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The Numbers on Trump’s Lies Keep Going Up

The Free Press WV

As of 3am Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, Donald Trump has told 1,628 lies since taking office. We know this because the Washington Post has been diligently watching the numbers, keeping tabs on Trump’s huge fibs and falsehoods. Over the 298 days since his inauguration, Trump has told an average of 5.5 lies every single day of the week, Monday to Sunday. While he barely works weekdays and golfs every weekend, he apparently never takes a vacation from lying.

Over the last 35 days, Trump has been even more dishonest than usual, upping his daily average to 9 lies every 24 hours. Thanks to the extra effort he’s put into misleading the country on a diversity of topics in recent weeks, he’s likely to reach “peak liar” status by January 20. “That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily exceed 2,000 if he maintained the pace of the past month,” the Post notes.

Trump tends to lie about the same things over and over again. Near the top of his greatest hits are taxes. Trump falsely stated 40 times that GOP tax reform will yield the biggest tax cut in history, and 50 times erroneously suggested the U.S. is the highest taxed nation in the world. Fifty-five times Trump has boasted about achievements he played no part in, especially when it comes to saving or creating jobs. But Trump has lied about Obamacare more than any other topic, stating some 60 times “some variation of the statement that the Affordable Care Act is dying and ‘essentially dead,’” according to the Post. That is just not true. “Indeed, healthy enrollment for the coming year has surprised health-care experts,” according to the outlet.

Trump’s lies are dangerous for reasons many have acknowledged. Obviously, the spread of misinformation and disinformation and the obliteration of truth may hold deep consequences for society and our already flawed democracy. All politicians lie, but Trump lies habitually, and with alarming frequency. The only surprise about Trump’s lying at this point is what he chooses to lie about—how easily disprovable his lies are and how unconvincing he is after so much practice. Of course, that matters little to Trump’s base and the GOP overall, for whom whataboutism and “if true”-ism are perfectly good stand-ins for what we’re constantly told are traditional values and morals.

   

Kali Holloway

Selective Outrage: Trump Criticizes Franken, Silent on Moore

The Free Press WVDonald Trump is displaying selective outrage over allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men in politics, as his own tortured past lingers over his response.

Trump moved quickly Thursday to condemn accusations against Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken as “really bad,” but he has remained conspicuously silent on the more serious claims leveled against Roy Moore, the Republican in Alabama’s special Senate race who faces allegations he sexually assaulted teenage girls decades ago.

Trump has repeatedly declined to follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan in calling on Moore to quit the race. Both had said they believe Moore’s accusers.

With the nation confronting revelations of sexual impropriety by powerful men in entertainment and politics, Trump is an inconsistent as well as an unlikely critic of alleged offenders.

More than a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were leveled against him in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump was caught on tape in conversation with “Access Hollywood” boasting in graphic detail of sexually harassing women.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the allegations against him as fake news, most recently telling reporters on Oct. 16: “It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff.”

That didn’t deter Trump from scoring a blow on a reeling detractor.

Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio host, on Thursday accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her during a 2006 USO tour. She released a photo showing the comedian turned senator posing in a joking manner with his hands on her chest as she naps wearing a flak vest aboard a military plane.

In a pair of tweets Thursday night, Trump spotlighted the accusations against Franken, saying the photo “speaks a thousand words.”

“Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?” Trump tweeted. “And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women.”

Hours before the tweets appeared, Franken moved swiftly to apologize and embrace bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation into his actions.

As Trump assailed Franken, Moore was digging in, pledging to fight the accusations against him as the state GOP in Alabama reaffirmed its support for the embattled candidate. Two women have come forward by name accusing Moore of initiating sexual contact with them when they were 14 and 16, respectively.

On Tuesday, the Republican National Committee pulled its financial support for Moore, following similar action last week by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The White House said Trump supported the RNC’s decision, which came as the party absorbed polling data showing Moore trailing Democrat Doug Jones in the Republican stronghold.

In recent days, GOP officials sought to explain away Trump’s refusal to call on Moore to step aside as an effort not to add more fuel to the anti-establishment fires boosting Moore’s campaign. They also suggested that Trump was wary of wading into issues of sexual impropriety given the previous claims against him. But the strike against Franken indicated a more political rationale. The former “Saturday Night Live” writer and cast member has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s administration.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly declined Thursday to say whether Trump believed Moore’s accusers, even after the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, told The Associated Press that she had no reason to doubt their claims against him.

“He thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be,” Sanders said of the president, who dodged questions from reporters on the subject twice earlier in the week. Sanders also refused to say whether Trump was pulling his endorsement of the candidate.

American Cities Stuck with Part Of Tab For Congress Tax Cuts

The Free Press WVCongress’ plan to cut taxes by more than $1 trillion sends part of the bill to America’s states and cities.

The Republican-led House Thursday passed its version of a tax-code overhaul that pulls the tax-exemption from investments in so-called private activity bonds that finance projects like airports, water facilities and roads, promising to make financing tens of billions of dollars worth of public works each year more expensive. And, like the Senate’s plan, it would do away with advanced refundings, a technique municipalities frequently use to refinance their debt when interest rates fall.

“The only thing that’s going to go up is the interest that you’re going to pay on that cost of capital,“ said Stephen Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, D, who is the chair of Municipal Bonds for America, a coalition lobbying to keep tax breaks on municipal borrowing. “The brunt of that will be born by ratepayers and taxpayers.“

The measures don’t go all that far to cover the cost of tax cuts that will add an estimated $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade. Doing away with private-activity bonds would save the federal government about $39 billion over the next decade because investors would steer their money into stocks, corporate bonds and other assets subject to the income tax, according to the estimates of the House bill by the Joint Tax Committee. Yanking the subsidies from refinancings would save less than $20 billion over that time.

But it will mean a lot to local governments. Advanced refundings saved them an estimated $11.8 billion in the five years through 2016, according to data compiled by the Government Finance Officers Association.

The proposed tax changes would likely result in higher interest costs for municipal borrowers and strain their budgets, according to S&P Global Ratings. Tax break or no, localities still need to build roads, maintain schools and keep the water running.

Without tax-exempt status, money for projects now financed with private activity bonds would be raised in the taxable bond market, where the cost is higher. For example, an A-rated municipality that issues $100 million in 30 year general-obligation bonds in the taxable market rather than the tax-exempt market would see an additional cost of 0.55 percentage points, or $16.5 million more over that term, according to calculations based on Bloomberg’s indexes.

While the Senate bill kept the tax-exemption for private activity bonds intact, both chambers’ bills have backed ending advanced refundings. If that happens, local governments lose a tool that helped them during times of revenue shortfalls, like the period after the onset of last decade’s recession, said John Hicks, executive director of the Washington-based National Association of State Budget Officers.

