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Family Foundations of Health

The Free Press WV

The family provides a foundation for children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being. The unique and frequent interactions between children and their families can create protective factors that may promote and support health now and into adulthood. The Lancet Commission’s report on adolescent health notes that during adolescence, peers and other people in a teen’s life also influence health, but the family remains a central influence.

Family members can influence an adolescent’s health by:


1.       Promoting delayed sexual activity.

In 2012, nearly nine in ten teens said that it would be easier for teens to postpone sexual activity if they could have an honest conversation with their parents, and about 40 percent of teens cited parents as the biggest influence regarding their decisions about sex. Research also shows that when parents talk to their teens about sex, teens are more likely to delay sex, use contraception if they do have sex, and communicate more effectively with their partners. Talking about sex with adolescents can be intimidating. Family members can use conversation tools to stay calm and talk honestly. Advocates for Youth also provides a collection of guidance and resources in the Parents Sex Ed Center for parents who may not know exactly what to say or how to say it.


2.       Protecting against substance use.

Teens whose parents establish clear rules and talk about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are less likely to use these substances. Parents and other caring adults should monitor parties to prevent underage drinking and protect against unhealthy relationships with alcohol in the future. Similarly, parents can establish and enforce clear driving rules to prevent teens from drunk or risky driving.

Families can encourage teens of all ages to stay drug-free by clearly communicating the consequences of drug use, talking about what they’re learning at school, and commenting on the positive aspects of the teen’s life and character. Avoiding alcohol consumption or limiting drinking also are good behaviors to model for adolescents. If you believe a teen is already drinking or using drugs, there are ways to help them stop.


3.       Preventing unhealthy relationships.

Open communication and closeness with parents can help prevent dating violence and promote healthy relationships. For example, parents and other family members who get to know their teen’s friends and romantic partners can more effectively monitor those relationships and encourage positive decision-making. In addition, family members can talk about and model healthy relationships to their teen. For instance, using conflict resolution skills can show adolescents how to set boundaries and compromise even when they feel angry or uncomfortable.

Since relationships aren’t black-and-white and exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, adults may need to evaluate the health of their own relationships. Adults can see where their relationships land on the spectrum and learn ways to improve them. If you think that you or your adolescent is in an abusive relationship or needs help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.


4.       Building connectedness.

Parental supervision combined with high levels of support increases family connectedness. When families are connected, teens may be less likely to become violent. Family connectedness also helps adolescents build resilience so they can withstand setbacks. Sharing a meal can promote family connectedness, stability, and healthy eating habits. To make the most of family mealtimes, unplug from phones and have make-your-own meals that get everyone involved. Other activities from ParentFurther can help families strengthen their bonds even as adolescents become more independent. Disconnection or withdrawal from social interactions, along with other warning signs, may indicate a mental health issue. In times of emotional distress or crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.


5.       Shaping lifelong habits.

Life at home can help teens establish healthy habits. Talking with teens about how to manage different aspects of their lives builds self-sufficiency and provides them with skills they will use in adulthood. Younger children and adolescents can be involved in tasks like grocery shopping and meal planning to ensure healthy food habits throughout life. Similarly, a friendly competition with family can encourage adolescents to be physically active, a habit that helps prevent chronic conditions in the future.

Families also can educate teens on good money management skills. Teach teens the five principles of money management and how to factor them into decision-making. Money as You Grow helps adults guide children as they begin earning money and making financial decisions. Financial education curriculum and other resources help educators and community leaders connect youth and families to financial services and support lifelong decision-making skills.

Jim’s Promise Tour Launches

Justice: New roads, new jobs, and hope are on the way

The Free Press WV

Governor kicked off the Jim’s Promise Tour to highlight specific road construction projects that fulfill Governor Justice’s pledge to fix the state’s roads and bring tens of thousands of jobs to the Mountain State.

Justice and Transportation Secretary Tom Smith visited Hurricane, WV to discuss the new work that’s going to occur on I-64 between Hurricane and Milton, and then they went to Clarksburg to give an update on the action happening on local roads in North Central West Virginia.

Transportation Secretary Tom Smith said, “Jim’s Promise Program is historic because it’s the most significant investment West Virginia’s ever seen in its roads and will make such a difference for our state.”

“This is only the start of immediate jobs, immediate opportunity, and immediate hope,” said Governor Justice.  “These road projects that are going on now are just the beginning of West Virginia making a real comeback. It’s the first step to bringing West Virginia the greatness we deserve. Let’s roll!”

Smith added, “In just three months, we’ve already leveraged $350 million worth of work thanks to the Governor’s plan and it’s one and a half times larger than the Obama stimulus spent on West Virginia’s roads. This is just the beginning of a new chapter for West Virginia’s infrastructure. Jim’s Promise means fixing roads in every corner of our state and thousands and thousands of new jobs.”

UHC to Transfer to EPIC System, Offer MyWVUChart

Starting next month, United Hospital Center patients will be able to manage all of their medical information from the convenience of their smartphone.

On August 01, 2017, UHC will switch to the EPIC computer system that provides patients with access to MyWVUChart, WVU Medicine’s online patient portal.

Once the transition is complete, all of UHC’s information will be in one place, said Stephanie Smart, vice president of nursing at UHC.

“The entire hospital will be on the same system, and, right now, that is not true,” she said. “We have a couple of different electronic systems that we use, so the systems don’t always talk and communicate the way we want them to or need them to.”

The EPIC software system is a vast improvement over the hospital’s current system, Smart said.

“We currently are on an electronic medical record system, but it is slightly outdated,” she said. “EPIC is on the forefront of technology for electronic medical records. It’s kind of an exciting time for us to be able to participate in this and be involved.”

The Free Press WV
Beginning August 01, you can access many MYWVUChart features via the mobile app. With the implementation of MyWVUChart (the online patient portal for all of WVU Medicine), in conjunction with the new EPIC computer system, UHC will achieve an even higher standard of care coordination through electronic health records for the thousands of patients UHC serves in North Central West Virginia.


The biggest advantage of the new system is that it allows UHC to communicate with and stay connected to the other facilities in the WVU Medicine network, said Brian Cottrill, assistant vice president and assistant chief information officer of WVU Medicine.

“Right now, if you come in here as a patient, they can only see your UHC record,” Cottrill said. “After we go live on EPIC, we’ll be able to see your records from throughout our health system. If you had something done from a specialist in Morgantown or at WVU Hospitals, that’s all available.”

Patients who take advantage of the MyWVUChart mobile app or website will be able to access their medical information and manage their medical care conveniently, Cottrill said.

“Through MyChart, patients will be able to see all aspects of their care and even message their physicians, see their appointments, see what’s due on their bill and see their lab results,” he said. “It’s all available online in a much more compressive way than what United has today.”

To access MyWVUChart, patients will need to visit the website and request an activation code. After receiving the code, patients will have 30 days to activate their accounts, Cottrill said.

Medical information stored on MyWVUChart is secure, and patients don’t need to worry about their data being compromised, he said.

The Free Press WV
Pictured is Brian Cottrill, assistant vice president and assistant CIO of WVU Medicine, accessing many MYWVUChart features via the mobile app that will be available August 01 when UHC will offer MyWVUChart, the online patient portal for all of WVU Medicine. With the implementation of MyWVUChart, in conjunction with the new EPIC computer system, UHC will achieve an even higher standard of care coordination through electronic health records for the thousands of patients UHC serves in North Central West Virginia.


“You have to login or use your TouchID,” he said. “To get your account, we have to verify that it’s you. If you want to see anybody else’s, it’s the same process we’ve always had with medical records. Those secure medical records standards are still in place. It’s just easier to get to now.”

Being part of the WVU medical system allows UHC to implement EPIC without having to bear its cost, Cottrill said.

“EPIC only goes to big academic medical centers,” he said. “The only reason we have an opportunity here to use EPIC is because we’re part of the health system. Ruby already had it, and we’re being added onto their system.”

Cottrill said almost 2,000 of the hospital’s employees are being trained to use the new system.

The training varies from position to position, he said.

“It depends on your job; it’s very specialized,” Cottrill said. “There are a lot of different modules to be trained in. If you’re a physician, you get trained in placing physician orders for patients. If you’re a biller, you get trained in how to go through those financial statements.”

For more information on MyWVUChart, visit www.MyWVUChart.com or call 866.982.4278.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

WHO IS FREE ON PAROLE

A gray-haired, 70-year-old O.J. Simpson will be paroled after serving nine years in prison for a botched bid to retrieve sports memorabilia in Las Vegas. He will walk free as soon as Oct. 1.


SESSIONS VOWS TO STAY ON

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, publicly skewered by his boss for recusing himself from Trump campaign investigations, says he has no immediate plans to resign and will stay as the country’s top prosecutor for “as long as that is appropriate.“


CANCER ISN’T SILENCING MCCAIN

Senator John McCain has emerged as a voice for what can seem like a Republican Party lost in the Trump era. From his Arizona home, where he’s battling brain cancer, the Arizona senator lobs a new attack at the White House over its Syria policy.


HOW MANY AMERICANS SAY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD PROVIDE HEALTH CARE

A new survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 62 percent of Americans say it’s the federal government’s responsibility to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage.


WHERE BUILDING PANELS ARE GETTING CHECKED AMID FEARS OF FIRE

The same aluminum panels covering London’s Grenfell Tower are listed in a U.S. company’s brochure as adding a “stunning visual effect” to an NFL stadium and a 33-story Baltimore hotel.


