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GSC Early Freshman Registration Week

The Free Press WV

Glenville, WV – Incoming Glenville State College students have an opportunity to visit the campus between Monday, April 18 and Saturday, April 23 for Early Freshman Registration Week. The event, which takes place on six separate days so you can choose the day that best suits your schedule, will provide students and their families the opportunity to prepare for the fall semester and learn what it means to be a GSC Pioneer.

“Early Registration Week is the best opportunity to get registered for classes and take care of setting up everything for the fall,” said Director of Admissions Ashley Weir. “I encourage all students who have committed to GSC to take advantage of this week.”

The GSC Early Freshman Registration Week will begin each day with check-in at the Heflin Administration Building’s Presidents Auditorium at 8:30 a.m. followed by a welcome from Admissions Office staff at 9:00 a.m. Participants then will proceed to class registration and financial aid before making their way to lunch at Mollohan’s Restaurant between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

For more information and to register for your preferred day, visit www.glenville.edu/adm_events or call 304.462.6130.

State EITC Hailed As Bipartisan Job Creation, Development Idea

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Some Republican lawmakers say a state Earned Income Tax Credit would add jobs by rebuilding West Virginia’s workforce.

The EITC is a line on federal tax forms that rewards work by low-income families. About half of states also have a state EITC. Del. Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell County, said some GOP members want to add West Virginia. By rewarding people for taking low-wage employment, he said, the tax credit could reduce the number of folks who feel hopeless and disconnected from the job market. In turn, Rohrbach said, a happier workforce would make the state more appealing to employers.

The Free Press WV
Delegate Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell County, says
a state EITC could make West Virginia more appealing
for employers by rebuilding the state workforce.


“This is an attempt to keep people here, get them working, get our workforce numbers up, get our participation numbers up,“ he said, “and then, hopefully, we can attract better-paying employers.“

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy has estimated that a state EITC one-seventh the size of the federal one would cost $47 million a year and help 140,000 working-poor households.

The governor and legislators still are struggling to close a big gap in the current budget. Rohrbach admitted that the EITC is a “tough sell” this year, but said once the state gets past the present “painful” money problems, it’s going to start thinking long-term again.

“I would fit this into one of the longer-term solutions - to support people, to get them in entry-level jobs, and then get them some experience, and they can grow from there,“ he said. “But the first step has got to be to get them in the workforce.“

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has said it plans to introduce state EITC legislation in the next regular session.

More information is online at investinwvfamilies.org.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Poll: Americans Prefer Low Prices To Items ‘Made In The USA’

The Free Press WV

WASHINGTON — The vast majority of Americans say they prefer lower prices instead of paying a premium for items labeled “Made in the USA,“ even if it means those cheaper items are made abroad, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

While presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are vowing to bring back millions of American jobs lost to China and other foreign competitors, public sentiment reflects core challenges confronting the U.S. economy. Incomes have barely improved, forcing many households to look for the most convenient bargains instead of goods made in America. Employers now seek workers with college degrees, leaving those with only a high school degree who once would have held assembly lines jobs in the lurch. And some Americans who work at companies with clients worldwide see themselves as part of a global market.

Nearly three in four say they would like to buy goods manufactured inside the United States, but those items are often too costly or difficult to find, according to the survey released Thursday. A mere 9 percent say they only buy American.

Asked about a real world example of choosing between $50 pants made in another country or an $85 pair made in the United States — one retailer sells two such pairs made with the same fabric and design — 67 percent say they’d buy the cheaper pair. Only 30 percent would pony up for the more expensive American-made one. People in higher earning households earning more than $100,000 a year are no less likely than lower-income Americans to say they’d go for the lower price.

“Low prices are a positive for US consumers — it stretches budgets and allows people to save for their retirements, if they’re wise, with dollars that would otherwise be spent on day-to-day living,“ said Sonya Grob, 57, a middle school secretary from Norman, Oklahoma who described herself as a “liberal Democrat.“

But Trump and Sanders have galvanized many voters by attacking recent trade deals.

From their perspective, layoffs and shuttered factories have erased the benefits to the economy from reduced consumer prices.

“We’re getting ripped off on trade by everyone,“ said Trump, the Republican front-runner, at a Monday speech in Albany, New York. “Jobs are going down the drain, folks.“

The real estate mogul and reality television star has threatened to shred the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. He has also threatened to slap sharp tariffs on China in hopes of erasing the overall $540 billion trade deficit.

Economists doubt that Trump could deliver on his promises to create the first trade surplus since 1975. Many see the backlash against trade as frustration with a broader economy coping with sluggish income gains.

“The reaction to trade is less about trade and more about the decline in people’s ability to achieve the American Dream,“ said Caroline Freund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It’s a lot easier to blame the foreigner than other forces that are affecting stagnant wage growth like technology.“

But Trump’s message appeals to Merry Post, 58, of Paris, Texas where the empty factories are daily reminders of what was lost. Sixty-eight percent of people with a favorable opinion of Trump said that free trade agreements decreased the number of jobs available to Americans.

“In our area down here in Texas, there used to be sewing factories and a lot of cotton gins,“ Post said. “I’ve watched them all shut down as things went to China, Mexico and the Philippines. All my friends had to take early retirements or walk away.“

Sanders, the Vermont senator battling for the Democratic nomination, has pledged to end the exodus of jobs overseas.

“I will stop it by renegotiating all of the trade agreements that we have,“ Sanders told the New York Daily News editorial board earlier this month, saying that the wages paid to foreigner workers and environmental standards would be part of any deal he would strike.

Still, voters are divided as to whether free trade agreements hurt job creation and incomes.

Americans are slightly more likely to say free trade agreements are positive for the economy overall than negative, 33 percent to 27 percent. But 37 percent say the deals make no difference. Republicans (35 percent) are more likely than Democrats (22 percent) to say free trade agreements are bad for the economy.

On jobs, 46 percent say the agreements decrease jobs for American workers, while 11 percent say they improve employment opportunities and 40 percent that they make no difference. Pessimism was especially pronounced among the 18 percent of respondents with a family member or friend whose job was offshored. Sixty-four percent of this group said free trade had decreased the availability of jobs.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Former finance chair Delegate Brent Boggs and others take look at state budget issues

CHARLESTON, WV — Two of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s budget cut scenarios would shoulder higher education with a large budget cut, according to state Senator Roman Prezioso.

“Higher ed is one of the low-hanging fruits,” Prezioso (D-Marion) said on MetroNews “Talkline.” “We certainly have to be cautious about further cuts to higher ed because we’ve substantially cut them over the last four years and there’s not much meat left on that bone.”

The Tomblin administration scenarios focus on $270 million in budget cuts if there was no new revenue from tax increases. Scenarios impacting higher education are 10 percent and 18 percent budget cuts plus the elimination of the Promise Scholarship program. Some see the scenarios as the governor’s attempt to put pressure on the Republican leadership in the legislature.

Former House Finance Committee Chair Brent Boggs (D-Braxton), who is currently a member of the House Finance Committee, supports a multi-layered plan to deal with the budget problem.

“When you have cut as far as you can you have to look at a combination of strategic cuts or sweeping of some accounts, a little Rainy Day, as little as possible and then some revenue enhancements,” Boggs said. “I think we can find a combination of that.”

Boggs did express concern during a Friday interview on MetroNews “Talkline” the lack of communication from the Republican leadership in the House.

“If they can’t get the numbers (vote numbers) themselves then I think they need to be coming to us and say, ‘How would you be willing to help us?‘” Boggs said.

Prezioso, who spent time as Senate Finance Committee chair, said some decisions need to be made soon for higher education. The individual schools have to finalize their budgets, he said.


►   Spring gobbler season opens earlier than usual for 2016

A number of spring turkey hunters in West Virginia have long complained the season in our state opened too late. For many years Virginia and other neighboring states have opened up their spring gobbler season at least a week before West Virginia.  That won’t be the case this year.

West Virginia’s opening day for spring gobbler hunting is Monday, April 18, a full week earlier than previous years.  The Natural Resources Commission agreed to the change, but will closely monitor how it goes and could easily return it to the fourth Monday in April if it shows any negative impact on the turkey numbers..

