Stonewall Jackson WMA Shooting Range Closed Two Weeks Beginning July 17, 2017

The Free Press WV

The Stonewall Jackson Wildlife Management Area shooting range will be closed for about two weeks for repair and improvements beginning July 17.

“We’ll be installing new barrier posts and signs and will make improvements to backstops,” said Keith Krantz of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section. “We’ll also add stone to the parking lot and the perimeter of the shooting pavilion.”

For additional information, please contact the DNR French Creek office at 304.924.6211 or the Stonewall Jackson WMA office at 304.452.9957.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

The Gilmer Free Press

The GCEDA monthly meeting is on Thursday, July 13, 2017

The meeting will be at the Glenville Inn at 12:00 Noon

Hope to see you there


Donald Trump’s eldest son reveals that he was eager to hear damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government, disclosing a series of emails that marked the clearest sign to date that Trump’s campaign was willing to consider election help from a longtime U.S. adversary.


Donald Trump Jr.‘s emails show the type of coordination with Russia that his father has long denied.


Their choices: pass a bill that alienates two-thirds of Americans, or fail to do so and risk angering the third that constitutes their base.


The company filed documents with the U.S. government adding 2.7 million vehicles to the recall.


Timber and brush parched from a years-long dry spell and thick grass that grew after drought-busting winter downpours are making for early and unpredictable wildfire behavior that California officials haven’t seen for years, if at all.


Police used cadaver dogs, a backhoe and other construction equipment to help search a sprawling farm for four missing men believed to be victims of foul play


Kermit the Frog leaves his fans speechless with news that he is getting a new voice.


The idea that the aviator lived after a crash-landing in the Pacific Ocean during her historic attempted round-the-world flight in 1937 is undermined by a Japanese military history.


Yankee rookie sensation Aaron Judge plays in his first All-Star Game, as the sport looks a new generation of stars to help it remain relevant.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor have thrown their first verbal jabs. The undefeated boxer and the Irish UFC champion kicked off the four-city promotional tour for their August 26 bout in Las Vegas.

Google has ramped up its legal firepower as it prepares to do battle with EU antitrust regulators

Google is drawing on the expertise of at least five top law firms in Brussels to help it deal with its EU regulatory troubles, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Facebook is once again cutting the price of its high-end Oculus Rift virtual reality headset

The price cut comes amidst heated competition from HTC, Sony, and others.

Apple is planning to build another data center in Denmark as courts hold up its Irish server farm

The second Apple data center in Denmark will reportedly cost the company $920 million.

Elon Musk showed up to a beach party with Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom wearing a suit

A party attendee said Musk was in a “whole different headspace” than Bloom and DiCaprio — who were dressed in T-shirts and baseball caps — but said he seemed “in the crew.“

Ethereum came under pressure on Monday

The cryptocurrency was down 9.9%, at $215 an ether, and is trading at its lowest level in more than a month.

Samsung Galaxy S8 owners keep getting forced into having a button dedicated to Samsung’s Bixby assistant

The assistant isn’t yet finished.

Elon Musk has bought back the website name from his second-ever company, which he left in 2002

The website is

Shares in Snap have fallen to their IPO price of $17 again

Snap debuted at $17 and first began trading at $24. It reached its all-time high of $27.09 on March 03, one day after its IPO. It’s now down 37% from there.

Apple is reportedly going to introduce a “mirror-like” finish for the iPhone 8

It would not be a first for smartphones, however, and not even for Apple itself.

Speculation is mounting that Apple’s next iPhone could cost $1,200 or more

The latest round of iPhone price speculation was spurred by the writer and podcaster John Gruber.


Discussion centers around loss of program funding due to minor clerical errors in applications

The Free Press WV

Governor Jim Justice spoke with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Tuesday about the loss of federal funding for scholarship programs at West Virginia University and West Virginia State University that serve low-income students in undergraduate and graduate programs at those two institutions.

Both WVU and WVSU had minor clerical errors in their applications and were denied federal dollars they both have received for several years. WVU’s oversight totaled $2 and now puts at risk more than $200,000 for its McNair Scholars program. WVSU made a $104 mistake that will cost it funding in excess of $500,000 for its Upward Bound program. Officials at both institutions have said that if the decisions stand both programs will be eliminated.

“Obviously these programs at WVU and WVSU have been successful and productive for many years and to see small mistakes on an application jeopardize these programs for our neediest students is disheartening,“ said Governor Justice. “I urged Secretary DeVos to try and work this out and I am certain she understands what is at stake here for our West Virginia students.“

“Since the State Legislature whacked our higher education institutions with significant budget cuts this just compounds the problem,“ Governor Justice said. “This irresponsibility by our State Legislators could lead to more unnecessary pain.“

“We want to make sure we do everything possible to keep these programs up and running smoothly,“ Governor Justice added. “They are far too important to be eliminated, especially due to a small, unintentional human error.“

At WVU, the McNair Scholars program has been in existence for 18 years and annually pairs 25 low-income and first generation college students, with a professor in their field of study, to assist them in pursuing graduate school and/or a doctoral degree.

WVSU has operated the Upward Bound program for more than 50 years. It assists low-income and first generation students in secondary schools by allowing them to take classes earning free college credits and establishing a pathway to attend college upon graduation from high school.


The Free Press WV

  • Secret Directive of the Day:    Federal immigration officers have been told to “take action” against any undocumented immigrant they run across, whether that person has a criminal history or not. That’s not the public policy Trump officials have been disseminating.    ProPublica

  • This Video of Police Dumping a Woman with MS from Her Wheelchair Is Disgusting    The Police Department’s reaction to it is even worse.  ESQUIRE

  • Former Ohio official who accidentally released Social Security numbers is on Trump’s voter fraud panel:  “Blackwell had served as mayor of Cincinnati and state treasurer before becoming Ohio’s top elections official… in March of that year, his office caused a stir: The full Social Security numbers of 1.2 million Ohio voters were posted accidentally on the secretary of state’s website. A month later, in a separate incident, Blackwell’s office inadvertently distributed voter lists with the Social Security numbers of 5.7 million voters. The numbers, by law, are supposed to remain private… Blackwell, 69, has been tapped to serve on the Trump administration’s bipartisan voter fraud commission, an endeavor election officials nationwide have called a waste of time.”    LA Times

  • Senate GOP leaders hope for health care vote next week:  “Republican leaders are hoping to stage a climactic vote on their health care bill next week, though internal rifts over divisive issues like coverage requirements and Medicaid cuts leave the timing and even the measure’s fate in question. ‘We need to start voting’ on the GOP bill scuttling much of President Barack Obama’s health care law, No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas told reporters Monday. Some Republicans said a revised version of the bill could be introduced Thursday, and Cornyn said the ‘goal’ was for a vote next week.”    ABC


  • Pope Francis: No Gluten-Free Communion Wafers:  Wheat be with you. In a move that might upset those suffering from celiac disease among the Roman Catholic Church’s 1.27 billion followers, the Vatican has declared that wafers used to celebrate the Holy Communion during Mass cannot be gluten-free. According to Catholic doctrine, the bread must be unleavened and all-wheat, and the exclusion of gluten, bishops believe, alters the natural state of bread too much. “Low-gluten” wafers are fair game, though - as is bread made from genetically-modified organisms.    Huffington Post

  • Kermit the Frog Performer Steve Whitmire Leaves Muppets:  Nobody croaked. But it’s still unclear why Whitmire, who’s been with the Muppets since 1978, is being replaced. He was handpicked to be the man behind the puppet after the death of Jim Henson, Kermit’s creator and original voice, in 1990. Matt Vogel, who performed Kermit-impersonator Constantine in 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted, will take over as the beloved frog. So far neither Whitmire, Muppets Studio nor Kermit himself have commented on the reason for the change. Vogel’s first appearance as Kermit will be in an online video next week.    Deadline

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  WV Wine Distributors Allege Unfair Competition

Six wine distributors in West Virginia have sued Minnesota-based Johnson Brothers Liquor Co. and the state operation it acquired last year, alleging they have tried to monopolize the state’s wine distribution market.

The suit filed in state court claims Mountain State Beverage acquired more than half of the market over the past six years using anti-competitive practices, including operating at a loss to drive competitors out and paying fees to induce suppliers to cut off competitors.

The smaller distributors allege Johnson Brothers took majority control last year and pressed its remaining competitors to sell their businesses at low prices.

►  July most common time for grilling accidents

Nearly 9,000 accidents related to grilling occur every year, but the vast majority will occur this month.

State Farm Spokesperson Dave Phillips said there are nearly 3,000 claims to State Farm every July over grilling related fires. Most, he said, are easily preventable by properly spacing your grill from potential hazards.

“Start with that three foot safety barrier,” Phillips said. “That’s your first thing. Take a look at the surrounding area. Make sure that your equipment has been properly checked beforehand.”

The three foot barrier means an open space with no cover, away from the home, and out of the reach of children or pets.

“You want to think in terms of small children because over one-third, 37 percent, of all the grill fire burns unfortunately occur to the young folks,” Phillips said.

Phillips also said a lot of people will follow safety guidelines right up until they finish cooking, but that the danger doesn’t stop when the final morsels are removed from the grill.

“That grill is still hot well after the last burger is cooked,” he said.

Additionally, understanding the safety differences between gas and charcoal grills is important. With gas grills, Phillips said it’s vital to make sure the hose isn’t leaking before the start of each grilling season.

“That gas grill just has that much more of an explosive element and an ignition source that can flare up and explode much more quickly than sometimes when you start to see a charcoal fire ignite on a grill,” he said.

Phillips recommends applying a light soap and water solution to the hose before you use the grill. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.

But if the leak doesn’t stop, Phillips said you need to get yourself out of danger and call the fire department immediately.

►  FEMA awards $1.4 million to complete Clay County football facility repair

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito on Monday announced an addition of $1,464,104 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which will go to complete repair of Clay County High School’s football facilities from the 2016 flood.

Clay County school officials noticed major problems with the football field after the 2016 season as underground drains had unknowingly backed up during the flood as the field began to collapse a few months later.

“The river back-washed into the drains and at the time we didn’t realize the severity of it,” said Clay County coach Jason Nichols. “Then the drains started collapsing all around the field, causing sinkholes and washing away parts of the field.”