WHAT RESEARCHERS SAY CAN HELP PREVENT ALZHEIMERS

Start education early. Control weight and high blood pressure. Get off the couch. There are some hints that these and other lifestyle changes just might stave off dementia.


VENEZUELA STRIKE ERUPTS INTO VIOLENCE LEAVING 2 DEAD

A nationwide strike against plans to rewrite the constitution shut down much of Venezuelan’s capital before erupting into sporadic violence that left at least two young men dead.


WHAT LIFE IS LIKE AFTER ESCAPING ISLAMIC STATE’S BASTION

Displaced residents of Raqqa still fear militants of the Islamic State group and their possible return or revenge. In one of the largest camps housing the displaced from Raqqa city, survivors of the group’s terror machine cannot shake off the horrors they’ve witnessed in the group’s self-declared capital.


SPANISH FORENSIC INVESTIGATORS ARE DIGGING FOR DALI

Salvador Dali’s eccentric artistic and personal history is taking yet another bizarre turn with the exhumation of his embalmed remains to settle whether one of the founding figures of surrealism fathered a girl decades ago.


LINKIN PARK FRONTMAN DIES IN LA AT 41

Chester Bennington, whose screeching vocals helped the rock-rap band become one of the most commercially successful acts in the 2000s, was found dead in his home near Los Angeles. Authorities are investigating Bennington’s death as an apparent suicide.

 

The Free Press WV
GILMER COUNTY COMMISSION
AGENDA for REGULAR MEETING
July 21, 2017 @ 9:00 AM
Gilmer County Courthouse
Commission Office
10 Howard Street, Glenville, WV

I. CALL TO ORDER


II. PLEDGE of ALLEGIANCE TO THE U.S. FLAG


III. PUBLIC COMMENTS


IV. APPOINTMENTS

              9:15-Wanda Cottrill-Rosedale Senior Citizens-Request for help with new kitchen

              9:30- Sheriff Larry Gerwig-Sell 2005 Dodge Ram Truck


V. ROUTINE BUSINESS:

      Discussion and/or action on:

              1) Exonerations and/or Consolidations

              2) Approve Estate Qualifications and Estate Settlements

              3) Board Appointments and/or Resignations:

                    a) Board Seats open on the:

                          i. One member for Board Members for Gilmer County Medical Center Board of Trustees

                          ii. Region VII Private Sector Member

              4) Budget Revisions

              5) Budget Control Report - None

              6) Approve Invoices for Payment

              7) Approve County Commission Minutes-

              8) Receipt of County Board Minutes:

                    a) E-911 Yearly Totals for Dispatched calls

                    b) Gilmer County Health Center Operations Board of Trustees minutes-January 09 & April 03, 2017


VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

VII. NEW BUSINESS:

      Discussion and/or action on:

              a) Letter of Support for the Gilmer County Senior Center-Grant to purchase a new vehicle

              b) Gilmer County Recreation Center-continued funding to help with utilities for WVU Extension Service

              c) Court Security Grant Contract and Resolution


VIII. OTHER BUSINESS


IX. EXECUTIVE SESSION AS NEEDED


X. ADJOURNMENT


NEXT MEETING:
Regular Session on August 04, 2017


The Free Press WV




The Free Press WV





Former Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer has said she still wants to be a CEO — but Uber hasn’t called yet

Mayer is rumored to be on a list of candidates that could replace Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick after he stepped down.


Intel has laid off its entire wearables division, which made its Basis smartwatch

The company is now focusing on augmented reality, according to CNBC.


Microsoft has built a smart thermostat called GLAS which is powered by its smart assistant, Cortana

The thermostat may be more of a concept to show off Cortana’s integration into home appliances.


Hackers have run off with millions of dollars’ worth of the cryptocurrency Ethereum for the second time in a week

Hackers made off with $32 million due a “critical” vulnerability in a client for the virtual currency, according to Motherboard.


Apple is giving its machine learning academics the opportunity to show off their research in a new online ‘journal’

The company has launched a machine learning blog which will show how the company uses the technology.


Softbank announced almost $500 million of investment in Silicon Valley and San Francisco startups

The company led a $200 million round into farm startup Plenty, an $159 million round into self-driving car startup Nauto, and an $114 million round into robotics startup Brain Corp.


Reggaeton-pop single “Despacito” has become the most streamed record of all time, after Justin Bieber released a remixed version with original artists Luis Fonsi and rapper Daddy Yankee

The single netted 4.6 billion plays in six months.


Google is launching its own take on the Google news feed, with a personalized feed of content inside the Google app for Android and iPhone

It’s essentially an upgraded version of Google Now, which showed personalised ‘cards’.


Apple is trying for a fashion audience with a $600 pair of Beats headphones designed with fashion house Balmain

The headphones come in two colours — the pinkish-gold “Safari” and khaki.


Qualcomm’s profits slumped 40% as its escalating patent battle with Apple takes a toll

The company blamed delays in payments from Apple’s contract manufacturers for the hit to its bottom line.

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  Justice Names 5 to Reconstituted Health Care Authority

Governor Jim Justice named five members to the newly reconstituted West Virginia Health Care Authority, which a new law places under the Department of Health and Human Resources.

According to the governor’s office, the authority’s role is to protect the health and well-being of West Virginians and to ensure access to cost-effective, high-quality health care.

Justice said the five all have knowledge of the industry.

All were appointed to five-year terms.

They are Martha Yeager Walker, of Charleston, who will chair the board.

Others are Darrell Cummings, of Wheeling; Charlene Ferrell, of Huntington; Robert Gray, of South Charleston; and Samuel Kapourales, of Williamson.


►  West Virginia Capitol Dome Needing Further Repairs

West Virginia’s Capitol Building Commission has approved a project to repair water leakage issues in the Capitol dome and an engineer has advised the commission that repairs also are needed for its suspension system.

Rex Cyphers, an engineer with WDP and Associates of Charlottesville, says metal cables that suspend the interior dome from the superstructure have failed.

Cyphers says there’s no imminent risk, but engineers determined that the walls are pushing out because they bear the weight of the interior dome.

He says that should be corrected “as expeditiously as possible.”

The budgeted $8 million project to fix water leakage problems is expected to take two years funded with state Lottery surplus revenue.


►  Governor makes 2 stops Thursday and talks about “Jim’s Promise”

About 48,000 jobs are expected to come from “Jim’s Promise” project — an initiative that Governor Jim Justice created to fix the state’s roads and bring tens of thousands of jobs to the Mountain State.

Justice kicked off the program Thursday, with visits to Bridgeport and Hurricane touting the jobs that will be created.

“And it is immediate. That’s the beauty of this,” he said. “This isn’t like build a field and it will come. This is like turn on the switch and let’s go.”

Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith said projects inm Harrison County made possible through the program include the resurfacing of Bennett’s Run Road, Middleton Road and Plum Run Road, slip repair on Co. Rd. 34 and a bridge replacement on WV 23.

“In the first three months of this program starting right now, $350 million of roadway work that would not have gotten started this year without the governor’s program. It’s just remarkable,” he said.

Justice said that “Jim’s Promise” isn’t only about the roadwork itself but also the secondary impact that such a program will have on the Mountain State.

“Think about the economic impact of 48,000 jobs. Just think about it,” he said. “Think about the payroll tax or think about the income tax. Think about the multipler affect of those jobs. I mean, for every dollar spent — we’ve heard it forever — there’s $10 of economic impact.”

West Virginians vote October 07 in a special election to authorize the state to sell bonds to turn money from the July 1 tax and fee increases into a multi-billion dollar bond program for roads and bridges.

Justice said if the bond is rejected, it will be detrimental to the state.

“I don’t want to say anything bad like this, but if the road bond is rejected — and this sounds dramatic — in all honesty, you can just turn out the lights. Our hope and everything is over,” he said. “It would be the worst mistake a state could make in the history of all time.”

With the the program’s potential economic impact, Justice said it’s time for West Virginia to stop being dead last in national polls.

“We’ve been dead last forever,” he said. “The coach has got to run a different play, and a lot of times, the players just don’t like it.”


►  Boy Scouts and other organizations work to create the largest volunteer effort of it’s kind in the history of the nation to benefit West Virginia

What could easily be the largest volunteer effort in state history is unfolding with the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. Scouts in West Virginia for the even through July 28th are spending part of their time working on service projects throughout the state of West Virginia.

“Forty-thousand scouts and volunteers have ‘attacked’ the state of West Virginia,” said Jennifer Douglas, Chief Operating Officer with the Civilian Conservation Corps. “Hitting ten southern counties and doing a variety of service work.”

The ten southern West Virginia counties are a concentration of the work because of their proximity to the Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve, but overall the service projects extend to 45 of the state’s 55 counties. Each scouts will contribute five days of service during the two weeks surrounding the Jamboree. Several performed service projects in the state during the two days of the week which preceded Wednesday’s opening day.

“In addition to doing the projects they got to visit great places and learn about the culture and heritage,” said Douglas. “It’s not just the Boy Scouts. We have AmeriCorps, CCC, and Volunteer WV and a load of other volunteers who are making it the largest volunteer effort of its kind in the history of the country.”

There is no shortage of work. A lot of what the scouts are doing involves repairs and restoration from damage of the 2016 flood in West Virginia. The man power available for the projects is massive in the sheer numbers of scouts and volunteers willing to help.

“These are projects communities typically don’t get done because of the lack of funding or labor source,” Douglas explained. “They’re coming in and doing great work.”

