Autocracy: Rules for Survival

The Free Press WV

Protesters outside Trump Tower the day after the election, New York City, November 09, 2016

“Thank you, my friends. Thank you. Thank you. We have lost. We have lost, and this is the last day of my political career, so I will say what must be said. We are standing at the edge of the abyss. Our political system, our society, our country itself are in greater danger than at any time in the last century and a half. The president-elect has made his intentions clear, and it would be immoral to pretend otherwise. We must band together right now to defend the laws, the institutions, and the ideals on which our country is based.”

That, or something like that, is what Hillary Clinton should have said on Wednesday. Instead, she said, resignedly,

We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle [that] we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.

Hours later, President Barack Obama was even more conciliatory:

We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world….We have to remember that we’re actually all on one team.

The president added, “The point, though, is that we all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy.” As if Donald Trump had not conned his way into hours of free press coverage, as though he had released (and paid) his taxes, or not brazenly denigrated our system of government, from the courts and Congress, to the election process itself—as if, in other words, he had not won the election precisely byacting in bad faith.

Similar refrains were heard from various members of the liberal commentariat, with Tom Friedman vowing, “I am not going to try to make my president fail,” to Nick Kristof calling on “the approximately 52 percent majority of voters who supported someone other than Donald Trump” to “give president Trump a chance.” Even the politicians who have in the past appealed to the less-establishment part of the Democratic electorate sounded the conciliatory note. Senator Elizabeth Warren promised to “put aside our differences.” Senator Bernie Sanders was only slightly more cautious, vowing to try to find the good in Trump: “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.”

However well-intentioned, this talk assumes that Trump is prepared to find common ground with his many opponents, respect the institutions of government, and repudiate almost everything he has stood for during the campaign. In short, it is treating him as a “normal” politician. There has until now been little evidence that he can be one.

More dangerously, Clinton’s and Obama’s very civil passages, which ended in applause lines, seemed to close off alternative responses to his minority victory. (It was hard not to be reminded of Neville Chamberlain’s statement, that “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will.”) Both Clinton’s and Obama’s phrases about the peaceful transfer of power concealed the omission of a call to action. The protesters who took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities on Wednesday night did so not because of Clinton’s speech but in spite of it. One of the falsehoods in the Clinton speech was the implied equivalency between civil resistance and insurgency. This is an autocrat’s favorite con, the explanation for the violent suppression of peaceful protests the world over.

The second falsehood is the pretense that America is starting from scratch and its president-elect is a tabula rasa. Or we are: “we owe him an open mind.” It was as though Donald Trump had not, in the course of his campaign, promised to deport US citizens, promised to create a system of surveillance targeted specifically at Muslim Americans, promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico, advocated war crimes, endorsed torture, and repeatedly threatened to jail Hillary Clinton herself. It was as though those statements and many more could be written off as so much campaign hyperbole and now that the campaign was over, Trump would be eager to become a regular, rule-abiding politician of the pre-Trump era.

But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:

Rule #1Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture. More recently, the same newspaper made a telling choice between two statements made by Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov following a police crackdown on protesters in Moscow: “The police acted mildly—I would have liked them to act more harshly” rather than those protesters’ “liver should have been spread all over the pavement.” Perhaps the journalists could not believe their ears. But they should—both in the Russian case, and in the American one. For all the admiration Trump has expressed for Putin, the two men are very different; if anything, there is even more reason to listen to everything Trump has said. He has no political establishment into which to fold himself following the campaign, and therefore no reason to shed his campaign rhetoric. On the contrary: it is now the establishment that is rushing to accommodate him—from the president, who met with him at the White House on Thursday, to the leaders of the Republican Party, who are discarding their long-held scruples to embrace his radical positions.

He has received the support he needed to win, and the adulation he craves, precisely because of his outrageous threats. Trump rally crowds have chanted “Lock her up!” They, and he, meant every word. If Trump does not go after Hillary Clinton on his first day in office, if he instead focuses, as his acceptance speech indicated he might, on the unifying project of investing in infrastructure (which, not coincidentally, would provide an instant opportunity to reward his cronies and himself), it will be foolish to breathe a sigh of relief. Trump has made his plans clear, and he has made a compact with his voters to carry them out. These plans include not only dismantling legislation such as Obamacare but also doing away with judicial restraint—and, yes, punishing opponents.

To begin jailing his political opponents, or just one opponent, Trump will begin by trying to capture of the judicial system. Observers and even activists functioning in the normal-election mode are fixated on the Supreme Court as the site of the highest-risk impending Trump appointment. There is little doubt that Trump will appoint someone who will cause the Court to veer to the right; there is also the risk that it might be someone who will wreak havoc with the very culture of the high court. And since Trump plans to use the judicial system to carry out his political vendettas, his pick for attorney general will be no less important. Imagine former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie going after Hillary Clinton on orders from President Trump; quite aside from their approach to issues such as the Geneva Conventions, the use of police powers, criminal justice reforms, and other urgent concerns.

Rule #2Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Consider the financial markets this week, which, having tanked overnight, rebounded following the Clinton and Obama speeches. Confronted with political volatility, the markets become suckers for calming rhetoric from authority figures. So do people. Panic can be neutralized by falsely reassuring words about how the world as we know it has not ended. It is a fact that the world did not end on November 8 nor at any previous time in history. Yet history has seen many catastrophes, and most of them unfolded over time. That time included periods of relative calm. One of my favorite thinkers, the Jewish historian Simon Dubnow, breathed a sigh of relief in early October 1939: he had moved from Berlin to Latvia, and he wrote to his friends that he was certain that the tiny country wedged between two tyrannies would retain its sovereignty and Dubnow himself would be safe. Shortly after that, Latvia was occupied by the Soviets, then by the Germans, then by the Soviets again—but by that time Dubnow had been killed. Dubnow was well aware that he was living through a catastrophic period in history—it’s just that he thought he had managed to find a pocket of normality within it.

Rule #3Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. Poland has in less than a year undone half of a quarter century’s accomplishments in building a constitutional democracy.

Of course, the United States has much stronger institutions than Germany did in the 1930s, or Russia does today. Both Clinton and Obama in their speeches stressed the importance and strength of these institutions. The problem, however, is that many of these institutions are enshrined in political culture rather than in law, and all of them—including the ones enshrined in law—depend on the good faith of all actors to fulfill their purpose and uphold the Constitution.

The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House. Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access. There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information.

The power of the investigative press—whose adherence to fact has already been severely challenged by the conspiracy-minded, lie-spinning Trump campaign—will grow weaker. The world will grow murkier. Even in the unlikely event that some mainstream media outlets decide to declare themselves in opposition to the current government, or even simply to report its abuses and failings, the president will get to frame many issues. Coverage, and thinking, will drift in a Trumpian direction, just as it did during the campaign—when, for example, the candidates argued, in essence, whether Muslim Americans bear collective responsibility for acts of terrorism or can redeem themselves by becoming the “eyes and ears” of law enforcement. Thus was xenophobia further normalized, paving the way for Trump to make good on his promises to track American Muslims and ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Rule #4Be outraged. If you follow Rule #1 and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.

Despite losing the popular vote, Trump has secured as much power as any American leader in recent history. The Republican Party controls both houses of Congress. There is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The country is at war abroad and has been in a state of mobilization for fifteen years. This means not only that Trump will be able to move fast but also that he will become accustomed to an unusually high level of political support. He will want to maintain and increase it—his ideal is the totalitarian-level popularity numbers of Vladimir Putin—and the way to achieve that is through mobilization. There will be more wars, abroad and at home.

Rule #5Don’t make compromises. Like Ted Cruz, who made the journey from calling Trump “utterly amoral” and a “pathological liar” to endorsing him in late September to praising his win as an “amazing victory for the American worker,” Republican politicians have fallen into line. Conservative pundits who broke ranks during the campaign will return to the fold. Democrats in Congress will begin to make the case for cooperation, for the sake of getting anything done—or at least, they will say, minimizing the damage. Nongovernmental organizations, many of which are reeling at the moment, faced with a transition period in which there is no opening for their input, will grasp at chances to work with the new administration. This will be fruitless—damage cannot be minimized, much less reversed, when mobilization is the goal—but worse, it will be soul-destroying. In an autocracy, politics as the art of the possible is in fact utterly amoral. Those who argue for cooperation will make the case, much as President Obama did in his speech, that cooperation is essential for the future. They will be willfully ignoring the corrupting touch of autocracy, from which the future must be protected.

Rule #6Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.

~~  Masha Gessen ~~

In USA….

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►  Teacher Suspended After Comparing Trump to Hitler

A California high school teacher is on administrative leave after a parent complained about him drawing parallels between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. Frank Navarro, a recognized academic expert on the Holocaust at Mountain View High School, tells the Oracle student newspaper that he was not equating Trump with Hitler. But he said Hitler’s persecution of Jews has “remarkable parallels” to Trump’s views on Latinos, African-Americans, and Muslims, reports the San Jose Mercury News. “I’m not pulling these facts out of my hat,“ Navarro says he told school officials. “It’s based on experience and work, and if I’m wrong, show me where I’m wrong.“

Mountain View/Los Altos High School District Superintendent Jeff Harding says the district is exercising extra caution in the charged post-election atmosphere. “We are interested in getting Frank back in the classroom. ... We’re just trying to maintain our due diligence.“ One student tells the school newspaper that he tried to offer a counter-argument in class, but Navarro told him to “shut up,“ a claim Navarro denies. The Los Angeles Times notes that Navarro was named a Mandel fellow for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and has taught at Mountain View for more than 40 years.

►  KKK To Throw “Unannounced” Parade Celebrating Trump’s Election

President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters are thrilled that the casino owner will soon make his way into the Oval Office. In particular, the Ku Klux Klan.

On Thursday, the country’s largest KKK group announced that it’s planning to celebrate by throwing a parade for the former steak salesman. Based in North Carolina, the Loyal White Knights of Pelham posted on their website that the event will take place December 03. It did not list an exact time or location.

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Snopes managed to get in contact with the white supremacy group, but its spokeswoman would only say that the parade would be “unannounced” and occur somewhere in North Carolina.

