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Scientists Warn Fake Eclipse Glasses ‘Can Literally Cook Your Retina’

The Free Press WV

The order of 7,500 solar eclipse glasses arrived late last month. But before Peru State College could began distributing them to students, officials at the Nebraska school realized there was a problem: The glasses were fakes.

Although the paper-framed eyewear appeared to be made for safe eclipse viewing, a spokesman for the college said they did not meet the criteria outlined by NASA. Handing them out could have put thousands of students at risk of serious eye damage and permanent blindness.

“We had so many questions, but after talking to experts, we ultimately decided we weren’t comfortable giving those to students,“ said Jason Hogue, the school’s marketing director. “It was an obvious decision once we had the facts.“ (The school later ordered glasses from a reputable manufacturer in Arizona.)

Across the country, consumers and retailers have been struggling to identify fraudulent eclipse glasses, viewers and filters, which could cause irreversible damage to users’ eyes. NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) have assembled a list of reputable manufacturers, but they said it has been difficult to guard against copycats, especially on third-party websites. As a result, many say unsafe products abound online ahead of Monday’s widely publicized solar eclipse.

“The market has been overrun with counterfeits and fakes, and many of them were being sold on Amazon,“ said Richard Fienberg, a spokesman for the AAS. “It’s become a complete freaking mess.“

He added, “If you don’t have proper glasses, the infrared radiation can literally cook your retina.“

Amazon says it has begun requiring third-party sellers to provide documentation showing that their glasses are compliant with safety standards. A spokeswoman said the company did so “out of an abundance of caution and in the interests of our customers.“ (Jeffrey Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon.com, owns The Washington Post.)

Part of the challenge, experts say, is that the industry standard has long been to label eclipse-safe glasses with text on the inside of the frame. But now fraudsters are printing that same text into glasses that do not meet international safety standards.

And as demand heats up for the solar eclipse – an event that will be visible to half a billion people – so has the temptation to cash in.

“It’s a simple motivation: greed,“ Fienberg said as he prepared to leave for Madras, Oregon, to view the eclipse. “Greed combined with a total lack of concern for public safety.“

But, Fienberg said, most of the companies approved by the AAS have run out of inventory.

The recalls also have had far-reaching effects on the makers of legitimate eclipse glasses and filters, who say they are now dealing with extra-anxious customers.

“There is a lot of doubt in the water,“ said Jen Winter, owner of DayStar Filters in Warrensburg, Missouri. “Our product is quality – we sell to NASA, our filters are in space – but everyone is terrified and questioning absolutely everything. This will have an enormous financial impact, not just on us but our entire industry.“

Winter added that her company has been blocked from selling on Amazon, resulting in more than $250,000 in losses for the company, even though its products are approved by the AAS and NASA. (Fienberg of the AAS confirmed that legitimate sellers have been barred from the site. A spokewoman for Amazon said simply that “listings from sellers who did not provide appropriate documentation have been removed.“)

In all, Winter says she expects the fallout of these recalls to cost her company upward of $1 million.

As of Friday afternoon, most listings on Amazon were sold out, and others were on back order until Aug. 25, four days after the eclipse. (The next solar eclipse in the nation isn’t expected until 2024.)

On eBay, solar glasses – which typically cost 99 cents to $30 – are selling for as much as $24,000 a pair, plus $38 for shipping. A spokesman for the site said employees have been “actively monitoring” listings for unsafe items.

Among eclipse glasses that have been flagged as unsafe are 1,600 pairs distributed by the University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center.

At the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the physics department handed out nearly 500 pairs of eclipse glasses before being notified Thursday that the items might not be safe.

“Obviously we’re devastated,“ said Michelle Johnson, a spokeswoman for the university. “Our students had every reason to believe they were safe. I don’t know what you can do if somebody else acts fraudulently.“

Winter, the owner of DayStar Filters, said it will be difficult to rebuild the industry’s reputation.

“It’s easy to lose trust,“ she said. “But it’s really, really hard to rebuild it.“

Nursing Home Employee Sentenced in Medicaid Fraud, Financial Exploitation of Patients

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Medicaid Fraud Control Unit today announced that Mary Jane Brown of Belington, WV was sentenced subsequent to conviction on multiple felony counts in Randolph County Circuit Court, including Medicaid fraud, financial exploitation and fraudulent schemes.

The convictions resulted from a criminal investigation by DHHR’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which determined that over the course of four years, Brown, a social worker employed by an Elkins nursing home, financially exploited 13 patients, stealing more than $50,000. Brown also caused more than $40,000 in fraudulent claims to be submitted to the Medicaid program.  The total loss to all victims including the Medicaid program was $97,264.59. 

Brown was initially arrested in July 2014, and later indicted on one count of fraudulent schemes, six counts of financial exploitation, and two counts of Medicaid fraud.  The case was prosecuted by Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Attorney Michael Malone, in cooperation with the Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Brown was sentenced to serve one year in jail on one count of financial exploitation, and two consecutive terms of 1-to-10 years in prison on one count each of fraudulent schemes and Medicaid fraud. The prison sentences were suspended in favor of seven years probation, to begin upon Brown’s release from jail. In addition, Brown is ordered to pay full restitution.

