Speak Your Piece: A Homestead Act for Appalachia

The Free Press WV

To restore Appalachia, reconnect the region’s greatest resources — land and people. There’s no better time than the present.

Appalachia, especially its coal mining region, is experiencing a revived bit of attention as shuttered mines, a rise in income inequality and longstanding poverty received flashes of concern from both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

As a native son of the region with many kin and friends unemployed by the decline in coal production, it might be logical to expect I should be optimistic that things are really going to change for the better in the mountains as a result of this latest regional revival. My experience as a journalist covering the War on Poverty and New Deal legacy institutions like the Tennessee Valley Authority, however, tempers my optimism.

After all, Clinton’s standard Democratic formulas of job retraining and federal aid that launched the 50-year old War on Poverty and the Appalachian Regional Commission have turned out to leave the region today in the same relative position to the nation that it was a half century ago: at the bottom of the poorest.

Trump’s vague proposals to make miners “proud” again and to somehow bring the continuous mining machines and Cat bulldozers back to life make me think he understands the business of coal mining no better than he knew the business of gambling in Atlantic City that bankrupted his casinos.

There is another way.

Anyone who has spent time in the mountains and hollows from Middlesboro, Kentucky, to Beckley, West Virginia, understands that most of the land is owned either by coal and timber companies or the federal government with its national forests and parks. Coal companies alone own 1.3 million acres in the Cumberlands of Kentucky and even more in the Alleghenies of West Virginia. The federal government is actually the largest single landowner in Appalachia.

With the region’s largest coal companies in bankruptcy or nearly so, I have an idea for Clinton and Trump: Let’s buy those bankrupted acres and let’s release some of those federal holdings. And then we can give the people something they have not had since industrialization and coal mining started in Appalachia in the 1880’s — land. Land for farming, for gardens, for housing, for grazing cattle, horses and hogs, and for sustainable forestry.

Let’s call this the Appalachian Homestead Act, in homage to the federal initiative that helped settle the West and build wealth in the 19th century. The Appalachian Homestead Act may be today’s single best solution to the enduring problem of mountain poverty. And it may well be the most important opportunity for a new generation looking for a place to build an economy and a community that make sense in a time of global warming and economic dysfunction.

This is the perfect policy for both candidates. Trump could probably make some real deals negotiating with these bankrupt companies. Clinton might find favor in a region that has not looked kindly on her of late, trimming some federal holdings, swapping with others, all the while turning property back to mountain communities.

Now’s the time to act. Over a dozen mountain coal producers have entered bankruptcy in just the last few years. Alpha Natural Resources, the nation’s second largest producer, is bankrupt and owns 97,000 acres of West Virginia property and thousands of acres in its home state of Virginia. It’s a safe bet that the idled mines in the famous Elkhorn coal seams in Letcher and Pike counties in Kentucky that once fueled the furnaces of Bethlehem Steel and the Harlan County mines that did the same for U.S. Steel, International Harvester and Ford Motor Company will never see miner’s lamps again or hear their lunch buckets bang against mantrips and roof bolters.

The appalling drug addiction, alcoholism, and suicide rates in the mountains are the most glaring testimony to mountaineers’ despair. People have become separated from the land and from hope. Despite that, mountain folks are easily those amongst us who know the most about independent living, with a work ethic by coal miners and long-distance commuters that put the lie to tales of Appalachian lethargy. All over the region there are very successful entrepreneurial enterprises, ranging from food co-ops to small manufacturers to 21st century businesses employing the fastest broadband.

What would people do with this new land? Besides producing food for themselves and nearby coastal cities, they could replant the region with blight-resistant chestnut trees that once fattened hogs to beyond bacon tasty and furnished fine homes with some of America’s most beautiful wood. They could reforest the ravaged strip mines with apple, peach, pear and cherry trees. They could create a recreational paradise with hiking and biking trails along restored rivers and creeks.

But among the best of these “restorations,” however, would be the restoration of hope. After all, the lack of money and hope is what combines to produce poverty. For Clinton the Appalachian Homestead Act could be the ultimate vindication of the idea that it “takes a village” to solve enduring problems. For Trump, buying land at historically low prices could be the deal of his lifetime. For Appalachian communities, this could be “the change we can really believe in.”

Mountaineers saved the American Revolution at the Battle of King’s Mountain in 1780. Let’s give them a chance to lead again.

~~  Jim Branscome - a Retired managing director of Standard & Poor’s and a former journalist whose articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Business Week, and The Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg, Kentucky. He was a staff member in 1969-71 at the Appalachian Regional Commission, a lobbyist for Save Our Kentucky in Frankfort, and a staff member of the Appalachian Project at the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee. He was born in Hillsville, Virginia, and is a graduate of Berea College in Kentucky.  ~~

Glenville: Gilmer County Farmers’ Market - Today

The Free Press WV

The Gilmer County Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Gilmer County Senior Citizens pavilion in Glenville, WV.

Lots of vendors are set up with plants and some vegetables are now available,  baked goods, honey, jelly and jams, fresh farm eggs, and much more.

Come out and see what our Farmers Market has to offer.

Capito Statement on Legislation to Protect Sexual Assault Victims

Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 aims to protect
victims of sexual assault and prevent future abuses by registered sex offenders

The Free Press WV

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s passage of the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 on an 89-0 vote:

“Sexual assault is an unthinkable crime – one that we must do everything in our power to prevent. As a mother and grandmother, my vote for the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 was a no brainer. This legislation reauthorizes programs that are critical to helping states track sex offenders, securing justice for the victims of sexual assault, and preventing future abuses from occurring,” said Senator Capito.

This legislation reauthorizes certain programs established by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, including the Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and the Jessica Lunsford Address Verification Grant Program. Both programs provide federal grants to state and local law enforcement to help improve tracking of sex offenders and prevent future abuses.

It also adds new rights for victims of federal sexual assault offenses, such as extending the statute of limitations for child survivors of sexual abuse or human trafficking offenses from three to 10 years after turning 18, establishing free medical forensic examinations for survivors, and ensuring the preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits without charge.

The bill, named for six-year-old Adam Walsh who was kidnapped and murdered in Florida in 1981, is supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; John Walsh, father of Adam Walsh and host of America’s Most Wanted; Rise; Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network; National Alliance to End Sexual Violence; and Shared Hope International.

In West Virginia….

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►   Dismemberment abortion ban law takes effect in WV

CHARLESTON, WV — The law to ban second trimester dismemberment abortions in West Virginia was taking effect this weekend.

The Dismemberment Abortion Act makes it illegal for any person “to purposely perform or attempt to perform a dismemberment abortion and thereby kill an unborn child” unless the abortion is necessary “to prevent serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”

The state Legislature voted to override the Governor’s veto of the measure during the 2016 Regular Legislative Session.

“It is a step in the right direction,” said Karen Cross, political director of the National Right Committee, on MetroNews “Talkline.”

The law bans the dilation and evacuation (D&E) method which removes the fetal and placental tissue and a combination of suction and surgical instruments, according to women’s health providers.

“There are a lot of doctors and people in the medical community who say this is not a safe procedure, but we’re not saying this procedure can’t be done. We’re saying the baby must not be alive at the time of the procedure,” Cross clarified.

A strong opponent of the legislation is Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of West Virginia Free. She was also a guest on Friday’s “Talkline.”

Chapman Pomponio stressed that state lawmakers are not doctors. She said hearing and watching legislators talk about these procedures was “disturbing.”

