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GSC to host WVCFF Forester

On Wednesday, October 18, Glenville State College will host Russ Richardson, a West Virginia forester with 30 years of experience, for a conversation about his background and an inside look at the industry. The event will begin at 1:00 p.m. in the Land Resources area of GSC’s Waco Center. It is free and open to the public.

The seminar will include a traditional discussion followed by an outdoor session (weather permitting) where Richardson will lead attendees into the woods to talk about his ideas about consulting forestry and to answer questions.

The Free Press WV
Richardson (center) in the woods near Widen, West Virginia


Dr. Brian Perkins, GSC Associate Professor of Forestry, facilitated the presentation. “GSC’s Department of Land Resources is happy to host Mr. Richardson as part of the West Virginia Consulting Forestry Forum series. This is an excellent opportunity for our students to learn more about forestry consulting and for others in the community to ask questions,” Perkins said.

The West Virginia Consulting Forestry Forum aims to compile information about the art and technology of private consulting forestry in order to serve the needs of future generations of woodland owners and forestry professionals.

For more information about the consulting forestry seminar, call 304.462.6373.

U.S. Poverty Rate Down, Unchanged in WV

Economic growth is finally reducing poverty in most of the country - but not in West Virginia, according to a new report.

The research, released jointly by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the Coalition on Human Needs, found the U.S. poverty rate has fallen by about 2 percent in the last five years. But Sean O’Leary, senior policy analyst with the Center, said the poverty rate here is all but unchanged over the last decade.

“West Virginia is not making progress. Our poverty rate, just like everyone else’s in the country, went up during the recession, but ours has been flat,” O’Leary said. “Nationally we’ve seen a decline, but in West Virginia, our poverty rate has remained the same.“

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The economic growth that is reducing poverty nationally is largely bypassing West Virginia.


O’Leary said much of the job creation in the state has been in low-paying positions. He said the state needs to protect programs that support low-income households while also investing more in education and job training.

O’Leary called education the best cure for poverty.

According to Deborah Weinstein, executive director at the Coalition on Human Needs, the reductions in poverty have been spotty - bypassing Maine and West Virginia, and leaving minority communities behind as well. She called that troubling.

“It’s also of concern that, even though we’ve made this progress, we still have more than 40 million people poor in this country,” Weinstein said. “We still have children disproportionately poor.“

She added budget and tax plans now being discussed in Congress risk stalling whatever progress has been made.

“President Trump and his allies want to slash the very programs that are helping,” she said. “And amazingly, they would put trillions of dollars into tax cuts for the very richest among us, and corporations.“

The President has argued that the high-end tax cuts would spark more economic growth, although Democrats say increasing tax credits for the working poor would do more good.

According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, more than half of the proposed Trump tax cuts would go to the top 5 percent of households in the state.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

WVDEP Announces Clean County and Community Award Recipients, Environmental Teachers of the Year

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) has announced the recipients of the “Clean County and Clean Community Awards” and has also recognized three educators as “Environmental Teachers of the Year.” 


The seven municipalities recognized as “Clean Communities” are:

    - Buckhannon, Upshur County ($500 Grand Prize)

    - Beech Bottom, Brooke County

    - New Cumberland, Hancock County

    - Wardensville, Hardy County

    - Clendenin, Kanawha County

    - Pleasant Valley, Marion County

    - Elkins, Randolph County

Communities that did not receive a cash prize will receive a glass award signifying their achievement and if necessary, two road signs designating their community as a Make It Shine Clean Community.


Four counties were recognized as “Clean Counties”:

    - Upshur County Solid Waste Authority ($2,000 first place award)

    - Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority ($1,000 second place award)

    - Boone County Solid Waste Authority and Putnam County Solid Waste Authority (Tied for third place, and will each receive $500) 


The “Environmental Teachers of the Year” are:

    - Elementary: Susan Vandall, Shady Spring Elementary in Raleigh County

    - Intermediate: Thanh Ashman, Patch Science After School Program in Roane County

    - High School: Ruth Ellen Windom, Ritchie County High School

Each Teacher of the Year will receive a $500 personal award and a $1,000 award to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in the classroom.

Each award will be presented at the Association of West Virginia Solid Waste Authorities annual meeting on Oct. 23 at Pipestem Resort. 

“This year’s recipients come from all across West Virginia and prove that no matter where you live in our state or how many people live in your community, protecting our environment is something we can all agree on,” said WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton. “Congratulations to all of the recipients, and I encourage all of them to continue their good work in promoting clean communities and providing a quality education for our young people.”

GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES

The Free Press WV
GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES
September 04, 2017
7:00 PM

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick with Council members Wiant, Huffman, and Fisher present. Councilmembers Taylor and Dean were absent.

Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Kaydee and Lacie Martin.


I. Call to Order


II. Public

Certificates of Appreciation (Kaydee and Lacie Martin) - Kaydee and Lacie Martin were awarded a certificate of appreciation for recognition of 70 hours of volunteer service to the City of Glenville for planting and watering the flowers downtown.


A. Approval of Minutes – August 07, 2017

Minutes for the August 07, 2017, meeting were reviewed and placed on file for audit.


III. Reports

B. Financial

The book keeper was absent. Mayor Fitzpatrick provided the financial summary to council. He noted that the book keeper had initially paid the street paving costs from the proposal, however, the final cost for paving was approximately $38000, less than the amount reported at the August meeting, and has been paid. The budget is currently at 18.08% of fiscal year with revenue at 14.49% and expenditures at 16.42%. Councilwoman Huffman made a motion to approve the financial summary as presented. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

C. Street report

The street report was provided to council for review. Mayor Fitzpatrick noted that there was a large tree in an alleyway in Camden Flats. Cooks Tree Service has provided an estimate of $1100 for complete tree removal. Councilman Wiant made a motion to approve this tree removal at a total cost of $1100. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

D. Police

Chief Huffman provided the police report to council. He stated the new officer had 24 days remaining in the academy and is doing very well. He will be placed with a current officer for one week when he returns to duty and will then be released to work his shift. Chief requested council consider paying the $100 membership fee for the Chief of Police fees which provides discounts for training and the annual conference. Mayor Fitzpatrick agreed to pay this membership for Chief Huffman.

E. Glenville Utility

Mayor Fitzpatrick attended the August 23 meeting of the Utility Board. There were minor water leaks with a few minor sewer problems. He noted the annual audit began last week and will continue this week for both the Utility Board and City.

F. Recorder

Nothing to report.

G. Mayors Comments

- Recommendations to Library Board Daniel Smith and June Nonnenberg

Request to appoint Daniel Smith to the Library Board and reappoint June Nonnenberg for another term. Councilwoman Huffman made a motion to approve the appointment of Daniel Smith and reappointment of June Nonnenberg to the Library Board. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

- Update August Meetings (Mayor)

Attended the Board of Directors meeting for the WV Municipal League in August.

- City Cruiser

Applied for a grant for a new cruiser. Current cruiser has high mileage. The grant application was submitted last week.

- 2017 Municipal Fees have been invoiced

Municipal fees have been invoiced and have received several to date.

- $1100.00 to cut tree on Camden Flats (alley)

Covered under Financial Report

- Recap Congressman McKinley’s visit

Congressman McKinley recently visited Glenville. He worked with Mayor Fitzpatrick providing assistance with grant application for a new police cruiser by writing a letter of recommendation which was included in grant packet. They also talked about dredging of the river. Congressman McKinley noted the Army Corp of Engineers plan to dredge around the state this year.

