Compiled by Mary Lou Masters

Sarah Train opened the show with some breaking news. Former FBI director James Comey made an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee today to testify over the FBI’s 2016 Russia investigation. 

The committee under Chairman Lindsey Graham has criticised the FBI’s decision-making in the early days of the investigation, saying there were inaccuracies in court filings used to obtain warrants to monitor former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. Comey claimed his bureau “did not intentionally commit wrongdoing” but did admit sloppiness from some FBI employees.

We have a new update on COVID-19 cases here at UGA. For a third week in a row, positive cases among students, faculty and staff declined, this time to 63 cases during the span of Sept. 21-27, the lowest number to date. However, Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Care Center, said that the participation in surveillance testing continues to drop. 

Student Affairs will now be launching a campaign to increase participation in voluntary, free testing through the university. UGA is using a stock of 500 rooms on and off campus for quarantine housing and at present only 4% of the housing is currently in use.

Jordan Stevenson reported that despite the large number of positive coronavirus cases in Athens, some local bars are not consenting to the city mask ordinance that was put in place back on Aug. 18. The ordinance created an implication that businesses will comply with the mask requirements but private businesses have the right to refuse this regulation. 

Mitch Jordan, owner of On The Rocks, Moonshine and 1785 Bar and Grill has taped signs around the properties that state they are not consenting to the mask ordinance and customers are accepting the risks of contracting COVID-19 upon entering the premises. According to Stevenson, the main reason for the signs was because of police harassment of customers inside his bars. 

Jarrod Miller, chief operating officer for Jordan’s bars, said that they intend to follow the law but there are certain rights to their business that they are not willing to give up. Other bars in Athens have begun to follow suit in terms of denying policing of mask coverings. City Bar, Bar South, and Sandbar are just three more on a list of 13. 

The bars are taking advantage of Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order on the exemption of private businesses. In an interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting, Kemp said, “While I support local control, it must be properly balanced with property rights and personal freedoms.” 

Laura Lenz had state news concerning several groups accusing the Georgia Department of Corrections for mishandling the coronavirus pandemic, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting. Current and former incarcerated people and civil rights groups state that proper protections are not being provided for inmates. 

The Southern Center for Human Rights is declaring a humanitarian crisis in the correctional facilities as inmates are isolated and locked in cells for days and sick inmates are not receiving proper medical attention. 

Susan Sparks Burns, mother of an inmate, created the Facebook group “‘They Have No Voice’” in 2019 to share inmate experiences. Recently, families and inmates have shared their fears of the handling of the coronavirus pandemic in correctional facilities, fearing the potential for an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. 

Burns said, “This COVID pandemic has resulted in gross understaffing, and an understaffed prison is a dangerous place.”

Since March, almost 2,000 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and there have been 66 reported deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. 

Laura Lenz also had some financial updates. The hospitality industry is facing major losses amid coronavirus shutdowns and Disney has been hit hard by COVID regulations. Both Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Disney World in Orlando Florida were closed in March due to the coronavirus outbreaks, and these closings have hurt the business and employees.

 According to CNN, Disney World is laying off 28,000 people at the Disney resorts, experiences, and products. Among the 28,000 lay-offs, 67% are part-time positions. 

These job losses are in response to losses in Disney’s earnings for 2020. In the first three months of 2020 alone, Disney’s profit dropped 91%, translating to a billion in profit lost in the first few weeks of the pandemic, according to CNN. 

Disney isn’t alone, however, as many businesses in the hospitality industry struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels of success. With business travel and convention plans cancelled, hospitality employees are hurt, with four in 10 workers losing their jobs nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And some experts think these industries won’t fully bounce back until 2023, according to NPR. 

Wood Smith had an update on the Big Tech probe in Washington. Democratic lawmakers are expected to call on Congress to blunt the power of big technology companies, possibly through forced separation of online platforms, as a House Panel concludes its Big Tech probe.

The House Antitrust Subcommittee is nearing completion of a report wrapping up its 15-month investigation of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. The report follows the committee’s collection of more than one million documents from the companies and competitors, as well as a July hearing with CEOs of the four tech giants.

Democratic Representative David Cicilline, who chairs the subcommittee, has indicated the panel is poised to recommend significant measures targeting Big Tech’s power, including requiring owners of huge technology platforms to separate those platforms from other businesses.

Cicilline hasn’t released details, but such a law could potentially ban Amazon from competing with sellers on or Google from offering services that consumers look for on its search engine.

The committee’s final report could include the platform-separation idea among a series of policy options, Cicilline has said. Others include boosting the budgets of US antitrust enforcement agencies, amending US antitrust laws with an eye toward making them less permissive and mandating “interoperability” so that consumers and businesses can more easily move from one tech platform to another.

Mary Lou Masters detailed three of Georgia’s top stories. Yesterday was the last day to vote in the special election for Sen. John Lewis’ seat from Georgia, left open after his death in July. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the district eligible to vote for this vacancy was that of Buckhead, Fulton County, some parts of west DeKalb County and north Clayton County. There are seven candidates, including five democrats, one independent and one libertarian. To win outright, over 50% of the vote would be needed; if not, the top two candidates with the most votes would go to a runoff Dec. 1. 

In other news, yesterday morning “two Fulton County sheriff’s deputies were killed…in a crash involving a tractor-trailer on I-20 in east Georgia.” Near Grovetown, Georgia on exit 190 Kenny Ingram and Anthony White ran into the back of the tractor-trailer, which was dead stopped in traffic. The two were on their way to Augusta to pick up an inmate. 

