On the Thursday September 14th edition of Georgia Today: A judge splits the case against former President Donald Trump and 18 others into at least two separate groups of defendants; The city of Macon holds its annual art and film festival celebrating members of the Muscogee nation of Oklahoma; and for the sixth year in a row, the Atlanta Braves are national league east champions!

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, Sept. 14. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, a judge splits the case against former President Donald Trump and 18 others into at least two separate groups of defendants. The City of Macon holds its annual art and film festival celebrating members of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma. And for the sixth year in a row, the Atlanta Braves are National League East champions. 


Story 1: Georgia indictments

Peter Biello: There will be at least two trials in the 19 person election interference racketeering case in Georgia. That includes former President Donald Trump. That's according to a judge's ruling today. GPB's Stephen Fowler reports.

Stephen Fowler: Two defendants attorneys, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, requested speedy trials that will begin at the end of October. While the Fulton County DA's office argued the 17 other people charged in connection with attempts to overturn the 2020 election should also had the trial next month. A judge disagreed. Judge Scott McCarthy said the procedural and logistical hurdles of including everyone at once were too much and split the case into at least two separate groups. Prosecutors say any trial will take at least four months. For GPB News, I'm Stephen Fowler.


Story 2: Autism diagnoses

Peter Biello: Researchers with the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta are measuring eye movement in young children to help diagnose autism as early as possible. GPB's Ellen Eldridge reports.

Ellen Eldridge: The study tested approximately 500 children between 16 and 30 months of age. An automated device monitored their eye movements to determine what the children looked at and what they did not. Warren Jones is the director of research at the Marcus Autism Center. He spoke about the study in audio provided by Children's Health Care of Atlanta.

Warren Jones: So by measuring the way the child looks at the world, we actually see how that child sees, understands and learns about the world. And we can provide that information to clinicians in order to guide earlier, more effective diagnosis.

Ellen Eldridge: Jones says the goal is shortening the time between diagnosis and receiving help. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.


Story 3: Frequent flier changes

Peter Biello: Delta Air Lines is changing how customers earn rewards and what some are calling the company's biggest ever change for frequent fliers. The Atlanta-based airline announced new thresholds yesterday for elite statuses that come with perks like seat upgrades and fee waivers. Reporter Zach Griff of the travel industry website The Points Guy calls it a sweeping change that will make it more expensive for customers to earn rewards.

Zach Griff: And that, of course, comes a year, one year after already raising thresholds. They're totally rearranging the program so that it focuses more on how much you spend as opposed to how much you fly.

Peter Biello: Delta also is drastically limiting access to its Sky Club lounges. Griff calls the changes on par with industry trends. Many Delta customers responded negatively to the news on social media.


Story 4: Unemployment

Peter Biello: Georgia's jobless rate ticked up slightly last month, although the state's labor market remains strong. Unemployment rose to 3.3% in August. That's up from 3.2% in July.

Story 5: Gwinnett transit

Peter Biello: Metro Atlanta's Gwinnett County has unveiled a $17 billion plan to transform its public transit system. The proposal leans heavily on a few nationwide trends. Officials want to improve regional connections, including to Atlanta's MARTA system and Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. But China Thomas, overseeing the project, says the plan's core is a rideshare system similar to Lyft and Uber.

China Thomas: We are really looking to cover the entire county with the share ride system and for it to be paired with a rapid ride similar to a BRT.

Peter Biello: BRT stands for Bus Rapid Transit, busses with their own lanes and signal controls, giving them some of the benefits of rail without the expense. Both public transit, rideshare and BRT are expanding nationwide. Gwinnett County leaders could ask voters to fund the plan through a penny sales tax that would be on the ballot during next year's general election.

Story 6: Ocmulgee art and film festival

Peter Biello: In Macon. The annual Ocmulgee indigenous celebration this weekend is a homecoming for citizens of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma. New this year is an art and film festival featuring work by Muskogee artists. GPB's Grant Blankenship spoke with one participating filmmaker, Rebecca Landsberry-Baker.

Grant Blankenship: The film you made with Joe Peeler is called Bad Press, and I understand it describes sort of a fight between government officials from the Muskogee nation of Oklahoma and the journalists whose job it was to cover them when those fights crop up. You know, journalists often appeal to their First Amendment rights. So how did constitutional rights play into the conflict in your film?

Rebecca Landsberry-Baker: It's such a great question, because obviously we have the First Amendment protections and for tribal media. Just to give you an idea of what the landscape is, so out of the 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States, only a handful of them have free press protections. There's five tribes, including the Muscogee Creek Nation, that have free press protections in the legislative form for their tribal media outlet. So that means the allies that are funded by the tribes themselves. Under tribal sovereignty, the tribes can choose to limit or open information to their citizens through their tribal media outlet. So that's kind of the workaround for these tribes without free press protections. And it was in November of 2018, the Muscogee Creek Nation, as I mentioned, was one of the five tribes that had free press protections on the legislative level while they yanked that legislation and said, okay, we are doing away with this an emergency session, this very important piece of legislation that had established an independent tribal media like. I'll at the cost of a lot of work, lots of hours put into the travel media outlet getting this hard fought protection. And so to see it ripped away in a span of 12 hours was really heartbreaking. And so I thought to myself, like, what can I do to make sure the journalist side of this story is told?