“It’s a disappointment and a surprise that advanced refundings are being proposed for repeal,“ Hicks said. “It’s an opportunity loss.“

Holding VA Medical Providers Accountable

The Free Press WV

Following a USA Today investigation revealing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concealed poor care and mistakes made by its medical workers, two senators have introduced legislation to hold the VA accountable.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., introduced Monday the VA Provider Accountability Act, which would require the VA to report major adverse actions to the National Practitioner Data Bank and state licensing boards.

The bill would also prohibit the VA from signing settlements with fired or dismissed VA employees that allow the VA to conceal serious medical errors or purge negative records from personnel files.

“The vast majority of VA healthcare providers are well-trained, caring, patriots who work hard to take care of our nation’s veterans,” Manchin said in a release. “But, just like in any healthcare system, there are bad apples.”

Manchin, a member of the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the VA Provider Accountability Ace is a commonsense piece of legislation to ensure that incidences of malpractice do not go unreported to state licensing boards and the National Practitioner Data Bank.

“It also stops those who commit malpractice from receiving a settlement so they will quietly resign and become a provider outside of the VA. By imposing these oversight measures on the Department of Veterans Affairs, we are ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all Americans.”

Heller added that the USA Today investigation findings were “downright shameful.”

“We need action immediately to ensure that the VA does not hide medical mistakes or inadequate care.”

He continued, “It is our responsibility to stand up for those who put their lives on the line for this country and provide them with the world class medical care they expect and deserve. The VA lists integrity as its first core value, and VA employees make the promise to act with high moral principle and adhere to the highest professional standards. Our legislation will make sure of it by holding the VA’s feet to the fire so that the veterans the agency exists to serve have trust in their caretakers.”

Morrisey Urges Supreme Court to Protect Prayer at Public Meetings

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and a coalition of 22 states are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the practice of lawmaker-led prayer at public meetings.
The Attorney General’s coalition intends to file a brief Wednesday asking the Supreme Court to hear arguments and confirm the constitutionality of the practice. Such a decision would clear confusion among the lower courts and strike down a ruling that impacts West Virginia.
“West Virginia has an enduring tradition of legislative prayer,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The freedom of leaders to express their faith must be protected as they seek guidance in aiding our state through struggles and helping it reach new heights.”
The coalition argues lawmaker-led prayer is woven into the fabric of American society. The practice also is fully consistent with the Constitution and our nation’s long tradition of non-coercive expressions of faith in the public sector.
The brief further cites numerous examples nationwide of states, counties and municipalities that open meetings with a government official’s prayer. It argues many governing bodies cannot afford to hire a full-time chaplain or recruit volunteer clergy.
The case, Lund vs. Rowan County, focuses upon a North Carolina county’s practice of opening its meeting with prayer offered by its commissioners. The coalition’s friend-of-the-court brief is filed in support of the North Carolina county.

Protecting the continued practice of lawmaker-led prayer impacts not only North Carolina, but also West Virginia and every state within the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction.
West Virginia filed its brief in support of free expression of faith along with Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin, along with the Governor of Kentucky.

Photojournalist’s Felony Trial Raises Free Speech Issues

Press groups and photojournalist Alexei Wood say there are troubling implications to Wood’s trial on charges of multiple felonies.

Wood stands charged with six felonies and two misdemeanors in a Washington, D.C. Superior Court.

He says the video he shot of rioting during President Donald Trump’s inauguration show he did nothing wrong, but prosecutors are accusing him of rioting just for being there.

Wood says that should be troubling to reporters and anyone who believes in a free and aggressive press.

The Free Press WV
Alexei Wood is the only journalist still facing felony charges after being
swept up in the arrests of rioters at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.


“I’m following resistance movements,” he explains. “That is my beat, and I’m really good at it, and that’s an absolutely legitimate beat. And it’s, it’s being criminalized.“

Wood faces up to 60 years in prison.

Prosecutors say he conspired with the rioters and therefore also is to blame for the attacks on police and property destruction committed by others in the group, even if he did not do those things himself.

More than 200 people, including half a dozen journalists, were penned in and arrested during the protests on Jan. 20, which were largely peaceful.

All the other journalists and all but a handful of protesters have seen their charges dropped or reduced to misdemeanors.

Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, says it’s not at all clear why Wood still is in jeopardy.

Leslie says this kind of guilt by association is dangerous.

“If you’re participating in a march and one person does something illegal and they tie that to all 200 people, that’s a truly troubling trend,“ he states.

Wood also is a new kind of journalist – one delivering raw video to the public, without going through a regular news organization.

But while Wood says the prosecutors accuse him of “advertising anarchy,“ he feels what he does is the truest form of a free press.

“If people want to critique my professionalism, I’ve got no qualms with that,” he states. “And I live-streamed it and it’s out there for the entire world to come to their own conclusions.“

Wood estimates his trial may take another two weeks. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 31 journalists have been arrested while doing their jobs in the U.S. this year.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

House Tax Bill Would Increase The Cost Of College

The Free Press WV

The repeal or revision of higher education tax benefits in the House Republican bill would cost students and families more than $71 billion over the next decade, according to an official analysis by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation.

In a letter obtained by The Washington Post, the committee provides specific individual scores of the education provisions in the House bill. Those that directly benefit current students, borrowers and employees seeking college credentials amount to tens of billions of dollars in revenue for the government, but lost savings for taxpayers. The committee tallied the costs at the request of Sen. Patty Murray, Wash., the ranking Democrat of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“At a time when higher education costs are skyrocketing, it is extremely disappointing Republicans are trying to jam through a plan that will take money from students and families who are trying to send their kids to college - all to pay for a massive tax cut for corporations and the richest among us,“ Murray said. “Republicans need to stop playing partisan games with our students’ education, and start working with us to provide more opportunities for all.“

House Republicans rattled universities, graduate students and education loan borrowers with proposals to dramatically shake up the landscape of existing tax credits, deductions and exclusions.

Graduate students, for instance, mobilized to fight against the proposed repeal of an exemption from taxes on the waivers that cover their tuition. Many have argued that counting their tuition as taxable income would result in a tax burden they could not cover with the money earned from working as teaching or research assistants. Repealing that exemption would yield the federal government $5.4 billion in revenue over the next decade.

Another hotly contested House proposal involves the elimination of the student loan interest deduction, which lets people repaying their student loans reduce their tax burden by as much as $2,500. Getting rid of the deduction would cost borrowers over $21 billion in the next 1o years. More than 12 million people took advantage of the deduction in 2015, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That’s just about 3 in 10 of the 44 million Americans with student loans.