- Explanation on paving amount

Covered under Financial Report

- 5K Glow Stick Run 22nd of September

A request for approval to hold a 5K Glow Stick Run on Friday, September 22 with the route beginning at the City Park, up Sycamore to Recreation Center, and return. The Fire Depart will provide assistance. The Glenville Pony League is also requesting to hold a 5K Run/Walk on November 4 with the same route. Councilman Fisher made a motion to approve both 5K runs. Councilman Wiant seconded the motion. Motion passed.

- GCHS Homecoming Parade October 6th (5:00 p.m.)

- GSC Homecoming Parade October 21st (10:00 a.m.)

Request received to have Homecoming Parade for Gilmer County High School on October 06 with the street blocked at 4:00 p.m. and Glenville State College on October 21 with the street blocked at 8:00 a.m. Councilwoman Huffman made a motion to approve the GCHS and GSC Homecoming parades. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.


IV. Unfinished Business

None


V. New Business

None


VI. Other Business to come before Council

Councilwoman Huffman noted a culvert on Norris Road with trees coming into the road. Mayor Fitzpatrick will check and trim back the trees if possible.


VII. Next council meeting – October 02, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.


VIII. Adjourn

Meeting adjourned at 7:15 PM

New 4-H Office in Glenville

The Free Press WV

The Gilmer County Parks and Recreation are busy with upgrades and improvements to our facilities ever growing further use for our customers.

This will be the new home of the WVU 4-H office .

We were able to purchase one of the double wide from Gilmer County Board of Education this past September.

Thank you Gilmer County Board of Education for the purchase .

Help to make this project possible are the fine young men and women from Gilmer County’s High School Ag-Mechanics class under the direction of Mr. Nick Cox.

They started digging the footers last week and we hope to pour concrete on Tuesday .

Again thank you to both entity’s for your support for our community recreation center for without groups as yours we would have to dig a little harder to make this happen in the time frame given.

Thank you
Darrel Ramsey/Director

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West Virginia News

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►  American Institutes for Research chosen to handle testing for WV’s 3rd-8th graders

The state Department of Education announced the selection of American Institutes for Research as the company chosen to provide the material for the new statewide standardized testing for students in the third through eighth grades.

AIR will replace the Smarter Balanced test the legislature voted out in April. The state Department of Education previously announced SAT would provide the statewide test for 11th graders.

“The new West Virginia General Summative Assessment will be closely aligned to West Virginia’s standards and our educators will be able to provide input on test items,” Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Lou Maynus said in a news release. “AIR provides a complete assessment solution, including interim benchmark assessments with item analysis available to teachers to provide ongoing feedback and practice throughout the year.”

For the first year of testing that take place next spring, AIR will make available items from the company’s existing item bank to be reviewed by state education officials. Some teachers will also have a chance to review some of the test items and provide feedback.

Beginning in the second year of the test, teachers will have the opportunity to include new test items.

According to the state department, the testing won’t take as long as previous testing and the results will be back sooner.

“The assessment should take no more than four hours for students not taking the science assessment and no more than five-and-a-half hours for students taking the science assessment. Educators will have access to student reports within 12 business days of test administration,” news release said.


►  Economic expansion in store for Lewis County

Elected officials in Lewis County are expecting some significant economic growth with various entities and industries making a move into the county.

Fountain Quail Energy Services recently announced more than 160 new jobs coming to Lewis County as part of a new field office to open in the Jane Lew Industrial Park.

Lewis County Commissioner Agnes Queen said she is looking forward to seeing the jobs that will be created by the new facility.

“It’s going to spur growth. The pay that it’s going to bring in for the individuals is going to be higher than your normal hourly wages that you normally get for minimum wage, so we’re very excited about that,” Queen said. “It will come with good benefits, which people really, really need around here, so we’re very excited about it.”

While Fountain Quail Energy Services certainly won’t be the first entity to move into the Jane Lew Industrial Park, the new field office will be a great step in helping the complex recover from the business it has lost.

“We have several different entities at the industrial park, one being (West Virginia Pool Construction),” Queen said. “Several of our buildings have become empty because of the downturn in oil and gas industry, so we’re looking to fill those with the rebirth of the oil and gas industry.”

Queen said several other oil and gas companies have been filtering back into Lewis County as the industry picks back up.

“We’re noticing that some of our empty buildings that lie within the county are starting to see new businesses come in, new companies and different names of businesses,” she said. “We also are seeing more contacts from companies wanting help finding employees to go to work, especially with needing CDL drivers, field hands and those kinds of things. We’re seeing a lot more of that.”

Not only does the hiring itself benefit Lewis County economically, the indirect jobs, such as restaurants and local businesses, see tremendous impact from those moving into the area.

Queen said that type of indirect impact will grow exponentially once the Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction begins.

“That’s also going to spur even more with the local grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants,” she said. “A lot of individuals are very excited to see the industry pick up and the possibilities of new growth in our community with all the development starting to happen.”

Oil and gas isn’t the only industry that is set to bring jobs and revenue into Lewis County. The recently passed Roads to Prosperity Bond Referendum will allow for $28 million in road construction and repair projects.

“That’ll bring more people to the area, get the roads fixed and new projects, especially at the Corridor H/I-79 interchange,” Queen said. “We’re very excited about that because that will also open up some land and some development in that area.”

Additonally, with Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital’s recent partnership with MonHealth, Queen expects that to bring economic growth to Lewis County as well.

“They’re going to build a new hospital in our county,” Queen said. “We’re very excited about that and the jobs and development that will bring.”    ~~  Brittany Murray ~~


►  PSC Promotes Budget Plans for Manageable Utility Bills

This winter is predicted to be colder than last year, so the Public Service Commission of West Virginia urges consumers to consider the benefits of budget billing and average monthly payment plans offered by utility companies. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that it expects higher winter heating expenditures as a result of relatively colder weather and higher fuel prices. Budget billing plans average total annual usage into more manageable monthly bills, eliminating sharp increases during winter heating or summer cooling seasons.

When a customer asks to join a budget billing plan, the utility company will review their usage history, and then set a monthly billing amount, based on usage information and expected energy prices.  Most plans are reevaluated and adjusted annually.

Individual utility companies have slightly different budget periods and plans available.  Customers who are wish to participate in a budget plan or an average monthly payment plan should contact their utility company for more specific information.

Contact Information for Electric and Gas Utility Companies:

Appalachian Power Company: 1.800.982.4237

Wheeling Power Company: 1.800.852.6942

Monongahela Power: 1.800.686.0022

Potomac Edison Power: 1.800.686.0011

Black Diamond Power: 304.683.5281

Craig.Botetourt Rural Electric: 1.800.760.2232

Harrison Rural Electrification Association: 304.624.6365

Mountaineer Gas: 1.800.834.2070

Dominion Energy WV Gas: 1.800.934.3187

Blacksville Oil & Gas Company: 304.584.4545

Bluefield Gas Company: 304.325.9164

Consumers Gas Utility Company: 304.523.9223 or 1.844.267.6872

Lumberport.Shinnston Gas Company: 304.584.4545

Peoples Gas: 1.800.764.0111

Union Oil & Gas: 304.586.2151


►  Governor Justice appoints Stephen Baldwin to State Senate seat in District 10

Governor Jim Justice has appointed Delegate Stephen Baldwin of Ronceverte to the State Senate seat in District 10, representing Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers and Monroe counties. The vacancy was created earlier this month when former Senator Ron Miller resigned to accept the position of Agriculture Liaison for the Justice Administration.

