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QUOTE OF THE DAY

The Free Press WV

“The pope is here! The fighting is over,”

                      Africans cheered in the streets as Francis drove past on his way to visit a mosque.

The 2015 White House Christmas Tree Arrival

The First Lady, along with Bo, and Sunny, receive the 2015 White House Christmas Tree at the North Portico on the day after Thanksgiving.

In Politics….

The Free Press WV

►  Fear, faith and the rise of Ben Carson

The rise of Carson toward the top of the polls in the Republican presidential primary race has baffled many political pundits, liberals and some within the GOP establishment, who find his positions short on details, and certain assertions … But to see Carson from Mike and Toni Ledet’s front porch, the reverse is true: To them, Carson is the only candidate who fully grasps what they see as the one reality that matters most — that America has fallen away from God. And while other Republican contenders express some version of that sentiment, Toni says it is Carson who seems both the closest to God and the furthest from Obama, who troubles her deeply … In the life of Ben Carson, they see a man in tune with the will of God. ‘A Christian attitude,’ Mike says. ‘A Christian-based physician,’ Toni says.


►  Cruz v. Rubio battle continues to heats up

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the Florida senator attacked his Texas colleague for being weak on national security. Rubio was referring to Cruz’s vote to limit government surveillance in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations (and it’s only fair to say, Cruz was one of 67 senators to support the USA Freedom Act’s reforms). “There are Republicans, including Senator Cruz, that have voted to weaken those programs. That is just part of the record, it is nothing personal,” Rubio said on “Fox News”. He repeated his comments after a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing.


►  Cruz fired back on the Hugh Hewitt show, taking aim at Rubio for his support of the 2013 Senate immigration bill

I think the reason that Rubio’s allies have resorted to false attack ads is they are very, very nervous about our surge in the polls, about the fact that conservatives are uniting behind our campaign, and they’re even more nervous about all the scrutiny that people are focusing on Marco Rubio’s longtime partnership with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer pushing a massive amnesty plan,” Cruz barbed.” And so I think they were looking to change the subject, and they believed that launching a false attack based on the USA Freedom Act was the way to do it.


►  Ethanol could now emerge as a big issue in the run-up to the caucuses

In a move with political ramifications in Iowa, the Obama administration scaled back its requirement for how much corn-based ethanol must be mixed into gasoline in 2016. Already two years behind on issuing the quotas for the Renewable Fuel Standard, the EPA mandated that 18.11 billion gallons be mixed into the nation’s gas supply next year — below the 22.25 gallon amount set by Congress in 2007. The move sparked an uproar in Iowa, where ethanol producers and Governor Terry Branstad bashed it. “Today’s announcement by the EPA was a gut punch for consumers and farmers,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. Politico notes that the lower ethanol quota seems to have been influenced by an intense lobbying campaign by the oil industry.


►  Trump met with African-American pastors, as opponents piled on

So after all the hubbub, The Donald did sit down with about two dozen at his Trump Tower in Manhattan, saying he saw “love in that room.” But the planned press conference to roll out the endorsements of 100 black pastors never happened. Trump, though, talked to the press after the event (the number of endorsements wasn’t offered). By his side was Omarosa Manigault, a contestant from “The Apprentice” and an ordained minister. And as the New York Times reported, some attendees were skeptical even before meeting with the real-estate mogul: “It appears as if he’s a possible racist based upon some of the things he said about black America,” said Brehon Hall, a preacher from Toledo, Ohio.


►  Scope of National Security Inquiry Is Revealed

National security letters, which empower federal investigators to seek certain customer records without court approval or oversight, were significantly expanded as part of the USA Patriot Act after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In August, a judge ruled that the entrepreneur, Nicholas Merrill, could disclose what he had been asked to turn over if the government did not file an appeal within 90 days, and the deadline has now passed. Mr. Merrill revealed that the F.B.I. in 2004 ordered his company, Calyx Internet Access, to turn over all physical mail addresses, email addresses and Internet Protocol addresses associated with one customer’s account, as well as telephone and billing records and anything else considered to be an ‘electronic communications transactional record.’ The order said the content of communications between the customer and others should not be handed over.


