Sarah Palin squares off against Donald Trump over Alabama senate race

The Associated Press has coined a good, quick description for the GOP end of the U.S. Senate race in Alabama: Donald Trump vs. Trumpland.

The president will be in Huntsville this evening, the headliner for a rally to boost incumbent Luther Strange, who wants to make permanent his grip on the seat given up by Jeff Sessions, now U.S. attorney general. Strange has also received a boatload of financial support from Senate Republican leaders, including Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Strange’s opponent in the Tuesday runoff is Roy Moore, a former Alabama chief justice who has twice been thrown off the bench. Moore is running ahead in most polls. And last night, after a raucous debate between the two candidates, a pair of Trump allies, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, were the featured speakers at a rally for Moore.

To keep reading the Morning Jolt, click here.

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Stephen Colbert goes after Atlanta’s Equifax

This was posted on Friday, September 22, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk

It’s hard to imagine a company getting beat up now more than Atlanta-based credit reporting company Equifax after it revealed it had been severely hacked.

Stephen Colbert grabbed his gloves and pummeled Equifax a bit more on Thursday night on his late-night show on CBS.

Hackers accessed more than 143 million people’s personal information this past summer and the company has been attempting to clean up the mess ever since.

He opened by noting that he wanted to get away from politics and “be hysterically depressed about something else.”

Since half the U.S. population was hacked, he said to the audience, “If you turn to the person next to you, that might be you again!”

He noted that Equifax waited five weeks to inform the world of the hack and joked that this is like you calling 911 five weeks late about a bloody car accident. “How do you get dried blood out of your upholstery?” he joked.

“That is horrendous,” he added, noting that there was a previous hack probably by the same intruders five months earlier. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, I am you because I stole your identity.”

The Senate is calling on the SEC to investigate three Equifax managers who sold company stock before the cyberhack was revealed. He said this is comparable to airline pilots who tellcustomers on the plane that as the mountains are rapidly approaching, they are going to test out the parachutes themselves.

You can freeze your credit but Equifax at first tried to charge people for the privilege. “They made you pay them to protect you from them,” he said. “That’s not a credit rating agency. That’s the mafia!”

Equifax set up a separate website for people to learn about the situation but mischievous bad guys set up similar websites to fool people. Then Equifax referred to the wrong website at one point. “So then Equifax sent an apology… please be cautious of visiting other websites claiming to be operated by Equifax. Plus be really cautious of websites that are operated by Equifax.”

Then he noted that Equifax is trying to stop people from using litigation to sue them. “Our right to sue is what makes us American,” he said. “It’s  up there with freedom of speech and the right to substitute onion rings with salad. What are onion rings but fried salad!”

He noted that Equifax’s customers are not you but the companies that buy your information to sell you stuff. We are like factory-farmed chickens who get free birdseed but what are those whirling blades and hook?

Colbert then posted a fake commercial for a company suggesting a way to get around the credit rating agencies: living like Ted Kaczynski in the woods.

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UGA-State: Race for second place in the SEC will be run in Athens

Happy Dan and Mrs. Mullen. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The last SEC East team to win the conference title was Florida in 2008, when Tebow was a junior. Take out Georgia’s epic near-miss against Alabama in 2012 and the closest — closest, I say — SEC title tilt over that span was Florida’s 14-point loss to Bama in 2015. Since 2009, the East champ has averaged 3.4 losses; the West champ has averaged 1.1.

The SEC West: Clearly better, right? Uh, yeah. But now we ask: The SEC West without Alabama — still clearly better?

Removing the Tide from any discussion of the West is akin to rating the Experience as a band if you take away Jimi Hendrix. (Though Mitch Mitchell was a mighty fine drummer.) But the second-best Western teams last season were — pick one, or none — Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M, each of which finished 8-5. The teams expected to finish second and third in the West this time were LSU, which just lost to Mississippi State by 30, and Auburn, which couldn’t score a touchdown against Clemson and led Mercer 17-10 with five minutes remaining.

