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Health Headlines

    A U.S.-based nonprofit group has called for South Korea to take stronger steps to fight a tuberculosis crisis in North Korea it says has worsened under strengthened U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile program. Stephen Linton, chairman of the Eugene Bell Foundation, on Friday criticized Seoul's supposed lack of urgency to help aid organizations gain sanctions exemptions to facilitate the delivery of supplies to treat patients in North Korea. He said a failure to get North Korea's tuberculosis problem under control could potentially have health consequences for South Korea, which is actively pushing exchanges with North Korea to improve relations amid larger U.S.-led negotiations to rid the North of its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. 'This is an airborne disease that can possibly be exchanged in any space South Korean and North Korean people meet,' said Linton, who spoke in Korean during a news conference in Seoul. 'There is a house on fire, but the house very next to it is very casual about it. They would have treated this as an emergency that it is if tuberculosis kills people within several months, like Ebola does, but tuberculosis kills slowly, taking three to five years.' Tuberculosis is one of North Korea's biggest health problems. According to the World Health Organization, about 107,000 cases of tuberculosis were reported in North Korea in 2017, resulting in about 16,000 deaths. Linton said the efforts to fight tuberculosis in North Korea were dealt a seriously blow when the Geneva-based nonprofit Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced in February that it was ending its program in North Korea, a decision he believes was at least partially connected to sanctions-related pressure. The U.S. government, which pledged $1.4 billion this year, is one of the biggest donors to Global Fund. While Eugene Bell Foundation is focused on treating North Korean patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, which develops after exposure to medications that failed and typically takes about 18 months to treat, the Global Fund had treated both regular tuberculosis and MDR-TB patients. Choi Seemoon, a Eugene Bell director, said Global Fund's departure could worsen the crisis through increased infections caused by patients who are forced to reduce or go off their medications prematurely. Many of these patients can become multidrug resistant, she said. While the Eugene Bell and Global Fund have provided MDR-TB medications to about 2,000 patients this year, that's less than 30 percent of the estimated 8,000 North Koreans with the condition, she said. Global Fund's stock of regular tuberculosis medicine will run out in early 2020, while its stock of MDR-TB medicine can only cover patients registered by the autumn of this year, she said. 'There needs to be a quick purchase of medicine and supplies to overcome the void left by Global Fund,' Choi said. 'Whether the issue is resolved through inter-Korean talks or through international bodies and non-governmental channels, there should be a quick delivery of tuberculosis medicine to North Korea regardless of what channel it takes.
  • San Francisco's beloved Batkid is cancer-free and thriving. On the five-year anniversary of the day that then-5-year-old Miles Scott captured the hearts of millions by saving the day in San Francisco as 'Batkid' — his Make-A-Wish Foundation dream accomplished at last — the fifth-grader is healthy and active. The Greater Bay Area chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation provided the encouraging and heartwarming update Thursday. 'He's doing great!' the local chapter posted of the boy, who's from the tiny Northern California town of Tulelake. Miles had battled leukemia for years when he took over as his favorite superhero, receiving a police escort as he traveled around San Francisco to save Gotham. He even rescued Giants mascot Lou Seal from the Penguin at AT&T Park. Reaching the five-year mark in remission is a significant milestone for patients given it can mean a positive future prognosis. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said he is eager to see Batkid again at a ballgame next season. 'He was such an inspiration and brought a community together around his willpower, courage and joy for life,' Giants CEO Larry Baer said. 'The Giants are filled with love and happiness for him.' Now, the boy might have to pay a visit to the Oakland Athletics next. And to a Stanford women's basketball game. A's manager Bob Melvin, newly crowned AL Manager of the Year, would like to see Miles in an Oakland jersey one day soon. 'We're following his progress and couldn't be happier,' Melvin said. 'We think he needs to come visit us and see how he looks in green and gold.' Hall of Fame Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer said in a text message she would like to host Miles and his family at Maples Pavilion for a game. 'That is so exciting,' said VanDerveer, who was touched by the Bay Area's efforts to make Miles' dream come true in 2013. 'I would be honored if he and his family wanted to be my guest at a game and meet our team!' Sports figures and franchises cheered him on, from the Giants and all their NL West rivals to the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Even the Boston Red Sox offered a shout out from afar that day. 'When Miles had his wish granted to become Batkid, he gained the confidence and strength needed to protect the city of San Francisco, and more importantly, to fight and win his own personal battle against leukemia,' Make-A-Wish senior manager Jamie Sandys said in an email. Since that day that inspired so many, Miles has become a big brother to Ben, played Little League and recently sold his first market goat from the family farm at a local fair. The boy still sees his oncologist once a year. A's President Dave Kaval hopes to have the Northern California superhero out for a game in the East Bay in 2019. 'We're so grateful to hear that Batkid is cancer-free and turning into a healthy Batman,' Kaval said. 'San Francisco is Gotham to Oakland's Metropolis so we'd love to have Miles as a superman at an A's game next season.' ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Meditation worked as well as traditional therapy for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in a small experiment sponsored by the Department of Defense. One method preferred by the Department of Veterans Affairs is exposure therapy, but it doesn't work for everyone and many can't handle what it requires: purposely recalling traumatic events and confronting emotions. Meditation could be a better choice for some, the researchers said. The experiment tested meditation against exposure therapy, which involves working with a therapist and gradually letting go of fears triggered by painful memories. Many vets won't try exposure therapy or drop out because it's too difficult, said Thomas Rutledge, the study's senior author and a Veterans Affairs psychologist in San Diego. Evidence for meditation 'allows us to put more options on the table' with confidence they work, Rutledge said. The study was published Thursday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the VA health system. The VA already is using meditation, yoga and similar approaches to supplement traditional therapy with PTSD, said Paula Schnurr, executive director of the VA's National Center for PTSD. While the three-month study adds to evidence supporting these lifestyle practices, Schnurr said, more research is needed to learn how long meditation's benefits last. 'There's no follow-up in this study,' Schnurr noted, and one therapist did 80 percent of the exposure therapy so the findings hinge largely on one therapist's skills. Researchers measured symptoms in about 200 San Diego area veterans randomly assigned to one of three groups. Some learned to meditate. Others got exposure therapy. The third group attended classes where they learned about nutrition and exercise. All sessions were once a week for 90 minutes. After three months, 61 percent of the meditation group improved on a standard PTSD assessment, compared to 42 percent of those who got exposure therapy and 32 percent of those who went to classes. When researchers accounted for other factors, meditation was better than the classes and equally effective as exposure therapy. The researchers defined success as at least a 10-point improvement in scores on a standard symptoms test, given to participants by people who did not know which kind of treatment they'd received. The test measures symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia. PTSD also can be treated with medications or other types of talk therapy. Many of the participants were taking prescribed medicine for PTSD. Most of the vets were men with combat-related trauma, so it's not clear whether meditation would be equally effective in women or with other types of trauma. There's growing interest in meditation in the United States. A government survey last year found 14 percent of adults said they had recently meditated, up from 4 percent from a similar survey five years earlier. There are many styles of meditation. The type taught to vets in the study was transcendental meditation, or TM, which involves thinking of a mantra or sound to settle the mind. TM was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles in the late 1960s. Some of the study authors are affiliated with a university in Fairfield, Iowa, founded by Maharishi. Their role was to oversee the meditation training. Rutledge, who was the principal researcher, said he does not practice meditation himself. Meditation could be more acceptable to veterans who might associate mental health treatment with weakness, Rutledge said. 