LIVE COVERAGE:

Senate Impeachment Trial.

On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

clear-night
28°
Mostly Cloudy
H 43° L 23°
  • clear-night
    28°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 43° L 23°
  • cloudy-day
    47°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 43° L 23°
  • cloudy-day
    41°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 52° L 33°

Business Headlines

    General Motors' self-driving car company will attempt to deliver on its long-running promise to provide a more environmentally friendly ride-hailing service in an unorthodox vehicle designed to eliminate the need for human operators to transport people around crowded cities. The service still being developed by GM's Cruise subsidiary will rely on a boxy, electric-powered vehicle called “Origin' that was unveiled late Tuesday in San Francisco amid much fanfare. It looks like a cross between a mini-van and sports utility vehicle with one huge exception — it won't have any steering wheel or brakes. The Origin will accommodate up to four passengers at a time, although a single customer will be able summon it for a ride just as people already can ask for a car with a human behind the wheel from Uber or Lyft. For all the hype surrounding the Origin's unveiling, Cruise omitted some key details, including when its ride-hailing service will be available and how many of the vehicles will be in its fleet. The company indicated it will initially only be available in San Francisco, where Cruise has already been offering a ride-hailing service that's only available to its roughly 1,000 employees. By eliminating the need for a human to drive, Cruise theoretically will be able to offer a less expensive way to get around — a goal already being pursued by self-driving car pioneer Waymo, a Google spinoff that has been testing robotaxis in the Phoenix area for nearly three years. Cruise had planned to have a robotaxi service consisting of Chevrolet Bolts working without human backup drivers by the end of 2019, but moved away from that last year after one of Uber's autonomous test vehicles ran down and killed a pedestrian in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Arizona, during 2018. Still aware of the fallout from that deadly crash, Cruise is promising “superhuman performance” from the Cruise, which GM hopes to manufacture at half the price of comparable vehicles using fuel-combustion engines. GM also expects to announce where the Origin will be made within the next few weeks, Cruise CEO Dan Amman said. The Origin won't be sold to consumers though. “It is not a product you can buy, but an experience you share,' Amman said. The Origin represents another significant step for Cruise, which had only 40 employees when GM bought it in 2016 as part of its effort to catch up in the race to build cars that can drive themselves. Since then, Cruise has attracted more than $6 billion from investors, including $2.75 billion from Honda and $2.25 billion from Japanese tech investment firm SoftBank. Honda also helped develop the Origin. GM currently values Cruise at $19 billion, fueling speculation that the subsidiary may eventually be spun off as a publicly traded company. Whenever Cruise's ride-hailing service makes its debut, it will still be chasing Waymo, whose work on self-driving car technology began inside of Google more than a decade ago. Waymo's Phoenix-area service already has given more than 100,000 rides, according to the company. It expanded beyond the test phase service 13 months ago with a ride-hailing app that now has about 1,500 active monthly riders, Waymo says. By comparison, ride-hailing leader Uber now boasts about 103 million active monthly users with a service that relies on human drivers — a dependence that is the main reason the company has been losing money throughout its history. Despite the fatal 2018 crash that stoked the public’s worst fears about self-driving cars, Uber is still trying to build a fleet of robotic taxis as part of its question to become profitable. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also pledged that his company’s electric cars will be able to drive themselves without a human behind the wheel before the end of this year so they can moonlight as taxis when their owners don’t need the vehicles, but industry analysts doubt that promise will come to fruition.
  • Two different air bag glitches have forced Toyota and Honda to recall over 6 million vehicles worldwide, and both problems present different dangers to motorists. The Toyota recall affects about 3.4 million vehicles globally and is being done because the air bags may not inflate in a crash. The cars have air bag control computers made by ZF-TRW that are vulnerable to electrical interference and may not signal the bags to inflate. The problem could affect as many as 12.3 million vehicles in the U.S. made by six companies. It’s possible that as many as eight people were killed when air bags didn’t inflate. U.S. safety regulators are investigating. Honda’s recall covers about 2.7 million vehicles in the U.S. and Canada with Takata air bag inflators. But they’re a different version than the ones blamed for 25 deaths worldwide. Still, it’s possible the air bags could blow apart a metal canister and hurl shrapnel at drivers and passengers. Both recalls were announced on Tuesday. In a statement, Toyota said the computer may not have adequate protection against electrical noise that can happen in crashes, such as when the vehicle runs under a different vehicle. The problem can cause incomplete opening of the air bags, or they may not open at all. Devices that prepare seat belts for a collision also may not work. In most cases Toyota dealers will install a noise filter between the air bag control computer and a wiring harness. But in some vehicles dealers will inspect the computer to determine if it needs the filter. Owners will be notified by mid-March. The recall covers certain 2011-2019 Corollas, the 2011 to 2013 Matrix, the 2012 through 2018 Avalon and the 2013 to 2018 Avalon Hybrid in the U.S. Toyota wouldn't say if it will offer loaner cars to people who fear their air bags might not protect them. A spokeswoman suggested that owners call its customer hotline to discuss their issue at (800) 333-4331. In March of 2017, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating problems with ZF-TRW air bag computers. The probe was expanded in April of last year to 12.3 million vehicles made by Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Fiat Chrysler from the 2010 through 2019 model years. Toyota joins Hyundai, Kia and Fiat Chrysler in issuing recalls for the problem. Four deaths that may have been caused by the problem were reported in Hyundai-Kia vehicles and three in Fiat Chrysler automobiles. The investigation was upgraded after investigators found two serious crashes involving 2018 and 2019 Toyota Corollas in which the air bags did not inflate. One person was killed. Toyota said it's cooperating in the probe, which is continuing. NHTSA is evaluation how susceptible the air bag control units are to electrical signals as well as other factors that could stop air bags from inflating. In documents, the agency said that it didn't find any other cases of electrical interference in Hyundai, Kia or Fiat Chrysler vehicles that used the ZF-TRW system but were not recalled. ZF-TRW said Tuesday it continues to cooperate with the NHTSA investigation. The Honda recall covers certain Honda and Acura vehicles from the 1996 to 2003 model years. Honda vehicles included are the 1998 to 2000 Accord Coupe and Sedan, the 1996 to 2000 Civic coupe and sedan, the 1997 to 2001 CR-V, the 1998 to 2001 Odyssey and the 1997 and 1998 EV Plus. Acura vehicles covered are the 1997 and 1998 2.2CL, the 1997 to 1999 3.0CL, the 1998 and 1999 2.3CL, the 2001 and 2002 3.2CL, the 2001 and 2002 MDX, the 1998 to 2003 3.5RL, and the 1999 to 2001 3.2TL. The front driver’s inflators