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    The difference between Apple's new iPhone models is a bit like flying first class compared with coach. We envy first class, but coach gets us there without breaking the budget. The iPhone 8 will do just fine for $300 less than the glitzy iPhone X , even though it won't make your friends and colleagues jealous. It's also available much sooner — this Friday — starting at almost $700. The X (read as the numeral 10) won't be out until November. Still, the iPhone 8 remains a fairly straightforward update of the iPhone 7 , which itself was a fairly straightforward update of the iPhone 6S. Then again, no one expects much different from a coach seat. WHAT YOU'RE NOT GETTING It's hard to talk about the iPhone 8 without comparing it to my 15 minutes with the iPhone X last Tuesday. The X wowed with a fancy new display that flows to the edges of the phone. The phone is compact, yet features a screen slightly larger than the one on the supersized iPhone 8 Plus. The X also features facial recognition that lets you unlock the phone with a glance; you can also create animated emojis that match your facial expressions. The 8 has none of that, although it does share other new goodies the X is getting, including wireless charging. The 8 and the X both have faster processors and sensors to enhance graphics in augmented reality, a blending of the virtual and physical worlds, though older iPhones will also run AR apps with a software update Tuesday. WIRELESS CHARGING Apple is embraces wireless-charging technology that Android phones have had for years. It's a rare case in which Apple isn't going its own way; instead, it's adopting an existing standard called Qi (pronounced chee). That means the iPhone gets all the technical advancements from the consortium behind Qi — and can take immediate advantage of a slew of public wireless-charging stations. It worked perfectly for me while waiting for a connecting flight in Los Angeles — no need to rummage through my backpack for a charging cord. Apple says the wireless system should charge as quickly as the wall adapter included with iPhones. But I found wireless slower in testing, using a Belkin charger with the same power output as the iPhone charger. Wireless charging is largely about convenience; it's terrific if you can just drop your phone on a charging pad overnight or during the day at your desk. Apple says it will boost wireless-charging power by 50 percent in coming months, which will speed things up further. But those in a rush should consider a wall charger that comes with the iPad, which will still be even faster. In a way, wireless charging makes up for Apple's earlier decision to ditch the headphone jack in the iPhone 7, which made people share the Lightning port with both charging cords and wired headphones. You can now charge and use wired headphones at the same time. DISPLAY Colors on the 8's screen adapt to lighting in the room. It's noticeable in my apartment at night, as artificial lighting tends to be warmer and more yellowish. The screen adapts by making whites more like beige and yellow even yellower. It's softer on the eyes and mimics how light glows on white paper, though it can make images appear less natural. You can turn this feature off. Resolution isn't as sharp as what the X and many rival Android phones offer. The Plus offers enough pixels for high-definition video at the highest quality, 1080p, while the regular model is comparable to the lesser 720p. CAMERA New color filters produce truer and richer colors without looking fake, while a new flash technique tries to light the foreground and background more evenly. You have to know to look, as the iPhone 7 already had a great camera. Differences in test shots taken while sightseeing in Poland were subtle, but noticeable — more so on the iPhone 8 screen than on last year's Mac. The iPhone 8 also offers additional video options, including recording of ultra-high definition, or 4K, at 60 frames per second, twice the previous rate. (The phone's display, though, isn't sharp enough for 4K.) A second lens in the 7 Plus and 8 Plus models lets the camera gauge depth and blur backgrounds in portrait shots, something once limited to full-featured SLR cameras. Samsung adopted that feature in this year's Note 8 . Coming to the 8 Plus are filters to mimic studio and other lighting conditions. My favorite, stage light, highlights the subject's face and darkens the background. Some of these filters make images look fake — Apple has slapped a 'beta' test tag to signal it's not flawless. You can try them out and undo any changes you don't like. DESIGN To make wireless charging work, the 8 features a glass back, something last seen in the iPhone 4S in 2011. Aesthetic considerations aside, this gives you another sheet of glass to break. Apple says custom glass from Corning makes the phone stronger. Even so, consider a service plan and get a case. Wireless charging works with most cases, as long as there's no metal or magnets. I found the phone charged just as fast with the case on. ABOUT THAT PRICE TAG The iPhone 8 is about $50 more than what the iPhone 7 cost at launch. Samsung has similarly increased the prices of its flagship Galaxy phones, and the S8 still outsold last year's S7. Consumers seem willing to pay. You do get double the storage — 64 gigabytes — at that price, a value considering that iPhone storage boosts typically cost $100. You'll need that extra storage for video, apps and fancy features such as AR and animated photos. Nonetheless, I would have preferred the option of a cheaper, lower-storage version. For that, you need an older model , such as the $549 iPhone 7 and the $449 6S. There's also the smaller iPhone SE for $349.