It's Wednesday! How ‘bout them Hawks?

Today's weather: Cloudy with a chance of rain and thunderstorms. High: 71.

Situational awareness: Trae Young’s last-minute three-pointer sends the Hawks-Celtics playoff series into game six on Thursday at State Farm Arena.

  • 😬 However, Janet Jackson’s concert originally scheduled for the same night at the arena will be pushed to Friday — the same night as Taylor Swift’s concert at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Today's newsletter is 862 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: SPLC defamation case moves ahead

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A federal judge says one of Georgia's most vocal advocates for strict immigration policies can move forward with its defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center over being labeled an "anti-immigrant hate group."

Why it matters: The decision allows the Dustin Inman Society to demand emails, notes and other documents that could show how the group decides the designation.

  • Doing so could be key to proving "actual malice," which is the high bar that public figures must clear to win a defamation case.

What's happening: Judge William Keith Watkins of Alabama’s Middle District Federal Court earlier this month denied the SPLC's motion to dismiss the DIS' complaint.

Details: D.A. King, the DIS founder and president who also earned criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, claimed that the SPLC's "hate group" label put the society at risk of violence and damaged its reputation.

  • In a 55-page memorandum released this week, Watkins disagreed with SPLC’s argument that the label was opinion, and thus protected speech.
  • The judge said the timing of the "hate group" designation — coming years after initially saying the label did not apply — was enough to warrant additional "probing via discovery."

Zoom in: Named after a teen who was killed in a car collision that the FBI says was caused by a man in the country illegally, DIS lobbies at the Legislature and opines in the media.

  • Its mission statement states that "unsecured borders and the resulting illegal immigration represents a clear and present danger to our national security and public safety."
  • The SPLC report on DIS alleges the organization "denigrates immigrants and supports efforts to make the lives of immigrants so hard that they leave on their own — a tactic known as 'attrition through enforcement.'"

Zoom out: The SPLC started its civil rights advocacy in 1971 with lawsuits against white supremacist groups in the South. Over the following decades, it grew into a national legal and research machine with hundreds of employees.

  • Right-wing critics have argued the SPLC unfairly targets conservative Christians and conservatives. In August 2020, the Republican National Committee condemned the group as a "far-left organization with an obvious bias."

The other side: The SPLC declined Axios' request for comment.

Read the full story

2. 🗺️ Passport-free world tour

Visual: Will Chase, Jacque Schrag, Tory Lysik/Axios

The U.S. is filled with towns and cities named after foreign places: You can visit Naples, New York, Paris, Illinois...or Rome, Georgia.

  • In fact, there are so many of these cities that you could go on a world tour without ever leaving the state.

👉 Check out our new project from the Axios Visuals team that visualizes these cities with interactive maps, graphics, and more.

Zoom in: Rome was named for its seven hills, after the hills of Rome, Italy — so the story goes, according to author Kenneth Krakow.

  • Athens' name was reportedly chosen to honor the classical world's center of learning in Greece.
  • Another Greek homage, Sparta was apparently named by its founder and Revolutionary soldier from North Carolina, Charles Abercrombie, to celebrate its "hardy and self-governing individuals," like its ancient namesake.
  • The postmaster chose the name for Cairo, Georgia (CAY-roe, y'all) — the birthplace of Jackie Robinson.

You tell us: Are you from one of these towns? Live there? How do you pronounce it?

  • Did you know about the cultural history of your town? Any interesting factoids or photos you'd like to share?

Explore the interactive map ... Go deeper with Krakow's Georgia Place-Names book

3. Chart du jour: A new class of Atlanta renters

Data: RentCafe; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

People who make $150,000 or more a year are the fastest-growing sector of renters in the Atlanta area, according to U.S. Census data.

Why it matters: The push comes as many would-be homebuyers rent longer, incentivizing developers to compete for a growing cohort of high-income renters for their properties, Axios' Sami Sparber and Tory Lysik report.

By the numbers: The number of Atlanta-area renters earning $150,000 or more grew 104% between 2016 and 2021, per U.S. Census data.

  • That's higher than the national average increase of 87.5%.
  • And the number of renters earning $100,000-$149,000 jumped by 67% in the same time period.

4. 🛒 Atlanta's favorite grocery stores

Data: Chain Store Guide; Note: Stores under the same brand name have been combined, e.g. Walmart and Walmart Supercenter; Chart: Axios Visuals

Kroger, Publix and Walmart are Atlanta's go-to stores for grocery shopping, but the Arkansas-based big box retailer is gaining ground on its two competitors.

State of play: Kroger is the most popular grocery chain in Atlanta, with 23.7% of the market share in 2022, according to data from Chain Store Guide, which tracks the retail and food service industries.

  • Publix is a solid runner-up with 22%. Walmart is close behind with 21.3%.

Flashback: In 2021, Kroger held 25% of the market share. Publix followed with 23.1% and Walmart with 19.8%.

Of note: Lidl, which didn't make the list in 2021, claimed 1.6% of the market share last year. This could be explained by the German company's expansion into metro Atlanta.

Tell us: What's your favorite grocery store and why? Hit reply to this email and let us know.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to show that Kroger is the most popular grocery store in Atlanta, not Publix.

On the job hunt?

💼 Check out the fresh open positions in the city.

  1. Director, Key Accounts at Americold Logistics.
  2. Senior Sales Engineer, Financial Services at Snowflake.
  3. Manager, Market & Customer Research at Cox Communications.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. Five Points: Coke vs. Pepsi in space

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🧑🏼‍🚀 In the '80s, an Atlanta astronaut performed a Coke vs. Pepsi taste test in space. (Atlanta)

🏫 A new law will require Georgia public schools to conduct one active shooter training per year. (Capital B)

👀 Warner Robins police's entire narcotics unit is on administrative leave after a misconduct allegation. (WSB)

💔 Harry Belafonte, the barrier-breaking actor, singer and activist, has died at 96. (New York Times)

✋🏽Data center giant QTS tapped the brakes on its request for a $45 million tax break after opposition from community leaders, activists and elected officials. ( AJC)

⛺️ Emma is headed out for a Cumberland camping trip, where she plans to interview the horses about their lawsuit (from a safe distance of course).

😋 Kristal loves making basil pesto.

🥱 Thomas is yawning and wondering if the "yawning is contagious" thing works in a newsletter.

This newsletter was edited by Jen Ashley and copy edited by Alex Perry.