being recalled are part of a recall announced by Takata in November covering at least 1.4 million vehicles from five automakers. Honda said it’s recalling a larger number of vehicles to make sure it gets all of the bad inflators. In this case, the inflators don’t contain ammonium nitrate, which is blamed for previous Takata problems that have killed 25 people and injured hundreds worldwide. But three of the newly recalled inflators exploded and hurled shrapnel, two in Japan and one in Texas that injured a driver, Honda said in a statement. The company said in all three cases, the inflators were exposed to excessive moisture. In Texas, the car had a salvage title with a date that coincided with a major flood, while the two cases in Japan were in salvage yards where the windows are typically left open, the company said. “Honda believes that the risk of improper air bag deployment in its vehicles remains very low at this time, but we cannot absolutely guarantee the performance of any recalled part,” the company said in a statement. Owners will be notified in mid-March, but replacement parts won’t be available for another year, Honda said. Asked about loaner cars, a Honda spokesman said customer concerns will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Customers can call Honda at (888) 234-2138 with questions. ____ This story was corrected to show that the recalls were announced Tuesday, not Friday.
  • United Airlines reported Tuesday that higher revenue and cheaper fuel helped boost its fourth-quarter profit by nearly 40%, to $641 million. The airline's forecast of first-quarter earnings easily beat Wall Street expectations. It is not all clear sailing for United, however. The financial report came the same day that United shares tumbled on fear that a virus outbreak in China could hurt travel between the U.S. and Asia, a key market for the airline. Even before the outbreak, a closely watched measure of revenue per seat was dropping on United's flights to and from Asia. And Boeing again pushed back its timetable for return of the 737 Max, making it almost impossible for United to meet its goal of putting the plane in its schedule by early June. It is more likely that United will go through a second straight summer without the Max, forcing it to cancel thousands of flights and lose the revenue from those ticket sales. Rivals Southwest and American have disclosed how much the loss of their Max jets is costing them in pretax income. United has never given a figure, and declined again on Tuesday. The company has said only that it is talking to Boeing Co. about compensation. United executives were scheduled to discuss the financial results with analysts on Wednesday. U.S. airlines are enjoying strong demand for travel that has allowed them to sell more high-priced seats and amenities while limiting price hikes for average fares. United has been expanding by adding flights from its U.S. hubs such as Denver, Houston and San Francisco to smaller cities. United will change CEOs in May, with Oscar Munoz stepping down and being replaced by Scott Kirby, the company’s president since mid-2016. For the fourth quarter, United said profit excluding what the company deemed non-repeating items was $2.67 per share. That was 3 cents better than the average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research. Revenue rose 4% to $10.89 billion, in line with analysts' forecasts. United added passenger-carrying capacity despite the loss of its Max jets, and revenue grew about twice as fast as operating expenses. There, labor costs rose 6%, but United's fuel spending dropped more than 5% as fuel prices fell from the same period in 2018. Passenger revenue per mile for each seat, an indication of pricing power, rose nearly 1%, in line with United's forecast of three months ago. The airline predicted that same figure would be flat to up 2% in the January-through-March quarter. United forecast adjusted earnings of 75 cents to $1.25 per share in the first quarter. Analysts are expecting 72 cents per share. Shares of Chicago-based United Airlines Holdings Inc. fell $3.91, or 4.4%, to close Tuesday at $85.79. They were down 64 cents in late trading.
  • Netflix is holding its ground in the streaming wars, passing its first big test since Apple and Disney launched rival services. The company added 8.8 million worldwide subscribers during its fourth quarter, surpassing expectations at a time when it faces heated competition. Netflix had said it expected to add 7.6 million subscribers, and analysts thought the service would fare even better. The increase pales slightly next to the 8.9 million subscribers the service added in the fourth quarter of 2018. The stock dropped about 2.5% immediately in after-hours trading, likely due to a cautious forecast for the first quarter. But shares rebounded and later traded up more than 2%. The company — a pioneer in producing streaming media and binge-worthy shows — now boasts more than 167 million subscribers worldwide, bolstered by a list of well-received movies and shows released late last year. That includes the fantasy show “The Witcher” and Oscar nominees “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story.” The boost helps reaffirm Netflix’s strong standing in the increasingly crowded world of video streaming. The fourth quarter was an important milestone for Netflix, as it was marked its first head-to-head competition with Apple’s $5-per-month streaming service and Disney’s instantly popular $7-a-month option. Still, it’s unlikely to be a smooth road for Netflix. NBC, HBO and startup Quibi are all planning to launch new streaming services soon. Two big questions loom: How much are consumers willing to pay for each video streaming option? And how many will they pay for before reaching subscription fatigue? Netflix CEO Reed Hastings acknowledged the increased competition in a call following earnings, but said he believes the services are mostly capturing new viewers who are transitioning from traditional TV watching. 'It takes away a little bit from us,” he said of the Disney Plus launch. “But again, most of the growth in the future is coming out of linear TV.” Netflix has one major advantage over competitors: it has been collecting data on the shows viewers crave for years. “Netflix's scale allows it to reach mass audiences, which makes it easier for them to create hits when compared to newcomers to the market,' EMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom said. Netflix’s most popular plan costs $13 a month, far more than competitors from Disney, Apple and Quibi. But its price is comparable to HBO Now, and it boasts one of the largest libraries of TV shows and movies, not to mention regularly updated original shows. Hastings reiterated that Netflix isn't interested in introducing ads. Noting that the digital advertising market is dominated by companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, he said, “there's not easy money there.” It's also less controversial to avoid digital advertising and the scrutiny around companies making customers' personal information that comes with it, he said. In its quarterly letter to shareholders, Netflix included a chart of Google search trends that showed people searching more often for “The Witcher” than for competing shows including “The Mandalorian,” “The Morning Show” and “Jack Ryan,” from Disney, Apple and Amazon, respectively. In the U.S., Netflix added 420,000 subscribers, below its own estimates. Growth in its home country has been slowing in the last year, partly because most people in the U.S. who want Netflix already subscribe. The company reported profit of $587 million on revenue of $5.47 billion, exceeding expectations. Netflix said it expects to add 7 million subscribers during the first three months of this year, well below the 9.6 million subscribers it added in the first quarter last year. — Technology writer Michael Liedtke contribued to this report.