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company announced Monday, according to CNBC.  >> Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy: 3 things to know The iconic toy chain is just one of many businesses to suffer this year. Retailers have closed hundreds of stores, filed for bankruptcy protection and reorganized massive debt loads throughout 2017. >> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Toys ‘R’ Us, as anticipated, files for Chapter 11 protection Companies like The Limited and Gander Mountain announced this year that they would file bankruptcy — shuttering stores and laying off thousands of workers. >> Read more trending news Some of the companies to announce bankruptcies this year include the following: 1. The Limited The women’s clothing store announced in early January that it would close all brick-and-mortar stores, and later its parent company filed for bankruptcy. The parent company of women’s clothing store The Limited filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Court, and the store website has been taken offline. 2. Gymboree Children’s clothing retailer Gymboree Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, the latest sign of traditional retailers’ struggles as shoppers shun stores and buy online. The San Francisco-based company says it is seeking to reduce its debt by $900 million. It expects to operate its business and majority of its 1,300 stores during the restructuring. 3. BCBGMAXAZRIA The company, which owns BCBGMAXAZRIA, said in March it filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The company obtained a commitment of $45 million from loan lenders in new financing and filed its plan of reorganization. 4. Wet Seal Teen clothing retailer Wet Seal abruptly closed all of its 148 brick-and-mortar stores in early 2017. According to a letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the retailer is permanently shutting down and will lay off all of its workers. The company is headquartered in California. In 2015, Wet Seal closed 338 of its 511 stores and filed for bankruptcy protection. Versa Capital then acquired the brand for $7.5 million in April 2015. 5. RadioShack The chain retailer announced in March it was filing for bankruptcy and closing about 200 of its stores and evaluating what to do with the remaining 1,300. This isn’t the first time RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy.  6. hhgregg Appliance store hhgregg announced in March it was closing 88 stores and laying off 1,500 employees. A month later, the company received court approval to close its remaining stores and liquidate its assets. 7. Gander Mountain Sporting goods retailer Gander Mountain Co. filed for bankruptcy in March. Gander Mountain and some of its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code after the retailer “experienced traffic patterns and shifts in consumer demand resulting from increased direct-to-customer sales by key vendors and accelerated growth of e-commerce,” according to a company statement. 8. MC Sports MC Sports, legally known as Michigan Sporting Goods Distributors, announced in February its plans to begin liquidation sales of all of its 68 stores.  9. Aerosoles AGI HoldCo Inc., which owns Aerosoles stores, has filed for bankruptcy and plans to keep just four stores open in New York and New Jersey. The stores sell women’s shoes. The company expects the restructuring process to be completed in approximately four months. 10. Payless Kansas-based Payless ShoeSource announced in April that it would close nearly 400 underperforming locations in the U.S. Payless’ North American entities, and two of its Hong Kong-based entities, filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
  • A lawyer in Greece for Russian cybercrime suspect Alexander Vinnik, who is wanted in the United States in a $4 billion bitcoin fraud case, says Russia wants to extradite him as well. Vinnik was arrested in northern Greece in July and detained pending an extradition hearing later this month following a request from U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of California. Vinnik's lawyer, Xanthippe Moyssidou, told The Associated Press that Vinnik was also wanted in Russia on separate fraud charges. She said he has told Greek authorities at a closed hearing Tuesday at the office of a public prosecutor that he would not challenge the request to extradite Vinnik to Russia. In Greece, extradition disputes involving two or more countries are typically resolved by the justice minister. 'My client has been notified that Russia has made an extradition request. He declared that he was willing to return to his country,' Moyssidou said. Vinnik, 37, was arrested on July 25. According to U.S. authorities, Vinnik ran digital currency exchange BTC-e, and was allegedly involved in laundering money from criminal proceeds. He denies any wrongdoing. The U.S. extradition request is scheduled to be heard Sept. 29.