If their name sounds familiar, that’s because the Loyal White Knights of Pelham were behind last year’s protest against removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s state Capitol. The Anti-Defamation League calls the group “perhaps the most active Klan group in the United States today,” and estimates its members, who state “TRUMP = TRUMP’S RACE UNITED MY PEOPLE,” number anywhere from 150 to 200 racists.

This isn’t the first time the Klan has shown up for Trump. The KKK’s official newspaper, The Crusader, effectively endorsed Trump the week leading up to the 2016 election. In response, Trump’s campaign team criticized the article, saying in a statement that “Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form. This publication is repulsive and their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are uniting behind our campaign.”

Still, several Klan groups publicly supported Trump, including former Klan leader David Duke, who lost a Senate race in Louisiana this past Tuesday.

It likewise appears that white nationalists will be part of Trump’s presidential future. Indeed, Trump announced yesterday that Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach would join his transition team. Kobach was last year’s featured speaker at a meeting of white nationalists and helped design Arizona’s SB 1070 in 2010, which permitted police to stop, detain and demand that a person of color prove their citizenship. The Supreme Court struck down almost all of the law’s provisions in 2012, save for the one which mandated that police check the immigration status of detained individuals before releasing them.

►  Schools report racist incidents in wake of Trump election

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, reports of racist incidents are emerging from the nation’s schools and universities, including students who chanted “white power” and called black classmates “cotton pickers.“

Reporting by The Associated Press and local media outlets has identified more than 20 such encounters beginning on Election Day, many involving people too young to cast a ballot.

At the University of New Mexico, a Muslim engineering student said a man attempted to snatch off her hijab Tuesday while she was studying.

“I turned around and there’s a really buff guy wearing a Trump shirt,“ freshman Leena Aggad said Friday. “He reaches his hand out to my forehead and attempts to pull my scarf off.“

Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League office that monitors extremism, said young people “were watching and observing this presidential campaign as closely as anyone else.“ Now that the campaign is over, “the impact of what they have seen is not just going to go away.“

On Wednesday, minority students at a high school in Gurnee, Illinois, organized a meeting and protest after a “whites only” message was found scrawled on a bathroom door. The same day in Michigan, students at Royal Oak Middle school were filmed chanting “build a wall” in the cafeteria.

At Trump’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, black freshmen were added to a group chat in which one post read “daily lynching,“ and one participant was called a “dumb slave.“ School officials are meeting with students groups to respond.

Also in Pennsylvania, two students at the York County School of Technology held a Donald Trump sign in a hallway as someone shouted “white power,“ an incident captured on video and widely shared on Facebook.

The president of the local NAACP said the video showed a hallway full of loud students so any teacher or administrator who was monitoring would have known what was happening. Sandra Thompson added that the parents of black children in local schools have been told to “go back to Africa.“

School administrators in Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s hometown of Columbus, Indiana, called for civility and respect after reports of Hispanic students being taunted. Felipe Martinez told The Indianapolis Star that his two sons were twice intimidated with chants of “build that wall,“ including on Election Day. The chant was common at Trump campaign rallies.

The morning after the election, leaflets from the Ku Klux Klan showed up in a neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama. At Central Texas University in San Marcos, police were investigating who posted fliers Thursday around campus urging the formation of “tar and feather vigilante squads” and threatening to “arrest and torture” campus diversity advocates.

In Durham, North Carolina, two walls were spray-painted with the statement “Black lives don’t matter and neither does your vote.“

The words — and in some cases violence — cut both ways.

In Louisiana, a university football coach disciplined four players in response to a locker room video showing members of the team dancing and singing the lyrics of a profane anti-Trump rap song. Anti-Trump protests have swept U.S. cities, with one turning violent in Portland, Oregon, as demonstrators smashed windows and set trash afire Thursday night.

A videotaped assault in Chicago showing black men beating a white man as onlookers scream “You voted Trump” gained traction among conservative social media users after being broadcast by local television. The teenager who shot the video and her father told WFLD-TV that the dispute began over a minor traffic accident and escalated with bystanders’ shouts about the election, which was not a factor in the fight.

At the University of New Mexico, Aggad said she squirmed around in her chair to avoid contact with the man and then stood to confront him. He is white and attends a class with her.

“He said we think we can say whatever we want, but when they come and retaliate with whatever, they are the ones who get in trouble,“ said Aggad, who was born and raised in New Mexico by Palestinian parents who came to the United States about two decades ago.

Aggad said neither faculty members nor other students came to her aid. She later filed a report with the university’s equal opportunity office, and a campuswide email went out urging tolerance. She said she does not want anyone disciplined but wants her voice heard.

A university spokeswoman said officials had received complaints about several other incidents since the election and will investigate.

A racial backlash also unfolded after the election of Barack Obama, America’s first black president, in 2008. At the time, police documented alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts were delivered by adults, college students and even children.

Anti-Trump protests have erupted this week in cities including Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago and New York.

“In order for it to die down, the impetus for it has to go away,“ Segal said. “We need our elected officials, our leaders, our community organizations, to make sure that this ... rhetoric that has become normal over the past few months goes away.“

►  Man Shot After Knife Attack at Mental Health Facility

Police officers shot an armed man inside a Pennsylvania mental health facility after he stabbed several people and put down his knife but refused to drop his gun while his victims were bleeding badly, authorities said. Seven people were taken to hospitals, including the man and at least four stabbing victims, Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs said. It was unclear if any injuries were life-threatening, the AP reports. Police implored 38-year-old Dustin Johnson to drop his gun or be shot based on texts from inside that the victims were bleeding profusely and needed help, Downs said. Johnson dropped his knife but not the gun before he was shot, she said.

Employee CJ Fulton told WTAE-TV that the man complained that a stay at the facility had “ruined” his life. Johnson apparently gained entry to the secure facility before attacking people on the fifth floor, authorities said. “He started talking to us regularly,“ Fulton told the TV station. “Next thing you know he pulled a gun.“ Fulton said Johnson was angry from something that happened when he was staying at the facility. “He just started saying, ‘You ruined my life,‘ ... then he proceeded to stab individuals and assault individuals,“ Fulton said. The center says it provides care and support for people and communities dealing with behavioral, mental health, substance abuse, and developmental issues.

►  Lawmaker Re-Elected, Arrested on Same Day

A New Hampshire lawmaker wanted by police for failing to show up for a court hearing was re-elected and arrested on the same day, the AP reports. New Hampshire Public Radio reports that Republican state Rep. Dick Marple was sitting outside a polling place with his campaign signs on Election Day when an officer recognized him. Marple was charged with driving without a valid license in December 2014. Authorities had issued a bench warrant for his arrest after he failed to show up for a court hearing in October. Police say Marple drove himself to the police station and was arrested Tuesday. He also was re-elected to a fifth term.

►  Bartender Comes Clean About ‘Historic’ Louisville Cocktail

When Adam Seger was brought on as head of restaurant operations at the storied Seelbach Hotel (now the Seelbach Hilton) in downtown Louisville, Ky., he announced that he’d stumbled upon the recipe of a pre-Prohibition drink that used to be the hotel’s signature drink and that he tried it, he enjoyed it, and he was putting in back on the menu. But as the New York Times reports, the “rescued classic” that gained fast notoriety and established Seger as a brand name was in fact Seger’s own creation, a “ruse” as the Louisville Courier-Journal calls it. Now Seger, who “carried this around” for 21 years, has decided to finally come clean.

“I was nobody,“ says Seger, who left the hotel in 2001, is now 47, and recently helped open the Tuck Room in Manhattan. “I knew I could make a great drink. I wanted it to be this promotion for the hotel, and I felt the hotel needed a signature cocktail. How could you have a place that F. Scott Fitzgerald hung out in that doesn’t have a damn cocktail?“ Everyone bought the story (even the historian known as Dr. Cocktail who wrote a book about vintage spirits) and loved the drink, which is made with bourbon, triple sec, bitters, sparkling wine, and garnished with an orange twist. Even the hotel is sticking with the drink as its signature cocktail, saying it’s become a hotel tradition and “will remain part of its future.“

►  Family Says They’ve Found Remains of Missing Hiker

The remains of a 21-year-old hiker missing since last month have been found at the bottom of a cliff in Oregon, her family says. KATU reports that clothing and personal items were found with human remains off a trail in the Columbia River Gorge near where Annie Schmidt’s car was found. And while authorities haven’t made an announcement, Schmidt’s parents say the items found with the remains belong to their daughter, according to Fox 13. Schmidt’s family hopes Friday’s discovery brings them closure. “There is comfort in knowing from the circumstances that there would have been no suffering,“ KATU quotes her family as saying in a statement. Schmidt had recently moved to Oregon from Utah and was an avid hiker.

►  Racially Charged Incidents Continue at U.S. Universities

A student at the University of Oklahoma has been temporarily suspended and police are investigating a threat against a Muslim student near the University of Michigan amid racially charged outbursts at schools and universities across the country following Donald Trump’s presidential election, the AP reports. University of Oklahoma president David Boren said the student has been temporarily suspended as the school investigates a group chat containing “violent, racist, and thoroughly disgusting images and messages” that targeted black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania and that the Oklahoma student had been involved in. Boren denied the group chat originated at the University of Oklahoma.

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, police are looking into a report of a man who threatened to set a Muslim student on fire with a lighter if she didn’t remove her hijab on Friday. The incident apparently happened near the University of Michigan campus, according to Ann Arbor police Sgt. Patrick Maguire. He added that the department is “investigating it actively ... and soliciting information from anyone who may have witnessed anything.“ A crime alert issued by the university said the woman took off her hijab and left the area. Witnesses told police the man was white with an “unkempt appearance” and “intoxicated with slurred speech.“

►  Mistrial in Case of White Cop Who Fatally Shot Black Driver

A mistrial has been declared in the case of a white Ohio cop who shot and killed an unarmed black driver during a traffic stop, sparking outrage and protests last year, NBC News reports. According to the AP, jurors deliberated for 25 hours but couldn’t come to a decision on the charges faced by 26-year-old former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. Tensing pulled 43-year-old Samuel DuBose over in July 2015 because DuBose was missing a front license plate. During the traffic stop, DuBose—who police say had marijuana in the car and had previously been convicted of dealing—began to drive away, the New York Times reports. Tensing claims he was being dragged by the car and shot DuBose in the head out of fear for his life.

