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    Get on board, world. That's the message from the White House as it starts shaping plans for next year's Group of Seven summit in Florida. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney this week outlined the priorities the administration would like America's strongest allies to consider — and adopt — when the U.S. plays host to three days of meetings next June. As the host nation, the U.S. gets to dictate the summit's focus. Rolling back government regulation is in. So is energy production. Russian President Vladimir Putin could be as well. Climate change is most definitely out. Mulvaney said Thursday that the U.S. plan for the summit would involve 'taking a lot of what we have been doing here domestically with such success and trying to encourage the rest of the world to get on board.' He said flatly, 'Climate change will not be on the agenda.' Mulvaney spoke about the administration's priorities while announcing next year's location for the G-7 — Trump's golf resort near Miami. The choice of a Trump property caused a stir with government watchdog groups and some Democratic lawmakers. Leaders from France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Great Britain and Germany are already raising concerns that climate change will be left out at the meeting of the alliance, which was formed in 1975 to provide a venue for the world's noncommunist economic powers. 'I really think that the responsibility of the most powerful states around the world is to address the issues that are a matter of concern for our population,' French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said. 'First matter of concern for our population, be it the U.S. or Europe, is climate change. 'What would be the relevance of the G-7 that would not address one of the most important topics of the day?' Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have been in the past 15 years, with records going back to 1880. Trump has announced plans to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord because he views it as putting the United States at an economic disadvantage to the rest of the world. He has focused instead on increasing energy production from all sources to boost the economy and jobs, with a focus on the fossil fuels that drive global warming. Trump skipped a discussion on climate with other world leaders at the G-7 summit in France earlier this year. Differences over Russia did not stay hidden, either. Trump would like to see Russia re-admitted to the Group of Seven club. The former G-8 kicked Russia out after Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. 'We go to the G-7 and what dominates so much of the discussion? Russia,' Mulvaney said. 'Russian energy. Russian military policy. The Russian economy. It dominates a lot of the discussion. Wouldn't it be better to have them inside as part of those conversations?' The summit will also take place in the heat of a presidential election, adding yet another combustible wrinkle to deliberations. At the most recent summit, Trump sought to deliver a message about how the G-7 leaders get along great and enjoy tremendous unity, papering over fundamental differences in policy. It won't be easy maintaining that message with the strains of a presidential election shaping most every comment that comes from the event. 'At this point, the summit has all the hallmarks of a train wreck,' said Derek Chollet, executive vice president and senior adviser for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund think tank in Washington. 'From the venue, to the agenda, to the possibility of Putin coming, to the timing — happening right in the middle of what will be one of the most divisive and ugly presidential campaigns in American history.' The most one can hope, Chollet said, 'is this G-7 won't do irreparable harm. But perhaps even that may be too optimistic.' ___ Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Bani Sapra contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump said Friday that he will nominate Energy Secretary Rick Perry's deputy to lead the agency when Perry leaves later this year. Dan Brouillette had been the expected successor of Perry, who says his departure announcement Thursday was long planned and not related to his role in administration actions on Ukraine that are now the focus of a House impeachment panel for Trump. Perry had served as secretary since spring 2017, making him one of the longest-surviving members of a Cabinet roiled by turnovers. Brouillette, like Perry, has traveled the world supporting Trump's goal of U.S. energy dominance and says he supports expansion of both U.S. fossil fuel production and other forms of energy. Trump tweeted Friday that Brouillette's experience is 'unparalleled' and called him a 'total professional.' Brouillette previously worked as an executive at USAA, which provides insurance and other financial services to service members, and Ford Motor Co. He worked as an assistant energy secretary under George W. Bush and a Louisiana state energy regulator, among other work.
