GIANT WV ENCYCLOPEDIA ON-LINE FREE – Mapping Features Upgraded
The publishing of the West Virginia Encyclopedia in 2006 was a major effort, involving 600 writers, editors and graphic artists.
The 944 page book, which sold well, covered 2,118 subjects.
The WV Humanities Council placed it on-line for free reading and research at wvencyclopedia.org
The Council is updating the articles and adding new features to the site, and now a mapping feature has been upgraded to make maps more interactive and more article-specific.
The West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey in Morgantown provided a $21,094 grant for the project.
West Virginia Humanities Council says in a news release that the upgrade has expanded the encyclopedia’s mapping capabilities for educators, students, librarians and the public.
The council launched the encyclopedia in 2010. It contains 2,300 articles, multimedia, quizzes and an opinion poll. The million-dollar project, mostly funded in part by the state, has actually made money.
- Tax reform hearing delayed in the House: “A hearing on the House Republicans’ border adjustment proposal to tax imports and exempt exports had been expected on April 27 … But under committee rules, hearings have to be announced one week ahead of time, and no hearing had been officially put on the books as of 8 p.m. Thursday.” The Hill
- One “bad apple” cop can ruin the lives of countless citizens: A point illustrated by a recent police misconduct case in Georgia. The Atlantic
- Art of the deal? : “…administration officials’ hopes of giving Donald Trump a win during his first 100 days, such as border wall funding or a crackdown on sanctuary cities, have complicated what had been a relatively smooth, bicameral, bipartisan negotiation, according to staffers in both parties.” Politico
- ACA success is dependent on decisions by the states: “…the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, are not uniformly failing, as Mr. Trump likes to claim. Instead, they have risen or fallen in no small part because of political and policy decisions by each state. New Mexico embraced the law and its marketplace has been healthy, while Oklahoma resisted at every step and its marketplace is foundering.” NYT
► Obama’s Surgeon General Has Been Asked to Resign
The Trump administration has relieved Dr. Vivek Murthy of his duties as US Surgeon General, the AP reports. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services says Murthy was asked to resign after “assisting in a smooth transition” under Trump. Murthy was a holdover from the Obama administration.
Murthy’s deputy, Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, is serving as acting surgeon general and leader the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps until the Senate confirms a replacement. Her previous positions include being a nurse officer in the US Army. Health department spokesperson Alleigh Marre says Murthy will remain a member of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Murthy says on Facebook that he was humbled and honored to serve. He says serving was the “privilege of a lifetime.“
► Videos Show NY Judge Walking Alone for Hours Before Death
Security cameras around Manhattan captured the final hours of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s life as authorities continue trying to piece together what happened to the first African-American woman to sit on the New York Court of Appeals, the Los Angeles Times reports. Prior to the discovery of the videos, the last sighting of Abdus-Salaam, who was found dead in the Hudson River April 12, was at 10am April 11, according to the New York Daily News. She had told her assistant she was sick and not coming into work. The videos show her walking quickly alone in sweats and sneakers—by all appearances she could be exercising. The New York Times reports the videos show Abdus-Salaam walking for hours in Riverbank State Park. The last video is her standing by the water’s edge shortly after midnight April 12.
While police have labeled Abdus-Salaam’s death suspicious, they still believe it’s most likely she killed herself, saying she was possibly depressed or distraught about the deaths of her mother and brother, which occurred around the Easter holiday in recent years. But Abdus-Salaam’s husband says she wasn’t suicidal and wouldn’t have killed herself. And while signs point to the 65-year-old judge being alive when she went into the Hudson River, she did have bruises on her neck. Authorities say she may have been choked in the hours or days before she died. However, it’s possible the bruises were created when her body was removed from the river. The medical examiner’s office still hasn’t issued a cause of death.
► Authorities: Please Don’t Perform Liposuction in Barns
Michigan authorities say a doctor may have endangered patients and the public by performing liposuctions in a pole barn, the AP reports. Health officials said they learned from Allegan County sheriff’s investigators that the doctor was performing the procedures in the building in the town of Glenn. Allegan County Health Officer Angelique Joynes warned people Friday to seek immediate medical care if they had surgery at the site and show any signs of infection such as fever, redness, and swelling.
The health department says the building doesn’t have a certificate of occupancy and isn’t approved “for any business activities.“ The Sheriff’s Department expressed concern that the doctor may not have followed appropriate biohazard standards. A complaint has been filed with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
► We’re Spending $50M to Resettle 1K Desert Tortoises
The mission: to airlift 1,156 desert tortoises to a place where there’s no threat of being flattened by tanks. The Marines are this month moving the reptiles out of a corner of California’s Mojave Desert where the Corps will soon begin extensive live-fire training, the Los Angeles Times reports. Packed up two per plastic bin, the hubcap-sized creatures are being loaded into helicopters and flown 25 miles away to federal lands beyond the Marines’ Twentynine Palms base northeast of Palm Springs. Their new home is far enough away to keep tortoises from wandering back into the line of fire when the Marines begin “longer and more involved” training exercises this summer that the Press-Enterprise reports will better position them to carry out missions in “global hot spots.“
Operation Desert Tortoise doesn’t come cheap: Its $50 million price tag covers everything from the 125 biologists USNI News describes as setting out to locate, examine, and box up the tortoises to an agreed-upon 30 years of monitoring. The Marines have been pushing for this move since 2008, an effort complicated by the tortoises’ “threatened” status. Environmentalists threatened to sue, citing the harm that taking away 100 square miles of habitat might do, but the Times reports the program got final approval after the US Fish and Wildlife Service said it couldn’t finish its review before the spring relocation window closed. A biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity expressed concerns there might not be adequate food in the new habitat.
► Teen Who Disappeared After Prom Dies in Car Crash
The Idaho teenager who disappeared following his prom—and was later charged with running away from home—died in a car crash Wednesday, bringing a sad end to a week of headlines. KBOI reports the driver of a Chevy Tahoe was speeding when he lost control of the car and rolled it down a small embankment. The driver had to be extracted from the car, according to the Spokesman-Review. The driver was identified as 17-year-old Kristian Perez, whose death was confirmed by a nurse at an area hospital. Deputies say Perez had taken his parents’ Tahoe without permission. Deputies had been called regarding a possibly suicidal person prior to the crash.
Perez was reported missing by his mother Friday night when he didn’t return home after his prom. He was found early Tuesday voluntarily staying at the home of a 26-year-old man. Running away from home is a crime in Idaho, and Perez was arrested, charged, and released.
