Wesleyan’s Religious and Spiritual Life to Offer Outreach Events

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Wesleyan College hosts a myriad of activities throughout the year for students and community.  Under the leadership of Chris Scott, director of religion and spiritual life, and students Jordan Danko, Wilson Harvey and Clay Todd, the Chapel Office will offer a series of outreach events on campus. “Ignite,” a three-day series of speakers, music, and fellowship, will kick off the fall semester. 

September 06:  The Great Gathering featuring Bil Lepp, Wesley Chapel, 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.

Lepp, a storyteller and humorist, spins tall-tales and tells outrageous stories.  He has gained national recognition that made him a two-time West Virginia Liars competition champion. This event is free and open to the public. 

September 07: New Community Church Band of Buckhannon, Chapel Green, 6-8 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public. 

September 08: Adrian Branch, retired NBA player, Rockefeller Physical Education Center, 7:30 p.m.

Considered to be one of the nation’s most powerful speakers, Branch will deliver a message of hope and encouragement. Drafted in the 2nd round by the Chicago Bulls, Branch went on to win a World Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1987 with “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abduhl-Jabbar. He has worked with Sportsworld Ministries, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Young Life, Youth for Christ, Youth With A Mission (YWAM), Athletes in Action (AIA), and Sports Power International.  Branch has spoken to over a half million youth in school assemblies, colleges, correctional facilities, juvenile homes, youth groups, and many professional and collegiate athletic teams.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Regulators Sticking with Water-Quality Standards Change

West Virginia regulators are sticking with their proposal to change the way water-quality standards are calculated.

A document made public Friday insists the decision “does not automatically” translate into an increase in the amount of cancer-causing chemicals allowed to be discharged into state rivers and streams.

The state Department of Environmental Protection also revealed that it’s dropping another proposal that would have eliminated a requirement for public notices in newspapers for some types of air pollution permits.

The DEP’s decisions on both of the rule changes were filed with the Secretary of State’s Office on Friday, along with other annual agency rule changes. The filing was to meet a legal deadline for the rules to be submitted for legislative review next year.

►   Authorities: chlorine leak in WV under control

Authorities say a chlorine leak in West Virginia that sent at least two people to a hospital is under control.

Media reports say the leak was detected Saturday when emergency authorities said a chemical cloud from the Axiall Corp. plant headed south. Marshall County emergency officials say two people were taken to a hospital with unspecified injuries.

The U.S. Coast Guard says a portion of the Ohio River was closed near Proctor, West Virginia. It says the release of liquid chlorine was reported from a rail car at the plant. It says an unknown amount of the product was released into the ground and air, creating a plume traveling downriver.

The leak caused WV 2 to be shut down in the area and the evacuation of the Kent neighborhood.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   Teacher Faked Attack on Himself for Some Reason

A Washington state high school teacher who claimed he was attacked in his classroom last May admitted Thursday he made the whole thing up, the Seattle Times reports. Bothell High School shop teacher Calvin Pygott, 63, was found by a fellow teacher in the hall outside his classroom. He claimed he had been knocked unconscious from behind and woke up covered in blood with a head wound and a zip-tie around his neck. According to Q13, school was closed for a day and extra security was brought in. The district superintendent says it was a “really difficult and emotionally wrenching” experience for staff, KUOW reports. But Pygott told Q13 in May that he wasn’t going to let it “turn me into a victim.“

That’s probably true, as it looks more likely to turn him into a criminal. Police say there were holes in Pygott’s story from the beginning. On Wednesday, he was asked to take a polygraph test, then invited to make a new statement. Pygott allegedly confessed to staging the whole thing: injuring himself, placing the zip-tie around his neck, and leaving a note that said “this man is not god.“ Pygott was placed on administrative leave Thursday and could be charged with making false statements and obstruction. It’s unclear why Pygott, who created an award-winning carpentry program, would fake an attack on himself. Police haven’t said whether he told them his motivation.

►   Headstone of Civil War soldier to be fixed after 154 years

Some mistakes are never too late to fix.

A Civil War soldier misidentified when he was buried at an Ohio cemetery more than 150 years ago is to get a new headstone.

Confederate soldier Augustus Beckmann was fatally wounded in the Battle of Shiloh on April 7, 1862. But he was buried at the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in Columbus under the wrong name, A. Bergman, and wrong company, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

Beckmann’s brother’s great-great-grandson, Greg Beckman, discovered the error when he visited Camp Chase last Memorial Day.

Beckman, who teaches government at a high school in Placentia, California, pulled together the necessary documentation and asked the National Cemetery Administration to fix the headstone. He recently learned his request was approved.

An administration spokeswoman says approved stones are typically in place within 60 days.

Beckman’s great-great grandfather, William Beckmann, was Augustus’ brother. The two came to America from present-day Germany between 1858 and 1860 and enlisted in the 2nd Texas Infantry in Galveston.

“William never learned the fate of his brother, as August was buried under the wrong surname of Bergman all those years,“ Beckman said. “The last time they saw one another was on the battlefield of Shiloh.“

August Beckmann was buried under the name Bergman at Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, and the incorrect name followed him when his remains and those of 30 other soldiers were removed in 1869 and reinterred at Camp Chase.

Beckman said he was happy to visit his relative’s gravesite, but wasn’t content with the incorrect inscription.

“I knew something had to be done about it,“ he said.

►   How Meth Users Are Polluting Streams

Are the nation’s streams tainted with illegal drugs? If they’re near urban areas, the answer is likely yes based on a new study that found hard drugs polluting water sources in Baltimore, CNN reports. Researchers who tested samples from six streams around the Maryland capital found them tainted with methamphetamine and amphetamine. Those drugs got there after they were flushed down the toilet by users either purposefully or, er, naturally. Limited filtering systems at wastewater treatment plants or “leaks in the sewer” enable the release of the drugs into the environment, researcher Emma Rosi-Marshall tells CNN. The victims? Any living presence in those streams from moss to water bugs—and the creatures that eat them like fish and birds.

A 2014 study found that meds flushed into the environment could be causing a global wildlife crisis, reported the Guardian. What’s new about this study, explain the researchers, is that “few [others] have examined the ecological effects of illicit drugs” (though traces of cocaine were found in Ontario’s drinking water in 2015, per the CBC). In order to measure the impact of the drugs they detected, the researchers created an artificial stream and laced it with the same levels of drugs they found in nature. Within weeks, insects showed signs of altered development and drugs suppressed the growth of biofilms, the organisms that coat rocks, the authors write in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The study underscores the importance of investing in “our aging underground water infrastructure,“ says Rosi-Marshall.

►   Michigan Judge Delivers $500K Blow in Revenge-Porn Case

Those contemplating getting under an ex’s skin by publicizing pictures showing too much skin may want to check this case out of Michigan first. In what’s being billed as possibly the state’s first “revenge porn” suit to end with a monetary payout, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Martha Anderson on Wednesday awarded $500,000 (with interest) to a woman whose ex-boyfriend had plastered the Internet with nude photos of her, the Detroit Free Press reports. Kyle Bristow, the attorney for the unidentified woman, says that as a result of this cyber blitz, his client was “tormented” for a year and a half before he stepped in as she tried to get the photos taken down in what he describes as a “horrific game of Whack a Ball.“

And Bristow is apparently a decent advocate to have in one’s corner: Since at least 2012, he’s been representing victims by the dozen (mostly women) and trying to shutter sites that host these types of images and videos. Per the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, 34 states and DC have revenge-porn laws on the books, and Michigan is one of them, having passed a law in April that makes it illegal to put sexually explicit pics or videos of someone online without that person’s consent, per CBS Detroit. The ex in this particular case was also instructed by Anderson to immediately destroy the woman’s photos and never post them to third-party sites again, or else risk prison time or more fines in contempt of court. “We are truly winning the battle,“ Bristow tells the Free Press.

►   Mom’s Arrest Underscores Ambiguity of Leaving Kids Alone

A Maryland mom who made a food run while vacationing in Rehoboth Beach, Del., probably wishes she had just microwaved some pizza bagels. Rehoboth Beach Police Lt. Jaime Riddle says 55-year-old Susan Terrillion was arrested Tuesday and charged with endangering the welfare of her 8-year-old and 9-year-old kids after she left them in their vacation rental while she went to pick up their dinner order at an eatery about 5 miles away, the News Journal reports. She was gone for at least 45 minutes, which was enough time for the kids to go outside and lose control of their dogs, who then apparently dashed in front of a man’s car, Riddle says. That witness tells cops he helped the kids rein the animals in, then found out there was no adult around supervising them.

