Sunday Reads — June 5, 2022

We’re coming off a short week, and schools are out, and vacations are starting, but there’s plenty of food for thought for the breaks. And, we’ve got a few interesting notes to share, too.


The Okefenokee Swamp a “vast peat-filled bog inside a huge, saucer-shaped depression that was once part of the ocean floor,” according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Credit: Georgia Rivers Network

‘Square one’ for Okefenokee mine permits

On Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did something that the Georgia legislature, state Environmental Protection Division, various conservation groups and hydrologists, and the Environmental Protection Agency hadn’t been able or willing to do: Stop the permit process for mining titanium and other heavy metals near the Okefenokee Swamp. The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works halted the process because the agency had not consulted with the Muscogee Creek Nation, as required. The Muscogee nation had requested consultation twice in the early process. The move sends the process back to the beginning, and the Twin Pines Minerals president told The Current’s Mary Landers the company will restart the process and stay focused on establishing a mine and assuring “the cultural resources are safeguarded.”


A Current event!

The Current, E. Shaver, booksellers and Foxy Loxy Cafe are proud to present Current Conversations, a gathering of locals to discuss current, local and important news in and around Savannah.

As a community news source, The Current depends on you to help guide us. Please join us at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Gingerbread House, 1921 Bull St. Catch up with our staff, meet the interns and new reporter Jake Shore. We want to hear from you about the issues you think are important.

Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/current-conversations-tickets-344152879527

We hope you can join us!


Checking facts on mass killing events

Fact checks and data: As the mass shootings and gun violence remains in our public consciousness, we are reminded that humans prefer to seek clear answers to problems that aren’t simple at all. Two of those challenges are the beliefs that mental illness is at the root of most violence and the National Rifle Association’s old marketing pitch that “good guys with guns” are the only things that stops a determined killer. This week, we found two pieces with more research to inform those topics.

First, from The Trace, the nonprofit journalism outlet devoted to policy around gun violence: “How often are guns used to self-defense?” It’s a very deep dive into data on gun assaults of all types and how weapons are used in self-defense or offense. It takes into account a range of events between times when tempers flare and guns are nearby to those when determined shooters work a strategy toward a human target or targets.

And the second piece, from FactCheck.org, The facts on mental illness and mass shootings is an updated introduction to a piece written just after the El Paso Walmart shooting that killed 23 in 2019. Both Q&A pieces look at the pervasive ideas, common questions and relate them to facts and data available.


Ballot-marking devices and printers for the paper ballots await June 13 when they’ll be fired up for early voting for Georgia primary runoff contests. Credit: The Current GA

Candidate debates, runoff voting

Early voting for the June 21 runoffs begins June 13 across Coastal Georgia. So if you are wrestling with decisions on some of the statewide offices, you’ve got a little time and the Atlanta Press Club and GPB may be able to help. They will hold a new set of debates Monday for the Democratic runoff candidates for state offices including secretary or state, lieutenant governor, insurance commissioner, and labor commissioner. The Republican ballots are set for those races. Here’s a link to the full debate schedule as well as recordings from earlier ones. June 10 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot for the runoff.

In other elections news: On Friday, Governor Brian Kemp named a retired federal judge as the new chair of the State Elections Board. You may remember that became necessary when new state legislation took the independently elected Secretary of State out of that role and handed it to a person appointed by the governor. Judge William Duffey, Jr., will now be the chief officer to oversee local and state elections boards’ work.


The Central of Georgia Pullman dining car 805 gets new passengers: The Current staff.

The Current adds reporter, gets an office

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, reporter Jake Shore has joined us to cover public safety and criminal justice issues across Coastal Georgia. He’s a member of the community service corps of Report for America. You can reach him with a welcome or tips at jakeshore.thecurrent@gmail.com.

Jake arrived just in time to help us move into our first office. It’s a perfect gathering and working place, thanks to the Coastal Heritage Society: the Central of Georgia Railroad Pullman Dining Car 805. It’s in downtown Savannah, just behind the Savannah Visitors Center across from the Georgia State Railroad Museum. It’s a sweet spot for us and easy to find for you if you want to find us. Your Reads editor is a rail fan, so she’s been pretty happy about the new digs. She promises to put away her train whistle when visitors come by….maybe.


Your second cup: Street perspective on guns

If you are looking for a voice to bring expertise to the nation’s collective weapons discussion, you don’t have to look far. Savannah Police Detective Patrick Skinner sees the neighborhood effects of gun violence literally every day. In his career, he’s worked with the CIA, U.S. Capitol Police and the Coast Guard and he’s widely respected for living his belief that we all should view everyone we meet as a neighbor instead of a stranger. In doing that, it changes our approaches to how we treat a person and our work every day. Even with that, Skinner sees the uniquely American and dangerous cauldron of anger, fear and weaponry daily in his work. Last week, he wrote a perspective piece for The Washington Post and we’re sharing it here in case you missed it. We don’t share a lot of this type of writing, but he brings an up-close look honed here in Coastal Georgia. Skinner can say with authority what’s not working to stop something we all know is not right: Mass shootings of innocent people.



U.S. Army Corps revokes approval of mining near Okefenokee

A proposal to mine near the Okefenokee gets a setback with requirement to consult with Muscogee Nation.

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The Tide: Runoff debates set June 6

Statewide runoff Democratic candidates for three offices will participate in live debates.

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Kemp taps retired U.S. judge to chair State Elections Board

William Duffey succeeds Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who was removed as board chairman by a provision in a comprehensive election reform law the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed last year in the aftermath of unproven claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

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Raffensperger testifies before grand jury probe of 2020 Trump election meddling

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testified in front of a special grand jury in Fulton County on Thursday. It’s part of a wide-ranging investigation into attempts to meddle with the 2020 election results.

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Ga. federal judge rules against employer that denied transgender health coverage

Judge ruled that the county’s policy is discriminatory because it only affects transgender employees, and it specifically discriminates against Lange because she is the county’s only openly transgender worker.

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As school ends, expanded food subsidies end for Georgia children

Food banks brace as households in Georgia are no longer eligible for the Pandemic-EBT benefits that enhanced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

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Hundreds of birds euthanized after avian flu outbreak on south Georgia farm

The avian flu has wiped out millions of birds in other states, particularly hard-hit Iowa, but it has mostly spared Georgia where poultry is big business.

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Georgia COVID-19 daily statistics

Today’s cases, change, deaths, hospitalizations, testing, vaccination sites and tracker

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