► ‘White Privilege’ Shows Up in New Profile of Rachel Dolezal
If you haven’t tired of hearing about Rachel Dolezal—the woman who was born white but now identifies as black— Ijeoma Oluo has penned “The Heart of Whiteness,“ a new piece for the Stranger that Jezebel calls “so good we never have to think about [Dolezal] again.“ Oluo flew out to Spokane, Wash., to interview Dolezal, who just published a new memoir and now calls herself Nkechi Amare Diallo, a fact that rubs Oluo the wrong way (Nkechi is her Nigerian-born sister’s name) before they even meet. But Oluo decides to give the story a go, meeting in her subject’s home for a conversation that ends up evolving into an often uncomfortable, sometimes cringeworthy exposé on Dolezal’s thoughts on race appropriation, authenticity, and what Oluo calls “The Question”: “How is her racial fluidity anything more than a function of her privilege as a white person?“
Oluo has to note she’s “a black woman ... who writes about race and culture for a living” when Dolezal exhibits a “dismissive and condescending attitude” toward blacks with different views of blackness from her own, which Dolezal chalks up to a lack of education on their part. Oluo muses whether it “isn’t blackness that Dolezal doesn’t understand but whiteness,“ taking her to task for the fact that she was first drawn to the concept of blackness when she saw images in National Geographic as a kid—“representations,“ Oluo says, that were “crafted by white supremacy.“ Oluo soon realizes Dolezal is just caught up in a system that’s not new. “She will haunt me no more and simply blend into the rest of white supremacy that I battle every day,“ Oluo writes. Her compliment for Dolezal: “She is, in all honesty, a very talented painter.“ Oluo’s piece, including an uneasy exchange over taking Dolezal’s picture.
► He Handed Over Some Rope, Spent 40 Years in Prison
David Goodwin has been in prison in Florida for 40 years for his role in the 1977 quadruple homicide known as the “Sandy Creek murders.“ For 32 of those years, his fiancée has been patiently waiting for his release. The day is finally about to arrive. Goodwin, 70—who was on death row until his sentence was changed to life upon appeal in 1981—was granted parole Wednesday and will leave Everglades Correctional Institute in Miami on May 2, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. Especially ecstatic is Wanda Pate, 82. Pate, whose daughter is married to Goodwin’s younger brother, began exchanging letters with Goodwin several years after his incarceration. She later visited him in prison, where the two fell in love, though she hasn’t seen him in six years.
On January 23, 1977, Goodwin was among a group smuggling marijuana onto a Bay County beach; it was part of an FBI sting designed to nab a high-profile drug smuggler, and the agency used an informant to staff the operation. Goodwin was one of those recruits and was there when four witnesses came upon the group. One was immediately shot dead, while the three others, including two teen girls, were tied up and executed more than a hundred miles away, per the Panama City News Herald. Though he didn’t pull the trigger, and wasn’t near the scene of the later deaths, per WJHG, Goodwin handed over the rope used to bind the victims. (The prosecution alleged he also tied them up.) Goodwin was convicted of first-degree murder for aiding in the killings. Says Pate: “I know he didn’t do [the murders] and that’s the thing that kept me going with him.“
In The World….
► Marches for Science Hit Cities Around the World
Tens of thousands of scientists, students, and research advocates rallied from the Brandenburg Gate to the Washington Monument on Earth Day, conveying a global message of scientific freedom without political interference and spending necessary to make future breakthroughs possible, the AP reports. “We didn’t choose to be in this battle, but it has come to the point where we have to fight because the stakes are too great,“ said climate scientist Michael Mann. Thousands of marchers rallied in Washington DC. They were joined by hundreds in places like Gainesville and Nashville. Rallies and marches were set for more than 500 cities.
Lara Stephens-Brown joined thousands marching in St. Paul, the AP reports. They chanted “hey hey, ho ho, we won’t let this planet go.“ There are cancer survivors and doctors with signs that say “science saves lives,“ she said. “Science is not a partisan issue,“ she said. “Science is for everyone, and should be supported by everyone in our government.“ Kathryn Oakes Hall pinned a sign to the back of her T-shirt as she made her way to the march in Santa Fe, New Mexico: “Nine months pregnant, so mad I’m here.“ “I’d rather be sitting on the couch,“ she said. But she marched anyway because she worried about her baby’s future in a world that seems to consider science disposable.
► More Than 100 Killed, Injured as Taliban Storms Army Base
The Taliban has dealt Afghanistan’s army what appears to be a very heavy blow inside one of its own bases. Officials say more than 100 Afghan soldiers were killed or injured when Taliban militants attacked a base outside the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Friday, the BBC reports. Some military sources put the death toll as high as 134. Military officials say 10 attackers, including two suicide bombers, entered the base driving army vehicles and wearing military uniforms before attacking soldiers inside a mosque during Friday prayers. Officials say the ensuing firefight lasted for hours, with troops struggling to distinguish soldiers on their side from attackers.
The base is home to the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army, which is tasked with providing security across a large area of northern Afghanistan, the AP reports. “The attack on the 209 Corps today shows the barbaric nature of the Taliban,“ Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led force in the country, said in a statement, per the Washington Post. “They killed soldiers at prayer in a mosque and others in a dining facility.“ The Taliban said four of the attackers were soldiers who knew the base well and had changed sides. The group denied attacking the mosque, saying soldiers were targeted in their barracks.
► What Happens to ISIS Babies When Their Parents Die
Hundreds of children fathered by the Islamic State’s foreign fighters or brought to the self-proclaimed caliphate by their parents are now imprisoned or in limbo with nowhere to go, collateral victims as the militant group retreats and home countries hesitate to take them back. One young Tunisian orphan, Tamim Jaboudi, has been in a prison in Tripoli, Libya, for well over a year, the AP reports. He passed his second birthday behind bars and is nearing another, turning 3 on April 30. His parents, both Tunisians who left home to join ISIS, died in American airstrikes in Libya in February 2016, according to the child’s grandfather, who is trying to win the child’s return. “What is this young child’s sin that he is in jail with criminals?“ he asks.
Tamim now lives among two dozen Tunisian women and their children in Tripoli’s Mitiga prison, raised by a woman who herself willingly joined ISIS. Last week, an unofficial Tunisian delegation went to negotiate for the children, only to be turned back by the Libyans because it did not get permission prior to the visit; a Wednesday visit was cancelled, too. Although ISIS says women have no role as fighters, France in particular has detained women returnees and some adolescent boys who it believes pose a danger. Young children often go into foster care. While it is unclear how many children were born in ISIS territory in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, a snapshot of the group at its height showed as many as 31,000 women were pregnant at any given moment.
► Divers Made Decision That Prevented Certain ‘Suicide’
A wise decision by two expert divers saved both of their lives, though one of them had to hold tight for 60 hours, 130 feet below the surface, experiencing hopelessness and hallucinations. The BBC reports on the extraordinary ordeal of Xisco Gracia, who was diving with a partner Saturday off of Spain’s island of Mallorca when an equipment malfunction left the two with just enough air for one person to make it back up top. Instead of sharing what oxygen was left—what a member of the local underwater police tells the National Post would’ve been “suicide”—Gracia, in his 50s, and Guillem Mascaro decided Mascaro would take what was left in Gracia’s tank and venture for help. Gracia remained behind in a cave’s air pocket they found (the Post describes it as a sizable one, measuring about 40,000 square feet) with only “brackish” water to drink.