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, through DHHR’s Office of Inspector General, investigates and prosecutes or refers for prosecution allegations of health care fraud committed against the Medicaid program and allegations of criminal abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of patients in Medicaid-funded facilities and residents in board and care facilities. Additionally, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is responsible for investigating fraud in the administration of the Medicaid program. Its mission is to protect West Virginia’s vulnerable residents and the integrity of its health care programs. 

To report Medicaid provider fraud or patient abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, please call 1.304.558.1858 or toll-free at 1.888.FRAUD.WV (1.888.372.8398).

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  Spartan Race comes to West Virginia for first time

For the first time since its inception in 2007, the Spartan Race is coming to West Virginia.

The Spartan Race will be held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean August 26-27, with a dinner on August 25 for the athletes who will be participating. Race director Dan Luzzi says the Spartan Race is an intense event designed to push participants mentally and physically.

“Spartan Race is a military-inspired obstacle course combined with trail running that pushes competitors mentally and physically beyond their preconceived limits,” Luzzi said. “The courses have military-inspired obstacles: walls, barbed wire, rope climbs, cargo nets. Also, Spartan-inspired obstacles such as spear throw and the fire jump.

“Some of the greatest challenges come from the natural terrain of our race venues, and it doesn’t get any better than West Virginia. When we found the Summit Bechtel Reserve and all of its trails and all of its natural wonder, we knew it was the perfect spot for our U.S. Championship.”

For the Spartan Race, the weekend series in West Virginia is what the organization calls the “Trifecta Weekend.” The Trifecta Weekend allows competitors to race through three different courses over a two-day period.

The first course is the Spartan Sprint, which ranges between three and five miles with 20 to 23 different obstacles. The sprint is considered the entry level event of the Trifecta.

The second level course is the Spartan Super, which ranges from 8 to 10 miles with 24 to 29 obstacle courses.

The third race is the Spartan Beast, which ranges from 12 to 14 miles, with 30 to 35 different obstacles. The Beast is designed to test every limit a competitor has and push him or her farther than ever before.

Competitors who complete all three courses in a single season earn the coveted Trifecta, issued only to the those who are strong enough to endure the grueling obstacles in these courses.

For Spartan, hosting a race in West Virginia has been a goal for a while, and it could impact the state in several ways.

“With any state we enter, we want to leave a lasting impression on the community, and truly become a part of it,” Luzzi said. “We want people to be blown away by our entire race experience and see the benefits of competing in our races so the community welcomes us back year after year and uses the race date as a means to train and stay in shape. Our goal is to rip people off the couch, show them they are not made of glass and improve their lifestyle.

“Bringing Spartan Race to any area also helps to improve the local economy by boosting sales at hotels, restaurants, local shops and gas stations. We also hope to create lasting friendships and relationships that begin at our races.”

Improving the local economy is something that seems like a reality with this partnership. According to Luzzi, Spartan is expecting around 11,000 competitors from all over, in addition to 5,000 spectators.

Among the competitors will be West Virginia’s own Randy Moss, who grew up in Rand in Kanawha County, played college football at Marshall and played 14 seasons in the NFL. He has been competing in Spartan races for over a year, according to Luzzi.

“He’s become a great advocate for the sport of obstacle course racing,” Luzzi said. “He’s also really passionate about getting people, especially kids, healthy and active, which aligns with the goals of the Spartan Foundation as well. And we couldn’t be more excited to host a fundraiser with him in his home state.”

The fundraiser with Moss is one for the Spartan Foundation that Luzzi mentioned. The registration fees of $250 per contestant will be donated to the Spartan Foundation, which supports healthier lifestyles and personal development for children and young adults. In addition to these goals, the Spartan Foundation is aligned with other organizations that share the same goals and causes, such as Autism Speaks and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation.

Despite the fact the race hasn’t even taken place yet, Luzzi anticipates West Virginia being a mainstay on the Spartan Race map.

“The race venue and active racing community are tremendous factors to bringing this race back to West Virginia. Although the event has not taken place, we most certainly will be coming back for more,” Luzzi said.

This will be the final race in the U.S. Championship series and the Spartan Pro team will be competing for prizes and bragging rights, bringing in NBC to broadcast the event.


►  WV Solicitor General Returning to Private Sector

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says Solicitor General Elbert Lin is leaving soon to return to the private sector.

Morrisey announced Lin’s impending departure Thursday.

Lin has overseen lawsuits filed by Morrisey’s office against federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over then-President Barack Obama’s efforts to reduce emissions from existing power plants. The Supreme Court last year blocked the Clean Power Plan from taking effect while a federal appeals court considers whether it was legal.

Morrisey, a Republican, is running in next year’s U.S. Senate race, seeking the seat now held by Democrat Joe Manchin.


►  Capito criticizes Trump, says he should unite the country

A Republican U.S. senator from one of Donald Trump’s most popular states says the president’s comments about the violent white supremacist rally in Virginia has created a firestorm and that he should unite the country against racism.

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito told the Charleston Gazette-Mail in a telephone interview that Trump’s most egregious comments were referring to some of the neo-Nazi protesters as “very fine people.” Capito told the newspaper she could not find a fine face in the crowd and that she was not going to try.

The first-term senator rarely criticizes Republican leadership.