Baldwin was elected to the House of Delegates in 2016 representing District 42 (Greenbrier, Monroe and Summers counties). A minister at Ronceverte Presbyterian Church, he and his wife, Kerry, have one son, Harrison.

“Service is my life’s calling,” Baldwin said. “While this wasn’t something I saw coming, I agreed to serve because I can help. I’m honored and humbled to be asked. I want to get to know folks, listen to their stories, and make a positive impact. Thanks to Governor Justice for appointing me and trusting me to serve the people faithfully.”


►  Audit: wvOasis consultants are failing to pass on knowledge to state workers

State auditors are questioning whether the consultants responsible for implementing a multimillion-dollar, all-encompassing computer system are living up to their contractual responsibility to teach state workers how to use it.

If not, the state Legislative Auditor’s office concludes, the failure has resulted in state employees not being able to run the system and the need to spend millions of additional dollars on other high priced consultants.

The Legislative Auditor recommends the state board that oversees the installation of the computer system known as wvOasis should begin documenting instances of possible non-compliance with state contract provisions and consult the Attorney General about any possible legal action.

State Auditor J.B. McCuskey, whose office is separate from the Legislative Auditor, told legislators on Sunday afternoon that progress has already been made on these issues.

“I’m happy to tell you that the recommendations and the problems outlined in here are things we’ve been working on since Day 1. The knowledge transfer is happening. We are actually pretty far down the line,” McCuskey said.

“We had people who wanted to make it a priority, and it happened.”

The project, wvOasis, started its planning phases in 2010 and its initial steps in 2011.

Its initial cost estimate was $98 million, but the state Auditor’s office — which is separate from the Legislative Auditor — has said complications and delays have meant blowing past that amount and about $50 million more.

The project has been meant to update and inter-connect the state’s various, aging computer systems into something called an “Enterprise Resource Planning System.” It’s supposed to help the state’s computer systems talk to each other, to help state employees better track data and to manage those with whom the state does business, such as vendors and retirees.

But because state government is big, so is wvOasis.

It’s so big and crosses so many different areas of government that a three-headed monster — the governor, the Auditor and the state Treasurer — share responsibility on a board that oversees the project. A 16-member steering committee was set up to report to them.

The state contracted with a company called CGI to be the vendor deploying the work but also contracted with another consultant called ISG to help the state understand the process.

Those companies are supposed to pass on their knowledge to state workers. There’s even a name for that — a “knowledge transfer.”

That’s what the Legislative Auditor’s office says the consultants haven’t effectively done.

Here’s the summary of what auditors presented to lawmakers Sunday during interim meetings:

“In 2014 and 2015, the Enterprise Resource Planning Board paid CGI for knowledge transfer services that, to this day, are not fully rendered. These services would have allowed the state to independently operate the wvOasis system. As a result, the board has had to pay high-priced consultants to operate the system and to provide the knowledge transfer not provided by CGI.”

This has been an ongoing problem, as auditors told lawmakers in June. The legislative auditors say the effect has been consultants embedding themselves into the state to operate the system when the use of state employees would cost much less.

The auditors reviewed official, Formal Knowledge Transfer Sign-off documents and found that they were sometimes signed without evidence that actual teaching took place.

In some instances, signatures accompanied documents that had blank “completed on” sections with no corresponding completion dates.

“Further, the chief information officer and the project manager of wvOasis stated it was understood that these documents would be signed before the knowledge transfer was completed and that the knowledge transfer would be completed at some undefined later date,” the auditors wrote.

Auditors wrote that the signing of the Formal Knowledge Transfer Sign-Off documents served as authorization for CGI to invoice the state. The division questioned the invoices, which totaled $270,000.

“Many of these knowledge transfer areas are still not completed today,” the auditors wrote.

“Further, in addition to paying for services not yet rendered, it appears the lack of knowledge transfer to the state resulted in substantial indirect costs when the state had to contract with high-priced consultants to operate the ERP system.”

What’s more, the result was bringing yet a third high-priced consultant into the mix.

In that case it was Dataview, a company comprised of former CGI employees who were brought in to perform the teaching that CGI was supposed to have done.

The Legislative Auditor concluded that CGI may have violated its contract with the state to provide training and education so that the state could operate the system on its own. The Legislative Auditor noted the contract included provisions that prohibited prepayment for services not yet completed.

“A question remains as to whether the state has paid substantial money to additional contractors (ISG/ICAC and Dataview) on the wvOasis project for tasks CGI was contractually obligated, but failed, to perform.”

Similarly, the Legislative Auditor questioned whether ISG may be subject to contract violations, saying the consultant was responsible for subject matter expertise, project oversight and quality assurance.

“The Post Audit Division wonders how ISG could assure the quality of a deliverable that was not completed. It is unclear at this time whether ISG charged the state to review these documents and, if so, for exactly what service.”

In another issue involving wvOasis, legislative auditors focused on several areas relating to human resources where the system has lost functionality compared to the previous systems state government used.

“These areas identified by the Division of Personnel increases the state’s risk in adhering to relevant laws, rules and regulations; and may also have detrimental effects on state employees and the state budget,” legislative auditors wrote.

For example, the Division of Personnel reported the need to hire three additional staff at a cost of $97,000 to process transactions for all of the classified service because of inefficiencies with the system.

The problems included:

If a transaction is rejected in the system, the supporting documents, attachments and comments are discarded and cannot then be retrieved.  Subsequent transactions submitted to correct the rejection don’t allow access to the discarded information to figure out why the transaction was initially rejected.

When an employee transfers to another agency and the transfer has been processed in wvOASIS, the prior agency can no longer access the employee’s work history documentation, and it also can’t enter any outstanding payroll transactions.

wvOASIS does not prohibit an employee from exceeding the 80-hour Family Sick Leave allotment in a given year, and it doesn’t track the use of Family Sick Leave in the timekeeping system.

The wvOASIS system lacks “hard stops” or edits to limit users from selecting criteria that are not applicable to the transaction they are processing. That means users may enter information that is not applicable or appropriate, which causes rejections of those transactions, making it unnecessarily time consuming to have to reprocess those transactions.

wvOASIS allows for the payment of sick and annual leave in the same work period where an employee works additional hours resulting in an overtime pay, which would be a violation of state personnel rules.

The wvOASIS system also allows the additional non-work hours from annual and sick leave to be paid at a premium overtime compensation rate of one and one-half times the employee’s hourly rate.

The timekeeping system in wvOasis creates issues for employees who are allowed an hour lunch, with half of the hour being paid and half of the hour being unpaid. The issue is that this requires weekly monitoring to ensure
that time is properly credited for any leave taken before or after the lunch hour.

“Inefficiencies such as these create additional unforeseen costs associated with the transition to wvOASIS that are at times difficult to identify and quantify,” legislative auditors wrote.

Legislators expressed frustration over the continued troubles with Oasis.

“I’m so sick and tired of hearing about this Oasis thing,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael said Sunday.

“These issues should never get to this point. It should never arise to this level that there are this many issues. Just the threat of it coming before this committee should cause people to get on the ball and get it done.”

McCuskey said much of the findings in the legislative audit were new to him, and he disagreed with the sweep of the findings.

“These are things we’ve never seen. And to say Oasis hasn’t trained the department of personnel is imply inaccurate. the training has been available,” McCuskey told legislators Sunday afternoon.

He said the findings of the audit should have come first to his office or to the oversight board consisting of the Auditor, the Treasurer and the governor and their representatives.

“I unfortunately disagree with the findings in this report as it relates to Kronos (a timekeeping system for state workers) and Oasis.”

