Category Archives: HEADLINES

UFOs spotted over Derby and Georgia

An American woman claims to have videotaped the crash-landing of an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO), as it appears to fall out of skies.

The video was shot on 21 August, when Margaret Pfeiffer was standing outside her house in Georgia, filming the effect of lightning strikes on property belonging to her and a neighbour.

Pfeiffer claims she was busy observing the lightning when she noticed something considerably brighter and heading towards the ground at a remarkable speed. She claims the object disappeared almost immediately behind some trees.

The video was posted on YouTube, with the following description:

“I captured this after the fire from across the street here. Say what you will, but this has no wings as a plane would have. Watch in full screen and keep pausing. There isn’t even a shadow for the wing area. I believe this is a drone or UFO!!”

IBTimes UK.

Advocate for rebels wields influence with Kerry, McCain

The woman whose opinion lawmakers are relying on to go to war in Syria is also a paid advocate for the war-torn country’s rebels.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged members of the House of Representatives to read a Wall Street Journal op-ed by 26-year-old Elizabeth O’Bagy — an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War — who asserted that concerns about extremists dominating among the Syrian rebels are unfounded.

“Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards,” O’Bagy wrote for the Journal on Aug. 30. “Moderate opposition groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces,” she wrote.

But in addition to her work for the Institute for the Study of War, O’Bagy is also the political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group that advocates within the United States for Syria’s rebels — a fact that the Journal did not disclose in O’Bagy’s piece.

The Daily Caller.

Former Atlanta schools chief charged in test cheating scandal has cancer

Beverly Hall, the former Atlanta schools superintendent accused of a participating in a large-scale conspiracy to cheat on standardized tests, has breast cancer, her lawyer said Thursday.

Hall is receiving treatment for the condition, lawyer Richard Deane said in an emailed statement. Hall will continue to fight the charges against her, Deane said.

A Fulton County grand jury in March indicted Beverly Hall and 34 of her former subordinates, accusing them of being involved in a broad conspiracy to cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistleblowers in an effort to bolster test scores and receive bonuses for improved student performance.

Former elementary school principal Willie Davenport, one of the educators who was indicted, has died at the age of 66, said Howard Grant, executive director of the Atlanta Board of Education. The cause and date of her death have not been released.

via Former Atlanta schools chief charged in test cheating scandal has cancer, lawyer says | jacksonville.com.

Woman accused of cooking, selling meth Inside Thomasville home

Several complaints from residents in Thomasville led Narcotic Agents to a house along Vernon Lane.

“We had information that she has been possibly cooking and selling methamphetamine,” said Agent Kevin Lee, the Thomasville/ Thomas County Narcotics Vice Commander.

Lee said when they approached the mobile home, they instantly smelled a chemical odor, commonly associated with the manufacturing of meth. Amanda Block, 26, answered the door.

“She appeared to be very nervous,” Lee said. “We asked her if she had any drugs on her, at which time she finally admitted she had a quantity of meth in her pant’s pocket.”

Inside, investigators found meth along with ingredients used to cook the drug inside a walk in closet.

Block told investigators the drugs weren’t hers. She said they were left there by someone else.

“We don’t know whether someone had left it there for her, but we do know she had knowledge it was there and that’s why she was charged.”

Block now faces charges of manufacturing meth and possession of meth with intent to distribute.

She was taken to Thomas County Jail and was released on $7,600 bond.

via Woman Accused Of Cooking & Selling Meth Inside South Georgia Home.

Gregg Allman to perform Macon concert in December

Hometown music legend Gregg Allman is returning to Macon this year for a concert at the Grand Opera House.

Allman, an original member of the Allman Brothers Band, which recorded hits such as “Melissa,” “Ramblin’ Man” and “Midnight Rider,” has focused heavily on his solo career in recent years. His seventh solo album, “Low Country Blues,” was released in January 2011.

Source: Macon Telegraph

Freezer roof collapses at Savannah food bank over weekend

collapseThe large, walk-in freezer’s roof collapsed and no one was injured; workers tried to save as much frozen food as possible.

Workers Tuesday morning arrived at the 2501 E. President St. headquarters of America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia where they discovered the ceiling of the estimated 25,000 to 30,000 cubic foot freezer had fallen about eight feet and come to a rest atop dozens of pallets of food, said Mary Jane Crouch, the food bank’s executive director.

Source: Savannah Morning News

 

OPINION: Back to the gridiron of dreams

Football has not returned all at once this year in South Georgia. Some teams played earlier than others, but it’s back.

Football is back.

Winning is very much part of the region’s football lore. There are reasons why the term “most winningest” has been applied to area football teams.

There is a reason why the phrase “national champions” has been a regular part of the region’s football legacy. There is a reason Valdosta-Lowndes County is known as Winnersville and TitleTown USA.

Source: Valdosta Daily Times

ASPCA rescues 367 dogs from three-state dog fighting ring

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), at the request of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assisted in seizing 367 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia in what is believed to be the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history.

After a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police, 13 search warrants were executed Friday morning, Aug. 23, throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. Ten suspects were arrested and indicted on felony dog fighting charges. Federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs, as well as more than $500,000 in cash from dog fighting gambling activities that took place over the course of the investigation. Remains of dead animals were also discovered on some properties where dogs were housed and allegedly fought. If convicted, defendants could face up to five years in prison, as well as fines and restitution.

ASPCA and HSUS responders helped manage the removal and transport of the dogs to temporary emergency shelters in undisclosed locations. Responders are also providing veterinary care and behavior enrichment to the dogs, which are estimated to range in age from just several days to 10-12 years. The ASPCA and The HSUS also assisted authorities with collecting forensic evidence to be submitted for prosecution.

via Georgia Unfiltered | Telling the Truth.

Cities cut hours over Obamacare

Many cash-strapped cities and counties facing the prospect of shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars in new health-care costs under the Affordable Care Act are opting instead to reduce the number of hours their part-time employees work, reports The Washington Post.

The news follows word that Atlanta-based United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE:UPS) and other companies are cutting spouses from insurance roles.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. this week warned that Obamacare will cost the carrier $100 million in 2014.

Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Georgia most expensive state to operate an automobile

Georgia is the most expensive state to operate a motor vehicle and Oregon is the cheapest, according to a new Bankrate.com report. Bankrate factored in the costs of gasoline, insurance, repairs, taxes and fees. In Georgia, a typical driver spends $4,233 per year to operate his or her vehicle. That is almost double the cost in Oregon ($2,204). The national average is $3,201.

Georgians spend a lot of time in their cars thanks in part to Atlanta’s sprawling communities and a lack of public transportation. Those long commutes lead to above-average gasoline costs and insurance rates. And Georgia has the highest state automobile taxes and fees in the nation.

Oregonians benefit from the absence of a state sales tax as well as relatively low car insurance costs. Plus, the typical Beaver State resident drives 16% fewer miles than the national average.

For every state, Bankrate determined total car-ownership costs using median insurance premiums provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, average repair costs from CarMD.com and average automobile taxes and fees from Kelley Blue Book. Bankrate estimated average gasoline spending using average pump prices from GasBuddy.com.

via Georgia Unfiltered | Telling the Truth.

Forever 21 reducing work hours due to ObamaCare

Forever 21 Inc. is the latest national company to cut employee hours to counter the impact of ObamaCare.

Policymic.com reported Forever 21 will limit non-management workers’ hours to 29.5 a week, which is a hair below the 30-hour minimum ObamaCare considers full-time employment. The changes begin Aug. 31, according to the policymic.com story.

The Los Angeles-based clothing retailer has Forever 21 stores at Town Center at Cobb Mall in Kennesaw, Ga.; Stonecrest Mall in Lithonia; Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth; North Point Mall in Alpharetta; and Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta. It also has XXI stores at Cumberland Mall and Perimeter Mall in Atlanta.