  • Stocks that moved heavily or traded substantially on Tuesday: Delta Air Lines, Inc., down $1.69 at $60.34. Airlines and travel companies fell as concern about a Chinese disease outbreak grows. Peoples Bancorp Inc., up 62 cents at $35.23. The Marietta, Ohio-based bank's fourth-quarter profit and revenue beat Wall Street's forecasts. PetMed Express, Inc., down $1.64 at $25.62. The online veterinary pharmacy's third-quarter sales were weaker than expected. Las Vegas Sands Corp., down $4.00 at $70.06. Companies that cater to Chinese tourists, such as casinos, had the biggest losses. PacWest Bancorp, down $1.27 at $36.72. The Los Angeles-based financial institution's fourth-quarter sales disappointed Wall Street. Mercantile Bank Corp., down 46 cents at $34.98. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based bank's fourth-quarter earnings were much better than expected. Expedia Group Inc., down $1.65 at $110.17. Travel companies slumped on worries that customers may stay away amid concerns over the Chinese disease outbreak. Halliburton Co., down 19 cents at $23.77. The oilfield engineering company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and sales.
  • Shares of the three U.S. airlines that fly to China fell on Tuesday as fear grew about a virus that authorities say has killed six people and sickened 300 more. The United States reported its first case, a Washington state resident who returned last week from China and was hospitalized in good condition. Investors worried that the virus could spread beyond Asia, like the SARS outbreak in 2002, which hurt travel between the U.S. and Asia. In afternoon trading, shares of Hawaiian Airlines' parent fell 5.8%, United Airlines dropped 4.3%, American Airlines lost 3.9%, and Delta declined 3%. Other stocks in the travel sector also took a hit Tuesday, including hotel chains like Marriott, which fell 4%. Hilton was down 2.8% and Wyndham slipped 1.3%. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean Cruises slid 4.3%. “We’re obviously watching it carefully, it’s still way too early to talk about,' Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson told CNBC Tuesday. “I think the Chinese authorities have got to make sure they understand what’s going on and we’ll have to watch and see what we learn from it.” The outbreak is believed to have started in Wuhan in central China. None of the U.S. airlines fly to Wuhan, but their Chinese partner airlines do, and some passengers transfer from Chinese carriers to American ones. Fear about the virus increased just as millions of Chinese prepared to travel for the lunar New Year holiday, which starts Saturday. Cases have also been confirmed in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Last week, U.S. health officials began screening passengers from Wuhan at New York's Kennedy airport, Los Angeles International and the San Francisco airport. Officials say they will expand the screening to Chicago's O'Hare and the Atlanta's airport, and require all U.S.-bound travelers who begin their trips in Wuhan to go to one of those five airports. “There is a legitimate threat to travel,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst in San Francisco. “It’s small now, but with the potential to become much larger with just some innocuous event such as an undetected passenger getting through (health) screening at an arrival airport like San Francisco International, Kennedy or LAX.” Harteveldt said the situation also could become worse for airlines if companies start to restrict travel to China. Some of the airline stocks recovered lost ground as the day went on. Delta fell 5.8% before regaining some of the loss. “Delta being down 5% seems to be an overreaction,” said Joseph DeNardi, an airline analyst for Stifel Nicolaus. “I don’t think Delta’s business is worth 5% less knowing what we know now.” In 2002 and 2003, while U.S. airlines were still reeling from the 9/11 terror attacks, the SARS outbreak hurt their international business. Harteveldt recalled a trip he made back then to Tokyo. “Health workers in hazmat suits came on board and took people’s temperatures before they could disembark,” he said. “It was quite frightening.” Chinese authorities confirmed that the virus can spread from one person to another, not just from animals to humans. So far, however, the virus appears to be less dangerous and infectious than SARS, which also started in China and killed more than 700 people.
