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Business Headlines

    Asian markets were mostly lower on Tuesday after the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global outlook for 2019 and 2020. The downgrade came after China said its economy grew at the slowest pace in 30 years in the last quarter of 2018. Wall Street was closed for a holiday on Monday. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index shed 0.7 percent to 20,573.28 and the Kospi in South Korea sank 0.7 percent to 2,110.62. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.0 percent to 26,921.49. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.7 percent to 2,591.37. Australia's S&P ASX 200 slipped 0.6 percent to 5,852.50. Shares fell in Taiwan and Singapore but rose in the Philippines. GLOBAL GROWTH: On Monday, the International Monetary Fund cut its 2019 global growth estimate to 3.5 percent from 3.7 percent, citing trade tensions and rising interest rates. It also revised its estimate for 2020 to 3.6 percent, down from 3.7 percent. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who presented the forecasts at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said the global economy was growing more slowly than expected amid rising risks. Earlier in the day, China reported its economy expanded by 6.6 percent in 2018. This was the slowest pace of growth since 1990 and it fueled fears a trade dispute with Washington is putting a drag on the world's second largest economy. ANALYST'S TAKE: 'Against the backdrop of refreshed woes over growth and U.S. markets having been away for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there leaves little to inspire Asia markets,' Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. ENERGY: U.S. crude lost 34 cents to $53.70 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 3.3 percent to $54.04 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 47 cents to $62.27 per barrel. It closed at $62.74 per barrel in London. CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 109.44 yen from 109.65 yen late Monday. The euro slipped to $1.1361 from $1.1366.
  • A Tokyo court has rejected former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn's latest request for bail, more than two months after his arrest, prolonging a detention that has drawn international scrutiny of Japan's justice system. The decision by the Tokyo District Court came a day after Ghosn promised to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, give up his passport and pay for security guards approved by prosecutors to gain release from a Tokyo detention center. The court announced its decision in a statement. His family said they will appeal. Ghosn, 64, has been in custody since Nov. 19. He had a bail hearing Monday. A Tokyo court rejected an earlier request for bail last week. Ghosn, who led Nissan Motor Co. for two decades, has been charged with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his compensation from Nissan over eight years, and with breach of trust, centering on allegations Ghosn had Nissan temporarily shoulder his personal investment losses and pay a Saudi businessman. Ghosn has said he is innocent, explaining that the alleged compensation was never decided, Nissan didn't suffer losses and the payment was for legitimate services. His wife Carole Ghosn appealed for his release through Human Rights Watch earlier this month, saying Ghosn's treatment has been harsh and unfair. Her views echo widespread criticism of Japan's criminal justice system both inside and outside Japan. Suspects who insist they are innocent get held longer. Suspects are held in a cell and routinely grilled daily by investigators without a lawyer present, although lawyers are allowed to visit. Ghosn's lawyer Motonari Ohtsuru has acknowledged Ghosn's release may not come until the trial, which may be six months away. A date for the trial has not been set. Nissan officials say an internal investigation has found that Ghosn had schemes to hide his income and that he used company money and assets for personal gain. A special committee Nissan set up after Ghosn's arrest to strengthen governance held its first meeting Sunday. Seiichiro Nishioka, a former judge and co-chair, told reporters after the meeting that Ghosn had shown questionable ethics, and too much power within the company had been focused in one person. The committee's findings are due by late March. Ghosn's pay was long a sticking point in Japan, where executives generally get paid far less than their American and other Western counterparts. Ghosn insisted he deserved his higher pay because of his achievements, saying he could have left for another job. Nissan was on the verge of bankruptcy when alliance partner Renault SA of France sent in Ghosn to help revive it in 1999. Under Ghosn's leadership, Nissan turned itself around and became one of the most successful auto groups in the world. Ghosn also helped Nissan pioneer ecological auto technology. The Nissan Leaf is the top-selling electric car. ___ Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama On Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yurikageyama/?hl=en
