~ more ways to blame failure.
~ more excuses to purchase software.
~ more reasons for ‘needing’ hardware funds.
~ the WV education failure will continue, educrats in Charleston will be able to sing their we ‘need more’ song….
Yes it can be said that Joe Manchin is still involved with the West Virginia school system. Roundabout way, but still.
His wife, Gayle, is still on that WVBOE board.
Her term expired a year ago, but Gov. Tomblin has not named a replacement so she likely is still collecting on that $70k annual salary?
That’s a nice perk, while budgets are being slashed across the state.
NEW ROOF vs. PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT
As a community volunteer how should I feel?
All are glad for the kiddies playground equipment, absolutely.
But why do I keep thinking we volunteers have been had? Yes, violated even?
School tax dollars being miss-spent?
Extra burden on all who helped raise the needed money? Can we say as a community that the state appointed superintendent has scammed us?
We certainly are glad for playground equipment, but the way tax dollars have been spent, is a real insult to our Gilmer community. This superintendent needs to GO, sooner than later.
What a disgraceful situation we have been placed in. Thank you Charleston state board of education.
The state board of education says: We are from the government and we are here to help you. Ship Devano out and show us. Do you have the necessary backbone or is Joe calling the game still?
By intervention is killing our community on 11.27.2016
let’s hope you are correct for the sake of our country. Let’s hope he changes the pattern when the country was left in real bad shape when every republican president let the office. History can speak for itself. Hasn’t Trump been backing out of all his fake promises during campaign season? Again, the time will tell….
Funny you should bring this up when Trump won….never would have seen this otherwise.
Trump is all for trimming the Dem-fat and draining this swamp, and now you ask if he will do anything.
Did Obama or Clinton do anything to alleviate the situation? NO.
So, don’t question the man that you were sure would lose, just because you can’t stand that fact.
The only thing an A school got Gilmer County was to be closed, consolidated, good Teachers run off, kids traveled another half an hour down the mountain and no investment in the community that supported it. All this done by State puppets.
By And They Wonder Why Kids Don't Try on 11.25.2016
Same crew that came in with City Construction to button up the new school roof right? Scuttlebutt says that leaked too. How they got in Gilmer to begin with? All the talk about tailgate parties with contractors and Gabe D sounds like political favors & kickbacks. More than one knows how that goes when it comes to state contracts.
G “the boss” Devono says his Mentor S Collins is not his boss, C Daniel Assistant Superintendent is not his boss, M Martirano State Superintendent is not his boss and the State Board of Education is not his boss. According to him, he has no boss. HE is a legend in his own mind who throws around the name of a certain Gilmer philanthropist like every other jerk who wants to play big shot.
Of course it is true. Check with an honest member of your local Board .
Better ask how he wound up paying the same company owner to do that roof work on GES who was the same one he advertised in your local paper to contact about the bid specs and was paid as a consultant.
While you’re at it, you might check to see what he’s up to with your closed buildings and how he disrespects non-profit community groups.
Points for reading and mathematics to contribute to a school’s A-F letter grade came from online smarter balance testing, and results for those two parts were assigned with use of a centralized computer program. Right?
What is not clear is how many points for a school’s letter grade came from self-grading at local levels.
Self-grading never works. WV must adopt an objective school grading procedure with no room for local tinkering. If it fails to do it letter grades will continue to be a hoax.
It would be good advice for boards of education to insist on receiving all documentation to look for changes made in schools and central offices to try to get extra points to add up for overall letter grades.
After the initial grades were assigned school systems were given an opportunity to appeal with revised information for the purpose of trying to get more points.
At the same time there was an embargo to keep local school boards from getting any information until the final grades came out.
50 years ago our teachers would tell us they were grading a test on a ‘curve’.
That was so those who happened to get the most correct answers got their ‘A’, the teacher, the school, the system looked good and was protected.
Nothing has changed. Except the ‘curve’ has morphed into a ‘snake’ to protect the bureaucrats in their ivory palaces.
By from a 'curve' to a 'snake', Mingo can see it. on 11.21.2016
If we rely on gazette reporting then “eighty-three percent of elementary and middle schools’ A-F grades are based on students’ scores, and their growth in those scores, on the math and English Smarter Balanced tests. The Smarter Balanced measures represent about 73 percent of high schools’ grades.“
“Other factors, like attendance, make up the remaining part of the A-F scoring rubric.“
Sometimes it seems if the WVDE reports more to the media than the counties impacted by their decisions. Local Board members in several districts say they were not included in the information pathway but read it in the papers like the rest of us.
Citizens working hard to raise funds for playground equipment for the new Gilmer Elementary School….... while at the same time Gabriel Devano has reportedly spent in excess of $100,000.00 having a new roof installed on the old Glenville Elementary School….. which the WV State Board of Education has officially CLOSED under intervention.
Something is rotten and stinks here. Rumors have it the bidding and awarding of the roofing contract was a backroom deal?
GSC Jazz Band to hold Third Annual Christmas Concert
The Glenville State College Department of Fine Arts announces the third annual Jazz Band Christmas Concert on Friday, December 02 at 7:00 p.m. in the GSC Fine Arts Center Auditorium.
This year’s performance consists of two sets. The first set will include classic jazz band and swing music such as Count Basie, Glenn Miller, and even more contemporary groups like Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. After a brief intermission, the concert will resume with a set of Christmas classics played in a jazz style. There will be swing, latin, rock - a little something for everybody. Several of GSC’s talented student soloists will be featured, including vocalist Chelsea Hicks. This concert is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.
