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World News Headlines

    Belgian regional authorities say an intact German World War I submarine has been found off the coast of Belgium and contains the bodies of 23 people. Western Flanders Governor Carl Decaluwe told The Associated Press Tuesday that the find on the floor of the North Sea 'is very unique.' He said the 'impact damage was at the front but the submarine remains closed, and there are 23 people still onboard.' Decaluwe said the U-boat was found by researchers. He declined to provide details about its location until the site has been protected. He also said he had contacted the German ambassador because 'there are people on board and we need to see what can do' with their remains.
  • 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 said the proceedings are a way for Toys 'R' Us to work with its creditors on restructuring the debt beleaguering it. And it emphasized that its stores worldwide will remain open and it will work with suppliers and sell merchandise. Filing for bankruptcy protection '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,' Chairman and CEO Dave Brandon said in the announcement. The move comes at a critical time leading into the holiday season that is crucial to retailers' bottom lines. The company said it was 'well stocked as we prepare for the holiday season and are excited about all of our upcoming in-store events.' Retailers of all kinds are struggling. The Toys 'R' Us bankruptcy filing joins a list of at least 18 others 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. 'Toys R Us had little choice but to restructure and try to put itself on a firmer footing, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. However, he added, 'even if the debt issues are solved, Toys R Us still faces massive structural challenges against which it must battle.' 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. GlobalData Retail estimates that in 2016 about 13.7 percent of toy sales were made online, up from 6.5 percent five years ago. And children are increasingly moving more toward mobile devices as playthings. 'For many children, electronics have become a replacement or a substitute for traditional toys,' Saunders said. Toys 'R' Us 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. Randy Watson of Fort Worth, Texas, has been buying fewer gifts for his five grandchildren from Toys 'R' Us and more from Walmart and Amazon. He says he visits Toys 'R' Us to check out the items, but then usually uses his phone from the aisle to buy them for less elsewhere. 'If we were buying a gift beyond a toy, I would be less apt to buying' at Toys 'R' Us, he said. 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. Toys 'R' Us, based in Wayne, New Jersey, announced the filing late Monday. It said 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. Its announcement said separate operations outside the U.S. and Canada are not part of the filings. '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.' Toys 'R' Us said it expects to continue honoring return policies, warranties and gift cards, and customer loyalty programs should stay the same. In a separate statement late Monday, the company said its online sales sites worldwide remain open for business during the court-supervised process. The company has nearly 65,000 employees worldwide. ___ Cormier reported from Atlanta.
  • They told us we'd only be here for six days, and that was six years ago,' Ramadan Wani says. Anxiously rubbing his hands together, the 46-year-old sits hunched on a makeshift stool in his tattered house in Payuer, a displaced persons' camp in South Sudan's border town of Renk. He hasn't seen his family in all that time. He is one of several hundred who have become stranded because of their attachment to their belongings. They are waiting to be transported, with their baggage, a resettlement option that dried up long ago. When South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, Wani was one of 68,000 people who returned from Sudan in hopes of starting a new life in the world's youngest nation. Aided by the United Nations and South Sudan's government, he was relocated to Renk, where he was told he'd be transported to his hometown of Yambio along the border with Congo — on the other side of the country. 'I was so happy that we were separate countries,' says Wani, who had been living in Sudan for more than three decades. 'I wanted to go home.' But South Sudan's civil war, which erupted in 2013, created the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis. Wani and hundreds of others like him are perhaps the conflict's most unusual displaced population. The Payuer camp is home to nearly 2,000 people, the majority of them stranded since the start of the fighting after arriving from Sudan. Six years ago, Wani's wife and three children joined over 12,000 people who were flown by the U.N. from Sudan's capital, Khartoum, to South Sudan's capital, Juba. Because they were unable to carry their luggage on the plane, Wani traveled by land across the border to Renk with the family's belongings. He says South Sudan's government assured him he soon would be transported by barge down the Nile and reunited with his family. But days turned into weeks and weeks into months, and when fighting erupted in December 2013 between President Salva Kiir's government soldiers and forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, the transports stopped entirely. Roads between Renk and Juba are too dangerous to travel, and the few flights are too expensive. 'Unfortunately the outbreak of the crisis in December 2013 also drew on resources from continuing returnee operations,' says Ashley McLaughlin, communications officer for the U.N. migration agency. As humanitarian needs grew across the country, McLaughlin says financial support for onward transportation assistance 'sharply diminished.' Those stranded in Renk were faced with a choice: Give up your possessions and leave, or remain and wait for peace. 'I couldn't leave my things,' Wani says. 'It's all we had.' During a visit by the AP in August, piles of metal chairs, ripped suitcases, broken radios and stained wooden shelves littered the dirt paths in Payuer camp. Desperate families used spare furniture to clog leaky roofs, while others fortified the walls of their homes with bed frames. 'Had I known I wouldn't have been able to take my luggage, I would have sold it,' says Anania Lojang Loku, chairman of Payuer camp. In 2012, Loku was told that he would be in Renk for just three days before being transferred to Juba to join his family. Five years later, he says he doubts he'll ever see his wife and four children again. Charged with looking after the luggage of eight relatives, he says he's trapped. 'People still call to ask how their luggage is doing,' Loku says, pointing to a mound of ripped sofa cushions and kitchen utensils collecting dust behind his house. South Sudan's government says it is trying to find a way to send people home, but admits that it's not a priority. 'It's not happening,' says Zplon Akok, the head of the government's humanitarian arm in Renk. He believes the government wants to help but says it's a struggle due to lack of funds and the country's humanitarian crisis. In the meantime, those in the camps say they feel abandoned. In February, the U.N. migration agency closed its clinic in Payuer, leaving people to walk 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the nearest hospital. Disease is rife and locals say that more than 10 children have died from malaria in the past six months. 'I have no feeling anymore,' Loku says, tucking both arms between his legs. 'Everyone just sits here. We just sit here, staying sad.