Woman’s Day points out such a situation can often prove tricky from a legal standpoint: There’s no federal law mandating a minimum age at which kids can be left alone, and state rules vary. In Delaware’s case, there’s no “appropriate age” to use as a gauge, but the “Division of Family Services will accept for investigation any report of a child under the age of 12 being left alone.“ Terrillion was arrested and released on $500 bail; the kids and dogs are said to be OK. In another case of child endangerment in Rehoboth Beach, per Delaware State News: A Canadian dad was arrested last week for allegedly letting his 13-year-old daughter lure a seagull into a hole with food, then hit it with a plastic shovel, killing it.

►   Guy Jumps Fence, Strips, Crashes Truck Into Plane

Cops in Omaha believe a suspect they arrested at Eppley Airfield Thursday night was on some very strong drugs, and it’s not hard to see why: After parking his truck outside the airport’s perimeter and screaming that people were trying to kill him, the man scaled a barbed-wire fence, stripped down to his boxers, got into a pickup truck, and drove into the nose gear of a plane as officers pursued him, the Omaha World-Herald reports. No passengers on the Southwest plane, which had just begun boarding, were hurt, but a pilot sustained a minor knee injury.

Police say the suspect was taken into custody, and there is no sign of links to extremism, reports Reuters. He was treated at a hospital and will be charged with felony destruction of property and vehicle theft. Police say the FBI has been notified of the incident and the NTSB will be conducting its own investigation, NBC reports. The investigation will likely look into, among other things, how the man was able to make off with the Southwest Airlines pickup truck, which he found unlocked and with its engine running outside airlines offices.

►   After Months of Fighting, Toddler Abruptly Taken Off Life Support

Israel Stinson, 2, had a bad asthma attack on April 1, went into cardiac arrest, and was declared brain-dead at UC Davis Medical Center. Nearly five months of legal battling ensued, as the California toddler’s parents—who did not agree with the prognosis—fought to keep him on life support. The fight ended abruptly Thursday, after what the Sacramento Bee calls a “surprise ruling” by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that the boy be removed from life support. He stopped breathing almost immediately. “He’s gone,“ Israel’s mom Jonee Fonseca tells the Bee. At the beginning of the saga, she and Israel’s dad, Nate Stinson, initially had Israel transferred from Davis to Kaiser Permanente in Roseville; that hospital also determined he was brain-dead, the Washington Post reports.

They refused to sign a California death certificate issued by Kaiser, started a GoFundMe campaign, and filed an injunction to stop Kaiser from removing him from the ventilator. All the while, they posted videos and updates for their supporters and got pro bono support from lawyers. A federal judge rejected the injunction in May, so Israel’s parents took him to Guatemala, where, according to his parents, an electroencephalogram showed brain activity. Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles then accepted Israel, and he was brought there about two weeks ago—but doctors at Children’s agreed he was brain-dead and sought to take him off life support. Israel’s parents were granted a temporary restraining order, but the hospital successfully appealed.

►   Inside the Futile Search for ‘Inchworm’ on the Trail

The discovery of a 66-year-old hiker’s body off the Appalachian Trail last year made headlines in part for the poignancy of the journal and letters she left behind. “When you find my body,” wrote Jerry Largay, “please call my husband George ... and my daughter Kerry. It will be the greatest kindness for them to know that I am dead and where you found me.“ The Boston Globe now takes an in-depth look at the futile hunt for Largay, who got lost in July 2013 after leaving the trail to go to the bathroom. The woman whose hiking moniker was “Inchworm” lived for at least 19 days as search teams roamed the woods of Maine. And as the Globe explains, some faulty information may have hindered the search.

It seems that some young hikers reported seeing a woman they thought was Largay at a particular hiking station, and rescuers adjusted their search accordingly. The boys described her as quiet, however, which didn’t mesh with the gregarious Largay. “I’m thinking, that’s not Gerry,“ says a lieutenant with the Maine Warden Service. “But I’m like, but maybe she’s having a hard hike that day, maybe she’s not feeling so good. I tried to force it to fit.“ Days later, they would discover that the hikers had confused Largay with another older woman on the trail, and they readjusted back to the original “last place seen” location. It was still to no avail, though Largay wrote about hearing the search planes in the distance. Click for the full story, which points out that Largay had covered 900 miles of the trail, including some of its toughest sections, before her death.

►   Retired Pennsylvania Marine seeks return of fallen comrades

Ed “Zimmo” Zimmerman Thursday returned from Vietnam for the third — and hopefully — last time.

Zimmerman served with the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, having spent 13 months “in country” and participating in some 26 battles during a 13-month tour in 1968-69.

In 2014, he guided a group of U.S. Military personnel to the exact spot where he last saw two fallen Marines after the 73-day siege at Khe Sanh in April, 1968. Those two Marines — Pfc. Anthony John (Tony) Pepper, 20, of Richmond, Virginia, and Cpl. James Mitchell Trimble, 19, of Eureka, California — were never recovered and never returned home to their families.

On Thursday, Zimmerman again returned from Vietnam to a waiting crowd of family and friends after helping a U.S. Military Search Team locate the site where the Marines were left behind.

Zimmerman said he had no problem directing the U.S. government’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, search team to the exact spot where he last saw Pepper and Trimble. The search team will now begin excavating the site for up to 30 days to locate the remains of the two soldiers.

“They want to find them as much as I do,“ Zimmerman said of the search team members. “They’ll do whatever it takes.“

The 67-year-old Bear Creek resident, who formerly resided in Edwardsville, left Aug. 10 for Vietnam to assist the recovery effort to search and, hopefully, recover the remains of his two Marine “brothers.“

As Zimmerman walked slowly through the terminal at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Thursday, his wife, Cathy, their three daughters, Lori Kosierowski, Leah O’Boyle and Nadine Burney, his grandchildren and several friends waited with open arms.

“Welcome back, Marine,“ said Don Wilmot, of Sterling, a fellow Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam.

Zimmerman appeared a little weary from the long plane ride and the emotional experience of having the opportunity to get closer to finding Pepper and Trimble, ending a nine-year ordeal during which he managed to convince the U.S. military to undertake the search.

“It’s really been a journey,“ he said as his family took turns hugging him. “It’s been a non-stop whirlwind from the time I left.“

Zimmerman was a 19-year-old Marine helping his unit clean up after a battle at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, on April 6, 1968. A member of F Company, 2nd Battalion of the 26th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, he was with his unit when he saw the bodies of the two Marines in a ravine. They were members of G Company, the other unit in the battle at Khe Sanh.

The image of the two Marines lying in that ravine has been with Zimmerman since 1968, and it heightened in 2009 when he learned their bodies had never been recovered. Since then, he has devoted much of his life to convincing the government and the military to return to the site to search for their remains.

Zimmerman said he has had many restless, sleepless nights and plenty of nightmares over the years. Finding the two Marines will bring peace to him and closure to the families of the two soldiers.

“I’m still trying to filter it all,“ he said. “While I was there, a lot of memories came back to me.“

Wilmot reminded Zimmerman of the 58,000 Americans killed in Vietnam.

“They only got a one-way ticket,“ Wilmot said.

Zimmerman will be notified when the remains of the two Marines are found. He plans to attend their burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The families of Pepper and Trimble have been supportive in his efforts and keep in touch with him. He wishes he could have stayed in Vietnam to aid the search.

“They wouldn’t let me dig,“ he said. “I’ve done all I could. It’s up to the search team now.“

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Striking Miners Kill Bolivia Deputy Minister

Striking miners in Bolivia kidnapped and beat to death the country’s deputy interior minister after he traveled to the area to mediate in the bitter conflict over mining laws, officials say. Government Minister Carlos Romero called it a “cowardly and brutal killing” and asked that the body of deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes be turned over to authorities, the AP reports. Illanes, whose formal title is vice minister of the interior regime, was “savagely beaten” to death by the striking miners, Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira told Red Uno television, his voice breaking.

The fatal beating follows the killings of two protesters in clashes with police, deaths that likely escalated tensions in the strike. Illanes had gone to Panduro, 80 miles south of La Paz, to open a dialogue with the striking miners, who have blockaded a highway there since Monday. Thousands of passengers and vehicles are stranded on roads blocked by the strikers. Bolivia’s informal or artisan miners number about 100,000 and work in self-managed cooperatives. They want to be able to associate with private companies, which is prohibited. The government argues that if they associate with multinational companies they would cease to be cooperatives.

►   Crossbow Attack Leaves 3 Dead in Toronto

Three people were killed with a crossbow Thursday afternoon in Toronto, Reuters reports. According to the CBC, police responded to reports of a stabbing to find three people with crossbow bolts in them inside a residential garage in a suburban area of the city. “It was going on for about five minutes—the screaming,“ a neighbor says. “After that, all quiet.“ The victims—two men and a woman—are believed to be related. However, it’s unknown if they were specifically targeted, the Toronto Star reports. At least one other person was injured in the attack.