►  Yes she can

What can Hillary Clinton do for black people as president? She possesses neither her husband’s performative charisma with black folk, nor Obama’s undeniable blackness. She must instead wield the sort of power that politicians would, in a better world, solely rely on: public policy. If we were betrayed by Bill Clinton, and suffered dashed hopes under Obama, maybe, just maybe, we will get from Hillary Clinton what we most need and truly deserve: a set of political practices and policies that reinforce the truth that black lives must, and do, finally matter. On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has exhibited a greater sophistication about race, increased sensitivity about how blackness is lived in our country, and a deeper awareness of how the small brutalities of racism rend the fabric of the social compact after first spoiling the flesh of those at the bottom of society. If there were disturbing racial echoes in Hillary’s first attempt to gain the White House, what’s to guarantee we won’t get blinkered in a fog of racial sensitivity now? Has Hillary Clinton changed? Have we?


►  Nearly 15,000 people in Wisconsin have lost access to food stamps since Scott Walker required recipients to seek employment or job training in his budget this spring

The Wisconsin State Journal: “If you’re an able-bodied adult without children living at home, you must work at least 80 hours a month or look for work to stay in the program. That rule went into effect in April, and between July and September, about 25 percent of the 60,000 recipients eligible to work were dropped from the program when the penalty took effect.” “They will bankrupt our food banks,” said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force, a supplier of food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters with emergency food.


►  Alabama to pay Planned Parenthood’s legal fees after trying to defund it

From the Montgomery Advertiser: “Alabama would pay just over $51,000 in legal fees to settle a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood Southeast over Governor Robert Bentley’s attempt to cancel the organization’s Medicaid contract, under an agreement filed in federal court Monday morning. The governor moved to cancel the organization’s contract … in August after videos surfaced alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetuses and fetal tissue.”


►  Obama Talks Over ‘Wrap-Up’ Beeps at UN Climate Talks

Seems President Obama is not one to be rushed—beep! beep!—off the world stage, NBC News reports. He was giving a speech today at the world climate talks outside Paris when three beeps sounded in an apparent attempt to remind him of the three-minute time limit. He was already over eight minutes in, and kept on going—as did the beeps. “One of the enemies that we’ll be fighting at this conference is cynicism, the notion we can’t do anything about climate change,“ he said. Eventually the beeps went quiet, and Obama stopped at just under 14 minutes. All other leaders who spoke at the conference stuck to their time limit, the New York Times reports. But this was no tangent: The president had duly prepared over 1,700 words for the event.


►  Juneau’s New Mayor Found Dead

The mayor of Juneau has been found dead in his home less than two months after he was elected. The body of Greg Fisk, 70, was found by his adult son on Monday afternoon and police, who have not released a cause of death, have been searching the area and interviewing neighbors, the Alaska Dispatch reports. Juneau police are “aware of rumors that an assault occurred in connection with Fisk’s death. Those rumors are speculation,“ police said in a statement Monday night. “Detectives are actively investigating facts of the incident and all evidence is being preserved and documented.“

Fisk, a former state fisheries specialist, easily beat incumbent Merrill Sanford last month to become mayor of Alaska’s capital, the Dispatch reports. Deputy Mayor Mary Becker, who says Fisk was an old family friend, will now become acting mayor. He was a “wonderful person and a friend and from the calls I’ve been receiving tonight, I’m not the only one who felt he was a wonderful person and a good friend to Juneau,“ she tells KTUU. “It’s so devastating to have this happen, it’s basically unbelievable.“


►  Trump Says He Should Get $5M to Show Up at Next Debate

Donald Trump on Monday proposed that CNN pony up if it wants him to participate in its December 15 Republican debate. Asking price? $5 million. He views the money as restitution (NBC News calls it a “ransom”): CNN “doesn’t treat me properly,“ Trump said at a rally in Macon, Ga., noting his star power helped attract 23 million viewers to CNN’s last debate. “How about I tell CNN that I’m not gonna do the next debate?“ he said, per USA Today, to what NBC News describes as “tepid applause.“

Then he got more specific: “I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or to vets.“ He said pundits will likely call him “chicken” but added he doesn’t care about the opinions of “talking heads, who are not smart people at all.“


►  Cruz: Most Violent Criminals Are Democrats

Democrats might be surprised to hear that their party is the choice of the “overwhelming majority” of violent criminals; they may be less surprised to hear that Ted Cruz is the source of that information. The Republican candidate, discussing the Planned Parenthood shooting with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, insisted it was “a simple and undeniable fact” that criminals support the “soft on crime” Democrats, reports Politico. “This whole episode has really displayed the ugly underbelly of media,“ Cruz said of the Colorado shooting. “Every time you have some sort of violent crime or mass killing you can almost see the media salivating. Hoping, hoping desperately that the murderer happens to be a Republican so they can use it to try to paint their political enemies.“

