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Legislators Turn Focus on Supreme Court Spending Following Report on Luxury Purchases

The Free Press WV

The issue of the lack of legislative review of the judiciary’s budget has been simmering at the State Capitol for a few years now.  Some lawmakers object to the State Supreme Court’s power to determine its own budget with no oversight from lawmakers.

The judiciary’s budget autonomy is written into the state Constitution. Article VI, Section 51, Subsection A(5) actually states that the legislature does not have the authority to decrease the judiciary’s budget.

In theory, the court could ask for significant budget increases every year and there’s nothing the legislature could do about it.  In practice, however, the court has generally worked with lawmakers to craft a reasonable budget that is in line with state spending.  That shows restraint.

The General Revenue portion of the judiciary’s budget this fiscal year is $141,759,670.  That’s a lot of money, but it has increased less than two percent over the last three budget years.

In 2016, the legislature considered a joint resolution to amend the state Constitution by eliminating the judiciary’s budget protection, but it didn’t go anywhere.  There was no groundswell of support or particular constituency motivated enough to take on the State Supreme Court.

However, that changed this week with the revelation by WCHS TV of excessive spending and waste on Supreme Court office furnishings—a $32,000 couch and $7,500 for an inlaid wooden floor in the state’s design in Chief Justice Allen Loughry’s office; $28,000 rugs and an $8,000 chair in Justice Robin Davis’s office; a $9,000 sofa in Justice Margaret Workman’s chambers, to name a few.

All paid for with taxpayer dollars.

The luxury furnishings were part of a general renovation of the Supreme Court’s Capitol offices.  The initial estimate was $900,000 back in 2009, but that ballooned to $3.7 million with changes, additions and, yes, fancy furniture.

Legislative leaders say the luxury spending has renewed interest in the constitutional amendment.  “This just isn’t right,” said Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) on MetroNews Talkline.  “We’re going to make an effort to change that.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott said he has no issue with upgrades to the historic Capitol building that are “appropriate and necessary,” but he adds that he “was stunned and angered by the amount that was spent for some of the furnishings that are more temporary.”

Changing the Constitution is not easy.  It requires a two-thirds vote by both chambers of the legislature and then approval by the voters.  Additionally there will be compelling arguments against it.  Would legislative oversight inject more politics in to the judiciary?  Would justices and judges feel compelled to craft decisions that meet approval of those who control the purse strings?

Those are rational questions that will need to be debated during the upcoming session. However, it’s going to be hard for lawmakers and the public to get the image out of their minds of a $32,000 couch.

“We’ve had some very difficult financial times.  We have state employees at nearly every agency that are not well paid,” Shott said.  “The thought that someone would spend that kind of money on a piece of furniture in view of those situations is just really troubling.”

UHC and WVU Cancer Institute’s Cancer Prevention and Control Collaborate on the Bridge Program

Background on the Bridge Program:

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation committed $25M in funding to Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative to address health care disparities in cancer care and support. The Foundation partnered with the WVU Cancer Institute and the Cecil B. Highland, Jr. & Barbara B. Highland Cancer Center at United Hospital Center to develop, implement, and evaluate an innovative model of comprehensive, coordinated care to better meet the needs of lung cancer survivors and their caregivers.

The Free Press WV
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation committed $25M in funding to Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative to address health care disparities in cancer care and support. The Foundation partnered with the WVU Cancer Institute and the Cecil B. Highland, Jr. & Barbara B. Highland Cancer Center at United Hospital Center to develop, implement, and evaluate an innovative model of comprehensive, coordinated care to better meet the needs of lung cancer survivors and their caregivers.

Pictured left is Linda Carte, RN, MSN, AOCN, vice president of oncology and post-acute care at UHC; Amber Shearer, RN, OCN, clinical navigator for lung cancer at UHC; and Sara Jane Gainor, MBA co-director of the WVU Cancer Institute Bridge Program.


“This is an exciting opportunity for the Cancer Institute and WVU Medicine to thoroughly address the issues that encompass all aspects of lung cancer survivors’ lives – physical, psychological, economic, and social,” Stephenie Kennedy, Ed.D., associate director for Cancer Prevention and Control and principal investigator for the program, said. “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in West Virginia and one of the most commonly diagnosed, accounting for more than 18% of the newly diagnosed cancer cases each year, indicating a need for such services in our state.


Bridge Clinic Expansion to UHC

WVU Cancer Institute’s Cancer Prevention and Control began implementing the Bridge Program in Morgantown in March 2017, and recently United Hospital Center has become part of the Bridge Program offering expanded services to lung cancer patients.

“It has been an exciting opportunity to be part of this project with the WVU Cancer Institute, as a gap in care has been identified for the Lung Cancer Survivors of West Virginia,“ said Linda Carte, RN, MSN, AOCN, vice president of oncology and post-acute care at United Hospital Center. “While Lung Cancer survivors are the first to have the opportunity to participate in this bridge program, it is a model that can certainly be

extended to all those surviving cancer to improve quality of life after diagnosis and treatment. We are looking forward to this ongoing collaboration to improve cancer care for the many communities we serve.“


What Is the Bridge Program?

