Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 03.10.15
On Monday, March 03, 2015 Chief Judge Richard A. Facemire held his motion day that had been rescheduled from Monday, February 23, 2015 due to a family emergency.
In addition to calling the docket for his March 2015 term he set 2 criminal trials:
• State of West Virginia vs. Desirae Miller
• State of West Virginia vs. Kyle Britner
Both had their trials set for Tuesday, April 28, 2015.
Miller is represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon and Britner is represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersville.
Britner will have a pretrial Monday, March 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM.
• Twenty-two criminal cases were called and capias’ were renewed in all of them
• Seven juvenile matters were heard.
Two cases were before the Court for sentencing:
• State of West Virginia vs. Joe Williams III
He was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton will be sent for diagnosis and classification at the penitentiary for 60 days as well as having a substance abuse evaluation before being sentenced on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at 9:15 AM.
• State of West Virginia vs. Clayton McCune
He was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon will also be going for 60 days diagnosis and classification and evaluations for anger management among other things before being sentenced on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 9:00 AM.
• State of West Virginia vs. Amanda Smith
(who appeared by video conference from Lakin Correctional Center) and who was represented by Jeff Davis of Clay was before the Court and her motion for reconsideration was denied.
• State of West Virginia vs. Roseann Shelton
She was before the Court for revocation of her probation.
Her attorney, David Karickhoff, appeared without his client who he reported is in California and going through a treatment program.
Judge Facemire agreed to allow her to continue in that program and transfer her probation to California if they will accept her.
He directed the Clerk issue a capias but to hold it in abeyance pending her transfer to California.
Her revocation hearing was continued until Monday, April 27, 2015 at 9:15 AM.
• A civil appeal out of magistrate court in the case of Amy Self vs. Richard Shaffer
It was reset for Monday, April 27, 2015 at 9:30 AM due to the illness and hospitalization of Self’s mother.
Shaffer has until Noon Friday, March 06, 2015 to pay $200.00 to the clerk for filing fee in this matter or it will be dismissed and no hearing will be necessary.
On Wednesday, March 04, 2015 Judge Facemire heard 4 juvenile matters and continued one final juvenile hearing until Monday, April 02, 2015 at 9:00 AM.
• Judge Alsop will hear hearings Monday on his regular motion day in Gilmer County.
• Tuesday, March 10, 2015 Chief Judge Facemire will indoctrinate the petit jury.
Monday March 09, 2015 was Judge Jack Alsop’s regular monthly motion day in Gilmer County and he had a 3 page docket to be heard.
• Ten juvenile matters were heard.
The magistrate appeal in the case of
• State of West Virginia vs. Matthew Butcher was set for a bench trial on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 1:00 PM.
Special prosecuting attorney Shannon Johnson will represent the state and Butcher will be represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.
• State of West Virginia vs. Teresa Riggs
She was released from home confinement and order to pay a minimum of $250.00 per month beginning Sunday, April 01, 2015 to pay off her court costs and fees.
She will be on probation for 18 months.
• The magistrate appeal in the case of Shock’s Well Service vs. Deloris Florence was set for a bench trial Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 2:00 PM.
Both parties are self represented..
• A civil pretrial was scheduled with trial still being set for Tuesday, April 07, 2015.
On Tuesday, March 10, 2015 Chief Judge Richard A. Facemire appeared and indoctrinated the petit/magistrate jurors and they were released with a letter from the Clerk with instructions to call the recording before 2 trial dates in April.
• One civil trial is set for trial Tuesday, April 07, 2015 and two criminal trials are currently on the docket for April 28, 2015.
Glenville Elementary School Evacuates Due to Natural Gas Smell
All Students, teachers, and staff were force to evacuate the school building on Tuesday afternoon about 2:40 PM due to strong natural gas smell.
Students were evacuated to school buses and sent home.
When the situation was investigated by the gas company, it was discovered that a natural gas line behind the school was left open on purpose.
Unfortunately the company had failed to notify and warn the school before their action.
All students and staff were safe.
Gilmer County first responders were on the scene.
2015 Congressional Youth Art Competition Winners Announced
Eight young artists have been selected as winners in the annual Congressional Art Competition which is on display in the Balcony Gallery of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston through April 6. The exhibition is sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts (WVDEA) and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH).
