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State & Regional

    ATLANTA (AP) - As Atlanta prepares to host a Democratic presidential debate, a Democrat who narrowly lost last year's Georgia governor's race is warning about voter suppression. Stacey Abrams addressed a panel discussion Tuesday in one in a series of Democrat-hosted events ahead of the debate. She said voter suppression can involve whether people can register and remain on the voter rolls, and whether their ballots can be counted. Abrams also spoke out against what she called restrictive voter ID laws that can exclude many disabled people. She said that hers was 'one of the only campaigns that had disability advocates at the tables from the very beginning.' Democrats have suggested that Abrams lost the close 2018 gubernatorial election because of voter suppression, despite record turnout. Republican officials have denied suppressing votes.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - The Braves are not promising Will Smith the closer's role. Smith isn't complaining. During his first news conference with his new team on Tuesday, Smith said he's fine with pitching in any inning. The Georgia native said he's just happy to move close to home and to pitch 'for an organization I grew up watching with my family.' A 30-year-old left-hander, Smith wore No. 47 as a kid because that was Atlanta left-hander Tom Glavine's number. Smith agreed to a $40 million, three-year contract with the Braves on Thursday following an All-Star season with San Francisco. The free agent turned down a $17.8 million qualifying from San Francisco and agreed to a deal that includes a $13 million annual salaries and a $13 million club option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout. Smith's former clubhouse neighbor with the Giants, Mark Melancon, was 11 for 11 in saves opportunities with the Braves in 2019 following a midseason trade from San Francisco. Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Melancon is expected to enter spring training as the closer. The GM noted the decision will be made by manager Brian Snitker. It would not be a surprise if Smith wins the job. He posted a 2.76 ERA with a career-best 34 saves last season for San Francisco. 'Will Smith is one of the better relievers in the game,' Anthopoulos said. 'It's a big add for us. We made our bullpen a lot better today.' Left-hander Sean Newcomb, who started only four games before pitching well out of the bullpen last season, will have another opportunity to win a spot in the rotation. Anthopoulos said that decision was made before the team signed Smith. Teams are increasingly willing to utilize elite relievers in clutch situations before the ninth inning. Anthopoulos said he could foresee Smith being called on in the seventh or eighth innings, depending upon matchups and game situations. Smith endorsed that strategy. He said a successful bullpen is filled with pitchers who see themselves as 'the closer of that inning,' no matter when they enter a game. 'If everybody takes that attitude, I think we're going to be all right out there,' he said. Smith is a native of Newnan, Georgia - about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta. He said his family frequently attended Braves games. With Smith playing home games in California, however, it was difficult for his Georgia family to follow his career. 'They would set an alarm for 12:45 to check the score and see if it was a save situation,' Smith said. Smith said playing so close to home 'was huge' in his decision to sign with Atlanta. He said he also wanted to play for a winner, and the Braves have won two straight NL East division titles. Atlanta struggled to find consistency at the back end of its bullpen last season. Anthopoulos made three trade-deadline deals to acquire relievers, adding Melancon, Shane Greene from Detroit and Chris Martin from Texas. Bullpen woes hurt the Braves in their NL Division Series loss to St. Louis. Atlanta led 3-1 going to the eighth inning of the opener, but Luke Jackson and Melancon struggled in a 7-6 loss. Anthopoulos shot down any notion that he'll be looking to trade Greene after adding Smith. 'We're trying to have a deep bullpen,' Anthopoulos said. 'We like Shane. We're excited to have him.' Anthopoulos is looking for help at other spots, including third base. The team has made a qualifying offer to Josh Donaldson, who became a free agent after hitting 37 homers and driving in 94 runs with Atlanta. Among other notable free-agent third basemen are Anthony Rendon and Mike Moustakas. 'There are a lot of good players out there,' Anthopoulos said. 'We're going to see if we can get something done.' If the Braves can't re-sign Donaldson or add another top third baseman, Johan Camargo and Austin Riley likely would compete for the job in spring training. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Longtime Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has been more open to giving freshmen a shot at playing time in recent years. The shift might have saved the Hawkeyes' offense this fall. Redshirt freshman receiver Tyrone Tracy and true freshman running back Tyler Goodson, both third options entering the season, have become invaluable. Tracy had six catches for 77 yards in last week's 23-19 win over then-unbeaten Minnesota, and Goodson had a season-high 94 yards on 13 carries in his first career start. The 19th-ranked Hawkeyes (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) host Illinois (6-4, 4-3) on Saturday in their home finale. 