 saw more than 6,100 incidents, up by more than 270 from  the year before. Georgia reported a drop in hate crimes during that period. But a recent ProPublica investigation finds many police departments, including those in Georgia, aren’t trained to identify and investigate hate crimes. This could lead to underreporting. We talk with ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson.

Churches in the United States are barred from endorsing political candidates, or contributing to campaigns. This part of our tax code is known as the Johnson Amendment. It includes all non-profit organizations. But Republicans, including President Trump, want to repeal the amendment as part of a federal tax overhaul happening now. We talk about politics from the pulpit with researcher Matthew Boedy, an assistant professor at the University of North Georgia. And we discuss how taxes change behavior with Susan Anderson,  an accounting professor at Elon University in North Carolina.

Sometimes the best way to make sense of what’s happening in the world is through comedy. And for that, “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central has you covered. We chat with comedian Roy Wood, Jr., who’s a correspondent for “The Daily Show.” He’s in Atlanta this weekend with performances at the Punchline Comedy Club.

An investigative report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution finds about 12 percent of cops in Georgia schools were forced out of a previous job. The officers were terminated or investigated for a wide range of reasons, including chronically poor performance, lying to superiors, sexual misconduct and inappropriate use of force. But for some, jobs in the school system means a second chance for these troubled cops. We talk with Brad Schrade, reporter for the AJC.

In January, an ongoing water dispute goes to Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Georgia’s water rights battle with Florida. Earlier this year, Georgia scored a major victory in this decades-long squabble. A special master appointed by SCOTUS said the high court should refuse Florida's request to cap Georgia’s water use. We discuss this case with E&E News reporter Amanda Reilly, who has been following it from Capitol Hill.

The stress of work can often lead to unprofessional behavior. The scandals surrounding Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, and even Atlanta Public Schools demonstrate how high expectations can produce unethical decisions. Researchers at the University of Georgia just published research on what drives employees to engage in improper workplace behavior. We speak with Marie Mitchell, a Professor of Management in the Terry College of Business at UGA. Karen Rommelfanger, a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University, also joins us.

 

Since the early 1970s, Atlanta has elected African-American mayors. That streak could be broken next week. In 1971, Ebony magazine called Atlanta the "black mecca of the South." We talked with Georgia State University professor Maurice Hobson, who challenges that notion in his new book.

 

The holidays mean lots of food and lots of trash. Atlanta began taking a different approach to waste earlier this year, in partnership with Rubicon Global, a waste management company. They  say this “smart trash” model cuts costs for the city, and helps combat climate change. We talked with Atlanta Chief Resilience Officer Stephanie Stuckey-Benfield and Rubicon Global’s Michael Allegretti.

 

UGA has a great football team this year. They’re ranked number seven in the country -- after a spell in first. But it’s not all good news. UGA rates dead last in the Southeastern Conference when it comes to graduation success rates for student athletes – all while the university’s overall student graduation rates are way up. Eric Kelderman is Senior Reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Also with us is Professor of Sports Journalism at UGA, Vicki Michaelis.

In recent years, Atlanta has been on a mission to turn around failing public schools, while many parents turn to charter schools. David Osborne is author of the new book, “Reinventing America’s Schools.” He suggests treating all schools a bit like charter schools would improve the situation. We talk with David Osborne and Maureen Downey, Education Reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

We dedicate an entire show to the Southern drawl. Y’all listen up now…

Where did y’all come from, anyway? We can trace the use of the word all the way back to colonial ancestors. Cameron Hunt McNabb, an English professor at Southeastern University, gives us a history and dialect lesson. Plus, The Atlantic staff writer Vann Newkirk II makes the case for why y'all is needed.

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct by five women. Many high ranking Republicans have called on him to drop out of the race. But one state poll says Moore enjoys support by many Alabama evangelicals. This could be part of a bigger picture. In 2011, the Public Religion Research Institute found only 30 percent of white evangelicals thought elected officials who commit an immoral act could still fulfill their public duties. In 2016, that number had more than doubled, to 72 percent. We talk with Dan Cox,  Director of Research for PRRI.

Good news: breast cancer death rates dropped by nearly 40 percent in the last three decades. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis for U.S. women. Skin cancer’s first. But there is bad news. Black women continue to die at a higher rate than whites, especially in the South. But some states have eliminated the racial disparity in breast cancer deaths. These are recent findings by the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society. Carol DeSantis is Director of Breast and Gynecological Surveillance for the organization, and our guest.