But footage from Tensing’s body camera doesn’t show Tensing being dragged, and prosecutors say none of the evidence backs up Tensing’s story. Prosecutor Joseph Deters calls it a “senseless, asinine shooting.“ Tensing was charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter. Jurors were leaning toward convicting him on the lesser charge but couldn’t agree if Tensing had “acted in a fit of rage or sudden passion.“ Deters says prosecutors will decide in the next two weeks whether to retry the case or dismiss the charges. Meanwhile, Tensing is free on $1 million bond.

In The World….

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►  These 7 Countries Have No McDonald’s Locations

McDonald’s is currently fighting for its right to serve Big Macs near two Italian landmarks, but the Telegraph reports that 10 countries have already won their burger battle against Mickey D’s. A sampling:

  1. Bermuda: The island prohibits non-local fast-food restaurants, though there was a McDonald’s on a US Naval Air Station there for 10 years.
  2. Iran: The only Iranian McDonald’s shut down after the 1979 revolution. There is, however, a knock-off restaurant called Mash Donald’s.
  3. Iceland: McDonald’s left after the financial crash. The final McDonald’s burger served in Iceland is preserved in a glass case for some reason.
  4. North Korea: Obviously. But North Korean rulers may be smuggling McDonald’s in from South Korea.
  5. Jamaica: Every McDonald’s location in the country closed on October 14, 2005, due in part to a lack of investment.
  6. Barbados: The only McDonald’s in the country closed after a year. Residents apparently aren’t big beef fans.
  7. Ghana: The country inexplicably has no McDonald’s despite having KFC.

Click for the COMPLETE LIST.

►  Canada’s Immigration Website Crashes On Election Night

Canada’s immigration site crashed on Tuesday as it became clear that Donald Trump would become the next President of the United States.

While the site seems to be up and running now, at around 10:30 p.m. — a little over an hour after CNN announced key states such as Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida favored Trump — visitors considering a migration north saw only an error message, and one which would stick around for several hours:

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Beyond the website itself, Canada has seen a rash of popular interest on the Internet over the past 12 hours. Indeed, Business Insider reports that its top story has been “How to move to Canada and become a Canadian citizen,” with Google search traffic on Canada soaring as well.

Malfunctioning site aside, a move to Canada is a difficult one: In recent years, the immigration system has seen a restructuring which makes applicants “compete” against one another for increasingly limited amounts of spots, and has temporarily suspended parent and grandparent sponsorship programs that make it easier for families to move together.

Still, this assumes that people actually have the drive to move to Canada for political purposes, which the numbers can’t definitively verify one way or the other. According to NPR, while the Canadian government possesses data on how many people move there, they don’t have data on why.

Some look at spikes in U.S. immigration to Canada — such as a 2001-2009 surge in the number of U.S. citizens who became Canadian permanent residents each year — as proof that politics does push Americans north, but others are more circumspect and point to a floundering economy.

“I think there is probably a more direct correlation to the strength of the U.S. economy than to presidents,” Joel Guberman, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer, told NPR. “It appears that the high is 2008-09. The worst years for the U.S. are the highest exits, while very prosperous years are lower.”

As for what may happen under Donald Trump, only time will tell.

►  The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Dead

With the election of Donald Trump this week, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is effectively dead, Reuters reports. The 12-country trade agreement was signed last year after more than five years of negotiations. Championed by President Obama, it was supposed to be part of his legacy. Then the tide turned. Republicans, who had largely supported the TPP, nominated Trump, who called it a “disaster” and “rape of our country.“ Even Hillary Clinton, who had supported the TPP while secretary of state, disowned it during the campaign, according to NPR. The Wall Street Journal reports the Obama administration had hoped to get it approved by Congress with the help of a Democratic Senate and incoming President Clinton. Neither of those things happened, dealing Obama a “bitter defeat.“

Leaders of both parties in Congress now say they won’t bring the TPP forward for a vote before Obama leaves office. It will be up to Trump to decide what to do with it, and the president elect has already stated his preference for renegotiating NAFTA and limiting imports. The TPP was set to be the biggest trade agreement in more than a decade. It got rid of many tariffs, set standards for intellectual property rights, and more. By excluding China, it was supposed to balance that country’s growing power in the region. China is likely to now pursue its own trade agreements in the region, possibly to the detriment of US influence.

►  Ex-U.S. Ambassador to Russia Banned From Country

Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Moscow from 2012 to 2014, recently applied for a Russian visa to aid president-elect Hillary Clinton in her transition. This clearly didn’t work out so well. But beyond the obvious reason, Reuters reports McFaul discovered he had been banned by Russia from entering the country. It could be the first instance of Russia banning a US ambassador in more than 60 years. The ban against McFaul is likely part of Russia’s retaliation for 2014 sanctions leveled against it after it annexed the Crimea peninsula, according to the BBC. But McFaul believes his support for President Obama played a part, and he “will take that as a compliment.“ McFaul says he is sorry to find himself banned from Russia, a country where he’s lived or traveled for more than three decades and where he has “hundreds of friends.“

►  UN reports civilian killings, other atrocities in Mosul

New reports emerged Friday of public killings and other atrocities committed against Mosul residents by Islamic State militants, including dozens of civilians whose bullet-riddled bodies were hung from telephone polls after they were accused of using cellphones to leak information to Iraqi security forces.

The United Nations human rights office said IS fighters killed some 70 civilians in Mosul this week, part of a litany of abuses to come to light in recent days, including torture, sexual exploitation of women and girls, and use of child soldiers who were filmed executing civilians.

The revelations are the latest reports of IS brutality as the group retreats into dense urban quarters of Iraqi’s second-largest city, forcing the population to go with them as human shields.

In its report, the U.N. human rights office in Geneva said IS shot and killed 40 people on Tuesday after accusing them of “treason and collaboration,“ saying they communicated with Iraqi security forces by cellphone. The bodies, dressed in orange jumpsuits, were hung from electrical poles in Mosul.

A day later, the extremists reportedly shot to death 20 civilians at a military base. Their bodies were hung at traffic intersections in Mosul, with signs saying they “used cellphones to leak information.“

A Mosul resident, reached by telephone, said crowds have been watching the killings in horror. One victim was a former police colonel, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety.

The violence is part of a disturbing pattern. As the army advances, IS militants have been rounding up thousands of people and killing those with suspected links to the security forces. Soldiers last week discovered a mass grave in the town of Hamam al-Alil, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Mosul, containing some 100 bodies.

At the same time, the militants have gone door to door in villages south of Mosul, ordering hundreds to march at gunpoint into the city. Combat in Mosul’s dense urban areas is expected to be heavy, and the presence of civilians will slow the army’s advance as it seeks to avoid casualties.

IS militants have boasted of the atrocities in grisly online photos and video. The United Nations has urged authorities to collect evidence of IS abuses of civilians to use in eventually prosecuting the militants in tribunals.

Iraqi troops are advancing from four fronts on Mosul, the last major IS holdout in Iraq. As Iraqi special forces battle in eastern neighborhoods of the city, Kurdish peshmerga forces are holding a line north of the city, while Iraqi army and militarized police units approach from the south. Government-sanctioned Shiite militias are guarding western approaches.

In the formerly IS-held town of Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul, Kurdish commander Gen. Hamid Effendi said his forces were working to secure the area but faced booby traps that were holding up the advance.

More than a thousand unexploded bombs are believed buried in Bashiqa, Effendi said. Over 100 IS fighters have been killed in combat, he added, but wounded fighters likely remain in defensive tunnels built by the militants.

On Friday, teams went building by building into the night detonating explosives left behind in Bashiqa, which was deserted except for a few residents trickling in to check on their homes and businesses.

Among them was 60-year-old Khan Amir Mohammed, who discovered that his home had been turned into a mortar post by the militants, who dug seven tunnels on his family’s 3 1/2-acre property before retreating.

Ammunition tubes and English-language instruction pamphlets for launching mortars littered the floor in one room. Another had been turned into a makeshift mosque, with lines taped to the floor for worshippers to line up to pray.

A nearby shop where Mohammed sold animal feed had collapsed from an apparent airstrike.

“What can I say? I feel powerless,“ he said, surveying the destruction.

Down the road, Kurdish forces were detonating bombs left behind by the militants. First Sgt. Ayub Mustafa said his unit alone had disabled some 250 bombs, the vast majority homemade explosives.

“Apparently they have a smart electrician with them. They’re well-made,“ he said.

Special forces troops entered the Qadisiya neighborhood on Friday, the 26th day of the campaign to retake Mosul, exchanging small arms and mortar fire with IS positions and advancing slowly to avoid killing civilians and being surprised by suicide car bombers, said Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil.

Regular army troops control 90 percent of the Intisar neighborhood, said one officer, but progress has slowed because “the streets are too narrow for our tanks.“ He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

Meanwhile, the U.N. cited new evidence the militants have used chemical weapons, escalating fears IS will resort to chemical warfare to try to hold onto the city, still home to more than a million people.

Rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva that four people died from inhaling fumes after IS shelled and set fires to the al-Mishrag Sulfur Gas Factory in Mosul on October 23.

Shamdasani said reports indicated that IS has stockpiled large amounts of ammonia and sulfur and placed them near civilians. “We can only speculate how they intend to use this,“ she said. “We are simply raising the alarm that this is happening, that this is being stockpiled.“

She also noted a video posted online by IS on Wednesday showing four children, believed to be aged 10 to 14, gunning down four people accused of spying for Kurdish and Iraqi security forces.

U.N. officials say about 48,000 people have now fled Mosul since the government campaign began on October 17.

