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    Jury selection has begun in the trial of an aspiring agent and a former amateur coach charged with bribing big-school coaches to boost their business relationship with amateur basketball players. The trial of business manager Christian Dawkins and ex-amateur league director Merl Code began Monday in Manhattan federal court. Testimony in a trial projected to last two weeks will surround bribes paid to an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina and later Oklahoma State University, an assistant coach at the University of Arizona and an assistant coach at the University of Southern California. Those now ex-coaches have pleaded guilty to charges and await sentencing. Judge Edgardo Ramos told prospective jurors that the scandal also affected Creighton University and Texas Christian University. Code and Dawkins have pleaded not guilty.
  • The financial condition of the government's bedrock retirement programs for middle- and working-class Americans remains shaky, with Medicare pointed toward insolvency by 2026, according to a report Monday by the government's overseers of Medicare and Social Security. It paints a sobering picture of the programs, though it's relatively unchanged from last year's update. Social Security would become insolvent in 2035, one year later than previously estimated. Both programs will need to eventually be addressed to avert automatic cuts should their trust funds run dry. Neither President Donald Trump nor Capitol Hill's warring factions has put political perilous cost curbs on their to-do list. The report is the latest update of the government's troubled fiscal picture. It lands in a capital that has proven chronically unable to address it. Trump has declared benefit cuts to the nation's signature retirement programs off limits and many Democratic presidential candidates are calling for expanding Medicare benefits rather than addressing the program's worsening finances. Many on both sides actually agree that it would be better for Washington to act sooner rather than later to shore up the programs rather than wait until they are on the brink of insolvency and have to weigh more drastic steps. But potential cuts such as curbing inflationary increases for Social Security, hiking payroll taxes, or raising the Medicare retirement age are so politically freighted and toxic that Washington's power players are mostly ignoring the problem. Later this year, Social Security is expected to declare a 1.8% cost-of-living increase for 2020 based on current trends, program officials say. Monday's report by three Cabinet heads and Social Security's acting commissioner, urges lawmakers to 'take action sooner rather than later to address these shortfalls, so that a broader range of solutions can be considered and more time will be available to phase in changes while giving the public adequate time to prepare.' If Congress doesn't act, both programs would eventually be unable to cover the full cost of promised benefits. With Social Security that could mean automatic benefit cuts for most retirees, many of whom depend on the program to cover basic living costs. 'We remain committed to further bolstering the programs' finances, which will benefit from the long-term growth we will see as a result of the Administration's economic policies,' said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. For Medicare, it could mean that hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical providers would be paid only part of their agreed-upon fees. As an indication of Medicare's woes, it would take a payroll tax increase of 0.91 percentage points to fully address its shortfall or a 19% cut in spending. Medicare's problems are considered more difficult to solve, as health care costs regularly outpace inflation and economic growth. Social Security is the government's largest program, costing $853 billion last year, with another $147 billion for disability benefits. Medicare's hospital, outpatient care, and prescription drug benefits totaled about $740 billion. Taken together, the two programs combined for 45% of the federal budget, excluding interest payments on the national debt.
  • SpaceX has suffered a serious setback in its effort to launch NASA astronauts into orbit this year, with the fiery loss of its first crew capsule. Over the weekend, the Dragon crew capsule that flew to the International Space Station last month was engulfed in smoke and flames on an engine test stand. SpaceX was testing the Dragon's abort thrusters at Cape Canaveral, Florida, when Saturday's accident occurred. The company said the test area was clear and no one was injured. This Dragon was supposed to be reused in a launch abort test in June, with another capsule making the first flight with a crew of two as early as July. The SuperDraco abort thrusters are crucial to protect astronauts in flight; they're designed to fire in an emergency and pull the capsule safely away from the rocket. NASA said Monday it's too early to revise the target launch dates, given that the accident is still so fresh. 'This is why we test,' NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement over the weekend. 'We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our commercial crew program.' The University of Southern California's Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut who directed space operations for SpaceX until last year, said it was a 'tough day ... not good' for SpaceX. 