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Mylan CEO Gets Pricked by EpiPen Controversy

The Free Press WV

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch struggled during an interview on CNBC Thursday to explain why the list price for a two-pack of the lifesaving EpiPen devices has increased by 400 percent, to over $600, in just a few years.

Bresch argued that the drug delivery system in this country is broken because it incentivizes higher prices for brand drugs.  Although she didn’t admit this, the New York Times reports “a common tactic in the drug industry: sharply raising prices in the years just before a generic competitor reaches the market, as a sort of final attempt to milk big profits from the band-name drug.”

If that’s the case here, Mylan’s not the first or the last to do so.  Last year, Valeant Pharmaceuticals bought Salix Pharmaceuticals and then raised the price of its diabetes drug Glumetza by 800 percent. Company officials explained their actions were consistent with what most companies do.

But these tactics are now hitting home with consumers who find themselves paying out an increasing part of their income for medicine.  Rising premiums drive people to choose plans with higher deductibles, which means they are more likely to see the full cost of their pills.

“The patient is paying twice,” Bresch told CNBC.  “They’re paying full retail price at the counter, and they’re paying higher premiums on their insurance.  It was never intended that a consumer, that the patients, would be paying list price. Never.  The system wasn’t built for that.”

But the average consumer doesn’t understand or much care how the system was built. They just know that the EpiPens they send with their children to school cost a few dollars to make, while they see price hikes of 15 percent every time they buy a new packet.

One reason Mylan is able to raise prices so dramatically is because they have no competition. “Competitors have been trying for years to challenge Mylan’s EpiPen franchise with low-cost alternatives—only to become entangled in the Food and Drug Administrations’ regulatory afflatus,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who worked previously at the FDA, said on MetroNews Talkline Thursday that typically when four choices are in the marketplace, the price of a product will be reduced by half.

It’s unfortunate Mylan is getting a black-eye from this.  The company, founded by Mike Puskar and Don Panoz in 1961 in West Virginia, has been a remarkable success story.  Mike, who died in 2011, and his former wife, Betty, have been extremely generous benefactors to the community and the Mylan plant in Morgantown has stable, good paying jobs.

But this is a different time and the EpiPen story has touched a nerve, especially in West Virginia because Bresch is the daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, and folks still remember the scandal from a few years back over her MBA from WVU in addition to the company’s controversial tax inversion last year.

Perhaps this will open up a larger debate about drug prices, as Bresch suggested, but in the meantime she is on her heals trying to explain why Mylan is not gouging customers on the EpiPen.

~~  Hoppy Kercheval ~~

Study Finds Lost Coal Jobs Could Be Absorbed by Renewable Sector

The Free Press WV

The growth of solar- and wind-related jobs could easily absorb coal-industry layoffs over the next 15 years and provide full-time careers, if investments are made to retrain workers. That’s according to a new study from Oregon State University and the Michigan Technological University.

Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the country just reached the one-millionth solar installation, and it isn’t slowing down.

“It took us 40 years to get there,“ he said. “We think in the next two years, we’re going to hit 2 million and by 2021, we will be at 4.5 million installations, so we’re really growing rapidly. We think over that period of time, the number of solar jobs will more than double.“

According to the study, the solar industry is expected to add 345 megawatts of solar power over the next five years. But the authors found the new renewable jobs are not happening equally in every state, and state policies designed to draw investment have a big impact.

Whitten said states that have been heavily reliant on coal will have to step up their game to help keep people employed.

“The Solar Foundation has a program called Solar Ready Vets that trains veterans for solar energy work,“ he added. “There are community programs that train people to work in the solar industry, but it’s not as pervasive as it needs to be. That’s going to be something that we’re going to have to turn our attention to and focus on.“

Steve O’Rourke, a vice president of business development at Microgrid Energy, said the renewable-energy sector welcomes the idea of employing former coal workers who want to make the transition.

“The person who’s working as an accountant at Peabody Energy could just as easily work as an accountant for Microgrid Energy, so those people would be easily retrained,“ he said. “People who are working in a mine, to train them to install solar arrays, you know, that’s going to be somewhat significant retraining.“

The study also noted that a coal CEO’s annual salary would be more than enough to retrain every company employee for a job in renewables.

The full study can be read HERE .

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Adopt-A-Highway Fall Cleanup is September 24th

Volunteers can sign up for next month’s litter cleanup along West Virginia highways.

The Adopt-A-Highway program is a partnership between the state Department of Environmental Protection and Division of Highways.

More than 4,800 volunteers cleared more than 1,500 miles of roads during the spring cleanup.

The fall cleanup is set for September 24. Volunteers must be at least age 12 to participate.

To sign up, call 800.322.5530 or email .


►   Anniversary of ratification of 19th Amendment marked at State Capitol

It’s difficult for many people to believe today, but there was a time in the United States when women were seen as incapable of making informed decisions in the election process.

It was 1920 when that changed with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing white women the right to vote.

“We, as women, were not given the opportunity to have a full voice in the beginning of this country and, now that we have a voice, we need to make sure that we exercise our right,” said Julie Palas, interim executive director for the West Virginia Women’s Commission.

“We need to make sure that people all across the country are remembering how hard we fought to get this right and responsibility to vote.”

Certification of the amendment’s ratification from U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby came on August 26, 1920.

On Friday, the West Virginia Women’s Commission hosted a noontime Women’s Equality Day event at the State Capitol to mark the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued a proclamation for the anniversary occasion.

“We come together today to honor the efforts of the many women and men who gave so much so that women have the right to vote,” Palas said at the State Capitol event.

“We celebrate the power of women and how important we are to a strong democracy.”

Women play crucial roles in the democratic process, Palas said.

In the November 8 general election, for the first time, a woman is a major political party presidential candidate with the nomination of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Because a woman is running, it even shows us why it’s important for us not to lay back and not use our vote this year,” Palas said. “No matter how we vote, who we’re voting for, it’s important that our voice — as women — is heard.”


►   MORE THAN $1.2 MILLION FOR WEST VIRGINIA AIRPORTS

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced a total of $1,278,207 from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration will be awarded to Jackson County Airport and Mingo County Airport Authority.

“As a pilot myself, I understand the importance of aviation safety, and aviation safety begins with maintaining our airport infrastructure,” Senator Manchin said. “This funding will enable Jackson and Mingo County Airports to make the necessary improvements to continue serving West Virginians.”

“Rural airports play an important role in the communities they serve, which is why I advocated for this funding as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Investments in the Jackson and Mingo County airports will help spur economic growth and benefit West Virginians and visitors alike,” said Senator Capito.

Individual awards are listed below:

$624,597 – Jackson County - This grant will provide federal funding for the Jackson County Airport in West Virginia. This project will fund rehabilitation of 7,775 square yards of the existing apron to maintain structural integrity of the pavement. Jackson County Airport is a general aviation airport associated with Ravenswood, West Virginia.

$653,610 – Mingo County Airport Authority - This project will fund the construction of an 11,650 square foot T-hangar building to assist the airport to be as self-sustaining as possible by generating revenue. The sponsor has adequately financed the airside needs of the airport.


►   New I-79 interchange at Morgantown to open September 01

A new interchange on Interstate 79, between Westover and Star City, is set to open September 1.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Exit 153 will be held at 4 p.m. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is slated to attend. A reception will follow at the Courtyard Marriott, by Monongalia County Ballpark.

Construction work on the $22 million project began in early 2015, as part of a tax increment financing (TIF) project at University Town Centre. The exit will provide a second entrance to access the shopping center and ballpark.


►   36 dogs seized from home previously raided by rescue workers

Several dogs have been rescued from a Wayne County home that has previously been in the news for similar reasons.

Media outlets report that 36 dogs were taken Wednesday evening from a Prichard home to the Cabell Wayne Animal Control Shelter following tips from neighbors.

Shelter director Scott Iseli says a few of the dogs were in transport boxes with no way to stand up and no food or water. Other dogs were chained.

Six years ago, more than 40 horses and 40 dogs were rescued from the same home. The man who lives there, 71-year-old Gary Belcher, was charged and convicted. He served five years of probation.

Now, Belcher is charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty. It’s unclear if he has an attorney.

