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CommunityConcerns™: Does This Make Sense?

WVBOE’s Excess Compensation of Intervention Superintendent
Takes Money Away From Our Children!!!!

The Free Press WV

The Gazette-Mail printed an article on May 25, 2016 containing coverage of Kanawha County’s budget for the next fiscal year. That county has 64 public schools with approximately 28,000 students (33 times more than Gilmer County’s 850 students). Kanawha’s budget is $233,800,000 for next fiscal year. In contrast Gilmer County with the State’s smallest school system will have a budget of $8,131,676 next year for two schools. It is reasonable to conclude that Kanawha County’s superintendent has vastly more administrative responsibilities in administering that school system than what we have here.

Some individuals may ask so what after considering the facts. The reason for alarm is compensation the State pays its intervention superintendent in Gilmer County. Let’s consider the evidence. Kanawha County pays its superintendent about $160,000 a year. Let us assume that the individual’s total compensation package is $170,000. Compare that to what Gilmer’s intervention superintendent gets for administering our tiny school system with only two schools and 850 students. Although financial details are kept secret from citizens it is estimated that counting everything, compensation approximates $150,000 a year with vastly less responsibilities compared to Kanawha County’s superintendent.

If compensation in Kanawha County were to be based on numbers of schools administered, at the rate our County’s State-appointed superintendent will be paid for two schools, Kanawha County’s superintendent would be paid about 32 times more to equate to $4,800,000 annually! Obviously that amount would be preposterous.

The preceding information is provided to the community as argument to suggest that Gilmer County’s intervention superintendent is grossly overpaid. The only way inflated pay could be eliminated in our County, which is one of the poorest in America, would be for the WVBOE to restore all authority for finances back to the local elected school board where it belongs.

05.29.2016
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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

This over compensation revelation is nothing less than disgusting. It proves what has been said all along about the State taking care of its connected good ole boys.

Over and over on video tapes unanswered questions about the County’s school system’s finances have come up to be ignored.

The bottom line is that the State keeps the secrecy lid on to prevent citizens from knowing where its money is going.

Citizens on the street hear that the State is going to spend 100K or more on roof repairs for the condemned Gilmer Elementary School. Where is that money coming from and why is it being spent?

What about playground equipment for the new school? We hear that 250K of new money is needed from citizens? Why?

What we have with intervention is a sorry example of misaligned spending priorities by the wasteful State.

Many times it has been said that all you need to do is to track the money. It is a complex spider web, but sooner or later the details will be dug out.

This posting should be on the desk of each legislator in Charleston to represent the tip of the ice berg for waste and mismanagement in State government to demonstrate dire need for major spending cuts.

By Keep Digging To Hit Pay Dirt  on  05.29.2016

The Governor and Legislature are telling a tale of woe because of loss of income.  Which is true.

But the REAL PROBLEM in Charleston is the state’s addiction issue.  The problem is the Capitol Gang has an addiction to SPENDING.  Money brings power and influence and our politicians are addicted to spending just as a junkie is addicted to their drugs.

Anyone with normal intelligence knows, if you have a loss of income, you tighten your belt and spend less.  You go from steak to hamburg to beans and cornbread until you get where you are able to live within your means.

The current budget discussion is all about more taxes.  Any discussion of spending cuts is shaped in the form of threats.  There is a lot of “fat” in WV education, the WVBE administration is bloated like a pot belly pig.

WV government is number 3 in SPENDING PER PERSON of 50 states.  There are plenty of places to cut spending, but that would interrupt the good ole boy system of nepotism. 

Income is not the problem.  Over spending by the bureaucrats IS the problem.

By WV addicted to spending $$$  on  05.29.2016

Keep Digging says - ‘over compensation is disgusting’.  Agree, though it reveals the much deeper problem.

That is the exposure of the fiscal irresponsibility that is embedded in WV State Government as a whole.

Too many employees doing too little work being paid too much.  Not all for certain, but way too much.

Watching the machinations of the WV Buffoon Legislature the past two week special session is your proof.

By Reg. Dem.  on  05.29.2016

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An Exasperated WV Senate Budget-Writer Speaks His Mind

CHARLESTON, WV - West Virginia lawmakers have boxed themselves into a budget crisis, and the head of a legislative budget-writing committee says it keeps him up nights worrying about it.

There are some signs of motion in the House going into the weekend, but Senate Finance Committee chairman Mike Hall, R-Putnam County, said the failure of a tobacco tax hike in the House and limits set by the governor have left them about $100 million short. Some other Republicans have said the gap should be covered though big budget cuts, but Hall said there are only a handful of places to cut—all unpalatable.

“Yes. Am I frustrated, staying awake at night? Yup,“ he said. “Happy to sit down with anybody, anywhere. Say, ‘Which one do you want to go after? And here are the consequences if you do.‘ So far, they have not.“

The Free Press WV
The head of the state Senate Budget Committee says he’s exasperated by the situation
West Virginia lawmakers have put themselves in. (West Virginia State Legislature)


Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has said he won’t accept a plan that drains too much from the state rainy-day fund. Hall said that leaves new revenue, or steep cuts to Medicaid, public safety, education or higher education to balance the general revenue budget.

The Senate passed a 45-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase, but an anti-tax faction of House conservatives joined with Democrats holding out for $1 a pack to block that. It has left Hall pulling out his hair as the state approaches a budget-crisis “drop-dead” date. He noted that, with the Republican Senate president running for governor, Democrats have a political incentive to hold out.

“We’re worried that the politics of delay works against the Republican leaders of the Legislature,“ Hall said. “You know, I’m not accusing anybody of anything, but I’ve been worried for a good while.“

If the state cuts some health programs, Hall said, West Virginia loses federal matching funds, and he’s already hearing from constituents who say that could delay badly needed medical care. Other possible cuts could be just as unpopular.

“Could we introduce a bill that reduces public education funding by $50 million and lose about 3,000 or 4,000 teachers? And then you say, ‘Well, let’s cut Medicaid $50 million,‘ “ Hall said. “I’m telling you, there’s consequences.“

A Little Bit of Common Sense Can Save You A Fine or A Disaster

The Free Press WV

The Memorial Day weekend is considered the first official weekend of summer. Generally most who enjoy boating will start their season off during the long holiday weekend as well.

Anglers who use boats have had their craft in the water for several months, but this weekend finds more of the runabouts, pleasure craft, and personal water craft dotting the lakes and large rivers of West Virginia.  Before you put onto the water, Natural Resources Police Officer Jerry Payne suggests a thorough inspection of your boat and equipment.

“Check your fire extinguisher and make sure it’s not discharged or nothing wrong with it. Check your life jackets,” said Payne on Northside Automotive West Virginia Outdoors. “Just because you have a life jacket doesn’t mean it’s going to pass inspection, there can’t be any rips and tears.  Just common sense stuff.”

Payne and other officers from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will be patrolling heavy this weekend in anticipation of a lot of folks flocking to the water.  They’ll be watching closely for potential violations or safety issues.

“Every boat has something it seems like that warrants a discussion, a warning, or a ticket,” he said. “That’s not to say we’re out there writing tickets right and left, we’re just trying to get people to be safe.”

A few of the key things which will draw an officer’s attention are a large number of people on your vessel, consumption of alcohol, and the presence of children–especially if those children aren’t wearing a flotation device.

“If you’re 12 years or younger, you’re required to wear a life jacket when a vessel is underway,” he said. “So unless you’re docked or anchored, the kids are required to have it own.”

As for the rest of those on board, there is no requirement to wear the life jacket, but there must be one available for everybody on board.  If the vessel is 16 feet or longer, a boat must have a Class IV throwable device, typically a seat cushion which can be thrown to anyone who falls overboard.  All boats have a capacity limit posted somewhere on the boat and any number above that will warrant a visit from the NRP as will consumption of alcohol.

