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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.

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.

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.

Senate postpones hearing for Trump VA pick Ronny Jackson amid 'serious allegations'

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, will decide whether it’s worth it to pursue the post after lawmakers postponed a hearing on his nomination in light of several allegations.

>> Read more trending news

“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. ... It’s totally his decision,” the president told reporters at the White House, according to Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree. “I will tell you, he is one of the finest people that I’ve met.”

Lawmakers indefinitely postponed a hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, to consider Jackson’s nomination. The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ top Republican and its top Democrat said in a joint statement that the decision was made “in light of new information presented to the committee.”

“We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation,” Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, and Jon Tester, D-Montana, said in the statement. “We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from the White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review.”

The congressmen also sent a letter addressed to Trump on Tuesday asking for "all documentation pertaining to Rear Admiral Jackson's service in the White House Medical Unit and as Physician to the President."

Committee members didn’t elaborate on the allegations levied against Jackson, although The New York Times reported that they include accusations that Jackson oversaw a hostile work environment while serving as White House doctor, that he allowed for drugs to be overprescribed and that he might have drank while on the job.

Jackson declined Tuesday to answer questions from reporters about the allegations.

"I'm looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering everyone's questions," Jackson told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to CNN.

Trump nominated Jackson to fill the role left vacant after he fired David Shulkin from the position late last month. Shulkin had been a top holdover from President Barack Obama’s administration, but he clashed with Trump administration officials and faced criticism over his use of resources.

Jackson, a U.S. Navy rear admiral, was appointed in 2013 as physician to the president by Barack Obama.

20-year-old bear attack survivor bitten by shark while surfing

Dylan McWilliams loves nature, but nature doesn’t always love him back.

The 20-year-old Grand Junction, Colorado, resident was surfing off the Kauai coastline in Hawaii Thursday morning when he suddenly felt searing pain in his calf. He told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he looked down to see what appeared to be a tiger shark between 6 and 8 feet long.

“At first, I panicked,” McWilliams told the newspaper. “I didn’t know if I lost half my leg or what.”

The panic gave way to his survival instinct, and he kicked the shark away as hard as he could. He began desperately swimming for shore, which he said was the scariest part of the ordeal.

“I didn’t know where the shark was, and I didn’t know if he would come after me again,” McWilliams said

A woman who heard his cries for help called 911 once he reached shore and took him to an urgent care facility, where seven stitches were used to close the deep gashes in his leg. 

McWilliams, who has worked as a tree trimmer, ranch hand and survival training instructor, shared the gory images on Facebook. Click here to see his post

“First time in the water in Kauai and get tagged by a shark,” he said. 

McWilliams’ friends were shocked by the encounter, in part because it is not the first time in the past year he has been attacked by a wild animal. CBS Denver reported that McWilliams, then 19, was camping at Glacier View Ranch near Boulder in July when he was attacked by a 300-pound black bear. 

“Are you kidding me?” one Facebook friend asked. “Dude, why do you always have animals wanting to eat you?”

>> Read more trending news

McWilliams relived his summer ordeal, which began when the bear grabbed him as he slept, following Thursday’s shark attack. 

“The bear grabbed the back of my head and started pulling me and I was fighting back as best as I could,” McWilliams told Hawaii News Now. “It dropped me and stomped on me a little bit, and I was able to get back to the group and they scared it away.”

McWilliams said he was lucky to have survived not only the bear and the shark, but also to have survived a rattlesnake bite during a 2015 hike in Utah, the Star-Advertiser reported. The bite was a “dry bite,” which only delivered enough venom to make him ill for a couple of days. 

National Geographic reported that the odds of one person being bitten by a shark, a bear and a rattlesnake are 893.35 quadrillion to one. An average American has a one in 11.5 million chance of being bitten by a shark.

A person is more likely to be attacked by a bear, with odds of one in 2.1 million, the magazine reported.

The odds of being bitten by a poisonous snake in the U.S. are one in 37,500.

Some commenters on Facebook called McWilliams a “legend” for all he’s survived, while others chastised him for getting in the water when much of the island was under a “brown water advisory,” meaning that bad storms had turned much of the coastal waters brown.

Murky water is known to bring in sharks, who prowl the coastline looking for an easy meal. 

“Can tell he’s not from around here or he would have known that,” one person wrote. 

“I guess no one told you that murky water attracts sharks, huh?” another man wrote. 