Grant Blankenship: So documentaries, you know, they often tell these really big systemic stories, but like at a very human scale, like sort of in microcosm. But what are what are the universal themes for for everyone in the nation as as as they relate to journalism and its role in sustaining democracy.

Rebecca Landsberry-Baker: So universal themes, I think there are so many, too. And but I think they're very, very clear in our film, and that's like paying attention can like see those, you know, we talk about validity of elections, election fraud, again, like voter apathy. I think the important way to look at tribal media as it is, looking at it as any other, like tribal service. So you're looking at health care, education, housing. You know, I would argue that access to news and information absolutely falls within one of those hierarchy of needs for tribal citizens.

Grant Blankenship: Yeah, I don't know how how used we are to the idea of journalism literally as a public service, the same way you would think of as electricity or water at your home. But that's you're saying that's what this comes down to. This is something that people have a right to unfettered information.

Rebecca Landsberry-Baker: Yes, absolutely. That is true, I think. And like I said, it's so important because it's the tribes, it's the citizens. It's their money that are funding these other pieces of these services. So it makes a lot of sense to think about it. And that public service model, because that's absolutely what it is.

Grant Blankenship: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, thank you so much for your time today. I appreciate it and I'm looking forward to the film.

Rebecca Landsberry-Baker: Oh, we're so excited for folks to watch it and to be part of the festival. So thank you so much for having me.

Peter Biello: That's GPB's Grant Blankenship speaking with Rebecca Landsberry-Baker. She and Jo Peeler directed the documentary Bad Press, screening tonight at the Firestarter Film Festival and making part of the Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration this weekend.


Story 7: GPB's Georgia in Play launches

Peter Biello: I'm Peter Biello, here with my colleague Leah Fleming, who is about to step away from Morning Edition to work on a new project here at GPB. She joins us now to talk about it. Hi, Leah.

Leah Fleming: Hey, Peter.

Peter Biello: So tell us about this new project.

Leah Fleming: All right. So this new project really is a true public radio show. It's called Georgia in Play. And, you know, at GPB right now, we pretty much only have nationally syndicated public radio programs that are on the air. But we have 20 radio stations that are all across the state of Georgia. And, you know, I, along with management here at GPB, recognize that we really do need a Georgia based program that speaks to Georgians in a very unique way. You know, with all of the national news and this is where the title comes from, Georgia in play, all of the national news surrounding the 2020 election, you couldn't go anywhere without hearing Georgia is now in play. But, you know, we're not just in play politically. We're in play in so many other ways. And so, you know, I took the play part and I really looked at that as in movement. You know, how is Georgia in movement, in transition? And so that's what this show is going to seek to do, to explore all of that.

Peter Biello: All right. Makes a lot of sense. I mean, to borrow a phrase and to change it a little bit. Georgia influences everything.

Leah Fleming: Yes.

Peter Biello: So so what are you hoping to accomplish in the show?

Leah Fleming: So there are a few goals with this show. The first one is to really present content and conversations in a way that unifies listeners. I miss the good old days when you know the public discourse. In the public discourse, we could talk and we could actually listen to one another. So we want to bring that to this space and really be open to listening to one another. Another goal is to produce a show that not just educates and informs, but entertains. And so, you know, I used to listen to All Things Considered as a kid growing up. My mother was a librarian, and we used to listen to public radio on this radio in the kitchen. And I still can see it in my in my mind's eye. It had the it had the antenna with the, you know, piece of aluminum foil.

Peter Biello: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Leah Fleming: And that really was my first teacher, listening to All Things Considered. She was, you know, my mother was big into learning, and that was one way I did a lot of my learning through public radio and through All Things Considered. And, you know, one of the hosts, Robert Siegel, a long time host, he was being interviewed one time about his work as a journalist. One of the things that he said is that we literally have rocket scientists who listen to NPR. And what we aim to do on this show, what he relates that he aims to do on the show is to help people know each other. And hopefully that meets with even the rocket scientists approval. And so it really is about, you know, I'm not going to try to be smarter than you. And that's what he's saying. I can't I can be smarter than a rocket scientist. But what I can do is I can introduce you to someone through radio, and that is what is one of my goals for the show. And then the other goal is to really do a show for the news fatigued person, people that are just so tired of the, you know, the depressing stuff and a lot of this stuff we need to talk about. But if you are, you know, just really fatigued with that, we have a place where you can listen that will hopefully, at the end of the day, offer you some hope.

