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Business Headlines

    Nordstrom has apologized to Sikhs for selling a turban they found offensive, but a representative with the U.S. community's top civil rights organization said Saturday they are still waiting to hear from the Gucci brand that designed it. 'We feel that companies are commodifying and capitalizing on something that is dear and sacred to people around the world,' said Simran Jeet Singh, a senior fellow with the New York-based Sikh Coalition, who said the turban has a deep religious significance for the men of his faith. 'And there is tension over the fact that the very article of our faith has been the focus of so much hate and violence and bullying,' he said, recalling that Sikhs wearing turbans have been attacked in hate crimes, including a man killed near Phoenix a few days after 9/11. The current complaint springs from a Gucci head wrap that until Wednesday was advertised on Nordstrom's website for $790 as the 'Indy Full Turban.' The description said the 'gorgeously crafted turban is ready to turn heads while keeping you in comfort as well as trademark style.' The Nordstrom website on Saturday still had a reference to a Gucci 'head wrap,' but it was listed as sold out and it was no longer pictured. 'We have decided to stop carrying this product and have removed it from the site. It was never our intent to disrespect this religious and cultural symbol. We sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this,' the department store said in a tweet. Gucci's turban was first talked about last winter, when a white model walked the runway wearing it during a fashion show. Gucci had not responded to the criticism over the product by Saturday. Emails seeking comment were sent to Gucci through its public relations representatives and a corporate fashion services website. 'When companies appropriate articles of faith, they do not take into consideration the discrimination Sikhs face while adhering to the tenets of their faith. We appreciate @Nordstrom's recognition of this problem & apology; we hope @Gucci will follow suit,' the Sikh coalition said in a Thursday tweet. The coalition was formed after Balbir Singh Sodhi, a bearded Sikh American wearing a turban, was shot and killed on Sept. 15, 2001, in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa when he was mistaken for an Arab Muslim. Frank Roque, 42, was quoted in police reports as saying 'all Arabs had to be shot' and he wanted to 'slit some Iranians' throats.' Roque is serving a life sentence in prison for first-degree murder. In another attack on the community, a white supremacist opened fire on a Wisconsin Sikh temple in 2012, killing six people and wounding five others before killing himself. Sikhs across the United States and around the globe have taken to social media to lambaste Gucci, including Taran Parmar, a radio journalist for News 1130 in Vancouver, Canada. 'Seriously @Nordstrom @gucci ?' she wrote. 'The turban is one of the most important and symbolic articles of faith for Sikhs, and you're selling it as a fashion accessory to make money? This isn't the first time you've come under fire for cultural appropriation. Do better.' Gucci in recent months has grappled with complaints from the black community in the U.S. over a sweater people found offensive. Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri this month attended a Gucci-sponsored event in New York's Harlem in addition to a recent fashion show featuring London-based black designer Ozwald Boateng at the Apollo Theater to mark the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. In February, the brand apologized and removed from its online and physical stores a turtleneck black wool balaclava sweater that could be pulled over the chin and nose. It included a slit along the mouth, ringed with what look like giant red lips and evoked blackface for many people. Also in February, Katy Perry's fashion line pulled two types of shoes featuring protruding eyes, nose and red lips that critics likened to blackface. The singer and company said they were saddened it was being compared to blackface and said the designs rather were envisioned as a nod to 'modern art and surrealism.' ___ Follow Anita Snow: twitter.com/asnowreports
  • Two New Mexico counties remain among the top oil-producing counties in the U.S., according to new federal numbers. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that Lea County was the No. 2 oil-producing county in January behind North Dakota's McKenzie County, The Hobbs News-Sun report ed. Lea County produced 14.6 million barrels of oil in January while McKenzie County which produced 17.3 million barrels, the report said. Lea County had more than twice the number of operating rigs as McKenzie County. Steve Vierck, the outgoing CEO and president of the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County, was pleased to hear the news. 'Our production has roughly tripled in the last five years,' Vierck said. 'The county produces over half the state's oil and the state is No. 3. It really reflects not only how much oil production there is, but how much growth there has been in oil production to move up the chart as fast as Lea County has.' Meanwhile, New Mexico's Eddy County was listed as the No. 6 top oil-producing county. It produced 10 million barrels during the same month. In November, a group of major oil and gas companies with plays in the Permian Basin, a portion of which is the Delaware Basin that straddles the New Mexico-Texas border including the southern half of Lea County, announced the formation of an energy alliance, collectively committing more than $100 million over the next several years to spur additional private-sector investment in the region. The 18 major oil companies that comprise the Permian Strategic Partnership said the Permian Basin is an oil-producing superpower, becoming one of the most strategically important oil-producing regions in the world. The coalition of companies said it intends to address infrastructure challenges and strengthen communities across West Texas and southeast New Mexico. They said building new roads, recruiting new doctors and teachers and developing new neighborhoods will require years of work, substantial resources and sustained cooperation among many entities. ___ Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com
  • Pope Francis urged foreign correspondents on Saturday to humbly use the power of the press to search for the truth and give voice to the voiceless, saying journalism is an important tool to counter the hatred, prejudice and fake news. In an audience with the Foreign Press Association in Rome, Francis also urged journalists to not fall prey to sending click-bait headlines and half-reported stories, saying errors can not only misrepresent the truth but damage entire communities. He lamented attacks on journalists around the globe and assured reporters that the Catholic Church at large appreciated their work 'even when you touch a raw nerve, including within the ecclesial community.' While Francis meets with journalists regularly during his foreign trips, it was the first time a pope has received the Foreign Press Association, which represents journalists from more than 50 countries, since St. John Paul II in 1988. Francis kept his distance from the press in his native Argentina. But in the past year, he and his aides have repeatedly praised the role of the media in exposing the clergy abuse scandal and for reporting about the plight of migrants, 'forgotten wars' and other cases of human suffering. 'We need journalists who are on the side of victims, on the side of those who are persecuted, excluded, thrown away and discriminated against,' Francis told the roughly 400 journalists and their families in the frescoed Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace. 'We need you and your work to not forget so many situations of suffering that often are in the dark, or have light shining for a moment only to return to the darkness of indifference,' he said. The association's president, Patricia Thomas of The Associated Press, told Francis that more and more journalists are being killed, threatened and imprisoned for merely reporting the news. But she said the threats weren't merely physical. 'Today in many parts of the world, journalists are being discredited daily, accused of spreading fake news that is really just news that people in power don't like,' she said. 'This process of delegitimization has had a corrosive effect, the dangers of which are obvious.' Francis said a free press was indispensable to guard against authoritarianism. 'Let's not forget that in dictatorships, one of the first things they do is take away the freedom of the press or 'mask' and not allow a free press.' But Francis also urged humility in reporting, saying reporters who think they know everything before they start out aren't doing their job. And he warned against parroting the hatred, vitriol and prejudices in the current public discourse, urging instead calibrated language that respects the dignity of all. Thomas invited Francis to visit the association's headquarters, on the appropriately named Via del'Umilta — Humble Street — and gave him an honorary press card to get in the door.