But she said Trump has “not handled the situation very well at all” and said “anti-Semitic, racist, white supremacists ... should have no place in this country.”


►  State workers can attend conference at governor’s resort

The West Virginia Ethics Commission says state employees can attend a business conference at a resort owned by the Republican governor.

The commission says state workers can attend the conference at The Greenbrier, but they can’t spend state money on food and lodging at the upscale resort.

Governor Jim Justice owns The Greenbrier resort and has not placed it into a blind trust. He has placed his ownership of two other resorts into a blind trust.

It will cost the state about $5,000 for eight tourism employees to attend the conference. Some of that money will go to the resort.

Commissioner Betty Ireland said the governor needs to put The Greenbrier into a blind trust immediately. A spokesman for Justice did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

National News

The Free Press WV


►  ‘Free speech rally’ cut short after massive counterprotest

Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned “free speech rally” a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

Counterprotesters marched through the city to historic Boston Common, where many gathered near a bandstand abandoned early by conservatives who had planned to deliver a series of speeches. Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, and angry counterprotesters scuffled with armed officers trying to maintain order.

Members of the Black Lives Matter movement later protested on the Common, where a Confederate flag was burned and protesters pounded on the sides of a police vehicle.

Later Saturday afternoon, Boston’s police department tweeted that protesters were throwing bottles, urine and rocks at them and asked people publicly to refrain from doing so. About 10 minutes before that, Donald Trump had complimented Boston police, tweeting: “Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

He also complimented Boston’s Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh.

Boston Commissioner William Evans said 27 arrests were made — mostly for disorderly conduct while some were for assaulting police officers. Officials said the rallies drew about 40,000 people.

Trump applauded the people in Boston who he said were “speaking out” against bigotry and hate. Trump added in a Twitter message that “Our country will soon come together as one!”

Organizers of the conservative event, which had been billed as a “Free Speech Rally,” had publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville on August 12. A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and many others were injured, when a car plowed into counterdemonstrators.

Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, raising the specter of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major U.S. city since Charlottesville.

One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the event “fell apart.”

Congressional candidate Samson Racioppi, who was among several slated to speak, told WCVB-TV that he didn’t realize “how unplanned of an event it was going to be.”

Some counterprotesters dressed entirely in black and wore bandannas over their faces. They chanted anti-Nazi and anti-fascism slogans, and waved signs that said: “Make Nazis Afraid Again,” ″Love your neighbor,” ″Resist fascism” and “Hate never made U.S. great.” Others carried a large banner that read: “SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY.”

Chris Hood, a free speech rally attendee from Dorchester, said people were unfairly making it seem like the rally was going to be “a white supremacist Klan rally.”

“That was never the intention,” he said. “We’ve only come here to promote free speech on college campuses, free speech on social media for conservative, right-wing speakers. And we have no intention of violence.”

Robert Paulson, another free speech rallygoer, said there was definitely a lot of tension.

“They believe that we’re Nazis and KKK down here. That’s what they think, a lot of them. It’s not true. A lot of the people down here just love the United States, are here to promote free speech,” he said.

Rockeem Robinson, a youth counselor from Cambridge, said he joined the counterprotest to “show support for the black community and for all minority communities.”

Katie Griffiths, a social worker also from Cambridge, who works with members of poor and minority communities, said she finds the hate and violence happening “very scary.”

“I see poor people and people of color being scapegoated,” she said. “Unlearned lessons can be repeated.”

TV cameras showed a group of boisterous counterprotesters on the Common chasing a man with a Trump campaign banner and cap, shouting and swearing at him. But other counterprotesters intervened and helped the man safely over a fence into the area where the conservative rally was to be staged. Black-clad counterprotesters also grabbed an American flag out of an elderly woman’s hands, and she stumbled and fell to the ground.

Yet Saturday’s showdown was mostly peaceable, and after demonstrators dispersed, a picnic atmosphere took over with stragglers tossing beach balls, banging on bongo drums and playing reggae music.

The Boston Free Speech Coalition, which organized the event, said it has nothing to do with white nationalism or racism and its group is not affiliated with the Charlottesville rally organizers in any way.

Rallies also were planned in cities across the country, including Dallas, Atlanta and New Orleans.

Hundreds of people gathered at City Hall in Austin, Texas, Saturday morning, holding signs in support of racial equality.

In Laguna Beach, California, an anti-racism rally was held one day before the group America First! planned to hold a demonstration in the same place that’s being billed as an “Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees.”

Mayor Toni Iselman told the crowd that “Laguna Beach doesn’t tolerate diversity, we embrace diversity.”

Protesters gathered Saturday outside Trump’s private golf club in New Jersey where he recently spent a 17-day vacation.

The protesters staged a “No Hate in the Garden State” rally, with those in attendance sharply rebuking Trump’s handling of the protests in Charlottesville. Many also blasted his assertion that “both sides” — the white supremacists and the counterprotesters — were to blame for the violence that left one protester dead.


►  Tribes hope for renewal in solar eclipse; not all will watch

While much of the country gawks at the solar eclipse, Bobbieann Baldwin will be inside with her children, shades drawn.

In Navajo culture, the passing of the moon over the sun is an intimate moment in which the sun is reborn and tribal members take time out for themselves. No talking. No eating or drinking. No lying down. No fussing.