The service projects are in keeping with the best of Boy Scout traditions.  AmeriCorps, CCC, and Volunteer WV are also among the largest mobilizers of active hands on volunteer workers in the nation.  The four organizations pooled resources to put more than 40,000 volunteers into a ten county section of southern WV for five days.


►  Capito on ACA repeal opposition: “I’m doing what I think is right and responsible”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) is citing the reality that Donald Trump will sign a repeal of the Affordable Care Act into law as one of the reasons why she won’t vote now for its elimination without a replacement plan.

“I’m doing what I think is right and responsible and I’m going to continue to do that,” Capito said during an appearance on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

A day earlier, Capito attended a White House luncheon with Donald Trump and the other Republican members of the U.S. Senate in which, she said, Trump pushed for a health care law repeal with a replacement.

Earlier this week, Trump was calling for a straight repeal for parts of the health care law with a transition period lasting two years and, at a different time, pledging to “let Obamacare fail.”

Capito’s stand against repeal alone is a reversal of a December 2015 vote she cast under President Barack Obama for repeal of ACA, also known as Obamacare, without replacement when a veto was certain.

She maintained she has been consistent in calling for ACA repeal with replacement.

“I don’t think that it’s a responsible way to repeal something, have everything fall off a cliff in two years, have more people uninsured, have no plan in front of us,” Capito said.

“I want to see the plan in front of us.”

If approved, a repeal would end ACA mandates for people to have insurance immediately while cutting off federal subsidies to help people pay for coverage effective in 2020.

“I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians,” Capito previously said.

The Senate’s latest version of the health care bill scaled back federal insurance regulations, cut funding for traditional Medicaid and phased out the Medicaid expansion.

On Wednesday night, Capito was part of a private meeting with other U.S. Senators focused on the health care bill which appeared stalled as of a few hours earlier.

“We’ve got to iron this out, so having us all in the room without staff, I think we made progress,” Capito reported. “We’re trying to find that sweet spot and it means we’re still working on it.”

Capito did note the repeal “vehicle” could change during negotiations and she was not fully ruling out a revisiting of the issue if changes were made.

Straight repeal, though, she argued, was not the answer.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think the U.S. Congress does too well with deadlines. When we say we’ve got something and we’ve got to fix it in two years, we get up against a four month period.”

In Capito’s view, that is not when good policy is developed.

A new website from the Club For Growth, ObamacareRepealTraitors.com, labeled Capito, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) as “traitors” for not supporting repeal after previously doing so.

Both West Virginians For Life and the Family Policy Council of West Virginia criticized Capito in a Thursday statement.

“She made promises as a senatorial candidate and our organizations endorsed her and then West Virginia voters gave their support to her and other Republicans in part because of their opposition to ObamaCare,” said West Virginians for Life President Wanda Franz.

“Her failure to support repeal would be an abandonment of those voters.”

Allen Whitt, president of the Family Policy Council, agreed.

“If Senator Capito is unwilling to protect the most vulnerable among us and fails to defund Planned Parenthood when the outcome for the whole nation is in her hands, then all options must be on the table when her senate primary race comes around,” Whitt said.

Capito was asked about that opposition on “Talkline.”

“People are allowed to express their disappointment with me,” she said. “I have to look at this where I think what is right and good for West Virginia.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he’ll schedule a vote to proceed on changes to the health care law next week.

A report from the Congressional Budget Office projected 32 million more Americans would be uninsured within ten years and health insurance premiums could double if the ACA repeal is approved without a replacement.


►  Heat Advisory Issued for 10 Counties

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for 10 West Virginia counties for Friday afternoon into Friday evening.

Heat Index values are expected to be in the lower 100’s due to temperatures in
the lower 90’s, and dewpoints in the lower 70’s, the Weather Service said.

The advisory will be in effect from noon until 7 p.m. for Wayne, Cabell, Mason, Jackson, Lincoln, Putnam, Kanawha, Mingo, Logan and Boone counties.

“The combination of high temperatures and high humidity will lead to an increased risk of heat related stress and illnesses,” the Weather Service said.

Those who have to work outside should take frequent breaks, meteorologists said.

Trump Is No FDR: Public Electricity Proves it

The Free Press WV

Trump is no FDR, no matter what he claims. To see why, we need look no further than his efforts to dismantle one of FDR’s greatest achievements: public investment in electric power.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, where the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) sells electricity from 31 federally owned hydroelectric dams along the Columbia River Basin. This publicly-owned utility also operates three-quarters of the Northwest’s high-voltage transmission lines.

Thanks to the BPA, electric rates for Northwest families and entrepreneurs are more affordable than in many other parts of the country. And like many of the New Deal’s public-sector programs –  which successfully lifted this country out of the Great Depression, and still meet the needs of millions of Americans – the BPA is now under attack by the Trump administration.

The Trump budget specifically singles out the BPA for sale and privatization, reasoning that “Ownership of transmission assets is best carried out by the private sector where there are appropriate market and regulatory incentives.”

Selling off the BPA, the budget says, “would encourage a more efficient allocation of economic resources and mitigate risk to taxpayers.”


The New Deal’s Legacy

The BPA owes its existence to Roosevelt’s commitment to federal investment in publicly owned electric infrastructure, one of the New Deal’s most popular programs. This program contained two key elements that directly improve the lives of rural communities:

Rural Electrification

The Rural Electrification Act created a system of low-cost loans that allowed farmers and rural communities to develop member-owned rural electric cooperatives that would build transmission infrastructure. This was necessary because private energy companies were failing to meet the needs of the more geographically dispersed rural populations.

Generating Additional Supply with Publicly Owned Hydropower

In order to generate additional electricity supply, as well as for “development” of water resources, the Roosevelt Administration facilitated building a network of hydro-driven turbines and dams on many rivers. The dams and generating capacity were also tied to a series of publicly-owned electric delivery lines. This system of electricity production and distribution, known as the Power Marketing Administrations, remains in operation today generating approximately 7 percent of U. S. energy supplies.


Keeping the Power On

With respect to the BPA, a bipartisan coalition of Senators is speaking out against the proposed selloff of the publicly owned Power Marketing Administrations. My Representative in the House, Derek Kilmer (D-WA), also understands that privatizing the BPA is a bad idea, as he wrote in an email to constituents.

For decades, the Bonneville Power Administration has provided affordable and reliable power to over 12 million people and businesses. As a guy who worked professionally in economic development, I’ve seen firsthand what that’s meant to the effort to grow jobs in our region. Dismantling the BPA as the Trump administration has proposed would hike up electric bills for homeowners and local employers, and would hurt jobs in the Northwest. That’s why Democrats and Republicans have said that we intend to work for a smarter budget that isn’t built on the backs of local ratepayers.

Trump’s proposed sell off of the BPA contains some very specific, and odd, numbers. Ted Sickinger, of the Oregonian, reports that the Trump budget undervalues the BPA assets compared with industry experts by a huge number: a sale price of $4.9 billion compared with a value of $15.2 billion on the BPA balance sheet.

Energy economist Robert McCullough of Portland told Sickinger the BPA valuation in the Trump budget is “an unheard of low price” and asked the question:

“Why would they discount it below minimum market price out of the chute?” he asked. “Has the negotiation already happened? If it was any other president I wouldn’t fall into this conspiracy, but given what we’ve seen in the first 100 days, I’m far less trusting in common sense than I was when I started.”


Trump’s Budget

In looking for answers to these valid questions, it’s instructive to dig into the details of the budget proposals to understand where the President and his team are headed. it’s also important to remember that President Trump outsourced his budget to right-wing “experts” that stand behind the principles of privatizing public resources to further bolster the super-rich.

The Republican-allied Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation have long called for privatizing the BPA and other public resources. The Republican Study Committee also lists BPA privatization as one of its key proposals. Given these advisors, selling off the BPA for a fraction of its value is a predictable outcome.

It’s not that the BPA and other public energy developments are perfect. Damming rivers is an environmental mess with serious impacts to fish and riparian ecology. Siting and accessibility of resources has been an historical challenge. The BPA has had an often-contentious relationship with our region’s Native American tribes. Still, despite these challenges, the BPA and other public sector infrastructure projects have successfully met the needs of many Americans.


Learning from Our Grandparents

I grew up in an agricultural family in West Missouri in the 1980s. We farmed and worked in a small-town butcher shop that my grandparents owned. My grandparents had direct interactions with “the government,” as we described it, who operated daily meat inspections. While normally not a problem, the sometimes inconsistent and arbitrary manner in which the regulations were applied was a consistent thorn in my Grandpa’s side.

As this was the 1980s, Grandpa and his sons were solid Reagan Republicans, in the small-business mode.

That said, nearly all of the members of my grandparents’ generation spoke with deep reverence about the Democrats of old. West Missouri is Harry Truman country, after all, and the memory of the New Deal and President Roosevelt’s track record for supporting rural communities was still alive and well.

As we move forward with developing the next generation of energy assets, hopefully from wind and solar production feeding an updated energy transmission system, we’ll learn from our grandparents.

We’ll embrace public infrastructure so that affordable, clean energy becomes a reality. And we’ll reject the Trump administration’s pro-privatization agenda that sells off public resources for a pittance.

~~  Bryce Oates ~~

ETC.