  • A Google affiliate started using drones Friday to deliver customers' Walgreens and FedEx purchases in a test being run in a Virginia town. Wing, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet, received federal approval earlier this year to make commercial deliveries by drone. It was the first drone company to receive the approval in the U.S., beating out Amazon's Prime Air, which revealed its drone plans in 2013. Earlier this month, UPS also got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly delivery drones. The company has been running delivery tests with WakeMed's hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. Wing partnered with Walgreens, FedEx and local gift shop Sugar Magnolia to perform the tests in Christiansburg, Virginia. Walgreens customers in the town will be able to order from a list of more than 100 items and get them delivered to their doors by drones. The first Walgreens drone delivery customers ordered cough and cold medicine. A Wing drone also delivered a FedEx package from Dick's Sporting Goods to another family in town. Susie Sensmeier received a purple winter vest she ordered from Dicks Sporting Goods delivered by a drone to her front yard. The 81-year-old said she never thought she'd see something like it. 'I didn't think I would live that long or it wouldn't come in my lifetime, I'm thrilled,' she said. The drones will start with a flying radius of about 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) from Wing's distribution facility in Christiansburg. The drones are capable of flying a 12-mile (19-kilometer) round trip, and Wing expects to widen its radius eventually, though it did not give a timeline for expansion. Wing has already launched tests in Canberra and Logan City, Australia, and Helsinki. But Friday's flights mark its first live commercial deliveries in the U.S. since receiving the air carrier certification from the FAA. Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess noted the speed with which drones can make deliveries — sometimes within minutes of ordering — and the environmental benefit of having fewer delivery trucks on roads. 'We're looking at trends in cities including congestion and environmental sustainability,' he said. 'We see drone deliveries as a key part of solutions to these.' In Wing's Australia pilot, Burgess said many of the deliveries are for food and cold medicine — things people may need when they don't want to leave the house. But another popular drone delivery item is hot coffee, which the company is delivering in partnership with a local coffeehouse. The coffee stays hot because the delivery often takes less than four minutes, he said. Privacy and safety concerns have been a concern across the U.S. as drone use increases. But Burgess stresses that Wing's delivery drones do not operate with the same intention as those flown for hobbies. The aim of Wing's drones is not to take pictures and video, he said, but rather to safely make deliveries. There are cameras on Wing's drones that are used for navigation, but Burgess said the images are processed onboard the aircraft and not streamed back to Wing's main servers. Wing has hinted it plans to expand the service to other towns, but has not revealed details.
  • Britain has agreed to hold further talks with other European countries before deciding whether to approve Shell's plans to decommission four disused oil rigs in the Atlantic. Germany had called a special meeting Friday of the OSPAR Commission, which oversees a treaty on protecting the Northeast Atlantic, because of concerns the rigs containing about 11,000 metric tons (12,125 tons) of crude oil residue could pose an environmental risk. The OSPAR secretariat said after the meeting in London that Britain 'will further engage in discussions with parties before taking a decision on whether to issue the permit' exempting Shell from having to remove all of the huge steel and concrete platforms. Germany's environment ministry said it hoped the talks would help establish procedures for dealing with further platform disposals.
  • Drugmaker Sanofi is recalling its over-the-counter heartburn drug Zantac in the U.S. and Canada because of possible contamination. The French company Friday joined other drugmakers that have recently recalled their versions of the popular heartburn and ulcer drug. In September, the Food and Drug Administration said a potentially cancer-causing chemical had been detected at low levels in prescription and over-the-counter versions of Zantac. The federal agency said consumers could consider taking another heartburn medicine or contact their doctor. Several drugstore chains have already removed Zantac and generic versions from store shelves.
  • A U.S. Bureau of Land Management proposal published Friday would make it easier for mining companies to request lower government royalty rates for certain minerals, an idea backed by supporters of an industry that supplies much of the world's baking soda. The proposal would reduce paperwork for miners who ask the BLM to lower rates for the right to mine federally owned, non-fossil-fuel minerals including trona, phosphate, potash, potassium and sulfur. Mining companies filing for lower royalty rates wouldn't have to describe exactly where the minerals would be mined or how much they've mined recently. The BLM already has such information on file, the agency stated in the proposed rule changes published in the Federal Register. The rule could take effect sometime after the BLM hears comments from the public over the next 60 days. Wyoming's congressional delegation and Gov. Mark Gordon all say they support the changes to boost the state's trona industry. Nearly all trona produced in the U.S. comes from Wyoming. Plants near the mines process trona into soda ash, an important ingredient in the manufacture of products including textiles, paper, glass and detergents, and the key ingredient in baking soda. 'This proposed rule will protect jobs in both Wyoming and other states in the industry supply chain and will also enable strategic capital investment for future growth and job creation,' Gordon said in a release. Current federal trona royalties range from 3% to 8%. A 2% rate would help the U.S. industry compete globally, Gordon said. The U.S. trona industry has suffered amid competition from synthetic Chinese soda ash and mines in other countries, including Turkey. Soda ash is Wyoming's top international export but the U.S. global market share has shrunk by one-third since 1998. China overtook the U.S. as the world leader in soda ash production in 2003. Underground mines in southwest Wyoming produced over 17 million tons of trona and employed over 2,000 people in 2018, according to the Wyoming Mining Association. The mines tap a deposit formed by the evaporation of a lake 50-60 million years ago, not long after the time of the dinosaurs. The deposit has an estimated 40 billion tons of recoverable reserves, enough to meet current demand for over 2,000 years. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver
  • The Supreme Court is stepping into a yearslong, politically charged fight over the federal consumer finance watchdog agency that was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The justices agreed Friday to review an appeals court decision that upheld the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency has long been a target of conservative Republicans. The Justice Department usually defends federal law. But the Trump administration agrees with a California law firm challenging the CFPB that the president should be able to fire the agency's director for any reason. The CFPB was created as an independent agency by the landmark Dodd-Frank law that overhauled the regulations governing Wall Street and banks in response to the financial crisis. The legislation, approved by a Democratic-led Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama, says the director can only be fired for cause, including neglect of duty and not for political differences. The CFPB has been swept up in partisan politics since its creation. Wall Street interests, the banking and consumer finance industries and Republicans in Congress have fiercely opposed and criticized the agency, accusing it of overreaching in its regulation. The agency was the brainchild of Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. If the court agrees with the administration, a ruling could invalidate all the actions taken by agency. Or it could simply say that the president has a free hand in removing its director. The latter course would limit the impact of the ruling, leaving the agency in place and freeing the next president to replace Trump's CFPB director. Appeals courts in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco have found that the CFPB's structure doesn't violate the Constitution and doesn't prevent the president from performing his constitutional duty to supervise the executive branch. A trial judge in New York ruled the other way. The agency has taken legal action against banks, mortgage companies, credit card issuers, payday lenders, debt collectors and others, recovering $13.2 billion for more than 35 million harmed consumers. It has handled nearly 2 million complaints from consumers. Richard Cordray, Obama's CFPB director, stepped down to mount an unsuccessful bid to be Ohio's governor. Trump first named Mick Mulvaney, now the acting White House chief of staff, as the agency's acting director. The Senate confirmed the current director, Kathy Kraninger, on a 50-49 party-line vote.
  • Chief executives of a handful of pharmaceutical and drug distribution companies were negotiating Friday with government attorneys to see if they can reach a settlement ahead of the first federal trial over the nation's opioid crisis. The federal judge who is overseeing more than 2,000 opioid-related lawsuits summoned the top officials for the companies that are defendants in the case. Jurors in U.S. District Court in Cleveland are to hear claims from two Ohio counties, Cuyahoga and Summit, with opening statements scheduled for Monday. Witnesses expected to be called during the opening days of testimony include two experts on addiction, an official with the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Service Board, a fire chief and Travis Bornstein, whose son Tyler fatally overdosed in 2014 at age 18. Judge Dan Polster has said he wants the parties to strike a settlement in such a way that it would make a real difference in resolving the crisis, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans since 2000. He invited state attorneys general to participate in the negotiations even though their lawsuits against the industry were filed in state courts. Four attorneys general were at Friday's meetings, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations but who was not authorized to speak about them publicly. With the first trial about to begin, there is still some chance of a grand bargain that could resolve all the lawsuits. Several smaller settlements have already been reached. Four drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson, settled with the two Ohio counties in deals that got them out of the first trial and bought more time for them to reach a larger settlement. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has a tentative settlement with many of the plaintiffs and is trying to finalize it through bankruptcy court in New York, where the deal could be reworked. After those settlements and agreements to remove other companies from the first trial, just a half dozen companies remain as defendants: drugmaker Teva on behalf of two subsidiaries; the dominant distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson; the pharmacy chain Walgreens in its role as a distributor; and the smaller distributor Henry Schein. Johnson & Johnson, Teva and the three big distributors have been working on a way to settle all the cases against them.
