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Director of International Programs at GSC Visits China

Glenville State College Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of International Programs Dr. Megan Gibbons recently spent time in China as part of the Confucius Institute of West Virginia University which hosted a delegation of education administrators from the Mountain State. The group consisted of four representatives from primary schools, three from middle and high schools, and three from colleges and universities who were invited to participate in the twelve-day visit. The trip was designed to explore possible collaborations between educational institutions in West Virginia and in China and to allow the representatives to learn firsthand about Chinese culture through language, art, history, food, geography, and more.

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Dr. Megan Gibbons with students from Huidi 1st Primary School

Gibbons had the opportunity to visit five educational institutions including two universities, Tianjin University of Finance and Economics and Tianjin University of Science and Technology. While visiting these universities, she was able to discuss the possibility of arranging faculty/student exchanges, as well as developing virtual exchange opportunities through GSC’s Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Program with university officials.

The group was also able to take part in cultural sightseeing at The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, Tianjin Museum, Tianjin Art Museum, Jin Mai Tower in Shanghai, and a night cruise on the Huangpujiang River in Shanghai.

“Everything about this trip was memorable from Shanghai’s magnificent illuminated nighttime skyline to the Confucius Institute Headquarters’ interactive displays about Chinese paper cutting and the Peking Opera. Tianjin surprised us with its understated beauty and with its parks full of choral groups, ballroom dancers, and practitioners of tai chi. The food was plentiful and delicious even if our chopstick skills never quite mastered those never-ending noodles. The people we met – professors, administrators, teachers, students, tour guides, even strangers in the streets – were welcoming and kind,” said Gibbons.

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Members of the West Virginia delegation enjoying a night cruise on the Huangpujiang River in Shanghai


A highlight of the trip came when musicians in the National Band of Tianjin University of Finance and Economics performed a special arrangement of Take me Home, Country Roads (one of West Virginia’s official state songs) for the group on traditional Chinese instruments. Elementary student also sang songs, performed dances, and offered the delegation hand-made gifts of paper fans and sculptures.

GSC students who are interested in studying abroad in China should contact Gibbons in the Office of International Programs at or 304.462.6321.

EARLY VOTING

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EARLY VOTING started WEDNESDAY and here are a few things you need to know:

1. It’s easy to vote during the Early Voting period, you can vote on your own schedule and the dates go from April 25 to May 5! That includes two Saturdays that you can make it to vote in this year’s Primary Election!

2. Call your County Clerk to find your polling place! The link can be found by clicking here.

3. Voter ID laws have changed, but don’t worry it’s simple. You can take either photo I.D. or non photo I.D. or you can take a friend to vouch for you. See below for a list of options and choose what is easiest for you!

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WVDEP Encourages Teachers to Take “Classroom Challenge” on World Water Day

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The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is encouraging middle school students and teachers across the state to take the “Classroom Challenge” on World Water Day.

The theme for 2018 is “Nature for Water,” where nature based solutions are considered to address 21st century water issues. In this challenge, students are asked to help examine urban stormwater runoff pollution and research nature based solutions that could help reduce the amount of pollutants entering West Virginia’s waterways.

Examples of nature based solutions are permeable pavement that absorbs water, rain barrels, or urban rain gardens.

The 2018 Classroom Challenge launched on March 21 and all entries must be submitted by March 30 to . Each class will be featured on WVDEP’s Facebook and Twitter page, as well as receive a West Virginia watershed poster.

For instructions on how to participate in the World Water Day 2018 Classroom Challenge contact or by calling 304.926.0499 ext. 1272.

Only a limited number of World Water Day teacher packets are available on a first come, first served basis.

World Water Day, which was created by the United Nations to bring attention to water related issues worldwide, is on March 22 every year.

The Christmas when the fighting stopped

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Has there ever been a Christmas when there was no war, no fighting in any corner of our planet?  It’s difficult to imagine since the world’s history has been a series of conquests and defenses.

But there was once a Christmas when the fighting did stop, when enemies shook hands and laughed and even sang Christmas carols together.

The First World War had been underway just a few months in December 1914, but it was clear a long, bloody fight was ahead.  The Germans and the English were dug in their muddy trenches separated sometimes by just 60 yards.

Between them was a No-Man’s land of mud, debris and the casualties of both sides, left unburied for weeks.

But something remarkable happened along the battle lines on Christmas 103 years ago; the German and British soldiers stopped fighting.

It wasn’t that they were afraid to fight. The trenches of both sides were filled with brave men who faced death each day.  No, the peace began as an informal truce casually agreed to by the officers in the field, but not the generals safely in the rear.

At night the English first saw the lights of Christmas decorations in the German trenches, and then heard the sounds of the German soldiers singing Christmas carols.  The British soldiers responded in kind.

All along the Western Front the scene repeated itself.  The impromptu truce spread.  In some places along the lines the warring soldiers emerged from their trenches, leaving their guns behind, and met in No-Man’s land where they exchanged food and conversed as best they could.  One group of soldiers played a game of soccer.

Percy Jones of the Queen’s Westminster Regiment said, “Altogether we had a great day with our enemies, and parted with much hand-shaking and mutual goodwill.”  Corporal John Ferguson of the Seaforth Highlanders remarked, “Here we were, laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill.”

Well behind the trenches the British High Command was distressed, fearing it might not be able to get the men to start fighting again.  The war might grind to a halt. Headquarters issued a statement blaming the lack of fighting at the front on “stormy weather.”

Eventually, the soldiers at the front drifted back to their positions.  At some locations along the front the Christmas Spirit carried to the New Year before fighting resumed.  The fighting of course did start again and continued for nearly four more bloody years.

This Christmas as we search for good news in a troubled world we can remember that Christmas 103 years ago when the spirit of peace on earth and good will toward men was strong enough to—for a time at least—stop a world war.

U.S. Declares ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Against Rohingya In Myanmar

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The United States declared the ongoing violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to be “ethnic cleansing” on Wednesday, threatening penalties for military officials engaged in a brutal crackdown that has sent more than 620,000 refugees flooding over the border to Bangladesh.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blamed Myanmar’s security forces and “local vigilantes” for what he called “intolerable suffering” by the Rohingya. Although the military has accused Rohingya insurgents of triggering the crisis, Tillerson said “no provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued.”

“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” Tillerson said in a statement.

Although the designation carries no legal obligations for the U.S. to act, Tillerson said those who perpetrated the atrocities “must be held accountable.” He added that the U.S. wanted a full investigation and was considering “targeted sanctions” against those responsible — but not broader sanctions against the nation.

Rohingya from Myanmar’s Rakhine state have been fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh, seeking refuge from what Myanmar’s military has called “clearance operations.” The crisis started in August, when Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar security forces, leading to a brutal crackdown in which soldiers and Buddhist mobs have killed men, raped women and girls and burned homes and property to force the Rohingya to leave.

The declaration followed a lengthy review process by President Donald Trump’s administration to determine whether the violence met the threshold to be considered ethnic cleansing. The United Nations came to that conclusion in September, but the U.S. had held off, with Tillerson saying he needed more information even as he expressed deep concern about the crisis.

Last week, Tillerson traveled to Myanmar in the highest level visit by a U.S. official since Trump took office. U.S. officials dangled the possibility of an “ethnic cleansing” designation ahead of Tillerson’s trip, potentially giving him more leverage as he met with officials in Myanmar. In the capital of Naypitaw, Tillerson met with the country’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as Myanmar’s powerful military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, who is in charge of operations in Rakhine state, home to Myanmar’s Rohingya population.

The leader of a group that works to improve conditions for the Rohingya said Thursday he hopes the declaration will strengthen the call for accountability. Arakan Project director Chris Lewa said he thought Tillerson’s visit had been relatively appreciated and he hoped it would prove constructive.

I hope that it will have the impact that (Tillerson) used the correct word I think to describe what really is going on,” Lewa said. “And I hope that the military will listen more, but it’s always difficult to predict how the military will react and sometimes it’s like they are not listening to anything at all.”

Senior State Department officials said the determination was intended to ramp up pressure on the military and others in Myanmar to resolve the conflict and repatriate refugees who have fled to Bangladesh. Yet it was also likely to intensify calls for the Trump administration and Congress to move toward new sanctions. Earlier this month, a House committee passed a nonbinding resolution condemning “murderous ethnic cleansing and atrocities” and calling on Trump to impose sanctions on those responsible for abuses.

