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Glenville State Announces Interim Athletic Director

Glenville, WV – Glenville State College and President Dr. Peter Barr is pleased to announce and appoint Marcal Lazenby, Class of 2008, as Interim Athletic Director effective July 01, 2015. He has served as Assistant Athletic Director since 2010.

Marcal, in his current role as Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance, he has assured college, conference, and NCAA DII athletic and academic compliance and has played a significant role in expanded athletic fundraising. He is also a member of MOAA and NACDA.

The Gilmer Free Press


Marcal is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, he came to Glenville State in 2003 where he was a member of the Pioneer Football team. Lazenby was the starting offensive guard on the 2008 WVIAC Conference Champion Football team. Also during his career he was a three time All-Conference player and an All-Region player.

Lazenby expressed excitement and a strong sense of purpose in taking the job, saying that his main priorities will be to provide the ultimate environment for student-athlete success and bring GSC Alumni & fans together. “GSC has a rich and vibrant athletic culture, and I want GSC Athletics to continue to excel in every aspect,“ he said. “It’s time for us to capture the aura, tradition and passion of the Glenville State family, in order to provide the necessary resources for our student-athletes to excel on and off the fields and courts,” stated Lazenby.

Marcal graduated from Glenville State with his Bachelor’s Degree in 2008 and started working at Glenville State in 2009 as an Assistant to the President.

CONSUMERS ARE WARNED TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS FOLLOWING MULTI-STORE PHOTO CENTER BREACH

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today urged consumers to monitor their personal accounts and credit reports after several major retail stores announced a potential data breach with their online photo printing services.

“Protecting consumers’ identities and information is of utmost importance to our Office,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We want to be sure West Virginia consumers are alerted any time their personal information may be compromised. We make it a priority to constantly provide helpful tips and resources in case something like this occurs.”

CVS, Costco, Sam’s Club, Rite Aid and Walmart Canada have all temporarily taken down their online photo printing websites in the wake of a suspected data breach at PNI Digital Media, a third-party vendor that manages and/or hosts their photo services sites. The companies were made aware that customer credit card information collected through online photo purchases may have been compromised. As a precaution, they have temporarily shut down access to online and related mobile photo services.

“Corporate data breaches are becoming far too common, but these entities are no less susceptible to scammers than anyone else,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Hackers are becoming more resourceful and smarter in ways to crack even the most secure of networks. That’s why we urge consumers to always be extremely cautious when providing personally identifiable information, especially online.”

It is important for consumers to know that from all reports the photo printing websites for these stores are independent from the companies’ main websites. The data breach of the online photo printing site does not reflect a company-wide breach, and financial transactions made on the companies’ main sites have not been affected.

“In today’s digital age, many consumers turn to the Internet for retail services that once required walking into a store,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “However, this convenience has proved to come with some drawbacks, like cyber theft.”

Attorney General Morrisey offers consumers the following tips on how they can avoid credit card cyber theft and what to do if they find themselves a victim of an online data breach:

    •  When making purchases online, use a credit card, not debit card, when possible. A credit card is not directly linked to your bank account.

    •  If you’re shopping online, make sure the URL starts with “https://” – the “S” tells you the site is secure.

    •  Set up fraud alerts so that your credit card company or bank will notify you of fraudulent activity on your account. Also, contact one of the three credit reporting agencies and have them place a fraud alert on your account.

    •  Keep a close eye on your credit card account, bank statement and credit report. The earlier you catch suspicious activity, the easier it will be to clean up.

    •  You may choose to cancel your cards immediately. Credit card companies will reissue a new card with a new number and banks will issue a new debit card with a new PIN.

    •  If you notice fraudulent activity on your accounts, report it immediately.

If you are a victim of credit card fraud, it is important to know that you have certain rights. If a credit card was used and the number, not the card, was stolen, you are not liable for any unauthorized purchases under the Fair Credit Billing Act. If a debit card was used and the card was not lost, you are not liable for any unauthorized transactions if you report them within 60 days of receiving your statement.

If you believe you have been a victim of credit or debit card fraud or identity theft, contact local law enforcement and the Attorney General Office’s Consumer Protection Division at 800.368.8808, as well as the Federal Trade Commission at 1.877.438.4338 or www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

G-LtE™: Did Gilmer County Commission Follow the Rules?

The Gilmer Free Press

The Clarksburg Exponent-Telegraph on Sunday, July 26, 2015 published the following article about whether the Harrison County Commission violated the State code in hiring of an County Administrator.

Gilmer County Commission has hired three administrators in past 3 or 4 years!

My question is: Did the Gilmer County Commission Violate section 7-1-1a of West Virginia Code?

Clarksburg Exponent Telegram:
County Clerk: Harrison Commission may have violated state code in hiring of administrator

CLARKSBURG — The Harrison County Commission may have violated a state law that dictates the process for modifying a county’s government when it hired County Administrator Willie Parker in 2013.

That’s according to County Clerk Susan Thomas, who pointed to section 7-1-1a of West Virginia Code, which outlines a series of steps to be followed before altering a county’s form of government — including the hiring of a county administrator. These steps include passing a resolution seeking approval from the Legislature and collecting signatures from 10 percent of the county’s registered voters.