This weekend brings an intriguing East-West game. Georgia, which should win its division, faces Mississippi State, which might finish second in its. With Jacob Eason presumably a non-participant, both quarterbacks will hail from Georgia — Jake Fromm of Houston County, Nick Fitzgerald of Richmond Hill. (Three of the past seven SEC champs have had quarterbacks from this state. None played for Georgia.)

There have been years — 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 — when the best team from the East mightn’t have finished third in the West. Georgia could be stout enough to finish second in the other division, which might say more about the other division than it does Georgia. Auburn, Texas A&M and Arkansas could be looking for new coaches two months hence. Ole Miss has an interim coach. LSU has Ed Orgeron, who should never be more than an interim coach.

That leaves Mississippi State as the non-Bama bastion of Western continuity, which again says something. In eight seasons under Dan Mullen, the maroon Bulldogs have finished above fourth in their division once. They’ve won 10 games once, and that season concluded with them being routed by Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. On paper, Mississippi State is no better than the sixth-best job in the SEC West. (Only Ole Miss is tougher, which is way tougher in the wake of Freeze.)

In its modest way, the Starkville program has become something of a beacon. No, Mullen hasn’t beaten Alabama under Saban — only two current SEC coaches have: Sumlin with Manziel and Malzahn on the Kick Six — but if we ask today, “Who’s the SEC’s second-best coach?”, the State man would get a lot of votes. Because who else is there? McElwain? Gus? Champion of Life Butch Jones?

(You know who might finish third on such a ballot? Derek Mason of Vanderbilt. Seriously.)

For all the SEC’s chest-bumping, this is a one-horse town. No other Power 5 league is so top-heavy. The rest of this conference has made moves and spent fortunes to emulate Saban — three of his former deputies are SEC head coaches — and nobody has gained an inch. Heck, the rest of the conference has lost ground. Alabama is Secretariat in the Belmont, everyone else running 30 lengths behind.

The league’s second- and third-best teams could well be on display in Sanford Stadium on Saturday night. Of the two, Georgia (on talent) would figure to be the bigger threat to Alabama. Really, though, it has been a long time since any SEC program truly threatened the Tide. The biggest and brawniest conference has broken into two divisions, and we don’t mean East/West. We mean Bama/non-Bama.

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Six takeaways from Celeste Headlee’s new book ‘We Need to Talk’

This was posted on Friday, September 22, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk 

In a world where people are more apt to text than talk to each other, conversation is a dying art.

That’s perhaps why when the main Ted Talk website highlighted Georgia Public Broadcasting host Celeste Headlee’s 2015 talk about 10 ways to make conversations better, it went viral. More than 5 million people have viewed it on the Ted site and YouTube.

Soon, book publishers came calling and she signed a deal with Harper Wave, an imprint of Harper Collins.

The result is basically a 234-page version of that Ted Talk with more insights, more research and more recommendations called “We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter.”

“I’m very serious when I say I think if people listened to each other, we can make ourselves a better place,” said Headlee during a recent lunch. “Many of our political and social problems stem from a lack of respectful and civil conversations in the world.”

“This book,” she said, “is a plea to return to humanity. Biologically, our special skill is face-to-face communication. We are evolutionarily designed to read people’s faces, pick up changes in people’s voices and sense the mood of a room. You’ll know instantly if you’re at a party or a funeral.”

She said she wanted to make it clear that she is not fashioning herself as a conversation guru, that she is just fascinated by the subject. “I try to back up how severe the problem is, explain how we got there, then offer solutions,” she said. “I put in how many mistakes I’ve made. The reason I’m an expert trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.”

Headlee brings up ways to reduce the chances a conversation on a controversial subject doesn’t de-volve into an argument because by then, nobody is listening to each other any more.

