U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Obama, on podcast, says of racism: ‘We’re not cured of it’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. President Barack Obama, in a podcast posted online on Monday, used the N word to emphasize his point that the United States has made progress in eliminating racism but there was still more work to do.

Obama discussed race and gun control as part of the hour-long podcast interview, in the aftermath of the shooting deaths a week ago of nine black people at a church in South Carolina, allegedly by a 21-year-old white man with racist sentiments.

“I always tell young people in particular: ‘Do not say that nothing’s changed when it comes to race in America unless you lived through being a black man in the 1950s or ‘60s or ‘70s,‘“ Obama told Mark Maron, host of the “WTF” podcast.

He said the legacies of slavery and discrimination were still “part of our DNA that’s passed on.“

“We’re not cured of it ... and it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination.“

“Societies don’t just overnight completely erase everything that happened two to 300 years prior.“

Obama said one of the darkest days of his presidency was another shooting incident: The December 14, 2012, slayings of 26 people at a school in Connecticut by a 20-year-old man.

“I tell you, right after Sandy Hook, Newtown, when 20 6-year-olds were gunned down and Congress literally does nothing, yeah, that’s the closest I came to feeling disgusted,“ he said. “I was pretty disgusted.“

As part of the interview, taped on Friday just ahead of Father’s Day, Obama also discussed fatherhood and the frustrations of his job.

“Some of the mythology about me being very professorial, removed, that stuff ... I think it has to do with me not schmoozing enough in Washington because I’ve got two kids,“ he said. “And it’s true that I don’t do the cocktail circuit.“

Thousands lose power when naked woman crashes into Seattle-area utility pole

SEATTLE, WA —More than 4,000 people in a Seattle suburb lost power on Friday after a woman driving naked crashed her car into a utility pole, police said.

There were live power wires down on the car when a police sergeant came across the crash scene in Shoreline, just north of Seattle, around 1:30 AM, said Detective Jason Houck, a spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Department.

Firefighters and utility crews disabled the wires and found a 24-year-old woman inside the car who was in and out of consciousness, he said.

She was not wearing any clothes, he said. The woman, who was not badly injured, was taken to a hospital where blood was drawn to determine if she was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Houck said.

She could face criminal charges depending on the outcome of the test.

The crash knocked out power to about 4,400 people for about four hours, Houck said.

Seattle City Light had power restored by about 5:30 AM, the utility said.

“Many people didn’t know until they woke up late for work because their alarms didn’t go off,“ Houck said.

World News

The Gilmer Free Press

Woman carrying cocaine in breast implants arrested at Colombia airport

BOGOTA, COLUMBIA—A Honduran woman carrying 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) of liquid cocaine in her breast implants was arrested at the airport in Colombia’s capital Bogota on Friday, police said.

Paola Deyanira Sabillon, 22, was attempting to travel to Spain when her apparent nervousness aroused suspicion in the security line, airport police colonel Diego Rosero told journalists.

X-rays revealed a recent surgery on Sabillon’s breasts and she confessed that an unknown substance had been implanted which she was meant to take to Barcelona, police added.

Authorities said a preliminary investigation showed that the surgery took place at a clandestine clinic in the city of Pereira, in western Colombia.

The implants were removed at a Bogota hospital where Sabillon is also being treated for an infection.

Some 300 tonnes of cocaine are produced per year in Colombia, long a hub for drug production and trafficking.

GSC Student Brings New Color to Campus

GLENVILLE, WV — Glenville State College is seeing some new landscape work thanks to Criminal Justice major Stephanie Giffin of Mineral Wells (Wood County), West Virginia.

“I have always had an interest in landscaping and gardening and I’m excited to combine my interests with the chance to add some color and inviting looks to GSC’s campus,” said Giffin.

The Gilmer Free Press
GSC students Jade Spencer (L) and Stephanie Giffin (R) take a break from
their landscaping work atop a giant stack of bagged mulch

In a recent conversation with GSC Residence Hall Director Jerry Burkhammer, Giffin volunteered her skills to help update the planter in front of Goodwin Hall, the main residence hall on campus. Lowes of Parkersburg donated flowers and potting soil in response to a request made by Burkhammer and Giffin. Since then, she has been working to spruce up the landscaping by removing some old plantings and even creating a new Pioneer blue flower box in the shape of the Glenville ‘G.’ Giffin became certified in landscaping through a horticulture and gardening class during her time at Parkerburg South High School.

“One day we were discussing ways to improve the looks on campus when Stephanie mentioned that she could do landscaping. She then drafted a plan, on her own, which was approved by the campus Physical Plant. Stephanie has been hard at work since picking up the supplies from Lowes. I am very excited and proud of her,” said Burkhammer.

To add the finishing touches Giffin and fellow student Jade Spencer recently spread new mulch throughout the updated planter.

Continuing into the summer Burkhammer hopes to work with Giffin and other volunteers to update the landscaping for Pioneer Village as well.

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Farm Service Agency County Committee Nominations Began June 15, 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

The nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees began on Monday, June 15, 2015. This year’s elections will be for Lewis County Local Administrative Area (LAA) 1, which represents all Lewis County farm operations located South of U.S. 33 and East I-79. Election will also be in (LAA 6) which represents all Upshur County farm operations that-Coincides with the Meade, Banks and Washington Magisterial Districts.

COC elections in (LAA 4) represent all Gilmer County farm operations that-Coincides with Dekalb & Troy Magisterial District.

It is important for county committees to reflect America’s diversity, all eligible farmers and ranchers, including beginning farmers are encouraged to get involved in this year’s elections. FSA has seen an increase in the number of nominations for qualified candidates, especially among women and minorities a trend the Agency would like to see continue.

To be eligible to serve on a FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area where they are nominated.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at Nomination forms for the 2015 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on August 03, 2015.

FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters beginning November 09, 2015. Ballots will be due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by December 07, 2015. Newly elected committee members and alternates will take office on January 01, 2016.

While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm ownership or operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, there are about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consisting of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.

FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning November 03, 2014. Ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by December 01, 2014. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on January 01, 2015.