'It's probably less threatening,' he said. 'It may be easier to talk to veterans about participating in something like meditation.' ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson on Twitter: @CarlaKJohnson ___ The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • A nurse's decision to donate a kidney to a patient triggered a series of events that led to three people getting new organs at two Kansas City-area hospitals. Christa Jordan, a nurse at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, wanted to donate to her friend and patient, Dayshanae Hosman, who has a genetic condition called Alagille syndrome and went on dialysis in April, the Kansas City Star reported. 'I just knew it was something I had to do,' Jordan said. 'It wasn't something I questioned that much.' Jordan was a transplant match for Hosman, but the University of Kansas Hospital had an even better one for her: 25-year-old Ky Kanaman from Baldwin City, Kansas. Kanaman was an 'altruistic donor,' meaning he was willing to donate a kidney without knowing the potential recipient. The university hospital told Jordan she was also a better match for a person on the transplant list whom she didn't know, Lauro Zuniga. Jordan agreed to give her kidney to Zuniga if Kanaman donated his to Hosman, starting the kidney donation chain. Zuniga's mom, Carolina Perez, wasn't a match for her son. But when Jordan agreed to give her kidney to Zuniga, Perez then found out she could give one of her kidneys to a stranger on the university hospital's list, Matt Lewis. Donation chains are rare because they require extensive planning by hospitals, starting from when a donor wants to give to a person that they aren't a good match with. The hospital then can find the donor a recipient that they match with but don't know, sparking conversations to find donor-recipient matches that make the best fit. Six surgeries were conducted at the two hospitals on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. The three donors and three recipients got together at Children's Mercy on Wednesday, with many meeting for the first time. 'I feel like I won the lottery,' said Lewis, of Savonburg, Kansas. ___ Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com
  • U.S. health officials say the workers with the highest suicide rates have construction, mining and drilling jobs. That was the finding of a report correcting an earlier study that mistakenly said farmers, lumberjacks and fishermen killed themselves most often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a corrected study Thursday. CDC officials said the 2016 study 's mistakes included the misclassification of some workers as farmers instead of managers. The study looked at 22,000 people who died of suicide in 2012 and 2015, and what jobs they held. Men had the highest suicide rates. The 2015 suicide rate for men in construction and extraction jobs was 53 per 100,000. The second highest rate was seen in men who worked in arts, design, entertainment and media.
  • The Latest on California's recommended new restrictions on a widely used pesticide blamed for harming the brains of babies.(all times local): 11:15 a.m. An environmental group is blasting new recommendations by California regulators to curb a widely used pesticide blamed for harming the brains of babies. The Pesticide Action Network says the state's recommended rules for chlorpyrifos (klohr-PY'-rih-fohs) are voluntary and have no weight behind them. Spokesman Paul Towers says the state is passing the buck to local officials when it should take the pesticide off the market. The Dow Chemical Co. pesticide currently used on about 60 different crops — including grapes, almonds and oranges — has increasingly come under fire from regulators, lawmakers and courts. The state's action is a temporary measure while it works to draw up regulations limiting use of the chemical. Those regulations may not be in place for more than two years. ___ 9:31 a.m. California regulators are recommending new restrictions on a widely used pesticide blamed for harming babies' brains. The Department of Pesticide Regulation is issuing temporary guidelines Thursday for chlorpyrifos (klohr-PY'-rih-fohs) while it considers long-term regulations. The department is calling for a ban on using the chemical in crop dusting, discontinuing its use on most crops and increasing buffer zones around where it's applied. The pesticide is currently used on about 60 different crops, including grapes, almonds and oranges. The action comes as the Dow Chemical Co. pesticide is increasingly under fire. A federal appeals court in August ruled the Trump administration endangered public health by keeping the pesticide on the market despite extensive evidence showing harm to babies. Hawaii passed legislation in June to ban its use.
  • Smoke masks. Eye drops. No outdoor exercise. This is how Californians are trying to cope with wildfires choking the state, but experts say an increase in serious health problems may be almost inevitable for vulnerable residents as the disasters become more commonplace. Research suggests children, the elderly and those with existing health problems are most at risk. Short-term exposure to wildfire smoke can worsen existing asthma and lung disease, leading to emergency room treatment or hospitalization, studies have shown. Increases in doctor visits or hospital treatment for respiratory infections, bronchitis and pneumonia in otherwise healthy people also have been found during and after wildfires. Some studies also have found increases in ER visits for heart attacks and strokes in people with existing heart disease on heavy smoke days during previous California wildfires, echoing research on potential risks from urban air pollution. For most healthy people, exposure to wildfire smoke is just an annoyance, causing burning eyes, scratchy throats or chest discomfort that all disappear when the smoke clears. But doctors, scientists and public health officials are concerned that the changing face of wildfires will pose a much broader health hazard. 'Wildfire season used to be June to late September. Now it seems to be happening all year round. We need to be adapting to that,' Dr. Wayne Cascio, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cardiologist, said this week. In an overview published earlier this year, Cascio wrote that the increasing frequency of large wildland fires, urban expansion into wooded areas and an aging population are all increasing the number of people at risk for health problems from fires. Wood smoke contains some of the same toxic chemicals as urban air pollution, along with tiny particles of vapor and soot 30 times thinner than a human hair. These can infiltrate the bloodstream, potentially causing inflammation and blood vessel damage even in healthy people, research on urban air pollution has shown. Studies have linked heart attacks and cancer with long-term exposure to air pollution. Whether exposure to wildfire smoke carries the same risks is uncertain, and determining harm from smog versus wildfire smoke can be tricky, especially with wind-swept California wildfires spreading thick smoke hundreds of miles away into smoggy big cities. 'That is the big question,' said Dr. John Balmes, a University of California, San Francisco, professor of medicine who studies air pollution. 'Very little is known about the long-term effects of wildfire smoke because it's hard to study populations years after a wildfire,' Balmes said. Decreased lung function has been found in healthy firefighters during fire season. They tend to recover but federal legislation signed this year will establish a U.S. registry tracking firefighters and potential risks for various cancers, including lung cancer. Some previous studies suggested a risk. Balmes noted that increased lung cancer rates have been found in women in developing countries who spend every day cooking over wood fires. That kind of extreme exposure doesn't typically happen with wildfires, but experts worry about the kinds of health damage that may emerge for firefighters and residents with these blazes occurring so often. Whether that includes more cancer is unknown. 