The Free Press WV

  • The soda tax and criminal justice.    As a judge halts a tax on sugary beverages, the city is forced to lay off prosecutors.    Daily Beast


  • Deutsche Bank Under Scrutiny in Russia Investigation:  Follow the money. Deutsche Bank is known for doing business with Trump, and regulators are reportedly reviewing hundreds of millions in loans to Trump’s businesses. But they’re expected to come under even more oversight as the bank, which recently paid $600 million in fines for facilitating Russian money laundering, will likely be asked to provide information to the investigation into Trump’s Russian connections during the 2016 campaign. Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort will testify before the Senate next week about alleged Russian meddling in the election.  BBC


  • Scientists Had the Wrong Sea Level Data for Years:  It was a glitch of global proportions. Scientists had long wondered why satellite data showed sea levels weren’t budging, even as temperatures rose and ice sheets melted. They’ve finally found the problem: an incorrectly calibrated sensor in a spacecraft that had been collecting altimetry data since 1992. Newly corrected data shows the real story. Sea levels are, in fact, rising — at faster rates each year. While researchers may be relieved to have pinpointed the error, the numbers look bad: Waters could rise another 30 inches over the next century.    Scientific American


  • ‘JUICE’ LOOSE:  OJ Simpson Gets Parole From Prison as World Watches….  OJ Simpson has been granted parole after a hearing before the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners. He is scheduled to be released from prison October 01, 2017.  HEAVY


  • CBO says latest health bill would leave 32M more uninsured in 2026:    “Thirty-two million more people would become uninsured over the next decade under a plan to repeal Obamacare now and replace it later, according to a cost estimate released Wednesday evening by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The CBO score also projects 17 million more people would become uninsured next year, compared to current law. It also estimates that average premiums would increase by about 25 percent.”  CBS


  • Trump threatens to cut off low-income Americans from coverage:    “Trump made a direct threat to insurance companies on the Obamacare exchanges — and a threat to the Senate, too. In essence, he said: If you don’t do something, I’m going to destroy this whole thing… That would (end) the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers that help pay for coverage for lower-income people—millions of them. Trump has been threatening these payments for months, and in fact it’s his threats that have caused instability in the markets, that have caused insurers to leave the exchanges, and are driving up premiums.”  DailyKOS


  • Republicans Are in Control. Why Is Nothing Working?  The executive is a clown and the congressional majorities have gone mad.    ESQUIRE


  • Bipartisan opposition to Sessions’s new civil-forfeiture rules:    “Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back a series of Obama-era curbs on civil-asset forfeiture on Wednesday, strengthening the federal government’s power to seize cash and property from Americans without first bringing criminal charges against them.”    The Atlantic

National News

The Free Press WV

 

►  Sessions staying as attorney general despite Trump rebuke

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he has no immediate plans to resign after Donald Trump excoriated the nation’s top prosecutor for recusing himself from the probe of suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. political campaign.

“We love this job, we love this department and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” Sessions said.

A former senator from Alabama, Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest and ardent supporters and became attorney general in February. A month later, he took himself out of a Justice Department-led inquiry into the election following revelations he’d failed to disclose his own meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

At a news conference Thursday on an unrelated matter, Sessions was asked how he could continue to serve as attorney general without the confidence of the president. His response: “We’re serving right now. The work we’re doing today is the kind of work we intend to continue.”

But in a sign of his challenges, Sessions was unable to focus public attention on the case he wanted to talk about — an international takedown of a hidden Internet marketplace that officials said was 10 times larger than the Silk Road bazaar. The news conference on that case was ended once it was clear reporters had no questions on the investigation.

Trump on Wednesday told The New York Times he never would have tapped Sessions for the job had he known a recusal was coming.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” Trump told the newspaper. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

Trump’s blistering rebuke underscored his continuing fury with Sessions more than four months after the recusal and came during an interview in which he also lashed out at Robert Mueller, the special counsel now leading the federal probe; James Comey, the FBI director Trump fired; Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director who replaced Comey; and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed the special counsel.

Trump’s denouncement reflected a long-simmering frustration with one of his staunchest allies, but was not a calculated attempt to force Sessions from the Cabinet, according to two Trump advisers. For weeks, the president has seethed about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the federal investigation into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia during last year’s election.

The White House notably made no effort to walk back Trump’s comments in the interview or display confidence in the attorney general. Instead, the two Trump advisers acknowledged that the president’s public comments largely reflected what they have heard him say about Sessions privately.

The advisers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the president’s thinking. The Justice Department declined to comment on the president’s remarks.

Sessions, one of Trump’s earliest supporters, stepped away from the Russia probe following revelations that he had failed to disclose meetings with the Kremlin’s ambassador to the U.S. His decision was made without consulting with the president and essentially paved the way for the appointment of Mueller as special counsel. Mueller’s investigation, along with separate congressional probes, has overshadowed much of Trump’s agenda and ensnared several of his associates, including son Donald Trump Jr. and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Despite his protest to the contrary, Trump continues to heavily watch cable news coverage of the Russia investigations. At times he has told allies he’s convinced that the White House has turned the corner and the controversy will soon be behind him. But at other points, he has expressed fears that it will dog him for his entire time in office.

Few developments in the snowballing controversy have irked Trump more than Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigations. The advisers said the president viewed the move as an act of disloyalty — arguably the most grievous offense in the president’s mind — and was angry that Sessions did not consult with him ahead of time.

At one point, Sessions privately told Trump he was willing to resign his post, but the president did not accept the offer. One adviser said the president’s comments to the Times did not reflect any new desire by Trump to fire Sessions, though they acknowledged that the attorney general’s response to the public denigration was less certain.

Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump during the presidential campaign, and the two bonded over their hard-line immigration views. Some of Sessions’ long-serving advisers are now working alongside the president in the West Wing, including senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who was one of the architects of Trump’s controversial travel ban.

A potential Sessions resignation could throw Mueller’s investigation into a state of uncertainty. Trump would nominate a replacement and could seek assurances that his pick would not recuse himself from the investigations.

Trump raised the prospect of firing Mueller in his interview with the Times, suggesting he had damaging information on the former FBI director. The president said Mueller’s selection for the job was a conflict of interest because Trump had spoken with him about returning to the FBI after the firing of James Comey in May.

“There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point,” Trump said.

He lobbed similar conflict of interest charges at acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He also accused Comey of briefing him on a dossier of unverified, incriminating information in an effort to gain leverage over the soon-to-be president.

The president has repeatedly told those close to him that he fears there is a movement underway, fueled in part by Comey, Rosenstein and potentially Mueller, to discredit his presidency. He has denied that his campaign had any contacts with Russia during the election, though that assertion has been challenged by his son’s acknowledgment that he accepted a meeting that was billed as part of the Russian government’s efforts to help the Republican win the election.


►  Something old: Historic bank’s beauty lures brides-to-be

The Second Bank of the United States might not be Philadelphia’s top tourist draw, having to compete with neighbors like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, but its regal architecture is luring a whole different type of visitor: wedding photographers and soon-to-be brides and grooms.

The Greek Revival-style bank is one of the most popular places for wedding photos in the city, so much so that the National Park Service set up a permit office to accommodate wedding photo shoot requests.

Kaitlyn Daly, 25, of Vineland, New Jersey, thought the spot was perfect for her February wedding photos. But she had to convince her husband, Michael Daly, 29, who was pushing for pictures atop the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps, which Sylvester Stallone bounded up in the “Rocky” movies.

“My husband is a huge Rocky fan,” Daly said. “He was like ‘we have to, we have to get a photo on the Rocky steps,’ and I was not sold on the idea.”

She came upon the bank while researching popular locations for wedding photo shoots, and her husband was persuaded.

“It’s a beautiful piece of history in Philly,” she said.

The Second Bank of the U.S. served as the nation’s financial hub, beginning in 1816 under a 20-year charter. It was designed by architect William Strickland, who based the design on the Parthenon. Construction finished around 1824.

It now houses the “People of Independence” exhibit, a collection of over 150 portraits of 18th and 19th-century leaders, including the country’s earliest presidents. It’s a staid counterpoint to the bustle and excitement of the portraits being taken outside.

Independence National Historical Park issued over a dozen wedding shoot permits at the bank in June, its busiest month for wedding shoots and about 400 permits in 2016, according to park ranger Adam Duncan. But the number is likely much higher because not all couples apply for a permit.

“Some people aren’t aware that it is a part of the national park here,” Duncan said.

On a recent Saturday, wedding parties filed onto the lawn of the south facade awaiting their photo op, while colonial re-enactors marched nearby, accompanied by fife and drum, and groups of tourists milled about.

Melissa Andresko, 41, in a blush pink Maggie Sottero gown and her husband Ross Mabon, 43, a native of Scotland wearing a traditional kilt, posed on the steps as their photographer snapped away.

The couple, who now live in Allentown, Pennsylvania, set out to find a location that matched their vintage Hollywood glam-themed wedding.

The bank “just took our breath away,” Andresko said.


►  Texas A&M cites business conflict in removing provost

Texas A&M has removed a provost and executive vice president from her post after an audit found “significant” conflicts of interest after university contracts were awarded to a business run by her spouse.

Documents obtained by The Eagle newspaper show in the seven years that Provost Karan Watson held her post, her spouse — who owns a conflict-resolution firm — received nearly $440,000 for university training services. That included almost $10,000 paid by the provost’s office and more than $100,000 from the Office of Diversity, which reports to the provost.

Watson says she tried to avoid violating any university policy and regularly reported her spouse’s work on disclosure forms.

Watson had already announced her retirement, but was planning to remain until her replacement arrived.


