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Authoritarian Presidency

Donald Trump’s Authoritarian Presidency is Emboldening the Israeli Far Right

Trump’s travel ban has only re-enforced Benjamin Netanyahu’s antagonistic world view
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The Trump administration recently gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a tepid slap on the wrist regarding the burst of new illegal settlement building on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying this “may not be helpful” in achieving peace.  The ascendancy of the president and his ideologically rightwing team is emboldening the Israeli extreme right as well as our own homegrown white nationalists. Trump’s chaotic distrust and fury towards Muslims entering the US and his promise to move the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem both feed this frenzy of racism and demonization. This all lends support to an “us” versus “them” version of the world where toughness and military might supercede diplomacy. The Israeli right couldn’t be happier.

I have just returned from the region where I saw the rising power of the right wing led by leaders such as Defense Minister Avigdor Leiberman, a settler whose political stands are best described as fascist and racist, and Education Secretary Naftali Bennett, who shares similar views. Bennett is pushing for the annexation of the huge Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and 60 percent of the West Bank, where the massive settlement expansion is occurring. Ma’ale Adumim is located just outside of occupied East Jerusalem and annexing it would effectively cut the West Bank in two. In addition, the Israeli parliament has just passed a bill that retroactively “legalizes” Jewish settlements located on Palestinian privately owned land.

Meanwhile Palestinians are facing increasing loss of land, the inexorable construction of new settlements, and the separation wall, 85 percent of which may be located within the occupied Palestinian Territories once it’s finished. Palestinians in the West Bank face permitting and mobility issues daily, waiting in hours-long lines at checkpoints, and the two million residents of the Gaza Strip are effectively imprisoned there. Palestinians suffer from restrictions on Israeli-controlled water availability, often only receiving water delivery every few weeks for some six hours during which they fill their rooftop water tanks, hoping it will last until the next time the spigot is opened. I saw rising numbers of home demolitions and extrajudicial shootings by trigger happy Israeli military; every Palestinian guilty until proven otherwise, which was often too late.

A particularly egregious incident occurred on January 18, when two Palestinians – one of whom was a beloved teacher and father of twelve—were killed during a home demolition in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev. In addition, Ayman Odeh, a member of the Israeli Knesset or parliament representing Palestinian Citizens of Israel, was shot in the head by Israeli security forces with a sponge-tipped bullet during the attack. The residents of Umm al-Hiran, who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, were transferred to this village in 1956 by the Israeli government, but it remains an “unrecognized village” due to the byzantine and racist policies that characterized Israel’s approach to its non-Jewish populations. The military was destroying the Bedouin village to make way for a Jewish Israeli village on the same land. On January 24 the headline in Haaretz, read: “Umm al-Hiran: A Cautionary Tale of an Israeli Government Emboldened by Trump.”

Enter our new president who has no political expertise, even less knowledge of the history of this complicated region of the world, a set of far-right advisors, and a temper that takes offense and is easily triggered to make irresponsible decisions without regard for their consequences.

Add to this dangerous concoction the Breitbart News/Steven Bannon version of reality which is simultaneously anti-Semitic and “pro-Israel.” Jews in the US threaten the Aryan nation-style Christian purity that is the goal of white nationalists, thus the sooner “they” leave to “go home,” the sooner the Jewish question will be resolved, striking another blow against multi-culturalism. At the same time, the State of Israel is useful as the US bulwark in the Middle East, a partner in a vast military industrial complex, fighting the savagery of the Muslim Arab world, defending American “values,” and hastening the coming of the apocalypse, if you are an ardent Christian Zionist. Israel has become a shining example of a successful state, supported by the US, where ethnic purity and institutional racism are embedded in the social consciousness and legal system beneath a veneer of a “Jewish democracy.” Trump’s unfettered and extremist arrogance will dangerously embolden the Israeli right in its quest to control historic Palestine and complete the displacement of its indigenous population that began long before 1948.

Alice Rothchild - A Boston-based physician, author, and filmmaker who is active in the US Jewish peace movement.


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  • How One Mom Came to Represent All Immigrants:    They’ll hold the torch for her. Protesters were ready when Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos met with federal immigration authorities. For eight years, officials had allowed the undocumented Mexican to stay with her American children in Phoenix, provided she visited annually to answer questions. But President Trump’s new policy deports anyone who’s run afoul of the law, as Rayos did when charged with using a false social security number. So her deportation Thursday launched a struggle between protesters who support immigrants like Rayos, and policy supporters who say deportations will recapture jobs for Americans.    USA Today

  • Can the Women’s Movement Get Its House in Order?  They were legion. On Jan. 21, millions of women took to the streets across America to protest the election of Donald Trump, wearing homemade pink “pussyhats,“ chanting and carrying signs to unify the left for a day, despite concerns that a women’s march might not attract men to the cause. But after the big event, racial and ideological divides persist within the feminist movement - and though the majority of white women voted for President Trump, their support may be key in defeating his policies as the campaign continues.    NYT Magazine

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In West Virginia….

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►  Doddridge County High School graduate aims to be the next Mountaineer

The search is on for West Virginia University’s next Mountaineer Mascot. And one of the hopefuls is from Doddridge County.

Jesse Lackey, a graduate from Doddridge County High School, seems confident he can be the next Mountaineer.

He told us that growing up in a family that bleeds old gold and blue, the chance to become the next mascot is really a privilege.

“I grew up in a house of Mountaineer fans and I’ve always been a Mountaineer fan myself. To see the Mountaineer always with the undying pride he has for WVU—just given the opportunity to reach the final four, to get the chance to represent the campus, the university or the state I think that would be such a great honor,“ said Lackey. “I think that’s why I’m doing it.“

Lackey and the other three finalists will battle in a cheer-off competition during WVU’s home basketball game versus Kansas State, Saturday afternoon.

The winner will be announced during WVU’s home game against Texas on February 20th.

►  Mercer County school employees, other southern WV group targeted in phishing scam

Officials with the FBI and West Virginia Attorney General’s Office are reportedly involved in the investigation into a data breach within the Mercer County school system involving the theft of personal information for employees.

The theft was discovered Thursday and included personal information for 1,800 employees from their W-2s like Social Security and tax identification numbers.

No student information was compromised, according to information from Mercer County school officials.

Beginning Monday, Mercer County school employees will be offered identity theft protection and credit monitoring for a year at no cost.

On Friday, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a warning to employers statewide about an e-mail phishing scam that “has already targeted two entities in southern West Virginia.”

The entities were not named, but Morrisey said those affected had been notified.

In both cases, staff members reportedly received fraudulent e-mails from addresses similar to those of their chief supervisors. The e-mails were sent to human resource and payroll divisions requesting wage information and W-2 forms for all employees, according to the AG.

“Everyone must be careful and closely examine any request for employees’ Form W-2. Check, double and triple check any such e-mail to make sure it’s legitimate,” Morrisey said in a statement.

For other assistance, the West Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division can be reached by phone at 1-800.368.8808 or online at

In USA….

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►  Lt. General Hal Moore dies; depicted in film ‘We Were Soldiers’

Retired Lt. General Harold G. “Hal” Moore, the American hero known for saving most of his men in the first major battle between the U.S. and North Vietnamese armies, has died. He was 94.

Joseph Galloway, who with Moore co-authored the book “We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young,“ confirmed Saturday to The Associated Press that Moore died late Friday in his sleep at his home in Auburn, Alabama.

Galloway said Moore, his friend of 51 years, died two days shy of his 95th birthday.

“There’s something missing on this earth now. We’ve lost a great warrior, a great soldier, a great human being and my best friend. They don’t make them like him anymore,“ Galloway said.

Moore was best known for his actions at the 1965 Battle of Ia Drang, where he was a lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. His actions were later reflected in the movie “We Were Soldiers” in which actor Mel Gibson portrayed Moore. The book tells what happened to virtually every trooper involved in the 34-day campaign and the climactic four-day battle in which 234 Americans died at landing zones X-Ray and Albany in November 1965.

Galloway, a former war correspondent for United Press International, said Moore was “without question, one of the finest commanders I ever saw in action.“

“Those of us who survived Landing Zone X-Ray survived because of his brilliance of command. I think every one of us thought we were going to die at that place except Hal Moore. He was certain we were going to win that fight and he was right,“ Galloway recalled.