Police say the crossbow attack is connected to a suspicious package that forced the evacuation of a mixed-use condo building housing a daycare later Thursday afternoon in downtown Toronto. Police aren’t saying how the incidents were connected or what was in the package. A 35-year-old man with minor injuries was arrested in connection with the crossbow attack. He has not been identified, and police aren’t sure of a motive. The investigation is ongoing.

►   Japanese truck driver playing Pokemon Go kills pedestrian

A Japanese truck driver playing Pokemon Go while driving hit two women, killing one and injuring the other, in Japan’s first death related to the Nintendo Co craze.

The driver said he had been distracted by the game after his arrest for negligent driving following the accident on Wednesday evening, a spokesman for the Tokushima prefectural police said.

“The driver is still in custody. No decision has been made yet on whether to proceed with a prosecution,“ he added

A spokesman for Niantic Inc, which developed Pokemon GO jointly with Nintendo affiliate Pokemon Company, said the company had added a pop-up to the Pokemon Go screen when it detected an increase in speed asking for confirmation the user was not driving.

He didn’t say whether the developer would take further steps to guard against accidents.

A spokesman for Nintendo offered condolences to the family of the dead woman.

“Pokemon Company and Niantic endeavor to create an environment where people can play the game safely and we will continue to do that,“ he added when asked whether the company would take any new measures to guard against accidents.

The popularity of augmented-reality Pokemon Go around the world has generated crowds of people in parks and other public places as user search for monsters, but has also been blamed for injuries and robberies of distracted users.

Signs at parks and other places in Japan have asked users to avoid creating a nuisance.

Pokemon incidents elsewhere have spurned warnings from authorities for users to play responsibly.

In Taiwan on Sunday Pokemon Go monster hunters caused a stampede in Taipei blocking streets in the capital. Police there have increased fines on scooter riders found playing the game in traffic.

News reports in July claimed that a Guatemalan teenager was the first Pokemon fatality after he was shot breaking into a house while playing the game.

Also in July, Pokemon Go players were robbed of their smartphones at gunpoint in a north London park in Britain, while four teens in Missouri in the U.S. used the game to target around a dozen people into armed robberies.

►   Fellow ISIS Captives Were Amazed by Kayla Mueller’s Strength

Fresh details of Kayla Mueller’s days as an ISIS captive are revealed in an ABC 20/20 report airing Friday night and they highlight both the horror of her circumstances and her amazing strength. Four former hostages, including three women who shared a cell with the young American in 2014, say they were inspired by her optimism, humor and the strength she drew from her Christian faith. “She was always considerate of others, even though she herself was in a very difficult situation,“ says Frida Saide, a former captive from Sweden. “She was always concerned for other prisoners.“ Mueller, who was repeatedly raped by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, died in captivity last year.

Former hostage Peter Ottosen from Denmark describes how she stood up to the notorious “Beatles” group of guards, including “Jihadi John.“ “One of the Beatles started to say, ‘Oh, this is Kayla, and she has been held all by herself. And she is much stronger than you guys. And she’s much smarter. She converted to Islam.‘ And then she was like, ‘No, I didn’t.‘“ People notes that the ABC report will also include a chilling “proof of life” video sent to Mueller’s parents after her capture in 2013. “I’ve been here too long and I’ve been very sick,“ she says. “It’s very terrifying here.“ ABC also spoke to two Yazidi girls who say that to ensure their safety, Mueller chose not to escape with them.

►   Kurdish-led Syria forces face off with Turkish-backed rebels

Backed by Turkish tanks and reports of airstrikes, Turkey-allied Syrian rebels clashed with Kurdish-led forces in northeastern Syria in a new escalation that further complicates the already protracted Syrian conflict.

Turkey’s military didn’t specify what the airstrikes hit, saying only that “terror groups” were targeted south of the village of Jarablus, where the clashes later ensued. A Kurdish-affiliated group said their forces were the target and called the attack an “unprecedented and dangerous escalation.“ If confirmed, it would be the first Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish allied forces on Syrian soil.

Late Saturday night, Turkey’s official news agency reported that one Turkish solider had been killed and three wounded by what it said was a Kurdish rocket attack in Jarablus, near where the fighting has raged. It is the first reported Turkish fatality in Syria.

The new escalation highlights concerns that Turkey’s incursion into Syria this week could lead to an all-out confrontation between Ankara and Syrian Kurds, both American allies, and hinder the war against the Islamic State group by diverting resources.

Sherwan Darwish, a spokesman for Kurdish-led forces in the village of Manbij, said on Twitter Saturday night: “While our forces fighting #IS Some #Turkey backed militias r attacking our positions & hampering our & Intl Coalition’s fight against terror.“

The clashes underscore Ankara’s determination to push back Kurdish forces from along its borders, and curb their ambitions to form a contiguous entity in northern Syria. Kurdish groups have already declared a semi-autonomous administration in Syria and control most of the border area.

Jarablus, and Manbij to the south liberated from IS fighters by Kurdish-led forces earlier this month, are essential to connecting the western and eastern semi-autonomous Kurdish areas in Syria.

Turkish officials said they will continue their offensive in Syria until there is no longer any “terror” threat to Turkey from its war-torn neighbor. Ankara backed Syrian rebels to gain control of Jarablus last week. They are now pushing their way south.

On Saturday, the Syrian rebels said they have seized a number of villages south of Jarablus from IS militants and Kurdish forces. Clashes were fiercest with the Kurdish-allied forces over the village of Amarneh, five miles south of Jarablus.

The media office of the Turkish-backed Nour el-din el-Zinki rebel group said the Syrian rebels were backed by Turkish tanks. A news report on ANHA, the news agency for the semi-autonomous Kurdish areas, said local fighters destroyed a Turkish tank and killed a number of fighters in an attack by the Turkish military and allied groups on Amnarneh.

There was no immediate comment from Turkish officials.

The clashes were preceded by Turkish airstrikes against bases of Kurdish-affiliated forces and residential areas at Amarneh. The Jarablus Military Council, affiliated with the U.S-backed Kurdish-led Syria Democratic Forces, said the Turkish airstrikes marked an “unprecedented and dangerous escalation” that “endangers the future of the region.“

It vowed to stand its ground. Other groups which are part of the SDF vowed to support them, calling on the U.S-led coalition to explain the Turkish attacks on allied forces.

Turkey’s state news agency, citing military sources, said the Turkish Military Joint Special Task Forces and coalition airplanes targeted an ammunition depot and a barrack and outpost used as command centers by “terror groups” south of Jarablus Saturday morning. The Anadolu Agency did not say which group or village was targeted.

Turkey has long suspected the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, of being linked to Kurdish insurgents in its own southeast, which it labels as a terror group. It has demanded the YPG, which makes up the bulk of the SDF and has been one of the most effective U.S. ally in the fight against IS, withdraw to the east bank of the Euphrates River.

The U.S. supported Turkey’s call for the Kurdish forces to move back, and Kurdish officials said they withdrew the YPG forces from Manbij. But following the Turkish offensive, local forces with Kurdish fighters and backed by YPG advisers pushed their way north of Manbij, in a rush for control of Jarablus.

Meanwhile, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, appealed to the opposition to approve plans to deliver aid to rebel-held eastern Aleppo and government-held Aleppo through a government-controlled route north of Aleppo during a 48-hour humanitarian pause.

Aleppo has been caught in a bloody circle of violence, with rebels and government forces each promising to unite the divided city. The U.N. said it has pre-positioned aid ready for delivery into Aleppo, to reach 80,000 people on the rebel side and some on the government side. But the opposition, whose fighters have opened another route in the south, were wary of the use of the government-controlled route.

“People are suffering and need assistance. Time is of the essence. All must put the civilian population of Aleppo first and exert their influence now,“ de Mistura said in a statement, urging an approval by Sunday.

But violence raged. Suspected government helicopters dropped two barrel bombs on a wake held for children killed a few days earlier, killing at least 15, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Aleppo Media Center, an activist group in the city, and volunteers on the scene put the death toll higher at 24.

Mohammed Khandakani, a hospital volunteer, said one of the injured told him a barrel bomb was dropped in the Bab al-Nairab neighborhood as people paid their condolences for children killed Thursday in an airstrike that left 11 children dead in the same neighborhood. Minutes later, Khandakani said another barrel bomb was dropped, injuring an ambulance driver, and hampering rescue efforts.

The Syrian government and its Russian ally are the only ones operating helicopters over Aleppo. The government denies it uses barrel bombs.