The air heavy with carbon dioxide, Gracia started imagining “lights or bubbles”; his oxygen-deprived brain made him think at one point five days had passed (it hadn’t even been two) and Mascaro hadn’t made it. Rescuers did actually get near Gracia fairly quickly on Sunday, but visibility was so bad (the water dark like “cocoa”) they had to briefly pull back so they wouldn’t get lost underwater. They even tried to drill a hole through the rocks so they could get food and water to him, but that effort was unsuccessful. Eventually, however, they found Gracia about half a mile from the cave’s entrance, and the Weather Network shows a video of him emerging onto land Monday night around midnight on his own two feet, assisted by rescuers. He says he still plans on diving again.
My brother was killed in a tragic accident 12 years ago. He had made clear that when he passed away, he wanted no viewing and that he wanted to be cremated. Those wishes were carried out just as he wanted.
The problem is that his two children, who are grown adults, have chosen to not have contact with me for whatever reason they seem to deem appropriate. I have had my brother’s ashes in my home office, sitting on a shelf, all these years.
Some time ago, I sent a text to both my niece and my nephew regarding spreading their father’s ashes, with an idea of where they could be released. His daughter fired back at me in a text that went on and on, blaming me for anything and everything she could. It was straight out of left field. My nephew thanked me for contacting him and said not to do anything until he got back in town. (He was on a trip.)
Then their mother, my brother’s ex-wife, fired back at me with threats and curse words. I blocked my niece and her mother so they couldn’t send any more vile words to me.
I sent out a text to my nephew and asked him nicely to arrange a date and time for him to come and pick up the ashes. I did not get a response. I received a text from a cousin of mine stating that if I did not hand them over, he would never speak to me again. Well, he hasn’t spoken to me since, but no one will respond when I ask for someone to pick the ashes up!
What should I do now? Should I take it upon myself to release them? This is absolutely heartbreaking, and my brother would hate what is going on with his ashes. I am open to doing whatever would be in everyone’s best interest, but I do not know what that is. So could you please let me know what to do now? — Ashes to Ashes
Dear Ashes: Without knowing all the details here, I can’t offer any insight into your relatives’ oddly aggressive (or, in your nephew’s case, passive) behavior. Regardless, the smartest course is to deliver these ashes to your nephew as soon as possible. The United States Postal Service offers the only legal method of shipping cremated remains. Visit the USPS website or call your post office for guidelines about how to prepare, package and ship ashes.
I am writing in response to the woman who was sexually abused in past relationships and is afraid to enter into another serious relationship because of her fear it would have to involve sex. My heart goes out to this woman because I know how she feels.
My mother died when I was very small. My brother and I were sent to live at our grandmother’s, where we were subjected to sexual abuse. That experience left me both physically and mentally scarred. I never dated anyone until I met the man who became my husband. My husband knew going in I had this baggage – and a more wonderful man never lived. He has never forced me to do anything I’m not comfortable with, and we have been able to enjoy each other sexually in other ways. He has never complained. He has just been patient and loving and understanding.
There are men out there who would be like my husband and treat this poor woman gently and compassionately. She just needs to be honest and upfront about her past. If a man really loves and cares for her, it will not matter. I pray she finds the right man. They are out there. — Found Compassion
Dear Found: Thank you for sharing your hopeful story. I’m sure it will bring others comfort.
My 7-year-old son was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder last year. Before then, my husband and I thought for a while that he just had “a lot of energy’‘ and had trouble grasping some things in school, like all kids at some point or another. But he started falling behind significantly, to the point where classmates were calling him stupid. (Don’t even get me started on those kids.) My poor son’s self-esteem just plummeted, and he began getting easily frustrated with his work. Since the diagnosis, we’ve tried putting him on a low dosage of medication. It’s made a world of difference. He is not only following along in school but also able to hold an actual conversation with us and his peers and stay on task. Previously, when I would ask him to brush his teeth before bed, on his way to the bathroom, he’d find a new Lego to unpack and then go to the kitchen pantry to see about a snack.
The problem is that my husband also has ADD, and after a few months of this success, he just told me he no longer wants our son to take the medication. He feels that our son is too “robotic,‘’ and he doesn’t want to “drug him up.‘’ I don’t blame him for his reservations; he spent a few years as a teenager trying different medications, and virtually every one produced difficult side effects. He has lived his life without medication. (Don’t get me started on that, either.) I feel that staying on this track is the best for our son and that my husband is projecting his experience on our son. Do you see a compromise here? Or is this a no-brainer? — Concerned Mom
Dear Concerned: No way is this a no-brainer. Decisions involving children and medication are often complicated and always require careful consideration. Every case is different, and I can’t say for sure what the best choice for your son is. I would recommend that you go to a licensed therapist whom you and your husband agree on and seek his or her professional opinion on the matter.
Your advice to “Tired and Exhausted’‘ – whose son is struggling with addiction – was good but incomplete. As a parent of two people who were addicts for a very long time (both are sober now), I’d like to recommend Learn to Cope. This is a wonderful support group started by Joanne Peterson in 2004, and it has over 7,000 members. Though it is based in Massachusetts, the organization holds meetings in several locations, and its website alone is a wealth of information. (Check it out at www.learn2cope.org.) Anyone who joins (it’s free) can post questions and receive great peer support. “Tired and Exhausted’‘ could also call 508.738.5148 to speak to a member of the Learn to Cope staff. — Mom Who’s Been There
Dear Mom: Thank you for sharing. I had not heard of this organization, but I’ve made a note of it for future reference.
And in case Learn to Cope doesn’t have a meeting in your area, I’d again like to mention Nar-Anon Family Groups. It is a terrific organization offering support for anyone who loves someone who suffers from addiction.
Weekend Marches: “Facts Matter” For Drug Policies
Drug policy should be based on facts, not fear. That’s one of the messages scientists, academics and their allies will be taking to Washington, D.C., today.
Responding to the rise of “alternative facts,“ the National March for Science is being promoted as a call for policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.
According to Julie Netherland, director of academic engagement for the Drug Policy Alliance, drug policy too often is driven by fear and misinformation rather than science and facts.
“It’s why we’ve seen things like the disastrous ‘War on Drugs,‘ and a lot of punitive policies that have had absolutely no effect in their stated goals of reducing drug use,“ she explained.
With overdose deaths rising in West Virginia and around the country, scientists are arguing for treating drug addiction as a health issue rather than a crime.
Advocates fear a new emphasis on “law and order” in the Trump administration may roll back recent progress toward treating drug use as a public-health issue.
As an example, Netherland notes that during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump called for a national “stop-and-frisk” program.
“So, there are a lot of concerning signs that they are going to head in the wrong direction, just at a time where we’re making real gains to have a drug policy that was more based in research and science,“ she said.
New York City’s “stop-and-frisk” program targeted mostly young Black and Latino men and arrested thousands for nonviolent drug offenses.
Rather than law enforcement, Netherland believes the United States should embrace what she calls “a harm reduction approach” to drugs, including safer injection facilities where addicts have a clean environment with access to treatment.
“Those are interventions that have been used in Canada and Europe, and have shown to reduce overdose deaths, to reduce the transmission of blood-borne diseases, and have a host of really positive outcomes,“ she added.