Galloway and Moore wrote a second book, “We Are Soldiers Still,“ which he said grew out of a journey back to the battlefields of Vietnam 25 years later. “We went back and walked those old battlefields. At the end of the day, Hal Moore and Col. Nguyen Huu An, the North Vietnamese commander, stood in a circle in the clearing and prayed for the souls of every man who died on both sides.“

He said the two shared an “instant brotherhood that grew out of combat.“

“When we were discussing the book contract with a lawyer/agent, he asked to see the contract between me and Hal Moore, and Hal Moore said ‘I don’t think you understand. This isn’t just a matter of money. We have trusted each other with our lives in battle and we have no contract before that.‘ I absolutely agreed.“

On a Facebook page managed by Moore’s family, relatives said he died on the birthday of his wife, Julia, who died in 2004 after 55 years of marriage.

“Mom called Dad home on her day,“ the statement said. “After having a stroke last week, Dad was more lethargic and had difficulty speaking, but he had always fought his way back.“

Before serving in Vietnam, Moore graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and then commanded a battalion in the newly formed air mobile 11th Air Assault Division at Fort Benning.

Born in Bardstown, Kentucky, he served in the U.S. military for 32 years.

Galloway said the family has tentatively scheduled a religious service Friday in Auburn and a memorial service at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning Army Base in Columbus, Georgia.

►  Cats at the Westminster dog show? Sort of, in a first

Dogs from petite papillons to muscular Rottweilers showed off their four-footed agility Saturday at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, tackling obstacles from hurdles to tunnels. And next door, so did some decidedly rare breeds for the Westminster world:


For the first time, felines sidled up to the nation’s premier dog show, as part of an informational companion event showcasing various breeds of both species. It included a cat agility demonstration contest, while more than 300 of the nation’s top agility dogs vied in a more formal competition.

It didn’t exactly mean there were cats in the 140-year-old dog show, but it came close enough to prompt some “what?!“ and waggish alarm about a breakdown in the animal social order. Some Twitter users have portrayed the development as a sign of impending cat-astrophe. A satirical Chicago Tribune column declared that “we can’t just let cats start racing across the borders of traditional dog events.“

Even some Westminster competitors found the juxtaposition jarring – or “so weird,“ in the words of Hannah Naiburg of Milford, Connecticut, who guided her terrier mix, Molly, in Westminster’s agility contest. But others tipped their hats to the cats that were padding and prowling around their own course, most of them trying the sport for the first time.

“Good for them,“ said Tina Ackerman of Goffstown, New Hampshire, who handled her bichon frise, Bubba Watson. “There’s no way we could ever have trained any of our cats to do agility.“

Bemisu, a 1-year-old sphynx cat nicknamed Misha, had never tried the sport before Saturday. But within a half-hour, she was following owner Blake Gipson’s toy-dangling signals to hop through hoops and run through a mesh tunnel – so well that she bested about 30 other cats to win.

“I had no idea she would learn so fast,“ said Gipson, whose nearly hairless, down-covered cats share his Denver home with a pit bull. “She’s smarter than I ever gave her credit for.“

If Saturday’s “Meet the Breeds” event – sponsored by Westminster, the American Kennel Club and The International Cat Association – gave felines their first chance to share Westminster’s spotlight, it also illustrated that there’s plenty of everyday crossover between the dog and cat camps. In fact, a 2011 CBS News poll found that 23 percent of American pet owners have both a dog and a cat.

Agility is increasingly popular for both species, seen as a way to give the animals activity and strengthen the bond between pets and their people.

Lonnie, a mixed-breed dog born in an animal shelter, used to be “afraid of everything,“ even being in a car, owner Robin Lembo said. She started training Lonnie in obedience and then agility to build her confidence. Now, the 8-year-old dog is so outgoing that she eagerly ran the agility course in front of crowds Saturday.

And Lembo is all for cats getting into the agility act.

“I keep telling my husband to try it – because he’s a cat lover,“ said Lembo, of West Milford, New Jersey.

As every cat owner who has watched his pet walk along a railing knows, feats of agility come naturally to many felines. But training? A cat?

It’s easier than many people think, though cats are often more motivated by chasing toys than getting treats, said Vickie Shields, who oversaw Saturday’s agility demonstrations. A former trainer of dogs for field trials, she helped organize cat agility as a sport in 2003, largely with the goal of getting people to play more with their cats.

“People think cats are solitary – they aren’t,“ said Shields, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, noting that wild cats often form colonies. “You can do stuff with them, too – it’s not just dogs.“

►  How the Search for an Elusive Fish Led to Filmmaker’s Death

On January 31, Rob Stewart surfaced from his third dive of the day off the Florida Keys and gave the OK sign. Three days later, the award-winning documentary filmmaker’s body was found on the ocean floor. Outside dives into what went wrong and the one question that persists following Stewart’s death. Stewart was on a mission to film the sawfish—a creature with the body of a shark and a beak that looks like a chainsaw—for a followup to his 2007 film Sharkwater. Sawfish are easily scared off by the bubbles and noise of traditional scuba gear, so Stewart was going to be using a rebreather. Stewart was a highly experienced diver but had no experience with rebreathers, which present unique dangers to the user.

Stewart was certified to use a rebreather just four days before what became the final dives of his life. Those dives, to explore a 111-year-old sunken steamship, were the deepest Stewart had ever attempted—230 feet—and he made three of them. Most people experienced with rebreathers would have stopped at two dives—at most. It’s unclear why Stewart didn’t. After surfacing following their final dive, Stewart’s diving partner blacked out while getting into the boat. While dealing with him, the crew lost sight of Stewart. An official search was launched within five minutes. Seventy-two hours later, Stewart’s body was found 300 feet from where it was last seen. Read the full story HERE for more on the search and what Stewart meant to the fight to save sharks.

►  Family Calls for New Probe Into Emmett Till Lynching

The horrific 1955 Mississippi slaying of Emmett Till, which helped trigger the modern civil rights movement, should be re-investigated now that a key witness is quoted as saying she lied about what the black teen said and did before he was lynched, Till’s relatives say. The AP reports two of Till’s cousins, Wheeler Parker and Deborah Watts, said a renewed probe of Carolyn Donham’s role could settle lingering questions. Among them: Whether an as-yet unidentified person, possibly a woman, was with Till’s killers the night he was abducted. Now 77, Parker has a particular interest in the case: He was there when his 14-year-old cousin from Chicago violated Southern racial taboos of the time by whistling at Donham, a then-21-year-old white woman working at a country store in rural Mississippi.

Till was later beaten and shot, and his mutilated body was found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River. During the suspects’ trial, Donham claimed Till also made sexual advances and grabbed her hand, neither of which Parker said ever happened. “I don’t know what else they could investigate,“ Parker said. “(But) if they could bring more truth, I’d say investigate.“ “We know that she has admitted that she lied, and we know that is part of the reason Emmett is no longer with us,“ said Watts. “If there is any chance to reopen the case, I hope they will take this opportunity to do it now.“ Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said he “will do all the law allows to make sure justice is done.“ But he wouldn’t comment on any investigation.

►  Man Charged in Burning His Home Busted by Pacemaker

A man charged with arson based partly on data collected from his pacemaker pleaded not guilty Tuesday to setting his Ohio home on fire and insurance fraud charges, the AP reports. Authorities have said gasoline was found on Ross Compton’s clothing and that the fire started in multiple places, but Lt. Jimmy Cunningham told WLWT-TV the medical data represented some of “the key pieces of evidence.“ Compton told authorities when he saw the fire September 19 inside his Middletown home, he packed some belongings in a suitcase and bags, broke a window with his cane, and threw the items through the window before carrying them to his car, per cops. He also said he had a cardiac pacemaker, authorities say. Court records show police got a search warrant to retrieve electronic data stored on the device.

A pacemaker monitors the heart and helps control irregular heart rhythms. The information is recorded and can be retrieved for analysis. The data on Compton’s device included his heart rate, pacer demand, and cardiac rhythms before, during, and after the fire, police said. A cardiologist determined it was “highly improbable,“ due to his medical conditions, that Compton could do all the collecting, packing, and removal of items from his house and then carry them in the short period of time he indicated, according to court records. Police have said statements they received from Compton were “inconsistent” with the evidence they gathered. The case has raised privacy concerns, with an attorney from the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation noting that “compelling citizens to turn over protected health data to law enforcement erodes [privacy] rights.“ Compton’s next hearing is set for February 21.