West Virginia State Folk Festival

GLENVILLE, WV — The sounds of Appalachian music reverberated through the hills of Glenville this weekend for the 66th State Folk Festival, serving as a beacon for those wanting to take a step back in time.

“The premise of the folk festival is to preserve and educate if possible the Appalachian culture of music, crafts, artisans and things along that line,” Joe Yurkiewicz, one of the volunteers who helps plan the festival said. “If it’s not the oldest of it’s kind in the North American continent, it’s at least the second oldest.”

The festival highlights the music that came to West Virginia from the Welsh, Scottish and English when they originally came to the country and the versions that developed from that origin over the years, which most notably includes bluegrass.

The ability of the festival to preserve the history of the music over the years has drawn the attention of those from the point of origin, according to Yurkiewicz.

“There’s been a resurgence in England and we’ve had some English folks come over because they had to come over here to be able to find the tunes and the words to the music that originated from them.”

The main musical draw, if you ask Yurkiewicz, would be the square dancing.

Hundreds of all ages participate on the elevated dance floor right on Court Street each night as callers orchestrate the moves as the house band plays away.

Due to its popularity, builders have had to extend the dance floor year after year.

“It’s grown by 14 to 16 feet over the last couple years because of the number of people that come to attend the square dance,” Yurkiewicz said. “It seems to be the biggest draw around because it is a nice, floating platform so it doesn’t impact on the dancers’ feet.”

For those that may not be interested in the music or dancing, other activities throughout the festival take a look at life in the earlier years of the Mountain State. Whether it be a craft or other demonstration, visitors can get a hands-on experience.

Keeping with the theme of tradition, the vendors at the festival are typically selected on the grounds that they make what they sell.

However, not all are selling traditional wares, as one element does not seem to go over well.

“It’s hard to sell traditional cooking to the people because it’s normally bland and it’s not what they’re used to,” Yurkiewicz said. “They don’t go for it.”

The festival concluded Sunday morning after a church service and singing, but preparations for the 2016 festival will begin shortly after as volunteers said it’s a year-round process.

~~  Aaron Payne ~~

Don’t Be In Violation of AST Act - Get Tanks Labeled Now

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV – Owners and operators of aboveground storage tanks are encouraged to immediately begin labeling their tanks in order to comply with the requirements of the new Aboveground Storage Tank Act, passed by the state Legislature on March 14. The legislation, Senate Bill 423, requires that, at a minimum, each AST be labeled with the following information:

• the tank registration number, once it has been issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection;

• the emergency contact telephone number for the owner or operator of the tank; and

• the telephone number for the DEP’s Spill Reporting Hotline, which is 1.800.642.3074.

To comply with the law, all tanks meeting the act’s AST definition should be registered with the DEP by July 1, and display the registration number on the tank once it has been issued. DEP is recommending that AST labels or markings be placed at least 3 feet above ground level, and be clearly visible and legible from a public roadway, public right-of-way or from outside the containment area. Also, the lettering should be high-contrast colors, and should be at least 1 ½ inches in height or larger. If signs are used instead of labels, it is recommended they be at least 2 feet by 2 feet in size. Labels or markings should be kept clearly visible and legible at all times.

“Having spill contact and registration information on tanks is a common sense requirement that tank owners and operators need to pursue now,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman. “Owners and operators will be subject to enforcement if unlabeled tanks are encountered.”

For more information on this and other AST requirements now in effect, please visit

State Literacy Campaign Continues to Move Forward

The Gilmer Free Press

Charleston, WV—The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), under the auspices of the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE), continues to gain momentum in improving reading proficiency across West Virginia. The WV Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade Level Reading, is the state’s effort to close the literacy achievement gap for West Virginia children ages birth through grade three.

The development of the WV Campaign for Grade Level Reading was a groundbreaking step in the WVBE’s journey to meet Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s challenge to assure all students are reading at grade level by the end of the third grade. Recently, Gov. Tomblin allocated $5.7 million to the campaign which has enabled county early literacy teams to have the resources necessary to advance efforts toward third grade literacy proficiency.

“County early literacy teams have determined localized needs based on their county’s current data to focus on one or more components of the WV Campaign,” Clayton Burch, WVDE’s Chief Academic Officer for Teaching and Learning noted. “County teams have submitted plans that will increase current efforts to support areas such as school readiness,  school attendance, extended day and extended year learning opportunities, family engagement, and/or high-quality instruction and learning.”

A network of support through the WVDE’s Office of Early Learning and Marshall University’s June Harless Center for Rural Education Research and Development promotes a coordinated infrastructure that assists counties and RESA’s with the implementation of the various components of the statewide campaign.

“A foundational component of the WV Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade Level Reading is the fact that schools cannot close the literacy achievement gap alone,” said state Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. “Partnering with national, state, and local agencies and organizations has resulted in a truly comprehensive approach to closing the literacy achievement gap and to supporting literacy achievement by grade three.”

All 55 county early literacy teams will have a chance to share their successes at a two-day meeting on July 20-21, 2015 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston. The meeting also provides opportunities to learn more about the various community, regional, and state organizations and agencies that are available to potentially assist with closing the literacy achievement gap in our state. 

For additional information, contact Monica DellaMea at .

Did You Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:


The historic church where a white gunman is accused of killing nine black members welcomes friends and strangers for its first worship service since the shooting.


A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit filed on behalf of Muslims with no ties to terrorism, who were rounded up after the Sept. 11 attacks.


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras heads to Brussels for a crucial emergency eurozone summit aimed at reaching an agreement between Athens and its international creditors.


Defense Secretary Ash Carter says he aims to bolster Europe’s ability to deter Russia’s military actions while still being able to rely on Moscow to fight terrorism and hammer out a nuclear agreement with Iran.


Travis Boys, accused of shooting and killing a police officer while being transported to jail, was still wearing his broken handcuffs as he tried to board a New Orleans bus.


He says they did nothing when intelligence indicated that Jews, Christians, homosexuals and others were being transported to death camps in Europe during World War II.


Arch-enemies Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers are in a common battle against the shared threat of jihadis aligned with the Islamic State group.


Investigators tracking two men who escaped from a northern New York prison are scouring a rural area near the Pennsylvania border.