“Obviously if we see alcohol being consumed, we’re going to be looking for a ‘sober skipper’ or somebody on that boat who’s not been drinking,” said Payne. “Just like drunk driving on the road, you don’t drunk drive on the river.”

Other good things to remember when boating in WV:

–Know how to use the lock system

–You’re responsible for all damage caused by your boat’s wake, observe “no-wake” zones

–The least maneuverable vessel has the right of way

–When operating at night, boat must have red/green lights on front and clear light in the back with a 360 degree field of view.  Back light must be above the highest point on your boat.

–Anyone born since 1986 is required to have proof of completion of a U.S. Coast Guard certified boating safety class.

–When water skiing or towing a tube device, and “observer” is required on the vessel in addition to the operator unless boat is equipped with a wide-view mirror.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Conviction Stripped in Drug Use Case Where Newborn Baby Died

The West Virginia Supreme Court is overturning the child neglect death conviction of a woman whose newborn died after she abused drugs while pregnant.

Friday’s 3-2 decision says Stephanie Elaine Louk must be acquitted of the December 2014 sentence imposed by Nicholas County Circuit Court of three to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Chief Justice Menis Ketchum wrote that when enacting laws about child neglect that results in death, the Legislature didn’t criminalize a mother’s prenatal act that results in harm to her subsequently born child.

Ketchum acknowledged the decision’s possible significant policy implications and social ramifications.

It says in 2013, Louk was hospitalized with severe breathing problems after injecting methamphetamine while 37 weeks’ pregnant.

In an emergency procedure, her child was born essentially brain-dead. The baby died 11 days afterward.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   19 Rescued From Flooded Kentucky Cave

Flash flooding threatened to trap a group of college students inside a Kentucky cave Thursday, but they navigated through neck-deep water to safety, the AP reports. The 19 people who escaped had to clutch onto a rope to handle the swift currents of floodwaters near the entrance of Hidden River Cave. The group that spent more than six hours inside the cave included Clemson University students on a field trip, four tour guides, and two police officers who got trapped when they tried to rescue the group.

The Free Press WV

The cavers, accompanied by a couple of experienced guides, were unaware of the rising waters threatening to block the cave’s entrance. Heavy rains hit the area hours after the group ventured inside, said David Foster, executive director of the American Cave Museum at Horse Cave. Foster said his rescue team ventured about a mile into the cave, where they found the group in a “high and dry” area.


►   Dad Attacked for Bringing Daughter Into Walmart Men’s Room

It looks like it may be time for America to take it down a notch about public restrooms. The New York Daily News reports a Utah father was attacked in a Walmart men’s restroom Sunday after he brought his 5-year-old daughter in with him. Christopher Adams was shopping for storage bins and window blinds when his daughter and 7-year-old son decided they both needed to go to the bathroom, according to KSL. Not wanting to leave his daughter alone in the store or send her into the women’s restroom on her own, Adams took her into the men’s restroom with him and his son. That’s when the trouble started.

Adams says a man using the urinal started “freaking out” and “dropping the F-bomb” over the presence of his daughter, which the man said was “inappropriate.“ When Adams offered a retort of some kind, the man allegedly started shoving him. Adams says he turned to get his kids out of the restroom and was punched in the eye. He says the man continued to punch and kick him. “I didn’t know how far it was going to escalate, so I just kind of heaved him out of the bathroom,“ Adams tells Fox 13. He says he held the man on the ground until Walmart employees arrived to help. The man was cited for disorderly conduct and could face assault charges. “I just think it’s ridiculous,” Adams tells KSL. “The way he handled the situation was completely wrong.”


►   2 Navy Fighter Jets Crash Into the Atlantic

Two Navy jet fighters crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina during a routine training mission on Thursday, sending four people to the hospital, officials said. The Navy initially said the F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters, based in Virginia Beach, collided about 10:40am off the coast of Cape Hatteras, but officials later said they couldn’t be sure if the jets collided and would only confirm that they were involved in an “in-flight mishap,“ the AP reports. Four crew members were taken to a hospital in Norfolk with minor injuries. The four survivors were plucked off a commercial fishing ship that pulled them out of the Atlantic Ocean and flown by Coast Guard helicopter to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup.


►   For 18 Years, an Ordinary Korean Couple Have Kept a Big Secret

For 18 years, a North Korean couple have have lived a life in America that their friends call “lucky"—they run a dry-cleaning business and have three successful children. But these are no ordinary immigrants. For the first time, Ko Yong Suk and husband Ri Gang are revealing their identities: as aunt and uncle to Kim Jong Un. Those names are their Korean ones; in a bid to protect their privacy, the Washington Post isn’t sharing the names they use here or the town where they live in a house paid for with $200,000 they say was given to them by the CIA. But the paper is sharing plenty of tidbits about the Hermit Kingdom it gained in nearly 20 hours of interviews—like Kim’s real age. Ko, the 60-year-old sister of Kim’s late mother, says Kim was born in 1984, not 1982 or 1983 as thought.

And she’s sure of that, as her own son was born that year. “I changed both of their diapers.“ While the couple doesn’t have “any nuclear or military secrets” to share, they do know a lot about the man they repeatedly called “Marshal Kim Jong Un,“ including that he was groomed to be leader from age 8. Top generals even attended his birthday party and bowed to him, according to the pair. As for his love of basketball, Ko says Kim’s mother told him playing the sport would help him grow taller, closing the height-gap between him and his friends. As for their 1998 decision to defect, made while they were living in Switzerland, “this is where Ko and Ri’s version of events starts to become opaque,“ the Post writes. “Given that Ri is trying get back into Kim Jong Un’s good graces, he has reason to present their defection as nothing but altruistic.“ Read more about that   HERE .


►   7-Year-Old and His Stuffed Animal Fight Off Armed Robber

A 7-year-old boy is being lauded for his bravery after he attempted to fight off a gun-wielding robber while armed with only a stuffed animal last week in Maryland, Fox News reports. According to the Washington Post, the boy’s parents took him to GameStop to buy a Yoshi doll. They were in a different area of the store when two armed and masked men burst in and started demanding money. When one of the men approached the boy, the boy fought back. “He punched him,” the boy’s father tells the Post. “Two left hooks while holding the Yoshi doll.” The robbers escaped, and police released surveillance video in the hopes of catching them. The GameStop’s manager awarded the boy’s valor by giving him the Yoshi doll. “We’re proud that he is a strong, brave young boy,” the boy’s father says.


►   California Rushes to Approve HIV-Transplant Bill

California rushed to approve legislation Friday that would allow a man with HIV to receive part of his HIV-positive husband’s liver before the surgery becomes too dangerous, possibly within weeks. The federal government recently authorized transplants of HIV-infected organs to patients who have the disease, but it still had been illegal in California and more than a dozen other states. The state Legislature rushed to approve the measure Friday, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it, the AP reports. Brown spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman says it’s “a life-saving matter.“

The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center is one of four US hospitals authorized to transplant HIV-infected organs. Transplant surgeon Dr. Peter Stock says he hopes to perform the operation quickly, but he’ll need time to do tests and preparation on the patients after getting the green light from lawmakers. There are 65 HIV-positive patients waiting for kidney or liver transplants at the hospital.


►   HS Students Give Civil War Vets ‘Their Identity Back’

With more than a century of rain, wind, snow, and pollution conspiring to erase what was once carved into a row of headstones, about the only thing anyone in the tiny north-central Illinois community of Odell knew of the men buried there was that they’d fought in the Civil War. That’ll be different this Memorial Day at Odell Township Cemetery, thanks to scientific detective work by local high school students and a federal government agency that was impressed enough with their work to send new grave markers to the community 90 miles southwest of Chicago, the AP reports. “These kids gave these men their identity back,“ said Harold Schook, a 74-year-old Air Force veteran.