►  Tribe Makes Last-Ditch Effort to Stall Dakota Access Pipeline

Construction of the Dakota Access pipeline under a North Dakota reservoir has begun and the full pipeline should be operational within three months, the developer said Thursday, even as an American Indian tribe filed a legal challenge to block the work and protect its water supply. The Army granted Energy Transfer Partners formal permission Wednesday to lay pipe under Lake Oahe, clearing the way for completion of the 1,200-mile, $3.8 billion pipeline, the AP reports. ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado confirmed early Thursday that construction resumed “immediately after receiving the easement.“ Workers had already drilled entry and exit holes for the crossing, and oil had been put in the pipeline leading up to the lake in anticipation of finishing the project. “The estimate is 60 days to complete the drill and another 23 days to fill the line to Patoka,“ Granado said.

Work stalled for months due to opposition by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux, as well as a prolonged court battle between the developer and the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the federal land where the last segment of the pipeline is now being laid. Trump last month instructed the Army to advance pipeline construction. The Cheyenne River Sioux on Thursday asked a federal judge to stop the Lake Oahe work while a lawsuit filed earlier by the two tribes against the pipeline proceeds. An attorney said in court documents that the pipeline “will desecrate the waters upon which Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members rely.“ “This is not over. We are here to stay. And there’s more of us coming,“ says Payu Harris, a pipeline opponent who’s been at the North Dakota encampment that’s been the focus of the pipeline battle since April.

►  5 Performers Plummet Off High Wire During Wallenda Act

A circus act in Florida that featured members of the famed Wallenda family, including extreme stuntman Nik Wallenda, went terribly wrong Wednesday when five performers in an eight-person routine fell 25 to 30 feet to the ground off a high wire, the Herald-Tribune reports. Wallenda was not one of the Circus Sarasota’s injured performers, he told reporters Thursday, per the Washington Post. Wallenda’s uncle tells the Tampa Bay Times that Nik’s aunt and sister were among those hurt. All of the injured are expected to survive, though at least two patients were said to remain in critical condition and one in guarded condition, WFLA reports. “I’m sure they’ll be back on their feet in a few months. Thank God,“ Pedro Reis, the CEO of Circus Arts Conservatory, says.

The stunt they were practicing for a Friday performance was the eight-person pyramid—a variation of the seven-person pyramid that killed two Wallenda family members and paralyzed one at a 1962 Detroit show. The Wallendas typically don’t use safety nets in their acts, and this one was no different. So what caused the accident? Wallenda told reporters one of the performers may have passed out and lost balance, setting off a chain reaction that affected everyone on the wire. Wallenda himself didn’t fall off when people in front of him started losing their balance and falling. The group had practiced the act successfully the day before. “Our hearts go out to everybody,“ Reis tells WFLA, adding, “The show must go on.“

►  After Loss, Bus Driver Leaves Team Stranded

Members of Saint Louis University’s men’s basketball team probably thought their night couldn’t get worse after a loss Wednesday at St. Bonaventure University in New York. Then they lost their bus. When the Billikens left the arena to head to the airport, they found their bus had disappeared with the driver, who was later located 40 miles away. Authorities say Linda Edmister, 56, had been driving with a 0.22 blood alcohol content. She was arrested without incident, though “with a vehicle that large and her intoxication level, we’re actually lucky nothing happened,“ a police rep tells ESPN. After retrieving their belongings from the bus, the Billikens took another bus to the airport.

►  Teens Vanish After Concert, Show Up on ATM Video

Two female New Mexico State University students who went missing after attending a hip-hop concert in El Paso, Texas, last week have been spotted on surveillance video on Monday in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Las Cruces Police Department confirmed Wednesday that the women on the ATM surveillance video are McKinnah Sinclair, 18, and Charlie Daniels, 19, who were reported missing Tuesday after failing to return to their university or get in touch with family following Friday’s concert. Police now say they’re concerned for the teens’ welfare, but believe they traveled to California on their own, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

The teens have not gotten in touch with family or friends, and no one has been able to reach them via cell phone or social media. A family member of one woman is in Los Angeles and working with the LAPD in an attempt to find them. Police initially said they believed the teens, who are roommates, traveled to Juarez, Mexico, after the concert, the Houston Chronicle reports. El Paso Proud notes that the women, who withdrew cash from the ATM at which they were spotted, appear to be wearing the same clothes in Monday’s surveillance images as they were wearing at Friday’s concert, based on pictures they posted to social media from the concert.

►  A School Lunch Director Beat Jamie Oliver at His Own Game

It turns out it is possible to create healthy school meals without breaking the budget—as long as your town has “an overwhelming determination to prove a reality TV star wrong.“ In a massive dive into what’s gone wrong with America’s school lunches, Highline also looks at one instance where things went right. Jamie Oliver brought his show Food Revolution to Huntington in 2009 after the West Virginia city was named the unhealthiest in the country in order to fix what was wrong with its school lunches. The show, obviously, presented the celebrity chef as the hero, who had a perfect villain in the school district’s food-service director. While Food Revolution showed Oliver’s visit to Huntington as a success, Rhonda McCoy was besieged with hate mail and calls to resign.

But it turns out producers got the hero wrong. A survey found 77% of students were “very unhappy” with Oliver’s meals, despite many of them containing more fat than allowed by federal guidelines. So McCoy got to work. She let school cooks adjust Oliver’s recipes to make them more popular with students (no more cinnamon in the chili), got $50,000 in grants to improve school kitchens, and started buying fresh produce from student farmers. In one Huntington school, 18 cooks show up at 6am to make homemade tomato sauce, dice potatoes, and bake their own bread. But McCoy’s success shouldn’t be a surprise; long before Oliver showed up, her meals were already hitting health guidelines not met by 94% of US schools. It seems you can’t believe everything you see on TV. Read the full story HERE .

►  Private prison firm sees Trump immigration push opportunity

The United States’ largest private prison operator said it can provide the additional detention facilities that will likely be needed under Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

In an earnings call this week, CoreCivic President/CEO Damon Hininger identified the possible opportunity to grow its detention business with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

CoreCivic’s statement further indicates that private prison firms think they could profit from a Trump presidency, who has already issued executive orders aimed at detaining and deporting immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Trump is offering a starkly different outlook for the industry than President Barack Obama, whose administration aimed to wind down some private prison use.

Additionally, a high population of immigrants detained in ICE-contracted facilities helped fuel CoreCivic’s fourth-quarter financial gains, Hininger said. That was before Trump took office.

“When coupled with the above average rate of crossings along the Southwest border,“ Hininger said, “these executive orders appear likely to significantly increase the need for safe, humane and appropriate detention bed capacity.“

Hininger said more detention capacity could be needed after two Trump executive orders last month. They include building a U.S.-Mexico border wall, adding detention and border patrol officers, and cutting grants for immigrant-protecting “sanctuary cities,“ all largely pending congressional funding.

Trump also moved to end a policy where some immigrants caught crossing the border illegally are released and given notices to report back to immigration officials at a later date.

Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan said recently that the government is looking for more jail beds.

Nashville-based CoreCivic, formerly named Corrections Corporation of America, saw its stock price plummet when the Obama administration announced in August that the Justice Department would wind down private prison use. A Justice Department audit at the time said there were more safety and security problems at privately run prison operations.

ICE contracts with private prison groups were unaffected by the policy shift.

The day after Trump’s election, CoreCivic saw its shares on the New York Stock Exchange climb 43 percent. Shares of another private prison firm, Geo Group, also increased 21 percent.

The government has enough money to maintain 34,000 detention beds for immigrants awaiting deportation, although the number of detainees has topped 40,000 in recent months.

As of November, 45 of almost 200 adult facilities in which ICE holds those immigrants are privately run, with about 63 percent of detainees held in the private facilities, according to the agency.

►  Baby sitter pleads guilty in Colorado bank robbery

A baby sitter accused of using two children in her care to rob a Colorado bank has pleaded guilty to theft, forgery and attempted robbery.

