GilmerFreePress.net

As You Watch Monday’s Cosmic Show, Don’t Take Its Star for Granted

The Free Press WV

Total eclipses of the sun are rare, and Monday’s passage of the moon in front of our mother star is generating a lot of attention. Some 20 million people are expected to occupy the rather narrow 70-mile band of “totality” that will arch from Oregon to South Carolina. At its fullest, the eclipse will bring a couple of minutes or so of strange twilight. Perhaps the birds will stop singing, the milk will turn, and bats will pour from attics.

Let’s hope the heavens are clear, because people deserve to see and ponder this great phenomenon. Nature brings a calming perspective to our own lives, and nature at cosmic play puts us in our place.

One thing we shouldn’t do, however, is to think that the sun is some player on a distant stage. It is the raging ball of plasma that makes life on Earth possible. This may be stating the obvious, but it seems useful to state the obvious from time to time. (Only three out of every four people surveyed by the National Science Foundation believe the Earth goes around the sun.)

No one is aware of our primary dependency on the sun more than the gardener. We all learn that plants developed to convert the sun’s light energy into food. Even knowing this, the process seems beyond magical. It is worth recounting: Leaves contain structures called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts hold molecules of chlorophyll, which gives vegetation its green cast but is also the agent of the molecular transformation.

In simple terms, the plant takes carbon dioxide from the air and hydrogen from water and uses light to create carbohydrates while releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. To put it another way, the sun and the plants replace atmospheric carbon dioxide with oxygen and make food for the plants.

Because we breathe oxygen and eat plants (and animals that eat plants), the value of this chemical reaction might be overlooked but cannot be overstated.

Leaves, thus, are the original solar panels, but not all leaves are the same. Plants come in an enormous array of shapes and sizes, not for the delectation of the gardener but to find their niche in this world. Some adaptations are not directly driven by the needs of photosynthesis, but many are shaped by the plant’s relationship with the sun. When one gardener offers a new plant to another, the first question is, “Is it for sun or shade?“

I went to the U.S. Botanic Garden’s conservatory to ask Bill McLaughlin, curator of plants, to point out some of these vegetative adaptations to light. Standing by a cacao tree, which gives us chocolate, he noted how the new, tender leaves are cast brown-orange in contrast to the thick, green mature leaves, and hang down to avoid the light. “You can tell how delicate the tissue is,“ he said. (It feels like soft silk.) “This is basically suntan lotion for it.“

He thinks of the humble ficus plant. Indoors, it has large green leaves to catch as many rays as possible, but when you place it in the brighter outdoors, it grows leaves that are smaller and more yellow and with a waxier cuticle.

Other plants may not be as versatile, and once they find their niche, they are loath to stray too far from it.

The rain forest is made up of plants that like full sun, i.e., the canopy trees, and those beneath that do not. But it is a spectrum of exposure; orchids and other epiphytes find a modicum of light in the tree branches, and those on the forest floor are built for gloom. This includes the purple underleaf coloration, which is thought to soak up the light reflected off the ground.

At the lowest level of the jungle, these plants “may only have 5 to 10 percent of the ambient light,“ McLaughlin said. “Often, they orientate their leaves in a horizontal direction.“

In the showiest part of the conservatory, the high-domed jungle area, we find a rain forest groundcover named hemigraphis, with its upper leaf surface a metallic gray, its underleaf a glowing purple. “Everything will fill every space it can,“ he said. Nature abhors a vacuum, even in the shadows.

Above the hemigraphis grows a coral tree, Macaranga grandifolia, a plant with enormous dark green leaves, each the size of a bedside table, and arrayed in a spiral fashion so one doesn’t shade another. “We are talking about blocking the light for a few moments,“ said McLaughlin, referring to the eclipse. “These plants have to deal with blocked light all day long and still make energy.“

In the totally opposite conditions of the desert, plants have adopted spectacularly different forms (and a different method of photosynthesis, so their pores open only at night).

Their mission is to preserve water, through their succulent architecture, and to prevent tissue damage caused by the light and the heat.

Some have small leaves held upright to minimize sun exposure, and some, like the familiar prickly-pear cactus, the opuntia, dispense with leaves. The photosynthesizing pads are modified stems.

Nearby, an impressive (and endangered) golden barrel cactus the size of a pouf deals with the light with ingenuity. Its exterior is a series of ridges and valleys, like an accordion. This permits the plant to cast its own shade between the ridges as the sunlight traverses it. “Probably at the point where it would be overheating, the sun will move on a millimeter or so,“ he said. In the wild, a cactus this size would be a century old. This pampered example is probably 30 to 40 years old, McLaughlin said. The sun has fed it well.

At the other end of the desert house, he stops to pluck a leaf from a ground hugger, Haworthia truncata. It is dark green and fleshy, and when he splits it open, he shows that the top of the structure is filled with a clear jelly that sits between the sunlight above and the chloroplasts below. “It’s basically a diffuser panel,“ he said, likening it to the way gardeners whitewash greenhouses in the summer to reduce the sun’s energy.

If solar panels are black, to maximize their light absorption, why aren’t plants black? (A few shade lovers are close to it.) “Well, they would burn up,“ McLaughlin said. Green is a good compromise – dark but not too dark. “It ends up being a happy medium.“

The plants may go to bed on Monday a little hungrier, but they’ll be all right. The most beautiful thing about a solar eclipse is that it passes.

Mountaineer Food Bank Names Beverly Surratt Winner of Logo Contest

The Free Press WV

Mountaineer Food Bank recently held a contest in which state residents were asked to take part in designing a new logo to represent its mission to feed hungry West Virginians.

The Mountaineer Food Bank board of directors selected the winning design from more than 30 submissions. The new logo was created by Beverly Surratt, a professional and freelance graphic designer from Huntington with a visual communication degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and over 30 years of professional experience.

She received a $100 gift card for her winning design.

Surratt said she was inspired by the West Virginia tradition of neighbors sharing their harvest with each other as well as by the iconic landscapes and colorful features of her home state.

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  Over 1,000 student-issued iPads are unaccounted for

About 1,000 iPad tablet computers have not been recovered by a school system in West Virginia over the past three school years.

The Kanawha County Board of Education learned Thursday that 1,269 out of just over 15,000 iPads were not recovered. Officials say the county sees about a 2.8 percent annual loss, with the largest source coming from student transfers.

The school system’s technology director Leah Sparks says the number should decrease as students continue to turn in tablets.

She says starting this year, the tablets will include a new feature allowing the county to pinpoint the location of the device. Eventually, the location of the missing tablets will be given to authorities.


►  West Virginia office that supervises sex offenders will end

A West Virginia office that has supervised sex offenders for nearly a decade will end.

The Intensive Supervision Office will end in September. The move comes after West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Allen Loughry signed an order calling for a consolidation and reformulation of the state’s probation office on June 26.

Loughry wrote that the program’s centralized, rather than local, administration means that in many cases the court’s ISO probation officers are not afforded the local knowledge and wisdom of the circuit judges and chief probation officers in the communities where the offenders reside.

According to the administrative order, a decrease from 14,000 to 10,000 total supervised individuals led to the program’s end.


►  Road project at West Virginia airport is completed early

West Virginia’s Yeager Airport says a paving project on the road leading to it has been completed ahead of schedule.

The airport said the project was completed Wednesday and caused minimal delay to airport patrons.

The airport’s news release said the Department of Highways reported the project’s total cost was $351,500.

Airport Director Terry Sayre says the project provided a big improvement for customers and enhances visitors’ first impressions of West Virginia.

Airport Road is a state highway and the main access road to Yeager Airport.


►  WVU awarded federal funding for acid mine drainage project

The U.S. Energy Department has selected West Virginia University for the second phase of research in a project that would recover rare earth elements from coal mine drainage.

U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin announced the $2.7 million grant Thursday.

The West Virginia senators say in a statement that the project uses acid mine drainage solids to recover rare earth elements and other useful materials.

WVU says rare earth elements have numerous applications and are used in devices such as cell phones, medical equipment and defense applications. The university says conventional recovery methods are difficult, expensive and generate large volumes of contaminated waste.


►  New sheriff in West Virginia to leave post for new job

A sheriff in West Virginia has announced his resignation after seven months on the job.

News outlets report Monroe County Sheriff Sean Crosier submitted his resignation to county commissioners Tuesday, effective September 4. Crosier said in a statement that he has taken a job with an undisclosed organization that prepares the U.S. Department of Defense and other security agencies for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive attacks.

He said the employment shift was prompted by familial obligations, as his wife will not be able to retire at the expected time.

The Monroe County Commission must appoint a new sheriff within 30 days of the office’s vacation. The commission says the appointee must be a Democrat, like Crosier. The seat will be back on the ballot in the May 2018 primary.

National News

The Free Press WV


►  Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Trump’s turbulent White House

Steve Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in Donald Trump’s White House, is leaving.

Trump accepted Bannon’s resignation on Friday, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president’s administration in turmoil.

White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday would be Bannon’s last day on the job.

“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” she said in a statement confirming reports of Bannon’s departure.

A combative and unorthodox Republican, Bannon was a key adviser in Trump’s general election campaign, but he has been a contentious presence in a White House divided by warring staff loyalties.

The former leader of conservative Breitbart News has pushed Trump to follow through on his campaign promises and was the man behind many of his most controversial efforts, including Trump’s travel ban and decision to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement.

But Bannon repeatedly clashed with other top White House advisers and often ran afoul of the president himself.

Bannon offered his resignation to Trump on August 07, according to one person close to the adviser.

The resignation was to go into effect a week later, August 14, which was the one year anniversary of when he officially joined Trump’s presidential campaign. It was then held back a few days after the violence in Charlottesville.

But Bannon had been on shaky ground for weeks, and his standing appeared in jeopardy when Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, embarked on a personnel review of West Wing staff. Kelly had indicated to aides that significant changes could be coming, according to an official familiar with Kelly’s plans but not authorized to speak publicly.

The president had also repeatedly diminished Bannon’s role in his campaign in recent remarks and refused to express confidence during an impromptu news conference Tuesday.

“He’s a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard,” Trump said. “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”

The decision whether to drop Bannon was more than just a personnel matter. The media guru is viewed in some circles as Trump’s connection to his base and the protector of Trump’s disruptive, conservative agenda.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow if Steve is gone because you have a Republican West Wing that’s filled with generals and Democrats,” said former campaign strategist Sam Nunberg, shortly before the news of Bannon’s departure broke. “It would feel like the twilight zone.”


►  Soothing the nation? Trump struggles like no other

For Susan Bro, mother of the woman killed at a rally organized by white supremacists, the president of the United States can offer no healing words.

She says the White House repeatedly tried to reach out to her on Wednesday, the day of Heather Heyer’s funeral. But she’s since watched Donald Trump lay blame for the Charlottesville violence on “both sides.”

“You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying ‘I’m sorry,’” she said in a television interview on Friday.

In moments like this, of national crisis or tragedy, presidents typically shed their political skin, at least briefly. They use the broad appeal of the presidency to unite and soothe, urging citizens to remember their humanity, their common bonds as Americans.

George W. Bush famously climbed atop a pile of rubble in New York City to speak through a bullhorn after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” during the eulogy for a black pastor killed in a racially motivated shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Like no other president in recent history, Trump has struggled with this part of his duties.

He talks about politics at odd moments — reminding Boy Scouts and Coast Guard graduates alike that he won the election and the media are out to get him — and has continued speaking to his core supporters with less effort to appeal to the rest of the country. The harsh language that turned off those who voted against him last year hasn’t abated during his seven months in the White House, part of the reason his approval rating is locked in the 30s.

Trump’s words on Charlottesville “caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn,” the 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney wrote on Facebook on Friday.

With CEOs fleeing after Trump’s comments, he disbanded White House business councils. The entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned. On Friday, numerous charities were following the Cleveland Clinic in pulling business from his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. And some Republican lawmakers who had hoped to work with Trump lambasted him — Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said Thursday the president has not shown he knows “the character of the nation.”

With many in his party and his White House reeling after the Charlottesville crisis, the president traveled from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club to Camp David for a national security meeting on Friday. For a second day, Trump had no public appearances planned.

Once again, Trump left it to his Twitter feed to show his mindset: On Thursday, he defended Confederate monuments and offered support to allies in Spain after terror attacks. Then he appeared to revive a grisly, debunked tale about a U.S. general’s brutal killing of Muslims. His Friday messages included the need for strong national security and retweets from a conservative talk show host who reassured him that supporters weren’t deserting him.

Trump has expressed no regrets about his Tuesday press conference that enraged many Americans and prompted Bro’s comments on Friday. Senior strategist Steve Bannon was one of the few to publicly support Trump’s comments as politically savvy. A divisive figure who shares Trump’s “America first” instincts, Bannon lost his job on Friday.

The White House isn’t saying whether Trump plans to travel to Charlottesville at any point.

Some in his Cabinet have tried to step into what are normally presidential shoes. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that racism is “evil” and that “hate is not an American value.”

An early example in his presidency showed how divisive he is — and why even in the most somber moments it can be difficult for him to effectively reach out.

He and his daughter Ivanka Trump quietly traveled February 1 to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for the return of the remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen, William “Ryan” Owens. But the grieving family members had mixed feelings.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” the sailor’s father, Bill Owens, later told The Miami Herald.

But at the end of the month, Ryan Owens’ widow, Carryn, attended Trump’s address to Congress and wept as the president thanked her and said, “Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.”

Trump has shown his softer side at times. He explained that he had ordered a missile strike in Syria in part because of the images — “innocent babies, little babies” — he’d seen of the aftermath of a chemical attack that the U.S. concluded was the work of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

On Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, Trump tenderly listened as a 6-year-old dressed in a tiny replica of a Marine uniform talked about his father, who’d died in a training accident when the boy was a baby.

And Trump has befriended Jamiel Shaw, whose namesake son was murdered by a man in the country illegally.

As president-elect, Trump traveled to Ohio State University 10 days after a man plowed his car into a crowd of people and then began stabbing some of them. The violence left about 13 people injured, and a campus police officer fatally shot the attacker.

Trump met privately with the officer and some of the victims. One of them, Marc Coons, who didn’t vote for Trump, was apprehensive about going — worried Trump might focus on the attacker, a Somali refugee.

“He didn’t say anything mean, and I give him credit for that,” the 30-year-old said. Coons was slashed near one of his shoulders but has recovered. One moment that sticks with him, he said, was Trump asking whether he had been “carred or knifed” just before they took a photo together.

“It struck me as a bit insensitive,” Coons said. “I just ignored it.”


►  NASA, PBS marking 40 years since Voyager spacecraft launche

Forty years after blasting off, Earth’s most distant ambassadors — the twin Voyager spacecraft — are carrying sounds and music of our planet ever deeper into the cosmos.

Think of them as messages in bottles meant for anyone — or anything — out there.

This Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of NASA’s launch of Voyager 2, now almost 11 billion miles distant. It departed from Cape Canaveral on August 20, 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn.

Voyager 1 followed a few weeks later and is ahead of Voyager 2. It’s humanity’s farthest spacecraft at 13 billion miles away and is the world’s only craft to reach interstellar space, the vast mostly emptiness between star systems. Voyager 2 is expected to cross that boundary during the next few years.