As the debate rages over who benefits from the Affordable Care Act, one thing is clear – the program is a dream come true for rip-off artists, reports CNBC.

Buford, Ga.-based Theragenics Corp. (NYSE: THX) recently reported a $34,000 loss for the first quarter and announced plans close its vascular access manufacturing facility in Garland, Texas, to outsource production to independent suppliers in Latin America by the end of 2014. The company has been hurt by hurt by shrinking demand and higher taxes due to ObamaCare and will be acquired by Juniper Investment Co. LLC for $68 million.

via Forever 21 reducing work hours due to ObamaCare – Atlanta Business Chronicle.

NPR CEO Gary Knell announces he’s leaving for Nat Geo

After fewer than 21 months on the job, NPR CEO Gary Knell announced at mid-day Monday that he’s leaving the organization to become president and CEO at the National Geographic Society.

In a message to a surprised staff, Knell said he was “approached by the organization recently and offered an opportunity that, after discussions with my family, I could not turn down.” Click here to jump down to full statement.

Knell came to NPR from Sesame Workshop in December 2011, in the wake of considerable upheaval. Vivian Schiller resigned as CEO and president earlier that year, after two high-profile controversies the mishandled firing of NPR analyst Juan Williams and the slamming of conservatives by an NPR fundraising executive. NPR’s board of directors concluded that she could no longer effectively lead the organization.

One Knell arrived on the scene, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik says, the turmoil seemed to ease as the sense grew that NPR was being “led by grownups who were working constructively in a shared direction” even as the organization continued to face significant budget pressures.

Now, with Knell’s looming departure, an astonished staff hasn’t any idea about who who his replacement will be.

 

Woman killed as boat collides with Ogeechee train trestle

Authorities say a 25-year-old woman died Sunday after a boating accident on the Ogeechee River in the Savannah area.

The Savannah Morning News reports (http://bit.ly/18FkmBG) that police and paramedics responded to King’s Ferry boat ramp off U.S. 17 at about 5:23 p.m. Sunday.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Capt. Doug Lewis said Shana Crozier of Savannah was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lewis said investigators were told that a boat went under a train trestle east of the ramp in the Ogeechee River in Chatham County when Crozier hit the trestle. Authorities say Crozier stood up in the boat.

There were other occupants in the boat, which Lewis said was about 18 feet long.

 

OPINION | The Water Wars: Deal right to fight if necessary

Welcome back to “the water wars.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared on Tuesday that he will file suit against Georgia for its “unchecked and growing consumption of water, which is threatening the economic future of Apalachicola.”

Conflicts over water have been a sad staple of Georgia’s relations with neighboring Florida and Alabama for more than two decades.

“This is our only way forward after 20 years of failed negotiations with Georgia,” Scott said. “We must fight for the people of this region. The economic future of Apalachicola Bay and northwest Florida is at stake.”

Scott’s announcement came one day after the federal government declared that Florida’s oyster-harvesting region is a disaster area due to higher salinity caused by low water levels. The high salinity has increased disease and predator intrusion into the bay. He said his lawsuit would seek injunctive relief against Georgia’s “unmitigated and unsustainable upstream consumption of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint River Basins.

The Apalachicola Bay is the mouth of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basins, which drain much of Georgia. As most readers know, the Chattahoochee is the main source of water for the metro Atlanta area.

Talks between Georgia and Florida had been making progress until about a year ago, when Florida failed to respond to a proposed “framework” for water use offered by Georgia, according to Gov. Nathan Deal. That framework reportedly involved heightened conservation efforts on our part, among other things.

Scott didn’t sound this week like he’s in a mood for further talks.

“That’s our water,” he told reporters during a press conference while standing next to the Apalachicola Bay.

But not so fast, warned Deal.

“We’re talking about water that falls on Georgia’s soil and flows through the state of Georgia. There’s a reason for us to be protective. We will not roll over. If Florida wants to fight, we’ll fight,” Deal told the Atlanta newspaper. “We think we have plenty of ammunition and that we have shown good faith on our side and the efforts we have made to negotiate a settlement hopefully have been impressive to the court.”

Deal added that he hopes the governors of the states involved — not Congress and not the courts — will be the ones who hash out a final water-use deal.

“I’m always one of those that likes to avoid litigation,” he said.

We’re confident that Deal will stand his ground and protect Georgia’s interest. Florida’s governor can bluster all he likes about how the rain that falls on Georgia and fills its streams belongs to Florida; but that’s about as logical as Deal trying to argue that the waters of Apalachicola Bay — and its harvest of oysters — belong to Georgia.

via The Marietta Daily Journal

Georgia jobless rate up to 8.8 percent

The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 8.8 percent in July. The rate was three-tenths of a percentage point higher than the revised 8.5 percent in June, but three-tenths of a percentage point lower than 9.1 percent in July a year ago.

“The rate increased primarily because there was a significant number of new layoffs, and non-contract school employees remained unemployed because of the summer break,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “However, the vast majority of the layoffs were temporary, and the school employees are beginning to return to work.”

The number of new claims for unemployment insurance benefits rose 14,329 to 54,106 from 39,777 in June. For the past five years, the number of initial claims in July has risen by approximately 7,000. Approximately 11,000 of the new claims represented temporary layoffs, primarily in manufacturing and administrative and support services, while others were in trade and construction.

However, the number of initial claims was down by 2,434 from 56,540 in July 2012. Reductions were in manufacturing, retail trade, educational services, administrative and support services, construction and health care and social assistance.

There were 4,042,900 jobs in July, down 1,500 from 4,044,400 in June. Government shed 17,300 jobs, but the loss was tempered by a gain of 15,800 jobs in the private sector.

“Georgia’s private sector employers have added jobs for six consecutive months,” Butler said. “And inside that private sector number, there’s more encouraging news. Construction grew more than 4,000 jobs, which is one of the largest over-the-month gains in construction we’ve seen in a very long time. Most of the construction growth is in the specialty trades, such as electricians and carpenters, which are in-demand occupations.”

In addition to a, increase of 4,100 jobs in construction, additional gains were in trade and transportation, 5,000; manufacturing, 2,400; leisure and hospitality, 1,800; education and health services, 1,500; professional and business services, 900; and information services, 600.

Georgia has gained 113,200 jobs, or 2.9%, since the 3,929,700 jobs in July 2012. The annual gains came in several sectors, including: professional and business services, 41,400; leisure and hospitality, 25,500; education and health services, 20,600; trade and transportation, 17,200; construction, 6,700; financial and information services, 2,700 each; and manufacturing, 1,500. Government lost 4,000 jobs.

The labor force, which is the number of people employed plus those unemployed but actively looking for work, declined by 3,182 to 4,813,710 in July, down from 4,816,892 in June. However, it was up by 9,439 from 4,804,271 in July 2012.

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined to 179,900, down by 1,300 from 181,200 in June.

Study: Electrified water kills pathogens in beef

University of Georgia researchers have used electrolyzed oxidizing water to sanitize poultry, kill funguses on nursery-grown plants and remove pathogens from produce. Now they’re using it to reduce shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) on beef.

For more than 10 years, UGA food scientist Yen-Con Hung has researched the use of electrolyzed oxidizing, or EO, water to make food safer and surfaces cleaner. EO water is created when a saltwater solution goes through an electrolysis process that separates the water’s positive and negative ions. This makes two forms of water: one very acidic and one very alkaline. The acidic EO water is used to sanitize surfaces and kill bacteria, and the alkaline EO water is used as a detergent.

Hung’s latest project uses EO water to inactivate levels of seven strains of STEC pathogens in beef processing. This year alone more than 55,000 pounds of beef products have been recalled due to the presence of STEC, he said.

To inactivate the pathogens, Hung and his colleagues applied both streams of EO water to beef hides during processing.

“If we can prevent the STEC from getting on the carcass, we can prevent it from getting in the ground beef,” said Hung, a professor in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “This uses both EO water forms; alkaline to clean the hide and acidic to kill the STEC on the surface.”