Carmichael told him: “Whatever you have to do to make sure these issues are resolved.”

McCuskey responded: “Anyone who has a problem with Oasis, call me.”

House Speaker Tim Armstead also asked why there are ongoing problems being reported about how Oasis is integrating throughout state government. “Are we just having a lot of agencies that just don’t want to change their current system?”

“What we’re talking about is massive change,” McCuskey said. “Change is hard. Everyone hates change.”    ~~  Brad McElhinny ~~


►  Legislature to consider West Virginian hiring preference

The Legislature is returning to the Capitol to consider legislation aimed at ensuring West Virginians are hired by contractors repairing and building roads and bridges across the state.

Governor Jim Justice has called lawmakers back to the statehouse for a special session starting Monday to address that proposal as well as bills to exempt military retirees from paying personal income tax and increase the credit allowed against personal and corporation net income taxes for spending on rehabilitating historic structures.

After voters recently approved $1.6 billion in state bonding for road and bridge projects, the Justice administration also drafted bills authorizing the Division of Highways to streamline hiring policies to fill vacancies and to access tax records to disqualify tax-delinquent contractors.

ETC.

The Free Press WV

  • In Puerto Rico, a daily struggle for water and food:  “In rural and impoverished areas of Puerto Rico, a new day means a new search for food and safe water as the humanitarian crisis there continues to escalate… People in poor communities hit hard by the hurricane are rationing their food, water and propane, and hospitals are trying to operate on shaky power supplies.”    Inside Climate News


  • Trump’s new Obamacare killer to cost Uncle Sam $194 billion:  “Donald Trump is halting some Obamacare subsidies. A big money saver for taxpayers, right? Wrong. The move could actually force the government to dole out almost $200 billion more on health insurance over the next decade. Here’s why: The insurer payouts Trump cut off aren’t the only government funds financing the program. Consumers also can get help with their insurance premiums. When the insurer subsidies are discontinued, those premiums are pushed higher — and because the consumer subsidies are far bigger than those given to insurers, that’s a costly trade.”  Bloomberg


  • Steve Bannon’s insurrection might also be an anti-impeachment strategy:    “The Steve Bannon–led campaign to depose Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader is ‘a coalition of populists, constitutional conservatives, and more libertarian types,’ one Bannon ally tells Axios. Alternatively, it ‘could win over a loose coalition of social conservatives, tea-party activists, and values voters,’ another tells CNN. So it is designed to advance literally every faction in the party, including some (populists, who favor nativism and bigger government) diametrically opposed to others (libertarians, who favor the opposite). In other words, the purge has no ideological content whatsoever. This naturally raises the question of why so many Republicans are hell-bent on decapitating an effective legislative tactician who has dutifully carried out the president’s bidding. One answer is that conservatives are purging McConnell because purging is what they do and who they are. The modern Republican Party was created through purges, and it has never stopped.”    New York Magazine


  • Doctors Could Spread Germs Via White Coats:  This style’s going viral. A new infectious disease study demonstrated how pathogens can be carried on the sleeves of doctors’ traditional white coats. Though study participants wore gloves and washed their hands between examining mannequin “patients,” their wrists were contaminated a quarter of the time while wearing long sleeves, and in 5 percent of examinations they even transferred a virus between patients. No contamination occurred while wearing short sleeves, suggesting the “bare below the elbow” look, already policy in British hospitals, might be the hot new trend for American doctors.    Scientific American


  • Iraqi Science Fiction Writers Imagine Post-Post-War Life:  The future is here. Iraq + 100, a speculative fiction anthology of Iraqi writers imagining their country a century after the 2003 U.S. invasion, is now available in America. The collection introduces U.S. readers to authors like Hassan Blasim, Khalid Kaki and Zhraa Alhaboby, some of whom were jailed or fled Iraq over their work’s depictions of theocratic dystopias and lingering effects of chemical warfare. The anthologists hope to encourage sci-fi writers from the region — and give American readers insight into Iraq’s storied history and difficult present.    The Atlantic

Pat’s Chat

The Free Press WV

Patsy Reckart has her first book published.  She sent me a message, but I didn’t find it right away.  It is a children’s book named “Little Kokamoe Joe.”  It is about a red and yellow dump truck.  All the other trucks made fun of the little red and yellow dump truck.  Patsy’s church has started a writers’ group which will meet on November 4th at the library in Weston at 10 o clock a.m.  You are invited.  Contact Patsy through Facebook for more information.

I want to include just a short but VERY precious quote from my devotional this morning.  It is God’s goal that everyone be saved and then be with Him eternally, but there are many who don’t know Him.  They may know ABOUT Him, but don’t know Him personally and don’t have faith in His wonderful promises.  He will never force a person to believe.  He created us with power of choice.  We can get to know Him whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3) by hearing [reading] the Word of God. (Romans 10:17).

“Every soul is as fully known to Jesus as if he were the only one for whom the Saviour died.  The distress of every one touches His heart.  The cry for aid reaches His ear.  He also knows who gladly hear His call, and are ready to come under His pastoral care.  He says, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’ He cares for each one as if there were not another on the face of the earth.”—- The Desire of Ages, pp. 476—480.

The Bible is God’s love letter to each of us.  I suggest that you begin by reading the book of John first, with one Psalm from the Old Testament every day for a few weeks, and I am sure you will want to dig in more deeply by the end of a month.’


I attended the wake for Dee Milburn:

Age 77, of Buckhannon, WV, passed away Monday, October 09, 2017, after a lengthy illness. Born July 30, 1940, Dee Anna was the daughter of the late Dr. Robert DePue, Esquire, and Mary Davies DePue of Spencer, WV. Daughter-in-law of the late Ellsworth R. Milburn and Estella Kratovil Milburn of Jeannette, PA, Dee Anna was preceded in death by her husband of 50 years, Dr. David Milburn, Professor Emeritus of West Virginia Wesleyan College, her parents and parents-in-law, her brother-in-law, Debbie Ellsworth Milburn, Professor Emeritus of Rice University in Houston, TX.


Maranatha!!

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A White Supremacist?

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SINCE the new liberal insult-du-jour is “white supremacist,“ I think that, to paraphrase the words of Marx,

It is high time that White Supremacists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of White Supremacy with a manifesto of the White Supremacy itself.

Yes, Chuck, I couldn’t agree more. Let us unmask the spectre of White Supremacy and see it for what it is: the most extraordinary breakthrough in human socialization since the beginning of agriculture. And, naturally, it has provoked the most horrendous movement of nostalgia and reaction for the Good Old Days of tribalism and hierarchy since whenever.

Call the reactionaries and nostalgists anything you want: Communists, socialists, progressives, activists, peaceful protesters, idiots.

As Marx so perspicaciously noted, a very large part of human socialization is driven by the underlying economic realities, and a lot of human culture is in fact a superstructure built atop the economic realities of the age.

The reality used to be that land was life, and you protected the food-growing land of your tribe or your lord to the death. Much of what we think of as natural human behavior is predicated upon this truth that is no longer true.

Today the reality is that food is cheap and available everywhere for money. Great ships are constantly lying in the outer harbor in Vancouver, BC, ready to steam into the inner harbor and load up each of them with 100,000 tons of grain from the Canadian prairie provinces and then transport that grain to the ends of the earth. So the food problem has been solved.

Thus it is no longer a matter of moment to defend our food-growing land to the last warrior. Now the question what each of us can do to serve other people so they can pay us the money we need to obtain the necessaries and the abundant non-necessaries of life, at Walmart or at Nieman Marcus according to taste.