Millions of Americans also take advantage of the three higher-education tax credits - the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit and Hope Scholarship Credit - that House Republicans want to consolidate. The government would get $24.1 billion in revenue by repealing the Lifetime Learning Credit. But that money would come at the expense of graduate students who under the proposal would be largely shut out of the consolidated tax credit.

While policy analysts agree that tax credits should be streamlined, many worry that consolidating them without a meaningful increase in funding or expansion of the criteria would prove detrimental to people paying for college. They also worry that House Republicans are discouraging workforce development by proposing the repeal of an exemption that prevents the federal government from taxing tuition assistance provided by employers. Eliminating that statute would yield $20.6 billion over a decade, which taken with the other three repeals amounts to $71.5 billion.

“The biggest losers will be students repaying their education loans, young adults seeking graduate degrees and adults seeking continuing education to upgrade their skills in a rapidly changing labor market,“ said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education. “We’re moving in precisely the opposite direction from where we should be going.“

Some within higher education are relieved that Senate Republican tax bill side steps many of the higher education proposals made in the House, including the graduate tax and interest deduction. Still, there is no guarantee that those provisions will remain off limits during reconciliation.

GOP Braces for Extended Clash in Alabama

The Free Press WV

With President Donald Trump standing on the sidelines, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore and his allies on the ground in Alabama are bracing for an extended conflict — not with Democrats, but with their own party in Washington.

The divide between the state and national GOP reached new depths late Wednesday as more allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Moore, an outspoken Christian conservative. Already, the Republican National Committee, the Senate GOP campaign committee and the party’s leading voices in Congress have called on the 70-year-old former judge to quit the race.

Ever defiant, Moore offered fighting words in a tweet addressed to the top Senate Republican: “Dear Mitch McConnell, Bring. It. On.”

Chris Hansen, executive director of the national GOP’s Senate campaign committee, fired back, “‘Bring It On’ is a movie about cheerleaders.”

At least three new allegations of misconduct were reported on Wednesday, including one by Tina Johnson, who told AL.com that Moore groped her during a 1991 meeting in his law office. Two others told The Washington Post they were young women when Moore courted them as a district attorney in his 30s. Three other women told the newspaper last week that they were teens when Moore tried to initiate romantic relationships. One said she was 14 when Moore touched her over her bra and underwear.

“There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” Ivanka Trump told the AP on Wednesday. “I’ve yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.”

Her father, however, dodged questions about the turmoil in the Alabama Senate race on Wednesday. President Donald Trump, who withstood allegations of sexual assault weeks before his own election, was uncharacteristically silent when faced with questions about the scandal.

Washington Republicans had looked to Trump as one of the few remaining hopes for pushing a fellow political rebel from the race.

Behind the scenes, aides described Trump as vexed by the Moore issue. Even if he should speak out, he might make an uncomfortable critic: The allegations against the bombastic former judge echo Trump’s own political problems when he was accused weeks before the 2016 election of more than a dozen instances of sexual harassment. The Trump aides would not be named discussing the matter because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

To a great extent, the anti-establishment forces that propelled Trump to the White House are now strongly behind Moore, and Alabama Republican leaders are reluctant to enrage his loyal conservative supporters.

The Alabama Republican Party is expected to maintain support for their embattled candidate.

The state GOP’s 21-member steering committee did not take a final vote after an hours-long meeting to discuss their options on Wednesday, which took place before new allegations of misconduct surfaced, according to three people familiar with the meeting who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The state GOP has the power to revoke Moore’s GOP nomination and ask election officials to ignore ballots cast for him, but that would risk a lawsuit and backlash from Moore supporters. The party has little interest in alienating Moore’s followers a year before elections in which the governor’s office and entire state Legislature will be in play.

Outside the state party headquarters, Moore’s campaign chairman and personal attorney addressed reporters on Wednesday, trying to undercut the story of one of the women who has accused Moore of sexually accosting her when she was in high school.

The attorney, Phillip Jauregui, demanded that Beverly Nelson “release the yearbook” she contends Moore signed. The lawyer questioned whether the signature was Moore’s and said it should be submitted for handwriting analysis. Neither the attorney nor the campaign manager addressed the original allegations from his other accusers. They did not take questions.

Gloria Allred, Nelson’s attorney, later said her client would allow the yearbook to be examined only if Moore is questioned under oath by a Senate committee.

The unusual news conference suggested that Moore, a judge twice removed from his post as state Supreme Court chief justice, was digging in, leaving his party with two damaging potential election outcomes. His victory would saddle GOP senators with a colleague accused of abusing and harassing teenagers, a troubling liability heading into next year’s congressional elections, while a loss to Democrat Doug Jones would slice the already narrow GOP Senate majority to an unwieldy 51-49.

It’s too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot, so fielding a Republican write-in at this point would almost certainly hand the election to the Democrats unless he should withdraw and persuade his supporters to vote for that substitute.

According to internal polling conducted by the Senate GOP campaign arm and reviewed by The Associated Press, Moore trails Democrat Jones by 12 points — 39 percent to 51 percent — in the survey conducted on Sunday and Monday. Moore led by 9 points the week before in the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s internal numbers.

National GOP leaders were openly discussing a write-in candidate, although they had not yet agreed on who it should be. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has encouraged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step up. But Sessions, whose former Senate seat is at stake, has indicated he has no interest in that.

Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said that he’ll write in another name on Election Day and Sessions would be an “ideal candidate.” But he also said “I don’t see any movement” toward an effective effort with the election less than a month away.

U.S. to Dominate Oil Markets

The Free Press WVThe U.S. will be a dominant force in global oil and gas markets for many years to come as the shale boom becomes the biggest supply surge in history, the International Energy Agency predicted.

By 2025, the growth in American oil production will equal that achieved by Saudi Arabia at the height of its expansion, and increases in natural gas will surpass those of the former Soviet Union, the agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook. The boom will turn the U.S., still among the biggest oil importers, into a net exporter of fossil fuels.

“The United States will be the undisputed leader of global oil and gas markets for decades to come,“ IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said this week in an interview with Bloomberg television. “There’s big growth coming from shale oil, and as such there’ll be a big difference between the U.S. and other producers.“

The agency raised estimates for the amount of shale oil that can be technically recovered by about 30 percent to 105 billion barrels. Forecasts for shale-oil output in 2025 were bolstered by 34 percent to 9 million barrels a day.

The U.S. industry “has emerged from its trial-by-fire as a leaner and hungrier version of its former self, remarkably resilient and reacting to any sign of higher prices caused by OPEC’s return to active market management,“ the IEA said.