Elsewhere, the Syrian government said it now has full control of the Damascus suburb of Daraya, following the completion of a forced evacuation deal struck with the government that emptied the area of its remaining rebels and residents and ended a four-year siege and grueling bombing campaign.

The declaration comes a day after the evacuation of nearly 5,000 residents and fighters from the suburb began. The deal followed an extensive government campaign of aerial bombing and shelling of Daraya, the last bastion against President Bashar Assad in the western Ghouta region, southwest of Damascus.

Some 700 gunmen and 4,000 civilians were evacuated. The gunmen and their families headed to the northern rebel-controlled Idlib province. Other civilians were escorted to shelters in government-controlled suburbs of Damascus.

►   The embrace of life: A story of 2 sisters in Italy’s quake

In the chaos of Italy’s devastating earthquake, an older sister’s embrace allowed a young girl to survive.

The heartbreaking story of 9-year-old Giulia Rinaldo and her younger sister Giorgia was recounted Saturday by the bishop who celebrated a funeral Mass for 35 of the 290 people killed by the quake that ravaged central Italy before dawn Wednesday.

Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole recalled that around 6 or 6:30 p.m. Wednesday – 15 hours after the quake struck – he returned to a church in his diocese in the town of Pescara Del Tronto to recover its crucifix.

At the time, only yards from the church, firefighters were using their hands to dig out the two sisters, he said.

“The older one, Giulia, was sprawled over the smaller one, Giorgia. Giulia, dead, Giorgia, alive. They were in an embrace,“ D’Ercole said.

He spoke beneath the crucifix that he recovered that evening, hung in a community gym transformed into a makeshift chapel, as Italy held a national day of mourning.

As weeping Italians bid Giulia and 34 other quake victims farewell with a state funeral, Giorgia spent her fourth birthday in a nearby hospital Saturday, recovering from her ordeal.

Massimo Caico, the firefighter who pulled the girls out, told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper that the position of the older girl’s body apparently created a pocket of air that allowed Giorgia to survive.

He recounted how a black Labrador, Leo, first gave a sign that he smelled something. Rescuers began digging, finding at first a doll and then a cold human leg, that of Giulia.

Then he saw the ground nearby moving “in the rhythm of what could be breathing.“

“Maybe they hugged each other in their sleep or in fear, and the body of Giulia saved Giorgia,“ Caico told the newspaper.

According to Italian news reports, Giorgia is in a state of shock and is practically not speaking anymore. She is only sleeping, crying and asking for her doll and her mother, who is also recovering from earthquake injuries.

►   Fire sweeps through Russian warehouse, killing 17 workers

A fire swept through a Moscow printing plant warehouse on Saturday, killing 17 migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan, Russia’s emergency services said. A representative of the Kyrgyz community said the victims were all young women trapped in a dressing room while changing into their work clothes.

The fire was caused by a faulty lamp on the first floor of the warehouse, where many flammable liquids and paper products were stored, and it spread quickly through an elevator shaft to the room where those who died, said Ilya Denisov, who heads the Moscow branch of the emergency services.

He said firefighters found the bodies of 16 workers and sent four injured workers to the hospital, where one later died.

Denisov, whose statements were carried by Russian news agencies, said the dead were all from Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, and were believed to be working legally in Russia.

Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that 14 of the dead were Kyrgyz citizens.

Abdygani Shakirov, who heads an organization representing the Kyrgyz community in Moscow, said all of the dead were young women.

“Most of them were in Moscow to earn money,“ he told Russian news agencies. “They were in the dressing room and were unable to get out. The smoke had blocked the exit.“

Mylan CEO Gets Pricked by EpiPen Controversy

The Free Press WV

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch struggled during an interview on CNBC Thursday to explain why the list price for a two-pack of the lifesaving EpiPen devices has increased by 400 percent, to over $600, in just a few years.

Bresch argued that the drug delivery system in this country is broken because it incentivizes higher prices for brand drugs.  Although she didn’t admit this, the New York Times reports “a common tactic in the drug industry: sharply raising prices in the years just before a generic competitor reaches the market, as a sort of final attempt to milk big profits from the band-name drug.”

If that’s the case here, Mylan’s not the first or the last to do so.  Last year, Valeant Pharmaceuticals bought Salix Pharmaceuticals and then raised the price of its diabetes drug Glumetza by 800 percent. Company officials explained their actions were consistent with what most companies do.

But these tactics are now hitting home with consumers who find themselves paying out an increasing part of their income for medicine.  Rising premiums drive people to choose plans with higher deductibles, which means they are more likely to see the full cost of their pills.

“The patient is paying twice,” Bresch told CNBC.  “They’re paying full retail price at the counter, and they’re paying higher premiums on their insurance.  It was never intended that a consumer, that the patients, would be paying list price. Never.  The system wasn’t built for that.”

But the average consumer doesn’t understand or much care how the system was built. They just know that the EpiPens they send with their children to school cost a few dollars to make, while they see price hikes of 15 percent every time they buy a new packet.

One reason Mylan is able to raise prices so dramatically is because they have no competition. “Competitors have been trying for years to challenge Mylan’s EpiPen franchise with low-cost alternatives—only to become entangled in the Food and Drug Administrations’ regulatory afflatus,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who worked previously at the FDA, said on MetroNews Talkline Thursday that typically when four choices are in the marketplace, the price of a product will be reduced by half.

It’s unfortunate Mylan is getting a black-eye from this.  The company, founded by Mike Puskar and Don Panoz in 1961 in West Virginia, has been a remarkable success story.  Mike, who died in 2011, and his former wife, Betty, have been extremely generous benefactors to the community and the Mylan plant in Morgantown has stable, good paying jobs.

But this is a different time and the EpiPen story has touched a nerve, especially in West Virginia because Bresch is the daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, and folks still remember the scandal from a few years back over her MBA from WVU in addition to the company’s controversial tax inversion last year.

Perhaps this will open up a larger debate about drug prices, as Bresch suggested, but in the meantime she is on her heals trying to explain why Mylan is not gouging customers on the EpiPen.

~~  Hoppy Kercheval ~~

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2 of Mylan’s paid service/customers relation represenatives have resigned since this became public.

A lot of American’s do not realize the Mylan CEO is WV Senator Joe Manchin daughter.  The gal who received the phony degree a few years back.

By Gilmer County  on  08.27.2016

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Study Finds Lost Coal Jobs Could Be Absorbed by Renewable Sector

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The growth of solar- and wind-related jobs could easily absorb coal-industry layoffs over the next 15 years and provide full-time careers, if investments are made to retrain workers. That’s according to a new study from Oregon State University and the Michigan Technological University.

Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the country just reached the one-millionth solar installation, and it isn’t slowing down.

“It took us 40 years to get there,“ he said. “We think in the next two years, we’re going to hit 2 million and by 2021, we will be at 4.5 million installations, so we’re really growing rapidly. We think over that period of time, the number of solar jobs will more than double.“

According to the study, the solar industry is expected to add 345 megawatts of solar power over the next five years. But the authors found the new renewable jobs are not happening equally in every state, and state policies designed to draw investment have a big impact.

Whitten said states that have been heavily reliant on coal will have to step up their game to help keep people employed.

“The Solar Foundation has a program called Solar Ready Vets that trains veterans for solar energy work,“ he added. “There are community programs that train people to work in the solar industry, but it’s not as pervasive as it needs to be. That’s going to be something that we’re going to have to turn our attention to and focus on.“

Steve O’Rourke, a vice president of business development at Microgrid Energy, said the renewable-energy sector welcomes the idea of employing former coal workers who want to make the transition.

“The person who’s working as an accountant at Peabody Energy could just as easily work as an accountant for Microgrid Energy, so those people would be easily retrained,“ he said. “People who are working in a mine, to train them to install solar arrays, you know, that’s going to be somewhat significant retraining.“

The study also noted that a coal CEO’s annual salary would be more than enough to retrain every company employee for a job in renewables.

The full study can be read HERE .

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

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In West Virginia….

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►   Adopt-A-Highway Fall Cleanup is September 24th

Volunteers can sign up for next month’s litter cleanup along West Virginia highways.

The Adopt-A-Highway program is a partnership between the state Department of Environmental Protection and Division of Highways.

More than 4,800 volunteers cleared more than 1,500 miles of roads during the spring cleanup.

The fall cleanup is set for September 24. Volunteers must be at least age 12 to participate.

To sign up, call 800.322.5530 or email .

►   Anniversary of ratification of 19th Amendment marked at State Capitol

It’s difficult for many people to believe today, but there was a time in the United States when women were seen as incapable of making informed decisions in the election process.

It was 1920 when that changed with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing white women the right to vote.