Where once the boundaries of trust ended at the border of our food-growing land, now the boundary of trust extends across all the world to include all people that demonstrate their trustworthiness.

This extension of the Culture of Trust from our own comfortable tribe to the whole world of people that demonstrate trustworthiness is the most mind-blowing development in human history. It is the foundation of what our lefty friends call White Supremacy, the culture that trust is universal and should be extended to all that are trustworthy. No wonder the people that believe in this new belief system have surrendered to the notion that they are the lords of creation and the last best hope of mankind on Earth, and superior to whatever came before.

But the old culture of mistrust still obtains. That is what government and politics is all about, to define the divide between “us” and “them” and to defend “us” to the last young 20-year-old soldier, or in our own time, the last “mostly peaceful protester.“

And so the great worldwide movement of reaction and regression arose, to honor and revere the good old practices of divide and rule to maintain the old tribes and the old borders. Of course it did; that was the way that political leaders had always acted, in the good old way in which they had served humans well for tens of thousands of years. First it tried class politics to divide the bourgeoisie from the proletariat; then it proceeded to what we call identity politics, dividing race from race and sex from sex.

But this is all rubbish, because the old territorial imperative no longer operates. These folk are, we might say, superstitious believers in the old gods, Homeric heroes still looking to Mount Olympus for the word from on high.

And why not? The old divide-and-conquer, hierarchical culture worked pretty well for the rulers, from their legalized plunder of the farmers to their delicious droit de seigneur that would have made Hugh Hefner blush.

But what about right now? How does the divide-to-conquer culture work in the modern age? I am glad you asked me that. Fortunately thoughtful and caring people, inspired by arch-reactionary Karl Marx, went to work in Russia and China to see if the hierarchical divide-and-conquer culture could still work in the modern age. After 100 million human deaths and unimaginable suffering the verdict came in. The old way just doesn’t work in the modern age. In fact, the old way makes things worse, much worse, for ordinary humans in the modern age, because the modern age has opened a new social contract: in return for the unimaginable prosperity of the Great Enrichment, people must surrender to the hegemony of the market, accepting the movement of prices and markets without demur, from the proudest billionaire down to the lowliest worker. Anyone that resists the new culture is doomed to disappointment and the killing fields.

Hey, I call that a pretty good deal. Instead of subordination to a proud and powerful lord we humans merely get to accept the collective decisions of our fellow humans as expressed through the intermediation of the price system and its markets. In return we get the prosperity of the Great Transformation, which has increased per-capita income from $3 to over $100 per day in 200 years.

Yep, I reckon that White Supremacy thing has been the most amazing thing in human history. And anyone with half a clue in their brain has got on board. In particular I notice that the folks in South and East Asia, the great civilizations of the old days, are getting on board the White Supremacy train, after a bit of a slow start, and are adapting their societies as best they may to the new order.

I always like to quote a Chinese Christian on what White Supremacy has meant to the Han people.

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.

Wow. Imagine that. Christianity. What is it about Christianity, do you think, that has enabled the rise of White Supremacy? Could it be that the central concept of love, that you love God and God loves you right back, is exactly the right culture for the new age and its culture of universal trust for people that demonstrate their trustworthiness?

And that people that accept the culture of trust become unimaginably wealthy and powerful and almost by accident grind the old ways of tribe and borders into dust?

You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

~~  Christopher Chantrill ~~

Did You Know?

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WHY TRUMP MAY WITHDRAW DRUG CZAR NOMINEE

Trump may rethink his support of Republican Representative Tom Marino amid reports the lawmaker played a key role in weakening federal authority to stop opioid distribution.


‘THE MOST SPECTACULAR FIREWORKS IN THE UNIVERSE’

That’s how California Institute of Technology’s David H. Reitze describes the collision of two neutron stars, which has left astronomers awestruck.


IRAQI FORCES PUSH KURDISH ALLIES OUT OF KIRKUK

The move by the Iraqi military and its allied militias comes as tensions soar over last month’s Kurdish independence vote.


CALIFORNIA FIRE CREWS WELCOME IMPROVED WEATHER

Lighter winds and a chance of rain give hope to firefighters working to contain massive blazes that have left 40 people dead, many of them in Sonoma’s wine region.


HOW HURRICANE DEVASTATION CHANGES MINDS ON CLIMATE

After surviving through catastrophic floods triggered by Hurricane Harvey, some Texas oil country conservatives consider what role humans play in global warming.


TRUMP INSISTS HE’S FRIENDS WITH MCCONNELL

Trump attempts to show unity with the GOP leader as firebrand Steve Bannon calls for political war on the Republican establishment.


ARMY SGT. PLEADS GUILTY TO DESERTION

Bowe Bergdahl, captured and held by the Taliban for five years after leaving his post in Afghanistan, could face life in prison.


SOMALIA TRUCK BOMBING TOLL RISES PAST 300

Scores remain missing in the explosion in Mogadishu as the fragile Horn of Africa nation reels from one of the worst attacks in years.


FACEBOOK FACT CHECKING WORKS—JUST NOT FAST ENOUGH

It often takes more than three days for a bogus story that appears on Facebook to get a false rating.


WHOSE DOWNFALL PROMPTS CALL TO ACTION

With “me too” hashtags, women flood social media to identify themselves as victims of sexual harassment, following explosive misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

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The Gilmer County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) will have their meeting on Tuesday, October 17th @ 4:00 PM.

The meeting will be held at the Glenville Fire Station.

All Public is Welcome.

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Adult Education can do much more than prepare you for the new High School Equivalency test.

We can also help with job search, resume writing, typing, and computer literacy.

In addition, English as a Second Language and Literacy classes are offered upon demand.

Classes are available in both Gilmer and Calhoun Counties.

Calhoun County classes will be held at the Career Center on Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 to 3:30 and on Wednesday by appointment.

Gilmer County classes will be held at St. Marks Church on Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 6.

Please call 304.354.6151 x106 for more information.

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Around 400 Tesla employees were fired just as production begins for the Model 3

A spokesperson for the company said that the departures were due to annual performance reviews.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised to introduce “aggressive” new rules after women boycotted it

The new rules will cover “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence,“ Dorsey said.


Qualcomm wants Chinese courts to ban iPhones in the country

It’s claiming patent infringement by Apple.


A famed Apple analyst said that the company will ditch fingerprint readers for face scanning technology in future iPhones

Ming-Chi Kuo said that all future iPhones will now come with Face ID — not Touch ID.


Iran was reportedly behind the cyber attack on the Houses of Parliament in the UK

The June cyber attack searched for weak email passwords in Parliament’s email system.


OnePlus says it will scale back its data collection

The Chinese smartphone maker had been found to have been collecting masses of user data.


Apple’s head of diversity apologized for comments she made at a conference

Denise Young Smith sent an email to her team about comments she made in which she said that “there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse.“


Uber has officially appealed the loss of its license in London

The appeal is likely to take place on December 11.


Amazon is cutting ties with The Weinstein company following allegations of sexual assault by its founder Harvey Weinstein

Amazon reportedly scrapped a $160 million (£120 million) television series.


Morgan Stanley said that Netflix is benefiting from a virtuous circle

“Netflix’s recent price increases in the US and abroad are a positive indication of its confidence in the subscriber opportunity ahead,“ analysts wrote.

National News

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►  Justices to hear government’s email dispute with Microsoft

The Supreme Court is intervening in a digital-age privacy dispute between the Trump administration and Microsoft over emails stored abroad.

