Compiled by Mary Lou Masters
Conner Hendricks opened up the show with breaking news. Concerning the investigation of the death of Breonna Taylor, CBS reports that the grand jury recommends officer Brett Hankinson be charged with three counts of first degree wanton endangerment for firing into a neighbor’s home but none of the officers are being charged with Taylor’s death.
Taylor died after being shot by Louisville Metro Police in her home on March 13 when the department served a narcotics warrant for her apartment. Her boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired at the police believing they were intruders.
In other news, UGA’s COVID-19 positive numbers for the past week are out, and they’ve fallen again for a second week. According to The Red & Black, 153 students, 10 staff members and no faulty have tested positive. UGA’s University Health Center says the positivity rate is 3.55%. The UHC tested nearly two thousand people last week, which is a new high. Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the UHC and chairman of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task force, said he’s glad the decrease in positive cases last week was not an anomaly.
Jordan had the latest local news. The Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections has officially dedicated the University of Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum as an early voting location. On Oct. 27-29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the registered voters of the Athens community will be able to cast an early vote on campus. The decision comes after a public outcry following UGA’s ruling that the Tate Student Center will not be a potential polling place.
Originally, both Tate and Stegeman had been used for early voting in the past but due to limitations imposed by COVID-19, UGA decided not to offer them as polling places citing insufficient indoor space and social distancing guidelines. ACC Director of Elections and Voter Registration Charlotte Sosobee said UGA denied access to Stegeman because of liability issues.
After online criticism from the Athens community concerning UGA’s decision, the University swiftly proposed the Coliseum to ACC and the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office as an early voting location.
Following an inspection of the Coliseum by members of the ACC Board of Elections, Stegeman was cleared to be used for early voting in October. Sosobee expects a turnout of around 1,500. For more information visit the board of elections page at acc.gov.
Laura reported on state news, concerning Congress launching an investigation this week into unwanted medical procedures at the Irwin County Detention Center, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting. This investigation is in response to a whistleblower complaint that immigrant women underwent gynecological procedures without their consent at a South Georgia ICE facility.
Dawn Wooten, a nurse who had worked at Irwin County Detention Center, stated that a “high amount” of hysterectomies were performed on women at the facility without informed consent. A hysterectomy is a procedure that removes the uterus, which can prevent that individual from menstruation or pregnancy.
Democratic lawmakers are requesting documents about gynecological care at the facility as well as communications between officials at Irwin County Detention Center and medical providers, going back as far as 2015.
This isn’t the first time these facilities have been under scrutiny for verbal and physical abuse. A 2017 report by Project South Legal, an Atlanta-based social justice organization, described dozens of complaints of abuse. Azadeh Shahshahani, the advocacy director of Project South legal, is pushing for a congressional investigation into the actions of the Irwin County Detention Center.
“This facility needs to be shut down. We are not talking about the actions of one individual, we are talking about the whole system,” Shahshahani said.
Laura continued with the latest financial updates. Johnson & Johnson entered the final stage of clinical trials this week for a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New York Times. Despite their later start in the race for a vaccine, these trials will administer the single-dose vaccine to 60,000 participants, almost twice the size of their competitors.
The other vaccine frontrunners, Moderna and Pfizer require two doses and storage in subzero temperatures, which pose significant challenges for the distribution of their vaccines. However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doesn’t need to be stored in below-freezing temperatures and could be administered in just one dose.
Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, stated on Tuesday that the company may be able to determine if the vaccine is safe by the end of 2020. And a safe and reliable vaccine could be the key in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Judith Feinberg, vice chairwoman for research in medicine at West Virginia University, said that if effective, the vaccine could greatly accelerate efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Wood detailed the remembrance of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Official commemorations of the late justice begin at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, honoring the second female justice appointed to the Court who became a feminist icon during her time on the bench.
Justice Ginsburg’s casket is set to arrive Wednesday morning at the Supreme Court, where a private service is planned for the court’s Great Hall attended by the justice’s family, her close friends, and other members of the court.