The last three of five new headstones arrived last month and were put in place with the others—the final chapter in a story that began a couple years ago when Schook contacted Paul Ritter, a high school science teacher at Pontiac Township High School who’d had his students study the effects of acid rain on grave markers. Maybe, Schook suggested, the students could discover the names of the men who were identified simply as “soldier” in the cemetery’s plat map. At the suggestion of a student, students took a color photograph of the markers, and then turned it black and white. Nothing. But when they reversed those two colors: “We started (seeing) some letters,“ Ritter said. Using those letters, the students compared them with a registry of the 157 Civil War veterans in Livingston County. Before long, they had their five names. Read the full story and learn about the soldiers   HERE .


►   WWII-Era Plane Crashes in Hudson River

Tragedy on the Hudson: A vintage World War II plane crashed in the river Friday night, killing the pilot. Witnesses say smoke came from the single-seat P-47 Thunderbolt fighter as it made a U-turn before crashing into the water near the George Washington Bridge. It was submerged within seconds. Divers recovered the body of the pilot, 56-year-old Bill Gordon, around three hours later, the Ap reports. The plane, which was based at Long Island’s American Airpower Museum, had been taking part in a photo shoot with two other planes to promote this weekend’s Bethpage Air Show.

Some witnesses say they thought the plane was performing an acrobatic stunt—until it went into the water. “It suffered some sort of catastrophic failure and the pilot decided to put it down in the Hudson,“ museum spokesman Gary Lewi tells the New York Daily News. “It’s a tragedy.“ The museum had planned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the P-47 this weekend. The crashed plane, known as “Jacky’s Revenge,“ flew periodically to air shows, Lewi says. Gordon, former Chief Pilot of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, was an experienced pilot who had flown a variety of different vintage aircraft.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Clashes, oil blockades over France’s economic future

PARIS — Volley after volley of tear gas poisoned the Paris air Thursday, as authorities struggled against nationwide strikes and a groundswell of public anger at a high-stakes government attempt to change the way France views work.

Oil refineries shuttered. Nuclear were plants on hold. Dock workers hurled firecrackers. Union activists cranked up the tensions to try to force President Francois Hollande to abandon a labor bill that gives employers more flexibility and weakens the power of unions.

The big question is whether Thursday’s burst of labor action fizzles out after the one-day strikes end, or inspires lasting unrest.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls opened the door to possible changes in the labor bill that’s triggering all the anger — but said the government wouldn’t abandon it. Union activists said it’s too late to compromise. Posters at a protest in the port of Le Havre bore a blood red tombstone representing the bill reading: “Not amendable, not negotiable: Withdraw the El Khomri Law” — referring to Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri.

The draft law, aimed at boosting hiring after a decade of nearly 10-percent unemployment and slow but corrosive economic decline, relaxes rules around the 35-hour work week and leaves workers less protected from layoffs.

Determined to defend worker protections, union activists have staged months of protests and targeted the strategic fuel industry in recent days, causing gasoline shortages. The country’s two main oil ports were blocked Thursday and only two of the France’s eight refineries were working, the head of the UFIP oil industry lobby, Francis Duseux, told The Associated Press.

“There could be improvements and modifications” in the bill, Valls said on BFM television Thursday. He didn’t elaborate on what might be changed, and insisted that the “heart” of the bill — Article 2, which weakens the power of unions over workplace rules — should remain.

Withdrawing the bill “is not possible,“ he said.

Protesters took to the streets in several cities — and in Paris, met with waves of tear gas as police fought bands of violent masked marchers. Police detained 77 people as tens of thousands marched from the Bastille plaza through eastern Paris.

Members of the firmly leftist CGT union, leading the protests, remain angry that the government forced the bill through the lower house of parliament without a vote because of division in the Socialist majority.

“Valls is hardening his tone? Well we’re hardening our tone, too!“ an organizer shouted into a loudspeaker at the Normandy Bridge, in northern France, where some 200 to 300 trade unionists and other protesters gathered to block traffic.

The union activists then made their way into the port city of Le Havre, waving red flags, a percussion band leading the way. At least 10,000 dock workers and others poured into an esplanade in front of Le Havre city hall, setting off smoke bombs and threatening bystanders. They tossed powerful fireworks into the fountains, sending plumes of water rising into the air as the square reverberated with explosions.

The demonstration was rowdy at times — one AP journalist was egged and the protesters pelted the mayor’s office with paint bombs — yet protesters took care to stay off the manicured lawn. One demonstrator was spotted urinating against the mayor’s office beside bright yellow graffiti reading: “Hollande, Valls, Resign.“

Fabien Gloaguen, an activist with the militant Worker’s Force movement, said the government would have to back down.

“He’s going to withdraw it,“ Gloaguen said.

Valls insisted the bill is “good for workers” and small businesses, and argued that many of its critics are ill-informed of its contents.

In addition to loosening rules about the 35-hour work week, the bill makes it easier to fire workers in times of economic downturn, and weakens the power of unions to set working conditions across an entire sector.

The stakes are high for both Hollande and the unions. The president is hopeful of getting re-elected next year, despite being deeply unpopular, and needs to show he has the strength to push through reforms. The unions are fighting for relevance, having lost membership in recent years.

“We’re at an interesting juncture. If the movement finishes once more in failure, it might make further mobilization more complicated,“ said Stephane Sirot, a historian of the French union movement at the University of Cergy-Pontoise.

He said it’s been decades since a left-wing government has been confronted with a nationwide strike of this magnitude.

Two months of protests escalated over the past week as unions targeted the sensitive oil industry, blocking fuel depots and refineries.

The government has started using its strategic fuel reserves and forcing depots to reopen, but supplies remained spotty Thursday, with long lines and caps on purchases.

Drivers endured long waits to reach gas pumps, railing at the strikes, the government and the overall funk in France. Prices have risen noticeably at gas pumps and some stations are rationing.

But at the blocked Normandy Bridge, at least one pair of travelers said they didn’t mind.

“It’s for us that they’re doing this,“ said Jean-Luc Geraert, whose battered white van was caught behind the makeshift barricade. Geraert, a 55-year-old industrial painter, said if the government doesn’t back down soon, “it’s going to get worse.“


►   Couple Wins ‘Squatters’ Rights’ to Neighbor’s Yard

They say fences make good neighbors, but that definitely wasn’t true for Hilary and Edward Kirkby. The British couple, who are 72 and 70, respectively, have spent the past 12 years tending to a stretch of yard in front of their Yorkshire home, which they bought in 1999. That work included tearing down the bushes that once filled it, building two parking spots, erecting a low fence, sowing grass—reportedly carting in tons of topsoil in order to do so—and planting flowers, reports the Mirror. Marcus Heaney’s home sits across the alley, and the Kirkbys have been battling it out in court with him since Heaney registered the strip of land as his own in 2012, dismantled the fence, and ordered his neighbors to “make no further use of it, whether for parking or otherwise,“ reports AOL Money.

The Kirkbys responded with their own paperwork claiming rights to the land, and the courts have on several occasions ruled in favor of the Kirkbys. This latest—and final—win in the Court of Appeal leaves Heaney with nothing but a $370,000 legal bill, reports the Telegraph. “It would be a sad day for the law if the courts were to attach too much legal significance to acts which pass for nothing between good neighbors,“ Heaney’s attorney said in a sort of warning. “Adjoining owners would have to be constantly on the watch in case their rights were being infringed.“ AOL notes that Brits who can demonstrate they’ve occupied unregistered land for a period of 12 years can make an ownership claim.