“They simply are not skilled in that area and that’s why it’s better left in the hands of the physician and the woman in question to dictate a plan of care that is best for her,” she said.

Opponents of the bill, like Chapman Pomponio, believe banning the procedure goes against women’s health rights, while those who support it, like Cross, maintain that the procedure is a particularly violent means of abortion.

“Recognizing the life of that little unborn child — to have her arms and legs ripped off while she’s still alive is horrific. It’s just unconscionable,” Cross said.

But Chapman Pomponio said this law will only help pro life groups end abortion all together.

“For them, that direction is illegalizing all abortion. That is the goal here,” she said. “Are we really wanting to do down that path until women have no reproductive health care access?”

According to a news release, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he will defend the law should it be challenged in court.

►   House Majority Whip offers resignation

CHARLESTON, WV — House of Delegates Majority Whip John O’Neal (R-Raleigh) has offered to resign from his position with the Republican leadership.  O’Neal’s action follows his vote Tuesday against a leadership-backed bill that would have raised the tobacco tax as part of a plan to plug a $270 million hole in next year’s budget.

Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) has not yet decided whether to accept O’Neal’s resignation, but O’Neal will not have whip duties for the remainder of the special session.

The whip serves as a right-hand-man to the Speaker, counting votes and “whipping” members to try to generate support for leadership-backed bills. O’Neal was one of 20 Republicans who voted against the tobacco tax increase.  The bill failed 44-55.

House Republicans have fractured during this extraordinary session, adding to the challenge of trying to reach agreement on a balanced budget for next fiscal year.

►   Failed fire levy vote has some concerned over department closures in Lewis County

WESTON, WV — The failed Lewis County fire levy could leave repercussions that has Lewis County Fire Fee Clerk Crystal Bragg concerned.

“It could start really putting a hurting on them,” she said. “A few of them may have to have the option of closing their doors.”

The levy received support from 58 percent of voters on May 10th, but needed to pass a 60 percent threshold. That led to the Lewis County Fire Board requesting a recount of the votes to see if they under votes would help them come up with the additional 155 ballots they needed to reach the 60 percent threshold.

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“The Fire Board members were there,” Lewis County Clerk Cynthia Rowan said. “They realized there wasn’t going to be much change to it so they asked for it to stop after precinct 8.”

Bragg said the expenses at volunteer departments pile up from a combination of insurance, equipment turnover, and training.

“Their worker’s comp insurance is not paid or can not be paid or any of their other insurance,” she said. “That’s what kills them. Their worker’s comp is so outrageous.”

Limited research on fire department costs shows that the general trend is that volunteer departments cost less to maintain than career or combination departments. There is only one department in Lewis County that isn’t completely made up of volunteers–Weston Fire Department.

Bragg said if some departments close it will only further spread the attentions of other departments in the county.

“I think they’ll be okay for a year or two, but then it could start getting scary once those few years come to an end,” she said.

Many departments are preparing potential fundraisers, but Bragg said residents will get tired of those before too long.

“Something may take a big turnaround, but there are only so many fundraisers that can go on,” she said.      ~~  Alex Wiederspiel ~~

►   Resettlement group considers bringing refugees to Charleston

CHARLESTON, WV — A refugee resettlement service is considering opening an agency in Charleston that would help refugees move to the area.

Resettlement agency Episcopal Migration Ministries is working with the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry to turn the city into a “resettlement community.“

Representatives from Episcopal Migration Ministries met with residents of Charleston Thursday to discuss the possibility of helping refugees move to the city. They also scheduled meetings with city officials, police and social service providers.

To turn to city into a resettlement community, organizers in charge of the effort will need to raise about $90,000 for upfront costs.

Jeffrey Hawks, a consultant for Episcopal Migration Ministries, says the U.S. Department of State will ultimately determine if the city can become a resettlement community.

►   West Virginia warns 55 prison educators of possible layoffs

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia officials have warned 55 prison educators of possible layoffs amid the ongoing budget stalemate.

Sarah Stewart of the state Department of Education says a letter was sent Thursday to the teachers and principals at adult prison facilities.

The educators are a combination of full-time and part-time workers.

Stewart says the letters went on the assumption in the House budget that calls for sweeping $4 million from the adult inmate education program. House members have since called for restoring $2 million of that fund.

The GOP-led Legislature continues to negotiate a budget with a $270 million shortfall. Without a budget, the state government would shut down beginning July .

►   Assistant Boy Scout leader accused of soliciting minors

CHARLESTON, WV — An assistant Boy Scout leader in Charleston is accused of soliciting and sending explicit photos and videos to scouts in his troop.

Local new agencies report court records show 39-year-old Kevin Michael Rogier is facing three counts of soliciting a minor via computer.

Documents say Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies received a complaint Tuesday from the organization’s Buckskin Council that Rogier was using social media to contact three minors to get the victims to send him photos or videos of sexually explicit content.

Rogier is also accused of sending the victims pictures and videos of sexually explicit content.

Authorities say Rogier admitted to deputies that he sent and requested the photos from the victims.

Rogier was being held on bond. It wasn’t immediately clear if he has an attorney.

►   West Virginia museums to let military members in for free

CHARLESTON, WV — Several West Virginia attractions are participating in the National Endowment for the Arts initiative to offer free admission to active-duty military members and their families.

The Blue Star Museums program includes more than 2,000 museums across the country offering the deal from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Participating state attractions are the Huntington Museum of Art, the Spark! Imagination and Science Center in Morgantown, the Watts Museum at West Virginia University, the Marion County Historical Society Museum in Fairmont, the Museums of Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, the Arthurdale Heritage museum and the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   ‘Miraculous’ Find Saves Dog Moments Before Being Put Down

Ten-year-old Ollie was literally moments from death when his life was saved by an attentive veterinary student and a quick-thinking vet, Good Morning America reports. The sheltie had gone camping with his owner in Oregon last month only to become lethargic upon returning home. According to Fox News, Ollie couldn’t walk and lost control of his bladder. He eventually became paralyzed. Ollie’s regular vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong, and his family decided to put him down on May 4. “We were at a complete loss,” owner Al Meteney tells Fox.

As veterinary student Neena Golden was comforting Ollie just moments before the procedure, she found a tick lodged behind his ear. Veterinarian Adam Stone diagnosed Ollie with tick paralysis. He’d never seen a case before. “It’s one of those things you learn about randomly in school—it’s on one slide during one presentation,“ he tells Fox. Ollie, now tick-free, was moving around and well on the way to recovery that very night. Meteney says it’s “miraculous.“

►   Feds Unleash Millions of Wasps on 24 States

The US government has unleashed millions of wasps into 24 states, the Guardian reports. But, contrary to the horrifying mental pictures this creates, the release of the wasps is actually a good thing. The emerald ash borer is believed to have invaded North America in the 1990s via wooden shipping crates from Russia, China, and elsewhere. Since then, the beetle has spread across more than two dozen states from Massachusetts to Louisiana, according to In doing so, the ash borer has killed approximately 38 million ash trees. And that’s a $25 billion problem. The possible solution: four species of tiny wasps from China.

