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These Are the Best Places To Buy a House for 2018

The Free Press WV

Looking for a place to buy a house and put down some roots? You might consider Texas. Cities in the Lone Star State take the first three spots on WalletHub’s new list of best places to buy a house (and five spots total in the top 10). WalletHub looked at 22 indicators of “housing-market attractiveness,“ including home appreciation, unemployment, and population growth, in 300 cities to come up with the list. Check out the top 10:

  1. Frisco, Texas
  2. McKinney, Texas
  3. Allen, Texas
  4. Santa Clara, Calif.
  5. Durham, N.C.
  6. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  7. Richardson, Texas
  8. Seattle, Wash.
  9. Bellevue, Wash.
  10. Denton, Texas
See the whole list — including a break down for large, medium, and small cities — HERE.

Drag Queen Story Hour Sparks Small Town Furor

The Free Press WV

Once upon a time, in 2015, a writer in San Francisco named Michelle Tea got the idea for “Drag Queen Story Hour”: men in full drag reading children’s books to kids and parents in programs aimed at providing “positive and unabashedly queer role models.“ Since then, Drag Queen Story Hours have been held at libraries or book stores in big cities nationwide where over-the-top hair, makeup and gowns and stories about gender fluidity aren’t exactly new. In some smaller communities, however, the programs have sparked protests from conservative and religious groups. In Lafayette, Louisiana, west of New Orleans, the president of the local public library board resigned amid debate over plans to hold “Drag Queen Story Hour.“ Mayor Joel Robideaux has indicated he may seek to cancel the Oct. 6 program.

A handful of protesters showed up in the rain outside an August event at a library branch in Columbus, Georgia, according to the Ledger-Enquirer. A group called Common Sense Campaign Tea Party is calling for protests of an event in Mobile, Alabama where drag queen Khloe Kash is scheduled to read “Rainbow Fish,“ a 1992 story about the value of sharing, and “Stella Brings the Family,“ about a little girl fretting over what to do about her school’s upcoming Mother’s Day celebration because she has two fathers. “It’s growing all over the nation, including the South,“ Jonathan Hamilt, a New Yorker who provides help in organizing the story hours nationwide, told the AP. He said there are DQSH chapters in 40 states and in other countries. “You never know how the community is going to react to the programing,“ Hamilt said. “It’s kind of a toss-up.“

A Seagull Stole His Burger. His Reaction Got Him a $124 Fine

The Free Press WV

A man accused of kicking a seagull that tried to eat his cheeseburger at a New Hampshire beach has been fined $124. Police investigated the report from a bystander at Hampton Beach earlier this summer, the AP reports. Per NH1, Nate Rancloes says he’d just returned from getting a cheeseburger and fries and was sitting on the sand when seagulls got to the burger. He says he spun around with his leg to shoo one away but struck the bird; he says it was a simple mistake and “a one in a million bad luck kick.“ A witness backed up his story that the kick was accidental. “There was no culpable mental state that occurred,“ New Hampshire Fish and Game Lt. Mike Eastman said. “He didn’t stomp on it. He hit the ... bird with his foot.“

But because seagulls are protected under federal law, the agency still hit Rancloes with the fine. Meanwhile, Rancloes, a Purple Heart recipient, tells NH1 he had to leave the beach with his 11-year-old daughter because people were yelling at him. He also notes a fellow beachgoer who posted about the incident on Facebook hadn’t even witnessed what happened. “There is an atrocious story on social media that I intentionally hurt the seagull,“ he says. “It is illegal and immoral to injure a seagull. If I intentionally hurt the seagull in front of hundreds of witnesses, I would perhaps be the dumbest criminal ever.“

Man Charged After Shooting at ‘Ghost’ in His Home

The Free Press WV

A 25-year-old Connecticut man faces several charges after firing shots in his house at what he told police may have been a ghost. Christain Devaux of Tolland is due in court on Sept. 11 on charges including the illegal discharge of a firearm, making a false statement to police, second-degree reckless endangerment, misusing an emergency call, and disorderly conduct, per the AP.