It says the terms of the $47 billion offer are inadequate and “woefully skewed in favor of Anthem shareholders.“


The singer wrote an open letter criticizing the company’s new streaming music service for failing to pay artists for a free three-month trial

West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press

WV adoptee opening home by becoming foster parent

PARKERSBURG, WV — Adopted as a newborn, Stephanie Hayhurst-Hall wants to give back.

Hayhurst-Hall and husband, Jason, who have a 6-year-old son, decided to become foster parents with the Wood County Chapter of the West Virginia Children’s Home Society last summer, and hope to adopt a child or several children through the same system.

According to the West Virginia Children’s Home Society, in 2013-2014, the society helped find 62 children a lifetime family. Foster parents provided 44,862 days of care to 294 children statewide. Last year 36 siblings were adopted by 14 families.

Local Children’s Home Society officials said they daily get calls looking for homes for children and they have to often place them outside their home community because there are no local placements available.

“We currently have 25 families but most of them are at capacity,“ said Carna Metheney-White, Child and Family Services supervisor with the Wood County offices of CHS.

“On any given day in West Virginia there are over 4,000 youth in foster care and approximately 1,000 of them are available for adoption. Our kids range in age from newborns to teenagers transitioning into adulthood that need a stable, supportive environment. We often see siblings that end up being separated because we don’t have homes that are able to take them together. I would love to see more families willing to take in siblings and older youth,“ Carna Metheney-White said.

Hayhurst-Hall was in the foster system for only a few months before she was adopted by the loving couple who became “her real mom and dad.“

Growing up in Ritchie County, Hayhurst-Hall went on to get an education degree from Marshall University and a master’s degree from West Virginia University in social work. She moved to North Carolina for a while to teach school then returned to the area. She is now an insurance agent with her offices in Clarksburg.

Hayhurst-Hall advocates telling adopted children they are adopted.

“My mother and father, they are my world. They told me I was adopted the first time I asked; there were never any secrets; they were very honest about it. I feel very passionately that it’s very important to children who are adopted that they know, and not feel like they grew up not knowing and finding out later,“ she said. “Any adoptive parent will tell you, even though they want their child to know, it is very hard, emotionally talking about it.“

Hayhurst-Hall said she is often asked if she’s glad she was adopted.

“The answer is yes. I thank God every day for giving me a life I would never have had otherwise. I am so relieved that I was given the special gift of being adopted — especially now that I am older and can understand what could have happened to me if I would have stayed in the system,“ she said.

Hayhurst-Hall said she had no information about her biological parents, but after an illness a physician told her she needed to try to get medical information about them. She went to CHS in Charleston, filled out the paperwork and was able to get some information.

She still doesn’t know who her birth father is.

“I’ve come to terms with that as an adult. I’ve come to terms there will be a lot of the mysteries that will always be there,“ she said.

A few years after setting up her Clarksburg business, her birth mom found her and contacted her on Facebook. Hayhurst-Hall said she responded, but developed rules.

“I’m at a time in my life that I feel I’m well-adjusted, and I don’t really desire to have a relationship with her,“ she said.

Hayhurst-Hall said after a miscarriage the couple decided to more seriously look into adoption.

“I’ve always wanted to adopt, that was always my plan. I truly believe that God brings you to something. I had wanted to adopt, my husband was open to it, and we just decided now was the time and we started the classes and the process at the Children’s Home Society,“ she said. The couple became foster parents last summer and hope to eventually adopt one or more children.

Hayhurst-Hall said people have the misconception you can’t be a foster parent and work outside the home.

“We are both very involved with our businesses and our communities. Single parents can also be foster parents. You can decide as a family what children are a good fit for your home; you can work with the agency to decide on the placements,“ she said.

Hayhurst-Hall is an advocate for change in the system.

“I think change is long overdue in West Virginia. We have a broken system. I believe the earlier you can adopt these children, the less issues that are going to arise. Our system needs to be corrected for the sake of our children and their future; abuse, neglect, we have to step in at an younger age and say enough is enough and let these children go on - and live a normal life and not be subject to the system,“ she said.

Hayhurst-Hall said she and her husband have talked with legislators about changes they feel are needed in the system.

“It shouldn’t take 18 months to decide what is going to happen with a child. There is a small number of cases where the biological parents make the effort to change - but it seems to be a cycle,“ she said.

“The children learn what they are taught. We need more people to come forward and be foster parents. We need to make changes, stand up for children. We need to make sure the parents prove themselves. It’s not always the best option to have the child returned. We need to be an advocate for our children and that’s being an advocate for society,“ she said.

For more information on becoming a foster parent or adopting through the West Virginia Children’s Home Society contact the local offices headquartered at 1717 St. Marys Ave., Parkersburg, or call 304.485.0650.

Task force receives $484,000 from seized property auction

BRIDGEPORT, WV - The Greater Harrison Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force has received more than $480,000 from the sale of properties seized during a drug investigation.

The 10 properties included a former church and an uninhabitable home in Clarksburg.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury conducted the auction last week in Bridgeport in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service. IRS special agent Mary Lou Prillaman said the sale’s proceeds totaled $484,000.

The properties were seized during an investigation of the Hot Stuff and Cool Things stores in Buckhannon and Clarksburg. Authorities have said the stores were major distributors of hallucinogenic bath salts in north-central West Virginia.

Authorities raided and closed the stores in 2012.

New Fayette County superintendent ready to talk

FAYETTEVILLE, WV — New Fayette County School Superintendent Terry George is excited about beginning his new job in the coming days.

“I’m interested in moving in and having the opportunity to look at a long term solution for some of the issues in Fayette County,” George told MetroNews last week just days after being appointed to the job by state School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano to replace Serena Starcher who is heading back to the state Department of Education.

George is leaving Randolph County to head to Fayette County where voters earlier this month rejected a $39 million school bond issue. The county has some major issues with facilities; something George said cannot be solved overnight.

“I’m just looking forward to meeting everyone, sitting down, listening,” he said, “I’m getting an opportunity to talk to people to find out what their interests are, what their concerns are, and what they would like to see happen to the school system in Fayette County.”