  • Boeing said Tuesday that it doesn't expect federal regulators to approve its changes to the grounded 737 Max until this summer, several months longer than the company was saying just a few weeks ago. That timetable — the latest of several delays in the plane's approval process — will create more headaches for airlines by pushing the Max's return further into the peak summer travel season or possibly beyond it. Boeing shares fell nearly 6% at one point, to a 52-week low, and closed down 3.4%. The company said regulators will decide when the Max flies again but that it periodically gives airlines and suppliers its best estimate of when that will happen. “This updated estimate is informed by our experience to date with the certification process,” Boeing said in a statement. “It is subject to our ongoing attempts to address known schedule risks and further developments that may arise in connection with the certification process. It also accounts for the rigorous scrutiny that regulatory authorities are rightly applying at every step of their review” of the plane’s flight controls and pilot-training requirements. The latest timetable is based on work remaining to be done before the Federal Aviation Administration will allow the Max back in the sky including work on flight-control computers, according to two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that Boeing did not provide. The FAA said in a statement that it is conducting “a thorough, deliberate process” to make sure that Boeing’s changes to the Max meet certification standards. The agency said, as it has for months, that it has no timetable for completing its review. The three U.S. airlines that own Maxes — Southwest, American and United — have scrubbed the plane from their schedules until early June. It is possible, however, that they won't use the planes until much later, possibly after the busy summer travel season is over. Even after the FAA certifies Boeing's work, airlines will need several more weeks to prepare their grounded planes and train pilots. After long insisting that training could be done quickly on tablets, Boeing recently reversed course and recommended that pilots go through sessions on flight simulators before operating the plane, adding more time to airline preparations. Shortly after the first Max crash in October 2018 in Indonesia, Boeing began updating software that investigators say was triggered by a faulty sensor and pushed the plane’s nose down. Then in March 2019, another Max crashed in Ethiopia. In all, 346 people died. Boeing has made the software less powerful and tied it to two sensors instead of one. That work was done months ago, but the company is still working on changes to flight-control computers and pilot-training requirements. Another software issue was discovered last week, although one of the people familiar with the situation said it would not cause more delay in the plane's return. News of the latest delay in Boeing's timing was first reported by CNBC. Shares of Chicago-based Boeing Co. fell $10.87 to close at $313.28. Trading was briefly halted before the company issued its announcement about the Max.
  • Iowa regulators want owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline to provide expert analysis to back up the company’s claim that doubling the line’s capacity won't increase the likelihood of a spill, a requirement their counterparts in North Dakota haven't imposed. Texas-based Energy Transfer wants to double the capacity of the pipeline to as much as 1.1 million barrels daily to meet growing demand for oil shipments from North Dakota, and is seeking permission for additional pump stations in the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois to do it. Commissioners in a South Dakota county last year approved a conditional use permit for a pumping station needed for the expansion. Permits in the other states are pending. The Iowa Utilities Board last week ordered the company to “provide expert explanation of whether the increased flow will increase the amount of oil that will be released if a spill occurs.” The nonpartisan panel, whose three members all were appointed by a Republican governor, also wants information on pipeline pressure levels currently and if the expansion occurs. The company also must provide “expert explanation” on the effect any additives to the oil would have on the longevity of the pipeline. The $3.8 billion pipeline has been moving oil from the Dakotas through Iowa to Illinois for more than two years. It was subject to prolonged protests and hundreds of arrests during its construction in North Dakota in late 2016 and early 2017 because it crosses beneath the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe draws its water from the river and fears pollution. Energy Transfer insists the pipeline and its expansion are safe. Tribal members are asking the North Dakota Public Service Commission to deny the expansion of the pipeline, saying it would 'increase both the likelihood and severity of spill incidents.' The company said in court filings that its $40 million pump station built on a 23-acre site would produce only 'minimal adverse effects on the environment and the citizens of North Dakota.' The North Dakota PSC in November held a hearing on the proposed expansion that was overseen by an administrative law judge. The 17-hour-long hearing was held in Linton, a town of 1,000 along the pipeline's path and near where a pump station would be placed to increase the line's capacity from 600,000 barrels per day to as much as 1.1 million barrels. A barrel is 42 gallons. The three-member, all-GOP elected North Dakota panel has scheduled a “work session” on Thursday in Bismarck to discuss issues raised at the hearing two months ago. PSC spokeswoman Stacy Eberl said no action on the permit request would be taken at the work session, which could extend to at least one more meeting. Standing Rock attorney Timothy Purdon applauded the action by Iowa regulators requiring expert analysis to back up Energy Transfer’s claims. “You can’t properly evaluate the safety of the pipeline without this information — and the tribe has asked for this stuff but it’s not part of the record in North Dakota,” Purdon said.
  • Wyoming and Montana asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to rule on Washington State's denial of a permit for a port facility that could boost U.S. coal exports. The coal-producing Rocky Mountain states argue the denial violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits states from impeding trade between one another and with other countries. Montana and Wyoming officials want South Jordan, Utah-based Lighthouse Resources to be able to open its proposed $680 million Millennium Bulk Terminals project in Longview, Washington. At stake could potentially be a good-sized chunk of the U.S. coal industry. Domestic coal-fired power generation has declined 40 percent over the past decade amid competition from cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy, contributing to a steep decline in coal mining and several bankruptcies among the industry's biggest players. The Washington Department of Ecology has imposed a “de facto blockade” on the coal-mining states by denying a key permit for the coal port facility in 2017, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said at a news conference. “This case is about the right of states to conduct commerce, a question as old as our Constitution,' said Gordon, a Republican. The denial of the permit under the federal Clean Water Act provided no way for Lighthouse subsidiary Millennium Bulk Terminals to improve its permit application to win approval, Gordon said. “The state just didn't want to export commodities from the interior West and was willing to use any tactic it could find to make sure of it,” Gordon said. Montana's access to overseas coal markets “shouldn't be dictated by the latest political fads on the West Coast,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said in a release. The case would bypass lower courts should the Supreme Court choose to hear it. Washington would continue to defend its decision and “right and obligation” to enforce clean-water laws, Mike Faulk, a spokesman for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said in a