And now Mylan is reducing it’s workforce, “reducing redundancy” “by less than 10%“. I guess that somebody has to go to help offset Heather Bresch’s $16.5 million raise (between 2007 and 2015. I’m sure that she’s worth every penny.
~ more ways to blame failure.
~ more excuses to purchase software.
~ more reasons for ‘needing’ hardware funds.
~ the WV education failure will continue, educrats in Charleston will be able to sing their we ‘need more’ song….
Yes it can be said that Joe Manchin is still involved with the West Virginia school system. Roundabout way, but still.
His wife, Gayle, is still on that WVBOE board.
Her term expired a year ago, but Gov. Tomblin has not named a replacement so she likely is still collecting on that $70k annual salary?
That’s a nice perk, while budgets are being slashed across the state.
NEW ROOF vs. PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT
As a community volunteer how should I feel?
All are glad for the kiddies playground equipment, absolutely.
But why do I keep thinking we volunteers have been had? Yes, violated even?
School tax dollars being miss-spent?
Extra burden on all who helped raise the needed money? Can we say as a community that the state appointed superintendent has scammed us?
We certainly are glad for playground equipment, but the way tax dollars have been spent, is a real insult to our Gilmer community. This superintendent needs to GO, sooner than later.
What a disgraceful situation we have been placed in. Thank you Charleston state board of education.
The state board of education says: We are from the government and we are here to help you. Ship Devano out and show us. Do you have the necessary backbone or is Joe calling the game still?
By intervention is killing our community on 11.27.2016
let’s hope you are correct for the sake of our country. Let’s hope he changes the pattern when the country was left in real bad shape when every republican president let the office. History can speak for itself. Hasn’t Trump been backing out of all his fake promises during campaign season? Again, the time will tell….
Funny you should bring this up when Trump won….never would have seen this otherwise.
Trump is all for trimming the Dem-fat and draining this swamp, and now you ask if he will do anything.
Did Obama or Clinton do anything to alleviate the situation? NO.
So, don’t question the man that you were sure would lose, just because you can’t stand that fact.
The only thing an A school got Gilmer County was to be closed, consolidated, good Teachers run off, kids traveled another half an hour down the mountain and no investment in the community that supported it. All this done by State puppets.
By And They Wonder Why Kids Don't Try on 11.25.2016
Same crew that came in with City Construction to button up the new school roof right? Scuttlebutt says that leaked too. How they got in Gilmer to begin with? All the talk about tailgate parties with contractors and Gabe D sounds like political favors & kickbacks. More than one knows how that goes when it comes to state contracts.
G “the boss” Devono says his Mentor S Collins is not his boss, C Daniel Assistant Superintendent is not his boss, M Martirano State Superintendent is not his boss and the State Board of Education is not his boss. According to him, he has no boss. HE is a legend in his own mind who throws around the name of a certain Gilmer philanthropist like every other jerk who wants to play big shot.
Of course it is true. Check with an honest member of your local Board .
Better ask how he wound up paying the same company owner to do that roof work on GES who was the same one he advertised in your local paper to contact about the bid specs and was paid as a consultant.
While you’re at it, you might check to see what he’s up to with your closed buildings and how he disrespects non-profit community groups.
Points for reading and mathematics to contribute to a school’s A-F letter grade came from online smarter balance testing, and results for those two parts were assigned with use of a centralized computer program. Right?
What is not clear is how many points for a school’s letter grade came from self-grading at local levels.
Self-grading never works. WV must adopt an objective school grading procedure with no room for local tinkering. If it fails to do it letter grades will continue to be a hoax.
It would be good advice for boards of education to insist on receiving all documentation to look for changes made in schools and central offices to try to get extra points to add up for overall letter grades.
After the initial grades were assigned school systems were given an opportunity to appeal with revised information for the purpose of trying to get more points.
At the same time there was an embargo to keep local school boards from getting any information until the final grades came out.
50 years ago our teachers would tell us they were grading a test on a ‘curve’.
That was so those who happened to get the most correct answers got their ‘A’, the teacher, the school, the system looked good and was protected.
Nothing has changed. Except the ‘curve’ has morphed into a ‘snake’ to protect the bureaucrats in their ivory palaces.
By from a 'curve' to a 'snake', Mingo can see it. on 11.21.2016
If we rely on gazette reporting then “eighty-three percent of elementary and middle schools’ A-F grades are based on students’ scores, and their growth in those scores, on the math and English Smarter Balanced tests. The Smarter Balanced measures represent about 73 percent of high schools’ grades.“
“Other factors, like attendance, make up the remaining part of the A-F scoring rubric.“
Sometimes it seems if the WVDE reports more to the media than the counties impacted by their decisions. Local Board members in several districts say they were not included in the information pathway but read it in the papers like the rest of us.
Citizens working hard to raise funds for playground equipment for the new Gilmer Elementary School….... while at the same time Gabriel Devano has reportedly spent in excess of $100,000.00 having a new roof installed on the old Glenville Elementary School….. which the WV State Board of Education has officially CLOSED under intervention.
Something is rotten and stinks here. Rumors have it the bidding and awarding of the roofing contract was a backroom deal?
Deer Hunters In West Virginia Harvest 45,871 Bucks During The 2016 Buck Firearms Season
Preliminary data collected from the electronic game checking system indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 45,871 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season which ran from November 21 through December 03, 2016, according to Paul Johansen, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Resources Section.
The 2016 buck harvest is down 25 percent from the 2015 harvest of 60,814. The top 10 counties for buck harvest were: Preston (1,769), Randolph (1,610), Jackson (1,482), Greenbrier (1,445), Ritchie (1,414), Upshur (1,392), Mason (1,266), Lewis (1,238), Hampshire (1,183) and Wood (1,182).
The buck harvest decreased in all six DNR districts. The buck season harvest was predicted to decrease in the Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook brochure, primarily because of an increased number of acorns in 2016 compared to acorn crop production in 2015. In addition, high winds across much of the state limited deer activity and decreased success rates on the first two days of the season.
“Hunters continued to use the electronic game checking system established in 2015,“ Johansen said. “Hunters enjoyed the ease of being able to check deer and other game using the telephone, internet or by stopping at a license agent.“
Johansen reminds hunters that several days of deer hunting opportunity still remain for 2016, including the remainder of the muzzleloader season, which runs through Saturday, December 10. The traditional antlerless deer season in selected counties on both public and private land opens Thursday, December 15, and runs through Saturday, December 17. The Youth, Class Q/QQ and Class XS deer season for antlerless deer will be open December26 and 27 in any county with a firearms deer season. This will be followed by the reopening of Class N/NN antlerless deer season December 28-31 in specified counties or portions of counties.
West Virginia Buck Firearms Season Harvest, 2012-2016
CALHOUN HIGH SCHOOL COLLEGE ENTRANCE APPLICATIONS RATES LOWEST IN WV?
The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) announced a goal to increase the number of 12th graders who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or “FAFSA,” to 60 percent by April 15.
According to the agencies map, Calhoun High School is now at the lowest with FASA applications among 55 counties.
The Calhoun school’s college going rate has been near the worst in West Virginia.
April 15 is the deadline for students to submit the form and be considered for the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program, which provides grants to students based on their financial need.
This past year (as of November 18), 58.5% percent of high school seniors in the WV class of 2016 completed the FAFSA, which is the primary application for state and federal financial aid for college. Forty-six high schools met or exceeded the 60 percent mark.
An educational program and informational meeting on conservation management practices to improve winter feeding management of livestock will be held December 12 in Lewis County.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Weston USDA Service Center located on Grass Run Road, Weston, WV.
Jeff Griffith, district conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, will present a program to area farmers on management considerations and options for Winter Feeding Management of Livestock.
Bruce Loyd, WVU Extension agent from Lewis County, will also be on hand.