“It’s a time of renewal,” said Baldwin, a Navajo woman from Fort Defiance, Arizona. “Kind of like pressing the alt, control, delete button on your computer, resetting everything.”

Across the country, American Indian tribes are observing the eclipse in similar and not-so-similar ways. Some tribal members will ignore it, others might watch while praying for an anticipated renewal, and those in prime viewing spots are welcoming visitors with storytelling, food and celebration. For the Crow Tribe in Montana, the eclipse coincides with the Parade Dance at the annual Crow fair, marking the tribe’s new year.

Many American Indian tribes revere the sun and moon as cultural deities, great sources of power and giver of life.

The Crow’s cultural director, William Big Day, said the sun is believed to die and come back to life during an eclipse. In more nomadic days, Crows would offer each other “good wishes” for their travels, and elders would advise them to do a cleansing ceremony to start anew, he said.

U.S. Bureau of Indian Education spokeswoman Nedra Darling said the agency’s schools, most of which are on the Navajo Nation, were given the option of closing Monday. Navajo Nation employees have Monday off, and other schools on and off the reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah earlier decided to close in respect of the culture that teaches that looking at the sun during an eclipse can be harmful not only to one’s eyesight but for overall well-being.

“You’re welcoming negativity into your life, or turmoil, or troublesome times ahead of you, as well as socially, health-wise and spiritually,” Baldwin said. “You’re observing something that should not be observed.”

Farther east near the Great Smoky Mountains, the Eastern Cherokee tribe is expecting thousands of spillover visitors from the national park.

Stickball games during a two-day event will reinforce a lesson about cheating and the appearance of the moon. Fairgrounds supervisor Frieda Huskey recalled a legend of a player on the losing team picking up the ball, which is against the rules, and throwing it against the solid sky, so its appearance is small and pale.

When the moon or sun is eclipsed, it’s because a great frog is trying to swallow it, she said.

In response, Cherokees beat drums and fire guns to scare off the frog and ensure the moon or sun don’t disappear forever — just as they will do during Monday’s solar eclipse, she said. Once the eclipse is over, Cherokee warriors will dance to celebrate the great frog’s defeat.

When the sun and the moon disappeared during eclipses in the past, it frightened indigenous people who believed they displeased the gods, said Stanford “Butch” Devinney, an Eastern Shoshone spiritual leader and teacher at Wyoming Indian Schools on the Wind River Reservation. The way he sees it now, the eclipse is an opportunity for renewal.

“Maybe our way of thinking might change, our behavior,” he said. “People will have a different outlook on life. Maybe it will change for the better. Be a different person.”

Students at two Northern Arapaho schools that share a reservation with the Eastern Shoshone will be using telescopes donated by NASA and special glasses to view the eclipse. Principal Elberta Monroe said teachers have been talking to students about the solar eclipse for months.

It’s “something students are going to remember for a lifetime,” she said.

Baldwin will call her children into the living room Monday, share traditional Navajo stories and ask them to meditate and reflect on what they want out of school, athletics and life, she said.

For one daughter, the focus would be acceptance from elders on her role in rodeo. Baldwin will ask the children to concentrate and wish for happiness and health for their family, friends and all of humanity.

“There’s a little conversation, but there’s that constant reminder that we need to be quiet,” she said.


►  Duke University removes damaged Robert E. Lee statu

Duke University removed a statue of General Robert E. Lee early Saturday after it was vandalized amid a national debate about monuments to the Confederacy.

The university said it removed the carved limestone likeness before dawn from the entryway to Duke Chapel, where it stood among 10 historical figures. Officials discovered early Thursday that the statue’s face had been gouged and scarred and that part of the nose is missing.

Another statue of Lee, the top Confederate general during the Civil War, was the focus of the violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly a week ago.

Duke University president Vincent Price said in a letter to the campus community that he consulted with faculty, staff, students and alumni before deciding to remove the statue.

“I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university,” Price said in the letter.

Durham has been a focal point in the debate over Confederate statues after protesters tore down a bronze Confederate soldier in front of a government building downtown on Monday. Eight people face charges including rioting and damaging property. Days later, hundreds marched through Durham in a largely peaceful demonstration against racism before an impromptu rally at the stone pedestal where the statue stood.

Other monuments around North Carolina also have been vandalized since the Charlottesville protest, and calls are growing to take down a Confederate soldier statue from the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Governor Roy Cooper has urged the removal of Confederate monuments from public property around the state, though his goal would be difficult to achieve because of a 2015 state law prohibiting their removal. Duke is a private university and outside the scope of that law.

The Lee statue had stood for about 85 years between two other historical figures of the American South, Thomas Jefferson and poet Sidney Lanier, along the main entryway to the neo-Gothic church at the center of Duke’s campus. It was moved into storage at 3 a.m. Saturday and its future is undetermined, university spokesman Michael Schoenfeld told the Herald-Sun of Durham.

“We want people to learn from it and study it and the ideas it represents. What happens to it and where it will be is a question for further deliberation,” Schoenfeld said. The decision was supported by the university’s trustees, Schoenfeld said.