Another story tells us that “new details in the August death of Kaitlyn Yozviak were discussed during a preliminary hearing Monday.” The twelve-year-old died from cardiac arrest due to having severe anemia. Apparently, she had a horrible case of head lice that most likely went on for years, giving doctors reason to say this is what caused her severe anemia, leading to her death. This reportedly was due to parent negligence, providing “enough evidence for second-degree murder charges.” 

Sarah also reported on America’s favorite reality show. We’re just two weeks away from the new season of The Bachelorette. However, the longtime franchise is now starting to enact some much needed changes. 

Host Chris Harrison has recently discussed some changes to the show, including diversity and inclusion all across the franchise. Harrison told Entertainment Tonight that changes will be made and enacted following the executive producers’ public pledge in June. Harrison said, “Change never happens fast enough. It does take a long time to turn around a big ship. But the strides we made are now bearing fruit.”

The new season of The Bachelorette stars Clare Crawley as the bachelorette and 31 contestants, of which one third are men of color. Harrison also discussed their decision to make Matt James the new Bachelor this summer, making him the first Black bachelor. 

Also last month, it was reported that Clare Crawley had fallen for one of the contestants within two weeks of filming and would exit the show. She was apparently replaced with Tayshia Adams, who will become the franchise’s second Black bachelorette. Harrison also said that behind the scenes, the crew has become more diverse and taking more action. The new season of the Bachelorette will premiere Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. on ABC. 

Jordan Stevenson described some of the responses to last night’s debate. Last night after the first of three presidential debates, domestic polls provided information on what Americans and foreign countries thought of the debate. 

A Chinese newspaper described it as “chaos, interruptions, personal attacks and insults.” An Australian counterpart said the debate was “swamped with rancor engulfing America.” 

According to APNews, foreign observers from Asia to Africa and Europe to Australia were watching for possible impacts on financial markets and currencies but instead were given arguments with bullying and bickering. 

Kenyan commentator Patrick Gathara took to Twitter saying, “This debate would be sheer comedy if it wasn’t such a pitiful and tragic advertisement for U.S. dysfunction.” 

Mary Lou Masters followed up with some more post-debate aspects. Last night, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden had their first debate in Cleveland, Ohio, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. 

Was the long-awaited debate able to swing some voters? According to Politico, “out of 15 undecided voters…four said they were supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden after watching the debate and two backed President Donald Trump.” The remaining 9 were left undecided. 

The four that ended up supporting Biden claimed it was because of Trump’s arguing performance. One of the two that ended up backing Trump claimed he does not like Trump’s personality traits, but he trusts him on “the economy and ‘law and order.’” The voters who remain undecided are still unsure because neither candidate gave them enough to sway them last night.

Sarah Detwiler then delivered the Sports Power Minute. According to ESPN this morning, Serena Willians, three-time French Open champion, decided to withdraw from the tournament Wednesday morning because of a lingering left achilles injury. 

Williams, 39, made the announcement shortly before her second-round matchup against Tsvetana Pironkova after trying to warm up but feeling like she was moving with a limp. 

At her news conference, Williams said, “I really wanted to give an effort here. It’s my achilles that didn’t have enough time to properly heal after the [US] Open…I was able to get it somewhat better, but just looking long term in this tournament — will I be able to get through enough matches? For me, I don’t think I could. Struggling to walk, so that’s kind of a telltale sign I should try to recover.” 

Williams believes that her injury will require two weeks of rest and anywhere from four to six weeks of recovery. She said she “more than likely” will not be returning to play another tournament this year.

The Tennessee Titans have decided to shut down their facilities until Saturday after it was discovered that three players and five team personnel members tested positive for coronavirus, the NFL announced Tuesday. 

The three players — starting nose tackle DaQuan Jones, long-snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson — have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. While it is unclear whether or not the Titan’s game on Sunday in Nashville against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be played, a source told ESPN that the NFL wants and intends to have that game played as scheduled. 

On Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote, “This is not unexpected…There will be players and staff who will test positive during the season,” to the chief executives and presidents for every team in a memo, which was obtained by ESPN. 

Players who test positive for the virus but remain asymptomatic can return to practice ten days after the test or in five days if they get two consecutive negative tests during a five-day window. Those that show symptoms can return within 10 days after the first symptoms appeared and 72 hours have passed since any symptoms have ended. 

Team sources confirmed to ESPN that the Titans are planning to play this Sunday and are preparing for this game primarily through virtual film-study meetings.

Wood closed out the show with some more election coverage. Former Vice-President Joe Biden’s chances of winning in November increased overnight after his chaotic and fiery debate with President Trump, according to bookmakers. 

Betting expert Oddschecker said the debate had led to the “biggest swing in the market in six months,” with a shift of 5.63% in the Democratic former vice president’s favor. Biden’s implied probability has risen from 55.60% to 58.34%, while Trump’s has dropped from 45.50% to 42.10%. Bookmaker Betfair reported a similar trend, with Biden’s odds having significantly improved and Trump’s chances narrowed.

Meanwhile, a CNN poll suggested that six in 10 people believed Biden had won the debate, while 28% said the incumbent president emerged on top. A majority (57%) of those polled by the network said the debate did not affect their preferred choice for president, while 32% said they were now more likely to back Biden and 11% said the debate had shifted their allegiance in Trump’s direction.

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