For more information, contact Griffith at 304.269.8431 x 3, or Loyd at 304.269.4660.
If you need an accommodation to participate in this event, contact Nan Kimble at 304.284.7546, or by e-mail at
G-LtE™: Why We Desperately Need To Bring Back Vocational Training In Schools
Throughout most of U.S. history, American high school students were routinely taught vocational and job-ready skills along with the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. Indeed readers of a certain age are likely to have fond memories of huddling over wooden workbenches learning a craft such as woodwork or maybe metal work, or any one of the hands-on projects that characterized the once-ubiquitous shop class.
But in the 1950s, a different philosophy emerged: the theory that students should follow separate educational tracks according to ability. The idea was that the college-bound would take traditional academic courses (Latin, creative writing, science, math) and received no vocational training. Those students not headed for college would take basic academic courses, along with vocational training, or “shop.”
Ability tracking did not sit well with educators or parents, who believed students were assigned to tracks not by aptitude, but by socio-economic status and race. The result being that by the end of the 1950s, what was once a perfectly respectable, even mainstream educational path came to be viewed as a remedial track that restricted minority and working-class students.
The backlash against tracking, however, did not bring vocational education back to the academic core. Instead, the focus shifted to preparing all students for college, and college prep is still the center of the U.S. high school curriculum.
So what’s the harm in prepping kids for college? Won’t all students benefit from a high-level, four-year academic degree program? As it turns out, not really. For one thing, people have a huge and diverse range of different skills and learning styles. Not everyone is good at math, biology, history and other traditional subjects that characterize college-level work. Not everyone is fascinated by Greek mythology, or enamored with Victorian literature, or enraptured by classical music. Some students are mechanical; others are artistic. Some focus best in a lecture hall or classroom; still others learn best by doing, and would thrive in the studio, workshop or shop floor.
And not everyone goes to college. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that about 68% of high school students attend college. That means over 30% graduate with neither academic nor job skills.
But even the 68% aren’t doing so well. Almost 40% of students who begin four-year college programs don’t complete them, which translates into a whole lot of wasted time, wasted money, and burdensome student loan debt. Of those who do finish college, one-third or more will end up in jobs they could have had without a four-year degree. The BLS found that 37% of currently employed college grads are doing work for which only a high school degree is required.
It is true that earnings studies show college graduates earn more over a lifetime than high school graduates. However, these studies have some weaknesses. For example, over 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or under-employed. And income for college graduates varies widely by major – philosophy graduates don’t nearly earn what business studies graduates do. Finally, earnings studies compare college graduates to all high school graduates. But the subset of high school students who graduate with vocational training – those who go into well-paying, skilled jobs – the picture for non-college graduates looks much rosier.
Yet despite the growing evidence that four-year college programs serve fewer and fewer of our students, states continue to cut vocational programs. In 2013, for example, the Los Angeles Unified School District, with more than 600,000 students, made plans to cut almost all of its CTE programs by the end of the year. The justification, of course, is budgetary; these programs (which include auto body technology, aviation maintenance, audio production, real estate and photography) are expensive to operate. But in a situation where 70% of high school students do not go to college, nearly half of those who do go fail to graduate, and over half of the graduates are unemployed or underemployed, is vocational education really expendable? Or is it the smartest investment we could make in our children, our businesses, and our country’s economic future?
The U.S. economy has changed. The manufacturing sector is growing and modernizing, creating a wealth of challenging, well-paying, highly skilled jobs for those with the skills to do them. The demise of vocational education at the high school level has bred a skills shortage in manufacturing today, and with it a wealth of career opportunities for both under-employed college grads and high school students looking for direct pathways to interesting, lucrative careers. Many of the jobs in manufacturing are attainable through apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and vocational programs offered at community colleges. They don’t require expensive, four-year degrees for which many students are not suited.
And contrary to what many parents believe, students who get job specific skills in high school and choose vocational careers often go on to get additional education. The modern workplace favors those with solid, transferable skills who are open to continued learning. Most young people today will have many jobs over the course of their lifetime, and a good number will have multiple careers that require new and more sophisticated skills.
Just a few decades ago, our public education system provided ample opportunities for young people to learn about careers in manufacturing and other vocational trades. Yet, today, high-schoolers hear barely a whisper about the many doors that the vocational education path can open. The “college-for-everyone” mentality has pushed awareness of other possible career paths to the margins. The cost to the individuals and the economy as a whole is high. If we want everyone’s kid to succeed, we need to bring vocational education back to the core of high school learning.
A legislative audit of the state’s eight Regional Education Service Agencies says that while many of the services they provide are important, the independent agencies themselves are no longer necessary.
John Sylvia, Director of the legislative auditor’s Performance Evaluation and Research Division, presented the report during interim meetings Tuesday.
The audit concludes that while the county-level services the RESAs provide are important, those services can continue without maintaining the agencies themselves.
RESAs are regional extensions of the state Department of Education, but the audit says those agencies operate independently, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Sylvia explained the audit recommends restructuring or getting rid of the RESAs altogether.
“The core services should come from regional staff of the DOE, not regional agencies,“ he said. “Restructuring RESAs in this way would present opportunities to eliminate significant duplication and redundancies.”
The state Department of Education and RESAs were given until January to present a formal response to lawmakers.
In a written response given to lawmakers Tuesday, the RESAs say the audit was conducted “outside of proper assessment protocol.”
Audit recommends shifting authority of RESAs to state
The Regional Education Service Agency office in Dunbar, one of eight throughout West Virginia. A legislative audit recommends stripping the RESA’s of their authority in an attempt to save money.
A newly publicized legislative audit recommends taking away “all autonomy and independence” from West Virginia’s eight Regional Education Service Agencies — the multi-county organizations that are supposed to aid county public school systems — and transferring the agencies’ power and employees to the state Department of Education.
Officials from RESAs, which help school systems save money by allowing them to share needed services, such as speech pathologists and other specialized employees, strongly disagreed with the audit’s conclusions.
Tuesday’s report was the latest in a line of reviews of the agencies over the years. The report did include a survey of West Virginia school superintendents; 34 out of the 55 responded, and 25 of the respondents said they felt there would be “significant adverse effects if RESAs were discontinued.”
“There is significant overlap of state involvement in RESA activities and plans,” John Sylvia, director of the Performance Evaluation and Research Division of the Legislative Auditor’s Office, told lawmakers Tuesday. The report was presented to an interim legislative meeting of the joint standing committees on education, government organization and government operations.
“The State Board of Education should consider administering the regional service purpose through regional staff of the Department of Education as opposed to regional agencies,” the report states. “Therefore, all autonomy and independence of RESAs should be effectively eliminated, and RESA staff should come under the Department.”
Sylvia said the report, which took 12 months to develop, suggests maintaining RESAs’ regional councils, which currently help lead those agencies, as powerless advisory boards.
He said the report recommends paring the councils’ memberships down to just the school superintendents of the counties in each RESA in order to save money on things like council member transportation and the $100 payments per meeting. The councils currently include teachers, principals and others.
The report doesn’t include how much the state could save annually by getting rid of the alleged duplicative RESA services, but Sylvia suggested a minimum of $1.5 million annually, including nearly $1 million just through eliminating the positions of the eight RESA executive directors.
“The State Board of Education should define the regional service purpose, exclude Adult Education and Public Service Training from the purpose, and also phase out or transfer to appropriate agencies other RESA programs that do not serve public school systems,” states the report.
“Emphasis should be placed on technical assistance to low performing schools and professional development that leads to improved student achievement,” the report states.
It continues: “Shared RESA employees should become county employees under the authority of the lead county of each RESA region, while non-shared RESA employees should become employees of the county for which they are under contract.”
Nick Zervos, executive director of RESA 6, provided a written response criticizing the report. He said his letter was reflective of the feelings of all RESA directors and RESA regional councils.