The Greeley Tribune reports Rachel Einspahr was sentenced to six years in prison after entering her plea Friday.

Einspahr was charged with robbing a bank in the town in Severance last May. Authorities say she had two sisters in her car when she went to a drive-up lane and passed a note to a teller saying an armed man was in the back seat threatening the children and demanding money.

One child later told police there was no gunman.

Some of the charges against Einspahr stemmed from separate allegations that she was skimming money from a business she managed for someone else.

In The World….

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►  Germany Gets Back Its 300 Tons of Gold From U.S.

Germany has completed an effort to bring home 300 metric tons of gold stashed in the United States, part of a plan to repatriate gold bars kept abroad during the Cold War, the AP reports. The German central bank said it brought 111 tons of gold back from the Federal Reserve in New York last year, concluding in September—the last of 300 tons slated for return. “The transfers were carried out without any disruptions or irregularities,“ said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, board member of the central bank, called Bundesbank. The bank also repatriated 105 tons of gold from Paris last year. In 2013 it launched the transfer to Frankfurt of 300 tons of gold from New York and 374 tons from Paris. It still has another 91 tons to return from Paris, and said it plans to bring them back in 2017. Once the transfers are completed, Frankfurt will hold half of Germany’s 3,378 tons of reserve gold, with the rest in New York and London.

Thiele said there won’t be any further transfers and Donald Trump’s presidency didn’t change the situation. “We have a trusting relationship with the Fed,“ he said. During the Cold War, West Germany kept most of its gold abroad for fear it could fall into the hands of the Soviet Union if the country were invaded. Another reason was to have the precious metal close to foreign currency markets in London, Paris, and New York, where gold is traded. The Bundesbank already brought about 850 tons of gold home from London between 1998 and 2001. It has said that, since France—like Germany—long since switched to using the euro, storing gold for foreign currency swaps in Paris is no longer necessary. It hasn’t given details of how it transported the gold home. The original plan was for the transfers to be completed by 2020, but the bank beat its schedule.

►  Lithuania Caught Advertising Itself With Pics of Other Nations

The head of Lithuania’s state tourism agency has resigned after admitting her agency promoted the Baltic country in an international social media campaign by using landscape photos taken in other countries, the AP reports. Jurgita Kazlauskiene resigned Friday after local media had blasted the State Tourism Department for its campaign “Real is Beautiful” for using stock images from Nordic and eastern European countries. Kazlauskiene said she stepped down so “people who work here don’t become objects of ongoing attacks.“

The Free Press WV

When the $149,000 campaign was launched in October, it sparked dozens of ironic entries on social media. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis posted a tongue-in-the-cheek Facebook comment on Thursday. Next to a photo of the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels he wrote “we are moving government to this building tomorrow. Real is beautiful.“

►  World’s Likely 1st Transgender Doll to Debut Next Week

A New York doll maker says it will be selling what it believes is the first transgender doll on the market, the AP reports. The doll is based on Jazz Jennings, the teenage transgender subject of the TLC documentary series I am Jazz. It will make its debut at the New York Toy Fair next week and be available on the Tonner Doll Co.‘s website and in specialty stores in July. A spokesperson for the company said the 18-inch doll, which has a “genderless” plastic mold typical of most dolls, is being tested for kids aged 8 years and older and is expected to retail for $89.99. In comparison, the popular mass-market “American Girl” 18-inch dolls, which come with a book, sell for $115 on

The doll was designed and sculpted by company founder Robert Tonner. His company has made dolls based on a variety of TV, film, and book characters including Spiderman, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and Wonder Woman. “Jazz stands for everything I respect from a human nature point of view—she’s incredibly brave, intelligent, warm-hearted, and creative,“ Tonner said. Jennings appeared at age 6 on a Barbara Walters 20/20 special in 2007. She has identified as a female since she could talk, her parents told ABC News. She is the youngest person ever to be recognized in the Advocate Magazine‘s “Top Forty Under 40” annual list and was named as one of Time Magazine‘s Most Influential Teens for 2014 and 2015.

►  Gangs of French youth clash with police in Paris suburb

A peaceful demonstration protesting the alleged rape of a black youth by police has degenerated, with small groups setting at least one vehicle afire and throwing projectiles at police in a Paris suburb. Officers responded with tear gas.

Hundreds demonstrated Saturday by the courthouse in the northeast Paris suburb of Bobigny, calling for justice for the 22-year-old man arrested February 2 in Aulnay-Sous-Bois during a ID check by four police officers.

The young man – who is still hospitalized – says he was sodomized with a police baton. The situation has sparked a week of nightly unrest in several small towns with minority populations.

One officer was charged with aggravated rape and three others with aggravated assault. All deny the allegations.

An RTL radio van was set ablaze Saturday in the unrest.

►  Rockets hit Baghdad’s Green Zone after protests turn violent

Two rockets landed in Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone on Saturday night following clashes at anti-government protests that left five dead, according to Iraqi security and hospital officials.

The rocket attack left no casualties as the munitions landed on the parade grounds in the center of the highly fortified Baghdad compound that is home to Iraq’s government and most foreign embassies. It was not immediately clear who fired the projectiles.

Saturday’s protests were called for by influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and clashes that erupted as crowds pushed toward the Green Zone left two policeman and three protesters dead, according to police and hospital officials.

The officials said six other policemen were injured along with dozens of protesters. The violent outbreak prompted the government to call for a “full investigation.“

The demonstrators loyal to al-Sadr gathered in Baghdad’s downtown Tahrir square demanded an overhaul of the commission overseeing local elections scheduled this year. Al-Sadr has accused the commission of being riddled with corruption and has called for its overhaul.

Shots rang out in central Baghdad as security forces used live fire and tear gas to disperse the crowds. An Associated Press team at the scene witnessed ambulances rushing away protesters suffering from breathing difficulties.

Hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to brief journalists said the policemen died of gunshot wounds. They gave no details as to the cause of death of the protesters.

While at times the crowds advanced toward Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, by afternoon they began to disperse after a statement from al-Sadr’s office called on his followers to refrain from trying to enter the compound.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s prime minister ordered an investigation into the violence.

“The prime minister ordered a full investigation into the injuries among security forces and protesters during the demonstration today in Tahrir square,“ read a statement from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office Saturday evening.

Al-Sadr’s office issued another statement Saturday night following news of protester casualties claiming that “excessive force” was used against the demonstrators and threatened greater protests. “The next time the blood of our martyrs will not go in vain,“ the statement read.

“We will not give in to threats,“ said the head of the electoral commission, Serbat Mustafa, in an interview with a local Iraqi television channel Saturday afternoon. Mustafa said he would not offer his resignation and accused al-Sadr of using the commission as a political “scapegoat.“

Al-Sadr has been a vocal critic of al-Abadi, and last year protests that included many of his followers breached the highly fortified Green Zone twice.

Attention in Iraq is generally focused on the war against the Islamic State group, with Iraqi forces currently fighting the militants in Mosul, but al-Abadi is also facing a serious power struggle in Baghdad. A deepening economic crisis and persistent insurgent attacks in the Iraqi capital have fueled support for powerful political opponents of al-Abadi like al-Sadr.

Al-Abadi has said that he respects the rights of all Iraqis to peacefully demonstrate but called on the protesters Saturday to obey the law and respect public and private property.

The Green Zone is home to most of Iraq’s foreign embassies and is the seat of the Iraqi government.

Extra! Extra!

The Free Press WV

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  3 Glenville State Presidential Finalists to Visit Campus

Glenville State College is bringing in three presidential finalists for on-campus interviews.

The college says in a news release that each candidate will have two-day visits later this month.

The finalists are Penn State Greater Allegheny chancellor and chief academic officer Andrew Egan, former Glenville State provost Mary Katherine Butler Donley and College of Coastal Georgia provost and vice president for academic affairs Tracy L. Pellett.

Current Glenville President Peter Barr announced in August he will retire at the end of the current academic year.

Glenville State has 1,800 students.

►  Attorney General Heads National Group

West Virginia’s attorney general has been named chairman of the national organization of Republican attorneys general earlier than planned, a domino effect that began when Jeff Sessions was named the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was vice chairman and in line to head the Republican Attorneys General Association at the end of the year.