On Tuesday, March 3, Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin of the WVDEA welcomed guests, and Deputy Commissioner Caryn Gresham of the WVDCH, Aaron Metz, representing Congressman David McKinley, Fred Joseph, representing Congressman Alex Mooney and Michael Chirico, representing Congressman Evan Jenkins presented first-place awards to Boku Kondo of Ravenswood High School, Ravenswood, Jackson County; Brooklyn Lily of Pike View High School, Princeton, Mercer County; and Brooke Shull of Bridgeport High School, Bridgeport, Harrison County. The first-place winners received a $100 gift certificate from Dick Blick Art Materials and their work will represent West Virginia in the annual Congressional Art Competition for art students.
An additional five second-place winners received awards including Brooke King of Ripley High School, Ripley, Jackson County; Lauren Lyons of Grafton High School, Grafton, Taylor County; Megan Matt of Huntington High School, Huntington, Cabell County; Eleanor Paybins of Capital High School, Charleston, Kanawha County; and Michaela Swiger of Lincoln High School, Shinnston, Harrison County. Second-place winners received a $50 gift certificate from Dick Blick Art Materials.
The Congressional Art Exhibition consists of 75 pieces by 70 students, grades 9-12, from 11 West Virginia counties. Artworks in the annual exhibition were selected from a statewide competition.
All winners were selected by Laurie Goldstein-Warren of Buckhannon. She has worked and studied extensively in watercolors and her work has been shown nationally and internationally, as well in regional venues. She is a member of nine watercolor societies and has been included in publications by North Light Books.
Goldstein-Warren led a workshop from 9 a.m. to noon, “Techniques of Working With Watercolors.” Students learned about paper, brushes, paint and various techniques. She also helped students create their own original abstract watercolor piece.
Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual-art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated. The competition is sponsored by members of the United States Congress and culminates in a year-long exhibition at the United States Capitol building.
A complete list of students whose work is included in the exhibition is below.
For more information, contact Cailin Howe, exhibits coordinator for the division, at 304.558.0220 x 128, or email her at .
2015 Congressional Art Competition Participants
VAN JUNIOR/SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Belinda Thobois
Zeke Poore (Grade 10)
Texture Still Life - Graphite and Pencil
Britney Wilson (Grade 12)
Pine Cone Collage - Torn Paper
BRAXTON COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Pamela G. Lake
Daniel Frame (Grade 12)
Wolfiki - Collage
Ashlee James (Grade 12)
American Beauty - Colored Pencil
Laura Lake (Grade 12)
Autumn Water - Oil paint
Just Me - Oil pastels
HUNTINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Diana Frazier
Erica Budd (Grade 11)
Snow on the Limb - Photography
Isaac Carpenter (Grade 11)
January Sunset - Photography
Heather Childers (Grade 11)
Dragonfly at School Pond - Photography
Jordan Christian (Grade 12)
Water Drill - Photography
Breanna Clark (Grade 10)
Snowball - Photography
Austin Cooper (Grade 10)
Morning Rain - Photography
Kayla Crawford (Grade 11)
November Skies - Photography
Destiny Johnson (Grade 10)
Tree Branch - Photography
Drew Lauhon (Grade 11)
West Virginia B&W - Digital Photography
Megan Matt (Grade 10)
B&W Sunflower - Photography
Second Place, District 3
Tanner McCoy (Grade 11)
Snowy Morning - Photography
Emily Payton (Grade 12)
New River - Photography
Ian Simms (Grade 11)
Rising Star - Photography
Tianna Slash (Grade 11)
Hills of Fog - Photography
Bonnie Thomas (Grade 12)
Tree - Photography
LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Carolyn Light
Erika Hayhurst (Grade 10)
Savannah in Red - India ink and acrylic paint
Erin Huffman (Grade 10)
Who I Have Become - Charcoal, Prismacolor
colored pencils, paper
Allison K. McIntyre (Grade 10)
Reach - Graphite and Prismacolor colored pencils
Meredith Robinson (Grade 12)
Summer Dreams - Mixed media