  • A decade ago, high labor costs helped drag a bloated and debt-ridden General Motors into a government-funded bankruptcy. Now, a contract deal reached this week with the United Auto Workers union will raise the company's costs once again, at a time when the auto industry is facing the uncertainty of tariffs and trade wars, slowing global sales and rising capital expenses to develop autonomous and electric vehicles. Analysts say the four-year deal, if approved next week by 49,000 striking workers, will hit GM's bottom line, but not badly enough to send it back into financial trouble like 2009, when it ran out of cash and was cleansed of $54 billion in debt during a 40-day trip through bankruptcy protection. 'Across the board, it's a company that is leaps-and-bounds healthier than it was during the Great Recession,' said Jeff Schuster, a senior vice president at the forecasting firm LMC Automotive. Before contract talks opened with the union last summer, GM had hoped to cut labor costs to bring them closer to those at U.S. factories run by foreign automakers. That didn't happen. Instead, the union went on strike, silencing GM's U.S. factories and costing the company an estimated $2 billion due to lost vehicle production. In a tentative deal reached between the two sides, GM agreed to provide longtime workers 3% pay raises in two of the years, with 4% lump sums in the other two. By itself, an $11,000 ratification bonus per worker will cost the company more than a half-billion dollars. The deal did nothing to rein in the rising cost of health care; instead it will remain at a 3% premium cost per worker, or about 10% of what most workers in the nation pay. There also are annual profit-sharing checks, a faster path to full pay of more than $32 per hour for workers hired after 2007, and requirements that temporary workers get full-time jobs after three years. But the GM of today that must shoulder these costs is in far better shape than the GM of 10 years ago, when the Great Recession caused the near-collapse of the U.S. auto industry. At that time, GM had about 235,000 employees worldwide, including 74,000 U.S. factory workers. Now it has 55,000 fewer employees across the globe, and 24,000 fewer people in U.S. factories. A decade ago, the company was dealing with a worldwide financial meltdown that froze credit and auto sales. Gas prices also were high, chasing any remaining buyers away from GM's main profit centers in the U.S., pickup trucks and SUVs. Fiat Chrysler also ended up getting bailed out by the government, and Ford survived only because its CEO borrowed billions. Now, GM has about $17.5 billion in cash and liquid securities on its balance sheet, which exceeds debt by more than $2 billion. Although its sales fell slightly so far this year, it's still making big money on pickup trucks and SUVs in an era of lower gas prices. Last year it announced a restructuring plan that will save that will save an estimated $6 billion per year by the end of 2020. That included closing five U.S. and Canadian factories and letting go of about 8,000 white-collar workers. It also has trimmed engineering and product development costs. The company says it can now break even if U.S. sales fall to a range of 10 million to 11 million per year, a rate not seen since the Great Recession. Currently sales are running just under 17 million per year in GM's most profitable market. The new contract also delivered some wins for GM. Over the UAW's objections, it will close three U.S. factories associated with slow-selling car production. The company had wanted to close a fourth, but kept an assembly plant in Detroit alive with a new electric truck. The deal includes buyout and retirement incentives for older workers, and while that will be a big one-time cost, it will let the company replace them with lower-paid workers, trimming payroll for at least for a few years, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank. Eventually, though, lower-paid workers and temporary hires will have to become full time, adding to costs, Dziczek said. And the company still is stuck with health care costs that are far higher than in other industries. 'Those will keep going up every year,' Morningstar analyst David Whiston said, adding that GM is close to paying $1 billion per year for employee health care. 'It's not sustainable how much they are paying for that.' The UAW's deal with GM is its first this year, and whatever costs GM winds up with likely will be passed on to Ford and Fiat Chrysler, which still have to go through bargaining. And while GM and other automakers may be better position today than a decade ago, they still face significant headwinds. Global auto sales are slowing, including in the U.S., and some economists are predicting another recession as early as next year. President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and he's threatened duties on other imported goods including auto parts, all of which will drive up GM's costs. A new version of the North American Free Trade Agreement is languishing in Congress, and Trump has threatened to scrap the existing treaty if the new one isn't passed. That would mean havoc for the auto business with parts now flowing freely to and from Canada and Mexico. 'There's a high degree of uncertainty,' says Schuster. Although his company sees slightly slowing sales, he's not forecasting a recession. He also doesn't foresee a return to 2009, when U.S. consumers stopped buying SUVs and trucks. All three Detroit automakers would be in trouble if that happened, Schuster said. ____ Paul Wiseman contributed to this report from Washington.
  • A former senior Boeing test pilot told a co-worker that he unknowingly misled safety regulators about problems with a flight-control system that would later be implicated in two deadly crashes of the company's 737 Max. The pilot, Mark Forkner, told another Boeing employee in 2016 that the flight system, called MCAS, was 'egregious' and 'running rampant' while he tested it in a flight simulator. 'So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),' wrote Forkner, then Boeing's chief technical pilot for the 737. The exchange occurred as Boeing was trying to convince the Federal Aviation Administration that MCAS was safe. MCAS was designed at least in part to prevent the Max from stalling in some situations. The FAA certified the plane without fully understanding MCAS, according to a panel of international safety regulators. Forkner had asked FAA about removing mention of MCAS from the pilot's manual for the Max. FAA allowed Boeing to do so, and most pilots did not know about MCAS until after the first crash, which occurred in October 2018 in Indonesia. The plane was grounded worldwide in March after the second crash, in Ethiopia. Boeing turned over a transcript of the messages to Congress and the Transportation Department late Thursday, and the reaction was swift and negative. 'We have received hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from Boeing, but not this one. This was intentionally withheld from us, which is absolutely outrageous,' House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in an interview Friday. He called it a smoking gun of Boeing wrongdoing. FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson demanded an explanation from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, including why the company delayed several months before telling FAA about the messages. 