'They've got a lot of ability, which gives them a great start,' quarterback Nate Stanley said 'But their work ethic puts that over the top for them. Every single day in the offseason and during camp and in practice...they've both done a great job of paying attention to detail, being focused on the fundamentals.' The 5-foot-11 Tracy was overlooked in recruiting despite putting up spectacular stats at Decatur Central High in Indianapolis. Tracy, playing running back, receiver and defensive back, rushed for 1,412 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 54 passes for 1,132 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2017. Iowa used the new four-game rule on redshirts to get a look at Tracy last season. Tracy came into this year as a backup option behind Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who said Tracy has a knack for 'turning little plays into big ones.' With Smith hobbled by a sprained ankle, Tracy has had his best games with Iowa over the past two weeks. He had 130 yards receiving against Wisconsin, including a late 75-yard score off a short pass that pulled Iowa within 24-22, which ended up the final score. Tracy is averaging a team-high 18.3 yards per catch. 'He's a very explosive player. He's hard to bring down (as a) short, stubby person. It's hard to bring him to the ground. He's already low,' Smith-Marsette said. 'He's been doing a great job of catching the ball and making something out of it.' Goodson, a Georgia native and the rare recruit that the Hawkeyes pulled out of SEC country, committed to Iowa even though he had the likes of veterans Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young ahead of him. Goodson showed promise as a third-stringer and Iowa used in its passing game earlier this season, too; he has 20 catches for 143 yards. But after losing three of five and facing the Golden Gophers, the coaching staff turned to Goodson as a starter. Goodson responded with 7.2 yards per carry and a 10-yard TD to give the Hawkeyes a 13-0 lead. He is Iowa's leading back in Big Ten games at 4.9 yards per carry. 'It just felt like, last week, it was time to give Tyler a chance to start. And he responded really well,' Ferentz said. 'Everything he's done so far, he's responded really positively.' Tracy was unavailable to reporters Tuesday because of an academic conflict, and Iowa doesn't make true freshmen like Goodson available to the media. ___ More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'All or Nothing Day' game were: 02-03-06-08-09-10-14-17-18-20-21-24 (two, three, six, eight, nine, ten, fourteen, seventeen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-four)
  • ATLANTA (AP) - A white 16-year-old girl is accused of plotting to attack a mostly black church in a north Georgia city, where police say she planned to kill worshippers because of their race. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church has a predominantly black congregation, Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said in a Tuesday statement. 'Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,' he said. Students, school administrators and law officers worked together to thwart a 'potentially horrific incident,' he added. The plot came to light when Gainesville High School students told administrators the 16-year-old had a notebook with detailed plans to kill worshippers at the church, Parrish said. 'It just grieves my spirit on a number of different levels, one that the intentions of this young person were so calculated to do great harm against people who just simply had no knowledge of such a plot,' said The Rev. Rose Johnson Mackey, director of the Newtown Florist Club, a civil rights organization founded in Gainesville 70 years ago. The girl is charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, the police chief said. She's being held in a youth detention center in Gainesville. Specific details of the alleged plot haven't been released, but Parrish said it came to light Friday when school administrators contacted police. 'We're just very pleased that our police department acted so swiftly, and the police department in conjunction with our school administrators were just on top of the situation,' Johnson said. Gainesville is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta. It's a city of just over 40,000 people, about 17% of whom are African-American. The alleged plot comes amid a long history of black churches being bombed, burned and shot up across the South - hate crimes that continue today. White supremacist Dylann Roof fatally shot nine black church members during their Bible study lesson at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, during the summer of 2015. Roof later told FBI agents he had hoped the killings would perhaps start a race war. More recently, the white son of a sheriff's deputy was arrested in April and accused of a setting fires that destroyed three black churches in rural Louisiana. Holden Matthews is awaiting trial on arson and hate crimes charges in the Louisiana church burnings. In the Georgia case, police did not release the girl's name Tuesday.