At a campaign stop on Sunday, Cruz bristled at suggestions that accused gunman Robert Lewis Dear may have been influenced by anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric from the right, reports the Washington Post. “It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and a transgendered leftist activist,“ Cruz said, apparently referring to reports that Dear had been registered to vote as a woman. He remained on the offensive at a Monday night event in Iowa, accusing Hillary Clinton of falsely claiming conservatives want to ban contraception and saying she was acting as the “condom police” to scare voters, CNN reports. “Last I checked we don’t have a rubber shortage in America,“ he said. “When I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in, and voila!“


►  ‘Most Feared’ NY Politician Guilty of Corruption

US Attorney Preet Bharara has won a massive victory in his quest to get rid of what he calls a “cauldron of corruption” in New York’s state capital. Sheldon Silver, the former longtime New York State Assembly speaker, has been found guilty of federal corruption charges and faces many years in prison, reports the New York Times, which calls the Democrat “one of the most feared politicians” in the state. After nearly three days of deliberation, a jury found the 71-year-old guilty of abusing his powers over the state budget by taking part in two schemes that made him around $4 million, Wall Street Journal reports. He will automatically be kicked out of the assembly after nearly 40 years as a member and more than 20 as speaker.

In one scheme, Silver directed state funds to a cancer researcher who ensured Silver won hefty referral fees from a law firm he sent patients to, the New York Daily News reports. In the second, Silver negotiated tax breaks for a developer that sent its business to another law firm that paid him referral fees, the Journal reports. The payments were discovered when an anti-corruption committee scrutinized his outside income. Silver was found guilty on seven counts and could face a sentence of up to 120 years in federal prison, reports the Times, which notes that a prosecutor described his conduct as government not “by the people or for the people,“ but “by Sheldon Silver for Sheldon Silver.“ (After less than two hours of deliberations, a “stressed out” juror asked to go home.)


►  Elizabeth Warren Glaringly Absent at Clinton Fundraiser

Thirteen of 14 Democratic female senators showed up Monday night at the DC Hyatt Regency for what Politico calls a “high-profile fundraiser-cum-endorsement summit” for Hillary Clinton, but it was the absent No. 14 who caused the most buzz. Senator Elizabeth Warren still hasn’t thrown her weight behind any one candidate and is one of only six Democratic senators who hasn’t backed Clinton, ABC News reports. What’s still a mystery is whether the Massachusetts senator opted on her own not to attend the fundraiser or if the Clinton campaign didn’t invite her in the first place.

Warren’s office declined comment, per ABC, and a Clinton spokeswoman simply said in a statement, “We’re honored to have 13 women Senators coming together to endorse and support Hillary Clinton. This is a sign of the broad support Clinton is receiving from women across the country who know she’ll fight for us.“ Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski floated another theory about Warren’s no-show, via ABC. “Maybe she has a cold,“ she says.

WV Legislative Update: Delegate Brent Boggs - Minority House Finance Chairman

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As I write at the conclusion of an extended Thanksgiving weekend, the roads are filled with travelers returning to their homes from across the state and nation after spending time with families and friends.  Gasoline prices continue to drop, providing an economic window of opportunity for road trip visits over the holiday weekend.

Justin, Jen and the twins spent the first two days of deer season at the farm; and at our home, along with my mom and dad, for a great Thanksgiving dinner and get together.  Plus, for the first time in many years, I scheduled some of my RR vacation for the entire week of Thanksgiving.  In addition to hunting, I was able to catch up on constituent work, refinishing some doors and lots of outside work.

The exodus of visiting hunters began last Wednesday afternoon, with many enjoying success during the first three days of the season. The weather was near perfect and from all indications, the first week of deer season has been a great success, both in terms of deer harvested and the positive economic impact to our local retailers and restaurants.  DNR officials estimate that nearly 350,000 hunters will hit the woods sometime throughout deer gun season, spending nearly $250 million and generating over $30 million in state sales taxes thousands of related jobs for our citizens.  As is always the case, there will be far fewer hunters afield for second week, but there remains an abundance of deer and great opportunities for success.  In addition being aware of and respecting other hunters, continue to exercise care in using tree stands and on ATV’s.

Last Saturday, November 28 was designated as “Small Business Saturday” across the nation.  This annual event reminds us to shop “small” by supporting our small, local stores, shops and retailers.  Whether shopping for holiday gifts this season or anytime throughout the year, keep supporting our local businesses.  They are our friends, neighbors, sponsors of our community programs and youth opportunities.  Let’s keep our dollars home, whenever possible.  While they may be referred to as small businesses, their civic spirit and the important jobs they create make a big impact on our communities in central West Virginia.