'But thankfully no one got hurt and with everything we learn from this anomaly Crew Dragon will be a safer vehicle for all her future crews,' he tweeted. Until Saturday, SpaceX was on a roll to resume crew launches from Florida. The March test flight, to the space station and back, went smoothly. The SuperDraco thrusters embedded in the sides of the capsule, however, were not used during the demo. SpaceX said it will make sure, through the accident investigation, that the Dragon is one of the safest spacecraft ever built for astronauts. The California-based company released few details, though, on the accident itself and how it might impact future flights. Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, now with Syracuse University, said via email Monday that it's 'too early to tell what the implications may be.' NASA astronauts have not launched from Cape Canaveral since the last shuttle flight in 2011, instead hitching rides on Russian rockets at steep prices. The space agency turned the job over to two private companies — SpaceX and Boeing — to build new capsules to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. Earlier this month, NASA announced major delays for test flights of Boeing's Starliner crew capsule. The initial trip to the space station, without astronauts, is targeted for August, with the first Starliner crew potentially flying by year's end. NASA stressed that next week's launch of a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule remains on track. The supply ship is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral on April 30. SpaceX has been making deliveries to the space station since 2012. The crew Dragon is a much-enhanced version of the cargo version. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • On a spring evening in eastern Pennsylvania, upon a bluff overlooking the Lehigh Valley, a carnival of baseball and pork products is at hand. From loudspeakers, swine-like sounds reverberate. Vendors roam the stands in clothing festooned with outsized strips of bacon. And yes, there is also a baseball game going on — featuring players wearing jerseys that say, across the chest, 'BaconUSA.' No matter that the decade-old Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A team, are named for the pig iron that is a byproduct of the steel this region is renowned for producing. This is branding and marketing at its best. The pugnacious strip of breakfast meat, introduced as the team's alternate identity five years ago, hardly stands alone. Up in New England, there are yard goats. In the Deep South, there are spacebound raccoons. A wider scan of the American map reveals a menagerie of unlikely characters, from quarrelsome jumbo shrimp to menacing thunderbolts, from in-your-face rubber ducks to aggrieved prairie dogs. It's nowhere near the history-soaked dignity of the Yankees or the Dodgers, and that's the point. Across America, a golden age of minor league baseball branding has unfolded, bursting with exuberance and calibrated localism. And two guys from San Diego, born six days apart and best friends since kindergarten, have helped teams find the way. ___ 'You look at our stuff, and you'll see a lot of pigs, squirrels, ducks looking to punch above their weight. These are American stories,' Jason Klein says. He and his partner, Casey White, are the 39-year-old founders of Brandiose, a California design studio that pushes minor league baseball branding into fresh frontiers. Partnering with nearly half the approximately 160 minor league clubs that dot the continental United States, they have spent most of their adult lives helping teams build new storylines. The recipe goes something like this: Take modern microbrewing's eclectic localism. Add a character-based American advertising tradition that points back to Count Chocula, the Green Giant and Messrs. Clean and Peanut. Top it off with an optimistic Disneyland sensibility that marries midcentury roadside signage with the kinetic creativity of Bill Veeck, the team owner who, in 1951, sent a 3-foot, 7-inch tall adult man up to the plate for a major league at-bat (he walked, of course). The resulting civic cocktail? Minor league teams bursting with personality and verve, saturated in the culture of the communities they represent — and ready to sell you loads of quirky merch. 'It's a very exciting time for colloquial, niche and unique stories,' White says. 'We're accentuating stories that were lost for a long time, that people were told were stupid and they should be more cosmopolitan.' Brandiose and a minor league club will discuss what's wanted — from some tweaks to a total rebrand or new-team launch — and set to work. Klein and White will travel to the community and immerse themselves, asking questions and trying to figure out what makes the region tick. Possibilities will be narrowed, presentations made, naming contests sometimes held. But if Brandiose is involved, it's likely a team won't be steered toward the safe choice. They embrace the counterintuitive — like the IronPigs, with whom they have been involved since 2008, when the team became the metallic, truculent hogs they are today. 'We got skewered in the media, the fan base: 'This is the worst name ever. We're never coming to a game,'' says Chuck Domino, who was running the IronPigs then and is now chief executive manager of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. 'Within a couple months,' he says, 'we had grandfathers wearing plastic pig noses to games.' Or consider the Rocket City Trash Pandas. When the BayBears of Mobile, Alabama, the Los Angeles Angels' Double-A team, came under new ownership and moved 350 miles north to the Huntsville area for 2020, they brought in Brandiose. 