2016: Area High School Football Scoreboard: Week 1

The Gilmer Free Press

Area High School Football Scoreboard
Week 10 Games
Gilmer County (1-0) 55 Lincoln (0-1)  27
Beallsville, OH 0 Braxton County (1-0) 36
Calhoun County (0-1) 6 Lewis County (0-1) 20 
Wirt County (1-0) 33 #1 Bridgeport (1-0) 44
Doddridge County (0-1) 0 Ritchie County (0-1)  8
#9 South Harrison (1-0) 42 #3 St. Marys (1-0) 42
#3 Fairmont Senior (1-0) 49 South Point, OH 22
#7 Robert C. Byrd (0-1) 12 Roane County (1-0) 42
Notre Dame (0-1) 20 #4 Williamstown (1-0) 25
Pendleton County (1-0) 48 Tyler Consolidated (0-1) 14
Fayetteville (A) (1-0) 28 Parkersburg Catholic (0-1) 18
Clay County (0-1) 0 #8 Buffalo (1-0) 45
Grafton (1-0) 23 Cameron (1-0) 54
Phillip Barbour (0-1) 0 Hundred (0-1) 0
Liberty Harrison (0-1)  26 Paden City (0-1) 0
East Fairmont (1-0) 38 Symmes Valley, OH 32
Nicholas County (AA) (1-0) 22 Webster County (1-0) 12
Greenbrier West (0-1) 0 Richwood (0-1) 6
Parkersburg (1-0) 57 Ripley (1-0) 14
St. Albans (0-1) 14 Parkersburg South (0-1) 7
      -
      -

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   Top College to Freshmen: Don’t Expect Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings

The controversial concept of “safe spaces” on college campuses—a place where members of a marginalized group can feel secure and able to express themselves—has grabbed the media’s attention over the last year, spurred by such high-profile cases as the racial strife at the University of Missouri and a recent want ad posted by a black student at a California college seeking a non-white roommate. But those heading to the University of Chicago this fall shouldn’t expect such accommodations, according to a letter sent to incoming freshmen, Inside Higher Ed reports. Although John Ellison, the school’s dean of students, says in the letter that no one should be harassed, the university is committed to “freedom of inquiry and expression” and students should be prepared that in a collegial environment, they may sometimes feel challenged and be exposed to a certain level of “discomfort.“

Toward that end, per Ellison: The university won’t support safe spaces or “trigger warnings” on provocative topics (both terms that Quartz says have become “nebulous”) and has no intention of turning away speakers from campus if their ideas are polarizing. The Chicago Maroon, the student newspaper, documents three incidents that happened during the 2016 spring semester in which speakers invited to the school had to end their speeches or endure protester disruptions during their appearances. The paper also notes that reaction to Ellison’s letter has been mixed on social media, with some saying they applaud the college’s support for academic freedom—“It’s about time that someone stood up against this PC nonsense!“ reads one comment on the Maroon article—while others say the school’s attitude toward supposedly “open” dialogue can serve as a cover for hate speech.


►   Gitmo Detainee Seen Publicly for 1st Time in 14 Years

Between his capture by the CIA in Pakistan in 2002 and his appearance at a US government hearing Tuesday, Abu Zubaydah lost his left eye. How remains unclear (Dexter Filkins dedicates an entire piece to the question at the New Yorker), but other details of what happened to him while in US custody have been revealed: Zubaydah is one of three men the CIA has admitted to waterboarding—83 times in August 2003. Filkins notes the interrogations Zubaydah was subjected to were so extreme that CIA agents asked for “reasonable assurances that [Zubaydah] will remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.“ On Tuesday the AP reports he sat “expressionless” in a short hearing tasked with determining whether he should remain at Gitmo, where he has been for the last decade.

It was Zubaydah’s first public appearance since his capture, with the initial 10 minutes of the hearing aired live in a secure room at the Pentagon to journalists and others. The AP reports the government no longer maintains, as it once did, that Zubaydah was a senior al-Qaeda leader at the time of this capture; the CIA detainee profile on him now says things like he was “generally aware” of the planned 9/11 attacks. Detainees cannot speak at their review hearings, and a statement read on Zubaydah’s behalf conveyed his “desire to be reunited with his family and begin the process of recovering from injuries he sustained during his capture.“ The Guardian suggests his knowledge of CIA torture is a huge barrier to release. As one of his lawyers puts it, “Abu Zubaydah will not be released.“ A decision should come in 30 days.


►   Verdict Is In for Artist Who Insists He Didn’t Paint Picture

A case Artnet.com calls “one wild ride” may finally be over after a federal judge ruled Tuesday that artist Peter Doig wasn’t the painter of a painting owned by an ex-corrections officer—and that the man and his art dealer couldn’t sue Doig for foiling plans to sell the painting for millions, the New York Times reports. “Peter Doig could not have been the author of this work,“ Judge Gary Feinerman said, refuting plaintiffs’ claims that Doig was fibbing by denying the landscape painting owned by Robert Fletcher was his. What made the case uncommon: Doig, a living artist, was forced to deny he’d made a painting rather than prove he had. Fletcher said he had seen Doig paint the piece in the mid-‘70s while the artist was serving a short stint at the prison where Fletcher worked, and that Doig had later sold Fletcher the painting for $100. But Doig said he’d never been jailed and that the painting was by one Peter Edward Doige, whose sister provided evidence that seemed to indicate he was a closer match to being the artist behind the piece.

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The Times notes the plaintiffs used “somewhat unorthodox efforts” to make their case and compared Doig’s other works—which often sell for tens of millions of dollars—to this particular painting, claiming Doig was lying because he didn’t want to be publicly embarrassed at knocking off his own painting in later pieces. But the judge ruled against the plaintiffs, who had sought almost $8 million in damages and a certificate of authenticity for the now “worthless” painting—which Forbes notes was valued at $10 million before Doig disputed its origins, saying any similarities were “purely coincidental.“ The Chicago Sun-Times notes “no one’s happy” with the ruling, with Doig’s attorney calling the case a “flagrant example of unethical conduct in the US courts,“ Fletcher still insisting the painting is a Doig, and Fletcher’s art dealer noting, “No one should be allowed to lie.“


►   Uncle Sam Has a Plan for 11M Pounds of Excess Cheese

“Get rid of the gouda” isn’t something you’d expect from a government directive, but that’s the gist of what the Department of Agriculture is doing to ease the country’s cheese crisis. By “crisis,“ we mean there’s more cheese stockpiled and languishing in the US than there has been in three decades, per CNNMoney, and the USDA announced Tuesday it will spend $20 million to scoop up 11 million pounds of the excess dairy product from private inventories and distribute it to food banks and pantries nationwide. “This commodity purchase is part of a robust, comprehensive safety net that will help reduce a cheese surplus that is at a 30-year high while, at the same time, moving a high-protein food to the tables of those most in need,“ Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says.

To put the surplus in context, the Wall Street Journal noted in May that every American would have to scarf down an extra 3 pounds of cheese in 2016 to get rid of the excess. “The US is sitting on more butter and cheese than it knows what to do with,“ Bloomberg lamented in April, noting half of the US cheese inventory is American, 2% is Swiss, and the rest falls under “other.“ The USDA says it decided to act after receiving pleas from farmers groups, Congress, and the National Milk Producers Federation to help pull them out of the cheese mire, a result of low prices worldwide, plentiful milk inventories (and ample European exports), and slowed demand, among other factors. The consequence of this sluggish market: Dairy farmers have seen their revenues plummet 35% over the past two years, the USDA notes.


►   Mom Accused of Putting Newborn in Fridge for 3 Hours

A 27-year-old South Carolina mother of a toddler has been accused of killing her 4-day-old newborn by putting him in the refrigerator for three hours, where he suffered hypothermia with asphyxiation, reports the Rock Hill Herald. After a lengthy investigation over the February incident, authorities arrested Angela Blackwell on Monday and charged her with homicide by child abuse for her “extreme indifference to human life.“ Her older son has been removed from her care, though the child’s father, Jeff Lewis, contends that his common-law wife, who he says is mentally disabled, is not responsible. “She’s always good to the kids,“ adds Lewis’ father, who got to hold his grandchild for a couple hours in the first days of baby William’s short life.

The magistrate was not allowed to set bond because Blackwell’s charge carries a sentence of up to life in prison, so she remains in custody until a November bond hearing before a circuit court judge. Records show that Lewis, who is 35, has been convicted of shoplifting and larceny dating back to 2005 and spent more than two years in prison, reports ABC News. An image of Lewis with Blackwell in 2012 on Heavy.com shows him with several tattoos, including what appears to be a swastika on his forearm. “I think it’s all bull (expletive),“ he tells WSOC. “She didn’t do nothing to cause it to die.“ Multiple family members say there were many people in the house the night of the baby’s death and that another young child with autism may have put William in the refrigerator.


►   Woman Falls to Her Death From Zip Line

A 59-year-old woman who went to a Delaware zip line park for a “Treetop Adventure” experience instead fell to her death Wednesday, Delaware Online reports. The woman fell about 40 feet, and the news site says crew members and others at the scene were “visibly shaken” by what happened. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The park involved, Go Ape at Lums Pond State Park near Kirkwood, closed after the incident. The investigation is still in its early stages.