The Panthers are scheduled to open up the 2017 season away from home against Gilmer County on August 25.

►  FCC chair witnesses West Virginia’s ‘digital divide’

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said he got a firsthand look at what he calls the “digital divide” when he visited West Virginia Monday.

Ajit Pai was the guest of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito. They visited Wardensville in Hardy County where internet connectivity has allowed for new businesses in spring up. They then traveled to neighboring Hampshire County where getting high-speed internet is more of a challenge.

“In just two counties we’re seeing a phenomenon that I’ve called ‘the digital divide.’ There is a big gap between the communities that have internet access and those that don’t,” Pai told MetroNews.

Pai and Capito visited the Lost River Trading Post and Wardensville Market and along with Hardy County-based ASC Partners where there are 25 high-tech jobs. Capito credits Hardy Telecommunications and local leaders for opening up Wardensville and other places as an alternative.

“From (Washington) D.C., contractors, telecommuters are over here–they want to flee that hectic life of D.C.,” Capito said. “But without that connectivity they really can’t keep working, keep their businesses going and create new businesses.”

The FCC is promoting federal subsidy programs and regulations to encourage companies to invest in broadband expansion, Pai said.

“If you build broadband in some of these communities, I’m convinced that entrepreneurship, economic group and a sense of optimism will come and that’s what we see here in Wardensville,” he said.

Capito introduced the Gigabit Opportunity Act or GO Act earlier this year. It calls for the streamlining of broadband laws, encourages investment in rural communities and defers taxes to promote that investment.

A new state law in West Virginia, House Bill 3093, Establishing Broadband Enhancement and Expansion Policies, will allow people to form cooperatives for broadband internet services in an effort to have internet access available statewide by 2020.

Capito said she’s starting to sense some momentum on an issue of vital importance to the state’s future.

“I think if we could just all pull in the same direction because we know how important broadband development is to the next generation, to this generation,” Capito said.

Pai also visited the state last year.

►  Nicholas County authorities investigating ‘suspicious death’

The Nicholas County Sheriff’s Department said it’s treating the Tuesday death of a teenager as suspicious.

The 14-year-old girl was found unresponsive at a residence in the Lockwood community at around 1:30 p.m. She was pronounced dead at Summersville Regional Medical Center.

The body was sent to the state Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, a news release from the sheriff’s department said.

►  West Virginia University board drafts new employee policies

The West Virginia University Board of Governors has begun establishing new employee policies under increased autonomy granted by the state Legislature.

Revisions will be posted for public comment for 30 days later this month.

According to the board, they would establish principles for classification, compensation and performance management.

They would require written performance evaluations and set detailed procedures should the university need to go through staff reductions.

The board last week approved a $1.07 billion budget for the new fiscal year with an average 5 percent tuition increase.

Its budget reflects an $8.7 million or 6.6 percent cut in state support from the West Virginia Legislature.

WVU President Gordon Gee has said the increased autonomy from the West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission saves the school about $2.8 million.

►  National Service Agency Awards $5.3 Million in Senior Corps Grants to 50 New Communities

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today announced more than $5.3 million in Senior Corps RSVP funding to support senior volunteer service in 50 new communities across the country. These grants awarded to nonprofits and community agencies will expand RSVP’s presence in areas previously unserved by Senior Corps RSVP programs.

The RSVP projects announced today will leverage the experience and skills of more than 7,700 Seniors Corps RSVP volunteers who will serve in schools, veteran’s organizations, and disaster service initiatives. Grantees will address a variety of local issues and provide support services for disaster response, early childhood education, veterans and military families, homebound adults and caregivers, substance abuse prevention, and more.

A complete list of grants is available HERE .

Established in 1971, RSVP engages Americans age 55 and older in citizen service.  While serving, RSVP volunteers also improve their own lives, staying active and healthy through service. In 2016, more than 208,000 Senior Corps RSVP volunteers served in their communities. Through community and faith-based organizations, RSVP volunteers served more than 300,000 veterans, mentored more than 78,000 children, and provided independent living services to more than 797,000 older adults.

Senior Corps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement. CNCS engages millions of Americans in service each year through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs and leads volunteer and civic engagement initiatives for the nation. For more information, visit

►  Long-awaited West Virginia Park Officially Opens

Crowds gathered to watch the grand opening of a long-awaited West Virginia park.

News outlets report about 100 celebrants gathered Friday to watch the opening of the John Henry Historical Park in Talcott. The park will feature a John Henry statue, an interactive educational kiosk and a picnic shelter.

Rick Moorefield, WVU-Tech Extension Agent and project coordinator, says the idea for the park took form in 1968 as a vision of the Hilldale-Talcott Ruritan Club, whose members wanted to bring economic development to the area.

It wasn’t until 2014 that the Summers County Commission acquired 21 acres for the development of the park, which was earmarked as a $2.4 million project.

The John Henry Historical Park Steering Committee also raised more than $500,000 through grants and community donations.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►  Michigan imposes prison term for female genital mutilation

Doctors, parents and others involved in female genital mutilation in Michigan will face up to 15 years in prison under new laws signed Tuesday that were sparked by an ongoing criminal case involving six young girls.

The legislation stemmed from a federal case against six people connected to an India-based Muslim sect called Dawoodi Bohra who are accused of being involved in the genital mutilation of two girls from Minnesota and four from Michigan. The procedures were allegedly carried out by a doctor at a clinic in suburban Detroit.

“Those who commit these horrendous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and these bills stiffen the penalties for offenders while providing additional support to victims,” Governor Rick Snyder said in a statement. “This legislation is an important step toward eliminating this despicable practice in Michigan while empowering victims to find healing and justice.”

The practice, also known as female circumcision or cutting, is a federal crime punishable by five years in prison. But the new Michigan laws — which also give prosecutors and victims more time to pursue such cases — create harsher penalties for procedures that have been condemned by the United Nation but are common for girls in some parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Michigan is the 26th state to officially ban the practice in the U.S. The state laws take effect in October.

The new laws apply to parents or others who knowingly facilitate genital mutilation, including by transporting girls to another state for the procedure. Defendants in such cases will not be able to defend themselves in court by saying it is a custom or ritual.

Under the laws, the statute of limitations for criminal charges to be filed will be 10 years or by the alleged victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later. Victims will be able to sue for damages until their 28th birthday, which is longer than the previous two-year window after the discovery of harm.

The state Department of Health and Human Services will develop an educational and outreach program targeting specific populations, including girls who may be at risk. Teachers, physicians and police also will receive information.

Advocates say few states have enacted education requirements or longer statutes of limitations.

“This barbaric procedure has no accepted health benefits and is only performed to exercise control over young women,” said one of the bill sponsors, Republican Senator Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton. “We owe it to our girls to give law enforcement and prosecutors every available tool to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

►  Analysis: GOP confronts no-win situation on health care

Republicans find themselves in a no-win situation as they struggle to pass health care legislation in the Senate: Success could alienate a majority of the population, but failure could anger the crucial group of GOP base voters the party relies on to build election victories.

It’s a version of the dilemma now confronting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he tries to maneuver between opposing poles in the GOP caucus to fashion an “Obamacare” repeal-and-replace bill that will satisfy everyone. After an earlier failure last month, one senior Republican, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said Tuesday on Fox News Channel that he’s “very pessimistic” about success.

Republicans are trying to convince the public that they’re cleaning up a mess Democrats made in passing the law — a point McConnell, R-Ky., makes daily in Senate floor speeches. But even many in the GOP are skeptical the argument will prove convincing, now that they control the House, the Senate and the White House, largely on the strength of campaigning for seven years against Democrat Barack Obama’s law.

Those campaigns were successful, but now Republicans own responsibility for the nation’s sprawling and unsatisfying health care system, and that’s hard to see as a political boon.

“If you fix it, then nobody’s going to be 100 percent happy with what you do. If you don’t fix it, then it’s your fault,” GOP Senator David Perdue of Georgia told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday. “But the problem is, is that we didn’t create it.”

For their part, Democrats are practically salivating at the opportunity to use the health care issue against Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections. The GOP bill, which cuts taxes and mandates but also boots 20 million people off the insurance roles, has registered below 20 percent popularity in some polls.

Although Democrats are pessimistic about their chances of retaking control in the Senate next year, due to a challenging map, they are more hopeful about regaining the majority in the House. Democratic strategists and lawmakers themselves say health care is poised to be one of the top issues in campaigns around the country. Even if the Senate fails to act, Republicans will have to defend their support for a GOP bill that already passed the House that increases costs for the elderly and cuts off Medicaid benefits for the poor and disabled.

“I know that when I go back home, this is issue No. 1,” said Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, part of a group of House Democrats working with their Senate counterparts to develop a new message for the party. “It is an irresponsible argument to say that the Affordable Care Act is crashing and burning, when there is a Republican in the White House and Republicans are leading the House and leading the Senate.”

Yet after countless promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republicans feel that they have a responsibility to their voters to deliver. Grassley warned on Twitter over the weekend that failure to fulfill their key campaign promise could result in losing their majority.

Congressional Republicans are also under intense pressure from Donald Trump to help him fulfill his campaign promises.

“We’re confident that it’s going to pass and that we’re not going to be in a situation of failure,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters this week. “But at the same time, the president recognizes that Republicans have campaigned on repeal and replace since 2010. In all candor, in many ways, he was looking forward to the day he was inaugurated having a bill on his desk to repeal it.”

Some GOP strategists are concerned that the greatest risk to Republican lawmakers in upcoming election cycles would be for Trump to turn against Congress and start complaining about its failures. The fear is that Trump’s core group of supporters — some 25 or 30 percent of voters — would stick with the president and vote out their own GOP lawmakers.

On Tuesday, after pressure from the White House, McConnell announced that the Senate’s traditional five-week August recess would begin two weeks late to allow for progress on health care and nominations, which McConnell accused Democrats of stalling. McConnell’s announcement came a day after Short suggested the president could call Congress back into session to confirm more nominees, and came after a group of junior senators led by Perdue had called on the majority leader to delay recess.

The last time the Senate delayed its August recess, in 1994 to deal with health care legislation, it was an unsuccessful interlude.

To be sure, some Republicans argue there could be a silver lining to their dilemma if they can actually pass a bill that succeeds in lowering premiums for some consumers and stabilizing marketplaces.