The goal of the WVU Cancer Institute and United Hospital Center’s Bridge Program is to improve the coordination of care and decrease the consequences of treatment for patients diagnosed with stage I, II, or III lung cancer after they complete treatment. Our clinics are designed to partner with the patient to provide a person-centered approach to survivorship care planning and to identify ongoing physical, social, emotional, and financial needs. We want to relieve any post-treatment issues and assist the patient to thrive beyond lung cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In addition to our monthly clinic, the Bridge Program also works to:

  • Lower the impact of lung cancer recurrence by promoting increased surveillance, increase provider knowledge of survivorship issues through podcasts and an annual Lung Cancer Conference, and
  • Educate the community at large, through social media, and promotion of community


What is The Bridge Clinic?

The Bridge Program brings together health care professionals from multiple disciplines to create a comprehensive care plan tailored to the specific needs of each patient.

During the half-day clinic, each patient has the opportunity to meet individually with a nurse practitioner, licensed social worker, dietician, psychiatrist, physical therapist, and occupational therapist.

Those Enrolled In the Program Will:

  • Meet with multiple care providers in a half-day clinic
  • Receive a comprehensive, person-centered survivorship plan on the day of attendance
  • Meet with other survivors and their families
  • Receive information on valuable resources to survivors of lung cancer
  • Have continued assistance from a program coordinator, who will ensure the needs identified in the survivorship plan are met

In the months following the clinic, the patient can expect follow-up communication from the program coordinator and additional assessments that are completed to ensure patient satisfaction and assistance with ongoing health concerns/needs.

Judge Won’t Impose Deadline in Gas Pipeline Suit

The Free Press WVA federal judge tells developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline he won’t order all landowners in its West Virginia lawsuit to respond by Dec. 4 to motions for summary judgment for rights of way available under federal regulations.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver at a status conference Thursday said he wants the developers to locate landowners and serve them with court papers.

The pipeline would extend south for 195 miles (315 kilometers) from north-central West Virginia through 11 counties to the Virginia state line, and nearly 110 miles (175 kilometers) through six counties in Virginia.

Pipeline lawyers said in two federal suits that acquiring easements through condemnation is necessary as the developers have been unable to negotiate agreements with about 400 landowners.

Did You Know?

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The Gilmer Free Press

All You Can Eat Pancake Breakfast

at

The Gilmer County Recreation Facility

Fundraiser for the Gilmer County Parks and Recreation Centers
Girls Cabins Bathrooms Making Them ADA Compliant

When: November 19, 2017 (Sunday)

Price: $8.00 Adults

$5.00 Children under 10 years

Time: 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM


Menu:

Buckwheat or Regular Pancakes

Scrambled Eggs

Bacon

Sausage Links

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Fried Potatoes

Homemade Biscuit

Fruit

Beverages: Coffee, Water, Orange Juice or Milk


Location: From the stoplight, take WV Highway 5 West towards Grantsville for
.1 miles and turn right on Sycamore Run Road for .5 miles.
Make a left at the Golf Course intersection and proceed up the hill to
the Recreation Center

If you get lost, follow the crowd

Support a good cause and enjoy the food and the visit with your
friends and neighbors!!!!

West Virginia Agency Offering Tax Credit Training Program

The Free Press WVThe West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office is presenting a training session on a tax credit program and changes that become effective in January.

The session next week will include a presentation on changes to the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program passed by the West Virginia Legislature in October. The changes include an increase from 10 percent to 25 percent in the Commercial Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit.

The program is at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Hinton City Hall. It’s hosted by the Hinton Historic Landmark Commission and is free and open to the public.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History said in a news release the training session will also cover additional changes to the tax credit program, new requirements and an explanation of the program’s financial incentives.

Company Planning Synthetic Fuel Plant Gets $29M In Bonds

The Free Press WVThe West Virginia Economic Development Authority has authorized more than $29 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to a company planning to build a synthetic fuel plant.

A reimbursement resolution and a cap allocation application were approved to PPD of WV One on Thursday. The newly formed company aims to start plant construction next year in Greenbrier County.

PPD of WV One says the $73 million plant will convert materials such as wood waste into diesel fuel and biochar, a charcoal used in the agriculture sector to help plant growth.

The authority has approved up to $80 million in revenue bonds for the company. Company spokesman Chris Hall says statutory limitations prevented PPD of WV One from trying to get the $80 million approved all at once.