Ginsburg will lie in repose beginning Wednesday at the top steps of the Supreme Court to allow for public viewing through Thursday evening, the court said. Justice Ginsburg will then lie in state in the U.S. Capitol, with a formal ceremony Friday morning. She will be the first woman in the nation’s history to receive the honor.
Amid the celebrations of her life, the political struggle over her successor is expected to dominate the Capitol. President Trump has said he has a short list of five women he is considering to fill the Court’s vacant seat, and he has begun meeting with possible nominees. US Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit is thought to be a leading contender as is Judge Barbara Lagoa of the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, according to a Republican close to the process.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined Tuesday to specify when the Senate might vote on a nominee, saying that Senator Lindsay Graham would decide the process after President Trump states his pick this weekend. GOP Senators said there appeared to be internal support for confirming a nominee before the election. Were President Trump to lose, confirming a justice chosen by a defeated president in the remainder of his term could pose new political challenges.
Mary Lou reported on the twin US Senate seat elections in Georgia. Polling shows the election for the two U.S. Senate seats for Georgia may still be up for grabs. The regular election is between first term incumbent Republican Sen. David Purdue and his Democratic opponent, John Ossoff. The special election is between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Republican Rep. Doug Collins, and Democratic Reverend Raphael Warnock.
A recent Atlanta Journal Constitution poll shows Republican Sen. Purdue and Democratic challenger Ossoff running neck and neck. According to the AJC, “both candidates have consolidated support of their core constituencies, but there’s a sharp split among independents,” which typically leans Republican. Polling data shows this split among independents as 31% for Purdue and also 31% for Ossoff.
The special election, consisting of 21 candidates, will be that of a jungle primary where “it is an all-comers race, allowing multiple people from a single party to participate in the election,” according to 11 Alive. In this type of election, a candidate would have to receive over 50% of the vote to win outright; if this does not happen, the two candidates who received the most votes will go to a runoff, regardless of party identification.
Republican Sen. Loeffler was appointed by Governor Kemp this past year to serve out the remainder of Johnny Isakson’s term. Republican Rep. Collins is coming for her appointed seat, followed by Warnock, the Democratic Reverend of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. Polling data indicates the frontrunners to be Loeffler and Collins, giving Loeffler “a 47-40 edge over Collins,” with the runoff likely being between the two.
Sarah had the story about Ellen Degeneres finally returning for Season 18 of her show after Warner Brothers conducted an investigation in July, and former employees complaining of a toxic workplace. After trying to be lighthearted and even cracked a couple jokes, she opened her show with an apology.
“I learned that things happen here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously. And I want to say, I am so sorry to the people who were affected,” Degeneres said.
It comes after Buzzfeed news reported in July that former employees experienced racism, fear, intimidation and sexual harassment. Warner Brothers, the studio that distributes the Ellen Show, conducted an internal investigation in August, which eventually led to three staff members being let go including producer Ed Glavin, producer Jonathan Norman, and Kevin Leman, the head writer. After the conclusion of the investigation, Degeneres sent an apology email and another apology over video conference.
During her opening monologue, Degeneres discussed how she is not the person she portrays on TV. She opened up about how she’s working on herself, and will continue to make necessary changes, which earned applause from her virtual audience. She was onstage with her DJ known as tWitch, who applauded her throughout her speech. Degeneres then introduced the first guest of her show, actress Tiffany Haddish.
Later on, actor Alec Baldwin made an appearance and told Degeneres to “keep going.” However, not everyone was satisfied with her on-air apology. Former employees told Buzzfeed News that they thought her monologue was tone-deaf given the severity of their situation.
The employees said that they were disappointed she made jokes about their own trauma. One employee even said she didn’t appreciate Ellen making the situation about herself and not the victims of the situation. Ellen Degeneres has not publicly responded to these comments.
Jordan reported on Finland deploying coronavirus-sniffing dogs at the country’s main international airport as a part of a four month program that is trying a new and alternative testing method for identifying infected travelers.