But such optimism can be hard to find.

Said Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.: “It’s a tough situation, put it that way.”

►  Despite promise, no decision yet from Trump on steel tariffs

Donald Trump pledged during the campaign to help U.S. factory workers by slapping tariffs on foreign steel. But his long-awaited decision on the issue is running behind schedule and administration officials are leaving plenty of wiggle room on what direction he’ll take.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross initially hoped to finish a report on tariffs last month, but his department has been holding off as the Pentagon weighs in about impact of steel tariffs on national security. The delay is an example of the difficulty Trump faces in delivering on his ambitious policy agenda — on taxes, health insurance and more — as quickly as he told voters he could.

White House officials have hinted that tariffs still are coming. Asked on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend if the president planned to impose sanctions on foreign steel, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus responded: “My guess is that he will because he promised he would.“

There are trade-offs from taxing foreign steel that include higher prices for consumers and manufacturers that rely on steel, as well as strained relationships with trade partners. The possible risks became more apparent last week at the summit of the 20 leading rich and developing nations in Germany. The summit ended with a declaration that governments would develop “concrete policy solutions that reduce steel excess capacity” by November 2017, but the U.S. position was aggressive enough that there were concerns about a potential trade war.

Supporters of the tariffs say the move would help crack down on excess steelmaking by China. Opponents say it would raise prices for consumers and manufacturers that turn steel into cars, furniture and other products.

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, supports higher steel tariffs but notes that the initial timeline set by the administration was “very ambitious.“ He says that tariffs could help domestic steel mills while encouraging other countries to take similar moves against China.

Paul said that some officials and advocacy groups have slowed the process to fine-tune the policy, while others are hoping that a slower pace of discussions will derail the debate. He said he trusts that “at the conclusion of the process, there will be a well thought-out rationale for whatever relief is provided.“

In April, Trump asked the Commerce Department to launch an investigation into whether foreign steel imports posed a threat to national security, on the grounds that the American military relies on steel for airplanes, ships and other equipment. Steel also goes into roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.

The investigation reflects the administration’s determination to use existing trade laws more aggressively to combat what it sees as unfair practices by U.S. trading partners. Restricting steel imports, it reasoned, would help restore U.S. manufacturing jobs and reduce an American trade deficit that came in at $502 billion last year.

The administration’s trade team is heavy with steel industry veterans: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer represented U.S. steelmakers as a Washington trade attorney. As a private investor, Ross, the commerce secretary, bought and turned around several bankrupt steel companies.

But the Pentagon is also providing its own input on the issue while the Commerce Department’s report has yet to be finalized.

To critics, the administration’s national security case against steel imports looks shaky. The American military does not appear critically dependent on steel imports. The U.S. produces 70 percent of the steel it consumes. And just 3 percent of steel shipments go to national defense or homeland security, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Many of the steel industry’s troubles can be traced to low prices resulting from massive overproduction by China, which churns out nearly half the world’s steel. But the United States has already put up big barriers to Chinese steel imports. So any restrictions or tariffs on steel would land elsewhere — on U.S. ally Canada (which supplies 17 percent of U.S. steel imports), Brazil (13 percent) and South Korea (12 percent).

“If we were to impose tariffs and quotas because of the Chinese problems, but we really hit our friends and allies — then how does all this advance our interests?“ says Amanda DeBusk, head of the international trade department at the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed.

Then there are America’s steel-consuming industries, such as automakers and equipment manufacturers. They say they would be hurt if sanctions drove up steel prices. Daniel Pearson, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, says steel mills employ just 140,000 workers — a fraction of the 6.5 million who work for manufacturers that consume steel.

Stuart Speyer, the president of Dickson, Tennessee-based Tennsco Corp., employs 650 workers making cabinets, lockers, bookcases and other storage containers made of steel. He said Tennsco recently lost a 50-year customer who discovered cheaper prices elsewhere and that new tariffs would make things worse.

“In an attempt to protect the U.S. steel industry, many more American jobs will inadvertently be lost,“ Speyer said.

►  FBI: U.S. soldier arrested after pledging loyalty to IS group

An active-duty U.S. soldier has been arrested on terrorism charges that accuse him of pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group and saying he wanted to “kill a bunch of people.”

The FBI took Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang into custody over the weekend in a Honolulu suburb after a yearlong investigation involving multiple undercover officers and confidential informants. The 34-year-old from Hawaii made an initial appearance Monday in federal court.

Kang’s court-appointed defense attorney, Birney Bervar, said it appears his client may suffer from service-related mental health issues of which the government was aware but neglected to treat. Bervar declined to elaborate.

He said Kang was “a decorated veteran of two deployments” to Iraq and Afghanistan.

A 26-page affidavit from FBI agent Jimmy Chen filed in court Monday detailed how Kang thought he was dealing with people working for Islamic State but who were actually undercover agents.

Paul Delacourt, the FBI agent in charge of the Hawaii bureau, told reporters the FBI believed Kang was a lone actor and was not affiliated with anyone who poses a threat.

On Saturday, agents arrested him after he pledged loyalty to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and said he wanted to “take his rifle, his magazines and kill ‘a bunch of people.’”

Kang and the agents together made combat training videos he believed would be taken to the Middle East to help prepare the group’s soldiers to fight American forces, according to the affidavit. Kang had received the highest level of combat training available in the Army and was a mixed martial arts enthusiast.

Also on Saturday, Kang and an undercover agent allegedly went shopping for a drone to give to Islamic State fighters.

Kang said the drone would allow the fighters to view the battlefield from above “to find tank positions and avenues for escape” from U.S. soldiers, the affidavit said. He used his debit card to pay nearly $1,400 for the drone, Go-Pro camera and related equipment. The agent paid him $700 to split the cost.

A trained air traffic controller based at Hawaii’s Wheeler Army Airfield, Kang had his military clearance revoked in 2012 for making pro-Islamic State comments while at work and on-post and threatening to hurt or kill fellow service members.

His clearance was reinstated a year later after he completed military requirements.

However, the affidavit said, the Army believed Kang was becoming radicalized in 2016 and asked the FBI to investigate.

Kang’s father told Honolulu television station KHON and the Star-Advertiser newspaper his son may have had post-traumatic stress disorder. Kang told the newspaper he became concerned after his son’s return from Afghanistan. He said his son was withdrawn.

Kang has two firearms registered in his name, an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun. After the shooting last summer at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, he told a confidential source that the shooter “did what he had to do” and later said that America is the only terrorist organization in the world, according to the affidavit.

The document alleges he also later told the same source that “Hitler was right” and that he believed in the mass killing of Jews.

He told the source he was angry at a civilian who had taken away his air traffic controller’s license and that he wanted to torture him, the affidavit said.

“Kang said that if he ever saw him again, he would tie him down and pour Drano in his eyes,” the affidavit said.

He enlisted in the Army in December 2001, just months after the September 11 attacks. He served in South Korea from 2002 to 2003. He deployed to Iraq from March 2010 to February 2011 and Afghanistan from July 2013 to April 2014.

Kang was scheduled to appear in court Thursday for a detention hearing.

Red tape with the word “evidence” on it covered part of the door to the Kang’s apartment in the Honolulu suburb of Waipahu.

Dee Asuncion, a real estate agent who represented Kang when he bought his home less than a year ago, said he came across as a “very respectful guy.” She said he was “on the shy, quiet side.”

But looking back, she said, there was one conversation that seemed strange to her. He talked about having respect for the ideology of Islamic terrorist groups.

“It sounded like he was just curious,” she said, adding that in the same conversation he talked about helping his dad renovate his home.

“I feel bad for him that he went down that road,” Asuncion said.

►  August Busch IV investigated in office park copter landing

Former Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV is under investigation after appearing “too intoxicated to take off” hours after a helicopter landed in an office park near St. Louis, police said Tuesday.

Swansea, Illinois, police did not name Busch as the pilot, but he is identified in a search warrant application. St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said his office is awaiting toxicology results before deciding whether to file charges.

Busch’s attorney, Maurice Graham, was out of the country Tuesday and did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Busch, 53, was chief executive officer of the St. Louis-based beer maker from 2006 until it was bought out by InBev in 2008. He is the great-great-grandson of Adolphus Busch, the founder of Anheuser-Busch.

Swansea police said in a news release that a helicopter landed near buildings in an office park at 12:48 p.m. Monday. The pilot was gone by the time officers arrived. No injuries were reported.

A caller at 8:14 p.m. Monday told police the pilot had returned “and appeared too intoxicated to take off,” the police news release said. An arriving officer found that the “helicopter rotors were spinning and the engine was revving up.”

When the officer turned on emergency lights of her car the pilot powered down the engine.

The search warrant application said a field sobriety test did not indicate alcohol intoxication. But the document said Busch was unable to follow directions and acted erratically. His wife told officers that he was off of anxiety medication because of recent fertility treatments.

Officers believed that Busch was under the influence of a controlled substance. He was taken to a hospital for further testing.

The application said Busch told officers he had a conceal carry license and had a gun in his pocket, along with the prescription drug Dexamethasone. Police said the prescription was for his wife.

Officers found three other loaded guns while searching the helicopter, along with several other bottles of prescription drugs.

The document said Busch told officers at one point that he was about to have a panic attack, and he began jumping and running while saying he needed more oxygen to “cope with the anxiety attack.”

Busch, who has a commercial pilot’s license, spent the night in custody before being released Tuesday afternoon. The helicopter was still parked at the office complex.

Police Chief Steve Johnson said his office was in communication with the Federal Aviation Administration about the incident.

“This is not your normal case that a street police officer handles. The safety and security of the community, the pilot and passenger were of the utmost concern,” Johnson said in the release.

Busch was in college in 1983 when he was involved in a car crash in Arizona that killed a 22-year-old woman. He was not criminally charged.

In 2010, his girlfriend, Adrienne Martin, 27, died of an accidental drug overdose at his estate in the posh St. Louis County town of Huntleigh. He paid $1.75 million in 2012 to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit.

►  Ghoulish online game urges young people to end their lives

The family of a Texas teen who hanged himself says their son was involved in a ghoulish online game that calls on participants to complete a series of tasks before taking their own lives, and some schools are warning parents about the so-called Blue Whale Challenge.