  • Dior drew inspiration from the top of the big top for a playful couture show held Monday in Paris, where models inside a circus-style tent walked through a human arch made of moving acrobats. The theme seemed to well serve designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, who has struggled to fly in recent seasons. The acrobatics also dovetailed with some of the recent film roles of Dior's VIP guest, British actress Felicity Jones, who explained all to The Associated Press. Here are some highlights of Monday's spring-summer 2019 couture collections in Paris. DIOR CIRCUS Hundreds of vintage light bulbs like the ones used at fairgrounds lit up Dior's life-sized circus and a giant wooden pole held up the big top. Guests at the show inside the Rodin Museum gardens gawped at the decor. Acrobats dressed in the black-and-white costumes of Pierrot, the clown character from French pantomime, entered the stage area on each other's shoulders to begin the whimsical collection that riffed on the circus theme. Dior has had a long history with the big top — from a famous 1955 photo shoot with elephants in Paris' Winter Circus to the circus theme picked for one of former designer John Galliano's most memorable shows. And the circus seems to have provided Chiuri, who's struggled to take off since taking Dior's creative helm in 2016, the perfect muse to unlock her creativity. It was light and fun, without being heavy-handed or overly literal. A model in a chic sequined helmet wore a white origami skirt inspired by a clown's ruff and featuring a slightly dropped waist. A clown's multi-colored costume spawned a fantastic knitted tulle playsuit with a stylish Juliette sleeve — a shape repeated throughout the 68-look collection. Another tulle jumpsuit sported a multi-colored streak in satin bands and dramatically square shoulders. It was worn atop a 'tattooed' body suit that conjured up images of Victorian-era circus performers, one of many details that gave this collection a historic depth. FELICITY JONES ON ACROBATS Felicity Jones spoke to the AP from under Dior's big top and said she coincidentally she had just finished playing an acrobat for a movie called 'The Aeronauts' that reunited with 'The Theory of Everything' co-star Eddie Redmayne. 'This set is so fitting. It's obviously in the air,' she said, smiling. The feminist edge Chiuri has brought to Dior since becoming the first female designer in house history also mirrored the 'kick-ass women' Jones chooses to play, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the biopic 'On the Basis of Sex.' 'She's a formidable woman. She's someone who's changed the face of gender equality in the world, so it was an enormous privilege to be playing her,' Jones added. IRIS VAN HERPEN TAKES FLIGHT Dutch wunderkind Iris Van Herpen's couture took flight in the Palais de Beaux Arts in Paris' chic Left Bank. The show evoked winged forms and organic life, and was inspired by visual artist Kim Keever, who drops paint pigment into water. The arty setting was an appropriate backdrop for the sculptural creations that seemed to borrow from works housed at the Louvre, located hundreds of meters (yards) away. An organic cobalt blue gown featured bare shoulders and a pair of pleated wings that created a highly dramatic dynamic, similar to the Louvre's famed Hellenistic sculpture, The Winged Victory of Samothrace. Elsewhere, the marbled form of insects — or perhaps the intricate molecular structures of stones and crystals? — were reflected in a beautiful series of draped and loosely fitted silk gowns. Long Asian sleeves on vivid red and pearly white dresses added elegance and an opportunity to create an interesting trapeze silhouette. Van Herpen is a couture poet. SCHIAPARELLI IS WHIMSICAL Whimsical would be the word to best describe Schiaparelli's spring-summer couture. Designer Bertrand Guyon presented a fantastical universe of sheeny silks, softly architectural silhouettes and beautiful colors. The embellishments and shimmering embroideries on diverse designs were more than a match for the gilded gold of the show venue, Paris' ornate Garnier Opera House. Anachronism and contrast ruled. Cowboy boots cut a dramatic style below a medieval mini dress with speckled and billowing Juliette sleeves. A 1950s bar jacket and peplum ensemble and contemporary pants sported floral scenes that made it appear the pieces were used as a painter's canvas. And colored feathers that embellished several dresses gave the collection a dreamy quality as they slowly floated by, with the occasional plume falling gently to the ground. LANVIN APPOINTS NEW DESIGNER Lanvin, the world's oldest continually running couture house, has suffered creative turbulence and questions about its direction ever since the departure of lauded couturier Alber Elbaz in 2015. Since then, there has been a steady stream of disappointing designers whose collections have prompted lukewarm reviews. On Monday, the house named a new creative director: Bruno Sialelli. 'After a thorough and extensive application process involving an incredible array of talented designers,' Sialelli's profile was that which embodied best 'this new chapter in the house's history,' Lanvin said. Sialelli was poached from his position as the men's design director for Loewe. He said he aims to bring 'emotions through compelling stories' and to define 'a modern attitude' while continuing Lanvin's iconic legacy. The French hold a precious place in their hearts and culture for Lanvin, founded in 1889 by female fashion trailblazer Jeanne Lanvin. RALPH AND RUSSO GO FULL-ON RED CARPET Red carpet favorites Ralph and Russo unabashedly turned on the Hollywood glitz Monday. A thousand-watt showbiz lights at the foot of the runway spelled out the surnames of creative partners Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, as couture looks spilled out in va-va-voom haute glamour. Day wear was reasonably restrained, featuring details such as a snake embellishment across a tight double-breasted jacket in malachite or a circular hat with an oversize rim. But for the evening, the house put away its subtlety and got out its tulles, feathers and skin-baring bodices in black, white and neon pink. They will soon likely crop up on a red carpet in the French Riviera. Despite being relative fashion newcomers — they have already had star clients like Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lopez. ___ Thomas Adamson can be followed at www.twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K