  • 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.
  • With a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims sparking accusations of ethnic cleansing from the United Nations and others, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said her country does not fear international scrutiny and invited diplomats to see some areas for themselves. Though an estimated 421,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in less than a month as their villages burned and hundreds were killed, Suu Kyi said the 'great majority' of Muslims within the conflict zone stayed and that 'more than 50 percent of their villages were intact.' The Nobel Peace laureate's global image has been damaged by violence since Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar security forces on Aug. 25. Rohingya fled their villages in the military crackdown that followed, and many of their villages have been burned. The government has blamed the Rohingya themselves, but members of the persecuted minority have said soldiers and Buddhist mobs attacked them. Suui Kyi's first address to the nation since the violence erupted came days after she canceled plans to attend the U.N. General Assembly, a decision widely seen as a response to international criticism. Suu Kyi said anyone found to have broken the law would be punished. 'Human rights violations and all other acts that impair stability and harmony and undermine the rule of law will be addressed in accordance with strict laws and justice,' she said. The Rohingya, who live mainly in northern Rakhine state near the Bangladesh border, have had a long and troubled history in this predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million. Though members of the long-persecuted religious minority first arrived in the western state of Rakhine generations ago, most people in Myanmar consider them to have migrated illegally from Bangladesh. Denied citizenship, they are effectively stateless. They cannot travel freely, practice their religion, or work as teachers or doctors, and they have little access to medical care, food or education. The attacks on Rohingya villages in the last month appear to many to have been a systematic effort to drive them out. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described it as ethnic cleansing. Satellite imagery released by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday shows massive swaths of scorched landscape and the near total destruction of 214 villages. Also Tuesday, a group that focuses on Rohingya rights said the attacks drove nearly all Rohingya out of one of the three northern Rakhine townships where the ethnic group is concentrated in Myanmar. The Arakan Project found that almost every tract of villages in Maungdaw township suffered some burning. Most Rohingya villages in Rathedaung township also were targeted, but relatively few were hit in Buthidaung township. Suu Kyi sought to assure foreign diplomats gathered for her speech in Naypyitaw, the capital, that those who fled to Bangladesh would be allowed to return if they passed a 'verification' process. She also said the government was working to restore normalcy in the area. Though fires have continued to flare in recent days in northern Rakhine state, she said 'there have been no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations' for the past two weeks. 'Nevertheless we are concerned to hear that numbers of Muslims are fleeing across the border to Bangladesh,' she said. 'We want to understand why this exodus is happening. We would like to talk to those who have fled as well as those who have stayed.' She said she it would be helpful to understand why conflict did not break out everywhere. She invited the diplomats with visit villages that weren't affected so they could learn along with the government 'why are they not at each other's throats in these particular areas.' Rohingya now in camps in Bangladesh were angered by the implication that Rohingya who were driven from their villages were themselves responsible, or that some members of the ethnic group are safe. In the Kutupalong refugee camp, Abdul Hafiz said Rohingya once trusted Suu Kyi more than the military that not only ruled for half a century before, but also held her under house arrest for many years. Now Hafiz calls Suu Kyi a 'liar' and says Rohingya are suffering more than ever. He said Suu Kyi should give international journalists more access to their destroyed villages. If Rohingya are proven wrong that they were attacked, he said, 'we will not mind if the world decides to kill us all by pushing us into the sea.' Chris Lewa, founder of the Arakan Project, said the government rules for verifying Rohingya as citizens are too strict, requiring documents dating back decades. 'Many people would have lost their documents in the fires, and many children were already unregistered,' she said. Those fires, she added, have destroyed thousands of homes. 