A muddy, religious fight: GHSA blunders on 'wings like eagles'

On Saturday, West Forsyth’s John Green was the third runner out of 226 to cross the finish line in the Class AAAAAA state championship race at Carrollton High School. Soon after collapsing from his effort and offering, as well as receiving, high fives from opponents as they walked by the cool-down tent, Green found out he placed 226th out of 226.

Green was disqualified for having a headband with a hand-written Bible verse on it: Isaiah 40: 30-31. "Soaring on wings like eagles" and the like. Really, really controversial stuff.

The runner apparently fell afoul of the all-powerful Georgia High School Association for sporting a logo. Nike has its "swoosh," and God has trademarked that one passage from the Old Testament. Yes, adults can be that dumb.

Here’s the kicker: Forsyth County News has a photo of Green wearing the same headband in last year’s state meet. He wasn’t disqualified then.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, was quick to chime in. Expect more of this:

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The Washington Post this morning has the nuts-and-bolts on the University of Missouri communications professor who attempted to block student journalists from covering the protests on campus.

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GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has at least one pair of boots on the ground in north Georgia. The Chattanooga Times-Free Press reports that Whitfield County Republican Chairman Chuck Payne has resigned to become a district coordinator for the Carson campaign.

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Civil rights hero and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, will be the subject of an official documentary covering his whole life, the Washington Post reports:

It was a group of Lewis’s closest friends who initially broached the idea of a documentary, and the congressman didn’t need much convincing. In an e-mail Lewis said he felt “very honored that the producers and the director would want to tell my story on film.”

For about two years the team worked on putting the pieces in place, securing corporate support from companies such as as Coca-Cola and Southern Co., as well as the law firm Holland and Knight and the law firm Squire Patton Boggs. But it wasn’t until [Emmy-winning director Stanley] Nelson, who won the MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 2002, signed on that the project began to take shape. And things are moving quickly. The release date is penciled in as late fall 2016.

Sources familiar with the project emphasized the “never before seen” elements of the film, including historical photos, letters and music that Lewis has accumulated over the years. The congressman, those who know him say, is quite the collector.

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Channel 2 Action News reports that a trooper from Carroll County, fired in October for his involvement in a fatal wreck, was elected last week to the city council for the city of Buchanan.

Isabella Chinchilla, 16, and Kylie Lindsey, 17, died when the car they were riding in was hit by Trooper Anthony Scott’s Georgia State Patrol car while making a left turn in Carroll County. Investigators say he was traveling at 90 miles per hour without sirens or flashing light.

Says Scott’s attorney: "He just feels as if he was going to be a good councilmember before the accident, he'll be a good councilmember afterwards."

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11Alive has an interesting fallout piece  on Newton County’s decision to abandon plans for the Bear Creek Reservoir project.

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A string of tractor trailer accidents in Georgia and elsewhere have put a spotlight on the issue of truck safety in a pending highway bill. After a House bill raised alarm with safety advocates for loosening some restrictions, the the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to hit the brakes on oversized trucks -- though it's unclear if the language will make it into the final bill later this year.

The amendment would require a new study from the U.S. Department of Transportation before allowing trucks with two 33-foot trailers on the highway, delaying a proposed increase from current law limiting double trailers to 28 feet.

Both Georgia Republican Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson supported the effort, known as a "motion to instruct conferees." It tells a House-Senate conference committee what the Senate wants, and it carries some weight, but no one knows what the final bill will look like.

Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, praised the vote in a statement:

"Basically, no one wants these oversized trucks except FedEx and their army of lobbyists.  Opponents include law enforcement, truck drivers, trucking companies, public health and safety groups, AAA, truck crash victims and survivors, state elected officials, state trucking associations, truckload carriers, trucking companies, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the White House."

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Over at the Investigations blog, Ariel Hart has an important post about the Kate Puzey Act, a law named for a murdered Georgia woman that is intended to protect Peace Corps volunteers:

The Peace Corps has never met its own safety goals, according to the report.  It has failed to consistently measure and communicate its own safety goals and processes, “making progress tracking almost impossible.” Long delays in Peace Corps safety evaluations “could have serious repercussions for Volunteer safety.”

The document doesn’t say whether it can link the procedural failures to a specific harm that befell anyone.  But examples of gaps included failing to train significant numbers of its security personnel on GPS equipment or on how to test satellite phones and radios — think now of distant, hard-to-find volunteer homes and meeting places. ...

A separate report, released within the last month, found that after Peace Corps service, volunteers’ most common worker’s comp claims included mental and emotional conditions; and that the federal government’s goal for traumatic cases was to take 45 days (or less) to approve or deny the claim. It gave itself one year for non-traumatic cases. Over five years 3,300 returned volunteers received workers’ comp benefits.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., was the driving force behind the law. Here's what his spokeswoman, Amanda Maddox, had to say about the findings:

We are working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on any recommendations included in the report. We are also expecting the release of the annual report by the Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, created by the Kate Puzey Act, and will be working with the committee on any follow-on actions from that report as well.

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Ben Fry, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, let it be known Tuesday that he’s leaving his post for a position with UnitedHealth Group, a major insurance underwriter that has been a major source of campaign contributions for Gov. Nathan Deal – after the company lost out on a coverage contract for state employees. It’s back on the inside now.

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Count Republican operative Eric Tanenblatt as the latest party poobah to warn Georgia could turn blue, or at least a deep shade of purple, if the GOP ignores the changing demographic trends.

Writing in the Saporta Report, Tanenblatt calls the party's response to rising numbers of black and Hispanic voters the "ostrich syndrome." He says his fellow Republicans have "done miserably" at communicating policies, including criminal justice reform and school choice, that resonate with minorities.

Writes Tanenblatt:

This head-in-the-sand syndrome is a problem not only for Georgia Republican power brokers—like the Democrats of decades-past, GOP’ers will find themselves on the outs politically if they don’t soon heed the significant growth of the state’s African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic populations—but also for our state at large.

As the primary commerce hub for the entire southeast, Georgia, and in particular its capital city, has become a uniquely transient place, drawing to its borders intellectual capital from across the world. This human influx, an explosion of millennials and of people of color, is slowly refashioning the state’s electorate – and in ways that might strikingly reorder the state’s elected class if ignored.

I’ve witnessed it before, with the election Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction a dozen years ago, and my concern is that I’ll see it yet again; only now it’s my party that stands to feel the ballot sting.

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