“We, as women, were not given the opportunity to have a full voice in the beginning of this country and, now that we have a voice, we need to make sure that we exercise our right,” said Julie Palas, interim executive director for the West Virginia Women’s Commission.

“We need to make sure that people all across the country are remembering how hard we fought to get this right and responsibility to vote.”

Certification of the amendment’s ratification from U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby came on August 26, 1920.

On Friday, the West Virginia Women’s Commission hosted a noontime Women’s Equality Day event at the State Capitol to mark the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued a proclamation for the anniversary occasion.

“We come together today to honor the efforts of the many women and men who gave so much so that women have the right to vote,” Palas said at the State Capitol event.

“We celebrate the power of women and how important we are to a strong democracy.”

Women play crucial roles in the democratic process, Palas said.

In the November 8 general election, for the first time, a woman is a major political party presidential candidate with the nomination of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Because a woman is running, it even shows us why it’s important for us not to lay back and not use our vote this year,” Palas said. “No matter how we vote, who we’re voting for, it’s important that our voice — as women — is heard.”


U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced a total of $1,278,207 from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration will be awarded to Jackson County Airport and Mingo County Airport Authority.

“As a pilot myself, I understand the importance of aviation safety, and aviation safety begins with maintaining our airport infrastructure,” Senator Manchin said. “This funding will enable Jackson and Mingo County Airports to make the necessary improvements to continue serving West Virginians.”

“Rural airports play an important role in the communities they serve, which is why I advocated for this funding as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Investments in the Jackson and Mingo County airports will help spur economic growth and benefit West Virginians and visitors alike,” said Senator Capito.

Individual awards are listed below:

$624,597 – Jackson County - This grant will provide federal funding for the Jackson County Airport in West Virginia. This project will fund rehabilitation of 7,775 square yards of the existing apron to maintain structural integrity of the pavement. Jackson County Airport is a general aviation airport associated with Ravenswood, West Virginia.

$653,610 – Mingo County Airport Authority - This project will fund the construction of an 11,650 square foot T-hangar building to assist the airport to be as self-sustaining as possible by generating revenue. The sponsor has adequately financed the airside needs of the airport.

►   New I-79 interchange at Morgantown to open September 01

A new interchange on Interstate 79, between Westover and Star City, is set to open September 1.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Exit 153 will be held at 4 p.m. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is slated to attend. A reception will follow at the Courtyard Marriott, by Monongalia County Ballpark.

Construction work on the $22 million project began in early 2015, as part of a tax increment financing (TIF) project at University Town Centre. The exit will provide a second entrance to access the shopping center and ballpark.

►   36 dogs seized from home previously raided by rescue workers

Several dogs have been rescued from a Wayne County home that has previously been in the news for similar reasons.

Media outlets report that 36 dogs were taken Wednesday evening from a Prichard home to the Cabell Wayne Animal Control Shelter following tips from neighbors.

Shelter director Scott Iseli says a few of the dogs were in transport boxes with no way to stand up and no food or water. Other dogs were chained.

Six years ago, more than 40 horses and 40 dogs were rescued from the same home. The man who lives there, 71-year-old Gary Belcher, was charged and convicted. He served five years of probation.

Now, Belcher is charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty. It’s unclear if he has an attorney.

2016: Area High School Football Scoreboard: Week 1

The Gilmer Free Press

Area High School Football Scoreboard
Week 10 Games
Gilmer County (1-0) 55 Lincoln (0-1)  27
Beallsville, OH 0 Braxton County (1-0) 36
Calhoun County (0-1) 6 Lewis County (0-1) 20 
Wirt County (1-0) 33 #1 Bridgeport (1-0) 44
Doddridge County (0-1) 0 Ritchie County (0-1)  8
#9 South Harrison (1-0) 42 #3 St. Marys (1-0) 42
#3 Fairmont Senior (1-0) 49 South Point, OH 22
#7 Robert C. Byrd (0-1) 12 Roane County (1-0) 42
Notre Dame (0-1) 20 #4 Williamstown (1-0) 25
Pendleton County (1-0) 48 Tyler Consolidated (0-1) 14
Fayetteville (A) (1-0) 28 Parkersburg Catholic (0-1) 18
Clay County (0-1) 0 #8 Buffalo (1-0) 45
Grafton (1-0) 23 Cameron (1-0) 54
Phillip Barbour (0-1) 0 Hundred (0-1) 0
Liberty Harrison (0-1)  26 Paden City (0-1) 0
East Fairmont (1-0) 38 Symmes Valley, OH 32
Nicholas County (AA) (1-0) 22 Webster County (1-0) 12
Greenbrier West (0-1) 0 Richwood (0-1) 6
Parkersburg (1-0) 57 Ripley (1-0) 14
St. Albans (0-1) 14 Parkersburg South (0-1) 7

In USA….

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►   Top College to Freshmen: Don’t Expect Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings

The controversial concept of “safe spaces” on college campuses—a place where members of a marginalized group can feel secure and able to express themselves—has grabbed the media’s attention over the last year, spurred by such high-profile cases as the racial strife at the University of Missouri and a recent want ad posted by a black student at a California college seeking a non-white roommate. But those heading to the University of Chicago this fall shouldn’t expect such accommodations, according to a letter sent to incoming freshmen, Inside Higher Ed reports. Although John Ellison, the school’s dean of students, says in the letter that no one should be harassed, the university is committed to “freedom of inquiry and expression” and students should be prepared that in a collegial environment, they may sometimes feel challenged and be exposed to a certain level of “discomfort.“

Toward that end, per Ellison: The university won’t support safe spaces or “trigger warnings” on provocative topics (both terms that Quartz says have become “nebulous”) and has no intention of turning away speakers from campus if their ideas are polarizing. The Chicago Maroon, the student newspaper, documents three incidents that happened during the 2016 spring semester in which speakers invited to the school had to end their speeches or endure protester disruptions during their appearances. The paper also notes that reaction to Ellison’s letter has been mixed on social media, with some saying they applaud the college’s support for academic freedom—“It’s about time that someone stood up against this PC nonsense!“ reads one comment on the Maroon article—while others say the school’s attitude toward supposedly “open” dialogue can serve as a cover for hate speech.

►   Gitmo Detainee Seen Publicly for 1st Time in 14 Years

Between his capture by the CIA in Pakistan in 2002 and his appearance at a US government hearing Tuesday, Abu Zubaydah lost his left eye. How remains unclear (Dexter Filkins dedicates an entire piece to the question at the New Yorker), but other details of what happened to him while in US custody have been revealed: Zubaydah is one of three men the CIA has admitted to waterboarding—83 times in August 2003. Filkins notes the interrogations Zubaydah was subjected to were so extreme that CIA agents asked for “reasonable assurances that [Zubaydah] will remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.“ On Tuesday the AP reports he sat “expressionless” in a short hearing tasked with determining whether he should remain at Gitmo, where he has been for the last decade.

It was Zubaydah’s first public appearance since his capture, with the initial 10 minutes of the hearing aired live in a secure room at the Pentagon to journalists and others. The AP reports the government no longer maintains, as it once did, that Zubaydah was a senior al-Qaeda leader at the time of this capture; the CIA detainee profile on him now says things like he was “generally aware” of the planned 9/11 attacks. Detainees cannot speak at their review hearings, and a statement read on Zubaydah’s behalf conveyed his “desire to be reunited with his family and begin the process of recovering from injuries he sustained during his capture.“ The Guardian suggests his knowledge of CIA torture is a huge barrier to release. As one of his lawyers puts it, “Abu Zubaydah will not be released.“ A decision should come in 30 days.

►   Verdict Is In for Artist Who Insists He Didn’t Paint Picture

A case calls “one wild ride” may finally be over after a federal judge ruled Tuesday that artist Peter Doig wasn’t the painter of a painting owned by an ex-corrections officer—and that the man and his art dealer couldn’t sue Doig for foiling plans to sell the painting for millions, the New York Times reports. “Peter Doig could not have been the author of this work,“ Judge Gary Feinerman said, refuting plaintiffs’ claims that Doig was fibbing by denying the landscape painting owned by Robert Fletcher was his. What made the case uncommon: Doig, a living artist, was forced to deny he’d made a painting rather than prove he had. Fletcher said he had seen Doig paint the piece in the mid-‘70s while the artist was serving a short stint at the prison where Fletcher worked, and that Doig had later sold Fletcher the painting for $100. But Doig said he’d never been jailed and that the painting was by one Peter Edward Doige, whose sister provided evidence that seemed to indicate he was a closer match to being the artist behind the piece.