~~ Dan Heyman ~~
Tree Trimming Program Has Begun
Mon Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has renewed its enhanced tree trimming program, moving into the third year of a multi-year plan designed to help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages associated with storms.
Since the beginning of the year, tree contractors have trimmed more than 1,100 miles of distribution and transmission lines in the Mon Power area as part of the company’s approximately $72 million vegetation management program for 2017. An additional 3,400 miles expected to be completed by year end. The work is done to help maintain proper clearances around electrical equipment and help protect against tree-related outages.
Launched in mid-2014, the enhanced tree trimming program focuses on trimming trees near distribution lines in rural areas and along transmission lines to enhance service reliability. The enhanced program involves trimming trees ground to sky, which helps reduce the risk of overhanging limbs getting into electrical equipment and causing outages.
“Three years into our enhanced vegetation management program, our customers are experiencing fewer tree-related outages as we have trimmed more than 1 million trees along 14,000 miles of electric lines to the new ground-to-sky standards,” said Holly Kauffman, president of FirstEnergy’s West Virginia operations. “In the areas where the new trimming specifications have been used, there have been 33 percent less tree-related outage minutes compared to the 2013 baseline before the program started. We expect the favorable trend to continue as more miles are trimmed to more rigorous specifications.”
The initial cycle length for tree work under the enhanced program is five years, ending in 2019. Cycles in future years will be determined after the results of the initial work are evaluated.
Mon Power will conduct tree trimming in or near the following counties and communities before the end of the year: Barbour — Arden, Belington, Tacy; Braxton —Heaters, Servia; Gilmer — Sand Fork; Harrison — Clarksburg, Shinnston, Stonewood; Lewis — Jane Lew, Weston; Marion — Fairmont, Winfield; Monongalia — Cheat Lake, Granville, Morgantown, Wadestown, Westover; Preston — Hazelton, Masontown, Reedsville; Randolph — Elkins, Mill Creek, Pickens; Ritchie — Cairo, Ellenboro; Taylor — Pruntytown, Flemington; Upshur — Century, Rock Cave.
- 5 reasons Earth Day is more important now than ever: Saturday marks the 47th annual celebration of Earth Day, and it’s estimated that over 1 billion people will participate in various Earth Day festivities. This year’s celebration can serve as a reminder of the major environmental crises across the planet. The World Health Organization says 1.8 billion people around the globe are forced to drink water contaminated with feces and that 9 out of 10 people live in countries with excessive air pollution. MIC
- WV Supreme Court sides with Frontier in internet speed dispute: Frontier Communications customers dissatisfied with their internet speeds and service won’t get their day in court. The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Frontier customers must settle ... GAZETTE-MAIL
- Why college administrators aren’t judges and shouldn’t pretend to be: The Obama administration’s push to require colleges to take a tougher approach to allegations of campus sexual assault likely won’t survive the Trump administration. There are several court challenges on the way which could derail the new Title IX guidance. A California case illustrates the gulf between the constitutional requirements of due process in criminal cases and the less formal, often contradictory, process students may receive. Politico
- Crimefighter Jeff Sessions is about to hurt crime victims: His decision to close the National Commission on Forensic Science will lead to more wrongful convictions and less closure for those who want cases solved accurately and for good. The Crime Report
- Trump demands border wall funding to keep government open: “[Budget director Mick] Mulvaney told The Associated Press in an interview that ‘elections have consequences’ and that ‘we want wall funding’ as part of the catchall spending bill … [He] also said that the administration is open, though undecided, about a key Democratic demand that the measure pay for cost-sharing payments to insurance companies … ‘We have the leverage and they have the exposure,’ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told fellow Democrats on a conference call…” AP
Did You Know?
The next quarterly meeting of the West Virginia Natural Resources Commission is scheduled for Sunday, April 23, 2017, at 1 p.m. at North Bend State Park in Cairo, West Virginia.
The public is invited to attend and make comments. Items on the agenda include:
- Public Comment
- Summary of the 2017 Sectional Meetings – Sportsmen and Landowners Questionnaire
- Proposed State Park Deer Hunts
- Approve 2017 Big Game Hunting Regulations
- Review Proposed 2018 - 2019 Hunting and Trapping Regulations
- Review Proposed 2018 Fishing Regulations
In West Virginia….
► State Gets $5.9M to Help Fight Drug Addiction
West Virginia will receive $5.9 million from the federal government to help fight drug addiction.
U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins and Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin announced the grant Thursday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The funding is aimed at preventing prescription drug addiction and improving access to treatment and recovery services.
A total of $485 million in grants are being awarded to all 50 states. It’s the first of two rounds of funding made possible by the 21st Century Cures Act, which Congress passed in December.
Funds were awarded based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet needs for opioid addiction treatment. West Virginia has the nation’s highest drug overdose death rate by far, with 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, the latest year available.
► New Law Boosts Penalties for Fatal Child Abuse
Parents or guardians who cause the death of a child in West Virginia will face tougher penalties under a law signed by the governor.
Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 288, known as “Emmaleigh’s Law,“ into law Wednesday. It sets a sentence of 15 years to life for fatal child abuse caused by a parent, guardian, custodian or other person allowed by the parent to commit the abuse.
The law is named after 10-month-old Emmaleigh Barringer, who died October 05 while under the care of her mother’s boyfriend, Benjamin Ryan Taylor. He’s accused of sexually assaulting and killing the girl.
Senator Mitch Carmichael says the baby’s death prompted petitions to lawmakers to increase the penalties for similar crimes.
Taylor is scheduled to go to trial August 08.
► Kroger makes cash donation to Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway
Kroger recently presented a check for more than $10,000 to the Mountaineer Food Bank.
The funds came from donations made by customers and Kroger associates in coin boxes at Kroger stores in West Virginia.
“Kroger customers and our associates are faithful donors to the Food Bank because they know their contributions will make a difference in the fight against hunger,” said Allison McGee, spokeswoman for Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division.
Mountaineer Food Bank supports 500 programs in 48 counties in West Virginia. The Food Bank will use the money to buy food to be distributed to pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, day care centers, after school programs, back pack programs and seniors centers, said Chad Morrison, executive director of the Food Bank.
In West Virginia, more than 15 percent of the population does not have enough food or access to the right kinds of food for a healthy diet, said Morrison. “These families live day-to-day and often have to make a choice between healthy foods and living expenses,” he said. “One in six people will visit a food pantry, soup kitchen or other feeding program this year.”
Kroger has been “our partner in the fight against hunger for many years,” Morrison said. “We are grateful for Kroger’s ongoing commitment to involve employees, customers and suppliers in a united effort to make a difference in the lives of thousands of Mountaineers every day.”
► University Approves Agreement for Purchase of Buildings
West Virginia University officials have approved an agreement that allows a nonprofit group to purchase several buildings at a southern West Virginia campus.
KVC Health Systems, which specializes in behavioral health care and child welfare, plans to convert the WVU Tech campus in Montgomery into a college specifically for children transitioning out of the foster care system, giving at-risk young adults a chance to earn two-year degrees at no cost to them.