“I think it was a bending to pressure from the public,” said Keith Krantz, small game biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “But I think they agreed to it with the understanding they could easily change it back if necessary.”

It isn’t the first time the season has opened early.  Krantz said the earlier opening was tried back in 1964 but it didn’t produce a measurable change in the outcome.  He didn’t ‘t think the change this year would make much difference either.

“I really will be surprised if it brings forth what the public wants,” he said. “I say that because the gobblers are still with hens and they’ll be with hens even more when bringing the season in earlier.  They might hear more gobbling, but I don’t think, they’re going to have any more success at calling a gobbler away from a group of hens.”

The long held resistance to move back opening day came for a couple of reasons. There is some dispute about whether it’s better to open the season at the time of the first peak gobbling or afterward. The concern would be shooting mature gobblers before they have been able to complete breeding the majority of hens.  The other issue stems from data from several decades ago which indicated allowing hunting before the majority of hens go to nest tended to increase incidents of poaching.  When hens are on the nest they aren’t exposed to hunters and are unlikely to wind up at the end of a poacher’s gun.

“We run into more issues with hens being in front of hunters the earlier in the month it starts,” said Krantz.  “We hope most hens will be on the nest and won’t be in front of a hunter and possibly leading to a mistake.”

Since a legal turkey must have a three inch visible beard, Krantz said there’s no excuse for such a mistake.

As for turkey numbers in West Virginia, brood reports from 2015 were stellar, especially in the southern coalfield counties.  However, it’s the hatch from two years ago on which Krantz puts more emphasis.

“Because the average gobbler shot is a 2 year old bird, the brood survey from last year doesn’t really tell us much about this year’s spring gobbler harvest.  We need to go back to 2014,” Krantz explained. “In 2014, our brood reports were 30 percent higher than in 2013 and mimicked a five year average.  That tells us we should have an average population out there for this spring gobbler season.”

Krantz said it’s likely those hunting in the steep hollows of the West Virginia coalfields however may be running into more jakes than mature gobblers.

“We had a really good hatch in the southern part of the state. It exceeded the five year average by more than 14 percent,” said Krantz. “Those guys down there, I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t see more jakes running around the woods.”

The season runs for four weeks and although the opening date has changed, hunters still need to be out of the woods by 1 p.m. each day.


►   Luxury Cottages to be Built at Stonewall Resort State Park

A public-private funding venture has resulted in the first of what could be 20 new luxury cottages in a wooded lakeshore development at Stonewall Resort State Park.

The four-bedroom luxury homes are equipped with amenities such as Wi-Fi, washers and dryers, and gas fireplaces.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the cottages will be financed by private investors who will own the units, but agree to make them available for public rental.

Richard Ebright, director of operations for Stonewall lodging and recreation concessionaire Benchmark Resorts and Hotels, says roads and utilities are in place to accommodate 14 new cottages, five of which are expected to be built this year. He says the hope is there’s enough interest to build a total of 20.

The development’s opening ceremony was held earlier this month.


►   Bridgeport children practice reading with therapy dogs

BRIDGEPORT, WV — One recent Saturday at the Bridgeport Public Library, Jacob Watts read a book about dogs called “See Me Dig” to a dog.

Jacob, who attends kindergarten at West Milford Elementary School, read the book to Becky Conrad’s 8-year-old Italian greyhound, Strawberry, who perched on a blanket embroidered with her name and the fruit that inspired her moniker, as well as two tags attached to her collar that indicate she is a therapy dog.

“He reads extremely well for a kindergartener,“ Conrad, of Bridgeport, said to Jacob’s mother, Laurie Watts.

Conrad should know. As a therapy dog handler, Conrad has appointments at various area libraries for events that allow children to read to Strawberry.

It really can help them learn to read and overcome shyness, said Conrad as well as Barbara Higgins, who also partners with a therapy dog, an 8-year-old miniature poodle named Brenda Lee.

Higgins recalled a shy boy who began reading to Brenda Lee at a library event.

“He walked in the door and he and Brenda had an immediate bond,“ she said. “He sat down beside her to read to her and continued to do so for several years.

“Six years later, this past fall, he is now a strapping young man of 14, and he’s a Boy Scout leader and he coaches Cub Scouts.“

The boy, Benjamin Sturm of Shinnston, recalled how it was that reading to dog helped him learn.

“The dogs just sit there,“ he explained. “The dog can’t tell you, ‘That’s not the word.‘ The dog just sits there and gives you extra confidence, like you are talking to someone you like.“

Benjamin’s mother, Stephanie Sturm, noted that Benjamin’s dyslexia made reading difficult for him.

“He was struggling with confidence and not wanting to try,“ Sturm said. “I took him to the reading dogs as a last-ditch effort. Having (Brenda Lee) there, listening, and he was able to pet her. They weren’t judgmental and he got motivated. He said, ‘I have to read to her next month. I’m going to practice for Brenda Lee.‘“

These days, in addition to scouting, he also has helped out Higgins at a Meet the Breeds event at the Bridgeport Farmers Market for the Greater Clarksburg Kennel Club.

“He assisted me and gave out brochures and talked to people about how much it benefited him,“ Higgins added. “He enjoyed his day. He reads at a high level. He would be the first one to tell you that it benefited him tremendously.“

Conrad and Higgins visit area libraries with Strawberry and Brenda Lee on a schedule that includes the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library, 6 to 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month; the Lowe Public Library in Shinnston, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. the first Monday of the month; the Philippi Public Library, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. the second Saturday of the month; and the Bridgeport Public Library, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. the first Saturday of the month except for during the summer.

Letting kids read to them at libraries is just one task that therapy dogs can perform. They also can visit patients at hospitals, residents at nursing homes and students preparing for exams at college campuses, helping to ease anxiety by lending a sympathetic ear and perhaps reminding them of a dog they have at home.

They also will be on hand during the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day event at Clarksburg City Park in Nutter Fort from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 30.

“Their job is to — our logo is, ‘Sharing smiles and joy,‘“ said Higgins, who also serves as the coordinator for Mountaineer Therapy Dogs, an informal group with about 50 members who work in the Morgantown, Fairmont and Bridgeport areas.

Brenda Lee is Higgins’ first therapy dog.

“I’ve been around dogs my entire life,“ she said. “This is the first dog I had that I felt had the correct temperament and personality to do therapy work, which pleased me. It was something I always had been interested in doing.“

Conrad has had three therapy dogs, all Italian greyhounds, which are smaller than traditional greyhounds. She just retired a 15-year-old dog.

Both Conrad and Higgins and their dogs are registered through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (www.therapydogs.com), and Bruce Felton, of Morgantown, serves as a tester and observer for the Cheyenne, Wyoming-based group.

In order to have a therapy dog, Felton recommends that an owner first go through regular obedience classes with the pet, but it is not a requirement.

It also is not necessary to take the Mountaineer Kennel Club’s four 90-minute sessions geared toward potential therapy dogs that allow him to check dogs’ temperaments as well as introduce them to objects such as wheelchairs that a therapy dog probably will encounter.

What is required is a filled out application that can be downloaded from the Mountaineer Kennel Club’s website, mkclub.org.

After that, the dog and owner meet with Felton, who goes over the rules and regulations with the human and checks the dog’s prospects of going out and offering comfort to the general public.

“I do several little things,“ Felton said. “When I first meet with the person, I see how they are holding the dog on a leash, does the dog try to jump on me, bite my pants leg or sit there quietly?“

Felton also makes sure the dogs do not mind being touched and having their bellies rubbed or paws pulled a bit, and also that the dog and human can walk on the leash well.

“It doesn’t have to heal perfectly, but the idea is to make sure you can walk the dog and make turns without the dog jerking in the opposite direction.“

Dogs also should be healthy, well-groomed and up to date on shots.

If all those things check out, then Felton accompanies the dog and human on three therapy dog visits as an observer.