►   1934 Letter Reveals a Livid Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde made it quite clear how they felt about a former member of their gang in a letter they sent to him as he sat in the Dallas County Jail. He was a coward, they wrote, and they should have killed him when they had the chance. The four-page letter to Raymond Hamilton was written in April 1934 in Bonnie Parker’s neat cursive and signed by Clyde Barrow, reports the AP. It could fetch more than $40,000 when it’s sold next month by Boston-based RR Auction, says the auction house’s executive vice president, Robert Livingston. Based on the language, experts think Barrow, who had poor writing skills, likely dictated the letter to Parker, Livingston notes.

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The couple was livid with Hamilton, in part because of a disagreement over how to split $4,000 stolen from a Texas bank just two months earlier. “I should have killed you then I would have saved myself much bother and money looking for you,“ reads the letter. The letter also says Hamilton is “yellow,“ pointing out that he was captured without resistance. It ends: “I hope this will serve the purpose of letting you know that you can never expect the least of sympathy or assistance from me. So long.“ It’s unclear if Hamilton ever saw the letter, Livingston says. It was intercepted by Sheriff Richard “Smoot” Schmid, who shared it with newspapers several months later. It remained in his family’s possession until they decided to auction it.


►   Baltimore Cops Admit They’ve Been Filming Citizens From Sky

Baltimore police are keeping an eye on city residents from the sky. On Tuesday, Bloomberg Businessweek revealed the secret aerial surveillance system police had been using since January, and on Wednesday, police confirmed they have indeed been carrying out aerial surveillance to investigate crimes, the Guardian reports. But a police spokesperson insists it’s “not a secret surveillance program” and “there was no conspiracy not to disclose it.“ But even the mayor, city council, and board of estimates were in the dark about the program until the Bloomberg story came out. Police say the system was used for 100 hours between January and February and 200 hours over the summer, and that it will be used for a few more weeks as police decide whether to use it permanently.

Per Bloomberg’s story, the surveillance involves a Cessna plane that circles the city for up to 10 hours a day, armed with sophisticated cameras that transmit real-time images to analysts on the ground; the footage is also reportedly archived for later use if needed. Persistent Surveillance Systems provided the system, which allows police to track suspects as they move around, and it was privately funded. A slew of officials and activists have slammed both the surveillance and the fact that police kept it secret for so long, including the ACLU and the office of the public defender. A government surveillance expert says the legal standing of the surveillance system is unclear, since it’s “currently being litigated in a number of areas,“ but that citizens may have “a constitutional right to be free from pervasive location tracking without court authorization.“


►   Pulse Shooting Victims See a Financial Nightmare Erased

They were fortunate enough to survive a gunman’s rampage that killed 49 others at an Orlando nightclub. But in the weeks following the June 12 massacre at Pulse, many survivors who needed medical treatment found themselves living another nightmare. Besides haunting memories, they suffered debilitating injuries that required painful surgeries and ongoing care. Some were uninsured. Now, Orlando hospitals are offering relief. Orlando Health and Florida Hospital announced Wednesday they will forgive an estimated $5.5 million in unpaid medical bills, the Orlando Sentinel reports. “We hope this gesture can add to the heart and goodwill that defines Orlando,“ says Florida Hospital CEO Daryl Tol. NPR reported last month that when long-term care is factored in, medical bills of Pulse survivors could reach $390 million.

Blocks away from the nightclub, Orlando Regional Medical Center treated 44 shooting victims. One survivor remains hospitalized there. The hospital, run by Orlando Health, will bill insurance companies but cover any remaining costs, a spokeswoman said. The families of nine people who died there will not be sent a bill. Florida Hospital said it won’t bill the insurance companies of the dozen club-goers treated there, and all future care will be covered as well. Survivors welcomed the news. “I was so worried because I can’t afford any of that,“ Mario Lopez tells the Sentinel. Lopez, 34, was hit with bullet fragments on the left side and has no insurance to cover a $20,000 ER bill. “It’s a huge relief.“


►   Vet Fakes War Injuries to Get Purple Heart, $752K in Benefits

Federal prosecutors say a former soldier who lied his way to a Purple Heart by faking injuries from the Iraq war cheated Washington state and the federal government out of more than $750,000, the AP reports. Darryl Wright, a former Idaho National Guardsman, appeared for sentencing Thursday in US District Court, where Judge Benjamin Settle said he wanted to hear additional testimony about Wright’s mental health before issuing a punishment. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison term, arguing that Wright falsified statements from fellow soldiers to obtain two awards—a Combat Action Badge and the Purple Heart—and then parlayed those medals into a wide range of disability and other benefits, including forgiveness of more than $40,000 in student loans.

In applications for benefits, Wright claimed to be so severely disabled that he could only focus his attention for five to 10 seconds, and he said he needed a live-in caregiver. In reality, he served as chairman of his city’s planning commission, coached high school basketball, and had held a full-time federal government job in Seattle. Wright claimed Social Security disability benefits, insisting he was frequently bedridden. He also allegedly submitted fabricated National Guard orders in an effort to be paid for a week of skipped work. Wright pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud early this year. Wright’s Purple Heart has not been rescinded, prosecutors said.


►   2 Nuns Found Slain in Rural Mississippi Home

Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi were found slain in their home, officials said Thursday. There were signs of a break-in, and their vehicle was missing. It was too early to say how the nuns died, but it doesn’t appear that they were shot, Durant Assistant Police Chief James Lee said. The nuns were identified as Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, Holmes County Coroner Dexter Howard said. Their bodies were taken to a state crime lab for autopsies. The women, both nurse practitioners, were found Thursday morning when they didn’t report to work at a nearby hospital, the AP reports.

“They were two of the sweetest, most gentle women you can imagine. Their vocation was helping the poor,“ said the Rev. Greg Plata, who oversees a small Catholic church the sisters attended in the Mississippi Delta. Maureen Smith, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, said there were signs of a break-in at the home and the nuns’ vehicle is missing. She said the sisters worked at the Lexington Medical Clinic, about 10 miles away from their home in Durant, one of the poorest areas in the state. Authorities didn’t release a motive and it wasn’t clear if the nuns’ religious work had anything to do with the slayings.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   ‘Brazen’ Attack on ‘Future of Afghanistan’ Leaves 12 Dead

A brazen, hourslong militant attack on the American University of Afghanistan ended early Thursday after at least 12 people were killed and dozens were wounded in the assault on the sprawling campus on Kabul’s outskirts, a government spokesman says. The attack—called “an attack on the future of Afghanistan” by the US State Department—underscored how, despite efforts by the Afghan authorities to improve security, militants in this country are still able to stage large-scale attacks, including in the country’s capital, Kabul, the AP notes. The dead included seven students, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi. Three police officers and two security guards were also killed, the ministry says. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assault, but suspicion is likely to fall on the Taliban. The group’s spokesman would only tell the media that the Taliban are “investigating.“

“Most of the dead were killed by gunshots near the windows of their classrooms,“ Sediqqi says. The ministry statement says 36 people were wounded, including nine police officers; Kabul’s police chief says one foreign teacher was among the wounded. The assault began just before 7pm Wednesday—a time when hundreds of students typically attend evening classes at the prestigious university—with a suicide car bombing at the school’s entrance. The blast breached security walls and allowed two other attackers to enter the campus, armed with grenades and automatic weapons, Sediqqi says. The siege lasted almost nine hours before police killed the two assailants around 3:30am, he adds. The attack came two weeks after two university staffers, an American and an Australian, were kidnapped from their car by unknown gunmen. Their whereabouts remain unknown.


►   Deal Will End 52-Year War, but Hurdles Remain

Its 52-year span makes it the Americas’ “longest-running war,“ reports the New York Times, and after four years of negotiations, it will come to an end, at least assuming all goes according to plan. Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, on Wednesday announced that they had a deal to end a conflict that has claimed 220,000 lives. An overview:

  • The BBC has the key line from the joint statement: “The Colombian government and the FARC announce that we have reached a final, full, and definitive accord.“
  • The AP reports the final text of the agreement hasn’t been released, but it will see the government moving forward on aggressive land reforms and making heavy investment in long-neglected rural areas. The FARC will abandon their arms and be guaranteed a handful of seats in Congress for the next decade.
  • Here’s a particularly prickly element: “Under a so-called transitional justice system, all but the most grievous crimes [committed by the rebels] may be resolved with reduced sentences,“ writes the Times. As a senator in the party of former President Alvaro Uribe put it, “They will spend zero days in prison, they will be awarded with political representation. This deal breaks the rule of law.“
  • Uribe is a key figure in all this. The accord isn’t a done deal: Colombia Reports outlines a number of steps that will follow. The big one is a “plebiscite,“ essentially a referendum that puts the deal in the hands of the Colombian people. Uribe is leading the “no” camp.
  • The vote, “the most important of our lives,“ says President Juan Manuel Santos, will be held October 2. Reuters reports polls lean toward it passing, but there are potential pitfalls.
  • Here’s one, per the AP: voter turnout. The accord doesn’t just need a majority “yes,“ it also has to be supported by at least 13% of those eligible to vote, or about 4.4 million people.