George spent last weekend looking for some housing in the Fayetteville area. He said he told Superintendent Martirano he was interested in staying for the long haul to get the system headed in the right direction.

“I’ve met some of the people in the county central office. I think they’re just fantastic people. I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity to work with them,” George said.

George officially begins the new job July 01 but indicated he plans to be on the job a few days early.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Across U.S., over 220 prison escapees listed as on the loose

NEW YORK, NY — Somewhere out there are an admitted killer who crawled through a Texas prison’s ventilation ducts, a murderer who apparently escaped from an Indiana institution in a garbage truck, and a Florida convict who got other inmates to put him in a crate at the prison furniture shop and had himself delivered to freedom by truck.

They’re among more than 220 state prison escapees nationwide who are listed as on the loose, The Associated Press found in a coast-to-coast survey.

Most broke out decades ago, meaning the chances of finding them have dwindled dramatically — that is, if they’re even alive.

Still, “you don’t forget about them,“ said former Oklahoma corrections chief James Saffle, who worked for 11 years tracking escaped convicts. “Sometimes, some little action they take will trigger something.“

For the past two weeks, up to 800 federal, state and local law enforcement officers have been searching the woods and swamps around a maximum-security state prison in far northern New York for two convicted killers who used power tools to break out. The hunt is still in the early and intensive on-the-ground phase.

After sightings wane and the dragnets come up empty, some states regularly revisit escape cases, keep an eye on vanished prisoners’ associates and check fingerprint databases, death certificates or other sources for new leads.

But investigators largely have to hold out hope that they will get a tip out of the blue or that the convict will slip up, perhaps by contacting a relative or getting arrested for another crime.

Successful escapes from secure, fenced prisons are rare. At least 24 states say they have no such prisoners at large.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported about 2,000 state and federal inmates escaped or went off without leave in 2013. But the figure doesn’t indicate how many were caught and does not distinguish between breaking out of prison and walking away from work release or other unfenced settings.

The AP asked all states for a current total of escapees from secure, locked state prisons where they were held full time. California, the most populous state, and Ohio couldn’t immediately provide an answer, and others responded only for recent decades, so the total is almost certainly higher than the 224 the AP counted.

Officials say most of the breakouts are decades old because prisons have become more secure. Some escapees are surely dead. One 1955 absconder from Illinois would now be 112. One escape on Alabama’s list happened in 1929. Maryland’s 90 unsolved escapes date to 1937, many involving the notorious and now-closed Maryland House of Correction, which had a long history of riots and mass breakouts.

Some fugitives’ whereabouts are no mystery.

Joanne Chesimard was granted asylum in Cuba after her 1979 escape from the New Jersey prison where the former Black Panther was serving a life sentence in the killing of a state trooper. Jose Fernando Bustos-Diaz, the Texas inmate who squeezed through the ventilation system in 2010 to get out of a 35-year sentence for cutting his boss’ throat, is believed to be in Mexico.

But others could be anywhere, as New York officials acknowledged after Richard Matt and David Sweat cut their way out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, close to the Canadian border, on June 6.

In the early going, law officers can search on the ground and send out a “bolo” — for “be on the lookout for” — through a federal clearinghouse that disseminates alerts electronically to virtually every U.S. criminal justice agency. It’s a crowded message center: By the end of 2014, there were 13 million active records, including wanted notices, lists of sex offenders and stolen property records.

Investigators also “have to crawl into the mind of the fugitive,“ said Howard Safir, a former U.S. Marshals Service operations chief and New York City police commissioner.

Pursuers try figure out their target’s past addresses, associates, likes and dislikes, even survival skills, looking into such things as whether the convict had military experience or grew up hunting and fishing.

Captures often are quick. But after six months, a fugitive’s trail generally goes pretty cold, said Chuck Jordan, president of the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents. Pursuing decades-old cases is complicated by the difficulties of working with paper records and the passage of time.

Prison systems say they keep pushing.

Michigan said it reviews all escapees’ cases every six months and runs their fingerprints through databases every few years in the hope of a match. The Ohio State Highway Patrol checks criminal records, death certificates and social media annually for clues on cold cases, spokesman Lt. Craig Cvetan said.

“You don’t say, ‘Well, if we haven’t found the person by five years, we’re not going to do anything else with it,‘“ he said.

A convicted killer who escaped from a California prison work camp in 1975 was arrested in 2011 after authorities heard his dying mother had sought to contact him. They checked her phone records. A 1977 fugitive from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was caught last year after facial-recognition technology matched an old photo of him with the present-day Florida driver’s license he obtained under an alias. A North Carolina thief who spent four decades on the run simply called Kentucky authorities in April, saying he wanted “to get this behind me.“

“Nobody lives on an island,“ Safir said. “It’s very hard not to leave some trail these days.“


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on his opposition to the fiscally irresponsible defense bills and his strong support for the troops.

“First of all, I have always supported our troops, and I always will.  But for the first time since I have been in Washington, we are not legislating by crisis. We are not voting at midnight before a deadline expires. We are finally debating legislation that would set and fund our national defense policy almost three months before it would impact our service members. And while I commend Senator McCain and Senator Reed for their leadership and their commitment to protecting our troops, I believe we should work over the next three months to get it right.

“Today, I was asked to vote for two defense bills that included more than $35 billion in a hidden slush fund to support unaccountable and endless wars. We used this gimmick to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without paying for them, and that added more than a trillion dollars to our deficit. These were not bills I could support, because I believe we owe it to our country and our troops to have a coherent strategy to win the wars we are currently fighting, bring our troops home and support our servicemen and women the way they have supported us. These bills do not do that.

“While I fully support our troops, I cannot support defense bills that attempt to dump more than $35 billion into a hidden Overseas Contingency Operations account to fund never-ending wars with no accountability, review or oversight. We have lost more than 6,800 of our brave service members, deployed more than 2.5 million of our troops, impacted countless military families, spent more than a trillion U.S. dollars and we have trained and equipped foreign fighters – none of this has made a difference in that part of the world.