WVU said in a statement that its board voted Friday to approve the agreement. KVC will have a 25-year lease that begins in July. By the end of the lease, it will have purchased the buildings for $9.4 million.
West Virginia University is moving WVU Tech’s operations about 40 miles south to Beckley by this fall.
► Ex-Legal Aid Clinic Manager Sentenced in Fraud Case
The former office manager of a legal aid clinic in Charleston has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for embezzling more than $1.5 million over 12 years.
Fifty-five-year-old Kim Cooper of St. Albans was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Charleston for her guilty plea to wire fraud and tax evasion.
Cooper oversaw daily operations at the Mountain State Justice office, including bank deposits. The nonprofit provides civil legal services to low-income West Virginians.
Prosecutors say Cooper admitted secretly establishing a separate bank account in the nonprofit’s name, deposited checks for attorneys’ fees, then moved money to a private bank account for personal use starting in 2004.
She used the funds to pay rent, make car and credit card payments and for other personal expenses.
► Governor Justice Orders Flags Lowered In Honor Of Delegate Fredrik Eric Nelson, Sr.
Governor Justice has issued a proclamation ordering that State flags at the Capitol Complex and on All State-owned facilities throughout Kanawha County be displayed at half-staff from dawn to dusk, Saturday, April 22, 2017, the day of services for former West Virginia Delegate Fredrik Eric Nelson, Sr.
► Arkansas Executes Inmate After 5-4 Supreme Court Vote
After 12 years and hundreds of hours of legal battles, the state of Arkansas has successfully taken a man’s life. Ledell Lee, a convicted murderer who had been on death row for more than 20 years, was executed late Thursday after the US Supreme Court decided not to intervene, CNN reports. Prison officials say the 51-year-old inmate, who denied killing 26-year-old Debra Reese in 1993, requested Holy Communion as his last meal and declined to make a final statement. Neil Gorsuch voted with the majority in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to allow the execution to proceed, reports the New York Times. Lee, whose death warrant expired at midnight, took 12 minutes to die and was pronounced dead at 11:56pm.
Arkansas had planned to execute eight inmates before the end of April, but court decisions spared the first three men and put the execution of a fourth in doubt, the AP reports. The ACLU and the Innocence Project had called for post-conviction DNA testing in the case of Lee, who was also convicted of two rapes and suspected of a second murder. In the attack Lee was executed for, Reese was sexually assaulted before being hit 36 times with a tire-thumping tool that her husband, a truck driver, had given her to protect herself with when he was on the road. Her son, Joseph Lucky, was six years old when she was killed. At Lee’s final clemency hearing, Lucky called him “the embodiment of evil,“ THV11 reports.
► Trump Intervened to Free U.S. Prisoner in Egypt
In what appears to be a major foreign-policy victory for Trump,a freed Egyptian-American charity worker is back in the US after the president personally intervened in the case, officials say. Aja Hijazi, a 30-year-old US citizen who had been detained in Egypt for nearly three years, flew from Cairo to Washington with her family Thursday in a US government aircraft sent by Trump, the Washington Post reports. Hijazi, her husband, and four colleagues at a foundation to help street children had been jailed on what US authorities say were false charges of child abuse and human trafficking. Officials say the acquittal of all six on Sunday came weeks after Trump became involved in Hijazi’s case.
Trump was criticized for not raising Hijazi’s case when Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi visited the US early this month, but officials say that before the visit, the administration quietly secured a promise to release her. After being briefed on the case, Trump “just said, ‘Let’s bring her home,‘“ an insider tells the New York Times. Administration officials contrast what they call Trump’s “discreet diplomacy” with the approach of former President Barack Obama, who publicly called for Hijazi’s release but did not invite al-Sissi to visit the US. Hijazi and family members are scheduled to meet with Trump, daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner at the White House Friday.
► Trump Inspires GQ’s List of Best New Restaurants
While the rest of us were taking in Donald Trump’s inauguration, GQ‘s Brett Martin was zipping around the US visiting restaurants that had opened in the last 18 months. But not just any new restaurants. Martin chose to check in on restaurateurs who were born outside the US or were the children of immigrants, and “dedicate” his resulting 10 Best New Restaurants list to them. “These are times in which it seems that everything that should go without saying needs to be said—among them that the very qualities of pluralism currently under attack are what make our eating more exciting than ever before,“ he writes. His resulting list has its roots in places as varied as Israel, Korea and Sweden. Among them:
Click to read about some of Martin’s favorite dishes at the full list of 10 restaurants.
► Old Chat With Manning May Be New Trouble for Assange
The Justice Department has long viewed Julian Assange as a menace, but it might soon officially view him as a criminal. Federal prosecutors are preparing criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder in order to seek his arrest, reports CNN. The possibilities range from the most serious one of espionage to lesser ones such as theft of government property, reports the Washington Post. Top officials such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions must still sign off on any charges, and that hasn’t happened yet. The Obama White House also considered criminal charges against Assange after his group published classified information obtained by Chelsea Manning, but ultimately decided against it on freedom-of-the-press grounds. But now prosecutors think they can make the case that Assange went beyond the role of mere publisher.
That argument hinges on something that came up during Manning’s court martial, notes the Post: the revelation that Manning and Assange chatted about a password-cracking technique. “I think their only realistic hope is some conspiracy charge based on WikiLeaks’ involvement in the actual hacking, not just publishing the results of the hacking,“ says a former Justice Department official. Another potential avenue to criminal charges is WikiLeaks’ alleged role in the hacking of US spy tools. On Thursday, Sessions said making arrests of leakers such as Assange is a “priority,“ reports the Guardian. That follows CIA chief Mike Pompeo’s blistering criticism. Assange, meanwhile, remains holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, and he recently wrote an op-ed in the Post arguing that WikiLeaks deserves the same protections as newspapers.
► This May Be Biggest Dismissal of U.S. Criminal Convictions Ever
Prosecutors in Massachusetts moved to throw out more than 21,000 drug convictions on Tuesday, five years after a chemist at the state drug lab was caught tampering with evidence and falsifying tests, the AP reports. The state’s highest court had ordered district attorneys in seven counties to produce lists by Tuesday indicating how many of approximately 24,000 cases involving Annie Dookhan they would be unable or unwilling to prosecute if the defendants were granted new trials. The ACLU said Tuesday night that 21,587 cases had been recommended for dismissal. It said that would be the largest dismissal of criminal convictions in US history. The cases would be formally dismissed by court action, expected Thursday, the ACLU said.
Dookhan pleaded guilty in 2013 to obstruction of justice, perjury, and tampering with evidence after being accused of falsifying her work as far back as 2004. Prosecutors said Dookhan admitted testing only a fraction of a batch of samples, then listing them all as positive for illegal drugs. Her motive, they said, was to boost her productivity and burnish her reputation. She was sentenced to three years in prison and was paroled last year. Many of the drug case defendants have already completed their sentences, though some probably remain in prison because of other charges not contaminated by the lab scandal. About 2,000 cases had been resolved before Tuesday.
