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The latest from our Washington Insider, Jamie Dupree

    House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled the details of their two impeachment charges in the investigation of President Donald Trump, bringing articles that cover alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'We must be clear - no one, not even the President - is above the law,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who will shepherd the impeachment charges through the House Judiciary Committee later this week. The focus for Democrats is the President's request in a July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, where a rough transcript of the call shows Mr. Trump asking Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats in 2016. 'The evidence of the President's misconduct is overwhelming and uncontested,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who led five days of public impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence Committee. ARTICLE ONE - ABUSE OF POWER The nine page impeachment resolution features two charges; the first is on 'Abuse of Power.' This charge follows the President's July 25 phone call with the President of Ukraine. 'President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit,' the impeachment resolution states. 'He thus ignored and injured the interests of the Nation,' it concludes. The impeachment article specifically mentions the President's effort to have Ukraine announce an investigation with respect to former Vice President Joe Biden - saying Mr. Trump 'corruptly solicited' the government of Ukraine for help. The resolution also says Mr. Trump wanted an investigation into a 'discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine - rather than Russia - interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.' ARTICLE TWO - OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS The second impeachment article is on 'Obstruction of Congress' - as Democrats charge the President wrongly directed those in the Executive Branch to defy subpoenas from Congress in the Ukraine investigation. The resolution specifically names nine different Trump Administration officials who defied subpoenas from Congress for their testimony, including Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and the head of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought. Not named in the resolution are three other figures who refused to cooperate - the President's attorney Rudy Giuliani, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to debate and vote on the impeachment articles on Thursday. A vote in the full House is expected next week. Democrats reach deal with Trump on US-Mexico-Canada trade deal Internal DOJ watchdog: Russia probe properly started by FBI
  • After months of quiet negotiations with the White House on changes to the USMCA trade agreement, Democrats on Tuesday said they had reached a deal with President Donald Trump on a deal to replace the NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada, possibly paving the way for a vote this year on one of the President's biggest agenda items. 'This is a day we have all been working for,' Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. 'It is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the Administration.' Democrats had pressed for a series of changes related to enforcement of labor and environmental standards, and won new provisions dealing with enforceability of those items. 'It's a victory for America's workers,' Pelosi added, as the head of the AFL-CIO signaled his public support. A variety of groups hailed the news. 'We are optimistic this development will open the door to final approval of USMCA on a bipartisan basis by the end of the year,' said Tom Donahue, the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 'This is welcome news and a relief for American farmers,' said Angela Hoffman of the group Farmers for Free Trade. 'Farmers and ranchers will be watching closely to ensure that their members of Congress are standing up for American agriculture,” Hoffman added. 'The USMCA will create even more jobs for the hardworking families who are the backbone of our economy – the farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and small business owners,' said Vice President Mike Pence in a statement. Pence's written statement said Democrats had finally 'acquiesced' to a vote on the agreement - but the White House had been fully involved in the behind the scenes talks in recent months with Democrats and other outside groups. The late changes include agreements to strengthen labor standards, toughen the environmental agreements, set up stricter verification mechanisms, and on dispute resolution issues among the three nations. The agreement came after months of public criticism of Democrats by the President and GOP lawmakers in Congress - which grew harsher and harsher in recent weeks - even as the White House was working behind the scenes with Speaker Pelosi on ways to tweak the agreement in order to get the support of Democrats and major labor unions. 'There is no question of course that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,' Pelosi said at a news conference in the same room where she helped to announce impeachment charges against the President - just an hour earlier. A House vote is expected next week on the USMCA deal - just about the same time that lawmakers will also be voting on a pair of historic impeachment charges against President Trump.
  • After a nearly ten hour impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, Democrats in the U.S. House set a news conference for Tuesday morning to announce their next steps, reportedly ready to unveil two impeachment charges against President Donald Trump. The news conference was set as Democrats argued Monday that President Trump had wrongly held back military aid to Ukraine in an effort to pressure that government to announce investigations which could benefit Mr. Trump politically in the 2020 elections. 'Such conduct is clearly impeachable,” Rep. Jerry Nadler D-NY said as he wrapped up the hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. 'This committee will proceed accordingly.' 'The evidence is undisputed and overwhelming,' said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). 'President Trump thinks he can get away with it,' said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). 'But he got caught - and he tried to cover it up.' 'The President's pattern of behavior is incredibly disturbing,' said Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL). 'Russia, Ukraine, China - he's inviting three countries to help him in his 2020 re-election campaign,' the Florida Democrat added. While there had been talk that Democrats would produce as many as five different articles of impeachment, the latest indications were there would be only two - covering abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Republicans denounced the entire process, saying Democrats were rushing simply because they did not have evidence to back up their claims against the President. “This is ridiculous,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) said at one point during Monday's House Judiciary Committee hearing. “We shouldn't be doing this.” “This is a sham,” said Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA).