While oil prices have recovered to a two-year high above $60 a barrel, they’re still about half the level traded earlier this decade, as the global market struggles to absorb the scale of the U.S. bonanza. It’s taken the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia almost 11 months of production cuts to clear up some of the oversupply.

Reflecting the expected flood of supply, the agency cut its forecasts for oil prices to $83 a barrel for 2025 from $101 previously, and to $111 for 2040 from $125 before.

Lower prices are helping to support oil demand, and the IEA raised its projections for global consumption through to 2035, despite the growing popularity of electric vehicles. The world will use just over 100 million barrels of oil a day by 2025.

That will benefit the U.S. as it turns from imports to exports. The country will “see a reduction of these huge import needs,“ Birol said at a press conference in London. That “will bring a lot of dollars to U.S. business.“

Nevertheless, U.S. shale output is expected to decline from the middle of the next decade, and with investment cuts taking their toll on other new supplies, the world will become increasingly reliant once again on OPEC, according to the report. The cartel, led by Middle East producers, will see its share of the market grow to 46 percent in 2040 from 43 percent now.

Yet that could still change, the IEA said.

As shale has outperformed expectations so far, the IEA added a scenario in which the industry beats current projections. If shale resources turn out to be double current estimates, and the use of electric vehicles erodes demand more than anticipated, prices could stay in a “lower-for-longer” range of $50 to $70 a barrel through to 2040.

“There could be further surprises ahead,“ the IEA said.

McKinley & Thompson Stand Up for Rural Patients, Hospitals

The Free Press WV

Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E., (WV-1) and Mike Thompson (CA-5) introduced H.R. 4392 to reverse a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule cutting $1.6B for drugs purchased by certain hospitals covered under the 340B program. These cuts jeopardize care for millions by directly reducing revenue to hospitals that care for vulnerable patients in underserved and rural communities, without addressing the underlying price of the drugs.

“Protecting access to prescription drugs for low income communities should be a priority. Unfortunately, CMS’s misguided rule jeopardizes the ability of rural hospitals to provide vital services. This would have a huge impact on West Virginia hospitals’ ability to provide affordable care. We led a bipartisan letter to CMS with nearly 250 signers, urging them to reconsider, but they didn’t listen. This bill ensures that hospitals are able to continue providing affordable services, and gives rural families peace of mind,” said McKinley.

“This rule dramatically undermines the ability of hospitals across the country to deliver care to our nation’s most vulnerable populations. I’m disappointed that CMS did not listen to hospitals, nor a majority of members in the House and Senate, and approved a rule that puts both hospitals and patients at risk,” said Thompson. “I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stop this rule and ensure the 340B program can continue to serve low-income populations as Congress intended.”

“The AHA thanks Representatives McKinley and Thompson for leading this bipartisan effort to protect patient care by preventing CMS from reducing Medicare Part B payments for some 340B hospitals,” said Tom Nickels, Executive Vice President of the American Hospital Association. “For 25 years, the 340B Drug Pricing program has been critical in helping hospitals expand access to lifesaving prescription drugs and comprehensive health care to low-income patients and other vulnerable populations in communities across the country.”

“The AAMC would like to thank Representatives McKinley and Thompson for introducing this important bipartisan bill to prevent major Medicare cuts to safety net hospitals that participate in the 340B Drug Pricing Program,” said Atul Grover, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President of the Association of American Medical Colleges. “This program provides savings to many teaching hospitals, allowing them to maintain vital services for patients at no cost to taxpayers.”

“We thank Congressmen McKinley and Thompson for their leadership and support for low-income Americans and their essential hospitals,” said Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, President and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals. “They understand the damage this policy will cause to communities in West Virginia, California, and across the country, and we appreciate their efforts to protect patients. We urge all House members to support access to affordable drugs by supporting this critical legislation.”


Background

On November 01, 2017, CMS cut the reimbursement rate for Medicare Part B drugs purchased by certain hospitals covered under the 340B program by around $1.6B. This legislation would completely negate the effects of this rule.

Since 1992, the 340B program has used mandated discounts offered by drug manufacturers to help hospitals and other covered entities provide discounted drugs and lifesaving services to their patients. The CMS rule eliminates funding that hospitals use to support the unreimbursed cost of care for those who need it the most.

On September 28, 2017, McKinley and Thompson organized a bipartisan letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma urging the administration to withdraw its harmful proposal to cut the 340B Drug Pricing Program. This letter was signed by 228 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who understand that protecting access to affordable care is a top priority.

Jobs Are Opening, But You Need The Training

The Free Press WV

The image of a shuttered factory representing the decline of blue collar jobs has been etched in our minds, and for good reason.  Since 1991 the U.S. economy has lost three million good paying jobs that did not require a college degree and all but 500,000 of them have been in manufacturing.

The days of getting a high school degree and turning that into career in a blue collar industry are rapidly disappearing. However, the economy is not static.  As those traditional jobs are disappearing, new jobs are opening up, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and JPMorgan Chase & Company.

The U.S. has approximately 123 million workers in the economy and 30 million of those are workers without a BA who have good jobs, and that sector has expanded by three million since 1991.  These are new skilled-services jobs in business, health care, hospitality, construction, education services, natural resources, wholesale and retail and government services.

The Center defines a good job as a salary of at least $35,000 a year ($17 an hour) for those under age 45 and at least $45,000 ($22 an hour) for workers age 45 and older.

The biggest difference between these new jobs and traditional blue collar jobs is the level of education necessary to perform the work. “Among good jobs, employers favor those with Associate’s Degrees or some college,” the report said.

“There are millions of good jobs in our economy for workers who have graduated from high school and completed some post-secondary education or training,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives with JPMorgan Chase.  “We need to connect this workforce with these opportunities.”

Community and technical colleges are playing a more vital role in the economy. They can adapt more quickly to the needs of the local economy and provide the necessary training over a shorter time period than traditional four-year liberal arts schools.

The new jobs at the Procter & Gamble facility near Martinsburg are a good example. The company partnered with Blue Ridge Community and Technical College on job training for potential workers even before they broke ground.

None of this should be seen as devaluing a four-year degree.  The report said workers with BAs have gained 8.4 million good paying jobs since the Great Recession (2007-2009) compared with 3.2 million workers with less education.

However, there is still a place—and a growing need—in our economy for dependable workers without a BA who have a particular skill, can communicate well and problem solve.  Many of the old factory doors have closed, but new doors are opening.

Gene Editing in The Body

The Free Press WVScientists for the first time have tried editing a gene inside the body in a bold attempt to permanently change a person’s DNA to cure a disease.