The justices say Monday they will hear the administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of Microsoft. The court held the emails sought in a drug trafficking investigation were beyond the reach of a search warrant because they were kept on a Microsoft server in Ireland.

The case is among several legal clashes that Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and other technology companies have had with the government over questions of digital privacy and authorities’ need for information to combat crime and extremism.

Privacy law experts say the companies have been more willing to push back against the government since the leak of classified information detailing America’s surveillance programs.

The case also highlights the difficulty that judges face in trying to square decades-old laws with new technological developments.

In 2013, federal investigators obtained a warrant under a 1986 law for emails from an account they believe was being used in illegal drug transactions as well as identifying information about the user of the email account.

Microsoft turned over the information, but went to court to defend its decision not to hand over the emails from Ireland.

The federal appeals court in New York agreed with the company. The administration said in its Supreme Court appeal said the decision is damaging “hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes — ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud.”

Wherever the emails reside, Microsoft can retrieve them “domestically with the click of a computer mouse,” Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Wall told the court.

Microsoft had urged the court to stay out of the case and instead allow Congress to make needed changes to bring the 1986 Stored Communications Act up to date. Bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Microsoft said the high court’s intervention would “short-circuit” the congressional effort.

“The current laws were written for the era of the floppy disk, not the world of the cloud. We believe that rather than arguing over an old law in court, it is time for Congress to act by passing new legislation,” Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith wrote on the company’s blog after the court acted.

Privacy scholars also have worried that the court may have trouble resolving difficult issues in a nuanced way.

Data companies have built servers around the world to keep up with customers’ demands for speed and access. Among the issues the court may confront is whether the same rules apply to the emails of an American citizen and a foreigner. Another is whether it matters where the person is living.

The Stored Communications Act became law long before the advent of cloud computing. Judge Gerard Lynch, on the New York panel that sided with Microsoft, called for “congressional action to revise a badly outdated statute.”

The case, U.S. v. Microsoft, 17-2, will be argued early next year.


►  New York’s 9/11 tribute mesmerizes birds – and might help save them

Most years, sundown on September 11 finds Susan Elbin standing atop a parking garage in Lower Manhattan. She watches as technicians turn on dozens of 7,000-watt bulbs to create two brilliant columns of light – an ethereal tribute to the towers that fell there and the people who lost their lives inside them.

Darkness falls, and there’s suddenly movement inside one of the beams, something that dips, whirls and calls out in high-pitched chirps. Then more shapes appear. They’re birds, circling endlessly inside the columns as though caught in a trance. Elbin and her colleagues count tens of thousands of them over the course of the night.

“You can see the pillars of light sort of filling up with birds, almost like they’re pouring in from the top,” recalled Elbin, director of conservation and science at New York City Audubon. “It’s just this combination of awe and thinking, ‘Gosh, we have to do something to get these birds back on their way.’”

In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Elbin and her colleagues report the results of their yearly tally: Between 2008 and 2016, roughly 1.1 million migrating birds were affected by the “Tribute in Light” annual installation. For some, the attraction was fatal: Unable to escape the thrall of the beams, the birds became disoriented and exhausted by hours of mindless spiraling flight. Some simply fell to the ground; others were more likely to strike buildings when the sun rose and they could finally fly away.

The research at the 9/11 tribute illuminates the growing hazard posed by artificial light, Elbin says. Accustomed to traveling under the cover of darkness, migratory birds become disoriented by the glow from cell towers, flood lights, stadiums, office windows and streetlamps. Scientists can still only guess at the cumulative impact of all this light pollution on bird populations, but with numbers of most migratory bird species in decline, it probably isn’t good.

Yet working with the artists behind the memorial, Elbin and her colleagues found a way to free the birds from the light column spell. Their success could guide other efforts to protect creatures that fly by night.

The Tribute in Light first illuminated the skies above New York in spring 2002 and is re-lit each year on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It consists of 88 bulbs arranged in two large squares to create 4-mile-high light pillars that can be seen from 60 miles away.

To Elbin, who was working just across the Hudson River when the twin towers were struck 16 years ago, the sight of the beacons was deeply moving. But it also worried her. The anniversary of the attacks coincides with most birds’ annual migration south.

“Lower Manhattan is . . . a risky place for birds anyhow,” Elbin said. She and her colleagues often find feathered carcasses of those that flew into the reflective glass windows of the neighborhood skyscrapers. Add the disorienting effect of a powerful artificial light, and, Elbin said, “we predicted there would be a problem.”

In 2005, NYC Audubon scientists and volunteers got permission to count the birds caught in the columns from the rooftop, where the bulbs are arrayed. They were joined by researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, who could identify the species involved and used radar to understand how far the beacons’ lure extended. Radar imagery of bird density over the tri-state area on September 11 and 12, 2015, shows a bright red hot spot over the lower part of the Manhattan.

According to Kyle Horton, a Cornell ornithologist who was lead author on the paper, scientists don’t know why birds are so mesmerized by light. Research suggests that it may interfere with their ability to detect subtle visual cues, such as starlight, that they use to find their migration routes. Some birds fly to the beams to hunt insects, like moths, that also are drawn to the glow.

Whatever its cause, the behavior is troubling. In recent years, scientists have seen migration paths shift toward light-polluted cityscapes, which harbor countless other hazards for traveling birds – windows, cats, food made toxic by pesticides. Even if the birds avoid death, the disorientation caused by human lights forces them to waste precious time and energy they need for their marathon journeys south.

“We don’t know how successful these migrants may be on the rest of their journey,” Horton said. But the distraction “certainly has some cost.”

This is a solvable problem. In recent years, scientists have let the memorial’s operators know when too many birds are present in the beams. If the count exceeds 1,000 or if census-takers see a creature fall from exhaustion, the lights are turned off one by one until the birds disperse. According to NYC Audubon, survivors of the terrorism attack said the last thing they wanted was for the memorial to be a site of still more death.

“It turned into this camaraderie and mutual respect,” Elbin said of the partnership with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which now runs the tribute.

The collaboration could inform other efforts to mitigate the effects of light pollution, Horton said. For example, ornithologists are trying to get the beacons on oil rigs and cell towers replaced with flashing lights, which are less likely to entrap birds.

“It’s a very moving opportunity, a soulful opportunity” to conduct research at New York City’s memorial, Elbin noted.

This year, around midnight, a woman whose brother had been killed on 9/11 approached her to ask why the tribute was being dimmed. When Elbin explained, the woman gasped. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, those dots in the beams are birds? I never realized,’” Elbin recalled.

It turned out the woman was a member of her local Audubon society. And together, the two watched as the tribute went dark and the birds broke free of its spell. In a rustle of wings and a chorus of chirps, they flew up and onward – safe, for the night.


►  Unraveling ‘worst deal ever’ could hurt U.S., experts say

Donald Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement “the worst deal ever,“ but one thing might actually be worse: no deal at all.

The fourth round of negotiations to revise the agreement wraps up Tuesday, but many people close to the talks have expressed doubts that they will succeed.

If NAFTA crumbles, trade among Mexico, Canada and the United States would fall under World Trade Organization rules with modest average tariff rates and an established, if unwieldy, process for resolving disputes.

But the tariff rates, although relatively low, would be higher on U.S. exports than on U.S. imports. Many trade experts say that would hurt U.S. exporters of everything from corn to auto parts and that the United States could end up with fewer jobs while paying higher prices for goods than it does.

Meanwhile, Canada and Mexico would be able to fall back on free-trade agreements they have forged with Europe recently, providing zero tariffs.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told a Mexican Senate committee this week that the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement “won’t be the end of the world.“

And in some ways Videgaray is right. The world of global trade has far fewer walls and stumbling blocks than it did 23 years ago, when NAFTA went into effect.