These wasps—each about the size of a pinhead—are parasites to the ash borer, which has no natural enemies in North America, the Des Moines Register reports. The wasps lay their eggs in ash borer eggs and larva, killing the beetle in the process. But humans have nothing to fear. The stingless wasps are more likely to be mistaken for gnats than anything else. “The word ‘wasps’ does create alarm, but they are very small—not recognizable by the average person,“ Iowa Department of Agriculture rep Mike Kintner tells the Register. After extensive testing with other beetle species, experts are also confident the wasps won’t threaten any native insects. Still, even with a seemingly perfect weapon, the battle against the ash borer is far from over. “This isn’t going to save anybody’s tree in their yard,“ entomologist Ben Slager tells the Guardian. “What we’re working to do is to protect the next generation coming up.“

►   Report: Kay Jewelers Swaps Diamonds With Fakes

“It was flat-out theft.“ That’s how one woman describes her experience with Kay Jewelers, which is facing a barrage of complaints from customers who say their jewelry was lost or damaged—or even that the diamonds in their engagement rings were replaced with fake ones. Chrissy Clarius tells BuzzFeed she took her one-carat diamond ring for an inspection at Kay every six months for five years—a condition of Kay’s lifetime guarantee on its jewelry, reports the Consumerist. Her ring was sent for repairs three times before an employee noticed the engraved serial number on her diamond was missing. While Kay maintained the stone was a diamond, two other jewelers determined it had been swapped with moissanite—a less expensive stone.

BuzzFeed tracked down seven other women—including some who’ve gone to police—who said Kay had replaced their stone with poor-quality or fake diamonds. One woman says she asked for a new setting but had her diamond replaced with one with a visible flaw. Now, she doesn’t even wear it. “It’s not the diamond my husband got for me—it has no sentimental value for me anymore.“ A rep for parent company Signet says “every year we’ve got millions of transactions and millions of repairs we are processing in our stores,“ and such cases are “minimal.“ A Kay manager adds store policies—including that employees check for certification numbers—are meant to ensure stones aren’t swapped out.

►   Student Body Prez With Leukemia Denied Cap, Gown

An Arizona high school student who spent his junior year battling leukemia did his best to make up the credits in his senior year and was elected student body president—but he still had to sit in the bleachers as the rest of his class graduated Thursday night. Stephen Dwyer, who had 12 chemotherapy treatments before a bone marrow transplant, is still 2.5 credits short of graduation requirements, and Dobson High School in Mesa said it couldn’t bend the rules to allow him to wear a cap and gown and join the graduation ceremony, the Arizona Republic reports. Instead, he had to sit in the stands after leading the Class of 2016 onto the field, reports 12 News.

In a Facebook post, Dwyer says that after the isolation his illness caused, he is dismayed to have been excluded again. He says he would have been OK with not being given a diploma. “I just want to be a part of the ceremony as one of my peers would be. I want to sit on the field in cap and gown, walk in the same line, and throw my cap in the air as we all celebrate what we have accomplished,“ he writes. “I lost a lot of high school memories already and now I’m losing the final one,“ he writes, adding that he hopes sharing his experience will help others in similar situations. In a statement, Mesa Public Schools described Dwyer as a “strong, courageous young man,“ but said students who miss credits due to “personal hardships” don’t get to take part in graduation ceremonies before they have earned their diplomas.

►   Louisiana Cops Now Covered by Hate Crime Law

Targeting a police officer, firefighter, or EMT in Louisiana is now considered a hate crime. On Thursday Governor John Bel Edwards signed a “Blue Lives Matter” bill that made the state the first to add those professions to race, ethnicity, religion, and other areas traditionally covered by hate-crime laws, CNN reports. “The men and women who put their lives on the line every day, often under very dangerous circumstances, are true heroes and they deserve every protection that we can give them,“ said Edwards, a Democrat whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were sheriffs and who has two brothers working in law enforcement. The bill passed the state Senate by a 33 to 3 vote and sailed through the House 92 to 0.

The expansion of the hate-crime law was cheered by law enforcement groups, though critics noted that violence against police officers is close to an all-time low and those who target cops already face stiffer penalties, the New York Times reports. Jim Bueermann, a former police chief who is president of the Police Foundation research group, says it is good that the law “can reinforce the notion that hatred of a group because of who they are has no place in our society,“ though he warns that the law’s supporters may find it has unexpected consequences. “At some point, someone might suggest that abortion physicians should also be protected,“ he says. “That if you are hunted down because of your profession, whatever the profession, that should be a hate crime.“

►   Youngest-Ever Winner Is National Bee Co-Champ

The words were tougher. The final rounds lasted longer. The result was the same. The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie for the third consecutive year Thursday night, with Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Janga declared co-champions after a roller-coaster finish. Thirteen-year-old Jairam is the younger brother of the 2014 co-champion, Sriram Hathwar. Nihar, at age 11, is the youngest winner of the bee on record. “I’m just speechless,“ Nihar said as he hoisted the trophy. “I mean, I’m only in fifth grade!“ Scripps made the bee tougher after two consecutive ties, forcing the last two spellers to get through three times as many words as in years past. Each will receive a trophy and $45,000 in cash and prizes.

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Because the best spellers become fluent in Latin and Greek roots, the bee went to words derived from trickier or more obscure languages, including Afrikaans, Danish, Irish Gaelic, Maori, and Mayan. Jairam’s winning word was Feldenkrais, which is derived from a trademark and means a system of body movements intended to ease tension. Nihar won with gesellschaft, which means a mechanistic type of social relationship. Snehaa Kumar of Folsom, California, finished third, and Sylvie Lamontagne of Lakewood, Colorado, was fourth. Both are 13-year-old eighth-graders, meaning this year was their last chance.

►   Police Hunt for Suspects After Fatal Shooting of HS Students

An “upscale country club community” in Northern California is on edge after two high-school students were shot—one of them fatally—Wednesday evening on a local hiking trail, the AP reports. According to ABC 7, police have arrested at least one suspect and are looking for two more. No information about the victims or suspects has been released. The attack took place at a waterfall near Marin Country Club in Novato, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Both Novato High School students were shot. One of them, who had also been stabbed, hiked a third of a mile in order to get cellphone reception and call 911. The other student died as he was being airlifted out of the canyon.

The survivor told police there were three suspects and has given them some leads. On Thursday, authorities raided a home near where the attack occurred. Police haven’t identified a motive for the crime but say the two students appeared to be targeted. Authorities say there is no ongoing threat to residents. “It’s so quiet here typically,“ a neighbor tells ABC 7.

►   Baylor Yanks President Title From Ken Starr

Kenneth Starr’s been defending Bill Clinton’s legacy lately, but he’s now got more pressing matters at hand. The former Whitewater counsel who once tried to take down the Clintons had his president title at Baylor University yanked away Thursday in the wake of a sex-assault scandal that also resulted in the firing of football coach Art Briles (officially, “suspension with intent to terminate,“ per the AP) and the probation of Ian McCaw, the college’s athletic director, the New York Times reports. Starr will hold onto his second role as chancellor, but he’ll vacate the president’s post on May 31. The organizational changes came after Baylor retained a law firm last August to look into how the university had managed several sexual-assault accusations against members of the football team—and the news that came back wasn’t good. That review, which Deadspin notes was compiled by Baylor into a 13-page “Findings of Fact”, revealed a “fundamental failure” in adhering to federal regulations and dealing with misconduct claims, Baylor said in a statement.