But that move was advanced Thursday when the national group’s leader, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, was sworn in to fill the Senate seat left empty by Sessions, who was tapped by Donald Trump to be attorney general.

The group has been involved in challenges to federal regulations under the Obama administration. Morrisey says litigation continues over environmental rules the organization regards as overreach.

►  Governor Justice names Wooton Commissioner of WV Alcohol Beverage Control Administration

Governor Jim Justice has announced that Fred Wooton has been selected as the new commissioner of the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.

Wooton has been with the state ABCA for more than 25 years serving in a variety of roles including as an Inspector, Enforcement Agent and Enforcement Supervisor. He has instructed officers and cadets at the West Virginia State Police Academy on Alcohol Beverage Control laws, rules and regulations since 2004, and for a number of yearsWooton has served on the Policies and Procedures Executive Committee at ABCA.

“Fred Wooton brings years of service and knowledge to this position and we are delighted to have someone with his background to serve in this important role,“ said Governor Jim Justice. “His experience, starting from the ground up with the ABCA, makes him a perfect fit for this job.“

“After more than 25 years with the ABCA, the Governor’s expression of confidence in me is the highlight of my professional career,“ said Fred Wooton. “I am truly humbled and grateful to have been selected by Governor Justice to serve as Commissioner of the West Virginia ABCA. Like all West Virginians, I am aware of the significant financial challenges we are facing. Because of Governor Justice’s leadership, I am confident that better days are ahead and we are prepared at the ABCA to do our part to help him turn this state around.“

Prior to joining the ABCA, Wooton worked approximately 12 years in the lodging, food and beverage industry in southern West Virginia. He is a 1984 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics with a BS in Business Administration. He currently resides in Beckley with his wife, Debra.

►  WV DMV Announces Two New Self-Service Kiosk Locations

Commissioner Pat Reed is pleased to announce that customers in the Beckley and Morgantown areas may now “Skip the Line” and take advantage of new “WV DMV Now” kiosks that process vehicle registration renewals in minutes. The two new kiosks, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are located in the Beckley Sheetz at 1408 Eisenhower Drive and the Star City Sheetz at 3522 Monongahela Boulevard. The first kiosk was unveiled in August 2016 at the State Fair and is now located in the Shops at Kanawha Mall in Charleston. It is available during regular business hours.

  In the coming weeks, more kiosks, called “West Virginia DMV Now” for their ability to perform motor vehicle transactions instantly, will be rolled out across the state at other convenient locations.

  “We are excited to offer our customers another opportunity to save time by skipping the line and renewing their vehicle registration at the Beckley or Star City Sheetz locations or at the Kanawha Mall,“ said Commissioner Reed.  “Vehicle registration renewals are on of DMV’s most requested business transactions. These kiosks, with touch-screen monitors and easy instructions, will allow customers to complete their transaction in just minutes, including printing the registration card and decal.“

►  Activists Crowd Meeting on Proposed Pipeline Under Potomac

Environmental activists crowded a TransCanada open house Thursday in western Maryland, blocking access to displays about the company’s proposed pipeline beneath the Potomac River to carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia.

Protest leaders pledged a sustained campaign against the project, planned by the same Canadian energy company behind the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Russell Mokhiber of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, told the peaceful protesters they can defeat the Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project by making their concerns about potential leaks known to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission once TransCanada files its application in March.

“We’re going to defeat this pipeline and move on to a better world with solar energy,“ Mokhiber said after leading scores of demonstrators in singing, “Down to the River to Pray,“ in the community room of the Hancock Town Hall.

TransCanada spokesman Scott Castleman said it was unfortunate that people curious about the project had difficulty reaching company executives stationed at seven tables around the room. He said the pipeline, 72 feet below the river bed, would support growth in the region by increasing a gas supply that is nearing capacity due partly to a Procter & Gamble manufacturing plant under construction near Tabler Station, West Virginia.

“We’re looking to have conversations with people in the community who want questions answered by our experts,“ Castleman said.

The 3.4-mile project would connect a TransCanada pipeline in Pennsylvania to a Mountaineer Gas line in West Virginia by late 2018.

Opponents say a gas leak could taint local aquifers and the Potomac, a drinking-water source for downstream communities including Washington, D.C.

The project will require permits from the state of Maryland, which owns the Potomac, and the National Park Service since the pipeline also would run beneath the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The canal parallels the river for nearly 185 miles from Washington to Cumberland. The line would cross the river near Hancock, a town of about 1,500 about 120 miles upstream from Washington.

The Keystone XL project would extend from Canada’s tar sands through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect with the existing Keystone pipeline route to carry crude oil to specialized refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. The Obama administration rejected the company’s State Department permit application, citing climate-change concerns, but Donald Trump has invited TransCanada to reapply.

►  WVU replacing former fieldhouse with business school complex

West Virginia University is tearing down a former basketball fieldhouse where Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley thrived to make way for a business school complex.

The university says in a news release that the College of Business and Economics complex will be located where Stansbury Hall now sits.

The building was known as the WVU Field House when Hundley played there from 1954 to 1957 and West from 1956 to 1960.

College of Business and Economics dean Javier Reyes says that while Stansbury Hall will no longer exist, the university is working with architects to preserve its basketball legacy.

West says “it gives me a great feeling that the location of this new complex will be in the location where I already have a lot of great memories.“

►  New Roane sheriff appointed after previous sheriff resigned

The Roane County Commission has appointed Interim Sheriff Todd Cole to serve as sheriff for two more years.

Media outlets report Cole filled a vacancy created when newly elected Sheriff Matthew “Bo” Williams resigned January 18 as part of a plea agreement related to the theft of methamphetamine from the Spencer Police Department evidence room.

Commissioners appointed Cole interim sheriff on January 20. Cole has been with the sheriff’s department for 27 years. He served two terms as sheriff, from 2001-2009, then returned to the job in 2014 after the retirement of Sheriff Mike Harper.

Cole says he hopes to retire once his current term is finished.

Williams is set to be sentenced March 28, and faces one to 10 years in prison.


The Free Press WV

  • Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway is asserting her influence in the White House by hiring a chief of staff:  Conway, one of the most visible figures in the Trump administration, is expanding her operation inside the White House by hiring Renee Hudson, a veteran congressional staffer, as her chief of staff.  THE WASHINGTON POST

  • Donald Trump is reportedly selling arms to Saudi Arabia:  Saudi Arabia was notably excluded from Trump’s controversial immigration ban, yet the majority of people killed in domestic terrorist attacks were killed by Saudis. According to anonymous Congressional sources, Saudi Arabia is reportedly set up to buy a $300 million precision-guided missile technology package from the United States, which might have major implications for the world.  MIC

  • By hiring a chief of staff of her own, Conway is asserting and perhaps growing her influence in the White House, where a coterie of top advisers has been competing for Trump’s ear and to shape his agenda.
  • Trump, the drug warrior.  Trump this week promised he would be “ruthless” in fighting the nation’s drug epidemic which he blamed on “drugs pouring over the border.“  RedState

  • He also promised a “zero tolerance policy for acts of violence against law enforcement,” although it was unclear how he could enforce such a policy.  Politico

  • Watch Trump’s speech to police chiefs.  USA Today

  • About those bags of heroin stamped with an image of Trump’s face.  Mediaite

  • “If someone is bringing drugs into Mar-a-Lago police could try to seize it.” Trump’s off-the-cuff comment about “destroying” the career of a Texas lawmaker over civil asset forfeiture may have drawn laughs from sheriffs and scorn online. But it also highlighted a divide between the police, who want to go on seizing property from those accused of crimes, and conservatives and libertarians, who want to curtail the practice. Does Trump know that asset forfeiture is about property rights?  Pew Charitable Trusts

  • How Trump accidentally supported civil asset forfeiture. To the chagrin of many conservatives and libertarians seeking to reform the practice.  Mother Jones

  • Trump was wrong to include the shooting of a Philadelphia cop on his list of “underreported” terror attacks, says local police union official.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►  Windy Day Leads to Tragedy on Virginia Bridge

A blustery day on a Virginia bridge led to a truck driver’s death Thursday, the AP reports. Joseph Chen, a 47-year-old employee of Evans Transport, was crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in his tractor-trailer around 12:30pm, shortly after weather reports had indicated a Level 1 wind advisory, meaning winds were clocking in at over 40mph, the Virginian-Pilot reports. The North Carolina man was driving his truck southbound when his vehicle went over the side and into the 45-degree Chesapeake Bay. As his truck began to sink, Chen was spotted standing atop it, offering hope he’d survive the freak accident. But after a Navy chopper pulled him from the water, he died en route to the hospital.

