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NWS Puts Most of State Under Flash Flood Watch Through Friday Evening

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The National Weather Service in Charleston has issued a Flash Flood Watch for its entire coverage area in West Virginia through Friday at 8 p.m.

“Rounds of showers and thunderstorms with very heavy rain are expected through Friday,” the NWS message said. “This rainfall, coupled with rain that has already fallen, could produce flash flooding, especially along small streams, creeks, low spots and poor drainage areas.”

Counties under the watch include: Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Jackson WV, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Mingo, Fayette, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Randolph, Webster, Pleasants, Putnam, Ritchie, Roane,Taylor, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Wirt, Wood and Wyoming.

The National Weather Service Office in Pittsburgh issued a similar Flash Flood Watch for the Northern Panhandle, Eastern Panhandle and north central counties from 6 a.m. Friday through 1 a.m. Saturday.

Student Success Summit To Focus On Collaboration Across Education Systems

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Nearly 500 education administrators, teachers, students, military leaders and community group members will come together this week to tackle education issues in the Mountain State.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) and the West Virginia Department of Education will host the seventh annual statewide Student Success Summit on Wednesday, July 26 and Thursday, July 27 at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel and Conference Center in Morgantown.

The Summit focuses on encouraging collaboration across the full length of the education pipeline.

Representatives ranging from pre-school teachers to college presidents to student leaders are expected to be in attendance.

“This Summit offers a unique opportunity for collaboration across the entire education spectrum in West Virginia,” Dr. Paul Hill, HEPC Chancellor, said. “By joining forces with our elementary, secondary, workforce, military and community partners, we are advancing a holistic, lifelong approach to learning — one that focuses on meeting the unique needs of our students to ensure they fulfill their potential.”

This year’s event will feature more than 60 sessions that focus on sharing practical ideas that can have an immediate impact in classrooms and on campuses across the state.

“Our ultimate measure of success lies in our ability to prepare our students for the 21st century world of work,” Dr. Steven Paine, State Superintendent of Schools, said. “To move our state and our economy forward, we must empower all students to be lifelong learners who succeed in the workforce and contribute to their communities. Achieving that goal means starting early — as young as pre-school — and supporting our students every step of the way.”

Seven high schools — Calhoun County, Herbert Hoover, Lewis County, Scott, Spring Valley, Tolsia, and Wayne County — will send teams of students to participate in a focused Youth Summit track of the conference. Students will learn leadership skills and strategies to build and strengthen a college-going culture in their communities. They will present what they have learned during the morning plenary session on Thursday.

The Summit is sponsored by the Commission and the Department of Education, with support from the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and the State’s military service units. Registration is free and open to the public.

To learn more, visit www.cfwv.com.

Morrisey Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn Gun Ruling

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, joined by four other states, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court ruling they say infringes on gun rights.

In a brief Tuesday, they argue that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court majority erred in concluding police can frisk someone they believe has a weapon.

Morrisey, joined by attorneys general from Indiana, Michigan, Texas and Utah, said innocent gun owners have the right to carry weapons “without the fear of being unreasonably searched.”

They argue that existing case law requires police determine someone is dangerous as well as armed. Otherwise, people will have to choose between their right to bear arms and freedom from unreasonable searches.

“It is wrong to deem an individual dangerous solely because they are armed,” Morrisey said.

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The brief notes that half the people own guns in West Virginia, which is one of a dozen states that don’t require a permit for carrying a concealed weapon. Another 25 states’ laws say authorities shall issue permits for concealed guns provided they meet certain statutory requirements.

The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to hear the case.

It involved Shaquille Robinson, a felon with an illegal gun in his pocket. He was arrested by Ranson police in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle after an anonymous tip about someone seen loading a handgun in a parking lot known for drug trafficking. Police responding to the tip stopped the car in which Robinson was a passenger because neither he nor the driver was wearing a seat belt and searched Robinson.

His attorney argued the search was illegal and violated Robinson’s civil rights, that the tip identified seemingly legal conduct and the traffic stop provided no basis for frisking him.

The 4th Circuit Court, in a 12-4 decision in January, rejected that argument and concluded that “an officer who makes a lawful traffic stop and who has a reasonable suspicion that one of the automobile’s occupants is armed may frisk that individual for the officer’s protection and the safety of everyone on the scene.”

Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote for the majority: “The danger justifying a protective frisk arises from the combination of a forced police encounter and the presence of a weapon, not from any illegality of the weapon’s possession.”

GSC Athletic Director to Take New Position in Florida

Marcal Lazenby will leave his position as Glenville State College’s Athletic Director, effective August 4. The announcement comes as he prepares to take a position as Director of Compliance at Saint Leo University in Tampa, Florida.

Lazenby has worked at GSC since 2009, first as an Assistant to the President, before serving as an Academic Coordinator for the College Completion Center and later as the Assistant Athletic Director for Academics and Diversity and Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance. He served as Interim Athletic Director for one year before assuming the role full-time in 2016. Lazenby is also a GSC alumni having graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree.

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During his time at GSC, he has worked to assure college, conference, and NCAA Division II athletic and academic compliance and helped to expand athletic fundraising. Lazenby, in his role as GSC’s first African-American Athletic Director, saw the establishment of several new programs and community outreach initiatives, helped to implement a new Athletic Department website, and oversaw multiple facilities upgrades. He was also a member of the Minorities Opportunities Athletics Association, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, was a vice chair for the Mountain East Conference Compliance Committee, and served as an executive member of GSC’s Hidden Promise Scholarship Committee.

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Lazenby came to Glenville State in 2003 where he was a member of the Pioneer Football team. He was the starting offensive guard on the 2008 WVIAC Conference Champion Football team. He was also a three time All-Conference player and an All-Region player.

“We congratulate Marcal on taking this next step in his professional career. Although the Pioneer family will miss his presence on campus and his leadership of the athletic department, we are excited with him as he makes this move. I certainly wish him well,“ said Glenville State College President Dr. Tracy Pellett.

The College has named Rusty Vineyard as Vice President for Student Life and Athletics. He will begin his duties August 02.

ETC.

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  • Girl Scouts Obtain Restraining Order Against Trump - In an extraordinary rebuke of the President of the United States, the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. have obtained a restraining order against Donald J. Trump. The order, which the Girls Scouts were granted on Monday night, prevents Trump from coming within three hundred feet of any gathering of the Scouts’ organization. Carol Foyler, a Girl Scouts spokesperson, said that while the G.S.U.S.A. sought the restraining order “out of an abundance of caution,” the girls themselves were “in no way, shape or form” afraid of President Trump. “They’re prepared to deal with bobcats and bears,” she said. “They can handle a malignant narcissist.” Trump wasted little time responding…  THE NEW YORKER

  • Boy Scouts defend inviting Trump amid backlash over Trump’s rambling speech - To begin his 38-minute address at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, WV, on Monday, Trump said, “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”  YAHOO

  • The worst boy scout: Donald Trump takes kids on the wrong kind of ramble - Yes, although I think it’s fair to say that President Trump is not worried about taboos. Anyway, in a speech to the Boy Scouts of America’s jamboree in West Virginia on 24 July, he said he wouldn’t talk about politics, then went slightly off script. The highlights include Washington DC being not a swamp but a “cesspool”; the media lying about his inauguration crowd and his popularity; fake news; Hillary Clinton’s bad campaigning; and how the Republican party will repeal and replace Obamacare. Plus some new numbers he has been working on, such as a story about the real estate developer William Levitt making and losing his fortune and how, “under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying Merry Christmas again when you go shopping”.  THE GUARDIAN

  • Former CIA Director: Trump’s Boy Scout speech was like ‘third world authoritarian’s youth rally’ - “Trump’s Boy Scout speech had the feel of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally,“ McLaughlin, who was former President George W. Bush’s CIA chief, tweeted Monday.  YAHOO FINANCE

  • Trump’s Partisan Boy Scouts Speech Met With Fierce Blowback - Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore joined a growing chorus of criticism against Trump’s campaign-style speech at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia Monday, saying it amounts to “child abuse on a massive scale.” Moore said in an overnight Facebook rant that Trump used “30,000 Boy Scouts tonight as props in his own Triumph of the Will.” “He called for their loyalty as he screamed one lie after another at them,” Moore, an Eagle Scout during his youth in Flint, Michigan, wrote. “He paused for them to cheer, and they did. Child abuse on a mass scale.” Parents and former Scouts also blasted Trump on social media for violating one of the founding tenets of the Boy Scouts of America ...  GROSSE POINT PATCH

  • Trump hammered on Twitter over the tenor of his address to Boy Scouts - Reaction to Donald Trump’s unconventional speech at the quadrennial Boy Scouts of America jamboree in West Virginia on Monday quickly metastasized on Twitter, where critics charged Trump had pugnaciously politicized an occasion that, in the hands of past holders of his office, had instead been used to extol such civic virtues as fellowship, citizenship, service and commonality of purpose. Here, as posted by PBS’s “News Hour” on You Tube, is the entirety of the Trump address: As of Tuesday morning, the Boy Scouts of America channel on the video platform did not include any reference to Trump’s appearance at the jamboree. Nor did the channel for scouting publication Boys’ Life ...  MARKET WATCH


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    WV with Highest Approval!