Here are six take-aways from the book:

  1. Less conversation, less empathy. The less we talk to each other, the worse our ability to connect and understand other people’s feelings and thoughts.
  2. Multi-tasking is fake news. You may think you’re great at multi-tasking but the brain isn’t really able to concentrate on two things at once. Instead, you just end up doing two things poorly. So listening to someone while perusing Facebook is not a good combination.
  3. Smartphones kill conversation. It makes sense that smartphones shrink attention span. It also makes people more apt to ignore each other at the dinner table. What’s amazing is even the presence of a smartphone on the table hurts the quality of a conversation because it reminds people of what they’re missing and takes away from their ability to focus on the person in front of them. “It’s supposed to make us more efficient,” she said, “but it wastes our time and makes us less human.”
  4. Create expectations before a serious conversation. Headlee will often set up what she needs and wants with her subject before a talk with someone on her show “On Second Thought” (9 a.m. daily on 88.5 WRAS-FM). That helps make that person more comfortable and typically improves the conversation.
  5. Being smarter doesn’t make you a better conversationalist. Smarter folks think they can have better conversations but that isn’t always the case. Supposed “smart” folks often are more likely to use erroneous assumptions and think they’re right when they aren’t.
  6. Enough about you, more about me! People get dopamine hits from talking themselves, comparable sometimes to having sex or eating chocolate. But focusing on yourself all the time doesn’t allow for the proper give and take for a truly good conversation. Sadly, humans are not terribly attuned to listening. That takes intentional, hard work.

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Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo salute Atlanta eco super heroes

Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo, who have been in Atlanta for “Avengers” action lately, paused to honor real super heroes: those working to make Atlanta eco-friendlier during ATL100. The city-wide campaign highlights efforts to embrace renewable energy solutions.

“We can do amazing things. We have the technology to do it,” Ruffalo said during a kickoff at the Plaza Theatre this week. The wind is in our sails economically, and it just takes us going out to the world and telling everybody the good news. We don’t need fossil fuels anymore. Clean energy from wind, water and sun is the fastest way to our freedom. Whoever controls your energy controls your life (and) controls your destiny. This is how way we take back our destiny, by giving energy to each and every community and letting them make, store, and sell their own energy as they see fit.”

 

Evans appeared in a video tribute to salute environmental warriors, noting, “I only play a super hero on screen.”

Check it out:

 

Ruffalo joined Solutions Project Executive Director Sarah Shanley Hope, who challenged the crowd to dream big.

“What if we powered our lives with 100 percent wind, water and sun? What if we as a city set about to make that which seems impossible happen, right here and now?” she said. “What if in our commitment to 100 percent clean, renewable energy we led the country with a plan that ensured the principles of equity—access, affordability, opportunity for those most vulnerable—lit that path for all of us?”

She noted Atlanta’s unique position of leadership on environmental issues.

“It is no accident that the birthplace of the civil rights movement is also a leader in the fight for clean energy for all,” she said. “Clean energy is a civil rights issue. The dirty energy industry’s assault on our bodies and climate causes the most violent harm in communities of color across Atlanta, Georgia, the South and our country.”

Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” has been filming in Atlanta. Following a break, work has begun on the next “Avengers” installment.

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Georgia Dreamers gird for Washington’s impending immigration fight

Jaime Rangel vividly recalls the day the letter arrived five years ago in his family’s mailbox in Chatsworth, an event that prompted his mother to burst into tears.

A Mexican native who was brought to America as an infant, Rangel learned from the letter that he had been accepted into the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program would make it possible for the former Boy Scout to get his first driver’s license and a work permit so he could support himself and go to Dalton State College, where he studies finance. Importantly, it would also remove his nagging fear of being deported to a country he doesn’t know.

Rangel, a 26-year-old Braves fan with a thick Southern accent, is fighting to retain that protection following President Donald Trump’s recent decision to phase out DACA in six months. Along with fellow activists in Georgia, Rangel is attending rallies, calling federal lawmakers and praying that Congress will pass legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, the nickname given to immigrants like him.

Conservatives in Georgia, meanwhile, are calling the White House and lobbying Congress to make sure DACA goes away for good, calling it the result of an unconstitutional end run around Congress by the Obama administration. They want Trump to stick to his campaign promise of getting tough on illegal immigration.

Read the whole story on myAJC: Battle over the fate of Dreamers flares in Georgia 

Want to know what’s really going on when it comes to Georgia politics, policy and state news? Visit politicallygeorgia.com to find our Political Insider blog, in-depth reporting, thought-provoking opinion and exclusive tools to help you navigate the world of government – and make your voice heard. Already a subscriber? PoliticallyGeorgia is included with your subscription. Haven’t yet subscribed? Sign up for your free trial at PoliticallyGeorgia.com.

