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Business Headlines

    Lawyers for Greg Kelly, the executive arrested last month with Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn on suspicion of underreporting Ghosn's pay, are protesting his prolonged stay in Japanese detention. The Tokyo District Court says it received the protest Wednesday. Lawyers often file such protests in Japan, where suspects get detained for weeks, sometimes months, before they face trial. Such protests tend to be routinely rejected. A similar protest filed by Ghosn's lawyers was rejected Tuesday. A Tokyo court decided to detain Ghosn and Kelly through Dec. 20, although it could be longer. Ghosn, Kelly and Nissan Motor Co. as a legal entity were charged Monday with violating financial laws by underreporting Ghosn's pay by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) in 2011-2015.
  • The former head of construction at Bloomberg LP cooked up a lucrative side business, prosecutors say: an electrical contractor that he kept humming with $250 million worth of business from the global media and financial information company. Prosecutors say Anthony Guzzone's 'brainchild' was part of a broader pay-to-play scheme involving 13 other people — including a construction company executive and several subcontractors — that bilked Bloomberg out of more than $15 million for construction work at its Manhattan offices. The defendants surrendered to authorities Tuesday and were paraded into court in handcuffs to enter not guilty pleas. About a dozen state troopers lined the walls. The defendants were released on bail and ordered back in court in February. 'The accusations are one part fairy tale and one part a misguided attempt to turn professional courtesies into a federal case,' Guzzone's lawyer, Alex Spiro, told reporters after the arraignment. Bloomberg LP and its general contractor, Turner Construction, were not accused of wrongdoing, and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. thanked the companies for cooperating in the investigation. 'New York's sky-high construction costs are driven not only by market demand, but by pay-to-play industry corruption that makes it impossible for honest companies to compete,' Vance said in a statement. The charges, he said, 'demonstrate that if you are engaging in organized crime that blocks fair competition in Manhattan, our prosecutors will find you, turn over every stone, and shut you down.' Prosecutors said the defendants took kickbacks — in the form of cash payments they would refer to as 'sandwiches' and 'lunch,' vacations and home renovations — from subcontractors and vendors who then inflated the bills they sent to Bloomberg for work at buildings on Park Avenue and Third Avenue where it keeps offices. The scheme ran from 2011 until October 2017, when state police searched Bloomberg headquarters, Turner Construction's offices and the homes of some defendants, prosecutors said. Bloomberg, which hadn't been aware of the alleged scheme until then, fired Guzzone and three other implicated employees. Guzzone, the alleged mastermind, took in millions of dollars in cash and items for his palatial New Jersey home, including stainless steel appliances, ironwork for the gates and a fancy barbeque, prosecutors said. The side business he helped set up, Litespeed Electric, was run by employees of Bloomberg's former electric contractor, gave no-show jobs to relatives of Bloomberg workers and coordinated with a competitor to divvy up kickback-laden work at the company, prosecutors said. Assistant District Attorney James Hanley described Litespeed as Guzzone's 'brainchild' and said that 'the company was formed with the sole purpose of taking over the contracts at Bloomberg,' starting about a decade ago. Bloomberg LP spokesman Ty Trippet said the charges send 'a strong message to contractors in New York who engage in fraud: You will be caught.' The company, founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, thanked prosecutors for uncovering the alleged scheme 'and for their diligent work and partnership on this investigation.' Robert Olson, a former Turner Construction executive, and Vito Nigro, a former project manager at the company, were also charged. Olson sat 'at the very top of this pyramid of corruption,' Assistant District Attorney Christopher Beard said, and spent some of the $1.2 million he pocketed in the scheme on vacation homes. Turner has said the two men were 'rogue, dishonest employees.' 'Turner rejects the conduct alleged against two former employees as an absolute betrayal of Turner's core values of integrity which are followed by the 9000 Turner employees who work hard, honestly, and well every day,' Thomas Curran, a lawyer for the company, said. Prosecutors said at least $3 million was laundered using phony invoices from an electrical materials distributor. Angel Ocasio, a former branch manager at the distributor is accused of drawing up 75 fabricated invoices to hide money paid to an electric subcontractor, whose top executive was also charged. Ocasio's lawyer downplayed his alleged involvement, telling the judge he was a 'lowly data-entry clerk.' __ Follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak
  • Smartphones aren’t getting much smarter these days. So Clark tells you how to avoid the hype and avenues to pay less on your cell phone hardware; Gift cards aren’t the best gift. But you can make it a decent gift with a couple smart strategies; A few for-profit colleges went bust today. It’s important for students to apply for student loan cancellation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Watch the video
  • The new head of the U.S. consumer watchdog agency says she doesn't have immediate targets in mind for rolling back actions taken by her controversial predecessor, and will put protecting consumers in the forefront while also encouraging financial innovation. Kathy Kraninger, nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate last week on a narrow, party-line vote, has replaced Mick Mulvaney as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mulvaney, named by Trump as acting director a year ago, had been a vocal critic of the agency and made deep changes to it. He proposed cutting back many of the CFPB's rules put in place during the Obama administration and scaled back its enforcement efforts. 'We absolutely will put consumers first in the decisions that I will make,' Kraninger said Tuesday in her first meeting with reporters. A leading priority will be the security and privacy of data, what the agency collects from consumers and what it stores, she said. Extensive review and consultation will come before those decisions are made, Kraninger said. 