  • Is Hoarding Coming to an End?    More like hand-me-don’t. Baby boomers are increasingly finding that their children aren’t interested in the prized possessions that have stocked their own shelves, cupboards or drawers for decades. Instead, the younger, tech-centered generation is looking to live with less stuff. Case in point: Recent literature promoting minimalism and focused on living with less accumulated junk has grown in popularity. While some parents lament their children’s apparent lack of sentimentality for family knick-knacks, many are finding that downsizing and decluttering comes with benefits.    CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR


  • U.S. Psychoanalysts Freed to Discuss Trump’s Mental State:  It’s open season. The American Psychoanalytic Association has informed its 3,500 members that they’re now free to comment on Trump’s mental health if they wish. That’s a crack in the profession’s support for the Goldwater Rule — which prohibits members from publicly analyzing politicians — that was officially imposed by the American Psychiatric Association but adopted as an industry standard for decades. In recent months, many have criticized the gag rule as unethical, even dangerous, as more medical professionals draw conclusions from Trump’s public persona about his mental state.    Scientific American

Did You Know?

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WHAT’S ENDING WITH A WHIMPER

After seven years promising to repeal “Obamacare,“ now that it counts it’s unlikely Senate Republicans have the wherewithal to do it.


ANNOUNCEMENT SHOCKS LGBT COMMUNITY

Trump says on Twitter that he wants to ban all transgender people from serving in the military.


TRUMP TOUTS NEW ‘MADE IN USA’ VENTURE

Trump says electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that’s expected to create 3,000 jobs.


WHICH STATE HAS RESUMED CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

Ohio puts a child killer to death, carrying out the state’s first execution since a problem-plagued one 3½ years ago.


NEW FORM OF PROTEST IN PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT

Thousands of Palestinian Muslims have been praying in the streets every evening since the crisis erupted over Jerusalem’s most contested shrine, kneeling in neat rows on hard asphalt.


HOW BRITAIN AIMS TO COMBAT AIR POLLUTION

The government says it will ban the sale of new cars and vans using diesel and gas by 2040.


NO LET-UP IN WILDFIRES IN FRANCE

Authorities order the evacuation of up to 12,000 people around a picturesque hilltop town in the southern Cote d’Azur region.


WHY E-CIGARETTES COULD BE HELPFUL TO HEALTH

People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the tobacco habit than those who didn’t, according to the largest look at whether vaping devices could help curb smoking rates.


ACTRESS REVEALS HEALTH WOES

Angelina Jolie says she developed high blood pressure and Bell’s palsy last year, during which she also filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.


TENNIS STAR’S SEASON OVER

With the pain in his injured right elbow getting worse, Novak Djokovic will sit out the rest of 2017.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) is “limited”

The Facebook CEO previously called negative remarks on AI, such as those made by Musk, “pretty irresponsible.“


SoftBank is reportedly interested in a multibillion dollar investment in Uber

The Japanese giant, however, is waiting for the company to find a new and strong leadership first.


Adobe is going to phase out Flash, the software millions of people have used to watch videos and play games on the web

The company says that the arrival of technologies like HTML5 is the reason why Flash is going away, although it will keep supporting it until 2020.


Niantic, the game company behind “Pokémon GO,“ said that the reason why the recent Chicago event didn’t go as planned is because of “some network providers”

Carriers such as Verizon and T-Mobile, however, said that they had no responsibility.


A U.S. district court judge ruled that Apple will have to pay $506 million in damages for infringing an intellectual property on microprocessors owned by the University of Wisconsin

The chips in question are Apple’s A7, A8, and A8X, which power the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPad Air 2 respectively.


Donald Trump claimed that, in a conversation with Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO promised him that he would build three “big, big, big” plants in the country

Chinese manufacturing company Foxconn is expected to make an announcement about building facilities in the US as soon as today, but it’s not clear if the two things are related.


A piece of Mac malware has reportedly been spying hundreds of macOS users for years

The so-called “Fruitfly” malware was already discovered and patched by Apple earlier this year, but it may have impacted up to 400 individuals, taking webcam photos and screenshots of their screens.


Food delivery service Deliveroo claims that it has started using an algorithm that allows it to cut delivery times by approximately 20%

The algorithm, named “Frank,“ brought down the company’s average delivery time to 29 minutes, but UberEATS still claims its own average time to is 28 minutes.


Uber is implementing three new policies that the company describes as “driver-friendly”

It will speed up review times for driver license registration, protect ratings against things the driver can’t control, and add the ability to adjust fares right in the app.


Google is adding SOS Alerts in Search and Maps to give users quick information in case of a crisis

Users will be able to see things such as updates from authorities, news articles, emergency telephone numbers, and other useful information all in one place.

West Virginia News

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►  West Virginia orders halt to Rover Pipeline segments

State environmental authorities have ordered a halt to Rover Pipeline construction in places where it found permit violations damaging streams in northern West Virginia.

After inspectors in April, May, June and July found erosion-control failures that left sediment deposits in creeks and streams, the Department of Environmental Protection ordered Rover Pipeline LLC in a July 17 letter to “immediately cease and desist any further land development activity” until it complies. The DEP ordered Rover to provide a plan within 20 days for installing and maintaining needed storm water and erosion controls.

In its February approval, the department wrote that the project includes 172 stream crossings in West Virginia. It specifically prohibits dumping “spoil materials from the watercourse or onshore operations, including sludge deposits,” into watercourses or wetlands or anywhere it will harm surface or ground waters.

Parent company Energy Transfer Partners said Wednesday that construction continues on two West Virginia segments in Hancock and Marshall counties, while it works with DEP to resolve issues on two others. “We are complying with the DEP, and have stopped construction at the areas noted in the order,” spokeswoman Alexis Daniel said.

The 700-mile (1,126-kilometer) pipeline will carry natural gas from shale deposits in West Virginia and Pennsylvania across Ohio and into Michigan. Ohio has proposed nearly $1 million in environmental fines for damage there.

In West Virginia, the company said work continues on a 6-mile (10-kilometer) pipeline through the tip of the northern Panhandle in Hancock County, crossing from Ohio to Pennsylvania, and a 12-mile (19-kilometer) segment from Ohio to a compressor station in Majorsville in Marshall County.

The others are a pipeline extending 36 miles (58 kilometers) from Ohio through Tyler and Wetzel counties to a compressor station at Sherwood in Doddridge County, and a fourth planned segment running for six miles (10 kilometers) through Doddridge County.


►  State tobacco prevention office cuts all but 1 employee

As a result of budget cuts, the West Virginia Division of Tobacco Prevention will terminate all but one position in its eight-person office.

Division director Jim Kerrigan confirmed on Tuesday that he’ll be the only remaining employee. Kerrigan says he hopes to keep two programs going: Quitline — a tobacco-cessation hotline — and RAZE — an anti-tobacco education program aimed at teenagers.

With no funding in the 2017-18 budget, Kerrigan says the division is operating on state funds that carried over from the previous budget year, and on federal grants.

Juliana Frederick Curry of the American Cancer Society says the cuts are disheartening because West Virginia has the highest youth smoking rate and second-highest adult smoking rate in the nation.


►  West Virginia University offering programs during state fair

West Virginia’s State Fair is set to begin August 10 in Fairlea, and West Virginia University says visitors can help celebrate the university’s 150th birthday.

The fair runs through August 19. The WVU Building is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for August 10 when it opens at 2 p.m. and the final day when it closes at 5 p.m.

President Gordon Gee will make an appearance during Governor’s Day on August 17. The Mountaineer Mascot will also stop by and visit the rest of the week.

WVU Extension Service will offer demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day. There will be information on canning and food preservation.

WVU Extension 4-H Youth Development will feature more than 2,500 award-winning projects from youths in the Cecil H. Underwood Youth Center.


►  Part of hospital garage under construction collapses; 3 hurt

A hospital spokesman says three construction workers have been injured when a small section of a hospital parking garage collapsed in West Virginia.

Charleston Area Medical Center spokesman Dale Witte says crews were pouring concrete when part of a floor collapsed Wednesday at Memorial Hospital in Charleston.

Details of the injuries were not immediately known. An emergency dispatcher says the injuries were not serious.

Witte says the collapse occurred at 9:30 a.m. in an area that had been blocked off for repairs. He says no vehicles were damaged and no medical center employees were injured.

Witte says hospital employees located in offices in the garage were temporarily moved to another building out of caution before structural engineers determined they could return.


►  Trump shows the Boy Scouts how to start a political fire

No knot-tying demonstrations. No wood-carving advice. Donald Trump went straight to starting a fire in a speech at a national Boy Scout gathering.

Parents, former Scouts and others were furious after Trump railed against his enemies, promoted his political agenda and underlined his insistence on loyalty before an audience of tens of thousands of school-age Scouts in West Virginia on Monday night.

“Is nothing safe?” Jon Wolfsthal, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, saying Trump turned the event into a “Nazi Youth rally.”

Trump, the eighth president to address the Scouts’ National Jamboree, was cheered by the crowd, but his comments put an organization that has tried in recent years to avoid political conflict and become more inclusive in an awkward position.

The knot-tying was left to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who said on Twitter that his stomach was in knots over the president’s over-the-top delivery.

“If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t,” Murphy said. “It’s downright icky.”

The Boy Scouts’ official Facebook page was barraged with comments condemning the speech. Several people posted links to the Scouts’ policy on participation in political events — which sharply limits what Scouts should do. Boy Scouts are typically 10 to 18 years old.

One woman wrote in disbelief that the Scouts started booing when Trump mentioned Obama.

Trump noted from the podium that Obama did not personally attend either of the two national Jamborees during his tenure. (Obama did address the 2010 gathering by video to mark the Scouts’ 100th anniversary. The Jamboree is typically held every four years.)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former president of the Boy Scouts, invited Trump to the gathering, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.