Duke has been affiliated since its founding with the United Methodist Church. Luke Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, said Saturday he sees the empty space formerly occupied by the Lee statue as creating a new opportunity to heal the ongoing racism problems confronting the country.

The gap “in many ways represents a hole in the heart of the United States and the ongoing struggles of racism, hatred and bigotry - all the things we’re seeing in our streets. We haven’t come as far as perhaps we thought we had come as a nation,” Powery said.

International News

The Free Press WV

►  Spain investigates missing imam, mysterious explosion

A missing imam and a house that exploded days ago became the focus Saturday of the investigation into an extremist cell responsible for two deadly attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort, as authorities narrowed in on who radicalized a group of young men in northeastern Spain.

Investigators searched the home of Abdelbaki Es Satty, an imam who in June abruptly quit working at a mosque in the town of Ripoll, the home of the Islamic radicals behind the attacks that killed 14 people and wounded over 120 in the last few days. Police were trying to determine whether Es Satty was killed in a botched bomb-making operation on Wednesday, the eve of the Barcelona bloodshed.

His former mosque has denounced the deadly attacks and weeping relatives marched into a Ripoll square on Saturday, tearfully denying any knowledge of the radical plans of their sons and brothers. At least one of the suspects is still on the run, and his younger brother has disappeared, as has the younger brother of one of the five attackers slain Friday by police.

Catalan police said a manhunt was centered on Younes Abouyaaquoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan suspected of driving the van that plowed into a packed Barcelona promenade Thursday, killing 13 people and injuring 120. Another attack early Friday killed one person and wounded five in the resort of Cambrils.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for both.

Everyone so far known in the cell grew up in Ripoll, a town in the Catalan foothills near the French border 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Barcelona. Spanish police searched nine homes in Ripoll, including Es Satty’s, and two buses, and set up a roadblock that checked each car entering the town. Across the Pyrenees, French police carried out extra border checks on people coming in from Spain.

Neighbors, family and even the mayor of Ripoll said they were shocked by news of the alleged involvement of the young men, whom all described as integrated Spanish and Catalan speakers with friends of all backgrounds.

Halima Hychami, the weeping mother of Mohamed Hychami, one of the attackers named by police, said he told her he was leaving on vacation and would return August 25. His younger brother, Omar, slept late Thursday and left mid-afternoon.

Mohamed Hychami is believed among the five attackers shot to death by police in Cambrils. She hasn’t heard from Omar since he left.

“We found out by watching TV, same as all of you. They never talked about the imam. They were normal boys. They took care of me, booked my flight when I went on vacation. They all had jobs. They didn’t steal. Never had a problem with me or anybody else. I can’t understand it,” she said.

Even with Abouyaaquoub at large, Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido declared the cell “broken” Saturday. In addition to the five killed by police, four were in custody and one or two were killed in a house explosion Wednesday. He said there was no new imminent threat of attack.

Police also conducted a series of controlled explosions Saturday in the town of Alcanar, south of Barcelona, where the attacks were planned in house that was destroyed Wednesday by an explosion. Authorities had initially thought it was a gas accident, but took another look after the attacks.

Initially, only one person was believed killed in the Wednesday blast. But officials said DNA tests were underway to determine if human remains found there Friday were from a second victim. A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing searches, said investigators believed the remains may belong to Es Satty.

The official said investigators also discovered ingredients of the explosive TATP, used by the Islamic State group in attacks in Paris and Brussels, as well as multiple butane tanks that the group may have wanted to combine with the homemade explosive and load into their vehicles.

Neighbors on Saturday said they had seen three vehicles coming and going from the home, including an Audi used in the Cambrils attack and the van used in the Barcelona attack.

The president of the mosque where Es Satty preached, Ali Yassine, said he hadn’t seen him since June, when he announced he was returning to Morocco for three months.

“He left the same way he came,” said a bitter Wafa Marsi, a friend to many of the attackers, who appeared Saturday alongside their families to denounce terrorism.

Members of Ripoll’s Muslim community denounced the vehicle attacks and offered their sympathy to the families of the victims.

Authorities said the two attacks were the work of a large terrorist cell that had been plotting for a long time from the house in Alcanar, 200 kilometers (125 miles) down the coast from Barcelona.

The lone named suspect still at large, Abouyaaquoub, figures on a police list of four main suspects sought in the attacks. Also on the list is 17-year-old Moussa Oukabir, whose brother Driss reported to police that his documents stolen. Ripoll’s mayor confirmed that those documents were found in a vehicle used in the attacks. Moussa was one of the five radicals killed, and Driss is in custody, police said.

Catalan regional police said they are mounting major road blocks throughout the northeastern region, warning people they may encounter traffic jams on different roads.

A French police official said authorities were also looking for a Kangoo utility vehicle that was believed to have been rented in Spain by a suspect in the Barcelona attack that might have crossed the border.

Fatima Abouyaaquoub, sister-in-law of the Hychami brothers and the cousin of Younes Abouyaaquoub, said she found it all hard to believe.

“I’m still waiting for all of it to be a lie. I don’t know if they were brainwashed or they gave them some type of medication or what. I can’t explain it,” she said.

Abouyaaquoub’s mother said his younger brother, Hussein, left home Thursday afternoon and hasn’t returned.