Police say Devaux put two bullet holes in his wall on July 26, initially reporting the incident as an attempted break in. He later told police that he is a paranormal investigator and that he believes the intruder was actually a spirit. Devaux, who is free on $5,000 bond, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. State police told the Journal Inquirer of Manchester that Devaux had made a similar report back in 2011.

School Resource Officer Used Taser to Wake Student

The Free Press WV

A school resource officer in northeast Ohio who decided using her Taser was the best way to wake up a sleeping student has been suspended and could face criminal charges. Officer Maryssa Boskoski didn’t actually jolt the student with thousands of volts of electricity, News5 reports, but she activated the stun gun a few feet away from him with no cartridge, which causes a buzzing, sparking noise and emits an arc of electricity. The classroom teacher and the interim principal had been unable to wake the sleeping student, but the noise from the Taser—and from surprised students—was enough to rouse him.

Boskoski, 32, was placed on unpaid leave after the Aug. 30 incident at Liberty Preparatory School in Smithville. In a letter, school officials notified parents of the inappropriate Taser use, but stressed that “at no time was any student in any kind of danger,“ reports the Washington Post. Smithville Police Chief Howard Funk says he will meet with the town solicitor to see if charges should be filed, reports the AP. He says he is “disappointed” by the action of Boskoski, who was disciplined last month for failing to remove the cartridge before testing her Taser near another officer.

Plane Passenger Awoke to Find Man’s Hand in Her Pants

The Free Press WV

“Planes are not a law-free zone,“ US Attorney for the Western District of Washington Annette Hayes said Thursday, announcing charges against two men accused of “disturbing” sexual assaults aboard airplanes bound for Seattle. In the first case, 41-year-old Babak Rezapour of California is accused of groping a 21-year-old woman who’d taken prescription anti-anxiety and anti-nausea medication with a glass of wine aboard a Jan. 10 Norwegian Airlines flight from London to Seattle. The woman had difficulty staying awake after Rezapour gave her a second glass of wine, and awoke repeatedly to find him touching her thigh, rubbing her heel against his genitals, lying with his face in her lap, and with his hand in her shirt and pants, prosecutors say, per the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The woman was later found crying and shaking on the floor, reports the Guardian.

Rezapour—whose DNA was found in the woman’s underwear, according to authorities—is charged with abusive sexual contact aboard an airliner, as is Nicholas Stevens, 37, of Alaska. He’s accused of using his position in an aisle seat to force himself on a 22-year-old woman in a window seat on a March 8 Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage to Seattle. The woman said Stevens talked about killing animals and joked about killing people before saying he wanted to do “dirty things” to her. She was found “visibly upset and shaking” after Stevens allegedly touched her breast and thigh multiple times, per the Post-Intelligencer. The FBI notes a 30% increase in reports of sexual assault aboard planes in the last four years is tied to an increase in reporting. But “we need the flying public’s help,“ Hayes says. “We can make a difference.“

Angry’ Steelworkers Are Ready to Strike

The Free Press WV

US Steel workers are fired up and ready to strike if a new contract isn’t reached soon, the Times of Northwest Indiana reports. Workers for the Pittsburgh-based company voted nationwide this week to approve a strike if talks involving health care costs, retiree benefits, and wage increases don’t work out—at a time when their employer is apparently rolling in money. “Angry USW members conducted strike authorization meetings at each US Steel local over the past week,“ the United Steelworkers said in a statement to workers, adding that there was “an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote in every local. Many locals reported that their results were unanimous.“ A three-year US Steel contract for roughly 16,000 USW workers ran out Saturday.

Don Furko, president of USW Local 1557 in Clairton, Pa., says workers are pushing back at a time when President Trump’s policies are benefitting US Steel: “Between the tariffs and the tax break for corporations, they stand to make $2 billion this year,“ he tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. US Steel says it’s offering workers profit-sharing of at least $6,000, a signing bonus of $4,000, wage increases starting at 4%, a 15-cent hourly increase to 401(k) retirement plans, and a one-time $5,000 health-care bonus. But Farko says workers still have too many out-of-pocket health care costs for family coverage. The pro-strike vote surprised steel-industry sources, says the Post-Gazette. There hasn’t been a US Steel work stoppage since the company locked out workers for six months in 1986.