►  A Year Later, Paris Remembers

On November 13, 2015, Paris saw the music, food, sport, and revelry of a normal Friday night dissolve into screams, suicide bombs, gunfire, terror, and a staggering amount of death as Islamic State terrorists targeted various locations in the City of Light: Cafes, a soccer stadium, a concert hall. On Sunday, Paris remembered the attacks of a year ago and honored the 130 victims, reports the AP, by reading out their names, unveiling plaques, attempting some semblance of normalcy. “We’ve got two important things to do tonight,“ said Sting on Saturday night, during a concert he gave to reopen the Bataclan, the music venue where 90 people died in a sustained assault. “First, to remember and honor those who lost their lives in the attacks a year ago ... and to celebrate the life and the music of this historic venue. ... We shall not forget them.“

But even as the French honored their dead, the living acknowledged their scars. “I will always live with the fact that I saw ringing cellphones that said ‘Papa,‘ ‘Maman,‘ on the dead,“ the commander of the Paris Fire Brigade, who responded at the Bataclan, tells the New York Times, as part of the paper’s interviews with several dozen survivors. “But the parents, they will have to live with the lasting loss of their loved ones.“ Adds a man who was wounded: “I remember I was lying down, and I saw someone in white. For that reason, I thought it was an angel.“ She wasn’t an angel, but rather the only doctor on the scene—and she gave tourniquets made of napkins. Meanwhile, the Washington Post takes a look at Europe’s extremism a year after the attacks, and concludes that it hasn’t improved.

►  NZ Quake ‘Just Kept Going and Going;‘ Tsunami Strikes

A powerful earthquake struck New Zealand’s South Island early Monday, shaking awake residents, damaging buildings, and prompting emergency services to warn people along the coast to move to higher ground to avoid tsunami waves. The magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck in a mostly rural area close to Christchurch, reports the AP, but appeared to be more strongly felt in the capital, Wellington, more than 120 miles away. The quake was followed by a number of strong aftershocks. The quake knocked out New Zealand’s emergency call number, 111, for about 10 minutes, police reported. New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management reported that a tsunami wave struck at about 1:50am; it had earlier issued a message that there was no threat, then declared “situation has changed.“

As Monday’s quake hit, 24-year-old Christchurch resident Hannah Gin said she sat calmly and waited, figuring the rumbling would stop in a few seconds. Instead, the shaking just went on and on—for at least three minutes, she said by phone. Gin said there was no jarring up and down or side to side, just a long, rolling sensation. But it went on for much longer than the typical quakes that strike the area, she said. She was less concerned about running for cover than she was about vomiting from motion sickness, she said with a chuckle. “I could hear the sliding door sliding back and forth and we’ve got washing hanging up and I could see the washing moving,“ Gin said. “It just kept going and going.“ She said she had heard from friends, and all were safe. “As far as I know, everyone’s fine,“ she said. “We’re all just really shaken.“

American Christianity

Why Some Fear This Election’s Lasting Damage To American Christianity
The Free Press WV

Teryn O’Brien has stopped calling herself evangelical. As a 28-year-old living in Colorado Springs, O’Brien has held concerns with the conservative brand of evangelical Christianity for several years now, but she described this election as “the final straw.”

O’Brien said American evangelicals have historically held the upper hand in America and are seeing that power slip away. Searching to recapture it, many of them turned to Donald Trump, someone she sees as racist, misogynist and antithetical to Christian behavior.

Now O’Brien, who attends an Anglican church, has dropped the “evangelical” label, simply calling herself a Christian. But she said it has become hard to distinguish “evangelical” from “Christian. ” Evangelicals make up about a quarter of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of them are white.

Conservative Christians are also the loudest group by far,  O’Brien observed, and so they often get the most attention. Exit polls show 81 percent of white evangelicals across the country backed Trump, the vast majority of whom are Republican and lean conservative, constituting the highest percentage that has voted for the Republican nominee since they voted overwhelmingly for President George W. Bush in 2004.

“This election has truly shown the underbelly of the toxic relationship that can develop between politics and religion,” O’Brien said.

Political divisions have run deep within churches and families, and observers say this election cycle has exposed underlying political and racial divisions within Christianity as a whole, but especially among evangelicals. As a result, some religious leaders are afraid of damage done to the perception of the Christian faith in the United States during this election cycle and fear its long-term effects.

Tensions high

Evangelical pastors say tensions have soared during the election season, and some are questioning whether they can even continue to use the label evangelical for fear of being associated with Trump.

“I keep trying to disavow that I am ‘that’ brand of evangelical, but after tonight, I don’t know if I even want to have any association with that label anymore,” Helen Lee, an evangelical author, said on Tuesday.

Eugene Cho, a pastor of an evangelical church in Seattle, said that his church building was recently painted with “F— organized religion,” though he is unsure whether it’s connected to Trump or the election.

“The election has made things more hostile or given permission to people to be more aggressive on both sides,” Cho said.

Cho, who has pledged that he will never endorse a candidate from the pulpit, joined a group of evangelicals in the fall condemning Trump, arguing his campaign “affirms racist elements in white culture.”

The letter, which was also backed by about 80 evangelical pastors and other leaders, decried Trump’s comments on women, Muslims, immigrants, refugees and the disabled.

“People just think that all evangelicals support Donald Trump or support particular platforms or a certain way of thinking,” Cho said. “This was just to communicate there isn’t a monolithic thought within the so-called evangelical wing of Christianity.”

Who speaks for evangelical Christians?

After a video of Trump was released showing he joked about sexually assaulting women, some religious leaders said that while his comments were inappropriate, he was still the best leader for the country. Others rejected the idea that those leaders were speaking on everyone’s behalf.

“The evangelical support of Trump will be an indictment against its validity as a Christian movement for generations to come,” Richard Rohr, a Franciscan author and teacher, tweeted after those comments.

Some leaders are worried about the lasting impact this election will have inside churches. Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention’s political advocacy arm, is deeply concerned about the impact of Christian leaders who defended Trump and the potential damage it has had within churches, especially among women and younger evangelicals.

“One evangelical woman said to me, ‘I’ve spent all my life saying the church is going to be a place where you can go when you face this sort of thing.’ Now I’m looking around, and a pastor is saying ‘This isn’t a big deal.’ That’s going to take a lot of work to undo,” he said.

Christianity’s political ties

The contrast between different groups of religious voters this election season is striking, said Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College. Polls ahead of the election showed Catholics divided, and that many Mormons abandoned the Republican Party compared with years past. But evangelicals voted for Trump in even greater numbers than they voted for Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain.

“Trump has been a candidate where one could say, ‘Is there no point at which you won’t vote for the Republicans?’ ” Silk said. “I think that’s what’s given away the extent to which personal identity for religious conservatives and churchgoers has become wrapped up in Republicanism.”

In their book, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam and Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell argue that the extraordinary rise of people who affiliate with no religion is due in part to their rejection of its entanglement with politics. Today 22 percent of the population says they have no faith.

“For many, their aversion to religion is rooted in unease with the association between religion and conservative politics,” Putnam and Campbell wrote. “If religion equals Republican, then they have decided that religion is not for them.”

Michael Wear, who did evangelical outreach for President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and now consults with evangelical groups, said that people have been talking about rebranding evangelicals or even Christianity in America now for several years.

“The people I work with view Trump as a moment for Christians to actually separate themselves from towing a particular party line,” Wear said. “We’re going to have four years to test that theory.”

Shifting demographics

White Christian Protestants have dominated America’s political and social landscape for most of its history. But in recent decades, the number of Americans who stopped affiliating with religion has surged, along with a rise in Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other Americans. The year 2008 marked the last in which Protestants represented a majority of Americans, according to demographer Robert P. Jones.

For most of American history, mainline and evangelical Protestants have dominated the landscape, spiritually and politically. But as Protestants’ majority has waned, Jones writes in his book, “The end of White Christian America,” Americans who are between 18 and 29 are less than half as likely to be white Christians as those who are 65 and older.

This election season, there was a divided voice among Christian leaders as a whole, Jones said. The Catholic bishops in the United States were much quieter than in elections past and some Mormons, including former GOP candidate Mitt Romney spoke out against Trump, while the so-called “values voters,” Christian conservatives who historically coalesced on issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, largely backed Trump.

“It’s going to be poignant that the group that has sold themselves as ‘values voters’ has abandoned those arguments and justifications,” Jones said.

The dividing lines

Faith often becomes front and center during election years, said Barna Research President David Kinnaman, because it reveals the fault lines along gender, generations and ethnicities, and between theological traditions.

“It’s a powerful moment where people are organizing themselves and making those differences more clear,” he said. “There are larger questions about why and how Christians should engage on cultural matters, and this election is redefining how Christians interact.”

When reports emerge about whom evangelicals voted for, they usually mean “white evangelicals,” glossing over a growing racial division within Christianity. Latino evangelicals are one of the fastest growing segments of churchgoers in America and have largely been fueling the growth among evangelicals, and many did not favor the Republican candidate.

“There is some real angst when there is a blanket statement that ‘evangelical supports . . .’ ” Salguero said.

Latino Christians are different from their white Christian peers, Salguero said, because they don’t have a history of being a majority in America.

“We don’t have messianic expectations for our politicians,” Salguero said. “We don’t have this moment of ‘we’re not at the center of power anymore.’ Latino evangelicals were never at the center of power, so we can be a prophetic voice independent of who gets into office.”

~~  Sarah Pulliam Bailey ~~


The Free Press WV

  • Time to indict Hillary Clinton

    • And right James Comey’s wrongs. By Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) The Hill

    • But was Comey to blame for the result? Politico

  • Before the presidential commutations stop during a Trump administration

    • A look at one case that highlights the injustice of crack penalties. Reason

  • What Donald Trump has said about gun rights and gun control

This Is Why You Might Be Paying Too Much for Chicken

The Free Press WV

Chicken is the most popular meat in the U.S.  and every year Americans spend billions on the wings and breasts and legs.

But here’s a funny thing about what American shoppers pay for all those birds: by decades of tradition, the price at many grocery stores is based on a single estimate, published weekly, that no one but the chicken companies can be sure is accurate.

Now, some are wondering, maybe it wasn’t.

In recent months, in a little-noticed decision, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped publishing the weekly chicken price estimate - known as the “Georgia Dock” - in its official “Market Report.“ The Georgia Dock is calculated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and based on the reports from eight anonymous chicken companies in the state. The companies are not asked to show receipts or other documentation proving that their figures are accurate.

In a statement to the Post, a USDA spokesperson said they discontinued publishing the Georgia Dock price “when data from the source report could not be independently verified.”

Any bias in the Georgia Dock would have had huge effects on consumers.  The Georgia Dock price is frequently used in contracts between chicken producers and supermarkets and those prices, in turn, could raise or lower what supermarkets charge consumers.