'So where are they going to go?' I hope not in segregated camps, as in Sittwe,' a Rakhine state city where tens of thousands of Rohingya have been confined since another round of ethnic violence five years ago. Some observers who attended the speech said it was progress for Suu Kyi to invite diplomats to at least some Rohingya villages. 'Today's welcoming of the international community to travel to Rakhine and see for ourselves what the situation is, I think that is a positive statement,' said Andrew Kirkwood of the United Nations' Office for Project Services. W. Patrick Murphy, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asia, left the event without commenting. Russian and Chinese diplomats praised the speech. 'The message is quite clear that Myanmar is ready to cooperate with the international community,' said the Russian ambassador to Myanmar, Dr. Nikolay Listopadov. Rights groups were far more critical. Amnesty International regional director James Gomez accused Suu Kyi of 'a mix of untruths and victim-blaming.' 'There is overwhelming evidence that security forces are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing,' Gomez said. 'While it was positive to hear Aung San Suu Kyi condemn human rights violations in Rakhine state, she is still silent about the role of the security forces in this.' The exodus continues to grow. The U.N.'s migration agency on Tuesday raised its estimate of the number of refugees in Bangladesh to 421,000, and UNICEF says more than a quarter-million of those are children. Hundreds of thousands more Rohingya were already in Bangladesh from waves of violence years earlier. Spokesman Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration says an estimated 20,000 people are flowing across Myanmar's border into Bangladesh every day. ___ AP writers Robin McDowell in Yangon, Myanmar, and Julhas Alam in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.
  • A tanker being used to pump oil from a sunken ship that is polluting the coastline around Greece's main port of Piraeus is to be replaced because its certificate of seaworthiness is expiring, Greek authorities said Tuesday. Merchant Marine Deputy Minister Nektarios Santorinios said the swap would not delay the pumping operation for more than a few hours. The government has ordered expiring seaworthiness certificates not to be extended, after it emerged that the tanker which sank on Sept. 10 was operating on an extended certificate. The Agia Zoni II tanker sank while anchored in calm seas with 2,200 tons of fuel oil and 370 tons of marine gas oil. Part of its cargo spilled into waters where dolphins, turtles, seals and a variety of fish and sea birds live. Oil slicks have extended from the island of Salamina near where the sinking occurred to the entire length of the Athens coast, and cleanup crews have been working on land and at sea to clear up the viscous, foul-smelling liquid. Santorinios said during an interview on state-run ERT television that the situation was 'steadily improving.' He said authorities believe the greater part of the oil spill will have been cleaned up from the sea and coastlines in 20-30 days. The pumping of the sunken tanker's cargo from its holds is expected to last for about 15-20 days. On Monday, the World Wildlife Fund in Greece filed a lawsuit over the pollution, saying it considered the case to be 'an environmental crime deserving exemplary punishment.' The group filed the suit against 'anyone found responsible,' a common legal practice in Greece when a culprit has not been formally identified.
  • Spain's Interior Ministry says police have arrested a Pakistani man suspected of promoting terrorism and spreading Islamic jihadi propaganda on social media networks. A ministry statement the 25-year-old resident of the northern Catalan city of Lleida was part of a cell partially dismantled with the arrest of three Pakistani brothers in Lleida last year. The ministry said the man detained Tuesday had become more engrossed in radical activities in recent weeks. Sixteen people were killed in attacks in the Catalan capital, Barcelona, and another Catalan coastal town last month. The Islamic State armed group claimed the attacks. Spain says its police have been involved in the arrests of 200 suspected jihadi activists since the country raised its security alert to one step below the maximum in June 2015.
  • Delta Air Lines said it is capping main cabin one-way fares at $199 for flights out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and Santiago in the Dominican Republic as Hurricane Maria approaches. >> Hurricane Jose and Hurricane Maria: Live updates Atlanta-based Delta is also adding two extra flights from San Juan to Atlanta for those who want to get out of the hurricane’s path. >> Read more trending news Delta is waiving change fees for travelers with flights booked to, from or through San Juan, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and Santiago from Sept. 19-26. >> More hurricane coverage from WFTV, Action News Jax and the Palm Beach Post Southwest Airlines is canceling its flights scheduled to and from San Juan for Tuesday after 6 p.m. and Wednesday, and to and from Punta Cana on Wednesday.