► ‘Unspeakable Monsters’ Learn Fate After California Murders
When Audrey Carey met Morrison Lampley, Sean Angold, and Lila Alligood in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in October 2015, the Canadian backpacker thought she’d found new friends. “She trusted you, you three unspeakable monsters … And you stole her from me,“ her mother said in a statement read out in a San Rafael courtroom on Tuesday, per the San Francisco Chronicle. Both Lampley, 24, and Alligood, 19, had pleaded guilty to murdering 23-year-old Carey and later 67-year-old Steve Carter. During a preliminary hearing, Angold, 25—who took a plea deal in exchange for testimony against the pair, per NBC Bay Area—said the three were using marijuana, heroin, meth, and LSD leading up to their crimes, which began when they stole a handgun from an unlocked truck in San Francisco.
The group then befriended Carey with the goal of robbing her, Angold said. But after Alligood got her to the ground, Angold said he heard gunshots and Lampley told him, “She’s dead, dude. Don’t worry about it.“ Three days later, Lampley shot and killed Carter, whom the group had targeted for his station wagon, as he hiked with his dog in Marin County, Angold said. Authorities soon after tracked the vehicle to a soup kitchen in Portland, Ore., where the suspects were arrested. Lampley was sentenced Tuesday to 100 years in prison for first-degree murder. Alligod received 50 years but will be eligible for youthful offender parole in 25 years. Angold was given 15 years for second-degree murder. All three asked for forgiveness for their crimes, reports KRON.
► Turns Out, Millennials Aren’t Job-Hoppers After All
It seems to be a rite of passage that “young adults” in the US (classified as those between the ages of 18 and 34, per the US Census Bureau) take a bit of guff from the generations that preceded them. Millennials, ID’d by Pew Research as those born between 1981 and 1997, haven’t escaped this fate, but while many label the current younger set as simply hanging out “in the basement playing video games,“ as USA Today notes, that’s not quite the case. The Census Bureau released a population report Wednesday that looks back at the 18-34 demographic over the past four decades, comparing today’s young adults to those going back to 1975. “If one theme describes how adulthood has changed over the last 40 years, it is growing complexity,“ the report notes. A few notable trends stand out, and the internet is buzzing about them:
- Parents who dread an empty nest can relax, because the Kansas City Star notes your millennial boarders may not be going anywhere anytime soon. In 2005, just 26% of young adults still shacked up with Mom and Dad, but that number settled in at around 34% in 2015—a 30% spike in just 10 years.
- Per the Miami Herald, millennials seem to look more highly upon a good education than their predecessors, with 37% boasting at least a bachelor’s degree in 2016, compared with 23% in 1975. The extra schooling likely explains a drop homeownership among millennials, from 52% in 1975 to 29% today.
- You won’t find millennials starting families as soon as they’re done with that schooling, and women especially aren’t as eager to be relegated to homemaker roles as past generations, NBC Washington reports. Economic security comes before marriage—and while about 84% of young men are in the workforce (a number that’s stayed constant this whole time), that percentage has jumped from 50% to 70% for women since 1975.
- A separate study finds that the most popular brands among millennials are Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, and Nike, reports Bloomberg.
- Pew Research dispels the myth that millennials are flakes when it comes to holding down a job, pointing out that millennials in 2016 stayed at their jobs for five years or longer at around the same numbers as Generation Xers did when they were the same age—and actually outpaced Gen Xers by a few percentage points when it came to sticking it out with an employer for 13 months or longer.
- Adulting classes for millennials might not be necessary after all, then?
► As Weed Hits Mainstream, Businesses Brace for 4/20
April 20 wasn’t just a holiday for stoners: In a world where recreational marijuana is legal in eight states, it’s basically the entire Christmas shopping season rolled into a single day for pot businesses. “We’re just expecting to get slammed,“ the owner of a smoking room in Colorado tells CNN. One expert expects to see an increase in business of 30% to 40%, especially as some marijuana retailers are offering discounts of up to 50%. It’s no wonder Thursday is being called a “really good time to stock up” for potheads. Here’s what else you need to know about 4/20:
- There’s a lot of incorrect information floating around about the origin of the term “420.“ Mental Floss sets us straight, revealing that it started in 1971 with a group of California high-schoolers whose personal slang—referring to the time of day they met up to smoke—caught on with the Grateful Dead.
- But do we really need 4/20 as a rallying point anymore? That’s the question Rolling Stone asks as the legalization of weed goes mainstream. Snoop Dogg, for one, says yes, calling it one of his “favorite days.“
- Rolling Stone also has a list of the best country songs to play while smoking pot. Willie Nelson obviously makes an appearance.
- With the majority of Americans now believing marijuana should be legal, according to a recent poll, Quartz looks at where in the US you can get high without worry. (Hint: Go west, young pothead.)
- Gizmodo runs an old article explaining the science behind the munchies.
- Finally, the Stranger takes a look at “the booming world of $100,000 bongs.“ Basically, one could argue that if you’re going to spend a small fortune on a piece of art that won’t get you high, why not spend it on art that will?
► How Authorities Found Fugitive Teacher, Missing Student
The manhunt for fugitive Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins is over thanks to somebody who spotted his vehicle in a remote area on the other side of the country, authorities say. The 50-year-old was captured and 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas was taken into custody unharmed after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff’s office in Northern California’s Siskiyou County received a tip late Wednesday that a vehicle with no license plate that matched the description of Cummins’ 2015 Nissan Rogue was at a cabin in a rural area of Cecilville, near the Oregon border, ABC News reports. The caller said an adult male and a young female had been staying in the cabin for about a week.
Police set up a perimeter around the cabin after the call and arrested Cummins after he emerged around 9:30am Thursday, the Tennessean reports. Siskiyou Sheriff Jon Lopey says two loaded handguns were found inside. Cummins is being held without bond on a federal charge of knowingly transporting a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity and will be arraigned on Friday. Police say Thomas, who came out of the cabin as Cummins was being arrested, has been transferred to FBI custody and is being treated as a crime victim, the Siskiyou Daily News reports. TBI chief Mark Gwyn says Cummins was caught because they “mobilized a nation” to be on the lookout, and “you can’t hide from millions of people.“
► Complaint Lays Out Planning of Alleged Kidnapping
Elizabeth Thomas’ father says he believes his 15-year-old daughter was brainwashed by Tad Cummins, the former teacher accused of kidnapping her, the Tennessean reports. Cummins and Elizabeth were found this week at a cabin in northern California, weeks after they disappeared from Tennessee. While Anthony Thomas says he hasn’t had a chance to speak to his daughter yet—he hopes to soon—he says she is going to need therapy to recover from the ordeal. It remains unclear whether Elizabeth went with Cummins willingly, according to the New York Daily News.