“The purpose of this concert is to expose our little part of West Virginia to a uniquely American musical idiom in the live performance of jazz music,” said GSC Assistant Professor of Music and Jazz Band Director Jason Barr. “At the same time, we want the community to come together to celebrate another great American tradition - enjoying the holiday season!”
The concert is open to the public. Admission is by donation and all proceeds from the concert will help support the jazz ensembles at GSC. Funds from last year’s Christmas concert allowed members of the band to perform and recruit at high schools in the Putnam and Cabell County areas. New band stand fronts, which helps increase the visibility of both GSC and the Jazz Band, were also able to be purchased.
For more information, contact the GSC Fine Arts Department at 304.462.6340.
Lack of Behavioral Health Care for Young People Limiting State Progress
Lack of behavioral health care for children may be undermining West Virginia’s efforts to reduce truancy, cut juvenile incarceration and improve foster care, advocates say.
They pointed to surveys showing that a much higher than average portion of state high school students complained of mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. And when those young people go untreated, they often end up in trouble, either with the schools or the justice system, said Kelli Caseman, co-founder and chair of Mental Health Matters West Virginia.
According to Caseman, the state is putting more effort into spotting young people in crisis.
“But once we identify that child who needs help, where do we send them?“ Caseman asked. “Even in our metro areas like Charleston, kids are waiting up to two months to get into care.”
The number of young offenders behind bars has dropped sharply across the county. But West Virginia is one of the few states where the number has increased. During the legislative session, Caseman and others will be working with lawmakers trying to reduce it.
West Virginia is one of only a few states with rising levels of young people behind bars,
and advocates say part of the issue is a lack of behavioral health care.
(WV Virginia Center on Budget and Policy)
The Legislature has been looking at reforming West Virginia’s juvenile justice system, reducing truancy, and improving foster care. Caseman said lawmakers are coming to see that investing in young people in crisis pays off in the long run.
“No, you’re not going to really see a big financial change within the next two years,” she said. “But within maybe the next five or 10 years, you could be seeing a substantial change in the finance – and then, you’re going to see a change in the kids.“
Caseman said truancy often is the first sign of serious trouble. She said many young offenders can only get treatment while locked up, possibly after a wait of a year or more. Then when they get out, any treatment they had been receiving might just stop cold.
She described the care as so fragmented, it’s difficult to know where children are falling through the cracks.
“Currently, we don’t even know where our major gaps are in care,” she said. “If we collectively don’t know where those resources are, how can we go about helping kids?“
Caseman said one suggestion she plans to make to the Legislature is better data gathering and a global look at care across schools, communities and the justice system.
The EpiPen maker’s CEO knows who is responsible for soaring drug costs
— and it’s not her
Heather Bresch, the CEO of EpiPen maker Mylan, knows who to blame for soaring drug prices — and it’s not her company.
“EpiPen had to be the catalyst to show this window into what hard-working families are facing in the rapid rise of high deductible plan,“ Bresch said at the Forbes Healthcare Summit on Thursday.
It’s true. High deductible insurance plans are on the rise, and they leave patients on the hook for a greater portion of medications like insulin or EpiPen, which is used to used in extreme allergic reactions.
It is worth pointing out that the only reason she’s talking about this is that Mylan was called out in August for raising the price of EpiPen from $93.88 to $608.61 over the last decade. It caught the nation’s attention because parents were re-filling their kids’ prescriptions, and some found that they were on the hook for hundreds of dollars for the device.
The fury didn’t end there. Her compensation became an issue, as did her parents’ political connections (her father is a Senator and her mother was head of the National Association of State Boards of Education). Around the same time, it was also revealed that Mylan was being accused of overcharging of government programs for the device.
To Bresch, its clear that Mylan hasn’t done anything wrong though. In fact, she said all this “will have been worth it,“ if it gets the US to address what’s really causing people to pay high prices at the pharmacy counter.
During her conversation with Forbes senior editor Matthew Herper, Bresch spoke of the complexity of the EpiPen autoinjector and Mylan’s efforts to increase access and awareness for severe allergic reactions. Bresch said Mylan’s been able to reach 80% more patients since the company acquired the EpiPen, to which Herper countered that Mylan would then be able to make money off both volume and the price increases.
Bresch responded by saying that the price increases allowed for “reasonable profit.“
Bresch, who has a background in lobbying, was also asked why she didn’t see all this outrage coming. She said that has to do with the rapid exposure patients are getting to healthcare costs.
“The pharma pricing system was not built on the idea of consumer engagement,“ she said. “It was built ... on market efficiencies. It was not built on the premise of consumerism.“
Feds announce major changes within Bureau of Prisons designed to ease re-entry for the men and women housed in federal penitentiaries. They’re building a “semi-autonomous” school district within the BOP to better educate prisoners, paying for state-issued identification cards for inmates, and requiring new standards for federal halfway houses to ensure better care once ex-offenders are released. U.S. Department of Justice
But the Trump administration and presumptive attorney-general nominee Jeff Sessions could scrap those plans. The Washington Post
Donald and Preet meet. Preet Bharara, the powerful U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, will stay on as a federal prosecutor in the Trump administration. The decision, which keeps the so-called “sheriff of Wall Street” in power in New York, was lauded by Sen. Charles Schumer and others. The Wall Street Journal
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice to be the next U.S. attorney general, also reportedly has blessed the deal. The New York Times
“I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.” As he leaves office President Obama makes his strongest comments yet in support of the legalization, or at least the decriminalization, of marijuana. “It is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a 20-year prison sentence in another,” he said in an another of his exit interviews. Rolling Stone
After proclaiming today STEM Day in West Virginia, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced the student winners of the State Capitol Minecraft Design/Build contest. This contest was a collaborative effort involving the Governor’s STEM Initiative, the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and the Education Alliance.