'I want to understand why and how something was done before.' Many observers expect Kraninger to run the agency in a similar industry-friendly way to Mulvaney's. Kraninger is taking up a five-year term as CFPB director. She worked as a mid-level official in the White House's budget office, most recently under Mulvaney, who remains its head. Kraninger has no experience in financial services and had never run a federal agency before — prompting Democratic lawmakers to oppose her nomination. Mulvaney's actions spurred the departure of many high-level staff members at the agency, including deputy director Leandra English and Seth Frotman, who was the top official overseeing student loan issues. Mulvaney hired several Republican political operatives to oversee nearly all parts of the agency's operations. In her meeting with reporters, Kraninger said there are 'appropriate roles' for both career staff and political appointees at the CFPB. She didn't reject outright Mulvaney's view that the CFPB under Obama appointee Richard Cordray had overreached in its enforcement actions against companies selling financial products and services. The CFPB was created as in independent agency by the landmark Dodd-Frank law that overhauled the regulations governing Wall Street and banks around the country in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis. Its director was given broad latitude to act alone, without winning agreement from members of an agency board. While it enforces consumer-protection laws, the CFPB also gained powers to scrutinize the practices of virtually any business selling financial products and services: credit card companies, payday lenders, mortgage servicers, debt collectors, for-profit colleges, auto lenders, money-transfer agents. Under Cordray, the agency undertook enforcement actions against an array of companies large and small, and claimed that it returned tens of billions of dollars to consumers harmed by illegal practices. With the Democrats having won control of the U.S. House as a result of the midterm elections, oversight of the CFPB under Kraninger will surely intensify. Rep. Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who will head the House Financial Services Committee, has been sharply critical of Mulvaney's tenure. Consumer groups have kept up their opposition. 'Kraninger needs to take concrete steps toward getting the agency back to its true mission: protecting consumers and the public interest,' Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, said in a statement. 'Kraninger needs to change course and return to the job of standing up for people ripped off by Wall Street and predatory lenders.
  • The conflict between the need for more housing in California and the danger of building in fire-prone mountains was decided in favor of homes Tuesday as Los Angeles County supervisors approved a massive rural housing development. The supervisors voted 4-1 to approve a 19,000 home project amid a statewide housing shortage, high rents and a very visible homelessness crisis even as recent wildfires have drawn attention to the danger of building in rural terrain that rings California's urban areas. The Centennial project at Tejon Ranch off Interstate 5 in arid mountains that separate Los Angeles from the Central Valley to the north has been in the works for two decades. While supporters touted the jobs that would be created building the new homes, including nearly a fifth set aside for the poor, opponents criticized environmental destruction in the undeveloped area and took aim at the fire hazard it presented. 'Centennial can include all the safety measures they like in the new development, but the fires will not conform to these precautions,' warned Lesley Goren. 'The fires will not excuse our short-sightedness — rather our poorly thought-out mistakes will just burn like the fuel they are.' County planners and fire officials signed off on the project, and developers said the community 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles would be built to minimize fire hazards and roads would be widened to help people evacuate if there is a fire. Greg Medeiros, a vice president with Tejon Ranch Co., said the development was planned in the flattest areas nearest to highways and would use anti-ember construction and buffers around homes. Four new fire stations would be built in the several villages planned. Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the area where the development would be built, spoke in favor of the project. She said she was confident concerns about impact on traffic would be alleviated and she was relying on the opinion of fire experts that the risk of fire was minimized. She cited the state's need for 180,000 new homes a year — a goal it falls shy of by 100,000 units. She said the shortage had put a strain on affordability and the homelessness problem and suggested Centennial would contribute to solving those problems without creating the runaway development associated with Southern California. 'This is not just another sprawl project,' she said. The state has deemed the area a 'high' and 'very high' fire hazard zone. There were 31 wildfires greater than 100 acres within five miles of the development, including four within its boundaries in the past half-century, county planning documents said. The project surrounded by miles of wilderness received a boost from several prominent environmental groups, such as Audubon, Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council who signed on in support a decade ago in exchange for developers conserving nearly 90 percent of the 420 square-mile (1,085 square-kilometer) property. Groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity have opposed the plan and said they may sue to stop it. Supporters wore green 'I support Centennial' stickers and opponents wore red stickers saying #stopcentennial and displaying the image of a condor, an endangered species in the area. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl cast the lone dissenting vote, saying the destructive Woolsey fire in her district had brought the project into focus for her. She said it wasn't wise to build a city in such a remote location. She also doubted promises that half the people living there would be able to work locally. 'I think it's a little bit of pie in the sky,' Kuehl said. 'There's an enormous number of things wrong with this project.' Construction that has spread into mountainous forests and chaparral-covered canyons outside urban areas in recent decades has frequently been criticized as short-sighted after destructive wildfires. Retiring Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott told The Associated Press on Monday that government officials should consider banning such construction, though he wasn't referring to any specific project. Fresh on the minds of many speakers at the board meeting was the death and devastation last month from the Woolsey Fire that ripped through Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains nearby and the Camp Fire in Northern California that killed at least 85 people, destroyed about 14,000 homes and laid waste to the city of Paradise. Vicki Kirschenbaum referred to the loss of Paradise when she asked supervisors to imagine months of drought, soaring temperatures and a neglected camp fire getting out of control. 'Flames igniting highly flammable grasses, fire spreading house to house, consuming Centennial's 19,000 homes. Fifty-seven thousand people desperately trying to evacuate with one major road out,' Kirschenbaum said. 'You have the power to make sure that nightmare never happens.