This project is part of a five-year, $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study ways to kill foodborne pathogens on beef before it arrives on supermarket shelves and in restaurant kitchens. The overall project focuses on six different processing technologies for the entire beef-value chain, from meat processing facilities to super markets. The goal is to determine which technology or combination of technologies is effective and feasible to adopt across the industry, he said.

The food industry currently uses a chlorine solution to kill bacteria. Acidic EO water can be up to 10 times more effective at killing harmful bacteria than traditional methods, Hung said. Hung’s EO water research results were published this year in Food Control and LWT Food Science and Technology Journal.

In 2009 the USDA Economic Research Service estimated the annual economic cost of illness caused by STEC O157 was $478 million. This estimate includes medical costs due to illness, kidney dialysis and transplant costs, the value of time lost from work due to nonfatal illness and the value of premature death, Hung said.

In a separate study, Hung is working with a major restaurant chain to test the use of EO water in individual restaurants. “We are testing the units and the water under a simulated food service condition to sanitize the fruits and vegetables the restaurant serves,” he said.

UGA food scientists and University of Tennessee researchers will soon begin a study on the use of EO as a possible bacteria-killing mouthwash. “We want to see if it can deactivate oral bacteria, and if it’s effective at cleaning the water lines at dental chairs,” Hung said.

EO water is far from new. It’s been used for more than 200 years to produce chlorine. For the past 20 years, small-scale EO water producing units have been available for commercial and home use.

“In the U.S. at least 10 carbonated-beverage bottling plants are using EO water to clean inside mixing tanks, pipes and tubing, so they don’t have to take equipment apart to clean it,” Hung said.

Some grocery store chains use EO water to keep fresh produce clean. “They use EO water to mist the produce and sanitize the areas used to cut fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.

Currently, Hung holds a patent on a method that makes EO water more stable. In addition, he is working on alkaline EO water as a drinking water for health promotion. Alkaline EO water typically loses its antioxidant capacity within an hour. Hung has developed a process that allows alkaline EO water to be bottled with its high antioxidant benefits remaining stable for more than six months.

“Alkaline EO water isn’t new,” Hung said. “Consumers in Japan, Asia, Europe and the U.S. have been drinking it for years. The ability to make it shelf stable is new.”

The cost of an in-home EO unit is becoming more affordable. Hung has seen home units for sale online for less than $300.

There is no taste difference between alkaline EO water and traditional bottled waters, he said. “That’s the beauty. It’s just like drinking water you are used to, but you get many additional benefits,” Hung said.

via Shockingly powerful water | Georgia FACES | UGA.

Bainbridge Manufacturing expected to spur job, economic growth

A new company is coming to south Georgia and is expected to bring about 250 jobs with it.

The city of Bainbridge bought an empty 180-thousand square foot facility for the new Bainbridge Manufacturing.

Decatur County officials say the empty parking lot at the end of the Decatur County Industrial Park will soon be buzzing with traffic.

“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve had a dry spell with the economy like it is. Any time you can make an announcement like this it does create a lot of excitement,” said Industrial Development Director Rick McCaskill.

The newly formed Georgia corporation Bainbridge Manufacturing recently agreed to call south Georgia home.

“What they will be doing is manufacturing air conditioning components for automobiles and for industrial air conditioners,” said McCaskill.

The city of Bainbridge agreed to front $1.7 million to buy the building from Traco.

But officials say it was a necessary investment.

“It’s a competitive market out there and we were certainly competing with other communities to get these jobs. So you’ve got to step up and what we have done is we have got them a place to operate,” said McCaskill.

And the newly formed company is not only projected to spur economic growth, but also job growth.

Which is good news for the former, current, and future students at Bainbridge State College.

“The college is uniquely positioned for just this type of opportunity because we do both transfer and technical training so it was real easy for us to jump in and respond by offering a trained work force,” said BSC President Dr. Richard Carvajal.

McCaskill says he has seen the manufacturing company’s plans for expansion.

And he says it is scary how big this thing can get.

Decatur County officials say Bainbridge Manufacturing is expected to be at least partly operational by the end of the year.

 

Clayton sheriff found not guilty In racketeering trial

Victor Hill
Victor Hill

Jurors on Thursday acquitted Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill of 27 felony charges including theft and giving false statements, clearing the way for him to resume his law enforcement career after a racketeering trial that had threatened to end it.

Testimony in the trial lasted four days, and Hill did not take the stand. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the jury deliberated for two hours on Wednesday and then all of Thursday before returning its verdict.

Hill was elected last year despite being under indictment on felony corruption charges. He wasn’t in office when he was indicted in February 2012, but the charges stem from his previous term as the county’s sheriff, from 2005 to 2008. The indictment accused Hill of using his office for personal gain.

Special Assistant District Attorney Layla Zon said during opening statements that Hill often put county-paid gas in his county car and drove it out of state for trips that he paid for in part by using a government credit card.

Two young women — one a former county employee and one who still worked for the sheriff’s office but who was on paid medical leave that Hill arranged — accompanied him on these trips, Zon said.

Hill also had another sheriff’s office employee come to his house to write his autobiography while the employee was being paid by the county, Zon said.

Defense attorney Steven Frey has said Hill was dejected after failing to win re-election in 2008 and took several vacations. He argued that Hill used the county vehicle in case he needed to quickly return quickly, and said gas for the car was cheaper than a plane ticket would have been. Frey argued no one asked if Hill accidentally charged a hotel room to the county card because they were too busy trying to indict him.

Hill’s attorneys have argued the charges were a politically motivated attack and his legal team hugged each other shortly after the verdict was read. His attorney, Drew Findling, said he was thrilled.

“Like we’ve said from the beginning, the people have taken this case from the ballot box to the jury box” Findling said.

If Hill had been convicted of any of the felony charges against him, he would have been removed from office since Georgia law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from holding the office of sheriff.

Even though he was acquitted, he could still face disciplinary action. The Peace Officer Standards and Training Council planned to complete its investigation into the allegations following the criminal trial, the group’s executive director, Ken Vance, said earlier this year. The council could decide on disciplinary action up to revocation of Hill’s peace officer certification, he said.

 

South Georgia woman accused of abusing disabled clients

A south Georgia woman has been arrested after a raid on a Thomasville home.

Earnistine Yates was arrested August 15 after a raid by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Thomasville Police Department, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Probation at the Break Through Independent Living Center located at 1116 Cassidy Road in Thomasville.

Yates is charged with abuse, neglect and exploitation of disabled persons, false imprisonment, and operating a personal care home without a license.

Investigators say the home is owned by the House of Joy Church located on East Walcott Street in Thomasville.

Thomasville Police began looking into the nursing care facility a month ago after a claim was made about a sexual assault. Investigators say they suspected abuse and neglect at the home and requested assistance from the GBI.

“The abuse and neglect we feel like was happening was that people were being locked in their rooms as well as being tied up with belts,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Steve Turner.

The case still remains under investigation.

via South Georgia woman accused of abusing disabled clients – Tallahassee News | ABC 27 WTXL: Local News.

Bert Lance, confidant of Jimmy Carter, dead at 82

Bert Lance, the former state highway director who helped Jimmy Carter climb to the presidency and then joined his White House administration, died Thursday evening. He was 82.

State Sen. Jason Carter, the former president’s grandson, confirmed that President Carter was notified of Lance’s death within the last few hours.

Below is the top of the excellent advance obituary that my former AJC partner, Tom Baxter, wrote before he retired:

Bert Lance, who coined the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” advised politicians from Zell Miller to Jesse Jackson, and was director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter, has died.

A self-described “country banker,” Lance became a protégé of Carter’s when the future president was a state senator, and encouraged Carter to seek the White House. Lance’s meteoric career in business and politics climaxed in the early months of the Carter presidency, when he was known as the “deputy president” because of his close relationship with his fellow Georgian.