The Numbers on Trump’s Lies Keep Going Up

The Free Press WV

As of 3am Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, Donald Trump has told 1,628 lies since taking office. We know this because the Washington Post has been diligently watching the numbers, keeping tabs on Trump’s huge fibs and falsehoods. Over the 298 days since his inauguration, Trump has told an average of 5.5 lies every single day of the week, Monday to Sunday. While he barely works weekdays and golfs every weekend, he apparently never takes a vacation from lying.

Over the last 35 days, Trump has been even more dishonest than usual, upping his daily average to 9 lies every 24 hours. Thanks to the extra effort he’s put into misleading the country on a diversity of topics in recent weeks, he’s likely to reach “peak liar” status by January 20. “That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily exceed 2,000 if he maintained the pace of the past month,” the Post notes.

Trump tends to lie about the same things over and over again. Near the top of his greatest hits are taxes. Trump falsely stated 40 times that GOP tax reform will yield the biggest tax cut in history, and 50 times erroneously suggested the U.S. is the highest taxed nation in the world. Fifty-five times Trump has boasted about achievements he played no part in, especially when it comes to saving or creating jobs. But Trump has lied about Obamacare more than any other topic, stating some 60 times “some variation of the statement that the Affordable Care Act is dying and ‘essentially dead,’” according to the Post. That is just not true. “Indeed, healthy enrollment for the coming year has surprised health-care experts,” according to the outlet.

Trump’s lies are dangerous for reasons many have acknowledged. Obviously, the spread of misinformation and disinformation and the obliteration of truth may hold deep consequences for society and our already flawed democracy. All politicians lie, but Trump lies habitually, and with alarming frequency. The only surprise about Trump’s lying at this point is what he chooses to lie about—how easily disprovable his lies are and how unconvincing he is after so much practice. Of course, that matters little to Trump’s base and the GOP overall, for whom whataboutism and “if true”-ism are perfectly good stand-ins for what we’re constantly told are traditional values and morals.

   

Kali Holloway

Selective Outrage: Trump Criticizes Franken, Silent on Moore

The Free Press WVDonald Trump is displaying selective outrage over allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men in politics, as his own tortured past lingers over his response.

Trump moved quickly Thursday to condemn accusations against Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken as “really bad,” but he has remained conspicuously silent on the more serious claims leveled against Roy Moore, the Republican in Alabama’s special Senate race who faces allegations he sexually assaulted teenage girls decades ago.

Trump has repeatedly declined to follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan in calling on Moore to quit the race. Both had said they believe Moore’s accusers.

With the nation confronting revelations of sexual impropriety by powerful men in entertainment and politics, Trump is an inconsistent as well as an unlikely critic of alleged offenders.

More than a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were leveled against him in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump was caught on tape in conversation with “Access Hollywood” boasting in graphic detail of sexually harassing women.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the allegations against him as fake news, most recently telling reporters on Oct. 16: “It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff.”

That didn’t deter Trump from scoring a blow on a reeling detractor.

Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio host, on Thursday accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her during a 2006 USO tour. She released a photo showing the comedian turned senator posing in a joking manner with his hands on her chest as she naps wearing a flak vest aboard a military plane.

In a pair of tweets Thursday night, Trump spotlighted the accusations against Franken, saying the photo “speaks a thousand words.”

“Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?” Trump tweeted. “And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women.”

Hours before the tweets appeared, Franken moved swiftly to apologize and embrace bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation into his actions.

As Trump assailed Franken, Moore was digging in, pledging to fight the accusations against him as the state GOP in Alabama reaffirmed its support for the embattled candidate. Two women have come forward by name accusing Moore of initiating sexual contact with them when they were 14 and 16, respectively.

On Tuesday, the Republican National Committee pulled its financial support for Moore, following similar action last week by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The White House said Trump supported the RNC’s decision, which came as the party absorbed polling data showing Moore trailing Democrat Doug Jones in the Republican stronghold.

In recent days, GOP officials sought to explain away Trump’s refusal to call on Moore to step aside as an effort not to add more fuel to the anti-establishment fires boosting Moore’s campaign. They also suggested that Trump was wary of wading into issues of sexual impropriety given the previous claims against him. But the strike against Franken indicated a more political rationale. The former “Saturday Night Live” writer and cast member has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s administration.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly declined Thursday to say whether Trump believed Moore’s accusers, even after the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, told The Associated Press that she had no reason to doubt their claims against him.

“He thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be,” Sanders said of the president, who dodged questions from reporters on the subject twice earlier in the week. Sanders also refused to say whether Trump was pulling his endorsement of the candidate.

American Cities Stuck with Part Of Tab For Congress Tax Cuts

The Free Press WVCongress’ plan to cut taxes by more than $1 trillion sends part of the bill to America’s states and cities.

The Republican-led House Thursday passed its version of a tax-code overhaul that pulls the tax-exemption from investments in so-called private activity bonds that finance projects like airports, water facilities and roads, promising to make financing tens of billions of dollars worth of public works each year more expensive. And, like the Senate’s plan, it would do away with advanced refundings, a technique municipalities frequently use to refinance their debt when interest rates fall.