Yet sweeping sanctions targeting Myanmar’s economy or its military as a whole are off the table, officials said, adding that the Trump administration had determined they would not be productive either for ensuring accountability or for promoting broader U.S. goals in Myanmar. Instead, the U.S. is considering sanctions against individuals only, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment by name and briefed reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity.

Broad-based U.S. sanctions on Myanmar were eased under former President Barack Obama as the Southeast Asian nation inched toward democracy. U.S. officials have been concerned that slapping back sanctions or pushing Myanmar’s leaders too hard on the Rohingya violence could undermine the country’s civilian government, led for the last 18 months by Suu Kyi. That could slow or reverse the country’s delicate transition away from decades of harsh military rule and risks pushing Myanmar away from the U.S. and closer to China.

The State Department has also examined whether the violence in Rakhine meets the definitions for crimes against humanity or genocide, but have so far made no such determinations. Both designations carry significant legal consequences.

Ethnic cleansing, on the other hand, isn’t recognized as an independent crime under international law, according to the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention. The ethnic cleansing term surfaced in the context of the 1990s conflict in the former Yugoslavia, when a U.N. commission defined it as “rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.”

Human rights groups accuse the military of a scorched-earth campaign against the Rohinyga, who numbered roughly 1 million in Myanmar before the latest exodus. The Buddhist majority in Myanmar believes they migrated illegally from Bangladesh, but many Rohingya families have lived for generations in Myanmar. In 1982, they were stripped of their citizenship.

Already, the United States has curtailed its ties to Myanmar’s military over the violence. Earlier this year, the U.S. restored restrictions on granting visas to members of Myanmar’s military, and the State Department has deemed units and officers involved in operations in Rakhine state ineligible for U.S. assistance.

General: Russia Likely To Scale Down In Syria

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The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

7:25 p.m.

The chief of the Russian General Staff says Russia is likely to scale down its military presence in Syria “significantly” before the year’s end.

Moscow embarked on an air campaign in Syria in October 2015 to prop up its longtime ally President Bashar Assad. Russia’s operation ultimately helped to turn the tide of the war in Assad’s favor.

Gen. Valery Gerasimov said in comments carried by Russian news agencies Thursday that the scale-down that Putin announced earlier this week will be “significant.”

Gerasimov said that two Russian bases and the Center for Reconciliation, which is responsible for monitoring truce in several areas in Syria, will stay as well as “a number of necessary structures to keep the situation where it is now.”

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4:30 p.m.

Syria opposition representatives meeting in the Saudi capital have called for direct and unconditional negotiations with the Syrian government that would lead to the launch of a transition period.

The opposition didn’t condition its participation in the U.N-based negotiations on the departure of President Bashar Assad from office.

However, in a final communique obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, they said a peaceful and unbiased transitional period will not be possible without Assad first leaving office.

It is the first time the opposition has called on the U.N. to arrange for direct talks with the government. It also signals a degree of flexibility on Assad’s role in the transition period.

Russia, the main backer of Assad, has been pushing for new political talks, saying “there is a real chance” to end the conflict. Moscow and opposition members it backs have demanded the launch of an “unconditional” process.

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4:05 p.m.

Russia’s chief military officer says the nation could reduce its military presence in Syria.

Thursday’s statement from Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the military’s General Staff, comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted counterparts from Turkey and Iran for talks on advancing peace process in Syria. Asked if the Russian force in Syria will be scaled down, Gerasimov said “it probably will,” according to Russian news agencies.

With the Syrian government controlling most of the country and Islamic State group fighters in disarray, Putin said during talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier this week that Russia’s military campaign in Syria is wrapping up — though he made no mention of the Russian presence in Syria, which Moscow is not likely to give up.

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1:25 p.m.

A top Turkish ruling party official says Ankara supports a political solution for Syria but retains its “red lines” on the subject of Syrian President Bashar Assad remaining president.

Mahir Unal, the spokesman of the Justice and Development Party, says Turkey made clear its reservations about Assad having any future role in Syria “after all these deaths” during a trilateral meeting with Russia and Iran that took place in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday.

Unal also said Turkey emphasized at the Sochi meeting that there must be negotiations between Assad and the opposition, which Ankara has supported from the start of the Syrian civil war.

Turkey also wants Syria to remain united and not break up, and opposes Syrian Kurdish fighters participating in negotiations on Syria’s future.

What Is the True Cost of Inequality?

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The 12 months that ended this past summer, suggests the just-released annual Global Wealth Report from the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, ought to be cause for celebration. The world has never been richer. Credit Suisse’s researchers have discerned “a significant increase in wealth across the globe.” Net worth worldwide has increased by a remarkable $16.7 trillion over just the past year.

So why aren’t people worldwide cheering? That “significant increase in wealth,” the new Credit Suisse numbers make clear, has benefited only a precious few. The top 1 percent globally now hold 50.1 percent of the world’s household wealth, up from 45.5 percent at the start of the century.

Within that top 1 percent, the really rich — deep pockets with at least $50 million in net worth — are clearly leading the way. Since 2000, Credit Suisse calculates, the wealth of this “ultra high net worth” cohort has multiplied “five-fold.”

About half of these ultras, 49 percent, reside today in the United States. Credit Suisse counts 72,000 of these ultra-rich Americans. Some context: China, the host to the world’s second-highest collection of $50 million-and-up personal fortunes, has only 18,100 ultras.

Some additional context: The United States hosts over 25,000 more ultra-rich individual fortunes than the nations with next nine highest ultra-rich totals combined.


The Trickle-Down

How much of this enormous wealth at America’s economic summit trickles down to average Americans? Not much.

At first glance, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The average American adult, the Credit Suisse data show, boasts $388,585 in net worth. Only two other nations in the world — Switzerland and Australia — have higher net worth averages.

But wealth averages can be deceiving. They represent a nation’s total household net worth divided by the nation’s total number of adults. The more wealth a nation’s rich hold, the higher the average will be. A nation of one millionaire and nine other adults with no wealth at all would have an average individual net worth of $100,000.

So net worth averages can tell us next to nothing about the actual life experience of the typical person. To see how a nation’s most typical adults are doing, we need instead to calculate each nation’s median adult net worth. That means finding the net-worth level that represents the point at which half a nation’s adults have more wealth and half have less.

The new 2017 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report helpfully calculates these medians. Switzerland and Australia again top the global list. The typical Swiss adult has a net worth of $229,000. The typical Australian, $195,400. And the typical American? A mere $55,876. Twenty nations in all have higher median adult net worths than the United States.


The True Cost of Inequality

Just how much is inequality costing ordinary Americans? Comparing the United States to other more egalitarian-minded developed nations can give us a vivid sense of the high toll that inequality exacts. Take, for instance, the example of Japan, one of the world’s most equal nations.

In their new Global Wealth Report, Credit Suisse’s researchers describe the 2017 Japanese economy as “still in the doldrums.” But ordinary Japanese households would almost certainly take their “doldrums” over the economic status quo in the United States any day of the week.

The numbers explain why. The United States has over 50 times more ultra-rich than Japan, and that enormous wealth at the top has the U.S. average net worth towering over the average Japanese net worth, by a $388,586 to $225,057 margin. But Japan shares its household wealth far more equally than the United States. The typical Japanese adult holds $123,724 in net worth, much more than double the $55,876 U.S. median adult net-worth figure.

Ordinary Americans, in effect, are each paying what amounts to an “inequality tax.” If we distributed our wealth as equally as the Japanese distribute theirs, the typical American would likely be somewhere around $100,000 richer.

Or take Australia, a nation that now sports almost the exact same average adult wealth as the United States. The average Aussie has a $402,603 net worth, just a bit above the average American’s $388,586. The net worth of the median — most typical — Australian? A stunning $195,417, four times the median adult net worth in the United States.

Australians used to see their nation as a relatively equal society. They don’t anymore. Rising inequality has become a major Australian political issue. But Australia remains far more equal a society than the United States. The top 1 percent in Australia only holds an estimated 15 percent of the nation’s wealth.