The remainder of his life was spent under the cloud of a series of investigations that began with questions about the lending practices of his bank and ultimately forced his early departure from the OMB. He later claimed, on the basis of the 400,000 pages the Justice Department gathered about his banking practices, to be the most investigated person in the nation’s history.

 

State troopers, other officers idled over certification problems

Authorities say more than 10 percent of the sworn officers with the Georgia Department of Public Safety are off the job until administrative glitches involving their certification can be worked out.

State officials say 121 Georgia State Patrol troopers, Capitol Police, and motor division compliance officers are affected.

WSB Radio reports that documentation was missing for the required training needed for certification.

Ken Vance, director of the Georgia Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Council, says the problems arose as the agency began transitioning from paper files to a new computer system. He believes some of the names appeared on the list due to a clerical error. Documentation for others may have been lost as they transitioned from one department to another.

Officials in Southeast Georgia said no troopers in the area were affected.

Also, some of the officers on the list had long since retired.

via 121 state troopers, other officers idled over certification problems | jacksonville.com.

Postal Service may withdraw from federal health benefits program

The United States Postal Service is expecting to run out of cash again – real soon.After the loss of another $740 million in the past quarter, and $3.9 billion over the course of the current financial year, post office watchers are predicting that the cash to run the quasi-government agency could run out in October.

Just add this impending crash to the must-resolve problems waiting for Congress when they return from their traditional August recess.

On the House side, House Government Oversight and Reform Chairman Darrell Issa has passed Postal Reform legislation through his Committee that awaits floor action.

With this action, the clock is ticking, and the problems are multi-fold.

First class mail usage is down by more than half in the past decade, and increasing rates have only served to discourage use of the mail further.  Supplanted by email, texting, online banking and social media, the Constitutionally mandated Post Office is struggling to find its identity in a 21st century world.

A struggle which is made virtually impossible due to legal restrictions which the USPS uniquely faces due to its quasi-government status and the need to get Congress to act to make adapting structural changes that other businesses take for granted.

USPS chief financial officer Joe Corbett contends in an article in Post and Parcel that, “We need to make fundamental changes to the way we currently do business, changes that are part of our Five-Year Business Plan.”

“However, without comprehensive postal reform legislation signed into law, our hands are tied and we expect multi-billion dollar annual losses to continue.”

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe argues for the bold step of withdrawing from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and negotiating a new less costly plan with the union noting, “An astonishing 20 cents of every revenue dollar the Postal Service takes in must go toward health care costs.”

In fact, the significantly underfunded retiree health system is at the heart of the current shortfall facing the Postal Service.   The situation got so bad that in 2006 Congress mandated that the USPS must fully fund its retiree health plans through ten catch up annual expenditures of $5.5 billion through 2017.

This spending mandate was necessitated by a recognition that taxpayers would likely be on the hook for bailing out the generous postal worker retiree health system due to past decisions by the USPS to not fund this obligation.

Florida governor to sue Georgia over water rights

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the state is going to sue the state of Georgia over its increased consumption of water that is limiting flow to the Apalachicola River.

Scott in a statement said Florida needed to take the drastic action because it has been unable to negotiate a settlement for the last decades on how to allocate water between Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Florida’s step is an escalation in years of litigation.

Florida has previously sued the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. But a recent ruling went against Florida in its push to limit Georgia’s withdrawals.

Florida’s oyster industry has neared collapse in the last two years because of reduced water flow from the Apalachicola into the Gulf of Mexico and because of drought.

via RN-T.com.

Covington school officials: Student’s ‘God is Dead’ art will remain on display

Administrators at a Georgia high school say there are no plans to remove student artwork with the proclamation that “God is Dead!” despite complaints from at least one parent.

Crystal Mitchell tells WAGA-TV that the artwork in a classroom at Alcovy High School in Covington upset her 10th grade daughter. She says the piece doesn’t belong in a public school and should be taken down.

Newton County School System officials say language arts students created the drawings, and the artwork’s statement that God is dead is from a quote in Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible.”

jacksonville.com.

Man killed in stadium fall was lifelong Braves fan

The mother of a man who died after falling from the upper deck of Turner Field in Atlanta says her son was a life-long Braves fan.

Connie Homer of Conyers, Ga., tells The Associated Press her only son, 30-year-old Ronald Lee Homer Jr., told her in a cellphone call from the Monday night game that rain was starting to let up and he was preparing to go back in the stadium. She says he ended the call in his typical way, telling his mother he loved her.

She says her son did landscape work outside Atlanta.

Homer fell during Monday night’s game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta police spokesman John Chafee says there’s no indication of foul play, and the fall appears to have been an accident.

Online Athens.

Lawmakers move toward earlier 2014 primary date

There is growing support among leading politicians to move next year’s primary vote to the earliest date in Georgia history, a move some Republicans hope could prevent the contest for an open U.S. Senate seat from leaning too far to the right.

Both House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle voiced support Monday to move the 2014 primary to May 20. And Gov. Nathan Deal told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he was leaving the debate up to lawmakers.

The timing of the vote is crucial as a crowded field of Republicans square off for the nomination for an open Senate seat and Deal faces the prospect of two Republican challengers. A vote before Memorial Day will likely yield a higher turnout and is less likely to be dominated by GOP activists who leaders fear may tap a nominee who couldn’t win in November.

The voting shuffle was set off in July when U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones moved the vote to June 3 to give military residents and other Georgians living overseas more time to return absentee ballots. Worries that turnout may still be down after the holiday weekend are prompting lawmakers, who must sign off on any change, to weigh another adjustment.

Cagle said a vote toward the end of May, when classes are still in, “could be very beneficial.” Ralston offered a heartier endorsement, saying “it makes a lot of sense.”

“I live close to states that have primaries earlier than that — Tennessee and North Carolina,” Ralston said. “This is not a novel idea. It may be a little different for Georgia. We’re going to give it a thorough looking into.”

As an indication of how sensitive the issue is, neither Deal, Cagle nor Ralston took ownership of the plan. The three were likely wary of the appearance of taking sides.

Both Cagle and Ralston said concern over the Republican outcome in next year’s Senate race or the presence of Michelle Nunn, a Democrat endorsed by Washington power brokers, had nothing to do with their support.

Deal, meanwhile, said he’s concerned about another part of the judge’s order: the requirement to extend the span between an election and a runoff from three weeks to a full two months. As a survivor of a bitter runoff in 2010 with former Secretary of State Karen Handel, he said he speaks from experience.

“A three-week runoff period was excessively long for me,” he said, “but to extend it even further is going to be a very long and probably costly period of time when you have contested runoffs.”

www.ajc.com.

Race discrimination claims against Deen thrown out

A federal judge in Georgia has thrown out race discrimination claims by a former Savannah restaurant manager whose lawsuit against Paula Deen ended up causing the celebrity cook to lose a big slice of her culinary empire.

Lisa Jackson sued Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, last year saying she was subjected to sexual harassment and racist attitudes during the five years she worked at their restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House. But U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled Monday that Jackson, who is white, has no standing to sue them for race discrimination.

The ruling leaves intact Jackson’s sexual harassment claims.

The Food Network and other business partners dropped Deen after she acknowledged using racial slurs in the past during questioning by Jackson’s lawyers.

 

Former FBI task force head faces criminal probe

A North Georgia judge revealed this morning that FBI Special Agent Ken Hillman, former head of the Northwest Georgia Crimes Against Children Task Force, faces a criminal investigation in connection with that operation.

Judge Grant Brantley also agreed this morning in Walker County Superior Court to push court hearings in 10 child sex sting cases brought by the task force back six months during that investigation.

Among other actions, defense attorneys in the 10 cases entered motions to see Hillman’s personnel file in preparation for the trials against the men arrested by the task force last year.

The defense also entered a motion for access to the computers that members of the task force used. They also wanted to disqualify Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert “Buzz” Franklin from prosecuting the case, but the defense dropped that request this morning.