Finally, we are very thankful that Jean received a great report from her doctors at WVU - Ruby Memorial early last week.  It was one year ago – between knee replacement surgeries – that she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  After surgery and treatment in late 2014, last week’s test results were both a relief and a great blessing.  We thank God and appreciate everyone keeping her in your prayers.  It was a great Thanksgiving, indeed and a reminder of what is truly important.

In the interim, send your inquiries to my home office at:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624; call 304.364.8411; or fax 304.364.8711.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

In Politics….

The Free Press WV

►  Highway bill negotiations continue; West Virginia hopeful

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the U.S. House and Senate on the conference committee working on a new multiyear federal highway bill hope to produce a report on a proposed agreement sometime next week.

If approved by a December 04 deadline, the compromise bill would be the first in a decade.

“Since 2005 we’ve only had a bill longer than two years one time,” West Virginia Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox told MetroNews recently. “We’ve worked (under) 35 extensions. It’s going to be a relief.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin sent the conference committee a letter last week urging members to include ways to fund projects important to West Virginia in the bill.

“West Virginia has 38,000 miles of public roads, many of which are in poor condition and in need of repair,”Manchin’s letter said. “We are in serious need of a federal, long-term funding bill that goes beyond the status quo to address our state’s and nation’s infrastructure needs. Projects like the King Coal Highway, Coalfields Expressway and Corridor H have been put on hold for too long. The time is now to truly invest in these projects and others that will improve our infrastructure, create jobs, boost economic development and improve conditions in our local communities.”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said she had “very good confidence” the process would emerge with a “bipartisan, robust highway bill.”

The bills from both chambers guarantee funding for half of the six-year period but that depends on negotiations to come up with the other three years. The House bill would spend $261 billion on highways.

West Virginia First District Congressman David McKinley predicts an agreement will be reached.

“I think there’s a very likelihood this is going to be a compromise that we’re going to have some increase on a lot of ideas,” McKinley said.

Predictable federal funding is a big piece of the puzzle as West Virginia tries to take steps to improve its road issues, Mattox said.

“It’s going to be a relief having the belief there’s going to be a six-year highway bill we can work with,” he said.


►  Presidential contenders differ sharply on climate

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders calls climate change the greatest threat to national security. Front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton promises to install more than 500 million solar panels across the country.

On the Republican side, Jeb Bush would phase out tax credits for solar power. Rival Marco Rubio wants to cut the federal gas tax by 80 percent.

There are stark differences between the two parties on energy and environment issues that underscore the sky-high stakes for both sides of the debate in the 2016 presidential race.

After President Barack Obama’s two terms, business and environmental groups see a game-changing election. Many environmental groups and Democrats fear a potential rollback of the Obama administration’s policies on climate change and renewable energy under a Republican president. Business groups and Republicans are eager to boost oil and gas production following years of frustration with Obama.

“At the end of the day, there’s a clear choice for all” of the candidates, said Tom Pyle of the pro-business American Energy Alliance. “Either continue the Obama administration’s anti-energy agenda or chart a new course that promotes affordable and reliable energy for all Americans.“

“Everywhere you look, from New York’s Wall Street to Iowa’s Main Street, voters are ready for real climate action and the clean energy revolution,“ countered Khalid Pitts of the Sierra Club, “except if you are a Republican running for president.“

Some of the issues dividing the candidates in the presidential election:


CLIMATE CHANGE

Obama heads to Paris on Sunday for an international climate conference, and Republicans are united in opposition to a possible pact and the president’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz and GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump are among several Republican candidates who reject mainstream climate science. Ben Carson calls himself a “climate science questioner” and says “the temperature of the earth is always fluctuating.“

Bush said at a New Hampshire town hall last month that he thinks the climate is changing and that “humans have some say in it for sure.“ But, he added, “What I don’t want to do is destroy the American economy as the solution.“

Rubio asserted at a recent GOP debate that “America is not a planet” and said that when it comes to global warming, he was “not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government we are under now wants to do.“

Republican candidates all warn that Obama’s plan to curb greenhouse gas emission from U.S power plants could cost thousands of jobs and raise electricity costs for businesses and families.

Clinton, Sanders and fellow Democrat Martin O’Malley support the president’s Clean Power Plan, calling it a legacy-worthy effort to slow climate change.


OIL & GAS DRILLING

Republican candidates all say they would approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline recently rejected by Obama. Democrats support the president’s action.