  • The halt on China's imports of wastepaper and plastic that has disrupted U.S. recycling programs has also spurred investment in American plants that process recyclables. U.S. paper mills are expanding capacity to take advantage of a glut of cheap scrap. Some facilities that previously exported plastic or metal to China have retooled so they can process it themselves. And in a twist, the investors include Chinese companies that are still interested in having access to wastepaper or flattened bottles as raw material for manufacturing. 'It's a very good moment for recycling in the United States,' said Neil Seldman, co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Washington-based organization that helps cities improve recycling programs. China, which had long been the world's largest destination for paper, plastic and other recyclables, phased in import restrictions in January 2018. Global scrap prices plummeted, prompting waste-hauling companies to pass the cost of sorting and baling recyclables on to municipalities. With no market for the wastepaper and plastic in their blue bins, some communities scaled back or suspended curbside recycling programs. New domestic markets offer a glimmer of hope. About $1 billion in investment in U.S. paper processing plants has been announced in the past six months, according to Dylan de Thomas, a vice president at The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit organization that tracks and works with the industry. Hong Kong-based Nine Dragons, one of the world's largest producers of cardboard boxes, has invested $500 million over the past year to buy and expand or restart production at paper mills in Maine, Wisconsin and West Virginia. In addition to making paper from wood fiber, the mills will add production lines turning more than a million tons of scrap into pulp to make boxes, said Brian Boland, vice president of government affairs and corporate initiatives for ND Paper, Nine Dragons' U.S. affiliate. 'The paper industry has been in contraction since the early 2000s,' Boland said. 'To see this kind of change is frankly amazing. Even though it's a Chinese-owned company, it's creating U.S. jobs and revitalizing communities like Old Town, Maine, where the old mill was shuttered.' The Northeast Recycling Council said in a report last fall that 17 North American paper mills had announced increased capacity to handle recyclable paper since the Chinese cutoff. Another Chinese company, Global Win Wickliffe, is reopening a shuttered paper mill in Kentucky. Georgia-based Pratt Industries is constructing a mill in Wapakoneta, Ohio that will turn 425,000 tons of recycled paper per year into shipping boxes. Plastics also has a lot of capacity coming online, de Thomas said, noting new or expanded plants in Texas, Pennsylvania, California and North Carolina that turn recycled plastic bottles into new bottles. Chinese companies are investing in plastic and scrap metal recycling plants in Georgia, Indiana and North Carolina to make feedstocks for manufacturers in China, he said. In New Brunswick, New Jersey, the recycling company GDB International exported bales of scrap plastic film such as pallet wrap and grocery bags for years. But when China started restricting imports, company president Sunil Bagaria installed new machinery to process it into pellets he sells profitably to manufacturers of garbage bags and plastic pipe. He said the imports cutoff that China calls 'National Sword' was a much-needed wake-up call to his industry. 'The export of plastic scrap played a big role in facilitating recycling in our country,' Bagaria said. 'The downside is that infrastructure to do our own domestic recycling didn't develop.' Now that is changing, though he said far more domestic processing capacity will be needed as a growing number of countries restrict scrap imports. 'Ultimately, sooner or later, the society that produces plastic scrap will become responsible for recycling it,' he said. It has also yet to be seen whether the new plants coming on line can quickly fix the problems for municipal recycling programs that relied heavily on sales to China to get rid of piles of scrap. 'Chinese companies are investing in mills, but until we see what the demand is going to be at those mills, we're stuck in this rut,' said Ben Harvey, whose company in Westborough, Massachusetts, collects trash and recyclables for about 30 communities. He had a parking lot filled with stockpiled paper a year ago after China closed its doors, but eventually found buyers in India, Korea and Indonesia. Keith Ristau, CEO of Far West Recycling in Portland, Oregon, said most of the recyclable plastic his company collects used to go to China. Now most goes to processors in Canada or California. To meet their standards, Far West invested in better equipment and more workers at its material recovery facility to reduce contamination. In Sarepta, Louisiana, IntegriCo Composites is turning bales of hard-to-recycle mixed plastics into railroad ties. It expanded operations in 2017 with funding from New York-based Closed Loop Partners. 'As investors in domestic recycling and circular economy infrastructure in the U.S., we see what China has decided to do as very positive,' said Closed Loop founder Ron Gonen.
  • Miranda Haskie sits amid the glow of candles at her kitchen table as the sun sinks into a deep blue horizon silhouetting juniper trees and a nearby mesa. Her husband, Jimmie Long, Jr., fishes for the wick to light a kerosene lamp as the couple and their 13-year-old son prepare to spend a final night without electricity. They're waiting for morning, when utility workers who recently installed four electric poles outside their double-wide house trailer will connect it to the power grid, meaning they will no longer be among the tens of thousands of people without power on the Navajo Nation, the country's largest American Indian reservation. Haskie and Long are getting their electricity this month thanks to a project to connect 300 homes with the help of volunteer utility crews from across the U.S. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority typically connects from 400 to 450 homes a year, chipping away at the 15,000 scattered, rural homes without power on the 27,000-square-mile (43,000-square-kilometer) reservation that lies in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. At that rate, it will take the tribal utility about 35 more years to get electricity to the 60,000 of the reservation's 180,000 residents who don't have it. The couple's home at the end of rutted dirt roads outside the small town of Kaibeto was about a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometers) from the closest power line. Life disconnected from the grid in the high desert town dotted with canyons and mesas was simple and joyful but also inconvenient, they said. 'It's not that bad. Growing up, you get used to it, being raised like that,' Long said. The family's weekday routine included showering, cooking and charging cellphones, battery packs and flashlights at Haskie's mother's house 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away, down dirt roads that turn treacherous in stormy weather. Navajos without electricity also pack food or medication in coolers with ice or leave it outside in the wintertime. Children use dome lights in cars or kerosene lamps to do their homework at night. Some tribal members have small solar systems that deliver intermittent power. No electricity typically means no running water and a lack of overall economic development. Creating the infrastructure to reach the far-flung homes on the reservation is extremely costly. Hooking up a single home can cost up to $40,000 on the reservation where the annual, per-capita income is around $10,700 and half the workforce is unemployed, said Walter Haase, general manager of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. For the recent power hookup project called LightUpNavajo, the utility raised funds from an online campaign, collected donations from employees, businesses and communities, and used revenue from solar farms on the reservation to cover the utility's $3 million cost. Money that isn't raised will be borrowed and the repayment passed on to customers via their rates, Haase said. The project started in March and ends this month. The volunteer crews spent days on the reservation, learning about Navajo culture, the language and the landscape before setting out to job sites often hours away from their hotel rooms. Tribal utility crews had already performed much of the prep work, removing trees or stumps so the volunteers could focus on installing power poles and miles of electric line to connect homes. A four-man crew from Piqua, Ohio, weathered rain, dust storms and sandy terrain that threatened to bury their equipment as they traveled through the western part of the reservation in Arizona earlier this month. They heard from families who have waited months, years and a lifetime to get power. Navajos showed their appreciation to the crews with feasts of fry bread, steaks and steamed corn. 'It's kind of crazy to think about the different things you take for granted on a daily basis,' said Ken Wagner, a journeyman lineman for Piqua Power System. At an appreciation dinner, his crew received gifts of posters with traditional Navajo sayings, turquoise jewelry, shirts and mugs. Among those getting electricity hookups were Vernon Smith and his wife, Bertha. They live in Salt Lake City but are preparing their home in Tuba City on the reservation for a move back. They became set on getting electricity when a kerosene lamp tipped over while she was napping and she feared the house would burn down. The wait for electricity took three years, but Vernon Smith called that 'a miracle.' 'I couldn't believe it,' he said in an interview, his face lighting up as recalled seeing the whirling blades of a ceiling fan in his reservation home for the first time. 'I didn't think I was going to get electricity that fast.' Haskie said she could live without electricity but that it's also exciting getting it. 'I can walk in, turn the light on without my son turning on the generator,' she said. She's crafted a wish list that includes a blender, a coffee maker, a juice maker, a stand-up mixer and an espresso machine. Eventually, she'll subscribe to cable TV. The couple's son, Jayden, said he managed fine without power — using portable chargers for his cellphone. Some days, he fired up a gas generator that was hooked up to the home's electric panel to watch TV or turn on the light in his bedroom. But the generator's 5-gallon (19-liter) tank lasted less than a day and the cost of fuel meant it was used sparingly and mostly on the weekends. He's looked forward to taking eggs, bacon, steak, pork chops and hamburgers out of a refrigerator to cook whenever he wants. As of Thursday, the LightUpNavajo project hooked up 208 homes. Crews from 26 utilities in 12 states traveled to the reservation to help, installing 1,500 power line poles and more than 35 miles (56 kilometers) of electric lines. The project was designed with a $125,000 grant from the American Public Power Association. Mark Hyland, an association senior vice president, said the group and the tribal utility will consider repeating it on the Navajo Nation, or using it as a model for other reservations or rural areas. On the morning that Haskie's and Long's home got power, journeyman lineman Justin Foutz with the Piqua utility slipped on a pair of gloves and grabbed an extendable, yellow tool to close a switch atop the utility pole and send power to the home. 'Coming in hot,' he said. A few minutes later, electrician Delbert Graham knocked on the trailer's door. 'Hey, you're energized,' he said. 'Go ahead and turn on your main breaker.' Using a flashlight inside the darkened house, Long flipped on the breaker, turned on the home's porch light and opened the door with a smile. Then the crew loaded up their utility trucks and headed toward the small community of Coppermine, about an hour's drive down the next dirt road, to connect more homes.