Brantley set a new court date for the hearings on Feb. 10.

Labor commissioner shares good, bad news

In recent years, there’s been good news and bad news about Georgia’s job market.

#State Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler shared a bit of both when he spoke at the Jackson-Butts County Rotary Club’s weekly luncheon on Tuesday, Aug. 6, starting with the bad news.

#When Butler took office in 2011, Georgia’s adjusted unemployment rate was 10.2 percent and the state owed hundreds of millions of dollars to the federal government for money borrowed to pay unemployment benefits when the recession hit.

#“Things looked somewhat bleak, but a lot has changed” in the last two years, Butler said to Rotary members and others gathered in the Butts County Parks and Recreation Department Community Center during the luncheon.

#Before the Great Recession, the construction industry was a “big driver in Georgia’s economy,” Butler said. At that time, Georgia was among the fastest-growing states in the region.

#The construction bubble burst at the “worst possible time” and the “rug got pulled out from under us” in terms of economic impact, he said. In 2009, Georgia lost 85,000 jobs within a 12-month period in the construction industry alone, he added.

#Georgia is starting to show signs of growth earlier than expected following the recession, he said.

#For example, in the past two years, construction has begun to rebound a bit after suffering years of job losses, Butler said. The job sector that has suffered the most losses during that time has been government, he said.

#“Government was a loss leader by a long shot. It beat every sector,” he said, later noting that even the Department of Labor shed a significant number of employees during that time.

#Last month, the government sector was “still shedding jobs,” while the private sector gained 9,400 jobs, he said.

#Even in the harshest economic times during the Great Recession and when the unemployment rate was at 10.2 percent, many jobs went unfilled because employers had a difficult time finding qualified people.

#One remedy to change that, Butler said, is to use Georgia’s technical college system to help “overcome the skills gap” created when job applicants do not have the proper training or technological skills to be hired.

#Technical schools can quickly adapt to the training and technology required by employers, he said.

#Jobs also remain vacant in Georgia, Butler said, because even qualified job applicants can lack the “soft skills” needed to land or keep a job. Soft skills include the ability to get along with coworkers, to arrive at work on time, and have zero or few absences from work.

#“This is something that we need to get a handle on,” Butler said, noting that the issue of qualified applicants and employees who lack soft skills is a nationwide problem. Georgia is doing something about it, he said.

#The Department of Labor now offers the “Georgia Best” program that teaches and stresses work-related soft skills in the classroom. Students are evaluated by a teacher in much the same way a supervisor would in the workplace, Butler said.

#Members of the business community are encouraged to participate in the program. For example, students attend mock interviews with employers.

#The 18-month-old program began in 20 high schools and is now offered in more than 170 schools statewide, Butler said. The program will be offered in middle schools starting in January 2014, he said.

#The Department of Labor also holds job-readiness expos for cities and companies to help teach interview and resume-writing skills, as well as soft skills, to adults who are having a difficult time finding a job.

#About a month after a job-readiness expo is held, a job expo is held at the same place, and “people are finding jobs and getting back to work,” Butler said.

#Butler lives in Carrollton, where he worked as a real estate appraiser for his family’s business. Before becoming the state labor commissioner in 2011, he serv

APS takes action on mold issue at high school

Atlanta Public School district leaders say they are taking aggressive action after parents complained of mold at a local high school.

Parents at Booker T. Washington High School in southwest Atlanta told Channel 2 Action News they were worried about mold and raw sewage issues at the school and sent pictures documenting the problem.

Steve Smith, the associate superintendent at Atlanta Public Schools, said the school was retested Friday afternoon, and they identified four areas that still had low levels of mold spores.

ActionNewsJax.com.

Sen. Fort, alumni say ‘scandalous’ stadium dealings are threat to Morris Brown

State Sen. Vincent Fort and a group of Morris Brown College alumni on Friday criticized recent negotiations surrounding the future site of a new $1 billion stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.

They claim recent property negotiations between the city of Atlanta and Friendship Baptist Church have destroyed a $20 million deal that could have helped the financially-strapped Morris Brown resolve its estimated $30 million in debt.

Atlanta Business Chronicle.

GE Appliances expands cooking appliance plant in LaFayette

A ribbon cutting was held on August 9 on a new expansion of GE Appliances cooking products plant in LaFayette.

The expansion will include a new 1,100-ton power press (pictured), which will expand the plants in-house metal parts fabrication capability for a new line of wall ovens. Increased insourcing and new product production have led to the creation of 90 new jobs at the LaFayette plant.

GE Appliances has invested $88 million to support the new line of wall ovens and to update the freestanding ranges manufactured at the plant. All the appliances will feature new styling and appearance. The investment is part of a $1 billion investment program that GE Appliances is using to revitalize its U.S. plants, products, and services. The $1 billion investment has created over 3,000 jobs.

The ribbon cutting was attended by GE Appliances President and CEO Chip Blankenship as well as Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Senator Johnny Isakson.

GE’s new Profile wall ovens will offers True European Convection with Direct Air. The design puts new vents on the top of the oven cavity–an industry first in full-size ovens–to focus air directly on the food and provide significantly increased air flow for better cooking performance.

The appliances have GE’s Brillion home automation technology, enabling them to be controlled remotely, via home Wi-Fi, from an iPhone and an Android smartphone.

GE estimates that the new wall ovens fit in 75% of the existing wall oven cutouts that are already in consumers’ homes, making them ideal for remodeling. The new wall ovens have suggested retail prices ranging from $999 to $3,599.

The LaFayette, GA plant operates under the name Roper Corp., and is a wholly owned subsidiary of GE. The Roper appliance brand name, however, is used by Whirlpool Corp. for a line of economical ranges and laundry appliances, sold primarily at Lowe’s stores.

 

Report: Amazon.com to collect sales tax in Georgia beginning in September

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Amazon.com will begin collecting sales tax in Georgia on Sept. 1.

The newspaper reported Friday that a company spokesman confirmed the move, which was hailed by the Georgia Retail Association. Association president Rick McAllister told the AJC that it will make a difference to stores with a physical presence in the state that have to charge sales tax and that have lost business to the online retail giant.

Last year, Georgia passed a law designed to collect taxes from Amazon.com and other online retailers. The law is expected to add $16 million annually to the state’s tax collections.

 

Georgia to limit abortion coverage in employee plan

Georgia will join seven other states that ban coverage of abortions in nearly all instances for those enrolled in the state employee health insurance plan.

The decision Thursday by the board of the Department of Community Health means the policy will bypass state lawmakers, who didn’t take action on similar legislation earlier this year. In a statement, Gov. Nathan Deal took credit for finding a way to accomplish what he called a worthy goal.

“Today’s vote by the Department of Community Health board shows our state’s commitment to reducing the number of abortions in our state by ensuring that state taxpayers aren’t paying for a procedure that many find morally objectionable,” Deal said.

via Cherokee Tribune

Atlanta immigration activist ‘polite but uncompromising’

He says the United States is filling up with immigrants who do not respect the law or the American way of life. He refers to Latino groups as “the tribalists,” saying they seek to impose a divisive ethnic agenda. Of his many adversaries, he says: “The illegal alien lobby never changes. It’s the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party joining forces with the Chamber of Commerce, the far left and the Democrats in an effort to expand cheap labor and increase voting for the Democratic Party.”

NYTimes.com.

Meet Nathan Deal, Georgia’s food stamp governor

Remember when Newt Gingrich cynically slapped the “food stamp president” label on Barack Obama?

Obama didn’t deserve it. When he made his racially-tinged crack, the ex-speaker hoped you’d forgotten that 8 million jobs were lost on President Bush’s watch, driving record numbers of unemployed Americans onto the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps) rolls.

About 7.2 million of those lost American jobs have been recovered since President Obama’s first year in office. The recovery would be considerably stronger if the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the American Jobs Act.

