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    Tiger Woods is starting another year at Torrey Pines, this time with higher expectations. Woods announced Wednesday that he will play in the Farmers Insurance Open next week. He has won the tournament seven times, and Torrey Pines is where he won the U.S. Open in 2008. Woods tied for 23rd a year ago when no one — himself included — was sure what to expect. He was coming off a fourth back surgery, this one to fuse his lower spine. This will be his first PGA Tour event since he won the Tour Championship last September to cap off a comeback year.
  • On each side of the abortion debate, legislators and activists emboldened by recent political developments plan to push aggressively in many states this year for bills high on their wish lists: either seeking to impose near-total bans on abortion or guaranteeing women's access to the procedure. For abortion opponents, many of whom will rally Friday at the annual March for Life in Washington, there's a surge of optimism that sweeping abortion bans might have a chance of prevailing in the reconfigured U.S. Supreme Court that includes Donald Trump's appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Legislators in at least five states — Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida and South Carolina — are expected to consider bills that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, possibly just six weeks into a pregnancy. Conversely, results of the midterm elections buoyed supporters of abortion rights in several states, including New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and New Mexico. Abortion-rights groups there are now hopeful that lawmakers will pass bills aimed at protecting access to abortion even if the Supreme Court eventually reversed or weakened the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide right to abortion. Tuesday will mark the 46th anniversary of that ruling. 'With big electoral victories in state legislatures and governorships, many states are now primed to provide the last line of defense for a woman's ability to control her body, life and future,' said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. Here are some of the notable bills likely to be considered: ___ PROTECTING ABORTION ACCESS NEW YORK: For years, Republicans who controlled the New York Senate blocked efforts to codify abortion rights in state law as a bulwark against any undermining of Roe v. Wade. However, Democrats, who have long controlled the legislature's lower chamber, took control of the Senate in the midterms, and are expected to swiftly enact the long-sought protections. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, easily re-elected to a third term, says the legislation is among his top priorities. In a recent speech, Cuomo said Trump's Supreme Court nominees 'don't even pretend to be objective jurists. They've already announced their intention to impose their morality on the nation and roll back Roe v. Wade.' RHODE ISLAND: Although abortion is readily available in Rhode Island, the state has never removed some decades-old laws that sought to restrict abortion rights. A bill to scrap those old laws, and reinforce the right to abortion in case Roe is reversed, has been reintroduced in the 2019 session after failing the past two years. A co-sponsor, Sen. Gayle Goldin, says chances are better this year because the midterms increased the number of abortion-rights supporters in the legislature. MARYLAND: Democratic House Speaker Michael Busch says lawmakers will take up a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in Maryland, in case protections are overturned or weakened by the Supreme Court or federal government. Maryland passed legislation in 1991 to protect such rights, but supporters of the proposed amendment say it would be a stronger guard against any future legislative efforts to restrict abortion. If the measure wins legislative approval in the Democrat-controlled legislature, it would go before voters in a future election. MAINE: A new Democratic governor who supports abortion rights, Janet Mills, has succeeded anti-abortion Republican Paul LePage. Mills would likely sign a recently introduced bill that would require Maine to fund some abortions that are not covered under Medicaid. Democrats control both chambers of the legislature. NEW MEXICO: Democratic legislators — who control both chambers — are backing a bill that would remove New Mexico's criminal ban on abortion. A 1969 statute made it a felony for an abortion provider to terminate a pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, birth defects and serious threats to a women's health — though the law has been unenforceable since the Roe decision. Newly inaugurated Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham — who succeeded Republican Susana Martinez — favors overturning the dormant abortion ban. ___ RESTRICTING ABORTION ACCESS OHIO: During eight years in office, GOP Gov. John Kasich signed more than 20 anti-abortion bills, but twice vetoed the most draconian measure to reach his desk — the so-called 'heartbeat bill' that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. But Kasich has now been succeeded by fellow Republican Mike DeWine, who suggests he will sign a heartbeat bill. And the proposal has finally won the endorsement of Ohio Right to Life, which previously considered it too contentious but now believes it has a chance of prevailing in court. 'With the additions of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, we believe this is the most pro-life court we have seen in generations,' said Ohio Right to Life board chairman Marshal Pitchford. 'Now is the time to pursue this approach.' KENTUCKY, MISSOURI, SOUTH CAROLINA, FLORIDA: Lawmakers in these states, where Republicans control the legislature and governor's office, also have drafted heartbeat bills for consideration this year. The South Carolina and Florida measures would require testing for a detectable fetal heartbeat prior to an abortion; anyone performing an abortion after a heartbeat was detected would be guilty of a felony. A similar measure has been filed in Missouri; its potential punishments include fines and suspension or withdrawal of medical licenses. Kentucky already is entangled in three abortion-related court cases, but Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said he would be pleased if the heartbeat bill triggered additional litigation. 