Over the last two years, the Georgia Dock price has drifted significantly apart from other chicken price averages, rising roughly 20 percent out of line with a separate index maintained by the USDA. A deviation of that magnitude could have cost U.S. grocery consumers billions of dollars extra.

Are chicken prices artificially high?

The price of chicken in many supermarkets is based on a market estimate known as the “Georgia Dock.“ But over the last two years, the Georgia Dock price, calculated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, has diverged from other estimates, remaining high when other chicken prices fell, leading to questions about its accuracy.

Officials at the Georgia Department of Agriculture said they are reviewing their processes for calculating the estimate. But, they said, they are confident in the figures they have provided.

“We trust the companies we work with,” said Alec Asbridge, director of regulatory compliance at Georgia Department of Agriculture. “We don’t see any reason they would submit information that wasn’t truthful.”

Some in the industry dismissed the complaint about the Georgia Dock, saying that it represents a different bird and a different market, and so comparisons to other chicken prices are unfair.

“The Georgia Dock has come to be a trusted reflection of the supply and demand for retail stores,“ said Mike Cockrell, the chief financial officer at Sanderson Farms, Inc. The Georgia Dock represent “a different product and a different market with different supply-and-demand fundamentals.“

Asbridge and other officials noted that there are methods of preventing surveyed companies from reporting biased price estimates. If the market price reported by any individual company is significantly out of line with the others, for example, it is dropped from the average.

Regarding the anonymity of the firms surveyed, officials said state laws prevented them from disclosing the names of the eight companies.

“It seems like an extremely opaque way to determine the price of chicken,“ said Thomas Gremillion, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of American. He noted that the beef, pork and chicken industries have seen less competition in recent years. “When you have market concentration, there’s more opportunities for shenanigans.“

While little-known, the Georgia Dock estimate is influential because so many grocery chains use it in their contracts with chicken companies.

For example, officials at Sanderson Farms, a large chicken producer, said that with all but one of their supermarket customers, the price is based on the Georgia Dock. Tyson Foods said only a small portion of their supermarket contracts is “connected” to the Georgia Dock. Perdue declined to answer questions.

Among supermarkets, Wal-mart, Safeway and other supermarkets confirm using the Georgia Dock, among other factors, when negotiating chicken prices, too.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  Mother charged with daughter’s death makes court appearance

The Lewis County mother accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter has made her first appearance in court.

Media outlets report 34-year-old Lena Lunsford waived the time limit for her preliminary hearing in Lewis County court on Thursday. Lunsford’s preliminary hearing has now been rescheduled for Wednesday.

According to a criminal complaint, witnesses saw Lena Lunsford bludgeoning her daughter, Aliayah Lunsford, with a “handheld object” in September 2011. Witnesses said Aliayah fell to the ground from the head injury and died hours later.

The complaint says Lena Lunsford then withheld medical attention from the child and prevented others from summoning help. She then allegedly took steps to conceal the crime.

The child’s body hasn’t been recovered.

Lunsford’s attorney, Barbara Harmon-Schamberger, declined to comment.

►  WVU Students protest Trump

With folks protesting Trump across the nation, students in Morgantown took to the streets to the same.

Earlier this week students marched around Morgantown chanting and holding signs protesting against the president-elect.

We talked with a member of the Young Democrats of West Virginia, who is a student at West Virginia University. He said he supports the protest, but doesn’t want to see it get violent.

“I support their protest, I agree with their reasons for protesting, but I think when things get violent, destruction of property takes place, that’s when I draw my line,“ said Justin Click, Vice President of Programming for the Young Democrats of West Virginia.

And how do WVU officials feel about this?

“I certainly respect the rights of all people, students, to express support for their opinion,“ said Corey Farris, Dean of Students at WVU. “As long as it’s done in a peaceful, respectful way, then it’s good.“

►  Community mourns death of Aliayah Lunsford in Lewis County

With a soft, reassuring voice and a number family and community members in church, Reverend Ronald C. Brown led the first of what could be many memorials for Aliayah Lunsford, the three-year-old girl who went missing on September 24, 2011, and is now believed dead.

“More or less just talking to people,” Brown said, describing his role, Saturday. “Allowing them to know that Aliayah is safe in the arms of Jesus.”

It was a somber day for the community, according to Aliayah’s great aunt Vickie Bowen. But, she and Reverend Brown agreed it was a day that may be another step along the path to closure.

“They don’t have Aliayah’s body yet, but this gave them some closure that Aliayah is safe,” he said.

Rev. Brown, who has served Bendale United Methodist Church for the past four years, said it had been a day involving more goodbye’s for the family and community and a day that raised a number of difficult questions as well.

“What kind of a person would she be like today?” he said. “The picture’s, the updates on what she would like, when I saw them I said, ‘She’s a beautiful child.‘”

Rev. Brown asked for the community to also pray for Aliayah’s mother, Lena Lunsford. She has been charged, more than five years after the initial disappearance, with child abuse by a parent causing death.

“She’s the one that can lead the detectives or Sheriff’s department to the body,” he said. “She can do that, I believe, through prayer from everybody.”

Police arrested Lunsford in Pinellas County Florida on November 3. She was extradited to West Virginia the next day.

Her preliminary hearing has been continued until Wednesday, November 16.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►  Trump: I Might Keep Parts of ObamaCare

Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace “the disaster knows as ObamaCare,“ has softened his tone. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the president-elect said he is going to repeal, replace, or amend the legislation. He said he is open to keeping parts of it that he likes “very much,“ including allowing young adults to be covered on their parents’ insurance and stopping insurers denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions. He said he had changed his mind on the law after meeting Obama this week. New health policies outlined on Trump’s website have dropped mentions of reining in drug prices and now include talk of modernizing Medicare, notes the New York Times.

In a 60 Minutes interview that will air Sunday, Trump said repeal and replace would happen simultaneously, CNN reports. “It will be just fine. That’s what I do, I do a good job. You know, I know how to do this stuff,“ he said. The BBC notes that “keeping ObamaCare’s carrots while abandoning its sticks” could be tricky, since the popular parts are made possible by the unpopular parts, like requiring all Americans to have health insurance. In the Journal interview, Trump declined to say whether he still plans to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton. “It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought, because I want to solve health care, jobs, border control, tax reform,“ he said.

►  Wildfire Started by Amateur Facebook Weatherman

A wannabe weatherman was jailed for arson after police say he admitted starting a wildfire to draw attention to his selfie videos on Facebook, the AP reports. “It’s really too bad because he’s not a bad kid—he’s just misguided,“ said James Stephens, the police chief in Jenkins, Kentucky, where Johnny Mullins, 21, was arrested this week on a second-degree arson charge. “He likes to do Facebook videos and have people follow him on his ‘weather forecast,‘ so that’s pretty much why he did what he did,“ the chief said. “He enjoyed the attention he got from the Facebook stuff…He didn’t realize how much danger he was putting other people in.“

►  ‘No Way Everyone Is Dead in There’: Pulse Footage Released

The Orlando Sentinel and ABC News have obtained police body camera footage that shows tense scenes inside and outside the Pulse nightclub during the June 12 mass shooting that killed 49 people. In the two dozen videos released under a public records request, officers can be seen arriving at the scene of the shooting at the LGBT club, treating victims, and searching the inside of the club. One video shows “chaos erupt” after a SWAT team blows a hole in the side of a building, the Sentinel reports. “Did they clear everyone out?“ a deputy asks. “They clear everyone out? Hold up, what’s going on? ... No way everyone is dead in there.“

►  Texas Actress Involved in Crazy Sex Tape Blackmail Scandal

Two couples who met at a Texas church are now involved in possibly the furthest thing from a post-sermon potluck: a sex tape blackmail case. As the Houston Chronicle reports, Leslie Amanda Hippensteel, 31, and John Ousley, 32, met Saul Eisenberg, 28, and his then-fiancée, 24, at a church in Katy; Ousley and Eisenberg’s fiancée ended up having an affair. They made sex videos, which were ultimately found by Hippensteel. She allegedly blackmailed Ousley with them and emailed them to Eisenberg, who in turn allegedly forwarded them to his mother and stepfather. A big mess ensued: Hippensteel and Ousley divorced in March; Eisenberg and his former fiancée are in the midst of custody proceedings over their 6-year-old child; and both Hippensteel and Eisenberg face misdemeanor charges of unlawful disclosure of intimate visual material.

Hippensteel was arrested earlier this month for allegedly blackmailing her ex-husband with the sex videos during their divorce proceedings, threatening to send them to the Christian high school where he worked if he didn’t give her money. Ousley showed police records appearing to prove he gave Hippensteel $7,812.21. She then allegedly sent the videos to Eisenberg, who says he received them on February 2, and also allegedly sent them to Ousley’s employer. Ousley resigned after administrators confronted him about the videos. The videos also somehow ended up on On Thursday, a judge barred Eisenberg from contacting Ousley or his former fiancée. The Dallas Morning News, which notes that Hippensteel is an actress, reports both she and Eisenberg face up to a year in jail.

►  Maine Legalizes Pot for Recreational Use

Maine residents have voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in their state, the AP reports. The final results of the referendum were tabulated on Thursday. The count took nearly two days because of how close the race was, within a fraction of a percentage point, and the AP made the call Thursday afternoon. Supporters had already declared themselves the winners and had predicted home cultivation of marijuana would be legal by around Christmas. Pending the possibility of a recount, Maine joins California, Nevada, and Massachusetts, which passed similar measures this week. Arizona rejected a similar measure. Recreational marijuana was already legal in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.

People 21 or older will now be allowed to use up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, and retail marijuana shops and social clubs could open around the state. Some municipalities have balked at allowing such businesses to open in their communities. Opponents who had vowed to request a recount said on Thursday that they would meet to decide what to do next. The campaign that pushed for legalization turned immediately toward the implementation process on Thursday. They said they hope marijuana will be available in retail establishments by 2018. Marijuana won’t become available at the retail level until after a state rulemaking process that could be slow and arduous. Medical marijuana was already legal in Maine.

