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  • Antoine Griezmann headed the ball into the net and was in full celebration mode with his France teammates when referee Felix Swayer pinned a finger into his left ear to block out the stadium noise. An assistant in front of a bank of monitors was assessing replays and had some bad news for Griezmann. Swayer was told through his earpiece that a player was offside in the buildup. The goal was then ruled out, without Swayer seeing a replay. But that won't necessarily be the case by the time video replays are fully approved to be rolled out across soccer. For now, the experimental phase is still in full flow but if refereeing leaders get their way officials should always have access to the footage themselves around the field. 'The subjective decisions should be made by the on-field referee because they have got the feel for the game,' Mike Riley, general manager of English refereeing organization, told The Associated Press. 'They can put it in the context of everything else. So as part of the process we have got to work out how we can do that as effectively as possible ... without interrupting the flow of the game.' The International Football Association Board, the game's lawmaking body, is in its second year of trials with various versions of video assistant referees (VAR). Some games, like the France-Spain friendly, do not allow the referee to evaluate incidents and instead by rely on the VAR. But VAR could end up only ruling on what Riley describes as 'decisions of fact,' such as whether a ball was inside or outside the penalty area. Ultimately, if you are appointing one of the top referees to preside over a major game, that person is seen as ideal for making the big calls, according to IFAB. 'Fundamentally we are told very much by players and coaches they want the referee to be making the most important decisions,' IFAB technical director David Elleray said, referencing England's top referee. 'They don't know who is in a van out in the car park or 300 miles away in a match center.' Soccer's lawmakers only envisage video replays being used to correct game-changing decisions involving four situations: penalties being awarded, red cards, cases of mistaken identity and goals being scored. That situation arose twice in the Stade de France on Tuesday as France lost 2-0 to Spain. After Griezmann's goal was disallowed, video replays worked against France again but in Spain's favor when an incorrect offside call against Gerard Deulofeu was overturned and his goal stood. Swayer again relied on the information from a colleague benefiting from replays. 'Nicola Rizzoli was appointed to referee the last World Cup final because he is the best referee,' Elleray said. 'But if actually the two most important decisions in the match are made by somebody watching a TV screen ... the most important person is the man you put behind the TV screen not the man on the field.' The challenges are how referees are able to view replays without lengthening the delay. For now the technology isn't satisfactory for officials to use wearable devices and receive footage in real time. That means going to the side of the field to watch incidents with the eyes of thousands of fans in the stands on them. The screens are likely to be on the opposite side to the technical area to avoid coaches being able to surround and harangue the referee. 'Some of our stadiums don't lend themselves to monitors by the side of the pitch because they are really tight,' said Riley, a former Premier League referee who is now in charge of appointments for games in the world's richest soccer competition. 'Is it right for referees to have to run 30 yards to go and look? Can you get the footage to the referee on the field somehow? All these things have to be explored through the experiment and come out with a solution that works for football.' Live experiments are taking place in about 20 competitions this year, including the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July that will serves as a World Cup test event. Once IFAB adds video replays to the laws of the game, any competition meeting the requirements will be able to use them. For Riley, permitting replays is 'the most significant change in refereeing in the game for generations,' far more significant than the 2012 decision to allow technology that simply determines whether the ball crossed the goal line. 'If you are making such a significant change,' Riley said, 'you need to really explore and understand all the potential implications.' ___ Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports
  • Samsung seems to be playing it safe with its first major smartphone since the embarrassing recall of its fire-prone Note 7. The Galaxy S8 features a larger display than its predecessor, the Galaxy S7, and sports a voice assistant intended to rival Siri and Google Assistant. But there is no increase in battery capacity, providing the battery more breathing room. The Note 7 pushed the engineering envelope with its battery, which contributed to a series of spontaneous smartphone combustions. The Galaxy S8 will come in two sizes, both bigger than last year's models. Both models have screens that curve around the edges and get rid of the physical home button. The Note 7 recall cost Samsung at least $5.3 billion. Though many customers remain loyal, any further misstep could prove fatal for the brand. 