Across Georgia

Gang of youths attack passengers on MARTA


ATLANTA --- A group of 20 to 25 youths boarded a MARTA commuter train bound for Atlanta's airport and attacked the passengers, police said.

One of the teenagers bashed a rider in the face with a soda can, pushed him down and stole his wallet, according to a police report. Another passenger was punched in the face, the report stated.

Both of the riders who were attacked work for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, police said. They have been staying at a hotel near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Delta workers suffered cuts to their faces in the attack late Saturday night.

It wasn't known how many passengers were riding the train at the time, 11:58 p.m. Saturday.

Police are still investigating, said Lyle Harris, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

Regents fail to renew college head's job

SAVANNAH --- Officials say the Georgia Board of Regents has voted not to renew the contract of Savannah State University President Earl G. Yarbrough.

Board spokesman John Millsaps said the board voted on Yarbrough's contract during its monthly meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Yarbrough has been president at the historically black public university since 2007.

Yarbrough did not immediately return a call for comment. Savannah State spokeswoman Loretta Heyward declined to comment.

Judge rejects assisted suicide law challenge

A Georgia judge rejected a free-speech challenge to the state's law against assisted suicide, allowing a high-profile case to proceed against four members of a suicide group charged with helping a cancer-stricken man kill himself.

Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David Dickinson said in the opinion released Wednesday that "pure speech is in no way chilled or limited" by the law, siding with prosecutors in the state's case against four Final Exit Network members.

"The court understands that defendants contend that the statute criminalizes only speech," the judge wrote in the ruling. "However, the court finds that the statute requires both speech and an overt act in furtherance of assisting in the suicide."

Georgia law makes it a felony for anyone who "publicly advertises, offers or holds himself or herself out as offering that he or she will intentionally and actively assist another person in the commission of suicide and commits any overt act to further that purpose."

It sets a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The four claimed it violated their free speech rights because instead of criminalizing suicide or assisted suicide, it bans people from publicly speaking about assisted suicide and then participating in the death. Their attorneys asked a judge in December to dismiss the charges on free speech grounds.

Reporters detained in North Korea honored

ATHENS --- The University of Georgia is honoring two reporters arrested by North Korean authorities two years ago as they investigated human smuggling and sex trafficking.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee received the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage from UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication on Wednesday night, the Athens Banner-Herald reported.

They spent 140 days under house arrest after North Korean troops took them into custody at gunpoint near the border between China and North Korea in March 2009.

"It was nothing fancy," Lee said. "We were just doing our jobs."