►  Texas Women: Don’t Make Us Bury Miscarried Fetuses

If proposed new rules are put into place in Texas, all embryonic and fetal tissue will need to be buried or cremated—whether after an abortion, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy. On Wednesday, during the Texas Department of Health Services’ second public hearing on the proposed rules, women came forward to share their stories of miscarriages or abortions and to tell officials that putting the rules into effect would make an already painful experience much worse. Officials say they’re trying to ensure all fetal remains are put to rest in a “dignified” fashion, but opponents say the proposal is just another way to restrict access to abortion in the state, Courthouse News reports. Officials have also said the rules would protect the public from communicable diseases, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

There are potential privacy concerns—it’s not clear how the rules would be implemented, such as whether a death certificate will be required to inter fetal remains—as well as concerns about costs. The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Texas estimates $2,000 could be added to the cost of each abortion, per the Austin Chronicle. “You’re monkeying around with people’s lives here,“ said a tearful Ashley Blinkhorn, who testified about having two miscarriages. The rules would affect “so many people in so many ways that people aren’t considering.“ The Department of Health Services could make changes to the proposed rules based on public comments. At that point, they would need to be approved by the Health and Human Services Commission executive commissioner and posted in the Texas Register 20 days before taking effect.

►  Thou Shalt Not Erect Religious Monuments on City Grounds: Court

Much like those “rapid-fire warnings at the end of prescription drug commercials,“ a disclaimer on a Ten Commandments monument in New Mexico might require “a reasonable observer … to get on his knees” to read it, an appeals declared this week. That was one of the factors in its decision that the monument’s home on Bloomfield city property is unconstitutional, the Farmington Daily Times reports. The US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled Wednesday that the monument—described by the ABA Journal as a 5-foot-tall, 3,400-pound structure erected in 2011 on the City Hall’s lawn—“would give an objective observer the impression of official religious endorsement,“ given that it’s right next to the city’s main government building.

Per the Durango Herald, the case came out of a 2012 lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of two local Wiccan followers who said they were offended by the structure. But Jonathan Scruggs, an attorney with the advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is working with the city, points out that monuments honoring other “significant documents in American history” are also nestled close by—one for the Gettysburg Address, as well as one for the Bill of Rights. “The city is not playing favorites here,“ he says. “It’s allowing anyone to erect a monument on the lawn as long as it’s historical.“ The court disagreed, citing the “impermissible taint of endorsement.“

►  Racist Cyberbullying Attack Targets Black College Students

Dozens and dozens of black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania were bombarded with racist words and images Friday after being unwittingly added to group text messages with the titles “N***** Lynching,“ “Mud Men,“ and “Trump is Love,“ the Verge reports. The messages, which appeared on mobile messaging app GroupMe, contained “violent, racist, and thoroughly repugnant images and messages,“ CBS News quotes the university as saying in a statement. Images included multiple photos of lynchings, including one with the caption “I love America,“ reports. They also included a “daily lynching” calendar event. The messages appear to have originated at the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University and are possibly connected to a fraternity.

“I am petrified and all I want to do is cry,“ one black Penn student writes on Twitter. “I just can’t stop crying. I feel sick to my stomach. I don’t feel safe,“ adds another on Facebook. “This is not an isolated incident, this is a reaction to the candidate that won,“ Penn student Tunmise Fawole tells Donald Trump attended Penn, and the racist messages started with someone going by “Daddy Trump.“ A statement from the university calls the incident “deplorable.“ It’s unclear how many black students were targeted, but it could be more than 150. Whoever is behind the messages may have used a Facebook group for Penn freshmen. “We really have to find out what is the challenge that white people…fundamentally have with black people in America,“ a Penn expert on race relations says.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►  Two Artists Are in a Serious Paint Fight Right Now

Paint fight! We got a paint fight, everybody! It started earlier this year when artist Anish Kapoor bought the rights to the world’s blackest black, the Creators Project reports. That means Kapoor is the only artist in the world allowed to paint with a black that was created with nano technology for military purposes and absorbs 99.96% of all light. Obviously, that didn’t sit well with other artists. One, Stuart Semple, just got his payback. Semple’s website is now selling what he believes is the world’s pinkest pink. Anyone with $5 to spare can get a jar—provided they aren’t Anish Kapoor. “Anish can have his black,“ ArtsHub quotes Semple as saying in a statement. “But the rest of us will be playing with the rainbow!“

A disclaimer on Semple’s website reads: “By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information, and belief this paint will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.“ Semple tells the Creators Project it “seemed really mean-spirited” of Kapoor to hoard the world’s blackest black for himself. There’s some symbolism in Semple’s new color, which he says is “the best one I’ve got.“ All that light that Kapoor’s black absorbs is reflected by Semple’s fluorescent pink.

►  Blast Kills 4 at U.S. Base in Afghanistan

An explosion at a US airfield in Afghanistan early Saturday killed four people, the head of international forces in the country says. US Army Gen. John Nicholson said in a statement that another 14 people were wounded in the attack inside Bagram Air Field. He said the blast was caused by an “explosive device,“ without providing further details. An earlier statement from NATO’s Resolute Support mission said the blast happened around 5.30am and that “force protection and medical teams are responding to the situation.“

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which they said was carried out by a suicide bomber inside the base. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgent group, said the attack had been planned for four months. The Taliban regularly fire rockets at Bagram from outside its perimeter. A spokesman for the governor of Parwan province, where the air field is based, told the AP he had reports of four dead and around 18 wounded in the attack. Laborers employed at the base line up at the gates around dawn, he said, adding that an attacker could have been among the men entering the base Saturday.

►  Bomb Blast At Shrine Packed With Families, Women, Children

The death toll from a bomb blast at a Sufi shrine in southwest Pakistan Saturday has risen to 50 people with more than 100 wounded, officials said. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the suicide attack at the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Bilal Noorani in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, the AP reports. Abdur Rasool, an official at the province’s home ministry, said rescuers were transporting the wounded to hospitals and the dead to local morgues, but were struggling in the difficult mountainous terrain. The blast targeted worshippers as they were in the throes of their devotional “dhamal” dance, and the courtyard at the time was packed with families, women, and children.

The Islamic State group’s statement on the IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency said the suicide attack had targeted “Shiites.“ The shrine is frequented by both Pakistan’s Sunni Muslim majority and Shiite minority. IS considers all Shiite Muslims heretics. Baluchistan home minister Sarfaraz Bugti, citing a lack of cellular services in the affected area, said the situation will be much clearer in the morning. He said over 500 people were present in the courtyard of the shrine when the blast happened. One female witness, who was not identified by name, told the GEO television channel that a “big bang” took place in the midst of the dhamal dance in the shrine’s courtyard. “I don’t know how I escaped unhurt,“ she said. “It was like a hell all around.“

50 Far-Right-Wing Proposals from the 2016 GOP Platform Will Be on Trump’s Desk

The Free Press WV

Most voters have heard enough about Donald Trump’s plans for the presidency, but what about the rest of the Republican Party?  

As polls show the race is tightening in swing states, and House Speaker Paul Ryan says he will run again for that post, it’s worth revisiting the Republican Party platform—its wish list—for what a GOP-led Congress and Donald Trump would like to impose on America. Before Trump turned the Republican nominating contest into a battle of boasts and bullying, right-wing extremists had dominated the party. Their platform, not surprisingly, goes even further to the right than what’s even been heard from Trump as he promises to build a wall along the Mexican border and embrace the religious right’s long-held tenets opposing abortion, LGBT rights and more.

The GOP 2016 platform would make Christianity the official American religion, English the official American language, replace sex education with abstinence-only advice for teenagers, privatize almost all areas of federal services, cut taxes and regulations for the rich and titans of industry, and impose a belligerent foreign policy and military build-up.

Here are 50 excerpts from the 2016 GOP platform.

1. Tax cuts for the rich: “Wherever tax rates penalize thrift or discourage investment, they must  be  lowered. Wherever current  provisions of the code are disincentives for economic growth, they  must be changed… We propose to level the international playing field by lowering the corporate  tax rate to be on a par  with, or below, the rates of other industrial nations.“

2. Deregulate the banks: “The Republican vision  for American  banking calls for establishing transparent, efficient markets where consumers can obtain loans they need at reasonable rates based on market conditions. Unfortunately, in response to the financial institutions crisis of 2008-2009, the Democratic-controlled Congress enacted the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, otherwise known as Dodd-Frank.“

3. Stop consumer protection: “The worst of Dodd-Frank is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, deliberately designed to be a rogue agency. It answers to neither Congress nor the executive, has its own guaranteed funding outside the appropriations process… If the Bureau is not abolished, it should be subjected to congressional appropriation.“

4. Repeal environmental laws: “We call for a comprehensive review of federal regulations, especially those dealing with the environment, that make it harder and more costly for Americans to rent, buy, or sell homes.“

5. Shrink unions and union labor: “We renew our call for repeal of the Davis-Bacon law, which limits employment and drives up construction and maintenance costs for the benefit of unions… Although  unionization  has  never been permitted in any government agency concerned with national security, the current Administration has reversed that policy for the Transportation Security Administration. We will correct that mistake… We support  the right of states to enact Right-to-Work laws and call for a national law to protect the economic liberty of the modern workforce.“

6. Privatize federal railway service: “Amtrak is an extremely expensive railroad for the American taxpayers, who must subsidize every ticket. The federal government should allow private ventures to provide passenger service in the northeast corridor. The same holds  true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country. We reaffirm our intention to end federal support for  boondoggles like California’s high-speed train to nowhere.“  

7. No change in federal minimum wage: “Minimum wage is an issue that should be handled at the state and local level.“

8. Cut government salaries and benefits: “The taxpayers spend an average of $35,000 a year per employee on non-cash benefits, triple the average non-cash compensation of the average worker in the private sector. Federal employees receive extraordinary pension benefits and vacation time wildly out of line with those of the private sector.“

9. Appoint anti-choice Supreme Court justices: “Only a Republican president will appoint judges who respect the rule of law  expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable right to life and the laws of nature and nature’s God, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia.“

10. Appoint anti-LGBT and anti-Obamacare justices: “Only such appointments will enable courts to begin to reverse the long line  of activist decisions — including Roe, Obergefell, and the Obamacare cases—that have usurped Congress’s and states’ lawmaking  authority.“

11. Legalize anti-LGBT discrimination: “We endorse the First Amendment Defense Act, Republican legislation in the House and Senate which will bar government  discrimination against individuals and businesses for acting on the belief that marriage is the union  of one man and one woman.“