Just 30 minutes after Chen’s truck was swept off the bridge, the wind advisory was raised to a Level 2, which means winds had crept up past 47mph. Between 1964 and 2011, 10 vehicles driving over that bridge have met similar fates, with only one survivor out of the bunch, per Virginian-Pilot records. A truck driver who crosses the bridge a couple of times a week tells WAVY “on a windy day, you can feel it” and that his truck will sway from left to right, depending on the wind’s direction. Meanwhile, Chen’s wife, Billie Jo, tells the Virginian-Pilot her husband “was off the chain.“ They would’ve marked their 10-year anniversary in April. She added her husband, whom she said was “awesome,“ had two kids from a previous marriage.

►  Proposed Bill May Give Coffee Lovers the Jitters

Nearly 250 years after the Boston Tea Party, we could have a Salem Coffee Party on our hands. The Oregon Legislature is weighing a tax of 5 cents per pound on wholesale coffee, including coffee beans and ground coffee. KOIN reports that no revenue projection was given in House Bill 2875, but the Willamette Week’s math suggests it could bring in about $2 million a year. (The state’s budget gap stands at $1.8 billion.) The money would be earmarked for the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program, alternative high school programs, and primary school reading programs.

Willamette Week sees a disconnect there, reporting that lawmakers typically try to “establish a clear connection” between the tax and what the revenue will do, like property taxes paid by homeowners covering fire services. “The relationship between coffee consumption and alternative education is less clear,“ it writes. That said, the bill will go into effect on July 1, 2018, if it receives a three-fifths majority in the state House and Senate. A rep for House Republicans says “a tax on coffee is clearly not a proposal Oregonians would support, and we hope Democrats will disavow it just as quickly as they introduced it.“

►  Judge Set This Man’s Bail at $4B to Make a Point

Antonio Willis is likely to be in jail a while after a Texas justice of the peace set what might be the largest bond in US history. The $4 billion bond is certainly the highest ever in Bell County, where Willis, 25, is accused of killing Donte Samuels. However, the figure—too large for the jail’s booking software—may violate Eighth Amendment protections against excessive bail, reports USA Today. Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown knows that. Brown tells the Killeen Daily Herald that she wanted to set bond at $100,000 but was pressured by other unspecified people to set it higher. And so she did, to make a point.

Her goal was to show “how ridiculous it is for us to be setting bail too high for people to get out of jail,“ she adds, per the Temple Daily Telegram. “People are going into prison like it’s adult day care, and it’s mostly because they can’t afford to get out.“ Counters a lawyer who spoke with the AP, “This justice of the peace is abusing the bail process in an attempt to make a name for herself.“ Willis’ lawyer intends to ask a state district judge to lower the amount. The AP notes that Willis’ bond is much larger than the eye-popping $3 billion amount set for New York real estate heir Robert Durst more than a decade ago; an appeals court in 2004 found it to be unconstitutionally excessive and dropped it to $450,000.

►    A look at what comes next in Trump travel ban case

A federal appeals court has handed a resounding victory to Washington state and Minnesota in their challenge of Donald Trump’s travel ban, finding unanimously that a lower court ruling suspending the ban’s enforcement should stay in place while the case continues.

The 3-0 decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the states on nearly every issue presented.
Some legal scholars who reviewed it said the Justice Department could face long odds in any immediate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, though that won’t necessarily stop the administration from trying. Trump tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT” after the ruling came out Thursday – prompting a sharp retort from Washington Governor Jay Inslee: “Mr. President, we just saw you in court, and we beat you.“

Here’s a look at the legal issues in the court’s ruling and what comes next.


For now, it means refugees and people from seven majority-Muslim nations identified in the president’s surprise January 27 executive order can continue entering the country. Travelers from those countries won’t be detained, or put back on planes heading overseas, and there won’t likely be more protests jamming the nation’s airports as there were after Trump issued the order.

But the executive order isn’t dead, either – it just isn’t being enforced while the courts debate its legality. The federal government has 14 days to ask the 9th Circuit to reconsider Thursday’s decision. It could also file an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, which would go to Justice Anthony Kennedy for referral to the rest of the court.

Rory Little, a former Supreme Court clerk who teaches at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, doesn’t think that’s such a good idea. In addition to seeking to overturn a reasoned decision, he said, Trump would be facing Chief Justice John Roberts, who just wrote an annual report in which he raved about his District Court judges. The president repeatedly insulted the Seattle judge who ruled against him, in addition to the appeals judges who followed suit.

“I think Kennedy and Roberts are seething about the president insulting their judges,“ Little said. “If they go to the U.S. Supreme Court, they risk getting a serious adverse ruling.“


There have been, in effect, two items before the court: the government’s appeal of the lower judge’s ruling, and its motion for a “stay” to put that ruling on hold pending the appeal. On Thursday, the panel denied the motion for stay and set a briefing schedule for fuller arguments on the merits of the appeal.

That prompted some confusion among those watching the case, many of whom expected it to be returned to the Seattle courthouse. Washington’s lawyer, state Solicitor General Noah Purcell, wrote to the Seattle court’s clerk late Thursday to note the state wouldn’t be making an expected court filing because of the new appellate briefing schedule.

Barring an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court, the government’s opening brief is due March 3, with the states’ filing due March 24.

In denying the motion for stay, the court said it was considering whether the administration was likely to win its appeal, whether suspending the travel ban had harmed the government, and whether the public interest favored granting the stay or rejecting it.

The judges agreed that the lower court’s ruling was appealable – the only question on which the states lost. They rejected the DOJ’s argument that the states lacked standing to sue, noting that some faculty members at state universities were unable to travel, for example.

But most forcibly, they rejected the DOJ’s notion that the president has nearly unlimited authority over immigration decisions.

“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,“ the opinion said.


Based on what they know so far, Trump’s executive order poses some serious constitutional concerns, the panel said. For example, the government hasn’t shown that it complies with due process, by giving those affected notice or a hearing before restricting their ability to travel.

While the government insisted that most or all those affected don’t have such rights, the court disagreed. The protections of the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause aren’t limited to U.S. citizens, the judges said.
Furthermore, while White House Counsel Donald McGahn issued guidance days after the executive order saying it didn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., some of whom had been caught up in the travel ban, that guidance was of little use, the court wrote.

“The Government has offered no authority establishing that the White House counsel is empowered to issue an amended order superseding the Executive Order signed by the President,“ the opinion said. “The White House counsel is not the President, and he is not known to be in the chain of command for any of the Executive Departments.“


Many conservatives denounced the ruling, and some law professors criticized various aspects of it, including its lack of analysis regarding a law giving the president power to suspend entry of “any class of aliens” when he finds their entry “would be detrimental” to the country.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas called the decision misguided and wrote off the court it came from as “the most notoriously left-wing court in America.“

While the 9th Circuit certainly has a lefty reputation, based in part on the long tenure of the many liberal judges that Democratic President Jimmy Carter appointed, legal scholars say the label is less deserved than it used to be. Two of the judges on the panel that made the ruling are Democratic appointees, while one, that Judge Richard Clifton, was appointed by President George W. Bush.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond Law School, said Clifton’s decision to join the opinion should allay any concerns that it was motivated by politics instead of the law. That should make the government think twice before going to the Supreme Court, he said.