The sheer size of the cell and the close family relations among the attackers recalled the November 2015 attacks in Paris, in which Islamic State attackers struck the national stadium, a Paris concert hall and bars and restaurants nearly simultaneously, leaving 130 people dead. Since then, the extremist group has steadily lost ground in its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Islamic extremists have made a point of targeting Europe’s major tourist attractions in recent years — especially in rented or hijacked vehicles.

Yet Spain decided to keep its terrorist threat alert at level 4 — out of five — declaring Saturday that no new attacks were imminent. Zoido said the country would reinforce security for events that draw large crowds as well as at popular tourist sites.

The dead and wounded in the two attacks came from 34 countries. By late Saturday, the Catalan emergency service said 53 people remained hospitalized, 13 of them in critical condition.

The 14 people killed spanned generations — from age 3 to age 80 — and left behind devastated loved ones. They included a grandmother, 74, and her granddaughter, 20, from Portugal who were visiting Barcelona to celebrate a birthday; an Italian father who saved his children’s lives but lost his own; an American man who was celebrating his first wedding anniversary in vibrant Barcelona.

Francisco Lopez Rodriguez, a 57-year-old Spaniard, was killed with his 3-year-old grand-nephew, Javier Martinez, while walking along the Las Ramblas promenade. His widow Roser is recovering from her wounds in a hospital.

“We are a broken family,” niece Raquel Baron Lopez posted on Twitter.


►  From age 3 to 80, Barcelona victims represent a wide world

An Italian father who saved his children’s lives but lost his own. An American celebrating his first wedding anniversary. A Portuguese woman celebrating her birthday with her granddaughter.

These were some of the 14 people from around the world killed in vehicle attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils on Thursday and early Friday. They spanned generations — from age 3 to age 80 — and leave behind devastated loved ones. The victims — who also include over 120 people wounded in the attacks — come from nearly three dozen countries.

Here is a look at some of them:

___

Francisco Lopez Rodriguez, 57, and Javier Martinez, 3, Spain

Francisco Lopez Rodriguez was killed with his 3-year-old grand-nephew, Javier Martinez, while walking along the Las Ramblas promenade in Barcelona.

Lopez was accompanied by his wife Roser — who is recovering from her wounds in a hospital — her niece and the niece’s two children, one of them Javier.

“He was a lovely man, kind and charitable. Everyone loved him,” said 81-year-old Natalia Moreno Perez from Lopez’s native town of Lanteira, some 700 inhabitants outside Granada in southern Spain.

“I knew him from when he was a kid, always telling jokes,” said Natalia. “Terrible news, the town is in mourning.”

Lopez emigrated from the town with his family in the 1960s to seek work. He lived in Rubi, a migrant town of 75,000 people northwest of Barcelona, and had been visiting the Catalan capital.

Leading newspaper El Pais said Lopez worked as a metal worker in Rubi and had been walking back from Barcelona port area when the van burst onto Las Ramblas.

“We are a broken family,” niece Raquel Baron Lopez posted on Twitter.

___

Granddaughter and grandmother, 20 and 74, Portugal

The two were in Barcelona to celebrate the grandmother’s birthday when they were caught up in the horror on Las Ramblas, according to Portuguese media reports.

The older woman was reported dead Friday but the younger woman was initially reported as missing. The 20-year-old’s body was later identified. Prime Minister Antonio Costa confirmed her death in a statement Saturday.

Their names were not released.

___

Pepita Codina, 75, Spain

Pepita Codina’s death was confirmed by Xavier Vilamala, the mayor of Hipolit de Voldrega, the town of 3,000 people where she was from near Barcelona.

Vilamala said on Twitter he was “very sad and distressed” by the news.

Local media reported that Codina’s daughter, Elisabet, was injured in the attack, but is currently out of danger at Hospital del Marin Barcelona.

___

Bruno Gulotta, 35, Italy

A father from Legnano in northern Italy is being praised as a hero who protected his children during an attack in Barcelona.

One of his Gulotta’s work colleagues, Pino Bruno, told the Italian news agency ANSA that he saved the life of his two young children — Alessandro, 6, and Aria, 7 months — by throwing himself between them and the van that mowed people down.

Bruno said he spoke to Gulotta’s wife, Martina, and she told him her husband had been holding the 6-year-old’s hand on the tourist-thronged avenue in Barcelona when “the van appeared suddenly.”

“Everyone knelt down, instinctively, as if to protect themselves,” Bruno said, adding that Gulotta put himself in front of his children and was fatally struck.

Gulotta was a sales manager for Tom’s Hardware Italia, an online publication about technology. “Rest in peace, Bruno, and protect your loved ones from up high,” read one tribute on the company’s website.

___

Carmen Lopardo, 80, Italy

Lopardo, apparently the oldest person to die in the attack, was among three Italians killed in Barcelona, according to Italy’s foreign ministry.

In a statement, it said Lopardo was killed in the “vile terrorist attack in Barcelona,” without providing details.

News reports said Lopardo was an Italian who had immigrated to Argentina in 1950 and was visiting Barcelona.

___

Silvina Alejandra Pereyra, 40, Argentina and Spain

Argentina’s Foreign Ministry says Pereyra, an Argentine-Spanish dual citizen who resided in Barcelona for the last 10 years, is among those who died.