  • In a long awaited report on the origins of the Russia investigation, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice concluded on Monday that the 2016 investigation of possible Russian election interference was properly undertaken by the FBI, saying there was no evidence the Trump Campaign had been spied upon by investigators. The 476 page report found that 'Crossfire Hurricane' - the code name for the original Russia investigation - 'was opened for an authorized investigative purpose and with sufficient factual predication.' Pushing back against claims that the FBI had illegally spied on the Trump campaign, the IG report found 'no evidence that the FBI placed any' confidential human sources 'to report on the Trump campaign.' The IG report confirmed that the decision to start the investigation had been spurred by revelations from an Australian diplomat, who had been told early in 2016 by Trump foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos that the Russians had 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton. The report also indicated that even before the formal investigation was undertaken, the FBI was already looking carefully at Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Both men had known ties to people suspected of being involved with Russian Intelligence. The report also rejected claims of political bias from inside the FBI - even as it raised questions about bias from both sides of the aisle. The report addressed the previously known text messages between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and top counterintelligence official Peter Strzok - but found they did not play any role in the decision to launch the investigation into possible Russian interference or ties to the Trump campaign in 2016. On the other side, the report also found evidence from some FBI investigators that they favored Mr. Trump - also leaving an electronic paper trail - and in this case, indicating their desire to investigate the Clinton Foundation. In an odd twist to the public release of the report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz found his conclusions under public attack from the Attorney General of the United States. 'The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,' Barr said in his own statement, which was at odds with the IG's conclusion. The skepticism also included a statement from U.S. Attorney John Durham, Barr's handpicked investigator who is doing his own review of the same situation. For Republicans the report's criticism of possible problems with the FISA process dealing with former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was the target of most GOP criticism. In the report, the IG found that there were a number of 'factual misstatements and omissions' in terms of information, which might have undermined what officials thought was an easy decision to sign off on a FISA application for surveillance of Page, who was no stranger to the FBI when it came to Russian intelligence investigations. 'Our review found that FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are 'scrupulously accurate,' the IG summary stated. 'We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed,' the report continued. But the IG did not take any stance on whether the Page FISA requests were improper.
  • Even as Democrats press ahead with a historic effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the House, lawmakers in both parties are on the cusp of possibly producing series of major, bipartisan legislative deals, covering everything from a crackdown on surprise medical bills to a compromise establishing the President's plan for a 'Space Force' at the Pentagon in exchange for a big benefits change for federal workers. The calendar doesn't offer much time for action in either the House or Senate, as lawmakers hope to leave town by the weekend before Christmas - which would give the House and Senate until around December 20-23. Here are some of the big issues which might get resolved in Congress at the same time as Democrats force a vote on impeachment. 1. Lawmakers cut deal on surprise medical bills. Sunday brought news that a group of key lawmakers - in both parties from the House and Senate - had reached agreement on a plan to rein surprise bills which consumers often face, especially after emergency care. Backers stressed the bipartisan nature of the agreement. 'The legislation includes proposals from 80 Senators, 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a Sunday statement. That does not necessarily mean this deal gets voted on in the next two weeks. 2. New minimum age to buy tobacco products. The deal on the issue of surprise medical bills also has some other items involved in it, including a provision which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. The idea of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco has been supported in recent months by the Senate's top Republican - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - but it's not clear if McConnell would rush such a bill to the Senate floor over the next two weeks. 3. 'Space Force' might be ready for launch. Lawmakers in both parties were trying to finalize a major defense policy bill early this week, and the details are expected to finally give President Trump his plan to set up a 'Space Force' inside the Pentagon. The plan - which has been resisted by lawmakers in both parties - would not set up a brand new branch of the military, as sought by President Trump. Instead, the Space Force would operate out of the Air Force, sort of like the Marines are considered part of the Navy. Critics argued a plan to set up a separate new branch of the military would have been too expensive, and would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy. 4. Paid family leave benefit for federal workers? The President won't get his Space Force for nothing in this major defense policy bill, as reportedly the deal with the White House will give around 2.7 million federal workers a new benefit - paid family leave. The plan would reportedly include up to 12 weeks of such leave for federal civilian workers. While no final bill language has been released, a tweet from over the weekend by President Trump's daughter shows this exchange could well be part of the defense bill. Stay tuned. 5. USMCA trade deal still a late year possibility. With a flurry of late negotiations involving U.S., Mexican, and Canadian trade officials, it's still possible that the final touches could be put on a new trade deal among the three nations, and have it voted on by the House and Senate. The White House has been quietly working with Mexico and Canada in recent weeks to work out tweaks to the agreement, mainly dealing with labor and environmental enforcement, trade dispute resolution, and issues dealing with some medical drugs. While the President and his allies keep saying the plan has been sent to Congress already for a vote - that is simply not true. 6. Government funding plan remains in limbo. While there were seemingly agreement on surprise medical billing, the Space Force, and more, lawmakers still have not finalized a giant package of bills to fund the operations of the federal government for 2020. The current temporary funding bill runs out on December 20. While there is obviously the threat of a government shutdown, lawmakers in both parties hope they can either reach a deal now - or extend that temporary spending plan into the New Year. So, this could also be part of a late rush of big legislation.
  • The U.S. economy was humming last month, as the Labor Department reported Friday that 266,000 jobs were created in the month of November, with the nation's unemployment rate ticking down again to the historically low level of 3.5 percent, as job growth in 2018 is now almost equal to last year's levels. Not only were 266 thousand jobs added in November, but the latest jobs report also revised growth upwards in both September and October, adding another 41,000 jobs. Monthly average job growth in 2019 stands at just under 180,000 jobs per month, compared to 182,000 in 2018, and 195,000 in 2017. While some of the November job gains were attributed to workers ending a strike against General Motors, the November job gains were the second largest of 2019, trailing only the 312,000 jobs created in January. GOP lawmakers in Congress hailed the new numbers. While the jobs report indicated stronger than expected growth, the overall numbers in terms of U.S. economic output have shown a slower pace of growth in recent months than earlier in 2019. The U.S. Gross Domestic Product was at 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019, but dropped to 2.0 percent in the second quarter. The current estimate is for a 2.1 percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2019. President Trump has repeatedly blamed slowing growth on the head of the Federal Reserve - whom he nominated for the post - arguing the Fed should have cut interest rates more to spur economic activity in the U.S.