'We're concerned about that,' Balmes said. Regular folks breathing in all that smoke worry about the risks too. Smoke from the fire that decimated the Northern California city of Paradise darkened skies this week in San Francisco, nearly 200 miles southwest, and the air smelled 'like you were camping,' said Michael Northover, a contractor. He and his 14-year-old son have first-time sinus infections that Northover blames on the smoke. 'We're all kind of feeling it,' Northover said. The smoke was so thick in San Francisco, the skyline was barely visible from across the Bay. The city's iconic open-air cable cars that are popular with tourists were pulled off the streets Thursday because of the bad air. An Environmental Protection Agency website said air quality in Sacramento was 'hazardous' Thursday and San Francisco's was 'very unhealthy.' Many people walking around the cities wore face masks. Most schools in San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland and Folsom said they would be closed Friday. At least six universities in Northern California canceled classes Thursday. At Chico State University, 11 miles (18 kilometers) from Paradise, ash fell this week and classes were canceled until after Thanksgiving. 'It's kind of freaky to see your whole town wearing air masks and trying to get out of smoke,' said freshman Mason West, 18. 'You can see the particles. Obviously, it's probably not good to be breathing that stuff in.' West returned home this week to Santa Rosa, hard hit by last year's wine country fires, only to find it shrouded in smoke from the Paradise fire 100 miles (160 kilometers) away. West's family had to evacuate last year for a week, but their home was spared. 'It's as bad here as it was in Chico,' West said. 'It almost feels like you just can't get away from it.' Smoke has been so thick in Santa Rosa that researchers postponed a door-to-door survey there for a study of health effects of last year's fire. 'We didn't feel we could justify our volunteer interns going knocking on doors when all the air quality alerts were saying stay indoors,' said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a public health researcher at the University of California, Davis. The study includes an online survey of households affected by last year's fire, with responses from about 6,000 people so far. Preliminary data show widespread respiratory problems, eye irritations, anxiety, depression and sleep problems around the time of the fire and months later. 'Conventional thinking is that these effects related to fires are transient. It's not entirely clear that's the case,' Hertz-Picciotto said. Researchers also will be analyzing cord blood and placentas collected from a few dozen women who were pregnant during the fire, seeking evidence of stress markers or exposure to smoke chemicals. They hope to continue the study for years, seeking evidence of long-term physical and emotional harms to fire evacuees and their children. Other studies have linked emotional stress in pregnant women to developmental problems in their children and 'this was quite a stress,' Hertz-Picciotto said. It's a kind of stress that many people need to prepare for as the climate warms and wildfires proliferate, she said. 'Any of us could wake up tomorrow and lose everything we own,' she said. 'It's pretty scary.' ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at https://twitter.com/LindseyTanner . Her work can be found here . ___ The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Creating fire buffers between housing and dry brush, burying spark-prone power lines and lighting more controlled burns to keep vegetation in check could give people a better chance of surviving wildfires, according to experts searching for ways to reduce growing death tolls from blazes in California and across the U.S. West. Western wildfires have grown ever more lethal, a grim reality driven by more housing developments sprawling into the most fire-prone grasslands and brushy canyons, experts say. Many of the ranchers and farmers who once managed those landscapes are gone, leaving terrain thick with vegetation that can explode into flames. That's set the stage for tragedy, as whipping winds, high temperatures and drought that are characteristic of climate change stoke wildfires like those raging in Northern and Southern California, killing at least 59 people in recent days with 130 others missing. Hundreds of thousands of people were told to evacuate ahead of the blazes. Some experts say there has been an over-reliance on evacuation and too little attention paid to making communities safe, plus not enough money for preventive measures. Search crews found many victims inside or next to their vehicles, killed trying to flee. Survivors of the blaze that nearly obliterated the Northern California town of Paradise spoke of having minutes to escape and narrow roads rendered impassable by flames and traffic jams. There are 'so many ways that can go wrong, in the warning, the modes of getting the message out, the confusion,' said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension program. Moritz urged consideration of the creation of community 'retreat zones' where residents can ride out deadly firestorms if escape seems impossible. That could be a community center, built or retrofitted to better withstand wildfires that can top 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and reduce ordinary homes to ash. Such fire protection can include sprinklers, fire- and heat-resistant walls and roofs, and barriers to keep sparks out of chimneys and other openings, according to the International Code Council, a nonprofit that helps develop U.S. building codes. Creating more buffers around housing developments would help stave off wildfires. They could be parks or irrigated agriculture, like the vineyards that helped keep last year's wildfires in California wine country from spreading into even more towns. Also helpful would be burying electric power lines, which can spark and fail in high winds that drive many of California's fiercest fires, said Jon Keeley, a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey in California. Sparks from utility equipment are suspected in the Northern California wildfire that consumed Paradise, destroying thousands of homes. A proven method to guard against destructive fires is controlled burns. By intentionally lighting fires when conditions are right, property owners remove low-lying trees and brush that otherwise act as fuel. In the mid-20th century, California ranchers burned hundreds of thousands of acres annually to manage their lands, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. That was phased out in the 1980s after California's fire management agency took over the burns. By last decade, the burned acreage dropped to less than 10,000 acres annually, Quinn-Davidson said. Agricultural land surrounding many towns became overgrown, and housing developments pushed deeper into rural areas. Such was the case with the Northern California town of Redding ahead of a fire that began in July and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. It was blamed for eight deaths. 'You get these growing cities pushing out — housing developments going right up into brush and wooded areas. One ignition on a bad day, and all that is threatened,' Quinn-Davidson said. 'These fires are tragic, and they're telling us this is urgent.' The recent California fires set off a debate over what's to blame. President Donald Trump claimed in a tweet Saturday that 'gross mismanagement of the forests' was the sole reason the state's fires had become so 'massive, deadly and costly.' He also threatened to withhold federal payments. But most of California's recent deadly fires are in grasslands and brushy chaparral — not thick forest, Keeley said. 'Thinning isn't going to change anything,' he said. Trump's assertion also ignored the huge federal land holdings in the state. It brought a quick backlash from the president of the California firefighters union, who described it as a shameful attack on thousands of firefighters. To ease tensions, the White House sent Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to tour fire-damaged areas. Zinke struck a conciliatory tone and offered assistance in a meeting with California Gov. Jerry Brown. 'We need to work in unison to make sure we thin the forest, especially fire breaks, and make sure we have prescribed burns,' Zinke told The Associated Press. 'There's been a lack of management on Interior lands, on U.S. Forest Service lands and certainly with state lands.' California, not the Trump administration, is putting more money behind such efforts. In September, Brown signed a law providing $1 billion over five years for fire protection, including more controlled burns and tree clearing. Federal spending on hazardous fuels reduction has been flat in recent years, hovering just under $600 million, even as direct firefighting costs jumped to a record $2.9 billion last year. For 2019, the Forest Service has proposed a $3 million bump for its wildfire fuels program. At Interior, Zinke proposed a $29 million cut in fuel management spending. ___ Knickmeyer reported from Washington. ___ Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MatthewBrownAP .