'I expect your explanation immediately regarding the content of this document and Boeing's delay in disclosing the document to its safety regulator,' Dickson wrote in a terse, three-sentence letter to Muilenburg. In a statement, the FAA said it 'finds the substance of the document concerning' and is deciding what action to take in response. Boeing turned over the transcript to the Justice Department earlier this year gave it to Congress only this week in anticipation of Muilenburg's scheduled Oct. 30 testimony before DeFazio's committee, according to a person familiar with the matter. Boeing, in a prepared statement, said the transcript contained the communications of a former employee. Although Boeing didn't identify Forkner, he left last year and joined Southwest Airlines — the biggest operator of the Boeing 737. Forkner's lawyer, David Gerger, said that Forkner was indicating in messages to a colleague that the flight simulator was not working like the plane. 'If you read the whole chat, it is obvious that there was no 'lie,'' he said. 'Mark's career — at Air Force, at FAA, and at Boeing — was about safety. And based on everything he knew, he absolutely thought this plane was safe.' The disclosure of the internal Boeing communications comes just a week after international regulators faulted the company for not doing more to keep FAA informed about MCAS, a new automated flight system that was not included in previous versions of the 737. Before crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, MCAS was activated by a single faulty sensor and pushed the nose of each plane down. Pilots were unable to regain control. The idea that a plane could crash because of one bad sensor — with no backup — is emerging as a key criticism of Boeing's design of the Max and FAA's certification of the plane. 'We weren't sure whether to blame FAA or Boeing or a combination' for the so-called single point of failure, DeFazio said. 'Things have just tilted very, very heavily in terms of Boeing and deliberate concealment.' Boeing is updating software and computers to tie MCAS to two sensors instead of one, and to make the nose-down command less powerful and easier for pilots to overcome. Boeing issued a statement Friday afternoon, saying that its CEO had called FAA Administrator Dickson to respond to his concerns. 'Mr. Muilenburg assured the Administrator that we are taking every step possible to safely return the MAX to service,' the company said. Boeing shares tumbled $25.06, or 6.7%, to close at $344. ___ David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter

Local News

  • On Friday afternoon a train collided with a tractor-trailer in Winder at the May Street and Broad Street intersection. The Winder Police Department is asking that motorists avoid the area as they work to clear the roadway.
  • A Hartwell man faces vehicular homicide charges after slamming head-on into a car driven by a University of Georgia student and then leaving the scene, Athens police said. The student, identified as 20-year-old junior Drury Anderson Shierling, was killed about 6 a.m. Wednesday on Timothy Road when the other driver took a curve too fast and crossed into his lane, according to a crash report. The driver who caused the wreck, identified by police as 51-year-old Edward Lee Stowers, was traveling north from the Inner Loop to Timothy Road when his rented 2018 Ford Fusion crossed the raised median and entered the southbound lanes, authorities said. After striking the UGA student, Stowers allegedly got out of his vehicle, flagged down another driver and asked for a ride to a nearby gas station, according to the report. He was arrested after the witness called 911 and told police where he was. Shierling, who was from Leesburg, studied business and real estate, a university spokeswoman said.  Another passenger in the students car was injured in the wreck and taken to a hospital, the Athens Banner-Herald reported.  Stowers is charged with vehicular homicide, hit-and-run resulting in death, traveling too fast for conditions, failure to maintain lane and driving with a suspended license. He remains held without bond at the Athens-Clarke County jail, records show.  In other news: 
  • The Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee is proud to announce Dinner & Conversation with the U.S. Senate Candidates to be held on Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 11, at the Cotton Press in Athens, Georgia. On the cusp of one of the most important election-cycles in Georgia history, attendees will get the unique opportunity to hear from Sarah Riggs Amico, Jon Ossoff, Mayor Ted Terry, and Mayor Teresa Tomlinson about their vision for Georgia and the United States.   Dinner & Conversation with the U.S. Senate Candidates will begin at 6:15pm (doors at 5:45pm) on Monday, November 11 at the Cotton Press. Attendees will be treated to a delicious family-style dinner as they hear conversations between candidates and our special guests. After hearing from all 4 candidates and finishing apple pie for dessert, attendees will be invited to mingle with the candidates and continue the conversations in a less formal way at our meet-and-greet.   “This is the first, and possibly only, time that Athenians and the people of northeast Georgia will be able to see all of the Senatorial candidates in one location,'' says Denise Ricks, Chair of the Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee. “It is an opportunity to witness a one on one, in depth conversation with each candidate and have them answer submitted questions. We know voters want to hear where the candidates stand on healthcare, foreign policy, education, and the environment. This is your chance to hear about those issues and to get answers to your questions!”   The 2020 elections will decide the Presidency, not one but both U.S. Senate seats for Georgia, along with every Georgia Congressional, State House, and State Senate seat.    'Make no mistake, the stakes of the 2020 elections are enormous” says Georgia State Representative and Democratic Caucus Leader Bob Trammell. “ Elections have consequences, and the election before redistricting has consequences for the next decade. We can not afford for anyone to sit out democracy in 2020. All hands on deck.' 