The Pepper Hamilton probe—which included “an exhaustive review of data,“ as well as more than 65 interviews with current and ex-university employees and students—also found that some school bigwigs’ dealings may have “directly discouraged” possible victims from speaking out; in one case, the report notes someone filed an assault claim and was retaliated against by the college. Starr had attracted much attention (and cash, in the hundreds of millions) for Baylor through fundraising efforts, in large part by touting its football team—a move that some say led Baylor to make moral compromises in the name of its football program, the Times notes. Starr had penned a letter in February, writing, “Our hearts break for those whose lives are impacted by execrable acts of sexual violence. … Sexual violence emphatically has no place whatsoever at Baylor University.“ SB Nation notes other administrators have also been terminated, though the school says it won’t publicly ID them. (The Washington Post examines how religious schools “struggle” with sexual assault cases.)

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Indonesia to Kill, Castrate Pedophiles

Indonesia is officially a terrifying place for pedophiles: Effective immediately, child sex offenders can face the death penalty or chemical castration under new rules approved by President Joko Widodo, reports AFP. Offenders can also receive a maximum of 20 years in jail—double the previous maximum sentence—and may be forced to wear electronic monitoring devices after leaving prison, per the New York Times. The changes comes a month after the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl as she walked home from school in Sumatra. Her naked body was found days later tied up in the woods. Seven boys, aged 16 and 17, were sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime, which led to calls for harsher punishments.

“These crimes have disturbed our sense of peace, security and public order,“ Joko says. “So, we will handle it in an extraordinary way.“ But some say the new regulation isn’t the right tactic in Indonesia, which already faces backlash over its use of capital punishment for drug offenders. “In most cases the perpetrators know the victims, and these punishments are so severe that it may discourage victims from reporting the rapes,“ a rep for Human Rights Watch tells Reuters. The organization adds that chemical castration—in which drugs are used to reduce libido—is “a false solution.“ The focus should instead be on prevention through school-based programs and treatment for people at risk of abusing children, the group says.

►   Bird Takes Off With Knife From Crime Scene

The CBC describes Canuck as “Vancouver’s most notorious crow,“ and it’s not hard to see why: After cops in the Canadian city shot and injured a man who confronted them with a knife on Tuesday, a crow believed to be Canuck—because of a distinctive red band on its leg and countless similar escapades in the past—took off with the weapon from the crime scene. Police say the crow picked up the knife from behind police tape and only dropped it after it had been chased for around 20 feet. The crow also tried to steal a pair of glasses and equipment belonging to a TV news crew, the Vancouver Courier reports.

Witnesses say the suspect, who was treated for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, set a vehicle on fire before police arrived, and Canuck perched on the burnt-out car. “The crow was persistent, but the knife was eventually gathered as evidence,“ a Vancouver police officer tells the CBC. Courier reporter Mike Howell says in more than 20 years of reporting from crime scenes, he’s never seen anything like it. A Facebook page dedicated to Canuck chronicles earlier incidents, including a ride on mass transit and an attack on a cyclist. In a CBC story on the bird last year, an area resident complained that the bird was known for stealing “packs of cigarettes, rolling papers, lighters, change, keys ... pretty much anything he can get his hands on.“

►   $5K Fine for Students Who Won’t Shake Teacher’s Hand

Swiss authorities ruled Wednesday that any student who refuses to shake a teacher’s hand could earn their parents a stiff $5,000 fine, USA Today reports. Last month, two teenage Muslim students at a Swiss middle school refused to shake hands with female teachers, citing an interpretation of the Koran that forbids physical contact with members of the opposite sex outside of family. The school said that was fine as long as the teens, who are brothers, didn’t shake hands with male teachers either. But the resulting uproar—shaking hands before and after classes is a Swiss tradition—inspired the education department to intervene.

“The public interest with respect to equality between men and women and the integration of foreigners significantly outweighs the freedom of religion,“ authorities ruled. They said teachers have “the right to demand a handshake.“ According to the BBC, some Swiss Muslims had urged the government to not let the boys get away with what they characterized as “extremist demands.“ More fall out from Handshakegate: The teens’ family saw its application for citizenship halted while the government investigates them.

►   Here’s How We Stop World War III

“The third world war is at our gate, and it will be about water, if we don’t do something about this crisis” of dwindling global water supplies, says Rajendra Singh, last year’s recipient of “the Nobel Prize for water” for his water restoration efforts in rural India, per the BBC. In an interview with Policy Innovations, per Quartz, Singh says water scarcity is already forcing people to flee parts of the Middle East and Africa. “After forced migration comes tension, conflict, and terrorism,“ he says. “If we want a safe future, we need to start conserving water.“ That’s something Singh knows a thing or two about. By using check dams and other barriers in the district of Rajasthan, Singh has helped transform an arid, semi-desert area into one with enough food and water for each resident.

The dams help water reach aquifers before it can be evaporated. “When moisture enters the soil, greenery comes up. And that greenery takes carbon from the atmosphere, puts carbon in the soil, reduces temperatures by 1-2 degrees,“ Singh says. “Now in my region we have no floods, no droughts.“ Singh adds the water conservation efforts are all community-funded: a “river parliament” makes decisions regarding water allocations with a preference for poor farmers who own the driest land. Elsewhere, corporations are “making the rules,“ forcing people to pay for water, Singh says. But “sustainable community-led water management has existed for thousands of years without anyone putting a price on water. So why do we need it today?“ Click for the full interview.

►   More than 4,000 migrants rescued in single day

ROME — More than 4,000 would-be refugees were rescued at sea Thursday in one of the busiest days of the Mediterranean migrant crisis, and at least 20 died trying to reach Europe as Libyan-based smugglers took advantage of calmer seas to send desperate migrants north.

The death toll was likely to grow far higher, however, as the Libyan coast guard also reported two overturned boats between the coastal cities of Sabratha and Zwara. Only four bodies were found, raising fears that the rest of those on board had perished.

Overall, the Italian coast guard said it had coordinated 22 separate rescue operations Thursday that saved more than 4,000 lives.

“That probably is a record,“ said coast guard spokesman Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro, noting that previous highs have been in the range of 5,000 to 6,000 over two days.

One 5-year-old boy got special treatment: He was airlifted from his rescue vessel to the island of Lampedusa, suffering from hypothermia, Nicastro said.

At least one smugglers’ boat sank off Libya’s coast, and 20 bodies were spotted floating in the sea, said Navy Lt. Rino Gentile, a spokesman for the EU’s Mediterranean mission. Photos tweeted by the mission showed a bright blue dinghy submerged under the weight of migrants waving their arms in hope of rescue as an EU aircraft flew overhead.

None had a life jacket.

Two Italian coast guard ships and the Spanish frigate Reina Sofia responded to the scene. Nicastro said 96 people were rescued.

Barbara Molinario, spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency in Italy, said favorable weather conditions in May to October often encourage migrant crossings. She said prior to the recent rescues, some 40,000 people had been rescued so far this year, compared to 47,500 over the same period in 2015.

Among those coming ashore Thursday in Sicily were the survivors of a dramatic capsizing a day earlier off Libya’s coast. Footage provided by the Italian navy showed the steel-hulled smuggler ship rocked under the weight of its passengers and finally flipped, sending migrants into the water or clambering up the side.

The Italian navy vessel Bettica brought the survivors and five bodies ashore in Porto Empedocle, Sicily. Red Cross workers took at least one migrant away in a stretcher, while rescue teams in white hazmat suits carried children down the plank to shore.

In other rescues, a Libyan navy spokesman said a total of 766 migrants were rescued by the Libyan coast guard on Thursday.