Jorge Gonzalez told San Antonio television station WOAI that he wanted to caution others after his son, Isaiah, was found hanging in his bedroom closet Saturday in the family’s home with his cellphone propped up on a shoe to record his death.

A report on the boy’s death from the San Antonio Police Department does not mention the challenge. But Gonzalez’ family said in the days after the teen died, they pieced together from his social media and communication with friends that he had participated in the game.

His sister, Alexis, told the TV station that a person behind the challenge had gathered personal information from Isaiah and had threatened to harm the family.

The police department did not return a message left by The Associated Press asking whether authorities were investigating the game as a factor in the case. Many parents and other authorities are skeptical that the game actually exists, citing a lack of suicides directly attributed to it.

Agent Michelle Lee of the FBI’s San Antonio office said the agency is not assisting in the investigation, but urged parents to monitor their children’s online activities.

“It’s a reminder of one of the many dangers and vulnerabilities that children face using various social media and apps online every day,” Lee said. “Parents must remain vigilant and monitor their child’s usage of the internet.”

Gonzalez is the second parent this week to tell news outlets about a child who died by suicide allegedly as a result of the game. A Georgia woman spoke Monday to CNN about her 16-year-old daughter killing herself as part of the challenge but asked that their names not be used.

Educators, law enforcement officers and parents across the country have reported rumors about the challenge for months. But until this week, there had been no allegations in the United States about a death directly linked to the game. Suicides in Russia, Brazil and a half dozen other countries were reportedly linked to the challenge in cases that usually involved teenagers or young adults.

Notes have been posted on school district social media pages and sent home to parents in school districts across the country, including Vacaville, California; Baldwin County, Alabama; Warwick, Rhode Island; and Denver.

In Connecticut, Danbury Public Schools Superintendent Sal Pascarella sent a short note to parents around May after administrators from the district’s 19 schools started hearing about the challenge from kids as young as elementary schoolers.

“The elementary school principals started hearing their kids talk about this thing. Then the secondary principals started mentioning the same thing,” he said. “We discovered on our school network content about the challenge had been looked at on YouTube. ... I decided I would rather err on the side of information with parents.”

Parents allege that teens reach out to game administrators called curators through various social media platforms. Those curators lead the players through 50 days of challenges including watching scary movie clips, cutting symbols into their arms and legs and taking pictures of themselves in dangerous positions such as on the edge of a roof or on train tracks.

The participants are allegedly required to take pictures of their challenges being completed and share them before being directed to end their lives on the 50th day. A search of related hashtags on Instagram shows users posting pictures of scars and cuts or memes that depict suicide, and a similar Twitter search shows users reaching out for curators to lead them through the game.

Instagram warns that some images tagged under some of the related phrases could be harmful and directs users to mental health resources. Twitter assesses reports of self-harm or suicide and also directs users to mental health or suicide-prevention resources.

The Center for Missing and Exploited Children is aware of the challenge and encourages parents to report it and similar activity to the center’s cyber tip line even if they feel like they do not have enough information to go to police, said Eliza Harrell, the group’s director of education and outreach.

Harrell said she had not heard about the use of threats and intimidation, but said it was particularly concerning.

“That really adds another level to this,” she said. “We do not tend to address specific apps or games when we give advice to parents.”

When parents talk to their children, “the underlying conversation needs to be about dealing with strangers online and putting themselves in a position of trust,” she added. “It’s an issue that a child is listening to someone anonymously and doing what they are told by a stranger to do.”

►  EPA taking comments on lifting proposed mine restrictions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken the first step toward reversing its proposed restrictions on large-scale mining near the headwaters of a major salmon fishery in southwest Alaska.

As part of a legal settlement reached in May with the Pebble Limited Partnership, the EPA pledged to initiate a process for withdrawing the proposed restrictions.

EPA announced Tuesday that it would hold a 90-day comment period on the intended withdrawal.

The agency also said it will consult with tribal governments in the Bristol Bay region, where the Pebble partnership has proposed developing a copper and gold mine.

EPA’s proposal was criticized by conservationists and the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, who have sought protections for the region.

Pebble CEO Tom Collier welcomed EPA’s action.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►  Peru prosecutors seek jail for president in corruption case

Prosecutors in Peru on Tuesday requested the arrest of former President Ollanta Humala and his wife on money laundering and conspiracy charges tied to a corruption scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Prosecutor German Juarez told The Associated Press that he asked a judge to jail Humala and former first lady Nadine Heredia for 18 months. He said the request is based on testimony provided in Brazil by the former head of Odebrecht, who said he illegally contributed $3 million to Humala’s 2011 presidential campaign.

The judge had 48 hours to determine whether to order the arrest of Humala and Heredia. He has already ordered the arrest of another former president, Alejandro Toledo, for related charges. Toledo is in the U.S. fighting attempts by Peruvian authorities to have him deported to answer the charges.

Authorities across Latin America have been moving to charge officials accused of taking some $800 million in bribes from Odebrecht. The company acknowledged the bribes when it signed a plea agreement in December with the U.S. Justice Department.

The bribes include some $29 million paid in Peru for projects built during the administrations of Toledo, Humala and former President Alan Garcia.

Humala, who governed between 2011 and 2016, has denied ever receiving money from Odebrecht. His lawyer, Julio Espinoza, said the ex-president will vigorously defend himself against the charges and has no intention of leaving Peru.

Prosecutors suspect that Humala and his party conspired to disguise Odebrecht’s contributions, reporting them as donations from individuals who later said they had never provided any financial support to the campaign.

►  Unlikely middlemen: Trump Jr. emails point to father-son duo

They may have been the hidden link between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia’s government: A Moscow-based billionaire and his pop star son who, like Trump, bridge the worlds of real estate, the entertainment industry and the highest level of politics.

Emails posted Tuesday on Twitter by Trump’s eldest son show him willing to take what’s described as Russian government dirt on Hillary Clinton that would help his father’s candidacy. Six days after the first message, Donald Trump Jr. joined his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort for a meeting with a Russian lawyer to follow up on the “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” as one email describes the bounty.

How did Russia’s government reach out to the Trump campaign and set such a process in motion? The email exchange points to the unlikely middlemen of Aras and Emin Agalarov, a 61-year-old real estate magnate sometimes dubbed the “Donald Trump of Russia” and his 37-year-old singer/songwriter son who goes only by “Emin” onstage.

Both spent significant time with Trump when he brought the Miss Universe contest to Moscow four years ago, as attested to by party photos and Instagram posts. The father hosted the event at his Crocus City Mall, which he said cost him $20 million. The son performed at the ceremony. Both attended Trump’s Miss Universe party. Trump appeared in a music video with Emin while in town.

“I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!” Trump, back in the U.S., tweeted to Aras on November 11, 2013.

“Your performance at Miss Universe was fantastic - you are a STAR!” he followed up in a tweet to the son a day later.

Emin, who partners in his father’s real estate business, responded: “Thank you so much for all your support! You are a great Man.”

“TRUMP tower Moscow - lets make it happen!” he added.

A person with knowledge of the 2013 trip to Moscow said Emin Agalarov offered to send prostitutes to Trump’s hotel room, but the repeated offers were rejected by Keith Schiller, Trump’s longtime bodyguard. The person with knowledge of the trip insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized by Trump to publicly discuss the matter.

Proximity to power was nothing new for the Agalarovs, each born in the Caucasus nation of Azerbaijan, south of Russia’s border.

Aras has won several contracts from the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Trump was in Moscow, Aras tried to get him an audience with Putin. The Russian leader canceled the session, the Washington Post has reported, instead sending Trump a friendly letter and a lacquered box in appreciation. As the tweets suggested, Aras also sought unsuccessfully to build a hotel with Trump in Moscow.

Meanwhile, the younger Agalarov was married for several years to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s oldest daughter, with whom he has twin sons.

But neither has been caught up in a controversy of such magnitude before.

Tuesday’s emails represent the most serious suggestion of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and what U.S. intelligence agencies describe as a Russian effort to subvert America’s democratic process and help the billionaire Republican win the election.

They start July 3, 2016, with a message from Rob Goldstone, a British-born entertainment publicist who also met Trump in Russia in 2013.

“Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting,” Goldstone wrote Trump Jr. “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

Russia doesn’t have a “crown prosecutor.” It appears a reference to Yury Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general.

Chaika and the Agalarovs have a history, too.

After Chaika and his family were accused of corruption in a Russian documentary, Aras Agalarov sprang to the prosecutor’s defense. He took out an ad in a Russian newspaper lashing out at the anti-corruption campaigner behind the investigation, Alexei Navalny, who is also one of Putin’s chief political opponents.

In the emails, Goldstone says the “sensitive information” is “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.” He suggests Trump Jr. speak to the younger Agalarov directly.

Seventeen minutes later, Trump Jr. responds, proposing to speak with Emin by telephone.

“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. said, seeming to reference a point in the race after Trump and Clinton would have accepted their party’s nominations and be competing head-to-head for the White House.

The phone conversation is eventually set for July 6. Goldstone says they must first wait for Emin to get off stage.

A day later, Goldstone says Emin wants Trump Jr. to meet “The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this.”

Trump Jr. thanks Goldstone for setting up the meeting. In a follow-up email, he says Kushner and Manafort would also attend.

►  Slaves no more, but freedom brings new struggles

On the day they were freed from slavery, the fishermen hugged, high-fived and sprinted through a stinging rain to line up so they wouldn’t be left behind. But even as they learned they were going home, some wept at the thought of returning empty-handed and becoming one more mouth to feed.

Two years have passed since an Associated Press investigation spurred that dramatic rescue, leading to the release of more than 2,000 men trapped on remote Indonesian islands. The euphoria they first felt during reunions with relatives has long faded. Occasional stories of happiness and opportunity have surfaced, but the men’s fight to start over has largely been narrated by shame and struggle.

Some of them are lucky to find odd jobs paying pennies an hour in cramped slums and rural villages in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Others must travel far from home for back-breaking labor.

Some suffer night terrors and trauma from the years or even decades of physical and mental abuse they endured on boats run by Thai captains. Others have fought their demons with drugs and alcohol.