US Plans to Circumvent Limits on Detaining Immigrant Kids

The Free Press WV

The Trump administration said Thursday it plans to circumvent a longstanding court agreement that governs how children are treated in immigration custody, in part to detain families longer as a way to deter migrants from crossing the Southwestern border illegally. The Homeland Security Department announced proposed regulations that would terminate the so-called Flores agreement that requires the government to keep children in the least-restricted setting and required their release generally after 20 days in detention, the AP reports. The 1997 case that spawned the agreement will almost certainly land back in court. US District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee rejected a request by administration lawyers this summer to allow for longer family detention. The agreement became an issue during a “zero-tolerance” policy enforced at the border to criminally prosecute anyone caught crossing illegally.

More than 2,900 children were separated from their parents, prompting international outrage and scathing criticism over what many said was inhumane treatment of migrants. Officials said children couldn’t be in criminal custody with their parents, and were limited in how long they could detain families because of the agreement. The rules proposed Thursday would allow the government to hold families until their immigration cases were completed, a move that government officials contend makes cases go much faster than if families are released. “Today, legal loopholes significantly hinder the department’s ability to appropriately detain and promptly remove family units that have no legal basis to remain in the country,“ Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “This rule addresses one of the primary pull factors for illegal immigration and allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress.“

Reason Behind Ford Truck Recall? Hazardous Seat Belts

The Free Press WV

About 2 million Ford F-150 pickup trucks are being recalled due to an odd problem with seat-belt equipment. Some front seat passenger belt pretensioners “can generate excessive sparks when they deploy,“ causing smoke or fire, Ford says in a press release. The company knows of 23 reports of the issue generating smoke or fire in North America, most of them in the US, the Wall Street Journal reports. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation last month after learning of five fires, including three that engulfed and destroyed the vehicle, USA Today reports. Regular Cab and SuperCrew Cab F-150 vehicles between the model years 2015 through 2018 are affected; most are still in the US. There are also thousands in Canada and Mexico.

She Went to the Orphanage at 2. Horrible Things Followed

The Free Press WV

In countries ranging from Canada to Ireland to Australia, the 20th-century abuses that took place in orphanages, oftentimes Catholic ones, have been exposed. But “no such reckoning has taken place” in America, writes Christine Kenneally for BuzzFeed News. “Even today the stories of the orphanages are rarely told and barely heard, let alone recognized in any formal way by the government, the public, or the courts.“ And so she set out to unearth those stories in what ended up being a four-year investigation that ultimately found its subject: the long-closed St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, Vermont, and the children who allegedly died at the hands of nuns there (though her piece touches on a number of other orphanages and similar atrocities).

Kenneally relied on “tens of thousands of pages of documents, some of them secret, as well as dozens of interviews,“ much of them related to a number of lawsuits 28 former residents filed in the 1990s. She digs deep into those suits in an incredibly long and detailed piece, among whose many figures is Sally Dale, who came to the orphanage as a 2-year-old and recalled seeing a boy being tossed out a window to his death. The other alleged abuses described by her and others were plentiful and extreme: other children who mysteriously disappeared, being made to eat vomit, fingertips burned with a match as punishment for stealing candy, being sexually abused, beatings. Some cases were dismissed; the others were settled. Dale never got her day in court. “But then, after years of accumulating [research], I gained access to a cache of documents that [Dale’s laywer] never saw,“ writes Kenneally. And they confirmed many of Dale’s stories. Read the full piece HERE.

States of Emergency Declared Ahead of Florence

The Free Press WV

Tropical Storm Florence is becoming a “better organized” weather system that will likely strengthen into a hurricane late Saturday, weather forecasters say. The National Hurricane Center said Saturday the storm was expected to become a “major hurricane” by Tuesday as it passes between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, per the AP. The storm is expected to approach the southeast US Coast on Thursday. Officials in North Carolina were already bracing for impact. In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Saturday to give his state time to prepare for the possible arrival of a hurricane. McMaster emphasized that there’s no way to know yet when and where the storm will hit land, or when evacuations might be called.