Republicans also agree on lifting the 40-year-old U.S. ban on crude oil exports; Democrats are opposed. Sanders wants to stop all new oil and gas drilling on federal lands, as well as in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, while Republicans would expand drilling for oil and natural gas.

Like Sanders, Clinton opposes drilling in the fragile Arctic region, which she calls “a unique treasure.“ But she generally supports drilling on federal lands.


RENEWABLES

Democrats back federal subsidies for renewable energy such as wind and solar power. On the GOP side, the candidates range from skeptical to hostile about a policy several describe as Washington “picking winners and losers.“

Trump has long opposed wind power. He famously objected to a proposed wind farm near a golf course he was building in Scotland.

But as a presidential candidate, his views have evolved. At a recent event in Iowa, one of the nation’s top wind-farm states, Trump offered grudging support for a federal tax credit for wind energy. While calling wind turbines “very, very expensive” to build and maintain, Trump said he is “OK” with subsidies.

“I don’t think they work without subsidy, which is a problem,“ he said.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie backs credits for wind energy and supports a federal Renewable Fuel Standard that mandates ethanol in gasoline, a policy Cruz has denounced as “corporate welfare.“ Trump also supports the corn-ethanol mandate, which is hugely popular in early-voting Iowa. Rubio, Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich say it should be phased out over time.

“Ultimately, whether it’s ethanol or any other alternative fuel ... the markets are going to have to decide this,“ Bush said.

Democrats back the ethanol mandate as well as incentives for biofuels.


COAL AND NUCLEAR

After running as a champion of coal in 2008, Clinton now calls for protecting health benefits for coal miners and their families and helping retrain them for new jobs. She would use a combination of tax incentives and government grants to help coal-dependent communities repurpose old mine sites and attract new economic investment.

Republicans all support coal production and enthusiastically back nuclear energy; Clinton offers cautious support for nuclear power. Sanders has called for a moratorium on nuclear-plant license renewals and cheered the closure of the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Sanders’ record wins plaudits from environmental organizations, but the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund has endorsed Clinton, the group’s earliest endorsement since 1984.

“When it comes to fighting the climate crisis, the stakes couldn’t be higher, and we are confident that Hillary Clinton is the right person for the job,“ LCV president Gene Karpinski said.


►  Surprise: Carson Visiting Syrian Refugees

Ben Carson will try to prove he has a handle on foreign affairs during a surprise visit with Syrian refugees in Jordan on Friday. “I find when you have firsthand knowledge of things as opposed to secondhand, it makes a much stronger impression,“ Carson told the New York Times before setting off for the UN refugee camp in Azraq on Thursday. NBC News also confirmed the trip. “I want to hear some of their stories, I want to hear from some of the officials what their perspective is,“ he said. “All of that is extraordinarily useful in terms of formulating an opinion of how to actually solve the problem.“ He added he’ll be handing out soccer balls and Beanie Babies as he visits a clinic, hospital, women’s and girls’ center, and an “adolescent-friendly space.“ He’s expected to return to the US on Sunday.

Since the Paris terror attacks, Carson’s poll numbers have been dropping, especially in Iowa where he was once leading. One Quinnipiac University poll shows him down 10 points since October, perhaps due to concerns about his grasp on foreign policy. Asked if voters felt he wasn’t the right person to lead when terrorism fears are high, Carson said, “I would agree with that assessment,“ but “that’s why it’s a good thing it’s a marathon, not a sprint. As time goes on they will begin to listen more carefully to what I’m saying.“ Carson recently drew heat for explaining that he opposes accepting Syrian refugees into the US because the result could be “a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood.“ He also seemed baffled when asked to name the countries he would call to form an anti-Islamic State coalition.


►  Governors can’t deny Syrian refugees

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama sent the nation’s governors a message over the holiday weekend about Syrian refugees. They can’t refuse to take them.

“They must abide by the law,” Fox News Radio White House correspondent Jon Decker said on MetroNews “Talkline.” “They can’t deny any benefits that refugees would be due if indeed they travel to their states.”

Obama sent a letter to the governors through the Office of Refugee Reinstatement.

“Accordingly, states may not categorically deny ORR-funded benefits and services to Syrian refugees,” the letter said. “Any state with such a policy would not be in compliance with the State Plan requirements, applicable statutes, and their own assurances, and could be subject to enforcement action, including suspension and termination.”

The office of West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said earlier this month Tomblin didn’t anticipate getting a federal request for large-scale placement in the Mountain State. But if the request came, the state would “ensure proper security screening was conducted by federal and state officials.”