►   Lightning Strikes Children’s Birthday Party, 11 Injured

Eleven people were struck by lightning Saturday afternoon in a park in Paris, the BBC reports. According to the Telegraph, 10 of the victims were children between the ages of 7 and 14. The children were attending a birthday party at Parc Monceau—a spot popular with “well-to-do families"—when a storm rolled in and they sought shelter under a tree, the AP reports. According to the BBC, six of the victims were seriously injured. Though the AP states only three were taken to the hospital. A number of the children reportedly suffered serious burns.


►   Argentina Sentences Last Dictator, 14 Others

Argentina’s last dictator and 14 other former military officials were sentenced to prison for human rights crimes on Friday, marking the first time a court has ruled that Operation Condor was a criminal conspiracy to kidnap and forcibly disappear people across international borders. The covert operation was launched in the 1970s by six South American dictatorships that used their secret police networks in a coordinated effort to track down their opponents abroad and eliminate them. Many leftist dissidents had sought refuge in neighboring countries and elsewhere. An Argentine federal court sentenced former junta leader Reynaldo Bignone, 88, to 20 years in prison for being part of an illicit association, kidnapping, and abusing his powers in the forced disappearance of more than 100 people, the AP reports. The ex-general, who ruled in 1982-1983, is already serving life sentences for multiple human rights violations during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.

In the landmark trial, 14 other former military officials received prison sentences of eight to 25 years for criminal association, kidnapping, and torture. They include Uruguayan army colonel, Manuel Cordero Piacentini, who allegedly tortured prisoners inside Automotores Orletti, the Buenos Aires repair shop where many captured leftists were interrogated under orders from their home countries. The victims included Maria Claudia Irureta Goyena, the daughter-in-law of Argentine poet Juan Gelman, who was pregnant when she was kidnapped and held for months inside Automotores Orletti before an Argentine air force plane took her to Uruguay. She gave birth there, and then was disappeared. Decades passed before her daughter, Macarena Gelman, discovered her own true identity.

Speak Your Piece: A Homestead Act for Appalachia

The Free Press WV

To restore Appalachia, reconnect the region’s greatest resources — land and people. There’s no better time than the present.

Appalachia, especially its coal mining region, is experiencing a revived bit of attention as shuttered mines, a rise in income inequality and longstanding poverty received flashes of concern from both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

As a native son of the region with many kin and friends unemployed by the decline in coal production, it might be logical to expect I should be optimistic that things are really going to change for the better in the mountains as a result of this latest regional revival. My experience as a journalist covering the War on Poverty and New Deal legacy institutions like the Tennessee Valley Authority, however, tempers my optimism.

After all, Clinton’s standard Democratic formulas of job retraining and federal aid that launched the 50-year old War on Poverty and the Appalachian Regional Commission have turned out to leave the region today in the same relative position to the nation that it was a half century ago: at the bottom of the poorest.

Trump’s vague proposals to make miners “proud” again and to somehow bring the continuous mining machines and Cat bulldozers back to life make me think he understands the business of coal mining no better than he knew the business of gambling in Atlantic City that bankrupted his casinos.

There is another way.

Anyone who has spent time in the mountains and hollows from Middlesboro, Kentucky, to Beckley, West Virginia, understands that most of the land is owned either by coal and timber companies or the federal government with its national forests and parks. Coal companies alone own 1.3 million acres in the Cumberlands of Kentucky and even more in the Alleghenies of West Virginia. The federal government is actually the largest single landowner in Appalachia.

With the region’s largest coal companies in bankruptcy or nearly so, I have an idea for Clinton and Trump: Let’s buy those bankrupted acres and let’s release some of those federal holdings. And then we can give the people something they have not had since industrialization and coal mining started in Appalachia in the 1880’s — land. Land for farming, for gardens, for housing, for grazing cattle, horses and hogs, and for sustainable forestry.

Let’s call this the Appalachian Homestead Act, in homage to the federal initiative that helped settle the West and build wealth in the 19th century. The Appalachian Homestead Act may be today’s single best solution to the enduring problem of mountain poverty. And it may well be the most important opportunity for a new generation looking for a place to build an economy and a community that make sense in a time of global warming and economic dysfunction.

This is the perfect policy for both candidates. Trump could probably make some real deals negotiating with these bankrupt companies. Clinton might find favor in a region that has not looked kindly on her of late, trimming some federal holdings, swapping with others, all the while turning property back to mountain communities.

Now’s the time to act. Over a dozen mountain coal producers have entered bankruptcy in just the last few years. Alpha Natural Resources, the nation’s second largest producer, is bankrupt and owns 97,000 acres of West Virginia property and thousands of acres in its home state of Virginia. It’s a safe bet that the idled mines in the famous Elkhorn coal seams in Letcher and Pike counties in Kentucky that once fueled the furnaces of Bethlehem Steel and the Harlan County mines that did the same for U.S. Steel, International Harvester and Ford Motor Company will never see miner’s lamps again or hear their lunch buckets bang against mantrips and roof bolters.

The appalling drug addiction, alcoholism, and suicide rates in the mountains are the most glaring testimony to mountaineers’ despair. People have become separated from the land and from hope. Despite that, mountain folks are easily those amongst us who know the most about independent living, with a work ethic by coal miners and long-distance commuters that put the lie to tales of Appalachian lethargy. All over the region there are very successful entrepreneurial enterprises, ranging from food co-ops to small manufacturers to 21st century businesses employing the fastest broadband.

What would people do with this new land? Besides producing food for themselves and nearby coastal cities, they could replant the region with blight-resistant chestnut trees that once fattened hogs to beyond bacon tasty and furnished fine homes with some of America’s most beautiful wood. They could reforest the ravaged strip mines with apple, peach, pear and cherry trees. They could create a recreational paradise with hiking and biking trails along restored rivers and creeks.

But among the best of these “restorations,” however, would be the restoration of hope. After all, the lack of money and hope is what combines to produce poverty. For Clinton the Appalachian Homestead Act could be the ultimate vindication of the idea that it “takes a village” to solve enduring problems. For Trump, buying land at historically low prices could be the deal of his lifetime. For Appalachian communities, this could be “the change we can really believe in.”

Mountaineers saved the American Revolution at the Battle of King’s Mountain in 1780. Let’s give them a chance to lead again.

~~  Jim Branscome - a Retired managing director of Standard & Poor’s and a former journalist whose articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Business Week, and The Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg, Kentucky. He was a staff member in 1969-71 at the Appalachian Regional Commission, a lobbyist for Save Our Kentucky in Frankfort, and a staff member of the Appalachian Project at the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee. He was born in Hillsville, Virginia, and is a graduate of Berea College in Kentucky.  ~~

Glenville: Gilmer County Farmers’ Market - Today

The Free Press WV

The Gilmer County Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Gilmer County Senior Citizens pavilion in Glenville, WV.

Lots of vendors are set up with plants and some vegetables are now available,  baked goods, honey, jelly and jams, fresh farm eggs, and much more.

Come out and see what our Farmers Market has to offer.

Capito Statement on Legislation to Protect Sexual Assault Victims

Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 aims to protect
victims of sexual assault and prevent future abuses by registered sex offenders

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s passage of the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 on an 89-0 vote:

“Sexual assault is an unthinkable crime – one that we must do everything in our power to prevent. As a mother and grandmother, my vote for the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 was a no brainer. This legislation reauthorizes programs that are critical to helping states track sex offenders, securing justice for the victims of sexual assault, and preventing future abuses from occurring,” said Senator Capito.

This legislation reauthorizes certain programs established by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, including the Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and the Jessica Lunsford Address Verification Grant Program. Both programs provide federal grants to state and local law enforcement to help improve tracking of sex offenders and prevent future abuses.