He wrote that the final report seems to focus too narrowly on two charges from the Legislature to the RESAs — professional development and technical assistance to low-performing schools — while not sufficiently evaluating RESAs’ four additional legislative charges.
State law, according to the audit, says RESAs’ technical assistance and professional development functions are their most important responsibilities, yet those purposes only represented 18 percent of RESAs’ fiscal year 2014-15 expenditures. The audit also concluded that a quarter of RESAs’ expenses on average that year didn’t “serve county school systems,” but that 25 percent includes education-related activities like adult education and workforce development.
“From our standpoint, the review was not conducted utilizing typical audit protocol,” Zervos wrote. “We have significant concerns that sweeping conclusions were reached regarding professional development and technical assistance without actual assessment of work conducted at any RESA.”
Sylvia said he didn’t recall any major changes being made to the audit in response to RESAs’ objections.
State Board of Education President Mike Green, whose agency oversees RESAs statewide, told lawmakers the board would present its response to the audit next month.
“RESAs are an extremely important part of our education ecosystem,” Green did say in his brief remarks to lawmakers.
WHY PLANNED AIR FORCE ONE UPGRADE DRAWS FIRE FROM TRUMP
The president-elect demands the government cancel a multibillion-dollar order for new presidential planes, arguing Boeing charges too much.
CRITICS WORRY AFTER TRUMP’S SECURITY CHIEF FUELS CONSPIRACIES
Gen. Michael T. Flynn’s Islamophobic rhetoric could create serious distractions - or alienate allies and embolden enemies - if it continues.
QUESTIONS SWIRL AROUND TRAGIC FIRE IN OAKLAND
Officials fielded years of complaints about dangerous conditions, drugs, neglected children, trash, and thefts at the warehouse, where 36 partygoers were killed in a weekend blaze.
OBAMA DEFENDS COUNTER-TERRORISM PLAN
The outgoing president says the fight he’s led against the Islamic State group has been relentless, sustainable and multilateral.
MISTRIAL IN SOUTH CAROLINA POLICE SHOOTING MYSTIFIES OBSERVERS
The case leaves many African-Americans feeling weary and wondering: If the unambiguous video showing a white police officer shooting an unarmed black man as the man ran away can’t produce a conviction, what can?
WHAT POLL SUGGESTS ABOUT RACIAL VULNERABILITY AMONG U.S. YOUTH
More than half of young whites who scored highest on a scale measuring feelings that whites are losing out socially and economically in today’s society say they planned to support Trump.
WHERE PIPELINE OPPONENTS RIDE OUT STORM
Some activists who have been protesting for months in a rural camp in southern North Dakota sit out a blizzard at shelters and a tribal casino.
INFO LAGS ON POT EFFECTS ON OLDER USERS
Abundant research is done on how the drug impacts developing brains, but little is known about the consequences for adults over 50.
ARCTIC SEA ICE HITS RECORD MONTHLY LOW FOR 7TH TIME IN 2016
“There’s crazy stuff going on up there. It’s bad,“ says Rutgers University marine scientist Jennifer Francis.
GRAMMY AWARDS SIPPING ALL OF BEYONCE’S LEMONADE
The pop star leads with nine nominations, including bids for album of the year with “Lemonade,“ and song and record of the year with “Formation.“
► Coal-State Senators Look to Force Vote on Bipartisan Bill By Blocking Live UC Requests until Action is Taken to Save Retired Miners - Without Action, 16,300 Coal Miners Will Lose Healthcare on December 31
A coalition of Senators fighting to protect the health and pensions of more than 120,000 retired coalminers nationwide announced their intent to use any means necessary to make sure that these workers and their families are protected. With 16,300 retired coal miners set to lose healthcare by December 31, 2016 without Congressional action, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Mark Warner (D-VA) announced that they will block all attempts to pass legislation by unanimous consent in the Senate until the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) healthcare and pension shortfall is adequately addressed to give miners long-term certainty. By blocking other bills from sailing through with special privileges, the Senators hope to force House and Senate leadership to include the bipartisan mineworkers fix in the year-end spending package or allow an independent vote on the bill.
The Senators released the following joint statement:
“For several months, we have joined thousands of our states’ retired coal miners and their families to call for a vote on this bipartisan, paid-for bill. And for several months those calls have gone unanswered. These miners cannot wait another day and it’s up to us to protect what they’ve earned for a lifetime of dangerous, backbreaking work. We are confident this bill would pass on the floor and we demand action to provide long-term certainty for these miners.”
► One dead in Lewis County accident
A Salem woman has been charged following a vehicle accident that resulted in another woman’s death.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department arrested Whitney Chipps, 26, of Salem, with DUI Resulting in Death following a Monday evening accident on US Highway 19 just north of Jane Lew.
Erin K. Marshall-Heater, age 35, of Jane Lew, was pronounced dead on scene.
Police believe Chipps, driving a Ford Explorer, hit Marshall-Heater’s Chevy Aveo while in the wrong lane of traffic.
Chipps was initially taken to Stonewall Jackson Hospital after the accident.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department is investigating.
► Arrest made in Nicholas County murder case
====== Update ======
WV State police say they have a Nicholas County man in custody wanted in connection with a Saturday night deadly shooting.
Terry Hughes, 44, was arrested Tuesday afternoon. He allegedly killed Kevin Broyles, 45, at a home on Bailes Road in Nettie.
Broyles was shot twice and was pronounced dead at the scene, troopers said.
====== Original ======
The Nicholas County Sheriff’s Department is also involved in the investigation.
Nicholas County sheriff’s deputies are searching for a man wanted in connection with a murder.
Terry Hughes, 44, is accused of fatally shooting Kevin Broyles, 45, Saturday night in Nettie.
There was an altercation on Bailes Road where deputies said Hughes produced a handgun and shot Broyles twice.
Broyles was pronounced dead at the scene.
A search warrant is out for Hughes.
► PEIA CUTS $50 MILLION BENEFITS FOR WV TEACHERS, EMPLOYEES AND RETIREES
Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board members approved more than $50 million in 2017-18 plan benefits cuts for state and public school employees, many non-state public employees, and retirees on Thursday.
That includes about $28 million in benefit cuts for state and public school employees, primarily through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, totaling about $19.4 million, and mandatory 90-day fills for prescriptions for maintenance drugs for chronic conditions.
Board members representing public employees were critical of the cuts, coming less than six months after the Legislature approved a $43.5 million increase in employers’ PEIA premiums, resulting in a $14 million increase in employee premiums.
“We’re talking about real changes to this plan, and it pains me,” said Josh Sword. “It’s sad we’re in this predicament.”
He added, “Here we are, less than a year after the legislative leadership said they fixed PEIA, and we’re taking $50 million away from participants. It’s disgusting.”
► Charleston Police Begin Race Relations Training
Officers with the Charleston Police Department are set to undergo a two-week training course in race relations.
The training, which began Monday, is part of an initiative by the Call to Action for Racial Equality coalition and Charleston police to improve race relations in the city. Over the next two weeks, organizers plan to train every member of the Charleston PD.
Kenyatta Grant has led similar trainings for other police agencies and is leading the effort. She says trainers will discuss how to rebuild trust in communities of color, how to be more sensitive to cultural differences and other objectives.
Grant says the trainers are also learning about the challenges of being a police officer.
► Chemical Plant Cited for Safety Violations
A Northern Panhandle chemical plant where chlorine gas spilled from a leaking tank car has been cited for alleged workplace safety violations.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued $25,500 in fines against Axiall Corp.‘s Eagle Natrium LLC subsidiary. The August 27 spill occurred at the company’s New Martinsville plant.
Westlake Chemical Corp. bought the plant in September and that the citations were issued last month.
OSHA says three citations involved rules for safely managing hazardous chemicals. A fourth was for communicating such hazards to employees.