  • Elected on the nationalist slogan 'America first,' President Donald Trump will use his debut address to the U.N. General Assembly to argue that individual nations should act in their own self-interest, yet rally together when faced with a common threat such as North Korea. Trump, who has warned of 'fire and fury' if North Korea does not back down, was expected to argue Tuesday that the dangers posed by Kim Jung Un's pursuit of a nuclear weapons program should unite all nations. And he planned to issue not just warnings to North Korea but also rebukes to states that have enabled Pyongyang, though it was unclear if he would criticize China by name. Addressing the General Assembly is a milestone moment for any president, but one particularly significant for Trump, a relative newcomer to foreign policy who has at times rattled the international community with his unpredictability. He has pulled the Unites States out of multinational agreements, considered shrinking the U.S. military footprint in the world and deployed bombastic language on North Korea that has been criticized by other world leaders. Trump frequently belittled the U.N. as a candidate and some within his White House believe the U.N acts as a global bureaucracy that infringes on the sovereignty of individual countries. But the president was expected to stand before world leaders and a global audience and declare that U.N. members, acting as a collection of self-interested nations, should unite to confront global dangers, according to aides previewing his speech. Beyond North Korea, crisis points the Republican president planned to address include Iran's nuclear agenda, the instability in Venezuela and the fight against terrorism in Syria and elsewhere. World leaders, many of whom will be seeing Trump in person for the first time, are bound to take the measure of the man and parse his every word for clues on how he views the U.S. role in the world and within the U.N. 'It's a tremendous opportunity because the world wants to work with the United States if there's any way to do so,' said Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 'He has an opportunity to show surprising openness.' Trump tipped his hand Monday as he riffed on his campaign slogan when asked to preview his central message to the General Assembly: 'I think the main message is 'make the United Nations great' — not 'again.' 'Make the United Nations great.'' 'Such tremendous potential, and I think we'll be able to do this,' he added. In brief remarks to the U.N. on Monday, Trump chastised the world body's bloated bureaucracy and budget, saying, 'We are not seeing the results in line with this investment.' But even with that scolding, Trump pledged to the U.N. that the United States would be 'partners in your work' to make the organization a more effective force for world peace. He praised the U.N.'s early steps toward change and made no threats to withdraw U.S. support. The president's more measured tone stood in sharp contrast to the approach he took at NATO's new Brussels headquarters in May, when he upbraided member nations for not paying enough and refused to back its mutual defense pact explicitly. While running for office, Trump had labeled the U.N. weak and incompetent. He has suggested it was 'not a friend' to the United States or democracy while deriding it as 'a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.' He thundered often about putting 'America first,' and has withdrawn from what he considered multilateral agreements that he found unfavorable to the United States, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He also announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which would leave the U.S. one of only three countries outside the pact. Aides have since suggested Trump would be willing to renegotiate terms of the deal but European leaders have dismissed that approach. Trump has also frequently questioned the value of a robust American presence around the world. When briefed on the government's diplomatic, military and intelligence posts, the new president would often cast doubt on the need for all the resources. Some aides have suggested that Trump employs 'principled realism' — making global decisions based on the best outcome for the United States. The administration has also shied away from talk of nation-building or creating democracies through the use of the U.S. military. But Trump has softened his rhetoric about the United Nations since taking office and cheered the recent Security Council resolution that approved new sanctions against North Korea. Potentially foreshadowing a Trump argument, Brian Hook of the State Department said Monday that the U.N. could be useful as a 'force multiplier' to 'bring a global approach to global threats.' 'The president has been working very well with the U.N. Security Council,' said Hook, who praised Trump's ability to deal with the world body and 'leverage it for the purposes the U.N. charter created, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.' ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire
  • America second. It's a rare consideration for President Donald Trump, who has boasted of a new foreign policy formed around the idea of strength and unabashedly putting his nation's interests first. But his No. 2 billing will be the tradition he must respect when leaders deliver their messages to the world at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. Brazil has opened the annual gathering of presidents and prime ministers, popes and premiers, and kings and chancellors for more than six decades, with rare exceptions. The U.S. leader has had to wait his turn. Anticipation for Tuesday's set of speeches is high. Trump will be making his debut at the annual ministerial meeting of the U.N.'s 193 member nations, hoping to sell a vision of international cooperation defined less by collective obligation and more by sovereign states taking voluntary initiatives. His counterparts from around the globe will be closely gauging how much Trump tailors his message for the most prominent audience in international diplomacy. The origins of the tradition-bound United Nations' lineup are somewhat murky. In 1947, top Brazilian diplomat Oswaldo Aranha presided over the General Assembly session that led to the U.N.'s plan for the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Civil war meant the plan was never implemented, despite the world body's 33-13 vote in favor. But Brazil's historic role is recognized to this day. It led off the General Assembly from 1949 to 1951, before Cuba, the United States and Canada all got top-of-the-billing turns. And since 1955, Brazil almost always has spoken first. The U.S., as the United Nations host country, has gone second. The tradition hasn't always been followed. In 1976, Chad took America's place when President Gerald Ford was late. Then in 1983 and 1984, Brazil and the U.S. flipped positions, allowing President Ronald Reagan to kick off the proceedings. As U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday: 'There are many unexplained traditions at the U.N. and this is one of them.

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.