'Moon Possums' and 'Comet Jockeys' emerged as contenders, but despite trepidations about the word 'trash,' the Trash Pandas — slang for raccoons — prevailed. Why? Because a scrappy raccoon reaching for the stars resonated in the Huntsville-area community, with its deep aerospace heritage. So a scavenger in a trash-can spacecraft it became. Says Klein: 'Raccoons break locks, get into things. What if a raccoon created a rocket ship? What would it look like? It'd be created out of trash! And that metaphorically speaks to these engineers: 'I don't know how we're going to do this. We gotta get people from here to the moon!'' The team did $500,000 business in Trash Pandas merchandise in the 30 days after the October unveiling, Klein says. Particularly appealing to fans are teams' 'alternate' identities — a swag-sales play, sure, but also an opportunity to dig deeper into the community. One expression of that: Copa de Diversion, in which teams temporarily deploy names and logos designed to resonate with Latino/Hispanic fans. This year, 72 minor league clubs participated. Often a team will express its alternate identity through local food, from Rochester, New York's 'garbage plates' to asparagus in Stockton, California. Thus did the IronPigs one summer switch meats temporarily, rebranding themselves as the Cheesesteaks, an ode to the fans of their major league team 60 miles southeast. Like the best of such gambits, it calibrated the dance of local flavor and national interest perfectly. 'We had orders from all 50 states in 24 hours,' says Kurt Landes, the team's president and general manager. 'You want to do things from a local standpoint, and that's important to us. But sometimes there's a small twist that makes things go viral.' ___ Minor league ball dates to the 1800s, as does its idiosyncratic regionalism: By the dawn of the 20th century, the Wheeling Stogies were playing in West Virginia's cigar-making northern panhandle and the Grand Rapids Furniture Makers were taking the field in Michigan. Today's version of it, which comes after years of teams styling themselves after MLB counterparts, plays to a specific notion: that minor league baseball isn't merely the big leagues in miniature. Because the 'on-field product' — the players — are mostly just passing through en route to the majors (or in the other direction), it's hard to market personalities. So teams tend to emphasize the off-the-field experience. 'We have no control of the team, no control of the players,' says Jim Pfander, president of the Fast Forward Sports Group, which owns the Akron RubberDucks and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. 'They get called up and there's nothing you can do about it.' Both teams — formerly the Akron Aeros and the Jacksonville Suns — enlisted Brandiose to help reboot what they considered unfocused identities. For Akron, whose history is intertwined with the rubber industry, 'a tough, gritty duck that's really got that blue-collar ethos to it' was an ideal choice for both adults and kids. In Jacksonville, White and Klein learned that lots of the East Coast's shrimp passes through the Port of Jacksonville, and that the community saw itself as a 'little big city.' The oxymoronic Jumbo Shrimp were born. 'They had been the Suns forever. But by the end of the (first) season, people were leaving with armloads of gear,' Pfander says. More saliently, attendance jumped nearly 29 percent in Jacksonville the season after the rebrand; for Akron, it was 27 percent. A more subtle example of brand tweaking came from Brandiose's work with the Spokane minor league team, known for 116 years as the Indians. At the outset, Klein recalls, Brandiose was asked to follow 'one rule — stay away from the Native American stuff.' Instead, they did the opposite. They all went to meet with the Spokane Tribe of Indians, for whom the team was originally named. The two groups learned about each other and agreed to incorporate tribal icons and the tribe's fading language, Salish, into the team's narrative. Today, one jersey spells out 'Spokane' in Salish; the word 'Indians' is gone. Signs in both English and Salish dot the ballpark, and the tribe's leaders are stakeholders in how the team frames its message. 'We said, 'What's important to you?'' says Otto Klein, the team's senior vice president. 'A lot of minor league teams are realizing that we don't have to throw a dart against a wall and see where it sticks. We can look at our own community and find the gems that make us special.' ___ There is a saying in minor league baseball circles, often attributed to Chuck Domino: 'We're not in the baseball business. We're in the circus business.' But many people think of a circus as chaos, when in fact it is, as Domino says, a choreographed extravaganza. It is business. It is mythmaking, and in particular that 'farm team' brand of it that speaks to the American desire for baseball to have come from the heartland, from the small towns and tinier cities. Most of all, it is that curious collision of nostalgia and capitalism and quirky carnival-barkerism that helped build America, rewritten for the 21st century. 'Minor league ball has always had this aura, accurate or not, of a more innocent time, a more innocent approach to the game,' says Paul Lukas, whose blog, UniWatch, has showcased his expertise in athletic uniforms and consumer culture for nearly two decades. 'I do enjoy the embrace of local culture at a time when so many things are homogenized. . There is still stubborn regionalism. We learn about these places through these teams.' Baseball today is under threat by glitzier, faster-moving, entirely personality-driven sports that are something minor league ball will never be. But as teams and Brandiose have proven, they can lean into the exact opposite aesthetic. 'When you put on a minor league baseball hat,' Klein says, 'it's the story of your town and the story of what it means to be an American.' Overstating things? Perhaps a bit. But in a landscape of trash pandas and rubber ducks and flying squirrels and sod poodles, would you really expect anything less? ___ Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, writes frequently about American culture. Follow him on Twitter at @anthonyted.