“The only thing that’s going to go up is the interest that you’re going to pay on that cost of capital,“ said Stephen Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, D, who is the chair of Municipal Bonds for America, a coalition lobbying to keep tax breaks on municipal borrowing. “The brunt of that will be born by ratepayers and taxpayers.“

The measures don’t go all that far to cover the cost of tax cuts that will add an estimated $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade. Doing away with private-activity bonds would save the federal government about $39 billion over the next decade because investors would steer their money into stocks, corporate bonds and other assets subject to the income tax, according to the estimates of the House bill by the Joint Tax Committee. Yanking the subsidies from refinancings would save less than $20 billion over that time.

But it will mean a lot to local governments. Advanced refundings saved them an estimated $11.8 billion in the five years through 2016, according to data compiled by the Government Finance Officers Association.

The proposed tax changes would likely result in higher interest costs for municipal borrowers and strain their budgets, according to S&P Global Ratings. Tax break or no, localities still need to build roads, maintain schools and keep the water running.

Without tax-exempt status, money for projects now financed with private activity bonds would be raised in the taxable bond market, where the cost is higher. For example, an A-rated municipality that issues $100 million in 30 year general-obligation bonds in the taxable market rather than the tax-exempt market would see an additional cost of 0.55 percentage points, or $16.5 million more over that term, according to calculations based on Bloomberg’s indexes.

While the Senate bill kept the tax-exemption for private activity bonds intact, both chambers’ bills have backed ending advanced refundings. If that happens, local governments lose a tool that helped them during times of revenue shortfalls, like the period after the onset of last decade’s recession, said John Hicks, executive director of the Washington-based National Association of State Budget Officers.

“It’s a disappointment and a surprise that advanced refundings are being proposed for repeal,“ Hicks said. “It’s an opportunity loss.“

No NAFTA, No Problem, One Mexican Town Says

The Free Press WV

Josué Vidales considers his business a NAFTA success story. The 43-year-old father of five founded his engineering firm on the eve of the world economic crisis to capitalize on the slew of factories being built in this burgeoning industrial city some 250 miles north of Mexico City.

The business stumbled in the beginning, but subsequently blossomed and grew to 25 employees as manufacturers poured into San Luis Potosí and hired his firm to design and install electrical substations.

Now, with NAFTA free trade treaty with the United States and Canada being renegotiated and President Trump threatening to tear it up, Vidales admits to some disquiet. But like many of the new NAFTA-created business owners here, he thinks his business and the town could survive the agreement’s possible demise.

“Of course we’re concerned. It could impact us hard, especially if tariffs increase or they block access to the U.S. market,“ Vidales said, sipping a Coca-Cola diluted with mineral water in a popular chain of cafes. “We’ll get through this and much more quickly than before because we have much more know-how and much more experience.“

Such optimism is common in San Luis Potosí, a colonial city and capital of the state with the same name that still charms with its plazas and ornate churches - and sells itself as a free trade success story where manufacturing replaced mining and farming and young people stay at home to work rather than migrating to America.

As Mexico considers the once unthinkable, life post-NAFTA, places like San Luis Potosí believe they have learned what they needed from the treaty and are ready to take on the world economy without it. But two decades of the treaty affected the country very unevenly and what works for San Luis Potosi may not apply elsewhere.

For instance, in the past five years, the city saw economic growth of 5 percent and attracted $6 billion in foreign investment. Yet overall, during the period of NAFTA from 1994 to 2016 growth across the country has averaged an anemic 1.2 percent as gains in the industrialized north were canceled by stagnation in the rural south.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray has said it “won’t be the end of the world” if NAFTA ended - a line repeated by many in San Luis Potosí.

“Mexico is bigger than NAFTA and there is life after NAFTA,“ Videgaray told reporters back in October. “Of course we think this is the best economic situation for the country, with a good renegotiation. But if that’s not achieved, we will have to be ready.“

Many in Mexico seem reluctant to speculate on a post-NAFTA future - beyond the perpetual chatter of pursuing new markets for Mexican exports and expressing hopes the ongoing negotiations will prove fruitful.

“I want to put myself on the side of being optimistic since the objective of negotiating a trade agreement with any country should always be a win for everyone,“ said Governor Juan Manuel Carreras López of San Luis Potosí. “I also understand that agreements can be revised and modernized.“

The optimism about what Mexico’s post-NAFTA future might look like is not unanimous, however. In the short term, the currency would likely depreciate, raising prices locally. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean foresees the Mexican economy contracting 1.9 percent without NAFTA. It’s also not clear if Mexico would still be as attractive to investors without the agreement.

