Compiled by Mary Lou Masters
Cecil McIntyre started off the show with some breaking news about a mass shooting in Thailand over the weekend. The shooting left 29 people dead and more than 50 injured. The shooter was a 31 year-old Thai soldier who laid siege to a shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima. The shooter was shot dead. As far as Thai police can determine, the violence was motivated by his outrage over a land deal struck by his commanding officer’s mother-in-law. She was among the victims of the shooting.
Thailand’s Prime Minister, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, expressed his deep grief for the victims and their families, and extended the offer of “royally sponsored funeral rites and cremations.” A bombing at a Buddhist shrine in Bangkok in 2015 that left 20 civilians dead was previously the largest attack on civilians in Thailand’s history.
Cecil then discussed recent complications in the upcoming Athens district attorney election. Last Wednesday, Ken Mauldin announced that he would be resigning effective February 29th. Mauldin represented a circuit encompassing Athens Clarke and Oconee Counties. In his resignation letter, Mauldin pointed to his decades of public service, his eight terms of incumbency, and his desire to exit public service. Originally, Mauldin intended to complete his term without running for re-election, but he said “it’s time for a new chapter to begin”.
Now Governor Brian Kemp must appoint a replacement who will then be able to run as an incumbent during the November election. Due to a Georgia law, however, if Kemp waits until May 3 to name the new district attorney, the election will be delayed until 2022. If that’s the case, the D.A. for the next two years would be the chief assistant D.A. or Governor Kemp’s appointee — not a democratically-elected candidate.
During the Democratic primary, former state representative Deborah Gonzalez will be on the ballot against Brian Patterson. Patterson is Mauldin’s chief assistant, and he will serve as the interim DA starting on March 1st if Governor Kemp does not name a replacement or call an election. In a statement, Patterson said that he is ready and able to serve as district attorney, and he will run no matter when the election is.
Because of a law passed in 2018, this year’s district attorney election will be a special election. All of the primary candidates will be on a nonpartisan “jungle primary” ballot during the general election in November. This could lead to a run-off in January if Kemp appoints a Republican to the position in the coming months.
Cason Smith reported on some state news regarding the Georgia Department of Driver Services. According to the Associated Press, the Georgia Department of Driver Services reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit alleging that Georgia treated Puerto Ricans differently from other U.S. citizen applicants when they sought to exchange a license. Caban Gonzalez filed the lawsuit after being accused of providing false documents when he applied for a license in 2017.
Signed January 31, the settlement agreement says that applicants from U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, don’t have to complete a driving or written test to transfer a valid license if they are at least 18 and meet Georgia residency and proof of identity requirements.
Michael White then brought financial news concerning the four members of the China’s People’s Liberation Army who were indicted in the 2017 Equifax hack. Nearly 150 million Americans’ had personal information leaked during the hack. According to Forbes, the four men are charged with hacking into Equifax’s dispute portal and stealing Equifax’s trade secrets. Attorney General William Barr said, “This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people” and that the US will hold “PLA hackers accountable for their criminal actions.”
The Equifax hack occurred from May to June 2017, with Equifax ending the hack on July 29. Following the end of the hack, three executives with Equifax sold off nearly 2 million dollars of stock before announcing the hack to the public on Sept. 7. Former Equifax CIO Jun Ying was sentenced to four months in prison following charges of insider trading stemming from the sell-off. Following this revelation, Equifax shares fell over 50% in the span of a week.
It remains to be seen if China will work with the United States to bring these four men to justice, given the positive relations that have been forged between the two nations in the prior months.
Cason explained a dispute between Amazon and the White House concerning the handling of a multibillion dollar cloud computing contract. According to a court filing unsealed Monday, Amazon has asked a federal court for permission to get testimony from President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper as part of its ongoing protest over the Defense Department’s handling of said contract.
In the document, Amazon argues that the Pentagon’s explanation for awarding the contract to Microsoft left out “crucial information and details that led to this flawed and potentially detrimental decision regarding DoD’s future cloud infrastructure.” The company asked the court just last month to block Microsoft from beginning work on the contract, valued at $10 billion over 10 years.
Additionally, Amazon seeks in the document to depose former Defense Secretary James Mattis and any knowledge he may have regarding Trump’s attitude toward the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.
Cecil brought updates on the current stage of the coronavirus. Yesterday the number dead from coronavirus on the Chinese mainland rose to 908 and over 3,000 new cases of the virus were reported, according to the Associated Press. This leaves over 40,000 confirmed cases of the virus in China just over a month since the first reported case. Outside of China, over 440 cases have been confirmed with the largest number in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
A Japanese cruise ship has been under quarantine in waters south of Tokyo after several passengers tested positive for the coronavirus and over the weekend 65 more passengers were diagnosed. There are a total of 3,711 passengers and crew members aboard the ship and the Japanese Health Ministry is considering testing all those onboard.