  • In a major new effort to curb smoking, a top U.S. health official pledged Thursday to try to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and tighten rules governing the sale of most flavored versions of electronic cigarettes. The proposed restrictions were aimed mainly at reducing smoking in kids: About half of teens who smoke cigarettes choose menthols, and flavored e-cigarettes have been blamed for a recent increase in teen vaping rates. 'I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes,' Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said in a statement. Health advocates say a menthol ban would have greater impact on the health of Americans, but it would probably take years to put in place. The changes for e-cigarettes could kick in within a few months. Battery-powered e-cigarettes are more popular among teens than regular smokes and are considered safer. But many versions contain potentially addictive nicotine, and health officials believe they set kids who try them on a path toward regular cigarettes. Gottlieb called for additional steps to prevent the marketing of e-cigarettes directly to kids and online sales to minors. He also proposed beefing up measures to ensure that convenience stores and some other retailers do not sell e-cigarettes in kid-friendly flavors such as cherry and vanilla. They could still be sold in vape shops or other businesses that do not admit minors. Smoking is the nation's leading cause of preventable illness, causing more than 480,000 deaths each year. The FDA currently bans sales of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to those under 18. In 2009, the government banned a number of kid-friendly flavorings in cigarettes. But after an aggressive lobbying effort by tobacco companies, menthol was exempted. Gottlieb's proposal for e-cigarette flavorings also exempts menthol. He said menthol e-cigarettes may be an option for adults who turn to vaping products to quit regular cigarettes, and he decided not to push for an end to menthol flavoring in vaping products. Smoking has been declining for more than five decades. Some 42 percent of U.S. adults smoked in the early 1960s. Last year, the rate was down to 14 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts credit anti-smoking campaigns, cigarette taxes and smoking bans for most of the decline in the adult rate. But some say adult smokers switching to e-cigarettes have also helped in recent years. The cigarette smoking rate is even lower among high school students — about 9 percent, according to the latest figures. But e-cigarette use jumped 78 percent this year among U.S. high school kids and 48 percent among middle school kids, Gottlieb said. He cited a survey this past spring of more than 20,000 middle and high school students. About 21 percent of high schoolers said they had vaped recently, and 5 percent of middle schoolers said they had. Some experts attribute the jump to newer versions of e-cigarettes, like those by Juul Labs Inc. of San Francisco. These products resemble computer flash drives, can be recharged in USB ports and can be used discreetly. 'The increase in e-cigarette popularity (among kids) is almost certainly not a function of flavors. All the flavors were out there already,' said Kenneth Warner, a University of Michigan emeritus public health professor who is a leading authority on smoking and health. The FDA has taken earlier steps to investigate the marketing of e-cigarettes by Juul and other companies. Getting out ahead of the FDA announcement, Juul on Tuesday stopped filling store orders for mango, fruit, creme and cucumber pods and will resume sales only to retailers that scan IDs and take other steps to verify a buyer is at least 21. The company said Juul will continue to sell menthol and mint at stores, and sell all flavors through its website. Health advocates generally applauded the e-cigarette plans, but some said they did not go far enough. Some called for a complete ban of flavorings, for example, and a more aggressive regulation of e-cigarettes that have come on the market in the last two years. The proposed sales restrictions on e-cigarettes 'are a step forward, but by themselves are not enough to stem the youth e-cigarette epidemic,' said Robin Koval, chief executive of the Truth Initiative, an advocacy group that runs anti-tobacco ads. Gottlieb acknowledged that he could have taken more aggressive steps, 'but I don't want to foreclose opportunities for currently addicted adult smokers' to access e-cigarettes as they try to quit regular smokes. He also said he hopes e-cigarette companies work to restrict kids from buying their products. If current efforts do not succeed, he's willing to take more steps later, he said. Menthol cigarettes, which contain a minty compound that reduces the harshness of smoke and suppresses coughing, were widely marketed starting in the 1950s and 1960s. Roughly a third of the cigarettes sold today are menthols, according to some estimates. The e-cigarette measures will probably face little opposition, but Gottlieb 'has guts' to pursue a menthol prohibition because it will draw political and legal fire from the tobacco industry and its supporters, Warner said. An official with Altria Group Inc., one of the big tobacco companies, said a total ban on menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars 'would be an extreme measure not supported by the science and evidence.' Murray Garnick, Altria's general counsel, said the company expects that establishing product standards on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars 'will be a multi-year, deliberative process.' ___ The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Medical staff say that conjoined twins from Bhutan who were separated at an Australian hospital last week have been healing well, showing their cheeky side, and have become impossible to keep apart. Joe Crameri, the head of pediatric surgery at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, told reporters Thursday there have been a few bumps along the road but that the 15-month-old girls, Nima and Dawa, are making good progress. The girls were joined from the lower chest to just above the pelvis and shared a liver. They were separated during a delicate operation that lasted almost six hours. A major challenge had been to reconstruct their abdomens. Crameri said the areas they'd tampered with during the surgery appeared to be healing well. 'The girls are getting back to a more normal life, so they're back to eating and they're starting to move around,' he told reporters. 'The area that we've repaired on their tummy wall seems to be holding up with the strain quite nicely. So, we're very happy, and especially Mum is very happy.' Kellie Smith, the hospital's nurse coordinator, said the twins have a close bond. 'We try and have them a little bit apart, but they manage to sort of bum shuffle back together and have their legs intertwined, always,' she said. 'So, we did initially try and have them in two beds but they didn't like that at all so they're in the one bed together and just happy, playing with one another, and it's actually beautiful to see.' Smith told reporters the girls are cheeky. 'They're happy, clapping, laughing, smiling at us all and, at times, telling us to go away when they've had enough,' she said.

Local News

  • A Bowersville man was booked into the Hart County jail on felony charges that include obstruction of law enforcement officers: 20 year-old William Galliher is accused of fighting with and trying to run away from Hart County Sheriff’s deputies.  A rape suspect is behind bars in Dahlonega: the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office says 33 year-old Luis Vasquez faces charges that include rape, child cruelty, and false imprisonment. Two people are arrested in Rabun County: Cody Whitmire and Tamatha Watts are facing child molestation allegations. The GBI office in White County is handling the ongoing investigation. Gwinnett County Police have a homicide on their hands: a 60 year-old woman was found shot to death in her home in Lawrenceville. 