“The way I look at it, they’re violating 7-1-1a and have been since he was hired,” Thomas said. “They never changed the form of government, and I think (Parker) is doing things that are outside the realm of what an administrative assistant would do. He’s making decisions I think that should be made by an elected official.”

The Taylor County Commission recently reversed its decision to hire a county administrator after consulting with prosecutors during a special meeting June 29.

Taylor County Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Nines said he informed the commissioners of 7-1-1a of state code as it applied to their hiring of a county administrator.

On June 12, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued a memorandum decision in Nicholas County Commission v. Tim Clifford, another case pertaining to 7-1-1a.

In the case, the Supreme Court ruled 3-2, affirming a circuit court ruling that the Nicholas County Commission had hired a county administrator without following the steps outlined in state code for altering the form of county government.

“It is undisputed that the Commission’s actions were taken without complying with the requirements of West Virginia Code 7-1-1a,” the written decision states. “We find no error in the circuit court’s order annulling and vacating the position of county administrator and rescinding the hiring of (Nicholas County Administrator Roger) Beverage based upon its conclusion that the Commission bestowed upon Mr. Beverage as county administrator unfettered discretionary authority as to the affairs and administration of the Commission and, in doing so, changed the existing form of county government without first complying with any of the requirements of West Virginia Code 7-1-1a.”

But Parker and the commissioners who hired him drew distinctions between what transpired with the county administrators in Nicholas and Taylor counties and the situation in Harrison County.

Harrison County had established the position of county administrator prior to Parker’s hiring, a fact both Parker and Commission President Ron Watson were quick to point out.

“The county administrator had always been a part of the county for a number of years,” Watson said.

According to Thomas, the first record she could find of an individual officially holding the title of “county administrator” was James Harris, who was promoted to the position in 1998. Others served in administrative-type roles prior to Harris, Thomas noted.

Based on available records, the county administrator position was vacant from 2006 until 2013, when Parker was hired, according to Thomas.

Section 7-1-1a went into effect in 2008, according to an official with the West Virginia Legislature.

Regardless of whether the position had been created or not, Watson said the duties Parker performs do not constitute an alteration of the county government since there’s no transfer of power away from the county commission.

“In Willie’s case, anything that he has done since we’ve hired him, he’s been directed by the county commission, and he hasn’t generated that on his own,” Watson said. “It may have the appearance that he’s done something (on his own), but I can assure you and anyone else that any action he takes has gotten the approval of a county commissioner.”

Parker echoed that assessment, and he also pointed to Section 7-1-3m of West Virginia Code, which came up during the Nicholas County case and states that county commissions “are hereby empowered to employ, fix compensation for and discharge ... personnel, including specialists and consultants, as may from time to time be necessary to aid (commissions) in exercising their powers or discharging their duties as provided by law and including a county administrator.”

Parker characterized his role as a staff member employed by the commissioners to aid them in carrying out their responsibilities.

“I don’t think the commission has given any level of their constitutional authority to me,” Parker said. “They’ve employed me to provide them recommendations, act on their behalf as they’ve so authorized, which is in line with 7-1-3m.”

Former commissioner Mike Romano said Parker’s role during his time on the commission didn’t violate 7-1-1a as he interprets it.

“The hiring of Mr. Parker as administrator was carefully considered by the commission in that he was hired to fill a role as the manager for the county commission,” Romano said. “He was not delegated any constitutional authority whatsoever, and he answers directly to the county commission in all actions he takes. That really takes the hiring out of the purview of a change in the form of government, because the county commission still maintains full control over all of its constitutionally delegated duties.”

Section 7-1-1a, for its purposes, describes the responsibilities of a county administrator in part as having “the authority to direct the administration of the county government under the supervision of the county commission. The county administrator shall carry out, execute and enforce all ordinances, policies, rules and regulations of the commission.” However, the description goes on to say that the county administrator would have the authority to “appoint or employ all subordinates and employees for whose duties or work he or she is responsible to the commission.”

Parker said he has no authority to hire or discharge staff.

According to the Supreme Court’s decision, Nicholas County officials who had their appeal struck down had made a similar argument regarding their hiring of a county administrator.

“Petitioners argue that the evidence showed that Mr. Beverage was not given all of the powers of a ‘county administrator’ as contemplated by West Virginia Code 7-1-1a because he was not permitted to hire or discharge employees; was not a member of the county commission; and would not have full decision-making authority,” the decision reads.

Thomas said she wants to make sure there’s a clear statutory basis for the duties Parker performs and expressed concern that — without approval from the Legislature and from voters — an unelected official was assuming responsibilities in Harrison County that should fall to the elected constitutional officers.

“I’m very concerned,” Thomas said. “I’m not only concerned as a public official, but I’m also concerned as a taxpayer.”

~~  Jeremiah Shelor ~~

07.27.2015
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Mary Todd Lincoln portrayal at Canaan Valley Resort State Park July 29, 2015

DAVIS, WV – Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, will be portrayed by JoAnn Peterson of Kingwood in a West Virginia Humanities Council History Alive! program at Canaan Valley Resort State Park Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 7:00 PM. The performance is free and open to the public.                                     