  • A survey of hundreds of corporate leaders shows 'a record jump in pessimism' about the world economy, with sentiment doused by trade spats, a global downturn and fading benefits from U.S. President Donald Trump's tax cuts. Consulting firm PwC says the latest edition of its annual survey of CEOs found 30 percent feel growth will decline this year, a six-fold increase from a year earlier — when 57 percent were optimistic. The survey, released Monday on the eve of the World Economic Forum opening in Davos, Switzerland, tallies responses from more than 1,300 CEOs worldwide and is billed as a good predictor of economic results. In an interview, PwC Chairman Bob Moritz said: 'There's a not-surprising increase in the amount of pessimism from the CEOs and the global economy as they look at the next 12 months.' He said 'confidence is waning' amid rising trade tensions and protectionism. Thirty-five percent of CEOs cited the perennial concern about over-regulation as the top threat to their businesses. But 'policy uncertainty' — a new metric introduced this year — came a close second, the survey found. The survey of CEOs in 91 territories was conducted online, in person and by phone in September and October. The souring mood was perhaps most pronounced about the United States: The survey found a 41-percentage point drop in CEOs choosing the U.S. as a top market for growth, and optimism among North American executives dropped the most sharply — from 63 percent to 37 percent. Moritz suggested that the U.S. dominance in world affairs isn't what it once was, noting how the center of gravity of capital markets had been the U.S. over nearly the last half-century. 'Now you've got it shifting a little bit more east' to China and other parts of Asia, he said. The Trump administration's salvos over trade with China and other key trading partners have taken a bite: PwC found that 98 percent of U.S. CEOs and nine in ten Chinese counterparts voiced concerns about the U.S.-China trade issues. Moritz also pointed to uncertainty's about Brexit, saying simply: 'You never know where these things are going to go.' ___ Follow the AP's coverage of Davos here: https://www.apnews.com/Davos
  • The percentage of TSA airport screeners missing work has hit 10 percent as the partial government shutdown stretches into its fifth week. The Transportation Security Administration said Monday that Sunday's absence rate compared to 3.1 percent on the comparable Sunday a year ago. The workers who screen passengers and their bags face missing another paycheck if the shutdown doesn't end early this week. According to TSA, many of them say the financial hardship is preventing them from reporting to work. TSA says the national average waiting time in airport checkpoint lines is within the normal limit of 30 minutes, but there are longer lines at some airports. The agency has dispatched extra screeners to airports in Atlanta, LaGuardia Airport in New York, and Newark, New Jersey. A TSA spokesman said other airports might also be getting additional help. Sunday's 10 percent absence rate indicates that more than 3,000 airport screeners missed work. TSA has 51,000 screeners, and a spokesman said that about 33,000 work on any given day. That topped the previous high of 8 percent on Saturday. With fewer screeners, TSA closed one of its security checkpoints at Baltimore/Washington airport over the weekend, reopened it, but closed it again Monday afternoon, according to an airport spokeswoman. A checkpoint at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport remained closed. An airport spokesman said lines were relatively short at the other six checkpoints. TSA appeared to be managing the high sick-out rate as well as could be expected. The agency said that on Sunday it screened 1.78 million passengers, and only 6.9 percent — roughly 120,000 people — had to wait 15 minutes or longer to get through security. No figures were yet available for Monday, but websites or spokespeople for several major airports including Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago's O'Hare reported normal security lines and few problems. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which had some of the longest lines in the country last week, reported waits of 15 to 30 minutes at domestic-travel checkpoints Monday. Los Angeles International Airport showed most lines under 20 minutes. TSA got a break from bad weather: Storms in the Midwest and Northeast led airlines to cancel more than 4,400 flights over the three-day weekend, which reduced the number of passengers to screen. A few airports — San Francisco's being the largest — conduct screening with government-approved private contractors, not TSA. A long government shutdown and more TSA sick-outs could lead other airports to consider going private, although that hasn't happened yet. The holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. is not as busy for travel as many other three-day weekends. However, inconvenience could become a crisis for the travel industry the longer the shutdown lasts — and there are few signs of movement by President Donald Trump or congressional Democrats to break the stalemate over border-wall spending that is causing the shutdown. 'Presidents' Day weekend is much bigger, and then spring break and Easter— those are really important,' said Savanthi Syth, an airline analyst for Raymond James. Presidents' Day is Feb. 18, and Syth said if the shutdown drags into next month it could cause some passengers to cancel travel plans. ____ David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter
  • Two Tanzanian-flagged commercial vessels caught fire in the Black Sea, leaving at least 14 sailors dead, Russian officials said Monday. Five other sailors were missing. The Federal Agency for the Sea and River Transport said the fire erupted while fuel was being pumped from one tanker to another. The blaze spread from one ship to the other, prompting the crews to jump overboard, according to Russian news agencies. The news agencies quoted the federal maritime agency as saying the two vessels had 31 crew members combined who are citizens of Turkey and India. The maritime agency said that salvage teams have saved 12 crewmembers, correcting its earlier report that 14 sailors have been rescued. It said that 11 bodies were taken from the sea, adding that rescuers saw another three dead but failed to recover them. The search for five missing seamen was continuing. The Russian navy has joined the rescue operation, deploying two of its ships. The fire erupted while the two vessels, the Maestro and the Candy, were anchored near the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
  • Ride hailing firm Uber said Monday it is raising the minimum age of its drivers in the Netherlands and taking other measures to increase road safety after a series of fatal accidents involving Uber drivers. The general manager of Uber Nederland, Thijs Emondts, said in a statement posted on the company's website that it is lifting the minimum age from 18 to 21 years for drivers who use its app to connect with passengers. Uber also will insist that drivers have at least one year's driving experience and will develop a mandatory traffic safety training course for all drivers under the age of 25. Rob Stomphorst, a spokesman for road safety organization Safe Traffic the Netherlands, says four people died in recent weeks in crashes involving Dutch Uber cars. He says the circumstances of the crashes remain under investigation. The organization is planning to work with Uber to develop the safety training. Stomphorst welcomed the new measures as 'a step in the right direction' but said more could be done to increase safety. Uber's Dutch arm could not immediately be reached for comment. San Francisco-based Uber has expanded rapidly around the world by offering an alternative to traditional taxis through a smartphone app that links people in need of rides with drivers of private cars. That has drawn protests from taxi drivers who say Uber drivers don't have to comply with the same standards as regular cab drivers, giving the ride-hailing service an unfair advantage and placing the public at risk. In his statement, Emondts said ensuring the safety of Uber users and in the cities where it operates is the company's top priority. 'That is why we are very upset at the recent traffic accidents in which a number of people have died,' he said, extending sympathy to family and friends of the victims. 'While we can't establish a clear link between the accidents, we are determined to learn from them and to improve the safety of all people in the traffic,' he added.
  • France's data privacy watchdog fined Google 50 million euros ($57 million) on Monday, the first penalty for a U.S. tech giant under new European data privacy rules that took effect last year. The National Data Protection Commission said it fined the U.S. internet giant for 'lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent' regarding ad personalization for users. It's one of the biggest regulatory enforcement actions since the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, came into force in May. The rules are aimed at clarifying individual rights to personal data collected by companies, which are required to use plain language to explain what they're doing with it. Even though many tech multinationals like Google are headquartered in the U.S., they still have to comply with the new rules because they have millions of users in Europe. The commission said Google users were 'not sufficiently informed' about what they were agreeing to as the company collected data for targeted advertisements. Users have to take too many steps, 'sometimes up to 5 or 6 actions,' to find out how and why their data is being used, the commission said. Google's description of why it's processing their data is 'described in a too generic and vague manner,' it added. The company's infringements 'deprive the users of essential guarantees regarding processing operations that can reveal important parts of their private life,' the commission said . The commission acted on complaints by two data protection advocacy groups, NOYB.EU and La Quadrature du Net, filed immediately after GDPR took effect. Google said in a statement it is 'deeply committed' to transparency and user control as well as GDPR consent requirements. 'We're studying the decision to determine our next steps,' it said.