  • Normally this time of year, huge barges can be seen chugging up the Mississippi River, carrying millions of tons of grain to market and bringing agriculture-related products to farmers in the Midwest for the new growing season. But there's not much barge traffic this year. That's because historic spring flooding that swamped and tainted farmland, also left parts of the Mississippi closed for business. The river, which runs nearly 2,350 miles (3,782 kilometers) from Minnesota's Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico, is a main conduit of shipping everything from agriculture products and construction material to petroleum and coal. The troubles on the Mississippi also have affected shipping on the waterways that feed into it, including the Missouri River. The interruption is hitting an agriculture industry that's already suffering from a plethora of ills, including the Trump administration's trade disputes that have helped drive down commodity prices. 'You've got a perfect storm here,' said Kenneth Hartman Jr., who grows corn, soybeans and wheat just south of Waterloo, Illinois. 'It looks bad for us.' Like other farmers in more than a dozen states in the Mississippi River basin, Hartman would normally be sending soybeans, corn and other grain harvested last fall down the river, where it would eventually be exported — likely to China. Meanwhile, shipments of fertilizer that normally travel up the river to communities from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minnesota, haven't made it through. The inability to get the grain down the river has exacerbated a shortage of space for those products. 'You have elevators that aren't even taking grain right now,' Hartman said. 'So that's causing issues as far as selling our grain in a timely manner.' Many of the locks and dams on the Mississippi that closed due to flooding that started in March have reopened, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doesn't expect the river to be fully unimpeded until possibly June. Even if the locks were open, 'many of these barges wouldn't be able to get here anyway,' said Sam Heilig, a Corps spokeswoman at Rock Island, Illinois. 'Because the water's so high, there's not enough clearance to get under some of the bridges.' For now, it's impossible to put a number on how much the interruption has cost shippers, farmers and manufacturers. But Debra Calhoun, spokeswoman for the Washington-based advocacy group Waterways Council, said there's no doubt it's having an impact. On average, nearly 31 tons (28 metric tons) of goods and commodities are shipped on the upper Mississippi River from March through May, according to a five-year average gauged by the Corps' Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center. The biggest slice of that, at nearly 11 million tons (10 million metric tons), is grain, followed by coal, sand and gravel and chemicals and petroleum products. Annually, about $250 million in domestic goods are shipped on the Mississippi, according to the center. The Missouri River has remained mostly navigable right up until it meets the Mississippi River at St. Louis, said James Rudy with the Corps' Kansas City office. While that allows shipping from point-to-point, it still disrupts shipments from farmers in South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri seeking to get their grain to exporters in the Gulf of Mexico, he said. The Missouri River has far less barge traffic than the Mississippi, but it still sees on average more than 1.3 million tons worth nearly $63 million shipped from March through May, according to the Corps. The interruption in river traffic has a domino effect on other industries, particularly in transportation. The National Waterways Foundation estimates that one 15-barge tow on the Mississippi River can ship as much as six locomotives pulling 216 railcars, or as much as 1,050 large semitrailers. It also costs less to ship via the river, because barges can hold so much more and be moved using less fuel. 'One of our Missouri River navigators notes that his business on the Missouri alone removes somewhere from 60,000 to 80,000 tractor-trailers off of I-70 every year,' Rudy said.
  • Employees of energy giant ExxonMobil have begun evacuating from an oil field in the southern Iraqi province of Basra but work at the field is still ongoing, Iraqi officials said Saturday. The evacuation comes amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran. The U.S. has already ordered all nonessential diplomatic staff out of Iraq. As tensions escalate, there are concerns that Baghdad could once again get caught in the middle. The country hosts more than 5,000 U.S. troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those U.S. forces to leave. An Iraqi oil official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said all those who are being evacuated are foreigners or Iraqis who hold additional national citizenships. The official did not give numbers but said the first group left two days ago and another batch left early Saturday. 'We continue to closely monitor. As a matter of practice, we don't share specifics related to operational staffing at our facilities,' said Julie L. King, media relations adviser at ExxonMobil headquarters in Irving, Texas. She added that ExxonMobil has programs and measures in place to provide security to protect its people, operations and facilities. 'We are committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and contractors at all of our facilities around the world,' King wrote in an email. An Iraqi security official confirmed that ExxonMobil's employees are evacuating the West Qurna 1 oil field in Basra province, adding that 'the vast majority of the evacuees are Americans.' He also spoke on condition of anonymity adding that the evacuations began on Thursday. State-run Iraqi News Agency said work at Qurna 1 oil field 'is going on normally' and has not been affected by the evacuation of ExxonMobil's employees. Basra Oil Co. chief Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail told INA the number of employees is less than 70, adding 'they did not withdraw but decided to be in Dubai during this period and run the oil field remotely.' He said the departure of the employees is for a short period and work will not be affected even by 1 percent in terms of production, maintenance and new projects. 'Work in Qurna 1 field is very normal,' Ismail said. ___ Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai and Bassem Mroue in Baghdad contributed to this report.