“When all is said and done, those Boy Scouts, what they will remember from the jamboree in West Virginia is that the president showed up,” Nauert said. “And that’s a pretty incredible thing.”

The pushback from Americans over the speech included members from both parties.

“I just don’t think it was appropriate,” said Rob Romalewski, a Republican and retired information-technology expert from suburban New Orleans who attained the rank of Eagle Scout as a teenager and has worked with the Boy Scouts all his adult life.

“It just doesn’t seem like he was talking to the boys,” Romalewski said. “He was more or less just using it as an excuse to babble on.”

Nancy Smith, a Democrat and elementary school teacher from Shelby Township, Michigan, said she won’t encourage any of her six grandchildren to enter Scouting. Smith is asking for an apology from the national group.

The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement after the speech that it does not promote any one political candidate or philosophy.

On Tuesday, after questions about the blowback, the organization said that it “reflects a number of cultures and beliefs.”

“We will continue to be respectful of the wide variety of viewpoints in this country.”

Trump kicked off his speech by saying, to cheers from the boys, “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?” Yet much of what he had to say next was steeped in politics.

Trump began to recite the Scout law, a 12-point oath that starts with a Scout being trustworthy and loyal.

“We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,” said the man who is alleged to have asked fired FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of loyalty.

In his speech, Trump also jokingly threatened to fire Health Secretary Tom Price — an Eagle Scout who joined him on stage — if lawmakers do not repeal and replace Obama’s health care law. He called Washington a “swamp,” a “cesspool” and a “sewer.” He repeatedly trashed the media, directing the crowd’s attention to the reporters in attendance.

In one aside, he told the boys they could begin saying “Merry Christmas” again under his watch. In another, he talked about a billionaire friend — real estate developer William Levitt — who sold his company, bought a yacht and led “a very interesting life.”

“I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did,” Trump teased. Then he said he had run into the man at a cocktail party. The moral of Trump’s tale was that Levitt “lost momentum,” something he said they should never do.

Levitt is often considered the father of postwar American suburbia, founding communities such as Levittown on New York’s Long Island, but was criticized for refusing to sell to blacks.

In the past few years, the Boy Scouts have retreated from the culture wars, dropping their ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders, and have tried harder to recruit minorities.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and co-founder of Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit group that has pushed to end discrimination against gay and transgender people in Scouting, said Trump’s remarks “really harmed the Boy Scouts’ ability to do that work, which is all about serving America.”

“The wrong speech at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Wahls said.


►  Boy Scouts, Governor Justice dedicate welcome center

The new J.W. and Hazel Ruby West Virginia Welcome center was dedicated this week.

The property, located along U.S. Highway 19 in Mount Hope will serve as a greeting and educational experience to Scouts, travelers and locals alike to West Virginia and the Summit Bechtel Reserve.  The center was constructed through a gift from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust.  The trust has a history of giving back to West Virginia and the Boy Scouts.

Several notable people were on hand for the ribbon cutting.  They include Governor Jim Justice, WVU President Gordon Gee and former Boy Scouts of America President Wayne Perry.  Perry, who was also on the selection board for the permanent Jamboree home said West Virginia was the best fit for the Boy Scouts.

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“Unbelievable beauty, we found a citizenry that was intelligent, hard-working, dedicated, patriotic,” he said.  “You just could not believe what we’ve come across here.”

Governor Justice took time to commend the Boy Scouts of America, saying the Jamboree is bringing great exposure for West Virginia.

“The whole world is seeing West Virginia right now, and they’re seeing all the things we already know,” the Governor said.  “We already know how good our people are and how beautiful our state is.  But now, we have the spotlight on us.”

Justice also mentioned that the new welcome center has already received the approval of Trump.  He was in the motorcade with the President when they passed the new center.

“He turned to me and he said look at that building, isn’t that fabulous? If it catches his eye, it ought to be duly noted just how great it is.”

WVU President Gordon Gee also shared his remarks on the new facility.  He also assured that his institution commits to a lasting partnership with Jamboree organizers.

“We as a university are absolutely committed to having an unbelievable relationship that allows scouting to flourish, and allows it to move into the future,” he said.

Gee is not only an Eagle Scout, but completed every merit badge available at the time.  He joked about growing up in Utah, where there wasn’t anything else for him to do.

While visually appealing on the outside, the interior has educational activities, technology and information.  There are multiple touchscreen tables and monitors containing videos and maps of scouting activities.  An indoor rock climbing wall lines one side for those who want to get a taste of one of the state’s most popular outdoor activities.  A collection of old Scout uniforms and other memorabilia is on display as well.

The most popular attraction among children and adults alike was what Scouting officials call a moon sand table.  This high-tech educational tool uses camera and projection technology to let users manipulate sand into mountains and valleys.  The projector then casts topographical lines and colors similar to a map on the creation.  While children seemed to use the high-tech sandbox as playtime, parents enjoyed watching their kids have fun while learning simultaneously.

The J.W. and Hazel Ruby Memorial Welcome Center is located on the west side of U.S. Highway 19 south of Sun Mine Road in Mount Hope.  The center sits on 700 acres of land to be used for bus and volunteer parking during the Jamboree.  The 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree concludes this Friday.


►  I-79 reopens all lanes between Anmoore and Lost Creek

Interstate 79 motorists may be in for a surprise during their morning commute Wednesday.

As of 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, all barrels were down and all lanes were open from mile marker 111 to mile marker 117.5 northbound and southbound.

The bridges between Anmoore and Lost Creek have been striped. And the blacktop approaches, where the road has been elevated to the level of the bridge, have been added to make for a smoother ride on the interstate.

Triton Construction started the project in April, and the area has been the site of multiple vehicle accidents since that time.

State Police and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department have been patrolling the area to remind motorists to slow down and pay attention to the work zones.

The Stonewood, Anmoore and Lost Creek volunteer fire departments also were called to the construction zone repeatedly for everything from fender-benders to serious wrecks with injuries because of backed-up traffic.

The $3.8 million project included the replacement of nine bridge structures. The work was originally scheduled to conclude September 8, but the state Division of Highways offered a financial incentive to Triton to complete the work early.

Beam repairs and plate welding to reinforce beams, as well as cleaning and painting on the highway shoulders, still need to be done.


►  CAMC says it must lay off 300 employees - Hospital cites weakening economic conditions

Charleston Area Medical Center announced today that weakening economic conditions mean it must lay off 300 of its employees.

“These are difficult economic times for our region and our health care delivery system across southern West Virginia. After the first five months of 2017, CAMC operations were on course to lose more than $40 million in 2017,” the hospital stated in an announcement about the layoffs.

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►  Trump says transgender people should be barred from military

Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants transgender people barred from serving in the U.S. military “in any capacity,” citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Trump’s announcement on Twitter would reverse the effort under President Barack Obama to open the armed services to transgender people. He did not say what would happen to transgender troops already in the military.

The president tweeted that he was making his announcement after consulting with “generals and military experts,” but he did not name any. He said the military “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The White House did not immediately respond to questions.

At the Pentagon, members of the staff of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared to have been caught unaware by Trump’s tweets. A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, referred questions to the White House.

In a brief written statement, Davis said the Pentagon is working with the White House to “address” what he called “the new guidance” from the president. He said the Pentagon will provide revised guidance to Defense Department officials “in the near future.”

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Since last October 01, they have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon’s personnel system.

Carter also gave the services until July 01 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to newly join the military. Mattis announced earlier this month that he was giving military chiefs another six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services would affect the “readiness or lethality” of the force.

Already, there are as many as 250 service members in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon’s personnel system, according to several defense officials.

The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops currently serving. A Rand Corp. study estimated that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 service members on active duty who self-identify as transgender and an additional 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves. There are about 1.3 million troops in the military.

Trump’s decision drew swift outrage from LGBT groups and supporters.

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a double amputee veteran of the Iraq War, said that when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, she didn’t care “if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.”

Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, which represents the LGBT population in the military, said thousands have been serving in the U.S. armed forces without causing any issues.

“It’s an absolute absurdity and another overstep,” Thorn said. He threatened legal action if Wednesday’s decision is not reversed.

Some lawmakers said this was not the right process for such a policy change.

Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the tweet was “another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”

McCain said “any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military_regardless of their gender identity.” He said there should be no policy changes until the current review is completed and assessed by the secretary of defense, military leaders and Congress.

Some conservative organizations and lawmakers hailed the decision.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins applauded Trump for “keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.”

Representative Steve King, R-Iowa, said “we don’t need to be experimenting with the military. Plus there’s no reason to take on that kind of financial burden.”

During his election campaign, Trump occasionally presented himself as a potential ally of gays and lesbians, promising to be a “real friend” of their community.

However, LGBT activists have been angered by many of his administration’s actions, including the rollback of federal guidance advising school districts to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. Many top members of the administration are long-time foes of LGBT-rights policy changes, including Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.


►  Parents, former Scouts alarmed by Trump’s speech at jamboree

No knot-tying demonstrations. No wood-carving advice. Donald Trump went straight to starting a fire in a speech at a national Boy Scout gathering.

Parents, former Scouts and others were furious after Trump railed against his enemies, promoted his political agenda and underlined his insistence on loyalty before an audience of tens of thousands of school-age Scouts in West Virginia on Monday night.

“Is nothing safe?” Jon Wolfsthal, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, saying Trump turned the event into a “Nazi Youth rally.”