  • The world economy absorbed more bad news Monday: The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for 2019. And China, the world's second-biggest economy, said it had slowed to its weakest pace since 1990. The IMF cut its estimate for global growth this year to 3.5 percent, from the 3.7 percent it had predicted in October and down from 2018's 3.7 percent. The fund cited heightened trade tensions and rising interest rates. 'After two years of solid expansion, the world economy is growing more slowly than expected and risks are rising,' said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde as she presented the forecasts at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The IMF is not alone in its pessimism. The World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other forecasters have also downgraded their world growth estimates. Among the key concerns is the Chinese economy. The country is slowing just as its leadership tries to turn it into a more modern economy by reducing its reliance on manufacturing and exports and increasing consumer spending. The country reported Monday growth of 6.6 percent in 2018, the weakest since 1990. Demand for Chinese exports weakened last year and the IMF expects China's growth to decelerate again this year — to 6.2 percent. The IMF left its prediction for U.S. growth this year unchanged at 2.5 percent — though a continuation of the partial 31-day shutdown of the federal government poses a risk. The IMF trimmed the outlook for the 19 countries that use the euro as their currency to 1.6 percent from 1.8 percent. Germany got a big downgrade from the IMF, the result of weaker demand for German exports and problems in the country's auto industry. Britain's messy divorce from the European Union and Italy's ongoing financial struggles also pose threats to growth in Europe. Emerging-market countries are forecast to slow to 4.5 percent from 4.6 percent in 2018. That is partly a result of China's deceleration, which pinches developing countries that supply it with raw materials such as copper and iron ore. 'China's growth slowdown could be faster than expected especially if trade tensions continue, and this can trigger abrupt sell-offs in financial and commodity markets' — something that happened when Chinese growth sputtered in 2015, said IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath. Under President Donald Trump the United States has imposed import taxes on steel, aluminum and hundreds of Chinese products, drawing retaliation from China and other U.S. trading partners. 'Higher trade uncertainty will further dampen investment and disrupt global supply chains,' Gopinath said. Rising interest rates in the U.S. and elsewhere are also pinching emerging-market governments and companies that borrowed heavily when rates were ultra-low in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 Great Recession. As the debts roll over, those borrowers have to refinance at higher rates. A rising dollar is also making things harder for emerging-market borrowers who took out loans denominated in the U.S. currency. ___ Follow the AP's coverage of Davos here: https://www.apnews.com/Davos
  • Multiple threats stalking Europe's economy mean the European Central Bank could keep interest rates at rock-bottom levels longer than expected, extending skimpy returns for savers — but supporting indebted companies and governments with low borrowing costs. Speculation about a possible longer path to the first rate increases in Europe since 2011 has grown ahead of the European Central Bank's meeting on Thursday. The renewed focus also comes after U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell suggested the Fed might not hike its own rates as fast as expected either. The reason for the doubts in Europe: the economic upswing has slowed and faces worrisome hurdles in the months ahead. Those include a possible chaotic exit by Britain from the European Union without a trade deal, which could disrupt industrial supply chains and production. Another is the U.S.-China trade dispute, which could sideswipe Europe because its companies trade with both. And there's the lingering threat of U.S. President Donald Trump imposing auto tariffs if U.S.-EU trade talks don't reach a deal. As a result, investors are not expecting a rate increase until mid- or late 2020, judging by money-market indicators. That's well beyond the earliest first date set out by the ECB, which says rates will stay where they are at least 'through the summer' of 2019. Several analysts, however, are sticking with late this year for the first increase, although they say the risk is that it will take longer. They say ECB will likely leave its policy statement and interest rates unchanged Thursday. The ECB, the monetary authority for the 19 countries that use the euro, and Britain's Bank of England are slowly joining the U.S. Federal Reserve in stopping and then withdrawing massive stimulus deployed to overcome the aftereffects of the 2007-2009 global financial crisis and the Great Recession. At the end of last year, the ECB halted its nearly four-year stimulus program, in which it bought about 2.6 trillion euros ($3 trillion) in bonds with newly printed money, and turned its attention to when it might start raising rates. The ECB is behind the Fed, which has raised its key rate, expressed as a range, from 0-.25 percent to between 2.25 and 2.50 percent and has indicated two more rate hikes this year. Markets are skeptical that the Fed will carry through after Powell said there was 'no preset path to our policy.' Low rates stimulate economic activity and tend inflation, and have boosted the prices of assets such as stocks, bonds and real estate. Savers have seen returns on bank deposits fall to zero but may have benefited from the stronger job market thanks to the stimulus. Cheap rates have also taken some of the heat off indebted governments such as Italy, which have seen the costs of financing their debt piles fall. High rates on the other hand, are used to keep growing economies from overheating with too much inflation. That is why the Fed and the ECB are moving carefully in withdrawing stimulus. Their challenge is to move monetary policy settings to those more in line with a normally functioning economy — without setting off market turmoil that could hurt business confidence and disrupt the recovery. Analyst Reinhard Cluse predicts a first ECB rate hike in December but cautions that 'in light of the current weakness, we think the forecast risk is tilted towards a later and slower normalization of rates.' He expects a first increase of 0.2 percentage point in the deposit rate, currently the ECB's benchmark for steering the economy. The deposit rate is currently at negative 0.4 percent, meaning banks pay a penalty for leaving excess funds overnight at the ECB. The negative rate is aimed at pushing them to lend the funds to support economic activity instead. Despite the external threats from possible disruptions to trade, the economy is in fact not in bad shape by many measures. That may account for different views among analysts and investors. The eurozone grew 0.2 percent in the third quarter, the 22nd straight quarter of expansion, still younger than the average of 31 quarters since 1975 and suggesting it might have a while to run. Unemployment fell to 7.9 percent in November, the lowest since October 2008.