12. Make Christianity a national religion: “We support the public  display of the Ten  Commandments as a reflection of our history and our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and further affirm the rights of religious students to engage in voluntary prayer at public school events and to have equal access to school facilities.“

13. Loosen campaign finance loopholes and dark money: “Freedom of speech includes the right to devote resources to whatever  cause or candidate one supports. We oppose any restrictions or conditions that would discourage citizens from participating in the  public square or limit their ability to promote their ideas, such as requiring private organizations to publicly disclose their donors to the government.“

14. Loosen gun controls nationwide: “We support firearm reciprocity legislation to recognize the right  of  law-abiding  Americans to carry firearms to protect themselves and their families in all  50  states. We support constitutional carry  statutes  and  salute  the  states  that  have  passed  them. We oppose ill-conceived laws that  would  restrict magazine capacity or ban  the  sale  of  the  most  popular  and  common modern rifle.“

15. Pass an anti-choice constitutional amendment: “We assert  the  sanctity  of  human  life  and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the  Constitution  and  legislation  to  make  clear  that  the  Fourteenth  Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.“

16. End federal funding for Planned Parenthood: “We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned  Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare.“

17. Allow states to shut down abortion clinics: “We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole  Woman’s  Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion  clinics.“

18. Oppose stem cell scientific research: “We  oppose  embryonic stem cell research. We  oppose  federal  funding  of  embryonic  stem cell research. We support adult stem cell research and urge the restoration of the national  placental stem cell bank created by President George H.W. Bush but abolished by  his Democrat  successor, President Bill Clinton. We oppose  federal  funding  for  harvesting embryos and call for a ban on human cloning.“

19. Oppose executive branch policy making: “We condemn the current Administration’s unconstitutional expansion  into  areas  beyond  those  specifically  enumerated,  including  bullying  of state and local governments in matters ranging from voter identification (ID) laws to immigration, from  healthcare  programs  to  land  use  decisions,  and  from  forced  education  curricula  to  school  restroom policies.“

20. Oppose efforts to end the electoral college: “We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact  and  any  other  scheme  to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College.“

21. Require citizenship documents to register to vote: “We support  legislation  to  require  proof  of  citizenship  when  registering  to vote and  secure  photo  ID when  voting. We strongly oppose litigation against states exercising their sovereign authority to enact such laws.“

22. Ignore undocumented immigrants when drawing congressional districts: “In order to  preserve  the principle of one person, one vote, we urge our elected representatives to ensure that citizenship, rather than mere residency, be made the basis for the  apportionment of representatives  among the states.“

23. No labeling of GMO ingredients in food products: “The  intrusive  and  expensive  federal mandates on food options and menu labeling should be ended as  soon as  possible by a  Republican  Congress. We  oppose the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food, which has proven to be safe, healthy, and a literal life-saver for millions in the developing world.“

24. Add work requirements to welfare and cut food stamps: “Nearly all the work requirements for able-bodied adults, instituted by our  landmark  welfare  reform  of  1996,  have  been  removed. We  will  restore  those  provisions  and,  to correct a mistake made when the Food Stamp program  was  first  created  in  1964, separate the  administration  of SNAP  [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program] from the Department of Agriculture.“

25. Open America’s shores to more oil and gas drilling: “We support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production, even if these resources will not be immediately developed.“

26. Build the Keystone XL Pipeline: “The  Keystone  Pipeline  has  become a symbol of everything  wrong  with the current  Administration’s  ideological approach. After years of delay, the President killed it to satisfy environmental extremists. We intend to finish that pipeline and others as part of our commitment to North American energy security.“

27. Expand fracking and burying nuclear waste: “A  federal  judge  has  struck  down  the  BLM’s rule on hydraulic fracturing and we support upholding  this  decision.  We  respect  the  states’  proven  ability  to  regulate  the  use  of  hydraulic  fracturing,  methane  emissions,  and  horizontal  drilling,  and  we  will  end  the  Administration’s  disregard  of  the  Nuclear  Waste  Policy  Act  with  respect to the long-term storage of nuclear waste.“

28. No tax on carbon products: “We oppose any carbon tax… We urge the private sector to focus its resources on the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology still in its early stages here and overseas. “

29. Ignore global climate change agreements: “The United  Nations’ Intergovernmental  Panel  on  Climate  Change  is  a  political  mechanism,  not  an  unbiased  scientific  institution. Its  unreliability  is  reflected  in  its  intolerance  toward  scientists  and  others  who  dissent  from  its  orthodoxy. We  will  evaluate  its  recommendations  accordingly. We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, which  represent  only  the  personal  commitments of  their   signatories; no such agreement can be binding upon the United States until it is submitted to and ratified by the Senate.“

30. Privatize Medicare, the health plan for seniors: “Impose no changes  for  persons  55  or  older.  Give  others  the  option  of  traditional  Medicare  or  transition  to  a  premium-support  model  designed  to  strengthen  patient  choice,  promote  cost-saving  competition  among  providers.“

31. Turn Medicaid, the poor’s health plan, over to states: “Moving to a block grant approach would allow for state  and  local  governments  to  create  solutions  for  individuals  and  families  in  desperate  need  of  help  in  addressing  mental  illness.  We  respect  the  states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so  long  as  they  continue  to  perform  or  refer  for  elective abortions.“

32. No increasing Social Security benefits by taxing the rich: “As  Republicans, we oppose tax increases and believe in the power of markets to create  wealth and to help secure the future of our Social Security system.“

33. Repeal Obamacare: “Any  honest  agenda  for  improving  healthcare  must  start  with  repeal  of  the  dishonestly  named  Affordable Care Act of 2010: Obamacare.“

34. Give internet service providers monopoly control: “The President ordered  the  chair  of  the  supposedly  independent  Federal  Communications  Commission  to  impose  upon the internet rules devised in the 1930s for the telephone monopoly… The  internet’s  free  market needs to be free and open to all ideas and competition  without  the  government  or  service  providers picking winners and losers.“ 

35. Make English the official U.S. language: “We both encourage the preservation of heritage tongues and support English as the nation’s official language, a unifying force  essential  for  the  advancement  of  immigrant  communities and our nation as a whole.“

36. No amnesty for undocumented immigrants: “Illegal immigration endangers everyone,  exploits  the  taxpayers,  and  insults  all  who  aspire  to  enter  America  legally.  We  oppose  any form of amnesty for those who, by breaking the law,  have  disadvantaged  those  who  have  obeyed it.“

37. Build a border wall to keep immigrants out: “Our highest  priority, therefore,  must  be  to  secure  our  borders  and  all  ports  of  entry  and  to  enforce our immigration laws. That  is  why  we  support  building  a  wall  along  our  southern  border  and  protecting  all  ports  of  entry.  The  border  wall  must  cover  the  entirety  of  the  southern  border  and  must  be  sufficient  to  stop  both  vehicular  and  pedestrian  traffic.“

38. Require government verification of citizenship of all workers: “Use of  the  E-verify  program — an internet-based system that verifies the employment authorization and  identity  of  employees—must  be  made  mandatory  nationwide. We reaffirm  our  endorsement of the SAVE program —Systematic  Alien Verification for Entitlements—to ensure that public  funds  are  not  given  to  persons  not  legally  present in this country.“

39. Penalize cities that give sanctuary to migrants: “Because ‘sanctuary cities’ violate federal law and endanger their own citizens, they should not be eligible for federal funding. Using state licenses to reward people in the country illegally is an affront to the rule of law and must be halted.“

40. Puerto Rico should be a state but not Washington DC: “We  support  the  right  of  the  United  States  citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state… A [D.C.} statehood amendment was soundly rejected by the states when last proposed in 1976 and should not be revived.“

41. Support traditional marriage but no other families: “Children raised in  a  two-parent  household  tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in  crime  or become  pregnant  outside of marriage. We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation.“

42. Privatize government services in the name of fighting poverty: “We call for removal of structural impediments which progressives throw in the path of poor people: Over-regulation  of  start-up  enterprises,  excessive  licensing  requirements,  needless  restrictions  on  formation of schools and day-care centers serving neighborhood families, and restrictions on providing public services in fields like transport and sanitation.“

43. Require bible study in public schools: “A  good understanding of the  Bible  being  indispensable  for the development  of  an  educated  citizenry, we encourage  state  legislatures to  offer  the  Bible in a  literature  curriculum as an elective in  America’s  high  schools.“

44. Replace traditional public schools with privatized options: “We  support  options  for  learning,  including  home-schooling,  career  and  technical  education,  private  or  parochial  schools,  magnet  schools,  charter  schools,  online  learning,  and  early-college  high schools.“

45. Replace sex education with abstinence-only approaches: “We renew our call for replacing ‘family  planning’  programs  for  teens  with  sexual  risk  avoidance  education  that  sets  abstinence  until  marriage  as  the  responsible  and  respected  standard  of  behavior.  That  approach— the  only  one always effective against premarital pregnancy and  sexually transmitted  disease—empowers  teens  to  achieve  optimal  health  outcomes.  We oppose  school-based  clinics  that  provide  referral  or  counseling  for  abortion  and  contraception  and  believe  that  federal  funds  should  not  be  used  in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs.“

46. Privatize student loans instead of lowering interest rates: “The  federal  government  should  not  be  in  the  business  of  originating  student  loans.  In  order  to  bring  down  college  costs  and  give  students  access to a multitude of financing options, private sector participation in student financing should be restored.“

47. Restore the death penalty: “The  constitutionality  of  the  death  penalty  is  firmly  settled  by  its  explicit  mention  in  the  Fifth  Amendment. With  the  murder  rate  soaring  in our great  cities,  we  condemn  the  Supreme  Court’s  erosion of the right of the people to enact capital punishment in their states.“

48. Dramatically increase Pentagon budget: “Quite simply, the Republican Party is committed to rebuilding the U.S. military into the strongest on earth, with vast superiority over any other nation or group of nations in the world.“

49. Cancel Iran nuclear treaty and expand nuclear arsenal: “We  should  abandon  arms  control  treaties  that  benefit  our  adversaries  without  improving our national security. We must fund, develop, and deploy a multi-layered missile defense system. We must modernize nuclear weapons and their delivery platforms.“

50. Reaffirm support for Israel and slam sanctions movement: “We reaffirm America’s  commitment to Israel’s security and will ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative military edge over any and all adversaries…We reject  the false notion that Israel is an occupier and specifically recognize  that  the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy Israel. Therefore, we call for effective legislation to thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories, in a discriminatory manner.“

2016 Fall Color Wrap-Up

The Free Press WV

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia thanks everyone for celebrating fall in the Mountain State and sharing their leaf-peeping adventures!  Travelers and residents submitted more than 200 photos from around the state for the MyWV Fall Color Map which can be viewed at

Although color is past peak in most areas, the holiday season and winter is just around the corner. Please be sure to visit to find upcoming events and activities in West Virginia as we roll into the holiday season!