The experiment was done Monday in California on 44-year-old Brian Madeux. Through an IV, he received billions of copies of a corrective gene and a genetic tool to cut his DNA in a precise spot.

“It’s kind of humbling” to be the first to test this, said Madeux, who has a metabolic disease called Hunter syndrome. “I’m willing to take that risk. Hopefully it will help me and other people.”

Signs of whether it’s working may come in a month; tests will show for sure in three months.

If it’s successful, it could give a major boost to the fledgling field of gene therapy . Scientists have edited people’s genes before, altering cells in the lab that are then returned to patients. There also are gene therapies that don’t involve editing DNA.

But these methods can only be used for a few types of diseases. Some give results that may not last. Some others supply a new gene like a spare part, but can’t control where it inserts in the DNA, possibly causing a new problem like cancer.

This time, the gene tinkering is happening in a precise way inside the body. It’s like sending a mini surgeon along to place the new gene in exactly the right location.

“We cut your DNA, open it up, insert a gene, stitch it back up. Invisible mending,” said Dr. Sandy Macrae, president of Sangamo Therapeutics, the California company testing this for two metabolic diseases and hemophilia. “It becomes part of your DNA and is there for the rest of your life.”

That also means there’s no going back, no way to erase any mistakes the editing might cause.

“You’re really toying with Mother Nature” and the risks can’t be fully known, but the studies should move forward because these are incurable diseases, said one independent expert, Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego.

Protections are in place to help ensure safety, and animal tests were very encouraging, said Dr. Howard Kaufman, a Boston scientist on the National Institutes of Health panel that approved the studies.

He said gene editing’s promise is too great to ignore. “So far there’s been no evidence that this is going to be dangerous,” he said. “Now is not the time to get scared.”

WOE FROM HEAD TO TOE

Fewer than 10,000 people worldwide have these metabolic diseases, partly because many die very young. Those with Madeux’s condition, Hunter syndrome , lack a gene that makes an enzyme that breaks down certain carbohydrates. These build up in cells and cause havoc throughout the body.

Patients may have frequent colds and ear infections, distorted facial features, hearing loss, heart problems, breathing trouble, skin and eye problems, bone and joint flaws, bowel issues and brain and thinking problems.

“Many are in wheelchairs ... dependent on their parents until they die,” said Dr. Chester Whitley, a University of Minnesota genetics expert who plans to enroll patients in the studies.

Weekly IV doses of the missing enzyme can ease some symptoms, but cost $100,000 to $400,000 a year and don’t prevent brain damage.

Madeux, who now lives near Phoenix, is engaged to a nurse, Marcie Humphrey. He met her 15 years ago in a study that tested this enzyme therapy at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, where the gene editing experiment took place.

He has had 26 operations for hernias, bunions, bones pinching his spinal column, and ear, eye and gall bladder problems.

“It seems like I had a surgery every other year of my life” and many procedures in between, he said. Last year he nearly died from a bronchitis and pneumonia attack. The disease had warped his airway, and “I was drowning in my secretions, I couldn’t cough it out.”

Madeux has a chef’s degree and was part owner of two restaurants in Utah, cooking for U.S. ski teams and celebrities, but now can’t work in a kitchen or ride horses as he used to.

Gene editing won’t fix damage he’s already suffered, but he hopes it will stop the need for weekly enzyme treatments.

Initial studies will involve up to 30 adults to test safety, but the ultimate goal is to treat children very young, before much damage occurs.

HOW IT WORKS

A gene-editing tool called CRISPR has gotten a lot of recent attention, but this study used a different one called zinc finger nucleases. They’re like molecular scissors that seek and cut a specific piece of DNA.

The therapy has three parts: The new gene and two zinc finger proteins. DNA instructions for each part are placed in a virus that’s been altered to not cause infection but to ferry them into cells. Billions of copies of these are given through a vein.

They travel to the liver, where cells use the instructions to make the zinc fingers and prepare the corrective gene. The fingers cut the DNA, allowing the new gene to slip in. The new gene then directs the cell to make the enzyme the patient lacked.

Only 1 percent of liver cells would have to be corrected to successfully treat the disease, said Madeux’s physician and study leader, Dr. Paul Harmatz at the Oakland hospital.

“How bulletproof is the technology? We’re just learning,” but safety tests have been very good, said Dr. Carl June, a University of Pennsylvania scientist who has done other gene therapy work but was not involved in this study.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG

Safety issues plagued some earlier gene therapies. One worry is that the virus might provoke an immune system attack. In 1999, 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger died in a gene therapy study from that problem, but the new studies use a different virus that’s proved much safer in other experiments.

Another worry is that inserting a new gene might have unforeseen effects on other genes. That happened years ago, when researchers used gene therapy to cure some cases of the immune system disorder called “bubble boy” disease. Several patients later developed leukemia because the new gene inserted into a place in the native DNA where it unintentionally activated a cancer gene.

“When you stick a chunk of DNA in randomly, sometimes it works well, sometimes it does nothing and sometimes it causes harm,” said Hank Greely, a Stanford University bioethicist. “The advantage with gene editing is you can put the gene in where you want it.”

Finally, some fear that the virus could get into other places like the heart, or eggs and sperm where it could affect future generations. Doctors say built-in genetic safeguards prevent the therapy from working anywhere but the liver, like a seed that only germinates in certain conditions.

This experiment is not connected to other, more controversial work being debated to try to edit genes in human embryos to prevent diseases before birth — changes that would be passed down from generation to generation.

MAKING HISTORY

Madeux’s treatment was to have happened a week earlier, but a small glitch prevented it.

He and his fiancee returned to Arizona, but nearly didn’t make it back to Oakland in time for the second attempt because their Sunday flight was canceled and no others were available until Monday, after the treatment was to take place.

Scrambling, they finally got a flight to Monterey, California, and a car service took them just over 100 miles north to Oakland.

On Monday he had the three-hour infusion, surrounded by half a dozen doctors, nurses and others wearing head-to-toe protective garb to lower the risk of giving him any germs. His doctor, Harmatz, spent the night at the hospital to help ensure his patient stayed well.

“I’m nervous and excited,” Madeux said as he prepared to leave the hospital. “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life, something that can potentially cure me.”

Republicans vs. Moore

The Free Press WVThe chorus of national Republican leaders speaking out against Alabama GOP nominee Roy Moore after allegations of sexual misconduct grew louder Tuesday, with House Speaker Paul Ryan joining the effort to oust him from the Senate race and Attorney General Jeff Sessions voicing confidence in Moore’s accusers.