statement. “This project was rightfully denied under state and federal authority because it failed to meet water quality and other environmental standards,” Faulk said. Washington state officials have said the denial wasn't an abuse of authority but based on how the project would disturb over 30 acres (12 hectares) of wetlands, require dredging of 40 acres (16 hectares) of the Columbia River and contaminate stormwater by stockpiling 1.5 million tons (1.36 metric tons) of coal on site, Faulk said. American Indian tribes also have opposed the project, which would enable the export of up to 44 million tons (40 million metric tons) of coal a year to Japan and other countries across the Pacific Ocean. Full use of the port for coal exports would only partly offset declining U.S. demand and production. Coal production from the top U.S. coal-producing region, the Powder River Basin of northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana, has declined from 500 million tons (450 million metric tons) in 2008 to about 320 million tons (290 million metric tons) in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Six states including Wyoming and Montana in 2018 filed briefs in Lighthouse's lawsuit against Washington over the permit denial, a case that will proceed unimpeded amid the request for the Supreme Court to weigh in. Gordon has made challenging Washington over coal exports a priority since taking office. He raised the issue and praised a Millennium Bulk Terminals executive in the audience during his first state of the state address in 2019. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver
  • A federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced a Brazilian broadcast executive to two years of probation Tuesday for acting as an intermediary in a scheme to exchange bribes for the media rights to South American soccer tournaments. Jose Margulies participated in a “massive worldwide conspiracy” between 1991 and 2015 in which he facilitated $80 million in bribes to soccer officials, said Judge Pamela K. Chen, referring to a sprawling prosecution involving more than 40 people and entities in the world of global soccer who faced criminal charges. “This is a serious crime,' the judge said, adding the sport is still recovering from the FIFA scandal that “destroyed the credibility of professional soccer.” The judge also barred Margulies, 80, from working in sports, television and marketing. He has already paid more than $9 million in forfeiture to the government. Prosecutors said Margulies' cooperated from an early stage in the case and pleaded guilty even though he had been immune from extradition living in Brazil. “He didn't have to face justice in the United States,” defense attorney Andres Rivero said. Margulies told Chen he had only himself to blame for bringing shame to his family and the sport he loved. “I knew that what I was doing was wrong,” he said, speaking through a Spanish interpreter. Prosecutors said Margulies facilitated bribes between sports marketing executives and various soccer officials in exchange for the awarding of contracts for the media and marketing rights to Latin American tournaments. The government also charged high-ranking FIFA officials and officials of other soccer governing bodies operating under the FIFA umbrella.

Local News

  • Brock Vandagriffhas made a new decision. It should certainly read like a family-first decision. The 5-star QB de-committed from Oklahoma on the first day of 2020. He found a new home less than three weeks later. The rising senior in the 2021 class is able to still call it home both before and after his new college choice. It is 13.7 miles away from where he currently plays high school football. That will be 13 fewer hours and 900 miles closer than the Oklahoma program he had been previously committed to. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior from Prince Avenue Christian (Bogard, Ga.) is going to be a Bulldog. He announced that decision via his social media. Oklahoma was a great fit given his skill set. Now toss in Lincoln Riley and his reputation for building up No. 1 draft choices-slash-Heisman winners at that position. It made a lot of sense. Except when Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around this past year. Those family ties tugged at his heart. He couldn't sleep and found himself praying it. 'My Dad and I we talked and stuff,' Brock Vandagriff said. 'We are kind of sacrificing the best fit for me just for some other things that are priorities now.' Vandagriff becomes the third member of the 2021 class in Athens and should certainly be seen as the cornerstone recruit for the class. That's a given with quarterbacks. Not just 5-star recruits. The 5-star QB ranks as the nation's No. 1 pro-style passer and the No. 9 overall prospect for that cycle on the 247Sports Composite rankings. He's the first 5-star QB to commit to Georgia since current Ohio State star Justin Fields did so in October of 2017. Why was it Georgia? 'I trust the coaches there and I trust them in the direction they are going and I want to be able to compete for national championships,' Brock Vandagriff said. When he made the decision to back off his commitment to Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma, it was clear that two things would be forthcoming: 1) He was going to make a move to be much closer to home: 2) He wasn't going to take a long time to figure out his next choice. pic.twitter.com/luGcDU7ZGI brock (@BrockVandagriff) January 1, 2020 The highly-competitive Prince Avenue Christian junior has never seemed to be the type that enjoyed the back-and-forth and courting of the recruiting process. When he opened his decision process back up, that just restarted all of those coaches reaching out once again. Vandagriff does plan to enroll early at Georgia in January of 2021. Brock Vandagriff: What he will now bring to UGA Let's tackle the biggest 'what this means' question first. Vandagriff will always be linked with Washington, D.C. area 5-star passer Caleb Williams in the 2021 cycle. Williams was heavy on Georgia over the last year, but LSU, Maryland, Oklahoma and Penn State are also strong contenders there for his eventual decision. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound junior is very much in the debate with Vandagriff for the nation's No. 1 overall QB prospect in 2021. He ranks as the nation's No.1 dual-threat passer and also the nation's No. 14 player at this time. This certainly appears to be an example of Georgia taking the commitment from a prospect who was ready to make his decision and dancing the jig around their facility in being fortunate to do so. He's rated as a pro-style QB, but his Hudl profile page lists a 4.65 time in the 40-yard dash. His 4.44 time in the pro agility drill should certainly be seen as a very good time for a quarterback prospect. Throw in his 37-inch vertical jump and he will certainly be an athlete for the Bulldogs at that position. Vandagriff's father, Greg, is the head football coach at Prince Avenue Christian in Bogart. That's about as close to UGA as any school can get. Especially one with his arm and the numbers he has put up playing Class A private football in Georgia. Toss in the fact that he is the son of a respected high school football coach in the state and it is clear that Vandagriff checks a lot of boxes in the ideal scouting makeup for a field leader. Vandagriff completed 151 of his 211 passes (72 percent) this past season for 2,471 yards in eight games. He tallied up a 31:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The junior also added 262 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Check out his junior highlight film below. He throws an easy ball that seems to carry downfield easily. Some of his best throws are made as he escapes the pocket on the run and delivers an accurate and powerful throw deep to receivers in stride. Brock Vandagriff: Getting to know Brock on DawgNation Brock Vandagriff breaks down his 'Junior Day' unofficial visit, plans quick return Vandagriff previews big UGA visit, opens up on his Oklahoma de-commitment Just how competitive is Brock Vandagriff? Check out this early DawgNation story The post BREAKING: 5-star junior QB Brock Vandagriff has a new college decision appeared first on DawgNation.