Each carries a 12-inch, gold-plated copper phonograph record (there were no CDs or MP3s back then) containing messages from Earth: Beethoven’s Fifth, chirping crickets, a baby’s cry, a kiss, wind and rain, a thunderous moon rocket launch, African pygmy songs, Solomon Island panpipes, a Peruvian wedding song and greetings in dozens of languages. There are also more than 100 electronic images on each record showing 20th-century life, traffic jams and all.

NASA is marking the anniversary of its back-to-back Voyager launches with tweets, reminisces and still captivating photos of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune taken by the Voyagers from 1979 through the 1980s.

Public television is also paying tribute with a documentary, “The Farthest - Voyager in Space,” airing Wednesday on PBS at 9 p.m. EDT.

The two-hour documentary describes the tense and dramatic behind-the-scenes effort that culminated in the wildly successful missions to our solar system’s outer planets and beyond. More than 20 team members are interviewed, many of them long retired. There’s original TV footage throughout, including a lookback at the late astronomer Carl Sagan of the 1980 PBS series “Cosmos.” It also includes an interview with Sagan’s son, Nick, who at 6 years old provided the English message: “Hello from the children of Planet Earth.”

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco — who joined Voyager’s imaging team in 1980 — puts the mission up there with man’s first moon landing.

“I consider Voyager to be the Apollo 11 of the planetary exploration program. It has that kind of iconic stature,” Porco, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

It was Sagan who, in large part, got a record aboard each Voyager. NASA was reluctant and did not want the records eclipsing the scientific goals. Sagan finally prevailed, but he and his fellow record promoters had less than two months to rustle everything up.

The identical records were the audio version of engraved plaques designed by Sagan and others for Pioneers 10 and 11, launched in 1972 and 1973.

The 55 greetings for the Voyager Golden Records were collected at Cornell University, where Sagan taught astronomy, and the United Nations in New York. The music production fell to science writer Timothy Ferris, a friend of Sagan living then in New York.

For the musical selections, Ferris and Sagan recruited friends along with a few professional musicians. They crammed in 90 minutes of music recorded at half-speed; otherwise it would have lasted just 45 minutes.

How to choose from an infinite number of melodies and melodious sounds representing all of Earth?

Beethoven, Bach and Mozart were easy picks. Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven represented jazz, Blind Willie Johnson gospel blues.

For the rock ‘n’ roll single, the group selected Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit “Johnny B. Goode.” Bob Dylan was a close runner-up, and the Beatles also rated high. Elvis Presley’s name came up (Presley died four days before Voyager 2′s launch). In the end, Ferris thought “Johnny B. Goode” best represented the origins and creativity of rock ‘n’ roll.

Ferris still believes it’s “a terrific record” and he has no “deep regrets” about the selections. Even the rejected tunes represented “beautiful materials.”

“It’s like handfuls of diamonds. If you’re concerned that you didn’t get the right handful or something, it’s probably a neurotic problem rather than anything to do with the diamonds,” Ferris told the AP earlier this week.

But he noted: “If I were going to start into regrets, I suppose not having Italian opera would be on that list.”

The whole record project cost $30,000 or $35,000, to the best of Ferris’ recollection.

NASA estimated the records would last 1 billion to 3 billion years or more — potentially outliving human civilization.

For Ferris, it’s time more than distance that makes the whole idea of finders-keepers so incomprehensible.

A billion years from now, “Voyager could be captured by an advanced civilization of beings that don’t exist yet ... It’s literally imponderable what will happen to the Voyagers,” he said.


►  After Charlottesville, colleges brace for more hate attacks

Nicholas Fuentes is dropping out of Boston University and heading south, pressing ahead with his right-wing politics despite receiving online death threats.

The 19-year-old joined a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and posted a defiant Facebook message promising that a “tidal wave of white identity is coming,” less than an hour after a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Now, he’s hoping to transfer to Auburn University in Alabama.

“I’m ready to return to my base, return to my roots, to rally the troops and see what I can do down there,” Fuentes said in an interview this week.

At college campuses, far-right extremist groups have found fertile ground to spread their messages and attract new followers.

For many schools, the rally in Virginia served as a warning that these groups will no longer limit their efforts to social media or to flyers furtively posted around campus.

“It seems like what might have been a little in the shadows has come into full sun, and now it’s out there and exposed for everyone to see,” said Sue Riseling, a former police chief at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

The violence in Charlottesville introduced many Americans to a new brand of hate, bred on internet message boards and migrating to the streets with increasing frequency.

On the eve of Saturday’s rally, young white men wearing khakis and white polo shirts marched through the University of Virginia’s campus, holding torches as they chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans. The next morning, many donned helmets and shields and clashed with counter-protesters before a car drove into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.

On Monday, Texas A&M University canceled plans for a “White Lives Matter” rally in September. On Wednesday, the University of Florida denied a request for white nationalist Richard Spencer to rent space on campus for a September event. Spencer and his supporters are promising court challenges.

Expecting more rallies to come, Riseling’s group is planning a series of training events to help campus police prepare.

“If you’re sitting on a campus where this hasn’t happened, consider this your wake-up call that it might,” she said.

Last school year, racist flyers popped up on college campuses at a rate that experts called unprecedented. The Anti-Defamation League counted 161 white supremacist “flyering incidents” on 110 college campuses between September and June. Oren Segal, director of the group’s Center on Extremism, said the culprits can’t be dismissed as harmless trolls.

“You might have a few that don’t take it seriously. But those that do, those are the ones we’re concerned about,” Segal said.

Matthew Heimbach, the 26-year-old leader of the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party, admits that dropping leaflets on campuses is a cheap way to generate media coverage.

“A dollar worth of paper, if it triggers the right person, can become $100,000 in media attention,” he said.

As a student at Towson University in Maryland, Heimbach made headlines for forming a “White Student Union” — a group the school refused to formally recognize — and for scrawling messages like “white pride” in chalk on campus sidewalks. His college years are behind him, but Heimbach still views colleges as promising venues to expand his group’s ranks. College students are running four of his group’s chapters, he said.

“The entire dynamic has changed,” Heimbach said. “I used to be the youngest person at white nationalist meetings by 20 or 30 years.”

The Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, a self-described “alt-right” nonprofit educational group, says it’s offering legal assistance to students caught hanging up posters or flyers containing “hate facts.” The “alt-right” is a fringe movement loosely mixing white nationalism, anti-Semitism and anti-immigration populism.

One of the foundation’s attorneys, Jason Van Dyke, said he represented a student at Southern Methodist University who was accused last year of posting flyers on campus that said, “Why White Women Shouldn’t Date Black Men.” The student wasn’t suspended or expelled, Van Dyke added.

“Just because speech makes someone uncomfortable or offends somebody does not make it a violation of the student code of conduct,” he said.

Scores of schools publicly denounced the violence in Virginia this week, including some that learned they enroll students who attended the “Unite the Right” rally.

The University of Nevada, Reno, said it stands against bigotry and racism but concluded there’s “no constitutional or legal reason” to expel Peter Cvjetanovic, a 20-year-old student and school employee who attended the rally, as an online petition demanded.

Other schools, including Washington State University, condemned the rally but didn’t specifically address their students who attended it.

Campus leaders say they walk a fine line when trying to combat messages from hate groups. Many strive to protect speech even if it’s offensive but also recognize hate speech can make students feel unsafe. Some schools have sought to counter extremist messages with town halls and events promoting diversity. Others try to avoid drawing attention to hate speech.

After flyers promoting white supremacy were posted at Purdue University last school year, Purdue President Mitch Daniels refused to dwell on the incident.

“This is a transparent effort to bait people into overreacting, thereby giving a minuscule fringe group attention it does not deserve, and that we decline to do,” Daniels said in a statement at the time.

Cameron Padgett, a 23-year-old senior at Georgia State University, only dabbled in campus activism before he decided to organize a speaking engagement for Spencer this year. Padgett sued — successfully — for Spencer to speak at Auburn University in April after the school tried to cancel the event.

“My motivation from the beginning was just free speech,” he said.

Padgett calls himself an “identitarian” — not a white nationalist — and insists “advocating for the interests of white people” doesn’t make him a racist. Padgett said he hasn’t faced harassment for working with Spencer and doesn’t fear any.

“There are a lot of people who just sit behind keyboards,” he said. “But what are we doing this for if no one wants to show their face?”

At Boston University, Fuentes says he met a few others with similar views — he considers himself a “white advocate” — but mostly found political kinship online. He hosts his own YouTube show and is prolific on social media, but when he heard about the “Unite the Right” rally, he saw it as a chance to network in the real world.

“It was going from online to actually physically assembling somewhere,” he said. “We shake hands, we look people in the eye. We actually have some solidarity in the movement.”

So, along with a friend from Chicago, Fuentes booked a flight and headed to Virginia.


►  Trump defends Confederate statues, berates his critics

With prominent Republicans openly questioning his competence and moral leadership, Donald Trump burrowed deeper into the racially charged debate over Confederate memorials and lashed out at members of his own party in the latest controversy to engulf his presidency.

Out of sight but still online, Trump tweeted his defense of monuments to Confederate icons — bemoaning rising efforts to remove them as an attack on America’s “history and culture.”

And he berated his critics who, with increasingly sharper language, have denounced his initially slow and then ultimately combative comments on the racial violence at a white supremacist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump was much quicker Thursday to condemn violence in Barcelona, where more than a dozen people were killed when a van veered onto a sidewalk and sped down a busy pedestrian zone in what authorities called a terror attack.

He then added to his expression of support by reviving a debunked legend about a U.S. general subduing Muslim rebels a century ago in the Philippines by shooting them with bullets dipped in pig blood.

“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s unpredictable, defiant and, critics claim, racially provocative behavior has clearly begun to wear on his Republican allies — and also has upset the mother of Heather Heyer, the young woman killed in the Charlottesville violence.

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that she initially missed the first few calls to her from the White House. But she said “now I will not” talk to the president after a news conference in which Trump equated violence by white supremacists at the rally with violence by those protesting the rally.

Heyer was killed when a driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators protesting the white nationalists.

Trump found no comfort in his own party, either. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, whom Trump had considered for a Cabinet post, declared Thursday that “the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to” in dealing with crises. And Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska tweeted, “Anything less than complete & unambiguous condemnation of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK by the @POTUS is unacceptable. Period.”

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said Trump’s “moral authority is compromised.”

Trump, who is known to try to change the focus of news coverage with an attention-grabbing declaration, sought to shift Thursday from the white supremacists to the future of statues.

“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it,” he tweeted. “Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish. ...

“Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” he tweeted.

Trump met separately Thursday at his golf club in nearby Bedminster with the administrator of the Small Business Administration and Florida Governor Rick Scott. Trump also prepared for an unusual meeting Friday at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland with his national security team to discuss strategy for South Asia, including India, Pakistan and the way forward in Afghanistan.

Mike Pence cut short a long-planned Latin America tour to attend.

Before the trip to Camp David, Trump tweeted Friday morning that “Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary!” In a separate tweet, he added that the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement are “on alert & closely watching for any sign of trouble.”

Though out of public view for two consecutive days, Trump sought to make his voice heard on Twitter as he found himself increasingly under siege and alone while fanning the controversy over race and politics toward a full-fledged national conflagration.

He dissolved two business councils Wednesday after the CEO members began quitting, damaging his central campaign promise to be a business-savvy chief executive in the Oval Office.

And the White House said Thursday that it was abandoning plans to form an infrastructure advisory council.

Two major charities, the Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society, announced they are canceling fundraisers scheduled for Trump’s resort in Palm Beach, Florida, amid the continuing backlash over Trump’s remarks.

And the CEO of 21st Century Fox, James Murdoch, has denounced racism and terrorists while expressing concern over Trump’s statements.

Murdoch writes that the event in Charlottesville and Trump’s response is a concern for all people. “I can’t believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists.”

Murdoch is the son of the company’s co-executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch, a Trump confidant.

Meanwhile, rumblings of discontent from Trump’s staff grew so loud that the White House was forced to release a statement saying that Trump’s chief economic adviser wasn’t quitting. And the president remained on the receiving end of bipartisan criticism for his handling of the aftermath of the Charlottesville clashes.

On Thursday, he hit back hard — against Republicans.

He accused “publicity-seeking” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina of falsely stating Trump’s position on the demonstrators. He called Arizona Senator Jeff Flake “toxic” and praised Flake’s potential primary election opponent.

Graham said Wednesday that Trump “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency” between the marching white supremacists and the people who had been demonstrating against them. Flake has been increasingly critical of Trump in recent weeks.


►  Why hate came to the progressive island of Charlottesville

The white nationalists behind last weekend’s violent rally found an appealing target in the historic town where Thomas Jefferson founded a university and an outspoken, progressive mayor declared his city the “capital of the resistance” to Donald Trump.

For more than a year, the Charlottesville government has also been engaged in contentious public soul searching over its Confederate monuments, a process that led to the decision to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee. All those factors made this community a symbolically powerful backdrop for what’s considered the largest white nationalist gathering in at least a decade.

“We are a progressive, tolerant city. We are also a Southern city,” Mayor Mike Signer said. About a year and a half ago, Charlottesville “decided to launch on the difficult but essential work of finally telling the truth about race. That made us a target for tons of people who don’t want to change the narrative.”

On the eve of Saturday’s rally, hundreds of white men marched through the University of Virginia campus, holding torches and chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. The next morning, many looked like they were dressed for war as they made their way to Emancipation Park.

They clashed with counter-protesters in a stunning display of violence before authorities forced the crowd to disperse. Later, a car plowed into a crowd of demonstrators, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

With a population of around 47,000, Charlottesville is a progressive island in a conservative part of Virginia.

The funky, cosmopolitan town is nestled in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s known for being home to Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello, and the place where the Dave Matthews Band got its start.

The heart of its downtown is an open-air pedestrian mall lined with restaurants, bars and quirky boutiques. Tourists flock to Charlottesville not only for the history and culture but also to visit the wineries that dot the countryside just outside of town.

Charlottesville was easily overwhelmed by the numbers that showed up Saturday, said Ed Ayers, a leading Civil War scholar who taught at UVA for decades before moving to Richmond.

Despite Virginia’s bloody part in the Civil War, Ayers said, the Lee statue does not have a significant historical connection to Charlottesville. The city “did not play a central role in the war at all, he explained, and the statue was not erected until the 1920s, when Jim Crow laws were eroding the rights of black citizens.

Charlottesville was just “a very clear symbol they could go to and have a protest,” Ayers said.

The city is proud of Jefferson’s university, a prestigious school with graduates that include prominent figures such as Robert F. Kennedy. But UVA is also a school largely built by slaves and where professors had ideological connections to the resistance movement that followed the Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation decision.

The university did not admit black students until 1950. Last year, figures provided by the school show only 6 percent of students were black.

White nationalist leader Richard Spencer — a UVA grad who was one of the most high-profile speakers lined up for the rally — echoed Ayers’ perspective. He said that the Confederate monuments are a metaphor for something “much bigger,” referring to “white dispossession and the de-legitimization of white people in this country and around the world.”

Saturday was not Spencer’s first demonstration in Charlottesville. In May, he was among another torch-wielding group that rallied around the statue at night, chanting, “You will not replace us.” Later that month, local right-wing blogger and UVA graduate Jason Kessler applied for the permit for Saturday’s event.