America’s top 1 percent, Federal Reserve researchers reported earlier this fall, now holds 38.6 percent.

~~  Sam Pizzigati ~~

Trump Era Sparks New Debate About Nuclear War Authority

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It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly the U.S. military has prepared for doomsday — the day America gets into a nuclear shooting war.

No detail seems to have been overlooked. There’s even a designated “safe escape” door at the nuclear-warfighting headquarters near Omaha, Nebraska, through which the four-star commander would rush to a getaway plane moments before the first bomb hit.

Procedures are in place for ensuring U.S. nuclear weapons are ready for a presidential launch order in response to — or in anticipation of — a nuclear attack by North Korea or anyone else. There are backup procedures and backups for the backups.

And yet fundamental aspects of this nightmare sequence remain a mystery.

For example, what would happen if an American president ordered a nuclear strike, for whatever reason, and the four-star general at Strategic Command balked or refused, believing it to be illegal?

Robert Kehler, a retired general who once led that command, was asked this at a congressional hearing last week. His response: “You’d be in a very interesting constitutional situation.”

By interesting, he seemed to mean puzzling.

Brian McKeon, a senior policy adviser in the Pentagon during the Obama administration, said a president’s first recourse would be to tell the defense secretary to order the reluctant commander to execute the launch order.

“And then, if the commander still resisted,” McKeon said as rubbed his chin, “you either get a new secretary of defense or get a new commander.” The implication is that one way or another, the commander in chief would not be thwarted.

The current head of Strategic Command, Gen. John Hyten, said Saturday at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada that he would refuse a launch order from a president if he believed that order to be illegal. Hyten also predicted that the president would then ask him for options that Hyten judged to be legal.

Bruce Blair, a former nuclear missile launch officer and co-founder of the Global Zero group that advocates eliminating nuclear weapons, said the Kehler scenario misses a more important point: The Strategic Command chief might, in effect, be bypassed by the president.

A president can transmit his nuclear attack order directly to a Pentagon war room, Blair said. From there it would go to the men and women who would turn the launch keys.

The renewed attention on these questions reflects unease — justified or not — about President Donald Trump’s temperament and whether he would act impulsively in a crisis.

This past week’s Senate hearing was the first in Congress on presidential authority to use nuclear weapons since 1976, when a Democratic congressman from New York, Richard L. Ottinger, pushed for the U.S. to declare it would never initiate a nuclear war. Ottinger said he wanted to “eliminate the prospect that human ignorance and potential human failure in the use of nuclear materials, especially nuclear weapons, will lead to the destruction of civilization.”

Forty-one years later, the U.S. hasn’t ruled out first-strike nuclear options and is unlikely to do so during Trump’s tenure. This troubles experts who worry about a president with the sole — some say unchecked — authority to initiate nuclear war.

“We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said at the outset of last week’s hearing.

The committee chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he was not targeting Trump. But he, too, has publicly questioned whether Trump’s aggressive rhetoric toward North Korea and other countries could lead the U.S. into a world war. In the end, Corker’s hearing produced little impetus for legislation to alter the presidential authorities.

James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, saw politics at play.

“But I think it’s a genuinely important subject, and I think it’s one we should be debating irrespective of who the president is,” he said.

Acton said a president rightly has unchecked authority to use nuclear weapons in response to an actual or imminent nuclear attack. In his view, the president should otherwise be required to consult in advance with the secretaries of state and defense, and the attorney general, and get approval from two of the three before acting.

Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School, says changes of this sort would put a valuable check on the president and protect his nuclear authority from potential military insubordination.

Waxman and Richard Betts, director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, have a proposal: To order a nuclear first strike, the president would first have to get “certification” from the secretary of defense that the order is valid and authentic, and from the attorney general that it is legal.

These added safeguards wouldn’t risk delaying a response to an enemy attack in progress, Betts said. They would apply “only in situations where the United States is considering starting the nuclear war.”

Canada Said to Warn U.S. Businesses to Speak Up or Lose NAFTA

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Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator is urging U.S. businesses to step up pressure on the Trump administration to save the trade deal, as successful talks increasingly hinge on the U.S. backing off its most controversial proposals.

Steve Verheul made the request on Sunday in Mexico City with about three dozen members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, according an official briefed on Verheul’s remarks who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Negotiators are gathered in Mexico’s capital for the fifth round of discussions to upgrade the North American Free Trade Agreement that wrap up Tuesday.

Verheul previously warned the chamber to brace for life after NAFTA, and the business group has been raising the alarm by highlighting the U.S. economic cost of losing the trade pact. His warning is the latest sign that discussions are bogged down amid deep divides over contentious U.S. proposals, with U.S. President Donald Trump’s regular threats to walk away looming over talks.

Many American lawmakers have also been speaking out in support of NAFTA, and Canada and Mexico are holding out hope that domestic pressure will lead U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to back off controversial demands. Those include requiring cars to have 50 percent U.S. content, imposing a sunset clause on the deal, killing the Chapter 19 dispute panels and dismantling Canada’s dairy sector, which relies on a system of quotas and tariffs that Canadian officials argue prevents oversupply.

“It’s hard to see any breakthrough if the U.S. does not change its attitude and does not become much more realistic with respect to their ask,“ Yves Leduc, director of international trade for the Dairy Farmers of Canada lobby group, said in Mexico City on Monday.

“We regularly engage with stakeholders in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, and we will continue to maintain open channels of communication,“ Alex Lawrence, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the the chamber declined to comment.

The Big Picture: Putin’s Plan Plays Out

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Almost everyone agrees with our nation’s intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with our 2016 presidential election, even President Donald Trump, sometimes. But why would Putin want Trump to win?

Trump was enthusiastically supported in the government-run Russian press and, “An announcement by Foreign Affairs Committee member Vyacheslav Nikonov that Mr. Trump had triumphed was almost drowned out by clapping and cheering in the State Duma (the Russian ‘congress.’)” Here’s the quote attributed to Nikonov: “Three minutes ago, Hillary Clinton acknowledged her defeat in the U.S. presidential elections and just seconds ago, Trump began his speech as president-elect. I congratulate all of you on this.”

When I first started writing this column, I thought of all the “helpful” things Trump has done for Russia since his nomination:

  • He eliminated the Republican Party plank at the GOP convention calling for providing “lethal defense weapons” to the Ukrainian army.
  • He gutted the State Department, making the United States a weaker presence worldwide, slashing foreign intelligence, and stimulating a mass-exodus of seasoned, higher-level personnel.
  • He destabilized NATO, calling it “obsolete,” saying it should be “readjusted,” and publicly wavering on which members the U.S. would defend.
  • He promoted racial, religious, cultural and urban/rural divisions.
  • He denigrated by word and deed long-treasured American qualities and ideals like rule of law, egalitarianism, generosity, compassion, civility, tolerance, integrity and morality.

Researching this column, I discovered that Trump’s election tactics were (and are) eerily similar to a much grander Russian scheme, outlined in Aleksandr Dugin’s 1997 book, “Foundations of Geopolitics.” Written in the depths of the post-Soviet economic decline, this book laid out a plan to help Russia regain her lost world-leader status.

“There has probably not been another book published in Russia during the post-communist period which has exerted a comparable influence on Russian military, police, and statist foreign policy elites,” according to historian John Dunlop, of the Hoover Institute. Aleksandr Dugin is now considered a member of Putin’s inner circle.

“Foundations of Geopolitics” advises Russia to stay away from direct military confrontation in favor of political stealth and infiltration of Western institutions. It calls for Russian special services “to provoke all forms of instability and separatism within the borders of the United States,” to wit, “Introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.”

Putin’s trolls actively pushed both the far right and far left group messages.

“Promoting content that is divisive – that is the ultimate goal here,” said Lee Foster, manager of information operations analysis at FireEye Intelligence, one of the foremost cybersecurity firms in the world. “It’s the same in Europe, but the specific themes change. . . . There, one of the most prominent themes is migration and the refugee crisis.”

Among other things, the book suggests Russian annexation of Ukraine (partially done), promoting the exit of Britain from the European Union (done) and funding far right, nationalist, populist candidates everywhere to weaken ties with other countries. Just last week, the British newspaper, “The Sun,” ran the headline: “Russia used 150,000 fake Twitter accounts to rally support for Brexit in 48 hours leading up to referendum vote.”