  • The price of crude oil surged Monday after the U.S. government moved to further block Iranian oil exports. That helped to lift energy stocks, but losses elsewhere in the market held U.S. indexes in check. The S&P 500 flip-flopped between modest gains and losses in morning trading, much as it has the last few weeks. The Trump administration said it will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, including China and Japan, the world's second and third largest economies. That helped the price of benchmark U.S. crude touch its highest level since October, and energy stocks in the S&P 500 jumped 1.7%. Most other areas of the stock market were weaker, though, and seven of the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500 index were lower. Real-estate stocks had some of the sharpest losses. Raw-material producers and health care stocks were also weak. Stock trading was relatively muted around the world, with markets in London, Frankfurt and other major markets closed for holidays. The U.S. market itself has remained notably calm in recent weeks after following up a nearly 20% plummet late last year with a nearly mirror-opposite rebound. Investors will be getting several potentially market-moving reports later this week, including a cavalcade of corporate earnings reports and a read on how much U.S. economic growth slowed during the first three months of the year. KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up by 0.1% as of 11:40 a.m. Eastern time after earlier being down as much as 0.3%. The index is within 0.8% of its record high, which was set in September. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 10 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26,550, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.1%. BUBBLING CRUDE: Benchmark U.S. crude surged $1.59, or 2.5%, to $65.66 per barrel. The leap tacks further gains onto the price of oil, which has been climbing since dropping below $43 in late December. Brent crude rose $2.03, or 2.8%, to $74.00 per barrel. President Donald Trump made the move with the intent of bringing Iran's oil exports to zero. If successful, the move could increase demand for oil from U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates but would heighten political tensions. 'The big fear now and perhaps the markets' next significant catalyst, will Iran retaliate with force?' said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management in a report. Marathon Oil rose 4.8%, and Exxon Mobil gained 2%. CUT DEEP: Intuitive Surgical fell to the largest loss in the S&P 500 after the robotic surgery system company reported weaker earnings for the latest quarter than Wall Street expected. It dropped 7%. SUPPLY SURPRISE: W.W. Grainger sank 4.4% after the supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products reported weaker revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. CLEANING UP: Kimberly-Clark jumped 5.9% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after the maker of Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissue reported stronger earnings and revenue for its latest quarter than analysts expected. IT'S QUIET OUT THERE: The stock market has been notably calm, with no move for the S&P 500 of more than 0.7% in either direction after April 1. Bigger moves may be ahead, with a crush of corporate earnings reports due this week. More than a quarter of the companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report, including Amazon.com, Exxon Mobil and Facebook. Expectations are low for earnings broadly, and analysts are forecasting the first drop in profit for the S&P 500 in nearly three years. But most companies are reporting stronger profits than Wall Street had been expecting, which is typical. Later this week, investors will also get a preliminary read on the economy's strength during the first quarter of the year. Economists expect the report to show that growth slowed to 1.8% from 2.2% in the fourth quarter of last year. WORLD MARKETS: Markets around the world were mixed in relatively muted trading. The Nikkei 225 index in Japan rose 0.1%, and the Kospi in South Korea was virtually flat, while stocks in Shanghai lost 1.7%. Markets in Paris, Hong Kong and Sydney were closed for holidays. ___ AP Business Writer Joe McDonald contributed from Beijing.
  • Sales of existing U.S. homes fell in March after a huge gain the previous month, held back partly by a sharp slowdown among the most expensive properties. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that home sales fell 4.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.21 million, down from 5.48 million in February. The drop followed an 11.2% gain the previous month, the largest in more than three years. Home sales are struggling to rebound after slumping in the second half of last year, when a jump in mortgage rates to nearly 5% discouraged many would-be buyers. Spring buying is so far running behind last year's healthy gains: Sales were 5.4% below where they were a year earlier. Most analysts expect sales to rebound in the coming months. Borrowing costs have since fallen back to an average of 4.2% on a 30-year fixed mortgage. And solid hiring is pushing employers to pay higher wages, making it easier for more Americans to afford a home purchase. Applications for mortgages to purchase homes have been running at a healthy pace in recent months, evidence that final sales should pick up in the coming months. Demand remains strong, with homes on the market for an average of 36 days in March, down from 44 in February. 'We look for a combination of strong demand and lower mortgage rates to support modest growth in sales over the balance of the year,' said Nancy Vanden Houten, senior U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. Still, a split in the market has emerged, thanks partly to the Trump administration's tax cut law. Sales increased slightly among mid-priced homes but fell sharply among homes priced at $1 million or more. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR, said that the tax changes have limited the ability of wealthier homeowners to deduct mortgage interest payments and property taxes. That's discouraging sales of more expensive homes. Developers have built more expensive homes in recent years while pulling back from cheaper properties, even as middle-income Americans are eager to buy. 'The lower-end market is hot while the upper-end market is not,' Yun said. Properties valued at $100,000 or less, mostly condos, also saw a sharp drop in sales, though that reflects a lack of available homes at that price point. The slowdown among higher-priced homes has occurred because of weaker demand. Sales fell in all four major U.S. regions, with the biggest decline occurring in the Midwest. That may have partly reflected the impact of massive flooding in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska last month. The broader U.S. economy is looking much better now than it did a couple of months ago, when the government shutdown, slumping retail sales and slower global growth threatened to drag down the U.S. economy. Earlier this year, economists forecast growth could fall to as low as 0.5% at an annual rate in the first three months of the year. Now, analysts expect the government on Friday could report growth as high as 2.8%.
  • President Donald Trump and his business organization sued the Democratic chairman of the House oversight committee on Monday to block a subpoena that seeks years of the president's financial records. The complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, says the subpoena from Rep. Elijah Cummings 'has no legitimate legislative purpose' and accuses Democrats of harassing Trump and wielding their new majority in Congress to try to stain the president's standing. 'Instead of working with the President to pass bipartisan legislation that would actually benefit Americans, House Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the President politically,' the lawsuit states. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the subpoena earlier this month to Mazars USA, an accountant for the president and Trump Organization. The lawsuit accuses Cummings of failing to consult with Republicans on the panel before issuing the subpoena and says he relied on the testimony of Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who told lawmakers in February that some of Trump's financial statements contained inaccuracies. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress in 2017 about a real estate deal involving Trump in Moscow. 'The Cohen hearing was a partisan stunt, not a good-faith effort to obtain accurate testimony from a reliable witness,' the lawsuit says. The complaint also says the subpoena seeks to investigate events that occurred before Trump was president and 'has no legitimate legislative purpose.' It says, 'Democrats are using their new control of congressional committees to investigate every aspect of President Trump's personal finances, businesses, and even his family.' Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's lawyers, said in a statement Monday that 'we will not allow presidential harassment to go unanswered.