In a report on Mexico released Monday, the International Monetary Fund also expressed misgivings for the economy if the treaty, noting that “substantial impediments to bilateral trade could have a significant impact on financial markets, investment and growth.“

“Investment flows would slow down quite a bit - it would depend a lot on the sector and region,“ said Jonathan Heath, former chief economist for Latin America at HSBC. “If you look at private investment, it’s basically been flat for the last year and a half. A good explanation for that is uncertainty surrounding NAFTA.“

Others wonder aloud if Mexico’s business class has the stomach to stick out such uncertainty or if they will pull their money out of the country - as happened previously in times of economic turbulence.

“Within five minutes [of NAFTA ending] they will have transferred all their capital abroad. They will have bet everything against the peso. And they will have put a stop to every investment project for the next two years,“ said Federico Estévez, political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. “The Mexican economy will be emptied of all resources.“

San Luis Potosí, along with the outlying Bajío region to the north and west of Mexico City, was once one of the poorest regions in the country, known for little more than peyote, prickly pears and silver mining.

It boomed under NAFTA, leveraging its ideal geography - sitting roughly equidistant between the Mexico City and the Monterrey and offering easy access to both coasts and the U.S. border - existing infrastructure and an abundance of low-cost labor. In the mid-2000s, the auto sector arrived, starting with General Motors plant.

With the Trump and the rumblings over NAFTA, there have been setbacks, including Ford pulling the plug on a planned manufacturing plant in January. That was balanced out, however, by German automaker BMW saying it would continue to build its own San Luis Potosí plant, scheduled to open in 2019.

If the Ford withdrawal offered a glimpse of life after NAFTA, state officials said they’re not worried. As Carreras pointed out, this year saw the pull out of Ford and Trump’s call to renegotiate the treaty and yet “we’ve had the best job creation numbers that we’ve ever had.“

This is the model Mexican business executives are hoping for: if U.S. investors and markets recede, other countries will take their place.

With Mexico having signed so many free trade agreements with other countries, analysts say manufacturing in Mexico still makes sense for many automotive companies, even without NAFTA. Potential automotive tariffs would run about 2.5 percent, as outlined under World Trade Organization rules.

“There are currently companies, mostly European and Asian, which are very interested in San Luis Potosí,“ said Héctor Soto, director of the San Luis Potosí Automotive Cluster, an industry promotion organization.

Soto projects the number of suppliers investing in the state to reach 330 by 2020, up from the 230 firms operating today and 40 when GM arrived in 2006. Even U.S. firms are still showing interest, according to Soto, who hosted a delegation from Michigan visiting San Luis Potosí in October.

“Regardless of what happens with NAFTA,“ Soto said, “supply chains are so integrated that they’re difficult to break.“

Vidales, the entrepreneur, grew up number 11 out of 16 children in a pious Catholic family. Among other projects, he founded a custom manufacturing business, Evolt de México, with a younger brother, Otoniel.

“We’ve adopted the best business practices” of the firms investing in San Luis Potosí, Vidales said, looking every bit the businessman-engineer in a charcoal suit with a pen clipped between the buttons of his patterned shirt.

Otoniel, 36, expanded on the sentiment. “It will only be a transition. We’re ready now. We know how do things,“ he said about the possible end of NAFTA. “We’re very Americanized.“

On the busy Highway 57 - the so called NAFTA Highway connecting Mexico City with the U.S. border - workers admit to mixed opinions about the treaty that changed their lives. At an industrial park near the highway, people say it has brought jobs, but wages remain low.

“The price of everything goes up, but our salaries stay the same,“ said Oscar Ruiz, 33, a truck driver for a box factory, who earns roughly $85 a week plus overtime. “It’s a noticeable change here (since NAFTA was signed) but our personal economic situations continue to be the same. I have to work an extra 40 hours a week to make ends meet.“

But there is still worry about what could happen with the end of NAFTA, which is still viewed positively by some 60 percent of the population in Mexico.

Carlos del Pozo, 41, once washed dishes in the Dallas area, but he returned to San Luis Potosí, studied systems engineering and now earns $1,400 per month with an auto parts maker.

“I’m scared of being poor again,“ he admitted as he tried to sell a tricked out Volkswagen Jetta at a Sunday market for used cars where he moonlights. “It’s going to be a crisis.“

Anti-Corruption Campaign In Saudi Brings Hope To Businessmen

The Free Press WVLebanon-based businessmen who lost enterprises through dealings with members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and others in the kingdom are closely watching a new campaign led by the powerful crown prince targeting officials, princes and tycoons in the oil-rich kingdom, hoping it will help them win back what they lost over the years.

The campaign, which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says is aimed at cracking down on corruption in the kingdom, has been met with skepticism by many. With dozens of powerful princes, business leaders and government officials in custody, the move has provoked speculation the crackdown is more about consolidating power than curbing corruption. Others speculate the move amounts to a shake-down of wealthy players for their assets as the crown prince tries to implement sensitive economic reforms in the face of lower oil prices.