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The Times notes the plaintiffs used “somewhat unorthodox efforts” to make their case and compared Doig’s other works—which often sell for tens of millions of dollars—to this particular painting, claiming Doig was lying because he didn’t want to be publicly embarrassed at knocking off his own painting in later pieces. But the judge ruled against the plaintiffs, who had sought almost $8 million in damages and a certificate of authenticity for the now “worthless” painting—which Forbes notes was valued at $10 million before Doig disputed its origins, saying any similarities were “purely coincidental.“ The Chicago Sun-Times notes “no one’s happy” with the ruling, with Doig’s attorney calling the case a “flagrant example of unethical conduct in the US courts,“ Fletcher still insisting the painting is a Doig, and Fletcher’s art dealer noting, “No one should be allowed to lie.“

►   Uncle Sam Has a Plan for 11M Pounds of Excess Cheese

“Get rid of the gouda” isn’t something you’d expect from a government directive, but that’s the gist of what the Department of Agriculture is doing to ease the country’s cheese crisis. By “crisis,“ we mean there’s more cheese stockpiled and languishing in the US than there has been in three decades, per CNNMoney, and the USDA announced Tuesday it will spend $20 million to scoop up 11 million pounds of the excess dairy product from private inventories and distribute it to food banks and pantries nationwide. “This commodity purchase is part of a robust, comprehensive safety net that will help reduce a cheese surplus that is at a 30-year high while, at the same time, moving a high-protein food to the tables of those most in need,“ Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says.

To put the surplus in context, the Wall Street Journal noted in May that every American would have to scarf down an extra 3 pounds of cheese in 2016 to get rid of the excess. “The US is sitting on more butter and cheese than it knows what to do with,“ Bloomberg lamented in April, noting half of the US cheese inventory is American, 2% is Swiss, and the rest falls under “other.“ The USDA says it decided to act after receiving pleas from farmers groups, Congress, and the National Milk Producers Federation to help pull them out of the cheese mire, a result of low prices worldwide, plentiful milk inventories (and ample European exports), and slowed demand, among other factors. The consequence of this sluggish market: Dairy farmers have seen their revenues plummet 35% over the past two years, the USDA notes.

►   Mom Accused of Putting Newborn in Fridge for 3 Hours

A 27-year-old South Carolina mother of a toddler has been accused of killing her 4-day-old newborn by putting him in the refrigerator for three hours, where he suffered hypothermia with asphyxiation, reports the Rock Hill Herald. After a lengthy investigation over the February incident, authorities arrested Angela Blackwell on Monday and charged her with homicide by child abuse for her “extreme indifference to human life.“ Her older son has been removed from her care, though the child’s father, Jeff Lewis, contends that his common-law wife, who he says is mentally disabled, is not responsible. “She’s always good to the kids,“ adds Lewis’ father, who got to hold his grandchild for a couple hours in the first days of baby William’s short life.

The magistrate was not allowed to set bond because Blackwell’s charge carries a sentence of up to life in prison, so she remains in custody until a November bond hearing before a circuit court judge. Records show that Lewis, who is 35, has been convicted of shoplifting and larceny dating back to 2005 and spent more than two years in prison, reports ABC News. An image of Lewis with Blackwell in 2012 on shows him with several tattoos, including what appears to be a swastika on his forearm. “I think it’s all bull (expletive),“ he tells WSOC. “She didn’t do nothing to cause it to die.“ Multiple family members say there were many people in the house the night of the baby’s death and that another young child with autism may have put William in the refrigerator.

►   Woman Falls to Her Death From Zip Line

A 59-year-old woman who went to a Delaware zip line park for a “Treetop Adventure” experience instead fell to her death Wednesday, Delaware Online reports. The woman fell about 40 feet, and the news site says crew members and others at the scene were “visibly shaken” by what happened. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The park involved, Go Ape at Lums Pond State Park near Kirkwood, closed after the incident. The investigation is still in its early stages.

►   1934 Letter Reveals a Livid Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde made it quite clear how they felt about a former member of their gang in a letter they sent to him as he sat in the Dallas County Jail. He was a coward, they wrote, and they should have killed him when they had the chance. The four-page letter to Raymond Hamilton was written in April 1934 in Bonnie Parker’s neat cursive and signed by Clyde Barrow, reports the AP. It could fetch more than $40,000 when it’s sold next month by Boston-based RR Auction, says the auction house’s executive vice president, Robert Livingston. Based on the language, experts think Barrow, who had poor writing skills, likely dictated the letter to Parker, Livingston notes.

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The couple was livid with Hamilton, in part because of a disagreement over how to split $4,000 stolen from a Texas bank just two months earlier. “I should have killed you then I would have saved myself much bother and money looking for you,“ reads the letter. The letter also says Hamilton is “yellow,“ pointing out that he was captured without resistance. It ends: “I hope this will serve the purpose of letting you know that you can never expect the least of sympathy or assistance from me. So long.“ It’s unclear if Hamilton ever saw the letter, Livingston says. It was intercepted by Sheriff Richard “Smoot” Schmid, who shared it with newspapers several months later. It remained in his family’s possession until they decided to auction it.

►   Baltimore Cops Admit They’ve Been Filming Citizens From Sky

Baltimore police are keeping an eye on city residents from the sky. On Tuesday, Bloomberg Businessweek revealed the secret aerial surveillance system police had been using since January, and on Wednesday, police confirmed they have indeed been carrying out aerial surveillance to investigate crimes, the Guardian reports. But a police spokesperson insists it’s “not a secret surveillance program” and “there was no conspiracy not to disclose it.“ But even the mayor, city council, and board of estimates were in the dark about the program until the Bloomberg story came out. Police say the system was used for 100 hours between January and February and 200 hours over the summer, and that it will be used for a few more weeks as police decide whether to use it permanently.

Per Bloomberg’s story, the surveillance involves a Cessna plane that circles the city for up to 10 hours a day, armed with sophisticated cameras that transmit real-time images to analysts on the ground; the footage is also reportedly archived for later use if needed. Persistent Surveillance Systems provided the system, which allows police to track suspects as they move around, and it was privately funded. A slew of officials and activists have slammed both the surveillance and the fact that police kept it secret for so long, including the ACLU and the office of the public defender. A government surveillance expert says the legal standing of the surveillance system is unclear, since it’s “currently being litigated in a number of areas,“ but that citizens may have “a constitutional right to be free from pervasive location tracking without court authorization.“

►   Pulse Shooting Victims See a Financial Nightmare Erased

They were fortunate enough to survive a gunman’s rampage that killed 49 others at an Orlando nightclub. But in the weeks following the June 12 massacre at Pulse, many survivors who needed medical treatment found themselves living another nightmare. Besides haunting memories, they suffered debilitating injuries that required painful surgeries and ongoing care. Some were uninsured. Now, Orlando hospitals are offering relief. Orlando Health and Florida Hospital announced Wednesday they will forgive an estimated $5.5 million in unpaid medical bills, the Orlando Sentinel reports. “We hope this gesture can add to the heart and goodwill that defines Orlando,“ says Florida Hospital CEO Daryl Tol. NPR reported last month that when long-term care is factored in, medical bills of Pulse survivors could reach $390 million.

Blocks away from the nightclub, Orlando Regional Medical Center treated 44 shooting victims. One survivor remains hospitalized there. The hospital, run by Orlando Health, will bill insurance companies but cover any remaining costs, a spokeswoman said. The families of nine people who died there will not be sent a bill. Florida Hospital said it won’t bill the insurance companies of the dozen club-goers treated there, and all future care will be covered as well. Survivors welcomed the news. “I was so worried because I can’t afford any of that,“ Mario Lopez tells the Sentinel. Lopez, 34, was hit with bullet fragments on the left side and has no insurance to cover a $20,000 ER bill. “It’s a huge relief.“

►   Vet Fakes War Injuries to Get Purple Heart, $752K in Benefits

Federal prosecutors say a former soldier who lied his way to a Purple Heart by faking injuries from the Iraq war cheated Washington state and the federal government out of more than $750,000, the AP reports. Darryl Wright, a former Idaho National Guardsman, appeared for sentencing Thursday in US District Court, where Judge Benjamin Settle said he wanted to hear additional testimony about Wright’s mental health before issuing a punishment. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison term, arguing that Wright falsified statements from fellow soldiers to obtain two awards—a Combat Action Badge and the Purple Heart—and then parlayed those medals into a wide range of disability and other benefits, including forgiveness of more than $40,000 in student loans.

In applications for benefits, Wright claimed to be so severely disabled that he could only focus his attention for five to 10 seconds, and he said he needed a live-in caregiver. In reality, he served as chairman of his city’s planning commission, coached high school basketball, and had held a full-time federal government job in Seattle. Wright claimed Social Security disability benefits, insisting he was frequently bedridden. He also allegedly submitted fabricated National Guard orders in an effort to be paid for a week of skipped work. Wright pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud early this year. Wright’s Purple Heart has not been rescinded, prosecutors said.