Meanwhile, authorities say Cummins’ actions prior to going on the lam show he was planning on kidnapping Elizabeth, apparently for sexual purposes. According to a federal complaint, Cummins, 50, refilled his prescription for erectile dysfunction medication and made reservations for one-bed rooms at multiple Super 8 motels prior to kidnapping Elizabeth. CNN reports Cummins told his wife he needed to borrow her car for a (nonexistent) job interview and took out a $4,500 loan “to meet their financial needs.“ Cummins had been suspended from his teaching job for conduct with Elizabeth. The federal complaint also states Cummins bought chocolates and sexual lubricant at Walmart while on the run with Elizabeth.
In The World….
► Leaders of IMF and World Bank defend globalization
World finance leaders on Thursday defended globalization against an assault from Donald Trump and European populists. They argued that blocking free trade would hobble economic growth instead of saving jobs from foreign competition.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told journalists that freer trade and more openness were “critical for the future of the world.“
Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said that the answer to the wave of populism gaining support in many countries was to work for “more growth and better growth” in the world economy.
Lagarde and Kim spoke at the opening of three days of discussions among global finance leaders representing the 189 countries that are members of the IMF and its sister lending organization, the World Bank.
The spring meetings, which will also include discussions Friday among finance ministers and central bank leaders from the Group of 20 major economic powers, were likely to be dominated by talk over the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce America’s huge trade deficits, which Trump during the presidential campaign blamed for the loss of millions of good-paying factory jobs.
The United States will be represented at the meetings by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Trump tapped into a rising backlash against free trade during the campaign, pledging that he would impose punitive tariffs of up to 45 percent on countries such as China and Mexico which he blamed for pursuing unfair trade practices that were hurting American workers. While he had said that he would brand China a currency manipulator immediately on taking office, the administration sent Congress a report last week that found China was not manipulating its currency.
The Treasury report did put China and five other nations including Japan and Germany on a “monitoring list” which will subject them to increased consultations aimed at lowering their large trade surpluses with the United States.
The anti-globalization backlash has also shown up in Europe, playing a factor in last summer’s vote in Britain to exit the European Union, and also in the election campaigns in other countries including this Sunday’s vote for president in France.
Mnuchin spoke Thursday at a conference sponsored by the Institute of International Finance, an organization representing the world’s biggest banks. He said that the Trump administration’s view was that “what is good for the U.S. economy is good for the global economy” because stronger growth in the United States will have a spillover effect for other nations.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, speaking to a different Washington audience on Thursday, conceded that free trade was currently under attack in ways that could end up being harmful such as Britain’s move to leave the 28-nation European Union, a process that has been dubbed Brexit.
“For both sides this is not a good situation. It’s something like a lose-lose situation, not a win-win situation,“ Schaeuble said. “It must be clear that the rest of Europe stands together.“
To lift the U.S. economy to growth of 3 percent or higher, up from the 2 percent rates seen in recent years, Mnuchin said the administration was focused on getting tax reform through Congress and also getting rid of unnecessary regulations.
Mnuchin said the administration’s tax plan would be released “very soon.“ While Mnuchin had set a goal of getting it passed by the August recess of Congress, that goal has slipped. But he said that the administration still hoped to get a measure through Congress well before the end of the year.
Mnuchin is also working on proposals to overhaul the regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. He said he would have a report with recommendations to present to the president by June that would address “the major issues” in the drive to revamp the Dodd-Frank law.
Trump has backed away from some of his campaign threats on trade. But on Thursday, he ordered the Commerce Department to speed up an investigation into whether steel imports jeopardize U.S. national security — a move that could lead to tariffs on imported steel from countries such as Canada, Brazil and South Korea.
Lagarde said that the IMF and its member nations needed to “protect free, fair and global trade.“ In an interview Thursday with CNBC, Lagarde said that the goal of all nations should be to promote a level playing field in trade.
In his World Bank news conference, Kim said a recent study showed that of all the job losses that have hit industrial countries in recent years, at most only 20 percent could be blamed on increased trade competition. He said the biggest factor in the job losses was increased automation.
“My message is you’re not going to bring these old jobs back,“ Kim said. “Every country in the world has to think about how it’s going to compete in the economy of the future.“
► This Man Will Be One of Central Europe’s Last Hermits
“When I read about the Saalfelden hermitage, I thought to myself: that’s the place for me,“ says Stan Vanuytrecht. The mayor of the Austrian town, perched in the Alps, thought it was just the spot for Vanuytrecht, too. Vanuytrecht, a bearded, pipe-smoking Catholic deacon from Belgium, beat out 49 other applicants to nab the unpaid post as part-time hermit of the 350-year-old cliffside dwelling, which is without running water, heat, and internet, reports the Guardian. But Vanuytrecht couldn’t care less about the lack of amenities. The 58-year-old divorcee and former artillery officer says he’s previously lived in poverty and is looking forward to a life of solitary peace when he takes up his new post on April 30.
But Vanuytrecht won’t be too isolated during his seasons at the hermitage, open from April to November, as visitors are known to hike up for a chat and some counseling, per the BBC. Vanuytrecht, who speaks fluent German, says his experience working with the homeless, addicts, prisoners, and psychiatric patients will help him deliver meaningful advice. “It’s important just to listen without talking oneself and without judging,“ he says, per the Telegraph. Though Vanuytrecht adds he thought he “didn’t have a chance,“ Saalfelden’s mayor says he “radiates calm and comes across as well-anchored.“ Outside reports the job listing called Saalfelden home to one of the last “tenanted hermitages” in Central Europe.
► Freak Wave Turns Family Vacation Into Nightmare
A family in England is in mourning after a vacation turned into a horrifying fight for life that both the father and a toddler daughter ultimately lost. The Bruynius family had traveled from London to a resort in Cornwall and were fishing on rocks on the beach when conditions changed rapidly for the worse, reports Cornwall Live. As the mother, Lisinda, described it at an inquest this week, a wave hit them “out of nowhere” and sent them scrambling for safety up the rocks. But then a second wave struck, sending Lisinda, husband Rudy, and their 2-year-old daughter McKayla, still in her stroller, into the choppy waters below. Their two older boys made it to safety.
“Rudy had managed to get McKayla from the buggy and she was in his arms,“ recounts Lisinda. “I could hear Rudy screaming for help and I could hear the boys screaming for help.“ Rudy lost his grasp on their daughter, and when Lisinda managed to swim to him, he was unconscious and McKayla was nowhere in sight. All were pulled from the water by rescuers within 15 minutes, but Rudy died that night and McKayla four days later, reports the Guardian. A detective says waves went from 6 feet to 13 feet in a half-hour. Six people in total drowned around the coast that tragic weekend, reports the BBC. More than 1,800 people have donated about $64,000 to the Bruynius family on JustGiving.com.
► Germany: Bus Bomber Plotted to Tank Stock, Blame Muslims
A 28-year-old German-Russian citizen was arrested Friday in Germany on suspicion of bombing the bus carrying the Borussia Dortmund soccer team in an attack last week that prosecutors alleged was motivated by financial greed. A Dortmund player and a policeman were injured in the triple blasts last week as the bus was heading to the team’s stadium for a Champions League match against AS Monaco. Investigators found notes at the scene claiming responsibility in the name of Islamic extremists, but quickly doubted their authenticity, the AP reports. Prosecutors say the suspect, identified only as Sergej W., faces charges of attempted murder, causing an explosion, and serious bodily harm.