During oral arguments Tuesday, Clifton “was asking the best questions that might lean toward the government, but even he wasn’t persuaded on the law or the facts, so that makes it really tough for the government,“ Tobias said. “I don’t think they’re going to be well-received at the Supreme Court for all kinds of reasons, but mainly because this is a reasonable decision. The precedents are there, they’ve weighed the issues, and even Clifton signed it.“

►  Woman Ends 22-Year Marriage Over Husband’s Trump Support

The election was three months ago but divisions between supporters of Trump and Hillary Clinton are still deep, with political disputes ending plenty of friendships and even marriages, Reuters reports. Gayle McCormick, a 73-year-old retired prison guard in Washington state who describes herself as a “Democrat leaning toward socialist,“ says she decided to end her marriage of 22 years after her husband announced at a lunch with friends last year that he was planning to vote for Trump. She says it was a “deal breaker.“ “I was in shock,“ she tells People. “It was the breaking point. The Trump issue was the catalyst.“

McCormick says it “totally undid” her that her husband could agree with Trump on anything and though it was a tough decision, she went through with the divorce even though he didn’t end up voting for the Republican. “When things are 51% good and 49% bad, you just stay,“ she says. “I was tired and older and I didn’t want to argue and neither of us was going to change.“ Her ex-husband declined to discuss the divorce with the New York Daily News. “Well, I’ll be damned,“ he said when told it was in the news. This probably wasn’t the only election-related divorce: Some 16% of people polled by Reuters—including 22% of Clinton supporters—said they had stopped talking to a family member or close friend because of the election result.

►  She Was George Washington’s Slave—Until She’d Had Enough

It appears the world is about to get familiar with the fascinating story of Oney Judge. As the New York Times explains, Judge (also known as Ona) was one of George Washington’s slaves until she managed to escape. The president took this as a personal affront—he huffed at her “ingratitude”—and tried to recapture her for years, right up until his death. Washington famously freed his slaves in his will, but Judge technically belonged to Martha Washington and thus wouldn’t have been affected. Judge’s story hasn’t been widely told, but it is now included in an exhibition at Mount Vernon and is also the subject of a book, Never Caught, by the University of Delaware’s Erica Armstrong Dunbar. “We have the famous fugitives, like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass,“ says Dunbar. “But decades before them, Ona Judge did this. I want people to know her story.“

And quite a story it is: Judge was born into slavery at Mount Vernon, and she traveled with the first couple first to New York and then to Philadelphia when Washington became president. It was in Philadelphia that Judge learned she was to be given to Martha Washington’s granddaughter and re-shipped south. Instead, she slipped away from the presidential mansion with the help of free blacks and made it to New Hampshire. She would marry and have three children there, and though she lived in near poverty, she expressed no regrets in two interviews before her death in 1848, at around age 75, reports Washington, for his part, tried to skirt federal rules on the recapture of slaves and enlisted a customs employee to get her back, reports the New York Post. Judge, however, evaded all attempts at recapture.

►  Woman Dies After Getting Stuck in Clothing Donation Bin

A Pennsylvania woman died Sunday after getting her arm caught in a clothing donation bin, PennLive reports. Judith Permar, 56, is believed to have arrived at the clothing drop-off box around 2am and stood on a stepstool to reach her arm inside. According to, police say she was pulling bags out of the bin when her stool collapsed and her arm got stuck inside with her feet dangling off the ground. Permar’s body was found around 8:30am with her black Hummer still running nearby. She died from blunt force trauma—she had a broken arm and wrist—and had hypothermia. Her death was ruled an accident, WNEP reports.

“She was fishing bags out and the ladder she was standing on gave way, and she couldn’t get her hand loose,“ says Mount Carmel Police Chief Brian Hollenbush. He adds that he knew Permar and wouldn’t expect her to be stealing clothes from a donation bin. However, bags from inside the bin were found on the ground, and police received a report of a woman in a black Hummer taking clothes from the same drop-off box back in November. Her son, meanwhile, says his mother donated to such clothing bins frequently. In a message to family and friends, Permar’s daughter remembered her as a “fun-loving person.“

►  Customs Discovered Limes Weren’t Actually Limes

If Harry Nilsson had put these limes in the coconut, someone would’ve ended up with more than a bellyache. US Customs and Border Protection officials in Pharr, Texas, near the border with Mexico, intercepted a truck January 30 that appeared to be holding more than 34,000 Key limes, per CNN. But a closer look instead revealed nearly 4,000 pounds of pot hidden inside the fake limes, with the entire stash worth around $790,000. The drugs were spotted thanks to an imaging inspection program and narcotics K9s. KTRK lists some other recent produce-like smuggling disguises, including watermelons, carrots, and asparagus.

►  Here’s What Alleged 9/11 Mastermind Wrote to Obama

The man who allegedly spearheaded 9/11 blames America for the terrorist attack in a letter written to Barack Obama and delivered in the final days of his presidency. A copy of the letter, which was finished in 2015 but held up by officials at Guantanamo, was obtained from Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s lawyers by the Miami Herald. In the letter’s 18 pages (it came along with a 50-page manuscript), Mohammed says America had 9/11 coming after years of killing innocent people around the world, including in Vietnam, Hiroshima, and Iraq. He was particularly concerned with Palestinian deaths in the Gaza Strip, telling Obama: “Your hands are still wet with the blood of our brothers and sisters and children who were killed in Gaza.“

Elsewhere in the letter, Mohammed says he’s fine with a life in prison, but he’ll “be even happier” if the US sentences him to death because he’ll be able to see Allah and Osama bin Laden. On the topic of bin Laden, Mohammed blames Obama—“the head of the snake”—for throwing the former al Qaeda leader’s body into the ocean instead of burying it or returning it to his family. Mohammed also attacks drone strikes, CNN, Fox, “the Jewish community of Brooklyn,“ the CIA, the FBI, “the followers of Jerry Falwell,“ and more. Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in 2003 and is currently being held at Guantanamo, CBS News reports. He confessed to plotting 9/11 while under interrogation in 2007.

►  Oldest Person in U.S. Dies After 114 Years in New Jersey

A New Jersey woman born the same year as Charles Lindbergh has died after almost seven months as the oldest person in America. Adele Dunlap, who celebrated her 114th birthday in December, died on Sunday, making 113-year-old Delphine Gibson the oldest person in the US, reports. According to the Gerontology Research Center, the oldest American alive is 114-year-old Marie-Josephine Gaudette, a nun who has been living in a convent in Italy since 1958. Dunlap, who was born in Newark in 1902, worked as a teacher before she got married and had three children with her husband, Earl, who died in 1963. She had six grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

After Dunlap became the oldest American resident last year, son Earl Jr. said she “never went out jogging or anything like that,“ per the AP. “She’s not really thin, but she never weighed more than 140 pounds,“ he said. “She smoked, and when my father had his first heart attack, they both stopped. I think she ate anything she wanted.“ Staff at the nursing home where she spent the last 15 years of her life say she tended to take years off her age and had most recently been telling people she was 105. The Record reports that at her 114th birthday party, Dunlap said, “Gee, how should I know?“ when asked what she was thankful for. When asked if she had a birthday wish, she said: “I’ve never thought of such a thing. I don’t wish for anything.“

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►  Man Says Cop Raped Him, Cops Suggest It Was Accident

A 22-year-old French man says a police officer used a baton to rape him during an arrest in a Paris suburb, leaving him to undergo emergency surgery for injuries to his rectum. According to one of the involved officer’s lawyers, the baton might’ve slipped into the man’s anus by mistake. It’s a story few are buying in Aulnay-sous-Bois, where protesters have gathered for the past six nights while the youth worker, a black man identified as Theo, remains in a hospital, per the Independent. A police officer has been charged with rape and three others face charges of assault after the event last Thursday—Theo was stopped for an identity check as police were looking for drug dealers, per the Local—though police say there is insufficient evidence of a rape.

A police source say a video shows an officer “applying a truncheon blow horizontally across the buttocks,“ adding Theo’s pants at some point “slipped down on their own.“ Theo, however, says an officer “took his baton and shoved it into my buttocks,“ per the New York Times. He says officers also beat him, sprayed him with tear gas, and called him a “b——.“ Police have used tear gas to subdue protesters across France in the days since. In one case, police fired live rounds into the air to disperse protesters, several of whom have been arrested, accused of setting cars on fire, damaging buildings, and “ambushing” police. Theo, visited by French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday, has implored protesters to remain peaceful.