  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is pressing two credit monitoring companies to explain what cybersecurity they have in place to protect sensitive consumer information following a recent breach at Equifax that exposed the data of 143 million Americans. In letters to executives at TransUnion and Experian, the Democratic attorney general asked them to describe their existing security systems, as well as what changes they've made since the Equifax cyberattack. 'The unprecedented data breach experienced by Equifax Inc. that affected 143 million Americans — including more than 8 million New Yorkers — has raised serious concerns about the security of private consumer information held by the nation's largest consumer credit reporting agencies,' he wrote. The letters also ask whether the companies are considering waiving the fees for consumer credit freezes in light of the breach. 'Credit reporting agencies have a fundamental responsibility to protect the personal information they're entrusted with,' Schneiderman said in a statement Tuesday. 'As we continue our investigation into the Equifax breach, it's vital to ensure that consumer data at the other major credit reporting agencies is safe.' Schneiderman's review of the cyberattack on Equifax began shortly after the breach was announced last week. The letters were sent last week and were first reported by The Associated Press. Messages left with Experian and TransUnion were not immediately returned Monday afternoon.
  • On a day of pageantry and tight security, the Dutch king was to deliver a speech Tuesday to both houses of parliament outlining the government's budget for the coming year. The speech will contain no major policy announcements as the two-party government has been in caretaker mode since elections in March and Prime Minister Mark Rutte is still in negotiations to form a new coalition. Rutte's center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy is in talks with the Christian Democrats, centrist, pro-European Union D66 and a smaller faith-based party, Christian Union. Rutte posed for selfies and exchanged high fives with schoolchildren gathered at Parliament ahead of the speech. Security has been tightened along the route King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will take from the Noordeinde Palace to Parliament. Thousands of people line the route each year to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. Police installed temporary barriers to block roads near the route and officers patrolled the city as crowds, many wearing orange hats and scarves, gathered. Hague Mayor Pauline Krikke told Dutch broadcaster NOS that her city was 'taking appropriate measures, both visible and invisible' to boost security.
  • Global shares were mixed Tuesday, as investors awaited comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve, but Japan's benchmark rose on optimism over a weak yen and a record finish on Wall Street. KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 inched down less than 0.1 percent in early trading to 5,227.91. Germany's DAX slipped 0.1 percent to 12,541.67. But Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.2 percent to 7,269.87. U.S. shares were set to be little changed with Dow futures inching up less than 0.1 percent to 22,305. S&P 500 futures were virtually unchanged at 2,502.40. ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added nearly 2.0 percent to finish at 20,299.38, coming off a national holiday on Monday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.1 percent to 5,713.60. South Korea's Kospi lost nearly 0.1 percent to 2,416.05. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell nearly 0.4 percent to 28,051.41, while the Shanghai Composite dipped 0.2 percent to 3,356.84. WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index rose 3.64 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,503.87. The Dow gained 63.01 points, or 0.3 percent, to 22,331.35. Both indexes closed at new record highs as the market extended gains from last week. THE QUOTE: 'So what could whisk the rug from under optimistic investors' feet? Not much today, though as we noted yesterday, this happier more stable backdrop brings central banks back into play,' said Rob Carnell, head of research in Asia of ING. THE FED: Investors were looking ahead to the two-day policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve which begins Tuesday. Forecasters expect the Fed to leave interest rates unchanged and stick to plans to raise rates in December. But traders will be listening for any indications the central bank could move sooner. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 24 cents to $50.15 a barrel. It rose 2 cents to $49.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 16 cents to $55.64 a barrel in London. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.58 yen from 111.39 late Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1985 from $1.1945. ___ AP Business Writer Alex Veiga contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at twitter.com/yurikageyama Her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/yuri%20kageyama
  • Top Senate Republicans say their last-ditch push to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law is gaining momentum. But they have less than two weeks to succeed and face a tough fight to win enough GOP support to reverse the summer's self-inflicted defeat on the party's high-priority issue. 'We feel pretty good about it,' Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., a leader of the effort along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday. 'He's the grave robber,' No. 3 Senate GOP leader John Thune of South Dakota said of Cassidy. 'This thing was six feet under' but now has 'a lot of very positive buzz,' Thune said. With Democrats unanimously against the bill, Republicans commanding the Senate 52-48 would lose if just three GOP senators are opposed. That proved a bridge too far in July, when three attempts for passage of similar measures fell short and delivered an embarrassing defeat to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell said he'd not bring another alternative to the Senate floor unless he knew he had the 50 votes needed. Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote. A victory would let Senate Republican leaders claim redemption on their 'repeal and replace' effort. The House approved its version of the bill in May. The 140-page bill would replace much of Obama's law with block grants to states, giving them wide leeway on spending the money. It would let states set their own coverage requirements, allow insurers to boost prices on people with serious medical conditions, end Obama's mandates that most Americans buy insurance and that companies offer coverage to workers, and cut and reshape Medicaid. Democrats backed by doctors, hospitals, and patients' groups mustered an all-out effort to finally smother the GOP drive, warning of millions losing coverage and others facing skimpier policies. Sixteen patients groups including the American Heart Association and the March of Dimes said they opposed it, as did the American College of Physicians and the Children's Hospital Association. Potentially complicating the GOP drive, the Congressional Budget Office said it won't have crucial estimates on the bill's impact on coverage ready for several weeks. Special procedures protecting the GOP bill from filibusters — which take 60 votes to block — expire Sept. 30, and after that Democratic opposition would guarantee its defeat. Some wavering Republican senators could want the nonpartisan budget office's analysis before feeling comfortable about the measure's impact back home. All but daring Republicans to vote without the budget office figures, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said voting without that information would be 'legislative malpractice at the highest.' The budget agency's evaluations of past GOP repeal plans concluded they would have caused millions of Americans to lose insurance coverage. Pence was calling senators to seek support, White House officials said. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the House would vote on the bill if it passes the Senate. Speaking in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Ryan called it 'our best, last chance to get repeal and replace done.' The sponsors say their proposal would let states decide what health care programs work best for their residents. The bill would reduce spending gaps between states that expanded Medicaid under Obama's law and the mostly GOP states that did not. Details on the measure's exact state-by-state impact were murky. Conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has said he'll oppose the measure because it doesn't do enough to erase Obama's law. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she was concerned the bill would make 'fundamental changes' in Medicaid. Other Republicans who've not yet lined up behind the bill include Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, John McCain of Arizona and Ohio's Rob Portman. Collins, Murkowski and McCain provided the decisive votes against the last measure Republicans tried to push through the Senate in July. 'It's better but it's not what the Senate is supposed to be doing,' McCain told reporters about the new package. Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey said he backed the new bill, putting pressure on McCain. The revived drive comes as Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., work toward a bipartisan deal to continue federal subsidies to insurers that are used to ease some costs for lower-earning customers. Trump has threatened to block the subsidies. Murray spokeswoman Helen Hare said Murray is 'hopeful and optimistic' a deal could come soon, a statement that came as Democrats tried peeling away GOP support from the Graham-Cassidy bill. ___ Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Andrew Taylor and Richard Lardner in Washington and Scott Bauer in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, contributed to this report.
  • The problems keep piling up for Facebook, and it's unclear how long the internet giant will be able to brush them aside as it barrels toward acquiring its next billion users. The world's biggest social network has unwittingly allowed groups backed by the Russian government to target users with ads. That's after it took months to acknowledge its outsized role in influencing the U.S. election by allowing the spread of fake news — though before news emerged that it let advertisers target messages to 'Jew-haters.' Now Facebook is under siege, facing questions from lawmakers and others seeking to rein in its enormous power. The company has turned over information on the Russia-backed ads to federal authorities investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Critics say the company also needs to tell its users how they might have been influenced by outside meddlers. Speculation is rife that Facebook executives, perhaps including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, could be called to testify before Congress. Hearings might lead to new regulations on the company. 'Facebook appears to have been used as an accomplice in a foreign government's effort to undermine democratic self-governance in the United States,' writes Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and now head of a nonpartisan election-law group, in a letter to Zuckerberg. 'ERA OF ACCOUNTABILITY' Potter's group, the Campaign Legal Center, wants Facebook to make the Russian-sponsored ads public. The company has so far declined to do so, citing the ongoing investigations. It has provided the ads and other information to Robert Mueller, the special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation, Facebook said in a statement, although it declined to elaborate. The company that nudges its users to reveal intimate details about their lives, it turns out, isn't all that comfortable doing the same. That's true for everything from the secret algorithms that recommend 'people you might know' to data on its attempts to clamp down on the spread of false news shared across its network. The company justifies its secrecy in many ways, having variously claimed legal restrictions, business secrets, security and privacy protections to excuse its opacity. But Jonathan Albright, whose late 2016 research on the 'fake news' propaganda ecosystem outlined how propaganda websites track and target users, thinks the current moment may be a turning point for online giants like Facebook. 