That legislation, blocked for two years by the GOP leadership, would put 2 million unemployed Americans back to work, lower the deficit and be paid for in 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Closer to home, however, there is someone who has richly earned the “food stamp” title.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Meet Nathan Deal Georgia s food stamp governor.

Another Georgia family stars in reality show: ‘Hollywood Hillbillies’

Honey Boo Boo is getting some competition.

Another family from rural Georgia is coming to reality television, with “Hollywood Hillbillies” set to debut in January on ReelzChannel.

The show follows Michael Kittrell and his grandmother Delores Hughes, known as “Mema,” as the family moves from Grayson, Ga., to Hollywood. Along for the ride are Kittrell’s aunt, Dee Dee Peters, her boyfriend Paul Conlon, and Kittrell’s uncle John Cox.

Kittrell is known as “The Angry Ginger” on YouTube, where a video he made to protest a “South Park” episode that claimed redheads have no soul gained attention.

Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, her mother and their rural Georgia family are the subjects of a hit TLC show that focuses on their lives in a small town.

680News.

State jobless rate up to 8.6 percent

The Georgia Department of Labor announced this week that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 8.6 percent in June. The rate was up three-tenths of a percentage point from 8.3 percent in May, but it was down five-tenths of a percentage point from 9.1 percent in June a year ago.

“The rate increased primarily because of two factors that occur this time of year,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “A large number of education workers are unemployed during the summer and new graduates are considered unemployed until they find a job.”

The seasonal impact on the unemployment rate was compounded because Georgia lost 600 jobs and the number of people in the labor force declined by 1,341.

“There is a silver lining in this new data because this was the best May-to-June job performance we’ve had since 2002, ” Butler continued. “And, if you factor out the loss of 10,000 government jobs and just look at the private sector, we would have actually gained 9,400 jobs last month because our private sector employers continue to hire.”

The number of jobs declined slightly to 4,043,500, down from 4,044,100 in May. State and local government education services lost 12,700 jobs, the most of any sector.  However, some industries added workers. Those increases came in professional and business services, 8,000; leisure and hospitality, 4,000; construction and financial services, 1,700 each; and manufacturing and other services, 1,200 each.

Over the year, the number of jobs increased by 85,200, up 2.2 percent from 3,958,300 in June 2012. The job gains came in professional and business services, 37,700; leisure and hospitality, 19,700; education and health services, 18,600; trade and transportation, 12,300; and construction, 3,700 jobs. Manufacturing lost 900.

While the labor force declined from May to June, it was up 16,092 over the year to 4,817,416, compared to 4,801,324 in June 2012.

The number of layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, declined by 7,105, or 15.2 percent, to 39,777 in June from 46,882 in May. The decreases came mostly in manufacturing, construction, trade, administrative and support services, health care and social assistance, and professional, scientific and technical services. The number of initial claims was also down over the year, declining by 9,102, or 18.6 percent, from 48,879 in June 2012. Most of the over-the-year decreases came in the same industries as the monthly decline.

The number of long-term unemployed workers rose to 181,200, its highest level since February. It was up by 3,600, or 2.0 percent, from 177,600 in May. The long-term unemployed – those out of work for more than 26 weeks – make up 44 percent of all unemployed in Georgia.

State gasoline prices up 3.9 cents in past week

Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have risen 3.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.53/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,883 gas outlets in Georgia. This compares with the national average that has increased 3.2 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.68/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were 17.2 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 10.4 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 9.9 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 19.0 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

“The national average has seen the upward trend continuing, with average prices climbing across an abundance of the U.S.,” said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “The price of WTI oil continues to rise to levels not seen in quite some time, and that may continue, at least for the time being, to put more upward pressure on gasoline prices. While the worst may be behind us, I do believe the week ahead will likely feature another rise in the national average,” DeHaan said.

DJJ completes internal investigation

Today Commissioner Avery D. Niles announced the conclusion of the state Department of Juvenile Justice’s month-long internal investigation to determine causes behind department deficiencies that prevented the completion of DJJ sex abuse investigations under deadline as required by agency policy.

Commissioner Niles said that following an exhaustive review examining hundreds of files and covering 18-months of DJJ cases, his Advisory Committee found a total of twelve reports of Staff-on-Youth sex abuse allegations which meet the federal classification requirements, and yet remain open and incomplete.

“That’s twelve too many and they’ve been waiting too long for final determinations,” said Commissioner Niles. “We assigned those cases to investigators on loan from the Department of Corrections for expedited, independent follow-ups.”

THREE STAFF-ON-YOUTH CASES SUBSTANTIATED – Accused Officers Terminated The same DJJ Advisory Committee found three Staff-on-Youth sex abuse cases that were substantiated. “All three of those corrections officers were terminated,” said Commissioner Niles. “DJJ immediately referred two of those staff members to outside law enforcement for prosecution. I gave clear warning when I was appointed Commissioner that regardless of employee seniority, rank or position, the consequences will be especially serious for this kind of criminal violation at DJJ.”

To maintain agency best-practices, Commissioner Niles had assigned his Advisory Committee the task of comparing the number of actual reported sex abuse cases in DJJ detention facilities, with the number of sex abuse complaints alleged in a recent federal survey report.

A month ago, Commissioner Niles suspended 18 members of the DJJ Investigation Division along with their former director, after the Advisory Committee’s review determined the Investigation Unit was seriously out of compliance with investigation deadline policies.

DJJ OPEN-CASE REVIEW RESULTS Commissioner Niles ordered his Advisory Committee to personally hand-examine every open department case-file after their preliminary finding revealed each of the suspended DJJ investigators had at least one case file still open from the year 2012.

The Advisory Committee reported three important findings.

1.    First they documented the number of open cases designated as sex abuse complaints which remained open during the 18-month period.

2.    Second, they recommended agency administrative changes to be ordered by the Commissioner as a result of their open case findings.

3.    Third, the Committee outlined other constraining factors they discovered contributing to the backlog of incomplete case files:

·         Multiple leadership changes

·         Subsequent changes in agency goals

·         Outdated technology

·         Agency priorities focused on significant current events

·         Cumbersome and outmoded agency policies and procedures

Commissioner Niles had publicly predicted the final number of open case files would be “considerably higher” than the twenty open sex abuse allegations which caused him to launch his internal investi

That ain’t country

By Carlton Fletcher

I laugh at people like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (not to his face, of course), the beardy guy on “Duck Dynasty,” Honey Boo Boo and about half of the singers whose songs sit at the top of the country music charts these days.

#A seemingly diverse group, they all have one thing in common: They’re selling their peculiar brand of “redneckism” to a white audience obviously desperate for pop culture heroes. (Sorry, you’re not going to see Lebron James, Jay-Z and Aziz Ansari standing around the water cooler talking about the latest zany antics of a lovable little chunk of authentic Georgia sunshine who just happens to — on her own, mind you — come up with such witticisms as “You better redneckognize!”)

#Because people obviously now have very little to do other than sit around and text each other about the latest adventures of Beardy and Stone Cold’s “hell yeahs” on “Redneck Island” — plus no one’s making rock music anymore — there seems to be a large enough audience for this faux country-tinged entertainment to keep a lot of phonies employed and well-paid.

#There’s something about finding out the latest chart-topping single blowing up on CMT is being sung by a guy who had a pampered, country club upbringing and wouldn’t know a great speckled bird from pheasant under glass or a dirt road from a driving range.