Then, in July, about 50 Ku Klux Klan members rallied at the statue, where they were met by more than 1,000 protesters. That, too, made national news.

Oren Segal, director of Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said hate groups are eager to exploit media attention.

“When they saw a built-in opportunity to build off the other two rallies, it was clear they decided, ‘This is the place. We’re going to get more attention here,’” he said.

Virginia’s closely watched governor’s race, one of only two in the nation this year, also helped draw attention.

Republican Corey Stewart successfully made the statue’s proposed removal a key talking point in the GOP primary, which he almost won despite being an underdog.

Stewart, a one-time state chairman of Trump’s campaign, made several campaign stops in Charlottesville. At least one public appearance was with Kessler.

Katie Straight, who stood outside the downtown theater Wednesday where a memorial service for Heyer took place, agreed that the city’s “democratic” discussion about what to do with the statues had contributed to the scope of what happened Saturday.

“I also think that you have a group of angry people in this country who are looking for a place to physically terrorize those who might challenge their legacy of power,” Straight said. “And Charlottesville, in this historic moment, happens to be that place. I hope and pray it’s the last place, but I don’t think it will be.”


►  Ohio man who plotted attacks on U.S. military to be sentenced

An Ohio man who admitted he plotted to kill military members in the U.S. after receiving training in Syria is scheduled to be sentenced.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud (ab-dee-RAH’-mahn shayk moh-HAH’-mud) is set to be sentenced Friday morning in federal court in Columbus.

Mohamud’s attorney argues a lengthy prison term isn’t necessary.

Attorney Sam Shamansky says the 25-year-old Mohamud recruited others when he returned home before recognizing “the immoral and illegal nature of terrorist ideology.”

Court documents unsealed earlier this summer show Mohamud pleaded guilty almost two years ago to terrorism charges.

Government prosecutors want a judge to impose a 23-year sentence. They say Mohamud tried to cover up dangerous terrorist activity.


►  Mother of slain protester says she won’t talk to Trump

The mother of a woman who was killed while protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said Friday that she won’t talk to Donald Trump because of comments he made after her daughter’s death.

Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Susan Bro said she initially missed the first few calls to her from the White House. But she said “now I will not” talk to the president after a news conference in which Trump equated violence by white supremacists at the rally with violence by those protesting the rally.

Bro’s daughter, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed and 19 others were injured when a driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators last Saturday. An Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., has been arrested and charged with murder and other offenses.

In the hours afterward, Trump drew criticism when he addressed the violence in broad strokes, saying he condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

Pressured by advisers, the president had softened his words on the dispute Monday, but returned to his combative stance Tuesday — insisting during an unexpected and contentious news conference at Trump Tower that “both sides” were to blame.

“You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying ‘I’m sorry,’” Bro said of the president. She also advised Trump to “think before you speak.”


►  Maryland removes Dred Scott ruling author’s statue

A statue of the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African Americans was removed from the grounds of the Maryland State House early Friday.

The statue of Roger B. Taney was lifted away by a crane at about 2 a.m. It was lowered into a truck and driven away to storage.

The bronze statue was erected in 1872, just outside the original front door of the State House.

Three of the four voting members of the State House Trust voted by email Wednesday to move the statue. House Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat who was one of the three who voted to remove it, wrote this week that the statue “doesn’t belong” on the grounds.

His comments came after the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, with clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters. A woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people who were there to condemn the white nationalists, who had rallied against Charlottesville officials’ decision to remove a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, said this week that removing the statue of Taney in Annapolis was “the right thing to do.” Republican Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford voted on behalf of the administration to remove the statue.

One member of the trust, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, criticized holding the vote without a public meeting.

“This was certainly a matter of such consequence that the transparency of a public meeting and public conversation should have occurred,” Miller, a Democrat, wrote in a letter Thursday to Hogan.

While the statue’s removal was not publicized, a couple dozen onlookers watched as workers started the removal process shortly after midnight Thursday. Some witnesses cheered as the statue was lifted from its pedestal.

The statue was removed two days after Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removal of four monuments from her city under the cover of night, including another statue of Taney.

Taney was born in Maryland and practiced law in Frederick before becoming the nation’s fifth chief justice. Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, were slaves who sued for their freedom after they were taken from the slave state of Missouri into territory where slavery had been prohibited by the Missouri Compromise.

This year marked the 160th anniversary of the 1857 decision. In March, a family member of Taney’s apologized to the Scott family in front of the statue that was removed Friday. Charles Taney IV of Greenwich, Connecticut, apologized to the Scotts and all African Americans for the “terrible injustice of the Dred Scott decision.” Lynne Jackson, a great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott, accepted the apology for her family and “all African Americans who have the love of God in their heart, so that healing can begin.”


08.19.2017
NewsUnited States(1) Comments

Permalink - Link to This Article

~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

With all that is going on in the world, from terrorist attacks in Spain, to police being shot in FL and PA, to the Gilmer County cover up, CNN, PMSNBC and the GFP continue with the Charlottesville VA story.

By Silent Majority  on  08.19.2017

Leave a CommentPrint This Article


Tumblr StumbleUpon Reddit Print Email LinkedIn Pinterest Google+ Facebook Twitter Addthis

International News

The Free Press WV

►  Attacks in Spain are linked, took long time to plan

The back-to-back vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort had been planned for a long time by an Islamic terrorist cell — and could have been far deadlier had its base not been destroyed by an apparently accidental explosion this week, Spanish officials said Friday.

Police intensified their manhunt for an unknown number of suspects still on the loose Friday. They shot and killed five people early Friday who were wearing fake bomb belts as they attacked the seaside resort of Cambrils with a speeding car. Police also arrested four others believed linked to the Cambrils attack and the carnage Thursday on a famous Barcelona promenade.

The number of victims stood at 13 dead and 120 wounded in Barcelona, and one dead and five wounded in Cambrils. Sixty-one people wounded by the van in Barcelona remained hospitalized on Friday, with 17 of them in critical condition.

Authorities said the two attacks were related and the work of a large terrorist cell that had been plotting attacks for a long time from a house in Alcanar, 200 kilometers (124 miles) down the coast from Barcelona. The house was destroyed by an explosion of butane gas on Wednesday night that killed one person.

Senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero said police were working on the theory that the suspects were preparing a different type of attack, using explosives or gas, and that the apparently accidental explosion prevented them from carrying out a far more deadly rampage.

The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for Europe’s latest bout of extremist violence, in which a van roared down Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas promenade on Thursday. Hours later, a blue Audi plowed into people in the popular seaside town of Cambrils.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared Friday that the fight against terrorism was a global battle and Europe’s main problem.

Police said they arrested two more people Friday, after an initial two were arrested Thursday — three Moroccans and one Spaniard, none with terrorism-related records. Three of them were nabbed in the northern town of Ripoll. Another arrest was made in Alcanar.

“We are not talking about a group of one or two people, but rather a numerous group,” regional Interior Ministry chief Joaquim Forn told Onda Cero radio.

Amid heavy security, Barcelona tried to move forward Friday, with its iconic Las Ramblas promenade quietly reopening to the public and King Felipe VI and Rajoy joining thousands of residents and visitors in observing a minute of silence in the city’s main square.

“We are not afraid! We are not afraid!” the crowd chanted in Catalan and Spanish.

But the dual attacks unnerved a country that hasn’t seen an Islamic extremist attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. Unlike France, Britain, Sweden and Germany, Spain has largely been spared, thanks in part to a crackdown that has netted some 200 suspected jihadis in recent years.

Authorities were still reeling from the Barcelona van attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had plowed into tourists and locals with their car. Forn said the five were wearing fake bomb belts.

One woman in Cambrils died Friday from her injuries, Catalan police said. Five others were injured.

Cambrils Mayor Cami Mendoza said the town had taken precautions after the Barcelona attack, but the suspects focused their attack on the narrow path to the boardwalk, which is usually packed.

“We were on a terrace,” said bystander Jose Antonio Saez. “We heard the crash and intense gun shots, then the dead bodies on the floor, shot by the police.”

Others described scenes of panic, and found safety inside bars and restaurants until police had secured the area.

Resident Markel Artabe was heading out to get an ice cream when he heard the shots.

“We began to run. We saw one person lying on the pavement with a shot in his head, then 20 to 30 meters farther on we saw two more people, who must have been terrorists as they had explosive belts around them,” he said. “We were worried so we hid.”

Regional police say the Cambrils suspects, armed with knives and an ax, wounded one person in the face with a knife before they were killed by police.

The Cambrils attack came hours after a white van mowed down pedestrians on Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade, leaving victims sprawled across the street, spattered with blood and writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with guns drawn or fled in panic, carrying young children in their arms.

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Trapero said.

The Islamic State group said on its Aamaq news agency that the Barcelona attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to its calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive the extremist group from Syria and Iraq.

Islamic extremists have systematically targeted Europe’s major tourist attractions in recent years. Rented or hijacked vehicles have formed the backbone of a strategy to target the West and its cultural symbols. Barcelona’s Las Ramblas is one of the most popular attractions in a city that swarms with foreign tourists in August.

The dead and wounded in the two attacks hailed from 34 countries. Two Italians, an American and a Belgian woman were among the dead, officials said.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of those detained in the Barcelona attack as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported that Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Spanish media said documents with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Citing police sources, Spain’s RTVE as well as El Pais and TV3 identified the brother, 17-year-old Moussa Oukabir, as the suspected driver of the van. Forn declined to respond to questions about him Friday.

“We don’t know if the driver is still in Barcelona or not, or what direction he fled in,” Forn told SER Radio.

Forn said the police were trying to identify the five dead attackers in Cambrils as well as the driver of the Barcelona van.

“There could be more people in Ripoll connected to the group,” he said, adding that the two attacks “follow the same trail. There is a connection.”

Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

By Friday morning, Las Ramblas promenade had reopened to the public, albeit under heavy surveillance and an unusual quiet.

“It’s sad,” New York tourist John Lanza said, as the family stood outside the gated La Boqueria market. “You can tell it’s obviously quieter than it usually is, but I think people are trying to get on with their lives.”

At noon Friday, a minute of silence honoring the victims was observed at the Placa Catalunya, near the top of Las Ramblas where the van attack started. The presence of Spain’s king and prime minister alongside Catalonia’s regional authorities marked a rare moment when the question of Catalonian independence — the subject of a proposed October 1 referendum — didn’t divide its people.

Rajoy declared three days of national mourning.

Since the Madrid train bombings, the only deadly attacks in Spain had been bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade. It declared a cease-fire in 2011.

“Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also know that terrorists can be beaten,” Rajoy said.


►  Barcelona, Real Madrid honor attack victims

The Latest on the Spain attacks (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have held a minute of silence for the victims of the attacks in Spain before their training sessions.

Real Madrid players huddled Friday before beginning their activities at the team’s training center in Madrid, while Barcelona’s squad lined up in silence before its practice session at the team’s headquarters.

Barcelona team President Josep Bartomeu joined thousands at a minute of silence near where the driver of a van started an attack Thursday that killed at least 13 people and injured more than 100 others in Barcelona.

There will be a minute of silence held before every Spanish league game this weekend, beginning with Friday’s opening matches: Leganes vs. Alaves and Valencia vs. Las Palmas.

Other soccer leagues across Europe have also planned acts to honor the victims of the attacks. The French league will hold a minute of silence before games.

___

4:30 p.m.

Two memorials to the victims have grown on Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas promenade — one at the top near where the van jumped the curb, the other on the Joan Miro mosaic embedded in the pavement where it stopped.

An ever-expanding jumble of flags, candles, teddy bears and flowers were placed at the base of the ornate Canaletes Fountain. “We are not afraid! We are not afraid!” onlookers chanted in Spanish.

Jesus Borrull, a lifelong resident, gently pushed through the crowd to kneel and pray in front of the fountain. Legend has it that visitors who drink from the fountain will fall in love with Barcelona and return to the city.

Borrull says “the only thing we can do is go forward with peace and goodness ... even though it’s difficult, we have to do it.”

At the other memorial, bystanders held signs declaring they are not afraid. A guitar player strummed out “Imagine” by John Lennon while several people sang along.

___

4:20 p.m.

The State Department says at least one American was killed and one was injured in the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain.

The department said Friday that diplomats from the U.S. consulate in Barcelona are continuing to work with local authorities to identify victims and provide assistance to Americans.

The department did not identify either of the Americans, but said the injured person suffered only a minor wound.

___

4:15 p.m.

Spanish authorities are still investigating whether a car that rammed a police checkpoint in the confused hours after the Barcelona van attack on Thursday was linked to the bloodshed in the city.

Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said the driver of a Ford Focus rammed the control post and wounded a sergeant. Another officer shot at the car, which stopped, he said. Police found a dead body inside and first thought they had shot and killed the person, but forensic reports showed it was a knife wound.

Trapero said a second person may have been in the car. He said it was unclear how or whether it was linked to the other attacks in Spain on Thursday and Friday.

___

4 p.m.

Italy’s premier has released the names of two Italians slain in the Barcelona van attack.

Premier Gentiloni tweeted Friday that “Italy remembers Bruno Gulotta and Luca Russo and gathers tight around their families. Freedom will conquer the barbarianism of terrorism.”

Gulotta, 35, was hailed in his hometown of Legnano as a hero for putting himself between the van and his 6-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter as he strolled with his wife Thursday in the Spanish city.

Italian media reported that Russo, 25, held a university degree in engineering and lived in northern Italy. An Italian officials said Russo’s girlfriend suffered fractures and remains hospitalized.

Verrecchia said two other Italians were injured but have since been released from the hospital.

___

3:50 p.m.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has offered her sympathies to the King of Spain and to the nation following attacks in in Barcelona and the seaside community of Cambrils.

The British monarch says it is “deeply upsetting when innocent people are put at risk in this way when going about their daily lives.”

The queen said Friday that she and Prince Philip offer sincere condolences and that their thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones or are in the hospital.

Fourteen people died and over 100 were injured in attacks Thursday and early Friday.

___

3:45 p.m.

Police in Spain say that attacks in Barcelona, Cambrils had been prepared some time ago.

Senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero said Friday police believe the two attacks were connected with an explosion in a house in the town of Alcanar on Wednesday in which one person was killed. Police believe one of the person injured in that blast and now arrested had links to the two attacks.

Trapero said Cambrils terrorists carried an ax and knives in the car and body belts with false explosives.

Four people have been arrested in all. Thirteen people were killed in the attack in Barcelona on Thursday and one in the resort town Cambrils early Friday.

___

3:30 p.m.

Turkey’s president has condemned the van attack in Barcelona, Spain, in which 13 people were killed.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he “strongly condemned” the attack.

State-run Anadolu news agency reports that Erdogan sent a note offering condolences to King Felipe VI earlier in the day.

Turkish media reports that 33-year-old Turkish businessman Emre Eroglu was injured in the attack. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has instructed Turkish consular officials to accompany him at the hospital and says he is in good condition and has received surgery on a broken foot.

___

3:25 p.m.

Pope Francis says the extremist attack in Barcelona gravely offends God.

Francis sent a condolence telegram Friday to Barcelona’s cardinal, expressing “sorrow and pain” over “such an inhumane action.”