Trump, the eighth president to address the National Scout Jamboree, was cheered by the crowd, but his comments put an organization that has tried in recent years to avoid political conflict and become more inclusive in an awkward position.

The knot-tying was left to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who said on Twitter that his stomach was in knots over the president’s over-the-top delivery.

“If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t,” Murphy said. “It’s downright icky.”

The Boy Scouts’ official Facebook page was barraged with comments condemning the speech. Several people posted links to the Scouts’ policy on participation in political events — which sharply limits what Scouts should do. Boy Scouts are typically 10 to 18 years old.

One woman wrote in disbelief that the Scouts started booing when Trump mentioned Obama.

Trump noted from the podium that Obama did not personally attend either of the two national jamborees during his tenure. (Obama did address the 2010 gathering by video to mark the Scouts’ 100th anniversary. The jamboree is typically held every four years.)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former president of the Boy Scouts, invited Trump to the gathering, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.

“When all is said and done, those Boy Scouts, what they will remember from the jamboree in West Virginia is that the president showed up,” Nauert said. “And that’s a pretty incredible thing.”

The pushback from Americans over the speech included members from both parties.

“I just don’t think it was appropriate,” said Rob Romalewski, a Republican and retired information-technology expert from suburban New Orleans who attained the rank of Eagle Scout as a teenager and has worked with the Boy Scouts all his adult life.

“It just doesn’t seem like he was talking to the boys,” Romalewski said. “He was more or less just using it as an excuse to babble on.”

Nancy Smith, a Democrat and elementary school teacher from Shelby Township, Michigan, said she won’t encourage any of her six grandchildren to enter Scouting. Smith is asking for an apology from the national group.

The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement after the speech that it does not promote any one political candidate or philosophy.

On Tuesday, after questions about the blowback, the organization said that it “reflects a number of cultures and beliefs.”

“We will continue to be respectful of the wide variety of viewpoints in this country.”

Trump kicked off his speech by saying, to cheers from the boys, “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?” Yet much of what he had to say next was steeped in politics.

Trump began to recite the Scout law, a 12-point oath that starts with a Scout being trustworthy and loyal.

“We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,” said the man who is alleged to have asked fired FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of loyalty.

In his speech, Trump also jokingly threatened to fire Health Secretary Tom Price — an Eagle Scout who joined him on stage — if lawmakers do not repeal and replace Obama’s health care law. He called Washington a “swamp,” a “cesspool” and a “sewer.” He repeatedly trashed the media, directing the crowd’s attention to the reporters in attendance.

In one aside, he told the boys they could begin saying “Merry Christmas” again under his watch. In another, he talked about a billionaire friend — real estate developer William Levitt — who sold his company, bought a yacht and led “a very interesting life.”

“I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did,” Trump teased. Then he said he had run into the man at a cocktail party. The moral of Trump’s tale was that Levitt “lost momentum,” something he said they should never do.

Levitt is often considered the father of postwar American suburbia, founding communities such as Levittown on New York’s Long Island, but was criticized for refusing to sell to blacks.

In the past few years, the Boy Scouts have retreated from the culture wars, dropping their ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders, and have tried harder to recruit minorities.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and co-founder of Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit group that has pushed to end discrimination against gay and transgender people in Scouting, said Trump’s remarks “really harmed the Boy Scouts’ ability to do that work, which is all about serving America.”

“The wrong speech at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Wahls said.


►  ‘Pharma Bro’ won’t stop talking, except to jury in trial

“Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has kept up his trademark trolling on social media during his securities fraud trial — calling the case “bogus” — but the jury won’t hear him defend himself in court.

The government’s last witness testified on Tuesday, a day after a lawyer for the former biotech CEO told the court that his client had chosen not to take the witness stand. Closing arguments are expected later this week.

Shkreli, 34, is best known for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent and targeting his critics with online rants so nasty that it got him kicked off of Twitter for harassment. He was arrested in 2015 on unrelated federal charges accusing him of lying to investors in a pair of failed hedge funds.

Though not part of the case, the price-gouging scandal has hung over the trial and burdened Shkreli with a likability deficit that made it even more of a longshot that he would testify. But that hasn’t stopped him from using the internet to vent after spending long days sitting at the defense table.

In one of a flurry of recent Facebook posts, he wrote: “This was a bogus case from day one.”

He also has taken aim at news coverage of the trial, a la Donald Trump, writing, “More trash from the NYTimes. Is there an intelligent writer-editor pair at this company? Who would read this ‘news’?”

Even prosecutors aren’t off limits: Earlier this month, he taunted them as “the cowardly government,” while he griped about their trial tactics. “This is not North Korea,” he wrote.

Though they won’t hear from him in court and are under orders to avoid anything about him in the cyber realm, jurors in recent days have gotten a taste of Shkreli’s disdain for investors and mercurial demeanor.

Government evidence introduced on Tuesday included emails in which Shkreli snapped at a lawyer charged separately with conspiring with him in a scheme to hide hedge fund client losses and pay them back against thier wishes with stock in a new drug company called Retrophin.

“I am really starting to think you are inept,” Shkreli told the lawyer in one email. When the lawyer asked for guidance on how to divvy up shares, he replied, “Take from anyone. I don’t care. Do the math.”

In other testimony, a former business partner described how Shkreli sent his wife a threatening letter.

“Your husband has stolen $1.6 million from me,” it read. “I hope to see you and your four children homeless. I will do whatever I can to assure this.”

The defense has countered by trying to draw attention to the fact the investors who claim they were victims of fraud ultimately made a big profits once the drug company went public.

Retrophin CEO Stephen Aselage testified that even though he had misgivings about Shkreli, he considered him a “brilliant intellect” and a “visionary.”

Some managers at the drug company “described him as the Pied Piper,” he said. “He tells a story, sings a song and everyone wants to follow him.”


►  Justice Dept. rules intensify crackdown on sanctuary cities

The Justice Department escalated its promised crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities Tuesday, saying it will no longer award coveted grant money to cities unless they give federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.

Under old rules, cities seeking grant money needed only to show they were not preventing local law enforcement from communicating with federal authorities about the immigration status of people they have detained.

The announcement came as questions swirled about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ future as the nation’s top law enforcement officer following days of blistering criticism from President Donald over his performance. Sessions and Trump had bonded during the campaign, largely over their hardline views on illegal immigration. And Trump’s campaign promises included slashing federal grants for cities that refuse to comply with federal efforts to detain and deport those living in the country illegally.

“So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,“ Sessions said in a statement. “These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law. ... We must encourage these ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions to change their policies and partner with federal law enforcement to remove criminals.“

The conditions apply to one of the Justice Department’s most popular grant programs, which provides police departments money to buy everything from bulletproof vests to body cameras. The requirements will apply to cities seeking grants starting in September.

Sessions for months had been warning jurisdictions they could lose money, just for having rules that limit communication among local police and immigration officials. The new conditions say officials must let Department of Homeland Security employees have access to local jails in order to meet with immigrants and must give them 48 hours’ notice before releasing an immigrant wanted by immigration authorities from their custody.

“This is what the American people should be able to expect from their cities and states,“ Sessions said. “And these long overdue requirements will help us take down MS-13 and other violent transnational gangs, and make our country safer.“

Some cities continued to resist the pressure.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said it would fight to keep the grant funds, calling them key to keeping neighborhoods safe from gangs and crime.

“Mayor Garcetti believes that cities have a right to create sensible policies that keep our neighborhoods safe and protect our residents,“ the mayor’s spokesman, Alex Comisar, said in an email to The Associated Press.

A judge in April blocked Trump’s executive order aimed at withholding funding from sanctuary cities, saying the president could not set new conditions on spending approved by Congress. But the Justice Department said it still could condition some of its grants to force cities to cooperate with immigration authorities.

Jorge Baron, executive director of the Seattle-based Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said he expected states or local jurisdictions to challenge the restrictions under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves powers to the states that are not specifically delegated to the federal government.

But beyond that, he argued, it’s simply a bad idea to have local authorities enforcing immigration law: “Imagine your house is getting broken into and an undocumented person walks by and sees it. That undocumented person isn’t going to call 911 if they’ve heard the local police or the sheriff is involved in immigration enforcement.“

The Supreme Court has held that there must be a reasonable relationship between the grant condition and the purpose of the money being withheld, said Mary Fan, a University of Washington law professor. The grant program in question is the main source of federal criminal justice funding to the states and local jurisdictions. Any states or cities that challenge the new requirements are likely to argue that enforcement of immigration laws — which generally fall under civil, not criminal, statutes — is not reasonably related to criminal justice funding, she said.

“The overarching purpose of the grants is to prevent and control crime,“ Fan said. “That’s a very broad rationale, and it gives the Trump administration more room to argue that the condition is reasonably related to the purpose of the money. The administration has made clear that in its view, undocumented immigration is associated with crime.“


►  U.S. poised to hit Venezuela with more sanctions

U.S. officials say the Trump administration is poised to hit Venezuela with new sanctions amid widespread unrest ahead of weekend elections that would lead to a rewrite of the country’s constitution.

The officials said the sanctions to be announced by the White House later Wednesday would target senior current and former government and military officials as well as some linked to Venezuela’s state oil company. The officials were not authorized to discuss the sanctions publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The sanctions will include asset freezes and travel bans.

In a tweet, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said 13 people would be affected by the sanctions. Rubio has been a strong proponent of sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian government and its crackdown on the opposition.