►   Prospector Strikes Gold: a $190K Chunk of It

Wednesday saw what could be the world’s largest-ever pearl; Thursday, a massive gold nugget weighing in at around 9 pounds. Found in central Victoria’s Golden Triangle in Australia by an explorer who wishes to stay anonymous, per ABC.net.au, the gleaming chunk of precious metal, estimated to be worth up to $190,000, was found 12 inches below the surface using what Gizmodo Australia calls a $7,600 Minelab metal detector known as the “next level of gold detection.“ “I thought it was rubbish at first, maybe an old horseshoe,“ says the prospector, who’s been scouting for buried treasure in his spare time for 10 years with a group of friends, per 9News. But as he dug deeper, the finder of the nugget now being called “Friday’s Joy” realized he hadn’t just stumbled across some junkyard-worthy detritus.

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The prospector, who had found a 9-ounce gold nugget the previous day, initially wasn’t sure what to do with this substantially larger find—discovered, incidentally, in a location that had already been “worked over,“ a Minelab rep tells AustraliaMining.com—so he rinsed it off with water, wrapped it tinfoil, and stuck it in his oven for the night. For now, the gold piece remains secure in a bank vault until it can be sold at auction, and the prospector, who has promised to split the proceeds with his metal-detecting group, is planning to use his share to buy a van so he can travel around his home continent. His lucrative new lucky charm is still far from being the world’s biggest: Per the Discovery Channel, that honor goes to the 158-pound “Welcome Stranger” nugget found in Dunolly, Victoria, in 1869.


►   Conjoined Twins in Syria Die While Awaiting Evacuation

More heartbreaking news from Syria: conjoined twins born a month ago in a beseiged hospital in rebel-held territory have died. The baby boys succumbed to heart failure on Wednesday before they could be moved abroad for life-saving treatment, the Wall Street Journal reports. Joined at the abdomen, with their hearts sharing the same sac, Moaz and Nawras al-Hishoysh weighed less than 12 pounds when they were born on July 23 in the Ghouta region outside Damascus. After repeated appeals and a social media campaign hashtagged #EvacuateTheTwins, the government allowed them to be moved to the capital on August 12. But Damascus also lacks the medical facilities the babies needed, and with time running out, relief officials scrambled to get the boys out of Syria.

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The Syrian American Medical Society accuses the government of failing to grant the twins permission to leave the country in time because of political reasons, reports the BBC. The charity says it obtained commitments from hospitals in the US and Saudi Arabia (both oppose President Bashar al-Assad) to treat the babies, but the government stalled in granting them passports, the baby’s father, Muneer al-Hishoysh, tells the Journal. But a spokeswoman for the government-sanctioned Syrian Arab Red Crescent denies that Syrian officials were uncooperative and says her agency had gotten the thumbs up to transfer the babies to an Italian hospital on Monday. But by that time, she said, the twins were too sick to travel.


►   After Partner Dies on Trail, Woman Survives Month Alone

A bizarre story of survival out of New Zealand: Authorities say a woman survived for a month in a remote cabin after her partner was killed during a wintry hike in the mountains, reports the Guardian. Police say the Czech couple, in their late 20s or early 30s, began hiking the Routeburn Track, which takes up to four days to complete, on July 24 but soon became disorientated in the snow and freezing weather. The woman told police through a translator that her partner fell from a slope two days later, and while she was able to reach him, he died shortly after, reports stuff.co.nz. She says she made it back to a camping station four days later near Lake Mackenzie and broke into the warden’s cabin, where she looted food and supplies, and made a large H in the snow with ashes from a fire.

The woman says she feared trying to hike out from there given the heavy snow and her own debilitated condition. Help took a while to arrive, however: The couple hadn’t registered their hike, so authorities had no clue they were missing. Finally, worried family members back home began posting on social media, and word circulated to the Czech consulate in New Zealand. A search party found their car and then the woman, about four weeks after the hike began. A local police inspector says it’s “highly unusual” that she went undetected for so long, even though it’s winter. “If no one’s been in there because of the snow, I can see how it could happen,“ says the president of a local hiking group. She is recuperating, and authorities are planning to retrieve her partner’s body.


►   Pizza by drone: unmanned air delivery set to take off in New Zealand

A New Zealand pizza chain aims to become the world’s first company to offer a commercial drone delivery service, a milestone in the once-unthinkable quest to save time and money with an air-borne supply chain dispensing with people.

Some of the world’s biggest companies including Amazon.com Inc and Google, or Alphabet Inc as it is known, have plans to make deliveries by drone and aviation authorities in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have been relaxing rules to allow air deliveries.

Last month, U.S. convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc [SILC.UL] conducted the first single commercial drone delivery - coffee, donuts and a chicken sandwich - as part of a trial.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd conducted a demonstration pizza delivery by drone in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Thursday, and afterwards said it aimed to be the first company to launch a regular drone service, late this year.

“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order,“ Domino’s Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.

With clear skies and small population of 4.4 million, New Zealand last year became one of the world’s first countries to clear commercial drone deliveries.

“Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment,“ New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said after the Domino’s test flight.

But Philip Solaris, director of another drone company, X-craft Enterprises, said that while New Zealand has accommodating regulations on drones, Domino’s would be held back by a rule requiring drones to be kept in sight at all times.

“I can’t truly see how commercially viable that idea is because you would have to literally have somebody walking along to keep it in the line of sight, watching it at all times,“ Solaris said.

Domino’s service would still need to overcome “random hazards (like) power lines, moving vehicles, children in the backyard playing”, he said.

The Domino’s and 7-Eleven deliveries both used drones provided by U.S.-headquarted Australian drone company Flirtey.

Domino’s said it is also looking at opportunities for drone delivery trials in Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany.

In Australia, drone deliveries will be legal next month, provided the drones stay at least 30 meters (100 feet) from houses.

In the United States, drones will be allowed to make deliveries from August 29, but not across state lines or over people.


►   French High Court Rules on Town’s Burkini Ban

France’s tussle with the burkini was just dealt a strong blow by the country’s top administrative court, which on Friday overturned one resort town’s ban against the full-body beachwear, the AP reports. The ruling from the Council of State comes during a summer of high-profile cases along the French Riviera in which Cannes and more than two dozen other municipalities have forbidden Muslim women to don the specialized swimsuits. In the words of the Cannes mayor, the burkini is a “symbol of Islamic extremism” that doesn’t respect “good morals and secularism” in a country that’s been hard hit by militant attacks in recent months. But the director of Amnesty International’s European office disagrees with this tactic, noting “these bans do nothing to increase public safety, but do a lot to promote public humiliation,“ per the BBC.

The Council of State heard arguments from lawyers for two human rights groups who noted that mayors in the towns that have nixed the burkinis don’t have the right to tell women what to wear. Protests in support of the burkini have been taking place around the world, per CNN, including a “wear what you want beach party” Thursday held on a DIY “beach” outside the French Embassy in London. Although Friday’s decision refers specifically to the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, it’s expected to set a legal precedent for other resorts that have issued the same mandate. At least one mayor—in Corsica—is already saying he’ll continue to enforce the ban, despite the court’s ruling, the BBC reports.


►   Peace in Colombia Could Be Trouble for American Partiers

Now that Colombia has ended its 52-year war with rebel group FARC, what happens to Americans who like to party? The New York Times reports FARC controls most of Colombia’s cocaine network and in 2006 was said to be responsible for 60% of the cocaine shipped to the US. It’s been a very profitable business for FARC, which made between $200 million and $3.5 billion from the cocaine trade every year, according to the Atlantic. But Business Insider reports FARC, which controlled 70% of Colombia’s coca-growing areas, agreed to pull out of the drug business and work with the government to transition farmers to legitimate crops as part of the peace agreement.

There are a number of possibilities for what happens to Colombia’s coca fields now. The government promises to “fill the space immediately” to prevent organized crime from taking them over, Reuters reports. But a battle over coca production between criminal groups looks likely. “Even if peace is signed there won’t be peace,“ a woman who packs marijuana for dealers says. “They will all come, all the gangs.“ Farmers themselves may also refuse to stop growing coca, despite subsidies from the government. Farmers who switch to growing fruit, beans, or coffee can make less than one-third what they did from growing coca. “Even if the FARC is demobilized, the problem of violence and crime and drug trafficking in Colombia is not going to go away,“ an expert told Business Insider back in July.

5k Raises Over $1,000 for Mountaineer Food Bank

That Dam Race 5K, which took place earlier this Summer on July 30th, 2016, raised $1,164.41 in proceeds which will go to the Mountaineer Food Bank. The Mountaineer Food Bank was selected early in the year because of the great work they do and the great service they provide to the state of West Virginia. In the wake of the terrible flooding that has taken place in many areas of the state the Mountaineer Food Bank is needed more than ever. Race coordinator,

The Free Press WV
Burton Spaur, presented the check to the Executive
Director of the Mountaineer Food Bank, Chad Morrison.