One of the difficulties is there is very little background information on the refugees, Decker said.

“They are coming from a country that is going through a civil war, that is war-torn, essentially a country in which we don’t even acknowledge the leadership of that nation,” Decker said.

President Obama has outlined a plan to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. in the current budget year.

More than two dozen governors have said they plan to resist the efforts. Their concern increased following the November 13 terrorist attack in Paris. But they don’t have any legal footing, Decker said.

“I think what a lot of governors are doing is speaking on behalf of their constituents, but at the end of the day no governor can block any individual from entering their state,” he said.

Obama said the vetting process for refugees already takes two years.


►  ‘Anti-Obama’ YouTube Star Is Done With Conservatism

Thirteen-year-old CJ Pearson became an Internet sensation in conservative circles this year by posting videos with titles like President Obama: Do you really love America?, criticizing Hillary Clinton, and joining the Ted Cruz campaign, Mediaite reports. It helped him amass 5 million viewers on his YouTube channel and 100,000 Facebook followers, according to CNN. But now the African-American teen says he can “no longer be a mouthpiece for conservatism.“ “I was tired of being a champion of a party that turned a blind eye to racial discrimination,“ Pearson says. “Tired of being a champion of any cause that denies equal rights to every American. Tired of being a champion of a party that doesn’t care about the issues important to young people.“

In an interview with CNN, Pearson says the video of a Laquan McDonald’s death released this week spurred him to reevaluate his views. He says he doesn’t want to be popular just because he’s the “anti-Obama kid” or because he makes Republicans feel good about having a young person on their side. But he won’t be joining the Democrats either. Pearson says he doesn’t want to be tied to the ideology of either party.


►  Controversial NSA Surveillance Program Ends Saturday

After more than a decade, the federal government’s practice of collecting data on telephone calls made by the vast majority of Americans will end at midnight Saturday, NBC News reports. According to Reuters, the end of the program—exposed by Edward Snowden more than two years ago—represents the first instance of the US scaling back its surveillance since spying drastically expanded following the September 11 attacks. Reuters calls it a “long-awaited victory for privacy advocates.“ NBC reports Obama announced the end of the phone data collection program in January. And Congress voted to ban it in July while leaving a six-month “transition period.“ A federal committee found the program didn’t have any specific successes in fighting terrorism, according to Reuters.

Under the old program, the federal government collected data on call length, time, and phone numbers involved, though it didn’t monitor or record the content of the calls, NBC reports. Starting Sunday, individual government agencies will have to request data on specific calls from telephone companies. “There is still a need to be able to identify communications between terrorists abroad and individuals with whom they are in contact in the United States,“ according to a statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Wall Street Journal reports Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and other Republicans have advocated for the old bulk data collection program to be reinstated in the wake of the Paris attacks.


►  Trump’s Poll Numbers Dive

Donald Trump’s antics last week, including attacks on a disabled reporter and questionable recollections of 9/11, may have been the last straw for some supporters, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests. The poll put his support at 31% for the week ending on November 27, down from 43% a week earlier, marking Trump’s biggest poll drop since he became the front-runner in July, though Ben Carson isn’t closing the gap: His numbers have also dropped and he is now a distant second at 15%, according to the poll, with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tied for third at 8% apiece and Jeb Bush fifth at 7%.

But even with the latest fall, Trump’s staying power has surprised Republican insiders, who now admit that he could win early voting states including Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. “I do not think the media or the party establishment have a real grasp on how deep the anger and frustration is around the country,“ a South Carolina Republican tells Politico. “I still do not know if he can sustain it into the New Year—but after the Paris attacks, his stance on illegal immigration and unverified people coming into our nation has real impact.“

In Politics….

The Free Press WV

►  Carson after tour: Syrian refugees don’t want to come to U.S.

AZRAQ REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan — After touring refugee camps in Jordan, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Saturday suggested that camps should serve as a long-term solution for millions, while other refugees could be absorbed by Middle Eastern countries.

“I did not detect any great desire for them to come to the United States,“ Carson told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Jordan. “You’ve got these refugee camps that aren’t completely full. And all you need is the resources to be able to run them. Why do you need to create something else?“

The retired neurosurgeon toured the Azraq camp in northern Jordan under heavy Jordanian security, with journalists barred. Carson’s campaign also limited access, not providing his itinerary.

After the Azraq visit, Carson said he didn’t learn anything that gives him confidence in authorities’ ability to screen potential terrorists. “What I learned is that you’re going to get a different answer from everybody depending on what their slant is,“ he said, reiterating his opposition to allowing any of the refugees to the United States.