The competition, which began in May, was open to West Virginia students, grades PreK-12 and challenged participants to either create a new version of the state capitol building or produce a replica of the current complex using Minecraft. Governor Tomblin recognized both individual and team winners from each category.
“I applaud each student who took the time to create their own versions of our state capitol,” said Governor Tomblin. “More than once this summer, I saw students exploring the capitol grounds, taking notes and preparing for the hours they would spend creating their submissions. Their efforts certainly paid off. It’s important that we encourage our students to develop the skills and interests that build a foundation for future success in STEM fields – into college, training programs and careers.”
The students recognized today received more than $7,100 in gift cards to be used for educational purposes. In addition, Microsoft is providing a Surface Pro 4 to each of the top two winners for each category–Asad Ranavaya from Cabell Midland High School in Cabell County and Justin Hardwick from East Fairmont High School in Marion County.
Before the student recognition ceremony, Governor Tomblin hosted a roundtable discussion with state and education officials, along with students, to highlight the efforts and successes of his STEM Council and STEM Initiative.
“There is a critical need to focus our state’s attention on science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Governor Tomblin. “West Virginia’s workforce needs are evolving and in order to fill jobs in the future, all of us – from K-12, higher education, and workforce and economic development – must work together to provide our students access to the best STEM education opportunities.”
The Governor STEM Council was established to develop specialized STEM education opportunities for West Virginia students and increase the number of graduates in these fields. The council is comprised of business and education leaders across the state.
To view the STEM Day Proclamation, click here.
The following students were recognized today by Governor Tomblin:
Benjamin Reed, Village of Barboursville Elementary School
Zane Spencer, Cherry River Elementary School
Camdyn Hill, Terra Alta/East Preston Middle School
Madison McCloud, Madison Middle School
Elizabeth Shaf, Charleston Catholic High School
Jensen Tucker, Grafton High School
Austin Ballenger, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
Gabe Coleman, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
Ian Morrison, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
Savion Myers, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
Jackson Stewart, Washington High School
Jacob Thrasher, Washington High School
Matteo Cerasoli, Washington High School
Asad Ranavaya, Cabell Midland High School
Justin Hardwick, East Fairmont High School
► Free Adult Education Center Opens in Huntington
A charity has opened a new adult education center in Huntington that will offer free training in everything from college preparation to financial literacy and parenting.
Enrollment at the Center for Community Learning and Advancement is open every day for the next two weeks. After that, the center will have open enrollment each Friday.
Coordinator Ginny Sellerds says full-time instructors will function as mentors and case workers.
The center is owned and operated by Catholic Charities West Virginia, and all of the classes are free. Each class will have between eight and 10 people.
A Georgetown University report says that by 2020, 65 percent of all of the jobs in the U.S. will require post-secondary education or some other training beyond high school.
► Report: Charleston Adults Have Very High Rate of Diabetes
A new report says Charleston, West Virginia had the second highest rate of diabetes last year out of nearly 200 communities surveyed across the nation.
A Gallup-Healthways report released Wednesday says 17.6 percent of adults in Charleston in 2015 had diabetes. Of the 190 communities studied, only Mobile, Alabama had a marginally worse rate of 17.7 percent.
The report found the overall incidence of diabetes in U.S. adults has grown from 10.6 percent in 2008 to 11.5 percent.
The community rankings were based on telephone interviews with 246,620 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Charleston Dr. Mary Ann Maurer says the prevalence of diabetes is largely due to a lack of exercise and poor eating habits.
► State Supreme Court Denies Judge’s Appeal to Remain on Bench
The West Virginia Supreme Court denied a Logan County circuit judge’s appeal to remain on the bench and wrote that voters can’t be penalized because of errors made by poll workers.
After losing his race by 59 votes to Joshua Butcher in May, Judge Douglas Witten argued that irregularities in the polls should void the votes cast at several county precincts.
A three-judge special court dismissed Witten’s petition in October and certified the election results, finding that election laws were broken, but the violations weren’t bad enough to void any votes. The high court rejected Witten’s appeal in a 25-page opinion Wednesday.
Witten was appointed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin last year, when then-Circuit Judge Roger Perry retired. Butcher is Perry’s former law clerk.
► Doctor Facing Federal Charges After Oxycodone Deaths
A doctor who ran a drug clinic in Raleigh County has been accused of illegally distributing oxycodone to three patients who later died.
Dr. Michael Kostenko was arrested Wednesday on numerous federal charges, including three counts of distributing oxycodone that resulted in the deaths of three patients.
Kostenko’s medical license was initially suspended in March after the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine found probable cause of unprofessional and unethical conduct. The board later voted to revoke his license.
Kostenko argued his files at the Coal Country Clinic in Daniels didn’t directly document the fact that he had examined patients, performed screens and discharged patients who didn’t follow their contract.