Col. Ayoub Gassim said they were found in two groups: one of 550 near the western coastal city of Sabratha and the second of 216 off Zwara.

He said two other capsized boats were found empty in waters between the two cities and only four bodies were retrieved, with the rest of those aboard feared dead. He said he had no other details, including how many migrants had been aboard the boats.

Before this week’s deaths, the International Organization for Migration said only 13 people had drowned in the month of May, compared with 95 last May and 330 in May 2014. It said the figures “indicate that migrant fatalities may at last be declining” thanks to beefed-up coast guard monitoring along the North African coast.

However, improved weather conditions appear to have led to an increase in the number of migrants risking the crossing.

►   Obama at Hiroshima: ‘We Come to Mourn the Dead’

President Obama made history Friday by becoming the first sitting US president to visit the site of history’s first atomic strike. “We come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past,“ he said. “We come to mourn the dead.“ Accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the BBC reports. 71 years ago, “on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,“ Obama said. “A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.“ More:

  • Obama did not apologize for the American strike that killed 140,000 people, but called for a “moral awakening” and a world without nuclear weapons, the AP reports.
  • Before the Hiroshima visit, Obama told American service members at the nearby Iwakuni Marine Corp base that it was “an opportunity to honor the memory of all who were lost during WWII” and to show how “two nations, former adversaries, cannot just become partners, but become the best of friends”.the BBC reports.
  • The White House made it clear that Obama would not be “revisiting” the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but some protesters, including some Hiroshima survivors, still demanded an apology. “I want Obama to say ‘I’m sorry’. If he does, maybe my suffering will ease,“ a 73-year-old survivor with three kinds of cancer tells Reuters.
  • In China, foreign ministry officials said that it is important to also remember victims of Japan’s wartime aggression in places like Nanjing, the Guardian reports. The state-run China Daily declared that the “atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of Japan’s own making.“
  • Sources tell the Washington Post that while the White House does not want to suggest that the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Hiroshima bombing were equivalent acts, Abe is likely to attend ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 07 this year.

►   Forbidden Afghan Lovers Fight for Asylum in NYC

Zakia and Mohammad Ali, the “Afghan Romeo and Juliet,“ eloped in 2014. Since then, her family has been hunting the couple, believing Zakia needs to be killed to preserve their honor. The New York Times has been chronicling the couple’s plight. And on Tuesday, they finally arrived in New York City on a 90-day visa. Zakia and Mohammad Ali, who have a 17-month-old daughter, are from different Muslim sects. Zakia’s marriage to Mohammad Ali led to her family being kicked out of their village. They’ve been seeking vengeance ever since. “They couldn’t live anywhere in peace,” says Manizha Naderi, the executive director of Women for Afghan Women. “Zakia’s family would hunt them down.“

While on the run from her family, Mohammad Ali and Zakia have sought safety everywhere from the mountains of Afghanistan to jail cells. Mohammad Ali says they “tried everything” in Afghanistan and came to America for “security and safety.“ They’re applying for asylum with the help of Women for Afghan Women, but even if they get it, their struggle is far from over. Both Mohammad Ali and Zakia are illiterate. Their work experience is largely in potato fields. Women for Afghan Women is attempting to help them adapt to life in the US.

►   EgyptAir Investigators May Have Caught a Break

A possible big break in the hunt for the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804: Investigators say they’ve detected a signal from an emergency beacon on the plane, reports the BBC. The discovery will narrow the scope of the search to an area with a 3-mile radius in the Mediterranean, says the chief Egyptian investigator. The signal came not from the black boxes but from a separate transmitter on the plane, reports the AP.

Still, the signal’s detection should be a big help to a French vessel that on Friday reached the area with equipment designed to zero in on the black boxes. While debris and human remains have been recovered, authorities have no hard evidence yet to determine what brought down the jet with 66 people last week.

Gilmer County Schools May/Summer 2016 Newsletter: Normantown Elementary

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The Free Press WV

Normantown Elementary has had an exciting last month of school with various activities.

The entire school kicked off State Testing with a pep assembly featuring the staff and students in “We Will Rock the Test.”

The students have been working very hard completing the tests and one lucky boy and girl received a bicycle on May 20, for having perfect attendance during testing.


Thanks to the PTO, the school traveled to the Columbus Zoo on Friday April 22, sporting their new NES T-Shirts. 

PK and Kindergarten had an exciting day at the WV Game Farm and and PK had a fun day celebrating the end of the school year. 

6th grade attended the WV Soil Conservation Day at Cedar Creek State Park and even though it was a rainy day they had fun and enjoyed seeing their future classmates from GES and SFES.

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Ronald McDonald stopped by the school and got the kids involved in “One Minute to Move It!”

He stressed the importance of staying active and demonstrated many ways they could do that.

All the students and staff enjoyed the outdoor assembly with lots of moving going on.


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Congratulations is in order for Normantown Elementary.

They ranked second overall in the state for 5th Grade Reasoning Mind.

Categories such as class accuracy in study modes, review modes, test prep modes, time spent online, as well as how often reports were being pulled were used for these rankings.

Mrs. Stewart’s class has excelled with using the program.

The class has consistently had 100% of students meeting accuracy goals.

They go beyond the bare minimum required and always exceed what is expected.

The room is always focused, self-motivated, and a collaborative learning environment.

Hats off to them and the year of hard work they have done!

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Allison Wood and Dalton Persinger were the winners of a new bicycle for having perfect attendance during State Summative Testing

Gilmer County Schools May/Summer 2016 Newsletter: Sand Fork Elementary

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The Free Press WV

May has been a busy month at Sand Fork Elementary School.

Third through sixth graders have finished taking the West Virginia Summative Assessment Test.

Snacks and drinks were provided by the Sand Fork PTO to help students stay energized and focused.

Thank you Sand Fork PTO!! 

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The Free Press WV

The Australian Animal Show came to visit Sand Fork Elementary.

The presenter brought a kookaburra, kangaroo, lizard, and an Eclectus Parrot.

The presenter told the students interesting facts about their natural history, geography, and survival.

The students enjoyed the presentation and the hands on interaction with the animals.

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The Free Press WV

Saturday, May 21, Sand Fork Elementary celebrated their final year at the school.

Current students and past alumni enjoyed a short program revisiting the past years at Sand Fork. 

Everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner and reminiscing about the past.

Live music was provided by the Edward and Grove’s family.

People also toured the main building, gym and annex. 
Everyone had a wonderful time.


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The Free Press WV

...To Be Continued…

RCCF Honors Cynthia Torbeck Haught

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The Ritchie County Community Foundation (RCCF), an affiliate of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF), recently honored retiring board member Cynthia Torbeck Haught for her three years of service on the RCCF advisory board.

The PACF’s Board Chairman, Marie Caltrider, presented Torbeck Haught with a resolution thanking her for her commitment to RCCF and her service to the community, and RCCF Advisory Board Chairman Alan Haught presented her with a clock in gratitude for her dedication and support.

Did You Know?

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The first American president to confront the place of great suffering, he will pay tribute to the 140,000 people who died from the attack seven decades ago.


The feat completes an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.


An AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll says 43 percent of those 50 and older plan to claim their benefits before 65 or 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954 – even though that means a smaller check each month.


Nineteen people walk through neck-deep water to get to safety, authorities say.


At least 20 die trying to reach Europe as Libyan-based smugglers take advantage of calmer seas to send desperate would-be refugees north.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking the lead in a campaign to get Sen. Marco Rubio to reconsider his plans to retire.