Nonetheless, even small tariff differences can have substantial effects, many trade experts say, and could upend established supply chains.

“If NAFTA ends, the tariffs the United States imposes on imports from Mexico would revert (from currently zero) to their WTO levels. For the United States, these tariffs average 3.5 percent” across all goods, Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said in an email.

“Mexico’s WTO tariffs are a bit higher – on average 7.1 percent,“ he wrote. “So U.S. exporters would go from facing zero tariffs currently for their sales to the Mexican market under NAFTA to 7.1 percent on average without NAFTA.“

For automobiles, the gap could add hundreds of dollars to the price of a car. Or carmakers in Mexico might drop U.S. suppliers subject to WTO rates and look for European auto parts manufacturers, who would not have to pay any tariff under their free-trade pact.

NAFTA’s rules of origin for automobiles would also disappear. Those rules were designed to prevent countries outside North America from using the treaty as a back door into the U.S. market. Under NAFTA, 62.5 percent of the value of an imported vehicle must originate in Canada, Mexico or the United States for that vehicle to get duty-free access to the region.

Without NAFTA, supply chains could reorient themselves. Cars sold in the United States might contain more foreign parts, and Mexican cars sold to Europe or Latin America might use fewer U.S. components.

“U.S. producers would face less market access in Mexico without NAFTA than Mexico would face in the United States,“ said Caroline Freund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former economist at the World Bank.

Getting rid of NAFTA could also hurt the agriculture industry, which is strong in the states Trump carried in his presidential campaign. Since NAFTA was enacted, U.S. food and agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have more than quadrupled, to $38 billion in 2016, according to the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. And Mexican agricultural exports have given consumers year-round access to fruits and vegetables that had been available only during certain seasons.

A collapse of NAFTA could also boomerang on some of the accord’s harshest critics, especially labor and environmental groups that want to toughen up what they see as ineffective side agreements to the original treaty. Without NAFTA, however, those agreements would simply vanish.

Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union, says NAFTA was sold to the American public with “a bag full of lies.“ He says it has done little to bring good wages to Mexico and has therefore siphoned jobs to Mexico away from the United States and Canada. He singles out auto factory jobs; half his members make auto parts.

But Gerard isn’t ready to simply shred the NAFTA agreement. He wants to fix it with enforceable labor standards and wages.

“If you just rip it up, it’s worse,“ he said. “If you bail out of this, you’re going to have to have new rules.“

Mexico, however, would not escape damage from a collapse of NAFTA. NAFTA has helped generate confidence in all three nations, which has been especially helpful in attracting investment to Mexico. A collapse of the accord could choke off some of that investment.

Moreover, the WTO tariff numbers are averages and in some areas – especially in agriculture, sneakers and textiles – the United States could impose much higher duties. It would impose a 25 percent tariff on pickup trucks, 48 percent on sports sneakers, and between 5 and 20 percent for textiles, Freund said.

Even with the free-trade agreements Mexico has with Europe and others, it will be hard- pressed to divert goods from the United States, where Mexico sends 80 percent of its exports.

In a roundabout way, the collapse of NAFTA could help Mexico sell those goods. The end of the agreement probably would undermine confidence in Mexico’s currency, the peso, which has declined nearly 6.5 percent over the past month amid squabbling over trade. That could further lower costs of manufacturing in Mexico, making it even harder for the United States to compete with its southern neighbor.

The impact a NAFTA collapse would have on U.S.-Canada trade is less clear. Before NAFTA, the two nations had a bilateral free-trade agreement that might come back into force after NAFTA. If so, each country would have zero tariffs on the other. If that treaty were not brought back into effect, then Canada could impose an average tariff of 4.2 percent on U.S. goods under the WTO rules.


►  Project saved homes from fires, but can it be duplicated?

Lightning started a forest fire one August afternoon near this Oregon tourist town, and it was spreading fast. Residents in outlying areas evacuated as flames marched toward their homes.

Just a few months earlier, the U.S. Forest Service and a group of locals representing environmental, logging and recreational interests arranged to thin part of the overgrown forest, creating a buffer zone around Sisters.

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Workers removed trees and brush with machines, then came through on foot to ignite prescribed burns. That effort saved homes, and perhaps the community of 2,500 on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range, by slowing the fire’s progress and allowing firefighters to corral it.

Scrutiny of the condition of the American West’s forests, and of policies that curtailed logging and suppressed wildfires, has intensified amid a devastating wildfire season that has burned a combined area bigger than Maryland and caused widespread destruction in California’s wine country.

Until the advent of aggressive fire suppression at the turn of the last century, forests were historically shaped by low-intensity blazes, with the flames clearing underbrush but not killing tall trees. Forests across the West are now so overgrown they’ve been called powder kegs.

The work by the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project in central Oregon, where towns and subdivisions sit in a green ocean of Ponderosa and lodgepole pines, shows the potential of forest thinning. And it shows how loggers and environmentalists - normally bitter enemies - can join forces.

But it also highlights the challenges of replicating the forest thinning across the West, where a lack of timber workers and money are among the obstacles.

On a recent morning, Forest Service fire manager James Osborne drove into a section of the Deschutes National Forest outside Sisters that was thinned in May. Widely spaced Ponderosas were blackened to twice the height of a person. But higher up, the bark retained its normal orangey color. Needle clusters shone vibrant green in the sunshine. Four deer trotted through dappled sunlight. This part of the forest looked healthy, not despite of, but due to, the prescribed burn.

“Ponderosa pines are used to low-intensity fires,” Osborne said. “Every five to 15 years, a fire would come through. We’re trying to take it back to low-intensity fires.”

California’s situation is different because its wildfires have generally ignited in chaparral - brush that naturally grows densely packed, said Andrew Latimer, plant expert at the University of California-Davis. The temperate coniferous forests that burn in large wildfires elsewhere are historically less dense.

Returning those forests to their natural state is the goal of groups like the Deschutes Collaborative, one of 23 projects in the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program created in 2009 by Congress. Overcoming suspicions and stereotypes was one of the Oregon group’s first hurdles.

Deschutes Collaborative member Marilyn Miller, an environmentalist, and former member Chuck Burley, who then worked for an Oregon sawmill, used to call each other names, Miller recalled during a recent tour of Deschutes Collaborative projects. But they got to know each other in Bend, home to more microbreweries per capita than anywhere else in America.

“I hate to say this, but beer really is a good conversation starter,” Miller said. “We would sit and talk. We learned we’re real humans with real concerns, and what we care about isn’t that far apart.”

Burley, who’s now employed with the Forest Service, said the Deschutes Collaborative made recommendations on where and how much to thin, and the Forest Service almost always adopted them.

“They had a consensus, a starting point,” Burley said in a phone interview.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, applauds collaborative efforts, including the Good Neighbor Authority under which states can organize restoration of federal lands. Under the programs, a mill removes the timber after agreeing to buy it at a certain rate. The proceeds stay local, helping finance more restoration.

“No. 1, it allows us to put Oregonians back to work in the woods, so there are good jobs,” Brown said. “No. 2, it provides product for the local milling infrastructure. And No. 3, it creates healthier forests. Do I think we need more efforts like this? Absolutely.”

Such groups understand some management is required to keep public lands healthy, said Amy Tinderholt, a Deschutes National Forest ranger.

But replicating the work across the sprawling reaches of the West poses several challenges.

“We really don’t have the capacity in most places to do the work at anything like the scale needed,” said John Bailey, an Oregon State University professor of silviculture and fire management.