But this growing criticism has yet to sweep over key Republicans in Alabama, many of whom are standing by the former judge or staying silent on the controversy.

The sharply contrasting reactions coming out of Washington and Alabama underscore the challenge Republican leaders face as they try to force Moore out of the race and enlist a candidate who can defeat his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, so neither of the current candidates winds up joining the Senate. The division only appears to be hardening Moore’s resolve to push forward with his candidacy as he portrays his critics as the establishment figures he has made the villains of his campaign from the beginning.

“The good people of Alabama, not the Washington elite who wallow in the swamp, will decide this election! #DitchMitch,“ Moore tweeted Tuesday, making a reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who on Tuesday again called on him to drop out of the race.

Republican officials in Alabama continued to express skepticism about the accusations made against Moore, saying that they are still waiting for the evidence to back up the allegations.

“As of today, with the information that’s been introduced to me, and if these charges are not proven to be true, then I would continue to support and vote for Judge Moore,“ said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, R, in a Tuesday interview with CNN.

Others in the state said that there is little that can be done, as the Dec. 12 election to fill the seat vacated by Sessions earlier this year approaches.

“I don’t see anything the party can do,“ said Alabama state Rep. Mike Ball, a Republican from Madison County. “It’s too damn late.“

Party officials in Washington this week have ramped up efforts to get Moore to drop out, in hopes that a write-in candidate can save the seat for Republicans.

“He should step aside,“ Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. “Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values and people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.“

Speaking at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday morning, Sessions said he had “no reason to doubt” the women who have made the allegations against Moore.

The Republican National Committee on Tuesday pulled out of a joint fundraising committee with Moore’s campaign, according to a document filed with the Federal Election Commission. The decision by the national party follows a similar move Friday by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which ended its financial relationship with Moore.

Now, the Alabama Republican Party is the only other GOP entity that is participating in Moore’s fundraising efforts.

McConnell also suggested Tuesday at event hosted by the Wall Street Journal that Moore faces the threat of being expelled from the Senate if he is elected - a process that would begin with a Senate Ethics Committee inquiry in which both he and his accusers would give sworn testimony.

“It would be a rather unusual beginning, probably an unprecedented beginning,“ McConnell said.

Two women have accused Moore, 70, of initiating unwanted sexual encounters with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Leigh Corfman told The Washington Post that she was 14 at the time of the alleged encounter. Beverly Young Nelson said at a news conference Monday that she was 16 when Moore allegedly sexually assaulted her and bruised her neck. Moore has denied the allegations.

Three other women interviewed by The Post in recent weeks said that Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18, while he was in his early 30s. None of the three women said that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact. Moore has declined to rule out that he may have dated girls in their late teens when he was in his 30s, but he has said that he did not remember any encounters.

Neither Corfman nor any of the other women sought out The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore’s Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women. Nelson made her allegations against Moore after the Post article was published.

On Tuesday night, a defiant Moore spoke in Jackson, a small city in rural south Alabama, before a supportive church audience. The attacks he’d faced – “28 days before an election,“ he added – came from a political establishment that was out to get him.

“Obviously I’ve made a few people mad,“ said Moore. “I’m the only one who can unite Democrats and Republicans, because I’m opposed by both. They’ve done everything they could, and now they are together to try to keep me from going to Washington.“

Moore, who told his audience that he did not prepare a speech, veered from outrage at the coverage of his personal life to allegories and Bible quotes. He described a country in spiritual decline, said that the government “started creating new rights in 1965,“ and accused both the media and his accusers of “harassing” him.

At one point, Moore suggested that he might lose the election. “I want to take the truth of God to Washington,“ he said. “If it’s not God’s will, then I pray I don’t be put in that position, if that’s what he wants.“

But Moore never suggested that he might leave the race. Moore left the crowd at Walker Springs Road Baptist Church with a patriotic poem, a standby in his campaign speeches.

“I wrote this many years ago, but I did not know how much I would need it one day,“ said Moore.

Sessions did not say whether Moore should be seated if he wins the special election to fill the seat he held before he joined President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, even as some lawmakers in both parties have said that he should be expelled from the Senate. Ethics personnel at the Justice Department have advised him not to involve himself in the campaign, he said.

Still, a growing number of Republicans believe that the best way to salvage the seat is for Sessions to run as a write-in candidate.

At an event hosted by the Wall Street Journal, McConnell said Sessions fits the “mold” of someone who could win as a write-in contender.

It is too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot. The state party has the ability to disqualify him, thereby preventing any votes for him from being certified. National GOP strategists believe that if they can persuade local officials to take that step, an 11th-hour write-in campaign might be successful.

But if that doesn’t happen, some Republicans are pessimistic that a write-in effort would have a realistic chance, even with a popular and well-known figure such as Sessions. Instead, it could have the effect of splitting the GOP vote and opening the door for Jones to win, which would narrow the Republican advantage in the Senate to 51 to 49.

For now, Alabama GOP leaders, including Gov. Kay Ivey and state Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan, are not trying to shove Moore aside, and some Republican members of the Alabama’s congressional delegation have been reluctant to opine on the situation.

“Not going to say anything about it right now,“ said Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., as he left a meeting of House Republicans on Tuesday morning.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who has said Sessions would make a “strong” write-in candidate, suggested Tuesday it was likely that there are many Alabama voters who are “just as concerned” with Moore’s alleged behavior as there are staunch defenders of the former judge.

Hugh McInnish, a former Madison County GOP chairman, said he carefully watched the Monday news conference with attorney Gloria Allred and Nelson three times on YouTube, even calling his wife over because, he said, she is “frequently more perceptive than me.“

“It was all a put-on,“ McInnish concluded. He said that any “sane, mature person” who looked at the facts of the allegation would have questions. “A man trying to make time with a woman proceeds to choke her? It makes not one iota of sense.“

“I don’t think it’s going to fly in Alabama,“ he added, though he said that he knew of other Republicans who had been concerned by the allegations.

Several Republicans with a close eye on the race said Tuesday that they believed key members of the state party might meet to formally discuss Moore’s campaign this week. A spokeswoman for the state party did not respond to a request for comment.

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he spoke with Trump by phone Friday to discuss Moore’s campaign, and in subsequent days talked about it with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Vice President Pence.

“Obviously this close to the election, it’s a very complicated matter. And I think once the president and his team get back, we’ll have further discussions about it,“ McConnell said.

Trump, who has been traveling in Asia, has been relatively quiet on Moore. He was set to return to Washington late Tuesday.

Trump was accused of sexual harassment during his campaign, claims that the White House has denied, in an issue that is starting to resurface amid the allegations against Moore.