For the past decade, Russia has directly and indirectly supported right-wing nationalists all over Europe. There are many examples, perhaps the most well-known being far-right, pro-Russian, anti-European Union candidate Marine La Pen, of France, who received more than $10 million from a Russian bank for her campaign.

Russian sabotage is real and ongoing. Welcome to today’s Cold War.

Mike Kirchubel

Trump Puts North Korea Back On State Sponsors Of Terrorism

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Donald Trump on Monday announced that his administration has re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terror, a move aimed at increasing pressure on Pyongyang a decade after the George W. Bush administration removed the rogue nation from the list.

Trump made his decision public during a brief photo op at a Cabinet meeting, calling it “a very critical step” that “should’ve happened a long time ago.“ The president cited assassinations by dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime carried out on foreign soil, as well as the treatment of American college student Otto Warmbier, who died in June days after he was released in a coma by the North after spending 17 months in captivity.

Trump vowed that Pyongyang will face further sanctions in the near future and that this will be the “highest level of sanctions by the time it’s finished.“ White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders amplified the message on Twitter.

“POTUS announced that the U.S. is again designating North Korea a state sponsor of terror,“ she tweeted.

The White House had signaled during Trump’s Asia trip this month that the president was likely to make the designation. The North spent 10 years on that list before being removed in 2008 by the Bush administration for meeting nuclear inspection requirements. Pyongyang later violated the agreement.

In a speech to the South Korean national assembly two weeks ago, Trump cited atrocities carried out by the Kim regime and called the North “a hell that no person deserves.“ Among other acts, Kim’s regime stands accused of carrying out the assassination of his half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, with a deadly nerve agent at a Malaysian airport in February.

Iran, Sudan and Syria also are on the list, which is administered by the State Department. According to that agency, sanctions for those nations on the list include “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.“

Last month, a bipartisan group of House members wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to add North Korea to the list, citing the deaths of Warmbier and Kim Jong Nam.

“Such acts are not isolated events, but part of a consistent pattern by the Kim regime,“ stated the letter, signed by Rep. Edward Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the committee’s ranking Democrat, among others.

Michael Green, who served as senior Asia director at the National Security Council under Bush from 2001-2005, said the removal of the North from the terror-sponsor list was “very controversial” and turned out to be a “crappy deal” that Pyongyang quickly violated. He added that the Japanese government had lobbied the Bush administration not to remove the North in 2008 until Pyongyang brought resolution to Tokyo’s claims that the North had kidnapped at least 17 Japanese citizens in the 1970s.

During his visit to Tokyo two weeks ago, Trump met with families of the dozen Japanese abductees whose cases have not been resolved.

“Putting them back on the list is important symbolically as a demonstration of good faith with Japan,“ Green said of North Korea. “It also helps add spin on the ball with sanctions overall.“

U.S. Faces International Probe Over Afghanistan

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The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Monday formally requested authorization to investigate the U.S. military and CIA for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.

Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian jurist who has been the ICC’s chief prosecutor since 2012, confirmed earlier suspicions that the United States would be implicated in the probe. The decision marks the first time the ICC under Bensouda will investigate American forces and operatives.

In a statement, Bensouda clarified that alleged “war crimes by members of the United States armed forces” and “secret detention facilities in Afghanistan” used by the CIA justified the court’s investigation. Earlier this month, she had announced that “there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed” in Afghanistan but had declined to specify by whom.

On Monday, she named the U.S. armed forces and the CIA among a roster of probe targets that also included the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani network, as well as the Afghan National Security Forces.

“Furthermore, the Office has determined that there are no substantial reasons to believe that the opening of an investigation would not serve the interests of justice, taking into account the gravity of the crimes and the interests of victims,“ Bensouda said in her statement.

The statement noted that the investigation will focus on the alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan after May 1, 2003, and on other alleged crimes with clear connections to the conflict in Afghanistan that were committed on the territories of other member states after July 1, 2002. In the case of the American targets, Bensouda said, the investigation would focus primarily on 2003 through 2004.

The ICC, established in 2002, does not have the authority to investigate crimes committed in Afghanistan before those dates, the statement said.

The court’s jurisdiction is bound to investigating crimes in the territories of member states, although the U.N. Security Council can authorize extensions of those probes into other nonmember states. Earlier this month, Burundi - in an apparent attempt to avoid prosecution - became the first country ever to withdraw from the ICC, but the court ultimately authorized an investigation relating to alleged crimes the government had committed anyway.

The United States is one of few nations that never formally submitted to the ICC, which was established in 2002 as the world’s highest legal authority for the prosecution of war crimes and human rights abuses. But U.S. citizens can still be charged for relevant crimes they commit in other member states.

Afghanistan has been a member state since the court’s inception.

No official deadline was given for the judges to respond to Bensouda’s request.

Pope Devotes Mass to Poor, Calls Indifference A ‘Great Sin’

The Free Press WV

Celebrating Mass with poor people in the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis on Sunday denounced those who dismiss poverty as “not my business” and defined indifference to the needy as a “great sin.”

Later, the pontiff expressed particular concern for those impoverished by war.

After Mass, the pope lunched with some 1,500 poor people from Italy, Poland, France and elsewhere as the Catholic Church marked its first World Day of the Poor, an event created by Francis to draw attention to those living on the margins of society.

“To do no wrong is not enough,” Francis declared in his homily.

Not using our lives to help others is a “great sin where the poor are concerned,” Francis said. “Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, ‘That doesn’t concern me. It’s not my business, it’s society’s problem.’”

It appeared to be a lunch the pope enjoyed immensely.

Francis laughed when a guest presented him with a scarf in the red-and-yellow colors of local soccer team Roma, which beat hometown rival Lazio a day earlier. He beamed as waiters served the poor, seated at his long table, plates filled with gnocchetti sardi, a shell-shaped pasta, topped with tomato sauce.

Elbow-to-elbow with his guests, Francis tucked a cloth napkin into his white cassock and ate with gusto.

A second course of veal and greens, a dessert of tiramisu and cups of coffee to top the meal off were also on the menu.

Other guests dined at round tables, covered with white cloths and decorated with a potted cyclamen, in the hall where the pope on Wednesdays holds his public audience.

Francis elaborated on the indifference theme

“It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it,” he said. “God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good.”

The poor, those who the world views as having “little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven. They are our ‘passport to paradise,’” Francis said.

Palestinian President: U.S. Threat to Close PLO’s Washington Office ‘Dangerous’ For Peace

The Free Press WV

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was “deeply surprised” by a U.S. threat to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s office in Washington unless it enters direct peace negotiations with Israel.

He said a U.S. decision not to recertify the office of the PLO, the main Palestinian negotiating body, was an “unprecedented step” in the history of U.S.-Palestinian relations and has “dangerous consequences” for peace.

A State Department official said that the decision was taken due to “certain statements made by Palestinian leaders about the ICC,“ referring to the International Criminal Court. The office could be reopened if after 90 days the president determines the Palestinians have entered into “direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.“

Under conditions imposed by Congress, the PLO cannot operate a Washington office if it calls the ICC to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians. Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly in September, Abbas called for ICC investigations into Israeli aggression.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt have been tasked with laying the groundwork for the “deal of the century” in an effort to bring lasting peace to the region.

A closure of the PLO office should in no way be seen as a signal that the United States is backing off those efforts, the State Department official said.

“We are hopeful that this closure will be short-lived,“ the official added.

If the office is closed, the PLO will put on hold all communications with the U.S. administration, the organization’s secretary general Saeb Erekat said. He said the PLO had been informed of the move in a letter.

“This is very unfortunate and unacceptable,“ he said, blaming pressure being exerted on the U.S. administration by the Israeli government, an accusation the Israelis pushed back on.

“This is a matter of U.S. law,“ said a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. “We respect the decision and look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. to advance peace and security in the region.“

North Korea vs. Cuba

The Free Press WV

In the midst of increasing international isolation, North Korea is sending its foreign minister to an old ally: Cuba. In a short message released Friday, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency announced that Ri Yong Ho and his delegation departed on their journey to Havana.