#Here’s how you can tell if all these would-be rednecks and “real country” superstars are genuine or products of Hollywood and Nashville’s redneck assembly lines (with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy):

  • — If they hunt from a heated/air-conditioned shelter with running water and electricity and have someone pick up the game they shoot so they don’t get their hands dirty, they might not be a redneck.
  • If their “scruff” is “groomed,” each darkly tinted hair lined up in neat rows, and there aren’t splotches where no hair will grow, they might not be a redneck.
  • If they spray themselves down with every chemical known to man in an effort to “scare off those horrible creatures” rather than just poking their lower lip out and blowing the gnats away from their eyes, they might not be a redneck.
  • If they have a catchphrase that doesn’t include the words “yee” and “haw,” they might not be rednecks.
  • If they turn their nose up and go “Ewwww!” at grits or red-eye gravy, they might not be rednecks.
  • If they prefer champagne, wine — especially from a particular “vintage,” whatever that is — or mineral water over a cold Miller or a glass of sweet tea, they might not be a redneck. (Full disclosure: I drink neither beer nor tea, so read what you will into that.)
  • If their knowledge of country music goes back only as far as Hank Jr. and doesn’t include Hank Sr. (the REAL Hank, no offense to Jr.), they might not be a redneck.
  • If they talk about “shooting targets at the gun club” and not about blasting away at tin cans or beer bottles on fence posts, they might not be a redneck.
  • If they’ve never been involved in a “dirt clod war” or even have an idea what one is, and if they swam only in heated pools, never skinny-dipped in a farm pond, they might not be rednecks.
  • If they say “Yeeeew all” in a phony, lilting voice, especially in reference to a single person rather than a group, they not only might not be rednecks, they ought to be taken out and fed to the mosquitoes without any Off or Deet.
  • If they watch any of these ridiculous TV shows and actually believe that’s the way Southern people act or if they listen to the latest country hit by some tight jeans-wearing “cowboy” or low-cut top-wearing “cowgirl” who wouldn’t know a cow pie from an Eskimo pie, they definitely are not rednecks and they need to let some of these good ol’ Lee County boys take them out snipe hunting some evening.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

Zimmerman found not guilty.

trayvon

George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin at 10 p.m. tonight after deliberating for more than 15 hours over two days.

The jury returned the verdict shorty after returning to the jury room from their evening meal.

The asked the judge for a definition of manslaughter shortly before they returned the verdict.

Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder but the judge approved a prosecution request to add a charge of manslaughter late in the trial.

But the jury  decided that the incident was a case of self defense and exonerated Zimmerman.

Appeals court reverses summary judgment against Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance

The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment to Vincent and Patricia Croft in their action against Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company (“GFB”) in which the Crofts alleged that GFB engaged in bad faith and fraudulent conduct and sought a declaration that GFB was liable for the full replacement cost to rebuild their house after a fire partially damaged it, holding that genuine issues of material fact remained.

Daily Report 

AP reports Napolitano resigning

The Associated Press is reporting that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is resigning from her post to take a senior post in the University of California system.

Napolitano has held the post since the beginning of the Obama administration and is just the third person to hold the post since it was formed.

We’ll have more information as this story develops.

Isakson, Chambliss, and 44 others call for Obamacare delay

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., along with all 44 of their Republican colleagues, sent a letter today to President Obama urging him to permanently delay the implementation of ObamaCare for all Americans.

Last week, the Obama Administration announced that after hearing concerns from the business community, it will delay implementation of a key ObamaCare component, the employer mandate, until 2015.

Isakson and Chambliss have voted several times to repeal Obamacare or provisions in the law.

Isakson is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Obamacare because the Supreme Court upheld the law last year by designating it as a tax. Isakson also serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which oversees health care and the Department of Health and Human Services.

In their letter, the senators wrote, “[W]hile your action finally acknowledges some of the many burdens this law will place on job creators, we believe the rest of this law should be permanently delayed for everyone in order to avoid significant economic harm to American families.”

 

State gas prices fall 1.5 cents per gallon

Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have fallen 1.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.32/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,883 gas outlets in Georgia. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.49/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were 11.4 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 12.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 14.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 7.8 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

“After blaming higher gasoline prices on refineries for much of the early spring and summer, it now seems that higher oil prices may be to blame for an expected up tick in the national average,” said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Oil prices have silently been tracking higher after tension in Egypt started to impact the market, driving oil prices higher. In turn, gasoline prices have begun to stage a rally as well. Oil closed last week at its highest level in over a year, and it may lead to a gentler rally in retail gas price than what we saw earlier this year, but a rally none the less,” DeHaan said.

Researchers tout progress in glioblastoma fight

University of Florida Health researchers have discovered a molecular pathway involved in the deadly spread of the most lethal kind of brain cancer.

Their findings, which appear in the advanced online edition of EMBO Molecular Medicine, may help physicians make better decisions about treatment and help researchers pinpoint a target for therapeutic drugs in about half of all patients diagnosed with the form known as glioblastoma.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 22,910 adults — 12,630 men and 10,280 women — were diagnosed with brain and other nervous system tumors in 2012. It also estimates that more than half of these diagnoses will result in death.

Florian Siebzehnrubl, Ph.D., a UF research assistant professor of neurosurgery, collaborated on the research with colleagues from the department of neuroscience, the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine and the UF Health Cancer Center as well as researchers from the University of Bonn, Germany and University Hospital Freiburg, Germany.

“Glioblastoma is the worst type of brain cancer, and also the most common brain cancer in adults,” said Siebzehnrubl, Ph.D., a professor in UF’s Evelyn F. & William L. McKnight Brain Institute. “There is no cure and the prognosis is poor, mainly because the cancer cells can quickly infiltrate the entire brain.”

These cells also resist chemotherapy, so even if surgery and irradiation eradicate the initial tumor, patients often suffer a recurrence of cancer soon after.

The researchers have found a molecular pathway, called the ZEB1 pathway, that, when present, causes cells to leave the initial tumor site, generates resistance to chemotherapy in these cells and generates new tumors away from the initial site.

“ZEB1 is known to be important in a number of cancers, functioning at the level of cancer stem cells, but there has been little work on this transcription factor in brain cancer,” said David Sandak, vice president of Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure.  “We are excited about the finding as it integrates a single regulatory pathway with multiple oncogenic mechanisms and provides promise for a new therapeutic target for glioma.”

In patients who have this pathway, the course of the illness is much worse than in those where the pathway is not seen, Siebzehnrubl said. These patients get sick very quickly, don’t respond to chemotherapy and die sooner than those who lack the pathway.

The key regulator appears to be a protein called ZEB1 that binds to specific DNA sequences to control the flow of genetic information that drives this pathway. This particular kind of protein does not a have a specific site where therapeutic drugs can bind, so the researchers must look elsewhere to see if they can target a molecule that activates the pathway farther upstream.

“This gives us an idea of what we can do to target these lethal cells,” Siebzehnrubl said.

The laboratory’s next steps will be to examine what else might be regulating these tumor cells, since this pathway occurs in only half of patients with glioblastoma.

“We also want

Lake Seminole shooting victims identified

Two people were found dead inside a South Georgia home Monday morning. The house is in the 8000 block of Northwood Drive in Donalsonville  and was roped off with crime tape all day.

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call after the  bodies of Eliace Marie Smith, 49, and Heber Jettie Bennett Jr., 64, both of 8056 Northwood Dr., Donalsonville. The Sheriff’s Office requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist in the investigation. Both bodies had gunshot wounds and were found at their residence.

The GBI considers it a double homicide murder investigation and the investigation continues to determine the identity of the suspect. Anyone with any further information can call the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, 229-524-5115 or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at 229-225-4090.

Officials say the bodies were found shortly after a call came into the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office around 8 a.m. Monday.

Neighbors, however say, they knew something was  wrong when they saw all the police activity in what they call their typically quiet and peaceful neighborhood.

“They wouldn’t tell me much because they didn’t know,” said Neighbor Martha Chastain.

“They said they were waiting on a warrant to get inside the house and I finally got it out of them. I said, are there dead bodies in there? He said, yes, I think so.”

Investigators say, the names and ages of the victims are not being released until their families have been notified.