“It was actually mostly clear where I was,” McWilliams responded.

“‘Mostly’ is a key word in this situation,” the man wrote back. “But it looks like the island gods were ‘mostly’ looking out for you. Speedy recovery, broheem.”

McWilliams told Hawaii News Now that he does not plan on letting his encounter with the tiger shark keep him down.

“I’m just mad that I can’t get back in the water for a couple days,” he said. 

Keshia Knight Pulliam finalizes divorce with Ed Hartwell, gets primary custody

Keshia Knight Pulliam’s divorce with Ed Hartwell has been finalized, and she received  primary custody of their one-year-old daughter Ella Grace, according to TMZ

>> Read more trending news 

Hartwell -- an ex-NFL player who was married to former “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast mate Lisa Wu -- married Pulliam in 2016, but the union only lasted a few months. The split was acrimonious, and the two sides hurled various accusations against each other in court from 2016 into 2017.

In April, Pulliam questioned Hartwell’s ability to take care of their daughter based on his use of prescription drugs. He questioned the paternity of the girl, but she was ultimately deemed his. The month before, it was reported that Hartwrell tried to seek joint custody, but lost that battle.

Hartwell acknowledged adultery and is now living with Tonya Carroll, who’s pregnant with his child. He is supposed to pay about $3,000 a month in child support to Pulliam, TMZ reported.

Knight Pulliam is a former child star who appeared on “Celebrity Big Brother” in the spring.

Son of Dusty Rhodes carves out his own American dream in pro wrestling

Born the son of one of pro wrestling’s most beloved figures, Cody Rhodes had been part of that colorful community of performers and fans for most of his 32 years. Also for about 32, he has run into spoilsports and naysayers who can’t wait to opine that wrestling is fake.

>> Read more trending news

Fortunately, he’s had decades to come up with a pithy comeback.

"I usually say, ‘Well, Christian Bale’s not Batman,’” said Rhodes, whose late father was the legendary “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, and whose brother is Dustin Rhodes, also known as “Goldust.” 

Cody Rhodes will visit West Palm Beach on Friday with Ring of Honor Wrestling. You can spot him wrestling simply under the name “Cody.”

Rhodes has been in the family business for about 12 years and spent time with World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling. He defends what he does, not only because people worldwide love it, but because he loves it, too.

“Every now and then, someone from so-called ‘higher’ forms of entertainment will look down their nose at it," he said. But having grown up with Dusty Rhodes as  his father, Cody's been ready to defend wrestling for a long time. 

“I got started when I was 19, but for some reason, and I don’t know what I was thinking, I went to L.A.. I started acting classes there for a year, and wasted a bunch of money. I really enjoyed the classes, but I kept thinking ‘When I make it as an actor ...’ but then I thought ‘This is kind of dumb. Be a wrestler. Just do the thing you want to do.”

Currently a heel, or a villain, ROH’s Cody bills himself as “The American Nightmare,” a riff on his father’s famous salt-of-the-earth persona. Dusty Rhodes, born Virgil Riley Runnels Jr., didn’t look like other athletes. He wasn’t professionally trained. But what he was, his son said, was real.

“He communicated to people who he thought would need (his message). He needed it as much as they did. His whole image, being ‘the son of a plumber,’ that whole story was real. They had no money,” Cody Rhodes said. 

“I really think the idea that your friend, someone in your family in real life could get in the ring and do amazing, was what it was, because Dusty was like them. He was overweight. He had a different look. I honestly think it gets explained too much. He just had that thing that everybody wants. He had a way. He wasn’t selling you a product. He wasn’t even selling you himself. He was just bringing you along for the ride.”

Anyone who’s ever seen wrestling up close and personal knows there’s a difference between watching it in your living room and being there in person. 

To Rhodes, who also wrestles for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, “the live experience is the lifeblood of wrestling. The live experience in ‘Ring of Honor’ is a party. Essentially it’s going to a party with a ton of people that you don’t know, some of the greatest people you’ll ever know. People make friends in the meet-and-greet line.”

Those fans in the line, Rhodes said, are loyal, diverse and involved. He says it’s his job and that of companies like Ring of Honor to give them what they want.

“We try to have as much as fun as we can. There shouldn’t be that many rules for going to a wrestling show,” he said. “Give them that experience and guarantee they’re leaving having had a good time. It’s hard to get people’s money — it’s hard to get my money — so it’s gotta be good.”

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