The move comes after a number of North Korean trading partners announced that they would be suspending trade with North Korea. Pyongyang’s seventh-largest trading partner, Singapore, announced that it would halt its trade ties with the country Thursday. In September, the Philippines – North Korea’s fifth-largest trading partner – said it would do the same.

In purely economic terms, Cuba is probably of negligible importance to North Korea compared to these nations: Official figures show that Havana fails to crack the top 10 trading partners and it certainly falls far behind China, North Korea’s most important economic ally.

But at this point, Pyongyang may be hoping to shore up international partners wherever it can.

“Looking at the vast number of countries that have announced severed ties with North Korea over the past few weeks, it makes a great deal of sense for the regime to attempt to reinforce the bonds that exist in whatever ways possible,“ said Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and co-editor of North Korean Economy Watch, in an email.

Notably, the move also comes at a time of increasing tension between Cuba and the United States after the Obama administration attempt at normalization of relations with Havana from 2014 onward. “Considering that the country’s own détente with the U.S. appears to have stalled,“ Katzeff Silberstein said, referring to Cuba, “North Korea might (reasonably) see some particular momentum.“

For Havana and Pyongyang, warm relations are nothing new. Cuba and North Korea came to be allies during the early days of the Cold War – Che Guevara, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary who played a key role in Cuba’s revolution, visited North Korea in 1960 and praised Kim Il Sung’s regime as a model for Cuba to follow. Even after the Cold War ended, the two nations, now both isolated internationally, kept up their ties: Cuba also remains one of the few countries in the world to not have diplomatic relations with South Korea, for example.

The two nations were willing to flout sanctions to work together economically. In July 2013, a North Korea-flagged vessel was seized by Panamanian authorities carrying suspected missile-system components hidden under bags of sugar upon its return from Cuba. A report released the next year by a United Nations panel of experts concluded that the shipment had violated sanctions placed on North Korea, though Cuban entities were not sanctioned in the aftermath despite protests from the United States.

Crucially, the thawing of ties with Washington didn’t seem to damage the relationship significantly: In December 2016, a North Korean delegation to the funeral of Cuban leader Fidel Castro emphasized that the two nations should develop their relations “in all spheres” – a comment echoed by Raúl Castro, according to state media reports at the time.

Since President Donald Trump took office in January, there have been signs that the thaw with Cuba is over. Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced tough restrictions on U.S. travel and trade with Cuba, a move that largely followed through on Trump’s campaign promise to “terminate” the Obama-era normalization with Cuba.

Any sign of warming relations between Cuba and North Korea will probably also draw the attention of the Trump administration, which has used the United States’ economic clout to push a variety of nations to stop their illicit economic relationship with Pyongyang. Although Cuba’s official economic ties with North Korea remain small, some experts have suggested that these figures should be taken with a grain of salt.

“A key element of the Trump administration’s sanctions effort is isolating North Korea,“ said Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former U.S. Treasury Department official. “The U.S. should warn Cuba about the dangers of a relationship with North Korea.“

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post.

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Readers' Recent Comments

The lipstick comment deserves special attention. The State’s testing results verifies that too many students are not proficient in science, reading, and math. WV remains in the lower 10th among the 50 states for those areas.

Google WVZOOM Dashboard and look at State assessment scores for the GCHS. According to reports a decision was made to hire one more math teacher over there to help improve future results.

Nothing is known about what is being done to help Gilmer’s HS students with reading and science. The new Board president must get detailed information out to the public.

Assurances that everything is OK won’t work anymore. There has been too much of that type of hokum. The public knows how to access achievement information from the Internet to impose increasing accountability for our school system.

By R. J. Myers on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Maybe it is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. GSC is designated responsibility for serving seven counties in central WV.

SAT scores for students entering GSC are the lowest in the State with large numbers of students coming from the seven counties. This suggests that education needs to be upgraded in the counties.

Why not focus on using the College to train teachers for central WV and to do what is necessary to improve pre-K-12 education in the seven counties?

Looks to be a natural winner for GSC. What about it Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors?

By Watching Alumni on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Thanks you for honest comments, Mr. Boggs.

Its a sad state when volunteers can be credited with a better job than paid WV employees.

No wonder we have financial, legislative, highway, issues at every turn in the road. 

And to think, that the governor has to burden the National Guard with administration of a flood recovery program? 

Obvious we have incompetent individuals in many positions throughout the state bureaucracy. Are there ever, ever any state employees actually fired, for unacceptable job performance or plain incompetence?

Look at route 5 west of I-79 for a wonderful example of DOH failure.  The DOH county office is a mile from the ‘rollercoaster’ ride. All those state employees have to ride it 10, maybe 20 times a week just doing their jobs.  How can they not see it?

This rollercoaster is the ‘welcome center’ to Braxton and Gilmer county.
Its been a mess for over 20 years.  The rough, bumpy railroad tracks too.

Yes, that’s what the Gilmer Federal Prison employees who commute deal with.  It’s a great welcome, great first look, for prospective Glenville State College students and staff as well.

By A failed state of the state report. on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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What a glowing report.

Just because you say or print something, doesn’t make it true.

With a report like this, you would think WV had moved up the list from 47th in outcomes.

A few people don’t have the wool down over their eyes.

By wasted lipstick on the pig. on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Wiseman’s suggestion is an opportunity for the new School Board officers, Mr. Cottril and Mr. Shakleford.

Both members campaigned on improvements they would make if elected. The most important improvement would be outstanding results with student learning outcomes in the County.

Quarterly progress reports from Mr. Cottril and Mr. Shackleford are requested.

By Voters For Accountability on 07.16.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Excellent meeting minutes I wish we could see more local news like this..  Where can I find information on the recent lawsuit between the Gilmer County Commission and Prosecutor Hough?  I understand Judge Alsop issued a decision?

By Reader on 07.14.2018

From the entry: 'GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES'.

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Praises go to Governor Justice, Dr. Paine, and the entire State Board for producing this outstanding report.

For the first time in memory comprehensive information is included in one source for the public and it is written in an understandable
style.

A request is made to the Gilmer County Board of Education and Superintendent Lowther to produce a similar report by this fall for the specific status of our school system.

We could celebrate achievements for which we excel and we could profit from our weak points as opportunities for corrective measures to take.

Forget about what other counties are doing—we are competing against ourselves.

The often cited excuse that we are just as good as other counties with WV ranking near bottom should no longer be tolerated.

By fall results of recent SAT testing would be available to Superintendent Lowther and the County Board to include in the report.

One advantage of the suggested County report and ones in successive years would be a basis for the public to use to judge effectiveness of Gilmer’s Board of Education and Superintendent Lowther.

The GFP is applauded for its role in being a leader in WV for making education news accessible on the Internet.

By Frank Wiseman on 07.14.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Dr. Pellett, you attacked accuracy of the NCHEMS report in your Gazette article today.

It would be informative for you to give an Internet link to the report to permit it to be read and for you to publish a detailed critique of errors in it with backup evidence as proof.

By GSC EMPLOYEE on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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A basic truism for a highly successful start up business is to offer a new top quality product in high demand at a price consumers can afford.

Why do Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors reject the concept? Specifically, as printed in the Democrat there is a proposal to establish a premiere five year teacher education program at the College with grads to receive a masters degree in teaching. A program of that type is desperately needed in WV and it is not offered elsewhere.

Word circulating is that Dr. Pellet, the Board of Governors, and dominant members of the County’s elite have summarily rejected the idea.

One excuse heard is that local power brokers do not want WVU involved with the College. Yet, in the Democrat Dr. Pellett is quoted saying that he is working on a new nursing program with WVU’s involvement.

Is the true reason of veto of the innovative teacher education program because Dr. Pellet and the Board of Governors were not originators of the idea to automatically cause its rejection?

Dr. Pellett is invited to explain to the public and concerned alumni why the program would not be in GSC’s long term best interests.

By Why Dr. Pellet and GSC BOG? on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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The Glenville mayor is doing an excellent job and the town is lucky to have him on the job. Getting old houses torn down was a kept promise and the town looks much better at those places. Let’s have more of it.

By Citizen on 07.11.2018

From the entry: 'GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES'.

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Why is it that when tax dollars were spent on the higher education reorganization study by the Colorado NCHEMS group it is being keep secret from the public? Mr. Boggs how about helping out by informing voters how to get a copy of the report to read and decide for themselves?