'Now that it has run directly into something that possibly affected the outcome of the election — but they can't determine how — this may be their era of accountability,' said Albright, the director of research at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. There has been no other company on the planet, Albright added, that can provide access to as many real people as Facebook. POWER GAMES AND NEW RULES Facebook prefers to think of itself as an online platform, but in many respects it's also a modern sort of media company, if for no other reason than that so many people rely on it as a source of news and information. In its early years, Facebook even described itself as a 'social utility.' Now the question is whether it should be regulated as one — and if so, how. There aren't many straightforward answers, even where political ads already subject to government rules are concerned. It's already illegal for foreign nationals to spend money in connection with a U.S. federal election, whether on or off of Facebook. And campaign law requires people who spend money on another person's website to disclose that fact in the ad itself. Broadcast-era election law, however, can be a poor fit for the Internet Age. Attempts to sway political sentiment on Facebook can be targeted to small groups who share a common background or attitudes, making them difficult to track from the outside. And many such efforts might not resemble traditional advertisements at all. The goal of many Facebook marketing campaigns is to generate posts that regular people will spread widely for free; political persuasion campaigns can work the same way. 'As a practical matter, it is extremely difficult for the U.S. government to regulate content on the internet that may have an effect on the U.S. election,' said Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Stanford Law School. 'If a teenager in his mother's basement in Moscow wants to put up a YouTube video, it's not clear what the U.S. will be able to do about that.' Difficult doesn't mean impossible. Persily, for instance, thinks that Facebook could use its AI technology to flag election-related ads that don't bear the disclosures required by existing law. Companies like Facebook could also be required to do some kind of due diligence on who is spending money on their platforms on behalf of candidates, he added. Keeping an online repository of all candidate-related ads within six months of an election, identified by their backers, could also provide an additional check on illegal attempts to sway elections.
  • Toys 'R' Us, the big box toy retailer struggling with $5 billion in debt and intense online competition, has filed for bankruptcy protection ahead of the key holiday shopping season — and says its stores will remain open for business as usual. The company based in Wayne, New Jersey, said late Monday that it was voluntarily seeking relief through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond — and that its Canadian subsidiary would be seeking similar protection through a Canadian court in Ontario as it seeks to reorganize. Toys 'R' Us said court-supervised proceedings will help restructure its debts and set the stage for long-term growth. Its announcement said separate operations outside the U.S. and Canada are not part of the filings. And it emphasized that its stores worldwide will remain open and that it will continue to work with suppliers and sell merchandise. 'The company's approximately 1,600 Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us stores around the world — the vast majority of which are profitable — are continuing to operate as usual,' the company statement said. 'Customers can also continue to shop for the toy and baby products they are looking for online.' Dave Brandon, company chairman and CEO, said that the court filing provides a path for the company and its investors to work with its debtholders and other creditors to work on restructuring the debt beleaguering the pioneering toy retailer. 'Together with our investors our objective is to work with our debtholders and other creditors to restructure the $5 billion of long-term debt on our balance sheet, which will provide us with greater financial flexibility to invest in our business ... and strengthen our competitive position in an increasingly challenging and rapidly changing retail marketplace worldwide,' he said in the announcement. The move comes at a critical time ahead of the peak holiday shopping season that is crucial to retailers' bottom lines. Brandon expressed confidence in the looming reorganization, vowing that the iconic Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands known to shoppers for generations would continue on. Toys 'R' Us, a major force in toy retailing in the 1980s and early 1990s, started losing shoppers to discounters like Walmart and Target and then to Amazon. The company has struggled with debt since private-equity firms Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust took it private in a $6.6 billion leveraged buyout in 2005. The plan had been to take the company public, but that never happened because of its weak financial performance. With such debt levels, Toys 'R' Us has not had the financial flexibility to invest in its business. Analysts say Toys 'R' Us hasn't been aggressive about building its online business, and has let those sales migrate to rivals. And they say the company should have also thought of new ways to attract more customers in its stores, such as hosting birthday parties. A Toys 'R' Us bankruptcy filing would join a list of those from other major retailers since the beginning of the year — including shoe chain Payless Shoe Source, children's clothing chain Gymboree Corp. and the True Religion jean brand — as people shop less in stores and more online. While toy sales overall have held up fairly well, they are shifting toward discounters and online companies. U.S. toy sales rose 6 percent last year on top of a 7 percent increase in the prior year, says NPD Group Inc., a market research firm. That was the biggest increase since 1999 and was fueled by several blockbuster movies. But for the first half of 2017, sales rose 3 percent. That puts more pressure on the later part of the year, when most toy sales occur, for the industry to meet NPD's estimate for a 4.5 percent annual increase. Lego is laying off 1,400 workers after saying profits and sales dropped in the first half. And the nation's two largest toy makers, Mattel and Hasbro, reported disappointing second-quarter results. In a separate statement late Monday, the company said its online sales sites worldwide remain open for business during the court-supervised process. It added that the company's operations outside of the U.S. and Canada, including operations in Europe and Australia as well as some 255 licensed stores and joint venture partnership in Asia — all separate entities — were not part of the Chapter 11 filing or the parallel Canadian move. The company has nearly 65,000 employees worldwide and bills itself as a leading global retailer of toy and baby products. Merchandise is sold through 885 Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us stories in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Guam, and in more than 810 international stores and over 255 licensed stores in 38 countries and jurisdictions. ___ Cormier reported from Atlanta.