There’s still no word yet as to if investigators have a suspect or what the motive behind the deaths could be.

via WCTV

Egypt’s crisis signals the unraveling of yet another Arab nation-state

When British and French diplomats sat down to draw the boundaries of the modern Middle East, one country required no ruler and compass to define it.   People lived in Egypt 10,000 years before the birth of Christ. The specific civilization that left behind the Giza pyramids dates to 2,700 years BC, and a sense of nationhood was embedded so deeply along the shores of the Nile that the quip of an Egyptian diplomat would become a trusim: “Egypt is the only nation-state in the Arab world,” Tahseen Bashir famously said. “The rest are just tribes with flags.”

TIME.com.

DJJ commissioner encourages public to use agency TIP-Line

Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles publicly pledged again today that the Department of Juvenile Justice will continue to maintain a Zero Tolerance policy against sexual misconduct violations at Georgia’s juvenile detention centers.  His renewed pledge follows the recent release of a federal survey which alleges that Georgia has some of the highest rates of sexual abuse in juvenile detention centers in the nation.

Commissioner Niles said that even while his agency is in the middle of his own “top to bottom” internal inquiry to determine why some investigators did not complete all their assigned cases last year, he wants “..to reassure Georgia parents that we remain dedicated to our goal to ensure a sexually safe environment for the youth in our custody.”

To focus more attention on safe day- to- day juvenile justice operations, the Commissioner is now encouraging assistance from public partners.  “We want the public to report what they know about department misconduct by using our innovative agency TIP-Line,” said Commissioner Niles. “It’s available to anyone, anytime.”

The DJJ TIP-Line was designed by Intelligence Analysts as an anonymous reporting system to encourage the flow of critical information from concerned DJJ staff and youth offenders.

Agency Analysts confirm useful information from anonymous tips and refer it for investigation and when appropriate for prosecution.  The system is devised so that tips submitted online will remain confidential. But concerned citizens who want to establish in-depth whistleblower discussions with investigators can opt to include their contact information for follow-up.

Tipsters with information to share about illegal, unethical or dangerous activities inside Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, can access the TIP Forms on the DJJ website at these  links: http://www.djjnewsandviews.org http://www.djjnewsandviews.org/gangs101 http://www.djjnewsandviews.org/preageorgia/

“This TIP-Line was set up to provide another channel for reporting sexual abuse, sexual harassment, staff misconduct and policy violations,” said Commissioner Niles. “Information shared on the DJJ TIP-Line can include the names of victims and identify their alleged assailants, so the TIP-Line can actually result in arrests and prosecutions.”

“Whether it’s inside or outside our secure facilities we want youth in all our programs to use the TIP-Line to speak up and say ‘NO’ to sexual abuse,” said Commissioner Niles. “We want to make sure our residents are never intimidated about seeking help if they ever encounter abuse.”

“We also want our DJJ Staff statewide to know we’re listening in the Commissioner’s Office.  If our staff or public partners have something important to report and they want to keep it anonymous, all they have to do is fill out the email form on the TIP-Line site,” said Commissioner Niles.  “A single tip of confidential information about potential gang activity, contraband smuggling, or unl

How Immigration Bill Could Affect Florida And Georgia

The U.S. Senate’s passing of an immigration reform bill still has the nation buzzing.

It could lead to the first meaningful immigration legislation in decades. Opinions on Thursday’s immigration bill vary, depending on who you talk to.

“To craft something that [the U.S. Senate] can all accept and vote for I think is great for our country and it’s really good for the state of Florida,” said Florida state representative Joe Gibbons (D).

via How Immigration Bill Could Affect Florida And Georgia.

Armed convenience store robber shot and killed, police say

A clerk has shot and killed a robber whom police say was trying to steal money from a Villa Rica store.WSB-TV reports the robbery Tuesday night happed at the Junior Food convenience store in Carroll County.Police said a 19-year-old suspect entered the store just before it was set to close. The robber pointed a gun at the clerk and started taking cash.Authorities said the clerk pulled his own gun and shot the robber, who died of his injuries. The suspect’s name was not immediately released.No charges are expected against the clerk.

 jacksonville.com.

Senate in full horse-trading mode on immigration bill

Senators engaged in last-minute jockeying and horse trading Tuesday as they barreled toward the finish line for the Gang of Eight bill — an effort that could secure a handful of additional Republican votes for immigration reform this week.

Negotiators are zeroing in on Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia as lawmakers who ultimately could support the Gang of Eight bill. Both have amendments they want voted on — Chambliss is calling for changes involving agricultural workers, and Portman is demanding tougher E-Verify requirements.

POLITICO.com.

High court voids key part of Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced unless Congress comes up with an up-to-date formula for deciding which states and localities still need federal monitoring.

The justices said in 5-4 vote that the law Congress most recently renewed in 2006 relies on 40-year-old data that does not reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society.

savannahnow.com.

Colquitt County man charged with three counts of incest

A Colquitt County man has been charged with at least three counts of incest.

Officials say Ruben Fernando-Lopez, 41, has others pending in Buena Vista, Tift County and Alabama. It is believed he has fathered 8 children by his daughter.

His daughter had a miscarriage and the youngest child they shared, who was born prematurely,  died on June 12.

That led the Georgia Division of Family and Children to get in contact with the Sheriff’s Office do investigate the matter further.

WALB.com

Georgia GOP adopts resolution opposing regionalism

This past weekend, the Georgia Republican Party State Committee met to complete the business of adopting resolutions. Key among them was a resolution opposing mandated regionalism.

Regionalism was thrust upon the state in form of the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, known as T-SPLOST, instituting regional governance and taxation.

Even though T-SPLOST was handily defeated in most regions last summer, the law is still on the books and can be reintroduced to the voters in the future. The Transportation Leadership Coalition believes another T-SPLOST referendum using the same flawed law will only produce more anger and distrust from the voters.

Regionalism diminishes the local control and authority of local governments or self-government through “home rule” as provided for in the Georgia Constitution. “The whole point of local control and self-governance is that local elected representatives can be held accountable by the voter-taxpayer,” said Jack Staver, Chairman of the Transportation Leadership Coalition. “Throwing a group of counties into a one-size-fits-all regional scenario against their will is not a recipe for metro Atlanta’s success.”

In addition to the opposition to regional governance, the resolution supports State Representative Ed Setzler’s HB 195 introduced in the 2013 Georgia General Assembly. HB 195 allows counties with mutual interests to work on regional-type projects without the mandated regional government structure of the Transportation Investment Act.

Under HB 195, the duly elected county commission or city council of two or more adjoining counties work together to propose projects of mutual interest that can be brought to the voters for approval in a local tax referendum.

The GOP resolution requests that formal action be taken by the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, and the Georgia General Assembly to dissolve the 12 Regional Commissions for purposes of taxation with the application to the Transportation Investment Act of 2010.

RepealRegionalism.com aims to educate the citizens of Georgia on the dangers of state mandated regional governance and the hazards of the unelected and unaccountable system. A copy of the GOP resolution as adopted can be found on RepealRegionalism.com under the articles tab.

Kingston on immigration: House unlikely to consider Senate Bill

Congressman Jack Kingston says he still believes immigration reform is important but doubts that House republicans will ever consider a bill from the Senate. “The Senate bill does not have enough border security measures,” says Kingston. “Right now border security is a joke.”

Kingston says he would vote for border security, an electronic verification system that would help keep track of the status of current immigrants and for some measure that would be a “pathway to legalization.” Kingston says that is legalization, not automatically a pathway citizenship.

WSAV

Smithville closing police department because of budget cuts

Budget cuts have led city leaders in a small south Georgia town to shut down its police department.WALB-TV reports that the Smithville City Council decided at its meeting last week to lay off all four officers.Smithville Mayor Jerry Myrick said previously that budget cuts caused the city to cut back some employees, starting with the police department.The Albany station reports that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will be patrolling the town.The mayor says the city was originally planning on keeping the police chief, but the city decided to do away with the entire department. The mayor says more cuts in the city are expected.

jacksonville.com.