Kostenko’s attorney and daughter, Christina Kostenko, called the charges “fraudulent” and said the investigation is “unjustified.“
► Highland Hospital Says Sale to Acadia is Off
Highland Hospital has announced it is not selling its facilities to Franklin, Tennessee-based Acadia Healthcare.
The sale was to include Highland’s Kanawha City hospital. Highland’s board of directors unanimously agreed to sell Kanawha City hospital three months ago.
Highland’s board is now considering other potential partners for the sale.
Highland CEO Cynthia Persily said in a news release Wednesday that the proposed sale “no longer is the right deal at the right time.“
The two behavioral health companies were expecting to have had a definitive agreement in place by the end of September.
The sale would include the Highland Hospital Association, a psychiatric hospital which includes a psychiatric residential treatment facility; Highland Health Center Inc., a 16-bed residential treatment and detoxification program; and Process Strategies, which provides various outpatient behavioral health services.
► Kanawha County Asks State for Repairs to Interstate Lighting
The Kanawha County Commission is asking the West Virginia Department of Transportation to fix non-working lights along interstates.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper announced Tuesday that at least 135 lights are out on several stretches of state-maintained roads. Carper says he sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox citing safety concerns and asking about the status of plans to fix the lights.
DOT spokeswoman Carrie Jones says some of the lights, like the ones in between South Charleston and the West Virginia Turnpike, are more than 40 years old and aren’t repairable. She says $12 million in renovations projects are planned for lighting along the Charleston interstate system over the next few years.
► Nicholas County Schools Awarded $2.1M for Temporary Quarters
Nicholas County School District has been awarded a federal grant of more than $2.1 million for temporary facilities to replace schools damaged in June floods.
U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins announced the grant Wednesday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The June 23 floods killed 23 people and devastated homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure.
► WV Takes Part in Impaired Driving Enforcement Effort
State Highway Patrol troopers in Ohio and their counterparts in five neighboring states will target impaired driving in an enforcement effort this weekend.
The effort starts early Friday and continues through Sunday. It will include the state police agencies from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Ohio troopers have made more than 23,000 arrests for driving under the influence so far this year.
The patrol’s superintendent, Col. Paul Pride, says troopers take impaired driving seriously and will enforce the law to get dangerous drivers off the roads.
The weekend effort is part of the 6-State Trooper Project. It’s a multi-state law enforcement partnership aimed at providing combined and coordinated law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing.
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In 2014, it’s estimated that more than 44,000 people contracted HIV, NBC News reports. In advance of World AIDS Day on Wednesday, GetTested looked at CDC data for that year to determine the 10 cities with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses. The top five:
Baton Rouge, La.: 44.7 new diagnoses per 100,000 people
► U.S. Government Spends $2M, Finds Out Kids Like Food Un-Sneezed On
In the past year, the federal government spent $2 million to discover that kids like eating food that hasn’t been sneezed on and another $200,000 studying how fish bones influenced social status hundreds of years ago in Tanzania. At least that’s how one Republican lawmaker from Oklahoma characterizes it, the Week reports. Senator James Lankford has released his second annual Federal Fumbles report detailing what he calls “wasteful and inefficient” federal spending. The report includes 100 examples of federal spending—totaling $247 billion—for studies, research, and more that Lankford doesn’t believe the government needed to be involved in.
Take the Tanzanian fish bone thing, for instance, which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Lankford says the NSF needs to focus more on the “national” in its name. “When we deal with foreign aid, we should simply deal with foreign aid that is to the benefit of the United States,“ he says in a press release. But the NSF argues that’s exactly what it was doing. A spokesperson tells the Washington Post that the fish bone study was done with a low-income school in the US to “increase participation in science by underrepresented minorities.“ And the National Institutes of Health says finding out kids don’t like sneezed-on food was only a small part of a study intended to figure out how children relate to food in order to promote lifetime healthy eating.
► For Gatlinburg’s Mayor, Fire Brought Personal Devastation
Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner has been the voice of calm while the Tennessee city battled a 15,000-acre wildfire that killed at least seven people before it was put out with help from some much-needed rain. That didn’t change Thursday as he noted cleanup efforts are now underway and suggested 14,000 evacuated residents could return to the area as soon as Friday. But Werner knows well what those residents might find: His home and seven condominium buildings he owns burned to the ground. “I really can’t dwell on it that much,“ he tells the AP. “I think of others that have lost theirs, and it keeps my mind off of our problems.“ Gatlinburg’s fire chief adds several firefighters also lost their homes, but are still working “to take care of everybody else.“
A National Park Service rep says the fire began on a trail 10 miles south of Gatlinburg and was “human caused,“ though she offered no other details, reports CNN. As it spread, the fire destroyed more than 700 buildings in Sevier County, including 300 in Gatlinburg. Many other people are missing and officials fear the death toll will rise as they are now moving from house to house to survey damage. Though Dollywood in neighboring Pigeon Forge escaped major damage, Tennessee native Dolly Parton says her foundation will donate $1,000 per month for six months to survivors who lost their homes. “We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything … so that they can get back on their feet,“ Parton says, per BuzzFeed.
► Woman Stabbed Boyfriend Who Drank Her Blood
A 19-year-old Missouri woman allowed her intoxicated boyfriend to cut her arm and drink her blood while discussing vampires, and then stabbed him during an ensuing argument, according to police. The AP reports Victoria Vanatter pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of first-degree domestic assault and armed criminal action in connection with the November 23 incident. Vanatter stabbed her boyfriend in the back and shoulder after he repeatedly hit her during the argument, Springfield police investigator Scott Hill wrote in a probable-cause statement that accompanied the criminal complaint.