Either way, many in the kingdom welcome efforts to fight rampant corruption and abuse of power, and many outside it hope the move will encourage people to invest in the kingdom without fear.

Since the first week of November, some 201 people have been taken into custody by Saudi authorities in a sweep that investigators say has uncovered at least $100 billion in corruption. The detainees include Cabinet ministers, members of the royal family and the owners of three TV networks that are among the largest in the Middle East.

The crackdown that began on Nov. 4 initially targeted 11 princes, 38 officials, military officers as well as business leaders. An estimated 1,700 individual bank accounts have been frozen.

Saudi critics and experts have called the unprecedented purge of top princes and businessmen by the crown prince, also known by his initials MBS, a bold and risky move aimed at consolidating power as he keeps an eye on the throne, sidelining potential rivals and dismantling alliances built with other branches of the royal family.

Pierre Daher, who founded the first private TV station in Lebanon in 1985 and turned it into one of the top media outlets in the Arab world, has been locked in court cases with detained Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men, since 2011. The prince, whose maternal grandfather Riad Solh was once Lebanon’s prime minister and also holds Lebanese citizenship, has investments that include Twitter, Apple, Citigroup and the Four Seasons hotel chain and was once a significant shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, but sold much of those shares in 2015.

Their court battles are over Lebanon’s leading LBC and the affiliated Production and Acquisition Company, widely known as PAC, which filed for liquidation in 2012. Some 400 PAC employees lost their jobs and are still waiting for Prince Alwaleed to compensate them.

Prince Alwaleed and Daher, now chairman and CEO of LBC, were once allies when the prince pumped money into LBC TV before the two split over several issues and Daher was removed from his job as head of PAC. Prince Alwaleed ended up taking over the LBC SAT and PAC while Daher took LBC.

“The disgraceful behavior of Alwaleed by making the company (PAC) bankrupt fraudulently while it was not bankrupt and had assets. PAC was able to continue normally but he mechanically made up bankruptcy,” said Daher in his LBC office in the posh town of Adma north of Beirut.

Several cases between the two are still ongoing in countries including Lebanon, Britain and the Cayman Islands. Daher says that he is suing Prince Alwaleed for more than $100 million and is optimistic he will win.

Lebanese media outlets reported this month that two Beirut hotels owned by Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding are for sale. The Four Seasons and Mövenpick Hotel are among Beirut’s most luxurious hotels and are located in two of the capital’s most posh neighborhoods.

“If the hotels are not in the person’s name, not in the name of the defendant himself in person, you cannot garnish them since they belong to a company,” said Paul Morcos, legal expert and founder and owner of Justicia Consulting Law firm in Beirut.

Morcos added that the prosecution that is done in Saudi Arabia does not directly affect a prosecution taking place in Lebanon.

Attempts to reach a representative of Prince Alwaleed at Kingdom Holding were not immediately successful.

Another person who lost millions of dollars in the kingdom as a result of alleged corruption is Lebanon-based U.S. citizen Yahya Lotfi Khader who for more than 20 years ran petrochemical businesses along with his two partners in eastern Saudi Arabia.

The Syria-born, 57-year-old businessman said he left the kingdom two years ago after he became the victim of interference by officials who worked in the office of a once powerful prince, Saoud bin Nayef, the brother of the former crown prince who was removed from his post earlier this year. Khader put forward documents that proves they have lost tens of millions of dollars in cases that he says were manipulated by powerful people in the kingdom.

“There is widespread corruption from princes to ministers to judges to lawyers to businessmen,” Khader said, speaking in his posh apartment overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the north Beirut suburb of Dbayeh. “Regrettably there are people who are taking advantage of the wealth and powers of the kingdom and are taking it in the wrong direction.”

Khader added that the first step by MBS is to fight corruption and people in the kingdom have been waiting for an “awakening against corruption.” Khader said “Saudi Arabia has all the capabilities to become one of the most important countries in the world If we can fight corruption and it will not be an easy mission but we are very optimistic about what happened.”

Khader has sent documents listing all the injustice they were subjected to in the kingdom to the office of King Salman and MBS hoping that it could help them return to the kingdom and get back their money that are worth tens of millions of dollars.

“What is happening in Saudi Arabia is a game changer. It is turning the country on the political, economic, social and religious levels,” said Daher of LBC.

He added: “Today there is a new Saudi Arabia that is totally different from what it used to be but it is still early to judge it.”