It also adds new rights for victims of federal sexual assault offenses, such as extending the statute of limitations for child survivors of sexual abuse or human trafficking offenses from three to 10 years after turning 18, establishing free medical forensic examinations for survivors, and ensuring the preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits without charge.

The bill, named for six-year-old Adam Walsh who was kidnapped and murdered in Florida in 1981, is supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; John Walsh, father of Adam Walsh and host of America’s Most Wanted; Rise; Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network; National Alliance to End Sexual Violence; and Shared Hope International.

In West Virginia….

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►   Dismemberment abortion ban law takes effect in WV

CHARLESTON, WV — The law to ban second trimester dismemberment abortions in West Virginia was taking effect this weekend.

The Dismemberment Abortion Act makes it illegal for any person “to purposely perform or attempt to perform a dismemberment abortion and thereby kill an unborn child” unless the abortion is necessary “to prevent serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”

The state Legislature voted to override the Governor’s veto of the measure during the 2016 Regular Legislative Session.

“It is a step in the right direction,” said Karen Cross, political director of the National Right Committee, on MetroNews “Talkline.”

The law bans the dilation and evacuation (D&E) method which removes the fetal and placental tissue and a combination of suction and surgical instruments, according to women’s health providers.

“There are a lot of doctors and people in the medical community who say this is not a safe procedure, but we’re not saying this procedure can’t be done. We’re saying the baby must not be alive at the time of the procedure,” Cross clarified.

A strong opponent of the legislation is Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of West Virginia Free. She was also a guest on Friday’s “Talkline.”

Chapman Pomponio stressed that state lawmakers are not doctors. She said hearing and watching legislators talk about these procedures was “disturbing.”

“They simply are not skilled in that area and that’s why it’s better left in the hands of the physician and the woman in question to dictate a plan of care that is best for her,” she said.

Opponents of the bill, like Chapman Pomponio, believe banning the procedure goes against women’s health rights, while those who support it, like Cross, maintain that the procedure is a particularly violent means of abortion.

“Recognizing the life of that little unborn child — to have her arms and legs ripped off while she’s still alive is horrific. It’s just unconscionable,” Cross said.

But Chapman Pomponio said this law will only help pro life groups end abortion all together.

“For them, that direction is illegalizing all abortion. That is the goal here,” she said. “Are we really wanting to do down that path until women have no reproductive health care access?”

According to a news release, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he will defend the law should it be challenged in court.


►   House Majority Whip offers resignation

CHARLESTON, WV — House of Delegates Majority Whip John O’Neal (R-Raleigh) has offered to resign from his position with the Republican leadership.  O’Neal’s action follows his vote Tuesday against a leadership-backed bill that would have raised the tobacco tax as part of a plan to plug a $270 million hole in next year’s budget.

Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) has not yet decided whether to accept O’Neal’s resignation, but O’Neal will not have whip duties for the remainder of the special session.

The whip serves as a right-hand-man to the Speaker, counting votes and “whipping” members to try to generate support for leadership-backed bills. O’Neal was one of 20 Republicans who voted against the tobacco tax increase.  The bill failed 44-55.

House Republicans have fractured during this extraordinary session, adding to the challenge of trying to reach agreement on a balanced budget for next fiscal year.


►   Failed fire levy vote has some concerned over department closures in Lewis County

WESTON, WV — The failed Lewis County fire levy could leave repercussions that has Lewis County Fire Fee Clerk Crystal Bragg concerned.

“It could start really putting a hurting on them,” she said. “A few of them may have to have the option of closing their doors.”

The levy received support from 58 percent of voters on May 10th, but needed to pass a 60 percent threshold. That led to the Lewis County Fire Board requesting a recount of the votes to see if they under votes would help them come up with the additional 155 ballots they needed to reach the 60 percent threshold.

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“The Fire Board members were there,” Lewis County Clerk Cynthia Rowan said. “They realized there wasn’t going to be much change to it so they asked for it to stop after precinct 8.”

Bragg said the expenses at volunteer departments pile up from a combination of insurance, equipment turnover, and training.

“Their worker’s comp insurance is not paid or can not be paid or any of their other insurance,” she said. “That’s what kills them. Their worker’s comp is so outrageous.”

Limited research on fire department costs shows that the general trend is that volunteer departments cost less to maintain than career or combination departments. There is only one department in Lewis County that isn’t completely made up of volunteers–Weston Fire Department.

Bragg said if some departments close it will only further spread the attentions of other departments in the county.

“I think they’ll be okay for a year or two, but then it could start getting scary once those few years come to an end,” she said.

Many departments are preparing potential fundraisers, but Bragg said residents will get tired of those before too long.

“Something may take a big turnaround, but there are only so many fundraisers that can go on,” she said.      ~~  Alex Wiederspiel ~~


►   Resettlement group considers bringing refugees to Charleston

CHARLESTON, WV — A refugee resettlement service is considering opening an agency in Charleston that would help refugees move to the area.

Resettlement agency Episcopal Migration Ministries is working with the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry to turn the city into a “resettlement community.“

Representatives from Episcopal Migration Ministries met with residents of Charleston Thursday to discuss the possibility of helping refugees move to the city. They also scheduled meetings with city officials, police and social service providers.

To turn to city into a resettlement community, organizers in charge of the effort will need to raise about $90,000 for upfront costs.

Jeffrey Hawks, a consultant for Episcopal Migration Ministries, says the U.S. Department of State will ultimately determine if the city can become a resettlement community.


►   West Virginia warns 55 prison educators of possible layoffs

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia officials have warned 55 prison educators of possible layoffs amid the ongoing budget stalemate.

Sarah Stewart of the state Department of Education says a letter was sent Thursday to the teachers and principals at adult prison facilities.

The educators are a combination of full-time and part-time workers.

Stewart says the letters went on the assumption in the House budget that calls for sweeping $4 million from the adult inmate education program. House members have since called for restoring $2 million of that fund.

The GOP-led Legislature continues to negotiate a budget with a $270 million shortfall. Without a budget, the state government would shut down beginning July .


►   Assistant Boy Scout leader accused of soliciting minors

CHARLESTON, WV — An assistant Boy Scout leader in Charleston is accused of soliciting and sending explicit photos and videos to scouts in his troop.

Local new agencies report court records show 39-year-old Kevin Michael Rogier is facing three counts of soliciting a minor via computer.

Documents say Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies received a complaint Tuesday from the organization’s Buckskin Council that Rogier was using social media to contact three minors to get the victims to send him photos or videos of sexually explicit content.

Rogier is also accused of sending the victims pictures and videos of sexually explicit content.

Authorities say Rogier admitted to deputies that he sent and requested the photos from the victims.

Rogier was being held on bond. It wasn’t immediately clear if he has an attorney.


►   West Virginia museums to let military members in for free

CHARLESTON, WV — Several West Virginia attractions are participating in the National Endowment for the Arts initiative to offer free admission to active-duty military members and their families.

The Blue Star Museums program includes more than 2,000 museums across the country offering the deal from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Participating state attractions are the Huntington Museum of Art, the Spark! Imagination and Science Center in Morgantown, the Watts Museum at West Virginia University, the Marion County Historical Society Museum in Fairmont, the Museums of Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, the Arthurdale Heritage museum and the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   ‘Miraculous’ Find Saves Dog Moments Before Being Put Down

Ten-year-old Ollie was literally moments from death when his life was saved by an attentive veterinary student and a quick-thinking vet, Good Morning America reports. The sheltie had gone camping with his owner in Oregon last month only to become lethargic upon returning home. According to Fox News, Ollie couldn’t walk and lost control of his bladder. He eventually became paralyzed. Ollie’s regular vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong, and his family decided to put him down on May 4. “We were at a complete loss,” owner Al Meteney tells Fox.