Local News

  • A University of Georgia student was killed overnight while driving his car on I-20 just west of Atlanta. The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as 20-year-old William Whitaker, of Carrollton. Whitaker was driving in the westbound lanes on I-20 when a tractor trailer crashed with two cars in the eastbound lanes. Debris from the wreck was sent into the westbound lanes, striking two vehicles, including the car driven by Whitaker,  who died on the scene.  The driver of the truck has been identified as Mario Polier, 53, of Hialeah, FL. He now faces numerous misdemeanor charges including second degree homicide by vehicle  
  • It's a mild start to Friday but big changes are coming this weekend.  Most people are experiencing fog and light rain this morning. A Dense Fog Advisory has been issued for most of north Georgia until 10 a.m. Some areas have visibility of less than a quarter mile. Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan said that on Saturday, we have a chance to see rain, storms and the coldest temperatures this year. 'As we head through the next 24 hours or so, we've got rain moving into north Georgia, we've got a chance for storms moving into north Georgia and then the coldest air of the season moving in,' Monahan said.
  • Athens-Clarke County Commissioners meet for a rare Friday afternoon work session: they say fair housing is the topic of talk in the session that starts at 1 o’clock at the Government Building on Dougherty Street.  The city School Board in Jefferson signs off on the purchase of a new emergency alert system, one that will be used on all four Jefferson schools. The price tag is $165,000.  There is a new City Administrator in Statham: Statham’s Mayor and City Council has signed off on the hiring of Mai Chang. Chang worked previously as City Clerk in Statham. She takes over for former City Administrator Michelle Irizarry. 
  • Deangelo Gibbs’ time in Athens has been up since December, when Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the defensive back was no longer with the team prior to the Sugar Bowl. And now it seems that he will be taking his talents to another SEC East program.  DawgNation can confirm that Gibbs is enrolled at Tennessee and will move to the other side of the ball and play wide receiver for the Vols. The news was first reported by 247Sports’ Grant Ramey. Gibbs was a major recruit coming out of Grayson High School, as he was rated as the No. 49 overall player in the 247Sports Composite. But he struggled to find playing time at Georgia and he was away from the team last spring as well.  Gibbs has a cousin on Tennessee’s team in safety Nigel Warrior. Another one of Gibbs’ cousins is J.R. Reed, who has become a standout safety for the Bulldogs since transferring from Tulsa. Reed made the decision to return to Athens for his senior season, bolstering what should be a strong secondary, even without Gibbs.  Gibbs had reportedly put his name in the transfer portal, as did Georgia safety Tray Bishop. In Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class, the Bulldogs brought in 4-star safety Lewis Cine, who is rated as the No. 61 player in the class.  Tennessee is coached by Jeremy Pruitt, who was the Georgia defensive coordinator from 2014-15.  Georgia visits Tennessee on Oct. 5. The Bulldogs beat Tennessee 38-12 in Athens last fall.