  • Hall County state Senator Butch Miller says he is looking at legislation that would protect students from sexual assaults at the hands of teachers. The Republican from Gainesville is pitching a bill he says would clarify existing law on cases in which students are victimized by teachers, coaches, and principals at schools in Georgia.  The next session of the Georgia Legislature begins in January.    From the Ga Senate press office… Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) recently announced legislation aimed at further protecting students from sexual assault by those entrusted with their care. “When legislation we pass doesn’t go far enough to protect our most vulnerable citizens like students in our schools, we must address necessary changes as soon as possible,” said Sen. Miller. “This legislation will fix an oversight in our existing law and will add necessary protections for victims of sexual assault by ensuring their perpetrators can be brought to justice. I hope we can get this legislation passed and to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible during the 2020 Legislative Session.”  Under the current Georgia Code definition for improper sexual contact by employee or agent, sexual assault of a student occurs when the victim is “enrolled as a student at the school.” This specific language was used by the Northeastern Judicial Circuit to send back a case to the state court regarding a coach who was charged with felony sexual assault. According to the decision by the circuit, the felony sexual assault charge did not apply since the accused coach “was not a teacher at the school where the student attended.”  The legislation announced by Sen. Miller will address this issue by revising Georgia code and adding “within the school district” to the existing “enrolled as a student at the school” language. School district will be defined as “any area, county, independent, or local school district.” 
  • The annual Oconee County Fall Festival is scheduled for Saturday. It’s set to take place at Rocket Field in Watkinsville, starting at 9am and lasting through 4pm. From Facebook… The Oconee Chamber Fall Festival started in 1974 and today is known as a premiere Arts & Crafts festival. It is held annually on the 3rd Saturday in October in Historic Downtown Watkinsville. With over 200 booth spaces and 20,000+/- visitors in attendance, this one day outdoor festival is the largest arts & crafts venue in the area.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia football coach Kirby Smart is keeping one eye on the weather report and another on Kentucky game film with Saturday night's Homecoming Game fast approaching. The No. 10-ranked Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 SEC) play host to the Wildcats (3-3, 1-3) at 6 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN) looking to shake off a historic upset loss to South Carolina last week. RELATED: Georgia QB legend Eric Zeier shares fixes for offense 'Every player was sick about the performance, just like the coaches,' Smart said Thursday night on his radio show. 'I've always said sometimes the worst thing you can do is play bad and win, because you don't learn the things you need to learn.' No doubt, Georgia's offense sputtered against Power 5 competition the first half of the season, even as the Bulldogs were building a 5-0 record and rising to No. 3 in the ranks. The Bulldogs' offensive objectives and fixes have been well-documented this week as concerns about a wet-weather game have risen. Smart, known for his detailed-oriented nature, typically likes for Georgia to get wet weather work in practices whenever possible. 'I'm concerned about the weather conditions, because you never know what they will be, it's not a variable you can control,' Smart said. 'I like going in the rain once every two or three weeks, but if it's lighting, I can't. 'But we have wet ball drill and we do it once every two weeks, it's on a rolling schedule, so even if you've gone two or three weeks without a wet practice,' he said. 'We spray the ball down, and make the quarterbacks and receivers catch it, throw it, exchange it, (and) kickers, holders, snappers everybody has to. We were doing it (Thursday), spraying it down, making it as hard as possible' The current forecast for Saturday's kickoff (as of Friday) reflected a 100-percent chance of rain in Athens at 6 p.m., with the likelihood of precipitation not tapering off until 9 p.m. Georgia-Kentucky Game Week 7 Georgia players to watch under center 3 keys for a happy homecoming vs. Kentucky Promising Nolan Smith grows, expands role Receivers must step up, beat press coverage Closer look: How Georgia's offense adds up Cover 4: How do Bulldogs get back on track D'Andre Swift says We know how good we can be' Big Ben Cleveland says challenge to go out and prove something' The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart concerned about the weather conditions' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Atlanta Braves star first baseman, Freddie Freeman underwent arthroscopic right elbow surgery. Freeman had three fragmented loose bodies cleaned out of his elbow joint, as well as multiple bone spur formations that had developed in his elbow. After putting together an MVP-caliber regular season, Freeman looked like a different player in the playoffs and now it all makes sense. During the NLDS, Freeman was asked about his elbow and told reporters that his elbow was not bothering him. However, fans knew something was not right with the all-star first baseman, who arguably played his worst five-game stretch of his career in the NLDS. Freeman’s -0.46 win probability added (WPA), was the lowest mark for a Braves batter during the NLDS. Freeman’s NLDS stats .200/.273/.400 .673 ops 1 run 4 hit 1 double 1 home run 1 rbi 1 bb 6 strikeouts