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Hacked Websites Mine Cryptocurrencies

Hacked Websites Mine Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are all the rage now. Bitcoin, altcoins, blockchain, ICO, mining farms, skyrocketing exchange rates – you see or hear this everyday in news now. Everyone seems to be trying to jump on this bandwagon.

This trend resulted in emergence of online platforms that allow webmasters to install coin miners into their websites as an alternative means of monetization. The most notable platforms that provide JavaScript cryptocurrency miners for web sites are JSE Coin and Coinhive .

Continue reading Hacked Websites Mine Cryptocurrencies at Sucuri Blog.

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Police charge campaign volunteer with swiping Reed’s provocative sign

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s placard targeting Atlanta City Council president Ceasar Mitchell. AJC/Scott Trubey

Atlanta police arrested a volunteer for Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell’s mayoral campaign Thursday on charges that he swiped a provocative sign at City Hall slamming the candidate.

The placard went missing hours after Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed directed aides to post it prominently at City Hall, an apparent response to an anonymous ethics complaint that accused the city of misusing government resources to make it.

Authorities said that Terry Morris was charged with misdemeanor theft by taking after he was identified on City Hall surveillance video. It was not immediately known whether he had hired an attorney.

Read Torpy’s Take: The crazy foam board caper, only at ATL City Hall

Mitchell, a leading contender in the crowded race to succeed Reed, said Morris was an “occasional citizen volunteer” and that his campaign had no involvement in the sign’s disappearance.

“He was not instructed by the campaign to remove the signs nor was he authorized to do so,” said Mitchell. “There have been a number of negative distractions as of late and I believe it’s time to get back to the real issues that are important to the people of Atlanta. Let’s all stay focused on what really matters.”

The sign was at the center of a memorable Aug. 31 press conference held by Reed after Mitchell called for a moratorium on the approval of city contracts because he said he was worried that contracts are being “pushed through” by the mayor’s team in his final days in City Hall.

It proclaimed that Mitchell “has paid the second-highest ethics fines of any sitting elected official in Atlanta municipal government” and it caused a stir at City Hall on Wednesday when it reappeared shortly after Reed’s office responded to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the ethics complaint.

Read more: Atlanta mayor’s race: A wide-open contest that will shape the region

 

A NEW PREMIUM EXPERIENCE Want to know what’s really going on when it comes to Georgia politics, policy and state news? Visit http://ift.tt/2wa9hOU to find our Political Insider blog, in-depth reporting, thought-provoking opinion and exclusive tools to help you navigate the world of government – and make your voice heard. Already a subscriber? PoliticallyGeorgia is included with your subscription. Haven’t yet subscribed? Sign up for your free trial at PoliticallyGeorgia.com.

 

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Angelica Hale’s vocal coach: ‘She hit every single mark I asked her to hit’

AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Live Finale Results” Episode 1224 — Pictured: (l-r) Kelly Clarkson, Angelica Hale, Kechi — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

This was posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Angelica Hale of Johns Creek was not an overnight sensation. The ten-year-old vocal prodigy had been spending years in vocal training to get to the point of almost winning “America’s Got Talent” Wednesday night.

Tricia Grey, a vocal coach for 40 years with studios in Alpharetta and East Cobb, began working with Hale when she was just five years old.

At first, Grey was reluctant to take her on given her young age but she realized quickly that Hale was a fast learner.

“I’d give her something and she’d get it right away,” Grey said. “Someone else would have to practice things she’d pick up scary quick. I’ve never seen a child do that.”

Angelica’s work ethic is unparalleled, she added. “She never missed a lesson all these years,” Grey said. “She never phones it in. She’s never tired. She’s never bored even doing vocal exercises. She’d go home and work and work. Being a singer is like being an athlete. There’s a reason she has this ability to sing from the heart. She’s not worried if her voice is going to work. She knows it’s going to work. She put in the work to get it there.”

Earlier this year, Angelica’s parents James and Eva hired vocal coach Tara Simon, who has a studio in Smyrna and has experience in reality TV. Simon competed season two of the U.S. version of “The X Factor” in 2012 on Fox.