  • A former Athens-Clarke County police officer is suing the police chief who fired him last June. Former Chief Scott Freeman terminated officer Taylor Saulters for hitting a suspect with his patrol car, but a state investigation later cleared him. It happened after a police pursuit on Athens’ east side. Saulters, his lawsuit, is seeking financial compensation for what he says is emotional distress and slander. He is now working as a part-time reserve deputy in Oglethorpe County. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia sacks leader D’Andre Walker has pulled out of the Senior Bowl, not yet ready to compete on account of what has become a nagging groin injury. Walker has been projected as a third-round NFL Draft pick, but the Senior Bowl offered him an opportunity to improve his draft stock competing against top talent in the annual all-star event. The Bulldogs will be represented by defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter and long snapper Nick Moore. Practices and drills begin on Tuesday before the watchful eyes of hundreds of NFL coaches, scouts and general managers. Unfortunately, I won’t be attending the Senior Bowl. I will be getting a second opinion on my groin this week to ensure I’ll be ready for the combine. I am very disappointed because it’s such a great opportunity to showcase my talent. — D’Andre Walker (@DAndreWalker15) January 21, 2019 Walker was injured early in the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship Game against Alabama with Georgia leading 28-21. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior from Fairburn, Ga., was enjoying an MVP performance against the Tide before suffering the injury. Walker had five tackles, two TFLs, two QB hurries a forced fumble and a deflected pass in three quarters, wreaking havoc in the Alabama backfield. Georgia’s backup outside linebackers weren’t able to have the same sort of success. The Bulldogs young outside linebackers lost contain on crucial plays and allowed Jalen Hurts to buy time and make game-winning plays in Alabama’s 35-28 win. Walker practiced on a limited basis and dressed out for the Sugar Bowl, but he declined to play. Bulldogs’ cornerback Deandre Baker also had an invitation to test himself against the nation’s best in the Senior Bowl, but Baker declined his invitation. Baker also skipped the Sugar Bowl, which, coupled with injuries to Walker and Freshman All-American defensive tackle Jordan Davis, severely hampered the Georgia defense in the 28-21 loss to Texas. The post Georgia football OLB D’Andre Walker uncertain of health, pulls out of Senior Bowl appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — If “Genius is patience,” as Isaac Newton once suggested, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart’s I.Q. must be off the charts. Smart has exhibited a deliberate approach at each turn in his young career, from not naming a starting quarterback during the 2018 offseason, to holding off on naming a defensive coordinator. Could there be more staff changes ahead? Perhaps, though it wouldn’t seem likely. The 43-year-old Smart named 41-year-old Charlton Warren his defensive backs coach on Saturday, shortly after crossing paths with him on the recruiting trail and conversing. RELATED: Georgia football adds ‘Mr. Intensity’ to defensive meeting room Warren’s hire comes more than six weeks after Colorado announced former UGA secondary coach and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as its new head coach (Dec. 5). Some speculated Smart would elevate 32-year-old outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning or 28-year-old inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann to defensive coordinator — or both, in a co-coordinator role. Here are three things that are next for Georgia football: Defensive coordinator It’s going to be Smart’s system on defense, regardless who gets the coordinator title, so the key here is how the staff chemistry shakes out with Warren added to the defensive meeting room. Lanning said in New Orleans that there could be an internal promotion to the coordinator position, but also, that Georgia would see how things shook out against Texas in the Sugar Bowl. RELATED: Georgia football assistant Dan Lanning shares insight into DC search Obviously, the Bulldogs didn’t fare well without Deandre Baker in the secondary, D’Andre Walker at linebacker and Jordan Davis on the defensive line. It’s hard to know how much of the defensive dropoff had to do with Tucker’s absence versus the team’s motivation after its gut-wrenching loss in the SEC title game and exclusion from the CFB playoff. It wouldn’t be surprising if Smart made the decision on his DC immediately. But it is also possible the Georgia head coach will wait until after signing day (Feb. 6), or even spring drills to name the defensive coordinator, after he gets a better feel for the chemistry and ability in the room. James Coley confirmation Coley’s promotion to play caller and full-fledged offensive coordinator from co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach wasn’t surprising. RELATED: Kirby Smart pulls trigger on elevating James Coley to OC, as expected It was, however, second-guessed by outsiders overlooking Coley’s experience as Jimbo Fisher’s offensive coordinator at Florida State and his work as Miami’s coordinator. Coley’s stock recently shot up, however, when NFL.com analyst Ian Rapoport reported last Friday that the Dallas Cowboys could consider Coley for their offensive coordinator position. As the #Cowboys dig into possible replacements for embattled OC Scott Linehan, they have one on their current staff — TE coach Doug Nussmeier — and may look to the college game to better utilize Dak Prescott’s talents. UGA OC James Coley will receive some consideration there. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 18, 2019   A FOIA request for Coley’s new contract last week revealed that he doesn’t yet have one, leaving room for speculation that need soon be answered. Is Coley staying, or might   he be headed for the NFL? Big staff raises The bottom line for the Georgia football coaching staff is there is plenty of money available for raises and the new hires. So far, the Bulldogs’ offensive staff has traded Jim Chaney’s $950,000 salary for new tight ends coach Todd Hartley’s first-year deal of $300,000. RELATED: Details of Georgia football assistant Todd Hartley’s new contract The defense, meanwhile, has the $1.5 million Tucker was making to spread around. Warren was due to make $401,500 at Florida next season, per the USA Today salary database, but he’s sure to get a healthy boost at Georgia. Bulldogs defensive line coach Tray Scott has earned a raise up from $420,000, with Georgia’s defensive line showing more improvement than perhaps any other position group last season. Certainly, linebackers coaches Schumann and Lanning — both previously making $325,000 — will have deals worth more than a half-million annually next season. It’s more math for Smart to do, more pieces of the puzzle, and if the Georgia head coach has proven anything his first three seasons, it’s that he’’ll take his time to make sure he gets things right. Georgia football coaches 2018 annual salaries DEFENSE DC, secondary: Mel Tucker $1.5 million Defensive line: Tray Scott $420,000 Inside linebackers: Glenn Schumann $325,000 Outside linebackers: Dan Lanning $325,000 Special teams Scott Fountain $300,000 * Charlton Warren, new coach was due $401,500 at Florida in 2019 OFFENSE OC, tight ends: Jim Chaney $950,000 Offensive line: Sam Pittman $825,00 Quarterbacks, Co-OC James Coley, $850,00 Running backs: Dell McGee $550,000 Receivers Cortez Hankton $375,000 * Todd Hartley, new tight ends coach, will make $300,000 in 2019 at UGA   The post 3 things: What’s next for Georgia football and ever-patient Kirby Smart? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The Georgia basketball challenges could be attributed to the brutal league slate assigned by the SEC office. Already, the Bulldogs (9-8, 1-4 SEC) have played the three top-ranked teams in the league in Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn, and next up is a road trip to red-hot LSU. Georgia coach Tom Crean hasn’t mentioned the schedule since it was released in the preseason, instead focusing on what he can control, which would include the roller coaster play of forward Rayshaun Hammonds. The talented 6-foot-8, 235-pounder from Norcoss is the Bulldogs leading scorer this season — except when he isn’t, which would be against the better teams this season. Hammonds has been held scoreless in losses to Tennessee and most recently at home against Florida, running into foul trouble early in both games, offering little help to his teammates in other capacities. Georgia was outscored by 18 points with Hammonds in the game against the Gators, as shown below in the plus-minus category for UGA players: “ I am going to look around and see what we can do to help him and I talked to him a lot,” Crean said. “I am not down on him at all, I want him to continue to learn and want him to understand he is a lot more than just a guy who shoots and scores.” But yes, Crean admitted, “him not scoring and us not scoring are together.” Hammonds has at times shown the sort of growth and ability many projected when he was rated the No. 51 player in the nation by the 247Sports composite. It’s far too early for Hammonds to be considered a bust, especially when others have noted the growth they’ve seen from him under Crean’s direction. “I thought (Nicolas) Claxton and Hammonds have both blossomed this year under Coach Crean and that staff, and I told them both that after the game,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “They ask Rayshaun to do a lot, they don’t have a lot, they are kinda point guard by committee.” Hammonds’ issues involve fundamentals and decision making, Crean indicated. “Sometimes right now he makes the read and people are just lining up for the charge because he is going to go right into their chest,” Crean said following Saturday’s 62-52 home loss to Florida. “He is not low enough when he makes the move. “I am going to have really spend some time and be creative, look for creative ways to get him the ball in better spots than we are right now because we need him to score.” Georgia is 3-1 in its last seven games Hammonds has scored in double figures, and 0-3 when he’s been held to single-digit scoring. Rayshaun Hammonds against SEC teams 0 points Vs. Tennessee 0-for-4 shooting (0-of-2 from 3) 1 turnover 19 points Vs. Vanderbilt 6-for-13 shooting (2-of-6 from 3) 3 turnovers 9 points Vs. Auburn 2-of-6 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) 5 turnovers 11 points Vs. Kentucky 3-of-8 shooting (1-of-5 from 3) 2 turnovers 0 points Vs. Florida 0-for-4 shooting (0-for-2 from 3) 4 turnovers   The post Georgia basketball: Roller coaster Rayshaun Hammonds a key for Bulldogs appeared first on DawgNation.