A preliminary report issued in October by the National Transportation Safety Board described a crack on one end of the tank car that leaked.
A Westlake spokesman didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on the citations.
Jeff Sessions’ coming war on marijuana? Voters in several states endorsed measures legalizing either recreational or medical marijuana, but pot is still illegal under federal law. While the Obama administration grudgingly allowed states to begin their legal “experiments,” the incoming administration may not be so willing even though new investors are flooding the industry. The presumptive attorney general-nominee Sessions, for example, appears far more hostile to the new pot regimes than his predecessors or his putative new boss. Politico
Trump and the need for body cameras. If the incoming president ramps up the war on drugs the need for police accountability will be greater than ever. Forbes
Bob Dylan, who refuses to go to Stockholm to accept his Nobel Prize, has provided the text of a speech to be read on his behalf at the ceremony. Musician Patti Smith will also perform one of his songs as a tribute. New York Times
President Obama wears a ceremonial blanket and hat given to him during the White House Tribal Nations Conference in September.
Dear Mike Pence, General Petraeus Didn’t Just ‘Mishandle’ Classified Information
Does Passing Government Secrets to A Mistress And Lying to the FBI Amount To Nothing More Than A Hill of Beans?
On NBC’s Meet The Press, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told host Chuck Todd that General Petraeus only mishandled “classified information” and it’s up to Trump to decide if that’s disqualifying or whether he should get the job of Secretary of State.
Governor Pence’s job this morning seemed to be to rewrite General Petraeus’s near treasonous actions as nothing more than a man who happened to misplace some (classified) documents around the office. No big deal.
Chuck Todd asked, “Given how high profile the email situation was and the classified issue was for Secretary Clinton during the presidential campaign, how significant is the conviction against General Petraeus in your thinking and the president-elect’s thinking when it comes to Secretary of State?“
Governor Pence first told Todd that General Petraeus is an American hero, “and he paid a price.“
Chuck replied, “Did he deserve to pay a price?“
Pence said, “Oh, he paid a price for mishandling classified information.“
Chuck asked, “But you don’t think that disqualifies him to be Secretary of State?
Pence then said, “Well, I think that will be up to the president-elect.“
Let’s get some facts into evidence, Governor Pence, since Chuck Todd doesn’t think it’s his job to do it:
General Petraeus cut a plea deal for the lesser charge of mishandling classified information, avoiding felony charges and jail time. Be real: he got off lightly.
He DID NOT ‘pay a price” for his actions.
I wish Chuck Todd had taken a minute to explain what General Petraeus was guilty of.
The plea follows a high-profile investigation and prosecution that triggered Petraeus’s resignation from the CIA in 2012. As part of an agreement with prosecutors, he admitted that he improperly removed and retained highly sensitive information in eight personal notebooks that he gave the biographer, Paula Broadwell, to read.
Broadwell was his mistress in addition to his biographer. So not only did he pass on government secrets to a honey trap, General Petraeus then lied to the FBI about it.
When FBI agents confronted him in his CIA office in October 2012, Petraeus said he had never provided classified information to Broadwell, prosecutors said.Making a false statement to a federal law enforcement agent during an investigation is a felony, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. On Thursday, Keesler told Petraeus that he had been “untruthful” and that his behavior “constituted a serious lapse of judgment.”
During the election, Rudy Giuliani worked with many FBI agents to undermine our election process, including James Comey. He constantly told Fox News how outraged the FBI was over HRC’s private email server. He’s been very quiet about Petraeus, though.
How did the FBI agents who investigated the Petraeus feel about the plea deal?
The deal angered FBI agents who worked on the lengthy investigation and who thought Petraeus should have been treated more harshly because of the information in the notebooks and what they considered his lack of candor.
During the campaign, a big talking point for the Trump camp was that Hillary’s use of a private email server was much worse than a distinguished general who—while committing adultery—knowingly passed on U.S. classified information to his mistress for what amounted to a few booty calls.
That was nonsense, but the election is over.
How can Donald Trump claim General Petraeus can be trusted with our secrets if he is nominated to become the new SOS? Will the Republican majority agree with him, despite this outrageous violation?
How does a man convicted of his crimes get clearance by the FBI?
I’m sure Vladimir Putin and many other hostile governments have a bevy of beauties lined up to tempt Petraeus once more.
► Pentagon Finds $125B in Internal Waste, Kills Report
The good news: A Pentagon-requested study on administrative waste turned up plenty of fodder for officials to work with in streamlining operations. The bad news: The study found so much internal waste—$125 billion worth—that Pentagon officials seemingly tried to squash it, based on interviews and secret memos seen by the Washington Post. The report, issued in January 2015 by the Defense Business Board, found what the Post refers to as a “bloated bureaucracy,“ with nearly a quarter of the defense budget used on overhead and administrative costs like HR and accounting. The study offered the DOD a five-year plan to save that $125 billion (including through attrition and maximizing its IT capabilities), at which point it appears enthusiasm for the report waned as Pentagon brass worried future military funds would be cut if Congress and the White House got wind of the results.
The Post details how the Pentagon went into downplay mode, restricting the study’s data and taking down a public summary. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, the Pentagon’s No. 2 official, commissioned the report—even after one board member warned him “you are about to turn on the light in a very dark room"—but his stance shifted when the study was done. “There is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization,“ Work told the Post, noting the study “vastly overstates what’s really going on.“ He noted it’s not easy to carry out some of the board’s suggestions, including getting rid of federal jobs, though he says the Pentagon will partly implement some of them to bring an estimated $30 billion in savings by 2020. “We’re the largest bureaucracy in the world,“ Work said. “There’s going to be some inherent inefficiencies in that.“ (Read the Post STORY for the behind-the-scenes infighting.)
► 46% of Americans Say Torture Is Acceptable
Torture: OK or not OK? According to a new Red Cross poll, 46% of Americans find it acceptable to torture enemy combatants, the Guardian reports. The same poll found that 33% of Americans consider torture “a part of war.“ But, if you’re surprised by those numbers, the poll also found that 54% of Americans consider torture “wrong,“ though the Guardian notes that’s a lower proportion than in any other country polled, save Israel (44%) and Palestine (35%).
► White House: 9/11 law permits U.S. attacks on extremists
The White House shed new light Monday on the legal foundations for President Barack Obama’s expansive use of U.S. military power to target extremists overseas, in a report that also offered the first confirmation that the U.S. now deems the al-Shabab group in Somalia to be inherently linked to al-Qaida.
In a 60-page report obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its public release, expected Monday, the administration said it believes the U.S. can target al-Shabab, which seeks to establish a strict Islamic emirate, under a law Congress passed in 2001 just after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The decision reflects a deepening U.S. engagement in the fight against Islamic militants in Somalia as well as a broadening application for the law initially written to authorize the president to target al-Qaida.
Until recently, the administration had not designated al-Shabab as part of the al-Qaida conflict, which meant the U.S. was limited to targeting individual Shabab leaders that the U.S. determined were closely tied to al-Qaida. Other strikes by the U.S. in Somalia were justified as self-defense for U.S. forces helping partners like the African Union.
The White House report offers the most comprehensive look to date at how the White House has adjusted its domestic and legal rationale behind the various conflicts the U.S. has been engaged in since Obama took office, along with criteria the Obama administration used to determine which policies applied to which conflicts.
Obama, in a foreword to the report, said his administration had tried to apply “rules, practices and policies long used in traditional warfare” to a new type of conflict embodied by extremist groups, who often “do not wear uniforms or respect geographic boundaries” and show little regard for the rules of war.
“To say that a military tactic is legal, or effective, is not to say that it is wise or moral in every instance,“ Obama said.
In a presidential memorandum also slated to be issued Monday, Obama planned to call for the report to be updated and released publicly on an annual basis.