  • Kraft Heinz Co. has named a new CEO as it struggles to remain relevant amid changing American tastes. The company said Monday that Miguel Patricio, a longtime executive at Anheuser-Busch InBev, will replace outgoing CEO Bernardo Hees in July. Patricio, a native of Portugal, served as InBev's chief marketing officer from 2012 to 2018, its Asia Pacific president from 2008 to 2012 and its North America president from 2006 to 2008. He has also worked at Philip Morris, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson. 'Miguel is a proven business leader with a distinguished track record of building iconic consumer brands around the globe,' said Alex Behring, chairman of Kraft Heinz's board of directors, in a statement. Kraft Heinz, which is based in Pittsburgh and Chicago, has been hurting as consumers looking for fresher, healthier food pivot away from its familiar stable of brands like Jell-O, Kool-Aid and Velveeta. In February, the company slashed the value of its Oscar Meyer and Kraft brands by $15.4 billion. Investors have also questioned moves by 3G Capital, the Brazilian investment firm that engineered Kraft's tie-up with Heinz in 2015 along with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. The firm has cut costs at Kraft Heinz, but some analysts say it hasn't invested enough in new product development. Kraft Heinz lost $12.6 billion in the fourth quarter and said its net sales were flat from the prior year. It also slashed its dividend and recorded a $25 million charge after a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation found problems with its procurement reporting. 'This set of disappointing results dampened management's credibility with investors and might have prompted the board to initiate the CEO change,' Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard said in a note to investors. Howard says the selection of Patricio indicates that 3G's merger and cost savings phase has ended and the board is looking for managers with more marketing and operational experience. 3G was also behind the 2008 merger of InBev and Anheuser-Busch. But unlike Hees, who is a partner at 3G, Patricio is not directly involved with the investment firm. Patricio's experience overseas could also help the company expand in new markets, Howard said. The U.S. accounted for 70 percent of the company's net sales in the fourth quarter. Kraft Heinz shares rose 1 percent to $33.22 in morning trading.
  • The Latest on U.S. sanctions on countries importing Iranian oil (all times local): 12:05 p.m. Iran has brushed off the Trump administration's decision to stop exempting countries from U.S. sanctions on its oil exports. In a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency on Monday, the Foreign Ministry said: 'Regarding the illegal status of the sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran basically has not seen and does not see any worth and validity for the waivers.' It says Iran has intensified consultations with neighboring countries, as well as 'European and international partners,' on the sanctions. The ministry says a 'necessary decision' will be announced later, without elaborating. President Donald Trump restored crippling sanctions on Iran and its vital oil industry last year after withdrawing the United States from the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers. But the U.S. issued waivers to several countries allowing them to continue purchasing Iranian oil, but on Monday said it will no longer extend them. __ 11:07 a.m. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has criticized the U.S. decision to end sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil, saying the move 'will not serve regional peace and stability.' In a message posted on Twitter Monday, Cavusoglu said: 'Turkey rejects unilateral sanctions and impositions on how to conduct relations with neighbors.' The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, won't be renewed when they expire on May 2. Cavusoglu added the decision would harm the people of Iran. He tagged the U.S. State Department and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his tweet. __ 10 a.m. Oil prices rose following news the Trump administration is telling five nations, including allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, they will no longer be exempt from U.S. sanctions if they import oil from Iran. In morning trading, benchmark U.S. crude surged $1.52, or 2.4% to $65.57 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, jumped $1.84, or 2.6% to $73.80. Ritterbusch and Associates, an oil trading advisory firm, said in a morning note that 'a complete elimination of Iranian exports is nearly impossible and that a reduction beyond current levels will likely prove limited.' It said that the overall effect 'will hinge to a large degree on the Saudis response to what is likely to be some strong requests from the Trump administration to increase productions appreciably.' __ 9:15 a.m. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH'-hoo) is praising the Trump administration's decision to end sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil. Netanyahu said Monday that the move 'is of great importance for increasing pressure on the Iranian terrorist regime.' 'We stand with the United States' determination against Iranian aggression and this is the right way to stop it,' he said. The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, won't be renewed when they expire on May 2. The move comes as the administration toughens its already strict penalties on Iran by trying to choke off all the revenue the country makes from oil sales. __ 8:45 a.m. The White House says the U.S. is ending exemptions from sanctions for countries that import Iranian oil. In a statement, the White House said it was taking 'timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market.' Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was to discuss the move at the State Department Monday morning. The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, won't be renewed when they expire on May 2. The move comes as the administration toughens its already strict penalties on Iran by trying to choke off all the revenue the country makes from oil sales. The waivers had been in place since November, when the administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. They were granted in part to give those countries time to eliminate their purchases of Iranian oil but also to ease any impact on global energy markets with the abrupt removal of Iran's production. Pompeo says now that production increases elsewhere will make up for the loss of Iranian oil on the market. __ 12:09 a.m. The Trump administration is poised to tell five nations, including allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, that they will no longer be exempt from U.S. sanctions if they continue to import oil from Iran. Officials say Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to announce on Monday that the administration will not renew sanctions waivers for the five countries when they expire on May 2. The others are China and India. It was not immediately clear if any of the five would be given additional time to wind down their purchases or if they would be subject to U.S. sanctions on May 3 if they do not immediately halt imports of Iranian oil.