Simon came aboard after Angelica got past the first round. Via Facetime sessions, she helped Angelica shape her next four performances, including the finale. Simon said they had a month to practice the quarterfinal and semifinal performances but only five days to do “Symphony” for the finals.

“I helped designed the melodic mapping of the song and made sure she was singing with proper technique to get through such difficult material,” Simon said.  She liked the Clean Bandit song because “it showed her off in all the right places, not just in the big hook.”

Simon said she was performing herself at 5Cburch restaurant in Midtown on Tuesday night and locked herself in the women’s bathroom to watch Angelica’s performance.

“I was jumping up and down and screaming in the bathroom while she was on,” she said. “When I opened the door, five women were staring me down.”

Simon has nothing but admiration for Angelica. “I call her my little unicorn. I’ve never asked her to do something she didn’t shy away from. The kid is so courageous and a joy. I can be picky and she loves it. She thrives on it.”

She also gives kudos to Angelica’s parents. “They’re all in. Angelica is all in. There is a trifecta between parents and child. I’m grateful they entrust such a special little girl to me. It’s a calling I don’t take lightly.”

While Simon is able to teach someone like Angelica all the technical aspects of singing, she can’t create the artistry. “That I believe is channeled from a higher place,” she said. “My job is to facilitate that and take away anything that might impede that freedom.”

Warren Woodruff, a classical music specialist who teaches Angelica musicality and piano, was blown away by her last performance. “I think she outdid herself once more,” he said.

He also said despite the fact Angelica didn’t win the $1 million prize, she got just as much airtime as the winner, 12-year-old ventriloquist singer Darci Lynne Farmer.

“She has so many engagements lined up, she’ll be fine,” he said.

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How to Choose the Best Windows for Your Home

How to Choose the Best Windows for Your Home

 

When it comes to window replacement for your Atlanta home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of different choices on the market. At Echols Roofing, we have many years of experience helping homeowners select durable, attractive replacement windows that are ideally suited to our Georgia climate. Here’s our expert advice on how to choose the best replacement windows.

Make Quality a Top Priority

We’ve evaluated the offerings from leading manufacturers, and we highly recommend Simonton’s Reflection line of vinyl replacement windows. All Simonton windows are built from premium vinyl for ease-of-maintenance and durability, but two particular Reflection series stand out:

The 5050 series offers the ideal balance of workmanship quality, good looks, efficiency, and affordability, and gives you options like:

  • Attractive window styles to match your home’s architecture including slider, double-hung, picture and distinctive geometric shapes.
  • A choice of tan or white vinyl with matching grid choices.
  • Double-strength, tinted, obscure or tempered glass.

The 5500 series is the top of the Reflection line and provides many of the basic features/choices as the 5050 series, but it offers extra options like:

  • Advanced glass features for greater efficiency, security and sound dampening.
  • A three-year warranty on breakage with optional double-strength glass.
  • Beautiful Decorum® exterior color choices, as well as custom wood-grain interior laminates and premium hardware styles and finishes.
  • An extended range of styles to suit any room in your home, including casement, colonial casement, awning, bay/bow and garden windows.

Aim for Energy Efficiency

In our hot, humid climate, investing in efficient new windows can help lower your HVAC-related energy consumption and your home’s yearly cooling costs. At a minimum, choose double-pane, Argon-filled windows with a low-E coating. For maximize energy savings, opt for triple-pane, Krypton-filled windows or an Energy Star-rated glass package, like the ones offered in Simonton’s Reflections 5500 series.

Weigh the Warranty Coverage

Reputable window manufacturers stand behind their products with lengthy warranties. Simonton’s 5500 and 5050 series, for example, come with a “double lifetime warranty,” which covers the vinyl components, hardware and screens against defects, and 20-year full replacement plus 30-year pro-rated coverage on the glass unit. The “double lifetime” warranty provides coverage to the original purchaser, and it’s transferable to the next owner too.

It goes without saying that expert installation is essential for a worry-free window replacement in your Atlanta home. To learn why we’re the best, contact us today at Echols Roofing.

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