Lincoln’s story mirrors the pain and loss suffered by many Americans as a result of the Civil War. A devoted supporter of her husband Abraham’s political aspirations, she encouraged him in his career. As the First Lady during the war, her southern roots created doubt about her loyalty to the Union and she was viewed as a traitor to the Confederate cause. She endured the death of three of her sons, saw her husband murdered, and was later committed to an insane asylum by her surviving son.

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Lincoln is one of the many available character presentations offered through the West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! program as a means of exploring history by allowing audience interaction with noteworthy historical figures who shaped our history. Historical characterization is the vehicle for this program. Humanities scholars have carefully researched the writings, speeches and biographies of the characters they portray and, whenever possible, use their original words.

The West Virginia Humanities Council is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational programs in the humanities for all West Virginians. For 40 years the Council has been providing educational programs in the humanities across the state.

This program is available to both nonprofit and for-profit groups.

For more information, call The West Virginia Humanities Council at 304.346.8500 or visit www.wvhumanities.org.

Did You Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:


OBAMA HOLDS TALKS ON SECURITY, HUMAN RIGHTS IN ETHIOPIA

He’s the first sitting American president to visit the East African nation.


UNITED STATES AND TURKEY AIM TO PUSH ISLAMIC STATE GROUP FROM NORTHERN SYRIA

A U.S. official, however, says the move will not include the imposition of a no-fly zone.


REMEMBERING YOUNG WOMEN SHOT AT MOVIES

The local business owner and radiology student slain by a gunman inside a Louisiana movie theater are laid to rest.


MISSING SLAVE FISHING BOATS TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA

These trawlers fled a slave island in Indonesia 1,000 miles away with captives of a brutal trafficking ring whose catch reaches the U.S.


HOW CLINTON HOPES TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE

The presidential candidate’s strategies include revisions in the tax code to promote renewable energy.


WHY AFGHANISTAN BANS TOY GUNS

At least 184 people, nearly all children, suffer eye injuries over the recent Eid al-Fitr holiday from toy weapons that fire BB pellets and rubber shot, health officials say.


AUTOPSY PLANNED FOR BOBBI KRISTINA BROWN

The Medical Examiner’s Office says the time that elapsed from when she was found unresponsive in January until her death Sunday will “complicate” its effort to reconstruct events.


COLOMBIA UNEARTHS LANDFILL LOOKING FOR SCORES OF DISAPPEARED

Experts will begin removing 31,000 cubic yards of rubble from La Escombrera, where the remains of as many as 300 people are believed to have been dumped and which could be the country’s biggest mass grave.


WHAT IS BEING CALLED THE LARGEST-EVER ACQUISITION BY AN ISRAELI COMPANY

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. is purchasing Dublin-based Allergan PLC’s generic pharmaceuticals business for $40.5 billion.


NON-COOL EAST PORTLAND SEEKS GREATER REPRESENTATION

A part of the city known for fashionable hipsters and devotion to public transit counters the narrative of livable, weird, predominantly white `Portlandia.‘

West Virginia News

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WV’s Democratic senator leaning toward support of Iran deal

WASHINGTON, DC - Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says he’s leaning toward supporting the Iranian nuclear deal, because the alternative would be war.

The West Virginia senator is the latest Democrat to speak favorably of the agreement. Democrats have started lining up to support the pact as the Obama administration works to sell it to lawmakers.

Secretary of State John Kerry argued the case on Capitol Hill last week. Congress has 60 days to review the agreement, which lifts economic sanctions if Iran curbs its nuclear program’s capacity.

Manchin tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” he’s spoken to leaders in four of the five countries that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal, and if Congress rejects it, the U.S. will be on its own and faced with going to war against Iran.


Health secretary announces $133M in substance abuse money

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has announced $133 million in additional money for substance abuse treatment.

The announcement came Saturday at the National Governors Association summer meeting at The Greenbrier.

A news release says the Health Resources and Services Administration is adding $100 million for more substance use disorder services, with a focus on addressing medication-assisted treatment for opioid use.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will also award up to $11 million a year for 11 states for medication-assisted treatment.

The 11 grants will provide up to $33 million over three years. The release did not name the states.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also is introducing a project that lets states receive federal funding to reimburse substance abuse treatment.


Appalachian String Band Music Festival set July 29-August 02

CLIFFTOP, WV - Thousands of musicians and fans are expected to come to Fayette County for this year’s Appalachian String Band Music Festival.

The five-day festival is scheduled to start Wednesday at Camp Washington-Carter in Clifftop.

The festival will feature concerts, dancing, workshops and contests that will reward the top musicians and dancers up to $700.

A Saturday workshop will feature seven-time national fiddling champion Megan B. Lynch Chowning. She’ll also perform at the festival.

Daily admission is $15 for adults, $10 for visitors age 60 and over and children ages 6 to 17. Admission is free for children ages 5 and under. Campsites also are available.


WVU alumni sets D.C. crab feast

Alumni, family and friends of West Virginia University are invited to the 38th annual National Capital Area Chapter Crab Feast, scheduled for 1-6 PM August 22 at Fort Hunt Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

The event is organized by the National Capital Area Chapter of the WVU Alumni Association, and is one of the most successful and best-attended WVU Alumni events in the country.