  • The Transportation Department announced Tuesday that it will disperse $1.5 billion to fund 91 infrastructure projects around the country. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the grants are part of her department's BUILD infrastructure support program and will fund road, rail and port projects in 49 states plus the District of Columbia. Chao said her department received more than 850 applications for grants. Hawaii was the only U.S. state that didn't receive funding in this year's round of grants. Chao praised the grant process as the successful product of bipartisan cooperation between congressional Republicans and Democrats. Infrastructure is seen as a potential area of agreement between the Trump administration and Democrats, who will take control of the House of Representatives in January. Chao said infrastructure issues are 'especially ripe for bipartisan cooperation.' Boosting infrastructure spending was one of President Donald Trump's main campaign promises, but he's made little headway with a plan to invest $1.5 trillion in public and private funds over a decade.
  • Environmental groups sued the Trump administration Tuesday over offshore drilling tests, launching a legal fight against a proposal that has drawn bipartisan opposition along the Atlantic Coast. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Charleston, South Carolina, claims the National Marine Fisheries Service violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act when it issued five permits for the use of seismic air guns. 'This action is unlawful and we're going to stop it,' Diane Hoskins, campaign director at OCEANA, said in a news release. 'The Trump administration's rash decision to harm marine mammals hundreds of thousands of times in the hope of finding oil and gas is shortsighted and dangerous.' The coalition includes OCEANA, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, Surfrider Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, One Hundred Miles and the Sierra Club, as well as the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the North Carolina Coastal Federation. The blasts are conducted in preparation for potential offshore drilling, which the administration has proposed to expand from the Atlantic to the Arctic and Pacific oceans. The five-year plan would open 90 percent of the nation's offshore reserves to private development. Survey vessels will be required to carry observers to listen and watch for marine life and alert operators if any protected species comes within a certain distance. Surveys would be shut down when certain sensitive species or groups are observed, and penalties could be imposed for vessels that strike marine animals. But the precautions aren't enough for environmental groups, who've said the blasts can disturb wildlife. Industry groups say the surveys have been conducted around the world for decades, with little adverse impact. The issue has stirred emotions along South Carolina's coast, with cities and municipalities mounting vocal opposition. But there are still supporters of drilling, which some say could mean an economic boon for an area increasingly reliant on tourism. State Sen. Stephen Goldfinch is a Republican who represents portions of the coast and, last year, told a U.S. House panel that coastal oil and gas exploration 'could write the next chapter' for areas such as his. He said Tuesday he understands constituents' fears about the potential for oil-related environmental problems but says seismic testing could lead to finding natural gas deposits, which could bring an economic boon. 'I love tourism. I appreciate tourism,' Goldfinch told The Associated Press, of the state's $20 billion industry, mostly centered on coast. 'But I'm telling you, the people of the coast are tired of being tied to tourism. It scares us to death every time there's a storm that comes and shuts it down.' The drilling issue has created strange political bedfellows along the East Coast, with Democrats and Republicans in some areas united over it. In South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, Republican Katie Arrington — a supporter of President Donald Trump who initially said she stood by his drilling plans — later backed off that support amid a growing wave of drilling opposition in the coastal district she aimed to represent. Arrington ultimately lost the general election to Democrat Joe Cunningham, a drilling opponent who collected support from coastal Republican mayors. Voters said they'd been turned off by what they saw as Arrington's flip-flop on the issue. Earlier this year, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster - an early backer of Donald Trump's candidacy - was among state executives to request a drilling waiver, seeking the same sort of promise already given to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, another Trump ally. Since then, officials from the Department of the Interior have said Secretary Ryan Zinke's promise to Florida wasn't a formal action and will instead be part of the department's analysis as it completes its plans. Mike Covert, a Republican member of the Beaufort County Council planning a 1st District run in 2020, acknowledged the emotion surrounding the offshore drilling issue but pointed out safety improvements since disasters such as the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and pointed out the potential economic benefits shale gas exports could bring to the state. 'If we were able to export shale gas, our economy in South Carolina would change to remarkable proportions,' Covert told AP. 'We would be able to seriously talk and have the conversation of reducing or eliminating the income tax, for example.' On Monday, ahead of the lawsuit's filing, Cunningham told The AP he backed the legal effort, which would pair with legislative action he plans to take up in the U.S. House. 'I'm going to go up to D.C. and fight like hell,' Cunningham said. 'These lawsuits are one tool in our bag that we're going to use.' ___ Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP .
  • The explosion in online shopping has led to porch pirates and stoop surfers swiping holiday packages from unsuspecting residents. The cops in one New Jersey city are trying to catch the thieves with some trickery of their own. Police in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from New York, are teaming up with Amazon to install doorbell cameras and plant dummy boxes with GPS tracking devices at homes around the city. They didn't have to wait long Tuesday for someone to take the bait. 'We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,' said police Capt. James Crecco, who is overseeing the mission. 'We thought it was a mistake at first.' The suspect was caught, Crecco added. Exact figures on porch thefts are hard to come by. A company commissioned by comparison-shopping service insuranceQuotes.com surveyed 1,000 people and extrapolated that 26 million Americans have had a holiday package stolen from their home. That would be nearly one in 12 Americans. Amazon — which is providing equipment free for the Jersey City program — declined to provide figures on how many packages are reported stolen or missing, as did UPS and FedEx. 'We absolutely report them to local law enforcement when we hear of them, and we encourage our customers to do the same,' UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara said. Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly told The Associated Press that the locations for cameras and boxes were selected using the city's own crime statistics and mapping of theft locations provided by Amazon. 'Most of the package thefts we've made arrests on revolve around (closed-circuit TV) or private surveillance cameras that give us a still image,' Kelly said. 'With the bait packages, some will be under video surveillance, and some will have GPS.' No homeowner is immune. Crecco said his mother was a victim of a package theft. So was Mayor Steven Fulop, according to his spokeswoman. Members of the police department who live in the city volunteered to have the cameras and boxes placed at their homes. Kelly said the program has undergone a legal review and has been approved by a municipal prosecutor. He said the city is hoping to expand the program with assistance from Amazon, the nation's largest online retailer. Amazon declined to answer questions about the anti-theft program but said in a statement, 'We appreciate the increased effort by local law enforcement to tackle package theft and remain committed to assisting however we can.' Similar programs have been tried in other cities including Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Hayward, California. E-commerce sales have been growing faster than sales at brick-and-mortar retailers for several years. Online sales in the U.S. are forecast to increase 14.8 percent from last year, to $124.1 billion, for November and December, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online spending. The Postal Service expects to deliver about 900 million packages, and United Parcel Service forecasts it will handle about 800 million parcels between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is causing a spike in deliveries to houses and apartments. Sometimes the residents aren't home or aren't aware that a package has been dropped off. The delivery companies provide services that could offer some protection against porch thefts. The boldest might be Amazon's Key service, in which homeowners pay to have a cloud-connected lock and camera installed at the front door, allowing an Amazon delivery person to unlock the door and slide the package inside. Plenty of people went on social media to raise privacy and security objections after Amazon announced that service, but the company is betting that others will decide it's convenient. Some other strategies for foiling snatch-and-run thieves require picking up packages at a company store, which defeats the purpose of at-home delivery. To avoid parcels being left outside during extended absences, the post office has long allowed customers to set up hold-mail requests. UPS and FedEx let customers sign up for alerts about deliveries and give them the chance to reschedule or change the drop-off address even for deliveries already on their way. They let customers leave detailed instructions for drivers about where around the house to leave a package. The delivery companies will also let customers pick up packages at other businesses. FedEx, for example, uses some Albertsons and Kroger grocery stores and Walgreens drugstores. Other tips: — Have packages delivered to a workplace or a friend who is home during the day. — Ask if a signature can be required for the package to be dropped off, particularly if it's an expensive item. — Doorbell cameras, some for $100 or less, let residents keep an eye on their porch, which might not stop a thief but perhaps give police video evidence to help catch the culprit. — There are services that use a locked storage box bolted to the customer's porch; delivery drivers can unlock them by entering a code on a keypad. ___ Associated Press business writers David Koenig in Dallas and Anne D'Innocenzio in New York contributed to this story. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the Postal Service is expecting to deliver about 900 million packages, not 900.
  • U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry arrived in Baghdad on a trade mission Tuesday urging Iraq to reduce its energy dependence on Iran and open its own energy sector to American investment. The visit comes as the U.S. tries to isolate Iran through sanctions targeting its business and finance sectors. U.S. President Donald Trump says Iran is not in compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord. Iraq is caught in a delicate position as it continues to draw on Iranian gas and electricity production to power its own economy despite the renewed sanctions against its neighbor. But Perry characterized the moment as ripe for U.S. investment in Iraq's energy sector. Iraq is one of the largest oil producers in the world. 'The time has come for Iraq to break its dependence on others and move forward toward true energy independence,' Perry said at a Baghdad conference organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that brought one of the largest U.S. trade delegations in recent memory to Iraq. 'I'm here to tell you that America and its business community stand ready to assist you in that endeavor,' he said. Iraq was granted a 45-day waiver by the U.S. in November to continue to buy Iranian gas before facing possible consequences for its continued business with Iran's sanctioned energy sector. But most experts agree that before Iraq can stop importing from Iran, it will need at least a year to find alternative power sources, whether developing its own natural gas sector or importing from other producers. Perry met with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Oil Minister Thamer Ghadban and other top officials in Baghdad as well as top Kurdish political official Masoud Barzani in Irbil to deliver a message encouraging market liberalization and low barriers to investment. 'Capital will come where it's welcome,' he said.