  • Invoking the concerns of the Founding Fathers about foreign interference in U.S. elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she was authorizing the House Judiciary Committee to draw up impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, possibly paving the way for a full House vote on impeachment by Christmas. 'In America, no one is above the law,' the Speaker said in a statement to reporters outside her office in the U.S. Capitol. A day after a closed door meeting with fellow Democrats, the Speaker said Congress could not close its eyes to the evidence gathered so far about the President's actions related to Ukraine. 'The facts are uncontested. The President abused his power for his own personal political benefit,' Pelosi said, as Democrats charge Mr. Trump withheld military aid for Ukraine in an effort to force the government to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had hacked Democrats in the 2016 campaign. At the White House, the reaction was one of condemnation. 'They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country,' President Trump tweeted about Democrats shortly before the Speaker's announcement.  'But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,' Mr. Trump added. The White House Press Secretary echoed the President's sentiments on Twitter. Democrats quickly showed their support for the Speaker's decision. “The president abused his power,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL).  “The president jeopardized our national security.    The president on multiple occasions obstructed justice.” While Pelosi did not set out a timeline for action, top Democrats have talked about action in the next week by the House Judiciary Committee, followed by a vote in the full House later this month. 21 years ago, Republicans faced a similar time crunch before the holidays, and ended up voting to impeach President Clinton on the Saturday before Christmas. It could be this Congress is heading for an impeachment vote holiday repeat.
  • As the focus of work in Congress on the impeachment of President Donald Trump shifted to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a panel of constitutional experts became the proxies for both parties in this impeachment fight, with the two sides using the testimony to buttress their points for and against the impeachment effort. 'President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors,' said Harvard law professor Noah Feldman. 'If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account,' said Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan. 'If what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,' added University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt. While Democrats focused their questions on their three witnesses, Republicans gravitated to their sole invitee, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. 'If you rush this impeachment, you're going to leave half the country behind,' Turley warned, comparing the Trump impeachment to that of President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War. 'This is the narrowest impeachment in history,' Turley added, urging Democrats to take extra time to bolster the investigative record related to President Trump. At one point, Turley questions about possible impeachment charges centering on abuse of power by President Trump on Democrats. 'It is an abuse power,' Turley said. 'It's your abuse of power.' While Turley said he was no supporter of President Trump, his testimony against impeachment drew interest - because he had testified 21 years ago for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. 'In my view, President Clinton's conduct demands an open and deliberative review under the conditions created for that purpose by the Framers,' Turley testified in November of 1998. 'Allegations of criminal acts in office by a president are perhaps the greatest threat to the perceived legitimacy of government,' Turley told the same House Judiciary Committee twenty one years ago before the Clinton impeachment. In the hearing, GOP lawmakers belittled today's proceedings. 'What a waste,' said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). 'This is not an impeachment, this is a simple railroad job,' argued Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). At the start of the hearing, Republicans forced a series of procedural votes which slowed proceedings, as they demanded testimony from the original Intelligence Community whistleblower who raised questions about the President's actions regarding Ukraine, and demanded the right to question Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the head of the House Intelligence Committee. With Christmas just three weeks away, it was not immediately clear when the Judiciary Committee would move to draw up actual articles of impeachment against the President, or when those votes would take place. 'What are we doing for the next two weeks?' asked Rep. Collins with an aggravated tone. 'I have no idea!' It was a similar situation in December of 1998, when there was talk from GOP leaders - exactly 21 years ago - of not voting on impeachment until the next year. Ultimately, the House Judiciary Committee, and the House, worked through two weekends, holding an impeachment vote in the full House on the Saturday before Christmas.
  • Phone records obtained by the House Intelligence Committee and made public in a new impeachment report from Democrats show President Donald Trump's personal lawyer speaking to the White House and figures in the Ukraine investigation at key times in 2019, and also reveal contacts between Giuliani a mystery phone number labeled only as '-1' in call records. 'Certainly the phone records show there was considerable coordination among the parties, including the White House,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff did not reveal how the call records were obtained, though the legal 'Bates' identifiers used in the report might indicate Giuliani's cell phone records were obtained with a subpoena. It was not immediately clear who the '-1' calls were with - but the New York Times reported that a similar number was found in cell phone records introduced as evidence in the trial of Roger Stone. 'We can't confirm yet who that '-1' number belongs to, but certainly there were indications in the trial of Roger Stone that when he was communicating with the President it would show up in phone records as a 'dash-one' number,' Schiff told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview Tuesday evening. The new report from Democrats also had phone records from Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who helped Giuliani along with Igor Fruman in Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman were arrested in early October and charged with illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. elections. The phone records contained in the new impeachment report also showed Giuliani contacts with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as phone calls between Nunes and Parnas. 'Devin Nunes, you should have recused yourself at the outset' of the impeachment hearings,' tweeted Joseph Bondy, the lawyer for Parnas, who was arrested as he and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were leaving the country on a flight to Austria. While Nunes refused comment to reporters, he told Sean Hannity on Fox News that he didn't really remember calls with Parnas, saying it was 'possible' they had spoken. Ironically, the revelation of the Nunes-Parnas phone calls came as Nunes filed a $435 million defamation lawsuit against CNN, in which he said, 'Parnas was a renowned liar, a fraudster, a hustler, an opportunist with delusions of grandeur.