  • A teenager is arrested with a gun at North Hall High School. From the Hall County Sheriff’s Office… The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a firearm was found in a 16-year-old male student’s vehicle at North Hall High School on Friday morning, Jan. 17.    At approximately 9 a.m., a school official noticed an improperly parked vehicle on campus. The School Resource Officer was notified after the official observed a handgun in the vehicle. The SRO responded and also saw the weapon in the car.    Deputies obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and located a rifle, a small quantity of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a bottle of alcohol inside. The handgun initially spotted in the car turned out to be a BB pistol that looked like an actual firearm.    Sheriff’s Investigators obtained warrants for the arrest of the juvenile suspect on the charges of possession of a weapon at school, disrupting a public school and possession of marijuana. The 16year-old turned himself in to investigators early Friday evening and was transported to a youth detention center.    The case remains under investigation by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
  • The Georgia Bulldog basketball team, on the heels of a weekend loss at Mississippi State, will look for their first SEC road win of the season tonight in Lexington Kentucky. From Mike Mobley, UGA Sports Communications… Georgia will face Kentucky for the second time in two weeks on Tuesday. On Jan. 7 in a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum, the Bulldogs built a nine-point lead late in the first half and led for nearly 23 minutes of the game before the No. 14-ranked Wildcats rallied for a 78-69 victory.   Tuesday’s contest at Rupp Arena is the second half of a challenging back-to-back, Saturday-Tuesday road portion of the Bulldogs’ schedule. Georgia lost at Mississippi State on Saturday. Roughly 71 hours later, the Bulldogs will face the Wildcats, who were ranked No. 10 and No. 12 in the AP and coaches polls last week, respectively.    The outings versus MSU and UK are the fourth and fifth in Georgia’s grueling stretch to open SEC play. The Bulldogs will face six straight teams that earned NCAA Tournament bids last spring – Kentucky, Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Kentucky (again) and Ole Miss.   Georgia is 11-6 overall and 1-3 in SEC play. Last Wednesday, the Bulldogs matched their overall win total from a year ago with an impressive 80-63 victory over Tennessee.   Anthony Edwards, a pre- and mid-season All-American and leading National Freshman of the Year candidate, is the nation’s top-scoring freshman at 19.1 ppg. Edwards is the only freshman ranked among the top-50 scorers in the country at No. 47. Rayshaun Hammonds is the SEC’s fourth-leading rebounder (8.2 rpg) and also ranks No. 14 in scoring (13.8 ppg). 
  • Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost S. Jack Hu has appointed a 15-member committee to begin a national search for candidates for the position of vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Georgia. The committee is chaired by Linda Kirk Fox, dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and it includes faculty, staff and student representation. The national search follows a review of the Graduate School conducted by Fox and several committee members. “Elevating the leadership of the Graduate School to the vice provost level at the University of Georgia signals the important role graduate and professional education plays in promoting research and innovation across all the disciplines,” Hu said. “I appreciate the dedication of the committee members and look forward to meeting with the finalists for this critical position.” Faculty, staff, students or community members who wish to nominate candidates for consideration are invited to contact Michael Luthi, director of the UGA Search Group, at luthi@uga.edu. In addition to Fox, the search committee members are: Michelle Ballif, professor and head of the department of English in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Cheri Bliss, director of graduate admissions and student services in the Graduate School Beate Brunow, director of academic partnerships and initiatives in the Division of Student Affairs Amy Ellis, professor of mathematics education in the College of Education Noel Fallows, Distinguished Research Professor of Spanish and associate provost for global engagement Georgia Harrison Hall, associate professor in the College of Environment and Design and chair of the policy and planning committee of the Graduate Council Shelley Hooks, associate professor of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences in the College of Pharmacy and associate vice president in the Office of Research Lawrence Hornak, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering and associate vice president for integrative team initiatives in the Office of Research Angela Hsiung, doctoral student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources Peter Jutras, professor and director of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music Erin Lipp, professor of environmental health science and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Public Health Thomas Mote, Distinguished Research Professor of geography and associate dean in the Franklin College Mike Pfarrer, professor of management and associate dean for research and graduate programs in the Terry College of Business Franklin West, associate professor of animal and dairy science in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Ron Walcott, a professor of plant pathology in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences who has served as associate dean of the Graduate School since 2017, is currently serving as interim dean of the Graduate School. The former dean of the Graduate School, Suzanne Barbour, was named dean of the Graduate School at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • Grab your hats, scarves, gloves and layer up. It’s going to be another cold day across north Georgia. Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan has been tracking a colder start to your Tuesday morning than it was yesterday. Here’s what to know as you head out the door: Temperatures are in the teens and 20s now. Temperatures will continue to drop in most spots as we head toward sunrise Light wind out there this morning compared to yesterday, but Monahan says only a little wind has a big impact.