Ken Starr is stripped of his job after a scathing report over the school’s handling of sexual assault complaints against players.


Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay on Oahu is No 1 on an annual top 10 list compiled by coastal science professor Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach.


In her commencement speech, the first lady encourages graduates to take pride in their history and cultures.


But he particularly shines at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he has a record 16 Indianapolis 500 victories.

In West Virginia….

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►   Vandalia Gathering celebrates 40 years

CHARLESTON, WV — This Memorial Day weekend will mark the 40th anniversary of the Vandalia Gathering on the state Capitol Grounds.

The event, which extends Friday through Sunday, draws in residents from across the state every year for musical performances, food vendors, crafts, activities and more.

“It’s just a great feeling of warm West Virginia hospitality,” said Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner of the state Division of Culture and History. “It’s like a reunion for so many people.”

Gresham described Vandalia as a place where folks can get together to celebrate the Appalachian heritage no matter what age they are.

“You see see young people learning from older people. You see older musicians learning from younger musicians,” she said. “Vandalia is about West Virginia and how wonderful people are who live in this state.”

In honor of the 40th anniversary, the state’s archive office has put together a screening of the last 40 years which can be viewed by event goers at the state Culture Center Friday and Saturday night.

A new program they have is called “Guitars for Young People.” Clay County elementary school students, who are learning to play to ukulele and the guitar, will be on hand Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

This year, Vandalia is partnering with FestivALL Charleston for their Preview Weekend in the downtown area. Gresham said a shuttle bus will be available for anyone who wants to attend both events.

“People can enjoy not just the traditional at Vandalia, but contemporary and new things about West Virginia art downtown,” she said.

The first concert will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the state Culture Center. The event will open back up on Saturday at 10 a.m. and last all day through the evening concert. Sunday will begin at 11 a.m.

►   Couple Indicted for Failing to Pay Employee Payroll Taxes

A federal grand jury has indicted a Wayne County couple accused of failing to pay employee payroll taxes.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the indictment against Michael and Jeanette Taylor on Wednesday.

The couple is charged with conspiracy to defraud the US by withholding roughly $1 million from the IRS in payroll taxes from employees’ paychecks at Taylor Contracting from 2007 to 2009.

The Taylors are also accused of withholding over $161,000 in payroll taxes from employees’ paychecks at Bluegrass Aggregates in 2010.

They own both businesses.

Investigators say the money withheld was used for personal benefit.

The Taylors also face one count of willfully failing to truthfully account for and pay employment taxes withheld for their employees at Taylor Contracting.

It isn’t clear whether they have an attorney.

►   Va Agency Sends Letter to Groups in Charge of Pipeline That Will Run Through WV and Va

A state agency has informed the developers of two multibillion dollar natural pipelines proposed in Virginia and West Virginia that their projects will have to meet specific environmental standards.

Media outlets report the Department of Environmental Quality sent letters last week to Dominion Transmission Inc. and EQT, saying they will be required to meet certain erosion and sedimentation standards, if they build their pipelines.

Dominion Transmission has proposed building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, while EQT has proposed constructing the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

DEQ spokesman Bill Hayden said Tuesday that their agency wants to make sure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the environment if the projects are built.

Both proposed pipelines, which are pending approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, are facing opposition from dozens of organizations.

►   Needle Exchange Program Succeeding

The city of Huntington says a program that allows drug users to trade in dirty syringes for clean ones is showing signs of success.

The program was established in September at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department and involves elected officials, health professionals, private businesses and members of the recovery community.

Recovery Point of Huntington Executive Director Matt Boggs said in a news release from the city that the program has had steady usage.

The exchange program offers educational materials and recovery coaches. The coaches are at the Health Department to provide peer support to anyone who seeks treatment Wednesday afternoons.

The release says city officials believe substance use and abuse trends will decrease due to the program and other efforts.

What Canadians Want To Say About Trump

In USA….

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►   Here’s the Obamas’ Next Home

President Obama is going to be the first president since Woodrow Wilson to stay in Washington after leaving office—and he’ll be living in the same neighborhood. The president, who plans to remain in the capital at least until 14-year-old Sasha finishes high school, has found a new home in the ritzy Kalorama neighborhood long favored by the wealthy and powerful, the Independent Journal Review reports. The Obamas will rent a nine-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot house owned by Joe Lockhart. Obama’s new landlord, who moved to New York this year to become a senior NFL exec, is the co-founder of the Glover Park Group consulting firm and was the White House press secretary for two years under Bill Clinton.

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The home, which Zillow estimates will rent for $22,000 a month, is in a suitably secluded part of the neighborhood and “does not give off any vibes of ostentatiousness” (e.g., there aren’t any ballrooms), the Washingtonian reports. The neighborhood is just 2 miles from the White House, but residents say its calm makes it feel far removed from the city. “You can get almost anyplace in Washington that you want to go to in 15 minutes, but on the weekend, it’s like you’re in the country,“ Bart Gordon, a former Democratic congressman from Tennessee, tells the New York Times. Next year, Obama will be his next-door neighbor. “He’ll be welcomed to the neighborhood; I just hope he doesn’t get too rowdy,“ Gordon jokes.

►   10 Most Well-Read Cities in America

Living near Amazon’s headquarters apparently prods people to pick up a book. Seattle is the most well-read city in the country for a second year in a row, according to Amazon’s annual list—based on purchases of print or electronic books, magazines, and newspapers in major cities over the course of a year ending in April, per a release. The top 10:

  1. Seattle
  2. Portland, Ore.
  3. Washington, DC
  4. San Francisco
  5. Austin
  6. Las Vegas
  7. Tucson
  8. Denver
  9. Albuquerque
  10. San Diego

Click for the FULL LIST OF 20 CITIES.

►   After a Century, Dry NJ Town Falls Off the Wagon

After more than a century on the wagon, Pitman, NJ, has broken its sobriety. Thanks to a change in state law, Kelly Green Brewing Co. was able bypass local alcohol restrictions and start serving suds earlier this month right on the city’s main drag, Atlas Obscura reports. “This town is thirsty,“ says brewery co-owner Justin Fleming. The teetotaling Methodists who founded the town of 9,000 in 1905 (Pitman’s roots stretch to the 1790s, when it was the location of various church revivals), strictly forbade the production and sale of “spirituous malts, intoxicating liquors of any grade or preparation.“ That, of course, means no liquor licenses (although residents could buy booze for home consumption or get tanked at establishments outside city limits). In 2012, however, lawmakers began allowing microbreweries, which are licensed by the state, to sell beer by the glass, essentially cutting the city out of the equation.

City-issued liquor licenses are still banned, notes. But late last year, per Atlas Obscura, the City Council approved the drafting of an ordinance to issue them. And an ordinance passed in 2013 allows restaurant patrons to BYOB. Wineries are taking advantage of another recent rule change allowing them to lease space in restaurants and sell wine, according to A second brewery is slated to to open this summer. “Technically, we’re not dry,“ Mayor Russell Johnson tells, “We’re damp.“ Johnson and other city leaders hope the breweries will be an economic boon for Pitman, which, per Atlas Obscura, “has seen better days commercially.“ There are restrictions on how the breweries can operate. For instance, beer sales must be part of a brewery tour, so Kelly Green plays a looped video of its crew making beer and allows patrons to see the tap room through windows.