In his message, the pope “once again condemns blind violence, which is a very grave offense to the Creator.”

He offered his blessing for all the victims, their families and “all the beloved Spanish people.”

Francis also expressed “sadness and pain” over the news of the “cruel terrorist attack that has sown death and sorrow on the Rambla of Barcelona.”

___

3:20 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says the government is doing all it can to help amid reports of a child missing after the terror attack in Barcelona.

May told Sky News Britain is “urgently looking into reports of a child believed missing, who is a British dual national.” She did not name him.

A post on social media from the 7-year-old boy’s grandfather says Julian Alessandro Cadman became separated from his mother when a driver slammed into a crowd of pedestrians in a major promenade area.

Tony Cadman posted a photograph of Julian on Facebook.

He says the family found his daughter-in-law in a serious but stable condition in a hospital.

___

3:10 p.m.

A police official says that authorities haven’t idenitifed the driver of the van that killed at least 13 people in Barcelona.

Catalan regional police official Josep Lluis Trapero says that the attacks suspects in custody are three Moroccans and a Spaniard. He says that none of them had a record of terror activity although one was known to police for petty crimes. Hours after the Barcelona attack, a car struck pedestrians in the seaside town of Cambrils, killing a woman and injuring others.

Police fatally shot five of the Cambrils attackers. Trapero says that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks are linked as is an abandoned van and a house south of Barcelona destroyed in an explosion in which a man was killed on Wednesday night.

___

2:55 p.m.

A senior police official in Spain says that a single police officer killed four of the suspects who carried out the attack in the Catalan seaside town of Cambrils.

Catalan regional police official Josep Lluis Trapero says that it was “not easy” for the officer involved despite being a professional. A total of five suspects were killed after the Cambrils attack in which a car plowed into a crowd, killing a woman.

Hours earlier, a van struck a crowd of pedestrians, killing at least 13 people in Barcelona and injured more than 100 people.

___

2:35 p.m.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says the fight against terrorism is a “global battle” and Europe’s main problem after two attacks in Catalonia that killed 14 people.

Rajoy also thanked the emergency services for their work and messages of support from around the world after the van attack in Barcelona killed 13 people, and subsequent violence in the seaside resort of Cambrils that killed one woman.

Rajoy was speaking at a joint news conference in Barcelona with Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont.

___

1:50 p.m.

Catalan police say they have arrested a fourth person in connection with the attacks in Barcelona and the resort of Cambrils that have killed at least 14 people.

Police made the announcement on Twitter without providing further details.

Thursday’s van attack in Barcelona killed at least 13 people, and one woman was killed early Friday in Cambrils when a car plowed into pedestrians there. Police fatally shot five suspects in Cambrils. It wasn’t immediately clear if the Barcelona van driver is among the arrested or dead suspects.

___

1:40 p.m.

Britain’s Foreign Office says a “small number” of U.K. citizens were injured in the terror attacks in Spain.

It says it is assisting Britons affected by the violence and is trying to find out if anyone else needs help. Officials say they have “deployed additional staff to Barcelona and have offered support to the Spanish authorities.”

The statement came Friday after violence in the town of Cambrils, eight hours after an attack in Barcelona.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Thursday he was “concerned and saddened” after a driver barreled down a main promenade in Barcelona, plowing his van into pedestrians. Fourteen people died and dozens were injured.

Johnson tweeted: “my thoughts are with the Spanish people & those affected by #Barcelona attack. Together we will defeat terrorism.”

___

1:35 p.m.

A British man has described his shock after watching police shoot those suspected of an attack in the Spanish resort town of Cambrils, hours after a similar attack 130 kilometers (80 miles) away in Barcelona.

Fitzroy Davies was visiting Cambrils for a judo camp when attackers apparently struck pedestrians with a car.

Davies tells Sky News says he saw one man get to his feet despite being shot multiple times.

“He then fell down and, within two seconds, he stood back up. He then stepped over the fence, charged the police again, the police fired some more shots and then he fell down again.”

He says “I was watching a film, one of them horror films.”

___

1:30 p.m.

Poland’s interior minister says “Europe should wake up” after the Barcelona attack and realize it’s dealing with a “clash of civilizations” that proves his government’s point that accepting migrants is a tragedy for Europe.

Mariusz Blaszczak says Friday his country is safe because “we do not have Muslim communities which are enclaves, which are a natural support base for Islamic terrorists.”

The ruling Law and Justice party has taken a strong anti-migrant stance, refusing to accept any refugees in a European Union resettlement plan, creating tensions with Brussels.

Blaszczak insisted late Thursday on state TVP that Warsaw will not succumb to EU pressure because it is putting Poland’s security needs first.

He said: “The refugee resettlement system is a system that is encouraging millions of people to come to Europe.”

___

1:15 p.m.

When a few people raised Spanish and Catalan flags before the minute of silence for the Barcelona attack victims, the crowd quickly rebuked them for trying to politicize the solemn event.

The crowd urged them to lower the flags, chanting “Fuera la bandera,” or “Get rid of the flags.”

It was a rare moment when the question of whether the Catalonia region should become independent from Spain didn’t divide people. Polls show the region is split ahead of a planned referendum, which Spain’s central government considers would be illegal to hold, on October 1.

Anna Esquerdo, a lifelong Barcelona resident who works in a uniform apparel store, said “we’re here for the victims and to protest what happened. This is not about anyone’s politics.”

___

12:40 p.m.

Catalan authorities say a woman injured in an attack in a popular seaside town south of Barcelona has died.

The woman, who wasn’t named, is the first fatal victim of the attack late Thursday in Cambrils, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Barcelona.

It came hours after a van slammed into pedestrians on a busy Barcelona promenade, killing 13 people and injuring over 100 others.

In Cambrils, police shot dead five people wearing fake bomb belts who plowed into a group of tourists and residents with a car. In all, six people, including a police officer, were injured in the Cambrils incident.

___

12:30 p.m.

Israel’s president has expressed his nation’s sympathy to the people of Spain and said the world must join together to fight terrorism.

Reuven Rivlin on Friday sent a letter of condolences to King Felipe VI after the bloodshed in Barcelona.

Rivlin said “terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, whether it takes place in Barcelona, Paris, Istanbul or Jerusalem.”

He said “these horrific events once again prove that we must all stand united in the fight against those who seek to use violence to stifle individual liberty and freedom of thought and belief, and continue to destroy the lives of so many.”

Israel is coping with a wave of deadly Palestinian attacks against civilians and security forces that erupted in 2015.

Palestinians say it stems from anger at decades of Israeli rule in territories they claim for a state.

___

12:15 p.m.

An Italian foreign ministry official says two Italians are among those confirmed dead in the Barcelona attack.

Stefano Verrecchia, who heads the ministry’s crisis unit, said Friday that authorities weren’t immediately making the victims’ names public.

But one of the two appeared to be a young father from Legnano, a town in northern Italy.

Legnano Mayor Giambattista Fratus told reporters, “it is sure that our fellow citizen is deceased.” Pino Bruno, head of the company where the victim from Legnano worked, was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying the man’s wife told him she, the victim and their two children were strolling down Barcelona Ramblas street when the attack van suddenly appeared, and the victim kneeled down to successfully shield son, 6, and daughter, 7 months.

___

12 p.m.

Thousands of people including Spain’s king and prime minister have held a minute of silence for the victims of attacks in Barcelona and a nearby seaside resort.

King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, along with Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont, stood in front of the crowd in Placa de Cataluyna during the remembrance. The participants then broke into applause before the crowd chanted repeatedly: “I am not afraid! I am not afraid!”

The minute of silence was held near where the driver of a van started an attack that killed at least 13 people and injured more than 100 others on Thursday evening.

___

11:50 a.m.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry says that there were multiple German citizens among the injured in the attacks in Spain.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters in Berlin on Friday that at the moment they know of 13 Germans injured, “some of them seriously, so seriously that they are still fighting for their lives.”

He says he could not confirm unsourced media reports that Germans were also killed in the attacks.

He says, however, “we also can’t rule that out.”

___

11:35 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expressing her sympathy with Spain over the attacks in Barcelona, and says such violence cannot be allowed to change the European way of life.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Merkel said Friday that “these murderous attacks have once again showed us the total hatred of humanity with which Islamist terrorism acts.”

She added “we will not allow these murderers to make us depart from our path, from our way of life.”

She said “terrorism can cause us bitter and deeply sad hours, as has happened in Spain, but it won’t defeat us.”

She said the Foreign Ministry is still working with Spanish authorities to say whether any Germans were among the victims.

“This can’t be said with great precision right now,” she added.

___

11:30 a.m.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has attended an emergency security meeting in Barcelona to coordinate the investigation into the terror attacks in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Rajoy traveled to Barcelona on Thursday night after a van plowed into a pedestrian promenade, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 others. Police then stopped a second attack in nearby Cambrils when they shot and killed five attackers who had driven a car into another crowd.

Rajoy met on Friday morning with Spain’s interior minister and police and emergency officials. He said on Twitter that the meeting was to “analyze the latest details of the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.”

___

11:20 a.m.

Belgian officials are identifying a woman from the town of Tongeren killed in the van attack in Barcelona as Elke Vanbockrijck.

Two officials, who declined to be identified on the record, confirmed Vanbockrijck’s name to The Associated Press on Friday.

Tongeren Mayor Patrick Dewael said in a tweet late Thursday that a woman from his town had died, and sent his condolences. He told Belgian radio that he had presided over her wedding in 2014.

Belgian media said the 44-year-old woman was holidaying in Barcelona with her husband and sons.

Foreign minister Didier Reynders also confirmed that two Belgians were injured in the attack, one of them seriously.

—By Lorne Cook

___

11:10 a.m.

The Irish and Romanian governments have both confirmed that their nationals were among the 100 people injured when a truck was driven at tourists on Barcelona’s Ramblas.

Irish officials say a 5-year-old boy and his father are among those injured in the terror attack in Barcelona.

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, says a 5-year-old boy and his father received injuries that were not life-threatening. They were part a family of four celebrating the birthday of the youngster, who suffered a broken leg.

Coveney says it’s a miracle more Irish citizens weren’t hurt as “there are so many Irish people in Spain, Barcelona and Cambrils at this time of year.”

Romania’s foreign ministry says three Romanians are among the injured. All three were hospitalized, and the ministry said that two are in a stable condition while the third suffered light injuries. Romania’s consul there was in touch with the injured, who were not identified.

___

10:50 a.m.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is condemning the van attack in Barcelona claimed by the Islamic State group that killed at least 13 people.

In a statement issued in Beirut Friday, the group said the attack must be a renewed incentive to eliminate the group “whose ideology is based on hate.”

Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group whose military wing is considered a terrorist group by the EU, is fighting against IS, a Sunni organization, in both Lebanon and neighboring Syria.

The statement said that “targeting innocent civilians and killing them is part of a satanic plot being carried out by those terrorists, which aims at tarnishing the concept of jihad (holy war) and sullying the image of Islam.”

___

10:35 a.m.

Catalonia’s regional president says that there’s at least one “terrorist still out there” after the attacks in Barcelona and a seaside resort.

Carles Puigdemont also told Onda Cero radio “we don’t have information regarding the capacity to do more harm.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if the person on the run is the driver of the speeding van that killed at least 13 people and injured more than 100 others on Thursday evening in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district.

In the early hours of Friday, police killed five suspects in the resort of Cambrils after a car plowed down and injured six people near a boardwalk. One of the injured was a police officer. Police said the suspects were wearing fake bomb belts.

Police have three people in connection with the attacks.

___

10:20 a.m.

German politicians have agreed to tone down election campaigning for the day in the aftermath of the attacks in Barcelona and a seaside resort.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s main challenger in the September election says he spoke with her and both agreed to limit campaigning.

The Social Democrat’s Martin Schulz told reporters in Berlin on Friday that they made the decision “as a sign of solidarity for those people affected in Spain” by the attacks.

He says: “these are bitter days.”

Schulz added that there was a “common will that there is no place for terror” and that Europe would continue to be an “open tolerant society.”

Speaking of the attackers and their backers, he says “one has to send them the message that they will not win.”

___

10 a.m.

Catalan authorities are confirming that the five suspects killed in a police shootout in the seaside resort of Cambrils had plowed down pedestrians and police in a car attack and were wearing fake bomb belts.

The attack early Friday in Cambrils came hours after a white van mowed down tourists and locals in the popular Las Ramblas promenade in Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100.

Catalonia’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, tells Onda Cero radio that the suspects in Cambrils were driving in an Audi 3 and began plowing down people when they reached a populated area near the boardwalk. A police car was damaged and an officer was among the six people injured.

Forn says the suspects killed in a subsequent shootout with police were wearing fake bomb belts. He says the belts were very well made, and that authorities only determined they were phony after a controlled explosion.

___

9:35 a.m.

A town mayor in Belgium says a woman from his town has died in the van attack in a major tourist area in the Spanish city of Barcelona.

Patrick Dewael confirmed in a tweet late Thursday that the woman was from Tongeren, 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of Brussels, and sent his condolences. He told Belgian radio that he had presided over her wedding in 2014.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also confirmed that two Belgians were wounded in the attack, one of them seriously.

___

9:20 a.m.

Barcelona’s famed Ramblas walkway has quietly reopened to the public, the morning after a van rampage that killed 13 and wounded more than 100.

Police closed down the city center Thursday evening, after the van zigzagged down the packed Ramblas before the driver escaped.

Friday morning, residents and tourists were allowed past police lines and slowly trickled back to their homes and hotels. The city center remained under heavy surveillance.

A demonstration that will include a minute of silence honoring the victims was announced by public officials for Friday at noon at the Plaza Catalunya, next to the top of the Ramblas, where the deadly attack began.

___

9:05 a.m.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has condemned the van attack in Barcelona, and extended his condolences to the families of those killed.

In a statement Friday, Abbasi said such terrorist attacks cannot scare the brave Spanish people.

He said “so long as the terrorists underestimate the spirit of the societies they seek to undermine, they will lose”.

Abbasi’s comment came a day after a van barreled down a busy walkway in central Barcelona, swerving back and forth as it mowed pedestrians down.

Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured, 15 of them seriously, in what authorities called a terror attack.

___

9 a.m.

Danish authorities have confirmed that there are two Danes among those “lightly wounded” following the deadly van attack on tourists in the Spanish city of Barcelona.

Leaders in the Nordic and Baltic region are rushing to condemn the attack. Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he was “horrified by reports from Barcelona,” while his Danish counterpart Lars Loekke Rasmussen said Europe has “again been attacked by terror.”

In Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg called it “a cowardly attack,” her Estonian colleague Juri Ratas called it “brutal” and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said it was “despicable.

___

8:50 a.m.

Catalonia authorities say a third person has been arrested in connection with the Barcelona van attack that killed at least 13 people.

Catalonia Interior Minister Joaquim Forn told Catalunya Radio on Friday that the suspect was taken into custody in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll.

On Thursday, one of the two suspects detained in the hours after the Las Ramblas attack was arrested in Ripoll and another in Alcanar.

Police said neither of the two people detained Thursday was the driver of the white van that plowed down pedestrians. The driver escaped the scene on foot.

___

8 a.m.