Brooke Shull (Grade 11)
Garden of Heathen - Alcohol ink on panel
First Place, District 1
Michaela Swiger (Grade 12)
Morning Light - Clay board
Second Place, District 1
ROBERT C. BYRD HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Katherine Crim
Chayanna Beverly (Grade 12)
Shout it from the Roof Tops - White line block print
Jada Bisset (Grade 12)
Which Came First? The Tortoise or the Egg -
Collage, cut paper
James Crim (Grade 12)
From Dusk Until Dawn - Photography
Brooklynn Lehosit (Grade 11)
Infinite - Pen and ink
Alyssa Shanholtz (Grade 9)
Never-ending Shadows - Graphite
Bailey Spears (Grade 11)
Deer in a Forest - Marker, watercolor, salt
RAVENSWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Patricia Anderson
Shally Bailes (Grade 12)
Beans - Watercolor
Alissa Givens (Grade 11)
Bagged Object Study - Prismacolor
Boku Kondo (Grade 12)
Self Portrait - Acrylic
First Place, District 2
Caleb Marcellais (Grade 10)
Wild at Heart -Pen and ink
Hailey Miller (Grade 12)
I Can’t Bear It - Paper
Taylor Nuzum (Grade 11)
Ashton Irwin - Pen and ink
RIPLEY HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Debbie Sisson
Kylie Anderson (Grade 11)
Nail Polish -Acrylic
Ariana Buckley (Grade 9)
Sky Wheel - Photography
Kristy Canterbury (Grade 12)
I See You! - Photography
Sydney Casto (Grade 9)
Baron, The Hungry Horse - Photography
Allyson N. Davis (Grade 11)
Games We Play - Photography
Brooke King (Grade 11)
Spellbound - Pen and ink
Second Place, District 2
Kendra Sheets (Grade 12)
A Study in Black and White - Charcoal
CAPITAL HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Christy Pennington
Gretel Toloza Alvarez (Grade 12)
The Horse of My Dreams - Oil
Bethany Ansel (Grade 11)
I’m Looking At You! - Pen and ink
Kayla Barbazette (Grade 11)
We the People - Pencil and colored pencil
Nicholli Matheny (Grade 12)
The Sea Goat - Watercolor
Let’s Get Tentacle - Acrylic
Eleanor Paybins (Grade 12)
Stay Dreaming - Charcoal and chalk pastel
A Challenger? - Charcoal and chalk pastel
Second Place, District 2
Ambria Scott (Grade 12)
Oppressive Goldfish - Oil pastel
Happy Birthday - Oil Pastel
NITRO HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Deborah Pierce
Tiffany Bartram (Grade 12)
Pink Rose - Colored Pencil
Sabrina Chapman (Grade 10)
Untitled - Colored ink pens
Peyton Dolin (Grade 11)
Louise - Graphite
Enchanted - Graphite, acrylic paint
Jennifer Oxley (Grade 12)
Black Umbrella - Colored pencil
Jacob Stevens (Grade 12)
Rooster - Oil
SAINT ALBANS HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Debra Moore
Hannah Inman (Grade 12)
Cubistic Portrait - Oil Pastel
Cherith Marcum (Grade 12)
Furpig - Collage
Katelyn Stuckey (Grade 10)
Love Has No Color - Mixed media, collage
Lexi Yost (Grade 12)
Color of Fun - Mixed media
CHAPMANVILLE REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Karen Adkins
Haley Hensley (Grade 11)
There’s Beauty in Everything - Mixed media
Hannah Swartz (Grade 12)
Books Are Their Own Art - Mixed media
Abigail Triplett (Grade 9)
Connection - Mixed media
Sarina Vance (Grade 12)
Snow Day - Acrylic
NORTH MARION HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Linda Elmer
Sabrina Morris (Grade 12)
Monochrome in Blue - Pencil and colored pencil
Abby Ott (Grade 12)
Crystal Ball - Photography
WAHAMA JUNIOR/SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Susan Parrish
Danielle Lavender (Grade 12)
Broken Pieces - Oil
PIKE VIEW HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Katrina Runyon
Brooklyn Lily (Grade 12)
Candle Tree - Mixed media
First Place, District 3
GRAFTON HIGH SCHOOL
Art Teacher: Pam Thompson
Lauren Lyons (Grade 12)
Flight - Pencil and colored pencil
Second Place, District 1
Victoria Willett (Grade 11)
Woken - Pencil
Dark Money, Donor Disclosure Face Off in West Virginia Tug-of-War
The clash between “sunlight” disclosure of political donors and so-called “dark money” campaign financing is on full display in Charleston.
A $100,000 per plate breakfast benefitting a secretive conservative group was cancelled Sunday night after reporters received a copy of an invitation. Then, late Sunday, donor disclosure provisions were stripped from a campaign finance bill at the Legislature.