City of Glenville Police Report

The Gilmer Free Press
City of Glenville, WV Police Report
Crime/Ordinance Violation
Officer
Disposition
Location
Speeding Gadney Warnings Issued for Speeding, Unsigned Registration, and No Proof of Insurance W. Main Street
Speeding Gadney Warning W. Main Street
No Seatbelt Gadney Cited N. Lewis Street
Cell phone while driving Huffman Cited for Cell phone while driving and Warning Issued for Unsigned Registration College Street
Speeding Gadney Warning W. Main Street
Alarm investigation Huffman All doors were secure contacted key holder Sheridan Street
Driving while Suspended Huffman Cited Walnut Street
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle Unlocked Foodland plaza
Welfare Check Huffman Vehicle Left the area prior to my arrival US WY 33 E
MVC Huffman Vehicle left the area prior to my arrival phone pole minimal damage contacted phone company Mineral Road
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle Unlocked Sycamore Road
Assist Another Agency Huffman/Garrett Assisted GCSD/WVSP with an Escaped inmate. Suspect located. FCI Gilmer
Serve Warrants Huffman Suspect arrested for WV Parole Board Center Street
Wrongful Occupation Huffman Served with Wrongful Occupation Center Street
Speeding Huffman Warning W. Main Street
Dog Barking Complaint Huffman Owners warned about the dog barking advised if the problem continued they could be cited S. Lewis Street
Trash Complaint Huffman No One home red tagged door for trash S. Lewis Street
Non Active Domestic Huffman Referred to WVSP due to being out of City Kanawha Street
Assist Another Agency Huffman/Garrett/Gadney Assisted WVSP and GCSD serving DVPO and making an arrest Kanawha Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Cell phone While Driving Gadney Cited N. Lewis Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Fairground Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Fairground Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning S. Lewis Street
Cell phone while driving Huffman Cited Fairground Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Fairground Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Speeding Gadney Cited College Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Failure to stop for stop sign Gadney Cited for Stop Sign Violation and Expired Registration Fairground Road
Stop Sign violation Gadney Cited Fairground Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning W. Main Street
Cell phone while driving Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Garrett Warning N. Lewis Street
Stop Sign Violation Garrett Warning N. Lewis Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Cell phone while driving Gadney Cited Fairground Road
Speeding Gadney Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Gadney Cited W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Speeding Gadney Cited W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warnings Issued for Defective Equipment and Unsigned Registration card River Street
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle Unlocked Foodland Plaza
Tree in roadway Huffman Tree fell on power lines and was blocking roadway Mon Power contacted Pine Street
Shots fired Huffman No Shots were fired sound was tree falling onto power lines Pine Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Expired MVI Gadney Cited W. Main Street
Expired MVI Gadney Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Gadney Cited W. Main Street
Active domestic Gadney All Verbal parties were separated E. Main Street
Shoplifting Huffman Cited Go Mart
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle Unlocked Powell Street
Battery on a School Employee Huffman Investigation Started Gilmer Co High
Speeding Huffman Cited for Speeding and No Seatbelt, Warning Issued for Unsigned Registration W. Main Street
No Seatbelt Huffman Cited W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Warning College Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Driving without headlights Garrett Warning College Street
Illegal lighting Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Warning College Street
Speeding Huffman Warning College Street
Reckless driver Garrett Negative Contact WV HWY 5 E
Threats Garrett Caller advised didn’t want to file charges just wanted to let someone know Howard Street
Suicide Gadney Male Subject pronounced DOS Center Street
Stop Sign Violation Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Stop Sign Violation Gadney Cited N. Lewis Street
Speeding Gadney Cited N. Lewis Street
Speeding Gadney Cited for Speeding and failure to produce operators N. Lewis Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning S. Lewis Street
No MVI Gadney Cited for No MVI and Warnings issued for No Proof of Registration and Defective Equipment Fairground Road
Stop Sign Violation Gadney Warning Fairground Road
Speeding Gadney Cited N. Lewis Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Fairground Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Linn Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Fairground Road
Serve Warrants Huffman Suspect arrested and transported to CRJ Magistrate Court
Threats Huffman Suspect left the scene prior to my arrival.  No Direct Threats were made to individuals at the restaurant.  Suspect was later located and advised he was not allowed to be on the property or would be arrested for Trespassing Corner Stone
Vehicle unlock Huffman Vehicle Unlocked Gilmer Elementary
Trash Complaint Huffman Warning Issued and was told that he had to have all the trash cleaned up or would be cited N. Lewis Street
Motor Vehicle Crash Huffman No Report Completed subjects exchanged information Foodland
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Warning W. Main Street
Active Domestic Huffman/Garrett All verbal, no physical contact parties were separated Walnut Street
Large Altercation Huffman Altercation with approximately 30 people involved, fight was broken up and EMS made a transport to the hospital, attempted to locate suspects Powell Street/Go Mart
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Driving without headlights Gadney Cited E. Main Street
Speeding Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Red ribbon Week Presentation Huffman Assisted with a Drug awareness presentation Gilmer Elementary
Speeding Huffman Cited W. Main Street
Assist CPS Huffman Assisted CPS with a referral Glenville
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle Unlocked Gilmer Co High
Speeding Huffman Cited for Speeding and No Seatbelt, warnings Issued for Unsigned registration and failure to change address W. Main Street
Speeding Garrett Cited W. Main Street
Active Domestic Huffman All Verbal parties separated E. Main  St
Reckless Driver Garrett Negative contact with the vehicle W. Main Street
Speeding Huffman Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
MVC Garrett Accident Report Completed High St
MVC Gadney Accident Report Completed W. Main Street
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle unlocked Conrad Motel
Speeding Gadney Warning W. Main Street
Expired MVI Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Speeding Gadney Cited Mineral Road
Improper Registration Gadney Cited for Improper Registration and No Proof of Registration Mineral Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Mineral Road
Cell phone while Driving Gadney Cited Fairground Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning S. Lewis Street
Speeding Gadney Cited Mineral Road
Assist Another Agency Gadney Assisted WVSP with active Domestic Wabash Ave
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning N. Lewis Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Fairground Road
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning Fairground Road
Speeding Gadney Cited N. Lewis Street
Improper Lighting Gadney Suspect arrested for DUI W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning W. Main Street
Speeding Gadney Cited W. Main Street
Defective Equipment Gadney Warning College Street
Speeding Huffman Warnings Issued for Speeding and Unsigned Registration College Street
Active Domestic Huffman 1 male and 1 female arrested for Domestic Battery Charges Mountaineer Mart
Vehicle Unlock Huffman Vehicle Unlocked Conrad Motel