  • Female-led films have consistently outperformed male-led movies at the box office, according to a study initiated by Time's Up, the organization formed by prominent women in the entertainment industry to promote gender equality. The study analyzed the 350 top-grossing films worldwide released between January 2014 and December 2017. Researchers found that in films with small, medium and large budgets, all averaged better global grosses when a woman was listed as the lead star. Conducted by the talent agency Creative Artists Agency and the tech company shift7, the study found that films that passed the Bechdel test do better, too. The Bechdel test, an invention of the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, rates whether a movie features two female characters having a conversation about something other than a man. Researchers found every $1 billion film at the box office — including films like 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' ''Jurassic World' and 'Beauty and the Beast' — passed the Bechdel test. Among films that cost more than $100 million to make, the ones that passed the Bechdel test grossed on average $618 million worldwide, while those that didn't averaged $413 million. 'Women comprise half the box office, yet there has been an assumption in the industry that female-led films led were generally less successful,' CAA agent Christy Haubegger, who participated in the research, said in a statement. 'We found that the data does not support that assumption.' For budget data and determining lead actor, researchers depended on data from the Nielsen's box-office data collection company Gracenote. Gracenote's Studio System defines a 'female lead' as a woman who is listed first in official press materials. Of the 350 films studied, 105 qualified as female-led and 245 registered as male-led. The greatest gap was in larger budgeted films. In movies with a budget greater than $100 million, there were 75 male-led films and 19 female-led films. The study was headed by a group that formed through Time's Up, including Amy Pascal, former chairman of Sony Pictures. Earlier research by academics has chronicled similar rates of inequality in top-grossing Hollywood releases, and the financial benefits of inclusion . 'This analysis affirms data showing that diversity has a positive impact on a company's bottom line,' said Lisa Borders, Time's Up president and chief executive. 'As studios consider their fiduciary responsibilities to their investors, these findings offer a clear approach to delivering the best results.

Local News

  • Athens-Clarke County Police have a homicide on their hands: police say a man died after being taken to an Athens hospital, shot last night on Oak Hill Drive, passing away with what investigators say were multiple gunshot wounds. The victim is identified as Walter Brown Jr, 31 years old.Police say they are canvassing the neighborhood, looking for possible witnesses and for information. There is, in a brief police report on the incident, no mention of suspects or motive for the deadly shooting. 
  • The Athens Downtown Development Authority is meeting this afternoon, 5 o’clock at Authority offices in the Gameday building on Broad Street.  Oconee County’s Board of Tax Assessors meets this morning: it’s a 9 o’clock session at the Oconee County courthouse in Watkinsville.  Barrow County Commissioners meet tonight, 7 o’clock at the Historic Courthouse in Winder.  There is a new assignment for the sheriff in Gainesville: Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch has been appointed to a seat on the state Criminal Case Data Exchange Board.
  • A man serving time in the Hall County jail is facing new charges after a fight with another inmate at the lockup in Gainesville: 40 year-old Osmond Douglas is facing an aggravated assault charge after allegedly stabbing the other man with a sharpened pencil, causing extensive damage to one of the man’s eyes.  A Gainesville man is facing child molestation charges: investigators in the Hall County Sheriff’s Office say charges against 40 year-old Patrick Leaphart involve an underaged girl. He was booked into the Hall County jail and is being held without bond. 
  • Georgia Bulldogs senior defensive back Deandre Baker has been named to the 2018 Associated Press All-America First Team while sophomore left tackle Andrew Thomas has been included on the AP All-America’s Second Team.   Baker, a Miami, Fla., native, became the first Bulldog to win the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award last week for being nation’s best defensive back in college football. He was also a Walter Camp First Team All-American. Thomas, a native of Lilburn, Ga., was named to the Walter Camp All-America Second Team as well.   Baker becomes the first Georgia All-American from the defensive backfield named to the AP’s First Team since Bacarri Rambo in 2011.   A Miami, Fla., native, Baker has started all 13 games for Georgia and has 40 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also has a team-best 10 pass break-ups. In addition, Baker has a forced fumble and has collected a fumble recovery for a defense that ranks 15th nationally allowing just 18.5 points per game.   Thomas, a native of Lithonia, Ga., has gotten the starting nod at left tackle for 12 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games, only missing the Middle Tennessee State game with an ankle injury. He has anchored an offensive line that leads the SEC in Rushing Offense at 251.6 yards per game and that currently features one senior, two sophomores and two freshmen as starters.    The Bulldogs are averaged 39.2 points per game during their second straight run to the SEC Championship Game and a their first invitation to the Sugar Bowl since 2008. Thomas and his offensive line unit were named a Joe Moore Award finalist for being one of the top offensive lines in the nation.   The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America teams are expected to be released later on Monday. The Sporting News All-America teams are scheduled to be released on Tuesday and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) teams on Wednesday.   The No. 5 Bulldogs (11-2) will take on No. 15 Texas (9-4) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La., on Jan. 1 at 8:45 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the fifth all-time matchup between the programs and the first matchup between the teams since 1984.