At least one Cambodian tried to hang himself. Another Thai fisherman went back to work on a different boat at home, only to have his arm ripped off by a net. He says he was offered about $3 and a few packets of instant noodles as compensation.

The men left their impoverished homes years ago full of hope and headed to neighboring Thailand, promising to send money back from good-paying jobs. Instead, they were tricked, sold or even kidnapped and put onto boats that became floating prisons.

They then were trafficked thousands of miles away to the isolated Indonesian island village of Benjina, where the AP first found hundreds of captive fishermen, including some locked in a cage simply because they asked to go home. They were beaten and routinely forced to work up to 22 hours a day. The unluckiest ones ended up in the sea or buried in a company graveyard under fake names — their bodies will likely never be recovered.

The AP story prompted the Indonesian government to initiate a rescue. It also traced fish tainted by forced labor back to the supply chains of many major U.S. companies and pet food brands, including Wal-Mart, Sysco, Kroger, Fancy Feast and Iams.

“What happened in Benjina has opened everybody’s eyes,” says Indonesian fishing minister Susi Pudjiastuti, who oversaw the rescue and is pushing for improved human rights at sea globally.

Despite all the suffering following their homecomings, there are stories of inspiration.

Some of the men borrowed money, enrolled in trade school or found decent work, saving what little they could. Others are opening small businesses, or have married and started families.

A few have gone to court to challenge their former captains, receiving a small portion of the pay they were owed. In rare instances, some even helped send their traffickers to jail.

Many say time has helped soften the pain, but most remain angry about the money and years lost to Benjina. Still, they are thankful to be home, living as free men.

They are slaves no more.



MON STATE, Myanmar — Myint Naing sits outside the flimsy thatch shack he shares with five other family members. He stares silently at a computer alongside his mother and sister, watching flickering images of their extraordinary reunion two years ago.

The memories are still raw of Myint collapsing into his wailing mother’s arms on the same dusty road just feet away from where they sit now in southern Myanmar. That day was tinged with both joy and sorrow for all the time lost — ending 22 years of separation after Myint was taken to Indonesia and nearly beaten to death by a captain who refused to let him go home.

His mother blots her eyes and briefly looks away from the screen. Myint’s younger sister sees herself embracing her brother and screaming, “We don’t need money! We just need family!”

She never realized just how much those words would be tested every day in the harsh reality of poverty.

Myint, now 42, desperately wants to work, but he’s simply not able. He tried doing construction and other manual labor, but the muscles on the right side of his body were weakened by a stroke-like attack in Indonesia. He can’t even steady a smartphone with one hand long enough to take a selfie.

He dreams of opening a little snack shop to contribute to the family’s income, but there is no money to start it.

“Half of my body is suffering, and it’s very challenging for me to get a job anywhere,” he says, as his nieces dance around him on a rickety porch. “I don’t really know how to keep going like this.”

He’s also stressed. He and his sister moved out of their mother’s house soon after he returned, partially because Myint didn’t get along with his new stepfather, who is about his age.

His sister, Mawli Than, and her husband together earn less than $5.50 a day to feed three children and three adults. But she has kept her promise to love and care for him no matter what.

She wishes she could afford to get Myint the long-term medical care he needs. Her voice cracks when she talks about not being able to give him a proper ceremony before he left to study as a Buddhist novice, a custom that every devout Burmese male tries to fulfill.

“I feel really sad and guilty that I wasn’t able to do that,” she says, sobbing, as he listens quietly in the doorway. “My brother is like a father to me.”

Myint’s freshly shaved head reveals two large scars he received during his years in Indonesia. One is from a motorbike helmet, the other from an iron rod — both blows from angry fishing captains.

He eventually escaped his captors and lived in the jungle for years, farming vegetables with help from sympathetic local families.

He insists life is better now that he is home. But his mind often drifts to the past. If his former Thai captains would just pay him what he’s owed for all the time he worked on the boats, he could buy his own house and help his sister instead of making her life harder.

“I’m very angry at them. I can’t even find words,” he says. “If I ever saw them again, I might kill them.”



PREK TATIENG, Cambodia — A gas-powered pump growls on Sriev Kry’s back as he walks barefoot, spraying a stream of pesticide on pink lotus blossoms that will soon be ready for harvest.

The work is hard and unforgiving. He doesn’t wear a mask or other protective gear, and there aren’t any trees in the surrounding rice paddy to shield him from the blistering sun. But this is Cambodian soil, and it belongs to him. It’s a freedom he says he never really understood until being trafficked and enslaved in Benjina.

The wiry rice farmer never wanted to be a fisherman because the ocean’s roiling waves had always sent him running to the side of the boat to vomit. So when a cousin asked if he was interested in leaving his rural Cambodian village to find higher-paying work in Thailand, he refused until he was promised a factory job or something else on land.

Unlike most migrant workers who cross the border illegally, Sriev Kry and two of his cousins waited to receive passports before leaving in 2014.

They were immediately taken to a boat and ordered to get on board after receiving $880 advances. They were told they wouldn’t be at sea long. But it was all a lie.

Just as their trawler reached the Malaysian border, Sriev Kry says he woke up to learn a Burmese fisherman was missing. They didn’t stop to search for him, and no calls were made for help. Instead, Sriev Kry says the Thai owner told the workers that “life on the boat doesn’t matter. No one cares about missing people.”

He says the men then watched as the crew member’s passport was tossed into the sea, destroying the only record of his existence.

“The other workers just saw that life is very cheap,” Sriev Kry recalls. “It is cheaper than the bodies of dogs.”

He tried not to cause problems and worked nonstop on the boat, sorting mountains of fish. He saw other crew beaten or scalded by water tossed on them when they were too sick to work.

“It’s like a slave’s life. It’s even worse than a slave. Slaves can sometimes complain or challenge the owner,” he says. “If we refused, if we complained, the Thai owner always asked: ‘You want to live? You want to have a life? Or do you want to die?’”

Sriev Kry was only able to contact his wife a few times from Benjina. He told her he wasn’t sure he’d ever make it back home to the emerald green rice paddies and lotus fields they tended together.

Two of their four children were studying in the capital, Phnom Penh, with one already in university. The baby was just a year old, and the family was struggling to survive because Sriev Kry never sent the money he was promised. But his wife, Khan Srin, encouraged him to hold on. To focus on staying alive.

When he was finally rescued, Sriev Kry was done being silent: He volunteered to testify against his captain. He saw it as his duty to speak out to prevent others from facing the same fate. He is still waiting for his day in court.

Today, at 44, he earns about $10 a day farming the field that rings a one-room shack perched on stilts overlooking the few acres of land he owns. He sleeps here sometimes, away from his nearby village, to stand watch over his crops. He also sells mangoes from his beat-up motorbike just across the border in Vietnam and harvests catfish from a lake — the only fishing he says he will ever do again.

It’s not much, but it’s enough to pay his debts and feed his family. His captain in Benjina swore more earnings would be sent, but Sriev Kry says nothing ever came.

He remains angry and is still haunted by the image of the dead crewman’s passport being thrown into the sea. But he’s happy to be home and vows he’ll never leave his family again.

“I was just rescued from hell,” he says, shaking his head. “Why would I go back to hell again?”



YANGON, Myanmar — Phyo Kyaw’s father wept when he heard his son was returning to Thailand to board another fishing boat. But there was nothing he could do.

After the 31-year-old was rescued from Benjina, he worked a few months on the gritty outskirts of Yangon driving a bus and a motorbike taxi, but the money wasn’t good and his bike soon was stolen.

Several of Phyo’s friends from Benjina already had gone back to Thailand to find better-paying work, and they encouraged him to get a passport and join them on another fishing boat. They had heard good stories about the company, and they all had legal working documents this time. They were convinced their papers would protect them from exploitation.

Phyo left Myanmar without telling his father. He went to the same port town where he was initially trafficked and got on a trawler with 13 other Burmese men.

After being beaten and spending more than two years on Benjina with no pay, he was scared of being trafficked again but decided to take a chance. As he prepared to leave, he met other fishermen who had just docked — they had been at sea for three years without touching land.

“I don’t think it’s fair, but it’s my choice to go,” Phyo says. “My father is the only financial provider here for the moment so at least if I go to Thailand, I can bring some money back.”

Phyo didn’t know where his boat was going or how long he would be gone. He also had no idea if he was fishing legally or poaching, a common but dangerous practice that can land an entire crew in a foreign jail.

The days were still long but, this time, he got a few more hours of sleep — four or five a night — and he wasn’t beaten.

After six months at sea, the trawler returned to Thailand. Phyo should have made nearly $1,600 for the trip, but was left with just $350 after deductions for fees, food and supplies.

He could have earned nearly double that amount driving the motorbike taxi back home. Still, he’s thinking about going out to sea again with another group of Benjina guys.

His father, an electrical engineer, can only shake his head with disappointment.

“As parents, you are always worried about your children,” Aye Kyaw, 67, says inside the family’s small, sweltering apartment.

But Phyo just shrugs. Fishing is what he knows.

“If I can get a better job here, I won’t go,” he says. “But if I don’t have anything, I will go on a fishing boat.”



SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand — Wrapped in flowing saffron robes with a shaved head, Prasert Jakkawaro speaks calmly and softly as he looks back on his lost life.

He spent eight years fishing the Arafura Sea’s rich waters off Benjina. If he was lucky, his boat docked twice a year. He worked around the clock, but says he was never paid what was promised.

The memories still cut like razor blades, but he does not show it. His voice remains steady, his fingers laced loosely across his lap. The rage that once sent him searching for solace at the bottom of a bottle has died. He now finds comfort praying in a monastery as a Buddhist monk and helping others who have lost their way.

“I feel that I have to give forgiveness and kindness back,” he says, his robe concealing tattoos from his former life. “I have another chance. There’s no point in dwelling on the past. The anger will only follow me in this life and into the next.”

Finding peace wasn’t easy: He was first forced to confront all of the evil he saw.

Even though the captains were Thai like him, he says he was treated just as badly as his fellow fishermen from Myanmar and Cambodia. They rarely had vegetables or meat to eat — just fish and rice for every meal, and even that wasn’t guaranteed. Those who got sick were forced to work anyway, and he saw one crew member die due to a lack of medical attention. Sleep was a luxury.