Officers responding to Vanatter’s 911 call said they found the bloodied couple, a heart drawn in blood on a living room wall, and “I’m sorry” scrawled in blood along with another heart on a kitchen counter. On the boyfriend’s bare chest was a symbol of a cross that also appeared to be drawn in blood, Hill wrote. Vanatter told investigators that she routinely cut herself so she could drink her own blood and “believed she could become a serial killer,“ Hill wrote. Her boyfriend refused to cooperate with police and insisted his knife wounds were self-inflicted, Hill said. Vanatter also is charged as a persistent offender on probation for convictions last year of felony assault and felony domestic assault related to separate incidents in other counties.
► Hundreds of Vets Will Stand Up to Protect Pipeline Protesters
The thousands of protesters already camped out in defiance of the Dakota Access Pipeline are about to get reinforcements in the form of hundreds of veterans, Stars and Stripes reports. As many as 2,000 vets will arrive in North Dakota on Sunday with the goal of “protecting the protesters,“ Marine Corps veteran Anthony Diggs says. “There is a lot of power in veterans from all over, from all branches of the military, coming together to create a protecting front against the police, who are militarized themselves,” he says. But the vets aren’t just bringing symbolism; they’ve raised around half a million dollars to help protesters get through the winter and are bringing supplies, lawyers, and more.
The vets are expected to arrive the day before the Army Corp of Engineers had ordered protesters to abandon their camp on federal land. But while the Army Corps has since said it won’t force protesters off the land, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple issued an “emergency evacuation” of the camp Monday in the face of an oncoming blizzard, Reuters reports. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says it has no plans to move, and its chairman points out it’s ironic that Dalrymple is suddenly concerned about cold protesters days after police sprayed them with fire hoses. Contrary to previous reports, Dalrymple won’t block food and supplies from getting to protesters as part of the evacuation, according to the AP. A spokesperson says that had been “misconstrued.“
► Gambler Meets Alleged Gangster, and a Crazy Tale Unfolds
It’s a money laundering tale that seems destined for Hollywood: Rolling Stone unspools the case against Owen Hanson, who went by O-Dog more than a decade ago when he was a member of the USC football team and as “Junior DeLuca” in his post-college days as the alleged kingpin of a vast criminal enterprise that involved drug trafficking, gambling, and the aforementioned money laundering. He now faces life in prison thanks to the other major player in the story: pro gambler Robert Cipriani, better known by his pseudonym of Robin Hood 702. Cipriani got that moniker because he gained fame by winning big at blackjack and then giving the money to needy recipients. The two out-of-central-casting characters came together because Hanson allegedly struck upon a novel way to launder his proceeds.
“In Cipriani, he apparently saw a means of solving the problem that has long confounded many successful criminal organizations: a surplus of dirty money, no easy way to clean it,“ writes David Amsden. Under the plan, Cipriani would “cash the drug profits into chips, gamble for a bit to avoid suspicion, and then take it back in the form of an easily-transportable casino check.“ Cipriani swears he didn’t pick up on the scheme at first, figuring he’d simply lucked into a “whale” willing to bankroll his casino trips. But after he loses $2.5 million of Hanson’s money, things go off the rails in a hurry, and he winds up going to the FBI. Hanson’s legal team says Cipriani was fully in on it and thus isn’t reliable. “It is a curious line of defense,“ notes the article. “One hustler conceding, in essence, that he was outwitted by another.“ Click for the full story, which includes the detail of a Fox reporter brought along as “insurance” by Cipriani on a meeting with Hanson.
► Rant Against Black Workers at Michaels Caught on Tape
An irate customer in a Chicago Michaels store created what NBC Chicago calls a “30-minute ordeal” that has since gone viral. Another customer, Jessie Grady, caught part of the incident on her phone, showing the white customer berating two black employees for what she says was an attempt to strong-arm her into buying a reusable shopping bag and for discriminating against her. She also claims one of the employees accused her under her breath of voting for Donald Trump (a claim the employee can be heard denying in the video). “And I voted for Trump, so there,“ the customer yells in the video. “What? You want to kick me out because of that? And look who won.“ She also calls the employee a “liar” and another one “an animal,“ and her diatribe also covered Grady and her family.
Grady was so incensed at what she says was this “unprovoked attack” that she created a GoFundMe page for the worker who took the brunt of the customer’s wrath (nearly $30,000 has been raised so far). “I’d like to show her that many people are horrified by how this woman treated her,“ Grady writes. In a statement, Michaels said it doesn’t “tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind” and was “grateful for the leadership of our store team.“ In a Monday tweet, it also expressed thanks for the “outpouring of support for our Chicago-based team member.“ The customer in the video left before cops arrived.
► ‘Unknown Man’ Learns Name, but His Old Life Still Elusive
Last year, a genetic sleuth solved a high-profile mystery when she figured out the identity of a man with amnesia after other experts (and even Dr. Phil) had failed to crack the case for more than a decade. The man had gone by the name “Benjaman Kyle” after being found naked near a Burger King dumpster in Georgia in 2004, having suffered apparent head trauma. It wasn’t until 2015 that “Kyle” learned he was actually William Burgess from Indiana. Now, in a lengthy look at the case, the New Republic provides an update about the person its headline calls the “last unknown man.“ Burgess, 68, is living back in Indiana near his brother, but the discovery of his identity hasn’t triggered much recall of his former life. His brother, however, provides a detail that may speak volumes about the case: He says that, as a boy, Burgess suffered regular, brutal abuse from their father.