  • Producers of the now-closed Broadway musical 'Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812' are keeping enthusiasm in the show going by opening a place to serve pierogis like the ones made for show attendees. The New York restaurant is called Samovarchik and is located on the Lower East Side. The New York Times reports it offers a menu of Russian specialties, including the pierogis made for the musical. 'Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812' served pierogis to audience members at the beginning of the show. The musical is an adaptation of a segment of the novel 'War and Peace' by Leo Tolstoy. The menu is based on recipes of Lena Gambourg, the mother of producer Roman Gambourg. ___ Information from: The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com

Local News

  • This year, 10 University of Georgia students and alumni were offered grants to take their research and teaching to a global level through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. This marks the fourth straight year-and eighth time in the past nine years-that UGA has achieved a double-digit number of Fulbright offers. Of the 10, six were able to take advantage of the opportunity. Four received academic grants, and two will be teaching English. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent college graduates and graduate students. As the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, it is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and countries worldwide. 'These prestigious grants are a testament to the exceptional talent of UGA students and UGA's institutional commitment to international education,' said Maria de Rocher, assistant director of the Honors Program and chair of the Fulbright selection committee at UGA. Four students and alumni received Fulbright academic grants. Their study concentrations and host countries are:• Anna Forrester of Kingsport, Tennessee, will be studying Shakespearean performances in Turkey, exploring how Shakespeare has shaped the country's national dramatic identity. She will be based in Istanbul. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in English literature at UGA.• John Esteban Rodriguez of Guyton will be conducting research on the intersection of race and LGBTQ identities, while pursuing a master's degree in gender, politics and sexuality in Paris. He recently completed bachelor's and master's degrees in English at UGA.• Samuel Schaffer of Atlanta will be working as a binational business intern in Mexico City, Mexico. He graduated from UGA this past May with a bachelor's degree in international affairs.• James Thompson of Augusta will be participating in the Young Professional Journalist Program in Freiburg, Germany, interning with various media companies and researching how religious groups interact with secular communities. He received bachelor's degrees in journalism and history this past May. Two alumni received Fulbright English teaching assistantship awards. Their study concentrations and host countries are:• Asad Delawalla of Lawrenceville will be teaching English classes in South Korea. He graduated from UGA in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in international affairs and a minor in French. • Margaret Harney of Atlanta will be assisting English teachers in Spain. She graduated from UGA in 2016 with bachelor's degrees in Spanish and journalism.
  •     Hall County Animal Control says it has confirmed Hall County’s eighth rabies case of 2017: a rabid raccoon tangled with two dogs on Wild Smith Road in Gainesville. From Hall County Animal Control... This is to advise that there was contact between a rabid raccoon and two dogs recently in the 5200 block of Wild Smith Road in Gainesville. The raccoon was shipped to the Georgia Public Health Lab- Virology Section in Decatur. Hall County Animal Control was advised Friday that the raccoon tested positive for rabies. This is the eighth confirmed case of rabies in 2017.        Positive alert signs will be posted in the area where the rabid raccoon was located. If you live in this area or you see an animal acting abnormally in the area, contact Hall County Animal Services at 770-531-6830 or during non-working hours call Hall County Dispatch at 770-536-8812.       Animal owners are encouraged to vaccinate their domesticated pets for rabies. Vaccines are available at the Hall County Animal Shelter for $10 Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1688 Barber Rd, Gainesville.         