Bulldog News

  • Georgia basketball simply couldn't keep up with Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Tuesday night. The No. 15-ranked Wildcats (14-4, 5-1 SEC) took down the Bulldogs (11-7, 1-4) by an 89-79 count. It was UK's 14th straight win in the series, and their second this season. Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans, from Cartersville, Ga., led the Wildcats with 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Georgia junior Rayshaun Hammonds scored 16 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, giving Coach Tom Crean the type of road effort that was missing in a loss at Mississippi State on Saturday. UGA freshman Anthony Edwards, meanwhile, scored 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. But it was a case of too little, too late from Edwards, who had just one rebound and turned the ball over five times. Edwards was heldscoreless in the first half as Kentucky staked out to a 41-35 lead at intermission. The Bulldogs had their moments, using a 9-0 run to claim a 29-28 lead with 5:34 left in the first half. Donnell Gresham Jr. sparked the burst with a 3-pointer and also capped it with a jumper that triggered a John Calipari timeout. Kentucky responded with a 7-0 run of its own the first 78 seconds out of the timeout to reclaim control of the game. Georgia held a surprising 19-17 advantage on the glass in the first half, but the smaller Bulldogs could not sustain that advantage. UK out-rebounded Georgia 21-12 in the second half, even as Edwards awoke from his first half slumber. Edwards finally scored two minutes into the second half after missing his first five shots. Edwards hit his next three shots, too, pulling the Bulldogs to 57-54 with 12:38 left. It was as close as Georgia got the rest of the night. Kentucky came back at the Bulldogs with a 12-2 run, and Georgia couldn't get closer than seven points the rest of the night The Wildcats wonthe first meeting between the teams by a 78-69 count in Athens, coming back from nine points down in front of a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum crowd in both team's SEC opener on Jan. 7. Georgia returns to action at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum against Ole Miss. The Bulldogs are 9-1 on their home court this season. The post Georgia basketball falls at Kentucky, too little, too late from Anthony Edwards appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart is typically pretty transparent, but the Georgia fifth-year head coach didn't let on the sort of overhaul or the extremes he was prepared to go to in order to improve the offense. 'We'll look at it,' Smart said on Dec. 18, asked about the Bulldogs' offensive philosophy. 'But we want to score points.' RELATED: Kirby Smart's amazing offseason of change at Georgia A month later, Georgia had landed the highest-rated (PFF) grad-transfer QB on the market, the OC from the NFL's most prolific pass game in 2018 and a quarterbacks coach Smart knew first hand from his Valdosta State days The Bulldogs still have work to do, and the Feb. 5 National Signing Day will certainly be worth tuning into. Georgia went 12-2 last season with a 5-1 mark vs. Top 25 teams and a third-straight SEC East Division title. But Smart, who insists on setting the bar at a championship level each fall, has continued to reach higher and push for more on his coaching staff and within his team. Complacency, Smart said, is the enemy of the team's aspirations and played a role last season. : When you're not hungry, you become average, and some of that, I think, has affected us in the past,' Smart said after the 26-14 Sugar Bowl win over Baylor. 'And we've got to find a way in this program to not let that creep in and keep that same hunger you have as a young player because we've had it happen to several guys that were really hungry, and then they become full.' Nobody in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall will be getting too comfortable anytime soon. Indeed, incoming freshman QB Carson Beck is probably just now growing comfortable with the competition ahead of him on campus, and UGA has already added a 5-star in the 2021 class. Brock Vandagriff, a 5-star prospect from nearby Bogart who ranks as the No. 1 -ranked Pro Style quarterback in the 2021 class, made his verbal pledge on Tuesday. Mike Griffith and Connor Riley discuss the repercussions of Smart's latest moves and additions on Tuesday's 'On The Beat' show, and what it means for the program. Georgia football On The Beat, 1-21-20 More from DawgNation UGA adds offseason excitement, stars endorse new OC Todd Monken WATCH: 2021 commit Brock Vandagriff shares story with DawgNation Podcast: Brandon Adams shares his take on Brock Vandagriff addition Kirby Smart has turned Georgia offense upside down Social media reacts to addition of 5-star QB Brock Vandagriff Why Buster Faukner a perfect complement to Todd Monken The post WATCH: Georgia football early offseason breakdown, Brock Vanagriff addition, appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Brock Vandagriff is the newest 5-star commitment for the Georgia Bulldogs. The nation's No. 8 overall prospect (247Sports Composite ratings) chose Georgia earlier today. He was once committed to Oklahoma. Bet a lot of folks knew that. Maybe they also knew that he ran for 1,001 yards at a rate of 7.3 yards per carry as a high school sophomore. But what about his kickoffs? Or his big-time leg at punter? How 'bout the fact that he caught 34 passes during his freshman season at Prince Avenue Christian in nearby Bogart? Or that he threw his first high school pass off a jet sweep from the receiver spot? It was, of course, a touchdown. That's just the beginning of the information superhighway when it comes to all things Vandagriff. Check out the featured video above or the embedded version below for a breakdown on all things Vandagriff, including His favorite route to throw? How did Georgia keep the recruiting channels open after he committed to Oklahoma? His description of some real adversity he deal with during his junior year What was the reason he chose Georgia? What sort of connection his first name has to the Florida Gators? Did he really finish out a game last season with a broken fibula? Why did he choose to de-commit from Oklahoma? What sort of changes does he see in store for the offense at UGA? Brock Vandagriff: Getting to know Brock on DawgNation Prince Avenue Christian 5-star QB Brock Vandagriff commits to UGA Social media reacts strongly to Brock Vandagriff choosing Georgia DawgNation Daily: Breaking down what Vandagriff means to the Bulldogs Brock Vandagriff breaks down his 'Junior Day' unofficial visit, plans quick return Vandagriff previews big UGA visit, opens up on his Oklahoma de-commitment Just how competitive is Brock Vandagriff? Check out this early DawgNation story The post Brock Vandagriff: Watch the new 5-star Georgia commitment share his story appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS It's hard to say exactly what Georgia football will look like next season, but what a difference 6 1/2 weeks has already made. It has been an amazing and bold offensive transformation by Kirby Smart, a coach who can't seem to turn the pressure up on himself and his program enough with slogans like 'Do More' on the heels of 13 and 11-win seasons. So it was 6 1/2 weeks ago, LSU was on top of the world and the Bulldogs were headed toward the ranks of also-rans. The SEC