The virus spread to Europe through a British man who contracted it while in Singapore. The man later spread the virus to 5 Brits at a ski resort in France, leading the British government to declare the virus “an imminent public health threat.”
After this weekend’s rise in fatalities, the coronavirus surpassed the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak in China that left 774 dead and just over 8,000 sick.
Wood Smith spoke about a potential Army headquarters in Georgia. Georgia’s US senators push for new Army HQ at Fort Benning. Georgia’s US senators are urging military leaders to choose Fort Benning as the new headquarters for the Army’s Fourth Corps, according to a report by the Army Times. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have said the Army post outside Columbus is an excellent location due to its “unmatched training, support, and command facilities.” They also noted that Fort Benning would allow the Army to quickly send troops overseas with an Army airfield on post and the civilian Atlanta airport about a 90-minute drive from the fort.
The Army recently announced Fort Benning as one of the three finalists for the new corp headquarters, with Fort Drum in New York, and Fort Knox in Kentucky announced as the other two finalists.
The new corps headquarters will include more than 600 soldiers based in the U.S. and will maintain a rotational command post of about 200 troops in Europe.
Cecil reported entertainment news from the Oscars. Billie Eilish performed a haunting rendition of The Beatles during the in memoriam portion of the Oscars. A montage recognized all of the actors, creators, and technical crew who passed away in 2019. You may have also seen Eilish at the Oscars when a camera caught her exceptionally confused reaction to Eminem’s live performance of “Lose Yourself.” Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” won an Oscar for best original song after its appearance in 8 Mile in 2003.
In the best actor and actress categories, Renee Zellweger won for her performance in Judy and Joaquin Phoenix for his performance in Joker. This concludes a successful award season for Phoenix in particular. His performance also won awards at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Screen Actors Guild awards.
A few firsts also happened last night. Taika Waititi became the first indigenous person to receive an Oscar, winning the award for best adapted screenplay. Parasite became the first South Korean film ever to win an academy award for best picture, and that’s not all the movie accomplished last night. Director Bong Joon Ho became the first person since Walt Disney to win four academy awards in one evening. Parasite won best picture and best international picture. Bong Joon Ho was recognized when he won best director and best original screenplay. Congratulations to Ho and the cast and crew of Parasite.
Wood Smith had details on a bizarre change in policy in St. Augustine Beach. St. Augustine Beach looks to change codes for Emotional Support Chickens. The city is looking to amend its code to allow for emotional support animal requests, which was prompted by a request of the family of a 9-year-old boy with disabilities to keep eight chickens at their residence.
Jennifer Wildasin, the boy’s mother, requested a variance hearing in front of the Planning and Zoning Board to allow her to keep chickens for her son, who has a traumatic brain injury. The current city code prohibits the keeping of livestock such as pigs, horses, cattle, hogs or poultry. While the Board approved Wildasin’s request to keep the chickens, they did not approve the code variance.
Meanwhile, The City Commission has instructed its staff to look into amending the city’s code in order to allow residents to request an exception to the ordinance for an emotional support animal. The commission has also instructed its staff not to issue a citation for the chickens while the code changes are being made.
Michael closed out the show with the Sports Power Minute. With the NBA trade deadline having come and gone, Michael took a minute to analyze the Atlanta Hawks’ moves. The biggest trade of the season was the Clint Capela to the Hawks trade, involving four teams and 12 players. The Hawks traded away Evan Turner and a lottery-protected 2020 first round pick from the Nets, receiving center Clint Capela and Nene, who was waived shortly after. Acquiring Capela will shore up Atlanta’s post defense and rebounding, while taking pressure off of John Collins in the post. This move sets the Hawks up for a playoff run the next two seasons. The other big move the Hawks made was trading Alex Len and the oft-injured Jabari Parker to Sacramento for center Dwayne Dedmon and two second-round picks. Dedmon allows the Hawks to go small-ball and stretch the floor when Capela is on the bench. The Hawks completed two other small trades, acquiring guard Derrick Walton, Jr. and cash from the Clippers, and forward Skal Labissiere and cash from Portland, for a second round pick each. The Hawks also waived Chandler Parsons.
These moves give a cash influx to the Hawks for this offseason, while shoring up Atlanta’s center position for the next two years for essentially a first round pick, and two expiring contracts. This trade deadline got the Sports Power Minute’s stamp of approval.