As veterinary student Neena Golden was comforting Ollie just moments before the procedure, she found a tick lodged behind his ear. Veterinarian Adam Stone diagnosed Ollie with tick paralysis. He’d never seen a case before. “It’s one of those things you learn about randomly in school—it’s on one slide during one presentation,“ he tells Fox. Ollie, now tick-free, was moving around and well on the way to recovery that very night. Meteney says it’s “miraculous.“


►   Feds Unleash Millions of Wasps on 24 States

The US government has unleashed millions of wasps into 24 states, the Guardian reports. But, contrary to the horrifying mental pictures this creates, the release of the wasps is actually a good thing. The emerald ash borer is believed to have invaded North America in the 1990s via wooden shipping crates from Russia, China, and elsewhere. Since then, the beetle has spread across more than two dozen states from Massachusetts to Louisiana, according to Phys.org. In doing so, the ash borer has killed approximately 38 million ash trees. And that’s a $25 billion problem. The possible solution: four species of tiny wasps from China.

These wasps—each about the size of a pinhead—are parasites to the ash borer, which has no natural enemies in North America, the Des Moines Register reports. The wasps lay their eggs in ash borer eggs and larva, killing the beetle in the process. But humans have nothing to fear. The stingless wasps are more likely to be mistaken for gnats than anything else. “The word ‘wasps’ does create alarm, but they are very small—not recognizable by the average person,“ Iowa Department of Agriculture rep Mike Kintner tells the Register. After extensive testing with other beetle species, experts are also confident the wasps won’t threaten any native insects. Still, even with a seemingly perfect weapon, the battle against the ash borer is far from over. “This isn’t going to save anybody’s tree in their yard,“ entomologist Ben Slager tells the Guardian. “What we’re working to do is to protect the next generation coming up.“


►   Report: Kay Jewelers Swaps Diamonds With Fakes

“It was flat-out theft.“ That’s how one woman describes her experience with Kay Jewelers, which is facing a barrage of complaints from customers who say their jewelry was lost or damaged—or even that the diamonds in their engagement rings were replaced with fake ones. Chrissy Clarius tells BuzzFeed she took her one-carat diamond ring for an inspection at Kay every six months for five years—a condition of Kay’s lifetime guarantee on its jewelry, reports the Consumerist. Her ring was sent for repairs three times before an employee noticed the engraved serial number on her diamond was missing. While Kay maintained the stone was a diamond, two other jewelers determined it had been swapped with moissanite—a less expensive stone.

BuzzFeed tracked down seven other women—including some who’ve gone to police—who said Kay had replaced their stone with poor-quality or fake diamonds. One woman says she asked for a new setting but had her diamond replaced with one with a visible flaw. Now, she doesn’t even wear it. “It’s not the diamond my husband got for me—it has no sentimental value for me anymore.“ A rep for parent company Signet says “every year we’ve got millions of transactions and millions of repairs we are processing in our stores,“ and such cases are “minimal.“ A Kay manager adds store policies—including that employees check for certification numbers—are meant to ensure stones aren’t swapped out.


►   Student Body Prez With Leukemia Denied Cap, Gown

An Arizona high school student who spent his junior year battling leukemia did his best to make up the credits in his senior year and was elected student body president—but he still had to sit in the bleachers as the rest of his class graduated Thursday night. Stephen Dwyer, who had 12 chemotherapy treatments before a bone marrow transplant, is still 2.5 credits short of graduation requirements, and Dobson High School in Mesa said it couldn’t bend the rules to allow him to wear a cap and gown and join the graduation ceremony, the Arizona Republic reports. Instead, he had to sit in the stands after leading the Class of 2016 onto the field, reports 12 News.

In a Facebook post, Dwyer says that after the isolation his illness caused, he is dismayed to have been excluded again. He says he would have been OK with not being given a diploma. “I just want to be a part of the ceremony as one of my peers would be. I want to sit on the field in cap and gown, walk in the same line, and throw my cap in the air as we all celebrate what we have accomplished,“ he writes. “I lost a lot of high school memories already and now I’m losing the final one,“ he writes, adding that he hopes sharing his experience will help others in similar situations. In a statement, Mesa Public Schools described Dwyer as a “strong, courageous young man,“ but said students who miss credits due to “personal hardships” don’t get to take part in graduation ceremonies before they have earned their diplomas.


►   Louisiana Cops Now Covered by Hate Crime Law

Targeting a police officer, firefighter, or EMT in Louisiana is now considered a hate crime. On Thursday Governor John Bel Edwards signed a “Blue Lives Matter” bill that made the state the first to add those professions to race, ethnicity, religion, and other areas traditionally covered by hate-crime laws, CNN reports. “The men and women who put their lives on the line every day, often under very dangerous circumstances, are true heroes and they deserve every protection that we can give them,“ said Edwards, a Democrat whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were sheriffs and who has two brothers working in law enforcement. The bill passed the state Senate by a 33 to 3 vote and sailed through the House 92 to 0.

The expansion of the hate-crime law was cheered by law enforcement groups, though critics noted that violence against police officers is close to an all-time low and those who target cops already face stiffer penalties, the New York Times reports. Jim Bueermann, a former police chief who is president of the Police Foundation research group, says it is good that the law “can reinforce the notion that hatred of a group because of who they are has no place in our society,“ though he warns that the law’s supporters may find it has unexpected consequences. “At some point, someone might suggest that abortion physicians should also be protected,“ he says. “That if you are hunted down because of your profession, whatever the profession, that should be a hate crime.“


►   Youngest-Ever Winner Is National Bee Co-Champ

The words were tougher. The final rounds lasted longer. The result was the same. The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie for the third consecutive year Thursday night, with Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Janga declared co-champions after a roller-coaster finish. Thirteen-year-old Jairam is the younger brother of the 2014 co-champion, Sriram Hathwar. Nihar, at age 11, is the youngest winner of the bee on record. “I’m just speechless,“ Nihar said as he hoisted the trophy. “I mean, I’m only in fifth grade!“ Scripps made the bee tougher after two consecutive ties, forcing the last two spellers to get through three times as many words as in years past. Each will receive a trophy and $45,000 in cash and prizes.

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Because the best spellers become fluent in Latin and Greek roots, the bee went to words derived from trickier or more obscure languages, including Afrikaans, Danish, Irish Gaelic, Maori, and Mayan. Jairam’s winning word was Feldenkrais, which is derived from a trademark and means a system of body movements intended to ease tension. Nihar won with gesellschaft, which means a mechanistic type of social relationship. Snehaa Kumar of Folsom, California, finished third, and Sylvie Lamontagne of Lakewood, Colorado, was fourth. Both are 13-year-old eighth-graders, meaning this year was their last chance.


►   Police Hunt for Suspects After Fatal Shooting of HS Students

An “upscale country club community” in Northern California is on edge after two high-school students were shot—one of them fatally—Wednesday evening on a local hiking trail, the AP reports. According to ABC 7, police have arrested at least one suspect and are looking for two more. No information about the victims or suspects has been released. The attack took place at a waterfall near Marin Country Club in Novato, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Both Novato High School students were shot. One of them, who had also been stabbed, hiked a third of a mile in order to get cellphone reception and call 911. The other student died as he was being airlifted out of the canyon.

The survivor told police there were three suspects and has given them some leads. On Thursday, authorities raided a home near where the attack occurred. Police haven’t identified a motive for the crime but say the two students appeared to be targeted. Authorities say there is no ongoing threat to residents. “It’s so quiet here typically,“ a neighbor tells ABC 7.