The $1,164.41 contribution from the race equals roughly twenty tons of food for the food bank, which translates into roughly 33,000 meals. According to ED, Morrison, much of the food the Mountaineer Food Bank distributes is given to the food bank for free, leaving only freight charges. So even a small donation of one hundred dollars can help bring in many pallets of much needed food.

That Dam Race 5K has been held eight years in a row at the Sutton Dam, in Sutton, WV. The course of the race takes runners and walkers up a difficult hill to the top of the dam, across the dam, through the woods, into downtown Sutton, and finally back to the starting point below the dam. The difficulty and beauty of the course has been a yearly destination for some of West Virginia’s most competitive runners. This race has also attracted runners from as far away as California and England. For more information on the event “Like” the official event page on Facebook, by searching “that dam race 5k”.

Race Coordinator, Spaur, would like to thank Shannon Huff, Kim Conrad, and Anna Stewart for their dedication and help in planning and executing the 5k this year.

That Dam Race 5K organizers could not have succeeded without the help of their generous sponsors and event partners: Premier Bank, Braxton County CVB, Go Mart, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lockards Kawasaki, Cafe Cimino, Braxton County Sheriffs Dept., Braxton County EMS, and the Town of Sutton.

West Virginia Universal Pre-K Provides Significant Benefits

The Free Press WV

First-year findings in a long-term National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and Marshall University study of young students and early education classrooms in West Virginia reveal performance advantages among children attending Pre-K and provide useful information on classroom quality.

Results include:

    •  Children who attended Pre-K outperformed those who had no Pre-K experience in every measure
    •  Benefits of Pre-K were most profound in print knowledge
    •  Classroom quality averages all exceed minimal quality, and several demonstrate higher quality
    •  On average, classrooms demonstrated high quality in fostering a nurturing and safe environment

The initial West Virginia Universal Pre-K Evaluation showed, on average, children with Pre-K experience outperformed those without Pre-K in every measure. Benefits were “large and statistically significant,” with the widest margin in print knowledge.

“We recognize that our state’s future depends on early investment in our youngest citizens,” said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. “We must ensure that every child has access to high-quality preschool to build the foundation for success.”

In addition, the study scored both Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms above average for emotional support, such as fostering and nurturing and safe environment, and organization.

These findings are detailed in a new report, the first in a series spotlighting Pre-K education in West Virginia. NIEER is proud to partner with Marshall University on behalf of West Virginia Department of Education on this five-year study of how the state’s Universal Pre-K program affects child outcomes, with a specific focus on reading outcomes.

The study, launched in August 2015, includes 599 children starting Pre-K, and 573 children starting kindergarten who had attended Pre-K, in seven counties, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, Putnam, Roane and Wood. Researchers will follow the progress of these children through completion of third grade. About half the children are girls, more than 90 percent are white and about 73 percent are from low-income households. In upcoming years, additional students and families will be invited to participate.

Researchers evaluated skills including language, print knowledge, math, and executive functions such as memory, self-control, and attention.

High quality preschool education has been shown to close achievement gaps afflicting American children from minority and low-income families—and this study shows similar effects in West Virginia. The goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of children’s development over time, classroom environments and teaching practices across the participating counties, enabling WVDE to develop a data-driven approach to continuous improvement across all classrooms.

Researchers also are evaluating the quality of Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, focusing on Pre-K and kindergarten rooms in the same seven counties. Evaluation includes both environmental factors and teacher-child interactions, measuring Space and Furnishings, Personal Care Routines, Language and Literacy, Learning Activities, Interaction, and Program Structure.

Results show a range of classroom quality, demonstrating some classrooms are of good quality and others have room for improvement. Teacher experience also varies, with Pre-K teachers generally having less experience teaching and fewer graduate degrees.

“We applaud West Virginia for its leadership in providing quality early learning opportunities,” said Shannon Ayers, Ph.D., associate research professor at NIEER. “We look forward to continuing our work with the West Virginia Department of Education and educators across the state to help achieve the best outcomes for children.”

The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org) at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy and practice through independent, objective research.

08.26.2016
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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

“High quality preschool education has been shown to close achievement gaps afflicting American children from minority and low-income families ... “

Actually, this statement is untrue, although the liberal/progressive left keeps trying to “say it ain’t so.“  Creating a study which manufactures facts to reach a foregone conclusion isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, and that’s the case with this one.

Pre-K is nothing more than very expensive babysitting at public expense and a way to expand the teacher’s unions power and influence.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne  on  08.26.2016

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Governor Tomblin, Department of Commerce Celebrate West Virginia’s Top Exporters

Governor recognizes 37 West Virginia exporters, announces STEP grant funding
The Free Press WV

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, along with West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette, today awarded the International Market Entry Award to 37 companies from across the Mountain State. These awards honor West Virginia companies that successfully exported to a new country. In 2015, West Virginia companies exported more than $5.8 billion in products to more than 140 countries.  

During the award presentation, Governor Tomblin also announced that West Virginia has been once again selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration to receive funding through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant initiative. These funds will support the West Virginia Development Office’s export assistance program to help small businesses offset the costs of international business.

“Today we celebrate West Virginia companies that have proven our state can compete successfully in the global market. Exports are a vital tool for economic growth,” Governor Tomblin said. “These businesses are an asset to our state as we continue to grow our business landscape and diversify West Virginia’s economy. I always look forward to this opportunity to recognize their successes.”

The Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry Awards honor companies that have successfully exported to a new country in the previous year. Each company receives a framed piece of currency from each new country to which the business began exporting. The presentation is based on the tradition of displaying the first dollar a business earns.

Companies receiving the Governor’s Commendation for the first time this year are Probe America in Beckley, Mountain State Hardwoods in Bancroft, and Mountaineer Brand in Shepherdstown. In a special presentation, Wheeling Truck Center received its 100th export award. Since making their first export sale in 2010, the company has exported to more than 100 countries.  

The West Virginia Development Office International Division helps small- to medium-sized West Virginia businesses enter new foreign markets. For more information on export development services offered by the state, visit www.worldtradewv.org​.

Commendations were awarded today to the following businesses: 


Berkeley County

Library Corporation, Inwood. Countries: Ethiopia and Madagascar. Product: Automation software for libraries. Countries: Ethiopia and Madagascar.

Power Sonix, Inc, Martinsburg. Country: Cote D’Ivoire. Product: Public address systems.


Brooke County

American Muscle Docks & Fabrication, Wellsburg. Countries: Mexico and Norway. Products: Boat docks, hardware, and marine accessories.

Eagle Manufacturing Company, Wellsburg. Countries: Canada; France; Mexico; and South Korea. Products: Safety cabinets, safety cans, spill containment, material handling.

United States Gypsum Company, Weirton. Country: Jordan. Product: Building material - corner bead.


Cabell County

Steel of West Virginia, Inc., Huntington. Countries: India and Thailand. Product: Steel rolling mill.


Fayette County

The Robbins Company, Fayetteville. Country: Albania. Product: Conveyor equipment.


Grant County

Allegheny Wood Products, Petersburg. Country: Australia. Product: Hardwood lumber.


Greenbrier County

Almost Heaven Saunas, LLC, Renick. Countries: Costa Rica and Czech Republic. Products: Indoor and outdoor saunas.

American Foam Technologies, Inc., Maxwelton. Country: Netherlands. Product: Phenolic and urethane foam.

Appalachian Electronic Instruments, Ronceverte. Country: Brazil. Product: Textile quality/ process control equipment.

Ezebreak, LLC, Frankford. Country: Norway. Product: Micro-Blaster kits and accessories.

Falcon Analytical Systems & Technology, LLC, Lewisburg. Countries: Brazil, Ireland and Russia. Product: Gas chromatographs.


Hardy County

Peacock Manufacturing Co., LLC, Wardensville. Country: Honduras. Product: Custom cabinetry manufacturing.


Harrison County

FMW Rubber Products, Inc., Bridgeport. Country: Japan. Product: Ground expedient refueling system (GERS).


Jackson County

Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC, Ravenswood. Country: South Africa. Products: Aluminum sheet, plate, coil products.

Niche Polymer, LLC, Ravenswood. Country: China. Product: Plastic compounding, extrusion.


Jefferson County

Mountaineer Brand, Shepherdstown. Country: Sweden. Products: Natural beard and body care products.

Schonstedt Instrument Company, Kearneysville. Countries: Dominica; Mexico; Panama; Paraguay; and Republic of Macedonia. Products: Underground utility locators.


Kanawha County

Cyclops Industries, Inc., South Charleston. Country: Iraq. Product: Cyclops safety sight glass.

NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.), Inc., Sissonville. Countries: China; Germany; Thailand; and United Kingdom. Products: Spark plugs, oxygen sensors.