“If I see no problems and everybody looks good at what they are doing, I can sign off on paperwork and send it off to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, and they register them.“

Felton points out that dogs are registered, not certified. The registration essentially gives the owner a $5 million liability in case the dog should bite or trip someone and a lawsuit occurs.

Although Felton currently does not work with a therapy dog, he has in the past.

“I just enjoyed the people — talking to the people,“ he said. “It was rewarding. I went to a nursing home and tapped on someone’s door and said, ‘Excuse me, would you like a visit from me and my dog?‘“

He would see several reactions, he added.

“Some, immediately as they saw the dog, burst out crying and would hug and hold him and say, ‘I miss my dog so much. Thank you for coming in.‘

“At the same time I realized, you were making them happy, making them forget about their pain and loneliness. For 15 minutes, as long as a person is petting a dog, they are not thinking about their problems.“

Conrad remembers visiting a patient at the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center in Clarksburg who had not been communicative with his physical therapist.

“We don’t know what he said,“ Conrad recalled. “He wasn’t communicating. He was making noise. He knew what he was saying. We put the dog on the bed and he petted the dog and I’m sure he told us in his mind that he had a dog. Sometimes they cry. The therapist could not believe the reaction this man had.“


►   WV Symphony narrows down conductor search, 6 finalists announced

CHARLESTON, WV — The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra announced its 2016-2017 season along with six conductor finalists Friday.

The search committee has been interviewing candidates from around the world to replace current Maestro Grant Cooper who announced his retirement last year. There were 167 applicants.

“We narrowed it down to the top and best six, so we’re looking forward to the community’s input,” said Shiva Shafii, marketing manager for the WVSO.

Each candidate will be conducting one of the symphonic concerts during the upcoming season which runs from September 2016 through May 2017.

“It’s kind of like a live audition for the entire community,” Shafii said. “They’ll be here for the entire week spending the week in West Virginia, going out into the communities, going the schools, working with the youth orchestra and the strings programs in the schools.”

The candidates and concert dates at the Clay Center are as follows:

September 17, 2016 – Kayko Dan, music director of the Chattanooga Symphony

October 05, 2016 – Keitaro Harada, associate conductor of the Cinnicinati Symphony

November 12, 2016 – Stilian Kirov, assistant conductor of the Seattle Symphony

Mar. 04, 2017 – Dan Meyer, music director of the Erie Philharmonic

Apr. 08, 2017 – Lawrence Loh, resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony

May 06, 2017 – Kevin Rhodes, music director of the Springfiled Symphony Orchestra

This season will include worldwide talent, Shafii said. All show times will start at 7:30 p.m.

The ZMM Architects and Engineers Pops Series will be conducted by Meastro Grant Cooper. Those concerts include:

“The Wizard of Oz Live” – the full length film accompanied by live orchestra
October 08, 2016 – Charleston

“Home for the Holidays”
December 01, 2016 – Lewisburg
December 03, 2016 – Charleston
December 04, 2016 – Parkersburg
December 05, 2016 – Morgantown

“Sgt. Pepper” – a journey through the 1960s featuring Beatles’ hits
Mar. 18, 2017 – Charleston
Mar. 19, 2017 – Parkersburg

“Country Roads” – a tribute to country hits
May 13, 2017 – Charleston

The committee will announce the new conductor in Summer 2017.


►   Family Court judges, staff enter legal fight on payday issue

CHARLESTON, WV — Two other groups representing state workers plan to file legal action with the state Supreme Court over the payday conversion controversy.

The Family Court Judges Association and the Family Court Staff Association filed action Friday afternoon. As previously reported by MetroNews, the West Virginia Association of Probation Officers filed a writ of mandamus with the High Court Tuesday.

The groups are trying to stop the planned conversion of state paydays from the current twice-a-month to every two weeks. The change, overseen by the state Auditor’s Office, is currently scheduled to take place in May.

State Auditor Glen Gainer and others have been working with the new OASIS computer system to make the change but it’s been met with lots of controversy

Webster-Pocahontas County Family Court Judge Jeff Hall told MetroNews Friday he’s not an opponent of going to bi-weekly pay he just doesn’t think it should begin in May. The Family Court Judges and the Family Court Staff associations believe it should begin in July or next January so employees won’t be shorted approximately 1.4 percent of their 2016 salaries.

“We don’t want it to happen at a time when it will mathematically cause a pay shortage in this conversion year,” Judge Hall said.

Delaying the switch until July would give state workers 13 remaining paydays, while beginning in May leaves four months for bi-monthly pay and eight months with bi-weekly pay. That scenario would leave Family Court judges short about $1,200 in this year’s pay and their staffs approximately $400 short this year, Hall said.

“So it would be real simple if you just started this in July, rather than in May, we’ll get our full salaries with no pay adjustments. There probably wouldn’t even be a writ filed,” Hall said.

There has been some conversations that elected officials would have an adjustment in their pay to make up the difference but other workers would have to wait until their time ended with the state to get the missed money. Hall said there’s too much uncertainty.

“I don’t think anyone should have to wait until they separate (from employment) until that get paid (the difference created in the conversion year),” he said.

The probation officers legal action is styled a little differently calling on the Court to stop the pay change because it conflicts with existing state along with the transition year pay shortage concern.

Gainer has been ordered by the Court to file an answer in the probation officers case by April 20.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

FIGHTS LOOM AFTER BRAZIL’S LOWER CHAMBER OKS IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS

The measure now goes to the Senate, which must decide if it will try democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff for alleged fiscal irregularities.


QUAKE DEATH TOLL ABOVE 270 IN ECUADOR

As the coastal South American country digs out from its strongest temblor in decades, tales of devastating loss are everywhere and the death count is expected to go up.


WHO MISLED CONGRESS ON MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES

An AP investigation finds that the Pentagon mischaracterized the actions taken by civilian law enforcement officials when it came to punishing sex offenders.


WHAT U.S. FORCES ARE DOING IN JAPAN

The U.S. military joins relief efforts in the southern part of the country for areas devastated by two powerful earthquakes as local rescuers comb through debris looking for 10 people still reported missing.


CARTER IN BAGHDAD FOR TALKS

The defense secretary will debrief Iraqi leaders about the next steps the U.S. should take to beef up Iraqi forces to retake the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.


THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MAXED-OUT TRUMP DONORS

About 200 people have donated the max amount of $2,700 to the Republican front-runner’s campaign, which pales in comparison to the nearly 29,000 that have done the same for Hillary Clinton.


SUPREME COURT TO HEAR IMMIGRATION ARGUMENTS

The White House is seeking to put in place two programs that could shield roughly 4 million people living in the country illegally from deportation and make them eligible to work in the U.S.


VR EXEC DEFENDS NEW MEDIUM

Jason Rubin from virtual reality company Oculus says consumers shouldn’t be concerned about an invasion of their privacy when using the Oculus Rift.


‘WAR ON TERRIER’ ENDS WITHOUT JAIL TIME

The Australian government’s dispute with Johnny Depp’s wife over their dog smuggling spat is resolved when more serious charges are dropped.


PATRIOTS’ DAY FESTIVITIES KICK OFF WITH BIG RACE

More than 30,000 runners are set to leave Hopkinton for the 26.2-mile race to Copley Square and the 120th Boston Marathon.

Aston Martin Tour of Washington, D.C. Doug DeMuro Doug DeMuro

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   Pentagon Releases 9 Guantanamo Inmates

Nine prisoners have been released from Guantanamo and sent to Saudi Arabia, dropping the inmate population at the infamous prison to 80, Reuters reports. The release was announced Saturday by the Pentagon. All nine prisoners were Yemeni men captured during the war in Afghanistan, according the New York Times. They had been held at Guantanamo for approximately 14 years. The Guardian reports none of the men had ever been charged with a crime, and eight of the nine had been cleared for release from the prison since at least 2010. An attorney for one of the released men says his client is “ecstatic.“ “He is anxious to get on with living a peaceful life,“ the attorney tells the Times.