For Obama, who ran for president aiming to rein in what he perceived as military excesses of the Bush administration, the report is an illustration of how his hopes of restoring checks on the commander in chief’s war-making powers ran into challenges posed by gridlock in Congress — and by Obama’s own inclination toward surgical strikes that don’t require a large, long-term U.S. military footprint.
At the heart of the legal infrastructure Obama has relied on is the 2001 authorization for use of military force, which authorized the U.S. to go after al-Qaida, the Taliban, and “associated forces” both inside and outside of Afghanistan. The Obama administration now relies on that law to justify military action in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Libya, the report shows.
Over the years, as al-Qaida diminished as a top threat and other groups have risen, the administration’s view of what groups fell under the “associated forces” designation grew broader, drawing concerns from some constitutional and civil liberties groups that the post-9/11 law was being stretched far beyond lawmakers’ original intent. After all, when Congress approved that resolution, the Islamic State group didn’t exist, though it’s now being targeted by the U.S. in multiple countries under that legal justification.
The new designation for al-Shabab allows the U.S. to target all of the group’s members. Senior administration officials said the shift was warranted because the U.S. has collected intelligence affirming the two groups are sufficiently linked, including pledges of loyalty by al-Shabab to al-Qaida.
“In short, al-Shabab has entered the fight alongside al-Qaida and is a co-belligerent with al-Qaida in hostilities against the United States,“ the report says.
The broad use of the 2001 law under Obama to justify actions in numerous countries has raised concerns about how President-elect Donald Trump might use that precedent to claim authority for even broader use of military power. During the campaign, Trump vowed an aggressive fight against ISIS and other extremist threats emanating from the Middle East.
When Obama in 2014 announced the U.S. would target ISIS with airstrikes, the president said the 2001 law gave him authority because the group had grown out of al-Qaida — in fact, its previous name was al-Qaida in Iraq. Yet months later, Obama asked Congress to pass a new war powers resolution that could replace the outdated law and more specifically address the threat from groups like ISIS.
Obama’s insistence that he still had authority under the 2001 left him an opening to continue the operations even when Congress did not act to approve a new resolution. Yet some of Obama’s critics have said that he undermined his argument that a new resolution was needed by claiming he had the needed authority with or without it.
“If a president can’t convince Congress, as the proxy for the people, of the need to do this such that they will pass an authorization to do it, then we ought not to be using force abroad,“ said Scott Roehm, vice president of the Washington-based Constitution Project.
The White House report also includes new details about how the Obama administration determines which regions are “areas of active hostilities,“ or war zones, which are subject to less stringent limitations on the use of military action. The report says that determination takes into account not only whether a war has been declared there, but also the size and scope of the threat, the scope of the U.S. involvement and the threats posed to U.S. forces in the area.
► BMW Remotely Foils Would-Be Car Thief
Police blotters can be the source of tiny treasures, and one out of Seattle last week offers up a gem involving a sleepy suspect and a high-tech car. Per the Seattle Police Department’s crime log, a BMW was reported stolen in the early morning hours of November 27, and thanks to the perks of owning a luxury vehicle, BMW’s corporate office was able to help cops track the car, parked but still running in an alley—with the suspected thief taking a snooze behind the wheel. BMW came to the rescue a second time, locking the doors from afar and trapping the 38-year-old suspect inside. He tried to drive away, failed, and was then arrested on charges of auto theft and drug possession for the small amount of meth cops say they found on him.
► Lawyer Found Dead Days After Daughter’s Suicide
A well-known attorney in Dallas has been found dead just two days after his daughter’s funeral. Brian Loncar, 56—described as the “Strong Arm” in local commercials for law firm Loncar & Associates—was found early Sunday in his Rolls Royce, parked at his law firm, reports Fox 4. He was then taken to Baylor University Medical Center, where doctors informed family members that he possibly suffered a heart attack, Loncar’s stepson tells the Dallas Morning News. However, a rep for the medical examiner says a cause of death will not be released until later this week, per the New York Daily News. The tragedy comes a little over a week after Loncar’s 16-year-old daughter, Grace Loncar, committed suicide following a five-year battle with depression.
“I just want to get this out in the open so if any of my friends are ever thinking about suicide. I wish you could have seen both the pain and the love that the suicide of a 16-year-old girl causes,“ Loncar wrote on Facebook following her death, per the Morning News. A colleague says he’d recently offered his condolences to Loncar, who had 11 personal-injury offices across Texas. “We told each other we loved each other … I didn’t expect this,“ he says, per WFAA. “Our family is filled with enormous sadness and profound grief,“ Loncar’s wife and five children say in a statement, describing Loncar as “a man trusted by many people in Dallas and throughout the state of Texas.“ “Right now, we are hurting and struggling to understand.“
► Guy Investigating ‘PizzaGate’ Fired Shot in DC Eatery
Fake news has real consequences, the owner of Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, said after a man who claimed to be investigating the “PizzaGate” conspiracy theory allegedly fired at least one shot inside the establishment Sunday afternoon. The Washington Post reports that North Carolina man Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, was arrested and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after the incident, which brought a heavy police response to the northwest DC neighborhood. Cops say Welch said he was “self-investigating” PizzaGate, a theory that has flourished in some of the internet’s weirder corners. It claims Hillary Clinton and aides, including John Podesta, have been running a child sex trafficking ring from the eatery.
Witnesses say Welch walked into the restaurant and pointed an assault rifle at an employee, NBC Washington reports. Police believe he fired at least one shot after all workers and customers had fled. The Post reports that in the weeks after the election, the restaurant’s owner and employees received death threats on social media as the PizzaGate theory—which was largely based on mentions of pizza in Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks—spread online. “Let me state unequivocally: These stories are completely and entirely false, and there is no basis in fact to any of them,“ owner James Alefantis said in a statement, per the AP. “What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences.“
► Car Salesman Allegedly Sent Customer’s Nude Pics to Website
Tim and Claire Gautreaux, a Texas pastor and his wife, got far more than they bargained for when they went to a Grapevine Toyota dealership in January 2015 to buy a new car. According to a lawsuit seeking more than $1 million in damages that the couple filed against Texas Toyota of Grapevine and Toyota Motor North America, Tim Gautreaux, 29, handed over his phone to the salesman because he had his application for pre-approved financing saved on an app. The salesman gave the phone to his manager, 44-year-old Matthew Luke Thomas—and Thomas allegedly stole nude photos of Claire Gautreaux, 27, off the phone, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The phone was out of sight for just five minutes, per CBS DFW.
When Tim Gautreaux got his phone back, he opened it to see a year-old photograph of Claire “in a compromising stage of undress,“ per the lawsuit. He then opened an app that saves deleted emails, and saw that an email with financial info had been sent to Thomas—but two other emails, which included photos of his wife getting in and out of the bath, had been sent to a swingers’ website. “These actions have caused the Gautreauxs to suffer humiliation and mental anguish, particularly because they do not know who has seen these photographs or may see them in the future,“ said one of their lawyers, Gloria Allred, per the Dallas News. Thomas also has been criminally charged with misdemeanor computer security breach.
► Man Tells Hero Muslim Officer He’ll Cut Her Throat: Cops
The New York Police Department has arrested a man accused of harassing an off-duty Muslim police officer previously commended for heroism. The NYPD said Monday that 36-year-old Christopher Nelson has been arrested on charges of menacing as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, the AP reports. Authorities say Officer Aml Elsokary, who was wearing a Muslim head covering, encountered a man yelling and pushing her 16-year-old son on Saturday evening in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, when she went to park her car, per CBS New York. When Elsokary, who was unarmed, intervened, the man reportedly said, “ISIS [expletive], I will cut your throat, go back to your country.“
City officials hailed Elsokary as a hero in 2014 after she saved a baby and the baby’s grandmother from a blaze in Williamsburg. The NYPD Muslim Officers Society says she’s one of the few NYPD officers who wears a head covering on the clock. “No New Yorker should ever have to worship in fear,“ Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said of this and another recent Islamophobic attack in the city. “This hate, this language, this behavior must never be normalized.“ There was no immediate information on an attorney who could comment on the defendant’s behalf.