Guests are served an array of steamed crabs and shrimp, hot dogs, buffalo chicken wings, corn on the cob, cookies, watermelon and beverages served under the park’s pavilion while a live bluegrass band entertains. The event usually attracts nearly 1,000 Mountaineers every year, and this year WVU President E. Gordon Gee, the Mountaineer mascot and Alumni Director Steve Douglas all are scheduled to attend.

“The Crab Feast is the largest non-athletic WVU alumni event in the nation, and it attracts alumni from all over the Washington metropolitan region, as well as West Virginia and surrounding states,” said Paul Farmer of Fairfax, Virginia. “It is one of the leading WVU alumni events in DC and nationally, bringing together Mountaineers to celebrate our great university and to enjoy fantastic food and fellowship.”

Proceeds from the Crab Feast support the National Capital Area Chapter Scholarship Funds benefiting Washington, D.C.-area students attending WVU; the Mountainer Athletic Club; and a paid internship program at the WVU Alumni Association. Scholarship endowments recently reached $185,000, and in 2015, $10,000 in scholarships will be awarded to local students.

Contact Farmer at 703.425.5426 for reservations and visit wvualumni.org for information about the National Capital Area Chapter.

An Explanation of Medicaid and Its Expansion

The Gilmer Free Press

Some answers to common questions about Medicaid and the program’s expansion under the federal health care reform law:


WHAT IS MEDICAID AND HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN AROUND?

Medicaid is a federal-state health care program for low-income and disabled people, including nursing home residents. This year, Medicaid is expected to cover about 69 million people, more than any other government health care program, including Medicare. On average, the federal government pays about 60% of the program’s costs, but that share varies by state. Medicaid was created in 1965, at the same time as Medicare, a similar program for older Americans.


HOW DID EXPANSION UNDER THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT CHANGE MEDICAID?

A key component of the federal health care reform passed in 2010 was an expansion of existing Medicaid to include all non-disabled adults under the age of 65 with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which is currently $16,243 for an individual. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not be compelled to expand Medicaid, a number of states did not. Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Medicaid expansion. A recent federal report estimates an average of 5.7 million “newly eligible” adults were covered in 2014, a number that will increase to about 12 million in 2023.


WHY ARE ENROLLMENTS AND COSTS DIFFICULT TO PREDICT?

In a recent report, economic experts at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said their estimates of enrollments and per-person costs for 2014 are higher than earlier projections. But they expect those trends to level off and even decline over the long run. Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, calls the projections “an imperfect science,“ adding: “If you are going to do a big expansion, you should probably expect that more people will show up than you thought, and the people who show up will be perhaps ... sicker, more complex than you would have thought.“


HOW IS MEDICAID FUNDED, AND DO ANY OF THE RECIPIENTS PAY ANYTHING IN TERMS OF PREMIUMS OR COPAYS?

States are allowed to charge premiums and modest copayments for some groups of Medicaid recipients, but that is fairly limited.


DO RELATIVELY LOW REIMBURSEMENTS TO DOCTORS AFFECT ACCESS TO CARE FOR MEDICAID RECIPIENTS?

Some private-practice doctors do not accept Medicaid. Many Medicaid recipients are in private, managed-care plans designed specifically to serve them. Hospitals — particularly children’s hospitals — rely on Medicaid for a substantial portion of their budgets. While Medicaid beneficiaries may not have access to some doctors, options remain available for the medical care they need.


COULD THE 90% FEDERAL COST-SHARE BE REDUCED WITH A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT?

Under the 2010 federal health care law, the federal government was required to pay 100% of costs for the expanded Medicaid program through 2016. Beginning in 2017, states will begin paying a portion that will increase to no more than 10% of costs by 2020. Changing the 90% federal share would take an act of Congress and a president’s signature because the law itself would have to be changed. Any president could seek to amend the law for any reason, but he or she would need the approval of Congress.


WHAT CHANGES TO THE PROGRAM ARE IN THE WORKS AT THE STATE OR FEDERAL LEVEL?

At the moment, states are the main drivers of changes to Medicaid. It is a constant process, and the higher-than-anticipated enrollments and costs under the expansion could prompt some expansion states to consider changes. For instance, lawmakers in Ohio are seeking federal approval for a plan that would require about 1 million low-income residents to pay a new monthly cost for Medicaid coverage or potentially lose it. Higher-than-expected enrollment has pushed the state’s projected 2017 costs from $55.5 million to $130 million.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Lost for more than a century, team discovers shipwreck

MUSKEGON, MI — A 214-foot steamship called the John V. Moran has been discovered in Lake Michigan, more than a century after it sank.

A team with the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association located the vessel off the coast of Muskegon last month during a sonar search. Because the shipwreck sits under 365 feet of lake water, officials with the association decided to wait for the water to warm up before performing a dive.

With help from the Michigan State Police Underwater Recovery Unit, the team reached the wreck on July 08, just over 116 years after the ship sank.

Valerie van Heest, co-director of the association, said the John V. Moran is one of the best-preserved wrecks in the Great Lakes. The ship sits upright at the bottom of Lake Michigan and is almost entirely intact.