►  Ex-Interior Secretary Jewell blasts Trump’s monument review

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell blasted Donald Trump’s review of two dozen national monuments Wednesday, calling it a move that is out of step with what Americans want that puts the Republican on the wrong side of conservationist history.

Jewell spoke to attendees of the nation’s largest outdoor retail trade show being held this week in Salt Lake City. She said Trump should be reviewing what public lands are deserving of new protections, not trying to reverse measured decisions by past presidents to safeguard areas that include ancient cliff dwellings, towering sequoia trees, deep canyons and ocean habitats where seals, whales and sea turtles roam.

“Trump is playing games with our public lands, treating the monuments like they are contestants on a game show,” said Jewell, who served as Interior secretary in the administration of President Barack Obama. “But the consequences, as you know, are real and devastating and create uncertainty for businesses and uncertainty for residents.”

Trump ordered the review based on the belief by him and other critics that a law created by President Theodore Roosevelt that allows presidents to designate monuments has been improperly used to protect wide expanses of lands instead of places with particular historical or archaeological value. Monument designations protect federal land from energy development and other activities.

The final report from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is due next month, but he has already recommended that the new Bears Ears National Monument on tribal lands in southern Utah be downsized. Zinke has also said three monuments in Colorado, Idaho and Washington will be left alone and removed them from the review.

Jewell said among the problems with the review is that she doesn’t believe presidents have the legal authority to change national monuments. Only Congress can do that, she argued.

That question is set to be dealt with by the courts if Trump goes forward with trying to shrink or rescind monuments.

Jewell, who was the CEO of the outdoor recreation retail company REI before becoming Interior secretary, implored outdoor recreation companies to stand up for public lands and flex the muscle of an industry that says it generates $887 billion in consumer spending.

Jewell said she was hesitant to give her first major public speech since she left her post in January at the Outdoor Retailer show, but she decided she need to speak out “thoughtfully, respectfully and factually” after giving the Trump administration several months to get their footing.

“We have very real threats facing the public lands we love so much,” Jewell said. “Trump is putting himself on the wrong side of history. If he acts to revoke national monuments, he will go down was one of the most anti-conservation president in the history of this nation.”

She spoke during the first day of what will be the final Outdoor Retailer show in Utah after two decades of calling Salt Lake City home. The twice-yearly expos have generated an estimated $45 million in annual direct spending to Utah.

The show moves to Denver next year after spurning Utah over Republican state leaders’ stiff opposition to the Bears Ears National Monument and their ongoing push to take more control of federal public lands.

Show organizers thanked Salt Lake City for helping the expo grow from about 5,000 people at the first show in 1996 to about 29,000 last summer and for giving the burgeoning industry a place to gather to share ideas and figure out how to amplify their political voice.

But they also stood firm behind the decision to leave Utah for Colorado. The industry is united in its support for public lands, said Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer show director.

“It’s about doing what is right,” Nicholson said. “It’s about open spaces and getting outside; action over words.”

Some expo attendees wore hats and T-shirts being sold with the phrase “This land is your land.” Hundreds are expected to participate in a march Thursday to the Utah state capitol. The march is organized by industry officials to show support for preserving public lands.

Jewell said the show’s decision to leave for Denver sends a powerful message to Utah leaders who believe they know best how to manage all lands in the state.

“We’ve got to wake these guys up to recognize that the assets that they are blessed within Utah drive an important part of their economy,” Jewell said. “A lot of people are sad to be leaving Salt Lake City, and I think the city has done great things for the show. But the same cannot be said for the state, the governor and the congressional representatives who spend a lot of time speaking out against public lands.”


►  Woman injured after fall from Delaware amusement park ride

A woman has been hospitalized after falling from a ride at a boardwalk amusement park in Delaware.

WXDE reported that the 49-year-old woman suffered lacerations to her head and complained of pain on her left side. The incident occurred Monday evening at Funland in Rehoboth Beach.

Funland said its insurance company is reviewing the situation. It had no further comment.

More details about the incident were unavailable. The condition of the woman was also unavailable.


►  University professor charged with keying her neighbors’ cars

A Pennsylvania professor known for her expertise on consumer trends has been charged with keying her neighbors’ cars.

Bridgeville police say Duquesne University professor Audrey Guskey told them she gets upset when others park their vehicles in front of her residence.

Police have charged the marketing and communications expert with criminal mischief. They say she scratched four cars with a key and caused more than $10,000 total damage in June. Police mailed Guskey a summons instead of arresting her because of her cooperation.

Police say a neighbor grew suspicious after several cars were damaged and set up a camera that captured Guskey damaging his girlfriend’s car June 17.

Guskey didn’t immediately respond to an email Wednesday. She doesn’t have an attorney listed in court records.

International News

The Free Press WV

►  Fires force evacuation of 12,000 in 3 French Riviera towns

French authorities ordered the evacuation of up to 12,000 people around a picturesque hilltop town in the southern Cote d’Azur region as fires hopscotched around the Mediterranean coast for a third day Wednesday.

A raging wildfire began late Tuesday in the dry Mediterranean forests around La Londe-Les-Maures before being pushed by the southern Mistral winds to Bormes, a tourist magnet with houses clustered on a hill surrounded by dense forests of scrub and trees.

The local Var Matin newspaper reported that 12,000 people were forced to take refuge in gymnasiums and other places, including thousands of campers. It said some people sought safety on local beaches.

Col. Eric Martin of the Var firefighting unit said Wednesday on BFM-TV that nearly 600 firefighters were trying to contain the flames that had run through 1,300 hectares (3,210 acres) around.

Four tracker planes and a fire-fighting aircraft were sent in as thick black smoke billowed above the skyline.

The airport in Toulon, a city 30 kilometers (18 miles) from La Londe, was briefly closed on Wednesday, as well the Fort de Bregancon, which sits on a rock off the coast of Bormes.

The wildfires began raging along France’s Mediterranean coast on Monday, forcing smaller, scattered evacuations with flames reaching a corner of Saint-Tropez. Since noon Tuesday, French firefighters had conducted about 100 operations.

Further east, reinforcements were sent in to battle a blaze in Artigues that burned up to 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) of forest.

Another fire was contained Tuesday evening in La Croix Valmer after burning two villas, seriously injuring one firefighter and devouring about 500 hectares (1,235 acres).

France’s Mediterranean coast is particularly vulnerable to fires, with its massive back-country forests, often dry in the summer, and Mistral winds blowing across the sea to fan the flames. Smoke from the fires blew across bays on the picturesque coast, frightening some. But firefighters warned against panic — and unnecessary phone calls. No injuries have been reported among residents and vacationers.

Further south, flames ate through 2,000 hectares (4,950 acres) of forest on the northern end of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, in what was the largest blaze in France.

Summer fires, propelled by high temperatures, winds and drought — and often caused by careless humans — are not new to Europe. Both Portugal and Italy were also battling blazes.

Almost 1,700 firefighters supported by 17 water-dropping aircraft were tackling wildfires in Portugal, where every summer large areas of woodland are scorched. The Portuguese Civil Protection Agency says emergency services have brought more than 20 forest blazes under control as high winds calmed during the night.

The worst fires were around the town of Macao, 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon. Deputy mayor Antonio Louro said the fires have caused “catastrophic” damage to the livelihoods of farmers, many of who work in the region’s pine and eucalyptus forests.

In Italy, where fires have raged for weeks, firefighters responded to 26 requests for water and fire retardant air crops on Tuesday, throughout central and southern Italy, including Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Lazio and Puglia.

The Coldiretti agriculture lobby said 50 billion bees were destroyed along with their hives in fires on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Coldiretti said another 20 percent of the bee population is estimated to have become disoriented and died as a result.


►  Poor visibility hurts wildfire fight in Portugal

The Latest on wildfires in southern France and Portugal (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

Emergency services in Portugal are getting no respite from wildfires that are charring wide areas of forest — and the huge billowing clouds of smoke they are generating are making visibility too poor to use water-dropping aircraft.

More than 2,300 firefighters with more than 700 vehicles are battling 13 blazes. The flames are being driven by powerful winds across steep hillsides of dense pine and eucalyptus forest Wednesday.

The worst-hit areas are in the center of Portugal, 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon. The fires briefly forced the evacuation of some hamlets there and the closure of a section of the A23 highway.

Portugal’s peak fire season, which usually occurs after July 1, began early this year amid a severe drought. Last month, 64 people died in a wildfire.

___

3:50 p.m.

More than 2,000 firefighters are battling nine major wildfires in Portugal, where drought conditions, high temperatures and strong winds are fueling the flames.

Almost 1,000 other firefighters are conducting mopping-up operations at 37 other Portuguese woodland blazes Wednesday.

Ash floated in the air and vast plumes of smoke covered areas of central Portugal, in the area around Serta, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon. The Civil Protection Agency said 24 water-dropping aircraft were in action.

Serta is close to Pedrogao Grande, where 64 people died in a wildfire last month. No injuries have been reported in recent days as the blazes raced through thick eucalyptus and pine forests.

Large wildfires are a common occurrence in summer in Portugal, where thousands of firefighters are on duty in the summer months.

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3 p.m.

Albania’s interior ministry says that some 130 firefighters are battling 18 fire spots around the country Wednesday.

Spokesman Ardian Bita says fires are blazing in five western and central districts, damaging 15 hectares (37 acres) of pastures, vineyards and dozens of olive trees.

Firefighters, military personnel and local authorities have been fighting about a dozen wildfires every day in Albania since the end of June. No injuries have yet been reported.