By Voters Watching on 07.10.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Oops! Bay of Pigs not Figs. Shows that college profs are not immune to embarrassing gaffs.

By WVU Prof. on 07.09.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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There are two examples in Janis’ book regarding the Kennedy presidency. The first one deals with the group think Bay Of Figs disaster.

Those in Washington associated with invasion decisions considered themselves to be infallible world class thinkers. That mistake prevented critical and constructive review from anyone outside that tight group of political operatives.

The other example covers the Cuban Missile Crisis as an example of masterful diplomacy and planning to prevent a nuclear holocaust. President Kennedy deserved credit because he avoided group think traps from Bay Of Pigs lessons learned.

Higher education decisions in WV are made by individual tight knit Boards of Governors with excessive autonomy and no meaningful oversight.

Also, board members are there through political appointments at local levels. Governors traditionally rubber stamp the recommended appointments.

When serious group think mistakes occur at colleges and universities Boards are conditioned to assume that State bail outs will cover damages.

If private businesses are group think practitioners they never last unless they change strategies to avoid brutal market place penalties.

By WVU Political Scientist on 07.08.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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“Governance Changes Needed at GSC” is 100% correct.

Basically GSC Board of Governors and other leadership positions, have been a result of nepotism and crony friend choices.

Those two ‘tools’ rarely, if ever, give the best persons available to whatever the position requires.

Incest often produces less than desired outcomes as well.

By PAST Time for change @ GSC on 07.08.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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Advice for GSC’s president is to read Janis’book entitled Victims of Group Think.

The theme for the book is that alike thinkers of a group of elites in control can have colossal failures because they believe that their decision-making processes are unworthy of outside scrutiny.

Think about it. Did the airport to accommodate jet traffic at the mouth of Cedar Creek work out and did the federal prison result in economic prosperity with a hefty upsurge with GSC’s
enrollment?

What about the millions of dollars of new construction at GSC? Did it result in healthy enrollments as promised.

Some elites associated with GSC were strong advocates for the ill fated ventures.

GSC has been controlled too long by members of the same families. With the undeniable track record of declining conditions a few resignations would be a positive step.

The nagging governance problem affecting GSC has been shielding elite individuals from personal accountability without penalties for bad decisions.

By Governance Changes Needed At GSC on 07.06.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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Bigger is better? Rarely.

Everyone knows that school consolidation has resulted in failed outcomes.

This is laying the ground work, for an ego driven power grab.  The big institutions have no limit to their desire for money.

Stay small, and if failure occurs, fewer people are impacted.  Too large, and management of that soon turns into a problem.

By Its just planned failure. on 07.05.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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This information including details in the referenced full Report helps put GSC’s precarious standing in perspective. More information can be accessed at http://www.collegesimply.com.

That web site provides SAT student information for WV institutions of higher learning and GSC has the lowest scores.

Inferences from the scores and material in the report are that because GSC gets a large percentage of students from poor counties including Gilmer County, school systems there need improving.

Also, with employers becoming more sophisticated in hiring the best qualified graduates they access information of the type published on the web site given above.

The reason is that institutions with the best prepared students have more rigorous academic programs and they do not have to expend valuable time on remediation.

Provision of this comment is not intended to be a slam at GSC. The purpose is to encourage Dr. Pellett and the Board of Governors to devise a viable strategy for making the College a center of excellence to improve its standing in WV. It is that simple for guaranteed survival in the future.

By GSC GRAD on 07.05.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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We must be wary of how County K-12 achievement information is presented.

From the outset the new school board should focus on exactly how well our students are performing with mastering subjects, and not to fall victim to news unrelated to demonstrated student learning.

For one example the GCHS was awarded for its high graduation rate, but it ranked in the bottom 10% among WV high schools for college and career readiness of seniors.

This is not to say that graduation rates are unimportant, but they cannot be interpreted as fact of a direct relationship with how well students are prepared for college and careers.

For some schools an unusually high graduation rate could be a function of enforced “everyone passes” policy.

The point is that there is need for vigilance when student performance information is disclosed to the public so school board get all of it out so voters can decide where the County’s school system really stands.

By Give All Facts on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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Word is that officers on the County’s school board have changed with Doug Cottrill becoming the new president and Shackleford the VP.

Voters request to know what the new board’s plans are for improving the County’s standing with the quality of K-12 education for math, reading, science, and other subjects, and correcting remaining problems at the new grade school contractors have not fixed.

Why not publishing monthly progress reports to cover the new board’s accomplishments? That job would be a good assignment for the new president.

By Voters Watching on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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There is no mention of the facts Jumpin Jim defaulted on a 9 million dollar loan, poor record of paying taxes, nor the mess of the RISE flood funds handling. 

No wonder the poor score.  Anyone think it was ‘earned’?

By Jumpin Jim Nose Dives on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Low favorable marks for Manchin, Morrisey, Justice in latest PPP poll'.

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This news has great implications for GSC and Gilmer County. The College could form a partnership with the County’s school system to close the K-12 achievement gap.

For years while under State intervention it was denied that a gap existed, and the mantra was that the County was doing as well as the State as a whole.

That was like saying that we are OK with the State being ranked near the bottom for the quality of its K-12 education system and we should be content to wallow at the bottom too.

Ms. Patty Lowther, the new superintendent of schools, states that we must close the K-12 achievement gap and it is within the County’s capabilities.

She and her staff including Shelly Mason the new curriculum expert, principals, and the County’s teachers are actively involved with devising solutions to eliminate problems.

Regarding GSC, Dr. Pellett is on record with definite innovations to improve the College’s standing.

He has an unique opportunity to guide the College to contribute to Gilmer County having the best school system in WV as a model to emulate throughout the State and Appalachia.

In the past the typical Charleston trap has been to collect achievement data without expending successful efforts to interpret its meaning for use in solving under-achievement.

Dr. Pellett, Ms. Lowther, and Shelly Mason, with the help of other professionals in our schools can jettison that long standing road block to make Gilmer County a K-12 education standout.

Dr. Pellett in particular has an unparalleled opportunity to make his mark on guiding the College to improve K-12 education in the County and to let successes spread as examples throughout Appalachia.

There would not be a better way to justify the necessity of the College’s continuing existence for Gilmer County, central WV, and the entire State.

By Good News For WV on 06.29.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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If you can’t trust judges to do the right thing…. is there any reason to trust our whole system of government?  One has to wonder.

Now we are reading a judge likely to be impeached as well as the legislature is considering impeaching the governor?

Are the any honest people running for offices?

By crooks everywhere? on 06.27.2018

From the entry: 'Auditors Seek Answers on State Supreme Court Spending'.

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This does not rise to the level of impeachment. “Slick Willy” got a head job in the peoples oval office, and dripped semen on the peoples carpet then lied about it, and according to the democrats back then, that did not rise to the level of impeachment.

By The Silent Majority on 06.21.2018

From the entry: 'Senate and House Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Immediate Legislative Action on Justice Loughry'.

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Something happening is good.
That building has been empty far too long.

Now we shall see if it workable.
Hope for all involved, that their efforts work out for GC and GSC.

By Good on 06.21.2018

From the entry: 'GSC Bluegrass Music Education Center to hold Ribbon Cutting Ceremony'.

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Numbers of new businesses is not the important factor. It is how many new jobs were created for local employees. Politicians like to cite meaningless numbers to crow about and they get by with it too often. Empty store fronts on Main Street have not diminished in numbers. Where are the jobs and what do they pay?

By New Jobs? on 06.20.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Similar to EDA if Gilmer’s SAT results were rosy the news would be out in banner headlines. Elites see to it to keep peasants at bay.

By SAT Checker on 06.19.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Straddlin Joe had a chance to embrace conservatism and convert to Republican, as Governor Justice and much of the state has done. Politics in the state are no longer ruled by mine union bosses. It’s time we send him back to Marion County, as we did with Natalie Tennant.

By The Silent Majority on 06.18.2018

From the entry: 'Joe Manchin: Political games would cost West Virginians with pre-existing conditions'.

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If the so called business creation were true?
Wouldn’t the EDA be having all sorts of news releases?
You would think so.

EDA used to have monthly public meetings.
Now only four times a year?