“We have more than enough time to have a robust debate on the responsible policies we should be pursuing. I have said this from day one: the U.S. has – and will continue to have – the greatest military in the world. But in order to remain the most powerful country on Earth, we must have a coherent policy to win the wars we are fighting, responsibly fund our troops and our commitments to our veterans and get our financial house in order.”

Egg shortage cutting into restaurant profits, menu items

OMAHA, NE — Those who like to indulge in a good omelet or quiche at the local cafe should prepare to pay a little more – if it’s even on the menu.

Restaurants are struggling to deal with higher egg prices and an inability to get enough eggs and egg products in the midst of a shortage brought about by a bird flu virus that wiped out millions of chickens on commercial farms this spring. Some restaurants are pulling especially eggy dishes off menus while others are contemplating raising prices until the supply returns to normal.

Getting eggs from a smaller, local producer – which have largely been spared from the outbreak – has not protected Omaha restaurant owner Nick Bartholomew and other independently-owned eateries. His supplier’s inventory has dwindled to meet demand and production is down because of testing by federal safety officials. And the restaurant’s overall production costs have gone up by 15% in recent weeks, so he says he’ll have to raise prices soon.

“We’re now having to use three or four different producers and call around to different chicken farms to see what is available and when it will be available,“ said Bartholomew, whose restaurant, Over Easy, serves breakfast and lunch with a focus on local ingredients. The restaurant has already taken strata – an egg casserole similar to quiche – off the menu.

The H5N2 avian flu virus began showing up in Midwest commercial turkey and chicken farms this spring. To date, 48 million turkeys and chickens have died or were euthanized to prevent the virus from spreading further. The frequency of new cases has slowed dramatically in most states, though agriculture officials said last week that an Iowa chicken farm with 1 million egg-layers tested positive for the virus.

Because of the egg crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its forecast for table egg production this year to 6.9 billion dozen, a 5.3% drop from 2014. By late May, the price for a dozen Midwest large eggs had soared 120% from their mid-April, pre-bird flu prices to $2.62, industry analyst group Urner Barry said.

Prices began falling last week, but officials say it could take up to two years to return to normal production.

“The best-case scenario, we’re talking about a year before the availability is more robust,“ said John Howeth, the American Egg Board’s senior vice president in charge of food service and egg product marketing.

At Hi-Way Diner in Lincoln, Nebraska, owner Scott Walker said the surge in costs may force him to pass it along to his customers. The restaurant includes two eggs with every breakfast order, and offers an optional third egg for free. That comes out to more than 5,000 eggs a week, and the price per case has more than doubled to $37 since mid-April.

“I’m absorbing it right now, but I am due for a price increase,“ Walker said.

A popular breakfast spot for more than 20 years in Des Moines, Iowa, is contemplating a surcharge of 50 cents to $1 to each of their egg-heavy dishes because cases have rocketed from $18 to $40 in just a few weeks.

“It’s costing us between $400 and $500 a week,“ Waveland Cafe owner David “Stoney” Stone said.

It’s not just independent restaurants being affected, either. Restaurant chains, which typically have set-price contracts for food supplies, have seen those deals rescinded.

“Our contracts have been nullified until this is cleared up and the supply gets back on track,“ said Amy Rhoads, vice president of licensing and human relations for the parent company of Littleton, Colorado-based Le Peep restaurants, which has 54 restaurants in 12 states.

Nearly every Le Peep menu item includes eggs. There are no plans to change that, Rhoads said, because eggs are “so much a part of who and what we are.“ But the shortage is raising the chain’s costs significantly, and as a result, their prices are going up.

The uncertainty of how long the shortage will last is what’s most disconcerting for restaurant owners, Rhoads said: “It’s one of those things that, when you don’t know how bad it’s going to get or when the end is in sight.“

World News

The Gilmer Free Press

Millions of people bend and twist their bodies for Yoga Day

NEW DELHI, INDIA — Millions of yoga enthusiasts across the world bent and twisted their bodies in complex postures Sunday to mark the first International Yoga Day.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spread his mat among rows of people, including his Cabinet members and foreign diplomats, at New Delhi’s main thoroughfare, which was transformed into a sprawling exercise ground.

Thousands of people dressed in white sat on yellow mats under the Eiffel Tower, and similar events were held in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Beijing, Manila and other places. Modi had lobbied the U.N. to declare June 21 as the first International Yoga Day.

“We are not only celebrating a day, but we are training the human mind to begin a new era of peace and harmony,“ Modi told participants. “This is a program for the benefit of mankind, for a tension-free world and to spread the message of harmony.“

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Yoga Day participants worldwide. He recalled that he tried his first Yoga asana – the tree pose – during a visit to India earlier this year and said the once he regained his balance he “began to feel a certain peace of mind.“

“My hope is that yoga will give people everywhere the sense and the oneness we need to work together to live in harmony and usher in a life of dignity for all,“ Ban said.

Schoolchildren, bureaucrats, homemakers, soldiers and ordinary folk took part in the exercise, held in all Indian state capitals. In Modi’s home state of Gujarat, yoga events were organized at nearly 30,000 places, state officials said.

In Taipei, more than 2,000 participants rolled out mats and performed 108 rounds of the “sun salutation” – the sequence of poses often practiced at the beginning of a routine as the sun rises.

“They give themselves a piece of time to observe their mind and their heart, which I think in the modern society we need a lot,“ said practitioner Angela Hsi.

Fazel Shah, an Indian pilot working for a Middle Eastern airline, rushed from the airport on his stopover in Taiwan to join the event.

“Isn’t it awesome? I mean, just look at the number of people who are here, embracing it,“ he said.

He said yoga was probably born in India but belongs anywhere. “If you go up from where I am and look from the sky down, you don’t see borders, you don’t see religions, you don’t see nationalities, you just see one group of people. So, I just go down and meet up with them, that’s all.“

In Dubai, a 41 year-old Indian man attempted the world’s longest headstand. Ivan Stanley, who has lived in Dubai for 15 years, held the position for 61 minutes. He registered his attempt with Guinness World Records, which has yet to announce if he broke the record.

He later told reporters that he relied on his mental strength. “Up to 45 (minutes), it started getting physically a little challenging in my shoulder and neck but after that it was completely mental,“ he said. “The last five minutes were really hard.“

Many believe that yoga, the ancient form of exercise, is the best way to calm the mind and the best form of exercise for the body.