►   2 Nuns Found Slain in Rural Mississippi Home

Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi were found slain in their home, officials said Thursday. There were signs of a break-in, and their vehicle was missing. It was too early to say how the nuns died, but it doesn’t appear that they were shot, Durant Assistant Police Chief James Lee said. The nuns were identified as Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, Holmes County Coroner Dexter Howard said. Their bodies were taken to a state crime lab for autopsies. The women, both nurse practitioners, were found Thursday morning when they didn’t report to work at a nearby hospital, the AP reports.

“They were two of the sweetest, most gentle women you can imagine. Their vocation was helping the poor,“ said the Rev. Greg Plata, who oversees a small Catholic church the sisters attended in the Mississippi Delta. Maureen Smith, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, said there were signs of a break-in at the home and the nuns’ vehicle is missing. She said the sisters worked at the Lexington Medical Clinic, about 10 miles away from their home in Durant, one of the poorest areas in the state. Authorities didn’t release a motive and it wasn’t clear if the nuns’ religious work had anything to do with the slayings.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   ‘Brazen’ Attack on ‘Future of Afghanistan’ Leaves 12 Dead

A brazen, hourslong militant attack on the American University of Afghanistan ended early Thursday after at least 12 people were killed and dozens were wounded in the assault on the sprawling campus on Kabul’s outskirts, a government spokesman says. The attack—called “an attack on the future of Afghanistan” by the US State Department—underscored how, despite efforts by the Afghan authorities to improve security, militants in this country are still able to stage large-scale attacks, including in the country’s capital, Kabul, the AP notes. The dead included seven students, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi. Three police officers and two security guards were also killed, the ministry says. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assault, but suspicion is likely to fall on the Taliban. The group’s spokesman would only tell the media that the Taliban are “investigating.“

“Most of the dead were killed by gunshots near the windows of their classrooms,“ Sediqqi says. The ministry statement says 36 people were wounded, including nine police officers; Kabul’s police chief says one foreign teacher was among the wounded. The assault began just before 7pm Wednesday—a time when hundreds of students typically attend evening classes at the prestigious university—with a suicide car bombing at the school’s entrance. The blast breached security walls and allowed two other attackers to enter the campus, armed with grenades and automatic weapons, Sediqqi says. The siege lasted almost nine hours before police killed the two assailants around 3:30am, he adds. The attack came two weeks after two university staffers, an American and an Australian, were kidnapped from their car by unknown gunmen. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

►   Deal Will End 52-Year War, but Hurdles Remain

Its 52-year span makes it the Americas’ “longest-running war,“ reports the New York Times, and after four years of negotiations, it will come to an end, at least assuming all goes according to plan. Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, on Wednesday announced that they had a deal to end a conflict that has claimed 220,000 lives. An overview:

  • The BBC has the key line from the joint statement: “The Colombian government and the FARC announce that we have reached a final, full, and definitive accord.“
  • The AP reports the final text of the agreement hasn’t been released, but it will see the government moving forward on aggressive land reforms and making heavy investment in long-neglected rural areas. The FARC will abandon their arms and be guaranteed a handful of seats in Congress for the next decade.
  • Here’s a particularly prickly element: “Under a so-called transitional justice system, all but the most grievous crimes [committed by the rebels] may be resolved with reduced sentences,“ writes the Times. As a senator in the party of former President Alvaro Uribe put it, “They will spend zero days in prison, they will be awarded with political representation. This deal breaks the rule of law.“
  • Uribe is a key figure in all this. The accord isn’t a done deal: Colombia Reports outlines a number of steps that will follow. The big one is a “plebiscite,“ essentially a referendum that puts the deal in the hands of the Colombian people. Uribe is leading the “no” camp.
  • The vote, “the most important of our lives,“ says President Juan Manuel Santos, will be held October 2. Reuters reports polls lean toward it passing, but there are potential pitfalls.
  • Here’s one, per the AP: voter turnout. The accord doesn’t just need a majority “yes,“ it also has to be supported by at least 13% of those eligible to vote, or about 4.4 million people.

►   Prospector Strikes Gold: a $190K Chunk of It

Wednesday saw what could be the world’s largest-ever pearl; Thursday, a massive gold nugget weighing in at around 9 pounds. Found in central Victoria’s Golden Triangle in Australia by an explorer who wishes to stay anonymous, per, the gleaming chunk of precious metal, estimated to be worth up to $190,000, was found 12 inches below the surface using what Gizmodo Australia calls a $7,600 Minelab metal detector known as the “next level of gold detection.“ “I thought it was rubbish at first, maybe an old horseshoe,“ says the prospector, who’s been scouting for buried treasure in his spare time for 10 years with a group of friends, per 9News. But as he dug deeper, the finder of the nugget now being called “Friday’s Joy” realized he hadn’t just stumbled across some junkyard-worthy detritus.

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The prospector, who had found a 9-ounce gold nugget the previous day, initially wasn’t sure what to do with this substantially larger find—discovered, incidentally, in a location that had already been “worked over,“ a Minelab rep tells—so he rinsed it off with water, wrapped it tinfoil, and stuck it in his oven for the night. For now, the gold piece remains secure in a bank vault until it can be sold at auction, and the prospector, who has promised to split the proceeds with his metal-detecting group, is planning to use his share to buy a van so he can travel around his home continent. His lucrative new lucky charm is still far from being the world’s biggest: Per the Discovery Channel, that honor goes to the 158-pound “Welcome Stranger” nugget found in Dunolly, Victoria, in 1869.

►   Conjoined Twins in Syria Die While Awaiting Evacuation

More heartbreaking news from Syria: conjoined twins born a month ago in a beseiged hospital in rebel-held territory have died. The baby boys succumbed to heart failure on Wednesday before they could be moved abroad for life-saving treatment, the Wall Street Journal reports. Joined at the abdomen, with their hearts sharing the same sac, Moaz and Nawras al-Hishoysh weighed less than 12 pounds when they were born on July 23 in the Ghouta region outside Damascus. After repeated appeals and a social media campaign hashtagged #EvacuateTheTwins, the government allowed them to be moved to the capital on August 12. But Damascus also lacks the medical facilities the babies needed, and with time running out, relief officials scrambled to get the boys out of Syria.

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The Syrian American Medical Society accuses the government of failing to grant the twins permission to leave the country in time because of political reasons, reports the BBC. The charity says it obtained commitments from hospitals in the US and Saudi Arabia (both oppose President Bashar al-Assad) to treat the babies, but the government stalled in granting them passports, the baby’s father, Muneer al-Hishoysh, tells the Journal. But a spokeswoman for the government-sanctioned Syrian Arab Red Crescent denies that Syrian officials were uncooperative and says her agency had gotten the thumbs up to transfer the babies to an Italian hospital on Monday. But by that time, she said, the twins were too sick to travel.

►   After Partner Dies on Trail, Woman Survives Month Alone

A bizarre story of survival out of New Zealand: Authorities say a woman survived for a month in a remote cabin after her partner was killed during a wintry hike in the mountains, reports the Guardian. Police say the Czech couple, in their late 20s or early 30s, began hiking the Routeburn Track, which takes up to four days to complete, on July 24 but soon became disorientated in the snow and freezing weather. The woman told police through a translator that her partner fell from a slope two days later, and while she was able to reach him, he died shortly after, reports She says she made it back to a camping station four days later near Lake Mackenzie and broke into the warden’s cabin, where she looted food and supplies, and made a large H in the snow with ashes from a fire.

The woman says she feared trying to hike out from there given the heavy snow and her own debilitated condition. Help took a while to arrive, however: The couple hadn’t registered their hike, so authorities had no clue they were missing. Finally, worried family members back home began posting on social media, and word circulated to the Czech consulate in New Zealand. A search party found their car and then the woman, about four weeks after the hike began. A local police inspector says it’s “highly unusual” that she went undetected for so long, even though it’s winter. “If no one’s been in there because of the snow, I can see how it could happen,“ says the president of a local hiking group. She is recuperating, and authorities are planning to retrieve her partner’s body.

►   Pizza by drone: unmanned air delivery set to take off in New Zealand

A New Zealand pizza chain aims to become the world’s first company to offer a commercial drone delivery service, a milestone in the once-unthinkable quest to save time and money with an air-borne supply chain dispensing with people.

Some of the world’s biggest companies including Inc and Google, or Alphabet Inc as it is known, have plans to make deliveries by drone and aviation authorities in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have been relaxing rules to allow air deliveries.