GSC to Open National Search for New Volleyball Coach

The Free Press WV

After spending two seasons as Head Coach for the Lady Pioneer Volleyball Team, James Mercer announced Thursday that he would be stepping down effective immediately.

Mercer finishes his time at GSC with a record of 1-56 and 0-31 in the Mountain East Conference.

The Lady Pioneers graduated only one senior in 2017 and return 16 players in Bailey Brawner, Jezaray Clark-Casto, Ai Miyazaki, Madison Gargus, and Allison Parski, to name a few.

“Glenville State thanks Coach Mercer and we wish him the best of luck in the future,“ said Rusty Vineyard, GSC’s Vice President of Student Life and Athletics. Vineyard added that a national search to fill the head volleyball coach position will begin as soon as possible.

Holding VA Medical Providers Accountable

The Free Press WV

Following a USA Today investigation revealing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concealed poor care and mistakes made by its medical workers, two senators have introduced legislation to hold the VA accountable.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., introduced Monday the VA Provider Accountability Act, which would require the VA to report major adverse actions to the National Practitioner Data Bank and state licensing boards.

The bill would also prohibit the VA from signing settlements with fired or dismissed VA employees that allow the VA to conceal serious medical errors or purge negative records from personnel files.

“The vast majority of VA healthcare providers are well-trained, caring, patriots who work hard to take care of our nation’s veterans,” Manchin said in a release. “But, just like in any healthcare system, there are bad apples.”

Manchin, a member of the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the VA Provider Accountability Ace is a commonsense piece of legislation to ensure that incidences of malpractice do not go unreported to state licensing boards and the National Practitioner Data Bank.

“It also stops those who commit malpractice from receiving a settlement so they will quietly resign and become a provider outside of the VA. By imposing these oversight measures on the Department of Veterans Affairs, we are ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all Americans.”

Heller added that the USA Today investigation findings were “downright shameful.”

“We need action immediately to ensure that the VA does not hide medical mistakes or inadequate care.”

He continued, “It is our responsibility to stand up for those who put their lives on the line for this country and provide them with the world class medical care they expect and deserve. The VA lists integrity as its first core value, and VA employees make the promise to act with high moral principle and adhere to the highest professional standards. Our legislation will make sure of it by holding the VA’s feet to the fire so that the veterans the agency exists to serve have trust in their caretakers.”

ETC.

The Free Press WV

  • Do Americans Even Care That Trump Lies This Much?  The stats on Trump’s truth-telling through 9 months in office are astounding.  ESQUIRE


  • Domestic violence is a tragedy, not a predictor of mass murder.  There are at least 10 million episodes of domestic violence every year in America. There are a few dozen mass murders. The link isn’t as clear as some say it is.  USA Today


  • Leonardo da Vinci Painting Sells for $450 Million:  The meek won’t inherit this art. Salvator Mundi, a painting of Jesus by the Renaissance master, was auctioned at Christie’s in New York for a record $450,312,500 — the most ever paid for a work of art. The long-lost painting, one of fewer than 20 by Leonardo known to exist, was commissioned by King Louis XII of France around 1500. It had been restored after being badly damaged and partially painted over. The seller was a Russian oligarch, but the identity of its new owner remains a mystery.  The Guardian


  • Why the Allegations Against Judge Moore are So Serious?  What are we to make of the latest allegation of sexual assault leveled against Alabama senatorial candidate Judge Roy Moore? Did he really force himself on girls as young as 14 and 16 when he was in his 30s?  It’s easy to lose sight of the seriousness of these charges in the midst of the political circus unfolding before our eyes. Will the Republicans condemn their own candidate without a fair hearing of the evidence?  STREAM

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