►   Baylor Yanks President Title From Ken Starr

Kenneth Starr’s been defending Bill Clinton’s legacy lately, but he’s now got more pressing matters at hand. The former Whitewater counsel who once tried to take down the Clintons had his president title at Baylor University yanked away Thursday in the wake of a sex-assault scandal that also resulted in the firing of football coach Art Briles (officially, “suspension with intent to terminate,“ per the AP) and the probation of Ian McCaw, the college’s athletic director, the New York Times reports. Starr will hold onto his second role as chancellor, but he’ll vacate the president’s post on May 31. The organizational changes came after Baylor retained a law firm last August to look into how the university had managed several sexual-assault accusations against members of the football team—and the news that came back wasn’t good. That review, which Deadspin notes was compiled by Baylor into a 13-page “Findings of Fact”, revealed a “fundamental failure” in adhering to federal regulations and dealing with misconduct claims, Baylor said in a statement.

The Pepper Hamilton probe—which included “an exhaustive review of data,“ as well as more than 65 interviews with current and ex-university employees and students—also found that some school bigwigs’ dealings may have “directly discouraged” possible victims from speaking out; in one case, the report notes someone filed an assault claim and was retaliated against by the college. Starr had attracted much attention (and cash, in the hundreds of millions) for Baylor through fundraising efforts, in large part by touting its football team—a move that some say led Baylor to make moral compromises in the name of its football program, the Times notes. Starr had penned a letter in February, writing, “Our hearts break for those whose lives are impacted by execrable acts of sexual violence. … Sexual violence emphatically has no place whatsoever at Baylor University.“ SB Nation notes other administrators have also been terminated, though the school says it won’t publicly ID them. (The Washington Post examines how religious schools “struggle” with sexual assault cases.)

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Indonesia to Kill, Castrate Pedophiles

Indonesia is officially a terrifying place for pedophiles: Effective immediately, child sex offenders can face the death penalty or chemical castration under new rules approved by President Joko Widodo, reports AFP. Offenders can also receive a maximum of 20 years in jail—double the previous maximum sentence—and may be forced to wear electronic monitoring devices after leaving prison, per the New York Times. The changes comes a month after the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl as she walked home from school in Sumatra. Her naked body was found days later tied up in the woods. Seven boys, aged 16 and 17, were sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime, which led to calls for harsher punishments.

“These crimes have disturbed our sense of peace, security and public order,“ Joko says. “So, we will handle it in an extraordinary way.“ But some say the new regulation isn’t the right tactic in Indonesia, which already faces backlash over its use of capital punishment for drug offenders. “In most cases the perpetrators know the victims, and these punishments are so severe that it may discourage victims from reporting the rapes,“ a rep for Human Rights Watch tells Reuters. The organization adds that chemical castration—in which drugs are used to reduce libido—is “a false solution.“ The focus should instead be on prevention through school-based programs and treatment for people at risk of abusing children, the group says.


►   Bird Takes Off With Knife From Crime Scene

The CBC describes Canuck as “Vancouver’s most notorious crow,“ and it’s not hard to see why: After cops in the Canadian city shot and injured a man who confronted them with a knife on Tuesday, a crow believed to be Canuck—because of a distinctive red band on its leg and countless similar escapades in the past—took off with the weapon from the crime scene. Police say the crow picked up the knife from behind police tape and only dropped it after it had been chased for around 20 feet. The crow also tried to steal a pair of glasses and equipment belonging to a TV news crew, the Vancouver Courier reports.

Witnesses say the suspect, who was treated for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, set a vehicle on fire before police arrived, and Canuck perched on the burnt-out car. “The crow was persistent, but the knife was eventually gathered as evidence,“ a Vancouver police officer tells the CBC. Courier reporter Mike Howell says in more than 20 years of reporting from crime scenes, he’s never seen anything like it. A Facebook page dedicated to Canuck chronicles earlier incidents, including a ride on mass transit and an attack on a cyclist. In a CBC story on the bird last year, an area resident complained that the bird was known for stealing “packs of cigarettes, rolling papers, lighters, change, keys ... pretty much anything he can get his hands on.“


►   $5K Fine for Students Who Won’t Shake Teacher’s Hand

Swiss authorities ruled Wednesday that any student who refuses to shake a teacher’s hand could earn their parents a stiff $5,000 fine, USA Today reports. Last month, two teenage Muslim students at a Swiss middle school refused to shake hands with female teachers, citing an interpretation of the Koran that forbids physical contact with members of the opposite sex outside of family. The school said that was fine as long as the teens, who are brothers, didn’t shake hands with male teachers either. But the resulting uproar—shaking hands before and after classes is a Swiss tradition—inspired the education department to intervene.

“The public interest with respect to equality between men and women and the integration of foreigners significantly outweighs the freedom of religion,“ authorities ruled. They said teachers have “the right to demand a handshake.“ According to the BBC, some Swiss Muslims had urged the government to not let the boys get away with what they characterized as “extremist demands.“ More fall out from Handshakegate: The teens’ family saw its application for citizenship halted while the government investigates them.


►   Here’s How We Stop World War III

“The third world war is at our gate, and it will be about water, if we don’t do something about this crisis” of dwindling global water supplies, says Rajendra Singh, last year’s recipient of “the Nobel Prize for water” for his water restoration efforts in rural India, per the BBC. In an interview with Policy Innovations, per Quartz, Singh says water scarcity is already forcing people to flee parts of the Middle East and Africa. “After forced migration comes tension, conflict, and terrorism,“ he says. “If we want a safe future, we need to start conserving water.“ That’s something Singh knows a thing or two about. By using check dams and other barriers in the district of Rajasthan, Singh has helped transform an arid, semi-desert area into one with enough food and water for each resident.

The dams help water reach aquifers before it can be evaporated. “When moisture enters the soil, greenery comes up. And that greenery takes carbon from the atmosphere, puts carbon in the soil, reduces temperatures by 1-2 degrees,“ Singh says. “Now in my region we have no floods, no droughts.“ Singh adds the water conservation efforts are all community-funded: a “river parliament” makes decisions regarding water allocations with a preference for poor farmers who own the driest land. Elsewhere, corporations are “making the rules,“ forcing people to pay for water, Singh says. But “sustainable community-led water management has existed for thousands of years without anyone putting a price on water. So why do we need it today?“ Click for the full interview.


►   More than 4,000 migrants rescued in single day

ROME — More than 4,000 would-be refugees were rescued at sea Thursday in one of the busiest days of the Mediterranean migrant crisis, and at least 20 died trying to reach Europe as Libyan-based smugglers took advantage of calmer seas to send desperate migrants north.

The death toll was likely to grow far higher, however, as the Libyan coast guard also reported two overturned boats between the coastal cities of Sabratha and Zwara. Only four bodies were found, raising fears that the rest of those on board had perished.

Overall, the Italian coast guard said it had coordinated 22 separate rescue operations Thursday that saved more than 4,000 lives.

“That probably is a record,“ said coast guard spokesman Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro, noting that previous highs have been in the range of 5,000 to 6,000 over two days.

One 5-year-old boy got special treatment: He was airlifted from his rescue vessel to the island of Lampedusa, suffering from hypothermia, Nicastro said.

At least one smugglers’ boat sank off Libya’s coast, and 20 bodies were spotted floating in the sea, said Navy Lt. Rino Gentile, a spokesman for the EU’s Mediterranean mission. Photos tweeted by the mission showed a bright blue dinghy submerged under the weight of migrants waving their arms in hope of rescue as an EU aircraft flew overhead.

None had a life jacket.

Two Italian coast guard ships and the Spanish frigate Reina Sofia responded to the scene. Nicastro said 96 people were rescued.

Barbara Molinario, spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency in Italy, said favorable weather conditions in May to October often encourage migrant crossings. She said prior to the recent rescues, some 40,000 people had been rescued so far this year, compared to 47,500 over the same period in 2015.