Authorities have arrested several people accused of starting fires.

“Compared to a year ago we have increased public awareness and have also had better communication with the communities and local authorities,” said Bita.

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1:50 p.m.

Wildfires are burning across swaths of central and southern Italy, aided by the region’s drought and high temperatures, but authorities say most have been caused by arson.

Civil protection authorities said they responded Tuesday to 26 requests for water and fire retardant airdrops throughout central and southern Italy, including in Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Lazio and Puglia.

There were no reports of imminent threats to population areas on Wednesday.

The fires have been raging for weeks, causing periodic evacuations and devastating large areas of forest and pasture. The Coldiretti agriculture lobby says 50 billion bees were destroyed along with their hives in fires on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Coldiretti said another 20 percent of the bee population is estimated to have become disoriented from the smoke of the fires and died as a result.

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12:30 p.m.

Firefighters have stepped up their battle against flames lapping at Mediterranean forests in the picturesque French hilltop town of Bormes-Les-Mimosas, where at least 10,000 people were evacuated.

Col. Eric Martin, of the firefighting unit in the Var region of the Cote d’Azur, said on Wednesday that nearly 600 firefighters were trying to contain the flames that had run through 1,300 hectares of Bormes, a magnet for tourists in southeastern France. At least 3,000 of the evacuees were campers.

The Bormes blaze was morphing into the largest in the area. Firefighters also were fighting a large blaze in nearby La Londes-Les-Maures.

The Toulon airport to the west was briefly closed.

Numerous blazes have been hopscotching along the Cote d’Azur since Monday.

___

11:30 a.m.

Almost 1,700 firefighters supported by 17 water-dropping aircraft are tackling wildfires in Portugal, where every summer large areas of woodland are scorched.

The Portuguese Civil Protection Agency says Wednesday that emergency services have brought more than 20 other forest blazes under control as high winds calmed down during the night.

The worst fires were around the town of Macao, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Lisbon, where deputy mayor Antonio Louro said the damage to livelihoods of local farmers was “catastrophic.”

Many people in the area make their living from the local pine and eucalyptus forests, which are bone dry after months without significant rainfall.

More than 70 percent of Portugal is enduring a severe drought.

___

9:30 a.m.

The top official of France’s Var region on the Mediterranean coast says that 10,000 people were evacuated as blazes hopscotching around the Riviera tore through the town of La Londe-les-Maures.

The prefecture said in a statement on Wednesday that a violent fire took off just before 11 p.m. the night before, and 540 firefighters were sent in to the region.

The statement said that some 10,000 people — about 3,000 of them campers — were evacuated from La Londe and nearby Bormes and La Lavandou.

Four tracker planes and a fire-fighting aircraft were sent in. About 800 hectares of back-country forest had burned by morning.

Fires began raging along the coast on Monday, forcing smaller, scattered evacuations with flames reaching a corner of Saint-Tropez.


►  Burundi’s exiles call world’s attention to deadly crisis

Burundi-born Eric Ndayisenga and his friends in exile religiously listen to a radio station that urges liberation from the deadly political violence back home. One day the report brought grief instead.

His sister Zainabu and a friend had been found dead, stabbed and their throats slit, in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.

Ndayisenga believes his sister’s fate would have been unknown if not reported by the station linked to the Forebu rebel group, supported by exiles who press the international community to act on Burundi’s crisis.

Hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled the small East African nation in the two years since President Pierre Nkurunziza set off protests by declaring he would seek another term. After the armed forces put down an attempted coup, he won election amid alleged revenge killings and the unrest has continued.

The country returned to the spotlight this month when six Burundian teenagers disappeared after an international robotics competition in Washington. It remains unclear why they acted, but the director of a school that sent two of the teens said it’s likely because life is hard at home.

Other Burundian exiles are trying to build opposition to Nkurunziza, highlighting crimes they say are committed by the security forces and armed groups loyal to the government. In the rebel-backed radio known as MbohozaGihugu, which means “liberate the country,” some exiles say they have found a voice.

In Kigali, the capital of neighboring Rwanda where the exiles feel safe, scores of Burundians set up a bar in whose dark corners they meet regularly to follow broadcasts. Though it appears that a once-serious threat to oust Nkurunziza has fizzled, they hope to isolate the president by rallying international opinion.

“Every struggle has its risks and this is the right time to pay that price and chase away Nkurunziza,” Ndayisenga said.

The online activist group iBurundi, with over 18,000 followers on Twitter, says the focus is on “showing government abuses.” Though the shootings and bomb blasts that once characterized life in Bujumbura are fewer now, “repression continues in a stealth way,” the group told The Associated Press.

Many non-governmental organizations that once monitored government activities have been suspended or have seen leadership flee into exile, said Yolande Bouka, an independent analyst now based in the United States.

The international community recently expressed alarm about videos showing pro-government youth militia members singing about impregnating the regime’s opponents and comparing the opposition to lice.

Burundi’s government vehemently denies allegations it tortures and kills its critics, and says it is the victim of propaganda by its opponents in exile.

Nkurunziza rose to power in 2005 following the signing of the Arusha accords ending a 13-year civil war that killed about 300,000 people, then was re-elected unopposed in 2010 after the opposition boycotted the vote. He said he was eligible for a third term in 2015 because lawmakers, not the general population, had chosen him for his first term, while critics called the move unconstitutional.

His decision to run again plunged Burundi, a poor country that exports mostly coffee and depends heavily on foreign aid, into fresh turmoil.

The European Union and former colonizer Belgium have since cut some aid. But there is a sense that the international community has accepted Nkurunziza’s extended stay in power, Bouka said.

The president has largely retreated from public view in the capital and spends many days touring rural provinces. A visit to Tanzania this week was his first trip outside Burundi since the failed coup attempt of May 2015.

The country’s unrest has come with warnings of a return to the government-backed ethnic violence that once led to civil war.

Many Burundians abroad believe Nkrurunziza, an ethnic Hutu, is purging some army officers, mostly ethnic Tutsis, allegations repeated in a report this month by the International Federation for Human Rights. The Paris-based group collaborated with local groups to report alleged detentions, killings and disappearances of hundreds of Tutsi army officers.

Tutsis make up 14 percent of Burundi’s 11 million people; most of the rest are Hutus. According to the Arusha accords, Tutsis should hold 40 percent of posts in the government and the national assembly, as well as 50 percent of all seats in the Senate and the military. Observers say that is not the case.

“Soldiers are being tortured or killed because many are against the violation of the Arusha (accords),“said Maj. Lambert Nyongera, a former army officer who says he disobeyed an order in 2015 to shoot into a crowd of protesters.

Nyongera, an ethnic Tutsi now exiled in Congo, joined the Forebu rebel group and is one of the architects of MbohozaGihugu, which says it receives information from sympathizers still serving in Nkurunziza’s government.

Its broadcasts —distributed via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp — include teachings on the Arusha accords, seen as a blueprint for sharing power between Tutsis and Hutus.

On the streets of Bujumbura many people remain anxious, with some noting more police patrols and others describing a climate of fear.

“We cannot say there is security in our country while people disappear or are kidnapped,” said resident Diomede Bukuru. “Two months ago a relative of mine was taken by unknown persons. We’ve searched in police and intelligence custody but we did not find him. Our relative Augustin till now is missing. So for me there is no security.”


►  Britain to ban sale of new diesel and gasoline cars by 2040

Britain will ban the sale of new cars and vans using diesel and gasoline starting in 2040 as part of a sweeping plan to tackle air pollution that experts say is feasible, if ambitious.

The government announcement Wednesday follows similar moves in France and Norway and comes amid a global debate on how quickly electric and hybrid cars can replace internal combustion engines. Traditional engines running on diesel and gasoline are still popular with consumers as they’re relatively cheap and do not face some limits of electric cars, such as a limited range.

But with the technology for electric and hybrid cars improving, governments are trying to set long-term goals to help guide the investments of automakers and, ultimately, consumers’ choices.

Britain’s government said it would put up 255 million pounds ($326 million) to help local communities address diesel pollution. The measures are part of a clean air strategy that authorities published only days before a deadline mandated by the High Court. The money is part of a 3 billion pound effort to clean up the air.

The government plan includes the consideration of a targeted scrappage scheme for drivers who need support and to provide an incentive to switch vehicles. It also aims for “almost every car and van on the road to be a zero emission vehicle by 2050,” the government said in its overview of the program.

Frederik Dahlmann, an assistant professor of global energy at Warwick Business School, described the plans as “ambitious but realistic.”

“I am confident enough that the industry will be able to respond within that timeline,” he said.

It would, however, require significant investment in in the infrastructure, such as a network of charging stations, that is required to make electric and hybrid vehicles more widely popular. Another point of focus is improving batteries so that they last longer.

While carmaker Volvo has committed to switching to only selling electric and hybrid cars within two years, most major manufacturers say that traditional engines will remain an important part of their sales for years.

On Wednesday, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that diesel engines can help lower overall carbon dioxide emissions because they emit less than gasoline cars. Environmental activists note, however, that diesels emit more nitrogen oxide, which is harmful for people’s health.

So far, growth in electric and hybrid vehicle sales has been strong, but from a low base.

Analytics company IHS Markit estimate that sales of internal combustion engines are expected to fall from 17 million vehicles in 2015 across the EU to about 12 million in 2025, which would still make up a significant portion of cars on the road.

Meanwhile, sales of electric and hybrid cars are expected to increase from about 350,000 in 2015 to 1.85 million by 2025.