  • With two months until the Iowa Caucuses, the Democratic race for President continued to shrink in size, as Sen. Kamala Harris of California gave up her bid for the White House, unable to hang on to momentum from the first two debates earlier this year, as she slid from the top tier to struggling to raise enough money to stay in the race. “To my supporters, it is with deep regret - but also with deep gratitude - that I am suspending my campaign today,” Harris said in a statement. Early on, Harris attracted a lot of attention in the first two Democratic debates, as she zeroed in on the early favorite, former Vice President Joe Biden, focusing on how Biden dealt with racial issues during his years in the U.S. Senate. “I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said, as she launched a well planned attack against Biden which provided her with an early boost. But she could never sustain that momentum. “I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Harris wrote in an email to supporters, announcing her decision. “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Harris said. “I don't know anyone who thought Harris would be dropping out & Biden would be at 50% with black voters in December, after that debate moment in late June... but here we are,” tweeted political analyst Harry Enten. Harris kept up her jabs at Biden in the second debate - and saw her poll numbers bubble up soon after - but that support faded away over the past four months. Recent national polls had Harris under 5 percent.  She had dropped to the same levels in Iowa, and was even lower in New Hampshire. The poll slide came as fundraising suffered as well. The decision by Harris comes just over two weeks before the next Democratic debate on December 19 in Los Angeles - which will be in her home state of California. At this point, these are the Democrats who will be on stage for the December debate: Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer, and Warren.

Local News

  • Tuesday temperatures will have a decidedly un-December feel, with highs for Athens and northeast Georgia in the low to mid 70s, but forecasters say the Wednesday weather will be much cooler, with the mercury struggling to climb out of the low 50s. There is the chance of near-freezing temperatures by Thursday morning.  From WSB TV… A cold front is moving through north Georgia, bringing isolated rain showers.  Throughout the morning and early afternoon, rain chances increase for metro Atlanta.  Expect falling afternoon temperatures.   There's an opportunity for a wintry mix in the north Georgia mountains Tuesday night.
  • A scholarship at Athens Technical College will be named in honor of Phil Bettendorf: the long-time Athens banking executive who has served as chairman of the Athens Tech Foundation. From the Athens Tech website… The Athens Tech Foundation has honored the service of Phil Bettendorf by naming a new scholarship in his honor. The Phil Bettendorf Business and Education Scholarship will provide financial assistance to students within the Business and Education Division at Athens Technical College. The scholarship will support students in the following programs of study: Accounting, Applied Technical Management, Business Management, Business Technology, Computer Support Specialist, Consumer Economics, Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Care and Education, Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Management, Interior Design, Marketing Management, Networking Specialist, Paralegal Studies, and Social Work Assistant. Over his tenure as Foundation Chairman, the Athens Tech Foundation (ATF) has grown to have over $40,000 available for scholarships each semester. Dr. Andrea Daniel, President of Athens Technical College, stated 'Phil Bettendorf has served in an exceptional manner as the Chair of the Athens Tech Foundation Board. I greatly appreciate the exemplary leadership that Chairperson Bettendorf has provided to support the students and mission of workforce development at Athens Technical College.' Phil Bettendorf joined Synovus in 1994 after a decade in the banking industry. Over the years his responsibilities have included branch operations, business banking, retail banking, strategic planning and facilities management. Phil is a twice named Synovus Chairman’s Award recipient; in 2016 he was named the William B. Turner Humanitarian of the Year and in 2019 was the recipient of the James H. Blanchard Leadership Award. These awards are presented to one individual across the Synovus-wide footprint.
  • Athens-Clarke County Transit is looking for donations of canned and non-perishable foods: the Stuff-a-Bus campaign that began earlier this week continues through Friday, with a Transit bus making stops at various locations around Athens, today at the Library on Baxter Street. Donated food goes to the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank.    From the ACC Government website… Athens-Clarke County Transit is asking to help them ‘Stuff-a-Bus’ to end hunger in Athens this Holiday Season. Benefiting the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank, Athens-Clarke County Transit will host their annual 'Stuff-a-Bus' event during December 9-13. A bus, decked-out for the holidays, will be staged all day at several different locations during the week for people to donate non-perishable food items and help give Athens area families a holiday to remember. Stuff-a-Bus Locations - 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday, December 9: Bells Grocery, 995 Hawthorne Ave. Tuesday, December 10: Athens-Clarke County Library, 2025 Baxter St. Wednesday, December 11: Athens-Clarke County Library, 2025 Baxter St. Thursday, December 12: Classic Center, 300 N. Thomas St. Friday, December 13: Walmart Supercenter, 4375 Lexington Rd. Most needed items: pork and beans canned tomatoes spaghetti sauces canned salmon canned pasta For more information, contact Rachel Hopkins, Athens-Clarke County Transit Marketing Coordinator, at 762-400-6892 or rachel.hopkins@accgov.com
  • A Winder woman gets a 20-year prison sentence, with five of those years to be served behind bars: Amber Lisy was convicted on an assault charge in Madison County.  Police in Gainesville are searching for suspects in the shooting that put a 20 year-old man in the hospital: police say the victim was shot in the back and taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. The shooting happened while the man was in the back seat of a car in the Newtown section of Gainesville. He was, at last report, hospitalized in stable condition.  Police in Flowery Branch arrest a Gainesville man on indecent exposure charges: David Garcia is also accused of inappropriately touching a woman in a parking lot.  A second suspect linked to the summer shooting of a teenager who was shot and killed in Gwinnett County has been indicted by a grand jury in Lawrenceville: there are murder, assault, and robbery charges for 21 year-old Denzel Wilburn. Wilburn and 20 year-old Savion Dillard are charged in the July 1 shooting death of 15 year-old Branden Gerena, who was killed outside a convenience store in Buford.  Four teenagers arrested by Atlanta police on jaywalking charges are now linked to a string of automobile break-ins: they were arrested while darting in and out of traffic in Buckhead. 