The Free Press WV

  • Donald Trump and the law of interrogation.

    • If he’s really going to encourage “waterboarding” or worse he’s going to have to get Congressional consent. Lawfare

    • A reminder, torture doesn’t work. NPR

    • Senator says Trump will make “tough call” to use illegal tactic. The Hill

  • Blame Obama.

    • For handing Donald Trump the keys to a sprawling national security surveillance apparatus. By Trevor Timm. The Guardian

  • Baby, meet bathwater.

    • It was a pretty good election night for criminal justice reform, if you don’t count the election of Donald Trump. The Washington Post

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  Ribbon cut on 8-mile section of WV’s Corridor H

Federal, state and local officials braved the cold and wind atop a mountain in Tucker County Thursday to cut the ribbon on a nearly 8-mile stretch of the Corridor H project.

The newest section connects Davis to Bismarck, from east of WV 32 to the WV 93 connector at Mount Storm. With the completion of this stretch, the four-lane highway completes the Davis to Wardensville portion of the highway initiative and 102 of the 132-mile project.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin praised the achievement as a team effort that goes a long way in opening up the state, both economically and socially.

“Today’s groundbreaking represents a collaborative effort among federal, state and local partners, and I’m grateful for everyone’s continued support and commitment to the completion of this milestone project,” Tomblin said. “I’m confident the continued progress on Corridor H will make a lasting impact for the people of Tucker, Grant, Hardy and surrounding counties — as well as our entire state — and provide businesses and industries in West Virginia with the solid infrastructure they need to operate and expand.”

The contract for the newly completed section of Corridor H was awarded to J.F. Allen of Elkins in August 2012.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin III, D-WV, applauded Tomblin and other state officials Thursday on the progress of Corridor H.

“So much needs to be done, but so much has been done,” Manchin said. “This truly has been a high priority in our state.

Fifty-five years ago, this dream was born. It was hatched under John Kennedy. He saw what Appalachia was, and he saw what needed to be done. Fifty-five years later, I would think, and you would think, that it would be done by now.”

“But, we can’t let it (the progress) stop. We’ve got to finish it. We’ve got to get to Parsons. I’ve got to get to Parsons tomorrow for the veterans parade, so I’ve got to get there quicker,” Manchin quipped. “It’s been a long road, and I am just happy to be a part of this.”

Manchin said the completion of the project is vital to the growth and prosperity of not only areas surrounding the Corridor, but also for the benefit of the entire state. He also stressed the need for high-speed internet access and other infrastructure projects that would better the area.

“A month ago, I brought Chairman (Tom) Wheeler up from the FCC, and basically, I wanted him to see about the connectivity — or lack of connectivity — and what is holding us back from economic prosperity and growth,” Manchin said. “So I brought him to Tucker County, probably one of our least-connected areas. It really needs upgrades. When you have this type of venue, when you have the beautiful scenery we have, the recreation and tourism, this should be where the money is spent, and this should be where our infrastructure is best connected.”

“We’ve got to create that,” Manchin added. “We are going to be doing that and, I assure you, we are going to be working as hard as we can to get that done.”

The Mountain State’s senior senator also said that by working together, no task — including the completion of the Corridor — is too great.

“I know (Delegate) Bill Hartman (D-Randolph) has been leading the charge for Corridor H as long as I can remember, and he is still leading the charge,” Manchin said. “We’ve got people that can get this job done. It’s not hard to make this a high priority. I’m just thankful that we finally have this open. I drive this road quite a bit myself.”

West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Paul A. Mattox Jr. echoed Tomblin and Manchin’s sentiment and continued the rally cry to complete the decades-old project.

“Let’s keep cutting ribbons on Corridor H,” Mattox said. “This accomplishment continues to shed light on the tremendous progress we have made on this highway in recent years. We have approximately 65 miles open to traffic since 2003. I am proud to be able to say that the vast majority of Corridor H in West Virginia is now drivable. I am hopeful we are able to continue the progress and open the entire corridor to traffic as soon as possible, because I understand how important it is for this area and the state as a whole.”

“This nearly 8-mile section brings Corridor H into Davis and shows our commitment to completing this important east-west Corridor,” Mattox added. “I am also pleased that we are moving forward with an eye toward doing it the right way, environmentally.”

Currently, two other sections of Corridor H are under construction, both between Kerens and Parsons.

►  FEMA shifts focus of West Virginia flood relief

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it’s shifting its focus in West Virginia to long-term recovery and schools following severe floods of more than four months ago.

FEMA says at the end of last month, its Individuals and Households program had approved more than $41.5 million in grants to nearly 4,300 West Virginia applicants. The Public Assistance Program had committed more than $53 million for infrastructure repairs and restoration.

Another $50 million in loans has been approved by the Small Business Administration, as well as $32 million in claims approved by the National Flood Insurance Program.

FEMA says help is still available for individuals who went through the disaster.

The June 23 floods killed 23 people and damaged homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure.

Weston man facing multiple drug related charges
A Weston man is facing drug charges after the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at his residence on West Second Street Thursday night.

Deputies discovered a myriad of illegal drugs within the residence; consisting of methamphetamine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, clonazepam, and marijuana.

In addition to the drugs found; a scale and packaging material were also identified in the household.

Timothy Edward Berg was charged with five counts of Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance.

Sheriff Adam M. Gissy said in a press release; “With citizens providing information, and by conducting surveillance; deputies were able to identify the residence as being a location for drug distribution. Hopefully, this arrest will alleviate some criminal activity within the neighborhood.”

►  WVU Coliseum upgrade project nearly complete

If all goes according to plan, the $23 million renovation project going on inside the WVU Coliseum will be completed well before the start of Big 12 play this season.

“We’re looking at having everything completed around the games scheduled on December 10,” said April Messerly, WVU’s associate athletic director for Facilities and Operations.

In conference action, the WVU women’s basketball team will host its first Big 12 game January 4, against Baylor. The men’s team will host TCU on January 7.

By that time, the Coliseum — first opened in 1970 — will have a much different look, including 43 high definition TVs in an expanded concourse, easier-to-locate section numbers in the seating areas and more restrooms.

Construction is still ongoing, so many of the planned changes are yet to be completed, as the WVU men’s basketball team hosts Mount St. Mary’s, at 7 p.m. today, in its season opener.

But all four gates will be open today, Messerly said, with the Gold Gate serving as the main entrance for fans who are not WVU students.

The $23 million project is funded through bonds that are partially guaranteed by annual Big 12 Conference revenues earned by WVU, as well as WVU’s multimedia contract with IMG.

The WVU men’s and women’s locker rooms were also renovated through private donations.

“They just finished them two days ago,” WVU men’s head coach Bob Huggins said. “They look great.”

Other points to know about the renovations include:

— An increased number of concession stands will up the Coliseum’s points of sale from 21 to 40 throughout the arena. Beer will now be sold to the general public at games. Beer sales will conclude at the end of halftime. All the concession stands but one will be open for today’s game.

— 107 women’s toilets were added, while 26 men’s urinals and seven additional men’s toilets were added. “No more troughs,” Messerly said. “That’s a big thing.”

— The Hall of Fame plaques were removed and will be returned to the honored athlete or the athlete’s family. WVU Hall-of-Famers will be recognized digitally, at the team’s new Hall of Fame room in the Coliseum. It is still under construction. Jerry West’s memorabilia will also be on display in the Hall of Fame room.

— Future renovations will see the Coliseum weight room removed, which will make room for floor-level suites and a media workroom.

— New concession-stand items include walking tacos, pulled-pork sliders and loaded pepperoni rolls, as well as previous offerings.

— Messerly added all classrooms have been removed and once all renovation projects are completed, the Coliseum will be closed during business hours, except for the Gold Gate, which is where the new ticket office will be.

WVSSAC 2016 High School Football Playoff First Round

The Gilmer Free Press

WVSSAC 2016 High School Football Playoff
First Round


#10 Summers County 20
#7 Gilmer County Saturday 7:30 PM 34
#11 Sherman 8
#6 Wheeling Central 45
#9 South Harrison 27
#8 Williamstown Saturday 1:30 PM 55
#12 Pendleton County 50
#5 Cameron     Saturday 1:30 PM 30
#13 Tug Valley 20
#4 Tolsia 26
#14 Van 0
#3 Fayetteville 28
#15 Buffalo 7
#2 St. Marys 49
#16 Tyler Consolidated 22
#1 East Hardy 54
  WVSSAC 2016 High School Football Playoff
First Round


#13 Weir 29
#4 Sissonville     Saturday 1:30 PM 27
#9 Independence 12
#8 Lincoln 35
#10 Keyser 50
#7 Nicholas County 12
#11 Winfield 28
#6 James Monroe 38
#12 Herbert Hoover 27
#5 Fairmont Senior 48
#14 North Marion 42
#3 Point Pleasant 45
#15 Liberty Harrison 7
#2 Mingo Central 55
#16 Roane County 7
#1 Bridgeport 28
  WVSSAC 2016 High School Football Playoff
First Round


#14 Jefferson 36
#3 Musselman     Saturday 1:30 PM 0
#9 Wheeling Park 6
#8 George Washington 37
#10 South Charleston 31
#7 Huntington 28
#11 Cabell Midland 7
#6 Capital 28
#12 Hurricane 38
#5 University 14
#13 Spring Mills 7
#4 Morgantown 25
#15 Buckhannon-Upshur 7
#2 Spring Valley 54
#16 Hedgesville 0
#1 Martinsburg 69

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