The release was the largest since Obama announced in February his most recent plans to close Guantanamo. The holdup in releasing the nine “low-level” inmates was partly due to Saudi Arabia’s unwillingness to accept Yemenis. The US government didn’t want to send the men to Yemen due to unrest and Al Qaeda activity there. A deal with Saudi Arabia, which has a semi-successful program for rehabilitating former Islamic militants, was secured in February. One of the released prisoners is Tariq Ba Odah, who the military has been force-feeding every day since he started a hunger strike in 2007. Most of the 80 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo, which has been condemned by the UN and once boasted an inmate population of nearly 700, have been there for a decade without charges.


►   Famous ‘Inverted Jenny’ Stamp Turns Up 61 Years After It Was Stolen

An incredibly rare and valuable stamp stolen from a collector in 1955 resurfaced this month at a New York auction house, the AP reports. According to NPR, a printing accident in 1918 resulted in a sheet of 100 “inverted Jenny” stamps featuring an upside-down airplane. They’re considered by experts to be the most famous stamps in America, each 24-cent square fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. In 1955, someone swiped four inverted Jennies from the collection of Ethel Stewart McCoy, whose father was a Dow Jones founder. It is “one of the most notorious crimes in philatelic history,“ according to an expert.

The inverted Jenny submitted this month to auction house Spink USA came from someone who had inherited it. It was determined to be one of the stamps stolen in 1955, but it’s unclear if the submitter knew it was stolen. The American Philatelic Research Library has been the stamp’s legal owner for many years and is working with the auction house to take possession of the stamp. Before this month, it had been more than 30 years since another stolen inverted Jenny had turned up. This leaves only one of the four stolen stamps unaccounted for. In 2014, a dealer offered a $50,000 reward for the missing inverted Jennies, and a stamp library was promising $10,000 for information leading to their recovery.


►   Real Estate Agent Jumps Freeway Ramp on Motorcycle

A Los Angeles-area real estate agent could be in hot water with police after he released a promotional video showing himself jumping over the onramp of a major freeway on a motorcycle. The Los Angeles Times reports Topher Ingalls, a former professional motocross rider, created the video to advertise his new job at Buschur Realty. In addition to jumping over the 101 Freeway onramp, it shows him hopping farm fences, driving through farmland near the freeway, and popping wheelies. “It is disturbing that someone would drive so carelessly on the freeways like that, putting innocent people in danger,” a California Highway Patrol officer tells the Times. The CHP is now investigating to see if Ingalls broke any traffic laws.

Ingalls has since removed the video from YouTube, despite what he says was “mostly positive feedback.“ But Cycle World Magazine still has the clip up, calling it “a totally kick-butt video” that will “probably at least make you excited for your next commute to work.“ But they’re not entirely helping Ingalls’ cause either: “I’m not sure that everything (or anything) in this video is 100% legal,“ Bradley Adams at Cycle World writes. Meanwhile, the riders at BikeBandit.com think Ingalls’ video is bad for the sport, calling it “a shameless exhibition…of some extraordinarily illegal maneuvers.“ “These are the kind of stunts that are not only dangerous, but also draw the ire of the non-riding public at large,“ the website states.


►   Priest’s Robes Cause Campus KKK Scare

The regional Dominican Friars office tweeted a handy guide to telling its members apart from boxers, Halloween ghosts, and KKK members after a campus scare in Indiana last week. The Tab reports that there was a brief panic at the Bloomington campus of the University of Indiana when somebody tweeted that there was “someone walking around in KKK gear with a whip.“ Students circulated warnings to stay inside before it emerged that the Klansman, who was spotted buying frozen yogurt after his campus visit, was actually Father Jude McPeak, a Dominican monk, and the “whip” was either a belt or a rosary.

McPeak says he didn’t learn about the scare until later on and he now wants to reach out to the community to teach them more about the Dominican order, which is more than 600 years older than the KKK. “I’ve learned early on to kind of ignore things when I’m out, so when I was at Red Mango getting yogurt, I had no idea what was going on around the campus,“ he tells the Denver Post. Fellow Dominican Luke Barder says they try to keep a sense of humor when confusion arises. Once, “ somebody started yelling at me assuming I was in the Klan,“ he says. “I just said, ‘no, I’m not that. They probably hate me just as much as you.‘ It’s kind of a running joke.“


►   Tiger Kills Zoo’s ‘Tiger Whisperer’

The chief tiger keeper at the Palm Beach Zoo was killed on Friday by one of the animals she loved. Stacey Konwiser, 38, was attacked in a tiger enclosure as she prepared to give a “Tiger Talk” to visitors, CNN reports. Cops had to tranquilize the 13-year-old male Malayan tiger before they could reach Konwiser, who was taken to a hospital by helicopter but died from what authorities say was a “severe bite.“ Zoo spokeswoman Naki Carter tells the Palm Beach Post that she called Konwiser, a beloved staff member whose husband also works at the zoo, the “tiger whisperer” because they “spoke to each other in a language that only they could understand.“ “I can’t put into words or make you understand for anyone who didn’t know Stacey how much she loved these tigers and how much this zoo family loved her,“ she says.

The attack happened out of sight of visitors in a sleeping and feeding area known as the “tiger night house,“ and the zoo stresses that contrary to reports on social media, the tiger was never loose, WPBF reports. The zoo “has a safety protocol in place for crisis situations and these protocols were employed today,“ Carter says. “Immediately after the Code Red was issued, guests, who were never in any danger, were ushered out of the zoo in an orderly fashion and the zoo went into lockdown.“ She says the tiger—one of four members of the endangered subspecies at the zoo and fewer than 250 in the world—has been “contained.“ This was the first fatal attack on a human in the zoo’s history, she says.


►   Botched Landing on Aircraft Carrier Injures 8 Sailors

A month after a “rare and terrifying” accident during an attempted landing on an aircraft carrier, one sailor remains hospitalized and three more are still recovering, the Navy Times reports. According to WTKR, an E-2C Hawkeye was attempting to land on the USS Eisenhower during training exercises 100 miles off the coast of Virginia. The plane’s tail hook snagged an arresting cable, meant to help it land, but instead of slowing down, the plane sped down the runway and off the edge of the carrier. The heavy cable snapped, whipping across the carrier and hitting eight sailors. Injuries ranged from cuts and bruises, to a skull fracture, to broken legs. The sailor who remains hospitalized suffered a severed blood vessel and almost had his foot amputated.

The Hawkeye was able to pull up before it hit the ocean, but it was close. One sailor tells the Times the plane “had friggin’ salt water on the bottom of it” it was so close to hitting the water. “They thought they were going to die,“ he says of the pilots. A Navy official tells ABC News what happened was “extremely rare.“ An arresting cable hasn’t come loose during a landing in more than 10 years. An investigation has been launched to find out what went wrong. Normal flight operations on the USS Eisenhower resumed two days after the accident.


►   Army Announces First-Ever Female Combat Officers

The Army announced Friday it has 22 women nearly ready to be commissioned as officers within its infantry and armor units—a historic first, USA Today reports. The Pentagon ordered all combat positions be opened to women three years ago, and that rule takes effect this year. The 22 women—13 for armor units, nine for infantry—are currently going through officer training and are expected to be commissioned as second lieutenants within the coming weeks. The Army believes it’s important to have women in officer roles within ground combat units before bringing in general recruits. On the other side, 29 women have attempted the Marines’ infantry officer course, but none have yet passed.

Interest from women in joining the infantry and armor units is unclear, and both the Army and Marines are expecting a small number of women to sign up—at least at first. (As USA Today explains, women have served in combat already, but “ground combat fields,“ including infantry, armor, and Special Forces, have long been closed to them until now.) According to the Army Times, 25-year-old ex-cop Grace Barnett became the Army’s first female infantry recruit when she took the oath of enlistment earlier this month. Barnett, who wasn’t aware she was going to be the first, says she’s excited about “being on the front lines.“ “Being able to get down and dirty with it. Being able to be in the middle of it,“ she tells the Times. “Being able to serve and fight. Protect my country.“

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Venezuela Declares Fridays Are Holidays

In the US workplace, we have “casual” Fridays; in Venezuela, they now have “don’t bother coming in” Fridays. President Nicolas Maduro announced that Fridays for the next 60 days will be official state holidays to save energy in a country that’s been plagued by blackouts and other power issues, Reuters reports. “We’ll have long weekends,“ Maduro said Wednesday in a somewhat bizarre “hours-long” program on state TV that included “music, dancing, and giant pictures of late leader Hugo Chavez.“ Maduro hopes to slash energy use by at least 20% by combining other measures with this one, which Maduro said applies to all public workers who won’t adversely affect production with their absence, the AP reports. Hotels and malls are being asked to use generators as well, per Gizmodo.