It says in a statement that her death was confirmed through family members living in Bolivia after a cousin identified her body at a morgue in Barcelona.

The Argentine government expressed its deep regret over the pain caused to Pereyra’s family and friends and said its diplomatic missions in Barcelona and Madrid are working to assist.

___

Luca Russo, 25, Italy

One of Italy’s three victims in the Barcelona van attack is being mourned as a brilliant young engineer dragged to his death before his girlfriend’s eyes.

A determined Luca Russo, 25, already had a job in electronic engineering, no easy feat in Italy, where youth unemployment runs stubbornly high.

“We were investing in him, we wanted to make him grow professionally,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Stefano Facchinello, one of the partners in the Padua area company where Russo had worked for a year, as saying.

The girlfriend, Marta Scomazzon, who was hospitalized with a fractured foot and elbow, told an aunt that “we were walking together, then the van came on top of us.”

___

Ana Maria Suarez, Spain

The Spanish Royal family sent condolences to Suarez’s family in its Twitter account after Ana Maria died in the attack in the resort town of Cambrils.

According to local media, the woman was originally from the city of Zaragoza, and was on vacation with her family. Her husband and one of her sisters are injured in a hospital.

She is the only civilian to have been killed in Cambrils, where attackers wearing fake explosives belts were shot to death by police.

___

Jared Tucker, 42, USA

California resident Jared Tucker, 42, and his wife were ending their European vacation in Barcelona after visiting Paris and Venice, and were on their way to a beach when they decided to stop at a cafe on La Rambla.

Shortly after her husband left to use the restroom “all mayhem broke out,” Heidi Nunes-Tucker told NBC News. She said she could not find her husband at first, and the friend they were staying with helped her search.

Later, they learned that he was among those killed in the truck attack in Barcelona, the only known American fatality.

Nunes-Tucker, 40, called her husband “truly the love of my life,” and says she’s struggling to make sense of the violence.

“It’s hard not to be angry,” she said. “It’s confusing why anybody would want to hurt anybody like that.”

Tucker’s father, Daniel Tucker, said the couple had saved for the vacation to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary, and had sent joyful pictures, the last of which arrived a day before the tragedy.

Jared Tucker, who worked with his father in a family business remodeling swimming pools, had “a magnetic personality and people loved him,” his father said. He liked to fish, play golf and other sports and he was deeply in love with his wife, a schoolteacher.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed condolences to the victim’s family.

Jared Tucker leaves behind three daughters, his sister said in a message on a fundraising website.

___

Elke Vanbockrijck, Belgium

The local soccer club in her hometown of Tongeren held a moment of silence Friday night for Vanbockrijck, as members honored a woman who clearly left her mark on the team.

She was at the KFC Heur Tongeren soccer club “nearly every day” ferrying her 10- and 14-year-old boys back and forth to training and matches, said team president Arnould Partoens.

The family was on vacation in Barcelona. The boys and their father, a policeman, were unhurt, he said.

Team vice president Herwig Dessers said coaches and players would stand in silence to remember her over the next few days “and talk to the children about what happened.”

A picture of Vanbockrijck now rests on the bar inside the clubhouse.

___

Boy, 7, Australia and Philippines

Uncertainty surrounded the case of a 7-year-old boy whose mother was badly wounded in the Barcelona attack.

The Australian and Philippines governments said the boy was missing and his British father had gone to search for him. Catalan police, however, said all victims were accounted for and no one was missing. Spanish media reported the boy was in a Barcelona hospital.

He and his mother were in Barcelona to attend the wedding of a cousin from the Philippines, according to Philippines undersecretary Sarah Arriola.

The mother, a 43-year-old Filipino woman, was hospitalized. She had been based in Australia for the past three or four years, Arriolo said.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked people to pray for the boy, who has Australian citizenship.

“All of us as parents know the anguish his father is going through, and his whole family is going through, as they rush to seek to find him in Barcelona,” Turnbull said.

The family’s names were not officially released.


►  Counter-protesters block neo-Nazi march to Berlin prison

Left-wing groups and Berlin residents prevented more than 500 far-right extremists from marching Saturday to the place where high-ranking Nazi official Rudolf Hess died 30 years ago.

Police in riot gear kept the neo-Nazis and an estimated 1,000 counter-protesters apart as the two sides staged competing rallies in the German capital’s western district of Spandau.

Far-right protesters had planned to march to the site of the former Spandau prison, where Hess hanged himself in 1987, but were forced to turn back after about a kilometer (0.6 miles) because of a blockade by counter-protesters.

After changing their route, the neo-Nazis, who had come from all over Germany and neighboring European countries, returned to Spandau’s main station for speeches amid jeers and chants of “Nazis go home!” and “You lost the war!” from counter-protesters.

Authorities had imposed restrictions on the march to ensure that it passed peacefully. Organizers were told they couldn’t glorify Hess or the Nazi regime, carry weapons, drums or torches, and could bring only one flag for every 25 participants.

Such restrictions are common in Germany and rooted in the experience of the pre-war Weimar Republic, when opposing political groups would try to forcibly interrupt their rivals’ rallies, resulting in frequent street violence.

