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  • Longtime WSB Radio, Atlanta Reporter Pete Combs has died after a short illness. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in September, just over a month after his 60th birthday and was in hospice care near Atlanta when he died. Combs had two stints at WSB. He reported and anchored for the heritage news station from 2006-2015, and returned in May, 2018 to report for WSB and ABC News Radio, covering events in Atlanta and the Southeastern US. In between, he reported and anchored for KOMO-AM, Seattle. Combs also reported for CBS News Radio as a freelance journalist from 2003-2015. His earlier career path was typical of many broadcasters, who tend to move from city to city. There were stops in Tulsa, Pittsburg and Topeka, Kansas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Dallas, Charlotte and other towns. He was a journalist for many legendary news operations including WGST-AM, Atlanta, KRLD-AM and the Texas State Network, Dallas, USA Radio News, Dallas, WINK-AM Fort Myers, FL, and WBT-AM, Charlotte. He also reported for TV station in Charlotte and Tulsa during the early 1990s. After his arrival in Atlanta in 2006, WSB sent him to big stories in the region-and occasionally to far flung places. His last travel assignment was to cover Hurricane Dorian as it approached the Carolina coast last summer for ABC and WSB. But sometimes he went much further. In July 2011, he reported on NASA’s final Space Shuttle Mission from the Kennedy Space Center. In January, 2010, he went to Haiti to report on the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people for WSB and CBS. Just a few months later, and closer to home, he wound up in the Gulf, commandeering a boat and reporting on the BP Oil Spill, up close and personal, for WSB, CBS and the radio stations of the Cox Radio Group. He covered numerous hurricanes for WSB, CBS and ABC while based in Atlanta. Longtime WSB News Director Chris Camp was glad to get Combs back to Atlanta last year. He calls him a “reporter’s reporter” who knew a good story and always had his bag packed and ready to go. That included the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle, where, he says, “I’m not sure if Pete ever gave anyone the shirt off his back but he did give up his shoes to a poor soul who’d survived the storm but lost everything.” He says Combs returned in December for follow up reporting. “He was struck by all the blue tarps on damaged roofs in place of homes and businesses with Christmas decorations.” The result was an award winning documentary, appropriately called Blue Tarp Christmas. When Combs returned to WSB last year, it was under a joint agreement with ABC News Radio that provided WSB with another in-house journalist while giving the network a dedicated radio reporter in the South. Andrew Kalb was ABC’s Executive Director of Programming and News at the time and calls Combs a “unique all-star storyteller. You always wanted to hear more Pete. It didn’t matter what the story was. When the opportunity came about to have Pete join ABC News Radio, it was a very easy decision. He was among the best at his craft….and an even better person.”  Marshall Adams was the Program Director at WBT, Charlotte, when he –and CBS- hired Combs for the legendary station’s news department, and to give the network another reporter in the Southeast- in 2005. Adams recalls his first assignment…the aftermath of a drag racing crash that wrecked a Dairy Queen store. “Pete brought the story alive -- trotting around the building during live shots tethered to a cell phone headset, waving his arms and 'showing' listeners the damage, stamping his lively storytelling skills on an event that without him would have been told flat. I listened from the front seat of the news car and knew we had something special.” His other assignments there included coverage of what was expected to be Billy Graham’s last Crusade in New York, and Hurricane Ophelia, when he brought back an invoice for the motel room door he knocked down after locking himself out. “He didn’t want to miss a live shot,” Adams says, with a laugh. “The station sent the motel owner a check, quickly. “Pete’s expense reports,” he says, “were always intriguing.”  