This summer, 27 so-called micronations gathered in Dunwoody, Georgia for MicroCon 2017. A micronation is defined as a small, self-proclaimed entity which claims to be an independent sovereign state, but is not acknowledged as such by any recognized sovereign state, or by any supranational organization. Vice News produced a documentary from the convention, which featured many micronations based within Georgia. We get the inside scoop from Vice Media Video Producer Oliver Noble.

A new book explores why so many young men of color wind up in prison. “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America” is the work of Yale Law School Professor James Forman, Jr. His father was a leader of SNCC -- the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Forman, Jr. is also a graduate of Atlanta’s Roosevelt High. He joins us in the studio.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan has appeared in “That 70s Show,” “Fargo,” “Bob’s Burgers,” and many times on “Law and Order.” But he may be best known for his stand-up comedy specials, and two seasons of "The Jim Gaffigan Show." We catch up with him ahead of a live show in Atlanta this weekend.

On Tuesday Atlantans voted for a new mayor and other important city positions. We analyze election day results with Andra Gillespie, Professor of Political Science at Emory University. And Greg Bluestein, Political Reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Three former sheriff’s deputies in Washington County, Georgia face murder charges. A man they tased this summer died. The incident was captured on video. We talk with GPB’s Grant Blankenship, who is following the case.

Many of Georgia’s historic theaters need repairs. This month, the Atlanta-based Fox Theatre Institute gave $85,000, shared by four theaters, for historic preservation. One recipient is Rome’s DeSoto Theatre. We learn about that theater’s legacy from Rome resident Tommy Lam, whose grandfather started the DeSoto.

Democrats lost big in 2016. But this year, progressive candidates in the South begin to win state and local races. Birmingham, Alabama recently joined the list of Southeastern cities electing left-leaning, African-American candidates. Senator Bernie Sanders personally endorsed Birmingham’s new Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin. Woodfin beat a two-term Democratic incumbent in a runoff election last month. We talk with Woodfin about his campaign, and his plans for Birmingham.

Next Tuesday, Atlanta voters will pick a new mayor. With nine candidates vying for office, campaign fundraising and robocalls have played a major role in the race. That’s been a hot-button issue as the feds investigate pay-to-play contracts at city hall.  A joint investigation by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Georgia News Lab examines the flow of money from city contractors to the campaigns. We talk with AJC reporter Dan Klepal and Georgia News Lab reporter Ryan Basden.

Atlanta is among many American cities making an aggressive bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. The Georgia city of Stonecrest even offered to de-annex some land and name it Amazon. The company’s first HQ is in Seattle, Washington. And Seattle has some wisdom to share with other cities who might want to attract the retail giant. A new podcast is called “Prime(d): What Happens When Amazon Comes to Your Town?” It’s produced by KUOW, Puget Sound Public Radio. Reporter Joshua McNichols joins us.

The terms “alt-right,” “far-right,” and “radical right” get thrown around a lot these days. But there’s actually very little research on what those terms mean and who the people are identifying with them. Cas Mudde, Professor in the Department of International Affairs at UGA, is looking to change that. His new book is “The Far-Right in America.” He joins us to analyze the movement and its many subsets.

A full hour of tricks and treats and from the On Second Thought crew.

 

Georgia native Karin Slaughter has written several international bestsellers and they are not for the faint of heart. These are complicated, tough, and realistic thrillers. Her latest is “The Good Daughter.”  It’s about a terrifying event that rips apart a family and the small town where they live. We spoke with Karin Slaughter about revealing the dark side of Georgia’s small town life.

An Atlanta attorney accused of murder says it was a tragic accident.  The prosecutor says Tex McIver knew what he was doing when he shot his wife, Diane McIver. The case is explored in this season’s “Breakdown” podcast, produced by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It premiered earlier this month. AJC reporter Bill Rankin joins us in the studio.

 

Atlanta is officially a soccer town. In its first season, Atlanta United broke MLS attendance records and made the playoffs. The team plays its first postseason game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Thursday night against the Columbus Crew. We talked with AU President Darren Eales about Georgia’s growing passion for what the rest of the world calls football.

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