Indian officials said more than 35,000 people participated in the New Delhi event that was also an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest single yoga class at a single venue. Guinness representatives said they hired more than 1,500 members of a global accounting firm to count participants.

India’s Defense Ministry said that soldiers on the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground in the Himalayas, and naval cadets on navy ships at sea also had participated in the Yoga Day events.

Although Modi’s message was one of peace and harmony, many in India were concerned that the push for yoga was an attempt by Hindu groups to give a boost to Hinduism.

Many Muslims objected to the government’s exhortations to join the public exercise programs. Some Muslim leaders said yoga was a Hindu practice.

The government quickly dropped a plan for the “sun salutation” exercise, which Muslims found objectionable because it implied the sun was a deity. Also dropped was the Hindu “om” chant.

Some Christian groups were upset that the mass yoga sessions were being held at a time when they usually attend Sunday Mass.

Others were skeptical about the time and money spent by the government on Yoga Day.

“The government organizes these hyped-up events,“ said Sumita Rani, a primary school teacher in South Delhi. “Last year was the Clean India Campaign. What came of it? This city is as filthy as ever.“

WikiLeaks reveals Saudi intrigue and unpaid limo bills

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — At the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, diplomats talked about airing the grievances of disenchanted local youth using Facebook and Twitter. At the embassy in Khartoum, they reported anxiously on Iran’s military aid to Sudan.

Meanwhile, the Saudi mission in Geneva got stuck dealing with a multi-million dollar limo bill racked up by a Saudi princess and her entourage.

The incidents are mentioned in diplomatic documents published Friday by WikiLeaks, only the first batch of what the transparency group says will be a much larger release. But they’ve already provided an unusual level of insight into day-to-day Saudi diplomacy – giving a snapshot of the lavish spending habits of senior royals and the political intrigue percolating across the Middle East.

WikiLeaks so far has published roughly 60,000 documents, of which The Associated Press only has been able to authenticate a handful. But the organization has a long track record of hosting large leaks of government material and in a statement released late Saturday the Saudi government acknowledged its diplomatic servers had been penetrated ahead of the mass disclosure.

Many of the documents reviewed by the AP appear aimed at tracking Iranian activity across the region or undermining Tehran’s interests. An undated memo apparently sent from the Saudi Embassy in Tehran made note of what it called the “frustration of the Iranian citizen and his strong desire for regime change” and suggested ways to publicly expose Iran’s social grievances through “the Internet, social media like Facebook and Twitter.“ It also suggests “hosting opposition figures overseas, coordinating with them and encouraging them to use galleries to show pictures of torture carried by the Iranian regime against people.“

Saudis also kept a watchful eye on Iran’s friends, real or perceived. One 2012 memo warned that Iran was getting “flirting American messages” suggesting that the U.S. had no objections to a peaceful Iranian nuclear program so long as it had guarantees, “possibly Russian ones.“

Another memo, dated to 2012, accuses the United Arab Emirates of helping Russia and Iran circumvent international sanctions. A third memo – marked “top secret” – alleges that Iranian fighter jets bombed South Sudanese forces during a 2012 standoff over the oil-rich area of Heglig.

The Iranian Embassy in London did not immediately answer a request for comment Saturday.

There are many such hard-to-confirm stories in the Saudi documents.

One of the most inflammatory memos carries the claim that Gulf countries were prepared to pay $10 billion to secure the freedom of deposed Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The memo, written on a letterhead bearing only a single palm tree and crossed blades above the words “top secret,“ quotes an unnamed Egyptian official as saying that the Muslim Brotherhood would agree to release Mubarak in exchange for the cash “since the Egyptian people will not benefit from his imprisonment.“

Although the document is undated, the political situation it describes suggests it was drafted in 2012, when the Brotherhood appeared poised to take power. Senior Brotherhood official Mohammed Morsi served as Egypt’s first freely elected president from June 2012 to July 2013 before being ousted by the military.

It’s not clear if the idea of paying the Brotherhood to secure Mubarak’s release ever coalesced into a firm offer. A handwritten note at the top left of the document says the ransom “is not a good idea.“

“Even if it is paid the Muslim Brotherhood will not be able to do anything regarding releasing Mubarak,“ the note’s unknown author writes. “It seems there are no alternatives for the president but to enter prison.“

Still, the memo’s existence adds credence to the claim made in 2012 by senior Brotherhood leader Khairat el-Shater that Saudi Arabia had offered billions of dollars in return for Mubarak’s freedom – something Saudi officials hotly denied at the time.

Amid all the intrigue are other insights into Saudi attitudes abroad – especially their taste for luxury.

The AP found a 2009 invoice for an unpaid limousine bill racked up by Princess Maha Al Ibrahim, whom Saudi media identify as the wife of senior Saudi royal Abdul-Rahman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The invoice, from Geneva-based Golden Limousine Services and addressed to the Saudi mission there, says the princess skipped town after failing to paying a first installment of 1.5 million Swiss francs ($1.4 million at the time) owed to the company and her hotel. When the bill was brought to her attention, “she declared that the amount was too high” and asked diplomats to handle the negotiations over the payment.

Louis Roulet, the administrator of the limousine service, confirmed the document’s authenticity when reached by the AP and said he remembers the incident well. The total bill was “far more” than 1.5 million Swiss francs, he said, adding that it was eventually paid in full.

“We don’t work with this family anymore, for the obvious reasons,“ Roulet said.

Still, the Algerian-born Roulet was unfazed, saying these kinds of disputes were typical of the Arab customers he dealt with.

“I find this totally normal,“ he said.

Father’s Day 2015



We may not shower him with praise

Nor mention his name in song,

And sometimes it seems that we forget

The joy he spreads as he goes along,

But it doesn’t mean that we don’t know

The wonderful role that he has had.

And away down deep in every heart

There’s a place that is just for Dad…..

Happy Fathers’ Day to All Dads

West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press

the first Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition in WV

BUCKHANNON, WV — The “Almost Heaven Barbecue Bash” will be the first ever Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition in the state’s history this weekend.