Business things that slim nothing to discuss?
Or maybe secret meetings by the insiders?

By Gilmer EDA...private club ? on 06.15.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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If we can ask Jeff Campbell questions as a Gilmer County official why can’t we get timely information from other officials too?

For an example how did the County do with recent SAT testing?

Superintendents have the information so when is it going to be made public?

Hopefully the newly elected school board will take it on as a priority to get accurate student achievement information to the public with specific plans to make improvements where needed.

By End Public Information Embargo on 06.13.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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If true, this would be great news!

The Gilmer County Economic Development Association should be telling us in press releases who/what/where those new businesses are?

How about it GCEDA President Jeff Campbell?

Lets hear from you.

By reader6 on 06.11.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Interesting chart.

But….it shows 4 new businesses in Gilmer…..in each of the past 3 months.
That…..is TWELVE new businesses!

BUT, BUT, where are they?

By Where are they? on 06.08.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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You will find most ticks down low on grass blades along well traveled trails, where the unfed adults and even larvae and eggs are brushed off by a passing varmint. Another myth is that ticks will jump on you, of the thousands of ticks I have picked off grass blades and dropped in a cup of gasoline, I have never had one jump at me.

By Trespasser Will on 06.08.2018

From the entry: 'Insect-related illnesses are trending up'.

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Ticks don’t go, they are carried there by host animals. They are best controlled by controlling the host varmints in your back yard. As bad as Lyme disease is, from personal experience, believe me you don’t want Rocky Mountain spotted fever either.

By Trespasser Will on 06.07.2018

From the entry: 'Insect-related illnesses are trending up'.

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NEWS FLASH !
Rural West Virginia is STILL WAITING for that high speed internet that these two have been promising for 20 years!

By Rural WV still waiting.... on 06.06.2018

From the entry: 'U.S. Senators Manchin, Capito announce funding for rural communities'.

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Dilapidated buildings seem to make the news on a regular basis.

Dilapidated buildings are nothing more than an great indicator of a ‘dilapidated’ economy.

By WV's dilapidated economy on 06.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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I don’t know how the state can say that, male bears have been known to attack for unknown reasons, and of course females will attack if they perceive their cub is in danger. The best thing to do is shut the #### up and don’t be posting on Facebook what you have done.

By Tresspasser Will on 06.03.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia man accused of wrongfully shooting bear'.

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Steve and John,
My deepest heartfelt sympathy to you at this most difficult time.
I will miss your mother, my best friend, immensely! We laughed hard together and we cried together, only as two close cousins could do! We spent many hours on the phone chatting either catching up or talking about cooking, any hour day or night,it never mattered to us.

Our words to each other every time we spoke, “I love you sweet cousin of mine”

God’s Speed until we meet again!💞💓
Rest In Peace for eternity💓

Love you dearly,

Cousin, Jo Ann xoxoxo

By Jo Ann Emrick on 06.01.2018

From the entry: 'Catherine Ann Umanetz'.

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The loss of money at Cedar Creek was only part of it. Money spent on Leading Creek, more money to fill the huge hole at GCES, money to fix land slide at GCES because of poor site design work, money spent to fix various other botches that should have been done right to begin with, uncalled for huge pay raises to select central office staff to buy them off, money for playground equipment when existing equipment could have been used, money for an unneeded payroll clerk at the central office, money for a principal at Troy when the individual did not do the work, and more to include building GCES too small and Leading Creek too large with public funds. Will anything be done about it? Of course not except to continue the cover-up. Money trail too hot to handle.

By Etched Memory on 05.31.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Many kudos to both the PACF people as well as their supporters!

Hard to believe how much good they are doing for so many, in just a few short years!

Keep up the good works!

By many kudos ! on 05.31.2018

From the entry: 'Grants Support Area Charities (Little Kanawha Area)'.

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Minney was just another ‘enabler’ for the blatant, bold faced, incompetent, corruption during the West Virginia State Board of Education overthrow of the Gilmer County School System.

Thousands of dollars wasted.  Do not forget the Cedar Creek property chosen by State Appointed Superintendent Blankenship in coercion with the former, ousted, GSC President Simmons.  The money spent clearing forest, the money spent bulldozing a road, until it finally became clear, they were on a ‘fools errand’.

Then to get out of that mess, Blankenship and Simmons,  trade that property, so a school could be built in a flood plain?

‘Education’ and common sense do not always go hand in hand.

If only people were as smart as they think they are.

By Another black eye for state intervention ! on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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All this Minney stuff brings up at least 2 questions:

WHY did state appointed super Devano hire Minney?

Why did the Doddridge folks hire Minney when he doesn’t have the required financial ‘credentials’ to be a district treasurer?

Either poor hiring practices or someone pulling strings.

By questions but no answers ? on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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And to think that OUR own little Gilmer County Library ranks in the top ten of libraries in the whole state!

By WOW--WOW--WOW ! ! ! on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia Libraries Rock Out with Summer Reading Programs'.

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Didn’t Mr. Minney approve paying select employees on payroll, for the days they did not work without board or superintendent’s knowledge or approval? Fortunately, he got caught by the board.

By Ridiculous on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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If you follow the money, you can easily see where all the money went in construction of Gilmer Elementary, why the school has so many physical issues and why there have been problems to get them fixed. Thanks the board for choosing a different auditor.

By FTM on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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There were a lot of corruptions under state control and superintendent Devano. They mismanaged funds and paid off several employees to keep their mouth shut. When the local controlled board chose a different auditor from the norm, they got caught. I think the remaining paid off employees need to talk the facts, quit, or get prosecuted.

By They were bad on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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That was far from the first time Mr. DM had gotten into trouble with the auditors. In previous years, findings for mismanagement of funds were issued against him in connection with other work places leading to dismissal.
The audit which is available on state DOE site couldn’t find any justification of board approval for payments, and mismanagement of funds.

By Don LK on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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He got caught of mismanagement of public funds.

By Jeremy D on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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I hear Gilmer schools treasurer Dan Minney is leaving. Why?

By Just Curious on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Good to see this program return after having it gone missing under the state appointed superintendent.

It was reported there was no place for it to take place.

Thank you Gilmer County Board of Education for making it happen.

By Some remember on 05.21.2018

From the entry: 'FREE breakfast and lunch this summer for Gilmer County Kids'.

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Pam,
Sorry to read of your mom’s passing. I remember may times spent in your home with your parents and brothers. Sending love and prayers to you and your brothers.
Sherry Broggi

By Sherry Straley Broggi and Rita Straley on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'Lora Faye Tomblin'.

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Really cool project to all who volunteered and those helping financially as well!

Where’s DR? He never misses these events?

By Very nice project - great volunteers! on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'CommunityImprovement™: Pavilion'.

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The GSC retention post must relate to those beginning in 2014 who planned for 4 year degrees and they dropped out. There probably were students who began in 2014 and they earned 2 year degrees before 2018 so they were not drop outs.

By GSC RETENTION? on 05.15.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Congratulations kids!  Setting up a scholarship fund is a GREAT idea! Where can we get information on who to contact and what local needs are?

By Reader on 05.14.2018

From the entry: 'Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center Celebrates Seniors'.

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How large was GSC’s graduating class of 2018 last week and what was its original size the fall of 2014?

Accurate information should be available to indicate retention. One news source reported that 100 graduated in the class of 2018.

By Alumni on 05.13.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Some interesting results.  Should shake the trees a little.

By Spring cleaning! on 05.09.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Local Election Results - May 2018'.

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So sorry for your loss.  Prayers.

By Betty Woofter on 05.07.2018

From the entry: 'Ina Mae (Foster) Clem'.

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Anyone interested in facts for graduation rates after four years of college can access information on WV’s Education Policy Commission web site.

The last time information was reported WV State was listed at 13.6% compared to WVU’s at 35.9%. GSC was at 25.1%.

Comments submitted so far flag a serious problem in WV. Student achievement information is scattered all over with it being reported by the State, the federal government, and testing organizations including ACT.

Because WV lacks an effective State clearing house to sort through the information and to interpret it for practical application in improving our pubic school systems, too much important quality control material is neglected.

When citizens take initiative to obtain the information and they cite it they are often berated to be a form of “attack the messenger”.