Prosecutors revealed that the suspect had bought a large number of so-called put options for shares of Borussia Dortmund. These would have entitled him to sell the 15,000 shares at a pre-determined price, which could have resulted in a substantial profit if their value had fallen in the meantime. “A significant share price drop could have been expected if a player had been seriously injured or even killed as a result of the attack,“ prosecutors said. The suspect had booked into the team’s hotel in Dortmund and placed three explosives, packed with shrapnel, along the route the bus would take to reach the stadium, prosecutors said.
► Russia Bans Jehovah’s Witnesses
Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating anywhere in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organization be considered an extremist group, the AP reports. The court ordered the closure of the group’s Russian headquarters and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property. The Interfax news agency quoted Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova in court as saying that Jehovah’s Witnesses pose a threat to Russians. “They pose a threat to the rights of citizens, public order, and public security,“ she told the court. Borisova also said Jehovah’s Witnesses’ opposition to blood transfusions violates Russian health care laws.
Yaroslav Sivulsky, a spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, said they are “greatly disappointed by this development and deeply concerned about how this will affect our religious activity.“ Jehovah’s Witnesses said they would appeal the ruling. Jehovah’s Witnesses claim more than 170,000 adherents in Russia. The group has come under increasing pressure over the past year, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia’s anti-extremism laws. Human Rights Watch criticized Thursday’s decision as an impediment to religious freedom in Russia. The rights group also expressed concern that if the ruling takes effect, Jehovah’s Witnesses could face criminal prosecution and punishment ranging from fines to prison time.
► Only One Way to ‘Stave Off Disaster’ in French Election
France votes Sunday in a presidential election further roiled by the fatal shooting of a police officer in an attack claimed by ISIS. On Friday, Trump tweeted that the shooting would “have a big effect” on the vote, without offering specifics. But the Washington Post points out that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has espoused anti-immigration sentiments similar to Trump’s, and she doubled down Friday by calling for the reinstatement of border checks and the deportation of foreigners being monitored by intelligence agencies. A look at election coverage:
- Eleven candidates are running, but four are neck-and-neck: Le Pen; Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker who says he’s neither left nor right; the scandal-plagued Francois Fillon, the only establishment candidate in the running; and Jean-Luc Melenchon, known as the “French Bernie Sanders.“ See NPR for quick bios on each.
- Assuming no candidate gets 50%, the top two finishers go to a runoff on May 7, explains a primer at the Globe and Mail.
- The Guardian has a profile of Le Pen, who has tried to distance herself from her Holocaust-denying father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front Party she now leads. Their relationship imploded when she kicked him out of the party; he disowned her and they no longer speak. An analysis at the Atlantic says she specializes in demonizing Jews and Muslims while pitting them against each other.
- At 39, the centrist Macron would be France’s youngest leader since Napoleon, per a profile at RTE. In its own profile, the BBC notes an unusual aspect of his life that has made headlines: His wife, 24 years his senior and married with kids when they met, was his drama teacher when he was a teenager.
- Former President Obama, popular in France, made a point to call Macron on Thursday, notes Time.
- There’s much talk of a “Frexit,“ meaning the exit of France from the European Union. Le Pen and Melenchon in particular have raised the prospect. The New York Times has a look at that and other factors at play.
- John Oliver thinks the stakes are huge for Europe and the world, and he explains why HERE .
- One person likely to be happy with the outcome? Vladimir Putin. That’s because Melenchon, Le Pen, and Fillon are “unabashed pro-Putin populists,“ per Quartz.
- At Slate, Yascha Mounk makes the case that a victory by Macron “is the only realistic way to stave off disaster,“ given the alternatives.
► Election Security ‘Fully Mobilized’ After Paris Attack
Police say the gunman shot dead after killing a policeman and wounding two others in Paris Thursday was a 39-year-old man already known to authorities as a potential Islamist radical, the BBC reports. Three of his family members have been taken into custody and another man suspected of having links to the attack has surrendered to police in Belgium. Official sources tell the AP that the gunman was detained in February for threatening police then freed. He was convicted in 2003 of attempted homicide in the shooting of two other police officers, say the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because authorities have not publicly disclosed the man’s identity.
France began picking itself up Friday from the attack, which was claimed by ISIS, with President Francois Hollande calling together the government’s security council and his would-be successors in the presidential election campaign treading carefully before voting this weekend. Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says the government has reviewed its already extensive election security measures and it is “fully mobilized” in the wake of the attack. He says “nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country.“ Candidates, who are banned from campaigning after Friday at midnight, canceled or rescheduled final campaign events ahead of Sunday’s first-round vote.
The Long Road to ‘Iowa’
At one point during the budget debate last month, Governor Justice recoiled against any budget compromise that included deep budget cuts. Justice used one of his now famous metaphors to make his point.
“It doesn’t make one hill of beans of sense to me to say ‘you like the desert, and I like Alaska, so we’re going to end up in Iowa.’ Let’s only end up in Iowa if that’s the right place to end up,” he said.
Well, ten days after the end of the regular session of the Legislature (including one additional day to work on the budget), we’re nowhere near a hospitable gathering of the Governor, the Senate and the House in Des Moines.
However, there are at least some road maps that might just lead them there.
The Justice administration and Senate leaders are coalescing around a framework for a budget. The plan, which was unveiled in the final hours of the regular session, includes a lot of what the Governor wants—additional revenue from a sales tax increase, a commercial activities tax and temporary wealth tax, higher fuel taxes and DMV fees to build roads and a pay raise for classroom teachers.
The Senate side of the deal includes a modification of the state income tax, reducing the current five tiers to three and lowering of the rates when certain fiscal benchmarks are met with the possibility of eliminating the tax eventually. Senate supporters believe lowering the income tax will lead to economic growth.
But that route toward a deal doesn’t even show up on the navigation system of House Speaker Tim Armstead. The Kanawha County Republican has told the Justice administration and Senate leaders time and again that higher taxes are a non-starter in the House, even if they are accompanied by possible income tax reductions.
But Justice’s team, while negotiating with Armstead, believes there could be an avenue toward agreement—the House Democrats. Justice is trying to rally support among the 36 Democrats to get behind the Justice/Senate plan. He’s reportedly going to make his pitch to them today.
The Dems will need some convincing. They don’t want to be out front on tax increases without Republican support, fearing that will be used against them in the next election. The Democrats need assurances of a significant number of Republicans.
So here’s the question: How many House Republicans, if any, would be willing to defy their Speaker and support the Justice/Senate plan? The Governor said last week that some Republicans called to urge him to veto the Republican-passed budget (he did), suggesting they might be open to another pathway.
We know the House Republican caucus is not unified—the breakdown over medical marijuana demonstrated that—but it’s difficult to predict how many members the Justice administration could pick up by lobbying individuals.
To continue with the Governor’s metaphor, for now Iowa remains a long distance away. It will be challenging, but not impossible, to get there.
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