  • Writings by the late David Carr, the revered author and journalist, are coming out in book form next year. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a friend whom Carr once mentored, is providing the introduction. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced Monday that 'Final Draft: The Selected Work of David Carr' was scheduled for the spring of 2020 and will be edited by his widow, Jill Rooney Carr. 'Final Draft' will include everything from Carr's cultural writing to his struggles with addiction. Carr was a reporter and media critic for The New York Times at the time of his death, in 2015, at age 58. He wrote the memoir 'The Night of the Gun' and also worked at such publications as New York magazine and the Washington City Paper, for which he hired Coates.

Local News

  • A 22-year-old University of Georgia student was shot during an armed robbery in Athens, according to police. Athens-Clarke County police say they were called to the shooting on South Milledge Avenue near the 10 Loop just after 7:15 a.m. Monday. Shortly after, they received another call about an armed robbery at the same location. We have a reporter and photographer on the scene where police plan to hold a news conference to release more information within the next hour. WATCH it LIVE on WSBTV.com and stay with Channel 2 Action News for LIVE reports as this story develops. Channel 2 Action News obtained an email to students, faculty and staff Monday morning, in which a school official said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Georgia State Patrol are assisting the Athens Clarke County Police Department in investigating the two armed robberies that happened just off campus. #Breaking Witnesses tell me the UGA student was shot at this off campus bus stop. They told me they heard two gunshots then ran outside and saw the victim. More at noon. — Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) April 22, 2019 TRENDING STORIES: ‘Armed and extremely dangerous': Police search for gunman who ambushed officer Church pays $120K to bail out first-time offenders for Easter ‘You told me to': Video shows Charlotte police officer kill man following orders to drop gun The student was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. 'We are deeply saddened by these tragic and shocking events,' the email said. Police are searching for a black male with dreads or twists driving an early 2000 model white Ford Mustang convertible with a tan roof.
  • There is a traffic heads up for drivers in Athens, a campus construction advisory from the University of Georgia: UGA says the southbound sidewalk and bike lane on the west side of East Campus Road will be closed from the current DEP2, Computer Services, and Museum of Natural History driveway entrance up to approximately mid-block for the temporary construction office entrance concrete pour. The sidewalk on the east side of East Campus Drive will still be accessible for pedestrians.
  • Senator Bill Cowsert and state Representatives Houston Gaines and Marcus Weidower are the scheduled speakers for tonight’s meeting of the Oconee County Republican Party. They’ll recap the legislative session that ended earlier this month in a 6:30 session at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Watkinsville.  An Athens-Clarke County Commission work session is on tap for today, underway at 4 o’clock this afternoon at City Hall.  A town hall with Winterville Mayor Dodd Ferrelle is set for 7 o’clock tonight. It’ll take place at the Depot in Winterville.  Madison County Commissioners meet tonight: it’s a 6 o’clock this evening at the Madison County Government Complex in Danielsville. Jackson County Commissioners meet at 6 at the courthouse in Jefferson. 
  • A man was killed by an Athens-Clarke County officer after authorities said he brandished a shotgun at police while they were trying to talk to him.  Carlton Steve Brooks, 63, was shot and killed after he answered his door with a shotgun in his hands, authorities said. Athens police called the GBI to investigate the incident. Athens-Clarke police said the fatal police shooting happened about 11:40 p.m. Saturday. Officers were sent to a home on Hull Road on a “peeping Tom” call, the department said in statement. Officers spoke to the victim, who identified a suspect, the department said. The officers went to the suspect’s home, which was also on Hull Road, police said.  According to the GBI, officers knocked on the Brooks’ door and announced themselves. Before answering the door, one of the officers saw a man inside with a weapon, the GBI said. The officers moved back from the door and gave repeated commands to put down the weapon. That’s when Brooks opened the door with the gun in his hands. “Brooks pointed the weapon towards one of the officers, who then fired twice,” the GBI said.  According to the police department, officers administered first aid to the man, and he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. No officers were harmed in the shooting.  The department said the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave with pay in “accordance with department policy.”  An autopsy will be conducted at the GBI Crime Lab.  This is the 29th officer-involved shooting investigation that the GBI has been requested to investigate in 2019. The last such investigation was opened April 15, when a police chase that started in Alabama ended near Fort Benning.  RELATED: Man shot by deputies after Alabama police chase ends near Fort Benning In other news: 