Last month, U.S. convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc [SILC.UL] conducted the first single commercial drone delivery - coffee, donuts and a chicken sandwich - as part of a trial.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd conducted a demonstration pizza delivery by drone in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Thursday, and afterwards said it aimed to be the first company to launch a regular drone service, late this year.

“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order,“ Domino’s Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.

With clear skies and small population of 4.4 million, New Zealand last year became one of the world’s first countries to clear commercial drone deliveries.

“Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment,“ New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said after the Domino’s test flight.

But Philip Solaris, director of another drone company, X-craft Enterprises, said that while New Zealand has accommodating regulations on drones, Domino’s would be held back by a rule requiring drones to be kept in sight at all times.

“I can’t truly see how commercially viable that idea is because you would have to literally have somebody walking along to keep it in the line of sight, watching it at all times,“ Solaris said.

Domino’s service would still need to overcome “random hazards (like) power lines, moving vehicles, children in the backyard playing”, he said.

The Domino’s and 7-Eleven deliveries both used drones provided by U.S.-headquarted Australian drone company Flirtey.

Domino’s said it is also looking at opportunities for drone delivery trials in Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany.

In Australia, drone deliveries will be legal next month, provided the drones stay at least 30 meters (100 feet) from houses.

In the United States, drones will be allowed to make deliveries from August 29, but not across state lines or over people.

►   French High Court Rules on Town’s Burkini Ban

France’s tussle with the burkini was just dealt a strong blow by the country’s top administrative court, which on Friday overturned one resort town’s ban against the full-body beachwear, the AP reports. The ruling from the Council of State comes during a summer of high-profile cases along the French Riviera in which Cannes and more than two dozen other municipalities have forbidden Muslim women to don the specialized swimsuits. In the words of the Cannes mayor, the burkini is a “symbol of Islamic extremism” that doesn’t respect “good morals and secularism” in a country that’s been hard hit by militant attacks in recent months. But the director of Amnesty International’s European office disagrees with this tactic, noting “these bans do nothing to increase public safety, but do a lot to promote public humiliation,“ per the BBC.

The Council of State heard arguments from lawyers for two human rights groups who noted that mayors in the towns that have nixed the burkinis don’t have the right to tell women what to wear. Protests in support of the burkini have been taking place around the world, per CNN, including a “wear what you want beach party” Thursday held on a DIY “beach” outside the French Embassy in London. Although Friday’s decision refers specifically to the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, it’s expected to set a legal precedent for other resorts that have issued the same mandate. At least one mayor—in Corsica—is already saying he’ll continue to enforce the ban, despite the court’s ruling, the BBC reports.

►   Peace in Colombia Could Be Trouble for American Partiers

Now that Colombia has ended its 52-year war with rebel group FARC, what happens to Americans who like to party? The New York Times reports FARC controls most of Colombia’s cocaine network and in 2006 was said to be responsible for 60% of the cocaine shipped to the US. It’s been a very profitable business for FARC, which made between $200 million and $3.5 billion from the cocaine trade every year, according to the Atlantic. But Business Insider reports FARC, which controlled 70% of Colombia’s coca-growing areas, agreed to pull out of the drug business and work with the government to transition farmers to legitimate crops as part of the peace agreement.

There are a number of possibilities for what happens to Colombia’s coca fields now. The government promises to “fill the space immediately” to prevent organized crime from taking them over, Reuters reports. But a battle over coca production between criminal groups looks likely. “Even if peace is signed there won’t be peace,“ a woman who packs marijuana for dealers says. “They will all come, all the gangs.“ Farmers themselves may also refuse to stop growing coca, despite subsidies from the government. Farmers who switch to growing fruit, beans, or coffee can make less than one-third what they did from growing coca. “Even if the FARC is demobilized, the problem of violence and crime and drug trafficking in Colombia is not going to go away,“ an expert told Business Insider back in July.

5k Raises Over $1,000 for Mountaineer Food Bank

That Dam Race 5K, which took place earlier this Summer on July 30th, 2016, raised $1,164.41 in proceeds which will go to the Mountaineer Food Bank. The Mountaineer Food Bank was selected early in the year because of the great work they do and the great service they provide to the state of West Virginia. In the wake of the terrible flooding that has taken place in many areas of the state the Mountaineer Food Bank is needed more than ever. Race coordinator,

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Burton Spaur, presented the check to the Executive
Director of the Mountaineer Food Bank, Chad Morrison.

The $1,164.41 contribution from the race equals roughly twenty tons of food for the food bank, which translates into roughly 33,000 meals. According to ED, Morrison, much of the food the Mountaineer Food Bank distributes is given to the food bank for free, leaving only freight charges. So even a small donation of one hundred dollars can help bring in many pallets of much needed food.

That Dam Race 5K has been held eight years in a row at the Sutton Dam, in Sutton, WV. The course of the race takes runners and walkers up a difficult hill to the top of the dam, across the dam, through the woods, into downtown Sutton, and finally back to the starting point below the dam. The difficulty and beauty of the course has been a yearly destination for some of West Virginia’s most competitive runners. This race has also attracted runners from as far away as California and England. For more information on the event “Like” the official event page on Facebook, by searching “that dam race 5k”.

Race Coordinator, Spaur, would like to thank Shannon Huff, Kim Conrad, and Anna Stewart for their dedication and help in planning and executing the 5k this year.

That Dam Race 5K organizers could not have succeeded without the help of their generous sponsors and event partners: Premier Bank, Braxton County CVB, Go Mart, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lockards Kawasaki, Cafe Cimino, Braxton County Sheriffs Dept., Braxton County EMS, and the Town of Sutton.

West Virginia Universal Pre-K Provides Significant Benefits

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First-year findings in a long-term National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and Marshall University study of young students and early education classrooms in West Virginia reveal performance advantages among children attending Pre-K and provide useful information on classroom quality.

Results include:

    •  Children who attended Pre-K outperformed those who had no Pre-K experience in every measure
    •  Benefits of Pre-K were most profound in print knowledge
    •  Classroom quality averages all exceed minimal quality, and several demonstrate higher quality
    •  On average, classrooms demonstrated high quality in fostering a nurturing and safe environment

The initial West Virginia Universal Pre-K Evaluation showed, on average, children with Pre-K experience outperformed those without Pre-K in every measure. Benefits were “large and statistically significant,” with the widest margin in print knowledge.

“We recognize that our state’s future depends on early investment in our youngest citizens,” said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. “We must ensure that every child has access to high-quality preschool to build the foundation for success.”

In addition, the study scored both Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms above average for emotional support, such as fostering and nurturing and safe environment, and organization.

These findings are detailed in a new report, the first in a series spotlighting Pre-K education in West Virginia. NIEER is proud to partner with Marshall University on behalf of West Virginia Department of Education on this five-year study of how the state’s Universal Pre-K program affects child outcomes, with a specific focus on reading outcomes.

The study, launched in August 2015, includes 599 children starting Pre-K, and 573 children starting kindergarten who had attended Pre-K, in seven counties, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, Putnam, Roane and Wood. Researchers will follow the progress of these children through completion of third grade. About half the children are girls, more than 90 percent are white and about 73 percent are from low-income households. In upcoming years, additional students and families will be invited to participate.

Researchers evaluated skills including language, print knowledge, math, and executive functions such as memory, self-control, and attention.

High quality preschool education has been shown to close achievement gaps afflicting American children from minority and low-income families—and this study shows similar effects in West Virginia. The goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of children’s development over time, classroom environments and teaching practices across the participating counties, enabling WVDE to develop a data-driven approach to continuous improvement across all classrooms.

Researchers also are evaluating the quality of Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, focusing on Pre-K and kindergarten rooms in the same seven counties. Evaluation includes both environmental factors and teacher-child interactions, measuring Space and Furnishings, Personal Care Routines, Language and Literacy, Learning Activities, Interaction, and Program Structure.

Results show a range of classroom quality, demonstrating some classrooms are of good quality and others have room for improvement. Teacher experience also varies, with Pre-K teachers generally having less experience teaching and fewer graduate degrees.

“We applaud West Virginia for its leadership in providing quality early learning opportunities,” said Shannon Ayers, Ph.D., associate research professor at NIEER. “We look forward to continuing our work with the West Virginia Department of Education and educators across the state to help achieve the best outcomes for children.”

The National Institute for Early Education Research ( at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy and practice through independent, objective research.

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

“High quality preschool education has been shown to close achievement gaps afflicting American children from minority and low-income families ... “

Actually, this statement is untrue, although the liberal/progressive left keeps trying to “say it ain’t so.“  Creating a study which manufactures facts to reach a foregone conclusion isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, and that’s the case with this one.

Pre-K is nothing more than very expensive babysitting at public expense and a way to expand the teacher’s unions power and influence.


Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne  on  08.26.2016

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