Preiser Scientific, Inc., Charleston. Country: Nepal. Products: Laboratory testing equipment for the coal industry.

Resolute Forest Products, Fairmont. Countries: Australia; Italy; Japan; South Korea; Spain; and United Kingdom. Product: Recycled bleach kraft pulp.


Marshall County

Tecnocap, LLC, Glen Dale. Countries: Brazil; Mexico; and Sri Lanka. Products: Metal closures for packaging.


Monongalia County

Gurkees®, Morgantown. Countries: China; Cyprus; Finland; Israel; Poland; Switzerland; Taiwan; and United Arab Emirates. Product: Rope sandals.

Z Electric Vehicle, Westover. Countries: Indonesia and United Arab Emirates. Products: Electric vehicles, EV components.


Morgan County

Caperton Furniturworks, LLC, Berkeley Springs. Countries: Uganda and Vietnam. Product: Wooden furniture.


Ohio County

Direct Online Marketing, Wheeling. Countries: Costa Rica and Germany. Products: Digital marketing; search engine marketing.

TROY Group, Inc., Wheeling. Countries: Chad; China; Cyprus; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Ethiopia; French Polynesia; Hungary; Indonesia; Iraq; Kuwait; Malaysia; Mozambique; New Zealand; Pakistan; Panama; Paraguay; Spain; Thailand; and Turkey. Product: Security printing solutions.

Wheeling Truck Center, Inc., Wheeling. Countries: Ethiopia; Moldova; Guatemala; and Panama. Product: Truck parts.


Putnam County

Kanawha Scales & Systems, Inc., Poca. Country: Australia. Product: Coal train loadout.

Mountain State Hardwoods, Bancroft. Countries: China; Egypt; United Kingdom; and Vietnam. Product: Lumber.

Multicoat Products, Fraziers Bottom. Countries: Canada; China; Costa Rica; Greece; Japan; Mexico; and United Arab Emirates. Product: Construction coatings.


Raleigh County

American Airworks, Sophia. Countries: China; Indonesia; Lithuania; Nigeria; Panama; Qatar; Spain; and Sweden. Products: High pressure breathing apparatus and compressed air components.

Cogar Manufacturing, Beckley. Country: Austria. Product: Feeder breaker.

Englo, Inc. dba Engart, Inc., Beckley.  Countries: Philippines, Thailand; and Trinidad & Tobago. Product: Dust extraction.

Probe America, Inc., Beckley. Countries: Bahamas and Canada. Products: Odor and dust control products.


Wood County

Baron-Blakeslee SFC, Inc., Williamstown. Countries: Costa Rica and Egypt. Product: Industrial cleaning systems.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

WHAT’S BEING ASKED IN AFTERMATH OF DEADLY EARTHQUAKE

Soul-searching mounts over why quake-prone Italy has continually failed to ensure that buildings can withstand such catastrophes.


TRUMP SWINGS TOWARD RIVALS ON IMMIGRATION

The billionaire businessman defeated 16 rivals in the GOP primary by being the most anti-immigrant of them all - but now he’s sounding a lot like the people he defeated.


WHY TURKEY IS RAMPING UP MILITARY PRESENCE IN SYRIA

Turkey’s aim in part is to contain expansion by the Kurds, who have used the chaos of the civil war to seize nearly all the territory along Syria’s northern border with Turkey.


APPLE BOOSTS IPHONE SECURITY

The move follows a botched attempt to break into the phone of an Arab activist in the Mideast using hitherto unknown espionage software.


VOTE ON PEACE DEAL PLANNED NEXT MONTH

Colombia’s president moves quickly to schedule a national referendum on an ageement meant to end a half-century of bloody conflict with leftist rebels.


MURDER MYSTERY UNFOLDING IN MISSISSIPPI

Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi are found slain in their home.


THREAT OF E-CIGARETTES TO YOUTHS MAY BE LESS THAN THOUGHT

Only a fraction of young vapers in the U.S. inhale nicotine, a nationwide survey shows. The majority - two-thirds - say they vape “just flavoring.“


WHO’S CELEBRATING 100th BIRTHDAY

The National Park Service marks the milestone with events across the U.S. including more than 1,000 people on the National Mall to create a giant, living version of its emblem.


DWAYNE JOHNSON’S PAY IS FAST AND FURIOUS

The actor elbows Robert Downey Jr. aside to become the highest-paid actor with an income of $64.5 million.


RYAN LOCHTE IN HOT WATER IN BRAZIL

Brazilian police charge the American swimmer with filing a false robbery report over an incident during the Rio Games.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Bresch, Mylan respond to EpiPen firestorm; new discounts offered

Mylan Pharmaceuticals CEO Heather Bresch blamed problems in the health care system as the reason the company’s two-pack EpiPen products has a list price of $608.

Bresch, the Marion County native and daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, was interviewed on CNBC Thursday as the firestorm over the more than 400 percent increase in the price of EpiPen since 2007 continues to build. Bresch used the forum to announce discount cards for residents least able to afford the medicine which is used when someone has a potential deadly allergy attack.

“First and foremost, ensuring that everybody that needs an EpiPen has an EpiPen. As a mother I can assure you the last thing that we would ever want is for no one to have their EpiPen due to price,” Bresch said.

When asked why the company chose discount counts instead of lowering the price, Bresch said the flawed health care system would prevent the real savings from reaching those who need EpiPen.

“Had we reduced the list price I couldn’t ensure that everyone that needs an EpiPen gets one. So we went around the system,” Bresch said.

The discount cards could cut the cost of the drug in half, Bresch said. Mylan makes $274 on every two-pack of the drug sold. She said the remaining $334 goes through a number of middle men who get their cut.

Bresch said something needs to be done about a health care system where those with insurance are paying higher deductibles and the full list price for needed products.

“There’s no question the system is broken. Everybody should be frustrated. I am hoping that this is an infliction point for this country. Our health care is in a crisis. It’s no different from the mortgage financial crisis in 2007. The bubble is going to burst,” Bresch said.

Responding to Bresch’s interview, Fox Business News analyst Liz Clayman said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline” Bresch completely try to deflect the controversy onto insurance companies and Obamacare.

Clayman said Mylan’s significant increase in the price is not illegal but questions remain, given the importance of EpiPen, if it’s the right thing to do.

“It’s different from having some proprietary espresso machine that Starbucks has. This (EpiPen) is a life-saving drug that no one else makes,” Clayman said.

Bresch said the company has given out 700,000 free EpiPens to 65,000 schools across the U.S. The company is working toward having 30 states require EpiPens in restaurants and hotels in order to help save lives.

Bresch did not directly answer questions about the more than 600 percent increase in her salary during the same time as the EpiPen cost increases. She makes approximately $19 million a year.

Clayman said there remain many unanswered questions.

“People are wondering why when it does not cost $600 to make it,” Clayman said.

Mylan has a large manufacturing facility in Morgantown.

Bresch’s father, Senator Manchin, released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

“I am aware of the questions my colleagues and many parents are asking and frankly I share their concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs. Today (Thursday) I heard Mylan’s initial response, and I am sure Mylan will have a more comprehensive and formal response to those questions. I look forward to reviewing their response in detail and working with my colleagues and all interested parties to lower the price of prescription drugs and to continue to improve our health care system.”


►   Teachers file grievance over air conditioning issues

A group of teachers in Dunbar has filed a grievance against Kanawha County Schools over heating and air conditioning issues.

The teachers from Benjamin Franklin Career and Technical Education Center filed the grievance last week.

Teacher Julie Wiles led the effort to file the grievance and says the problems have been ongoing for years. She says about half of the center doesn’t have cooling or heating.

The grievance comes amid air conditioning and power failures at the school district. On Friday, the district closed seven schools due to power issues. Four schools were also closed the following Monday due to similar issues.

Kanawha schools Superintendent Ron Duerring has said the county has an old ventilation system and not enough money to replace it.


►   Officials edge toward repealing city’s fortune-telling ban

Parkersburg officials have taken steps to lift a nearly 70-year-old ban on fortune-telling in the city.

The City Council voted 5-4 Tuesday to approve the first reading of an ordinance repealing the ban.

City resident Heather Cooper called for the change after she was initially denied a business license for her tarot card-reading business.

Officials had rejected the repeal in July, but court rulings submitted on Cooper’s behalf prompted one councilman to reconsider.

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia recently sent the city a letter saying the ban “is an unconstitutional restriction of speech.“

Washington, West Virginia, resident Janie Baer spoke out against the repeal, saying God would protect the city from any lawsuits that would result from keeping the ban.


►   Ex-hotel employee admits to embezzling more than $955,000

A former hotel employee in West Virginia has admitted to embezzling more than $955,000.

U.S. Attorney Carol Casto says in a news release that 52-year-old Mark Kuhn of Milton pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday in federal court in Charleston.