Peter Biello: Sorely needed right now, I think. So thank you for this show. You've brought us a little bit to listen to.

Leah Fleming: Yes, yes, yes. So this is a first look at the show or a first listen. And it is called Georgia in Play.

[Trailer plays.]

Peter Biello: So you've got some music there. You've got some wellness stories. The politics, of course, a wide range of things covered on the show.

Leah Fleming: Yes.  And I really like the 'breathe in and breathe out.' That is going to be hopefully what people do after they listen to Georgia In Play. And there's nothing better, I think, than hearing about where you live from someone who lives where you live in the same state. So that's what we got.

Peter Biello: So how are you going to manage to present a balance of points of view?

Leah Fleming: So, you know, I believe that talk shows really are collaborations. And, you know, while I'll bring my perspective to the table, we'll also hear from other, you know, producers. It'll come through me, but you'll hear from other producers, Natalie Mendenhall and Chase McGee. They're joining me in this effort, so they bring different perspectives to the table. Also, our senior management team here at GPB will make sure that we are balanced and by bringing their perspectives to the table and most importantly, we will constantly be asking our audience to talk back to us and to let us know what we're missing. And our audience really will be our biggest collaborator. And as you know, a public radio audience, they are not shy about talking to you and pushing back to you.

Peter Biello: It's a great part of the job.

Leah Fleming: It is. It is. And so we want that. And so that's what we will do to make sure we are balanced.

Peter Biello: Well, let me ask you, because if you're stepping away from a show that forces you to stay in a studio for several hours every morning, does this mean you're going to be able to, like, travel the state a lot more and see parts of the state and interview people in person, which is something that's hard for hosts who have to be in a studio to do.

Leah Fleming: Yes. And I have been at GPB for nearly 11 years. In January, it'll be 11 years. Been in the game for over 20. And I have not gotten around the state of Georgia. I still haven't been to Savannah. And so ...

Peter Biello: ...Wait, what?

Leah Fleming: I know, I mean, I feel like I have because of all that I have heard on Morning Edition.

Peter Biello: Right. Right.

Leah Fleming: You know, Benjamin [Payne] covers Savannah real well for us, but I have not been there. And so I need to get out and to see these things. Of course, I want to go home to Macon and I make it home because when I first got to GPB, I was at the bureau in Macon. Okay. So I still call that home. Macon will do that to you, you know, to grab a hold of you. So getting out of the studio and not having to get up at, you know, and get to work by 4 a.m., this will give me time to get out and to meet people. And that is what we are looking forward to doing on Georgia In Play.

Peter Biello: Okay. Well, Leah Fleming, coming to a town near you. Let us know if we should come to your town, get in touch with us by email. The address is GIP@GPB.org. That's GIP@GPB.org. Leah Fleming. Thank you so much for speaking with me.

Leah Fleming: All right. Thank you.

Peter Biello: Leah Fleming is the host of GPB new radio program Georgia in Play. You can hear it on Fridays starting this Friday at 2 p.m. on the radio and at GPB.org.


Story 8: Atlanta Braves win again

Peter Biello: In sports, for the sixth year in a row, the Atlanta Braves are the National League East champions. The Braves beat the Phillies last night, 4 to 1 behind Spencer Strider's Major League leading 17th win and Austin Riley's two run homer. After the game manager, Brian Snitker told the team what they accomplished wasn't easy.

Brian Snitker: We had a seat at the table. Now we're going to be at the head of the table. This is awesome. Congratulations. Enjoy this friggin' night, fellas! Don't ever forget!

Peter Biello: Atlanta took special satisfaction in clinching on the same Citizens Bank park field where the Phillies eliminated them last October in the National League Division series. The Phillies won that series 3 to 1, just as Atlanta won this four game set. The Phillies lead the NL Wild Card and the team's could face each other in October. The Braves are off today as they head to Florida for a three game set with the Marlins starting tomorrow. Bryce Elder will be on the mound for the Braves and in soccer, will Lionel Messi play against Atlanta United? That's the question many Georgia soccer fans are asking today after paying premium prices for a chance to see the Argentine striker, one of the game's biggest stars. Messi's Major League soccer team Inter Miami, is scheduled to play Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday. But on Tuesday, he missed a match with his national team against Bolivia, fueling injury speculations. Online ticket resellers this afternoon show the cheapest tickets available for the Saturday game at around $96.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Credit: AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File

Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. Thanks so much for tuning in. Hope to be back tomorrow. The best way to do that is to subscribe. That way. We will pop up in your podcast feed automatically tomorrow afternoon. And if you want to learn more about any of the stories you heard on the podcast today, check our website, GPB.org/news. And if you'd like us to report on something, or if you've got feedback on something we've already reported on, we'd love to hear from you. Send us an email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.



For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news.

Read the latest updates on the Georgia indictments here.