►  17 of 200 results Download Assets Justices allow strict refugee ban but say grandparents OK

The Supreme Court says the Trump administration can strictly enforce its ban on refugees, but at the same time is leaving in place a weakened travel ban that includes grandparents among relatives who can help visitors from six mostly Muslim countries get into the U.S.

The justices acted Wednesday on the administration’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling last week. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ordered the government to allow in refugees formally working with a resettlement agency in the United States. Watson also vastly expanded the family relations that refugees and visitors can use to get into the country.

The high court blocked Watson’s order as it applies to refugees for now, but not the expanded list of relatives. The justices said the federal appeals court in San Francisco should now consider the appeal. It’s not clear how quickly that will happen.

In the meantime, though, up to 24,000 refugees who already have been assigned to a charity or religious organization in the U.S. will not be able to use that connection to get into the country.

“This ruling jeopardizes the safety of thousands of people across the world including vulnerable families fleeing war and violence,“ said Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA’s senior director of campaigns.

That part of the court’s ruling was a victory for Donald Trump, who rolled out a first ban on travelers and refugees after just a week in office, prompting a legal fight that has raged ever since.

But the Supreme Court also denied the administration’s request to clarify its ruling last month that allowed the administration to partially reinstate a 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on refugees from anywhere in the world.

The court’s ruling exempted a large swath of refugees and travelers with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or an entity in the U.S. The justices did not define those relationships but said they could include a close relative, a job offer or admission to a college or university.

Watson’s order added grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins to a list that already included a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the U.S. The expanded list of relatives remains in effect, and the State Department already has instructed diplomats to use the broader list when considering visa applicants from the six countries.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said the court’s order Wednesday “confirms we were right to say that the Trump administration over-reached in trying to unilaterally keep families apart from each other.“

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have blocked Watson’s order in its entirety. Those same three justices said last month they would have allowed the Trump travel ban to take full effect.

Also on Wednesday, the court scheduled argument over the travel ban for October 10, though the 90-day pause will have expired by then.


►  California farm region plagued by dirty air looks to Trump

California’s vast San Joaquin Valley, the country’s most productive farming region, is engulfed by some of the nation’s dirtiest skies, forcing the state’s largest air district to spend more than $40 billion in the past quarter-century to enforce hundreds of stringent pollution rules.

The investment has steadily driven down the number of days with unhealthy air — but on hot, windless days, a brown haze still hangs overhead, sending wheezing people with tight chests to emergency rooms and hundreds each year to an early grave.

Despite the air district’s efforts, the valley’s air still violates federal standards for sooty pollution that comes from industry, businesses and vehicles.

In California, where Democratic Governor Jerry Brown is an outspoken leader in the global fight against climate change, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District now is waging a very public campaign against enforcement of the landmark U.S. Clean Air Act that includes ever-tightening air quality standards the district says it cannot meet.

Officials in the relatively conservative region have seized upon the election of Donald Trump, who won the popular vote in half of the district’s eight counties in November — a far stronger performance than in most of California.

The district’s website prominently displays a report titled “Presidential Transition White Paper” that the director provided to the incoming Trump administration in calling for the elimination of the federal Air Act’s “costly bureaucratic red tape.”

District Executive Director Seyed Sadredin also reached out to Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy, the GOP’s U.S. House majority leader. And he testified in Washington for a bill co-authored by McCarthy that would limit new air standards under the Air Act to once every 10 years, instead of five.

“Regulators in Washington have issued blanket regulations that would unfairly impact the Central Valley’s unique air challenges,” McCarthy said in a statement.

The San Joaquin Valley, with more than 4 million residents, produces nearly half the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables, annually generating $47 billion.

Its bad air is the byproduct of booming farms, oil production, two major highways, a web of rail lines — and the valley’s bowl-shaped geography. The Sierra Nevada and two other mountain ranges wall in the 250-mile-long (400-kilometer-long) valley.

The pollution is aggravated in winter when residents burn wood in fireplaces. In the blistering summer, an atmospheric lid traps haze, sometimes darkened by mountain forest fires.

This summer, the San Joaquin Valley must report how it will meet a federal standard for fine particulate matter — harmful air pollution from dust, soot, smoke or chemical reactions.

Sadredin says there’s no way the district can meet the deadline. He contends the district could be subject to billions of dollars in annual penalties if it fails to comply within three years. At his request, language was inserted into McCarthy’s bill that would protect the district from sanctions for vehicle pollution, which he says is beyond his authority to control.

Sadredin said he hopes that with a Republican-dominated Congress and Trump’s election, regulators will be more sensitive to his district’s plight than during the Obama administration. Already, he said, officials at the Environment Protection Agency, now headed by business-friendly former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, have shown a “greater willingness to be cooperative.”

EPA officials said they have never exacted strict penalties on a district and that harsh action would kick in only if a district refused to file an air cleanup plan or submitted a grossly insufficient one.

Elizabeth Adams, acting director of the EPA’s regional air division, said she’ll work with the air district to help meet requirements. “That’s the ultimate goal for all our agencies,” she said. “It’s important for people to breathe clean air.”

On the worst days, Natalie Sua keeps her six children inside their Fresno home, especially two sons with asthma. They’d rather be roughhousing on their backyard trampoline, but the risks are too high.

When her 11-year-old, Javier, was a preschooler, she found him lying on the sofa one night, struggling for breath.

Sua rushed the boy to the emergency room, where she says a doctor concluded the bad air and a chest cold triggered an asthma attack that nearly shut down his airway.

“Oh, my gosh. If it would have closed up all the way, I don’t even know what would have happened,” Sua said.

Roughly 1,200 people each year die prematurely from the valley’s polluted air, the California Air Resources Control Board says.

The pollution is strongly linked to increased emergency room visits for asthma, especially in children, according to a 2011 California State University, Fresno study funded by the valley air district.

Since 2002, the district has helped drive down the number of unhealthy days by 80 percent, an Associated Press review found. In Fresno County, 25 unhealthy air warnings were issued last year, and 15 were issued in Bakersfield and other parts of Kern County.

Fresno, with about 500,000 residents, and Bakersfield, with 370,000, were among the three worst cities nationwide in the American Lung Association’s annual report on unhealthy air.

Environmentalists accuse the San Joaquin Valley district of giving in to business interests and sounding alarms about looming sanctions, rather than making the air healthier.

“If he’s unable to clean up the air for the people in the valley with the tools he has, then he ought to be lobbying for more authority to be more strict,” said Brent Newell, legal director for the nonprofit Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. “He’s going the other direction.”

While the district resists federal rules, officials in famously hazy Los Angeles are working to meet the standards for particulate matter and don’t anticipate penalties, said Sam Atwood, a South Coast Air Quality Management District spokesman.

The valley air district’s authority mainly is limited to stationary pollution sources such as oil refineries, power plants and food processors, as well as dispersed sources such as fireplaces, commercial barbecues and road paving.

But Sadredin says he has no direct control over mobile sources such as trucks and trains hauling produce. He has asked the EPA to crack down on them with stricter rules .

Freight trains can be heard passing day and night near Sua’s Fresno home, where her two asthmatic sons stay cooped up inside with their four siblings on bad air days.

“I wish I could just get up and relocate, but it’s kind of hard,” she said. “You just have to deal with it.”


►  Tribe wants centuries-old remains found in Idaho

A tribe says it will seek possession of human bones found protruding from an Idaho badger hole after tests determined they weren’t from modern day homicide victims but belonged to people who lived five centuries ago.

Shoshone-Paiute Tribe Chairman Ted Howard said Thursday that Shoshones have occupied the southwestern Idaho area for thousands of years and the well-preserved bones of a young adult and a 10- to 15-year-old should be returned to the tribe for proper burial.

Law enforcement officials initially treated the fluke finding in high desert sagebrush in April as a double homicide until announcing Wednesday that carbon dating determined the bones to be hundreds of years old.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says it’s storing the remains in a secure federal facility in Boise.


►  Honorably discharged veterans will soon get to shop tax-free

Hey veterans, you can soon shop tax free.

Starting later this year, all honorably discharged veterans, no matter their branch of service, will be eligible to shop tax-free online at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service with the same discounts they enjoyed on base while in the military. It’s the latest way in which the organization is trying to keep its customers as the armed forces shrink and airmen and soldiers buy more for delivery.

Adding 13 million potential new customers will give extra ammunition to the group that runs the stores on U.S. Army and Air Force bases worldwide as it fights Amazon and other retailers for veterans’ online shopping dollars.

Since hiring its first civilian CEO five years ago, the Exchange has upgraded the brands at base stores to include items like Disney toys, Michael Kors fashions and other top names. Like private stores, it’s also imposed tighter cost controls, reduced the number of employees and improved people’s experience on the website.

“The intent is to really beat Amazon at their game because we have locations literally on the installations,” said CEO Tom Shull. “We’re leaning toward not just ship-from-store but pick-up-from-store and eventually deliver-from-store.”

The Exchange is adding shipping centers within its stores to allow it to send products directly from those locations more cheaply and quickly. Twenty-six stores now ship orders, and that will expand to 55 by the end of the year.

Within the next three years, Shull said the goal is to deliver something on base within two hours of when it is ordered. That’s possible partly because the Exchanges are already on base, cleared by security.

The Exchange delivers most orders on the second day now. Shull said shipping from stores will make a big difference in regions around bases, which are often in more rural areas.

Expanding online shopping to all honorably discharged veterans is expected to add about $200 million annually within three years to the $8.3 billion in sales the Exchanges generated last year.