  • There are two more days of fall semester final exams at the University of Georgia, with fall semester commencement exercises set for Friday in UGA’s Stegeman Coliseum. This morning’s delayed opening makes for changes in the schedule for today’s tests.From the University of Georgia… The final exams scheduled for the 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. time slot will be postponed until 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, December 11. Students and faculty affected by the rescheduling should consult the University of Georgia Registrar’s Office (reg.uga.edu) to learn if there is a new location for their exam. This information will be posted at the Registrar’s website by 10:00 a.m. All other exams scheduled for Tuesday, December 11, 2018 will take place as previously determined.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS – The difficulties of playing cornerback in football increase exponentially as one moves up the ranks. Nobody has to remind Tyson Campbell of this reality because he lived it this past season. Campbell, who signed with Georgia as a 5-star prospect out of Fort Lauderdale this year, earned the rare distinction of becoming not only a 10-game starter for the Bulldogs as a true freshman corner this season, but a first-game starter, as well. Campbell That Campbell did NOT start the last three games of his freshman season is equally notable. But he’s choosing not to make a fuss about either designation. “It was tough, it was fun,” Campbell said of his first season as a college football player. “But, at the same time, it was a wake-up call, a learning experience. I feel like I learned a lot about football. And, you know, it’s just an all-learning year for me to get ready for next year.” Indeed, Campbell got the proverbial trial by fire this season playing the corner opposite of All-American and Jim Thorpe Award recipient Deandre Baker. From the outset, he found himself — and his side of the field — under attack. Campbell was exploited in the second game of the season at South Carolina as veteran receiver Bryan Edwards beat him twice for touchdowns. He also struggled in games against LSU and Auburn. There were good times as well, though. Like the trip to Missouri in Week 4 when Campbell scooped up fumble on one bounce and returned 64 yards for a touchdown. That would end up being a short day for Campbell, however, as he suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return. His replacement that afternoon was redshirt freshman Eric Stokes, who did some great work in relief.  Stokes finished the Missouri game with four pass-breakups and blocked-punt touchdown. Campbell returned to the starting lineup the next week, but the competition with Stokes for playing time would continue. Finally, in the 10th game of the season against Auburn, Georgia coaches subbed in Stokes for a struggling Campbell after a second pass-interference penalty. Stokes finished the game, then started the last three for the Bulldogs. Speaking with reporters for the first time all season after the SEC Championship Game last week, Campbell has taken the demotion in stride and claims no hard feelings. “Not every job is secure,” Campbell said after Georgia’s 35-28 loss to Alabama. “You’ve always got to have that chip on your shoulder. Anybody can be replaced. I’m not mad or anything. I’m supporting my teammates. I’m just ready to move forward.” Campbell’s first season was definitely a rollercoaster. His season high for tackles came against LSU when he finished with 11. But part that was mainly because he was tackling receivers downfield. He finished with 42 tackles, which was fifth on the team, but ended up with only one pass breakup and no interceptions. Stokes had eight pass breakups, including one in the end zone against Alabama. “We’ve talked for a long time about we’re going to play the players that play the best,” Smart said after the Auburn game. “I still think Tyson Campbell is a really good football player.” Campbell feels like he has identified his primary problem. “I panic sometimes,” he said last week. “Other than that, I’m working real hard in practice and staying focused. I feel I’ve got a bright future and I’m not really stressing or worrying about anything.” Georgia’s coaches believe Campbell has a bright future as well. The reason he was in the starting lineup in the first place is his tremendous speed. A two-time state champion in the 100- and 200-meter at American Heritage High and remains one of the fastest players on the Georgia team. Meanwhile, Campbell’s getting a lot of help on his DB skills. Baker, who came to Georgia as a 3-star prospect out of Miami and didn’t start until midway through his sophomore season, is one of Campbell’s primary tutors. “He’s helped me develop a lot, taught me a lot,” Campbell said. “I’m like a sponge out there with Coach Tuck and Coach Smart and the older guys in the secondary. They all teach me a lot and I just take whatever they tell me and just try to input it into my game.” Georgia needs to Campbell to remain alert and motivated. Regardless of who starts the rest of the way at left cornerback, both he and Stokes are sure to be in the Bulldogs’ plans as Baker moves on to the NFL. Regardless of how it went this season, Campbell knows his script isn’t written yet. “It’s football,” he said. “Things are going to happen. It’s a rollercoaster. There’s going to be swings. … I just have to focus on what’s ahead of me now.” The post Georgia CB Tyson Campbell believes ‘rollercoaster’ season will only make him a better appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia Bulldogs senior defensive back Deandre Baker has been named to the 2018 Associated Press All-America First Team while sophomore left tackle Andrew Thomas has been included on the AP All-America’s Second Team.   Baker, a Miami, Fla., native, became the first Bulldog to win the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award last week for being nation’s best defensive back in college football. He was also a Walter Camp First Team All-American. Thomas, a native of Lilburn, Ga., was named to the Walter Camp All-America Second Team as well.   