Championship Game scoreboard said 37-10 by the end of the night, and Georgia looked every bit that far removed from title contention. The Bayou Bengals have since claimed the big prize, beating Clemson, securing a place in history with a record-breaking 15-0 season. But now it's Georgia, with a championship defense returning and an offensive overhaul, that looks like the better bet to party in 2020. The LSU staff has fragmented, the defensive coordinator and offensive architect gone. The record-breaking QB is on to the NFL, nine players turned pro early and are among 14 starters who are moving on. There's nowhere to go but down for Tigers coach Ed Orgeron. But Georgia is still, somehow, a program on the rise. Smart's defense, which allowed the fewest points and rushing yards per game in the nation last season, is bought in. Nine of 11 starters are back. Juniors Richard LeCounte, Eric Stokes, Monty Rice and Malik Herring passed up millions of dollars to return and chase the big prize. Many will wonder: Can the offense get the job done? We're not talking about Jake Fromm here, for a change. And Fromm going pro two weeks ago? Man, that's old news. There's so much more to talk about with this overhauled Georgia offense, and we're not even sure where to begin. Smart, the man who says 'if it ain't broke, find a way to make it better,' is on a roll. All this, just 6 1/2 weeks after the championship window appeared to be closing on Georgia football. Remember? Dropped passes, missed tackles, an ailing star running back and a depleted receiving corps. There was noargument about College Football Playoff worthiness. The Bulldogs limped to the finish line. RELATED: Kirby Smart praises LSU, explains Jake Fromm's struggles in defeat And yet, it was a noble regular-season finish. UGA won six straight to win a third-straight SEC East Division crown. But even in victory, right before our eyes, the quarterback was losing his confidence, the coaches were losing control of players, and the program was losing its pride. Another ho-hum Sugar Bowl trip was ahead. A handful of players quit the team early to train for the NFL draft. Others failed substance tests or flunked classes. No wonder Smart dodged the press. There was nothing remotely good or promising to say in those dark days of December. As Smart likes to say, the Bulldogs prefer to talk with their helmets, and any other major changes in direction would require an infusion of impact players and new coaches. Few could have anticipated just how aggressive Smart would be, but the team's showing in New Orleans provided a hint. The Bulldogs weren't ready to roll over and die. Baylor's Bears probably still don't know what hit them, or who hit them, with so many new faces and names filling the shoes of the 12 former starters who were missing in New Orleans. RELATED: Kirby Smart and Bulldogs score sweet statement win in Sugar Bowl As beleaguered and hard to watch as the 2019 Georgia football team was, it finished 5-1 versus Top 25 teams and with a No. 4 ranking. That was good enough for the record books, but not good enough for Smart, who has gone to work: The addition of grad-transfer Jamie Newman, a dual-threat QB with a big arm was captivating. The addition of Florida State grad-transfer TE Tre' Mckitty coupled with incoming freshman 5-star phenom Darnell Washington is fascinating. And now, in the past few days, Smart has turned his offensive staff upside down, landing former NFL OC Todd Monken and Southern Miss OC Buster Faulkner. There will be collateral damage, it's just a matter of who and when. Fans are scurrying to check Twitter profiles and message boards by the hour. Meanwhile, Smart is plotting his next move and another finishing kick on the fast-approaching February National Signing Day. A lot has changed in the past 6 1/2 weeks, and knowing Smart and the sense of urgency he has brought to Georgia football, there's no telling what could be next. Georgia football offseason Buster Faulkner the latest hire for Georgia offensive staff Kirby Smart lands Air Raid guru Todd Monken Todd Monken steps out of messy Cleveland and into ideal spot LSU DC Dave Aranda reveals UGA offensive game plan Mark Richt gives scout on FSU grad-transfer Tre' Mckitty UGA provides status update on James Coley Numbers game: Comparing Jamie Newman to Jake Fromm . The post Kirby Smart orchestrates amazing reinvigoration of Georgia football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS You won't hear of too many college basketball coaches relishing an opportunity to play Kentucky in Rupp Arena, much less a team coming off a 32-point loss. But that's exactly where Georgia coach Tom Crean and his Bulldogs are right now, eager to prove themselves and make amends after an embarrassing 91-59 loss at Mississippi State on Saturday. 'I'm glad we're going on the road again right now, I really am,' Crean said on Monday, standing outside his office in Stegeman Coliseum as fans strolled by en route to a gymnastics meet. 'We've got to go test ourselves.' Georgia (11-6, 1-3 SEC) tips off at No. 15 Kentucky (13-4, 4-1) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (TV: ESPN) looking to get back their pride. It wasn't just that UGA lost to Mississippi State by such a lopsided margin, it was how they lost. Georgia was outrebounded 40-22, it was beat in transition and out-physicaled and out-toughed at each turn. It was the first time this year's edition of Georgia Bulldogs, featuring projected NBA lottery pick Anthony Edwards and a recharged Rayshaun Hammonds, looked like the sad sack group of a year ago. RELATED: Crean calls out Bulldogs for pitiful' effort Crean, as upset as he was about the Saturday night defeat, clearly believes in this year's team and loves their disposition. 'I'm glad we get to go test ourselves right now, because we've got to bounce back and bounce back quickly from it,' said Crean, who won two outright Big Ten championships while at Indiana. 'We practiced well, we practiced confidently we have very hard workers, we have guys that are diligent and want to be good. It wasn't like we didn't go do it a couple of weeks ago, and we have to remember that, as well.' Indeed, Georgia's 65-62 road win at then-No. 9 Memphis on Jan. 4 was a victory to build on. It was only the second time in UGA basketball history the program won a non-conference road game against a Top 25 team. Beating Tennessee 80-63 last Wednesday after the Vols beat the Bulldogs by 46 a year ago was another program win. While Georgia might not beat Kentucky on Tuesday the odds say it probably won't Crean sounds confident his players will compete. This, even though they were blown out at Auburn (82-60) and Mississippi State (91-59) in their first two SEC road games. 'We have to understand that whether we're at home or whether we're on the road, we have to play a physical style of game when it comes to getting into people blocking out,' Crean said. 'Or, going for 50-50 balls, getting back in transition defense, being more active with your hands, all of those kind of things.' Georgia's next home game is at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday against Ole Miss. Georgia coach Tom Crean DawgNation Georgia Basketball Mississippi State wins battle of Bulldogs in Starkville, decisively Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post WATCH: Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean relishes Rupp road trip, opportunity at Kentucky appeared first on DawgNation.