►  Kitten Experiment in 4th-Grade Textbook Outrages Parents

A textbook has sparked outrage in India for instructing fourth-graders to suffocate a kitten to show how living beings need air. The experiment described in the environmental science textbook for 9-year-olds tells the students to place two kittens in separate boxes, one of them without air holes, and wait to see the result. The textbook, titled Our Green World, was published by PP Publications, a New Delhi-based publisher of school textbooks, the AP reports. It had been used in hundreds of schools in the Indian capital and the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana since last April. The first chapter, titled “Living Things Breathe,“ reads: “No living thing can live without air for more than a few minutes. You can do an experiment.“

That experiment? “Take two wooden boxes,“ the text continues. “Make holes on the lid of one box. Put a small kitten in each box. Close the boxes. After some time open the boxes. What do you see? The kitten inside the box without holes has died.“ The publisher said Friday the book was no longer being published and would not be prescribed for the new school year starting in April. “A couple of months ago, some parents called and complained about the science experiment in the book,“ said Parvesh Gupta, the publisher. “They said it was harmful for children and cruel to the animals.“ Although India’s education ministry has advisory panels and institutes that approve of middle school and high school textbooks, elementary schools can choose and prescribe their own textbooks.

►  Student Allegedly Burned Cash Near Homeless Man

He wore a white tie and tails, but the actions he’s accused of exhibit zero class. The Telegraph reports that Cambridge University student Ronald Coyne, the communications officer of the Cambridge University Conservative Association, was allegedly intoxicated and filmed in formalwear burning a 20-pound note (equal to about $25) in front of a homeless person. The video, said by the Mirror to have been shot on the freezing-cold night of February 2 and circulated on Snapchat, shows the person alleged to be Coyne having a hard time lighting the money on fire, then simply saying, “Some homeless shelter” before the camera moves to focus on the homeless man. Coyne was immediately asked to resign from the CUCA after the political society got wind of his alleged behavior, which a spokesman calls “abhorrent and repugnant.“

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Coyne apparently didn’t get gussied up to look good on camera: A CUCA exec tells the Cambridge student newspaper Varsity Coyne had attended a parents’ formal earlier in the evening. A source tells the Telegraph that Coyne has claimed he’s related to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, though a Scottish government rep says Coyne “is not a direct relative of the First Minister or her husband.“ Coyne’s puzzled mother tells the Telegraph her son had volunteered for a couple of years at an Edinburgh homeless shelter. The founder of a local charity that helps the homeless tells the Tab, which has screenshots from the video, that there’s been a “disturbing precedent” of drunk Cambridge students harassing “rough sleepers” in the past, though he says such incidents aren’t common.

►  Paris Plans Glass Wall Around Eiffel Tower

Paris authorities say they want to replace the metal security fencing around the Eiffel Tower with a more visually appealing glass wall. A statement from Paris City Hall issued Thursday said see-through panels could replace the existing fences at the north and south of the famed monument that were installed for the Euro 2016 soccer event, the AP reports.

City tourism chief Jean-Francois Martins says the glass is an aesthetic substitute for the metal fencing, which was “useful in security matters” but “spoils the view.“ He says the wall will give Parisians and visitors a “very pleasant view of the monument.“ The proposal is part of a $300 million project announced in January to modernize the 128-year-old tower.

►  Trump Talks to Xi, Grants ‘One China’ Request

A day after offering belated Chinese New Year greetings, Trump gave Beijing something more substantial: his assurances that he respects America’s long-standing “one China” policy and plans to adhere to it. Trump had his first conversation with China’s President Xi Jinping late Thursday and the White House says it was an “extremely cordial” talk, the South China Morning Post reports. “The two leaders discussed numerous topics and Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our one-China policy,“ the White House said in a statement. The policy, which the US has followed for decades, accepts Beijing’s view that Taiwan is a part of China.

Trump infuriated China in December when, as president-elect, he spoke directly to Taiwan’s president. Analysts say Trump appears to have adopted a more pragmatic approach, possibly because of the influence of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The phone call is “good news and a positive development for the relationship,“ Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, tells the Guardian. “It will allow the US and China to get on to the more difficult issues that really need work, such as trade, North Korea, and the South China Sea.“ The AP reports that the US Pacific Command disclosed Friday that a Chinese aircraft and a US Navy patrol plane had an “unsafe” encounter over the South China Sea earlier in the week.

►  ‘Utterly Heartbreaking’ Scene on Remote Beach

Volunteers are scrambling to rescue scores of whales after one of the worst strandings in New Zealand’s history. About 275 of the pilot whales were already dead when magazine writer Cheree Morrison and two colleagues found them early Friday on Farewell Spit, a remote beach at the tip of the South Island. Within hours, hundreds of farmers, tourists, and teenagers were racing to keep the surviving whales alive, the AP reports. Morrison stumbled upon the whales after taking a pre-dawn trip with a photographer and a guide to capture the red glow of the sunrise. “You could hear the sounds of splashing, of blowholes being cleared, of sighing,“ she says, describing the scene as “utterly heartbreaking.“

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“The young ones were the worst,“ Morrison says. “Crying is the only way to describe it.“ The adult and baby whale carcasses were strewn three or four deep in places for hundreds of yards, often rolled over on the sand with their tail fins still aloft. Volunteer rescue group Project Jonah said a total of 416 whales had stranded. When high tide came, volunteers managed to refloat about 50 surviving whales while the other 80 or 90 remained beached. The volunteers then formed a human chain in the water to try to stop the creatures from swimming back and stranding themselves again. Farewell Spit, a sliver of sand that arches like a hook into the Tasman Sea, seems to confuse whales and has been the site of previous mass strandings.

►  She Hadn’t Seen Mexico in 21 Years. She Was Sent Back

The deportation of an immigrant mother in Phoenix who was granted leniency during the Obama administration provides an early example of how Donald Trump plans to carry through on his vow to crack down on illegal immigration, the AP reports. The case of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos became a rallying cry Thursday for immigrant groups who believe Trump’s approach to immigration unfairly tears apart families. Her arrest prompted a vocal demonstration in downtown Phoenix as protesters blocked enforcement vans from leaving a US immigration office. Seven people were arrested. White House spokesman Sean Spicer referred questions on the matter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday that the agency “will remove illegal aliens convicted of felony offenses as ordered by an immigration judge.“

Garcia de Rayos, 35, came to the US from the Mexican state of Guanajuato when she was 14 and has two children who are US citizens, per an immigrant advocacy group; the New York Times reports she had not been back to Mexico since she left. She was among workers arrested years ago in one of then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s first investigations into Phoenix-area businesses suspected of hiring immigrants who had used fraudulent IDs to get jobs, and accused of using a Social Security number belonging to another person to get a job. She pleaded guilty in March 2009 to a reduced charge of criminal impersonation and was sentenced to two years of probation. She was placed into deportation proceedings but given leniency. On Wednesday, she showed up with her lawyer for what she thought was a routine check-in with ICE officials and was detained instead of being allowed to leave after checking in. She was deported around 10am Thursday from a Nogales border crossing and ICE worked with Mexican consular officials to repatriate her, agency spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe said in a statement.

Immigration Order

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Gilmer County FRN Second Step Training

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On February 03, 2017 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM the Gilmer County FRN coordinated with Region 4 Project SUCCESS to provide training to Gilmer Elementary School educators and staff on the evidence-based curriculum Second Step.

Training was located at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Glenville.

Pre-school curriculum learners will benefit more from preschool and be better prepared for kindergarten with self-regulation and executive-function skills that help them pay attention, remember directions, and control their behavior.

Students in Grades K–3 continue developing their social-emotional skills—including making friends, managing emotions, and solving problems—to set them on the path for social success and academic readiness.

The Gilmer County FRN was able to coordinate this training through the Substance Abuse Prevention Grant received through Region 4 Project SUCCESS.

For more information about the Second Step Curriculum, please visit

Gilmer County Family Court Report

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On Wednesday, February 08, 2017 Family Court Judge Steve Jones held Family Court in the Court House Annex.

•  One domestic violence petition was denied.

Two divorces were granted wherein:

•  Debra Doolittle (50) of Weston, WV divorced Orville Jack Doolittle (58) of Mt. Olive, WV.

•  Matthew D. Fisher (25) of Cedarville, WV divorced Tracey Fisher (24) of Paden City, WV.

•  One divorce was continued.

•  A guardian ad litem was appointed in a modification case and it was continued.

•  Another modification had no order entered in it yet due to attorneys being involved and they will prepare the order and submit it for signature to the FCJ.

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