Adding those shoppers, what Shull called “the foundation of our growth,” is critical to help offset the 13 percent decline in the number of active-duty Army and Air Force soldiers since 2011 when the Exchange generated $10.3 billion revenue.

“It’s a modest benefit, but it can save you thousands of dollars a year,” said Shull, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who served in the Army for a decade before starting a retail career at chains including Macy’s.

Former Marine Forrest Cornelius was among the first to sign up at the verification website when it launched in June, and got a chance to start shopping early to test it out. The 51-year-old was impressed by the site and a deal he found on Ray-Ban sunglasses.

“The biggest thing is price. They’re always going to be a little bit cheaper,” said Cornelius, who lives in Dallas.

But competing on price in today’s retail environment is increasingly difficult, said Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough. Just look at how much trouble Walmart has competing with Amazon, he said, because Walmart has the fixed costs associated with its stores.

“To think you’re going to compete on price, you’re going to have a hard time there,” he said.

Under Shull’s leadership, the Exchange stores have traded their industrial feel and reliance on off-brand merchandise for a more modern look featuring well-known labels.

Two-thirds of the main Exchange store at Offutt Air Force Base resembles any department store, with prominent displays of name-brand makeup, Nike fitness gear and Carter’s clothes for kids. The rest is filled with the kind of electronics, appliances, housewares and toys found at Walmart or Sears, with major brands in every section.

The Exchanges don’t pay rent for their military base locations, and the government transports some of their supplies and goods to far-flung locations, but otherwise they operate mostly like an independent retailer. Roughly two-thirds of the employees are family members of soldiers or airmen.

The Exchange, which is part of the Defense Department, reported earnings of $384 million last year. That’s a sharp contrast from five years ago when Shull arrived to projections of $180 million in losses.

Of last year’s profit, $225 million was returned to the defense department to help pay for quality-of-life programs on bases like child development and fitness centers. Besides the main stores, the Exchanges also operate more than 70 movie theaters and bring in franchise restaurants and other vendors for the shopping malls it operates on bases.

Shull feels those are good reasons for the new online shopping privileges to draw veterans to do their shopping there.

“Veterans value the cost savings and what they can do to support the military,” he said.


►  Dakota Access developer’s new pipeline rankling regulators

The company that developed the Dakota Access oil pipeline is entangled in another fight, this time in Ohio where work on its multi-state natural gas pipeline has wrecked wetlands, flooded farm fields and flattened a 170-year-old farmhouse.

The federal commission that oversees gas pipelines told Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners last week to clean up its mess before it will allow the Rover Pipeline to flow. New drilling on unfinished sections also remains halted after 2 million gallons (7.6 million liters) of drilling mud seeped into a wetland in the spring.

While the $4.2 billion pipeline that will carry gas from Appalachian shale fields to Canada, and states in the Midwest and Gulf Coast, hasn’t been besieged by protests that erupted in North Dakota, opponents say the spills and snags highlight the risks that come with building huge pipelines needed for growing the natural gas and oil industries.

Much of the 700-mile (1,126-kilometer) Rover Pipeline is being built across Ohio and will extend into Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Ohio’s environmental regulators and landowners say construction crews have been laying pipe at warp speed since March to meet the company’s ambitious plan of finishing the first phase this month and the entire project by November.

“As soon as they started, they began having problems,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “It’s just a function of them moving too quickly, trying to meet a deadline and cutting corners.”

The state EPA has proposed nearly $1 million in fines over violations that include allowing drilling mud to spill into wetlands, ponds and streams along with pumping storm water into streams and fields. Most of the violations were in March and April but some problems continue.

Just last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Energy Transfer Partners to clean up and restore 6 acres (2.4 hectares) of wetlands coated with more than a foot (30 centimeters) of drilling mud, remove mud contaminated with diesel fuel from two quarries and monitor water wells near those sites.

The federal agency is continuing to investigate and could issue more orders. It also accused the company of not being truthful about its intention to demolish a 170-year-old farmhouse that stood in the pipeline’s path.

Energy Transfer Partners later agreed to pay $3.8 million to Ohio’s historic preservation efforts for knocking down the house last year.

The company now is working to comply with regulators on the cleanup orders, said spokeswoman Alexis Daniel. But doing that will delay completing the pipeline’s first phase until later this summer, she said Wednesday.

“Our pipelines are always constructed to the highest standards, so I would unequivocally deny any assertion to the contrary,” Daniels said.

In Michigan, the state’s two U.S. senators want federal regulators to pause construction and consider moving the path of the pipeline away from a popular lake and summer camp for children.

Dozens of Ohio farmers have complained that their fields have been flooded after heavy rains by crews pumping storm water out of open trenches. Some have asked a federal judge to tell the company to stop doing it, arguing it violates their land agreements.

Those agreements compensate the owners for putting the pipeline on their land, but farmers say it doesn’t give the company the right to flood their adjacent land. Energy Transfer Partners said it has been dealing with unprecedented rainfall and is trying to avoid and minimize impact on crops.

Doug Phenicie, whose family farms about 1,800 acres (728 hectares) near New Washington in northern Ohio, said he watched this spring as a bulldozer pushed standing water onto a neighbor’s field. “It looked like waves at the ocean,” he said.

A muddy, brown stream rippled across his soybean field last week following another big storm as crews pumped out more water. It’s become a common sight, he said.

The concern for farmers is that not only will some of this year’s crop be ruined, but that it will be hurt for years to come in areas where the floodwaters have coated the ground with heavy clay and the heavy equipment has packed down the soil.

They’ve been told that the pipeline company will fix the fields and broken drainage tiles and reimburse farmers for future losses, Phenicie said, but he’s not convinced.

“Who’s going to answer the phone when they’re gone?” he said.

International News

The Free Press WV

►  Less than 1 aircraft carrier? The cost of N. Korea’s nukes

When North Korea decided to go nuclear, it committed to a huge investment in a program that would bring severe sanctions and eat up precious resources that could have been spent boosting the nation’s quality of life.

Money well spent?

Leader Kim Jong Un seems to think so.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs have without doubt come at a high cost, but the North has managed to march ever closer to having an arsenal capable of attacking targets in the region and — as demonstrated by its July 4 test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile — the United States’ mainland.

Good, solid figures for just about anything in North Korea are hard to find. So what follows should be taken as ballpark guesses, at best.

But here’s a look at how much that arsenal might cost the North, and why Kim might think that’s the price he must pay to survive.

THE NUCLEAR PRICETAG

South Korea has estimated the cost of the North’s nuclear program at $1 billion to $3 billion, with the higher number combining nuclear and missile development.

For context: one nuclear-powered Virginia class attack submarine costs the United States Navy about $2.5 billion. The USS Gerald Ford, America’s newest aircraft carrier, has an $8 billion price tag, not counting development costs.

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense estimated the cost of the first 31 ballistic missiles Kim test-launched from when he took power in late 2011 until July last year at $97 million. It put the price of each Scud at $1 million to $2 million; each Musudan from $3 million to $6 million; and each submarine-launched ballistic missile at $5 million to $10 million. Up until July last year, Kim had launched 16 Scuds, six Rodongs, six Musudans and three SLBMs.

Including the launch this month of its first ICBM, North Korea has conducted 11 tests, launching 17 missiles, so far this year.

North Korea’s total defense spending is usually estimated at about a quarter of its GDP, which would put it between $7 billion and $10 billion.

___

WHERE DOES IT GET THE MONEY?

That’s a matter of heated debate. But the $2 billion it made in exports in 2015 would not begin to cover it. North Korea is also believed to have relied on foreign currency sent by tens of thousands of laborers dispatched abroad, as well as exports of illegal weapons and cybercrime.

Its military-spending-to-GDP ratio far exceeds any other country, but in monetary terms it spends much less than its neighbors, including South Korea and Japan, and its budget is absolutely minuscule when compared to the United States.

Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said that if the South Korean nuclear-program estimate is correct it would be a significant — but not necessarily destabilizing — draw on the North’s economy.

“This is expensive, but probably a cost the country can absorb without fomenting much resentment among North Korean elites,” he said. “In fact, North Korean elites would probably feel less secure without a nuclear program even if its costs relative to the economy as a whole were higher.”

Melvin said the economic situation for common North Koreans would have to be in near ruin, with domestic resentment among elites reaching dangerous levels, before North Korea would reconsider its nuclear program.

“Current signals indicate that North Korea is nowhere near this breaking point,” he said.

___

BURDEN OR BARGAIN?

The bottom line is that regime survival is Kim’s primary objective.

There is no way North Korea could keep up with its richer and more technologically advanced neighbors in a conventional arms race.

While certainly expensive, the North’s nuclear strategy is in one sense a potential source of savings — once developed, maintaining a viable nuclear deterrent is less costly than paying for its conventional, million-man military. Once it has reliable nuclear arms, North Korea could reduce its spending on other areas of the military and redirect those savings toward the domestic economy.

It’s possible Kim has already begun doing that.

Officially announced budgets have shown increases in funds for the public good, and Kim has adopted as his guiding policy a strategy of simultaneously developing the country’s nuclear arsenal and the national economy. Outside estimates indicate the North’s GDP has been growing slowly or at least holding steady since he became leader, and there has been visible growth in construction and infrastructure projects, along with the production of consumer goods, over the past five years.

The flip side is the harder to quantify loss in revenue from trade and friendly relationships with the outside world due to sanctions aimed at getting North Korea to denuclearize.