  • Commercial airliners flying over the Persian Gulf risk being targeted by 'miscalculation or misidentification' from the Iranian military amid heightened tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S., American diplomats warned Saturday, even as both Washington and Tehran say they don't seek war. The warning relayed by U.S. diplomatic posts from the Federal Aviation Administration, though dismissed by Iran, underscored the risks the current tensions pose to a region critical to both global air travel and trade. Oil tankers allegedly have faced sabotage and Yemen rebel drones attacked a crucial Saudi oil pipeline over the last week. Meanwhile on Saturday, Iraqi officials said ExxonMobil Corp. began evacuating staff from Basra, and the island nation of Bahrain ordered its citizens out of Iraq and Iran over 'the recent escalations and threats.' However, U.S. officials have yet to publicly explain the threats they perceive coming from Iran, some two weeks after the White House ordered an aircraft carrier and B-52s bombers into the region. The U.S. also has ordered nonessential staff out of its diplomatic posts in Iraq. President Donald Trump since has sought to soften his tone on Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also stressed Saturday that Iran is 'not seeking war,' comments seemingly contradicted by the head of the Revolutionary Guard, who declared an ongoing 'intelligence war' between the nations. This all takes root in Trump's decision last year to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers and impose wide-reaching sanctions. Iran just announced it would begin backing away from terms of the deal, setting a 60-day deadline for Europe to come up with new terms or it would begin enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels. Tehran long has insisted it does not seek nuclear weapons, though the West fears its program could allow it to build atomic bombs. The order relayed Saturday by U.S. diplomats in Kuwait and the UAE came from an FAA Notice to Airmen published late Thursday in the U.S. It said that all commercial aircraft flying over the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman needed to be aware of Iran's fighter jets and weaponry. 'Although Iran likely has no intention to target civil aircraft, the presence of multiple long-range, advanced anti-aircraft-capable weapons in a tense environment poses a possible risk of miscalculation or misidentification, especially during periods of heightened political tension and rhetoric,' the warning said. It also said aircraft could experience interference with its navigation instruments and communications jamming 'with little to no warning.' The warning comes 30 years after the USS Vincennes mistook an Iran Air commercial jetliner for an Iranian F-14, shooting it down and killing all 290 people onboard. That was not lost on Iran's mission to the United Nations, which dismissed the warning as America's 'psychological war against Iran.' 'There has never been a threat or risk to civilian air traffic in the Persian Gulf from Iran,' mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi told The Associated Press. 'One cannot forget the fact that it was indeed a U.S. warship that wantonly targeted an Iranian civilian passenger aircraft. ... The U.S. has yet to apologize for that act of terrorism against Iranian civilians.' The Persian Gulf has since become a major gateway for East-West travel in the aviation industry. Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, home to Emirates, is the world's busiest for international travel, while long-haul carriers Etihad and Qatar Airways also operate in the region. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways all said they were aware of the notice and their operations were unaffected. Oman Air did not respond to a request for comment. Speaking in China, where he finished a tour of Asian nations who rely on Mideast oil, Zarif told the state-run IRNA news agency that war is not what Iran wants. 'No war will occur as neither are we seeking a war nor anyone else has the illusion of being able to fight with Iran in the region,' Zarif said. Meanwhile, the head of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard reportedly said the U.S. and Iran already were in a 'full-fledged intelligence war.' The semi-official Fars news agency also quoted Gen. Hossein Salami using 9/11 as a metaphor for America's political system, describing it Saturday 'like the World Trade Building that collapses with a sudden hit.' It isn't just air traffic affected. Lloyd's Market Association Joint War Committee added the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the United Arab Emirates on Friday to its list of areas posing higher risk to insurers. It also expanded its list to include the Saudi coast as a risk area. In Iraq, ExxonMobil began evacuating staff from Basra amid the tensions with Iran, two Iraqi officials told The Associated Press. ExxonMobil works in Basra at its West Qurna I oil field, which had been shut off for years from Western oil firms over sanctions levied on Iraq during dictator Saddam Hussein's time in power. The U.S. Consulate in Basra has been closed since September after American officials blamed Iran-aligned Shiite militias for a rocket attack on the post, which is inside Basra's airport compound. Basra as a whole has been shaken by violent protests in recent months over entrenched corruption and poor public services, which earlier saw Iran's Consulate there overrun and set ablaze. ExxonMobil, based in Irving, Texas, said it declined to discuss 'operational staffing.' Iraq is OPEC's second-largest Arab producer, pumping some 4.5 million barrels of crude oil a day. Separately, the State Department acknowledged an unidentified drone flew over the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Thursday and the facility briefly went on alert, though it said the aircraft posed no threat. ___ Associated Press writers Qassem Abdul-Zahra and Bassem Mroue in Baghdad, Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report. ___ Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap .
  • Teens are buying burner phones to stay connected after their primary phones have been taken by their parents; Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a “Clark Stinks” to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Watch the video This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 5.17.19 Phone-addicted teens are getting burner phones; Clark Stinks appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • A blowout at a Los Angeles natural gas well in 2015 that led to the largest-known release of methane in U.S. history was the result of a corroded pipe casing, safety failures by a utility and inadequate regulations, according to an investigation report released Friday. Southern California Gas Co. failed to investigate previous well failures at the Aliso Canyon storage field and didn't adequately assess its aging wells for disaster potential before the Oct. 23, 2015, blowout, the report released by the California Public Utilities Commission said. The disaster led to stricter state regulations and improved policies that would have addressed most of the causes, the report found. Robert Bea, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said the report shows the blowout was a 'predictable and preventable disaster' and likened it to oil spills, a dam spillway collapse and deadly wildfires he said were due in part to failures by regulators. 'Collectively, we seem to be using 'reactive risk mismanagement': Patch and Pray, Watch it Fail, Fix it Fast, Return to Business As Usual As Soon As Possible,' Bea said. 'Several of my colleagues who live in other countries have called this approach as 'stuck in stupid.'' The blowout lasted nearly four months and was blamed for sickening thousands of Los Angeles residents, who moved out of their Porter Ranch homes to escape a sulfurous stench and a medley of maladies including headaches, nausea and nose bleeds. Blade Energy Partners, which conducted the yearslong investigation, said the company should have been able to plug the leak sooner. SoCalGas has spent more than $1 billion on the blowout with the majority going to temporarily relocate 8,000 families, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The utility still faces more than 390 lawsuits on behalf of approximately 48,500 people. Residents who live nearby the gas storage field continue to complain about health problems and many, along with some environmental groups, want the facility shut down. 'This root cause analysis highlights gross negligence by SoCalGas and the failure to conduct basic inspections to determine safety of a highly dangerous operation,' Alexandra Nagy, director of Food & Water Watch California, said in a statement. 'Nothing short of the immediate shut down of Aliso Canyon will protect residents from harm.' The field — the largest of its kind in the West at the time of the blowout — stores natural gas in retired oil wells, some dating to the 1940s. It injects gas more than a mile underground into the porous reservoir where crude was once found. The report criticized inadequate regulations at the time, which allowed the company to inject and withdraw gas into the field through an internal pipe and the casing that surrounded it. The casing was originally designed as a safety barrier for oil production, but was being used to pump greater volumes of gas in and out of the field under high pressure. It was that type of casing that ultimately ruptured due to corrosion from water and microbes. Gas seeped up through the earth and eventually blew a gaping crater around the well. Seven attempts to plug the well were tried over weeks, but none worked. The report said workers failed to conduct proper modeling tests in advance of the so-called kill attempts and didn't use dense enough fluid and at a high enough rate to accomplish the task. The report also said the company lacked systems to protect wells from corrosion and surveillance to monitor them in real time. Investigators found there had been 60 casing leaks before the incident that presented risks to safety and the environment but investigations into their causes were never conducted. 'Furthermore, external corrosion on production casing had been identified in several wells,' the report said. 'Based on the data reviewed by Blade, no investigation of the causes was performed, and, therefore, the extent and consequences of the corrosion in the other wells was not understood.' Regulations also failed to require inspections of the thickness of casing walls and those tests were not routinely conducted by the utility. The well that ruptured was on a list of 20 old wells the company identified in 1988 to determine their condition. Over a two-year period, however, the well was not among the seven tested, which found corrosion on five had worn away 20% to 60% of the wall thickness of their casings. SoCalGas in a press release said the report showed it was in compliance with state regulations at the time of the blowout and it touted its safety enhancements since. New requirements put into place by state regulators after the blowout led to many of the wells being overhauled and updated and many being sealed. The field is also not allowed to operate at full capacity. Two state regulatory agencies, the CPUC and the Department of Conservation's oil and gas division, will use the findings to produce reports of their own that could lead to fines. SoCalGas reached a $120 million court settlement with the state attorney general. It was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court of failing to quickly report the leak to state authorities and agreed to a $4 million settlement with the Los Angeles County district attorney.

Local News

  • President Jimmy Carter will not teach Sunday school in Plains as he originally planned.  The Carter Center released a statement Saturday saying that the former president 'underestimated the time he would need to recover' from his recent hip replacement surgery.  Carter, the oldest living president at 94, broke his hip Monday when he fell at his home in Plains. The surgery took place at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus. He was released from the hospital Thursday. We'll be LIVE in Plains where the former president is recovering. We'll have the latest on Carter's recovery, on Channel 2 Action News Sunday AM. TRENDING STORIES: Celebrity chef offers to hire lunch lady fired after giving lunch to student who couldn't pay Woman poses as sheriff, releases boyfriend from jail Plumbing fails hours before Preakness Stakes Carter still teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church when he is able and planned to teach this weekend. 'He and his wife, Rosalynn, appreciate everyone's support and prayers and apologize for any inconvenience to those who traveled to hear his lesson,' The Carter Center wrote.  Carter's niece, Kim Fuller, will teach the lesson instead. 