  • The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 2019 Bulldog 100 list of fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. More than 564 nominations were submitted for the 2019 list.   The 2019 Bulldog 100 includes businesses of all sizes and from industries such as real estate, dining, technology and retail. Companies are based as far north as New York and as far west as California. Of the 100 businesses, 80 are located within Georgia.   “The Bulldog 100 program provides us with an the opportunity to applaud the outstanding achievements of our graduates, broaden networks and inspire each other in our shared commitment,” said Meredith Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association. “These alumni are leading the way in business and building better communities.”   This year’s list of fastest-growing businesses, in alphabetical order, is as follows:   A Signature Welcome, Charleston, South Carolina Activekidz and Adult Therapy Services, Watkinsville, Georgia AHT Cooling Systems USA Inc., Ladson, South Carolina American Tank Maintenance LLC, Warthen, Georgia AmeriServ Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, Atlanta, Georgia Applied Resource Group LLC, Alpharetta, Georgia Ascent CPA Group LLC, Atlanta, Georgia Athens Building Company, Watkinsville, Georgia Avid Bookshop, Athens, Georgia BOS Security Inc., Athens, Georgia Baseline Surveying & Engineering, Watkinsville, Georgia Biren Patel Engineering LLC, Atlanta, Georgia Bitstream Consulting LLC, Atlanta, Georgia Blackjack Paving, Fairburn, Georgia Bone Dry Roofing Company, Bogart, Georgia C2 Medical Solutions LLC, Athens, Georgia Calhoun Sands Valuation & Advisory Inc., Atlanta, Georgia Caplan Cobb LLP, Atlanta, Georgia Castlegate Property Group LLC, Atlanta, Georgia Centurion Investments LLC, Atlanta, Georgia Certified Finishes, Atlanta, Georgia Charlotte Lucas Interior Design, Charlotte, North Carolina Chicken Salad Chick, Auburn, Alabama Christopher's Bridge Home Care, Watkinsville, Georgia Condor Chocolates, Athens, Georgia Crate Services Inc., Fairburn, Georgia Crescent Equipment Co. Inc., Crescent, Georgia Currie Design + Build, Roswell, Georgia DTproductions, Athens, Georgia Dunkin Donuts (Seven Franchise Locations), Watkinsville, Georgia Eleven Eleven PR, Arlington, Virginia EnviroSpark Energy Solutions Inc., Atlanta, Georgia Express Employment Professionals, Athens, Georgia Forum Communications Inc., Gainesville, Georgia FTM Travel, Brentwood, Tennessee Georgia Grinders, Chamblee, Georgia Hardy’s Peanuts Inc., Hawkinsville, Georgia Haven Insurance Group, Atlanta, Georgia Inspect-All Services, Conyers, Georgia Inspirion Biosciences, Frederick, Maryland Irvin Retail Group of Marcus & Millichap, Atlanta, Georgia J&M Pool Services, Senoia, Georgia Jacobs Land Management LLC, Augusta, Georgia JETT Business Technology, Roswell, Georgia Kabbage, Atlanta, Georgia Kalka & Baer LLC, Atlanta, Georgia Langford Allergy LLC, Macon, Georgia Launch, Atlanta, Georgia Li-Lac Chocolates, Brooklyn, NY Lightmark Media, Athens, Georgia Lucky Savannah Vacation Rentals, Savannah, Georgia M&W Commercial Flooring LLC, Atlanta, Georgia MAB Corporate Advisors, Marietta, Georgia Macallan Real Estate LLC, Marietta, Georgia Margaret Long Designs Inc., Atlanta, Georgia Markert Motor Works, Lawrenceville, Georgia Microf, Roswell, Georgia Millstone Homes Inc., Watkinsville, Georgia Moore Civil Consulting Inc., Hawkinsville, Georgia Murray Osorio PLLC, Fairfax, Virginia Myrick Marine Contracting Corp., Savannah, Georgia Onward Reserve, Atlanta, Georgia Parisleaf, Gainesville, Florida PeachCap, Atlanta, Georgia PharmD on Demand, Watkinsville, Georgia PHI Enterprises, Charlotte, North Carolina Powell Dentistry Group, Saint Simons Island, Georgia  Precise Systems Inc., Lexington Park, Maryland Precision Frameworks, Tucker, Georgia Puppy Haven, Brookhaven, Georgia Quickpath, San Antonio, Texas RAC Properties of Athens Inc., Bogart, Georgia Roam Innovative Workplace, Atlanta, Georgia Robinson Key LLC, Atlanta, Georgia Rover Mobility LLC, Evans, Georgia Saucehouse BBQ, Athens, Georgia Smith Planning Group LLC, Watkinsville, Georgia Sock Fancy, Atlanta, Georgia Southland Organics, Bogart, Georgia Southland Therapy Services, Savannah, Georgia Stanton Law LLC, Atlanta, Georgia Starnes Media, Homewood, Alabama Steamboat Transportation Group LLC, Nashville, Tennessee Strand Clinical Technologies LLC, Evans, Georgia SunnyBoy Entertainment LLC, Pasadena, California Terminus Software Inc., Atlanta, Georgia The Service Fort LLC, Atlanta, Georgia The Southern Coterie, Sea Island, Georgia The Therapy Spot, Statesboro, Georgia Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods Inc., Huntland, Tennessee Toolbox No. 9, Atlanta, Georgia TSAV, Athens, Georgia TurnKey IT Solutions LLC, Marietta, Georgia Two Maids & A Mop Franchising, Birmingham, Alabama Wier / Stewart LLC, Augusta, Georgia Woodall Realty Group, Athens, Georgia XY Planning Network, Bozeman, Georgia Your Pie Franchising LLC, Athens, Georgia Zeus' Closet, Atlanta, Georgia   Business applicants were measured by their compounded annual growth rate during a three-year period. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors verified the information submitted by each company. On Jan. 26, the UGA Alumni Association will host an event to celebrate the Bulldog 100 and count down the ranked list to the No. 1 business.   The 2018 Bulldog 100 No. 1 business was Saucehouse BBQ, co-founded by Christopher Belk. “To be named the No. 1 fastest-growing Bulldog business was a tremendous honor and even helped Saucehouse catering with its expansion into the Atlanta area from Athens,” said Belk. “We’re proud to be part of this incredible alumni network and to serve Bulldogs every day.”  
  • The District Attorney’s office hangs out another Help Wanted sign, looking to fill four seats on the Athens-Clarke County Board of Tax Equalization. Deadline to apply with DA Ken Mauldin is Monday November 26.  The Northeast Georgia Regional Commission is meeting this afternoon in Athens: 12 o’clock at the downtown Holiday Inn. Barrow County Planning Commissioners will meet, 7 o’clock tonight in Winder.  There is a Gainesville City Council meeting this morning: it is a 9 o’clock work session at the Administration Building in Gainesville. Their Hall County Commission counterparts meet this evening, 6 o’clock at the Hall County Government Center in Gainesville. Today is a deadline day in Gainesville: Hall County property tax bills are due. 
  • UGA Presents is bringing David Archuleta to Athens for a special holiday show Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Hodgson Concert Hall. Archuleta will perform music from his new album, “Winter in the Air,” featuring a mix of classic Christmas songs and three original compositions co-written by the singer. In 2008 Archuleta became a star at the age of 16 when millions of television viewers fell in love with his angelic voice and their 44 million votes made him runner-up in season seven of “American Idol.” After his appearance on the TV show, the young Utahan had his first single, “Crush,” debut at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the track sold 166,000 downloads the first week in the U.S. and subsequently more than 1.92 million digital copies. Three months later, his self-titled album, “David Archuleta,” went gold, selling more than 750,000 copies in the U.S. and more than 900,000 worldwide. In 2012 Archuleta, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, put his singing career on hiatus so he could serve a two-year stint as a missionary outside of Santiago, Chile. After returning from Chile in 2014, he began touring extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Asia, and he performed for the U.S. troops in the Middle East. “Winter in the Air” is Archuleta’s eighth album and his second Christmas-themed album. It was released on Nov. 2. Tickets for the concert start at $30 and can be purchased at the Performing Arts Center box office, online at pac.uga.edu or by calling 706-542-4400. A limited number of discounted tickets are available to current UGA students for $10 with a valid UGA ID (limit one ticket per student). The concert is sponsored by Carl W. Duyck and Dennis J. Flood. Hodgson Concert Hall is located in UGA Performing Arts Center at 230 River Road in Athens.