  • Valentine Nzengung, a professor of environmental geochemistry in the Department of Geology in the University of Georgia’s Franklin College, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Nzengung becomes eighth UGA faculty member to receive the honor, all of them since 2013. From Michael Terrazas, UGA Today…  Nzengung is the founder and CEO of MuniRem Environmental, which provides remediation products and services for soils and physical sites that have been contaminated by residues from munitions and also for the neutralization and destruction of explosives in support of demilitarization. He has developed multiple sustainable remediation technologies that MuniRem employs in its services. In October 2019, Georgia Trend magazine picked MuniRem as “a trendsetter and planet protector.” The NAI Fellows program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 41,500 issued U.S. patents, which the organization says have generated more than 11,000 licensed technologies and companies and created more than 36 million jobs. According to NAI, $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries. “This is a humbling endorsement of the applied research I have focused on as a faculty member at the University of Georgia,” Nzengung said. “I never thought of the solutions to environmental problems that I have developed as deserving of this very high level of recognition. My focus has been and remains developing and applying innovative solutions that benefit human health and our environment.” The 2019 Fellow class represents 136 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes worldwide and collectively hold over 3,500 issued U.S. patents. Among the 2019 Fellows are six recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology & Innovation or U.S. National Medal of Science and four Nobel Laureates, as well as other honors and distinctions. Their collective body of research covers a range of scientific disciplines including neurobehavioral sciences, horticulture, photonics and nanomedicine. “Valentine’s selection as an NAI Fellow is a testament both to his ingenuity and dedication as a scientist and to UGA’s commitment to innovation that benefits the broader world,” said David Lee, vice president for research. “I congratulate him on this honor, and my hope is that he and our other NAI Fellows serve as inspirations to their fellow investigators at UGA.” “My election happened in part because of the enabling environment created by UGA’s administration to foster innovation and academic inventions by its students and faculty,” Nzengung said. “The years ahead at UGA look even more promising for faculty and students engaged in applied research.” The new NAI Fellows will be formally inducted at a ceremony during the NAI annual meeting, to be held April 10, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona. Laura Peter, deputy undersecretary of commerce and deputy director at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will keynote the event.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia freshman linebacker Nakobe Dean isn't shy about hitting ball carriers, and he's coming out of his shell as a vocal leader, too. Dean, who most often played on third downs at inside linebacker and finished with 23 tackles and 2 pass break-ups this season, explained one key way he's evolved this season. 'I came in as more of a quiet guy, so I just wanted to feel my way through things,' Dean said following Saturday night's SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 'But as time went by and the season went on, I started to talk more, build my leadership role,' said Dean, a 2019 recruit from Horn Lake, Miss., who was rated a 5-star prospect. 'I do plan on in the future being more of a vocal leader, and also leading by example.' Dean would have been in much better position to do just that if not for the high ankle sprain he suffered early in fall camp. Much had been expected from the 5-foot-10, 220-pound early enrollee after his impressive performance in spring drills. Dean had five tackles and a pass break-up in the G-Day Game, getting snaps with the first-team defense against QB Jake Fromm and the first-team offense back in April. RELATED: Nakobe Dean stands out in G-Day Game Dean did what he could to play through it, learning another valuable lesson along the way. 'It messed with me more so mentally, than physically,' Dean said. 'I had to get my mind right and learn to sit out, but still learn without actually being out there. That was one thing that hindered me.' Physically, Dean said he didn't feel 100 percent until 'Week 5 or Week 6.' Georgia coach Kirby Smart has been high on Dean from the start, so it's a good bet the freshman will get plenty of reps during Georgia's Allstate Sugar Bowl practice, which begins next week. The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 7 Baylor (11-2) at 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. The Bears are looking to become the winningest team in Baylor football history. Dean said he can't speak for what happened last year, when Georgia showed up somewhat divided and uninspired for the Sugar Bowl, falling 28-21 to Texas. 'I didn't practice with the team last year, but I know this team is going to go attack practice the way we always do, 100 percent,' Dean said. 'I feel like we have to continue practice the way do. Don't slack off. Go try to attack the teams the way we always do, and we'll be good.' Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean DawgNation Georgia football League-leading UGA defense shut out on first-team All-SEC Zamir White keeps working hard 3 critical factors with Sam Pittman leaving Georgia staff Georgia favored over Baylor in Sugar Bowl clash Arkansas announces Sam Pittman as next head coach Kirby Smart calm at center of Georgia whirlwind D'Andre Swift discusses limits and pain in SEC Championship The post WATCH: Georgia freshman MLB Nakobe Dean ready to be seen and heard appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football finished the regular season leading the SEC in each of the four major defensive statistical categories, but the Bulldogs failed to have a player named to the Associated Press First-Team defense. Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and kicker Rodrigo Blankenship are the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs only first-team All-SEC picks. Georgia's second-team picks were tailback D'Andre Swift, offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, center Trey Hill, and on defense, linebacker Monty Rice and cornerback Eric Stokes. Alabama and Auburn each had three first-team All-SEC defensive picks, and Missouri had two. Safety J.R. Reed, one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award and one of five finalists for the Nagurski Award, did not make first or second team All-SEC as selected by the Associated Press. The Bulldogs completed a rare grand slam of leading the league in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense playing a regular-season scheduled that included wins over three Top 15 teams. E ven after the 37-10 loss to LSU, the Georgia defense ranks: No. 1 in the SEC in scoring defense and No. 2 in the nation. No. 1 in the SEC in total defense and No. 4 in the nation. No. 1 in the SEC in rushing defense and No. 3 in the nation. No. 5 in the SEC in pass efficiency defense and No. 15 in the nation. Coach Kirby Smart was asked at the SEC Championship Game press conference about the 'No-Name' nature his defense seemed to have this season, with many overlooking individual talents. ' We play a lot of guys, so it's easy to kind of label it a no-name type defense,' Smart said. 'I think they play so well together, they play so hard, they buy into the game plan, and they're unselfish. 'There's not that dominant personality or dominant player, but there's a lot of good football players that buy into it.' DawgNation Georgia football Zamir White keeps working hard 3 critical factors with Sam Pittman leaving Georgia staff Georgia favored over Baylor in Sugar Bowl clash Arkansas announces Sam Pittman as next head coach Kirby Smart calm at center of Georgia whirlwind D'Andre Swift discusses limits and pain in SEC Championship Jake Fromm makes no excuses after defeat in SEC Championship Game WATCH: Kirby Smart sheds light on LSU, Jake Fromm passing issues Bulldogs stock report, LSU crashes Mercedes-Benz Stadium The post League-leading Georgia defense gets shut out on AP All-SEC First-Team list appeared first on DawgNation.