The US Navy is making preparations this weekend for its ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave port as Tropical Storm Florence approaches the East Coast. The US Fleet Forces Command says the ships will get ready in anticipation of getting underway Monday to avoid storm damage. On Friday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency and urged residents to use the weekend to prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster. “We are entering the peak of hurricane season and we know well the unpredictability and power of these storms,“ Cooper said. Swells generated by Florence could cause dangerous rip currents and coastal flooding Saturday in areas including coastal Delaware and New Jersey, per the National Weather Service.

Man Said He Was Fired for Refusing to Go to Bible Study

The Free Press WV

An Oregon man who says he was fired from his construction job for refusing to attend Christian Bible study is appealing to a higher power: the court. In a lawsuit filed this month, Ryan Coleman, 34, says he didn’t find out about the weekly Bible study requirement until after Joel Dahl of Albany-based Dahled Up Construction hired him as a painter in late 2017, OregonLive reports. He says he went along with it for about six months before telling Dahl, “It’s just not my thing.“ Dahl’s response, per Coleman, “He said, ‘well, I’m going to have to replace you.“ That was in April, KEZI reports.

Now, Coleman is seeking $800,000—$50,000 in lost earnings and $750,000 for “severe emotional distress, anguish, humiliation, anger, shame, and anxiety,“ per the lawsuit’s ironically titled “prayer for relief.“ Dahl’s attorney, accusing Coleman of seeking “unjustified financial gain,“ concedes that Dahled Up employees are required to go to Bible study. But it’s legal, he argues, because they’re still on the clock when they attend. Colman’s attorney disagrees: “This is so illegal,“ she says, adding that only religious organizations could have such a requirement. Dahl, who admits to past legal problems, says he’s a “second-chance employer,“ with OregonLive noting that “God is a big part of Joel Dahl’s life.“

KFC Offers $11K for Naming Baby After Col. Sanders

The Free Press WV

Not many people call their sons “Harland” these days—not even those who are big fans of Col. Harland Sanders’ secret blend of 11 herbs and spices—and that’s something KFC is trying to change. The company says it plans to mark what would have been its founder’s 128th birthday on Sept. 9 this year by giving $11,000 to the first family to name a baby born that day Harland, UPI reports. The company says it will donate the money to the child’s college education. The winner from submissions to the contest website will be announced Oct. 15 and if there is a tie, a random drawing will determine the winning Harland, reports CBS News.

In a press release, the company notes that Harland only made it to No. 3,257 on last year’s list of the most popular baby names. “Even though vintage names are making a comeback, our iconic founder’s name was dwindling in popularity, and we couldn’t just stand idly by and let that happen,“ says KFC marketing exec Andrea Zahumensky. “We hope that this birthday celebration honors the Colonel and encourages the next generation of people aspiring to live the American dream.“

Drug Invented for Dogs Could Help Human Cancer Sufferers

The Free Press WV

An experimental canine cancer drug is so promising that researchers are hoping it could one day help human patients suffering from the same aggressive brain malignancy that claimed US Sen. John McCain’s life this past week. The drug is for glioblastoma, a fast-growing cancer for which doctors have few treatment options. Per CBS Miami, a clinical trial at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech is hoping the drug, which is injected directly into the deep brain tumors using a needle, could be the best hope for dogs with the disease.

Per WSPA, researchers found that the tumors in the dogs in the study began to shrink in a matter of weeks. For a cancer whose median survival time after diagnosis hovers around 15 months, that’s huge. In fact, the initial results have been so promising in dogs that the National Institutes of Health is now helping to fund the trial.

PETA Seeks Roadside Memorial for Lobsters Killed in Crash

The Free Press WV

If you stopped eating crabs at PETA’s request, you’ll probably love the animal rights group’s latest idea. PETA has asked Maine officials for permission to build a 5-foot tombstone in Brunswick to honor an estimated 4,500 lobsters killed when a truck overturned on a highway last week, reports Fox News. The Maine Department of Transportation is reviewing the request, which includes a mock-up of the tombstone for “sensitive crustaceans.“ “In Memory of the Lobsters Who Suffered and Died at This Spot,“ it reads, followed by “Try Vegan.“ Locals aren’t exactly on board. “We don’t even put monuments up for people who die,“ one tells WGME.

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