► Parents Say Counselor Knew Teen Was Suicidal, ‘Kept It a Secret’
Erin and Timothy Gallagher were heartbroken by their son’s suicide on February 3, but their pain only grew when they discovered his school counselor knew he’d had suicidal thoughts and “kept it a secret from us.“ That’s the claim made in a $5 million wrongful-death lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia. The couple says Jay Gallagher’s friend told counselor Richard Bader at Potomac Falls High that Gallagher was having “suicidal thoughts,“ harming himself, “lacking self-worth,“ and “crying alone in his room because he doesn’t seem to have a good relationship with his parents,“ three weeks before his death. Bader met with Gallagher, but didn’t report the behavior to his parents, the suit states, per the Washington Post.
That was a clear violation of the school’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan, which also required Bader to fill out a suicide screening form, the suit states. Yet “the schools system’s position on the matter has been, essentially, ‘If your child is suicidal and we know it, we may or may not tell you,‘“ the Gallaghers say, per the Loudoun Times-Mirror. “That’s an unstated and intolerable policy. It defies both the LCPS Suicide Prevention Procedures and all common sense.“ The couple’s lawyer adds, “This was Jay Gallagher’s only opportunity to be saved.“ However, Bader’s lawyer says Gallagher told Bader he was not suicidal and asked him not to speak to his parents about their meeting. As Gallagher was 18 years old and had that right, “Bader didn’t do anything wrong.“
► Dad in Hot-Car Death Will Never Leave Prison
If life in prison without the possibility of parole wasn’t unequivocal enough, Justin Ross Harris had that and another 32 years handed to him on Monday. Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mark Staley Clark followed the state’s recommendation—what he called “the very least that can be considered just"—in sentencing the now-36-year-old Georgia man in 22-month-old son Cooper’s June 2014 hot-car death. Harris passed on the opportunity to make a statement in advance of sentencing, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Harris was in mid-November found guilty on the eight counts he faced, including malice murder, which indicates intent, and felony murder, which does not require proof of intent. Prosecutors claimed Harris—who was allegedly having illicit online chats with up to six women during the seven hours Cooper was in the vehicle—lived a “double life”; the defense argued Harris simply forgot his son was in the back seat because of an innocent change in routine. Harris is legally required to appeal.
► Could Dakota Access pipeline move after permit is denied?
The Army Corps of Engineers’ refusal to grant a permit for the Dakota Access oil pipeline to cross beneath the Missouri River has focused more attention on alternative routes, but several other options already have been considered and rejected as being more risky and expensive.
Some questions and answers about the Dakota Access pipeline and its route:
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE PIPELINE?
Nearly all of the 1,172-mile, $3.8 billion pipeline has been built by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners except for a mile-long section across federal land and beneath Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir. But the project is in limbo because the Corps suggested Sunday that it now needs a more detailed environmental review than it received initially.
The pipeline is designed to carry oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Patoka, Illinois. State regulators in all four states approved the route through their territory. The proposed route skirts the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border, and the tribe objects to the project, saying it could threaten drinking water and destroy sacred sites.
ARE THERE OTHER ROUTES AVAILABLE?
The company examined other routes when federal regulators conducted their initial environmental review. Energy Transfer Partners and the Corps agreed initially that the proposed route appeared to be the safest and most cost-effective path. The initial review looked at factors including the number of water crossings, how close the route came to homes and whether it crossed wetlands.
In North Dakota, the Dakota Access route parallels the existing Northern Border Pipeline, which carries natural gas from Canada across the Dakotas to the Chicago area. The Dakota Access pipeline would use a nearly identical route to cross Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock reservation.
One alternative the company considered called for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, about 50 miles upstream of the current path. That option was rejected because it was 10 miles longer and required more water and road crossings. It was also estimated to cost $22.6 million more than the current route.
DOES ANOTHER ROUTE HAVE SUPPORT?
Energy Transfer Partners doesn’t want to reroute the pipeline, which was originally expected to be completed before the end of this year. The company says delaying the project a year would cost it $1.4 billion in lost revenue. CEO Kelcy Warren told The Associated Press last month that the company doesn’t see another way to complete the project besides the current route.
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault has said the tribe does not oppose oil pipelines if they do not threaten water sources, environmentally sensitive areas or sacred sites. He said a route that would follow existing west-east and north-south oil pipeline corridors that avoid Missouri River crossings would be acceptable to him.
HOW WILL THE TRUMP ADMINSTRATION AFFECT THE PROJECT?
President-elect Donald Trump wouldn’t say Monday whether he will try to overturn the permit decision that has delayed the pipeline. Trump has said he supports the pipeline, and he holds stock in Energy Transfer Partners. Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the new administration would review the Corps’ decision after it takes office in January.
WHAT ARE THE PIPELINE’S PROSPECTS?
Energy analyst Afolabi Ogunnaike with the Wood Mackenzie consulting firm said it appears to be a question of how long it takes for the project to regain approval and whether the route will have to be adjusted.
“Our expectation is that the Dakota Access pipeline will go forward. I think what’s unclear is the path it will take and when it will start up,“ he said.
► Fearing ‘Trick,‘ Standing Rock Protesters Defy Call to ‘Go Home’
The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota has told activists to leave camps in protest of the Dakota Access pipeline following the US Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to consider alternate routes that don’t travel under Lake Oahe. “It’s time to go home,“ Dave Archambault says in a video statement, noting the pipeline will not go forward this winter, per the Guardian. “There’s no need for the water protectors or for anyone to be putting ourselves in unsafe environments.“ Yet protesters are hesitant. Some want the pipeline project abandoned completely, while others fear a court or President-elect Donald Trump will overturn the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision. More suspect the “huge victory” is simply a plot to clear the area.
“Our native people have reason to be distrustful,“ an Indigenous Environmental Network rep tells the Guardian. “Nothing indicates for us to pack up and go home.“ Archambault is “trusting bureaucracy and the government,“ but “the chairman does not tell us what to do. The chairman is not in charge of the camp,“ adds a protester. “We came to fight a black snake,“ referring to the pipeline. “Until it’s dead, we stand. That doesn’t mean put it five miles up the river. That means kill it dead.“ The companies behind the pipeline project appear equally determined. Energy Transfer Partners—which counts Trump as an investor—and Sunoco Logistics said Monday they plan to “complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting.“
► Oakland Failed to Act on ‘Death Trap’ Warnings
The death toll from Friday’s horrific warehouse fire has risen to 36, making it California’s deadliest building fire since the devastation of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. As recovery efforts at the “Ghost Ship” warehouse continue, many are wondering why inspectors failed to act despite repeated complaints that the cluttered building was being illegally used for living and entertainment purposes. NBC reports that at least 10 complaints were filed over the last 18 years, including a 2007 complaint calling the building “a nuisance or substandard or hazardous or injurious.“ Two of the complaints were filed just last month. Officials say inspectors visited November 17, but left after they couldn’t get in. A round-up of coverage:
Some victims trapped in the warehouse were able to text goodbyes to loved ones, the AP reports. Relatives received messages like “I’m going to die” and “I love you,“ Alameda County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told reporters Monday, adding that rescue workers found the bodies of some people who were “protecting each other, holding each other.“
Officials say they have identified 33 of the victims and notified 23 families, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. They say rescue crews, who are searching for evidence of a crime as well as additional victims, believe there may be no more bodies to recover. Investigators believe they have discovered the spot where the fire began, though there is no word yet on the cause. A list of victims can be seen here.