►  Court convicts more than 40 in Rome corruption trial

A Rome court on Thursday convicted dozens of defendants in a wide-ranging corruption trial that revealed a system of kickbacks and intimidation to gain control of city contracts, but acquitted all of the defendants on key charges of mafia-style association.

The trial was the first in Italy to unite allegations of corruption with the trappings of organized crime, and the court’s across-the-board rejection of the mafia-style allegations was a blow to prosecutors’ case, touted by Italian media as “Mafia Capital.”

The court gave the highest sentence to the alleged ringleader, Massimo Carminati, who was handed 20 years in jail — shy of the 28 sought by prosecutors. Just one of the 46 defendants, a gas station operator with alleged Mafia ties, was acquitted.

“They certified that ‘Mafia Capital’ doesn’t exist,” Ippolita Naso, Carminati’s defense lawyer, told reporters after the verdict.

Prosecutors say rampant corruption, which involved the management and supply of migrant shelters, sanitation agencies, parks maintenance and other municipal services, dated back years. The allegations implicated officials from both left-leaning and right-leaning parties, as well as bureaucrats and outside go-betweens.

The Codacons consumer group estimated that the collusion on city contracts cost Roman citizens an estimated 1 billion euros (about $1.1 billion.)

The wrongdoing predates the tenure of Mayor Virginia Raggi, who was present for the verdicts, representing the city as an injured party.

“It is a very deep wound in the fabric of the city of Rome,” Raggi told reporters. “What was clearly ascertained today is that there was a criminal association that was able to control the political choices of this city and we are paying for the damage, we see it every day.”

Prosecutors have vowed to appeal the verdicts.


►  For 1st time, over half of people with HIV taking AIDS drugs

For the first time in the global AIDS epidemic that has spanned four decades and killed 35 million people, more than half of all those infected with HIV are on drugs to treat the virus, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.

AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency, although those figures are based on estimates and not actual counts from countries.

Experts applauded the progress, but questioned if the billions spent in the past two decades should have brought more impressive results. The U.N. report was released in Paris where an AIDS meeting begins this weekend.

“When you think about the money that’s been spent on AIDS, it could have been better,” said Sophie Harman, a senior lecturer in global health politics at Queen Mary University in London.

She said more resources might have gone to strengthening health systems in poor countries.

“The real test will come in five to 10 years once the funding goes down,” Harman said, warning that some countries might not be able to sustain the U.N.-funded AIDS programs on their own.

The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut in contributions to the U.N. starting in October.

According to the report , about 19.5 million people with HIV were taking AIDS drugs in 2016, compared to 17.1 million the previous year.

UNAIDS also said there were about 36.7 million people with HIV in 2016, up slightly from 36.1 million the year before.

In the report’s introduction, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS’ executive director, said more and more countries are starting treatment as early as possible, in line with scientific findings that the approach keeps people healthy and helps prevent new infections. Studies show that people whose virus is under control are far less likely to pass it on to an uninfected sex partner.

“Our quest to end AIDS has only just begun,” he wrote.

The report notes that about three-quarters of pregnant women with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, now have access to medicines to prevent them from passing it to their babies. It also said five hard-hit African countries now provide lifelong AIDS drugs to 95 percent of pregnant and breast-feeding women with the virus.

“For more than 35 years, the world has grappled with an AIDS epidemic that has claimed an estimated 35 million lives,” the report said. “Today, the United Nations General Assembly has a shared vision to consign AIDS to the history books.”

The death toll from AIDS has dropped dramatically in recent years as the wide availability of affordable, life-saving drugs has made the illness a manageable disease. But Harman said that “Ending AIDS” — the report’s title — was unrealistic.

“I can see why they do it, because it’s bold and no one would ever disagree with the idea of ending AIDS, but I think we should be pragmatic,” she said. “I don’t think we will ever eliminate AIDS, so it’s possible this will give people the wrong


►  Chief Justice Roberts says criticism won’t stop judges

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, once dubbed “disgraceful” by Donald Trump, said on Thursday that criticism from politicians won’t dissuade judges from doing their jobs.

In a question-and-answer session at the University of Melbourne’s law school, Roberts was asked about political criticism of the courts — a particularly relevant question for the justice, given that he was the target of a withering critique from Trump during the presidential campaign.

“We’re certainly not above criticism — it’s a free country,” Roberts replied. “It certainly doesn’t affect how we go about our job.”

In 2015, then-candidate Trump said in a speech to supporters that Roberts was “disgraceful” and a “disappointment” to conservatives, largely because the justice had voted to uphold key provisions of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

Roberts has not commented on Trump’s criticisms of him, or on the president’s disparaging remarks about other judges whose decisions have irked him. In February, Trump called U.S. District Judge James Robart a “so-called judge” after Robart imposed a temporary halt on Trump’s executive order barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from coming to the United States.

Asked later to elaborate on the reasons behind the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obama’s health care law, Roberts demurred, saying that the court’s written opinions are intended to speak for themselves.

Controlled Deer Hunt Applications Available for Four West Virginia State Parks

Applications for controlled deer hunts in 2017 are being accepted at four West Virginia State Parks.

Those parks are Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park in Wood County, Pipestem Resort State Park in Summers County, Cacapon Resort State Park in Morgan County and North Bend State Park in Ritchie County.

For the first time, multiple-day hunts are scheduled at Cacapon and North Bend State Parks.

The deadline to apply is August 13, 2017. All West Virginia hunting regulations will apply.

Applications must be submitted at www.wvhunt.com.

Applicants with a DNR ID number must log in using their existing account.

The Free Press WV


New customers need to create an account on the Electronic Licensing and Game Checking System.

“Controlled hunts have been successful in deer management in previous years,” said Sam Cowell, hunt coordinator for the West Virginia State Parks system.

“It is an effective and efficient means of maintaining a biologically and socially balanced deer herd at our parks experiencing overpopulation.”

Dates for the 2017 controlled hunts at state parks are as follows:

Park

Hunting Date

Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park

September 25 and October 23

Pipestem Resort State Park

October 09-10

Cacapon Resort State Park

November 03-04

North Bend State Park

November 06-08 and November 13-15


Controlled Hunt Application Process

Applications must be submitted at www.wvhunt.com.

Once logged in, applicants must select “Enter Lottery” and then choose only one of the hunting options listed for the park where the applicant is applying to hunt.

Multiple entries for the same park hunt may disqualify you.

Applications must be completed by midnight Sunday, August 13, 2017.

Hunters will be selected at random. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of August.


Controlled Hunts Benefits

Controlled hunts help manage deer populations. Over-browsing by deer leads to loss of native vegetation, prevents forest regeneration and alters habitats for all wildlife species living in the park.

The primary goal of controlled hunts is to reduce deer numbers to levels that prevent habitat loss, property damage, vehicle collisions and potential human injuries.

Hunting contributes to wildlife conservation while maintaining a healthy deer herd population.

State park contacts are: Nathan Hanshaw, Pipestem Resort State Park 304.466.1800); Miles Evenson, Blennerhassett Island State Park (304.420.4800); Scott Fortney, Cacapon Resort State Park (304.258.1022); and Steve Jones, North Bend State Park (304.643.2931).

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources hunting regulations will apply to all managed hunts.

To learn more, visit www.wvhunt.com.

WV Pastor Plans Hunger Strike Against Health-Care Repeal

The West Virginia minister famous for telling a senator how the Affordable Care Act saved her daughter’s life now says she plans a hunger strike to oppose the ACA’s repeal.

Reverend Janice Hill of Parkersburg met with Senator Shelley Moore Capito to testify against the Senate health-care legislation last month. Video of their meeting drew nationwide attention after Hill credited Obamacare with saving her daughter’s life by making sure she got cancer treatment.

Hill now says if and when she knows the repeal bill is to be up for a vote, she’ll start a water-only fast.

The Free Press WV
A West Virginia minister says she’ll do anything she can
- including going on a hunger strike -
to get senators such as Shelley Moore Capito to vote against healthcare legislation.


“When I know it’s going to go for a vote, then I will make my stand,“ he says. “And this isn’t a stunt for me. These are people’s lives, including my daughters.“

The Senate vote has been delayed. Capito has not clearly said if she will vote for or against the bill. If she votes no, most observers expect the repeal to fail.

The Senate bill’s supporters argue the Affordable Care Act offered too much - that it created unsustainable, generous government health-care promises. But many of the act’s insurance rules have been very popular.

Hill says her daughter has a rare form of cancer that is very expensive to treat. She says before Obamacare, her daughter’s insurance company would likely have cut off her coverage because she hit an annual cost cap or because she had a pre-existing condition.

“So the fact that there wasn’t a cap and the fact that there’s not pre-existing conditions really and truly is what’s keeping her alive,“ she explains.

Hill says Capito should vote no, and negotiate with Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin who want to fix the parts of Obamacare that aren’t working and keep what is.

“Cross that stupid aisle - to be a leader, to be working with Sen. Manchin, and be one West Virginia,“ adds Hill.

Hill and other clergy were to deliver letters and petitions to Capito’s Charleston office Tuesday.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

JOHN MCCAIN DIAGNOSED WITH BRAIN TUMOR

The Arizona senator’s tumor, associated with a blood clot that was removed last week, is a glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer, doctors say.


WHO’S LATEST TARGET OF TRUMP’S IRE

Trump tells the New York Times that he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general had he known that Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.


TRUMP TO LAWMAKERS: STAY PUT

Trump tells GOP senators they must not leave town for their August recess without sending him an “Obamacare” repeal bill to sign.