  • Today figures to be another day of rain for Athens and much of northeast Georgia, with flood watches and warnings again in place for parts of the region. This is forecast to be the last day of the rain that has been falling since Monday. From WSB Radio meteorologist Kirk Mellish… The latest round of rain does not look as bad as what we experienced Monday, but with soggy soils and high creek and stream levels already in place the National Weather Service continues the  FLASH FLOOD WATCH for the entire area and most of Georgia for that matter until 7AM Thursday. Keep in mind with the soggy root zones trees can fall even without a strong wind causing damage or an isolated power outage.  Upper level low pressure to our Northwest will spin up surface low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico which will head Northeast up the Atlantic Coast the next few days while another “wedge” pattern (CAD event) develops over Georgia. Temperatures have been well below-normal this week and will remain so through the weekend. A wintry mix is even possible briefly in the higher elevations of the Northeast corner of Georgia Thursday.  The axis of heaviest rain looks to run from Columbus to the Athens area. The lightest amounts will be in the far Northwest suburbs of Atlanta with the heaviest rain South and East sides of Metro Atlanta the next 24 hours. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia basketball looks to get back on track at home against Sam Houston State after suffering its first loss of the season at Temple on Tuesday night. “It’s a football weekend, lots of people will be in town, hope we have a great fan turnout, and I hope there’s a lot of energy in the building,” first-year Bulldogs coach Tom Crean said on Thursday. RELATED: Tom Crean says ‘I’ll always remember this one’ “Sam Houston is one of those teams, they’re sneaky good because they’ve got some veterans.” The Southland Conference Bearkats are 2-2 this season and coming off a 74-59 loss at Clemson on Wednesday night. Georgia, 1-1, opened with a rousing 110-76 win at home over Savannah State before falling to the Owls in Philadelphia by an 81-77 count on Tuesday night. Travel complications led to the Bulldogs traveling on the day of the game to Temple before a late rally from 12 points down fell short. RELATED: Georgia shows tremendous grit in second-half comeback, falls short Crean makes no secret of it that Georgia basketball remains a work in progress to the extent that he will continue to play a lot of players to let things sort themselves out. “We haven’t had a lot of separation, we haven’t had a lot of guys establish themselves like they’re going to get these minutes,” Crean said. “Really, the measuring stick for us is defending on the ball and off, and not turning the ball over, and until we get that corrected we’re not going to have that style of play that we need, we’re not going to have that consistency, and we’re not going to look very good. “But we’ll get there.” The 7 p.m. Friday game at Stegeman Coliseum with Sam Houston State offers the Bulldogs a chance to advance the ball in that respect. Crean says he has no plans to slow down the Georgia offense and remains committed to an uptempo style of play. “We’re trying to play a very quick pace, but we don’t want to be giving the ball back to the other team,” Crean said. “We’re working on building our efficiency everyday at both ends and I like that fact that we have this game and then we turn around and we’ve got three next week.” Georgia plays in the Cayman Islands Classic next Monday through Wednesday, opening up the three-game tourney with Illinois State at 1:30 on Monday. The Bulldogs will play either Akron or Clemson on Tuesday afternoon. Georgia is in the midst of playing six games in 13 days to open the season. Tyree Crump leads the Bulldogs in scoring through the first two games, averaging 16 points, and Derek Ogbeide is scoring at a 15 points-per-game clip. Senior starting point guard William “Turtle” Jackson is averaging just 2.5 points per game, hitting 2-of-6 shots in the 42 minutes he has played. Georgia basketball stories 4 takeaways from Georgia basketball’s thrilling win over UAB Georgia basketball ‘found a way to win’ in Birmingham Tom Crean outlines reality of exhibition opener in preview Georgia basketball draws more than 5,000 to ‘Stegmania’ event Crean wants more purpose from Bulldogs with season fast approaching Bulldogs show grit, but fall short at Temple Getting to know Tom Crean, the future of Georgia basketball Bulldogs play fast and free in home exhibition opener   The post Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean wanting separation, efficiency against Sam Houston State appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football fans will receive multiple chances to see and meet former coach Vince Dooley over the next month courtesy of Kroger. Dooley will be at several special book signing events hosted at Kroger during the holiday season. Join him at your favorite grocery store, as he signs one of his first books “Dooley: My 40 Years at Georgia” and his newest “The Legion’s Fighting Bulldog.” All of the special book signings will take place at various Kroger stores. Here is the full schedule with locations: Date Town Address Tuesday, Nov. 27 Sugar Hill 6001 Cumming Highway Wednesday, Dec. 5 McDonough 5900 East Lake Parkway Thursday, Dec. 6 Warner Robins 3094 Watson Boulevard Wednesday, Dec. 12 Woodstock 2295 Towne Lake Parkway Thursday, Dec. 13 Dalton 1365 W. Walnut Avenue Wednesday, Dec. 19 Rome 1476 Turner McCall Blvd. Thursday, Dec. 20 Peachtree City 564 Crosstown Drive Friday, Dec. 21 Cumming 5550 Bethelview Road ** All signing times are 4-6 PM ET ** The post Meet Georgia legendary coach Vince Dooley at your local Kroger store appeared first on DawgNation.