“Not a railing is missing,“ said Craig Rich, the group’s other co-director who’s also a master diver and former Holland City Council member. The association is based in the Michigan city of Holland. “The mast is standing. The lights are standing. The anchors are in position. There’s even glass still in the windows.“

“The only thing missing from this wreck is the smokestack.“

The John V. Moran was on its way from Milwaukee to Muskegon when it disappeared into the chilly waters of Lake Michigan in February 1899, after ice punched a hole in the hull and the ship began to flood. The vessel was among many steamers owned by Capt. Edward Gifford Crosby, founder of the Crosby Transportation Co. who later died in the sinking of the Titanic.

“The John V. Moran has been on our hit list for quite a while,“ Rich said. “We’ve quietly been researching it, and decided this year we’d go out after it.“

The Michigan State Police Underwater Recovery Unit has discovered 15 other historic shipwrecks.


U.S. to hit Fiat Chrysler with record $105M fine

DETROIT, MI — The U.S. government will hit Fiat Chrysler with a record $105 million fine next week for violating laws in a series of vehicle safety recalls, a person briefed on the matter said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will reveal the fine on Monday. In addition, Fiat Chrysler will be required to buy back a group of recalled vehicles to get them off the roads, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified because no official announcement has been made.

Fiat Chrysler, also known as FCA US LLC, also will agree to an independent monitor to review recalls.

The company will make payments to owners of 1.56 million recalled older-model Jeeps with gas tanks behind the rear axle to bring them to dealers to install trailer hitches to help protect the tanks. The tanks are vulnerable and can leak gasoline if damaged in rear collisions. The company maintains the Jeeps are as safe as comparable vehicles built at the time, and it will not buy them back.

The news was first reported Sunday by The Wall Street Journal on its website.

The agency’s actions come less than a month after it held a rare public hearing to detail problems with 23 Fiat Chrysler recalls covering more than 11 million cars and trucks. It’s another sign that NHTSA is taking a much tougher stance against automakers that don’t obey auto safety laws.

The fine beats the old record of $70 million assessed against Honda Motor Co. for lapses in recalls of air bags made by Takata Corp.

At the July 2 hearing, NHTSA detailed an alarming litany of shortfalls: failure to notify customers of recalls, delays in making and distributing repair parts, and in some cases failing to come up with repairs that fix the problems. Some of the recalls date to 2013.

After the hearing, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters that Fiat Chrysler would surely be punished. “There’s a pattern that’s been going on for some time,” he said.

During the hearing, Fiat Chrysler did not dispute any of NHTSA’s allegations. Scott Kunselman, the company’s head of vehicle safety, said it is changing the way it manages safety to follow the industry’s best practices. The safety system, he said, has been reorganized with added personnel. He now reports directly to CEO Sergio Marchionne. Previously the person in his position was three rungs down the organization chart from the chief executive, he said.

“We have learned from our mistakes and missteps,” he said.

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Obama Jokes Kenya Trip Is Family Reunion

The Gilmer Free Press

NAIROBI, Kenya—The latest on President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya (all times local):

11:30 PM

The “birther” jokes won’t go away, partly because the target won’t stop telling them.

Obama says he suspects that some of his critics back home, particularly those who don’t believe he’s American, think he’s in Kenya “to look for my birth certificate.“

Well, “that is not the case,“ he joked at a state dinner in his honor hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his wife, Margaret.

Obama also joked that the occasion amounted to a “somewhat unusual Obama family reunion” because siblings, aunts, uncles and a grandmother from his father’s side of the family attended.

His late father was born in Kenya. Obama was born in Hawaii. He released a copy of his birth certificate several years ago but that hasn’t quieted the doubters.

Obama is on his first visit to Kenya as president.

—-

7:00 PM

President Barack Obama says the U.S. and Kenya are working to launch direct flights between the countries.

Obama says eliminating multiple legs of travel to get from one place to the other would be a boon for business and tourism.

Kenya’s $1 billion tourism industry has suffered in the wake of mass assaults carried out in recent years by the al-Shabab extremist group, which is based across the border in Somalia.

Obama says the U.S. Transportation and Homeland Security departments are working with Kenyan officials on the protocols and security issues that must be settled before direct flights can begin.

He declined to say how soon that might happen, but said progress is being made.

—-

5:35 PM

President Barack Obama is warning that corruption may be the biggest impediment to Kenya’s growth and opportunities in the future.

Obama is speaking in a joint news conference in Nairobi with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. He says he believes Kenyatta is serious about going after corruption.

Obama says it’s a basic issue of math for international businesses that are concerned about their profit margins. He says companies will be concerned about doing business in Kenya if 5 percent or 10 percent of the cost of investing is being diverted due to corruption.

Obama says the U.S. has seen “all kinds of corruption” in the past. But he says the U.S. over time has showed that when people decide it’s a priority to stop it, corruption can be stopped.

He says it’s critical to go after corruption at the highest level of government and not just at lower levels.

—-

5:20 PM

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says gay rights are a “nonissue” in Kenya and that the issue is not a priority.

Kenyatta was asked about gay rights during a joint news conference with President Barack Obama in Nairobi. Obama voiced strong support for gay rights in Africa.

But Kenyatta says while the U.S. and Kenya agree on a lot, there are some things that cultures or societies just don’t accept.

Gay sex is a crime in Kenya punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Kenyatta says it’s very difficult to impose beliefs on people that they don’t accept. He says his government wants to focus elsewhere.