French officials say 26 French nationals were among the dozens injured in a van attack in Barcelona, and Australia says one of its citizens is unaccounted for.

Spanish authorities previously said the dead and injured are from 24 countries. The attack involved a van that veered onto a busy promenade in downtown Barcelona and struck pedestrians. Thirteen people were killed and 100 injured.

One of the dead was Belgian, and Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters: “We are concerned for one Australian who remains unaccounted for.”

France’s Foreign Ministry said Friday at least 11 of the French nationals who were hurt had serious injuries.

Australia also says three of its citizens were injured, one seriously. Two with slight injuries were Taiwanese. A Greek woman and a Hong Kong resident were also hurt.


►  Chinese traders furious after crackdown on N. Korean imports

Furious Chinese businesspeople said Friday that Beijing’s decision to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korean seafood imports would hobble the economy of an entire northeastern city, sparking a rare public protest earlier this week after the surprise move suddenly choked off border trade.

Anger swept the city of Hunchun, home to hundreds of seafood processing plants, after Beijing began refusing entry Tuesday to trucks carrying tons of North Korean seafood. China announced Monday that it was cutting off imports of North Korean goods under U.N. sanctions imposed over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

But given China’s often-lax history of sanctions enforcement, seafood traders were shocked as trucks began lining up at the border with customs officials ordering them to return the seafood to the North. Dozens of people from seafood companies took to the streets Wednesday, carrying red banners, in a rare display of public anger in a country where the government normally cracks down immediately on dissent.

“I have more than 30 workers and I asked them to all go home or find other jobs,” said Song Min, who runs a fresh seafood business in Hunchun, and who was not involved in the protests.

“But they cannot find other jobs,” she added in a telephone interview Friday. “Everyone here is in the seafood industry.”

Hunchun authorities met with seafood traders one day after the protest, warning them not to make trouble or risk being detained, Yang Jian, a seafood trader, said by phone. “People who attended the meeting said the authorities were being very tough about this, no goods are allowed to get into China,” Yang said.

China, which accounts for the overwhelming majority of North Korean trade, has long been reluctant to push leader Kim Jong Un’s regime too hard economically, fearing it could collapse. But Beijing is increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang, and supported a U.N. Security Council ban on August 5 on key trade goods.

The Chinese customs agency said Monday it would stop processing imports of North Korean coal, iron and lead ores and fish at midnight on September 5.

“After that, entry of these goods will be prohibited,” a statement said.

But less than a day later, Chinese customs officials were stopping trucks full of seafood brought from the North Korean coastline, roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) away, setting off a daylong protest. Hunchun is the largest Chinese city in an area where the borders of China, Russia and North Korea meet.

“Hard-earned Money on China’s Bridge; We hope Chinese Customs Will Release Our Trucks,” read a banner in a photograph featured in a post that was widely circulated on a Chinese social media platform.

But two days later, there was no sign that Beijing had backed down.

“I have to make some changes soon,” said Jin Long, who owns a Hunchun seafood restaurant. “Maybe I’ll change to Russian seafood.”


►  U.S. general pledges to defend Japan from North Korean attack

America’s top military official reiterated Friday his country’s pledge to defend Japan against a North Korean missile attack, as western Japan carried out a test of an emergency alert system.

“I think we made it clear to North Korea and anyone else in the region that an attack on one is an attack on both of us,” Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Tokyo.

North Korea has threatened to test-fire missiles that would fly over Japan and land in waters off the U.S. territory of Guam. The U.S. is treaty-bound to defend Japan from outside attacks.

Dunford and his Japanese counterpart Katsutoshi Kawano agreed to work together to strengthen missile defense systems. The U.S. general is on the last stop of an Asia tour that took him to China and South Korea and has been dominated by talk of the North Korean threat.

Sirens wailed across nine prefectures in western Japan in the test of the emergency system. Twitter users in the region said the sirens didn’t work in some areas.

The flight path of the North Korean missile test would cross that part of the country.

Busting Myths About the Confederacy

The Free Press WV

As white supremacists and neo-Nazis crawl out of the woodwork and try to infest our communities with hate, it is important to contest their revisionist history.

Yes, take down the statues that were erected to whitewash the Confederate cause and directly or indirectly support white supremacy. Yes, take down the Confederate battle flags that were placed there for the same reason. Yes, rename schools, roads and parks that honor prominent Confederates.

But also, states, cities, counties and school districts should review the untruths currently taught in our schools about the Civil War and its aftermath. Many textbooks still incorporate these politically-motivated lies.


White Grievance

You’ve probably heard that Trumpism stems from white grievance, a series of lies that make less-educated whites believe they are the victims of discrimination.

This story is popular in far-right media, and diverts attention away from the real culprits – the rich and powerful who, over the past 40 years, have systematically redirected the fruits of American productivity away from workers and into their own pockets, destroying economic security by closing factories, outsourcing jobs, busting unions, abusing customers, and cutting middle-class wages and benefits.

But there is another right-wing story that has received little attention until recently. It is the myth of the Confederacy. And this series of falsehoods does not require the sponsorship of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart – it comes directly from our grade-school history books.


Romanticizing the Confederacy

Didn’t your history book say that the Civil War was about “states’ rights” rather than slavery? Might it have referred to the “War Between the States,” a name that implies the two sides were equally to blame? Wasn’t Robert E. Lee described as a kind man who didn’t really believe in slavery?

Perhaps the Confederate battle flag was offered as a non-racist symbol of the south? And didn’t your history book assert that Ulysses S. Grant was one of our worst presidents, both corrupt and a drunk? Remember?

All of this – the entire romanticizing of the Confederacy and the demonizing of the Confederacy’s opponents – is fake news. It was invented for political purposes – like the cultivation of white victimhood today –  and in no way represents what people thought or said during the Civil War or its aftermath.


The Gallant South

Let’s revisit the Gallant South, and examine the real history of the Confederacy, point by point:

The Confederacy Was Formed, and the South Started the Civil War, to Protect Slavery

Modern historians, referring to the original documents and statements of the time, do not question that slavery was the primary cause of the South’s rebellion. As the Confederacy’s vice president explained in his famous Cornerstone Speech:

The new [confederate] constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution – American slavery as it exists amongst us – the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.

The Name “War Between the States” is Propaganda

There was no war “between the states.” The Civil War was a rebellion against the central government – a revolution against the United States of America.

The phrase “War Between the States” was not in general use until after the war and not particularly well-known until the United Daughters of the Confederacy promoted the name in the 20th Century. The term, designed to absolve the south of blame, is simply false.

Robert E. Lee Strongly Supported Slavery and Was Not Kind to Black Americans At All

In fact, Lee was a rather cruel slaveowner. His army was ruthless to black soldiers and civilians. He publicly and privately supported slavery, argued that slavery was good for Black Americans. Lee strongly opposed emancipation. He was not kind, understanding or Christian to black Americans.

The Confederate Battle Flag Is a Racist Symbol

For more than 150 years, the Stars and Bars have been used to symbolize anti-black discrimination and violence, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, segregation, and resistance to desegregation. There is really no debate that its re-adoption and use since 1948 has been an open statement of white supremacy and opposition to civil rights for African Americans. Non-racists should not display it.

Ulysses S. Grant Was Not a Bad President

My school textbook ranked Grant as the worst president. This is pure fabrication, based on the 20th-century writings of pro-Confederacy historians.

Modern historians rank Grant in the middle tier of presidents, while Americans at the time adored him. His memoir was a massive bestseller and his death in 1885 “brought a tidal wave of emotional eulogizing.” There is no objective evidence that, as a general or president, he was ever “a drunk.”


The Cost of Myths

These myths about the Confederacy have helped to fuel the current outpourings of hate. It is time for American governments to step up and tell the truth about our nation’s history.

Governments should be held accountable, and investigate whether Confederate myths are still foisted on our schoolchildren. When such myths are found, we should tear them down, too, and in their place build up a foundation for our culture that is based on historical accuracy.

Truth is the best remedy for hate.

Bernie Horn is the Senior Director for Policy and Communication at the Public Leadership Institute.

Mylan Announces $465 Million Settlement Over Whether Epipen Qualifies as Generic

The Free Press WV

The pharmaceutical company Mylan has announced a $465 million settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over its EpiPen auto-injector products.

The conflict was over whether Mylan misclassified EpiPen as generic to avoid paying Medicaid rebates to the federal government.

Under the settlement, Mylan will reclassify EpiPen for purposes of the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and pay the rebate applicable to innovator products, effective as of this past April 01.

Mylan had earlier indicated that a settlement was reached but today was the first day it was confirmed by the government.

As Bloomberg reported, some U.S. lawmakers criticized the deal as not tough enough on the company.

“As we said when we announced the settlement last year, bringing closure to this matter is the right course of action for Mylan and our stakeholders to allow us to move forward,” Mylan chief executive officer Heather Bresch stated in a news release.

“Over the course of the last year, we have taken significant steps to enhance access to epinephrine auto-injectors, including bringing a solution to the fast-changing healthcare landscape in the U.S. by launching an authorized generic version at less than half the wholesale acquisition cost of the brand and meaningfully expanding our patient access programs.”

Bresch is the daughter of Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, and Gayle Manchin, the secretary of Education and the Arts in Governor Jim Justice’s administration.

She and Mylan have been under scrutiny over the price of Epi-Pen for much of this past year. Mylan acquired the rights to the shot-delivered medicine in 2007 and then raised the price roughly six-fold.

“Mylan has always been committed to providing patients in the U.S. and around the world with access to medicine, and we look forward to continuing to deliver on this mission,” Bresch said in the news release.

The settlement does not contain an admission or finding of wrongdoing.

Mylan also has entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The settlement provides resolution of potential Medicaid rebate liability claims by the federal government, as well as by some hospitals and other covered entities, such as rival drugmaker Sanofi, which sued Mylan last year.

“It was our contention that Mylan’s intentional misclassification of EpiPen allowed them to amass hundreds of millions of dollars which they then used to finance their anticompetitive behavior in the marketplace,” Sanofi said in a statement Thursday.

The settlement allocates money to the Medicaid programs of all 50 states and establishes a framework for resolving all potential state Medicaid rebate liability claims within 60 days.

Medicaid gets a 23 percent discount on brand-name drugs and a 13 percent discount on generics.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service indicated that EpiPen had been classified incorrectly as a generic since at least 1997, both by Mylan and previous makers.

The Justice Department claimed in its lawsuit that by misclassifying EpiPen as a generic product rather than a brand name, Mylan profited at the expense of Medicaid, the government’s health-insurance program for the poor.

“Taxpayers rightly expect companies like Mylan that receive payments from taxpayer-funded programs to scrupulously follow the rules,” said William Weinreb, the acting U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts.


08.18.2017
Financial & Economy | G-Fin™ | GrantsBusinessNewsWest VirginiaUnited States(1) Comments

Permalink - Link to This Article

~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

That’s just a little pocket change.

By GFP reader  on  08.18.2017

Leave a CommentPrint This Article


Tumblr StumbleUpon Reddit Print Email LinkedIn Pinterest Google+ Facebook Twitter Addthis

2018 West Virginia Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) today announced six finalists for the West Virginia Teacher of the Year award. Finalists represent the best of the best in education and were selected from among the county teacher of the year winners. This year’s six finalists are: Teresa Thorne, Slanesville Elementary School, Hampshire County, Tammy Ann Spangler, Ripley Middle School, Jackson County, Katlin Thorsell, Washington High School, Jefferson County, Tammy J. Bittorf, Berkeley Springs High School, Morgan County, Adriane L. Manning, Wheeling Middle School, Ohio County and Leslie Lively, Short Line School, Wetzel County.

“I congratulate this group of finalists who have confirmed that we have some of the most compassionate teachers in West Virginia influencing our students,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “Each of these teachers embrace high expectations, strive for excellence and put students at the center of all they do.”

This years’ nominees include elementary, middle and high school educators from a variety of disciplines, and span the Mountain State.

Teresa Thorne is a first-grade teacher at Slanesville Elementary, and has been teaching for 14 years. She is active on a variety of leadership teams and advisory councils and is passionate about fostering character growth as a Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) sponsor, a program that allows dads, uncles and grandfathers to volunteer at schools.

Tammy Ann Spangler is a mathematics teacher at Ripley Middle School. She focuses on working together with her students to share ideas and strategies to complete project-based math lessons. Spangler works to develop Jackson County’s sixth grade mathematics curriculum and share her vision for “all students to be mathematical thinkers and persevere in solving problems.“

Katlin Thorsell makes sure her students understand the importance of community involvement. As an agriculture education teacher and FFA Advisor, Thorsell ensures that her agriculture students have the ability to complete Supervised Agriculture Experiences (SAE) allowing real-world training in a supervised environment. A volunteer firefighter and EMT, Thorsell also allows graduating seniors to receive hands-on CPR and First Aid training.

Tammy Bittorf began teaching English after her honorable discharge from the United States Airforce. That experience inspired her to launch the “Broadening Horizon’s in Morgan County Program” a non-profit, dedicated to providing students the opportunity to visit other countries. Bittorf focuses on teaching students respect and tolerance for other cultures while building their self-confidence to prepare them for college and the workforce.

Adriane Manning likes to combine literature, history, art and performance together as a middle school Reading and English Language Arts teacher. Manning brings her experience as a seasoned reporter for The Washington Post to teach life skills like discipline, teamwork and self-confidence in her classroom. Manning is also involved with the school’s spring musical and the student-led news broadcast, Wildcat 411.

Leslie Lively has been an educator for more than 20 years with a focus on STEM education. Lively has built the Engineer Energy Program in Wetzel County, which engages nearly 100 students in hands-on exploration of STEM subjects. The program allows students to coordinate with their local Board of Education, businesses and community at large to present their STEM based projects throughout the school year.

The West Virginia Teacher of the Year program identifies, recognizes and promotes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. West Virginia’s program is recognized as one of the oldest and consistent state Teacher of the Year programs in the nation.

West Virginia’s Teacher of the Year will be announced during a ceremony on September 18th at the Clay Center in Charleston. The winner of the state recognition will go on to represent West Virginia at the national level.

Photos of each finalist can be accessed below:

Adriane Manning, Ohio County

Katlin Thorsell, Jefferson County

Leslie Lively, Wetzel County

Tammy Bittorf, Morgan County

Tammy Spangler, Jackson County

Teresa Thorne, Hampshire County

WVONGA to Push Again for Mineral Efficiency

The Free Press WV

Natural gas production in West Virginia is not growing as much as it is in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The head of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association blames it on noncompetitive drilling laws.

Specifically, that means West Virginia lacks laws allowing joint development and co-tenancy.

WVONGA will try again in the next legislative session to secure those two items, said Anne Blankenship, WVONGA executive director.

“WVONGA will advocate again in 2018 for the West Virginia Legislature to pass a mineral efficiency bill that will resolve the issue when 100 percent of the mineral interest owners do not consent to the development of oil and gas,” Blankenship said last week. “In many instances, a fraction of one percent of the mineral interest owners can prevent the development of oil and gas against the will of the super majority.

“Our surrounding states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, have laws in place to address this issue, and production is increasing at higher rates in those states than in West Virginia. To become competitive with these states, West Virginia must pass similar laws.”