West Virginia Rosie the Riveters to be Honored in Glenville

The Free Press WV

The four women on the left – Emily Withers, unknown, Nora Jones and Ruby Coberly - all temporarily left West Virginia during WWII to work at the Glenn L. Martin Aviation plant in Baltimore.

The mother of Senator Sue Cline (right) joined them there to produce thousands of aircraft that allowed the allies to win the war. 

Other West Virginia women worked at defense plants in Akron, Pittsburgh and throughout the nation

Gilmer County girl scouts have done bell-ringing events for them in the past.

Now a permanent monument to the “West Virginia Rosies” is being planned for unveiling Veteran’s Day in Glenville in November.

The public is invited and more information will follow.

This photo was taken recently in Charleston where 19 living Rosies were celebrated by Thanks! Plain and Simple, the WV organization that honors the women who were so vital in that victory.

Natural Gas Production Up for A 13th Straight Year in West Virginia

The Free Press WV

Although the price of natural gas has been low for several years, production in West Virginia continues to grow stronger.  The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association reports for a 13th straight year, production increased in West Virginia, setting a new all time high in each of those years.  The increase for 2016 is only about 2.5 percent, but according to Association Executive Director Anne Blankenship, that’s still a positive.

“That is all due to the investments made in this state and the advancements in technology which allow our drillers to produce natural gas more efficiently,” she said on Tuesday’s MetroNews Talkline.

Improved technology allowed for increased gas production without drilling additional gas wells.  The industry looked at those developments as positive since they reduce the footprint of the industry and its environmental impact.  But, according to Blankenship while West Virginia is seeing increased production, the level of increase pales in comparison to neighboring states.

“The disappointing part is we’re not increasing nearly as much as Ohio and Pennsylvania. ” Blankenship said. “Both of those states have mineral efficiency laws in place.  Ohio has pooling.  Pennsylvania has joint development and co-tenancy. Ohio saw a 43 percent increase in 2016.  Obviously they are doing something right there that we don’t have here.”

The legislature gave the gas industry a cool reception to those mineral efficiency proposals during the 2017 Regular Legislative Session, but Blankenship said despite failure of the legislation, progress was made and the industry hoped to keep up the momentum in next year’s session.

“There’s always a lot of education that needs to be done,” she said. “This is not a ‘taking of property rights’ it is a ‘basic majority rules’ concept so we can be in line with surrounding states.”

Blankenship added the lack of any of those efficiency laws along with a relatively high severance tax causes West Virginia to be viewed unfavorably by companies considering drilling in the Mountain State.  Many simply choose to cross the state line and set up according to her.

“We have nothing in place to deal with the inefficient manner in which we are having to produce right now,” Blankenship said. “That’s affecting our ability to bring in companies willing to drill in West Virginia.”

Judge Orderes EQT to Show Formulas Used in Royalty Payments

The Free Press WV

A Judge has ordered EQT to produce the documents and formulas its royalty owners have asked for in a dispute dating back to 2013.

The suit, filed four years ago by the Kay Company LLC and other lessors, accused EQT of improperly deducting post-production costs from their royalty payments.

EQT had been ordered by federal Magistrate Judge James Seibert to produce the information, despite the company’s characterization of the request as “unduly burdensome.“ EQT also contended the data was “protected work product.“

But U.S. District Judge John Bailey affirmed Seibert’s ruling in a 13-page order filed July 18. In it, Bailey noted that EQT had claimed there are “so many individual types of lease language that a class is improper and unmanageable.“

“This court is not totally convinced that the resistance is meritorious in that West Virginia has limited the categories of leases,“ Bailey wrote, pointing out the lessors were “seeking information as to how (EQT) classifies the numerous leases in the payment of royalties.“

“These attempts have been thwarted or delayed by the actions of the defendants,“ Bailey wrote. “For example, when asked about a list by which the defendants determine how to pay royalties to the various lessors, (EQT) took the position that such a list did not exist or that the list was work product. This court found such a position untenable.“

Bailey cited the transcript from the magisterial proceeding, in which Siebert had asked the lawyers who, at EQT, makes a mathematical calculation on how to pay and was told, “they look at it lease by lease.“

“Finally, after over four years, someone has admitted that they have two or more formulae for calculating royalty payments,“ Bailey wrote. “As a corollary, therefore, the defendants have to have a list as to which leases are determined by which formula.“

EQT’s legal team could not be reached for comment.

ETC.

The Free Press WV

  • Trump’s Boy Scout Speech Bashed Obama, Praised Yachting, Reignited the War on Christmas  That’s at least three merit badges.    ESQUIRE


  • Concussion Research to Focus on Female Athletes:  It’s not just a man’s problem. Extensive research in recent years has yielded impressive, albeit disturbing, findings on the correlation between contact sports and concussions. But until now it’s focused almost exclusively on men. New research examining the effects of concussions on female athletes suggests they may be at even greater risk, due to higher physical susceptibility to injury and slower recovery time. Definitive answers are far off, but scientists making a concerted effort to study both genders — whether in mice or MMA fighters — could get ahead of the issue.    NPR


  • College Tuition Hikes Are Finally Slowing:    It’s about time. College tuition spiked by an average of 6 percent each year between 1990 and 2016, but now that trend is decelerating, with 2017 clocking a mere 1.9 percent increase. While demographic trends play a role — the number of 18- and 19-year-olds has declined by 7 percent since 2009 — a stronger economy and increasing unskilled jobs are luring prospective students away, prompting colleges to keep prices competitive. Yet with the class of 2025 poised to be the biggest ever, it’s unclear whether the trend will continue.      Quartz


  • Company Offers Employees Microchip Implants:  That’ll get under your skin. Three Square Market, a vending kiosk company in River Falls, Wisconsin, has announced it will offer free microchipping to employees at a “chip party” August 01. About 50 are reportedly taking the company up on the offer to have an implant between their thumb and forefinger that will facilitate logging into computers, opening doors and buying snacks. The company’s CEO says the implants will have no GPS tracking. Supporters say it’s basic biohacking, but others have voiced concerns about privacy and the potential for coerced chipping.  The Verge


  • Trump cuts $213m from teen pregnancy prevention programs:    “This month, 81 institutions around the country received a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It said that federal funding that they’ve been getting for teen pregnancy prevention programs and research is going away. HHS quietly pulled the plug on a five-year grant program started under President Obama, a loss of more than $213 million.”    NPR


  • Meet the mothers being deported by the Trump administration.   Federal officials claim they are focusing their roundups of undocumented immigrants on those who have committed crimes or who pose a threat to public safety. In truth, the recent roundups also have taken in “a considerable number of women who have no criminal records and who are either the primary caretakers of young children, or the primary family breadwinners, or both.” Here are the stories of four such women.    The New Yorker

  • A veteran ICE agent, disillusioned with Trump, speaks out against the wave of arrests.  The New Yorker

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  Trump shows the Boy Scouts how to start a political fire

No knot-tying demonstrations. No wood-carving advice. Donald Trump went straight to starting a fire in a speech at a national Boy Scout gathering.

Parents, former Scouts and others were furious after Trump railed against his enemies, promoted his political agenda and underlined his insistence on loyalty before an audience of tens of thousands of school-age Scouts in West Virginia on Monday night.

“Is nothing safe?” Jon Wolfsthal, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, saying Trump turned the event into a “Nazi Youth rally.”

Trump, the eighth U.S. president to address the Scouts’ National Jamboree, was cheered by the crowd, but his comments put an organization that has tried in recent years to avoid political conflict and become more inclusive in an awkward position.

The knot-tying was left to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who said on Twitter that his stomach was in knots over the president’s over-the-top delivery.

“If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t,” Murphy said. “It’s downright icky.”

The Boy Scouts’ official Facebook page was barraged with comments condemning the speech. Several people posted links to the Scouts’ policy on participation in political events — which sharply limits what Scouts should do. Boy Scouts are typically 10 to 18 years old.

One woman wrote in disbelief that the Scouts started booing when Trump mentioned Obama.

Trump noted from the podium that Obama did not personally attend either of the two national Jamborees during his tenure. (Obama did address the 2010 gathering by video to mark the Scouts’ 100th anniversary. The Jamboree is typically held every four years.)

The pushback from Americans over the speech included members from both parties.

“I just don’t think it was appropriate,” said Rob Romalewski, a Republican and retired information-technology expert from suburban New Orleans who attained the rank of Eagle Scout as a teenager and has worked with the Boy Scouts all his adult life.

“It just doesn’t seem like he was talking to the boys,” Romalewski said. “He was more or less just using it as an excuse to babble on.”

Nancy Smith, a Democrat and elementary school teacher in Utica, Michigan, said she won’t encourage any of her six grandchildren to enter Scouting. Smith is asking for an apology from the national group.

The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement after the speech that it does not promote any one political candidate or philosophy. The organization did not immediately respond to questions about the blowback.

Trump kicked off his speech by saying, to cheers from the boys, “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?” Yet much of what he had to say next was steeped in politics.

Trump began to recite the Scout law, a 12-point oath that starts with a Scout being trustworthy and loyal.

“We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,” said the man who is alleged to have asked fired FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of loyalty.

In his speech, Trump also jokingly threatened to fire Health Secretary Tom Price — an Eagle Scout who joined him on stage — if lawmakers do not repeal and replace Obama’s health care law. He called Washington a “swamp,” a “cesspool” and a “sewer.” He repeatedly trashed the media, directing the crowd’s attention to the reporters in attendance.