Kenyatta says after Kenya deals with other, more pressing issues such as terrorism, it can begin to look at new issues. But he says for the moment, gay rights isn’t at the forefront for Kenyans.

—-

5:15 PM

President Barack Obama is likening gay rights in Africa to rights for African-Americans in the United States.

Obama says he is “unequivocal” on the issue of gay rights and discrimination. He says it is wrong for law-abiding citizens to be treated differently under the law because of who they love.

Obama says he’s been consistent in pressing the issue when he meets with African leaders.

The president says he knows that some people have different religious or cultural beliefs. But he says governments don’t need to weigh in on religious doctrine. He says governments simply have to treat everyone the same.

Obama says as an African-American, he’s “painfully aware” of what happens when a government treats some people differently. He says, “Those habits can spread.“

Obama was asked about gay rights in Kenya at a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenya criminalizes gay sexual relations and prominent politicians had warned Obama not to bring up gay rights during his visit to the country.

—-

5:10 PM

President Barack Obama says terrorist organizations like al-Shabab are still able to harm civilians despite progress by the U.S. and others in weakening their networks.

Obama is speaking in a joint news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. He says the world has decreased the group’s control in Somalia and undercut its operations in East Africa. But he says that doesn’t mean the problem is solved.

He says groups that are willing to target civilians and are prepared to die can still inflict damage. He’s calling for more intelligence-sharing between Kenya and the U.S. to identify and prevent threats.

Obama is also drawing a connection between good governance and security. He says he told Kenyatta that U.S. experience teaches that rule of law and embracing civil groups is even more important amid security threats like al-Shabab.

Obama also says that the situation in South Sudan is “dire” and that the recent elections in Burundi weren’t credible.

—-

5:00 PM

President Barack Obama says his administration will propose a federal rule banning the sale of almost all ivory across state lines.

Obama is speaking in a joint news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He says the proposed rule is part of a U.S. effort to fight poaching in Africa. An estimated 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012.

The proposed U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulation would prohibit the sale across state lines of ivory from African elephants and further restrict commercial exports. But it provides limited exceptions for interstate sales, namely pre-existing musical instruments, furniture pieces and firearms that contain less than 200 grams of ivory.

Conservationists Hail Rare Bipartisan Agreement in Congress

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CHARLESTON, WV - Conservationists are praising a rare bit of bipartisan cooperation in Congress to fund a program for public areas and historic and wilderness lands.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund takes a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas development and spends that on many different kinds of public lands. The 50-year-old program is set to expire in days, but Amy Lindholm, director of The Wilderness Society, said Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., have reached an agreement that could keep the funding in place.

“LWCF has been incredibly successful over the past 50 years,“ Lindholm said. “Those projects are vital things to their communities, and we want to see them continue. So, we’re really thrilled with the agreement.“

Conservation programs traditionally have enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress, although that has often lapsed into acrimony of late. Observers say they hope this can mark a return to cooperation.

Funds from the LWCF go to preserve and guarantee access to everything from national wilderness areas and historic landmarks to county recreation spots. Don Owen, now a consultant with the Land Trust Alliance after spending decades working on the Appalachian Trail, said a hunter or boater in West Virginia might not realize it but the program has supported all sorts of well-loved places in the area.

“We’re talking about the Appalachian Trail. We’re talking about the George Washington National Forest. We’re talking about the Bluestone or the New River or the Gauley,“ he said. “But we’re also talking about county parks. We’re also talking about state lands like the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area.“

The agreement is part of an energy bill now in the Senate. If that bill gets bogged down, The Wilderness Society hopes the measure can be attached to something moving fast enough to keep the program’s funding from expiring.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Exercise Is Even Good for the Brain

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WASHINGTON, DC — Exercise may do more than keep a healthy brain fit: New research suggests working up a good sweat may also offer some help once memory starts to slide— and even improve life for people with Alzheimer’s.

The effects were modest, but a series of studies reported Thursday found vigorous workouts by people with mild memory impairment decreased levels of a warped protein linked to risk of later Alzheimer’s — and improved quality of life for people who already were in early stages of the disease.

“Regular aerobic exercise could be a fountain of youth for the brain,“ said cognitive neuroscientist Laura Baker of Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, who reported some of the research at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Doctors have long advised that people keep active as they get older. Exercise is good for the heart, which in turn is good for the brain. Lots of research shows physical activity can improve cognition in healthy older people, potentially lowering their risk of developing dementia.

With no medications yet available that can slow Alzheimer’s creeping brain destruction, the new findings point to lifestyle changes that might make a difference after memory impairment begins as well. The caveat: Check with a doctor to determine what’s safe for a person’s overall medical condition, especially if they already have Alzheimer’s.

“It’s important for caregivers especially to think how to keep loved ones as engaged as possible. The last thing they should do is keep their loved one at home watching TV,“ said Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer Maria Carrillo.

How much exercise? In studies from North Carolina, Denmark and Canada, people got 45 minutes to an hour of aerobic exercise three or four times a week, compared to seniors who stuck with their usual schedule.

“You’re panting and sweating,“ said Baker, whose research is getting particular attention because it’s one of the first to find exercise can affect tau, an Alzheimer’s hallmark that causes tangles in brain cells.