  • It was bound to happen with Sam Pittman. He is just too good at his job and had always planned to retire in Arkansas one day. That timetable went fast with the strong pull from Arkansas. Pittman has taken the head coaching job at Arkansas in a most uncommon move from position coach to head coach. He makes the move with zero experience as an offensive coordinator or a head coach for that matter. At least outside of the high school or junior college ranks. But he's the sort that can get it done. Pittman will be able to assemble an excellent staff and make SEC Media Days far more interesting going forward. Sam can recruit. Players love him. He will bring an unmistakable attitude to Arkansas football. He knows the landscape & will ha able to put a solid staff together. Big fan of this move. Congrats @CoachSamPittman https://t.co/gTfQWCP81g Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) December 9, 2019 The big DawgNation questions abound now. Can Georgia keep what was shaping up to be a historic offensive line class together? That doesn't seem likely. Especially given how some of them were so closely tied to Pittman and that long sustained relationship was the reason why they chose Georgia over other elite programs. Pittman also built his classes early. He had his work done months in advance. So that means the Bulldogs haven't had a lot of groundwork with backup plans. The thinking here is the next hire will likely need to have strong relationships built with their own targets to be able to replace any departures with what was set to be the highest-rated overall OL signing class in program history. Let's look at the current Georgia o-line class as a whole and try to anticipate where things stand. We'll assess each of the five commitments with the latest 247Sports Composite rankings. Georgia is now coming up on nine days prior to the first day of the early signing period. The biggest remaining weekend for official and unofficial visitors will be this weekend. 5-star OT Broderick Jones/Lithonia High/Lithonia, Ga. Height/Weight: 6-6/315 Saturday position fit: Left tackle National rankings: Nation's No. 2 OT prospect and No. 19 overall/ Spot in the class: Rankings place him No. 2 out of Georgia's 15 public commitments. Committed since: April 26, 2018 (At least. Was a silent pledge for at least a month prior.) Ties to Pittman factoring in the overall strength of commitment to UGA: Very strong ties here. This should be seen as a decision that now impacts him greatly. He chose Georgia over interest in these programs: Auburn, Illinois, South Carolina and Miami. Early enrollee: No. A thing or two to know here: Jones wasn't planning on signing during the early period. But his fondness for Pittman might have eventually swayed him early. Look for him to now go on all his official visits to several schools like Auburn, Miami and South Carolina, among others. The Bulldogs do have a chance to get back in here with a strong replacement hire. The proximity of Georgia and the scope of the program are major draws here. There's really just an unknown here. He's going to likely hit the reset button on everything now. 4-star OT Tate Ratledge/Darlington School/Rome, Ga. Height/Weight: 6-6/325 Saturday position fit: Right tackle National rankings: Nation's No. 3 OT prospect and No. 36 overall Spot in the class: Rankings place him No. 3 out of Georgia's 15 public commitments. Committed since: May 13, 2019 Ties to Pittman factoring in the overall strength of commitment to UGA: Very strong ties here to both Pittman and his overall feeling of a great all-around fit at Georgia. Ratledge has a sense of investment in the program by now. He was at every home game he could attend and was one of the behind-the-scenes leaders of the group. The well-respected prospect is close to a good group of the current class. He chose Georgia over interest in these programs: Tennessee and Alabama. Early enrollee: No. A thing or two to know here: Ratledge planned to sign during the early period but not graduate early. He grew up a Tennesse plan but the overall scope of Georgia and the relationship with Pittman was the major factor. He did realize that coaches do come and go even one as uncommonly popular and genuine as Pittman. If the right replacement hire is made, he seems like one of the more likely commits to remain in the Georgia class. He's grown close to QB commitment Carson Beck and RB pledge Kendall Milton. DawgNation has learned that the Pittman news does not affect the strength of their respective commitments to UGA. I will not be answering questions on my current situation. This will stay between me and my family for now. Thank you Tate Ratledge (@tateratledge22) December 9, 2019 4-star Sedrick Van Pran-Granger/Warren Easton/New Orleans, La. Height/Weight: 6-4/305 Saturday position fit: Center National rankings: Nation's No. 3 C prospect and No. 103 overall Spot in the class: Rankings place him No. 7 out of Georgia's 15 public commitments. Committed since: Aug. 7, 2019. Ties to Pittman factoring in the overall strength of his commitment to UGA: Very strong ties here to both Pittman and UGA. But he also liked the location in Georgia as he has already has a lot of family in Georgia or planning to move there. The future graphic design major did love the idea of playing for Pittman, though. He chose Georgia over interest in these programs: Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Early enrollee: No. A thing or two to know here: Van Pran was not expected to sign during the early period. He has always placed the focus on his Warren Easton state championship run ahead of any official visits during his senior season Van Pran-Grainger will now likely take the official visits he told Sam Spiegelman of Rivals.com he was planning on taking anyway. Look for him to give Georgia a new look and it might still work out. But this will be one of the toughest commitments to retain in this class. 