Asked at his weekly news conference whether he believes the women who have accused Trump, McConnell, who has said that he trusts the women who have made allegations about Moore, declined to answer.

“We’re talking about a situation in Alabama,“ he said. “And I’d be happy to address that.“

National News

The Free Press WV


►  Rise in teen suicide, social media coincide; is there link?

An increase in suicide rates among U.S. teens occurred at the same time social media use surged and a new analysis suggests there may be a link.

Suicide rates for teens rose between 2010 and 2015 after they had declined for nearly two decades, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why the rates went up isn’t known.

The study doesn’t answer the question, but it suggests that one factor could be rising social media use. Recent teen suicides have been blamed on cyberbullying, and social media posts depicting “perfect” lives may be taking a toll on teens’ mental health, researchers say.

“After hours of scrolling through Instagram feeds, I just feel worse about myself because I feel left out,” said Caitlin Hearty, a 17-year-old Littleton, Colorado, high school senior who helped organize an offline campaign last month after several local teen suicides.

“No one posts the bad things they’re going through,” said Chloe Schilling, also 17, who helped with the campaign, in which hundreds of teens agreed not to use the internet or social media for one month.

The study’s authors looked at CDC suicide reports from 2009-15 and results of two surveys given to U.S. high school students to measure attitudes, behaviors and interests. About half a million teens ages 13 to 18 were involved. They were asked about use of electronic devices, social media, print media, television and time spent with friends. Questions about mood included frequency of feeling hopeless and considering or attempting suicide.

The researchers didn’t examine circumstances surrounding individual suicides. Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the study provides weak evidence for a popular theory and that many factors influence teen suicide.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

Data highlighted in the study include:

—Teens’ use of electronic devices including smartphones for at least five hours daily more than doubled, from 8 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2015. These teens were 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions than those who reported one hour of daily use.

—In 2015, 36 percent of all teens reported feeling desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about, planning or attempting suicide, up from 32 percent in 2009. For girls, the rates were higher — 45 percent in 2015 versus 40 percent in 2009.

—In 2009, 58% of 12th grade girls used social media every day or nearly every day; by 2015, 87% used social media every day or nearly every day. They were 14% more likely to be depressed than those who used social media less frequently.

“We need to stop thinking of smartphones as harmless,” said study author Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who studies generational trends. “There’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, teens are just communicating with their friends.’ Monitoring kids’ use of smartphones and social media is important, and so is setting reasonable limits, she said.

Dr. Victor Strasburger, a teen medicine specialist at the University of New Mexico, said the study only implies a connection between teen suicides, depression and social media. It shows the need for more research on new technology, Strasburger said.

He noted that skeptics who think social media is being unfairly criticized compare it with so-called vices of past generations: “When dime-store books came out, when comic books came out, when television came out, when rock and roll first started, people were saying ‘This is the end of the world.’”

With its immediacy, anonymity, and potential for bullying, social media has a unique potential for causing real harm, he said.

“Parents don’t really get that,” Strasburger said.


►  College to name school for late journalist Gwen Ifill

A college in Boston will name one of its schools after the late Gwen Ifill (EYE’-ful), a co-host of PBS’ “NewsHour” and veteran journalist who moderated two vice presidential debates.

Simmons College announced Tuesday the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts and Humanities in honor of Ifill, who graduated from the private college with a communications degree in 1977.

A former reporter for The New York Times and The Washington Post, Ifill switched to television in the 1990s and covered politics and Congress for NBC News. She moved to PBS in 1999 as host of “Washington Week” and also worked for the nightly “NewsHour” program. She and Judy Woodruff were named co-hosts in 2013.

Ifill died of cancer last year at age 61.


►  General Electric announces plans to exit the light bulb business

General Electric sliced its dividend in half Monday, saving the beleaguered industrial giant $4.2 billion annually as it seeks to regain its footing after more than a decade of lagging profits and poor stock performance.

Shareholders will see their payments on each share drop from 24 cents a quarter to 12 cents, just the third time the company has cut the payout in its 125-year history. The reduction comes as the manufacturing conglomerate put in motion a sweeping overhaul that includes plans to revamp its board of directors and sell off business units, including its storied lighting business that dates back to its founder, inventor Thomas Edison.

GE has long been one of Wall Street’s biggest dividend payers, behind the likes of Exxon and Apple. Everyone from individual investors to pensions to foundations have relied for decades on the GE dividend.

“This is about as bad as we had expected, following third-quarter results that were undoubtedly worse than most could have imagined six months ago,“ said JP Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa in a note. Tusa has projected that the price of GE shares could fall to $17; they are currently priced at nearly $19 a share.

General Electric chief executive John Flannery said the decision was made to bolster the company’s cash holdings. GE’s estimated $7 billion in cash flow this year could not by itself cover the $8.4 billion dividend payout.

“We understand the importance of this decision to our shareowners and we have not made it lightly,“ Flannery said in a statement.

Flannery made the announcement Monday at a highly-anticipated investment analyst day in New York City, where he also unveiled a reorganization plan to get the former earnings powerhouse back on track.

He said the company would build its future around its aviation, health care and power segments. It will jettison most everything else. Those other parts include a locomotive business, a large investment in oil exploration company Baker Hughes and GE’s lightbulb business.

General Electric, the only company remaining on the Dow Jones index from the original list, said Monday it will revamp its board of directors, one of the most prestigious panels in American business. It is reducing the number of seats from 18 to an even dozen and three members will be replaced. The board, which has been criticized for allowing GE’s value to plummet, includes activist investor Trian Fund Management, which recently won a seat on the board.

The manufacturing conglomerate had long been a pillar of American industry. It has 295,000 employees, competes in 180 countries and enjoyed wide respect for its management and its corporate governance. But the firm stumbled under the reign of chief executive Jeffrey R. Immelt, who retired earlier this year after 16 years in the top spot. Immelt had succeeded Jack Welch, a legend in corporate management circles.

Flannery has been working to restore confidence. After his appointment last August, several top managers left the company, including the chief financial officer. Flannery subsequently grounded the company’s corporate jet fleet, reduced the number of cars issued to executives and announced a review of its compensation policies. Still, the company reported disappointing financial results for the third quarter

GE shares were trading around $18.83 in midday trading Monday, a decline of more than 8 percent on the day. GE began the year trading above $30 and was $25 as recently as a month ago.

The new dividend yield will be around 2.3 percent, depending on the stock’s price.

“That yield had really grown over the last decade,“ said Jeff Windau, an analyst with Edward Jones. “There was a large group that owned [the stock] for the dividend. That rationale is more muted now. The 50 percent cut puts them in line with what the other industrials are paying..“

Windau, who rates the company’s stock a buy, said GE’s decision to build around core segments such as jet engines and health care should show real growth potential over the next three to five years.