CBS News Radio Correspondent Peter King covered several stories with Combs, and remembers sharing a hotel room with him in Kenner, Louisiana, during the BP Gulf oil spill. He says, “One morning, Pete was doing live reports for several of the Cox radio stations, not just WSB. He was really scrambling to keep up and was SO busy, he had a network reporter-me-fetching his coffee every few minutes! He never let me forget that I’d been his ‘coffee boy’ for a morning!” King says they had already become lifelong friends in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley in 2004, and though they often lived in separate states, he says they saw each other often on assignment-or during personal visits. “He was a fine reporter, extremely industrious, and never turned down an assignment. He was dedicated to a fault. But he was also a good human being and our bond went far beyond our work. We helped each other through all kinds of personal and professional things and you couldn’t have found a better listener than Pete.”  Combs loved technology and gadgets and was always on top of new ones that could help him get his job done, but occasionally, they worked too well. WSB’s Camp recalls he bought a strong battery powered lamp to be used in a power outage, when he was working out of one of the station’s news vehicles. “It was so hot, he melted the back seat of the truck! We never had it repaired and we laughed about it many times.” Combs’ career includes 5 Edward R Murrow Regional Awards, and nearly three dozen other awards from Associated Press Broadcasters Associations in Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma as well as other organizations starting in 1985. Combs was a licensed pilot and an avid aviation enthusiast who wrote and produced podcasts for the National Business Aviation Association, and founded two companies, Human Factor Productions and Earful Productions. He also reported while serving as Senior Editor for Aero-News.Net in the early 2000s. Family members recall that he loved great restaurants, great food, especially barbeque, and wine. In his spare time, he also loved playing his guitar, although his sister, Cathy Williamson, remembers that he played “Stairway to Heaven” one too many times during junior high and says she nearly hit him over the head with it to make him stop.  Combs was an Air Force veteran, serving as a Broadcast Information Specialist in the US and overseas. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from Georgia State University, attending classes while working professionally in Atlanta.  When he learned that his cancer was spreading rapidly, Combs’ friends say, he kept his sense of humor (enjoying the gift of a Looney Toons DVD Box set during his final weeks) and never gave up hope. He was buoyed by text and Facebook messages on a special “Pete’s Journey” page set up by his wife, Karen, for friends and family. CBS’s King says during their last visit, Combs said he hoped the two of them would be able to watch the Atlanta Braves opening day game for 2020 together. Perhaps more prophetically, he told him that he knew his time was probably short, and that “every day is a gift.”  Combs was born in Arlington, Virginia, on August 8th, 1959, but considered Tulsa Oklahoma, his home town. He’s survived by his wife, Karen Hewett Combs, the co-founder and President of the couple’s Earful Productions, their dog, a silky coat, wire hair Doxie named Stella, his son Daniel, of Seattle WA, Morgan Roberson of Peachtree City, Blake Floyd of McDonough, a brother, Stephen, and his wife, Ann, of Keller, TX, and a sister, Cathy Williamson of Houston, TX. Funeral or Memorial arrangements will be announced when plans are complete.
  • An Iowa man is grateful for the assistance of technology and humans that led to his rescue from an icy river Tuesday morning. Gael Salcedo, 18, hit a snowy patch on the road, which caused him and his vehicle to go over an embankment and land in the Winnebago River, KIMT reported. The temperature at the time was around zero degrees, according to the KIMT report. Salcedo told KIMT that he was on his way to school when the accident occurred. Once he realized he was in the water, he rolled down the window of his Jeep, and because he couldn’t locate his phone, yelled, “Hey Siri, call 911.” The call went through, and firefighters responded quickly. Salcedo had to walk from the wreckage to safety, which was a treacherous journey due to the frigid temperature and strong river current, KIMT reported. Salcedo was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was treated for shock and released a few hours later, KIMT reported.