A total of 41 professional barbecue teams from ten different states will participate in the cook-off.

There will be vendors offering barbecue on Friday, but the competition begins on Saturday.

“Folks are welcome to come down and stroll around once they get set up,” said Jody Light, an organizer with the competition. “They’re very outgoing folks.

These BBQ teams are competing all year in competitions for points. What makes this competition different from others that may have taken place in the state before is the meaning for the teams, an official event on their BBQ cooking tour.

“The big thing about the West Virginia event is that we are the only one that is sanctioned–the only one that has a proclamation to be the state champion in West Virginia,” said Light.

The winning team this weekend earns $2500 and an automatic invitation to the Jack Daniels Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee. That is considered the premier event for BBQ cooks.

“If you talk to the barbecue cooks, they’ll tell you that that is the World Series of barbecue,” said Light.

There will also be a People’s Choice competition including 25 competitors Saturday morning.

Other activities to help celebrate West Virginia Day on Saturday will include a scavenger hunt, corn hole tournament, a corn eating competition and a wing eating competition.

“Just a lot of things all day downtown and the list goes on,” said Light. “Lots of things for the whole family.”

School attendance drops on snow makeup days

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia counties that extended their school calendars into June to make up for snow days have experienced significant drops in attendance.

The Charleston Daily Maily reports that state Senator Daniel Hall of Wyoming has learned attendance in his district may have dropped below 10% this week.

Hall’s district includes Raleigh and Wyoming counties and part of McDowell.

That time lost to snow days was made up by rescheduling the last day of school, which angered some parents, teachers and students. This is the first year counties were permitted to extend the calendar to meet a requirement for 180-days of instruction. Hall wants state law to change so instruction time is based on minutes rather than days

The governor and education officials have defended the 180-day requirement.

WorkForce WV sends out surveys to thousands of contractors on prevailing wage issue

CHARLESTON, WV — No final decision has been made by the Tomblin administration on what to do if there’s no new prevailing wage in West Virginia by July 01.

WorkForce West Virginia is working to develop the wage but just recently sent out surveys to 5,250 contractors. It’s going to take a while to get those back according to WorkForce’s Research Director Jeff Green.

“With the survey going out we’re not going to be able to have that data by July 1st,” Green said on MetroNews Talkline. “At this point, right now, there’s discussion on what to do at the July 1st deadline. I don’t think there’s been a final decision just yet.”

The prevailing wage is what is paid to workers on construction projects that are financed by state money. The state legislature changed the prevailing wage law earlier this year, saying past wages have been too high. A new law shifts the responsibility of calculating the wage from the state Division of Labor to WorkForce West Virginia. The agency is to work with economic experts from WVU and Marshall. Republican lawmakers became upset earlier this month criticizing WorkForce West Virginia’s approach to coming up with the new wage, including the survey method. Despite the criticism, WorkForce decided to send out the surveys. Green is hoping half of them will be returned.

“We’ll be looking at the fair representation and getting a good balance and strong response rate through the survey and also making the point the (new) statute requires two minimal elements (to be used to calculate the rate),” Green said.

The two elements WorkForce is using include information from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the survey.

Green expressed confidence Friday in the process and the likelihood the information returned through the survey would represent what’s close to market scale on what is paid to workers.

“Yes, I certainly do,” Green said.

An estimated 3,000 gallons was of hydrochloric acid released, closing the road and leading to the evacuation of eight homes

FARMINGTON, WV — An environmental remediation contractor began working early Friday morning to clean up an area in Marion County after a tanker truck wrecked, spilling an estimated 3,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid.

At 3:05 AM, Marion County 911 received a call indicating a truck ran off Jamison Road in Farmington while navigating a sharp turn and tipped over.

Out of a total 6,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid contained in the truck, it is estimated at this time that approximately half was released. However, official numbers will not be available until the remaining substance is siphoned into another truck, according to state DEP Spokesperson Jake Glance.

While no water supplies were contaminated, workers with Pennsylvania-based SPSI, Inc. worked to excavate between four and five inches of dirt around the spill area. The crews were working to beat threatening showers, but dug a trench to catch runoff downhill just in case.

Eight homes along Jamison Road were evacuated with help from the Red Cross while the chemical was being extracted as a precaution, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

The driver of the truck was transported to Fairmont Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released for minor injuries.

With the crew from SPSI on scene was the state DEP’s Homeland Security and Emergency team, the Marion County OEMS, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Rescue Squad and the Farmington, Mannington, Fairview and Barrackville Fire Departments.

Jamison Road remains closed during remediation and while crews work to remove the wrecked tanker.

10-year State Wildlife Action Plan available for comment

BECKLEY, WV - The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has identified more than 600 animals and 400 plant species as having the greatest conservation need in the proposed 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan.

The proposed 10-year plan is now out for public comment through July 15 and can be found online.

Wildlife Resources Section chief Paul Johansen says the plan is a roadmap that will guide the agency and partners in making future habitat conversation recommendations in the state.

Federal regulations require all state wildlife agencies to develop a plan that identifies wildlife species of greatest conservation need and recommends management strategies for these species.

Some goals of the plan include preventing the decline of at-risk species and recovering threatened or endangered species currently on federal listings.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Bill Gates trust to pay $30,000 fine over horse manure

ORLANDO, FL—A trust affiliated with billionaire Bill Gates will pay a $30,000 fine over horse manure in a settlement expected to be approved on Thursday by a special magistrate in the affluent south Florida village of Wellington.

But the Microsoft Corp co-founder, ranked as the world’s richest person by Forbes magazine, will receive the village’s standard 80% discount on the fine, which at one point reached $147,000, said code compliance manager Steven Koch.

Gates bought a $9 million estate in 2013 in the name of Mallet Hill Trust in the equestrian community, which is home to the International Polo Club. The trust is affiliated with Gates, Koch said.

His property was cited beginning in January 2014 for placing an old manure bin too close to a canal, and for building a second bin without a permit to replace the old one, Koch said.

With as many as 12,000 horses in residence community-wide during the winter season, and 100,000 tons of manure produced a year, Koch said the community took proper disposal seriously to protect the nearby Everglades National Park and other waterways.