  • Country music star Travis Tritt was “really shaken” after witnessing a head-on fatal crash on Highway 22 early Saturday morning.  Tritt and his crew were leaving Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when the accident happened. “Thank God we are all okay,” he wrote. “I feel so bad for those who died needlessly tonight. I’m really shaken up by what I witnessed. God bless those who died.” Tritt, a Georgia native who lives in Hiram, said he was told the accident was caused by a wrong-way driver who “was obviously driving drunk or impaired.”  » These are the most famous folks from Cobb County He said his tour bus was sideswiped and sustained minor damage “as we tried to avoid the crash site in front of us.” Horry County emergency crews responded to the wreck around 3 a.m. A Jeep traveling in the wrong direction crashed into a Chevrolet truck head-on, said Cpl. Sonny Collins with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the Charlotte Observer reported. The driver of the Jeep and a passenger in the truck were killed in the crash, Collins said. The driver of the truck went to the hospital. “I beg everyone to please, please, please drive sober,” Tritt tweeted. “Know when to admit that your are too impaired to drive.” Tritt and The Cadillac Three are scheduled to perform tonight at Anderson Music Hall in Hiawassee. 
  •  Athens wins a national water quality contest. From the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office... Athens-Clarke County was named one of five national winners in the 8th Annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. As part of the challenge, residents pledged to reduce their water use by 73.2 million gallons of water over the next year and to undertake behaviors ranging from fixing home leaks to reducing harmful runoff into local rivers and streams. The annual month-long public awareness campaign to improve drought resiliency and water quality was promoted by the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office and ended on April 30 with mayors from 35 states vying to see whose city could be the nation’s most 'water wise.' 'The challenge is about reminding people across the country that we all need to work together to manage our water resources,' said marine life artist Wyland, who founded the Wyland Foundation in 1993. 'The campaign shows that there are many ways to do that, but it all starts with simple actions that most of us can do every day that make a big difference over time.' Residents from winning cities will now be entered into a drawing for thousands of dollars in water-saving or eco-friendly prizes, including $3,000 toward their annual home utility bill, 'Greening Your Home' cleaning kits from Earth Friendly Products (ECOS), home irrigation equipment from The Toro Company, and a water fixture makeover for a local school from Ecosystems LLC. A $500 home improvement store shopping spree will also be chosen from among the entire pool of U.S. participants. Additionally, participating residents were asked to nominate a deserving charity in their community to receive a 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Residents from Athens-Clarke County also pledged to reduce their use of 202,756 single-use plastic water bottles and eliminate 4,340 pounds of hazardous waste from entering watersheds. By altering daily lifestyle choices, residents pledged to send 1.9 million fewer pounds of waste to area landfills. Potential savings of 550,000 gallons of oil, 315 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 4.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and $941,655 in consumer cost savings rounded out the final pledge results. In addition to reducing water use, Athens-Clarke County collected more pledges than Gainesville, FL to win a friendly wager between the two cities, thus ensuring ACC Mayor Kelly Girtz would not have to don orange and blue while doing the 'Gator Chomp' during a future Mayor and Commission meeting. Instead, Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe will wear red and black while 'Calling the Dawgs' at an upcoming Gainsville City Commission meeting. Athens-Clarke County won in the population category of 100,000 to 299,999. Other winners were Rexburg, ID (5,000-29,999); Palm Coast, FL (30,000-99,999); Tucson, AZ (300,000-599,999); and Columbus, OH (600,000+). For more information on the challenge, visit www.mywaterpledge.com. The challenge, presented by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota, with support from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, National League of Cities, The Toro Company, Earth Friendly Products – maker of ECOS, Ecosystems, LLC, and Conserva Irrigation, addresses the growing importance of educating consumers about the many ways they use water.
  • Georgia softball will make its 18th-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance this week as the Bulldogs travel to Minneapolis for regional action. #14 Georgia will open tournament play Friday against #25 Drake at 7 p.m., ET.    National seed #7 Minnesota hosts the regional that also features North Dakota State. The Minneapolis Regional is the only regional in the field that features three teams ranked in the most recent USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and all four teams to have 40 or more wins.   Follow the Bulldogs » The Minneapolis Regional will air nationally on the networks of ESPN. Courtney Lyle and Amanda Scarborough will be on the call from Minneapolis.  » All games will be streamed live via Watch ESPN and the ESPN app.  » Live stats will be available for the Minneapolis Regional. Live stat links can be found on the softball schedule at GeorgiaDogs.com. » Live Twitter updates will be available at the official Twitter page of Georgia softball, @UGAsoftball.   BULLDOGS BULLETIN Series Histories Minnesota » Georgia leads the all-time series 4-2 » The Bulldogs and Gophers first met in North Carolina in 1998. The teams have met five times since, all in Athens (2010, 2012, 2016) » Minnesota won the first-ever meeting as well as the most recent  » The Bulldogs and Gophers have never met in the postseason  Drake  » Georgia leads the all-time series 2-0  » The only meetings came back on Mar. 25, 1998 in Athens; Georgia won 2-0, 1-0 North Dakota State » Georgia leads the all-time series 2-1 » All three meetings have been in Athens, first in 2011 then twice in 2013 » North Dakota State won the last meeting, 3-0   NCAA Tournament Tidbits » Georgia softball will make its 18th-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance this weekend  » Georgia is 67-37 all-time in NCAA Tournament action, advancing to 10 Super Regionals and four Women's College World Series. The 2009 and 2010 seasons saw the Bulldogs advance to the Final Four » In regional action alone, Georgia is 48-17 » In regionals away from Athens, Georgia is 21-11 all-time. Georgia has swept regionals on the road twice, 2008 and 2009  » Georgia will appear in Minneapolis for the NCAA Tournament for the first time » In 17 Regional appearances, Georgia has been on the road eight times. Three of those eight saw the Bulldogs emerge to go on and play in a Super Regional (2008, 09, 14). Only once has Georgia opened on the road in regional play and advance to a Women's College World Series (2009)    A Look Back Georgia trekked to College Station, Texas for the SEC Tournament last week. The Bulldogs opened play against Arkansas on Thursday. Georgia defeated the Razorbacks 4-1 for its first SEC Tournament win since 2015. The Bulldogs had to turn around to play that evening against top-seeded Alabama. The eight-inning game saw the Tide walk off, 2-1, ending Georgia's six-game winning streak.    Georgia in the Polls The Bulldogs dropped a spot to #14 in the week 14 USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll while jumping a spot to #16 in the USA Softball/ESPN.com Poll.    DiCarlo a Top 10 Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Senior Alyssa DiCarlo has been named a top-10 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. She becomes only the second Bulldog to earn a top-10 finalist spot. The 2019 season is the seventh season Georgia has placed a student-athlete in the top 25. Alisa Goler (2009) is Georgia's only other top-10 finalist in the history of the award. DiCarlo is one of four from the Southeastern Conference to appear on the list. The Top 3 Finalists will be announced on May 22. The 2019 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 28.    Three Bulldogs Earn All-SEC Honors Senior Alyssa DiCarlo was chosen by the league's head coaches as a First Team All-SEC performer. Junior Ciara Bryan earned Second Team All-SEC accolades while rookie Lacey Fincher gained a spot on the Freshman All-SEC Team. DiCarlo, a native of Glendale, Arizona, concludes her career as a four-time All-SEC performer, this is her third time on the First Team, earning Second Team as a sophomore in 2017. Bryan makes her debut on an all-conference team in 2019. A native of Covington, Georgia, Bryan has been Georgia's top hitter in league play, hitting a team-best .310 while slugging .521 against conference opponents. In the field, Fincher began the season starting as the designated player before taking over duties at first base in early March. She's made appearances at short, behind the plate, and in the outfield throughout the season.   Avant Lands on SEC Community Service Team Junior Mary Wilson Avant was named to the 2019 SEC Softball Community Service Team. Avant, a pitcher from Macon, Georgia, has participated in such community service events such as the Special Olympics of Northeast Georgia including the Hometown Rivals baseball game, UGA HEROs where she has fundraised and served as a committee member with the purpose of improving the quality of life for children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS, and Shop With A Bulldog where she has served as a mentor and raised funds to assist in providing clothing and personal supplies for underprivileged children.   Congrats, Grads!  Four Georgia softball student-athletes including Kylie Bass (Human Development and Family Science), Kendall Burton (Communication Studies), Cortni Emanuel (Masters in Sport Management), and Brittany Gray (Communication Studies) all earned their degrees at Commencement services Friday, May 10.    Thank you, Seniors!  Georgia honored the careers of two seniors who played their finals regular season games at Jack Turner Stadium: Kylie Bass and Alyssa DiCarlo. The two will go down among the best to wear the Red & Black. Bass will finish among career top-10 performers in ERA, wins, appearances, opponent batting average, and strikeouts. In her senior campaign, DiCarlo has broken Georgia's career records for home runs, RBI, extra-base hits, and total bases while raking among the top-10 in batting average, hits, at bats, runs, doubles, slugging, on-base percentage, walks, sacrifice flies, and assists. 