Baker studied 71 previously sedentary older adults who have hard-to-spot memory changes called mild cognitive impairment that can increase risk of developing Alzheimer’s. They wore monitors to be sure the exercisers raised their heart rate enough and that the control group kept their heart rate deliberately low while doing simple stretch classes that allowed them to socialize.

MRI scans showed the exercisers experienced increased blood flow in brain regions important for memory and thought processing — while cognitive tests showed a corresponding improvement in their attention, planning and organizing abilities, what scientists call the brain’s “executive function,“ Baker reported.

Most intriguing, tests of spinal fluid also showed a reduction in levels of that worrisome tau protein in exercisers over age 70.

“This is really exciting,“ said Dr. Laurie Ryan of the National Institute on Aging. “It’s too soon to say that lowers risk” of worsening memory, she cautioned, saying longer studies must test if sticking with exercise makes a lasting difference.

Later this year, Baker will begin a national study that will test 18 months of exercise in people with mild cognitive impairment.

West Virginia News

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call for action to reduce methadone-related overdose deaths

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an effort to curb overdose deaths related to opiate abuse, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and six of their Senate colleagues called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to examine the use of methadone for pain, and to issue guidance to state Medicaid directors to remove methadone from preferred drug lists for pain management.

“West Virginia has the nation’s highest rate of overdose deaths, and because we are such a small state, we feel this pain more than most. It is deeply troubling that methadone, a drug responsible for 30% of opioid-related prescription drug overdose deaths, is the pain-treatment drug of choice for most state Medicaid programs. West Virginia has led the way by already making methadone a non-preferred drug, but we must encourage surrounding states to do the same. By doing so, we can fight back against the drug epidemic that is devastating West Virginia,” said Senator Capito.

“The fact that 30% of opioid-related deaths involve methadone sends a strong signal that we need to take a closer look at the widespread use of methadone for chronic pain,” Senator Manchin said. “The decision by state Medicaid programs to designate methadone as a preferred drug for chronic pain is very likely contributing to the drastic rise in opioid overdose deaths we’ve seen in our country and our state, which has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation. We have a responsibility to fight this epidemic from every angle, and this is one simple step we can take to stop the scourge of prescription drug abuse.”

Nationally, methadone accounts for only 2% of opioid pain reliever prescriptions but 30% of related overdoses. Because of methadone’s drug properties, the risk of overdose is disproportionally higher than other opiate pain relievers. And because of its low cost and status as a preferred pain reliever in most state Medicaid programs, methadone is widely prescribed as a first option for the treatment of pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and leading medical specialty societies representing pain medicine providers have all stated that methadone should not be used as a first line therapy for pain relief.

Other Senators signing the letter include Edward J. Markey (D-MA) Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Angus King (I-ME) and Patty Murray (D-WA).


Precision Pipeline Donates $5,000 to Harrison County’s D.A.R.E. Program

NUTTER FORT, WV — A company working to construct a pipeline from Doddridge County to Braxton County has donated $5,000 to the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, where 20 miles of the project will take place.

“It is construction and we do interrupt traffic flow sometimes,” Mike Hampton, utility coordinator with Precision Pipeline for the project said. “Anything that we can do to help the community to show that we’re not trying to just roll through and [try to] just be a good neighbor.”

The money will be used for the county’s D.A.R.E. program, which operates in seven elementary schools with approximately 1,000 students in first and fifth grades.

“This is a great supplement to the funding that we already have,” Sheriff Albert Marano said. “Our kids are our future and it’s important that we make them aware of what’s out there and the bad things that are out there and a D.A.R.E. officer does that.”

D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and was founded in 1983 by the LAPD and Los Angeles Unified School District as a way to prevent drug abuse in children by teaching them decision-making skills.

In Harrison County, Deputy L.J. Brewer is currently the D.A.R.E. officer. Marano said that with the gift from Precision Pipeline, Brewer will buy educational materials for the classroom as well as things to give to the students to keep as a reminder of what they learn.

“With this donation of $5,000, that will help us to get through the next year and hopefully the following year.”

Hampton said Precision Pipeline likes to donate to local emergency service while working on a project as a sign of cooperation as they take on risky work.

“It is very dangerous, hazardous work. We work in all terrains, all weather,” he said. “These folks are out there in the mud and every kind of condition.”


Marshall medical school gets grant to train physicians

HUNTINGTON, WV - Marshall University’s medical school has received a $1.2 million federal grant for training new physicians in patient care.

The five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration is for the medical school’s department of family and community health.

Department chair Dr. Stephen M. Petrany says the grant will train doctors who care for patients particularly in rural and smaller communities.

He says the project will focus on family medicine residents in training. It also will include training faculty and staff, along with continuing medical education for recent residency graduates and community primary care physicians.

U.S.A. News

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563-Pound Man Rides Bike Across Country To Save His Marriage and His Health

INDIANA - After watching his health and his marriage deteriorate, a 563 pound Indiana man decided to take drastic measures to try and win his estranged wife back and get into shape.

Eric Hites, 40, decided to bike across the country. He shared his story by creating a website and blog called “Fat Guy Across America.“

Hites explained that poor health and increasing weight started causing problems in the marriage.