Co-tenancy would allow drilling when 75 percent of owners of a tract agree to allow development of mineral rights, even if the other 25 percent do not approve or cannot be located. Joint development would allow drilling companies to use horizontal drilling to extract natural gas under land using leases that were bought when shallow, vertical wells were the only drilling technology available.

Both practices have been opposed by landowner rights organizations and the West Virginia Farm Bureau.

Senate Bill 576, which addressed joint development and co-tenancy, passed the state Senate this year but died in committee when it moved to the House of Delegates.

EQT is one of the largest drillers and producers of natural gas in West Virginia. In a recent conference call, EQT CEO Steve Schlotterbeck referred to what he called West Virginia’s “antiquated” oil and gas drilling laws and regulations when discussing EQT’s capital expenditure program and how it plans to drill more in Pennsylvania than in West Virginia.

An EQT spokesperson confirmed that Schlotterbeck was referring to the lack of joint development and co-tenancy in West Virginia.

After this year’s regular session of the Legislature ended, Schlotterbeck said EQT can drill wells with longer laterals in Pennsylvania than it can in West Virginia because of joint development and co-tenancy. He also said West Virginia’s laws are wasteful of natural gas. Because the company cannot drill laterals in West Virginia that are as long as those in Pennsylvania because of co-tenancy restrictions, some gas that could be recovered here is not recovered, he said.

Blankenship’s comments came as WVONGA compared production in West Virginia counties last year. Blankenship said Doddridge County (334,486,963 cubic feet) was by far the largest natural gas producing county in 2016, producing about 334.5 million cubic feet, followed by Wetzel County with 208.7 million.

The next four counties ranked by production were: Marshall, with 143.1 million cubic feet; Ritchie, with 130.8 million; Harrison, with 128.3 million; and Tyler, with 120.9 million.

Statewide, West Virginia wells produced nearly 1.35 billion cubic feet, up about 2.5 percent from 2015, Blankenship said.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, West Virginia’s natural gas production last year increased by about 56.3 million cubic feet, or 4.3 percent. Pennsylvania’s production increased by 450.99 million cubic feet, or 9.37 percent.

Ohio overtook West Virginia in production by producing about 44.5 percent more gas than in 2015, according to the EIA.

~~  Jim Ross ~~

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  Illegal Activity Penalties Considered for Property Owners

West Virginia cities are considering ordinances targeting property owners for repeated illegal incidents on their premises.

Local news outlets report similar proposals in Huntington and Nitro follow the model of a Martinsburg drug house ordinance that went into effect in May and has since produced several busts.

The Huntington City Council Public Safety Committee voted Monday to send the ordinance to the full City Council with a favorable recommendation. The law would see the declaration of properties where two or more illegal incidents occur within a year as public nuisances, resulting in the eviction of tenants involved in the illegal activities and possible fines for the property owners.

Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt says a similar ordinance might go into effect this month.


►  Johnson to Lead Newly Created Office to Combat Substance Abuse

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch today appointed Jim Johnson as director of the newly formed Office of Drug Control Policy.

Johnson served as director of the Huntington Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy from 2014-2017, addressing drug addiction and creating a holistic approach involving prevention, treatment and law enforcement.  His prior experience includes serving as Police Chief/Officer for the City of Huntington for more than 40 years.

“In a time when West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate is more than double the national average, I am confident Jim Johnson’s proven leadership and wealth of experience make him the right fit for this critical position,” Crouch said.  “Having someone in place who not only has knowledge, but also managerial experience in a similar office at the local level, will bode well for West Virginia.”

DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health, led by Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner, will oversee the Office of Drug Control Policy. 

“West Virginia’s drug epidemic has become the state’s number one public health problem,” said Gupta.  “The new Office of Drug Control Policy is extremely important to our comprehensive approach to combatting substance misuse and reducing the number of deaths occurring in West Virginia.”

Johnson’s appointment is effective September 02, 2017.

“This is a tremendous honor to lead the Office of Drug Control Policy as I believe this office will make an impact statewide to protect the public’s health,” said Johnson.


►  Message from Governor Jim Justice

Governor Jim Justice issued the following statement:

“On Sunday of this week I started feeling under the weather. I consulted with my doctor, had some tests run, and I am being treated for a viral infection. I am now feeling better and on the road to recovery.

“I surely haven’t been on vacation and I never get sick. Therefore, I just didn’t want to be bothering the people with me not feeling well. We had some meetings and events scheduled for this week that unfortunately had to be postponed, and I hate that, but I just had to. Those things will be rescheduled.

“Also, regrettably, I will not be able to attend Governor’s Day at the State Fair today. Again, I am feeling better and expect to be back at full throttle next week.”


►  Head of the American Farm Bureau, during a visit to the State Fair of West Virginia, says the lack of labor is the top problem facing American growers today

It’s hard to find good help down on the farm, according the President of the American Farm Bureau.  Zippy Duvall was in West Virginia Thursday, taking a tour of the State Fair of West Virginia and discussing the issues facing American growers today.

Speaking on MetroNews Talkline, Duvall said without question the lack of adequate labor is the number one problem facing the American farmer.

“A lot of our farmers say that’s the only thing that keeps them from growing their business,” Duvall explained. “They have the land in a lot of cases, they have the water, but they can’t find the labor to help them actually get the work done.”

The problem isn’t isolated to any one part of the nation.  As fewer and fewer Americans are being raised in the rural setting, the idea of farm work, particularly some of the more menial tasks, is falling out of favor.

“We’re in a time in our history where many Americans don’t want to do the work on the farm,” Duvall explained. “We try really hard to hire local people, but not many want to do that kind of work.”

The labor crunch is showing few signs of improvement.  Duvall and his allies are attempting to work through the strong push for immigration reform which threatens to severely cut the supply of workers from other countries who are willing to come to the United States to handle the tasks.  It puts America’s food supply at a crossroads which Duvall doesn’t believe is the choice most Americans want.

“We’re really at a time in history where the American people have got to make up their mind,” he said. “Will they let us grow their food here in American and let us bring in workers to do the work or are we going to buy our food from outside our country.”

Duvall added the Farm Bureau is involved in immigration reform in hopes of creating a policy which not only allows foreign workers, but simplifies the process of hiring them since few small operators have the means to afford attorneys to navigate mountains of red tape.

Beyond the labor shortage, the second greatest concern to the Farm Bureau is overbearing enforcement of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other federal regulatory enforcement by the US EPA.  In some cases, according to Duvall, some farmers were blocked from plowing their fields by obscure regulations in recent years and spent much of their life savings trying to battle the enforcement actions.    ~~ Chris Lawrence ~~

ETC.

The Free Press WV

  • This Vice News Documentary from Charlottesville Is Horrifying:  Watch it and .....    ESQUIRE


  • Trump Business Councils Disband as CEOs Walk:  He’s got big problems with big business. Just a day after Donald Trump tweeted that he’d easily replace any CEO “grandstanders” quitting his advisory councils, he dissolved two after at least eight corporate titans quit. The departing members, representing a cross section of companies from Merck to Intel to Campbell Soup, were protesting the president’s equivocal remarks in the face of deadly white nationalist violence in Charlottesville last weekend. Threats of consumer boycotts were seen as a motivating factor — amid signs that corporate America’s presidential honeymoon is ending.    The Atlantic


  • Baltimore Quietly Removes Confederate Statues:  These Southerners won’t rise again. On the orders of Mayor Catherine Pugh, Baltimore removed four Confederate monuments under cover of darkness and without fanfare during Wednesday’s wee hours, just days after deadly violence broke out in neighboring Virginia over plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Citing the tense situation, Pugh said it was necessary to act “quickly and quietly.” Other city leaders and even some governors, like Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe, have voiced the need for similar action as emboldened white supremacists vow to protect such landmarks.    The Guardian


  • Facebook Vows to Remove Hate Speech:  ”There is no place for hate in our community.” So wrote CEO Mark Zuckerberg, adding his $500 billion social network to a string of tech companies pushing back against racist groups. Facebook says it’ll actively combat hate speech following last weekend’s violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, enforcing and strengthening its existing policies. But sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube may have trouble scrubbing white supremacy from peoples’ feeds, as hate groups use tricks — like switching common racial slurs for similar words — that’ll help them avoid bulk searches.    The Verge


  • Trump isolation growing as business panels dismantled:  “With corporate chieftains fleeing, Donald Trump abruptly dismantled two of his White House business councils Wednesday —an attempt to manage his increasing isolation and the continued fallout from his combative comments on racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump announced the action via tweet, although only after one of the panels had already agreed to disband earlier in the day. A growing number of business leaders on the councils had openly criticized his remarks laying blame for the violence at a white supremacists rally on ‘both sides.‘”    Seattle Times


  • Trump’s Virginia remarks frustrate Republicans’ tax push:    “Republican tax writers from the U.S. House of Representatives promoted their legislative goals at a special gathering in California on Wednesday, but offered few new details about provisions that may end up in their long-sought overhaul plan. As Wall Street analysts warned that Donald Trump’s controversial statements about Virginia protests on Saturday that turned deadly were hurting Republicans’ prospects for progress on domestic policy, the lawmakers assembled in Santa Barbara to say their tax reform agenda is moving forward.”    Reuters


  • Trump EPA undermines bipartisan framework for chemical safety enforcement:    “The EPA is giving itself an alarming amount of discretion to decide in general what qualifies as a ‘condition of use’ and what does not. In essence, Denison says, the agency can decide not to look at something because it does not think it is important. He notes the EPA has not provided criteria for how it would make this decision. ‘It could do anything it wants,’ he says. Nicholas Ashford, director of the Technology and Law Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, voices a similar concern. ‘A shift has been made under the present administration. They have decided not to go very far in looking at all the uses a chemical might have. They’re basically subverting the purpose of the act, which is protection.‘”    Scientific American


  • Bannon touts “economic war” with China:  “Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury… Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. ‘We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.‘”    American Prospect

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

WHERE AN ATTACKER DROVE A VAN INTO A CROWD

The vehicle veered onto a promenade and barreled down the busy walkway in central Barcelona, swerving back and forth as it mowed pedestrians down, killing 13.


WHY TRUMP IS TWEETING ABOUT A WWI GENERAL

Trump is being criticized once again for lauding the alleged tactics of Gen. John Pershing in dealing with Islamic extremists in the Philippines at the turn of the last century. During the campaign, Trump told a widely discredited story that Pershing had halted Muslim attacks in the Philippines by shooting rebels with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.


TRUMP DIGS IN ON CONFEDERATE ICONS

With prominent Republicans openly questioning his competence and moral leadership, Donald Trump on burrowed deeper into the racially charged debate over Confederate memorials and lashed out at members of his own party.


WHO WANTS CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS PULLED DOWN

Descendants of Confederate Civil War leaders Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis are among the voices calling for monuments to their famous ancestors to be pulled down


WHY HATE CAME TO THE PROGRESSIVE ISLAND OF CHARLOTTESVILLE

The Virginia college town where a weekend rally of white nationalists descended into deadly chaos is an island of progressivism in an otherwise conservative part of Virginia. For more than a year, the Charlottesville city government has also been doing public soul searching over its Confederate monuments.


AMERICAN JEWS STEP UP CRITICISM OF TRUMP

Some Jews, including Republicans and Trump supporters, are outraged and frightened not only the march that drew neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, but also by Trump’s reaction.


TILLERSON, MATTIS INSIST MILITARY OPTIONS REMAIN FOR NORTH KOREA

America’s diplomatic and defense chiefs sought to reinforce the threat of possible U.S. military action against North Korea after President Trump’s top strategist essentially called the commander-in-chief’s warnings a bluff.


LEGAL DEAL OVER HARSH CIA INTERROGATIONS MARKS A MILESTONE

Experts say a settlement in a lawsuit against two psychologists who helped design the CIA’s harsh interrogation methods marked the first time the agency or its private contractors have been held accountable for the program.


SENIOR OFFICER ON DAMAGED SHIP TO BE RELIEVED OF COMMAND

The captain of a U.S. Navy warship that lost seven sailors in a collision with a commercial container ship in June will be relieved of command and nearly a dozen others face punishment, the Navy’s second-ranking admiral said.


WHERE NOBEL WINNER SHOT FOR PROMOTING EDUCATION WILL STUDY

Education activist Malala Yousafzai, shot by a Taliban gunman at age 15 for speaking out in her native Pakistan, has been accepted to the University of Oxford.

The Free Press WV




The Free Press WV
The Gilmer County Board of Education Office will be moving to 454 VanHorn Drive on August 21, 2017.

There may be an interruption in telephone and internet service on August 18 and August 21 while the technology transition is made.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please feel free to contact the Gilmer County Board Office at 304.462.7386 prior to August 18 or after August 21 should you have questions or need directions to the new office.

Thank you in advance for your patience and support.



The Free Press WV

Wine-Singleton Reunion

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Please bring a covered dish and join us.

Lunch served at Noon.

Burnsville Community Building.




Facebook shut down an online, internal discussion group after employees starting using it to harass each other about politics

The anonymous group was originally intended for people to talk about their work concerns, but quickly turned ugly.


Neo-Nazi news site The Daily Stormer was taken offline by hackers as soon as it lost its last line of defence — protection from web services company Cloudflare

Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince said he was “deeply uncomfortable” for dropping a customer over political pressure.


Amazon’s share price dropped 0.5% after Trump tweeted the company was “doing great damage to tax paying retailers”

The company has been a frequent target of Trump on Twitter.


Conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Jack Posobiec called off a multi-city “March on Google” protest, over possible threats of violence from counter-protestors

The march had been planned to protest the treatment of fired Google engineer James Damore.


Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook have spoken out against “hate” after the violent Charlottesville march

In a letter to employees, Cook said “hate is a cancer”, while Zuckerberg asked “where this hate comes from.“


Bitcoin is recovering from its previous wobble, and is nearing its prior record high of $4339.79

The cryptocurrency hit that record on Tuesday, before falling over, and is now at $4313.91.


Female engineers discussing James Damore’s firing from Google said he didn’t lose his job for, as he claims, “speaking truth to power”, but for mishandling a sensitive debate

“Social skills are part of the professional skillset,“ one wrote.


Uber has hired a former Goldman Sachs executive to run its business in Southeast Asia, where it’s conventionally faced challenges from regulators

Brooks Entwistle headed up the bank’s regional business, and becomes Uber’s chief business officer for Southeast Asia.


Apple wants to spend $1 billion on original content over the next year, aiming to make up to 10 shows on a similar scale to “Game of Thrones”

The company hired two Sony executives in the last few months.


Google has bought AlMatter, the Belarusian maker of selfie editing app Fabby, for an undisclosed amount

Fabby will continue to run for now, and the deal illustrates just how popular computer vision startups are right now.

National News

The Free Press WV

 

►  Nobel winner shot for promoting education to study at Oxford

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by a Taliban gunman for speaking out for girls’ rights to an education, has been accepted by the University of Oxford.

The 20-year-old activist shared word of her acceptance on Twitter and included the screenshot of her “Congratulations” notice. She plans to major in philosophy, politics and economics, the favored degree of many of Britain’s top leaders.

“So excited to go to Oxford!!” she tweeted Thursday.