  • The Georgia DOT says the lane closures that started last night on Highway 316 in Oconee County will continue through October 1. It’s for resurfacing work on 316 between the Oconee Connector and Virgil Langford. WHO: Georgia DOT construction contractors will begin resurfacing State Route 316 this month. WHAT: Overnight single lane closures will be required for resurfacing work to take place. WHEN: September 18, 2017 nightly through October 1, 2017. 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.  WHERE: State Route 316 Epps Bridge Parkway between Virgil Lankford to the Oconee Connector 
  • Athens-Clarke County Commissioners meet for a 6 o’clock agenda setting session at City Hall. The county’s drought and water shortage plan is up for discussion, as are appointments to local boards, authorities, and commissions.  There is an afternoon meeting of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission: it’s a 4 o’clock session at the Library on Baxter Street.  The Athens Airport Authority meets this afternoon, 3:30 at Athens-Ben Epps Airport.  There is an evening meeting of Madison County’s Planning and Zoning Board, a 6:30 session at the Madison County Government Complex in Danielsville. Winder City Councilman Bob Dixon says family considerations are behind his decision to pull out of his race for reelection. He’ll step down from the post he’s held since 2010. One of two remaining candidates in the November 7 election—either Chris Akins or Todd Saxon—will fill Dixon’s seat on the City Council in Winder.  The Gainesville City Council meets, 5:30 this afternoon at the Public Safety Complex in Gainesville. The Council is expected to set the millage rate for the Gainesville City School District. It will come without a property tax increase for Gainesville home owners.
  • The Oconee County School Board lays out a plan for redistricting in advance of the 2018 opening of Dove Creek Elementary School. All streets west of Highway 78 would be rezoned for Dove Creek. The Board will hold what it calls a listening session on the plan next month. “Over the last several years, our district has seen tremendous growth because of the incredible work of our teachers, support staff and administrators, parents, students, and community,” said Superintendent Jason Branch. “We are very blessed to be a part of the #1 school district in the state, which is also the #1 fastest growing system in Northeast Georgia with 3,500 or more students. With 15.4% growth since 2013 and two of our elementary schools over building capacity, we look forward to opening Dove Creek Elementary School this fall.”  More information is available on the district’s web site at: www.oconeeschools.org/redistricting. On this site are current and proposed zoning maps, a link to a feedback form, and a street index. Of note on the street index:  • All streets west of Highway 78 are rezoned for Dove Creek Elementary School. They are not included on the list since it includes all streets in that area. and can be viewed on the proposed map.  • The street index includes only streets proposed for redistricting from Malcom Bridge Elementary School to Rocky Branch Elementary School.  In addition, the Board of Education invites the community to a Listening Session on the proposed redistricting plan Tuesday, October 10 at 6 p.m. at North Oconee High School.    “We appreciate the continued support of our community, and look forward to receiving their feedback,” said Branch.

Bulldog News

  • UGA will make its first SEC road trip in a couple weeks to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Sept. 30th. The Southeastern Conference on Monday assigned a kickoff time for the game.  The Bulldogs and Volunteers have been given a 3:30pm kickoff, and will be played on CBS as its SEC Game of the Week.  This will be the Bulldogs’ first appearance on CBS this season, and hold an all-time record of 48-38-1 when playing on the network.  Start planning travel/tailgating accordingly. 