“If you don’t get up, the metal rod will be used to bang on your door and beat on your legs,” says Prasert, 53. “The rule is that if you can eat, then you have to work.”

When he asked to go home after just one year on his trawler, he was told he first had to find a replacement, an impossible request on a remote island with hundreds of other enslaved men just as desperate to leave.

Once, after coming ashore, Prasert asked his captain for more money. As punishment, he says he was tossed into a tiny, muggy cell with about 20 other men.

The security guards then used the imprisoned fishermen for a twisted form of entertainment — forcing them to beat each other up.

“You would get hit so hard that you could see the handprints on your face,” Prasert says.

Over the years, he lost hope and rage festered inside him. He talked about attacking the captain, but the other fishermen always managed to calm him down.

After he was finally rescued and returned home to Thailand, he received a settlement of about $2,250 from the boat owner. It was far short of the nearly $9,000 he says he was owed, but he knows most of the other men received nothing.

The anger continued to swell, and he wallowed in alcohol and slept anywhere he could find, including on a bathroom floor. Staff at the local nonprofit Labor Rights Protection Network, which has long assisted trafficked fishermen, pushed him to seek help.

With encouragement from his sister, Prasert spent three months studying at a Buddhist temple.

Slowly, the hatred began to melt.

“When I attend ceremonies, people really look at me as if I can shine a light on their life, and it makes me feel that I am useful again,” he says. “I feel like I can have real happiness at last.”


Information for this story came from interviews with nearly 15 former fishermen in Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand along with nonprofits in Cambodia and Thailand.

►  Pope Francis adds new pathway to sainthood

Pope Francis has added a fourth pathway to possible sainthood — people who lived a good Catholic life and who freely accepted a certain and premature death for the good of others.

Until now, gaining consideration for sainthood in the Catholic Church required martyrdom, living a life of heroic values or — less frequently invoked — having a clear saintly reputation.

The Vatican announced Tuesday that the pope has issued a law on his own initiative — known as a mutu proprio — adding the fourth route.

Examples of people who might fall into that category include those who take the place of someone condemned to death or expectant mothers with fatal diseases who suspend treatment so their babies can be born.

While John Paul II streamlined the canonization process, Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, an official of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Causes for Saints, noted in L’Osservatore Romano that the norms for beatification — the first step toward sainthood — have been in place for centuries.

However, the three pathways “don’t seem sufficient to interpret all of the cases of possible saints to be canonized,” he wrote, acknowledging that the new route incorporates both elements of martyrdom and living a life of heroic values, without being fully covered by either.

Under the new category, a miracle must be attributed to the candidate’s intercession prior to beatification. Martyrdom — being killed out of hatred for the faith — does not require a miracle.

The pathway could apply to cases like that of Chiara Corbella, a young Italian woman who died in 2012.

She had insisted on continuing with two pregnancies despite being told that the fetuses were deformed, losing both at birth. Diagnosed with cancer when she was pregnant for a third time, she had forgone chemotherapy and other treatments to safeguard the life of her son, Francesco, who was born safely.

Friends started an association last month, on the fifth anniversary of her death, to seek her beatification.

►  Bosnia: thousands mark 22 years since Srebrenica massacre

Tens of thousands of people converged on Srebrenica Tuesday for a funeral for dozens of newly identified victims of the 1995 massacre in the Bosnian town.

Remains of 71 Muslim Bosniak victims, including seven juvenile boys and a woman, were buried at the memorial cemetery on the 22nd anniversary of the crime. They were laid to rest next to over 6,000 other Srebrenica victims found previously in mass graves. The youngest victim buried this year was 15, the oldest was 72.

Adela Efendic came to Srebrenica to bury the remains of her father, Senaid.

“I was 20-day-old baby when he was killed. I have no words to explain how it feels to bury the father you have never met,” Efendic said. “You imagine what kind of a person he might have been, but that is all you have.”

More than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys perished in 10 days of slaughter after Srebrenica was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, 1995. It is the only episode of Bosnia’s fratricidal 1992-95 war to be defined as genocide by two U.N. courts.

Serbs hastily disposed of the victims’ bodies in several large pits, then dug them up again and scattered the remains over the nearly 100 smaller mass graves and hidden burial sites around the town.

Every year forensic experts identify newly found remains through DNA analysis before reburial.

Most coffins are lowered into their graves by strangers, because all male members of the victims’ families had often been killed.

“I was looking for him for 20 years…they found him in a garbage dump last December,” Emina Salkic said through tears, hugging the coffin of her brother Munib. He was 16 when he was killed.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces for years before it fell. It was declared a U.N. “safe haven” for civilians in 1993, but a Security Council mission that visited shortly afterward described the town as “an open jail” where a “slow-motion process of genocide” was in effect.

When Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic broke through two years later, Srebrenica’s terrified Muslim Bosniak population rushed to the U.N. compound hoping that Dutch U.N. peacekeepers would protect them. But the outgunned peacekeepers watched helplessly as Mladic’s troops separated out men and boys for execution and sent the women and girls to Bosnian government-held territory.

An appeals court in The Hague ruled this month that the Dutch government was partially liable in the deaths of more than 300 people who were turned away from the compound.

Mladic is now on trial before a U.N. war crimes tribunal, but many Bosnian Serbs, including political leaders, continue to deny that the slaughter constituted genocide.

“We are again calling on Serbs and their political and intellectual elites to find courage to face the truth and stop denying genocide,” Bakir Izetbegovic, Bosniak member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, said in his address to the mourners.

Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, the head of the EU delegation to Bosnia, said that remembering what happened in Srebrenica was “the common duty of us as Europeans,” especially as we live “in a world where facts and truth are being manipulated.”

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the international community, “and in particular the United Nations,” have accepted their share of responsibility, and that all parties must acknowledge “that these crimes occurred and our roles in allowing them to occur.”

“The difficult task of building trust to allow for full reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina lies with the people of the country’s various communities,” Guterres said in a statement. “To build a better and common future, the tragedies of the past must be recognized by those communities.”

WV Solar Ag CO-OP Helps Farmers Cut Their Power Bills

A solar co-op is helping West Virginia farmers cut their energy costs.

The agricultural co-op program, run by West Virginia SUN, helps line up grants and tax credits it says can cut up-front costs of solar installation in half. And, said Autumn Long, co-op coordinator with West Virginia SUN, there are guaranteed loans that can cover the rest.

Long said farms often have high power bills, and the cost of installing solar has fallen so much that it now make senses for many. She pointed to a chicken farmer in the eastern panhandle who got a solar system to heat, cool and ventilate his huge poultry barns.

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A nonprofit solar co-op says solar power is now inexpensive enough to make economic sense for West Virginia farmers.

“So, he had a pretty significant electricity burden,“ Long said. “And he’ll see the initial investment that will certainly pay for itself many times over, over the life of the system.“

Solar power had been thought of as an expensive luxury in past decades, but Long said the costs have come down so much that it’s now a competitive option.

Long said West Virginia SUN has helped about a half dozen farmers get solar power systems. And rural small businesses can also qualify for the grants and tax breaks.

According to a blog post in Scientific American, the price of solar modules has fallen by more than four-fifths since 2000. Long said it’s been an amazing trend to watch.

“Even from like one month to the next in the past couple of years, we’ve seen the costs of solar plummet drastically,“ she said.

The group also runs local co-operatives that Long said homeowners can use to get a 20 percent discount on home solar arrays. But she said it’s farmers and businesses with high electricity costs who are in a position to see the biggest return from solar.

“If you’re paying $1,000 a month in electricity, then even investing in a substantial-size solar system, it’s really going to help offset your overall production costs,“ Long said.

A typical solar array is guaranteed for 25 years, although Long said she knows many owners who have had theirs for 30 years or more.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

West Virginia Library Commission Announces Grants to Public Libraries

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The West Virginia Library Commission has presented $110,093 in state grants to 30 public libraries in the state. 

The grants were awarded in June, based on facility and technology proposals from each library.

17 grants were awarded for facility maintenance and 14 for technology enhancements.  The following libraries received grant funding: 

  • Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Public Library
  • Brooke County Public Library
  • Burnsville Public Library
  • Chapmanville Public Library
  • Clay County Public Library
  • Craigsville Public Library
  • Gassaway Public Library
  • Hamlin-Lincoln County Public Library
  • Kingwood Public Library
  • Logan Area Public Library
  • Lynn Murray Public Library
  • Marion County Public Library
  • Mason County Public Library
  • Moundsville-Marshall County Public Library
  • Mountaintop Public Library
  • Nutter Fort Public Library
  • Paden City Public Library
  • Pendleton County Public Library
  • Philippi Public Library
  • Raleigh County Public Library
  • Roane County Public Library
  • Rupert Public Library
  • Shepherdstown Public Library
  • Summers County Public Library
  • Summersville Public Library
  • Sutton Public Library
  • Swayne Memorial Public Library
  • Valley Head Public Library
  • Wayne Public Library
  • Webster Addison Public Library

“These grants emphasize the important needs in West Virginia’s public libraries,” said Karen Goff, Executive Secretary of the WVLC.

“These dollars will allow libraries to make basic improvements to their facilities, as well as enhance computer access for their patrons.”

West Virginia Library Commission encourages lifelong learning, individual empowerment, civic engagement and an enriched quality of life by enhancing library and information services for all West Virginians. WVLC is an independent agency of the Office of the Secretary of Education and the Arts.

To learn more about the WVLC, please visit or call us at 304.558.2041.