Koch said code violation notices were sent to the address of record, but apparently did not reach the appropriate contact at Gates’ trust. Fines began accruing at $250 a day in the summer of 2014, Koch said.

Koch, who was initially unaware of Gates’ affiliation, said the trust responded in late 2014 only after a reporter figured out who owned the property and the violation hit the news.

A representative for the trust did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The magistrate’s approval of such settlements is routine, said Koch, who added that Gates was unlikely to appear at the hearing.

White House to push tougher rules for fuel economy of trucks, buses

The Obama administration on Friday announced plans to tighten fuel-economy standards for heavy trucks, buses and vans, taking aim at a transportation sector that contributes a quarter of the greenhouse-gas pollution emitted by U.S. vehicles each year.

The proposed regulations would require truck manufacturers to dramatically improve engine efficiency over the next 12 years in an effort to cut down on fuel consumption and reduce the carbon-dioxide emissions blamed for global warming, administration officials said.

The measures, the latest in a series of White House initiatives aimed at addressing the causes of climate change, follow a 2012 effort to cut emissions from cars, as well as a proposal earlier this month to begin the process of reducing pollution from airliners.

Administration officials said the regulations, proposed jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, would affect new vehicles beginning in the 2021 model year, and would be fully phased in by 2027. The standards would apply to medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, a class that includes large trucks and buses as well as large pick-up trucks and vans.

The specific fuel standards would vary depending on vehicle size, and class, but EPA officials said fuel consumption would improve by about 24% over current standards.

“We’re delivering big time on President Obama’s call to cut carbon pollution,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “With emission reductions weighing in at 1 billion tons, this proposal will save consumers, businesses and truck owners money; and at the same time spur technology innovation and job-growth, while protecting Americans’ health and our environment over the long haul.”

The EPA said the proposals, if finalized, would reduce oil consumption by nearly 2 billion barrels and lower carbon emissions by 1 billion metric tons. Industry analysts said the proposals would raise manufacturing costs by as much as $12,000 to $14,000 for a large truck.

Opposition to the proposals was expected to be relatively mild, as the standards were developed in consultation with major truck manufacturers and reflect efficiency goals that industry analysts say can be achieved with existing technology.

“It’s not rocket science,” said Chester France, a former senior official with the EPA’s Assessments and Standards Division. He said he thought the efficiency improvement was “very, very reasonable.”

William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents air pollution control agencies in 41 states, said the reductions would “benefit, literally, every community across the nation.”

“The beauty of the proposal is that the cost of the necessary improvements, which are generally off-the-shelf technologies, will be paid for by the savings associated with the increased fuel efficiency – about one-third better than today – in a matter of a couple of years,” he said.

The Obama administration has touted gains in automobile fuel efficiency as one of its signature environmental achievements, one that officials say will lead to dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as well as substantial savings in fuel costs for consumers. The White House has pledged to reduce overall carbon emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by the year 2025.

The new truck proposals also include tougher standards for trailers, requiring manufacturers to use light-weight materials and more aerodynamic designs to improve fuel economy. EPA officials say higher sticker prices for new trucks and buses would be recouped by savings in fuel consumption within two years.

The measures are subject to a 60-day comment period and could be finalized as early as late August.

ME, WV senators seek to bridge digital “homework gap”

PORTLAND, ME — Two U.S. senators are introducing a bill they say will improve student access to the Internet outside of the classroom.

Maine Independent Senator Angus King and West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito are introducing the Digital Learning Equity Act of 2015. They say the bill would support states and school districts that pilot “creative methods to increase student access” to digital resources outside of school.

The senators say nearly a third of low-income households with school age children lack a high speed Internet connection. They describe the lack of digital resources as “the homework gap” and say it disproportionately impacts minority and rural students. The senators say the legislation is endorsed by numerous educational associations.

World News

The Gilmer Free Press

Italian couple run onto airport tarmac to stop plane in Malta

VALLETTA—An Italian couple ran out onto the tarmac of Malta’s international airport to stop a Ryanair jet from leaving for Italy without them, a Maltese court heard on Thursday.

Matteo Clementi, 26, and Enrica Apollonio, 23, got stuck in traffic on their way to the airport on Wednesday. By the time they arrived, the gate was closed and they were not allowed on board, Times of Malta reported.

They went to the next gate, forced open a security door, ran to the apron and began signaling to the pilots to let them on the plane. The engines were running and the stairs had been removed.

The two were not allowed on board and were arrested by security staff.

Their defense counsel said Wednesday was Apollonio’s 23rd birthday. She had been looking forward to celebrating it with her family “but instead spent it in a cell”.

The couple were fined 2,329 euros ($2,656).

Online human breast milk craze has serious health risks: experts

LONDON, ENGLAND—A growing online craze among some fitness communities, fetishists and chronic disease sufferers for buying and drinking human breast milk poses serious health risks, British experts said on Thursday.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, specialists said there was little evidence to support claims that the milk - traded via websites in a lucrative market for adult buyers - is some kind of super food that can boost health and fitness and ward off disease.

Claims that it even helps with erectile dysfunction and cancer have no clinical basis, they said. On the contrary, the experts warned, raw and unpasteurized human breast milk bought online can expose consumers to many serious infectious diseases, including hepatitis, HIV and syphilis.

It is also potentially very hazardous if used to replace a healthy balanced diet, Sarah Steele, a specialist at the global health and policy unit at Queen Mary University of London, wrote in the journal.

Nutritionally, she said, there is less protein in human breast milk than other milks like cow’s milk.

“Potential buyers should be made aware that no scientific study evidences that direct adult consumption of human milk for medicinal properties offers anything more than a placebo effect,“ Steele said.

She added that failure of women to sanitize properly when producing milk, failure to sterilize equipment properly, and improper or prolonged storage and transportation of milk can also expose consumers to bacterial food-borne illnesses.

“While many online mums claim they have been tested for viruses during pregnancy, many do not realize that (such)screening needs to be undertaken regularly,“ Steele said.

“Sexual and other activities ... may expose the women to viruses that they may unwittingly pass on to consumers.“

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