Among those coming ashore Thursday in Sicily were the survivors of a dramatic capsizing a day earlier off Libya’s coast. Footage provided by the Italian navy showed the steel-hulled smuggler ship rocked under the weight of its passengers and finally flipped, sending migrants into the water or clambering up the side.

The Italian navy vessel Bettica brought the survivors and five bodies ashore in Porto Empedocle, Sicily. Red Cross workers took at least one migrant away in a stretcher, while rescue teams in white hazmat suits carried children down the plank to shore.

In other rescues, a Libyan navy spokesman said a total of 766 migrants were rescued by the Libyan coast guard on Thursday.

Col. Ayoub Gassim said they were found in two groups: one of 550 near the western coastal city of Sabratha and the second of 216 off Zwara.

He said two other capsized boats were found empty in waters between the two cities and only four bodies were retrieved, with the rest of those aboard feared dead. He said he had no other details, including how many migrants had been aboard the boats.

Before this week’s deaths, the International Organization for Migration said only 13 people had drowned in the month of May, compared with 95 last May and 330 in May 2014. It said the figures “indicate that migrant fatalities may at last be declining” thanks to beefed-up coast guard monitoring along the North African coast.

However, improved weather conditions appear to have led to an increase in the number of migrants risking the crossing.


►   Obama at Hiroshima: ‘We Come to Mourn the Dead’

President Obama made history Friday by becoming the first sitting US president to visit the site of history’s first atomic strike. “We come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past,“ he said. “We come to mourn the dead.“ Accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the BBC reports. 71 years ago, “on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,“ Obama said. “A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.“ More:

  • Obama did not apologize for the American strike that killed 140,000 people, but called for a “moral awakening” and a world without nuclear weapons, the AP reports.
  • Before the Hiroshima visit, Obama told American service members at the nearby Iwakuni Marine Corp base that it was “an opportunity to honor the memory of all who were lost during WWII” and to show how “two nations, former adversaries, cannot just become partners, but become the best of friends”.the BBC reports.
  • The White House made it clear that Obama would not be “revisiting” the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but some protesters, including some Hiroshima survivors, still demanded an apology. “I want Obama to say ‘I’m sorry’. If he does, maybe my suffering will ease,“ a 73-year-old survivor with three kinds of cancer tells Reuters.
  • In China, foreign ministry officials said that it is important to also remember victims of Japan’s wartime aggression in places like Nanjing, the Guardian reports. The state-run China Daily declared that the “atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of Japan’s own making.“
  • Sources tell the Washington Post that while the White House does not want to suggest that the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Hiroshima bombing were equivalent acts, Abe is likely to attend ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 07 this year.


►   Forbidden Afghan Lovers Fight for Asylum in NYC

Zakia and Mohammad Ali, the “Afghan Romeo and Juliet,“ eloped in 2014. Since then, her family has been hunting the couple, believing Zakia needs to be killed to preserve their honor. The New York Times has been chronicling the couple’s plight. And on Tuesday, they finally arrived in New York City on a 90-day visa. Zakia and Mohammad Ali, who have a 17-month-old daughter, are from different Muslim sects. Zakia’s marriage to Mohammad Ali led to her family being kicked out of their village. They’ve been seeking vengeance ever since. “They couldn’t live anywhere in peace,” says Manizha Naderi, the executive director of Women for Afghan Women. “Zakia’s family would hunt them down.“

While on the run from her family, Mohammad Ali and Zakia have sought safety everywhere from the mountains of Afghanistan to jail cells. Mohammad Ali says they “tried everything” in Afghanistan and came to America for “security and safety.“ They’re applying for asylum with the help of Women for Afghan Women, but even if they get it, their struggle is far from over. Both Mohammad Ali and Zakia are illiterate. Their work experience is largely in potato fields. Women for Afghan Women is attempting to help them adapt to life in the US.


►   EgyptAir Investigators May Have Caught a Break

A possible big break in the hunt for the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804: Investigators say they’ve detected a signal from an emergency beacon on the plane, reports the BBC. The discovery will narrow the scope of the search to an area with a 3-mile radius in the Mediterranean, says the chief Egyptian investigator. The signal came not from the black boxes but from a separate transmitter on the plane, reports the AP.

Still, the signal’s detection should be a big help to a French vessel that on Friday reached the area with equipment designed to zero in on the black boxes. While debris and human remains have been recovered, authorities have no hard evidence yet to determine what brought down the jet with 66 people last week.

Gilmer County Schools May/Summer 2016 Newsletter: Normantown Elementary

The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV

Normantown Elementary has had an exciting last month of school with various activities.

The entire school kicked off State Testing with a pep assembly featuring the staff and students in “We Will Rock the Test.”

The students have been working very hard completing the tests and one lucky boy and girl received a bicycle on May 20, for having perfect attendance during testing.

 

Thanks to the PTO, the school traveled to the Columbus Zoo on Friday April 22, sporting their new NES T-Shirts. 

PK and Kindergarten had an exciting day at the WV Game Farm and and PK had a fun day celebrating the end of the school year. 

6th grade attended the WV Soil Conservation Day at Cedar Creek State Park and even though it was a rainy day they had fun and enjoyed seeing their future classmates from GES and SFES.

The Free Press WV


Ronald McDonald stopped by the school and got the kids involved in “One Minute to Move It!”

He stressed the importance of staying active and demonstrated many ways they could do that.

All the students and staff enjoyed the outdoor assembly with lots of moving going on.

 

The Free Press WV


Congratulations is in order for Normantown Elementary.

They ranked second overall in the state for 5th Grade Reasoning Mind.

Categories such as class accuracy in study modes, review modes, test prep modes, time spent online, as well as how often reports were being pulled were used for these rankings.

Mrs. Stewart’s class has excelled with using the program.

The class has consistently had 100% of students meeting accuracy goals.

They go beyond the bare minimum required and always exceed what is expected.

The room is always focused, self-motivated, and a collaborative learning environment.

Hats off to them and the year of hard work they have done!

The Free Press WV


Allison Wood and Dalton Persinger were the winners of a new bicycle for having perfect attendance during State Summative Testing

Gilmer County Schools May/Summer 2016 Newsletter: Sand Fork Elementary

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV


May has been a busy month at Sand Fork Elementary School.

Third through sixth graders have finished taking the West Virginia Summative Assessment Test.

Snacks and drinks were provided by the Sand Fork PTO to help students stay energized and focused.

Thank you Sand Fork PTO!! 

The Free Press WV



The Free Press WV

The Australian Animal Show came to visit Sand Fork Elementary.

The presenter brought a kookaburra, kangaroo, lizard, and an Eclectus Parrot.

The presenter told the students interesting facts about their natural history, geography, and survival.

The students enjoyed the presentation and the hands on interaction with the animals.

The Free Press WV



The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Saturday, May 21, Sand Fork Elementary celebrated their final year at the school.

Current students and past alumni enjoyed a short program revisiting the past years at Sand Fork. 

Everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner and reminiscing about the past.

Live music was provided by the Edward and Grove’s family.

People also toured the main building, gym and annex. 
Everyone had a wonderful time.

 

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

...To Be Continued…

RCCF Honors Cynthia Torbeck Haught

The Free Press WV

The Ritchie County Community Foundation (RCCF), an affiliate of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF), recently honored retiring board member Cynthia Torbeck Haught for her three years of service on the RCCF advisory board.

The PACF’s Board Chairman, Marie Caltrider, presented Torbeck Haught with a resolution thanking her for her commitment to RCCF and her service to the community, and RCCF Advisory Board Chairman Alan Haught presented her with a clock in gratitude for her dedication and support.

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