The Free Press WV

  • Made in China, dead in America.   An 18-year-old Oregon teenager died in February from an overdose of synthetic opioids made in China and bought online here in the States. It’s sadly common, say law enforcement officials in a state where drug overdoses kill more people than guns or automobile accidents. What is less known is how the Dark Web helps facilitate drug deals and what law enforcement is doing to solve more of these cases.  Willamette Week

  • United States v. Donald J. Trump.  The obstruction of justice case against Trump already is a slam dunk. By Samuel W. Buell, former Justice Department prosecutor.  Slate

  • Counterprotesters Arrested After Virginia Ku Klux Klan Rally  -  It’s a matter of history. About 50 KKK members, some in hooded robes, gathered and chanted “white power” in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a public park. More than 1,000 counterprotesters arrived, chanting “Black lives matter” and singing “We Shall Overcome.“ Police guarded the Klan members, eventually deploying tear gas against the counterprotesters and arresting 23. Charlottesville is now planning a monument to Black slaves kept in bondage in the state, while white nationalists are planning another rally next month.  The Guardian

  • Tesla Shows Off First Production Model 3:  One down, thousands to go. Founder and CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to show off photos of the first Model 3 off the production line: his own. Priced at $35,000, the hotly anticipated Model 3 marks the company’s first attempt at targeting the wider consumer market. An estimated 400,000 are thought to have been reserved, although no official numbers have been released. Fears over production delays have been assuaged somewhat by the announcement, and Tesla says it hopes to produce 20,000 Model 3 vehicles per month by December.  The Verge

  • Why the Paris Accord Might Work Better Without the U.S.:  And then there were 19. Many decried President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement - all other G-20 countries have signed on - but some experts say the silver lining is that it could keep American climate change skeptics from undermining the deal’s implementation: U.S. efforts to water down the accord are now moot. Meanwhile, renewable energies are becoming so cheap to produce that some analysts believe the U.S. will meet the agreement’s climate goals despite withdrawal, simply because renewables are cost-effective.  Quartz

  • Watch Kellyanne Conway Try (and Fail) to Defend Donald Trump, Jr.   The spin is losing traction.    ESQUIRE

  • Kellyanne Smashes CNN’s Cuomo in Heated 30-minute Exchange:  Monday on CNN’s “New Day,” White House aide Kellyanne Conway and host Chris Cuomo had a heated exchange.  breitbart

In West Virginia….

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►  West Virginia, Tennessee Given Battlefield Protection Funds

West Virginia and Tennessee are among the states receiving part of $7.2 million in grants to help identify, preserve and protect historic battlefields.

The announcement was made by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

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The National Park Service said in a news release the projects include 19 battlefields threatened by urban and suburban development in nine states. The release said the projects cover nearly 1,200 acres of battlefield land as part of the American Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants program.

In West Virginia, Jefferson County Historical Landmarks Commission will receive more than $44,000 for restoration of Shepherdstown Battlefield.

The Tennessee Historical Commission will receive more than $212,000 for two restoration projects of Fort Donelson Battlefield in partnership with the Civil War Trust.

►  West Virginia Fire Marshal Launching Smoke Alarm Project

The West Virginia fire marshal’s office is conducting a campaign to encourage use of smoke alarms.

State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree said in a message seeking volunteers to help with the effort that he and his staff have seen too many fire deaths during his time in office. As a result, the office is launching its initiative as part of this year’s Governor’s Day to Serve, in conjunction with the American Red Cross, which also has a smoke alarm initiative.

Tyree’s office is seeking help from fire departments, colleges and universities, churches, fraternal and community service organizations and anyone willing to participate.

Tyree’s message said the project will provide and install free smoke alarms to residences in need during September and October.

More information is available at the fire marshal’s website .

►  Minnie Pearl and Appalachian Ghost Stories at Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park is offering two special programs in July as part of its Summer of Fun series. The series, coordinated by park naturalist Paulita Cousin, will give guests an opportunity to meet Minnie Pearl or listen to Appalachian ghost stories around an evening campfire.

Minnie Pearl will appear at the park on Wednesday, July 12, as part of the History Alive! program. Pearl, whose real name was Sarah Colley, is best known for her long-running show “Hee Haw.” Pearl studied theater while in college during the Great Depression with intentions of becoming a serious actress. While touring with a theater company, she created the comedic down-home character of Minnie Pearl to help promote performances. Her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1940 was a success and eased fears that her satire of rural ways might not be appreciated by country audiences. People instead embraced Pearl as one of their own, and she became a legend in country entertainment.

Denise Giardina of Charleston, West Virginia, portrays Minnie Pearl and opens the show with a big “Howdeeeeee!,” much like Pearl did on her popular show. The family friendly program starts at 7:30 p.m. on July 12 and lasts about one hour. It is open to the public at no cost. The History Alive! program is made possible by the West Virginia Humanities Council and the West Virginia State Park system.

On Saturday, July 15, park guests may enjoy Appalachian ghost stories around a campfire with JoAnn Dadisman, a premiere ghost story teller. Dadisman is a life-long West Virginian and a retired professor of English at WVU. A professional storyteller, Dadisman wrote “Rising the Spirits: An Appalachian Sampler of Stories to Be Told.” The program will start at 7:30 p.m. on July 15, at the park’s nature center. Dadisman will be around the cracking campfire, under the last quarter of a waning moon. The event is free and open to the public.

To learn about other activities, special programs, and events at Blackwater Falls State park or to make room, cabin or campsite reservations, call 304.259.5216 or visit

►  Morrisey announces candidacy for U.S. Senate seat; Jenkins critical

West Virginia Attorney General officially has announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Morrisey, a Republican, made the announcement July 10. He is aiming for the Senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Joe Manchin. Republican U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins also has announced plans to run for the position.

Morrisey planned to publicly announce his campaign at an event later in the day at a hotel in Harpers Ferry.

In a video announcing the candidacy, Morrisey says he will “help this President drain the swamp. That means repealing Obamacare, changing our tax code so we can actually create more jobs here in West Virginia. As your U.S. Senator, I can do even more. We can continue to protect life, expand Second Amendment rights, bring back coal, and protect jobs in our state. You’ll never have to worry about me wavering in my conservative values.“

Morrisey was elected as the state’s AG in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He has fought against federal government overreach during his time in office, most notably against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama’s watch.

In the campaign video, a narrator says Morrisey “will fight and win for us.“

“That’s what he’s done as Attorney General, and that’s what he’ll do as our Senator,“ the voiceover states. “Morrisey grew up the son of a World War II veteran and a VA nurse, learning the importance of having a hard work ethic. A husband and father, Morrisey’s got grit. He knows how to get things done and what makes our country great.“

Morrisey also speaks during the video.

“We need someone who is going to take on Washington corruption and advance conservative values,“ he says. “There’s so much we can do if we have a conservative with principles going to Washington and someone who is committed to taking on the mess. As your Senator, I’ll stand with Trump, and we will beat the Washington elites.

“Washington is an absolute mess. We need someone to go there who is going to help this President drain the swamp. That means repealing Obamacare, changing our tax code so we can actually create more jobs here in West Virginia. As your U.S. Senator, I can do even more. We can continue to protect life, expand Second Amendment rights, bring back coal, and protect jobs in our state. Unlike my opponents, I’ve never supported Hillary or Obama, or Obamacare, or higher taxes, or cap-and-trade. You’ll never have to worry about me wavering in my conservative values.

“I took on Obama’s illegal amnesty program and beat him in court. We beat President Obama and the EPA when everyone else said it was impossible to bring back coal and protect jobs in our state.“

The narrator also talks about Morrisey’s record of defending “our jobs, our religious liberties, unborn children, and our gun rights. He upholds our conservative values and the rule of law.“

“To me, supporting gun rights is supporting freedom,“ Morrisey continues. “It’s a basic constitutional right, and that’s why I stood strong for constitutional carry. I’ve advanced reciprocity agreements, and I’ve gone after the liberal gun grabbers. I’m proud of all the work we’ve done taking on the substance abuse fight.“

Earlier on July 10, Jenkins’ campaign already had delivered the first attack on Morrisey’s run. Andy Seré, a campaign strategist for Jenkins, issued a statement critical of Morrisey.

“West Virginians want to help Donald Trump drain the swamp – not fill it back up with a guy who spent his career swimming in it,” Seré said in the statement. “For Patrick Morrisey, this is about profit, plain and simple.

“But West Virginia can’t afford a senator whose deep conflicts of interest would place a cloud of suspicion over his head from day one.”

Seré brought up Morrisey’s legal career before being elected West Virginia’s AG in 2012.

“Not long ago Morrisey was making millions in Washington after 18 years as a congressional staffer-turned-K Street lobbyist, trading on influence to line his own pockets with money from liberal special interests – the same ones whose bidding he did as a top aide on Capitol Hill,” Seré  said. “The incurable conflicts of interest from his D.C. days have followed him into the Attorney General’s office; plagued by multiple scandals and under intense political pressure, Morrisey has been forced to recuse himself from several cases involving clients in whom he had (or still has) a financial interest.

“Now – just five years after taking a golden parachute into West Virginia to finance a political career – Morrisey wants back in the swamp. His motives are clear: after recent revelations that his personal finances are dependent on lobbying profits from Planned Parenthood and Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun group, we know Morrisey will throw West Virginia’s conservative values to the wayside just to make a buck.”

Seré said he thinks Mountain State voters will pick Jenkins over Morrisey.

“In 10 months, West Virginia Republicans will face the choice between a D.C. Profiteer and a Conservative Mountaineer,” he said. “We are confident they’ll choose the latter.”

Morrisey’s campaign spokesperson responded to Seré‘s statement.

“As a former lobbyist, a former Democrat, and a former Hillary Clinton supporter, Evan Jenkins can now add hypocrite to that list,“ Nachama Soloveichik said in an email to The West Virginia Record. “Jenkins is clearly trying to distract voters from his liberal record of supporting cap-and-trade, gun control, Obamacare, radical abortion policies, and his lengthy service on the Obama team.

“In contrast, Morrisey has a proven conservative record of defeating Obama and the EPA in court, fighting for life, standing up for gun rights, taking on the drug epidemic aggressively, and protecting West Virginia coal jobs.”

In addition to Jenkins and Morrisey, former coal miner James “Bo” Copley II has announced plans to run for Manchin’s Senate seat as a Republican. Copley made headlines last year when he confronted Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a roundtable meeting in Williamson about remarks she had made on the campaign trail when she had said “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.“

In the primary, Manchin will face opposition from environmental activist Paula Jean Swearengin, who already has been endorsed by the Brand New Congress political action committee formed by former staff members and supporters of Bernie Sanders.

►  Sanders Urges Capito to Oppose GOP Health Plan

Senator Bernie Sanders has ventured into a stronghold for Donald Trump to urge West Virginia’s Republican senator to resist efforts to repeal much of Barack Obama’s health care law.

Speaking to hundreds of supporters Sunday in Morgantown, Sanders said if GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s opposes her party’s health care bill, it would “make all of the difference” in derailing the legislation. He urged the West Virginian to resist any deals from Senate Republican leaders, saying no tweaking would “undo the massive damage” the bill would cause.