In one aside, he told the boys they could begin saying “Merry Christmas” again under his watch. In another, he talked about a billionaire friend — real estate developer William Levitt — who sold his company, bought a yacht and led “a very interesting life.”

“I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did,” Trump teased. Then he said he had run into the man at a cocktail party. The moral of Trump’s tale was that Levitt “lost momentum,” something he said they should never do.

Levitt is often considered the father of postwar American suburbia, founding communities such as Levittown on New York’s Long Island, but was criticized for refusing to sell to blacks.

In the past few years, the Boy Scouts have retreated from the culture wars, dropping their ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders, and have tried harder to recruit minorities.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and co-founder of Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit group that has pushed to end discrimination against gay and transgender people in Scouting, said Trump’s remarks “really harmed the Boy Scouts’ ability to do that work, which is all about serving America.”

“The wrong speech at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Wahls said.


►  Historian speaking during Fort Henry commemoration

A historian and author will speak during the events commemorating the 240th anniversary of the first siege of Fort Henry and the 235th anniversary of the second siege.

Allan Spencer will present “War Process of Native American Warriors at Fort Henry.”

Spencer provides demonstrations at historic sites to try to show how Eastern Woodlands Native Americans lived and has researched and written on the culture.

The event is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling.

The Wheeling chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Fort Henry chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution are co-hosting the yearlong program.

Spencer’s presentation is free and open to the public.


►  Man charged with setting West Virginia woman on fire

A California man suspected of lighting a West Virginia woman on fire has been arrested.

Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston Police Department tells local media that 34-year-old Carl Tramane Magee III was arrested Monday on charges that include attempted murder.

Cooper says the victim was asleep on her porch Sunday morning when Magee poured gasoline on her and lit her on fire. The woman suffered extensive burns and was taken to a hospital for treatment. Police say the victim is in critical condition.

Cooper says video from a neighbor’s surveillance camera shows Magee going up to the porch with a gas can and a fire igniting.

Police say Magee admitted to attempting to light another person on fire a short time later.

It’s unclear if Magee has an attorney.


►  Virginia woman admits stealing hospital patient information

A Virginia woman accused of taking hospital patients’ information has pleaded guilty to identity theft.

Forty-one-year-old Angela Roberts of Stephenson, Virginia, entered the plea Monday in federal court in Martinsburg.

Roberts admitted using someone else’s personal information to commit bank fraud in June 2016 in Berkeley County, West Virginia. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to her indictment, Roberts obtained names, Social Security and driver’s license numbers and other sensitive information from the patient database of her employer, WVU Medicine University Healthcare in Martinsburg.

Another defendant, Ajarhi Roberts of Stephens City, Virginia, is accused of using that information to open credit card and other financial accounts in the patients’ names. The Roberts aren’t related.


►  Trump jokingly threatens to fire Price if health vote fails

Donald Trump on Monday jokingly threatened during a speech to thousands of Boy Scouts to fire his health secretary if a crucial vote to repeal “Obamacare” fails.

During a speech unlike any most of the crowd had heard at a Scout function before, Trump mixed a traditional message to Scouts of encouragement about loyalty, service to others and never giving up, with mentions of fake news, former President Barack Obama, a replay of how Trump won the election, fake polls, and how Washington is a swamp, or even worse “a cesspool or sewer.” Some in the crowd broke into chants of “USA, USA.”

Trump told more than 40,000 Boy Scouts, leaders and volunteers at a national gathering in West Virginia that Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price “better get” the votes to begin debate on health care legislation Tuesday, lest Trump repeat his tagline from “The Apprentice,” the reality show he once starred in.

“Hopefully he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare,” Trump said, before turning to Price.

“By the way, you gonna get the votes? He better get ’em,” Trump said, adding: “Otherwise, I’ll say: Tom, you’re fired.”

The comment drew laughs from the crowd and Trump gave Price a friendly pat on the shoulder, suggesting he’d been joking. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she’d taken the comment that way as well.

Trump spoke at the National Scout Jamboree, and told them early: “Who the hell wants to speak about politics in front of Boy Scouts?”

But he couldn’t help himself as he shifted to themes in his typical stump speech from campaign days, with occasional references to scouting. It was clear that politics was very much on his mind.

Earlier he had earlier urged Republicans to make good on their promise to repeal and replace Obama’s signature health care bill, tweeting that, “Republicans have a last chance to do the right thing on Repeal & Replace after years of talking & campaigning on it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to call a vote Tuesday to begin debate on the legislation, though the outcome of the crucial roll call seemed an uphill climb.

Trump also singled out West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who has expressed reservations about the Republican health care bill.

“You better get Senator Capito to vote for it,” he told Price, adding: “You gotta get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time.”

Later, as he recited parts of the Scout oath, he paused at the word “loyalty.”

“We could use some more loyalty, I’ll tell you that,” he mused.

Trump is the eighth president to attend the National Scout Jamboree, which is typically held every four years. Obama did not attend during his two terms, although he addressed a 100th anniversary event in 2010 by video.

Each U.S. president serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America, and the organization said in a statement that it does not promote any political candidate or philosophy.

Trump said that 10 members of his Cabinet were Scouts, including Mike Pence. The president introduced to the stage Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Scout who dressed in uniform, and also brought out Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Price.

“Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C., you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all that,” he said.

He said he would instead focus on inspiring the Scouts.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to the group on Friday. The organization is honoring Tillerson, an Eagle Scout himself, with the development of the Rex W. Tillerson Leadership Center at the West Virginia summit site.


►  When he travels, Trump favors states that voted for him

Donald Trump surveyed the crowd of thousands of Boy Scouts at their summit Monday and assessed, “There’s a lot of love in this big, beautiful place. And a lot of love for our country.” He singled out for affection West Virginia, a state that gave him his largest margin of victory in November.

“What we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted to make America great again,” he said as chants of “USA!” broke out among the Scouts, most of whom were too young to vote.

It’s a message that only works in Trump-backing corners of America. As president, he’s been drawn again and again to those comfort zones, while largely avoiding states where voters chose his Democratic opponent, a review by The Associated Press found.

Of his 33 domestic trips out of Washington, he’s set foot in non-Trump voting states only seven times other than to stay at his own golf property in Bedminster, New Jersey. The AP’s count does not include the president’s frequent day trips to his nearby Virginia golf course. He also has not journeyed too far, traveling west of the Mississippi River only once and so far dodging the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Trump’s quick Monday trip to West Virginia and his campaign rally planned Tuesday evening in Ohio follow that same pattern.

Trump tweeted early Tuesday: “Will be traveling to the Great State of Ohio tonight. Big crowd expected. See you there!”

Over the weekend, the president visited Norfolk, Virginia, to help commission the Navy’s USS Gerald R. Ford air craft carrier. Other stops in pro-Clinton states have been similarly brief and focused, including two for commencement addresses.

Far more common have been his sojourns to Trump country, where he can heap praise on voters without caveats.

He told thousands of fans at a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, arena last month that they were bound by common values, including love of family and country. “With that deep conviction in your hearts,” he said, “you showed up on Election Day, November 8th, and voted to put America first.”

To a crowd in Louisville, Kentucky in March, he mused, “We’re in the heartland of America, and there is no place I would rather be than here with you tonight.”

Brendan Doherty, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval Academy who studies how presidents spend their time, said it’s noteworthy that Trump is sticking to places that like him — a break from how Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush shaped their first-year travel schedules.

Both, particularly Bush who won a nail-biter election and, like Trump, lost the popular vote, spent time in states they’d narrowly lost. Bush also traveled to states he’d decisively lost, while it took Obama more time to expand his travel itinerary to deep-red, or Republican-leaning, states.

Bush hit the road extensively in his first six months, making 62 domestic trips to places other than Maryland and Virginia, according to Doherty’s records. Obama made 55 such trips, his records show.

“It’s imperative for the president to be seen as president of all the people,” Doherty said.

Trump is also blazing a different trail by holding events that are more like general pep rallies than specific policy pushes. At his five political rallies this year, Trump revived his 2016 campaign trail style, disparaging perceived opponents, cheering his record and antagonizing the media. He hasn’t zeroed in on any policy themes or chosen his locations based on what he’s trying to accomplish as president.

For example, Trump hasn’t appeared in Nevada, a state he narrowly lost in November, even though its Republican senator is seen as crucial to passing Trump-backed health care proposals.

“The people in Nevada and especially the Republicans here would be excited to have the president come out here,” said Carl Bunce, chairman of the GOP organization in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. “If Trump were to visit, it would be a tremendous help to organize teams on the ground throughout the county and state.”

White House officials rejected the idea that Trump is only staying on friendly turf and noted that two of the states he’s visiting this week — West Virginia and Ohio — are home to senators pivotal to the health care vote. The upcoming rally is in Youngstown, Ohio, a county Trump lost in November’s election.

“The president has had an incredibly robust schedule, and it reflects the accomplishments and promises he’s made on issues like immigration, the economy and health care,” said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.

Although Trump’s base of support remains strong, other Americans have not warmed up to him. An ABC News/Washington Post survey at his six-month mark showed he had a 36 percent approval rating, the lowest at that point for any president in at least 70 years of polling. Both Obama and Bush had approval ratings hovering above 50 percent at the six-month mark of their first years.

Doherty said that a broader domestic travel agenda wouldn’t necessarily help Trump’s overall bottom line when it comes to approval. But he said local media coverage in the places a president visits tends to be positive, meaning he could strategically boost his appeal.

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