Baker becomes the first Georgia All-American from the defensive backfield named to the AP’s First Team since Bacarri Rambo in 2011.   A Miami, Fla., native, Baker has started all 13 games for Georgia and has 40 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also has a team-best 10 pass break-ups. In addition, Baker has a forced fumble and has collected a fumble recovery for a defense that ranks 15th nationally allowing just 18.5 points per game.   Thomas, a native of Lithonia, Ga., has gotten the starting nod at left tackle for 12 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games, only missing the Middle Tennessee State game with an ankle injury. He has anchored an offensive line that leads the SEC in Rushing Offense at 251.6 yards per game and that currently features one senior, two sophomores and two freshmen as starters.    The Bulldogs are averaged 39.2 points per game during their second straight run to the SEC Championship Game and a their first invitation to the Sugar Bowl since 2008. Thomas and his offensive line unit were named a Joe Moore Award finalist for being one of the top offensive lines in the nation.   The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America teams are expected to be released later on Monday. The Sporting News All-America teams are scheduled to be released on Tuesday and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) teams on Wednesday.   The No. 5 Bulldogs (11-2) will take on No. 15 Texas (9-4) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La., on Jan. 1 at 8:45 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the fifth all-time matchup between the programs and the first matchup between the teams since 1984.
  • ATHENS – Woodruff Practice Fields sit empty and wet. The Butts-Mehre Complex is unusually quiet and inactive. Georgia players are busy preparing for and taking exams. On Friday, several of them will walk in fall semester graduation ceremonies. All the while, another football challenge is looming. Three weeks from now, the No. 5 Bulldogs (11-2) will be teeing it up against No. 15 Texas (9-4) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the anguish of another excruciatingly close loss to No. 1 Alabama still lingers. The question on everybody’s mind is whether the Bulldogs can shake the grief and misery of that disappointment and refocus on the challenge of defeating a storied opponent in the rather lofty consolation of a New Year’s Six bowl game. To that, the Georgia players offer a resounding, “hell, yes.” “For sure,” junior wideout Mecole Hardman said. “We’re not going to go out there and just let anybody beat us. We’re definitely going to have motivation to play because we’ve got to get taste out of our mouths somehow. So, somebody’s got to feel us, and they will.” Added Riley Ridley: “Most definitely. This is Georgia football. No matter what happens, we never give up. We love football. That’s what we’re here for. We play for each other.” Undoubtedly, the Bulldogs will head to New Orleans with good intentions. That the Sugar Bowl has become a consolation prize for speaks to the heights of which Kirby Smart has raised the standard of expectation for Georgia football in three short years. But it’d understandable if the Bulldogs’ found their focus was a bit clouded considering the depth of their disappointment not 10 days ago. After building an impressive lead against a team called one of the best in Alabama football history and having an opportunity to expand it three scores in the third quarter, Georgia was outscored 21-0 over the final 18 minutes of play on the way to a 35-28 loss. Central to the outcome was a controversial decision to attempt a fake punt with the game tied with three minutes remaining. So, there was the added pang of how the Bulldogs lost on top of playing toe-to-toe with the nation’s No. 1 team. Then there were the postseason implications. Georgia played Alabama so well for so long, it proved to any remaining doubters there might’ve been that it was among the top four teams in college football. That should have been enough for the selection committee to include the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff for the second straight year. But, ultimately they chose Oklahoma, a one-loss Big 12 champion, over the two-loss SEC runners-up. That added a layer of disappointment the day after the conference championship loss. But Georgia players insist there will no lingering grief. “We’re not hanging our heads,” freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell said. “We know we played our best and we’re just ready to move forward. We’ve got to focus on what’s ahead of us now.” Said junior tight end Isaac Nauta: “It’s definitely not a lost season for us. We have another game to play and we’re looking forward to it. We’re looking forward to getting better throughout the month of December and winning the next one.” Georgia is already getting cmparisons to Alabama’s 2008 team, which entered the SEC Championship Game undefeated and ranked No. 1 only to lose to No. 2 Florida 31-20. The Gators went on to play for the BCS title and the No. 4-ranked Crimson Tide then lost to Utah 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl. Lack of motivation was considered Alabama’s primary undoing that New Year’s Day in New Orleans. Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who was defensive coordinator for that 2008 Alabama team, admitted that the Tide “didn’t play as well as we probably should have.” But he also said this year’s Georgia team is very different that one. “This is a much younger team than any of those Bama teams,” Smart said of the Bulldogs, whose roster is comprised 68 percent of freshmen and sophomores. “A lot of these kids, this will be their first or second time in a big-time bowl environment. We’re still getting accustomed to that.” No, this appears to be a Georgia team that still feels it has much to prove to the rest of the college football world. The same chip the Bulldogs carried on their collective shoulders into the SEC Championship Game will be making the trip to New Orleans. While a national championship is not in the cards this year, Georgia very much wants to validate its distinction as one the best teams in the country in 2018. “We can’t hang our head about (losing to Bama),” Hardman said. “We know we had the game; we know we played great. It just didn’t go our way. But I think everybody knows we’re one of the best four teams.” One more decisive win surely would remove any doubt. DawgNation’s Sugar Bowl Coverage Kirby Smart and Tom Herman clash again in Sugar Bowl, now as head coaches Georgia football coach Kirby Smart believes Bulldogs will bounceback Some interesting Sugar Bowl numbers via Brandon Adams Thorpe Award winner Deandre Baker will play in Sugar Bowl Mel Tucker ready for a new challenge as Colorado head coach Georgia football double-digit favorite over Texas in Sugar Bowl Texas named Georgia football opponent in 2019 Sugar Bowl CFP Chairman explains why Georgia football was left out of CFB Playoffs 3 Georgia football players get Senior Bowl invites Mel Tucker will be hard to replace when he leaves Georgia football       The post No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs have something to prove vs. Texas in Sugar Bowl appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia football sophomore Jake Fromm is playing as well as any quarterback in the nation, but the Bulldogs’ rotation at that position remains a hot topic of discussion. How does Coach Kirby Smart divide time in the Sugar Bowl between the red-hot Fromm and promising freshman Justin Fields. SEC Network analysts Jordan Rodgers, Gene Chizik and Marcus Spears weighed in on whether and how much Fields should play. The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 15 Texas (9-4) looking to win a bowl game for a fifth straight season on the heels of a heartbreaking 35-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1. Fromm was 25-of-39 passing for 301 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and was sacked only twice by the Tide’s impressive defense. Fields’ playing time was limited against Alabama, as he attempted just one pass the was incomplete and most notably failed to execute a fake punt in the fourth quarter. RELATED: Fields put on spot in SEC title game “If anything, I would love to see  a better plan for Justin Fields,” Rodgers said. “The first time he comes in the (SEC title) game, I don’t feel like the plan was right. The first time you pass with him, it’s not a play-action, there’s not a quarterback threat to run, you just do a straight drop back. “If we see him, I want to see him for a drive, that’s very calculated for a reason, and then get him back out … Jake Fromm is the better quarterback.” Smart has said all season that there is no plan going into games, and that Georgia plays the quarterback that gives the team the best chance to win. From game to game, situations change, and that dictates when and how much Fields plays. RELATED: Kirby Smart has plan to avoid QB controversy Marcus Spears said it’s important that Fields does indeed earn the snaps instead of there being any perception he’s being handed playing time. “When you get into the mindset as a coach that I’ve got to coddle this guy to make sure he’s not going to leave, you start setting yourself up for disaster,” Spears said. “And I’m going to show you how it works on the field. (Against Alabama) when Justin Fields came in the play went for 1 yard, it was second-and-9 when Jake Fromm ran back on the field. And guess what they did, they went 0-for-6 in the second half on third downs. “So when you look at how they tried to keep (Fields) involved, I think it hurt them at times during the season.” Smart knows how important it is to have a capable backup quarterback in the SEC. Fromm came off the bench last season to replace an injured Jacob Eason and led the Bulldogs to an SEC title and College Football Playoff Championship Game appearance. Fields has been a work in progress this season, completing 27 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Fields has also rushed for 266 yards on 42 carries, proving to be a valuable weapon in short-yardage situations after the Bulldogs’ midseason struggles in that area. Former Auburn national championship coach Gene Chizik says the Bulldogs should play to win, plain and simple. “My quick take is you’re going to play the guy that gives you the best chance to win, and if it’s not him, then he doesn’t play, you’re not playing to keep him on your roster, you’re playing to win,” Chizik said. “I’m protecting wins and our program, that’s what I want, (and) right now I’ve got maybe the hottest quarterback in the country,” Chizik said, explaining what he would be thinking if he was in Smart’s shoes. “(Fromm) threw for 3 touchdowns (versus Alabama), he threw for 300 yards, he was on point again, he’s playing as good as anybody, and he’s playing against a Texas secondary that’s struggling. “I’m playing the guy that gives us the best chance to win, and it’s not Justin Fields right now, that’s just the way it is.” DawgNation Georgia football Sugar Bowl Tim Tebow : Georgia will be challenged to be motivated for Texas Kirby Smart and Tom Herman clash again in Sugar Bowl, now as head coaches Georgia football coach Kirby Smart believes Bulldogs will bounceback Some interesting Sugar Bowl numbers via Brandon Adams Thorpe Award winner Deandre Baker will play in Sugar Bowl   Georgia football double-digit favorite over Texas in Sugar Bowl Texas named Georgia football opponent in 2019 Sugar Bowl CFP Chairman explains why Georgia football was left out of CFB Playoffs 3 Georgia football players get Senior Bowl invites Mel Tucker will be hard to replace, when or if he leaves Georgia football   The post SEC Network analysts: Georgia quarterbacks’ playing time in Sugar Bowl hot topic appeared first on DawgNation.