The energy crisis has been brought about by a harsh El Niño-caused drought that’s crippled the country’s hydroelectricity-dominated infrastructure and brought water levels at power plants “to a critical threshold,“ Bloomberg notes. Between 60% and almost 70% of the country’s energy is from hydropower, per the AP and Reuters. But not everyone’s excited about the prospect of forced three-day weekends. Critics say it’s a bad time to be shutting things down, considering the country’s current recession and inflation issues, as well as a dearth of certain medicines and food items. Others wonder what the plan means for operating schools, markets, and hospitals. And some say that people are just going to use electricity while they’re home, since the cost is so low. “For Maduro the best way to resolve this crisis is to reduce the country’s productivity,“ a Caracas city councilor tells Reuters. “Fridays are free bread and circus.“


►   Ignoring Cobra Bite, Pop Star Sings to Her Death

An Indonesian pop star known for dancing with snakes was bitten by a king cobra during a concert on Sunday and kept on singing until she collapsed and later died. Irma Bule, 29—famous in the Dangdut genre of Indonesian folk music, per Mashable—often included pythons, cobras, and boa constrictors in her performances. She even sometimes wore them, reports Sky News. But her act suddenly went wrong in Karawang, West Java, on Sunday. A cobra bit Bule on the thigh when she accidentally stepped on its tail “in the middle of the second song,“ a witness tells Merdeka.com, per the Telegraph. A video shows Bule jerk as she holds a snake. She then sits down and briefly speaks with the snake handler.

However, the witness says she refused an antidote and continued singing for 45 minutes before she began vomiting and collapsed in front of fans. She was pronounced dead at a hospital. A snake expert tells Rappler that Bule would have been able to carry on for some time because the bite was far from her heart. In the end, though, her “deadly gimmick, combined with her dedication to showmanship, led to her untimely death,“ reports Coconuts Jakarta. While some on social media are praising her work ethic and dedication to her fans, others say she deserves an award for stupidity. The Telegraph notes Bule may have thought the snake was defanged when the performance started.


►   Lenin About to Turn 146, but He Still Looks 53

Maintaining the corpse of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin isn’t cheap. In fact, the Russian government this year will spend about $200,000 for work of a “biomedical nature” to ensure the communist leader’s body remains in “lifelike condition,“ the BBC reports. Lenin’s preserved body, now nearly 146 years old, has been on public display in a mausoleum in Moscow for more than 90 years, according to the Atlantic. The disclosure on the cost of maintaining the body came via the country’s procurement agency website. The preservation process, per a 2015 Scientific American report, includes being “reembalmed” every other year, which entails, “submerging the body in separate solutions of glycerol solution baths, formaldehyde, potassium acetate, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, acetic acid solution, and acetic sodium.“ Lenin also wears a rubber suit under his dress clothes to keep a layer of embalming fluid covering him while on display.

In addition to the regular embalming, Lenin’s eyelashes have been replaced, his nose has been re-sculpted, and artificial skin has been used to replace missing skin on his foot. Lenin reportedly wanted to be buried, CNBC reports, and plenty of Russians feel the same way. A recent poll found that 62% of 8,000 people thought the revolutionary should be given a proper burial. Some on social media decried the expense of maintaining a “mummy,“ but Vladimir Putin seems content to keep Lenin—who is not the only embalmed world leader on display—where he is. “The way I see it, this issue [of discussing the question of the body’s reburial] should be approached with utmost care so as to avoid taking any steps that might split society,“ he said after the poll.


►   Couple Married in World’s First Pastafarian Wedding

The wedding rings were made of pasta, the ceremony was held on a pirate boat, and when it came time for the kiss, the bride and groom slurped up either end of a noodle until their lips met. The AP reports the world’s first Pastafarian wedding, conducted by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, was held Saturday in New Zealand. The group, which began in the US as a protest against religion encroaching into public schools, has gained legitimacy in New Zealand, where authorities recently decided it can officiate weddings. For Saturday’s ceremony, the groom, Toby Ricketts, vowed to always add salt before boiling his pasta, while bride Marianna Fenn donned a colander on her head.

“The Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world. We know that,“ said marriage celebrant Karen Martyn, aka the Ministeroni. “We weren’t around then and we didn’t see it, but no other religion was around to see it either, and our deity is as plausible as any other.“ Ricketts, 35, and Fenn, 33, said they’ve been a couple for four years but decided just three weeks ago to get married, after another Pastafarian couple’s plans to be first to wed fell through. “I would never have agreed to a conventional marriage, but the idea of this was too good to pass up,“ Fenn said. The wedding feast was an all-pasta affair, while the wedding cake was topped with an image of his noodliness, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.


►   Pope Visits Refugee Camp, Takes 12 Home With Him

Pope Francis made an emotional visit to Greece on Saturday to thank its people for welcoming migrants and meet with refugees as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport them back to Turkey. The Vatican has confirmed that 12 Syrian refugees, all of them Muslim, are traveling with the pope back to Italy from Greece, the AP reports. The three families, including six children, met with Francis on the tarmac on the island of Lesbos and boarded the plane. The Vatican will take responsibility for supporting the families, though the Catholic Sant’Egidio community will take care of getting them settled initially.

When Francis’ plane arrived, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met him on the tarmac, along with the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians and the archbishop of Athens, who is the head of the Church of Greece. Later, many refugees fell to their knees and wept as Francis approached them at the Moria detention center on the Greek island of Lesbos. Others chanted “Freedom! Freedom!“ as he passed by. Francis bent down as one young girl knelt at his feet sobbing uncontrollably. A woman told the pope that her husband was in Germany, but that she was stuck with her two sons in Lesbos. “Refugees are not numbers, they are people who have faces, names, stories, and need to be treated as such,“ Francis tweeted.


►   It’s Official: ‘Boaty McBoatface’ Wins

The UK has confirmed that we cannot have serious online polls dedicated to the serious task of obtaining the public’s for-real opinion on the name of its serious new research vessel: Yes, Internet darling “Boaty McBoatface” has overwhelmingly won the Natural Environment Research Council’s online poll, which closed Saturday night, to name its brand new $300 million Arctic survey ship, reports the Guardian. Boaty McBoatface, put forth by former BBC presenter James Hand as a joke, pulled in more than 124,000 votes—more than four times the second-place suggestion, which was the name of a little girl with incurable cancer.

But the deal is not yet done, notes the Guardian: NERC’s CEO has the final say on the vessel’s moniker. Worth noting: Hand himself voted for RRS David Attenborough, which came in fifth. Says Hand: “This is actually nothing to do with me. I made the suggestion but the storm that’s been created—it’s got legs of its own. I just feel it’s a very British thing, which a lot of people have pointed out.“


►   Biggest Quake Since ‘79 Hits Ecuador

The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along its Pacific coast, sending the Andean nation into a state of emergency. As rescue workers rushed in, officials said Sunday at least 77 people were killed, more than 570 injured and the damage stretched for hundreds of miles. The magnitude-7.8 quake was centered on Ecuador’s sparsely populated fishing ports and tourist beaches. Vice President Jorge Glas said there were deaths in the cities of Manta, Portoviejo, and Guayaquil—all several hundred miles from where the quake struck shortly after nightfall. He said the quake was the strongest to hit Ecuador since 1979 and accessing the disaster zone was difficult due to landslides. “We’re trying to do the most we can, but there’s almost nothing we can do,“ said Gabriel Alcivar, mayor of Pedernales, a town of 40,000 near the epicenter.