“I always oppose doing unnecessary things, particularly dangerous and costly unnecessary things,“ he said.

Carson called on the American people – not the U.S. government – to launch a “humanitarian drive” to raise billions of dollars that officials say is needed to improve conditions for refugees settled across several countries in the Middle East.

“All they need is adequate funding. It’s really quite impressive when you go over there and see it,“ Carson told the AP, adding that some areas had recreational facilities, schools, electricity and indoor plumbing. “They were a lot happier. They were quite willing to stay there as long as it takes before they can get back home.“

Carson’s visit comes as he tries to strengthen his fluency on international affairs as foreign policy becomes a greater focus in the 2016 presidential contest. Advisers have conceded that his knowledge of global affairs isn’t where it needs to be and have expressed hope that missions like his two-day trip to Jordan will help.

Carson and other Republicans have adopted a harsh tone when discussing President Barack Obama’s plan to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. in this budget year. Debate over Syrians fleeing their war-torn country erupted after a series of attacks in Paris earlier this month that raised security concerns across the West.

Carson and his GOP rivals expressed concern that extremists may sneak into the U.S. among them. Last week, he likened blocking potential terrorists posing as Syrian refugees to handling “mad dogs.“

He also suggested that it would be best to absorb Syrian refugees in Middle Eastern host countries, which have given temporary shelter to most of the more than 4 million Syrians who have fled civil war in their country since 2011.

In a separate statement, he described Syrians as “as very hard working, determined people, which should only enhance the overall economic health of the neighboring Arab countries that accept and integrate them into the general population.“

And he broadened his call for financial support beyond Americans: “The humanitarian crisis presented by the fleeing Syrian refugees can be addressed if the nations of the world with resources would provide financial and material support to the aforementioned countries as well as encouragement.“

More than 4 million Syrians fled their homeland since 2011, after a popular uprising erupted against President Bashar Assad and quickly turned into a devastating civil war. Most initially settled in neighboring countries, but conditions there have become increasingly difficult.

Syrian refugees are largely barred from working legally and have to resort to informal, low-paying jobs if they can find employment at all.

Overwhelmed host countries, particularly Lebanon and Jordan, have balked at the idea of longer-term integration of refugees. They have complained that they are carrying an unfair burden while the international community’s support has fallen short.

An aid appeal of $4.5 billion for refugees in host countries in 2015 is only about half funded. The cash crunch has created increasingly unbearable conditions for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and – to a lesser extent – in economically more robust Turkey. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of refugees moved on to Europe in hopes of a better life.

In Politics….

The Free Press WV

►  ‘Demagogue’ Trump Is Spewing Lies: Post, NYT

This may not displease Donald Trump, but he has most definitely drawn the ire of two media establishment heavyweights over recent comments on three issues in particular—his claim that big crowds were cheering the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey, that President Obama plans to bring in at least 200,000 Syrian refugees, and that African Americans are behind most white homicides. All are lies, say the newspapers, and both back up their use of that word. A sample of their scathing editorials:

  • Washington Post: “The growing ugliness of Donald Trump’s campaign poses a challenge to us all,“ write the editors. Trump is deliberately spreading lies and appealing “to the basest instincts in supporters,“ as “narcissistic bullies” always do. It’s time for the virtual silence from his fellow candidates and GOP leaders to end. “The only way to beat a bully is to stand up to him.“ Full editorial is H E R E.
  • New York Times: The editorial draws comparisons between Trump’s “racist lies” to statements uttered by the likes of Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace. “His right to spew nonsense is protected by the Constitution, but the public doesn’t need to swallow it,“ write the editors. “History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It’s no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it’s an important one.“ Full editorial is H E R E.


►  Randolph County delegate announces intent to run for senate seat

CHARLESTON, WV — A state delegate from Randolph County has announced her intent to run for a seat in one of the state’s largest senatorial districts.

Denise Campbell (D- Randolph, 43) told Hoppy Kercheval on Wednesday’s edition of “Talkline” that the position in the 11th District would allow her to make more of an impact.

“I want to make a difference, and I want that difference to be positive for West Virginia,” she said. “I want to be the advocate for the individuals in West Virginia who don’t feel like they have a voice.”

Should Campbell be successful in her bid, she would go from representing Pocahontas County and a majority of Randolph County to representing Pocahontas, Randolph, Nicholas, Webster, Upshur and Pendleton Counties, as well as a portion of Grant County.

The choice to run was one that was thought over since the summer began, with a list of pros and cons made to help guide the decision.