Kuhn worked for the Charleston Marriott Town Center as an accountant and general cashier, including collecting cash from the hotel’s gift shop, front desk, and restaurant and bar.

The statement says he admitted embezzling from the hotel from 2005 through February 2016 and posted false entries in the hotel’s accounting system.

The statement says Kuhn used the funds for personal expenses, including a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, and numerous vacation trips.

Kuhn faces up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for December 05.


►   WVDEP’s Mobile Aquarium Provides Glimpse Into West Virginia’s Underwater World

West Virginians will get a glimpse of the state’s wild and wonderful underwater world when the Department of Environmental Protection’s mobile aquarium visits Grafton High School on August 30 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The West Virginia-built mobile aquarium is six-feet deep and holds approximately 1,700 gallons of water. It weighs more than 25,000 pounds when full.

The mobile aquarium display is part of the Three Fork Creek survey conducted by the DEP’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation to repair acid mine drainage. The stream survey will be used to assess the effectiveness of water treatment in four tributaries of Three Fork Creek, which has included limestone dosers since 2011.

Since fish, and other aquatic life, are indicators of the health of a stream, every two years a survey is performed on Three Fork Creek. During the 2016 survey, the DEP’s Watershed Assessment Branch staff will collect fish and benthic macroinvertebrates and assess water chemistry and habitat on four sample sites along the creek. After the fish are catalogued, they will be transported to the mobile aquarium for the public to view on August 30. After the event, the fish will be released back to their native stream.


►   DHHR to Host Public Hearing on Proposed Source Water Protection Plan for Town of West Union

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Public Health’s Office of Environmental Health Services will hold a public hearing on Monday, August 29, 2016, to discuss the Town of West Union’s draft Source Water Protection Plan.

The intent of a Source Water Protection Plan is to identify strategies to minimize potential threats to source water and prepare for spills or other emergencies that could affect water service. If approved, the Plan would be valid for three years.

The public hearing will be held on Monday, August 29, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Lions Club building, 300 Court Street in West Union, WV.

Public comments, which will be considered by DHHR during the review process, may be submitted during the August 29 hearing or in writing by September 12 via mail, fax or email. Written comments should include the name, address and telephone number of the writer and a concise statement of the nature of the issues being raised. Issues should be kept relevant to the draft plan.

Persons interested in submitting comments may do so by using one of the following means:

•  U.S. Mail: West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, Office of Environmental Health, 350 Capitol Street, Room 313, Charleston, WV 25301-3713 Attn: Source Water Protection Program

•  Fax: 304.558.4322 with “Protection Plan Comments” written near the top

•  Email: with “Protection Plan Comments” in the subject line

Questions regarding how to submit comments for the public hearing may be directed to 304.356.4270.


►   Senator Manchin to Review Mylan Response to Criticism over EpiPens

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he’s concerned about skyrocketing prices for life-saving allergy injection pens made by a company headed by his daughter.

In a news release Thursday, the West Virginia Democrat says he plans a detailed review of drugmaker Mylan’s response to criticism about the cost of EpiPens.

Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, is CEO of Mylan. She told CNBC Thursday that lowering the price wasn’t an option.

Manchin says he plans to work with others to reduce prescription drug prices.

According to the Elsevier Clinical Solutions’ Gold Standard Drug Database, a two-dose package that cost around $94 nine years ago has risen more than 500 percent to an average cost of $608 in May. The hike has been criticized by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and members of Congress.


►   Report Blasts Plan to Change At-Risk Kids Psychiatric Care

The state Juvenile Justice Commission is accusing the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources of operating under a “cloak of secrecy” while negotiating new contracts to place youths in residential psychiatric facilities.

The commission released a report Monday saying that the DHHR intended to “unilaterally” overhaul the residential placement system without consulting key figures in the juvenile justice system or considering how the changes would affect residential centers’ finances.

The Supreme Court has placed a stay on a pending contract that would include a 180-day limit on juveniles’ stays at the facilities and change how services are billed.

The DHHR has said its changes are aimed at ensuring children with behavioral problems are assigned to a community-based setting, rather than the traditional group setting.

In USA….

The Free Press WV


►   Best, Worst U.S. States for Women

WalletHub set out to find which states do best when it comes to providing equality for women, and the results are good news for Hawaii and bad for Utah. They are at the top and bottom of the list, which uses factors from the workplace (including the pay gap between male and female executives), education (including disparities in “educational attainment”), and politics (including the number of female lawmakers). The best 10 states:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Alaska
  3. Maine
  4. California
  5. Vermont
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Minnesota
  8. Maryland
  9. New York
  10. Wisconsin

And the worst 10:

  1. Virginia
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Kentucky
  4. Mississippi
  5. South Carolina
  6. Louisiana
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. New Jersey
  9. Georgia
  10. Utah

Click for the FULL RANKINGS and methodology.


►   Chicago Leads U.S. in Murders, Lacks Detectives to Solve Them

The situation in Chicago looks dire. According to a Reuters report, the murder rate in America’s third-largest city is skyrocketing while the number of detectives tasked with solving those homicides is dropping. Chicago is on pace to have more homicides this year than in any year since 1997. In 2015, the Chicago Police Department had a 46% clearance rate for murders, leaving hundreds of homicides unsolved. It’s one of the lowest clearance rates in the country, where the average is 68%. Meanwhile, the number of detectives on the force has gone from 1,252 in 2008 to 922. Only 8% of Chicago’s police force is detectives compared to 15% in New York City and Los Angeles.

One recently retired detective in Chicago, which has more homicides than any other US city, tells Reuters you’d be working one homicide only to get assigned one or two more the next day. “You get so many cases you could not do an honest investigation on three-quarters of them,“ he says. Part of the problem is budgetary; another part is a focus on increasing street patrol officers. And while Chicago officials are stumped, Donald Trump believes he has the solution, the Chicago Tribune reports. Trump said Monday that the key to solving Chicago’s problem, according to the “very top police” he spoke to, is law enforcement “being very much tougher.“ Read the full Reuters piece HERE .


►   Man Upset at Tree for Ruining His Car Makes It Much Worse

Five people are homeless after a man’s afternoon of aggressive pruning went awry. WNEP reports Raymond Mazzarella of Pennsylvania was upset because sap from the branches of his neighbor’s tree was dripping onto his car. So he decided to take a chainsaw to the tree’s 3-foot-wide trunk. “Where he thought it was going to go, I don’t know,“ a code enforcement officer says. Where the tree went was directly onto Mazzarella’s apartment building.

Authorities ended up condemning the building after the tree landed on it, displacing five people that lived there. The Red Cross is helping relocate them. Authorities say Mazzarella returned to the condemned building Monday and got into a confrontation with a neighbor. He allegedly attacked the neighbor with his fists and a bat and was arrested. Mazzarella has been charged with assault and harassment.


►   Cops: Real Estate Agent Did the Deed in Home She Sold

Before the new owner of a home in Friendswood, Texas, could even hook up the appliances, an entirely different kind of hookup apparently took place inside. At least, that’s how it appears after the real estate agent who sold the property was arrested for allegedly having sex inside the home the day after the closing, the Houston Chronicle reports. Kayla Marisa Seloff, 22, and Joshua Gene Leal, 27, were arrested early Saturday after a neighbor heading to work reported seeing two people enter the vacant home, then flashes of light from inside, and called the cops, CW39 reports. Police say when they showed up, they peeked into a window and saw Seloff and Leal on the floor in one of the rooms and that the two initially tried to hide at first as officers gained entrance.

Eventually the pair emerged to talk with police, who say Seloff at first tried to pass off the home as hers, claiming Leal as her husband and the home as their own recently purchased abode. But when cops asked for proof, Seloff came up short and confessed to being the home seller, not the home dweller. The actual new owner said Seloff wasn’t allowed to be there and agreed to charges for both for criminal trespass. It’s not clear if Seloff was charged for the marijuana pipe and small stash of pot cops say they found in her car when she went to get her ID.


►   Dozens Ill as ‘Spice’ Rampages Through LA’s Skid Row

Almost 50 people got sick in Los Angeles on Friday, and another 22 became ill in the city Monday—and the LAPD believes the synthetic drug “spice” is to blame. The people reported feeling sick with “drug-induced symptoms,“ per My News LA, and investigators say the chemicals in the latest version of the drug, which ABC 7 refers to as synthetic marijuana, make it more addictive. Spice has been commonly used in the Skid Row area recently because it’s cheap and easy to find, police say, so they’ve started passing out flyers in the area warning people about the drug’s dangers.