According to AP News, four dogs of different breeds trained by Finland’s Smell Detection Association began their important work last Wednesday at the Helsinki Airport. Not only is it cost effective, but professor of small animal medicine, Anna Bjorkman, says that it’s “a promising method” as canines are a species with a heightened sense of smell.
Passengers and travelers who wish to be tested do not have direct contact with the dogs. They are simply asked to rub their skin with a wipe which is then deposited into a jar that is presented to the dog in a separate booth. Bjorkman says it takes the dog a staggering 10 seconds to identify the presence of the virus before barking, scratching, or another way of communicating the conclusion.
However, the dogs’ results are not absolute. If the dog senses the virus on a sample, the corresponding passenger is asked to take a more scientific test to check accuracy. More details of the canine testing methods can be found at apnews.com
Mary Lou brought some news regarding a possible government shutdown. The House of Representatives passed a bill late last night to keep the government funded through December to avoid a government shutdown. According to The Washington Post, “the 359-to-57 vote sends the legislation to the Senate, which could take it up later this week and send it to President Trump.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the bill on Monday that was met with Republican opposition. Pelosi initially did not designate aid for a farm bailout program, causing dissent from Republicans and the Trump administration and therefore a delay in the process.
Pelosi then met with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to foster a deal. According to The New York Times, the two “revived negotiations and ultimately agreed to include the agricultural funding with a provision that it could not be used for payments to fossil fuel importers and refiners.”
Along with this addition, they also included $8 billion designated to assist children and families who urgently needed nutritional assistance due to the pandemic.
Sarah then had all the sports news updates. ESPN announced this morning that the Georgia athletic department is disputing a former football player’s claims that it maintains an “unsafe, unsupportive, or racially insensitive environment.” Otis Reese, former Bulldog safety, posted a statement to social media Tuesday night and wrote that his time on the team “took a devastating mental toll” on him. According to Reese’s lawyers, Reese, who transferred to Ole Miss in January, is seeking waivers from the NCAA and SEC to play for the Rebels this season.
Reese said he submitted to the NCAA a text message between him and Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart on Oct. 4, which Reese says verifies his plans to leave. Reese wrote, “I was led to believe by Coach Smart that if I finished the season and not ‘Let my team down’ as he requested, he would support both my decision to transfer and my request to be immediately eligible.”
According to ESPN, Georgia has also opposed an SEC waiver from former offensive lineman Cade Mays, who transferred to Tennessee. Mays was granted a waiver last week from the NCAA after initially being denied, but he still needs one from the conference in order to play this season.
Smart told reporters on Tuesday, “Unfortunately I’m not able to respond to that, so in due time that will play itself out, but it’s not something I’m allowed to comment on.”
In an interview with WJOX-FM in Birmingham Alabama, on Wednesday morning, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was asked about players like Mays and Reese, who are waiting for a decision on their intraconference waivers: “There is a very direct rule that says if you transfer from School A to School B in the SEC, you serve an academic year of residence…We’re inviting people to campus knowing there’s a clear rule and everyone points and says, ‘Well you need to let people out of that rule.’”
Wood closed out the show with some coverage on the election. President Trump publicly insists he doesn’t rehearse for debates, claiming recently that he is preparing for his first debate on Tuesday in Cleveland with Democratic nominee Joe Biden “just by doing what I’m doing.”
But behind the scenes, Trump is quietly studying videotapes of Biden’s debate performances in 2008 and 2012 to look for weakness or vulnerabilities he can exploit. He is batting around attack lines with aides, and not holding more formal mock debates or sessions devoted to memorizing facts and data points.
For his part, Biden is huddling with a small group of advisors in Wilmington, Delaware. The former Vice-President plans to attack Trump’s leadership as unsteady, challenge several of the president’s claims and contrast his own experience in a crisis.
The Sept. 29th face-off will be moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace and will feature 15-minute segments on six topics: the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and policing, election integrity and both Candidates’ records.