'I would be proud if it's Kentucky that takes it all the way up to the Supreme Court and we challenge Roe v. Wade,' Thayer told reporters. 'That would be absolutely the pinnacle of my career in the legislature.' ARKANSAS: Like Kentucky, some of Arkansas' previously approved anti-abortion laws remain caught up in legal fights. But two new measures were filed ahead of the 2019 session: One would toughen requirements for reporting abortion-related complications to state health officials; the other would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion if they know the woman seeks it solely because the fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome. Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio previously enacted bans on Down syndrome abortions which have been blocked in federal court. Indiana is asking the Supreme Court to review its case. North Dakota enacted a similar ban in 2013 that has not been challenged; the state's sole abortion clinic says the issue hasn't arisen under its policy of not performing abortions after 16 weeks into a pregnancy. OKLAHOMA: A Republican state senator, Joseph Silk, has filed a bill that would include abortion in the state's definition of felony homicide, potentially punishable by life in prison. Its chances of advancing are uncertain, but Oklahoma lawmakers did approve a bill two years ago that would have outlawed abortion and imposed prison sentences of up to three years on anyone performing the procedure. That bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin. She has been succeeded by fellow Republican Kevin Stitt, who declined comment on Silk's bill after it was filed. ___ Associated Press writers Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
  • The winning numbers in Wednesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'Georgia FIVE Midday' game were: 3-6-0-7-2 (three, six, zero, seven, two)
  • The winning numbers in Wednesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'Cash 4 Midday' game were: 4-6-6-5 (four, six, six, five)
  • The winning numbers in Wednesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'Cash 3 Midday' game were: 5-9-4 (five, nine, four)
  • Major League Soccer MVP Josef Martinez kept insisting he was happy with Atlanta United. He backed it up Wednesday by signing a five-year contract extension with the MLS Cup champion, ending any questions about whether might be looking for another shot in Europe after a record season. No terms were released on a deal that runs through the 2023 season, but Martinez figured to get a hefty increase over the $1.4 million in guaranteed salary he received last season. The 25-year-old Venezuelan scored 31 goals in 2018, easily eclipsing the MLS record. He added four more goals in the playoffs, leading Atlanta United to a league championship in just its second season. Martinez became the first player in league history to capture the MVP award for the regular season, the All-Star Game and the MLS Cup in the same year. Martinez initially came to Atlanta United on loan from Torino in Serie A. After struggling in Italy's top division, the striker thrived with the MLS expansion team, scoring 19 goals in 20 games his first season despite missing extensive time with a quadriceps injury sustained while playing for his national team. He took his totals even higher this past year, demonstrating an ability to score with either foot and especially with his head — a credit to his fearlessness in front of the goal despite his short stature, which is generously listed as 5-foot-7. 'This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It's unique,' Martinez said in a statement. 'They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that's why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I've always had.' Martinez stressed that he is comfortable in Atlanta and has no desire to take another shot at playing in a top European league. United has set numerous attendance records over its two season, averaging more than 53,000 per game in 2018. 'I've said before that I don't want to go anywhere because this is my home,' he said. 'You can expect more work, more intensity, because that's who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.' In the MLS Cup title game last month, Martinez scored the opening goal and assisted on the second in a 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers. 'Josef is an exciting, dynamic player and has proven himself to be one of the best in MLS over the past two seasons,' team president Darren Eales said. 'We're excited to secure Josef's long-term future in Atlanta and we look forward to celebrating many more accomplishments together.' Atlanta United opened training camp Tuesday, in preparation for its first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League next month. The MLS season begins March 3. Martinez thrived under previous coach Tata Martino, who left after the season to take over the Mexican national team. He was replaced by former Dutch star and Ajax coach Frank de Boer, who looks forward to working with the record-setting striker. 'As a manager, he's the type of player you want on your team because he is intensely focused and you can count on him every time he steps on the field,' de Boer said. Notes: United also announced that defender Franco Escobar will miss six-to-eight weeks after sustaining a fractured right clavicle during the first day of training. He was a key player during Atlanta's championship run, scoring two goals in the playoffs after netting just one during the regular season. The injury puts a strain on United's depth, which already figured to be tested heading into a season that includes the extra demands of the Champions League. Escobar could miss the first two rounds of the continental championship, as well as the opening weeks of the MLS regular season. ___ For more AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Supporters of an immigration activist facing deportation are rallying in cities across the country ahead of a Thursday hearing that may decide his fate. Eduardo Samaniego, a 26-year old native of Mexico, had been a prominent voice at immigration rallies