Yousafzai will study at Lady Margaret Hall, an Oxford college whose notable alumni include the late Benazir Bhutto, the one-time leader of Pakistan and a hero of Yousafzai’s, and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Yousafzai won international renown in 2012 after she was shot by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan as a teenager for speaking out for the right of girls to go to school, a topic she started raising publicly as an 11-year-old with a blog.

After being treated at a hospital in Birmingham, England, she continued her education in the city and went on to win the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

“As far as I know, I am just a committed and even stubborn person who wants to see every child getting quality education, who wants to see women having equal rights and who wants peace in every corner of the world,” she said on the day she collected the Nobel. “Education is one of the blessings of life, and one of its necessities.”

Her acceptance to such a famed university marks a milestone in Malala’s steady progression to achieve her dreams. Social media erupted into the technological equivalent of rounds of applause.

Among those offering accolades were author J.K. Rowling and Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of the Guardian newspaper who is now the principal of Lady Margaret Hall. He tweeted: “Welcome to @lmhoxford, Malala!”

Others pointed out that Oxford was about to get a Nobel laureate not on the faculty but in the student body.

“To be fair, I think we should be congratulating Oxford,” novelist Julian Furman tweeted.

Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, all but burst with pride.

“My heart is full of gratitude,” he tweeted. “We are grateful to Allah & thank u 2 al those who support @Malala 4 the grand cause of education.”


►  Cleveland Clinic will pull event from Mar-a-Lago resort

A leading U.S. hospital says it will pull an annual fundraiser from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort after all.

The Cleveland Clinic had initially resisted pressure from health professionals and others over the Republican president’s support for repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting federal budget dollars to medical research. It said the event was not political.

The clinic said Thursday it made the decision to pull the event after “careful consideration” of various issues. It did not elaborate.

The event has raised $700,000 to $1 million annually to expand programs and purchase equipment for the hospital’s Florida facility. It has been held at Mar-a-Lago the last eight years.

More than 1,100 doctors, nurses, medical students and other Ohio residents signed a public letter of concern over the choice of venue.


►  Trump decries monument removals, ‘history ripped apart

Donald Trump bitingly decried the rising movement to pull down monuments to Confederate icons Thursday, declaring the nation is seeing “the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart.”

Trump’s remarks came as the White house tried to manage his increasing isolation and the continued fallout from his combative previous comments on last weekend’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He also tore into fellow Republicans who have criticized his statements on race and politics, fanning the controversy toward a full-fledged national conflagration.

Pressured by advisers, the president had taken a step back from the dispute on Monday, two days after he had enraged many by declining to single out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis whose demonstration against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statute had led to violence and the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville.

He returned to his combative stance on Tuesday — insisting anew that “both sides” were to blame. And then in a burst of tweets on Thursday he renewed his criticism of efforts to remove memorials and tributes to the Civil War Confederacy.

“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it,” he tweeted. “Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish. ...

“Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”

He wasn’t talking about beauty in earlier tweets, lashing at GOP Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

He accused “publicity-seeking” Graham of falsely stating his position on the demonstrators, called Flake “toxic” and praised a Flake primary election opponent.

Graham said Wednesday that Trump “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency” between the marching white supremacists and the people who had been demonstrating against them. And Flake has been increasingly critical of Trump in recent weeks.

Another Republican senator who has sometimes been critical of Trump, Susan Collins of Maine, said Thursday, “The president should’ve spoken out far more strongly from the very beginning.”

Other Republicans, including the most powerful in Congress, have been making strong statements on Charlottesville and racism, but few have been mentioning Trump himself.

The Senate’s top Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, condemned “hate and bigotry.” House Speaker Paul Ryan charged that, “White supremacy is repulsive.” But neither criticized the president’s insistence that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the violent weekend clash in Virginia.

The nuanced statements reflect the party establishment’s delicate dance. Few top Republican officeholders want to defend the president in the midst of an escalating political crisis, yet they are unwilling to declare all-out opposition to him and risk alienating his loyalists.

In another major sign of discontent within the Republican Party, Trump abruptly abolished two of his White House business councils Wednesday as corporate chiefs began resigning in protest of his racial statements.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump tweeted from New York. His action came after one of the panels had already agreed to disband earlier in the day.

The White House is trying to deal with the repercussions from Trump’s defiant remarks on the Virginia tragedy. Advisers hunkered down, offering no public defense while privately expressing frustration with his comments.

The White House says it is working to find a “convenient” time for Trump to speak with the family of the 32-year-old woman who was killed nearly a week ago while protesting the white nationalist rally.

In the meantime, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the White House appreciates the “unifying words” that Heather Heyer’s mother spoke at her daughter’s memorial service Wednesday.

Trump, staying at his golf club in New Jersey, was increasing rather than slowing his tweet-a-thon.

On Wednesday, he had told associates he was pleased with how his combative press conference had gone a day earlier, saying he believed he had effectively stood up to the media, according to three people familiar with the conversations who demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about them.

Business leaders felt differently.

Denise Morrison, chief executive of Campbell Soup, declared she was leaving Trump’s manufacturing council, saying, “The president should have been — and still needs to be — unambiguous” in denouncing white supremacists.

Publicly criticizing the president and resigning from his councils is a significant step for big-name corporate leaders. Though the policy influence of such advisory groups is sometimes questionable, simply meeting with Trump with TV cameras going is valuable face-time for the executives — and for the president.


►  Charlottesville victim’s mother urges ‘righteous action’

The mother of the young woman mowed down while protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville urged mourners at a memorial service Wednesday to “make my child’s death worthwhile” by confronting injustice the way she did.

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her,“ said Susan Bro, receiving a standing ovation from the hundreds who packed a downtown theater to remember 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Heyer’s death Saturday — and Donald Trump’s insistence that “both sides” bear responsibility for the violence — continued to reverberate across the country, triggering fury among many Americans and soul-searching about the state of race relations in the U.S. The uproar has accelerated efforts in many cities to remove symbols of the Confederacy.

Heyer was eulogized as a woman with a powerful sense of fairness. The mourners, many of them wearing purple, her favorite color, applauded as her mother urged them to channel their anger not into violence but into “righteous action.“

State troopers were stationed on the surrounding streets, but the white nationalists who had vowed to show up were nowhere to be seen among the residents, clergy and tourists outside the Paramount Theater, just blocks from where Heyer died.

Heyer, a white legal assistant from Charlottesville, was killed and 19 others were injured Saturday when a car plowed into counterprotesters who had taken to the streets to decry what was believed to be the country’s biggest gathering of white nationalists in at least a decade.

The hundreds of white nationalists — including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members — had descended on Charlottesville after the city decided to remove a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The driver of the car, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio man described as an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, was arrested and charged with murder and other offenses.

On Wednesday night, hundreds of people gathered on the University of Virginia campus for a candlelight vigil against hate and violence. They sang several spirituals and observed a moment of silence for the three lives lost during Saturday’s violence.

In other developments:

— Trump tweeted for the first time about Heyer, calling her “beautiful and incredible” and a “truly special young woman.“ The White House did not respond to questions about whether the president had contacted Heyer’s family.

— Baltimore dismantled four Confederacy-related monuments under cover of darkness, including statues of Lee and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, while the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, had the city’s 52-foot (15-meter) Confederate memorial obelisk covered over with wooden panels.

—The number of protesters arrested in connection with the toppling of a Confederate statue Monday night in Durham, North Carolina, climbed to four.

—Citing security concerns, the University of Florida denied a request by a group headed by white nationalist Richard Spencer to rent space on campus for a September event.

Jody and Brent Dahlseng, of Rockford, Illinois, said they were traveling to Virginia Beach for vacation and made a special stop. They stood outside the theater with purple ties around their shoulders.

“This country can do better than this,“ Brent Dahlseng said.

Charlottesville resident Danielle Notari, who was also outside the theater, spoke through tears.

“We wanted to come say goodbye and pay our respects,“ she said, her arms wrapped around her young daughter.

Heyer’s family members and friends said her death would only inspire them to fight harder for justice.

“This is not the end of Heather’s legacy,“ Bro said.

Speaking firmly, Bro urged those who wanted to honor her daughter to “find in your heart that small spark of accountability.“

“You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done, and you make it happen,“ she said. “You take that extra step and you find a way to make a difference in the world!“

Heyer’s grandfather, Elwood Shrader, said she always wanted fairness, even from a young age, and was quick to call out something that wasn’t right. He said she wanted respect for everyone and believed “all lives matter.“

Mark Heyer, her father, said his daughter wanted to “put down hate.“

“She’s very compassionate, she’s very precise, got a big heart,“ said Larry Miller, her boss at the law firm where she worked. “She wants to make sure that things are right. She cares about the people that we take care of.“

Two Virginia state troopers also died Saturday in the crash of their helicopter, which was used to provide video of the rally before it was diverted to lend support for the governor’s motorcade.

The funerals for Berke M.M. Bates and H. Jay Cullen are set for Friday and Saturday.


►  July ranks 2nd for heat globally, hottest recorded on land

Earth yet again sizzled with unprecedented heat last month.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday Earth sweated to its second hottest month since recordkeeping began in 1880. At 61.89 degrees (16.63 Celsius), last month was behind July 2016′s all-time record by .09 degrees.

But Earth’s land temperatures in July were the hottest on record at 59.96 degrees (15.5 Celsius), passing July 2016′s by one-seventh of a degree.

NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch says land measurements are important because that’s where we live.

NASA, which uses newer ocean measurements and includes estimates for the Arctic unlike NOAA, calculated that July 2017 was the all-time hottest month.

Crouch says this heat is from long-term man-made warming and is unusual because there is no El Nino spiking global temperatures.


►  Stonewall Jackson kin: Take down Confederate monuments

The great-great-grandson of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson said Thursday the monument to the legendary Confederate general and others in Virginia’s capital city were constructed as symbols of white supremacy and should be taken down.

Jack Christian told The Associated Press that he used to be open to the idea that the statues on Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue - which memorialize southern Civil War heroes, including Jackson - might be acceptable if context were added to explain why they was built.

However, the racially charged violence in Charlottesville has shown that to be impossible, he said.

“They were constructed to be markers of white supremacy. They were constructed to make black people fearful,” Christian said. “I can only imagine what persons of color who have to walk and drive by those every morning think and feel.”

Jack Christian and his brother Warren Christian said in a letter to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney published by Slate on Wednesday that it is “long overdue” for the “overt symbols of white racism and white supremacy” to be removed. The men said they want to make clear that the statue — and their great-great-grandfather’s actions — do not represent them.

Michael Shoop, who wrote a book on the genealogy of the Jackson family, confirmed that the men are descendants of the Confederate general.

Jack Christian told the AP that he’s pleased the Richmond mayor is now saying the city will consider removing or relocating its Confederate statues. The mayor had previously said he thought the monuments should stay but have context added about what they represent and why they were built.

However, Stoney said a commission of historians, experts and community leaders appointed to study the issue will begin considering the “removal and/or relocation of some or all” of the statues in light of the events in Charlottesville, where white supremacists rallied after the city voted to remove of a statue of General Robert E. Lee.

“While we had hoped to use this process to educate Virginians about the history behind these monuments, the events of the last week may have fundamentally changed our ability to do so by revealing their power to serve as a rallying point for division and intolerance and violence,” Stoney said Wednesday.

Chaos erupted at the Charlottesville rally, which included neo-Nazis, skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members, and is believed to be the largest gathering of white supremacists in a decade. They clashed violently with counterdemonstrators, and after authorities ordered the crowd to disperse, a car plowed into a group of marchers, killing a woman and injuring 19 others. Two state police troopers who had been monitoring the chaos were also killed when their helicopter crashed outside the city.

The events in Charlottesville have quickened the pace of the removal of Confederate monuments across the country. Four Confederacy-related monuments were hauled away on trucks under cover of darkness late Tuesday night and early Wednesday in Baltimore. In Birmingham, Alabama, a 52-foot-tall obelisk honoring Confederate soldiers and sailors was covered by wooden panels at the mayor’s order.

Jack Christian said he has heard from one relative who said she agreed with the sentiments expressed in the letter. He hopes other descendants of Confederate generals will do the same. Christian said he would like to see the statues preserved somewhere after they are removed from public display.

“While we are not ashamed of our great great grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer,” the brothers wrote. “We are ashamed of the monument.”

International News

The Free Press WV

►  China, India are dangerously close to military conflict in the Himalayas

As nuclear posturing between North Korea and the United States rivets the world, a quieter conflict between India and China is playing out on a remote Himalayan ridge - with stakes just as high.

For the past two months, Indian and Chinese troops have faced off on a plateau in the Himalayas in tense proximity, in a dispute prompted by moves by the Chinese military to build a road into territory claimed by India’s close ally, Bhutan.

India has suggested that both sides withdraw, and its foreign minister said in Parliament that the dispute can be resolved only by dialogue.

Yet China has vociferously defended the right it claims to build a road in the Doklam area, land it also claims.

Since the dispute began, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued an angry stream of almost daily denunciations of India and its “illegal trespass” and “recklessness,“ along with demands that New Delhi withdraw its troops “if it cherishes peace.“

Incursions and scuffles between the two countries have long occurred along India and China’s 2,220-mile border - much of which remains in dispute - although the respective militaries have not fired shots at each other in a half-century.

Analysts say this most recent dispute is more worrisome because it comes as relations between the two nuclear-armed powers are declining, with China framing the issue as a direct threat to its territorial integrity. For the first time, such a conflict involves a third country - the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

And the potential for dangerous clashes elsewhere on the rugged mountainous border remains real, analysts say. Indian and Chinese patrols jostled each other and exchanged blows Tuesday morning by a lake in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to local reports.

“It would be very complacent to rule out escalation,“ said Shashank Joshi, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London. “It’s the most serious crisis in India-China relations for 30 years.“

The standoff also reflects an expanding geopolitical contest between Asia’s most populous nations. As China fortifies islands in the South China Sea and exerts its influence through ambitious infrastructure projects throughout the continent, its dominance of Asian affairs is growing, as is its unwillingness to brook rivals. India is seen by some as the last counterbalance.

“The most significant challenge to India comes from the rise of China, and there is no doubt in my mind that China will seek to narrow India’s strategic space by penetrating India’s own neighborhood. This is what we see happening,“ former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran said recently at an event in New Delhi.

The incident began in mid-June, when a crew from the People’s Liberation Army, the PLA, entered a remote plateau - populated largely by Bhutanese shepherds - with earth-moving and other equipment and “attempted to build a road,“ India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

They were confronted by a Royal Bhutan Army patrol; Indian soldiers pitched tents there two days later. India and Bhutan - a country of just under 800,000 - have long had a special relationship that includes military support and $578 million in aid to Bhutan.

India says the road would have moved Chinese troops closer to India’s strategically important Siliguri Corridor, known as the Chicken’s Neck, the narrow stretch of land that separates India’s northeast from the rest of the country.

China asserted that more than 270 Indian border troops, carrying weapons and driving two bulldozers, “flagrantly crossed the boundary” and advanced about 100 yards into Chinese territory.

The roots of the distrust between the two nations go back to India’s decision to shelter the Dalai Lama in 1959, when the spiritual leader fled Tibet during an uprising there, and to China’s invasion during a brief border war in 1962.

There was a marked deterioration in relations after India signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States in 2005 and ties deepened between the two large democracies.