'We're in the process of earning back that trust,' said Drew Blackard, a senior director of product marketing for Samsung. In the U.S., Samsung will start taking orders Thursday, with shipments scheduled for April 21. Prices haven't been announced yet. ABOUT THAT BATTERY Samsung has blamed the Note 7 fires on multiple design and manufacturing defects in its batteries. Inspectors concluded that the initial batteries were too small for their capacity, and that their external pouch put pressure on the internal structure, leading to damage and overheating. Samsung recalled the phones and shipped replacements, but the newer batteries had welding defects and a lack of protective tape in some battery cells. Samsung recalled the replacements, too, and scrapped the phone. The company says phones will now go through multiple inspections, including X-rays and stress tests at extreme temperatures. The standard-size S8 phone has as much battery capacity as last year's Galaxy S7, but the phone is 4 percent larger by volume. The larger S8 Plus model has 3 percent less capacity than the Galaxy S7 Edge and the same capacity as the Note 7, but the phone's volume is larger by 12 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Both models have larger displays, meaning more drain on the battery. Samsung says that software and processor efficiencies will let the new phones offer all-day battery life under normal use. BIGGER, WIDER SCREENS The S8 phone's display measures 5.8 inches diagonally, compared with 5.1 inches on the S7. The S8 Plus will be 6.2 inches, compared with S7 Edge's 5.5 inches and the Note 7's 5.7 inches. Both S8 models are taller than their predecessors, but widths are roughly the same to preserve one-handed use. Samsung is getting rid of the 'Edge' distinction and bringing curved sides to all S8 phones. It's also minimizing the frame, or bezel, surrounding the display; gone is a horizontal strip with the home button at the bottom. Instead, Samsung is embedding a virtual home button in the display, leaving Apple's iPhones as among the few to sport a distinct home button. VOICE ASSISTANT Samsung claims its new voice assistant, Bixby, will do much more than rivals from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon. For one thing, Samsung says Bixby will be able to handle any smartphone task currently managed by touch. Bixby will also offer information on books, wine and other products scanned with the phone's camera. But there's a major caveat: Bixby will work only with selected Samsung apps, including the photo gallery and messages. Not all touch commands will have voice counterparts right away. Other apps will be able to adopt Bixby, but Samsung has had a mixed track record in getting other companies to support its home-brewed functions like Bixby. 'I think the brand will struggle to compete in the longer term with the broader digital ecosystems from Google, Amazon or Apple,' Forrester analyst Thomas Husson said. OTHER FEATURES The front camera is getting a boost to 8 megapixels, from 5 megapixels, while the rear one stays at 12 megapixels. As with previous models, the S8 is water and dust resistant and features a memory card slot to supplement 64 gigabytes of built-in storage. The S8 will get an iris scanner to let people unlock the phone by looking at it ; the feature was new in the ditched Note 7 phone. Samsung will include premium earbuds from AKG, a brand it acquired when it bought Harman International. BEYOND THE S8 Samsung's virtual-reality camera, Gear 360, will now accommodate a higher resolution, known as 4K, and work with iPhones, not just Samsung phones. An optional docking station will turn the S8 phone into a desktop computer when connected to a regular TV. In that mode, people will be able to resize windows and work with several apps at once. It's similar to what Microsoft offers on its Windows 10 phones. Samsung also unveiled a router that doubles as a hub for internet-connected appliances and lights. Samsung said its previously announced Gear VR headset upgrade, which will now include a hand-held controller, will go on sale in April for about $130. Existing owners can buy just the controller for about $40. The company hasn't announced prices and release dates for the other accessories.
  • A hip-hop promoter arrested after a shooting involving hip-hop star Fetty Wap in his New Jersey hometown is also facing an armed robbery charge. Passaic County prosecutors say Raheem Thomas had a handgun and hollow point bullets when he was arrested on the armed robbery charge, so he's also facing weapons charges and a count of receiving stolen property. Thomas is due to appear in court Wednesday. It's unclear if he's retained an attorney. The shooting happened early Sunday on the street outside a Paterson deli. Police say Fetty Wap and several friends had become involved in a heated altercation with another group inside the deli. Three people were wounded, but Fetty Wap was OK. Thomas is also charged with aggravated assault and having a gun after previously being convicted of a felony.
  • A high school in Jackson County was evacuated Wednesday morning over reports of a possible gunman. Jackson County Comprehensive High School was evacuated around 8 a.m. and all other Jackson County schools were placed on lockdown. On scene at Jackson County High School where police searching for reported gunman. No one hurt pic.twitter.com/TKFtYNZNI0-- Tony Thomas (@TonyThomasWSB) March 29, 2017 Jefferson Police Chief Joseph W. Wirthman told Channel 2 Action News there were no reports of gunshots but police were searching one of the schools for a possible gunman. Both schools were cleared around 9 a.m. The lockdown was lifted a short while later. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to assist. Around 9:15 a.m., the GBI released a statement saying the situation was contained. No shots were fired and no gunman has been identified, according to agents. TRENDING STORIES: Thousands of Georgians could lose food stamps next week Police: 40 shots fired in drive-by that injured teen, 2 others Former Roswell city councilman indicted on child sex-related charges The school district said it decided to evacuate the school after an anonymous phone call alleging a threat. Jackson County schools said the GBI told them it appears this may have been a hoax. Jackson County High School students are all safe and are returning to class. At this point, GBI tells us, this appears to be a hoax.-- Jackson Co. Schools (@JCSchoolSystem) March 29, 2017 Jackson County High School is located at 1668 Winder Highway in Jefferson. East Jackson High School is located at 1435 Hoods Mill Road in Commerce. Jackson County sheriff deputies were also at the schools and managing the situation. We have reporters and photographers at the school working to learn more from police. Stay with WSBTV.com and watch Channel 2 Action News at Noon for updates on this developing story.