Then too there are the perennial apologists who say that everything is “just fine” to help confuse the issue even more to detract from school improvements.

By WVDE Career Employees on 05.06.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Too often students have to go an extra year or longer to graduate from college with under graduate degrees because they were not prepared when they got there to enable them to complete on time.

The 35% graduation rate includes incoming freshmen who do not finish in four years, and it is factual that some of our public colleges have worse records than others.

WVU does above average, but it has large numbers of-out-of state better prepared students.

By R. Page on 05.06.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Rex Page claims we have a college graduation rate of approximately 35%.

In essence that is a FAILURE rate of 65% !

Think of how many dollars are wasted, and how many students are burdened with student loans, that basically will do them little good in life.

Oh yes.  It does pump money into the flawed system.

By Wv Has a FLAWED educational system ! on 05.05.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Even with enrolling in colleges where acceptance is noncompetitive, meaning that all applicants with at least C averages are accepted, the graduation rate to get a degree is around 35%.

This fact is more evidence for WV’s failed public education system and solid proof that a major top to bottom over haul is needed.

If we accept the often cited excuse that there is a problem with kids and their families to cause under achievement in school that line of reasoning suggests that West Virginians are inherently flawed. This is untrue and the problem lies with WV’s under performing education system.

By Rex Page on 05.03.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Disgraceful that WV lacks a top quality education system to prepare more high school graduates to be eligible for acceptance into the best colleges where there is competition for acceptance.

The deficiency forces students to attend lower tier places where everyone is accepted.

Why does WV fail to make improvements? It is because education delivery in our State is designed to be void of meaningful accountability for administrators.

By WVDE Watcher on 05.03.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Little doubt the block schedule system at the high school gives GC lower scores.

This has been proven over and over in other school systems.

Its an out dated and antiquated system.  Our board of education needs to get rid of it.

Gilmer County Board of Education….are you up to the job?

By Block Schedule Supported By Blockheads on 05.02.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Hopefully this is the beginning of doing better with getting out school news to Gilmer. It is far better to read timely news than to have to go to the Cornerstone to get it.

We wish Mr. Shuff the best in improving learning results at the HS. If he tackles problems like he engaged in athletics the HS will be put on the map for academic excellence.

When he gets his school improvement plan together everyone in the County will pitch in to help him succeed. Thank you GCBOE.

By Pleased Parents on 05.02.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Mr. Williams has it nailed down.  Solid.

America’s entire education system is a farce.
Education administrators worry about their job than worry about the children.

Youth is our future.
By creating dummies, do not expect much of a future.

The children are being short changed, robbed.
America is being short changed, robbed.

But the failed administrators keep their jobs.

By Time To Clean the Education House! on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Is this article some sort of a joke ?
Certainly would seem so!

We are almost daily bombarded with chemical spraying from above.
We rarely actually have that clear, deep blue sky that God gave us.

If it happens we do get a clear(?) day, we will have the light blue, almost whispy white cloud sky.

Set a white bowl out in the rains.  Check to see what color the water is after a rain.  You will be
surprised.  Color will vary depending what is being sprayed on a given day.

If it were winter, I’d tell you to look at the snowflakes.  No more are all snowflakes different.  Watch what falls on your clothing, you will see 1,000’s of flakes all the same shape.  Again, depends what toxic material we are being blasted with.

Asthma attacks, ER visits are on the rise.
Do some web searching, plenty of websites report this travesty.  You tax dollars at ‘work’.

By WHERE ARE THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS ? ? on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Air Quality Awareness Week is April 30 – May 04'.

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Fraud is not only rampant in education, it consumes Gilmer County..  Those who Have want to keep it any and all costs, and those that don’t, want.  Gilmer needs a good house cleaning of court and legal ‘authorities’ as well if anything is Ever going to change.

By Spring cleaning! on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Fraud is committed in Gilmer County when citizens are told that our high school grads are prepared to be highly competitive for entry into the modern world.

The misinformation conflicts with verification that our grads lag when it comes to being college and career ready.

By being disadvantaged academically too many students drop out of college when they cannot compete and they often must go an extra year at a greater expense to catch-up.

There is another type of fraud not pointed out in the posting. It relates to bragging about the “fine” ACT test scores made by students at the GCHS.

For the ACT the average GCHS score as touted by school officials is close to 20. This may be slightly higher than average State scores, but here is the rub.

Our kids could not get accepted into top quality colleges and universities with stringent academic requirements to include those for ACT scores higher than most made at the GCHS.

What do they do? They attend institutions with relaxed acceptance criteria with some not having any basic requirements for ACT or SAT scores.

As a parent with a son at the Career Center I know that there must be remedial instruction in math and English for success in chosen career fields. It is called embedded instruction.

Because teachers must be hired at the Center for the catch-up it means that tax payers are paying twice (more fraud) for instruction that should have been done at the GCHS!

What can we do? Gilmer County must determine what must be done in our schools to make necessary improvements for the better to enable our kids to be the best they can be after HS. Simple isn’t it?

By We Want Better Schools on 04.30.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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It is easy to see through the motive for avoiding application of the same assessment approach in all of WV’s school systems.

The powerful in control do not want to make achievement results available for voters to compare academic results among districts!

That way opportunities for more accountability in ways school systems are administered will be nipped in the bud.

Interesting isn’t it that for sports minute attention is paid to comparing performances of all kinds of teams throughout WV.

Unfortunately the strategy will be to keep voters keenly focused on sports so they will not ask questions about education spending and how children are doing in mastering subjects in our school systems.

By WVDOE Disgusted on 04.20.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: State might let counties switch standardized test from SAT to ACT'.

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The West Virginia State Board of Education has operated as a “pin the tail on the donkey” bureaucratic nightmare for over a generation.

Currently, it is hard to envision any positive change in their SOP?

Try this, try that.  Change this, change that.
Continual evidence that all is being run as an experiment?
The WVBOE has no real clue what to actually do, in order to fix anything.

Money wasted. Children cheated of a good education.
Parents and taxpayers cheated.  Opportunities missed.

This is the WVBOE legacy.

By State BOE - dysfunctional is an understatement? on 04.16.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: State might let counties switch standardized test from SAT to ACT'.

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Maybe Jimmy can pay some of his tax bills now?

By Justice, pay your tax bills! on 04.15.2018

From the entry: 'City to purchase club owned by the governor’s company'.

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Reread the article and see what a wonderful set of excuses have been set forward.

Taxpayers give the state the funds for education.  It is then properly squandered leaving students with substandard educations.

These people have the audacity to blame the teachers on top of it.

State BOE, suck it up, fix the problem you and your previous board members have created. 

Make President Truman’s desk saying your motto:  “The buck stops here.“

That is, if you are up to it.

By Kanawha Reader on 04.15.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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West Virginia made national news again with its spending per student to be in the top third among the 55 states.

We spend more than $11,000 on average per pupil in our public schools. For comparison Utah spends about $6,500 per pupil and it ranks in the top third for the quality of its education system.

It would be interesting to know how much Gilmer County spends per pupil counting total funding from all sources.

WV is certainly no way near the top third with getting students college, career, and jobs ready right out of high school. Where is all our money going? What could we learn from rural states similar to Utah?

The worst culprit seems to be too many high paid people on WV payrolls who are non-contributers to making better lives for our kids.

By Economist on 04.14.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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Those of us who keep close tabs on student achievement want to know reasons for unacceptable reading, science, and math scores in Gilmer County and what is being done to correct them. For something this important the problems and solutions surely have been looked into.

By R. A. Beasley on 04.14.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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HaHaHaHaHaHaHa!

By Don't bring them to Gilmer! on 04.13.2018

From the entry: 'NEW “ALMOST HEAVEN” CAMPAIGN'.

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No matter what is going on in the State our concern is Gilmer County. The State reports on Zoom that 10th graders at the GCHS perform at the 35.9% proficiency rate for science.

Proficiency for 11th graders is 37% in math and it is commendable that the rate for them for reading is 64%.

What is being done to make improvements for science and math when students are about ready to graduate from HS? We hope that scores for reading hold up and even improve.

Why do we fail to receive updates for plans for proficiency improvements in the County’s schools?

In other WV counties superintendents provide that type of information on a routine basis.

By GCHS Parents on 04.12.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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