4-star Chad Lindberg/Clear Creek High /League City, Tex. Height/Weight: 6-6/320 Saturday position fit: Guard or tackle National rankings: Nation's No. 17 OT and No. 169 overall Spot in the class: Rankings place him No. 9 out of Georgia's 15 public commitments. Committed since: July 28, 2019. Ties to Pittman factoring in the overall strength of his commitment to UGA: Very strong ties here. Pittman was essentially the difference. The distance away from his Texas roots wasn't going to be the easiest move, but the Pittman move now makes Oklahoma and Texas major factors. He chose Georgia over interest in these programs: LSU, Texas, Texas A&M and USC. Early enrollee: No. A thing or two to know here: Incredible academic profile with his AP classes and weighted approximate 5.43 Texas-sized GPA. He will enroll in college as a sophomore with those AP credits and was going to be able to get a master's degree in four years. Arkansas could become a factor here with Pittman and the location fit. .. Could play either guard or tackle in college like Cade Mays has for Georgia. Lots of untapped potential here with this young man. A college weight program will retool his body and added another level to his on-field play. He had already taken all five of his officials. This will also one of the toughest commitments to retain in this current class. Josh Braun/Suwanne High /Live Oak, Fla. Height/Weight: 6-6/335 Saturday position fit: Guard or tackle National rankings: Nation's No. 22 T and No. 285 overall His spot in the class: Rankings place him No. 13 out of Georgia's 15 public commitments. Committed since: June 10, 2019. Ties to Pittman factoring in the overall strength of his commitment to UGA: Pittman was the ace in the hole on a well-researched recruiting march. That said,Georgia fit Braun on many tiers. He wanted to play for a championship-level program but do so at a strong academic institution with an elite strength and conditioning program. Those are all still there at UGA. He chose Georgia over interest in these programs: Florida and South Carolina. Early enrollee: Yes A thing or two to know: There's some faith Georgia can retain Braun, but the timing works against him because he planned to sign during the early period and enroll in January. His two older brothers started for many seasons at Georgia Tech and Texas so his family knows how coaches come and go. Don't let the rankings fool you. DawgNation projects Braun to be as likely to play well in the SEC as any O-line prospect in this class. He's wired for success with his mean streak, size, athleticism and military family background. He politely declined to comment about the move other than to wish Pittman well. .. His decision will be a big piece of keeping the line class together at UGA. Josh Braun on the Pittman move: 'It's a tough process but I am thrilled for coach Pittman and I hope he is successful at Arkansas.' Georgia football: 3 things with the Sam Pittman decision The hasty and reckless thing to do here would be to offer up a prediction. That's because so much will hinge on assurances from Kirby Smart with these young men this week and also a quick replacement with a strong background. The only statement with accuracy to be made here is that this O-line class might stay together if the current other commits keep them in the fold because of the relationships they have already established about looking forward to playing together. That's one way. The other would be if a strong voice in this class like Ratledge or Braun decides they still want to be Bulldogs and this class as a unit still comes in together because they want to be special. Even not playing for Pittman. It will be hard for all of them to find another group of young men with so much potential this late in the game. The boards at other elite programs could only shift slightly at this point to take advantage of this opening with Georgia's line class. With that, there are three other thoughts on the matter. Georgia will hunker down to keep all of this together:The first element to try and keep all of this together would be finding the new O-line coach. The right O-line coach. How quickly does that happen? Especially with the early signing period AND the only major official visit weekend left before that time comes up this weekend. Would make a lot of sense to have the new OL coach in place by then. The confidence point here for DawgNation is that this is recruiting time. That is the one time of the year where Kirby Smart and this staff has done nothing but come up aces in that department. Bet on that to be well-executed. The retention of the draft-eligible players on the current roster:Seems logical to consider that Pittman moving on is a pause button for those Bulldogs who were thinking about going pro or not going pro. This forces them to really look at both sides of this. Maybe even when they thought they had it all figured out.Don't think Thomas and Wilson are in play here. But what about a Ben Cleveland or a Solomon Kindley? Coming back to play for Pittman would have been a consideration. He's close with all of his guys. But coming back to play for a new O-line coach with the thoughts of an NFL future looming? Hmm. It makes the pull to the Sunday league even stronger now. Georgia's offensive identity: If there was ever a time to do something differently with the UGA offense, then this would be the time to look at this month and this week as a crossroads. It was already the time to do it after the LSU loss. Why? That's because the way those last two seasons ended with Alabama. The closure to the 2019 season wasn't like those near-misses with the Tide. Georgia wasn't one player away (Sony Michel or D'Andre Walker injury) or a 2nd-and-26 from being right there as a national championship-level team. It can be a time to look at the Georgia Way in the mirror and see if the offensive identity really needed to consider the changes Nick Saban made after those early decade losses to Auburn's Gus Malzahn. The same thing with Ed Oregon and the rejuvenation of the LSU program. And then there's this new sudden change with Pittman leading the offensive line room. Jim Chaney and Pittman were tied together. Not James Coley and Pittman. It might be a moment of opportunity for a program that was going to have to take a hard look at whether some LSU or Alabama changes need to be made to the way Georgia plans to put points on the board going forward. The post Georgia football: What does the O-line recruiting picture look like now without Sam Pittman? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia coach Kirby Smart is doing his best juggling act with players and coaches coming and going at the most fluid time of the football season. Smart, in four seasons, has built a strong foundation in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall that figures to be tested each season the Bulldogs have success. The price for this season's Top 5 campaign was the loss of offensive line coach Sam Pittman, who built arguably the best offensive line in the nation at Georgia and now heads to Arkansas as a head coach. Smart took his time to replace Mel Tucker when the former defensive coordinator left after the SEC Championship Game last year to become the head coach at Colorado, but he may not have that luxury with his next offensive hire. Particularly if he has any visions of landing another high-profile offensive mind for his staff. Here are three issues that arise out of Pittman leaving he Georgia staff 1. Offensive crossroads Smart oversees the defense and provides a steadying force, Dan Landing a star understudy who himself will likely soon become a head coach. But offense is different, and Smart is at a crossroads of sorts as he considers his next move. Doe Smart make a 'big-name' hire that he could pair with James Coley, and turn the offensive meeting room over to a million dollar assistant? Or does Smart look to maintain control of the framework, and find someone like-minded that will maintain the identity that put Georgia on the doorstep of the 2017 national championship and produced three straight SEC Championship Game appearances? 2. O-Line player attrition We're talking returning players, and we're talking recruiting, because Pittman is a beloved figure who the Georgia offensive lineman rally around. UGA has long known junior Andrew Thomas was leaving for the NFL, as he's a projected Top 10 pick. But for other players who might be on the fence despite appreciably lower draft stock Pittman's departure could play a role. Particularly when they are uncertain of who will be coaching them next season. Juniors Solomon Kindley, Isaiah Wilson and Ben Cleveland would all seem to be in position to benefit from another season at Georgia, but none have committed to returning, or leaving, at this point. Georgia's current crop of commits includes five offensive linemen 33 percent of the class including three who had planned to sign early. 3. Buy-in Smart has had unquestionable buy-in from his players the past two seasons, but with each staff change the chemistry changes. Smart's presence and Lanning's energy has maintained the buy-in on defense. Coley's promotion to replace Jim Chaney was plenty popular with the offensive players, but the disappointing results the second half of the season in conjunction with Pittman's departure threatens the confidence on that side of the football. Pittman, whether he proves to be a successful head coach or not, was a warm and unifying figure in the offensive meeting room. DawgNation Georgia football Zamir White keeps working hard Georgia favored over Baylor in Sugar Bowl clash Arkansas announces Sam Pittman as next head coach Kirby Smart calm at center of Georgia whirlwind D'Andre Swift discusses limits and pain in SEC Championship Jake Fromm makes no excuses after defeat in SEC Championship Game WATCH: Kirby Smart sheds light on LSU, Jake Fromm passing issues Bulldogs stock report, LSU crashes Mercedes-Benz Stadium The post 3 critical Georgia football factors involving Sam Pittman's departure appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia tailback Zamir White just keeps moving the pile on and off the field. White returned to action this season after suffering torn ACL ligaments in his right knee (high school, Nov. 2017) and left knee (UGA fall camp, Aug. 2018). Bulldogs fans, appreciative of the inspiring comeback from injury, have greeted White with cheers of 'ZOOOOOOOOOOOS!' each time he takes the field. Which Georgia running back are you most eager to see carry the ball at Vanderbilt? Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) August 30, 2019 'Georgia fans are great fans, they are huge,' White said after the SEC Championship Game on Saturday night, having turned in a 5-carry performance. 'They supported me through it all.' RELATED: Zamir White explosive in long-awaited return The powerful 6-foot, 215-pound White charged toward the line of scrimmage with the football 60 times for 316 yards this season, scoring touchdowns against Murray State and Arkansas State. White's bulldozing style had its place, though he was quick to admit he's still getting his feel back for running the football. UGA coach Kirby Smart was impressed with White's ability to accelerate through tackles and his improved pass blocking as the season progressed. Still, there was only one game where White exceeded 8 carries. It came in October, when the former Scotland County (N.C.) prep star had a 12-carry, 44-yard performance against South Carolina with Brian Herrien sidelined by back spasms. 'I've just got to be more patient with my runs,' said White, whose style was distinctively North-South with 100 mph velocity hitting the hole. 'The game is moving so fast, you've got to think quick.' White figures to get a lot more work next season with Herrien being a senior and 1,000-yard rusher D'Andre Swift expected to declare for the NFL draft. White said he's up to it, feeling good physically and working hard to keep it that way. ' I get treatment morning, noon, night, always, so my knees are feeling great,' White said. 'I just worked and did what I did to get back, because all I know is hard work and just grinding.' White should get plenty of repetitions and carries during bowl practice and against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. Georgia football RB Zamir White DawgNation Georgia football Georgia favored over Baylor in Sugar Bowl clash Arkansas announces Sam Pittman as next head coach Kirby Smart calm at center of Georgia whirlwind D'Andre Swift discusses limits and pain in SEC Championship Jake Fromm makes no excuses after defeat in SEC Championship Game What's next for Georgia football: Bowl bid, players leaving, staff changes WATCH: Kirby Smart sheds light on LSU, Jake Fromm passing issues Bulldogs stock report, LSU crashes Mercedes-Benz Stadium How LSU beat Georgia in SEC title game, scoring, injuries The post WATCH Georgia RB Zamir White: All I know is hard work and grinding' appeared first on DawgNation.