He left home at 16, and public records reveal that he eventually moved to Boulder, Colo., and worked restaurant jobs. The story includes an interview with the one buddy he had there, Chico Goetz, but Goetz last saw him in 1977, and the public records dry up soon after that. “The discovery of Benjaman Kyle’s identity answered one question, only to raise another,“ writes Matt Wolfe. “What had he been doing for the nearly 30 years between the time Goetz saw him in Colorado and the summer morning he was found, naked and unconscious, outside the Burger King in Georgia?“ Burgess himself doesn’t know, but he has a sense that he adopted the name “Benjaman” during this time and lived a largely itinerant life, skipping from job to job. Why that name? “I read somewhere that it comes from Old Hebrew,” he tells Wolfe. “It means beloved son.” Click for the FULL STORY.
► Woman Calls Cops on Guy Whistling ‘Closing Time’
Every week, Capt. Mark Herb of Oregon’s Forest Grove Police Department pulls together what Time calls the department’s “always entertaining” police log, and the last item in the most recent installation didn’t disappoint. For the week of November 20 through November 26 listed in the Oregonian, the log cited ruined Thanksgivings, the attempted theft of a riding mower, and the revival of a once-ubiquitous late-‘90s song. The log notes the “verbal altercation” that took place when a woman become perturbed and told a man to “shut up” when he wouldn’t stop whistling Semisonic’s “Closing Time” near her driveway.
She ended up eventually calling the cops on the “jackass guy,“ and when the police got there he was gone, but they managed to track him down, still whistling the same song. After the cops talked to him—likely telling him “you don’t have to go home but you can’t. stay. here"—he headed out, lips still pursed, sounds still emanating. “It’s not clear if the caller would have been more or less upset if it was a different genre or whether it was just the talent lacking in the whistling,“ Herb tells Time.
► Cop’s Fatal Shooting Sparks 12-Hour Standoff
It started with the fatal shooting of a police officer and ended almost 12 hours later with the death of a suspect in Washington state. Authorities say a 45-year-old officer was shot multiple times while responding to a domestic violence call in Tacoma around 4pm Wednesday. He was taken to a hospital for surgery, but later died, reports KING5. Meanwhile, officers surrounded the home where the suspect was holed up with weapons and several people, including an 11-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl he was using as a shield, police tell KIRO. One child was still with the suspect when a SWAT officer fired a single shot through a window that killed the man around 3:30am Thursday, police say. All others in the home were found safe.
A landlord who allowed a couple and their two children to live at the residence says she was there when the officer was shot but was able to escape. “I do not want to hear anything about the police officers being inhumane and shooting people [unnecessarily] or any of those things,“ she tells the News Tribune. “The Tacoma Police Department handled this matter with such professionalism despite their own being shot.“ She adds she previously had no concerns about the couple. “I’m caught off guard just like everybody else.“ Police haven’t released the name of the officer killed but say he was a 17-year veteran. In a statement late Wednesday, Governor Jay Inslee said “all of Washington grieves with Tacoma, which tonight lost one of their finest.“
► Hope of Exonerating Ethel Rosenberg May End With Trump
With President Obama’s term coming to an end, the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are again calling on the president to clear their mother of the espionage charge for which they believe she was wrongly executed in 1953 in an intense Cold War case. Michael and Robert Meeropol say their father was a Soviet spy but grand jury testimony shows their mother was not, per the Telegraph. It actually shows Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass—who worked at the headquarters of the Manhattan Project and later served 10 years for spying—initially said he’d never discussed atomic secrets with his sister. The Meeropols believe Greenglass lied six months later, when he said he saw Ethel transcribing secrets, to cover-up his wife’s own role in the case.
Greenglass later admitted he was pressured to lie by prosecutor Roy Cohn, who went on to become president-elect Donald Trump’s mentor, per the Boston Globe. With that in mind, the Meeropols say Obama’s “presidential proclamation” (a pardon implies guilt, they say) may be their last hope to exonerate their mother in what would be “the first time that the United States has admitted that the federal government has wrongly executed one of its citizens,“ per the Telegraph. The brothers plan to deliver a letter and case documents to the White House on Thursday, but they’re not alone in this fight, per the Springfield Republican. They’re backed by the Boston Globe editorial board, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, and more than 40,000 others who’ve signed a petition.
Taylor Swift is officially bigger than the Rolling Stones—at least in North America. In Forbes‘ list of the 30 highest-paid musicians of 2016, Swift takes the top spot by breaking the North American touring record formerly held by the Rolling Stones. She also has endorsements in the seven figures, which is one of the reasons why she’s also the year’s highest-paid celebrity, period. Forbes came up with its rankings by looking at pretax income between June 2015 and June 2016. Here are the 10 musicians who made the most in 2016:
► Russia: Space ship malfunctions, breaks up over Siberia
An unmanned Russian cargo spaceship heading to the International Space Station broke up in the atmosphere over Siberia on Thursday due to an unspecified malfunction, the Russian space agency said.
The Progress MS-04 cargo craft broke up at an altitude of 190 kilometers (118 miles) over the remote Russian Tuva region in Siberia that borders Mongolia, Roscosmos said in a statement. It said most of spaceship’s debris burnt up as it entered the atmosphere but some fell to Earth over what it called an uninhabited area.