Investigators say they have found no sign of fire alarms or sprinklers in the structure, which had been subdivided into a maze of artists’ studios and residences. Zac Unger, vice president of the local Oakland Firefighter Union, tells the Los Angeles Times that the city is extremely short on fire inspectors. “Had a fire inspector walked into that building and seen the conditions in there, they would have shut the place down,“ he says.
The San Jose Mercury News, which has a diagram of the building’s interior showing how much of a death trap it was, reports that interviews with interviews with experts and former Ghost Ship residents show that the fire danger was ignored by people including the warehouse’s owner and city employees. Officials declined to say when the building last received a fire inspection, though it had apparently been quite some time: Authorities say fire extinguishers found in the wreckage were inoperative.
Relatives and associates tell the AP that Derick Ion Almena, who leased the warehouse and founded the artists’ collective, saw himself as a guru—but didn’t care about his followers’ well-being. “Honestly, I don’t think he is capable of feeling any kind of remorse or guilt,“ says Michael Allison, father of Almena’s partner, Micah Allison. “I’ve never seen him ever really care about anyone else.“ He says the couple, who lived in the warehouse but weren’t present during the fire, used drugs including meth and heroin and had their three children taken away by social services for several months last year.
► Bill Cosby’s Defense Suffers 1K-Page Blow
A suburban Philadelphia judge settled one of two key pretrial issues in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial on Monday when he ruled that the jury could hear Cosby’s damaging testimony from a decade-old civil deposition. The defense had argued that Cosby only gave the testimony after being assured he would never be charged in the case. But Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill concluded that Cosby had no such guarantee, the AP reports. O’Neill has vowed to bring the case to trial by June. The 79-year-old Cosby is charged with felony sexual assault. Here’s where the criminal case against Cosby stands, and what’s ahead:
Why the deposition is so important. The nearly 1,000 pages of often-lurid testimony show another side of the actor known as “America’s Dad” for his portrayal of amiable Dr. Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show from 1984-1992. Cosby acknowledged a string of extramarital affairs over 50 years and said he had given young women drugs or alcohol before sexual encounters that he deemed consensual. Many of the women say they were drugged and molested.
What Cosby says about the accuser. Cosby acknowledged the 2004 sexual encounter with accuser Andrea Constand, and described putting his hand down her pants after giving her three unidentified blue pills. He said he did not hear her object. “And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped,“ he said. Prosecutors believe Constand was semi-conscious and unable to give consent.
What about other women? Cosby testified that he had gotten quaaludes from his doctor in the 1970s and kept them on hand to give to women before sex. He said he considered it illegal to offer someone the party drug, but did so in the same way someone might say, “Have a drink.“
What’s next in the case. The judge will hear arguments next week on the other key pretrial issue, the question of how many other accusers can testify at trial about Cosby’s alleged pattern of drugging and molesting women. DA Kevin Steele hopes to call 13 other women as “prior bad act” witnesses. The defense will fight strenuously to block their testimony, questioning their credibility and relevance. The hearing is set for December 13 and 14.
How is Cosby doing? Cosby has not spent any time in custody since his December 30 arrest. He posted $1 million bail the same day and has made about a half-dozen court appearances, usually flanked by a team of lawyers and handlers. Defense lawyers say the 79-year-old comedian is legally blind and suffering memory problems, rendering him unable to help them prepare for trial. Neither his wife of 52 years, Camille, nor any of their four surviving children have accompanied him.
► PizzaGate Suspect ‘Wanted to Rescue Child Sex Slaves’
The man who allegedly fired shots inside the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria Sunday apparently thought he was on a rescue mission. According to court documents seen by Politico and BuzzFeed, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch fired three shots inside the Washington, DC, eatery, spent 45 minutes searching the premises and “surrendered peacefully when he found no evidence that underage children were being harbored in the restaurant.“ The North Carolina man told cops he was “self-investigating” the bizarre “PizzaGate” conspiracy theory, which accuses the restaurant’s owner of running a child sex-trafficking ring that involves Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, and other top Democrats.
The shots Welch fired from an AR-15-style assault rifle hit walls, a door, and a computer, according to court documents. Family and friends describe Welch as the devoted father of two young girls and say they don’t believe he intended to harm anybody. “He most likely really believes the conspiracy theory,“ Kathy Sue Holtorf, one of Welch’s closest friends, tells the Washington Post. “He’s a good guy with the best of intentions. He probably saw himself as more on a hero mission to save children than anything else.“ She says he is “a well-educated man,“ not a “conspiracy-theory nut.“ At a court appearance Monday, Welch was charged with offenses including assault with a dangerous weapon.
Did a now-viral video of a man punching a kangaroo come out of Australia? Yes, of course. Should we be judging him for it? It depends on how you feel about dogs. The video, which has amassed more than 4.1 million views so far, was first Saturday posted on Facebook by Steven Stubenrauch, who said he got it from a buddy from Down Under. But while the shot to the ‘roo’s face is indeed cringeworthy, Mashable explains there’s a “saga behind it,“ and it’s “very intense.“ The man in the video, IDed by News.com.au as Greig Tonkins—nicknamed “Goo,“ meaning this fight could be deemed “Goo vs. ‘Roo,“ as NineNews.com.au astutely notes—was part of a hunting trip in June for a friend named Kailem, who was in bad shape from cancer and wanted desperately to go on a boar-hunting trip with friends.
And so Mathew Amor invited Kailem and some other friends, including Tonkins (who it turns out is a zookeeper), to his New South Wales property for the hunt, and while they were gallivanting about, the featured kangaroo reached out, grabbed Tonkins’ dog Max, and put the pup in a headlock. And so Tonkins jumped into action, throwing the punch now seen ‘round the world. Everyone turned out to be fine: Amor says Max was startled but OK, the kangaroo was simply “stunned,“ and Tonkins came away unscathed because he didn’t throw that hard of a punch. “It was funny because the guy who did it is the most placid bloke,“ Amor says. “We laughed at him for chucking such a s—- punch.“ Sadly, Kailem died last week, but Amor says he’d “be looking down from up there [heaven] and laughing because it was the highlight of the trip.“
► France’s PM Steps Down to Run for President
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stepped down Tuesday to focus on running for president in next year’s election and was replaced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, a man who embodies the fight against Islamic extremism, the AP reports. Valls resigned a day after announcing his candidacy in the wake of President Francois Hollande’s decision not to run for a second term last week. Valls hopes to unite Socialists and keep the left in power despite polls suggesting the second round of next year’s election could pit Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, against conservative Francois Fillon. Cazeneuve, 53, is a close ally of Hollande and became a popular figure in French politics as the champion of measures tackling extremism in his interior minister role.
Cazeneuve was appointed interior minister in 2014 and had to supervise the response to a series of attacks that have claimed more than 200 lives since January 2015. He was in charge of implementing France’s state of emergency following the Paris attacks that killed 130 people last year. Valls, a leading yet divisive figure of the Socialist Party, has been harshly criticized by members of his own party after championing tough labor reforms and endorsing a controversial ban last summer on the Islamic “burkini” swimsuit. Valls is the third prime minister to announce his resignation this week: Italy’s Matteo Renzi is stepping down after backing the losing side in a referendum, and New Zealand’s John Key says he is quitting for family reasons.
► Austria’s Infamous Incest House Just Sold
The home where “Austrian incest monster” Josef Fritzl kept his daughter locked in the cellar for 24 years while fathering seven children by her may soon be used to house strippers, the Local reports. Fritzl was found guilty of murder, incest, sequestration, and 3,000 counts of rape in 2009 and sentenced to life in prison. Since then, authorities have worried the house in Austria would become a morbid tourist attraction. But reports this week say the house was purchased for a little under $172,000 by Ingrid Houska, the proprietor of a local pub and strip club.