  • California defensive back Ashtyn Davis, Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes are finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which honors the top college football player who began his career as a walk-on. Davis is one of the top safeties in the country, ranking third on Cal in tackles with 49. Blankenship is 19 for 22 on field goals this season and has scored 92 points for Georgia. Willekes has 10 tackles for loss, including 6 sacks for Michigan State. The trophy is named for former Arkansas offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth, who went from walk-on to All-American. Burlsworth was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round in 1999 but was killed in a car accident less than a month later. ___ More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'Cash 4 Midday' game were: 4-5-8-4 (four, five, eight, four)
  • ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'Georgia FIVE Midday' game were: 6-4-1-0-1 (six, four, one, zero, one)
  • ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'Cash 3 Midday' game were: 1-1-5 (one, one, five)
  • NEW YORK (AP) - Amid their annual vigils for transgender homicide victims, trans rights activists in the U.S. are trying to maintain long-term optimism even as many hard-won protections are under threat. Just a few weeks ago, President Donald Trump's administration argued before the Supreme Court that employers should be allowed to fire workers because they are transgender. The administration also has moved to revoke health care discrimination protections for trans people, rescind trans-friendly guidelines for students' access to school bathrooms, and sharply restrict trans people's ability to serve in the military. 'These government actions send a dangerous message to transgender and non-transgender people alike that trans people should exist outside the law and be subjected to subhuman treatment,' said Chase Strangio, a trans rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. He is on the legal team representing Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman fired by a Michigan funeral home, in the pending Supreme Court case. Strangio and other activists contend that political efforts to roll back transgender rights contribute, at least indirectly, to the persistent phenomenon of anti-trans vitriol and violence. They note that in the FBI's latest hate crimes report, issued last week, the number of trans people who were targeted rose from 119 in 2017 to 160 in 2018 - a 34% increase. Advocacy groups say 22 transgender or gender-nonconforming people have been victims of fatal violence so far this year; they will be honored in Wednesday's annual Transgender Day of Remembrance events. The year-to-date death toll of 22 is close to the annual average for recent years, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ rights organization that on Monday released a report tallying 157 violent deaths of transgender people in the U.S. since 2013, about 80% of them trans women of color. 'Some of these murders are explicitly motivated by hate, but all of them exist in context of systemic barriers that are influenced by hate,' said Sarah McBride, a trans activist who is the Human Rights Campaign's national press secretary. 'The discrimination that trans people face pushes them out of a stable life and into circumstances where they're more likely to face violence.' During Barack Obama's presidency, the cause of transgender rights advanced on numerous fronts, notably with policy changes enabling trans people to serve openly in the military. Trump, via a tweet in 2017, vowed to reverse that policy and ban trans people from military service altogether. To a large extent, the ban remains in place, despite lawsuits challenging it, said Shannon Minter, who waged some of that litigation as legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. 'Being transgender is now a bar to enlistment and a ground for discharge for those already serving,' said Minter, a transgender man. 'The only trans people permitted to serve openly are those who came out under the prior open service policy.' The administration and various conservative advocacy groups 'are attempting to demonize transgender people for short-term political gain,' Minter said, but he believes the tactic eventually will backfire. 'The more politicians and organizations attack transgender people ... the more they are ultimately helping to raise the visibility of these important issues and giving trans people an opportunity to show the public who they really are,' Minter said. Unquestionably, issues of gender identity can provoke visceral public debate. In Connecticut, for example, three girls who competed in high school track filed a federal discrimination complaint in June saying the state's inclusive policy on transgender athletes has cost them top finishes and possibly college scholarships. 'We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it's demoralizing,' said Selina Soule, of Glastonbury High School, after losing a 55-meter dash to a transgender girl. In Texas, top Republican politicians became engaged in a battle between divorced parents over their 7-year-old child's gender identity. The mother says the child, identified as a boy at birth, now identifies as a girl and prefers to be called a female name. The father says the child acts like a boy around him and launched a website in which he pleads for help to 'save' his child. At one point, Attorney General Ken Paxton asked that the mother be investigated for possible child abuse. The Federalist, a conservative online magazine, ran a column by gay conservative Chad Felix Greene calling on Republican-controlled legislatures to outlaw gender transition medical procedures for minors. Some trans rights activists view the controversies over sports participation and parental decisions as evidence that trans people have become a target of choice for social conservatives who failed to stop the legalization of same-sex marriage. 'We have to be wary any time an entire segment of a population is being used as a political wedge to divide people,' said activist Gillian Branstetter. 'It's done by a desperate group of folks upset they lost the marriage equality fight and looking for a new fundraising tool.' Branstetter spoke with The Associated Press on Friday, her last day as a spokeswoman for the National Center for Transgender Equality. Its staff shrank from more than 20 to less than 10 amid recent disputes over its leadership, staff diversity and a unionization drive. For all the setbacks, trans rights activists have had recent occasions to celebrate, ranging from the critical acclaim for 'Pose,' a TV series featuring several trans characters, to the Nov. 5 reelection of trans legislator Danica Roem to Virginia's House of Delegates. Andy Marra, executive director of the Transgender Defense and Legal Education Fund, said there are now 23 openly trans elected officials nationwide. She noted that Georgia's state university system recently agreed to end a policy barring its transgender employees from coverage for trans-related health care. In Congress, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would extend a wide range of nondiscrimination protections to trans people. It is given virtually no chance of enactment while Republicans control the Senate. 'The legislative, judicial and executive possibilities are constrained at the federal level for the immediate future,' said the ACLU's Strangio. 'But as always, our communities have shown tremendous resilience and the ability to create magic and beauty out of so little.' About 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law specializing in LGBT issues.