Alcivar pleaded for earth-moving machines and rescue workers as dozens of buildings in the town were flattened, trapping residents among the rubble. He said looting had broken out but authorities were too busy trying to save lives to re-establish order, reports the AP. “This wasn’t just a house that collapsed, it was an entire town,“ he said. President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and rushed home from a visit to Rome. Ecuador’s Risk Management agency said 10,000 armed forces had been deployed. The USGS originally put the quake at a magnitude of 7.4 then raised it to 7.8. It had a depth of 12 miles. At least 36 aftershocks followed, one as strong as 6 on the Richter scale, and authorities urged residents to brace for even stronger ones in the coming hours and days.

West Virginia Board of Education Recognizes JROTC Champion Teams

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) Wednesday recognized the winning teams in the state’s first ever sanctioned JROTC championship events. The three events included Raider Challenge, Drill, and Marksmanship. Teams were introduced by Dr. Kathy D’Antoni, Chief Career & Technical Education Officer at the West Virginia Department of Education.

“We are always honored to recognize students who go above and beyond, and these JROTC students exemplify exactly what that means. The level of commitment that it takes to participate in these programs, and to win these challenges, is admirable,” said Board President Mike Green. “The board thanks these students for their service and congratulates them on advancing to the national level.”

The Raider Challenge Chief’s Cup was awarded to Riverside High School in Kanawha County. Raider Challenge is a team event, which places cadets in physically demanding situations, which requires them to work as a team to successfully triumph as the champion. These events include distance running, obstacle courses, personal fitness and strength tests, rescue and first aid situations, as well as having to construct and navigate a rope bridge.

The Drill Chief’s Cup was captured by Spring Valley High School in Wayne County. Drill is a marching unit that performs routines based on military drill. These teams spend countless hours perfecting their proficiency and execution in preparation for competition events.

The Marksmanship Chief’s Cup was won by Wayne High School in Wayne County. Marksmanship is a team event modeled after Olympic-style shooting and allows the use of specialized target rifles and equipment. JROTC Marksmanship tests the cadets’ visual acuity, coordination, and control of normal bodily functions such as breathing, relaxation and sight. A cadet must pass an extensive safety course on the proper handling of firearms, the components and function of firearms and be able to demonstrate range safety rules.

“Previously, these talented students have had to go to other states in order to compete at this level, so we’re so excited to finally be able to give them the opportunity to compete here in West Virginia,” D’Antoni said. “Now, they get to represent West Virginia at the national level. We couldn’t be more proud.”

Report Ties State Aid to Improved Graduation Rates

The Free Press WV

Report:

“Examining the Role of the State: Need-Based Grants and Their Effect on Student Persistence and Degree Completion”


Author:

Ray Franke, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Massachusetts at Boston


Summary:

Although other researchers have looked at how students benefit educationally from federal or institutional aid based on need, few researchers have specifically examined how need-based state aid helps its recipients’ prospects for college completion.

Mr. Franke based his study on data from the American Institutes for Research’s Delta Cost Project and the Education Department’s Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study. He examined access to need-based aid, as well as college persistence and graduation rates, in all 50 states, focusing on how the completion rates of four-year-college students in the 34 states that allocate aid mostly in the form of need-based grants compare to completion rates elsewhere. His analysis sought to mathematically control for differences between students and between colleges.

Mr. Franke’s analysis found a strong connection between need-based state aid and persistence for low-income students. For every $1,000 in such aid that they received, they were 4.6 percent more likely to persist beyond their freshman year, and 7.7 percent more likely to graduate within six years. He presented his findings on Sunday at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, but his paper is not available online.


Bottom Line:

State spending on need-based aid helps ensure that low-income students who enter four-year colleges actually emerge with a degree.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   West Virginia Dem governor hopefuls clash in 1st debate

CHARLESTON, WV — On the debate stage together for the first — and likely only — time before the May 10 primary, three Democrats running for West Virginia governor showed wrinkles in a party that’s combatting its state’s recent sharp turn to the political right.

Billionaire businessman Jim Justice, who has passed on previous forums, spoke almost solely in broad strokes Saturday, but beckoned voters to trust his judgment as a job creator.

The coal magnate said he won’t give up on the state’s iconic fossil fuel industry, and wouldn’t talk about whether he believes in mankind’s contribution to climate change, particularly through burning coal for power.

To Justice’s left on stage, and politically, West Virginia Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler called himself a Democrat “by conviction, not convenience.“ He called for a tobacco tax increase to help refuel a cash-strapped state experiencing a budget crisis due to the downfall of the coal industry and low natural gas prices. He said coal will never be dominant again, and said he doesn’t deny man’s impact on global warming.

Former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin often staked his position as a moderate Democrat, calling for a retraining of unemployed coal miners and a push to put them to work on infrastructure projects. He said he’s not qualified to speak against the reams of scientific research on global warming.

“We can put (miners) to work immediately rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our public buildings in our community as a whole,“ Goodwin said.

The state Democratic Party’s debate Saturday highlights a critical political crossroads for the conservative state, where an invigorated Republican Party has cleared the field for Senate President Bill Cole. Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is hitting his two-consecutive term limit.

By tying Democrats to President Barack Obama, a deeply unpopular figure in the state, the GOP overturned more than eight decades of Democratic rule in the Legislature after the 2014 election. Aside from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, Republicans fill every West Virginia seat in Congress.

Justice used folksy colloquialisms — he compared the pain facing West Virginians to his pain from a recent big toe surgery — to highlight his business record, including buying and reviving The Greenbrier resort. He touted the PGA Tour golf event and NFL training camp for the New Orleans Saints at the resort, and predicted that one of his golf courses may host a U.S. Open.

“I promise you this, if I’m your governor, I’ll take you on a rocket jobs ride you’ll never believe,“ Justice said. “Buckle up, here we go.“

Goodwin criticized Justice for pursuing millions of dollars in tax credits for projects at The Greenbrier, and accepting millions more in state sponsorships for the resort’s PGA Tour event. Justice tried to bat away the attack.

“I’ve spent $300 million in trying to save the jewel of the Nile of our state at The Greenbrier, and I’m daggum proud of it,“ Justice said.

Kessler focused on his extensive state legislative experience and his views that taxes need to be raised to support infrastructure, offer free or reduced community college and address other needs.

“I don’t believe that we can cut our way to prosperity. I intend to invest in people and invest in infrastructure, and that’s how we will move our state forward,“ Kessler said.

Goodwin said a full review of state government is necessary before raising taxes. Justice said the focus should be on bringing in new jobs instead of hiking taxes.

Justice, a coal and agriculture magnate, also responded to criticisms about how his companies haven’t paid some taxes, bills and mine safety fines. He said his companies haven’t taken the easy way out by declaring bankruptcy, and he promised to fulfill all of his obligations.


►   West Virginia hospitals sued over advertising agreement

CHARLESTON, WV — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Charleston Area Medical Center and St. Mary’s Hospital, claiming the hospitals split their marketing territories and kept area residents from getting information about competing health care services.

The antitrust lawsuit alleges that, for years, the medical center agreed not to advertise on billboards or in print in Cabell County, while St. Mary’s, in Huntington, didn’t advertise in Kanawha County. Federal prosecutors say that disrupted competition and deprived patients of health care information.

Charleston Area Medical Center spokesman Dale Witte says the hospital has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice to settle the matter and avoid expensive litigation.

He says the hospital doesn’t agree with the allegations.


►   In new book, coal miners tell stories in their own words

BECKLEY, WV — For decades, coal communities bustling with miners and their families filled the landscape of southern West Virginia.

As the years have gone by, the industry has changed — machines replaced men, strikes, layoffs, closures, environmental and safety concerns hit hard — and today many of those communities exist in name only.

But the feelings and emotions, the details of living day-to-day as a miner, wife or even a widow, have been preserved in “Voices From the Appalachian Coalfields.“

The book, a collaboration between the late Mike Yarrow and his wife Ruth, features free verse transcriptions of many of the interviews the couple conducted from 1977 to 1986.

Ruth said Mike was studying sociology of work at the time and his brother Doug, a photographer, whose mining photos are featured in the book, told him he would find southern West Virginia an interesting place for his studies.