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“Mostly because of my weight I was depressed and grumpy and it kind of fell apart,” Hites told ABC News.

Hites decided to make a commitment to repairing his relationship and get healthy after hearing the Proclaimer’s song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)“

“I can’t walk another 500 miles, but I can do it on a bicycle,” Hites recalled thinking at the time. “I can do it from East coast to West coast to lose weight.”

So he got approval from his physician and cardiologist, hooked up a 300 pound trailer to his bike and started out on his trip to achieve his goal. He started off slowly, lasting only about 100 yards before having to take a break. Now he’s able to bike at least a mile before stopping.

He’s already lost 60 pounds on his trip and claims his relationship with his wife seems to be getting better.

“About a month into it, we rededicated unofficially,” said Hites.

Hites originally planned for the trip to take four months, but has since changed the timeline to seven months.

“In the first week I had a couple doubts,” said Hites. “I’m doing it because I love my wife and it kept me going. I want to spend the rest of my life with her. That drives me.”


Transportation Chief: 5 Airlines probed for price-gouging

WASHINGTON, DC — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday the government has opened a price-gouging investigation involving five airlines that allegedly raised airfares in the Northeast after a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May disrupted rail service.

The Transportation Department sent letters on Friday to Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue airlines seeking information on their prices before and after the May 12 train crash.

Among the routes the department asked airlines for price information on were flights to certain Northeast destinations from Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport near Washington, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, three New York area airports — Newark, John F. Kennedy, and LaGuardia, Logan International Airport in Boston; MacArthur Airport-Long Island in New York, Green Airport in Rhode Island., and Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.

“The idea that any business would seek to take advantage of stranded rail passengers in the wake of such a tragic event is unacceptable,“ Foxx said.

The department is exploring whether the price hikes violated federal regulations prohibiting airlines from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices. The letters to airlines explain that generally a practice is “unfair” if it “causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers,“ cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers and “is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumer or competition.“

The investigation was prompted in part by a May 19 letter from Senator Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., who complained to the Obama administration that some airlines had increased fares to as high as $2,300 following the train crash.

However, he also noted that some airlines “self-corrected after I initially expressed concern.“

“I was glad to see that after their $2,300 flight raised eyebrows, Delta Air Lines announced that it would make every effort to accommodate passengers affected by the service outage along Amtrak’s lines in the Northeast,“ he said. On Friday, Delta was charging $428 for a same-day, one-way fare from LaGuardia to Reagan National.

Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said the airline didn’t raise fares after the train crash and that the $2,300 fare was in existence before May 12. The airline also said in a statement that it lowered its highest shuttle prices after the crash “by nearly 50%, to about $300 each way,“ for travel between New York, Boston and Washington. The airline said it honored existing Amtrak tickets for travel between Washington, Boston and New York, waived change fees for travel on Delta Shuttle flights between those markets, and increased seat capacity in the region by adding flights and operating larger aircraft.

American said it added capacity and its fare structure remained the same after the crash. United, JetBlue and Southwest said they are cooperating with the investigation.

Amtrak services between Philadelphia and New York were shut down for five days following the accident. That affected passengers traveling through that region. For example, passengers couldn’t travel from Washington to Boston or New York, or from Boston to Philadelphia or Baltimore. Full service resumed on May 18.

Amtrak service accounted for 78% of the air-rail market between New York and Washington and 69% between New York and Boston last year, according to the railroad.

Separately, the Justice Department announced earlier this month that it is investigating possible collusion among major airlines nationwide to limit available seats, which keeps airfares high. The civil antitrust investigation by the Justice Department appears to focus on whether airlines illegally signaled to each other how quickly they would add new flights, routes and extra seats. American, Delta, Southwest and United — the nation’s four largest airlines — have acknowledged receiving letters from the Justice Department related to that investigation.

Eight people were killed and about 200 were injured in the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia, temporarily disrupting service.

For reasons still unknown, the train accelerated to 106 miles per hour in the minute before it entered a curve where the speed limit is 50, investigators have said previously. In the last few seconds the brakes were applied with maximum force, but the train was still traveling at over 100 mph when it left the tracks.


FDA reviews nutrition label change to highlight added sugar

WASHINGTON, DC—The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing a controversial change to nutrition labels to add amounts of added sugar and recommended consumption levels, a move opposed by many food and beverage companies.

The proposed change to the Nutrition Facts label would set the recommended intake of added sugar for packaged food and drinks at no more than 10% of a 2,000-calorie a day, or 200 calories a day. That’s equivalent to about 13 teaspoons of added sugar. A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola has nearly 10 teaspoons.

“The FDA has a responsibility to give consumers the information they need to make informed dietary decisions for themselves and their families,“ said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “For the past decade, consumers have been advised to reduce their intake of added sugars, and the proposed percent daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is intended to help consumers follow that advice.“

Many packaged-food and beverage companies have said highlighting added sugar could be misleading because the body reacts the same to natural sugar, like in fruit, as it does to added sugar, as in candy. They argue additional nutritional information rarely influences consumer choice and it would be a costly change for companies.

Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said the food-industry trade group would study the proposed change, but questioned the evidence used to establish the FDA’s recommended sugar consumption.

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