  • LaKeisha Gantt has been chosen as the president of the Clarke County Board of Education. The Board met in a special called session Thursday to vote on a replacement for departing School Board president Jared Bybee, who is leaving Athens for a job in California. Gantt won her seat on the Clarke County School Board in last year’s elections, defeating former incumbent Carol Williams to claim the District 7 seat. She has worked as a behavioral specialist in school districts and is now a counselor at the University of Georgia. 

Bulldog News

  • CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The symmetry appears uncanny on the surface, but Lawrence Cager’s football journey has been filled with twists and turns. Ultimately, Cager believes, fate has brought him to where he belongs and needs to be. Cager  hosted Georgia receiver J.J. Holloman when Holloman visited Miami as a prospect in November of 2016. A little more than two years later, Holloman was Cager’s host in Athens, Ga., for the Hurricane receiver’s visit last February. The two hit it off so well that they’re going to be roommates when Cager arrives in Athens on May 28 with business degree in hand and a national championship on his mind. “J.J. is like family to me,” Cager told DawgNation last weekend. “Out of high school, I wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog from the jump.” Cager has impact player written all over him, ready for a break-out season after a career-high 21 catches for 374 yards last season. Smart said more than once he’s concerned about the Georgia receiver position after four of the top five pass catchers from last season moved on. Cager is already on NFL radar, his 6-foot-5, 218-pound frame and impressive jumping ability leading to a team-high six TDs in 2018 at Miami. RELATED: Cager among four UGA players on Senior Bowl early radar It’s fair to assume Cager will be in the Red Zone mix at Georgia. Cager was recruited to Miami by current Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley, choosing the Hurricanes over Alabama and playing the 2015 season with Coley as his coordinator. “God works in mysterious ways,” Cager said. “I’m here now with the coach I loved at Miami (Coley), and the coach I loved at Alabama (Kirby Smart), so I couldn’t ask to be in a better position.”   Play ball! Growing up in baseball-crazy Baltimore, Cager fancied himself a future major leaguer and didn’t take football serious entering into his freshman year at Calvert Hall College High School in Maryland. Former five-time all-star Tori Hunter came to watch Cager hit when he was in eighth grade, and Lawrence’s high school coach was a regional scout for the Detroit Tigers. All signs pointed to baseball. Until they didn’t. Cager played football as a freshman “just to have fun” when coach Devin Redd, the CEO and co-founder of Baltimore’s Next Level Nation, altered Cager’s life with his observation. “Devin Redd said I could play on Sundays,” Cager said. “He told me ’you have something people don’t have; you move like a 5-foot-11 guy but you’re 6-5.” Cager scored 15 touchdowns and had more than 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman before moving up to varsity as a sophomore, a three-sport athlete also playing basketball and baseball. “Lawrence’s ascent began when he came into high school,” Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said. “He wasn’t sure what direction he would go in; he dabbled in baseball, at one point thought about soccer, and he was a very good at baseball.” Then Cager decided to go out for track his junior year, and he ended up at the Penn Relays and Nationals, clearing 6-foot-11. By then, however, Cager had decided on football. “I knew football would take me where I needed to go,” Cager said, “when I got my first offers from Oregon State and Toledo my sophomore year.” Silent commit A strong showing at a Nike Camp in New Jersey led Cager to receive an invite to The Opening in 2014. Future Georgia receiver Terry Godwin was also there. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer invited Cager to the Buckeyes’ famed “Friday Night Lights” recruiting event, and Cager and his family were so impressed that he made a silent commitment on July 25, 2014. Cager already had an Alabama offer in hand, and then Michigan State offered, along with Notre Dame, Miami, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Nebraska. Cager found himself intrigued and wanted to take visits, particularly to the Top 5 Mississippi State-Alabama matchup in 2014. “The fact I wanted to visit there told me I didn’t need to be committed,” Cager said. “I wanted to see other schools before I could know.” Cager’s parents were pushing for Wake Forest because of the academics there, so the Deacons got the first official visit followed by Virginia Tech, and then Cager’s visit to the Michigan-Ohio State game. Cager headed to the U.S. Army All-American Game thinking he wanted to go to Alabama, while his parents were still encouraging him to go to Wake Forest. Shower commit Cager told the CBS team at the U.S. Army All-American Game he was going to commit to Alabama, live at halftime, during the Jan. 3 broadcast. But behind the scenes Cager’s parents were telling hm to re-think it; there was uncertainty over whether offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin would be returning to the staff the next season. “It was a tough phone call to Nick Saban,” Cager said of the days leading up to the game. Once game day arrived, Cager had an issue on his hands: A spot on CBS to commit before a live national audience, but uncertainty as to which school that would be. “During warm-ups before the game, I was trying to figure out which school I’m going to commit to,” Cager said. “So while everyone else is on the field getting ready to play, I was in the shower room calling schools … some were answering, but they said they’d already had a commitment or were full at the position.” That included Georgia when Cager reached out to Mark Richt. “They told me they were full, because Jayson Stanley had committed,” Cager said. “Coach Coley was the only one at a school I liked who would take my commit. “He said, ‘Change the game!’’ “ Cager’s coach told then-Miami head coach AL Golden that it was a TV commit. Cager was scheduled to visit Alabama the following Saturday, and then he’d visit Miami. “So I committed on TV to Miami without ever being in Miami in my life,” Cager said, laughing at the naivety of his youth. “It’s funny how God works, because that’s how he put Coach Coley in my life.” Until he wasn’t. Lawrence Cager’s upside has him on NFL radar. Rob Floyd/ Getty Images The Richt Years The score was 58-0 on Oct. 25, 2015, Clemson handing Miami the worst loss in the Hurricanes’ 90-year football history. “I know it isn’t far from outhouse to penthouse,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, according ESPN. “I don’t celebrate anything from Miami’s bad day. I feel for him. I hate it, man.  Hurricanes’ coach Al Golden hated it even more when he was fired the next day, making way for Larry Scott to assume interim duties. Miami won the remained of the regular season games, but the Hurricanes elected to go with suddenly available Richt, a school alum who had parted ways with Georgia. RELATED: Mark Richt praised by rivals Saban, Fulmer, Spurrier Cager couldn’t wait to build off his freshman season, but then things took a turn for the worst — specifically, his knee. “I tore my ACL on the last play, on the last day of the last week of 7on -7 drills before camp, back in July of 2016 going into my sophomore season,” Cager said. “I was determined to come back quicker than they projected, so I was in the training room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day until I could walk.” Cager was running in two weeks and running in three months, ready for spring drills, but Richt held him out as a precaution. The 2017 season, however, was at best “up and down” Cager said. “You think you won’t think about it (surgically repaired knee), but it’s in the back of your head, that what if I do this, or I do that, and I might hurt it again,” Cager said. Finally recovered, Cager was ready for a big redshirt junior season in 2018, but the Hurricanes’ offense struggled. The quarterback position was a revolving door, and the lack of consistency under center translated to a hot-and-cold passing game. Richt stepped down after the season, and Cager decided to exercise his eligibility as a graduate transfer. Georgia, with Coley recently promoted to offensive coordinator, was the first to call. “Kirby was like, ‘I’m not going to lose you this time, right?’ “ Cager said. “ ‘You’re going to come home now.’ “My mind went to Athens as soon as I made a decision to be a Bulldog, I felt right at home.” DawgNation in South Florida Kenny McIntosh draws comparisons to Sony Michel, Jordan Scarlett Lawrence Cager eager for Georgia touch down ’The Blueprint,’ championship plans for South Florida star Lawrence Cager with DawgNation   The post The fascinating story of how Lawrence Cager ended up at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Kirby Smart has no intentions of leaving his post as Georgia football coach any time in the near future — or ever, for that matter. “Why would I leave home?” Smart said Thursday night in his hometown of Bainbridge, Ga., during a question and answer session,  according The Post Searchlight. “I have more passion and energy in my heart for the University of Georgia than you’ll ever realize,” Smart said. “Because it did more for me than anything I’ve been to in my life.” Smart was an All-SEC safety at Georgia and four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll (1995-98), graduating from UGA’s celebrated Terry College of Business. Smart began his coaching career with the Bulldogs as an administrative assistant on Jim Donnan’s staff in 1999. He returned in 2005 to serve as an assistant to former coach Mark Richt. RELATED: Brandon Adams podcast discusses Kirby Smart as Georgia ‘coach for life’ Smart’s 32-10 record as Georgia’s head coach marks the highest winning percentage (.762) in UGA history. The Bulldogs recently had seven players selected in the 2019 NFL draft and are poised to break the program record next year as Smart enters his fourth season at the helm. RELATED: Kirby Smart’s 2020 draft class will set record Only 43 years old, Smart has already delivered an SEC Championship. UGA was seconds away from the College Football Playoff Championship in 2017 and narrowly missed a second College Football Playoff appearance in 2018. Smart has been paid appropriately for his success. He draws a $7 million per year salary as part of the seven-year, $49 million contract extension he signed last year. Still, there has been speculation that the NFL or Alabama might one day lure Smart away from his alma mater, as it has many other great coaches. Florida’s Steve Spurrier is a prime example. Spurrier was a Heisman Trophy winner for the Gators who came back to coach his alma mater for 12 years (1990-2001) before leaving for the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Spurrier ultimately returned to college coaching, but he did so at South Carolina, where he coached another 11 years. Smart could be different in the sense that he grew up and played his high school football in Georgia, whereas Spurrier was raised in Tennessee. RELATED: AJC columnist Mark Bradley asks, could Smart coach UGA for life? Smart’s appearance at the Bainbridge football fundraiser at the Bainbridge Country Club on Thursday night served as evidence of his loyal nature. “I get asked to speak a lot, but I asked to speak at this event,” Smart said, according to his hometown newspaper. “You got me now because you put Bainbridge back on the map, put it where it’s supposed to be.” Bainbridge, where Smart starred before choosing Georgia, beat Warner Robins 47-41 in triple overtime of the Class AAAAA State Championship Game last season. Smart shared how Bainbridge is what led him to the national level of success he’s enjoying at Georgia. “I had the great fortune of going (to Georgia),” Smart said. “Probably would have never gotten there without some of the great people in this room. “I assure you, it was what drove me to success.” Smart has been proactive designing future success for Georgia as well. It is Smart who is spearheading UGA’s aggressive scheduling model and seeking a facilities blueprint aimed at keeping the Bulldogs an annual title contender. RELATED: Smart shares visionary side of Georgia scheduling plan The Bulldogs recently scheduled a future home-and-home series with Oklahoma in 2023 (away) and 2031 (Athens). Smart’s comments this week make it clear he plans to be on the sideline for both, in Norman, and between the hedges in his “home.” More Kirby Smart DawgNation coverage • Kirby Smart takes playful jab at Florida • WATCH: Kirby Smart shares two most meaningful Georgia wins, bucket list • MORE: Kirby Smart ‘no regrets’ on Justin Fields’ situation • Kirby Smart says ‘We want to talk with our helmets’ • Kirby Smart makes key point defending Jake Fromm The post Kirby Smart plans to coach Georgia infinitely: ‘Why would I leave home’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS – Having presided every one of what is now 33 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for Georgia, women’s tennis coach Jeff Wallace was asked if heading to Orlando this week to compete in the championship rounds seemed like old hat for him. Without missing a beat, Wallace pointed to the wide-brimmed, black sun hat atop his head – power G on the front — and deadpanned, “this is a new hat.” Georgia’s No. 2 doubles team of Elena Christofi and Vivian Wolff is undefeated this season at 16-0. (Kristin M. Bradshaw/UGA Athletics) Wallace is representative of his top-seeded and No. 2-ranked squad as it prepares for its Elite Eight matchup with Vanderbilt (19-7) on Friday. The Bulldogs (26-1) are upbeat, loose and confident as they make yet another run at a national championship. Wallace’s latest team might be his best one. It stood undefeated before finally blinking against a very good South Carolina team in the SEC Tournament finals. Since the calendar flipped to spring the Bulldogs have logged 12 4-0 victories. “Every year’s different; it’s hard to do comparisons,” Wallace said of how this group stacks up against his all-time best teams. “This has been a special year, when you win a national indoor title and you go undefeated in the regular season and win the SEC. But our goal all year has been to play our best tennis this coming weekend and that’s what we’re striving for.” Next in the pathway is Vanderbilt, a team Georgia already has beaten twice. The latest was a 4-1 drubbing in the final regular-season match. But the Commodores pushed them to 4-3 in the National Indoor semifinals back in early February in Seattle. The Bulldogs were ranked 5 to Vandy’s No. 2 at the time. “I think it’s a good thing,” junior Elena Christofi said of having to play Vandy a third time. “They know us but we also know them. We have an idea about what to expect and can share strategies with our teammates about who they face. We know what’s worked and we can do it again.” In an epic comeback, Christofi rallied from an 0-5 third-set deficit and fought off two match points to defeat Emily Smith 7-5 for Georgia to clinch that match. She is 15-2 on Court 5 this season. Christofi and sophomore Vivian Wolff are undefeated (16-0) at No. 2 doubles for the Bulldogs. Not coincidentally, Georgia has won 21 of 26 doubles points this season. From top to bottom the Bulldogs are a well-balanced squad of youthful talent and grizzled experience. No. 2-ranked Katarina Jokic leads the at No. 1 singles. Freshmen Lourdes Carle (23-6) and Meg Kowalski (23-1) have come in and dominated the competition at Nos. 3 and 6, respectively. Christofi and fellow junior Marta Gonzalez (ranked 19th in singles and playing No. 2) provide leadership. All but the two freshmen were around last year when the Bulldogs were bounced at this point. They lost to Stanford, the eventual NCAA champion. “The vibe is really, really positive,” Christofi said. “All of us are super pumped and excited to go to Orlando. Being in the Elite 8 is what we’ve worked for. Now we have an opportunity to show our work.” Just to add to the positivity, the Bulldogs added another team member this week. Head coach Drake Bernstein and his wife Cassidy had their first child Monday night, Brody, a boy. So it was with great optimism that Georgia boarded its flight for Orlando Tuesday. But this will be new territory. The Bulldogs, like many other teams, are making their first visit to the expansive USTA National Training Center in Lake Nona. The 100-court facility was thought to be a factor in the NCAA’s decision to skip over Athens as an NCAA Championship site when bids were accepted through 2022. “It’s going to be a new experience for me and for all of us,” Wallace said. “I’ll tell you what I think when I get back. I’m very, very biased. There’s no better place than ours and we’d love to get the NCAA Tournament back here and that’s our goal and hope.” The post No. 1 Georgia tennis heads to Orlando intent on returning with another NCAA championship appeared first on DawgNation.