Local people reported seeing a flash of light and hearing a loud thud west of the regional capital of Kyzyl, more than 3,600 kilometers (2,200 miles) east of Moscow, the Tuva government was quoted as saying late Thursday by the Interfax news agency.
The Progress cargo ship had lifted off as scheduled at 8:51 p.m. (1451 GMT) from Russia’s space launch complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, to deliver 2.5 metric tons of fuel, water, food and other supplies. It was set to dock with the space station on Saturday.
Roscosmos said the craft was operating normally before it stopped transmitting data 6 ½ minutes after the launch. The Russian space agency would not immediately describe the malfunction, saying its experts were looking into it.
This is the third botched launch of a Russian spacecraft in two years. A Progress cargo ship plunged into the Pacific Ocean in May 2015, and a Proton-M rocket carrying an advanced satellite broke up in the atmosphere in May 2014.
But both Roscosmos and NASA said the crash of the ship would have no impact on the operations of the orbiting space lab that is currently home to a six-member crew, including three cosmonauts from Russia, two NASA astronauts and one from the European Union.
Orbital ATK, NASA’s other shipper, successfully sent up supplies to the space station in October, and a Japanese cargo spaceship is scheduled to launch a full load in mid-December.
NASA supplier SpaceX, meanwhile, has been grounded since a rocket explosion in September on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The company hopes to resume launches in December to deliver communication satellites.
► Colombia Passes Deal to End 52-Year War
Colombia’s Congress formally ratified a revised peace agreement with Colombia’s biggest leftist rebel group Wednesday night, capping a torturous four years of negotiations, a stunning referendum rejection, last-minute compromises and two signing ceremonies. The initial pact was narrowly rejected by voters last month, and President Juan Manuel Santos decided to skip a referendum on the new version and go directly to congress, where the deal’s supporters hold a majority. Opponents, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, boycotted the legislative votes, which resulted in unanimous approval by the Senate on Tuesday and by the lower house late Wednesday, the AP reports.
The new accord with FARC rebels introduced 50 changes to the initial deal in an attempt to assuage opponents as the government seeks to end a 52-year conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people and driven almost 8 million from their homes. The modifications include a commitment from the rebels to forfeit assets, some amassed through drug trafficking, to help compensate victims. Santos said ratification will set in motion the start of a six-month process in which the FARC’s 8,000-plus guerrillas will concentrate in some 20 rural areas and turn over their weapons to United Nations monitors. But the rebels insist their troops won’t start demobilizing until lawmakers pass an amnesty law freeing some 2,000 rebels in jail.
► Putin: ‘We Are Ready for Cooperation’ With U.S.
“We aren’t looking for enemies,“ Vladimir Putin said Thursday during his annual state-of-the-nation speech. “We need friends.“ He says he’s hoping one of those friends is the US under President-elect Donald Trump, who Putin wants to work with as equals, Bloomberg reports. “We are ready for cooperation with the new American administration,“ Al Jazeera quotes Putin as saying. The Guardian notes Putin was gentler toward the US than he had been in recent years, perhaps because Trump has said it would be “nice” to work with Russia.
Russia’s middle class is being decimated by a recession, and getting the sanctions placed on the country by the US in the wake of incidents in Crimea and Ukraine lifted is one of Putin’s few hopes. Trump has said he may be willing to do so. He has also offered to work with Russia in Syria—where Russia is backing the government against US-supported rebels—to fight the Islamic State. “I am counting on joining forces with the United States in the fight with the real, not made-up, threat of international terrorism,” Putin said during his speech Thursday.
► Iraq hopes OPEC deal will help cover its massive war costs
The government of Iraq is hoping that a new OPEC deal will help the war-weary country generate enough revenue to help pay for its costly, 2-year-old fight against the Islamic State group.
Iraq, whose oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of its budget, has been reeling under an economic crisis since late 2014, when oil prices began their descent from a high of above $100 a barrel.
The plunge began just months after IS militants swept across large parts of northern and western Iraq. They seized territory that prompted a huge effort to rebuild and rearm large segments of the military and security forces and to care for a flood of people displaced from their homes.
On Wednesday, the 14-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries sealed a deal to lower its output for a six-month period by 1.2 million barrels per day. Effective January 1, the group will produce 32.5 million barrels per day.
Non-OPEC nations are expected to pare an additional 600,000 barrels a day off their production. That includes Russia, which committed itself to reducing its output by 300,000 barrels per day.
Oil prices gained an immediate boost Wednesday with the international benchmark for crude jumping 8.3 percent, or $3.86, to $50.24. The price of oil dipped as low as $26 a barrel in February.
“If there was no deal, we would have been in a very bad situation,“ said Iraqi lawmaker Haitham al-Jabouri, a member of parliament’s Financial Committee. “The deal will have a positive impact on oil prices and therefor on our precarious economic situation.“
Iraq’s financial crisis has forced the government to introduce austerity measures, eliminating posts, merging some ministries, halting spending on construction projects and imposing new taxes. It has also sought loans from foreign and local lenders.
In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described the level of oil prices as “inadequate.“
“According to our own calculations, I think that the rise in oil prices, every $1 for a barrel of oil will add $1 billion to our budget. So, I think we will have more by cutting the production and increasing the price,“ al-Abadi said.