Police in Germany say they generally try to balance protesters’ rights to free speech and free assembly against the rights of counter-demonstrators and residents. The rules mean that shields, helmets and batons carried by far-right and Neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville wouldn’t be allowed in Germany. Openly anti-Semitic chants would also prompt German police to intervene.

Neo-Nazi protesters on Saturday were frisked and funneled through tents where police checked them for weapons, forbidden flags and tattoos showing symbols banned in Germany, such as the Nazi swastika. A number of far-right protesters emerged from the tents with black tape covering their arms or legs.

Organizers imposed a number of their own rules on the marchers: they were encouraged to wear smart, white shirts and were told not to speak to the media.

Among those demonstrating against the neo-Nazis was Jossa Berntje from the western city of Koblenz. The 64-year-old cited the clashes in Charlottesville and her parents’ experience of living under the Nazis as her reason for coming.

“The rats are coming out of the sewers,” she said. “(President Donald) Trump has made it socially acceptable.”

Hess, who received a life sentence at the Nuremberg trials for his role in planning World War II, died on August 17, 1987. Allied authorities ruled his death a suicide, but Nazi sympathizers have long claimed he was killed and organize annual marches in his honor.

Those annual far-right marches used to take place in the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel, where Hess was buried until authorities removed his remains.

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

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


08.19.2017
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Hello, Gilmer County!
I ask you to stand up and Pray that day.  Gilmer County has died under current leadership and that has been proven time and again.  PLEASE!  Save the nature and beauty of the one God.  Stand up and claim back these mountains before they’re gone!

By Do it NOW!  on  08.19.2017

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Mountaineer Food Bank Names Beverly Surratt Winner of Logo Contest

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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


08.19.2017
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Thank you for all you do.  Grateful on behalf of all recipients.

By To: Mountaineer Food Bank  on  08.19.2017

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West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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

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


►  West Virginia office that supervises sex offenders will end

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

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

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

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


►  Road project at West Virginia airport is completed early

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

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

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

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

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


►  WVU awarded federal funding for acid mine drainage project

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

National News

The Free Press WV


►  Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Trump’s turbulent White House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


►  Soothing the nation? Trump struggles like no other

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


►  NASA, PBS marking 40 years since Voyager spacecraft launche

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


►  After Charlottesville, colleges brace for more hate attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


►  Trump defends Confederate statues, berates his critics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Thursday, he hit back hard — against Republicans.

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

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


►  Why hate came to the progressive island of Charlottesville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


►  Maryland removes Dred Scott ruling author’s statue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


08.19.2017
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With all that is going on in the world, from terrorist attacks in Spain, to police being shot in FL and PA, to the Gilmer County cover up, CNN, PMSNBC and the GFP continue with the Charlottesville VA story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rajoy declared three days of national mourning.

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

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


►  Barcelona, Real Madrid honor attack victims

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

4:40 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

4:30 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

4:20 p.m.

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

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

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

___

4:15 p.m.

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

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

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

___

4 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

3:50 p.m.

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

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

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

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

___

3:45 p.m.

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

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

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

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

___

3:30 p.m.

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

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

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

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

___

3:25 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

3:20 p.m.

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

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

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

Tony Cadman posted a photograph of Julian on Facebook.

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

___

3:10 p.m.

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

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

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

___

2:55 p.m.

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

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

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

___

2:35 p.m.

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

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

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

___

1:50 p.m.

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

Police made the announcement on Twitter without providing further details.

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

___

1:40 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

1:35 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

1:30 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

1:15 p.m.

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

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

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

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

___

12:40 p.m.

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

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

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

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

___

12:30 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

___

12:15 p.m.

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

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

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

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

___

12 p.m.

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

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

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

___

11:50 a.m.

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

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

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

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

___

11:35 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

___

11:30 a.m.

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

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

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

___

11:20 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

—By Lorne Cook

___

11:10 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

10:50 a.m.

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

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

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

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

___

10:35 a.m.

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

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

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

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

Police have three people in connection with the attacks.

___

10:20 a.m.

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

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

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

He says: “these are bitter days.”

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

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

___

10 a.m.

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

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

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

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

___

9:35 a.m.

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

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

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

___

9:20 a.m.

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

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

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

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

___

9:05 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

___

9 a.m.

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

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

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

___

8:50 a.m.

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

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

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

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

___

8 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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


►  Chinese traders furious after crackdown on N. Korean imports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Busting Myths About the Confederacy

The Free Press WV

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

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

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


White Grievance

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

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

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


Romanticizing the Confederacy

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

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

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


The Gallant South

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

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

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

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

The Name “War Between the States” is Propaganda

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

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

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

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

The Confederate Battle Flag Is a Racist Symbol

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

Ulysses S. Grant Was Not a Bad President

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

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


The Cost of Myths

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

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

Truth is the best remedy for hate.

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

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

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


08.18.2017
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2018 West Virginia Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos of each finalist can be accessed below:

Adriane Manning, Ohio County

Katlin Thorsell, Jefferson County

Leslie Lively, Wetzel County

Tammy Bittorf, Morgan County

Tammy Spangler, Jackson County

Teresa Thorne, Hampshire County

WVONGA to Push Again for Mineral Efficiency

The Free Press WV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~  Jim Ross ~~

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