WHITE HOUSE HALTING SECRET AID TO REBELS

The Trump administration is phasing out the CIA’s years-long covert program to arm and train Syrian rebels battling the Assad regime.


OJ SIMPSON TO PLEAD FOR PAROLE

With his clean prison record, it’s likely that Simpson, 70, could be released in October.


ROBOT DEPLOYED AT FUKUSHIMA NUKE PLANT

The device captures views of underwater damage that had not been seen before, but there’s no obvious sign of the melted nuclear fuel that researchers want to locate.


WHY TRUMP’S ‘MADE IN AMERICA’ PUSH WON’T BE EASY

U.S. manufacturers rely on global parts - meaning that few goods are American-made only.


VISITORS TO U.S. FACE STEPPED-UP SECURITY

Travelers flying to the U.S. from nearly 300 international airports are now subject to new rules, including stricter screening for electronic devices larger than cell phones.


HOW MUCH PLASTIC IS PILING UP WORLDWIDE

There’s enough plastic waste across the globe to bury Manhattan two miles deep, according to a study.


GOLFER HOPING TO REVERSE HIS FORM

Heading into the British Open, Rory McIlroy has missed the cut at three of his last four tournaments.

 

The Free Press WV
GILMER COUNTY COMMISSION
AGENDA for REGULAR MEETING
July 21, 2017 @ 9:00 AM
Gilmer County Courthouse
Commission Office
10 Howard Street, Glenville, WV

I. CALL TO ORDER


II. PLEDGE of ALLEGIANCE TO THE U.S. FLAG


III. PUBLIC COMMENTS


IV. APPOINTMENTS

              9:15-Wanda Cottrill-Rosedale Senior Citizens-Request for help with new kitchen

              9:30- Sheriff Larry Gerwig-Sell 2005 Dodge Ram Truck


V. ROUTINE BUSINESS:

      Discussion and/or action on:

              1) Exonerations and/or Consolidations

              2) Approve Estate Qualifications and Estate Settlements

              3) Board Appointments and/or Resignations:

                    a) Board Seats open on the:

                          i. One member for Board Members for Gilmer County Medical Center Board of Trustees

                          ii. Region VII Private Sector Member

              4) Budget Revisions

              5) Budget Control Report - None

              6) Approve Invoices for Payment

              7) Approve County Commission Minutes-

              8) Receipt of County Board Minutes:

                    a) E-911 Yearly Totals for Dispatched calls

                    b) Gilmer County Health Center Operations Board of Trustees minutes-January 09 & April 03, 2017


VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

VII. NEW BUSINESS:

      Discussion and/or action on:

              a) Letter of Support for the Gilmer County Senior Center-Grant to purchase a new vehicle

              b) Gilmer County Recreation Center-continued funding to help with utilities for WVU Extension Service

              c) Court Security Grant Contract and Resolution


VIII. OTHER BUSINESS


IX. EXECUTIVE SESSION AS NEEDED


X. ADJOURNMENT


NEXT MEETING:
Regular Session on August 04, 2017



We looked at how Berlin streaming startup SoundCloud ended up on the brink of extinction

Recent job losses, profitability struggles, and battles with rightsholders have all contributed to SoundCloud’s struggles.


Amazon has built its own social network called Spark which is like an Instagram-inspired shopping feed

The service is built into Amazon’s mobile app, and is designed to inspire you to buy more items.


Google has resurrected its Google Glass smart spectacles, but not for consumer use

Instead, the company’s been testing a new version of the device in factories and has now launched the Google Glass Enterprise Edition.


Uber’s former top PR person, Rachel Whetstone, is joining Facebook

Whetstone departed Uber in the middle of its crisis, and starts at Facebook in September.


Google Assistant is proving a dud since it launched on the iPhone

According to App Annie, the smart assistant has only been downloaded 300,000 times since it launched two months ago.


Mark Zuckerberg is an unpopular candidate for U.S. president, but not much more so than Donald Trump

According to polling firm Public Policy Polling, Zuckerberg as the Democratic candidate would score 40% support — in a dead heat with Trump.


The co-founder of a renewable energy business acquired by Tesla is leaving only a few months after the deal

Peter Rive was co founder and CTO at SolarCity, and is off to start a new venture.


Amazon’s meal kits went on sale Tuesday, and almost immediately sold out

The kits work out at $8 to $10 a serving.


Apple has hired its first managing director for China, Isabel Ge Mahe, as it tries to stem falling revenue and market share in the country

Ge Mahe managed Apple’s wireless technologies business for almost a decade.


Samsung is finally rolling out voice activation in the U.S. for its Bixby smart assistant on the Galaxy S8, months after the phone’s launch

After initial language difficulties, Bixby can now apparently understand voice commands in US English.

ETC.

The Free Press WV

  • America steals votes from felons.   And Trump’s election commission isn’t going to change that.    The Guardian


  • Jeff Sessions was for states rights before he was against them.   The AG’s new asset forfeiture initiative violates the federalism principles conservatives hold dear.  The Washington Post


  • What has changed in six months under Trump:  “Trump’s first six months have been defined by his often angry and tasteless tweets, his ham-handed efforts to denigrate and undercut the multiple investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election and the stalemated legislative battle to repeal and replace Obamacare. But Trump is right in saying he has significantly influenced government and the nation’s image – though much of his impact has been negative.”    Dallas Daily News


  • She Should Run aims for 250k women candidates by 2030:    “She Should Run, an organization created in 2011 with the goal of recruiting and training women to run for public office, launched a new campaign Tuesday called “250kBy2030.” The organization’s goal is to encourage 250,000 women to run for US office by 2030. As of 2017, less than 25% of those offices are held by women.”  CNN


  • Swiss Couple Discovered in Alps After 75 Years:  “We have spent our lives searching for them.” So said 79-year-old Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, whose parents — shoemaker Marcelin and teacher Francine — disappeared in August 1942. Now investigators think they’ve been found, due to the shrinking of the Tsanfleuron glacier in the Alps. A ski lift worker discovered the two mummified bodies dressed in pre-war clothes. The couple, who won’t be officially identified until police analyze DNA evidence, are the latest in a string of long-missing bodies found around the world as glaciers recede.  NPR


  • China Limits Access to WhatsApp:    Bring out the carrier pigeons. Chinese users say WhatsApp has been experiencing disruptions and is now virtually unusable without software designed to get around government censors. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are already blocked in the country. While China’s ruling party prepares for a congress this fall, it’s ramping up censorship of information and messaging — including banning GIFs and mentions of Winnie the Pooh in response to memes comparing President Xi Jinping to the cartoon bear. Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, hasn’t yet capitulated to Chinese demands that data be stored locally.    The Verge


  • Mulvaney’s MAGAnomics Mix of Groundhog Day and Flat Out Lies

    The Free Press WV

    Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had a Wall Street Journal column highlighting the benefits of “MAGAnomics.” The piece can best be described as a combination of Groundhog Day and outright lies.

    In terms of Groundhog Day, we have actually tried MAGAnomics twice before and it didn’t work. We had huge cuts in taxes and regulation under both President Reagan and George W. Bush. In neither case, was there any huge uptick in growth and investment. In fact, the Bush years were striking for the weak growth in the economy and especially the labor market. We saw what was at the time the longest period without net job growth since the Great Depression. And of course, his policy of giving finance free rein gave us the housing bubble and the Great Recession.

    The story of the 1980s was somewhat better but hardly follows the MAGAnomics script. The economy did bounce back in 1983, following a steep recession in 1981–1982. That is generally what economies do following steep recessions that were not caused by collapsed asset bubbles. Furthermore, the bounceback was based on increased consumption, not investment as the MAGAnomics folks claim. In fact, investment in the late 1980s fell to extraordinarily low levels. It is also worth pointing out that following both tax cuts, the deficit exploded, just as conventional economics predicts.

    By contrast, Clinton raised taxes in 1993 and the economy subsequently soared. It would be silly to attribute the strong growth of the 1990s to the Clinton tax increase; other factors like an IT driven productivity boom and the stock bubble were the key factors, but obviously, the tax increase did not prevent strong growth.

    The outright lies part stem from the comparison to prior periods’ growth rates. Mulvaney notes that the 2.0 percent growth rate projected for the next decade is markedly lower than the 3.5 percent rate that we had seen for most of the post-World War II era.This comparison doesn’t make sense.

    We are now seeing very slow labor force growth due to the retirement of the baby boom cohort and the fact that the secular rise in the female labor force participation rate is largely at an end. MAGAnomics can do nothing about either of these facts. Slower labor force growth translates into slower overall growth.

    Mulvaney also complains about government benefits keeping people from working. The idea that large numbers of people aren’t working because of the generosity of welfare benefits shows a startling degree of ignorance. The United States has the least generous welfare state of any wealthy country, yet we also have among the lowest labor force participation rates. The idea that we will get any substantial boost to the labor force from gutting benefits further is absurd on its face.

    Mulvaney apparently missed the fact that energy prices have plummeted in the last three years. Oil had been over $100 a barrel, today it is less than $50. While it is always possible that it could fall still further, any boost to the economy from further declines will be trivial compared to what we have seen already. It would be amazing if Mulvaney was ignorant of the recent path in energy prices.

    In short, there is nothing here at all. Mulvaney has given us absolutely zero reason that Trump’s policies will lead to anything other than larger deficits, fewer people with health care, more dangerous workplaces, and a dirtier environment.

    ~~  Dean Baker ~~

    Center for Economic and Policy Research

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