“Doug was living in Beckley and he said this is where people were striking for decent working conditions,“ Ruth recalled.

Mike visited West Virginia many times over the next several years and Ruth said the entire family eventually relocated to Beckley for a year. She participated in much of the project, and would often speak with a wife while Mike interviewed a husband.

Initial interviews, Ruth said, were conducted with people Doug had already formed relationships with. But at the conclusion of each, a new bond and trust was formed and additional sources were found through recommendation.

“That was quite amazing,“ she recalled. “It was by word-of-mouth. They would say somebody up the next hollow had some good stories to tell and you ought to go talk to them.“

No real interview plan was set going in for each sit-down. Ruth said that was never required. Instead of questions, she and Mike went in with open minds and alert ears.

“I think what we learned was that we didn’t really need to ask a lot,“ she said. “We’d ask, ‘what you do every day? What are you concerned about? What do you enjoy?‘ We learned to listen because people don’t really need questions. They know about their lives.

“If you listen, they’ll tell you very important things.“

Like Tim, a miner whose interview is titled “Laid-Off.“

My father was a miner. Going underground and digging coal had real meaning, continuance of life, one generation to the next.

Going underground and digging coal had real meaning,

continuance of life, one generation to the next.

Tim goes on to explain how he enjoyed learning his family “skill,“ thriving on the danger and intimacy of depending on his co-workers. He worked long hours — often six days a week — and made a good living. Until his mine was shut down.

I’ve been to 7-11 stores, I’ve been to every hotel, everything conceivable I’ve applied for. I ended up mowing grass. When you don’t have nothing, $10 is a lot of money.

everything conceivable I’ve applied for.

I ended up mowing grass.

When you don’t have nothing, $10 is a lot of money.

And in “An Eye on Each Other,“ Eliza, a miner’s wife, talks about the significance of the tight-knit coal community, but makes special mention of the difficult financial times many families faced.

We still have the tight families.

But there’s so many people that’s out of work in this area.

All the churches in this community

They have what they call the food pantry.

And the people that have, donate food and money.

When all was said and done, the Yarrows conducted 225 interviews. Ruth said Mike began transcribing and fitting them into free-verse several years ago in hopes of publishing a book.

The free verse method, she said, is a way of “distilling” the information people had shared with them.

“One of the poems in the book is 3 ½ pages long, but I had 75 pages of transcripts from that interview,“ she said. “I picked out the part that seemed the most compelling and showed the most emotion. The really deep parts.“

When Mike passed away in 2014, Ruth said she decided to see the project through to completion.

She said she believes the book is not only important because it brings the project to a close, but also because it preserves a piece of history.

“People gave a lot to bring us that fossil fuel for all of those years,“ she said. “But what’s most impressive to me is the courage and the humor and the dignity that they had as they did that work.“

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   California Teacher Unions Score Huge Victory

California teacher unions have regained the advantage in their fight to keep the state’s tenure system, the AP reports. The victory came in the form of an appeals court decision that reversed a trial judge’s ruling that found tenure deprived some students of a good education. In the reversal Thursday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal said a group of nine students who sued the state had failed to show California’s hiring and firing rules were unconstitutional. “The court’s job is merely to determine whether the statutes are constitutional, not if they are ‘a good idea,‘“ presiding Justice Roger Boren wrote in the 3-0 opinion.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge who found evidence to “shock the conscience” had sided with students two years ago who claimed that incompetent teachers were almost impossible to fire because of tenure laws and that schools in poor neighborhoods were dumping grounds for bad teachers. The ruling was stayed pending appeal, so it never went into effect. Attorney Michael Rubin, who defended teachers’ unions in the case, says the court’s decision is “huge.“ “It puts to rest—we believe forever—the constitutional attacks on job security for teachers,“ he tells the AP. A lawyer for the plaintiffs says they’re disappointed by the “temporary setback” and expect to appeal to the California Supreme Court.


►   Manson Follower May Go Free

A California panel recommended parole Thursday for former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten more than four decades after she and other cult members went to prison for the notorious killings of a wealthy grocer and his wife, reports AP. The now-66-year-old Van Houten was “numb” after the panel announced its decision following a five-hour hearing at the California Institution for Women in Chino, said her attorney Rich Pfeiffer. “She’s been ready for this for a long time,“ Pfeiffer said outside the prison, adding that those who signed an online petition opposed to her release don’t know the woman she is today. The decision will now undergo administrative review by the board. If upheld, it goes to Governor Jerry Brown, who has final say on whether Van Houten is released.

Van Houten, a one-time homecoming princess, participated in the killings of Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary a day after other so-called “Manson family” members murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in 1969. The killings were the start of what Manson believed was a coming race war that he dubbed “Helter Skelter” after a Beatles song. Van Houten said the group planned to retreat to the desert and hide in a hole. Van Houten was the youngest Manson follower to take part in the killings after she descended into a life of drugs and joined Manson’s cult in the 1960s. Since then, she has completed college degrees and been commended for her behavior as a model prisoner. “Your behavior in prison speaks for itself. Forty-six years and not a single serious rule violation,“ Commissioner Ali Zarrinnam told Van Houten Thursday.


►   These Are America’s 10 Favorite Grocery Stores

A new survey of 10,000 people conducted by Market Force has determined America’s favorite grocery stores. Wegmans took the top spot—which had been dominated by Trader Joe’s in recent years—after not even making the list in 2015. Market Force says the results are proof that the New York-based chain’s focus on training employees to improve the customer experience is paying off. Here are the top 10 favorite grocery stores in America:

  1. Wegmans
  2. Publix Super Markets
  3. Trader Joe’s Market
  4. Hy-Vee Food Stores
  5. ALDI
  6. Costco
  7. H-E-B
  8. Kroger
  9. WiCo Foods
  10. ShopRite

Read the full survey—which breaks grocery stores down by checkout speed, cashier courtesy, item availability, and more—  HERE .


►   Mayor: We’ll Vote on Making DC a State

Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser announced plans for a citywide vote in November to make DC the country’s 51st state, the Washington Post reports. “We will not stop until we achieve full statehood,” USA Today quotes Bowser as saying Friday. The mayor argues that DC residents’ “rights are stolen” because of the zip code where they live. DC has no representation in Congress, yet Congress has final control over the city’s budget and recently overruled the city on gun control and marijuana legalization. A poll in November found that nearly 75% of DC residents are “very upset” about having no voice in the national government. Bowser points out they have no vote over how their taxes are spent, who should sit on the Supreme Court, and more.

Muriel wants to follow the same process Tennessee used to move from a federal territory to the country’s 16th state. Under that process, DC residents would approve a state constitution, among other things, and Congress would vote on it. However, DCist reports it’s unlikely a Republican-led Congress would approve statehood for DC. “Some in Congress say … the reason why DC residents can’t have full access to the franchise is because of too many Democrats,” the Post quotes Bowser as saying. “Do you think access to democracy is a Democratic or Republican issue? No, it’s an American issue.” DC residents previously voted for statehood in 1982, but they were ignored by Congress. Congress’ control of DC comes directly from the US Constitution.


►   Judge Tosses Inmate’s Suit on ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ Faith

A judge has dismissed a Nebraska inmate’s lawsuit that claimed he was denied his right to worship the divine Flying Spaghetti Monster, and that he was mocked and faced discrimination for his faith, reports the AP. Stephen Cavanaugh sued the Department of Correctional Services and penitentiary officials in 2014 seeking $5 million and a court order mandating that inmates who practice FSMism receive the same rights and privileges as inmates who practice other religions. US District Judge John Gerrard dismissed the lawsuit this week. He said in his ruling that “FSMism” is not a religion as outlined by federal law, but “a parody intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education.“

Gerrard said those issues are important and that FSMism contains a serious argument, “but that does not mean that the trappings of the satire used to make that argument are entitled to protection as a ‘religion,‘“ reports the Lincoln Journal Star. He also said Cavanaugh, 24, didn’t sufficiently back up claims that he had been prevented from exercising his religion while serving time in the Nebraska State Penitentiary on assault and weapons charges. Cavanaugh claimed prison staff discriminated against him by refusing to allow him to meet for worship services and classes, to wear religious clothing and pendants, and to receive communion. Gerrard determined that prison staff “concluded, reasonably, that FSMism was satirical and required no accommodation.“


►   Teen Was Handed an E-Cig. Then a Boom, and Blindness

A New York teenager has learned an anti-vaping lesson in the most painful of ways: An e-cigarette exploded in his face. Leor Domatov, 14, took a bus to the Kings Plaza mall in Brooklyn with friends last week and stopped at a vaping kiosk near the mall’s entrance, where a clerk allowed the minor to handle products, reports the New York Daily News. But when the Plaza Vapes kiosk clerk connected the wrong battery to a vaporizer cartridge, it exploded—partially blinding the young teen as it pierced his corneas in both eyes and burned his hands, leaving a “large gash” in one of them, as the Daily News puts it.