  • This coming Saturday night Georgia Bulldog football game will be a Top 25 matchup. The Georgia Dogs host the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference opener for the home team. Georgia is ranked 11th in this week's AP poll; Mississippi State is 17th. Both teams are undefeated. The game kicks at 7 o'clock in Sanford Stadium. The game against Mississippi State will be the second time this season the Georgia Bulldogs will have faced a ranked opponent: the Dogs beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish September 9 in South Bend.  The Bulldogs are coming off a 42-14 win over FCS Samford this past Saturday night. Jay Black wrote about that game for WSB Radio... Alright it was a laugher, it should have been a laugher, it was a laugher. But this is nothing to joke about. The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs have a lot of running backs. A lot of good running backs. Yes this school likes to pride itself as Tailback U. You certainly got to watch a lot of good tailbacks tonight. We didn’t exactly learn a whole lot on this Saturday. Samford didn’t pull off a Nicholls State type-scare and UGA wins 42-14. Wahoo. But we did learn, or confirm, this should and will be a running football team. No matter who is playing quarterback. “That’s one of our depth spots,” Kirby Smart told the UGA Radio Network after the game. “We got a lot of guys who can play.” Yeah no kidding. Let’s start with the bell cow climbing up the UGA record books. Nick Chubb rushes for 131 yards on 16 carries and shows the patience and the vision that’s made him the second leading rusher in school history. Now he’s also second by himself with 19 100-yard games. He trails only Herschel Walker. That’s not bad. Chubb also passed the legendary Charley Trippi to move into a tie for fourth in UGA history with 33 career TD runs. To wedge yourself between Walker and Trippi on any list is a good night. Imagine what could have happened if he didn’t blow out his knee on that sad excuse for grass they call a field in Tennessee? Does Nick Chubb pass Herschel? Probably not, because those stats are still silly good, but it would have been fun to watch. Speaking of injuries, Chubb’s understudy didn’t even play tonight. Sony Michel has a bad ankle. Even if it’s five percent hurt, there was no reason to play tonight. There’s plenty of reinforcements. For example, the freshman. “What a special talent D’Andre Swift is,” said Smart. Uh huh. Kirby was kind of complaining on our air last week that this kid wasn’t getting the ball enough. He got a few chances to show off tonight. Swift had nine carries for 54 yards and a 10 yard catch. Oh yeah, and that touchdown. “You’ve got to see that one on replay tonight,” said UGA analyst Eric Zeier. Swift hit the Circle Button, dropped a beautiful spin move and zoom, into the end zone for his first career TD. He sort of reminds me of Sony Michel when he was a freshman, but I think he might be (gulp) swifter than Sony. The kid can fly. That’s your third string running back folks. But UGA goes five deep. “I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of Brian Herrien,” said Smart. “We see it everyday in practice, but he hasn’t had a chance to show off his skills.” Herrien also got five yards per touch tonight. Walking away with 45 yards on nine carries. He’s smaller, won’t run a lot of people over, but in the last two years, we’ve seen flashes of a guy who deserves more than fourth string. And that goes double for the fifth-stringer, Elijah Holyfield. He was a 4-star recruit and the guy many thought would step in and be the man after Chubb and Michel. He finally got eight carries tonight and only had 28 yards behind the second-string offensive line. But we saw on the kick return that got called back against Notre Dame, that Evander’s son can still be a weapon. Credit to Jim Chaney for finding ways to get all of these guys touches in the early going. Even if it means Holyfield returns kicks, they are all involved. “They run hard, they protect the ball, they protect the ball,” said Smart. “I was proud of the toughness they ran with tonight. They deserve that opportunity.” UGA still has plenty of questions and they weren’t going to be answered tonight. I still don’t know what to make of this offensive line and Jake Fromm is still a freshman. But this team can play defense and it can run the rock. That recipe generally works. Now we find out for real what Kirby has in year two. SEC play begins and the real football starts now.
  • 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 16, 2017 at Sanford Stadium in Athens
  • The University of Georgia released its full football schedule for the 2018 season today.  9/1 - Austin-Peay (Athens, GA) 9/7 - South Carolina (Columbia, SC) 9/15 - Middle Tennessee State (Athens, GA) 9/22 - Missouri (Columbia, MO) 9/29 - Tennessee (Athens, GA) 10/6 - Vanderbilt (Athens, GA) 10/13 - LSU (Baton Rouge, LA) 10/20 - BYE WEEK 10/27 - Florida (Jacksonville, FL) 11/3 - Kentucky (Lexington, KY) 11/10 - Auburn (Athens, GA) 11/17 - UMass (Athens, GA) 11/24 - Georgia Tech (Athens, GA) A few items of note: Georgia will have seven home games in 2018, whereas it had six homes games in 2017.  The South Carolina game returns to the beginning of the season where it more traditionally has been played. The last few seasons have seen that game moved from mid-October to even mid-November The Bulldogs will travel to LSU for the first time since 2008, a 52-38 win for Georgia as Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford lead the team.  Yet again, with the Florida game being neutral site, and the home-and-home with Georgia Tech every year, Georgia fans will have to go an entire month (35 days) without football and tailgates in Athens. After the Vanderbilt game on Oct. 6th, the next home game will be against Auburn on Nov. 10th.  Georgia will finish the season with three consecutive November home games, when weather can be very nice... but it can also get very cold if night games happen to be scheduled. 
  • For those in the Athens, Ga area and affected by Tropical Storm Irma, use THIS LINK for information you need regarding next steps.