Houska’s husband, Herbert, says they plan to turn the house into apartments and “bring down the curtain” on its horrifying past, the Irish Times reports. “We have a lot of apprentices…so we need staff apartments,“ the Express quotes Herbert Houska as saying. He says other people have also shown an interest in moving in. “It can’t stay empty forever,“ the Local quotes Herbert Houska as saying. “We need to bring life into it. In two years it will be a house like any other.“ There is one part of the notorious house that will be off limits to future tenants: The cellar where Fritzl kept his daughter prisoner was filled with cement in 2013.
► Egyptian man grows ‘Beard of Bees’, hopes to promote apian benefits
Mohamed Hagras stands barechested as dozens of honeybees congregate around his face, eventually forming what he calls the “Beard of Bees”. To attract the insects he has a box housing their queen’s hormones strapped to his chin.
The 31-year-old engineer-turned-beekeeper has been doing this for years both competitively - he fondly recalls a Canadian model’s “Bikini of Bees” at a beekeeping event - and as an effort to educate Egyptians on the usefulness of bees.
“The goal is to show that bees are not aggressive,“ he told Reuters at his farm in Shibin El Kom, the capital of the Nile Delta province of Menoufia.
“One the contrary, they are helpful and produce things that help humans and agriculture.“
Hagras extracts hormones from queen bees after they die and uses them to attract bees from the same hive to perform his show. He uses the same technique to form new hives, he says.
He uses the “Beard of Bees” at contests and exhibitions where like-minded people try to break world records. The current holder is a Chinese beekeeper who in 2015 covered his entire body with over a million bees, a combined weight of almost 110 kg (242.5 lb).
Other than honey and pollen, bees are also medicinal, Hagras says, adding that many people come to his farm to get stung in efforts to cure various diseases.
► Philippines president pines for motorcycle, doubts will ride again
Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte spoke of his sadness on Friday at having to forfeit his beloved motorcycles in becoming president, and offered tips on handling two wheels and why a Honda was better than a Harley.
The 71-year-old reminisced about touring the Philippines by motorbike and how as a city mayor he used to ride every week on a motorcycle that his security team made him mothball a day after winning a presidential election in May.
“I really do not know if I will be able to ride again with the constricted environment I have now ... That is the drawback of being the president,“ Duterte told graduates of a police highway patrol training course.
“I lost the desire because when I go out, my security follow me. Just forget it.“
Duterte’s image as an easy rider adds to the down-to-earth approach that has endeared him to millions of Filipinos.
When he was Davao City mayor he shunned protocol by making visiting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ride pillion on his bike, and he once forced a policeman to fine him for riding without his helmet.
Duterte gave a few lessons in motorcycle safety and recalled a few accidents, including one that damaged a nerve in his neck, which he is frequently seen massaging to prevent headaches.
He boasted of having reached speeds of 180 kph and owning a Yamaha and Honda as well as a Harley Davidson, although he said he was not too happy with that model as it over-heated.
“Throw it in the ditch. It is useless and hot,“ he said.
Duterte has overseen a tough anti-drugs campaign in which more than 2,500 people have been killed since he took office on June 30, about three-quarters in police operations, and the rest apparently victims of vigilantes or druglords eliminating rivals.
► Gambia court orders release of opposition leader, 18 others
An appeals court in Gambia ordered the release of a top opposition politician and 18 other protesters on bail Monday, just days after strongman ruler Yahya Jammeh agreed to step aside after losing the presidential election.
The ruling prompted people in the courtroom to stand and sing the national anthem.
Ousainou Darboe, the head of the United Democratic Party, and the 18 others had been arrested in April after they took part in a peaceful demonstration. They had been sentenced to three years in prison after they marched for electoral reform and to protest the death of a party member, demanding the member’s body.
Darboe is also a mentor to 51-year-old Adama Barrow, the man who defeated Jammeh in Thursday’s vote. Barrow has vowed to free all political prisoners and has urged exiles who fled Jammeh’s 22-year reign to return and help him reform this tiny West African country.
“It’s a great day! It’s a new Gambia. It is clear to Jammeh today that the power belongs to the people,“ said Darboe’s wife, Mymuna, who was going to cook his favorite dish of rice and fish known as benechin. “It’s going to be celebration, celebration, celebration!“
Darboe and the other defendants were due to be released on bail in the coming hours or days, though they must turn over their passports. Hundreds lined up for miles along the road that leads from the prison, awaiting their release.
“The release of Ousainou Darboe and other peaceful protesters on bail is a big moment for them and their families, yet we still await their full and final acquittal,“ said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher, who was present at the court.
“We must also not forget others prisoners of conscience who still languish in jail simply for having expressed their opinion or participated in peaceful protests,“ said Mahtani.
Eleven people are still facing trial in connection with the demonstrations earlier this year. It is unknown whether those cases will proceed now that Jammeh has indicated he will cede power in January.
Human rights groups say Jammeh’s regime has long imprisoned and often killed political opponents in an effort to maintain his grip on power.
Darboe said he has not been mistreated in prison since being detained in April, and attributed his thinner frame to meditation.
“When I get out today, I plan to go hug my president elect,“ he said.
As for Jammeh’s reaction to the release, “I know he cannot take pride in it, because I know, lawyers know, not only in this country but throughout the world, it was not against the law,“ Ousainou said of the demonstrations.
► Poland Has Made a Final Decision on Roman Polanski
Efforts to extradite Roman Polanski from Poland have come to a “definitive end,“ with the Oscar-winning director staying put in Europe, Reuters reports. According to the BBC, Polanski fled the US in 1978 after admitting to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The US sought his extradition from Poland in 2014 but was ruled against in Polish court. Poland’s prosecutor general and justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, sought to have that ruling annulled this year to “avoid double standards” and show that even celebrities aren’t above the law. But on Tuesday, the Polish supreme court called his request “groundless,“ meaning Polanski isn’t going anywhere. A lawyer for the director says they “are very happy that the case is finally over.“
► This Viral Holiday Ad Might Leave You Blubbering
The tear-jerker Christmas ad of the year has arrived from Poland. The ad from auction website Allegro shows an elderly man using the site to search for “English.“ A package soon arrives on the man’s doorstep with learning materials titled, “English for Beginners.“ We watch as the man slowly begins to learn a few words, from “toilet” to “dog,“ before picking up more—including a curse word—from English movies. Soon, he’s loudly reciting phrases like “I love you” and “you are perfect” on a bus. Why all the effort? It soon becomes clear as the man packs his “toothbrush” and “passport” in a “suitcase” and boards a plane to England, where he visits his son for Christmas. Then a face peeks out from behind a door.
The man approaches the little kid, crouches down, and says in perfect English, “Hi. I am your grandpa.“ A rep tells BuzzFeed that the ad and Allegro have the same goal: to “bring joy, touch the heart, and cause a [smile].“ In only a week, the ad has been watched more than 2.7 million times on YouTube, and at least some viewers were left blubbering. “That was a beautiful ad ... I got tears in my eyes,“ says a commenter, per the Telegraph. “I’m not crying. Dust in my eye. You’re crying. Shut up,“ adds a Twitter user. In a real-life equivalent, the Huffington Post reports a 75-year-old grandfather living in Brazil joined Instagram so he could share his daily drawings with his grandchildren, who live in the US and Korea. He now has 151,000 followers.
GSC Concert Choir Performing at Sand Fork Baptist Church
Members of the Glenville State College Concert Choir are preparing for their holiday concert. The event will take place on Wednesday, December 07 at 7:00 p.m. at Sand Fork Baptist Church.
“This is a beautiful concert of Lessons and Carols that will be presented by the GSC Concert and Chamber Choirs,” said GSC Choir Director Teresa Dody. “It is in the tradition of the renowned Kings College Choir in Cambridge, England. It will be a wonderful way to celebrate the traditional music of the season!”
Everyone is welcome to attend this free performance and donations are accepted.