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Alabama’s Nick Saban admits beating Georgia will be very difficult

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 11:15 AM

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts in the second half of the AllState Sugar Bowl against the Clemson Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts in the second half of the AllState Sugar Bowl against the Clemson Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Nick Saban started slowly and then picked up steam in his comments about Kirby Smart during the national championship teleconference on Tuesday.

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At first, when he was asked why he initially hired Smart as an assistant coach, he said it was because, “He was a secondary guy and we needed a secondary guy.”

But eventually he got around to praising his longtime assistant, and when he did, it was profuse.

“I was very impressed with him from day one,” Saban said on a teleconference call on Tuesday. “He’s very bright and he learned quickly. I would hire him anytime, anywhere on any staff based on his body of work he did. The nine or 10 years he was with us, he did a fantastic job.”

Now Saban will have to match wits with Smart as the mentor and protege face off in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Saban’s No. 4-seeded Crimson Tide defeated No. 1 Clemson 24-6 on New Year’s Day in the Sugar Bowl. Smart’s No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs beat No. 2 Oklahoma 54-48 in double-overtime in the Rose Bowl.

Saban was asked if he had anticipated Smart might have such a level of success so quickly at Georgia.

“Well, Georgia had a pretty good nucleus of players there; I think they had won 10 games the year he took over,” Saban said. “Now he has done a fantastic job of bringing those players along, getting those players to play with discipline and play together. They play hard, very relentless. I think this last game was sort of a reflection on the attitude he’s been able to instill to overcome adversity.”

The Bulldogs came from behind twice in the game before finally forcing overtime. In the second overtime period, Georgia got a blocked field goal from Lorenzo Carter to set up a game-winning touchdown run by senior Sonny Michel.

“To come back in a game like they did against Oklahoma, they’re playing extremely well,” Saban said. “I think that is a reflection on [Smart’s] ability and his leadership to get everybody to buy in to do things the way he wanted them to. They certainly are playing on a high level.”

Saban said he hired Smart when he did on the recommendation of assistants Derek Dooley and Will Muschamp. Smart started as defensive backs coach but quickly moved up to defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

Saban said he remains very fond of Smart and has stayed good friends with Smart and his wife, Mary Beth. Saban and Smart spent nine years with them in Tuscaloosa.

That said, he still wants to badly beat him, and vice versa.

“You don’t have to dislike somebody to compete against them,” said Saban, who has yet to lose to one of his former assistants who became head coaches. “I’m happy to see them do well wherever they go. But when we play each other, we do everything we can to try to beat them. But it’s not personal.”

Saban said beating Georgia will be very difficult.

“I don’t think there’s any question Georgia may be the best team in the country as far as the way they’re playing,” Saban said. “They have a lot of good players and they’re all playing at a very high level. I think that’s a compliment to the coach and the staff.”

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Portman: Firing Mueller would be ‘big mistake’

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 7:33 PM

            Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said today that it “would be a big mistake” for President Donald Trump to fire Independent Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian officials trying to influence the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign had any ties to those officials.

“I’ve said all along it would be a mistake to do so,” Portman told reporters on a conference call. “I think you have to let Mueller do his work. The American people deserve an answer.”

RELATED: Portman calls on pension panel to shed partisanship

Portman’s comments follow those of Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was quoted Tuesday as saying firing Mueller would “probably” be an impeachable offense. Graham had earlier said a Mueller firing would be “the beginning of the end” of the Trump presidency.

Portman said the intelligence community “has determined there was meddling in our election and we need to know more about it.”

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Mom accused of putting toddler sons in oven enters not guilty plea

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 7:04 AM

Georgia Mother Kills Two Youngest Sons By Placing Them In The Oven

A Georgia woman accused of killing her two young sons and putting them in an oven entered a not guilty plea during her arraignment Monday. 

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Lamora Williams was silent while prosecutors read the 14 charges against her. Prosecutors believe she may have burned 2-year-old Ke’Younte Penn and 1-year-old Ja’Karter Williams to make it difficult to determine how she killed them. The boys were found dead in October inside their southwest Atlanta apartment. 

>> 911 call: Mom accused in sons' oven deaths says, 'I don't want to get locked up'

Family members previously said Williams, a single mother of four, suffered from mental health disorders. Williams initially claimed she had left her children with a caregiver. 

In February, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Williams on charges that included murder, aggravated assault and concealing a death. Through her attorney, she pleaded “not guilty” to four of those charges Monday. The remainder of the charges will be addressed at her next hearing, scheduled for March 30. 

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Williams remained late Monday in the Fulton jail, where she has been held without bond since her arrest. 

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YARR! Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean reopens with new twist

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:34 AM

Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.(Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk)

Walt Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean reopened Monday at the Magic Kingdom park, with a new twist to a red-headed figure.

Guests might remember a key part of the ride where a red-headed woman was on the auction block.

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Now, the pirate auctioneer oversees a sale of the townspeople’s most prized possessions and goods, and not the women. Some of the women have also been swapped out with men from the plundered town.

 The well-known red-headed figure has “switched sides” and has become a pirate named Redd, who pillages the town’s rum supply, according to the Disney Parks Blog.

 “Just as Walt Disney embraced and encouraged Disney Parks to ‘keep moving forward’ since the opening of Disneyland Park in 1955, Walt Disney Imagineering has introduced many new characters at Pirates of the Caribbean attraction over the years,” according to the Disney Parks Blog.

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United suspends pet cargo service in wake of mix-ups, dog death

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 11:56 AM

United Airlines has suspended its PetSafe pet cargo program following multiple incidents involving pets. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
United Airlines has suspended its PetSafe pet cargo program following multiple incidents involving pets. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

United Airlines is suspending its PetSafe pet cargo program while it reviews the program. 

The suspension comes after a series of pet-related incidents, including one death, on the airline.

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The Chicago Tribune reported that United will honor reservations that have already been confirmed for the service, which books pets in the cargo section of the plane.

“We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets,” United spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the airline will stop taking reservations for the program until May 1.

Related: Dog dies on United Airlines flight after being placed in overhead bin

Spokesman Charlie Hobart told Bloomberg that part of the review of the program includes the airline considering which pets to accept. Bloomberg reported that United had previously been willing to transport dogs with an increased likelihood of in-flight death or injury, such as brachycephalic, of snub-nosed dogs.

On March 12, a French bulldog puppy died on a flight from Houston to New York when its owners said a United flight attendant insisted the pet be stored in an overhead bin. United issued a statement saying it took “full responsibility” for the death.

“This was a tragic accident that should have never occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,” United said in a statement March 13. “We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Related: ‘She took him out and he was dead:’ Owners of dog that died in United overhead bin speak out

On Tuesday, a German shepherd named Irgo was mistakenly flown to Japan in place of a Great Dane. Irgo was supposed to go to Kansas, where his family was moving from Oregon. The dog was reunited with his family Thursday.

Related: Dog mistakenly sent on United plane to Japan reunites with family in Kansas

On Friday, the airline mistakenly had a pet boarded on a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to St. Louis. Flight 3996 was diverted to Akron, Ohio, when the error was realized, according to airline spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin. The animal was “safely delivered to its owner.” Compensation aas given to passengers on the diverted flight.

According to data from the Department of Transportation, United Airlines had the highest rate of airline reports on incidents involving loss, injury or death of animals during air transportation in 2017.

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