  • Officials with the National Weather Service have confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down early Friday morning.  The tornado formed in Hall County around 5:50 a.m. and was on the ground for an estimated 2.5 miles.  Channel 2's Richard Elliot was in Hall County Friday, where the storm ripped a steeple off Dewberry Baptist Church north of Gainesville and sent a tree crashing through the church's fellowship hall.  No injuries were reported. Storms left damage across north Georgia including downed trees and power lines, flooding and washed out roads.  Reporters from Channel 2 Action News fanned out all across the state to bring you live coverage of the worst-hit areas.  Road collapses in multiple spots, following storms. We’re live in Buckhead: Ch. 2, 6 p.m. pic.twitter.com/5hhEV5u10O — Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) April 20, 2019 RELATED LINKS: Download the FREE Severe Weather Team 2 App! Massive oak tree falls on box truck, trapping driver inside 4 Forsyth County firefighters injured during storm response Flooding leaves at least a dozen vehicles underwater at car dealership PHOTOS: Severe weather knocks down trees, washes out roads in metro Atlanta    

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Stetson Bennett began G-Day with the Black Team on Saturday, but he ended it with the Red Team. In his mind, that meant he was going to have steak and lobster for dinner rather than the Beanie Weanies that go to the losing team. “I’m getting steak,” Bennett said after the 22-17 Red Team win this past Saturday. “I get to choose what I want. I made that rule; nobody has told me that for sure yet. But I’m definitely planning on having steak tonight.” J.J. Holloman turned this reception of a pass from Stetson Bennett into a 43-yard game-winning touchdown for the Red Team in the fourth quarter of the G-Day Game on Saturday. (Lauren Tolbert/UGA Athletics) Bennett could certainly make a good argument for eating with the victorious Red squad. After all, it was his 43-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Holloman with 8:09 remaining in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner. The scoring play, which came on a post route by Holloman against starting cornerback Eric Stokes on second-and-8, gave the Red a 19-17 lead that would hold up the rest of the way. It came at the end of what was a pretty good day for Bennett, who exited spring practice as the Bulldogs’ No. 2 quarterback behind junior Jake Fromm. For the day, he went 12-of-23 passing for 210 yards and a touchdown while playing for both teams. That broke down as 4-of-9 for 82 yards with no TDs or interceptions with the Black squad and 8-of-14 for 128 yards and a score with the Red team. Bennett was charged with one sack for minus-5 yards with the Black as well. “It was pretty special,” said Bennett, who transferred back to Georgia after spending last season at Jones County (Miss.) Junior College. “I’ll probably look back over the summer and appreciate it more. This was my second game in Sanford Stadium and it was a little bit better than the first one. It was pretty cool.” It represented a much better day under much better circumstances than Bennett experienced during the 2018 G-Day Game. Bennett also played for both squads that day but left feeling like he wasn’t given a fair shake to compete with Justin Fields for backup duties behind Fromm. Fields has, of course, since transferred to Ohio State. Now Bennett is competing with true freshman D’Wan Mathis for the backup spot. “I felt more like a quarterback today than just piece like I did last year,” said bennett, who was a combined 5-of-9 for 73 yards for both squads in the 2018 G-Day Game. “I felt good coming out here and playing with my buddies and playing well, having them make plays. It was pretty cool I enjoyed it.” Mathis had a decent Saturday as well. Operating with a pared-down offensive package, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Mathis was 15-of-28 for 113 yards throwing the ball and had a 20-yard run off a scramble. But he was also sacked five times and threw an interception. Fromm was disappointed with a day that saw him complete only 14-of-29 passes for 116 yards and throw a pick-6 on the Red Team’s first offensive possession. He threw got one 13-yard touchdown on a check-down throw to running back Brian Herrien in the third quarter. Overall, it was only a so-so day for quarterbacks and the Georgia offense. But nobody is expecting the outcome to affect the depth chart going forward. The Bulldogs will enter fall camp with the same pecking order it started spring camp. That is, with a depth chart the sets up as Fromm, Bennett and Mathis, in that order. “Both those guys did a nice job of managing it,” coach Kirby Smart said of Bennett and Mathis. “A lot of throwing situations, not a lot of (elaborate) defenses. … We scaled back a lot of the offense. A lot of the new things we’re doing weren’t in that package today. But I was pleased with the way Stetson and D’Wan managed the game and that’s important for their growth. They’re only going to get better through practicing and repping and playing in that kind of environment.” Bennett certainly came away feeling a lot more positive about his situation than he did this time a year ago. He said he knows he’s not about to unseat Fromm as the starter and that there is no guarantee that he’ll even be the primary backup ahead of Mathis by the time the season starts on Aug. 31. “I don’t really know,” he said of his role this season. “My goal is for us to win a national championship, win the SEC, win the East, beat Vandy up there in Nashville in the first game of the season. Just to win, play really well and play Georgia football, play for these fans who came out here today, 52,000 of them in not great weather. That’s really my goal for the season, just be the best I can be.” Bennett’s situation could be entirely different. After his season in junior college, he received multiple offers from non-Power 5 schools who offered him the opportunity to become a first-year starter. But playing football at Georgia always has been priority one for Bennett, who grew up in Blackshear as the son of a alumni parents. “Somebody asked me, ‘why’d you come back if you’re going to have all these 5-stars ahead of you?’ I’ll answer it the same way: I don’t really worry about who else is coming in,” Bennett said. “I don’t really worry about who’s here. If I can just do my part for the team and get better every single day, then I’m fine with it. So, you know, I’m just going to compete every day with myself and try to make the best throws at practice and we’ll see how it works out.” But no matter how you slice it up, it’s a better situation than Bennett had when he decided to transfer to junior college last summer. “I’m not going to transfer this summer; I’m not going to show up in the portal, so that’s different,” Bennett said with a laugh. “It was better. I got more reps this spring, played better, my team won, because I flip-flopped and was on the Red Team at the end.” The post WATCH: Role on team still undefined, QB Stetson Bennett in it for long haul Bulldogs appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Football is a game that’s amazing when shown live, and sometimes even more fascinating on replay. The cuts, catches and collisions that “wow” us in the moment are most often just as impressive — if not more so — in slow motion. The so-called “broken” plays can’t be explained in the moment, but film review tells all as Kirby Smart and his coaching staff could attest. The @UGAAthletics Twitter account put out a highlight reel from the G-Day Game that will excite Georgia fans who saw those plays for the first time — and inform those who were with family or on business and couldn’t watch the game. It’s worth the click, as several new faces and numbers appear on the verge of starring roles with the Bulldogs’ national championship contending 2019 team. It’s an impressive collection of Eric Stokes’ Pick-6, D’Andre Swift’s electric cut on soggy turf, Brian Herrien’s bulldozer run past J.R. Reed and the surprisingly effective passes from backup quarterbacks Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis.   Couldn’t make it to #GDay? We’ve got you covered with the highlights. #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/hRCrxsekpP — Georgia Bulldogs (@UGAAthletics) April 22, 2019   Georgia football DawgNation G-Day Game Kirby comments on freshmen phenom linebackers Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith WATCH: Brian Herrien looks strong in G-Day Game WATCH: Matt Landers discusses his G-Day performance WATCH: Georgia G-Day Game beat writers breakdown RELATED: Eric Stokes experiences good and bad at cornerback WATCH: Kirby Smart shares thoughts on G-Day Game Georgia football lands major commitment on G-Day Demetris Robertson illness revealed by Kirby Smart Stock report from Georgia G-Day Game Instant analysis of Georgia football G-Day Game Georgia G-Day Game football report card   The post WATCH: ‘Wow’ plays abound in Georgia athletics G-Day Game highlight video appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia hasn’t wasted any time testing freshmen early enrollee linebackers Nakobe Dean and Nolan Smith. The trend continued on Saturday in the G-Day Game, with Dean and Smith getting repetitions with the Black Team, which featured the first-team defense.. Coach Kirby Smart said it had to do with how repetitions were distributed. But it also provided the coaching staff with a look at how Dean and Smith would fare in reps against the first string offense of the Red Team. Dean proved active, making five tackles with a pass break-up against the first-team offense. Dean is an instinctive inside linebacker with great acceleration to the football, and he appeared surprisingly comfortable and agile in pass coverage. Senior Tae Crowder and junior Monty Rice exit spring drills with the upper hand at inside linebackers, both tested veterans. But Smart left the door open for Dean to continue to compete for a starting position. “His role could be as much as a starting linebacker, or his role could be as much a special teams player this year, he could be at third down guy,” Smart said when asked by DawgNation about Dean’s role moving forward. “It’s going to be determined by the other players and himself, and how much he grows and gets better.” Smith’s day was considerably quieter. The No. 1-ranked recruit in the 2019 signing class was often matched with Outland Trophy candidate Andrew Thomas. Still, it was worth noting how Smart and other UGA players praised Smith throughout much of spring drills. The UGA coaching staff talked Smith up to the SEC Network commentators during the G-Day Game broadcast prep. “Nolan Smith is a highly touted recruit, a guy who came up in a lot in our conversions with coaches,” former UGA lineman and College Football Hall of Fame 2018 inductee Matt Stinchcomb said. “He’s a guy who can bend the edge, but his work ethic was what really impressed.” Smart said both Dean and Smith have had a great “progression” this spring. “They are both very bright, they are both very sharp, intelligent, mature freshmen,” Smart said. “But they have not been through a college football fall, they have not been through a college football game. “They haven’t played in an SEC game, and they both have a lot of growing to do. But I’m pleased with where they are.” Georgia football DawgNation G-Day Game WATCH: Brian Herrien looks strong in G-Day Game WATCH: Matt Landers discusses his G-Day performance WATCH: Georgia G-Day Game beat writers breakdown RELATED: Eric Stokes experiences good and bad at cornerback WATCH: Kirby Smart shares thoughts on G-Day Game Georgia football lands major commitment on G-Day Demetris Robertson illness revealed by Kirby Smart Stock report from Georgia G-Day Game Instant analysis of Georgia football G-Day Game Georgia G-Day Game football report card   The post Georgia G-Day Game: Nakobe Dean active inside, Nolan Smith bottled up outside appeared first on DawgNation.