Ultimately, Campbell believes serving in the Senate will allow her to tackle a set of specific issues.

“We have got to connect to broadband and we need to really to focus on services for mental health and substance abuse,” she said. “Those are some of the core issues that if we don’t attack those and come up with some solutions, it’s going to be very hard to get our state moving forward.”

Her time serving in Charleston as a lawmaker began in 2011 when she was elected to represent the 37th House District. After redistricting, she ran for the same position in the 43rd District in 2013 and was again successful.

Her candidacy comes at a time in which state Democrats are trying to regain control of the state capitol after both the House and Senate went Republican for the first time in decades.

No matter how the 2016 elections go, Campbell wants bipartisan politics to rule the day.

“We need to focus on the issues and come up with some positive solutions,” she said. “We all need to work together.”

The seat representing the 11th District is currently held by Nicholas County Republican Greg Boso, who was appointed to the position during the past legislative session after Clark Barnes was elected as the Senate Clerk.


►  Clinton Pledges to Stop Saying ‘Illegal Immigrants’

Hillary Clinton says the term “illegal immigrants” is no longer part of her vocabulary. In a Facebook chat hosted by Telemundo on Tuesday, she told #WordsMatter activist Jose Antonio Vargas that she will agree to his request to stop using the phrase to describe undocumented immigrants, the AP reports. It is “a poor choice of words,“ she agreed. “As I’ve said throughout this campaign, the people at the heart of this issue are children, parents, families, DREAMers. They have names and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected.“

Vargas—a journalist who revealed his undocumented status in 2011—tells Yahoo News that he hopes Clinton will stick to the pledge and that other candidates will join her. He says the term is “offensive and hurtful,“ and the choice of words matters because “phrases like ‘illegals,‘ ‘illegal aliens,‘ and ‘illegal immigrants’ frame the conversation, how politicians talk about the issue, and inevitably how policies are created.“ Earlier in the Telemundo chat, Clinton accused Donald Trump of “trafficking in prejudice and paranoia” and said “if you look at their policies, most of the other Republican candidates are just Trump without the pizazz or the hair. They don’t support a real path to citizenship.“


►  Bad Idea: Trump Mocks Reporter With Disability

The New York Times is speaking out against Donald Trump for the second time this week after he appeared to mock a Times reporter’s disability. At a rally in South Carolina on Tuesday, Trump continued to defend his claim that “thousands” of people in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks, citing a 2001 Washington Post article by Serge Kovaleski that mentioned “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks.“ Earlier Tuesday, Kovaleski—who has limited movement of his arms due to the congenital joint condition arthrogryposis—told CNN that “I do not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember.“

“Now the poor guy—you ought to see the guy: ‘Uhh I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember,‘“ Trump responded, while spinning his arms wildly and placing his hand at the particular angle at which Kovaleski’s typically rests, per Politico. “The sad part about it is, it didn’t in the slightest bit jar or surprise me that Donald Trump would do something this low-rent, given his track record,“ Kovaleski tells the Post. “We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,“ a Times rep adds. Trump, who knows Kovaleski from the reporter’s days covering the businessman-turned-politician for the New York Daily News from 1987 to 1993, hasn’t commented. He did, however, attack the Times in a series of tweets on Wednesday.


►  140K Kentucky Felons Now Have the Right to Vote

Only three states have a lifetime voting ban for all felons who can’t get a gubernatorial exemption, and now that number’s been knocked down to two. As one of his last moves in office, outgoing Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear signed an executive order Tuesday that grants voting rights to nonviolent felons who’ve finished their sentences, the New York Times reports. “Once an individual has served his or her time and paid all restitution, society expects them to reintegrate into their communities and become law-abiding and productive citizens,“ the Democrat said at a news conference. “A key part of that transition is the right to vote.“ The Brennan Center estimates the number of immediately eligible felons at 140,000 (the Sentencing Project puts that figure closer to 100,000), with another 30,000 to come.

Still not permitted to vote: felons with new pending charges, as well as those with sex crimes, violent crimes, bribery, or treason to their names. One of the main reasons for the drive to restore felon voting rights is to address the racial disparity present in such a ban. The Sentencing Project estimates one in 13 black men nationwide can’t vote because of their felon status, the highest rate of any demographic, per the Times. The paper notes that Governor-elect Matt Bevin has the legal right to swoop in and change or dump the executive order, but one of his reps tells the paper that Bevin “has said many times that the restoration of voting rights for certain offenders is the right thing to do” and that he’ll check out the order over the next few weeks to make his final assessment.

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