Overdose symptoms included altered mental states, aggression, and even seizures in some cases. The Fire Department’s medical director calls the situation a public health crisis, KTLA reports. “Obviously, there’s a particularly potent batch of some illicit drugs that presumably people here are using,“ he says. “Patients’ lives are in danger.“


►   Woman Paralyzed After Branch Falls on Her at City Park

Cui Ying Zhou was at a San Francisco park watching her little girls play on August 12 when her life changed forever. A 100-pound branch fell 50 feet from a tree and hit her on the head, snapping her spine and leaving her paralyzed, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Now, a relative has set up a GoFundMe looking to raise $50,000 for Zhou and her family. “Cui is a stay-at-home mom who takes care of two little girls age 9 and 5 while husband, Jian Cong Tan works,“ the campaign states. “Jian has since taken time off work to take care of the kids and wife during this difficult time. This tragic event has made it very difficult for the family physically, emotionally, and financially with medical bills mounting.“

Zhou’s skull was also fractured in the incident at Washington Square Park in the North Beach area, which led Mayor Ed Lee to promise the city would review the condition of all its trees. A complete tree assessment had last been updated in 2010, at which time the pine tree that dropped the limb was listed as being in good condition. Arborists who did visual assessments of the trees in the area after Zhou’s accident say they are in good shape, and that what happened was just a freak accident, CBS Local reports. Zhou was still hospitalized as of Saturday, per KTVU. She told the station she doesn’t remember the branch falling, and that she has a lot of pain in her head and back but cannot feel anything from the waist down.


►   Wife Sentenced for Murder of Olympic Bronze Medalist

The wife of a 1984 Olympic medalist was sentenced to a potential life sentence on Tuesday for shooting him in what she claimed was self-defense following years of abuse. Jane Laut, 59, was given two mandatory, consecutive prison terms of 25 years to life for first-degree murder and using a gun during the killing, the Ventura County Star reports. Laut was the high school sweetheart of David Laut, who won a bronze medal in the shot put at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. At the time of his death, the 52-year-old was athletic director at Hueneme High School in Oxnard, Calif., reports the AP. The Lauts were married for 29 years before he was shot to death in a yard of their Oxnard home shortly before midnight on August 27, 2009.

Laut’s defense argued that she had been beaten and raped during the marriage and that on the night of the killing, her husband slammed her head against the wall and threatened her and their 10-year-old son with a revolver. Laut testified that her husband was shot as the couple struggled for the gun. The prosecution said that Laut was shot six times, including in the back of the head, with a gun that had to be cocked before each shot. “That is extraordinarily strong evidence,“ Ventura County Superior Court Judge David Worley said last Friday, adding Laut’s story was “clearly rejected” by the jury. The Star previously reported via court documents that Laut in January 2015 turned down a potential plea deal that would have resulted in a 6-year sentence. Laut is appealing.


►   Man’s Attempt to Get Friend to Stay at Party Kills Him

A birthday party in California turned tragic after the guest of honor was run over and killed by his friend. Police say Jonathan Carlyle Merkley was celebrating his 34th birthday early Sunday at a hotel near San Diego when a woman decided to leave the party. Merkley wanted her to stay and reportedly walked toward her BMW and laid down in front of what the Orange County Register describes as a moving car. The woman didn’t stop, ran him over, and kept going. Police cite witnesses as saying both had been drinking, Fox 5 reports.

Merkley, who suffered major chest trauma, died about 45 minutes later at a hospital. Police tracked the woman down and a car that “may have been involved” was impounded, cops tell the San Diego Union-Tribune. The woman was not arrested but police said on Tuesday that the investigation is continuing. “There’s a lot we still need to find out,“ says San Diego Police Sgt. Tim Underwood.


►   He Killed Her, Now He Wants World to Know Her Sex Life

Parents whose 19-year-old daughter was strangled, raped, and thrown in a river in 2012 are having old wounds reopened as the man serving a life sentence for the crime fights to reveal their daughter’s sexual history to the world, the Huffington Post reports. Seth Mazzaglia was convicted in 2014 of the rape and murder of Lizzi Marriott, whose body has not been found. He said the University of New Hampshire sophomore died accidentally during consensual sex. According to CBS News, Mazzaglia’s girlfriend at the time said she brought Marriott to Mazzaglia as a “sexual offering” and he killed her when she wouldn’t have sex with him. During the trial, Marriott’s sexual history was deemed inadmissible due to New Hampshire’s rape shield laws.

But the state Supreme Court in June ruled that those records be made public as part of Mazzaglia’s appeal, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. Both the state and Marriott’s parents filed emergency motions and they’re now going to court to try to keep any documents regarding Marriott’s sexual past sealed. “This has completely traumatized her family, who ... was just starting to heal,“ their attorney, Rus Rilee, tells HuffPo. The family is joined by more than a dozen organizations, including the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. They argue the state Supreme Court’s ruling would destroy rape shield laws around the country, as victims of sexual assault would be less likely to report it if they knew their sexual histories would become public on appeal. A hearing is scheduled for September 21.


►   Polygamist Fugitive May Have Been ‘Raptured’: Attorney

Lyle Jeffs’ lawyer really wishes she could consult with him regarding a food stamp fraud trial involving 11 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Fox 13 reports. But the polygamist leader of the FLDS, who the New York Daily News notes had been under house arrest for allegedly stealing and laundering $12 million in government benefits, has been missing from home confinement since June, and said attorney is now offering some interesting possible explanations for his vanishing.

In a Utah court filing Monday, Kathryn Nester concedes Jeffs may indeed be guilty of “absconding"—the FBI believes he may have used something slippery like olive oil to weasel his way out from under a GPS monitoring device—but she also threw out some other ideas. Nester said in the filing she’s unsure if he fled of his own accord, whether he was kidnapped, or “whether he experienced the miracle of rapture.“ Both Fox 13 and the Daily News note her theories appear to be a joke and that she informed the judge she’d be OK with delaying the fraud trial, apparently even if her client has ascended into the clouds to meet the Lord.


►   Burt’s Bees Founder Sees a Dream Fulfilled in Maine

President Obama on Wednesday created a new national monument in northern Maine on 87,000 acres donated by the co-founder of Burt’s Bees, fulfilling conservationist Roxanne Quimby’s goal of gifting the land during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the AP reports. The Katahdin Woods and Waters monument adjacent to Baxter State Park includes the East Branch of the Penobscot River and stunning views of Maine’s tallest mountain, Katahdin. The land is cherished by Native Americans, and its history includes visits by naturalist Henry David Thoreau and President Theodore Roosevelt. Quimby began buying the timberland in the 1990s with earnings from the Burt’s Bees line of natural care products. She wanted to see her vision become a reality this year during the centennial anniversary.

Supporters say the move will create hundreds of jobs in a region hurt by the closing of paper mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket. But critics fear that property maintained by the National Park Service would hinder efforts to rebuild a forest-based economy. This spring, Maine’s legislature passed a symbolic bill saying the legislature didn’t consent to the federal government acquiring the land. And Republican Governor Paul LePage opposed the proposal, calling it an “ego play” that was supported by “out-of-state liberals.“ Quimby’s son, Lucas St. Clair, who’s marshaled the effort, brushed aside such criticism on Wednesday. “Many parks over the history of the park system have been criticized upon creation. Governor LePage is not the first governor to oppose the creation of a new park. But when we look to the future, we see huge amounts of success,“ St. Clair told the AP.


►   Accused Face Biter’s Organs Malfunctioning, Says Dad

The father of a college student accused of randomly killing a couple and biting the dead husband’s face says his son’s organs are malfunctioning, the AP reports. Dr. Wade Harrouff told the Palm Beach Post that his 19-year-old son, Austin Harrouff, who is in critical but stable condition, has a malfunctioning liver, fluid in his lungs, and a bleeding esophagus. The South Florida dentist said the hospital is doing an MRI on Wednesday. Martin County Sheriff William Snyder has said Austin Harrouff may have ingested chemicals from the garage of John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon during the August 15 stabbings, which also wounded their neighbor. The sheriff says the former high school football player and wrestler will be charged with murder once he’s out of the hospital.


►   With Mom Dead, Her 3 Kids Missing, Cops Hunt Aunt

Kimberly Harvill was found dead on the side of a California road on August 14, and her three young children are missing. Los Angeles County authorities are now searching for two people suspected of kidnapping them, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the LA County Sheriff’s Department, Joshua Robertson, 27, and Brittany Humphrey, 22, were last seen with the kids—Joslynn Watkins, 2; Brayden Watkins, 3; and Rylee Watkins, 5. Humphrey is Harvill’s half-sister, CBS LA reports.

Robertson has a criminal history, and both he and Humphrey are considered armed and dangerous, authorities say; the pair is believed to have left California. They are likely driving Harvill’s green 1999 Ford Expedition, which has a rear sticker that says “RIP Chad Watkins” as well as a six-person stick-figure family decal. Harvill’s neighbor tells ABC 7 the children lost their father to suicide. Harvill was found with head trauma and gunshots to the upper body, and police also want to question Robertson and Humphrey about her murder.

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