  • Update 6:01 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Lisa Desjardins, a correspondent with PBS Newshour, is reporting that the vote whether or not to impeach Trump will likely be held on Wednesday. Update 5:58 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pennsylvania, breaks it down for you. Update 5:20 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Rep. Biggs’ amendment about an OMB report that explained the withholding of military aid to Ukraine is defeated along party lines. Another amendment has been proposed. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pennsylvania, is moving to strike (kill) the second of the two articles of impeachment. The second article alleges Trump obstructed Congress. Update 5 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, says the timing of the vote on articles of impeachment in the full House will be announced tonight. 'Today, the House Judiciary Committee is continuing its mark up of two articles of impeachment. Following Committee action on these articles, the Judiciary Committee will make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives. A path forward on the Floor will be announced following the Committee’s mark up. Update 4:16 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, D-Louisiana, compared the Republicans to Judas for their support of Trump. “Today I’m reminded of Judas — because Judas for 30 pieces of silver betrayed Jesus; for 30 positive tweets for easy reelection, the other side is willing to betray the American people … the future of our great country,” Richmond said. Update 4:12 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Gaetz suggests that Democrats who represent Republican majority districts in their states will not be coming back to serve in the House. “Rent, don’t buy, here in Washington,” Gaetz said. Update 3:39 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: The committee has voted down Gaetz’s amendment to remove Joe Biden’s name from the articles of impeachment and insert Hunter Biden’s in its place. The vote was along party lines. Another Republican amendment has been proposed. The amendment from Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona calls for the inclusion of a statement from the Office of Management and Budget explaining why the military aid to Ukraine was held up. Update 3:26 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: According to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday, 45% of Americans surveyed said Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 50% said he should not be impeached and removed. Update 3:16 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: White House counsel Pat Cipollone is meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, ahead of the expected impeachment of Trump next week, according to the Washington Post. Should Trump be impeached in the House, a trial will be held in the Senate to determine if he is guilty of wrongdoing and if he will be removed from office. White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland accompanied Cipollone to the meeting. Update: 2:51 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: President Trump has tweeted again. Update 2:40 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: The hearing has resumed. Update 1 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: The hearing is in recess for members to take votes on the House floor. Update 12:12 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Rep. Matt Gaetz puts forth an amendment to drop former Vice President Joe Biden’s name in the articles of impeachment, leaving only Biden’s son Hunter in the document. Gaetz introduces the amendment then describes Hunter Biden’s struggle with drug addiction by reading from a New Yorker Magazine story that described a car wreck Hunter Biden was in and a description of how he allegedly asked a homeless man where he could buy crack cocaine. Update 11:58 a.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: A vote is called on Jordan’s amendment to strike the first article of impeachment. All the Democrats present, 23, vote no, all the Republicans present, 17, vote yes. The amendment fails. Update 11:46 a.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, has come up several times during the hearing. Republicans have slammed him as unreliable as a witness because he revised his original testimony. Jordan said that Sondland had repeatedly said during his deposition that he did not recall key facts. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colorado, chided Democrats saying, “Ambassador Sondland is your star witness? Really? You’re basing an impeachment on Ambassador Sondland’s testimony?” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, answered Buck saying, “They don’t like him now because he clarified his testimony to say that yes, there was definitely a quid pro quo at the heart of this whole thing,” Raskin said. Update 11:30 a.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, indicated in her weekly press conference Thursday morning that the House will wrap up the impeachment inquiry next week. “Next week we’ll take up something” in the full House, Pelosi said, after being asked about the timetable for the impeachment inquiry. Update 11:20 a.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: The committee has now spent two hours debating the amendment by Jim Jordan to delete the first article of impeachment. Update 11 a.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: President Trump weighs-in. Update 10:20 a.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, accuses the Republicans of hypocrisy. She references former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, asking, why “lying about a sexual affair is an abuse of presidential power but the misuse of presidential power to get a benefit doesn’t matter? “If it’s lying about sex, we could put Stormy Daniels’ case ahead of us,” she said. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, answers Lofgren, saying Clinton was impeached because he lied to a grand jury. That, Sensenbrenner says, is something Trump has never done. Update 10 a.m. ET Dec. 12, 2019: Democrats introduced an amendment to spell out Trump's middle name. The articles of impeachment reference Donald J. Trump. Nadler introduces an amendment to change the article to read Donald John Trump, the president’s full name. Rep. Collins responds to the amendment saying it shows the “absurdity” of the whole process. The debate takes off from there with several members arguing about the articles and what has been testified to. Rep. Joe Neguse, D, Colorado, wants Republicans to “dispense with these process arguments” and 'stay true to the facts.” “I understand that we’re going to have a robust debate about the legal standards that govern the inquiry that is before us, the decision we make on these articles,” Rep. Neguse said, “but let’s stay true to the facts, and let’s dispense with these process arguments and get to the substance of why we’re here today.” Update 9:33 a.m. ET Dec. 12: Rep. Jim Jordan introduces an amendment to the articles of impeachment. The amendment is to strike the first article. He is explaining why Article One “ignores the facts.” Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, speaks in opposition to Jordan’s amendment. He lays out why the article was drafted saying, “There is direct evidence” of Trump being involved in a 'scheme to corrupt the American elections and withhold military aid” from Ukraine. Update 9:05 a.m. ET Dec. 12: The hearing has resumed and been called to order. The clerk of the Judiciary Committee is now reading the two articles of impeachment. Original story: The House Judiciary Committee is set to vote Thursday on two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. >> Read more trending news  The vote will mark only the third time in the country’s 243-year history that Congress will consider impeachment charges against a sitting president. The charges allege Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s connections with a Ukrainian energy company in exchange for military aid and a White House meeting for the newly-elected president. In a second charge, House Democrats say Trump obstructed Congress by blocking testimony from witnesses and refusing requests for documents during the impeachment inquiry that was launched in September. The decision to open the inquiry came after a whistleblower filed a complaint alleging that a phone call made by Trump to Zelensky on July 25 tied military aid and a White House meeting to personal political favors. On Tuesday, House Democratic leaders introduced the two articles of impeachment saying Trump presented a “clear and present” danger to not only the 2020 presidential election but to the nation’s security. In an unusual evening session on Wednesday, the committee began debate on the articles. The session saw the two parties argue over the charges against Trump, the Constitution’s meaning when it comes to impeachment and why the inquiry was undertaken instead of leaving Trump’s fate to the voters in next year’s election. What happens next? The committee is expected to reconvene at 9 a.m. ET Thursday. If the committee passes the resolution Thursday to send the articles of impeachment to the full House, a vote to impeach Trump will likely take place next week. It takes a simple majority vote of members of the Judiciary Committee to move the articles to the House floor for a full vote. The Democrats have a 24-17 majority in the committee. The vote is expected to fall along party lines. Follow us here for live updates on Thursday as the committee debates the articles of impeachment and moves to a vote. [Summary]
  • A Texas police sergeant has died after she was struck by a driver as he fled a traffic stop Tuesday night in Nassau Bay, authorities said. Update 4:08 p.m. EST Dec. 12: Tavores Henderson has been arrested, KTRK reported. He was taken into custody Thursday afternoon, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Original report:  According to KTRK-TV, Nassau Bay police stopped the driver about 8:30 p.m. local time Tuesday at an apartment complex on San Sebastian Court. After learning that the suspect was wanted in connection with a domestic violence case, officers tried to arrest him, the city said in a news release. “During the arrest, the suspect fought with officers and was able to break free and re-enter the vehicle,” the release said. The man struck one of the responding officers, Sgt. Kaila Sullivan, 43, of Friendswood, as he fled the scene, officials said. The 16-year Nassau Bay police veteran later died at a Webster hospital, according to the release. Investigators have found the man’s vehicle but are still searching for the suspect, the city said. “We urge all citizens to be cautious of their surroundings and stay vigilant,” the release said. Anyone with information about the case should call the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation, at 713-274-9100. Crime Stoppers’ Fallen Hero Project is offering a reward for information leading to the location to Tavores Henderson, the man identified as the person who struck Sullivan. He faces felony murder charges, KTRK reported.
  • The autopsy results have been released in the death of Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney. Officials said they found methamphetamine and a sedative in her system that was given to her before she was allegedly murdered, WBMA reported. During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, officials said Kamille died from suffocation, but that she had trazodone and meth in her blood, WVTM reported. Patrick Stallworth and his girlfriend, Derick Brown, are both charged with the 3-year old girl’s death, WMBA reported. Prosecutors said Stallworth and Brown kidnapped and killed the girl, dumping her body in a dumpster, in Birmingham, Alabama, WVTM reported. They said Stallworth at first lied about knowing about Kamille’s disappearance, but then when her body was found, told detectives that he was offering candy to children in the area the night she died and explained how the little girl was killed, saying Brown ‘placed her hands over Cupcake’s nose and mouth,’ killing her, WVTM reported. Read more here and here.
  • The 111-year-old woman who met former first lady Michelle Obama earlier this year died in her sleep Wednesday night, a family spokesperson said. Willie Mae Hardy died at 10:30 p.m., according to Sunshine Lewis. Hardy made headlines earlier this year for being the oldest living woman in Kirkwood, a neighborhood in Atlanta. Born March 11, 1908, in Junction City in Talbot County, Hardy was the granddaughter of a slave and lived through 20 presidents — from Theodore Roosevelt to Donald Trump. Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama sent Hardy a birthday note in 2012, and she met Michelle Obama at a signing for the first lady’s book, “Becoming,” in May. Funeral services have not been set.