In 2014, Narendra Modi came into office as the most pro-China Indian prime minister since 1962, wanting not only to emulate China’s economic progress, but also to attract Chinese investment, analysts say.

But he found Chinese President Xi Jinping to be an unreliable partner, as China blocked India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and blocked efforts at the United Nations to declare Pakistani militant Masood Azhar a terrorist at the United Nations.

When China’s sweeping Belt and Road development initiative added an economic corridor through parts of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, a region that India claims, the tensions rose sharply. Modi snubbed a major summit in Beijing that launched the Belt and Road plan this year.

Meanwhile, India alarmed China by allowing the Dalai Lama this year to visit an important Buddhist monastery in India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, a region Beijing claims is part of Tibet.

“India has tolerated and supported Tibetan separatists, allowing the Tibetan independence groups to set up an ‘exile government’ in India,“ said Long Xingchun, director of the Center for Indian Studies at China West Normal University in Nanchong.

Two months in, a few hundred Chinese and Indian troops remain hunkered down on the plateau - and the threat of violence looms.

Xu Guangyu, a retired PLA major general, said China has been preparing to evict Indian troops if New Delhi does not back down but hoped that China’s objective could be realized without bloodshed.

“We won’t be the first to fire. We are very clear about this line, and this shows China’s sincerity,“ he said. “But it’s not up to China to decide. Whether there is to be war depends on the Indians. However, if they fire the first shot, they would lose control and the initiative.“

In recent days, Chinese media has kept up its overheated rhetoric, culminating in the release by a state-run news agency of a bizarre video mocking India as a bad neighbor - with an actor wearing a turban, fake beard speaking in a put-on Indian accent. Indian netizens immediately denounced the video as racist. Perhaps more troubling, the Global Times reported that the government was setting up blood collection centers and moving its blood supplies closer to the area in Tibet.

India has undertaken a variety of preparedness measures with its eye on Chinese escalation, Joshi said, including advancing the operational alert status of several units by two months, which involves moving two of its mountain divisions toward the region and allowing troops to begin acclimatizing to higher altitudes.

“Clearly, there are a whole set of measures they’ve taken as discreetly as possible to shield themselves from snap Chinese offenses,“ Joshi said.


►  Attacker rams van into Barcelona crowd, 13 dead and 100 hurt

A van veered onto a promenade Thursday and barreled down the busy walkway in central Barcelona, swerving back and forth as it mowed pedestrians down and turned a picturesque tourist destination into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured, 15 of them seriously, in what authorities called a terror attack.

Victims were left sprawled in the street, spattered with blood or writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others fled in panic through Las Ramblas, screaming or carrying young children in their arms.

Map source: Maps4News/HERE

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

Authorities said a Belgian was among the dead and a Greek woman was among the injured. Germany’s Foreign Ministry said it was checking reports that German citizens were among the victims.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

Several hours later authorities reported two arrests, one a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan. They declined to identify them.

Trapero said neither of them was the van’s driver, who remained at large after abandoning the van and fleeing on foot. The arrests took place in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, the site of a gas explosion at a house on Wednesday night. Police said they were investigating a possible link between the explosion and Thursday’s attack.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported said Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Various Spanish media said the IDs with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Media outlets ran photographs of Oukabir they said police had issued to identify one of the suspects. The regional police told the Associated Press that they had not distributed the photograph. They refused to say if he was one of the two detained.

Barcelona is the latest European city to experience a terror attack carried out using a vehicle as a weapon to target a popular tourist destination, after similar attacks in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

“London, Brussels, Paris and some other European cities have had the same experience. It’s been Barcelona’s turn today,” Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia’s government.

Thursday’s bloodshed was Spain’s deadliest attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. In the years since, Spanish authorities have arrested nearly 200 jihadists. The only deadly attacks were bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade but declared a cease-fire in 2011.

“Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also that terrorists can be beaten,” Rajoy said.

Hours after Thursday’s attack, the police force for Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region said troopers searching for the perpetrators shot and killed a man who was in a vehicle that hit two officers at a traffic blockade on the outskirts of Barcelona. But Trapero the driver’s actions were not linked to the van attack.

Las Ramblas is a wide avenue of stalls and shops that cuts through the center of Barcelona and is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. It features a pedestrian-only walkway in the center while cars can travel on either side.

A taxi driver who witnessed Thursday’s attack, Oscar Cano, said the white van suddenly jumped the curb and sped down the central pedestrian area at a high speed for about 500 yards (457 meters), veering from side to side as it targeted people.

“I heard a lot of people screaming and then I saw the van going down the boulevard,” another witness, Miguel Angel Rizo, told The Associated Press. “You could see all the bodies lying through Las Ramblas. It was brutal. A very tough image to see.”

Jordi Laparra, a 55-year-old physical education teacher and Barcelona resident, said it initially looked like a terrible traffic accident.

“At first I thought it was an accident, as the van crashed into 10 people or so and seemed to get stuck. But then he maneuvered left and accelerated full speed down the Ramblas and I realized it was a terrorist attack,” Laparra said. “He zigzagged from side to side into the kiosks, pinning as many people as he could, so they had no escape.”

Carol Augustin, a manager at La Palau Moja, an 18th-century former palace on Las Ramblas that now houses offices and a tourism center, said the van passed in front of the building.

“People started screaming and running into the office. It was such a chaotic situation. There were families with children,” she said.

Tamara Jurgen, a visitor from the Netherlands, said she and a friend were inside a clothing store steps from the scene and were kept inside until it was safe to leave.

“We were downstairs when it happened and everyone was screaming and running. We had to run up to the roof and throw our bags over a wall,” Jurgen said. “We were all together along this wall and we were scared we were going to have to jump.”

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau announced a minute of silence to be held Friday in Barcelona’s main square “to show that we are not scared.” The prime minister announced three days of national mourning.

Leaders around the world offered their support and condolences to Barcelona after the attack.

U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K. “stands with Spain against terror” while French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Thursday evening: “All my thoughts and solidarity from France for the victims of the tragic attack in Barcelona. We will remain united and determined.”

Place Date Attack
Barcelona, Spain 08.17.17 A van Strikes tourists and residents in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district.
Stockholm, Sweden 04.07.17 A hijacked truck plows into a crowd of people outside a busy department store causing deaths and injuries.
London 03.22.17 Two are killed along London’s Westminster Bridge by a vehicle. Within minutes a knife-wielding attacker stabbed a police officer outside Parliament.
Melbourne, Australia 01.20.17 A man with a history of mental health and drug abuse issues drove into a street crowded with pedestrians, killing at least four.
Israel 01.08.17 A truck driver rammed his vehicle into a crowd of Israeli soldiers at a popular Jerusalem tourist spot, killing four.
Berlin, Germany 12.19.16 A young Tunisian rammed a truck into a crowded Berlin Christmas market, killing 12. He is later killed in Italy following an international manhunt.
Nice, France 07.14.16 A truck mows down crowds celebrating Bastille Day along a beachfront, killing 86.
Dijon, France December 2014 13 pedestrians are injured by a vehicle. A day later, another vehicle strikes pedestrians in Nantes, killing one. Both suspects had histories of mental illness.
Montreal, Quebec 10.20.14 25-year-old man drove his car into to Canadian Air Force members, killing one. The suspect had been flagged for jihadist ambitions.
Glasgow, Scotland 06.30.07 Two men attempted to crash a blazing Jeep loaded with explosives. The car’s path was blocked and the explosives failed to detonate.


Spain has been on a security alert one step below the maximum since June 2015 following attacks elsewhere in Europe and Africa.

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe in the last year.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked truck to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March.

Four other men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge, unleashing a rampage with knives that killed eight people in June. Another man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.


►  U.S.: War would be ‘horrific’ but NKorea nukes ‘unimaginable’

A military solution to the North Korean missile threat would be “horrific” but allowing Pyongyang to develop the capability to launch a nuclear attack on the United States is “unimaginable,” the top U.S. military officer said Thursday in Beijing.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, told reporters that Donald Trump directly has “told us to develop credible viable military options and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Dunford was responding to questions about Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon saying in a new interview that the threat posed by North Korea cannot handled by force.

“There’s no military solution, forget it,” Bannon told The American Prospect. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

In Beijing, Dunford said it’s “absolutely horrific if there would be a military solution to this problem, there’s no question about it.”

But, he added, “what’s unimaginable is allowing KJU (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) to develop ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead that can threaten the United States and continue to threaten the region.”

Dunford met later Thursday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, during which both men reinforced the importance of exchanges between their militaries in stabilizing a relationship frequently roiled by disputes over security, diplomacy and trade.

“We both know that you and Trump are committed to our improvement in military-to-military relations and we have approached it with great commitment, candor and we certainly want to deliver results,” Dunford told Xi in opening remarks.

Earlier, Dunford met with his Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s joint staff department, another top general, Fan Changlong and top foreign policy adviser, Yang Jiechi.

Fan, the Chinese general, told Dunford that Beijing insists military action should be ruled out and “negotiations are the only effective option” in addressing the situation on the Korean Peninsula, according to a statement from China’s defense ministry.

Dunford visited South Korea earlier in the week and flies to Japan Thursday night.

In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would consider sending a special envoy to North Korea for talks if the North stops its missile and nuclear tests, in an effort to jumpstart diplomacy.

He also declared, amid fears in South Korea that threats from Trump to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang could lead to real fighting, that there would be no second war on the Korean Peninsula.

“The people worked together to rebuild the country from the Korean War, and we cannot lose everything again because of a war,” Moon said in a nationally televised news conference. “I can confidently say there will not be a war again on the Korean Peninsula.”

Dunford also told reporters in Beijing that “there’s no question” any potential military action in the Korean Peninsula would be taken only in consultation with South Korea.

“South Korea is an ally and everything we do in the region is in the context of our alliance,” Dunford said.

Moon’s comments follow a spike in animosity generated by North Korea’s warning that it might send missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam, and by Trump’s warlike language. Both of the rival Koreas and the United States have signaled in recent days, however, a willingness to avert a deepening crisis, with each suggesting a path toward negotiations.

Trump tweeted that Kim had “made a very wise and well reasoned decision,” referring to North Korean official media saying the leader would not give an immediate order to launch multiple missiles toward Guam.

“The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!” Trump wrote.

Next week’s start of annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises that enrage the North each year could make diplomacy even more difficult.

Dunford told reporters that he has advised the U.S. leadership not to dial back on the exercises with South Korea.

“As long as the threat in North Korea exists we need to maintain a high state of readiness to respond to that threat,” he said.

Moon was elected in May after a near-decade of conservative rule that saw animosity deepen between the rival Koreas. Moon wants to engage the North. But his efforts have so far been met with a string of threats and missile tests as the North works to build nuclear-armed missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland.

“A dialogue between South and North Korea must resume. But we don’t need to be impatient,” Moon said.

Moon said he thinks Trump’s belligerent words are intended to show a strong resolve for pressuring the North and don’t necessarily display the willingness for military strikes.

“The United States and Trump have already promised to sufficiently consult with South Korea and get our approval for whatever option they will take against North Korea,” Moon said.

North Korea’s threats against Guam and its advancing missile capabilities, highlighted by a pair of intercontinental ballistic missile flight tests in July, have raised security jitters among many South Koreans who worry that a fully functional ICBM in Pyongyang would force the United States to rethink whether to trade New York or Washington for Seoul in the event of a war on the peninsula.

“I think the North perfecting an ICBM, loading an atomic warhead on it and weaponizing it is a red line. North Korea is nearing a threshold for the red line,” Moon said. Moon didn’t elaborate, but many foreign experts have viewed the North’s possessing a reliable ICBM as a tripwire for potential U.S. strikes.


►  North Korea’s neighbors talk about ‘fire and fury’

Ordinary people in East Asia — residents of North Korea’s closest neighbors — talk to The Associated Press about who is to blame for the heightened tensions between North Korea and the United States, and what should be done to ensure war does not break out. Here is a selection:

SHOGO AOKI, a Japanese researcher, says that by threatening North Korea, Trump is putting America’s interests first and appears to be overlooking countries most directly threatened by the North.

“I think (Trump) is thinking that this won’t result in any deaths back home, and if a war happens it will be far from home,” said Aoki. “Whether or not he’s thinking about other countries — Japan or Korea — well, that’s a mystery.”

“In the worst-case scenario, a missile could drop on Japan, and I am very worried about that,” he said. But if Japan cooperates with countries surrounding North Korea and puts more pressure on the nation, “we could still lower the probability of something like a missile or a destructive situation from developing,” Aoki said.

___

MASARU CHIBA, a Japanese salesman, said he hopes dialogue between the parties involved can head off a conflict.

“Most Japanese, including myself, hate war,” said Chiba, 50, a native of Iwate on the northeastern coast of Japan’s main island. “So I am praying it won’t turn into one.”

“If you just leave the situation to be dealt with by the United States, and a war started just like that, we in Japan would be quite scared,” he said. “Of course Japan, China and South Korea and America should create a dialogue with North Korea, and I hope they will come up with a solution peacefully.”

___

CHOI DONG-SAM, from Busan at the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, said North Korea would bear ultimate responsibility for any conflict that breaks out, regardless of the circumstances.

“I am very concerned that a war might break out because of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea by the U.S.,” said the 56-year-old South Korean.

“I think the blame is mostly on Kim Jong Un. If North Korea hadn’t developed its nuclear program, we would not be in this current situation. I think that Kim Jong Un should take the initiative and remove the country’s nuclear weapons so we can have peace on this land.”

___

HEO KYUNG YON, from Pohang on South Korea’s east coast, said Trump’s personal self-regard was reflected in his approach to the region and was responsible for inflaming tensions.

“Trump is arrogant to a large extent,” said Heo, 61. “He is self-centered and selfish in a way, and this tendency is reflected in his policy which is geared toward solely pursuing America’s profits. I think his policy could be seen as somewhat disregarding weak countries.”

“It is without a doubt that the North’s policy should undergo some changes, but Trump’s policy is the determining factor in triggering this situation,” said Heo.

___

MA HONGSHUO, a translator from the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang, said fundamental differences in outlook between Pyongyang and Washington were playing out in the current tensions.

“The North Korean system itself is a bit closed, while at the same time the United States has always played by hegemonic and power politics, so I think this is a problem of both sides,” said Ma, 26.

North Korean hopes for improving their quality of life would likely suffer if a way cannot be found out of the current impasse, she said: “I have some North Korean friends and sometimes they would say they wish their country would improve.”

___

TIGER HAN, a student in China’s capital, Beijing, said both sides bear responsibility for the tensions, which he said threaten to draw in other countries in the region.

“If the U.S. fleets come to this region, with further threats, and both sides have no space to retreat, then it would eventually turn into a regional conflict,” said the 18-year-old. “What worries me most is if the conflict gets bigger, it would be harder to resolve.”

Han said that both sides are equally to blame, with the U.S. seeking to maintain its influence in the region.

“I think they might have an ulterior motive in mind. There may be some motives that are directed toward China,” said Han, reflecting a common sentiment among the Chinese public, officials and state media.

Click Below for additional Articles...

Page 1 of 4098 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »








The Gilmer Free Press

Copyright MMVIII-MMXVI The Gilmer Free Press. All Rights Reserved