There are no longer enough timber outlets such as mills and plants, he said. And things like equipment, trucks, drivers and infrastructure will take time and resources to ramp back up.

Also, smoke from controlled burns can surpass legal limits, though it’s much less than smoke from out-of-control wildfires. Some wilderness areas and habitats for endangered species could be off-limits.

Another challenge is money.

“All of those funds will take you only so far across the landscape, and we’ve got pretty large landscapes,” Tinderholt said.

Restored areas also would have to be thinned again after some years, unless fires are allowed to burn the vegetation that grows back.

In Oregon, many locals are proud of the Deschutes Collaborative’s work, and want to see more done in the state and other parts of the West.

“As it unfolded, the community has really come behind it. It’s amazing,” said Kevin Larkin, a senior Deschutes Forest ranger. “Scaling up, that’s our hope.”

International News

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►  Populist parties point pathway for European politics

Right-wing parties chalked up two more victories in Europe over the weekend, putting further pressure on mainstream conservatives to take a harder line on immigration.

The issue has been at the forefront of European politics with the arrival of more than two million migrants since 2015.

Tabloid papers and populist politicians have seized on the influx, and the strategy has paid off at the polls — boosting backers of Britain’s move to leave the European Union and putting a far-right candidate into the final round of France’s presidential elections.

On Sunday, a right-wing party came second in Austria’s national election while another won seats in a 15th German legislature.

Experts warn that chasing populist policies could backfire because it could shift Europe further to the right overall.


►  Did he or didn’t he? No clarity on Catalan independence bid

A Monday morning deadline came and went without the president of the Catalonia region clarifying whether he had declared independence from Spain, and the Spanish government says he now has until Thursday to backtrack on any steps the region has taken toward secession.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy exchanged letters but made no headway in the conflict, one of the deepest political crises the country has faced in the four decades since democracy was restored.

Responding to a demand from Spain’s central government to state explicitly whether he had declared independence, Puigdemont instead sent a four-page letter seeking two months of negotiations and mediation.

“The priority of my government is to intensively seek a path to dialogue,“ Puigdemont said in his letter. “We want to talk ... Our proposal for dialogue is sincere and honest.“

Rajoy’s response came less than two hours later. The conservative prime minister lamented that Puigdemont had declined to answer the question and said that he has until Thursday morning to fall in line.

Otherwise, he faces the possibility of Spain activating Article 155 of the Constitution, which would allow the central government to rescind some of the powers that Catalonia has to govern itself. The wealthy northeast region, which includes Barcelona, is home to 7.5 million people and contributes a fifth of Spain’s 1.1 trillion-euro ($1.3 trillion) economy. Polls have shown about half of the people there don’t want to secede.

“To extend this situation of uncertainty is only favoring those who are trying to destroy civic concord and impose a radical and impoverishing project in Catalonia,“ Rajoy wrote in his letter.

“It wasn’t very difficult to say yes or no,“ Rajoy’s number 2, deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, told reporters in Madrid. “That was the question that was asked and the response shouldn’t be complicated.“

Saenz de Santamaria said that Puigdemont’s call for dialogue is “not credible” and that Spain’s national parliament is the place to talk.

Spain has repeatedly said that it’s not willing to sit down with Puigdemont if calls for independence are on the table, or to accept any international mediation at all.

The new deadline gives him till Thursday to either say he didn’t declare independence or to show he’s taking action to cancel the declaration if he did.

Puigdemont held a banned independence referendum on October 01. Those who voted were overwhelmingly in favor of the wealthy northeast region seceding from the rest of the country, but fewer than half of those eligible turned out to cast ballots.

Based on the referendum, Puigdemont made an ambiguous declaration of independence last week, then immediately suspended it to allow time for talks and mediation.

In Monday’s letter, he called on Spanish authorities to halt “all repression” in Catalonia, referring to a police crackdown during the referendum that left hundreds injured.

He said the Spanish government should also end its sedition case against two senior Catalan regional police force officers and the leaders of two pro-independence associations. All four, including Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero and Jordi Sanchez, the head of the Catalan National Assembly, were due at a hearing Monday in Spain’s National Court in Madrid.

Officials are investigating the roles of the four in September 20-21 demonstrations in Barcelona. Spanish police arrested several Catalan officials and raided offices in a crackdown on referendum preparations.

The four were released after questioning October 06, but the court said they would be recalled once it reviewed new police evidence relating to the referendum.

Trapero and Sanchez arrived separately to the court and were greeted by shouts of “traitors” by one or two protesters.

Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, leader of the pro-secession Omnium Cultural group who is also under investigation, were greeted by several dozen supporters from pro-independence Catalan parties who chanted “you are not alone” as the two entered the court together amid heavy security.

Court officials said it wasn’t immediately known if the fourth suspect, Catalan police Lt. Teresa Laplana, would testify by video conference from Barcelona.

Public Viewing of Gilmer County Schools Auction

The Free Press WV

public viewing of Gilmer County Schools auction

Both Sand Fork and Troy Elementary will be open to the public for viewing of auction items from 10:00 am until 1:00 p.m. today. 

Sand Fork will be open again this evening from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm and Troy from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

AUCTION IS OPEN TO ALL SCHOOL EMPLOYEES AS WELL AS THE PUBLIC.

Gallery Exhibit Featuring Early Appalachian Photography to Open at GSC

Selections from the Glenville State College Archive will be on display for a gallery exhibit during Homecoming week. The theme of the exhibit will focus on early Appalachian photography and will include several prints from glass negatives, equipment used during the process, and even some of the original glass negatives themselves. The show will feature four different collections: the Byron Turner Glass Negative Collection, the Early Gilmer County Collection, the Gainer Family Glass Negative Collection, and the Pickle Street Glass Negative Collection.

The Free Press WV
One of the photos included in the Early Appalachian Photography Exhibit
reproduced from a glass negative from the Gainer family collection


An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Tuesday, October 17 between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in the GSC Fine Arts Center Gallery. The show will be open the remainder of Homecoming Week from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily and prior to the Bluegrass concert on Saturday, October 21 between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Beyond Homecoming Week, the gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The gallery is also open one hour prior to most musical performances in the Fine Arts Center.

The Byron Turner Glass Negative Collection was preserved by Glenville State College’s former chemistry instructor, Byron Turner. Turner used the glass negatives as a project in his classes to demonstrate what chemicals were used to make the glass negatives and preserve the picture. The Early Gilmer County Collection was found in the Archives of Glenville State College. It dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Gainer family collection contains donated prints from glass negatives provided by the Gainer family. The pictures were taken by Lloyd Gainer and are from around 1902. The pictures were preserved by West Virginia State Folk Festival founder and 1924 Glenville Normal School graduate Patrick Gainer. The Pickle Street glass negative collection was brought in from the auction house on Pickle Street in Lewis County, West Virginia. The negatives were found in an old barn and later donated to GSC.

“This gallery exhibit will show you what was important to past generations in Appalachia through photography. I hope that the cultural perspective provided gives attendees a better understanding of central West Virginia. It also provides you with more of an appreciation as to what people had to go through and how challenging it was just to take a picture,” said GSC Librarian and Archivist Jason Gum.

During the opening reception, there will also be a book signing for GSC’s recent history book, Preserving and Responding. Gum and the college’s Public Relations Specialist, Dustin Crutchfield, authored this work.

The exhibit will be on display in the Fine Arts Center Gallery through Friday, November 03.

For more information about the gallery exhibit or the book signing, call 304.462.6163.

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