  • University of Georgia sophomore right-hander Emerson Hancock has been named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, USA Baseball announced Wednesday. Hancock, who owns a 7-2 record and 1.31 Earned Run Average (ERA) this year is one of 25 semifinalists. The Golden Spikes Award annually goes to the top amateur baseball player in the country and USA Baseball has partnered with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation to host the award since 2013. The finalists will be announced on May 29, and the winner of the 42nd Golden Spikes Award will be named on June 14 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.   A 6-4, 215-pound native of Cairo, Ga., Hancock is the fourth Bulldog in school history to be named a semifinalist, joining shortstop Gordon Beckham (a finalist in 2008), pitcher Joshua Fields (2008) and first baseman Rich Poythress (2009). Hancock leads the nation in Fewest Hits Allowed Per Nine Innings (4.4) and WHIP (0.73) {Walks Plus Hits Per Innings Pitched} and is fifth in ERA (1.31). He has made 11 starts, tallying 75.2 innings with 81 strikeouts and only 18 walks. He has been one of the aces for the Bulldogs who are ranked No. 7 nationally with a 39-14 record including 18-9 in the SEC. Hancock is slated to pitch game three of the Alabama series at Foley Field on Saturday at 2 p.m.  “The twenty-five student-athletes honored as Golden Spikes Award semifinalists this year highlight the depth of elite amateur baseball talent in the United States,” said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler. “Each and every one of these athletes have excelled on the field this season and we are honored to continue our partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation to recognize their contributions to their teams and schools.”  The list of semifinalists spans 20 different colleges and universities, one high school and nine NCAA conferences. The list also features 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner Andrew Vaughn (California). Along with Vaughn, recent winners of the Golden Spikes Award include Brendan McKay (2017), Kyle Lewis (2016), Andrew Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Trevor Bauer (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Buster Posey (2008). Seventh-ranked Georgia plays host to Alabama at Foley Field starting Thursday at 7 p.m. with the entire SEC series sold out.    Students who present a valid UGA ID will still be admitted free via the 3rd base gate. Student admissions are first come, first serve until their held block has been exhausted. Game two of the series will be Friday at 7 p.m. and game three will be Saturday at 2 p.m. Georgia will honor its seniors before Saturday’s. game. The entire series will be available on SEC Network+ and broadcast on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.    Georgia (39-14, 18-9 SEC) closes out the regular season looking to secure a top four seed and a bye for next week’s SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs are two games behind second-ranked Vanderbilt (20-7 SEC) in the overall SEC race while fourth-ranked Arkansas leads the West with a 19-8 league mark. Georgia and fifth-ranked Mississippi State have identical 18-9 SEC marks with MSU holding the tiebreaker over Georgia. The Bulldogs need only to win one game or have Ole Miss or LSU, both 15-12 in the SEC, lose a game for Georgia to be a top four seed. Georgia is 25-3 at home this season. Also, the Bulldogs have a chance to become only the third team in school history to register 40 wins in the regular season. The two that have done it were the 2001 SEC Champions (40-16) and the 1990 National Champions (44-15).   The Bulldogs lead the nation in Fewest Hits Allowed Per Nine Innings at 6.1 and are seventh nationally in ERA at 3.21. Georgia’s record for lowest ERA in a season is 2.97 by the 1958 club and the next best is 3.26 by the 1967 squad. Opponents are hitting only .195 against the Bulldogs this year and that’s on pace to be a school record. The Bulldog rotation will feature freshman Cole Wilcox (2-1, 4.12 ERA) on Thursday, junior Tony Locey (9-1, 2.63 ERA) on Friday and sophomore Emerson Hancock (7-2, 1.31 ERA) on Saturday. Alabama has a 4.00 ERA and opponents are hitting .246 against them.   Alabama (30-23, 7-20 SEC) defeated Samford Tuesday and now are vying for the 12th and final spot in the SEC Tournament. Currently, they are tied with Kentucky and South Carolina. The Wildcats play host to the Commodores while the Gamecocks face MSU in Starkville. Alabama is 9-10 on the road this year. The all-time series with Alabama is tied 72-72-2. Last year, Georgia won a series in Tuscaloosa 2-1.   Georgia is batting .267 with a .421 slugging percentage and a .980 fielding percentage. The Bulldogs have a trio of .300 hitters in junior Aaron Schunk (.339-9-37), senior LJ Talley (.335-8-38) and redshirt sophomore Riley King (.307-7-40). Alabama is hitting .266 with a .397 slugging percentage and a .978 fielding percentage. Alabama’s leading hitters are junior Morgan McCullough (.323-3-29) and sophomore Tyler Gentry (.305-11-40).   On Senior Day Saturday, the Bulldogs will honor Talley, pitcher Adam Goodman and graduate John Cable plus managers Sam Carey and Travis Tindall. Manager Greg Bundrage graduated last week and already has begun an internship with the Arizona Diamondbacks in video operations.   GEORGIA vs. ALABAMA PITCHING MATCHUPS Thurs: Freshman RHP Cole Wilcox (2-1, 4.12 ERA) vs. Freshman RHP Tyler Ras (1-2, 3.41 ERA) Fri.: Junior RHP Tony Locey (9-1, 2.63 ERA) vs. Junior RHP Brock Love (5-4, 4.31 ERA) Sat.: Junior RHP Emerson Hancock (7-2, 1.31 ERA) vs. Senior RHP Sam Finnerty (6-7, 4.18 ERA)     Television/Radio Thurs. SECN+ Streaming Link with 1st pitch at 7:02 pm: http://www.gado.gs/2np Fri. SECN+ Streaming Link with 1st pitch at 7:02 pm: http://www.gado.gs/2nr Sat: SECN+, Streaming Link with 1st pitch at 2:02 pm Link: http://www.gado.gs/2nt   Radio (Entire series): Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG College (David Johnston & Jeff Dantzler) Stations: 960 AM-WRFC and selected affiliates (check your local listings), also via the Georgia Bulldogs app and TuneIn app. Additional Coverage on Twitter: @BaseballUGA   Tickets:  -StubHub: http://www.gado.gs/2nv
  • ATHENS – The Georgia Bulldogs – and Davis Thompson in particular – picked a good time to get hot. Thompson won medalist honors to pace the No. 16-ranked Bulldogs to a dominating victory in the NCAA Athens Regional tournament. Thompson shot 8-under par over three rounds to win individual honors and Georgia shot 8-under as a team to stay ahead of No. 9 Duke (-1) and No. 4 Vanderbilt (+1) to claim the tournament victory. Davis Thompson brought a new Ping driver into play for this week’s regional and that move paid dividends. (Kristin M. Bradshaw/UGA Athletics) By finishing among the top five teams in the 13-team field, Georgia advances to the NCAA Golf Championships in Arkansas next week. To do so coming off a win makes it all the better. “Anytime you can win, it just gives you the confidence to know that you can win,” said Chris Haack, who notched his 63rd tournament victory as Georgia’s coach. “To do it on a big stage like the NCAA Regionals gives you even more confidence.” SMU (+16) and Liberty (+18) also advanced. Tennessee (+21) missed the final spot by three strokes. But the talk of the day was about Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound sophomore from St. Simons by way of Auburn, Ala. The son of former Georgia golfer Todd Thompson, Davis has been knocking on the door all year with third- and fourth-place finishes in the Bulldogs’ last two tournaments and five top 10s in his career. “It’s big,” Thompson said shortly after birdieing his final hole of the tournament at the UGA Golf Course. “I’ve been close before, so it just feels nice. A big sigh of relief.” Said Haack: “To see him finally validate his play was pretty special. These guys work so hard and get over the hump. That was his first college win, so to do it on a stage like this in front of lot of fans is pretty special. I think the best is yet to come from him.” The best news is Georgia knows it can play better. Freshman Trent Phillips was the only other Bulldog to break par Wednesday – he shot 69 to finish 10th individually — and Trevor Phillips (+13) and Will Kohlstorf (+11) carded uncharacteristically high rounds. Junior Spencer Ralston was his steady self as usual, finishing third at 4-under par after carding a 71 Wednesday. “It was good to see us jell a little bit and finish it off in style,” Haack said. The post Davis Thompson leads Georgia men’s golf to run-away win in NCAA Regional appeared first on DawgNation.