  • This is the third in a series of stories that compares units on the Georgia and Alabama teams as last season’s College Football Playoff finalists prepare for a rematch on Dec. 1 in the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. PASS DEFENSE ATHENS — When Georgia embarked on the 2018 football season, pass defense and the secondary in particular was a huge concern, maybe the greatest concern. Now in the 12th week and entering the 11th game, that’s no longer the case. In fact, Georgia defensive backfield might even be considered a team strength. That’s what the stats say, anyway. The Bulldogs are second in the SEC and 10th nationally in passing yards allowed with 1,723, or 172.3 per game. That’s fairly astounding, especially considering three of the five starters in the back end of the defense are new. But some perspective has to be provided for that stat. Number one, the Bulldogs haven’t exactly been going against a bunch of ball-slingers this season. Every FBS team Georgia has faced this season is ranked outside the Top 25 in passing. UMass, the little team from the Northeast that visits Sanford Stadium this Saturday, will actually be the highest ranked at 17th (299.1 ypg). And, as this is a matchup analysis of Georgia vs. Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, it should be pointed that the Bulldogs will be facing another level of ball-slinging when they meet the Crimson Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Led by all-world quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Bama is second in the league and seventh in FBS at throwing the football. The Tide is averaging 323 yards per game and has thrown for 34 TDs with only 4 interceptions. Only Houston with 38 has more passing TDs. But that’s a matchup to explore another time. This exercise is to compare Georgia’s pass defense with Alabama’s, and the two are remarkably similar. Like the Bulldogs, Bama had considerable turnover after last year’s National Championship Game. The Tide returned only one defensive back with any starting experience, and that was redshirt junior safety Deionte Thompson with two starts. Thompson is manning the free safety position again this season and is one of the team favorites to earn All-SEC honors. Also, among Bama’s five defensive players that were taken in the NFL draft was cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick, who went in the first round with the No. 11 pick to the Miami Dolphins. So the Tide lost a ton of talent. Alabama has also had to deal with injuries this season. Junior cornerback Trevon Diggs went down against Arkansas on Oct. 6 with a foot injury and has not been back. But in his absence, the Crimson Tide has done what they usually do. That is, they replaced a 5-star with a 5-star. They replaced Diggs with Patrick Surtain II, a freshman out of American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla., who was rated the No. 1 cornerback prospect in America. Surtain has held his own, recording 19 tackles, 5 pass break-ups and an interception this season. Of course, at American Heritage High, Surtain played across the field from Tyson Campbell. Campbell was also a 5-star prospect, was ranked the No. 2 prospect in the country at corner and signed with Georgia. But while Campbell has also mostly held his own, he has also had some struggles. And they finally reached the point against Auburn this past Saturday that he was supplanted in the starting lineup. Redshirt freshman Eric Stokes came in for Campbell in the first half this past Saturday and played extremely well. His pass break-up in the end zone prevented a touchdown and forced the Tigers to settle for a field goal in the first half of a game the Bulldogs eventually beat 27-10. Stokes is another example of the youth and inexperience that abounds in Georgia’s secondary. In fact, at one point early in the Auburn game, the Bulldogs had three players on the field in Stokes, sophomore Mark Webb and freshman Otis Reese who hadn’t played in college game as a defensive back before this season. But that hasn’t held Georgia back when it comes to playing good pass defense. The Bulldogs are able to counter that youth with the veteran leadership and superior play of senior cornerback Deandre Baker and junior safety J.R. Reed. Baker is Georgia’s best chance of landing a player on an All-America team this season. Already a semifinalist for the Bednarik and Thorpe awards, he has 33 tackles, nine pass break-ups and is second in the SEC in passes defended. Reed, a former transfer from Tulsa, leads the DBs with 44 tackles, has led the team in tackles three times and also has an interception. Normally playing alongside Reed is sophomore Richard LeCounte, a former 5-star prospect himself. LeCounte belies his smallish 5-11, 190-pound frame with a knack for following the ball, coming up quick and hard for run stops and running deep with the fastest of opposing receivers. Safety play is one of the biggest reasons that the Bulldogs have given up the fewest plays of 20-or-more yards in the SEC. It might have something to do with safeties; it has a lot to do with the corners. I think it has a lot to do with the way we call defenses,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who played safety himself. “I think it’s leverage and tackling. we believe that if everybody in front of the safeties and secondary just fell down and took the play off, there shouldn’t be a play of over 20 yards.” What’s amazing about Georgia is it has managed to do that without much in the way of a pass rush. It’s not necessarily by design, but the Bulldogs haven’t pressured opposing quarterbacks much at all. They’re last in the SEC in sacks with 14, or 1.4 per game. Bama leads the league with 36. “It’s just not who we are right now,” Smart said of pressuring quarterbacks. “We’re not a twitchy team that’s quick and make people miss and get in the backfield and penetrate and get a tackle for loss or an elite pass rusher that can just beat guys one-on-one. That’s not indicative of who we are. But what we are is a team that knows how to leverage and tackle the ball and not give up explosives. That’s kind of our identity right now.” Alabama, obviously, hasn’t given up many big plays either. In fact, it hasn’t given up much at all, with back-to-back shutouts in the last two games and only seven points to Tennessee in the one before that. And the Crimson Tide has been able to get their hands on more balls than the Bulldogs. Bama actually has more interceptions (13) than passing TDs allowed (12). Georgia has five picks to eight touchdowns. But the Bulldogs rank considerably ahead of Alabama in overall pass defense. The Tide is allowing 186.5 yards a game. Let’s look at common opponents: LSU vs. Alabama: 35 attempts, 18 completions, 184 yards, 1 interception, 0 TDs vs. Georgia: 30 attempts, 15 completions, 200 yards, 0 interception, 0 TDs TENNESSEE vs. Alabama: 25 attempts, 14 completions, 227 yards, 0 interceptions, 2 TDs vs. Georgia: 21 attempts, 13 completions, 143 yards, 0 interceptions, 0 TDs MISSOURI vs. Alabama: 26 attempts, 13 completions, 142 yards, 2 interceptions, 1 TD vs. Georgia: 48 attempts, 23 completions, 221 yards, 1 interception, 0 TDs Overall, you have to give the nod to Georgia here. But it’s close: ADVANTAGE: GEORGIA BULLDOGS Road to Atlanta Part 1: Special teams, Georgia has the edge Part 2: Run defense, Alabama has the edge Part 3: Pass defense, Georgia has the edge The post Road to Atlanta: Georgia’s pass defense a reason for optimism in matchup with Alabama appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — It used to be kind of confusing for Eric Stokes, Jr. He used to be a track guy that played some football. Then he was a football player who ran a little track. Now he’s just a football player, and a pretty good one for the Georgia Bulldogs. Stokes As of this week, the sophomore from Covington became Georgia’s starting cornerback. He came in for a struggling Tyson Campbell last Saturday against Auburn and played so well that he now will get his first career start this Saturday when the No. 5 Bulldogs (9-1, 8-0 SEC) play host to UMass (4-7). It’s been quite a run for Stokes. Pun intended. “After my first season (at Georgia), I started off running track,” said Stokes, speaking after the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday night at the Butts-Mehre football complex. “But then I was like, ‘ah, track is not really for me anymore.’ After that I just sort of slowly faded away from track.” It’s not it’s ancient history. That was just last spring. But Stokes found out two things when he answered the call of Georgia’s dynamic track coach, Petros Kyprianou, to give it a try: One, those guys that run track fulltime for the Bulldogs are really, really fast, as the men’s team 2018 NCAA Track & Field national championship will attest. And, two, when Stokes was out there running track, he wasn’t getting better at football. “I’m out there running with people that run 9.9s, 10-ohs,” Stokes said. “People really underestimate those guys. They expect you to go out there and be able to run the same way when you left it. You try to jump in the groove, but there’s still a lot you’ve got to do.” This past spring, not only did Stokes decide to spend it 100 percent committed to football, but he also enrolled for the mini-semester in May — known as May-mester — and used his extra time then to work football. The difference was evident by the time the Bulldogs opened preseason camp in August. “Football-wise, just being here May-mester helped me learn the system and everything, helped me learn more,” said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Stokes. “Basically it helped me out a lot. I became more comfortable with what I was doing and wasn’t second-guessing myself anymore.” Back at Eastside High School, Stokes was mostly a track guy who played a little football at the coaches’ behest. As a junior, he won the Class AAAA championship in the 100 meters in a blistering 10.39 seconds. What’s more, Stokes also won the Class AAAA title in the 200 (21.58 seconds) and ran the anchor leg for the championship-winning 4×100-meter race. The only time Stokes didn’t walk to the tallest podium on the medal stand was after the 4×400 race. They finished sixth. Not surprisingly, Eastside won the state championship. So speed, plain and simple, was why Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs recruited Stokes, who was only a 3-star prospect. Since then, he has been a bit of a pet project. Stokes did not play at all last season. He was redshirted. This year, Stokes has been on the travel roster for every game and played in all but one. He first burst on the scene against Missouri in Week 4 when starter Tyson Campbell went out with an shoulder injury. Stokes came off the bench to record four tackles, three pass break-ups and block a punt. With Campbell getting victimized by Auburn this past Saturday, Georgia inserted Stokes into the game again. And he responded again. Stokes’ pass break-up in the end zone on third down prevented a touchdown and forced the Tigers to settle for a field goal in a game the Bulldogs won 27-10. “You’ve just got to be prepared every moment for everything,” Stokes said of being pressed into duty like that. “You can’t be fearful. You have to confidence in yourself.” Stokes definitely has the confidence of his coaches and teammates. “Stokes has been going with the first group,” said Smart, indicating Stokes will likely start ahead of Campbell Saturday against UMass. “He’s competing, playing well. So is Tyson.” “Stokes comes to play every week,” said fellow DB Mark Webb. “He never changes. I’ve been seeing that out of Stokes a long time.” Meanwhile, the competition with Campbell will continue. Unlike Stokes, it’s always been about football for the freshman from Miami. The former 5-star prospect has started every game at the left cornerback position. But Campbell has been picked on a lot. Playing opposite of senior All-America candidate Deandre Baker, teams invariably are passing the ball on the other side of the field. At times Campbell has handled that well. Often he hasn’t “Tyson’s got a lot to learn,” Smart said after Tuesday’s practice. “When he’s going with the 2s you find out how much he still has to learn because he doesn’t have the safeties that know it as well as the 1s. So the communication is not as good. So we’re finding out that he maybe has more to learn than we thought because the 1 safeties help him a lot more.” That’s where that time concentrating on football this past spring is benefiting Stokes now. If nothing else, he knows where he’s supposed to be, and he still has the speed to get there. “He’s just smart. He’s really bright,” Smart said of Stokes. “He understands leverage, he understands coverages. You tell him something once and he goes out to practice and does it. A lot of the guys need reps and reps; Stokes gets it in the meetings. He’s very bright. He’s very diligent.” Stokes is bright enough to know that, as an SEC cornerback, you’re only as good as your latest busted coverage. Get beat deep in a game and that might be the last rep you get. So the competition at left cornerback will continue. But that’s all part of being a football player and it won’t affect how he and Campbell get along. “We’re going through the same thing, day in and day out,” Stokes said. “Me and Tyson, we both help each other. I know he’s got my back just like I have his back. We’re always talking about this and that, so we can help each other grow.” In the meantime, it’s not like Stokes is getting a break by starting against UMass. Yes, the Bulldogs are 40-plus-point favorites. But the Minutemen throw the ball all over the yard and feature the nation’s leading receiver in Andy Isabella. The 5-10 wideout has caught 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 11 TDs. Odds are strong that Isabella and the Minutemen will be coming after Stokes. “He’s a real big threat, so we know his capability,” Stokes said. “He’s fast. He can give you moves and he’s really good with his routes. We’ve got to watch out for him. … I’ve just got to go out there and do my job.” The post Georgia CB Eric Stokes starting to blossom as full-time football player appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart explained how the competition for position never stops, from one play, drill, day and one game to another. “Every position on our team, every week,” Smart said, asked where the Bulldogs have position battles playing out at. RELATED: Alabama has edge over Georgia in run defense comparison Georgia (9-1) plays host to UMass (4-7) at 4 p.m. on Saturday (TV: SEC Network, Radio: WSB 750 AM, 95.5 FM). What outsiders might view as an easy win against the overmatched FBS independent Minutemen — the line opened at 43 1/2 points — is viewed by several players on the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs as an opportunity to show their skills in a game. But first, Smart points out, they must compete for those snaps, and they must fit the scheme. “We have to get better, and that’s what our focus is this week, on us getting better, our ability to grow young players,” Smart said. “I put just as much emphasis in practice as I do in the game. So we’ll see how the game goes. If guys get to play, they get to play.” Smart said redshirt freshman cornerback Eric Stokes is working with the first team after replacing true freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell and grading out highest among defenders in last Saturday’s 27-10 win over Auburn. RELATED: Secondary shakeup, Eric Stokes making a move at cornerback Campbell has stated the first 10 games this season, overcoming a shoulder subluxation suffered in the Sept. 22 game at Missouri. “Stokes has been going with the first group but he’s competing, playing well, (and) so is Tyson,” Smart said. “Tyson’s got a lot to learn, and when he’s going with the 2s, you find out how much he still has to learn because he doesn’t have the safeties that know it as well as the 1s. “So the communication is not as good. So we’re finding out that he maybe has more to learn than we thought because the (starting) safeties help him a lot more.” Smart explained that freshman Otis Reese making his first career start over sophomore Richard LeCounte had to do with the personnel package Auburn played. “ It’s really not a rotation as much as it is personnel based, so depending on what the other team is in, we play one or the other of the safeties,” Smart said. “Otis is getting better. Richard is actually getting better. The best thing for Richard has been Otis’s growth. So I think that the motivation and the competition has made Richard better.” Smart pointed to each level of the defense having competition, too. “Inside backer, every week, outside backer, probably more the second and third at the outside backer than the first (D’Andre Walker),” Smart said. “But defensive line. We’ve had changes in defensive line, and you all don’t write about who starts there, but we’ve had a lot of changes there. Secondary – we’ve had a lot of battles at safety, and rotating the dime, nickel and star.” Walker is the only linebacker to start all 10 games for Georgia.  Natrez Patrick has started seven of 10 games at inside (Mike) linebacker, Juwan Taylor has six starts at inside linebacker (Will) and Monty Rice has five starts at inside linebacker (one Mike, four at Will). The offensive line is competing with one another just to stay healthy. Right tackle Isaiah Wilson is the only offensive lineman not to miss paling time on account of injury. But Smart pointed to the receiver group and tailback position as spots where the competition has led to different starters from week to week. “It’s changed throughout the year at wide receiver probably three times as to who started, based on who practiced well during the week, that’s been pretty consistent,” Smart said. “I mean (Elijah) Holyfield started some games at running back. So that comes about through the work ethic you have during the week and putting a priority on how your practice matters, and that’s every position.” Riley Ridley leads the receivers with nine starts, Mecole Hardman, Tyler Simmons and Terry Godwin each have five starts and Jeremiah Holloman has started two of the past three games. D’Andre Swift started the first four games at tailback, but Elijah Holyfield has started the past six. Georgia football stories WATCH: Georgia coach Kirby Smart says ‘We’re running out of people’ Georgia football QB Jake Fromm handles challenges, critics Competition is real in Georgia football secondary Bulldogs challenged to maintain lofty standards vs. UMass Georgia football a heavy favorite against UMass QB Justin Fields recipient of great ‘on-the-job training’ Georgia football tailback D’Andre Swift reveals serious surgery RECAP: Georgia gain momentum vs. Auburn with 27-10 win The post Georgia football coach Kirby Smart hints at another change in starting lineup appeared first on DawgNation.