and marches in Massachusetts in recent years, sharing his experience as an undocumented student at Hampshire College and working for the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, which advocates for low-income families and immigrants. Samaniego marched 250 miles from New York to Washington, D.C., with 10 others last year to call for passage of the DREAM Act, federal legislation that would have protected certain young immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation. Rallies and vigils in Boston; Springfield, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; Los Angeles; New York; Atlanta; and Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and Thursday are calling his release. Samaniego has been in federal custody in Georgia since October, when he was arrested for failing to pay a $27 taxi fare in the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw. He told police he'd gone for a long run without his phone or wallet and had hopped in the cab because he didn't know how to get home, according to the police report. He told officers he'd moved from Massachusetts about five weeks prior. Prosecutors ultimately declined to pursue charges after Samaniego paid the fare, according to court records. But Samaniego still faces deportation because he overstayed a six-month tourist visa granted in 2009, said his lawyer, Hiba Ghalib. 'This is a difficult situation because there is no real positive solution we can expect,' she said. 'His options under our current immigration laws are extremely limited.' Supporters, led by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, complain Samaniego is being targeted because of his advocacy. They say he's been placed in solitary confinement and subjected to harassment and abuse and want him transferred to a facility in Massachusetts. Officials at the Irwin County Detention Facility in Ocilla, Georgia, where Samaniego has been held in recent weeks, didn't respond to emails seeking comment. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is furloughed during the federal government shutdown and so wasn't authorized to speak for attribution, said Samaniego was not being singled out. 'His case is being treated just like anyone else ICE encounters as a result of a local criminal arrest. There is nothing different about his case,' the official said. Maricela Samaniego, Eduardo's mother, who arrived in Georgia last month to support her son, said detention has exacerbated her son's mental health issues. She says Samaniego experiences post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety as a result of a natural gas explosion in 2015 that left him badly burned. 'Right now, I'm very overwhelmed,' Maricela Samaniego said by phone Wednesday. 'Just knowing how much he's suffering, how his human rights are being violated and that he's not well, physically and mentally.' In Atlanta immigration court on Thursday, Ghalib says she'll seek a special hearing to consider her client's competency. He is being transferred to a psychiatric hospital in Colombia, South Carolina, this week. A judge last month denied Samaniego's request to be released until his immigration case is decided.
  • The Green Bay Packers hired former Jacksonville assistant Nathaniel Hackett as their new offensive coordinator Wednesday. Hackett spent most of the last four seasons with the Jaguars as quarterbacks coach (2015-16) and then as offensive coordinator before he was fired in November after Jacksonville lost its seventh consecutive game. New Packers coach Matt LaFleur is also a former offensive coordinator, for the Los Angeles Rams and then last season for Tennessee. Green Bay has missed the playoffs two years in a row and two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is coming off an injury-marred season in which he threw only 25 touchdown passes, the lowest full-season total of his career. He also completed only 62.3 percent of his passes, the second-lowest rate of his time as a starter, and finished with a 97.6 passer rating, well below his 103.1 career rating. Longtime head coach Mike McCarthy was fired on Dec. 2 and the Packers finished 6-9-1. Hackett's disappointing season in Jacksonville came one year after the Jaguars finished in the top 10 in the NFL in points per game (26.1), yards per game (365.9), rushing yards per game (NFL-best 141.4), sacks allowed (franchise-low 24) and average time of possession (31:47). Jacksonville reached the AFC title game that year and expectations were high coming into this season. Hackett also was offensive coordinator for Buffalo from 2013-14 after three years at Syracuse. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is welcoming back K9 Officer Jeremy Mason, nearly 18 months after he was shot in the face while chasing a robbery and carjacking suspect. The shooting happened in July 2017, when police were called to 103rd Street and Old Middleburg Road, after community tips led them to believe a bank robbery suspect was in that area. Police say that suspect- since identified as 28-year-old Michael Harris- carjacked and kidnapped a woman there by getting in her car and forcing her to drive off. JSO says Mason was shot in the ensuing chase, but continued to pursue the suspect. The suspect vehicle got in a crash with a civilian car, and Mason and a detective ultimately fatally shot Harris when he refused to disarm, according to police. Mason has undergone 12 surgeries through his recovery, according to JSO. Today marks the first day back on the job for Mason and K9 Echo.
  • The Boston Red Sox are keeping their popular minor league affiliate in Maine's largest city through at least 2022. The Portland Sea Dogs announced the extension of their player development contract with the Red Sox on Tuesday. The club says the Red Sox will continue to keep their Double A-class affiliate in Portland for the longest permitted term under the existing Professional Baseball Agreement. Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett says Portland's 'passionate fan base gives our players a taste of what they will see at Fenway.' The Sea Dogs have been a Red Sox affiliate since 2003. The team routinely draws larger crowds than minor league clubs in much larger cities, such as San Antonio and Las Vegas. The Sea Dogs were previously a Florida Marlins affiliate.