  • ATHENS Georgia legend Eric Zeier has played and seen a lot of football as the SEC's former all-time leading passer and current Bulldogs radio color analyst. Zeier is as measured with his opinions as he once was his passes, so his thoughts on fixing the Bulldogs are sure to resonate in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. The No. 10-ranked Georgia football program plays host to Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN) looking to get back on track after a shocking 20-17 upset at the hands of unranked South Carolina last week. 'I think we'll get back to who we want to be and who we are this week,' Zeier said on Kirby Smart's coach's show on Thursday night. 'We want to be a big, bruising team that plays great defense, that's able to control the ball on offense. In the critical moments of games we are typically balanced last week we got out of that a little bit.' Zeier suggests versatile and explosive playmaker James Cook could be part of the solution, and he's surprised the Bulldogs didn't look more to him last Saturday. 'South Carolina has been able to get after quarterbacks, we've seen that, (so) I thought we were going to try to get the football out of Jake's hands, utilize the quick game,' Zeier said. 'I was a little surprised we didn't get James Cook more involved in the football game.' Zeier said 'the blueprint is out right now, on how to attack us on the offensive side of the football,' and that 'you've got defenses that are selling all out against the run.' Indeed, Jake Fromm attempted a career-high 51 passes in the loss to the Gamecocks with a career-high three interceptions. Fromm who had not been intercepted in the first five games, also was sacked three times and fumbled away a center exchange. It was not all on Fromm, but Zeier did not give his fellow quarterback a pass. 'It was probably the one time I've seen Jake Fromm miss reads, where we had guys running open, and all of the sudden if you hit that, if the correct read is made and you complete the pass on the seam or going outside, now all he sudden, you look like a genius when you're calling plays,' said Zeier, who finished his career between the hedges in 1994 with 67 UGA records and 18 SEC marks. 'When you miss a couple of reads, make a couple of bad throws, you drop a couple of passes, all those things add up to a bad game all the way around.' Zeier said Fromm had his challenges on account of the Georgia receivers not creating separation. 'We are not creating space, so the windows that we're having to throw the football into, in many cases it looks like an NFL game, where you've got elite defensive backs where your window is extremely small,' Zeier said. 'How do you help receivers get off the jam? Get them in motion, get them moving, so you don't allow a defensive back to come up and get in your face where that first step you've got a problem,' Zeier said. 'You can also utilize slot receivers to get down the seam in quick fashion, get mismatches, get James Cook on the outside as opposed to having a receiver, force defenses into different looks than they are accustomed to, create mismatches with your alignment, and then get movements going and motions going to try to loosen up what defenses are trying to do.' Zeier indicated the forecast for rain at Saturday night's game against Kentucky should not concern Georgia fans, nor should they be worried the South Carolina loss was the start of a new trend. 'Rainy weather, with the way we can go play football, shouldn't be a problem,' Zeier stated. 'I have not one doubt in my mind; that (loss) will galvanize us as a football team and drive us to the level of excellence we have played under Kirby Smart since he's been here.' Georgia-Kentucky Game Week 7 Georgia players to watch under center 3 keys for a happy homecoming vs. Kentucky Promising Nolan Smith grows, expands role Receivers must step up, beat press coverage Closer look: How Georgia's offense adds up Cover 4: How do Bulldogs get back on track D'Andre Swift says We know how good we can be' Big Ben Cleveland says challenge to go out and prove something' The post Georgia legend Eric Zeier shares fixes for offense, key player to get involved appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football coach Kirby Smart used the phrase 'step up' quite a bit this week. The 20-17 overtime loss to South Carolina certainly wasn't acceptable, and nothing less than a convincing win over Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN) will satisfy. RELATED: 5 questions with Kentucky football columnist Here are seven players to watch that all into the 'Step Up' category if the Bulldogs are to evolve into the championship contender they were projected to be: QB Jake Fromm It starts with the quarterback. Fromm is under pressure to bounce back from the worst outing of his career, a performance that brought his talent into question. Heavy rain is forecasted, so it's not likely Fromm will get a chance to prove he can win a game when he throws more than 30 passes (UGA is 0-5 in such games). Fromm will, however, get a chance to show he can pull a teetering offense back together. The junior captain needs tothrow his tight ends and receivers open after an uncharacteristically spotty performance last Saturday. Fromm missed a handful of reads and was not as accurate as he had been the first five games of the season. Center Trey Hill Hill was the weakest link last Saturday on the rotating front line once known as the 'Great Wall.' The mere mention of the nickname draws snickers from opposing fanbases and makes even the most loyal Georgia fans wince. The fact is, UGA's projected starting line played just one game together, at Vanderbilt, before injuries led to bodies shifting in and out and a breakdown in continuity. Hill has remained a constant in the lineup. The sophomore was exposed by South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, and his low, slow shotgun snaps appeared to throw off