The existing bill would fail if just three of the 52 Republicans vote no, since all Democrats oppose it. Capito was among at least a dozen Republican senators who recently publicly opposed or expressed qualms about it, forcing a postponement of a vote.

►  Court sets motions hearing date for Lunsford trial

A motions hearing in the case of Lena Marie Lunsford-Conaway is set for July 27 at 2 p.m. The case will appear before Judge Jake Reger in Lewis County Circuit Court.

Publically appointed Defense Attorney Zach Dyer said this hearing is to rule on the hiring of a jury consultant, and not the change of venue request.

If Judge Reger rules to hire a consultant, the jury consultant will gather a report. A separate ruling will be made for a change of venue afterwards, according to Dyer.

Dyer projected the process could be completed by the end of August.

The 34-year-old former Lewis County woman is charged in the 2011 disappearance of her then 3-year-old daughter Aliayah Lunsford.

Police issued a warrant for Lunsford’s arrest last November. She was arrested by local authorities in Pinellas County, Florida, and extradited the next day.

Dyer is joined on the defense by his father, Tom Dyer. They have suggested Mingo County or Boone County as possible relocation areas for a trial, if Judge Reger agrees to their motion for a change of venue later this summer.

Jury selection in Lewis County is currently scheduled for October 10. The trial is set to begin October 12.    ~~  Brittany Murray ~~

►  WVBOE rejects Nicholas consolidation plan, again

At the conclusion of an emergency meeting a day head of a court hearing on the matter, the state school board voted to again reject a Nicholas County school consolidation plan.

Monday afternoon’s meeting, which lasted five hours before a packed house of Nicholas County residents, was meant “to help expedite a final resolution of the matters pending before the Circuit Court so that federal funding will not be in jeopardy,” according to the official notification.

Instead, the local school board and the state school board again didn’t see eye to eye.

State board members wanted to know if all alternatives had been fully considered and sought assurances that the local board had really listened to the full community.

Nicholas officials said their decision had come after thorough discussion. They said student population has been shrinking, costs have been building and consolidation has been a long time coming.

They also said last summer’s catastrophic flooding not only moved up the timeline but also provided federal money that they hope to use to the greatest degree possible.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV


The president’s eldest son was reportedly told ahead of time that the source of the information was the Russian government, fueling new questions about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Moscow.


The extremist organization’s mashup of local insurgency and digitally-connected global jihadis gives the group staying power and a launchpad for its future.


Internal rifts over issues like coverage requirements and Medicaid cuts leave the timing and even the measure’s fate unclear.


Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang, a Hawaii-based active duty soldier who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, is in FBI custody after being arrested on terrorism charges.


A U.S. Marine refueling tanker crashes into a soybean field north of Jackson in the Mississippi Delta, spreading debris for miles, officials say.


Some earn pennies an hour in cramped slums and rural villages. Some suffer night terrors from years or even decades of abuse on boats. Others fight their demons with drugs and alcohol.


The number of Europeans deported this year from the U.S. is on track to outstrip last year’s total by a healthy margin, according to government figures provided to the AP.


Islamabad says more than 40 of 65 organizations banned in the country operate flourishing social media sites, communicating on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram.


The ruling against the reality TV star comes after his posting of explicit images of ex-fiancee Blac Chyna on social media last week.


New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge dominates the pre-All-Star Game event, reaching 513 feet and displaying remarkable power to all fields.

Uber tried and failed to build a FedEx rival

Now its $69 billion (£53 billion) valuation could be jeopardized.

Waymo on Friday dropped some of its patent claims against Uber in its lawsuit over autonomous vehicle technology

The self-driving car startup, which is a Google spinoff, is dropping three of its four patent claims against Uber’s lidar technology.

Social media giants are offering tens of millions of dollars to Fox so that they can play clips from the Russia World Cup on their platforms

Fox is reportedly yet to decide whether to offer the rights to one platform exclusively or whether to spread them across a range of platforms.

Apple is planning to build another data center in Denmark as courts hold up its Irish server farm

The facility will reportedly cost $920 million.

Facebook Messenger’s David Marcus shrugged off accusations of copying Snapchat

He made his comments during a roundtable attended by Business Insider.

Metail, a startup that allows customers try on clothes in a virtual fitting room, has raised $12.88 million

The funding round was led by TAL, a leading Hong Kong-based clothing manufacturer which also led the 2014 funding round.

Startups around the world are raising hundreds of millions of dollars by issuing new digital coins, a trend that has made people both excited and concerned

Over half a billion dollars has been raised through so-called “Initial Coin Offerings” (ICOs) since the start of the year.

Microsoft’s chief information officer, Jim DuBois, has left the company, reports GeekWire. DuBois had been with Microsoft since 1993, and was named its CIO in 2013. In that role, DuBois oversaw Microsoft’s internal IT organization

His departure was reported a day after Microsoft announced massive layoffs.

Google is purchasing all the electricity generated by the largest solar park in the Netherlands over the next decade

It will use it to power a recently opened data center housing thousands of servers.

Apple called its former supplier Imagination Technologies’ statements “inaccurate and misleading”

The two have been fighting publicly since April, when Apple said it would drop Imagination Technologies’ graphics technology.

Manchin Embracing 2018 Challenge

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When asked about what is expected to be a brutal 2018 re-election battle, a wide smile spread over Joe Manchin’s face.  “I love campaigning,” Manchin said, showing no hint of sarcasm or falsity.

The West Virginia Democrat is a relentless retail campaigner, perhaps the best the state has seen since Arch Moore.  Manchin can talk policy, but he’s hardly a wonk.  His strengths are personality and likeability, which still make a difference in the minds of voters.

His 2018 re-election effort, however, will provide one of the biggest tests of his political career.

Since arriving in Washington, Manchin has sought to avoid the extreme partisanship that forces elected officials into camps with hard boundaries. The middle ground is his preferred space, which he seeks to reinforce at every opportunity.

The Great Middle, once the safe zone for many politicians, is now a political no-man’s land. The country and its leaders have migrated away from each other to areas where the ideology is more rigid and, more importantly, the generous donors abound.

The middle ground leaves Manchin with problems on his flanks.  Paula Jean Swearengin, who is backed by Brand New Congress, an organization founded by former Bernie Sanders supporters, is challenging him in the Primary Election next year.

Manchin has always had issues with the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party in West Virginia, but other than his 1996 loss to Charlotte Pritt in the Democratic Primary for Governor, Manchin has been able to avoid a first round defeat.

The real challenge for Manchin will come in the General Election.  Two Republicans are already in the race—3rd District Congressman Evan Jenkins and former coal miner Bo Copley, who famously confronted Hillary Clinton to explain her comments about putting coal out of business.  West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is also expected to enter the race.

All three are part of the conservative Republican wave that has swept over West Virginia in the last generation.  The state has voted for the Republican nominee for President every election since 2000 and Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 42 points last November.

Manchin strongly supported Clinton, but he quickly embraced Trump after the election and was even briefly considered for a position within the administration. He has tried to set himself up as a potential bridge in Congress between Democrats and Republicans.

In my conversation with him last week, Manchin dismissed the expected opposition attacks linking him to Clinton, noting that opponent attempts to connect him at the hip with Barack Obama didn’t work.  Those failed efforts give him confidence that his personal brand is strong enough to withstand the hyper-partisan antagonists.

“My brand is to be Joe Manchin—common sense, centrist,” he told me on Talkline last week.

The Cook Political Report agrees, rating Manchin as “likely” to hold the seat.  But to do so, Manchin has to buck the trend in West Virginia, and that’s still new territory for Democrats here.

Graceless President Betrays Nation’s Heritage

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For leaders as well as friends, spouses and colleagues, grace is a precious characteristic. Whatever one thinks of Donald Trump’s policy choices, our nation has never had a president more lacking in grace.

Whether or not Abraham Lincoln was the greatest American president, he was certainly its most gracious. Here’s the close of his brief Second Inaugural, delivered toward the end of the Civil War, when the nation was a house divided:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.“

On the eve of victory, Lincoln avoided triumphalism or crowing. Instead he rejected malice and called for charity. He backed his firmness with both humility (“as God gives us to see the right”) and tenderness (“to care for him who shall have borne the battle”).

Ronald Reagan was usually a model of grace, with a strong preference for gentle humor and a touch of indirection. Asked at 73 if he was too old to be president, Reagan responded: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.“

At critical moments, Reagan chose understatement and humility, which are part and parcel of grace. A former Democrat, he liked to say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.“ In his final speech at a Republican convention, in 1988, he began: “[B]eing only human, there’s a part of me that would like to take credit for what we’ve achieved. But tonight, before we do anything else, let us remember that tribute really belongs to the 245 million citizens who make up the greatest – and the first – three words in our Constitution: ‘We the People.‘ “

In any competitive activity, gracious losers are easy to identify: They give credit to their opponent and never make excuses or blame referees. Because vanquished opponents (and their supporters) often feel horrible, it’s even more important to be a gracious winner, showing respect and admiration after victory, and emphasizing that things could have gone the other way.

Grace breeds reciprocity. If a friend, a colleague or a spouse is gracious to you, you feel like a creep if you don’t respond in kind. That’s one reason that Reagan was such an effective debater: He disarmed his opponents. Reagan’s grace also helped him to work with committed political adversaries, most notably House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

Gracelessness shows bad character, but it is also an obstacle to success and often a recipe for failure. Humiliating people is a terrific way to reduce the likelihood of cooperation. Graceless leaders produce graceless followers and graceless opponents. Gracelessness is stupid, because those who lack grace inflame their adversaries – and turn potential friends into enemies.

Gracelessness is an absence of grace, but the English language lacks a word for the opposite of grace. One candidate is “ugliness”; another is “cruelty.“ Every human heart is drawn, on occasion, to what is ugly and cruel, and even rejoices in them. Prominent Democrats are fully capable of displaying both. Of course, politics is a dirty business, and, as both Lincoln and Reagan knew, you sometimes have to hit back.

But in modern history, no White House has ever been more graceless. Put political differences to one side. That’s a betrayal of our nation’s heritage, and an insult to our deepest traditions.

~~  Cass R. Sunstein ~~

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