The eighth-grader tells the paper that he can’t see out of his left eye and has a “little bit” of vision in his right. “The duty falls on Kings Plaza and the kiosk owner to make sure there are signs in place to warn the children,“ the family’s attorney tells Pix11. It’s illegal in New York state for kids under 18 to buy e-cigarettes; New York City is even stricter, with the ban extending to anyone under 21.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Lucky Couple Finds Precious Lump of Smelly Whale Vomit

Good fortune has never smelled so bad. The Mirror reports Gary and Angela Williams found a lump of “floating gold"—more accurately described as whale vomit—Sunday while walking on a British beach. It wasn’t too hard to find the ambergris, which is both rare and valuable; they just followed their noses. “It’s a very distinctive smell, like a cross between squid and farmyard manure,“ Gary says. Ambergris is used in perfume-making to make scents last longer, according to the Guardian.

Gary and Angela had heard about ambergris in a newspaper, so they took the 3.5-pound lump home. It could get them more than $70,000, which the couple would use to purchase a mobile home. They’re currently talking with potential buyers in France and New Zealand. Ambergris, which feels like a hard ball of sticky wax after hardening on a beach, is made in the intestines of whales, possibly to protect them from any hazardous objects they accidentally eat.


►   Oldest Gitmo Prisoner Loses Bid for Freedom

Guantanamo’s oldest prisoner won’t soon return to Pakistan or the US as he had hoped: The Guantanamo parole board has ruled that 68-year-old Saifullah Paracha will remain in custody as “a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.“ The Pakistani businessman has been in custody since 2003 over claims that he worked with alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed to facilitate financial transactions and develop propaganda for al-Qaeda, reports the Miami Herald. Paracha—who lived in the US from 1970 to 1986—was also allegedly in contact with Osama bin Laden and researched chemical and nuclear materials for the terrorist group, though he was never charged with a crime.

During a hearing on March 8, Paracha—whose son was convicted of trying to help an al-Qaeda operative reach the US—said he “never worked with anybody to harm anyone,“ was “duped” into handling certain finances, and only tried to secure an interview with bin Laden while chairman of a TV broadcasting studio in Karachi. The board says his “refusal to take responsibility for his involvement with al-Qaeda” and “refusal to distinguish between legitimate and nefarious business contacts” made their decision clear, though Paracha’s lawyer says he “cannot show ‘remorse’ for things he maintains he never did.“ The prisoner will respond to the board’s concerns in a review in October, his lawyer adds, per the AP.


►   Jamaica Wants to Legalize Pot, Ditch the Queen

Jamaican lawmakers have apparently had a lot on their minds lately, as per the government’s just-released 2016-2017 legislative agenda, with proposals including amending the country’s constitution to dump Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state and make Jamaica a republic, scheduling fixed election dates, ensuring term limits for the PM, revamping the tax and pension setup—and (in what may be of most interest to those stateside) making marijuana legal for “specified purposes,“ Bloomberg reports. Whew! These measures and others, announced in a speech to Parliament by Governor-General Patrick Allen on the government website, would need to get Parliament’s OK before becoming the law of the land.

As the Jamaica Observer explains, making the nation a republic would involve putting in place a non-executive president, who would be more of a figurehead and wouldn’t play a policymaking role. But “he or she could use discretionary powers for extraordinary political intervention, based on the Constitution.“ As for the pot proposal, no word on what exactly those “specified purposes” would entail.


►   Brazil Starts ‘Kafka-esque’ Impeachment Debate

The lower chamber of Brazil’s Congress has begun debate on whether to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, with the crucial vote slated for Sunday, the AP reports. The government had carried out an unsuccessful bid before the country’s Supreme Court to try to halt the process, but that appeal was lost, Reuters notes. The atmosphere in the lower Chamber of Deputies was electric at the start of Friday’s session, with some congressmen chanting “Dilma Out!“ before proceedings began. Lawmakers backing impeachment allege Rousseff’s administration violated fiscal rules. They say the government used sleight-of-hand accounting in a bid to shore up public support.

However, many of those pushing for impeachment face grave accusations of corruption themselves. Rousseff’s defenders insist she did nothing illegal and say similar accounting techniques were used by previous presidents. The country’s attorney general called the whole procedure “Kafka-esque” and said it meant Rousseff wouldn’t be able to fully defend herself, Al Jazeera reports. If 342 of the lower house’s 513 legislators vote in favor of impeachment, the process moves to the Senate, which would decide whether to open a trial. If the Senate moves to impeach Rousseff, she would be swapped out with Brazil’s vice president, Michel Temer, as soon as May since she would be suspended from office for up to 180 days during the trial.

Hunters Need Their Lifetime DNR ID Numbers Before Spring Gobbler Season Begins April 18, 2016

The Free Press WV

SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV – The 2016 West Virginia spring turkey season begins Monday, April 18, and runs through Saturday, May 14. Hunters who didn’t get their DNR ID number during last year’s hunting seasons will need to obtain their number before they head into the woods.

A youth spring gobbler season will be held Saturday, April 16, for hunters ages 8 through 17. Youth hunters must have their own DNR ID number to check in game.

“A hunter’s DNR ID number is good for their lifetime, so those who got it last year will use that same number to check in their gobbler,“ said Scott Warner, assistant DNR Wildlife Resources Section chief. “Using their DNR ID number, hunters may check their game by calling 1.844.wvcheck, by going online at wvhunt.com, or by going to a license agent.“

Annual license buyers will find their DNR ID# in the upper left corner of their licenses. Hunters not required to purchase a license, such as resident landowners and youth under the age of 15, may obtain their DNR ID number by visiting wvhunt.com or a license agent.

Lifetime license holders have already been assigned a number. They can visit wvhunt.com and log on with their Social Security number and date of birth to verify their information and retrieve their number. If they are unable to log on, they should call the DNR headquarters at 304.558.2758 for assistance.

If a hunter who already has a DNR ID number tries to create a new account on the electronic licensing system, it will give them a second DNR ID number, which will cause problems when they try to check in their game.

Attorney General Morrisey Urges Caution During Last-Minute Tax Filing

The Free Press WV

CHARLESTON, WV — With only a few days left until the April 18 tax filing deadline, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds last-minute filers to take their time filling out personal information.

“It’s easy to feel rushed when you have a limited amount of time,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “However, make sure you take enough time to fill out everything correctly and send your information to the right place.”

Getting things right in the beginning means no delay in a potential tax refund or confusion caused by submitting incorrect information.

Attorney General Morrisey advises consumers to follow some simple steps to avoid making a last-minute mistake:

  • File electronically. It’s time efficient, safer and ensures a faster tax refund.
  • Double check your information.
  • If you decide to mail your tax return, double check the mailing address at IRS.gov.
  • Make sure to validate the legitimacy of any tax preparer or tax filing service you use.
  • Shred any discarded documents that contains personal information. Doing so makes it harder for thieves to steal information.
  • Be aware of scammers who claim to be IRS representatives as they request personal information. Scammers often make these requests with threat of arrest or lawsuit, but consumers should not comply.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of a tax-related scam or identity theft, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1.800.368.8808. Find more information at www.irs.gov/identitytheft or www.ftc.gov/identitytheft.

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