Fromm's timing. RB D'Andre Swift Swift isn't a big talker, but he made sure to get the message out for everyone to hear that he's not going to accept results like last Saturday's against South Carolina. Smart said Swift had developed into more of a vocal leader, and that was obvious by the fact he came out and publicly took accountability on behalf of the entire offense. A straight shooter, Swift has been honest about his intent to turn pro after this season. It's clear he doesn't plan on the Bulldogs going out with a whimper his final season in Athens. Swift bowed up last Saturday and showed he could handle short-yardage situations. RB James Cook Will Georgia get this exciting playmaker involved this week? Or will Cook go back to being a decoy and/or end around specialist? It's baffling OC James Coley hasn't gotten Cook more touches, but game flow has apparently dictated the ball go to other perimeter threats. Cook would be an easy quick throw into the slot, his ability to make yardage in space superior to any of the receivers. Smart said opponents have schemed to prevent Cook from touching the ball. Good plan; part of the reason the Bulldogs are lacking explosive plays is because explosive players like Cook aren't touching the ball enough. Safety J.R. Reed The Bulldogs need playmakers in the secondary, and Reed's production does not yet match his preseason All-American accolades. Reed is second on the team with 31 tackles behind linebacker Monty Rice, but he has just one interception and three pass break-ups through six games. The senior's talent and savvy is unquestionable. But Reed has yet to show he can play with the level of enthusiasm necessary to ignite teammates and raise the level of play around him. Punter Jake Camarda Can this sophomore punter put two solid games back-to-back? Can Camarda handle a slick ball and snaps in inclement weather? Camarda has been shaky in big moments this season, but he's apparently the best option Georgia has on the roster. The Kentucky game will give him an opportunity to win back some trust and gain much-needed confidence and momentum heading into a pivotal November stretch. Receivers Impossible to name just one with what has happened. Who will step up? Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers? Tyler Simmons? Demetris Robertson? George Pickens? Dominick Blaylock? Maybe all of the above, but whoever lines up at that receiver position needs to show reliable hands and an ability to make yards after the catch. Georgia receivers haven't helped Fromm out much in that capacity, unable to get much separation from coverage, they are often tackled immediately and don't break tackles. Smart said on his coaches show the receivers group has shown the most improvement since the start of this season. But he also said they had the furthest to go. Georgia-Kentucky Game Week 3 keys for a happy homecoming vs. Kentucky Promising Nolan Smith grows, expands role Receivers must step up, beat press coverage Kirby Smart breaks down Georgia offense, keeps it simple Closer look: How Georgia's offense adds up Cover 4: How do Bulldogs get back on track D'Andre Swift says We know how good we can be' Big Ben Cleveland says challenge to go out and prove something' The post 7 Georgia football players to watch against Kentucky, starts under center appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Tom Crean is like any other basketball coach when it comes to stressing fundamentals and going back to basics. But this year's Georgia team is taking it to another level. These Bulldogs, lacking height but filled with athleticism, are aiming to be interchangeable to the extent that UGA doesn't list positions. 'B' for basketball player is the descriptive for each. Crean's message is that he plans to have interchangeable parts from the opening tip this season. The Georgia men's team, predicted to finish ninth in the SEC at the league's media days earlier this week, opens at 7 p.m. on Friday at Stegeman Coliseum against Division ll Valdosta State. Admission is free. RELATED: Anthony Antman' Edwards already making history Crean anticipates a high scoring contest, though he's concerned it could get sloppy. 'We've worked hard on our ball handling and driving, but I'm hugely afraid that with a team like this in Valdosta State, that was fifth in the country in Division II last year in points efficiency, that it could be a track meet,' Crean said on Thursday. 'We just don't want it to be turnover fest.' Georgia returns five players from last season, but 10 of the players are new, including nine freshmen. Freshman Anthony 'Antman' Edwards is the most notable newcomer. He's a projected lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and was widely considered the top prospect in the 2019 signing class. Edwards told media following the Stegmania fan event last Friday that he was working at point guard duties, among many other things. Anthony Edwards Crean explained how the Bulldogs are working to have a versatile team that can change positions on the floor without breaking stride. 'We try to put them in different situations, we have what we call our leopard offense,' Crean said. ' We're a spot team, we're not, You're the 5 man, you're the 2 man,' It's You're in the 2 spot, you're in the 5 spot.' 'The point guard is a little different, but other than that it's spot oriented. We're trying to teach guys a lot of different places to be.' So long as the Bulldogs end up on the right side of the scoreboard, the momentum figures to grow. Georgia set attendance records last season despite a 10-21 mark. UGA has already sold out its season-ticket allotment (5,750) with another 2,000 designated for students unavailable to the general public in the 10.523-seat arena. Georgia coach Tom Crean The post WATCH: Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean ready for track meet' exhibition game appeared first on DawgNation.