So does Melius Research, but the analyst team there considers the current stock price “unfathomable post the financial crisis,“ analyst Scott Davis said in a recent note.

“How we got here is still open to debate . . . I’m not sure we totally know yet or that it matters at this point. What we do know is that GE is a company in disarray, crisis, with massive brand destruction, and shareholders are voting with their feet - running away as fast as they can.“

Davis does see optimism, however. With the price under $20, he rates GE a buy with plenty of upside, including a price target of $35.

“We may still have a rocky next few months ahead of us but we find a highly compelling risk-return here.“


►  FACT CHECK: Trump tells a tale about Air Force One

Donald Trump told a fanciful little tale Tuesday about Air Force One being denied landing rights in the Philippines during a trip by his predecessor because bilateral relations were so bad. That didn’t happen.

Before boarding the plane in Manila to come home, Trump bragged to the press that he’s pushed relations with the Philippines to new heights.

“And as you know, we were having a lot of problems with the Philippines,” he said. “The relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word. I would say horrible is putting it mildly. You know what happened. Many of you were there, and you never got to land. The plane came close but it didn’t land.”

That prompted a lot of head-scratching.

President Barack Obama last visited the Philippines in November 2015, arriving in Manila after an overnight flight from Turkey. There were no problems with landing the plane. Obama used the visit to announce the United States was transferring two ships to the Philippine Navy.

Perhaps Trump was referring erroneously to Obama’s aborted meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte? In September 2016, Obama abruptly canceled a meeting with the new Philippines leader in Laos after Duterte called him an obscene name. Duterte was warning Obama not to speak with him about the brutality of his crackdown on the illegal drug trade.

Obama went ahead with his Laos trip, meeting other leaders.

It’s possible Trump was referring to something other than an Obama presidential trip. But if he was, he didn’t say.


►  GOP lawmaker: Male lawmaker exposed himself to staffer

A Republican congresswoman said Tuesday she was told recently by a trusted source that a member of Congress exposed himself to a staffer.

Representative Barbara Comstock, R-Va., said at a House hearing on preventing sexual harassment on Capitol Hill that she was told about a staffer who quit her job after a lawmaker asked her to bring work material to his house, then exposed himself.

“That kind of situation, what are we doing here for women, right now, who are dealing with someone like that?” Comstock asked.

Stories of sexual harassment and gender hostility are continuing to come to light in various industries, including entertainment and politics.

Comstock did not name the member of Congress, whose name wasn’t disclosed to her.

At the same hearing, Representative Jackie Speier said there are two current lawmakers who have been involved in sexual harassment.

“In fact there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, who serve right now who have been subject to review, or not been subject to review, that have engaged in sexual harassment,” said Speier.

The Democrat from California recently introduced legislation to make sexual harassment training mandatory for members of Congress after sharing her own story of being assaulted by a male chief of staff. Her bill also includes a survey of the current situation in Congress and an overhaul of the processes by which members and staffers file harassment complaints.

The bill has gained bipartisan support. Committee chairman Gregg Harper, R-Miss., said in his opening remarks, “I believe we need mandatory training, and probably everyone here would agree.”

The Senate last week unanimously approved a measure requiring all senators, staff and interns to be trained on preventing sexual harassment. On a voice vote, lawmakers adopted a bipartisan resolution calling for training within 60 days of the measure’s passage. Each Senate office would have to submit certification of completed training, and the certificate would be published on the public website of the secretary of the Senate.

The measure had widespread support, and the action occurred within days of the resolution’s formal introduction.

Earlier this month, The Associated Press reported on one current and three former female lawmakers who said they had been harassed or subjected to hostile and sexually suggestive comments by fellow members of Congress, some of whom are still in office. Shortly afterward House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., sent a memo to fellow lawmakers encouraging them to complete sexual harassment training and make it mandatory for their staffs.

With each passing day, new revelations of sexual misconduct continue to rock the political sphere. In recent days Alabama’s Republican nominee for Senate has come under fire after several women have come forward with accounts of sexually inappropriate behavior or, in at least one case, assault, at Moore’s hand when they were teenagers. In the wake of the allegations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans have said Moore should step aside. One Republican has suggested that if elected, Moore should be expelled from the Senate.

2017 National Community Foundations Week

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Governor James Justice declared November 12 – 18th as 2017 National Community Foundations Week to celebrate the impact of philanthropy and its role in advancing communities in West Virginia.

“The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates (PACF) works in partnership with generous local individuals, families and corporations who want to make a difference in their communities by creating permanent charitable funds. We’ve been helping local citizens to take care of what matters most to them since 1963. Thirty community foundations, affiliates, and area funds serve 52 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. The PACF is proud to be among those six West Virginia community foundations recognized as being nationally accredited in accordance with the National Standards for Community Foundations. The accreditation process is very rigorous and our accreditation assures donors that PACF’s policies and practices meet the highest standards for our field,” said Judy Sjostedt, Executive Director of the PACF.

The PACF is celebrating National Community Foundations Week with a variety of activities. The PACF, in partnership with Philanthropy WV, WV Nonprofits Association, and Nonprofits LEAD of Marietta College is hosting the Leadership for Nonprofit Success workshop for area nonprofits with national author, David Grant, on Nov. 15th. Mr. Grant will address nearly 70 community leaders to share knowledge from his book, the Social Profit Handbook. During this week, the PACF will also release its Executive Summary of the preliminary results of research on the impact of its Civic Leaders Fellowship Program and its success in retaining the Mid-Ohio Valley’s next generation of citizens. Finally, acknowledging this week, the PACF held an investments seminar recently with Fund Evaluation Group (FEG) of Cincinnati, its independent investments advisor where it publicly shared the results of its charitable fund investments performance. The PACF is a public charity, and its results in comparison to its peer group of foundations, as well as much larger foundations, rank it among the top-performing community foundations nationwide at the one, five and ten year levels. The PACF’s investments return, net of fees, in its most recently completed fiscal year was 13.2%. Director Sjostedt credits the PACF’s strong performance to the careful oversight of its investments committee, FEG and stellar performance by its managers, WesBanco, United, and Vanguard.

Sjostedt noted, “This week and every day, the PACF celebrates the generosity of local people and the impact that their giving has on improving our Mid-Ohio Valley area’s quality of life. With the year-end fast approaching, it’s a tremendous time for citizens to make an investment to advance their communities by supporting their local community foundation.” To learn more about the PACF, visit www.pacfwv.com or stop by its office at 1620 Park Avenue, Parkersburg during regular business hours.

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