Iraq’s projected 2017 budget is based on a price of $42 per barrel and a daily export capacity of 3.75 million barrels. The nearly 100.67 trillion Iraqi dinars (about $85.17 billion) budget runs with a deficit of 21.65 trillion dinars (about $18.32 billion). Parliament has yet to ratify the January 1-December 31 budget.
For the last several months, crude oil has traded between $40 and $50 a barrel. Before the OPEC meeting, the U.S. Energy Department predicted that crude would rise to $50 or $51 a barrel next year. OPEC will meet again in May 2017 to discuss a possible six-month extension of the deal.
Al-Jabouri said about 32 percent of the 2017 budget will go to the ministries of Defense and Interior and other security organizations, an increase from 28 percent in this year’s budget. Iraq won’t change the projected 2017 budget after the OPEC agreement, but instead will use the expected increased revenues to help bridge the deficit, he said.
The budget provides for a 4.8 percent cut in salaries and pensions for government and public sector employees to finance paramilitary forces, which are made up mainly of Shiite militias, and to care for those people who are displaced by the fighting.
OPEC’s second-largest producer, Iraq will reduce output by 200,000 barrels a day to 4.351 million barrels, according to Mudhir Mohammed Salih, al-Abadi’s economic adviser. Iraq will not only benefit from the anticipated increase in oil prices, but also from the reduction in production costs arising from smaller output, he added.
Salih hopes defense spending will be reduced when IS militants are driven out of the northern city of Mosul, the last urban bastion in Iraq still held by the extremist group. The offensive to oust IS militants from the country’s second-largest city began October 17.
“I call it a peace budget rather than a war budget, as much of the military expenses will go down with the liberating of Mosul this year, ending major battles,“ he said. “By then, we’ll see more surpluses to cover other areas.“
In July, Iraq secured a badly needed $5.34 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund that could unlock a further $18 billion in loans. The IMF has established a series of benchmarks connected to the three-year loan, requiring Iraq to reduce public spending, improve collection of taxes and customs fees, and fight corruption and money laundering. Other loans and payment facilities also were offered from other countries to cover defense costs.
But the OPEC deal is not expected to improve the lot of ordinary Iraqis like Baghdad merchant Ali al-Maksosi.
“Whether the price of the Iraqi oil is up or down, we will not be benefiting,“ said al-Maksosi, a dealer in flour and grain in the capital’s Jamila wholesale market. “We are going through harsh circumstances in a state of war that continues affecting the budget.“
A New Report Offers Insight and 7 Steps Policymakers Can Take To Better Leverage Data In Schools
U.S. education is not effectively leveraging data to increase student performance and close achievement gaps in the same way other sectors have used data to improve work processes, according to a new report from the Center for Data Innovation.
And while many have lamented education’s slow adoption of data-driven practices, there may be a hidden bonus to slow progress.
“The United States now has an opportunity to rebuild its education system to support data-driven education by taking advantage of technologies and best practices already established in other sectors,” noted the report.
Characteristics of a data-driven education system include personalization, evidence-based learning, school efficiency, and continuous innovation.
However, because improved data use has such a huge potential to improve education for all students, educators and administrators have to act quickly and make systemic improvements.
An Antiquated Model
“Schools today are not very different than they were 50 years ago,” said Joshua New, the report’s author and a policy analyst at the Center. “While most Americans are empowered by data and technology in nearly every aspect of their lives, U.S. schools are largely failing to use data to transform and improve education.”
New emphasized that the U.S. K-12 education system is falling short in both student performance and disparities in educational outcome. Yet, K-12 data has the potential to significantly improve how educators teach children and how administrators manage schools. “It’s time to bring American K-12 education into the 21st century data economy,” he said.
To combat the lackluster data use often found in K-12 education, the report also lays out a vision for K-12 that would leverage data to become more personalized, evidence-based, efficient, and innovative.
That vision includes:
1. Encouraging smarter data collection and management
2. Encouraging data system interoperability
3. Empowering students and parents with access to their data
4. Promoting data-driven decision-making
5. Pushing back against unfounded privacy fears
6. Developing a model data-driven school district
7. Using data to promote equity in education
Despite those goals, barriers including institutional resistance, hesitancy to using data in the classroom, inadequate teacher training, and privacy fears limit data use.
If those roadblocks were removed, education would look drastically different, according to the report:
Students could have personalized and dynamic lesson plans that address their individual strengths and weaknesses and interests rather than carry out the same exact work as their classmates of varying ability levels
Teachers could devote the majority of their time to delivering instructional material and ensuring student success, rather than lose valuable classroom time to administrative tasks, disruptive summative assessments, or helping bring certain students up to speed while others in the class are already comfortable with the material
School administrators could make much more informed decisions about how to allocate resources, ensure that students are treated equitably and take steps to address disparities, and
better manage teachers
Parents could easily access their children’s data to monitor their performance, stay more engaged in the education process, and access a variety of additional educational resources that can make use of this data to provide better supplemental education
“Failure to transform the U.S. education system by leveraging data will have considerable consequences not just for individual students and taxpayers, but for U.S. productivity growth and competitiveness,” New writes. “Without a more effective education system, productivity will grow more slowly and organizations will have a harder time getting the workforce they need.”
~ more ways to blame failure.
~ more excuses to purchase software.
~ more reasons for ‘needing’ hardware funds.
~ the WV education failure will continue, educrats in Charleston will be able to sing their we ‘need more’ song….