►   Journal Reveals Lost Hiker Survived for Weeks

A lost hiker in Maine starved to death after waiting for rescue and then accepting her fate, heartbreaking journal entries have revealed. Geraldine Largay, a 66-year-old from Tennessee, disappeared while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine on July 22, 2013, and the newly disclosed journal shows that she survived for at least 26 days, the Portland Press Herald reports. “When you find my body, please call my husband George and my daughter Kerry,“ she wrote in an August 6 journal entry. “It will be the greatest kindness for them to know that I am dead and where you found me—no matter how many years from now.“ The final entry was dated August 18. Her skeletal remains were discovered in a tent 3,000 feet from the trail more than two years later.

Largay, who was trying to complete a “bucket list” hike from West Virginia to the trail’s end solo after a friend left for a family emergency, was reported missing by her husband after she failed to make it to a rendezvous point. A huge search and rescue effort followed, but it was suspended after a week. According to a 1,579-page Maine Warden Service report, Largay became lost after leaving the trail to go to the bathroom, the Boston Globe reports. She tried to text her husband at least a dozen times, but she was unable to get a signal even after moving to higher ground. She then set up a campsite on a knoll, where authorities found a handmade flag and evidence she had tried to start a signal fire. On October 18, 2015, a week after a forester found her body, her husband of 42 years and other family members joined wardens in a hike to the site, where they left a cross and family mementos.

►   Casey Anthony’s Lawyer Says Sex Claims Are False

The allegations were both graphic and specific and, says Jose Baez, completely untrue. Private investigator Dominic Casey alleged in just-revealed court documents filed earlier this year in connection with a bankruptcy case that, among other things, Casey Anthony offered sex to Baez, her lawyer, in exchange for his legal services. Dominic Casey worked with Anthony’s defense team after she was accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008, and he alleged that after Baez got Anthony out of a September 2008 TV interview she didn’t want to do, Baez “said to [Anthony], ‘You now owe me 3 blow jobs.‘“ Dominic Casey also claimed he encountered a “naked” Anthony during an unannounced visit to Baez’s office.

Baez “unequivocally and categorically deny exchanging sex for my legal services with Ms. Anthony,“ he says in a statement to People. “I further unequivocally and categorically deny having any sexual relationship with Ms. Anthony whatsoever.“ Baez referred to but did not detail other “outrageous” claims put forth by the PI; People points to a 2011 deposition in which Dominic Casey suggested Caylee’s remains perhaps weren’t actually Caylee’s as a past “eyebrow-raising” allegation. The Orlando Sentinel notes Dominic Casey has written two books on the case that feature “unsubstantiated claims,“ and reports that Baez and his team have been trying to have a deposition Dominic Casey gave in the bankruptcy case excluded. Baez also suggests he may sue, writing, “Legal action is forthcoming.“

►   Report: ‘American Sniper’ Exaggerated His War Record

Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame was a Navy SEAL who acted heroically in combat. That part isn’t in dispute. He just didn’t act as heroically as he claimed in his best-selling book, according to a report at the Intercept. In the book, which was made into a hit film, Kyle writes: “All told, I would end my career as a SEAL with two Silver Stars and five Bronze [Stars], all for valor.“ But the Intercept examined Navy records and found that Kyle received one Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. That’s still an impressive haul given that the Silver Star is the third-highest honor for battlefield conduct, but the Intercept talks to current and former SEALs who say that any kind of embellishment of military action is a serious breach of honor.

“It takes away from the legitimate heroism he showed,“ says one retired SEAL. The report says a former commander warned Kyle about the discrepancy after reading a manuscript of the book, but Kyle didn’t correct it. Another source of confusion: Kyle’s official “separation document,“ or DD214, lists two Silvers and six Bronze medals, though Navy officials couldn’t explain that discrepancy. “The form DD214 is generated locally at the command where the service member is separated,“ a Navy spokesman says. “Although the information on the DD214 should match the official records, the process involves people and inevitably some errors may occur.“ Read the full Intercept report.

In The World….

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►   For world records, Indian man removes teeth and gets over 500 tattoos

An Indian man obsessed with setting Guinness world records got 366 flags tattooed on his body and had all his teeth removed so he could put nearly 500 drinking straws and more than 50 burning candles in his mouth.

Har Parkash Rishi, who claims to have set more than 20 records, now calls himself Guinness Rishi.

Born in 1942 in a cinema hall in the capital, New Delhi, Rishi first got into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1990 when, with two friends, he rode a scooter for 1,001 hours.

The passion to get his name in the record book led him to perform some bizarre acts, including delivering a pizza from New Delhi to San Francisco and gulping a bottle of tomato ketchup in less than four minutes.

He even got his family involved - his wife Bimla holds a 1991 record for writing the world’s shortest will: “All to Son”.

While it is the tattoos on his body, more than 500 in all, that brought him fame, Rishi, an auto parts manufacturer by profession, says the toughest one was stuffing the straws in his mouth.

“I am the world record holder of 496 straws in my mouth ... For that record, I needed space, I had to remove every tooth so that I could put maximum straws in my mouth,“ Rishi told Reuters Television before re-enacting the feat on camera.

He is now getting images of global leaders tattooed on his body to add to images of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, U.S. President Barack Obama, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s independence movement.

►   Pro-EU group unveils Soviet-style mural of Trump kissing ex-Mayor Johnson

A giant mural of Donald Trump locked in a kiss with former London mayor Boris Johnson in the style of a legendary Soviet-era image has been unveiled by a group campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union.

Painted on the side of a building in Bristol, southwest England - home of the celebrated graffiti artist Banksy - the image reprises a 1979 photograph of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker kissing, which was later turned into a mural on the Berlin Wall.

It was commissioned by pro-EU campaign group “We are Europe” as what they call a warning of things to come if Britons vote to leave the 28-member bloc on June 23, as advocated by both Johnson and Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate in November’s U.S. presidential election.

Johnson is the “Out” campaign’s best-known leader and Trump has said Britain would be “better off without” the EU, which he has blamed for Europe’s migration crisis.

The 15-foot (4.5 meter) mural is accompanied by the slogan “Not #IN for this?“ and a plea for people, especially the young, to register to vote by a June 7 deadline.

“People need to look at this image and think - is this the future I want,“ said Harriet Kingaby, a spokesperson from We Are Europe.

Galvanizing the youth vote is a key issue for the “In” camp. Surveys show young people are far more likely to be in favor of remaining in the EU but also much less likely to bother to vote.

A survey of 2,000 students this month found that 63 percent did not know the exact date of the referendum, while 54 percent were not aware it was being held in June.

►   London neighbors engage in ‘battle of the balconies’ ahead of EU vote

The debate about Britain’s future in the Europe has taken an unexpected new twist: a “battle of the balconies” between north London neighbors unfurling competing pro- and anti-Brexit banners.

Unimpressed by a large “Vote Leave” banner appearing on the balcony next door, a man named by British media as Frank Chalmers, 61, unveiled his own sign that added the words, “...if you want to cut workers’ rights”.

The leafy, suburban locale of Gospel Oak was not previously regarded as a key battleground in the debate around the June 23 referendum on Britain’s European Union membership.

The story emerged after Chalmers’ son, Malcolm tweeted a picture of the opposing balconies and wrote: “My parents’ neighbors have put up a large ‘Vote Leave’ sign. It seems my dad’s response is to get creative. #Remain.“

He told the London Evening Standard newspaper that his father gave his neighbors a bottle of wine as a peace offering.

►   Dubai says opens world’s first functioning 3D-printed office

Dubai has opened what it said was the world’s first functioning 3D-printed office building, part of a drive by the Gulf’s main tourism and business hub to develop technology that cuts costs and saves time.

The printers - used industrially and also on a smaller scale to make digitally designed, three-dimensional objects from plastic - have not been used much for building.

This one used a special mixture of cement, a Dubai government statement said, and reliability tests were done in Britain and China.

The one-storey prototype building, with floorspace of about 250 square meters (2,700 square feet), used a 20-foot (6-metre)by 120-foot by 40-foot printer, the government said.

“This is the first 3D-printed building in the world, and it’s not just a building, it has fully functional offices and staff,“ the United Arab Emirates Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Mohamed Al Gergawi, said.

“We believe this is just the beginning. The world will change,“ he said.

The arc-shaped office, built in 17 days and costing about $140,000, will be the temporary headquarters of Dubai Future Foundation - the company behind the project - is in the center of the city, near the Dubai International Financial Center.

Gergawi said studies estimated the technique could cut building time by 50-70 percent and labor costs by 50-80 percent. Dubai’s strategy was to have 25 percent of the buildings in the emirate printed by 2030, he said.

►   Tortoise in a baby stroller a novelty even for New Yorkers

New York City is filled with oddities that can surprise even the most die-hard New Yorkers and when Henry the tortoise turned up in a stroller in Central Park this week for his daily outing it turned more than a few heads.

The 17 pound (7.7 kg) sulcata tortoise is the pet of 24-year-old Amanda Green who lives in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. He led a reclusive existence until Green took to Craigslist to advertise for a tortoise walker.

New Yorkers are accustomed to dog walkers but no so much tortoise walkers, so Green expected only a few responses.

Instead, the listing went viral and hundreds of people from all over the world applied for the $10-an-hour job.

“Just like a person who has a dog would hire a dog walker, I figured why not a tortoise walker?“ Green said in an interview with Reuters TV.

“It took on a life of its own ... I heard from about 500,“ said Green, a copywriter for a style and beauty website.

The job went to Amalia McCallister, who has experience from having worked in a pet store.

“You honestly do have to keep your eye on him,“ McCallister said, describing the job as fun and not too taxing. “I could, maybe, read a book, but you’ve got to make sure he doesn’t eat the wrong thing.“

Sulcata tortoises are native to north central Africa but they adapt well to different environments. Land-dwelling reptiles with a shell, they are mainly herbivores. Henry, who is taken to the park by stroller and then allowed to roam free, particularly likes dandelions and grass.

He has amassed an online fanbase with more than 5,000 Instagram followers and nearly 300 likes on Facebook for his profile: “The Notortoise BIG”. The profile’s name is a play on the stage name used by the late rapper Christopher Wallace, who called himself Biggie Smalls and The Notorious B.I.G.

Green adopted Henry a couple of years ago from a woman who was unable to manage her growing family and the tortoise. She said Henry is friendly and curious but needs lots of attention.

Green said she knows that Henry will one day outgrow her apartment. Male sulcata tortoises can reach a length of more than 30 inches (76 cm) and tip the scales at up to 200 pounds (90 kg).

“Am I going to somehow get a backyard in New York City?“ Green asked. “These animals do need exercise so it is really great that I have a walker now.“

Gilmer County Schools May/Summer 2016 Newsletter: Glenville Elementary

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Glenville Elementary Character Trait Recognition for Leadership

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The character trait for April was Leadership.

The following students were recognized by their teachers for exemplary leadership skills:

PK:  Jadeyn Montgomery

K (P):  Evan White

K (M):  Kenzy Jenkins

1:  Airiana Hoard

2 (C):  Gypsy Hulse

2 (D):  Marelly Medrano

3 (F):  Allie Ellyson

3 (S):  Avianna Ringgold

4 (M):  Christopher Junkins

4 (F):  Alena Gray

5:  Cassi Drennen

6 (Frymier):  Justin Liu

6 (Frashure):  Amiah Stewart

Timothy Pennington

Glenville Elementary PAWS Winners

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“Positive Attitudes Will Succeed” is a positive behavior program implemented to recognize students who are trying to reach school-wide expectations, showing good manners, and displaying positive approaches to their school work and relationships.

The following students were chosen by their teachers, for the last nine weeks, as students who exemplify those traits:

PK:  Ava Bush

K:  Kenzy Jenkins

1:  Paiden Felegie

2:  Leah Poole

3:  Allie Ellyson

4:  Stevie Starsick

5:  Morgan Smith

6:  Autumn Moyers

Timothy Pennington

GES Kindergarten’s Chicks!!!

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Mrs. Perrin and Mrs. Moyers’ Kindergarten Classes at Glenville Elementary School are proud to announce that the chicks weigh in at approximately 3 ounces and are 2 and ½ inches tall.

After, twenty-one days of patiently waiting, twenty-two chicks hatched over a course of three days.

There were three kinds of chicks: Turkens, Cuckoo Marans, and Wellsummer. 

The children loved to interact with the chicks and both classes had various lessons about the life cycle of a chick and the different types of animals that lay eggs.

The chicks currently reside on Perrin’s Farm where they will live out their happy, corn-filled lives.

Glenville Elementary’s Academic Banquet 

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Students in grades 4-6 who obtained honor roll status for the entire year, were invited to an Academic Banquet held on Thursday, May 19th at the Senior Citizens’ Center.

The Local School Improvement Council sponsored the event and the theme was “The Last Prowl.“

Students, staff, and parents listened to Ms. Bishop speak on behalf of Glenville Elementary’s 40 years in operation by reading aloud her recollections of GES.

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Then, retired staff and associated staff, read and sang two poems that recapped the many years.

Students were involved in one poem by showing letters that began the poem’s verses.

A bountiful dinner was enjoyed by all, then awards were given to the students.

Congratulations to all of the students for maintaining honor roll status.

Keep up the good habits and work next year!  


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Glenville Elementary’s Closing-of-School BASH!!!

On Thursday, May 26th from 8:30-11:00, Glenville Elementary will be celebrating and highlighting its’ 40 years in operation.

Inflatable rides, such as the Rock Wall Climb, the Tropical Slide, Basketball, Parachute Tower, and a Bounce House will be available for students to enjoy.

There will be bluegrass music playing in the cafeteria, a slideshow commemorating events throughout the years, cake, and drinks available to visitors.

We welcome the parents, families, and community to come to the school to take part in closing the school!

Glenville Elementary’s PAWS $100 Gift Card Winners

If students do not get an office referral for a week, they put a “PAWS” coupon in the basket for a drawing at the end of the 9 weeks.


The more coupons you have in the basket, the better chance you have of winning!

The 3rd nine weeks winners were:

Kindergartener:  Taylor Dennison

Sixth Grader:  Alex White

GES Character Trait Award Winners:  Citizenship

PK:  Caleb Montgomery

K (P):  Lilly Cottrell

K (M):  Oliver Hulse

1:  Nicholas Clowser

2 (C):  Kinley Minigh

2 (D):  Jenna Smith

3 (F):  Layna Moyers

3 (S):  Gracie Jenkins

4 (M):  Sierra Moss

4 (F):  Angel Austin

5:  Meloney Adkins

6 (Fry):  Liz Black

6 (Fra):  Jailyne Rice

Riley Crowell


....To be Continued with Other Schools….

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