Dark money groups keep their donors’ names secret, and Kanawha County delegate Mike Pushkin says that’s bad for democracy. He says large, secret donations are especially unsavory as the state’s largest food bank struggles to stay open.
“The breakfast, the $100,000 eggs…they could put that money to better use,“ says Pushkin. “Help the working people of West Virginia by supporting the Mountaineer Food Bank that’s in danger of closing its doors in the next couple of weeks.“
Dark money defenders say political donations from rich individuals or corporations are a form of free speech. Several state senators have said the bill will not pass without the disclosure rules.
Gary Zuckett, executive director of West Virginia Citizen Action Group, says the Senate Judiciary Committee worked hard to reach a bipartisan compromise on campaign finance rules. He says as it passed out of the Senate, it included “sunshine” provisions, requiring the disclosure of donors’ names by groups that would otherwise keep them secret. It was taken up by a House committee.
“Then in the dark of the night, at literally 30 minutes before midnight, all of the sunshine disclosure language was taken out of the bill,“ says Zuckett. “It was passed by pretty much a party-line vote.“
The high-dollar breakfast was organized by the conservative group Go West Virginia Incorporated. Its president, Elkins realtor Mark Scott, declined to answer questions.
Zuckett says organizations like Go West Virginia are destructive to the political process because they fund negative campaign ads.
“Basically it’s all mud and lies,“ he says. “It’s one of the things we feel turns the voter off. It’s actually depressing voter turnout because everyone’s so disgusted.“
Senate Bill 541 will be up for debate in the House this week.
~~ Dan Heyman ~~
Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center: Local School Improvement Council Meeting - 03.12.15
Local School Improvement Council
Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center
Thursday, March 12, 2015 – 5:30 PM
I. CALL TO ORDER - Roll Call by President
II. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
III. LSIC PRESENTATION - CALHOUN-GILMER CAREER CENTER
DMV Announces WV Roadway Fatalities Down 18%
Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Pat Reed announced today that roadway fatalities in West Virginia are down 18% for 2014, compared to previous years. Commissioner Reed is also Governor Tomblin’s appointed Representative for Highway Safety, and said changes in driver behavior and awareness due to recent legislation may be the key factors in this significant decrease from 332 in 2013 to 271 in 2014.
In 2012, the Legislature passed Governor Tomblin’s distracted driving legislation, which bans texting while driving and is a primary enforcement offense. In 2013, West Virginia’s seat belt law was changed to become a primary enforcement law. In addition, the distracted driving legislation added primary enforcement to prohibit hand held cellphone use while driving, in addition to the ban on texting already in place.
Commissioner Reed believes that these key pieces of safety legislation, as well as public information awareness programs such as “Click It or Ticket” for seat belts and “Turn it Off. Put it Down. Just Drive” for distracted driving, have significantly contributed to the decrease in fatalities on West Virginia’s roadways. “Losing even one life is too many,” she said, “but knowing that we are moving in the right direction towards our goal of zero fatalities is encouraging.”
Bob Tipton, Director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, has been following fatal crash reports for 2015, and confirms West Virginia is still showing a continued decrease in roadway fatalities.
For more information, please call the Governor’s Highway Safety Program at 304.926.2509.
GOVERNOR TOMBLIN ANNOUNCES GROWING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES GRANTS
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today announced awards for seven projects totaling $135,720 in grants for the Growing Healthy Communities Grant Program.
“I applaud the ingenuity of these local leaders who are taking steps to make life healthier and more enjoyable for folks in their communities,“ said Governor Tomblin. “I’m grateful for the continued strong partnership between the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and the West Virginia Development Office for continuing to make this grant program, and the projects it supports, possible.“
The West Virginia Development Office administers the Growing Healthy Communities Program, with funding provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The program provides competitive grants for West Virginia Main Street and ON TRAC communities for activities that increase community health and wellness while also providing opportunities for downtown revitalization and development.
The projects include:
• Elkins ON TRAC: $25,000 grant to begin the implementation phase of the rail yard path to connect the Elkins Rail Yard to downtown attractions.
• Main Street Fairmont: $24,890 grant to begin the implementation phase of the Fairmont Connectivity Plan. Crosswalks will be painted with murals and artistic bike racks will be installed in the historic downtown, and community events will be held to encourage use and safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
• Main Street Kingwood: $12,490 grant to continue the development of the Preston County/Kingwood Farm to Table initiative by loaning iPads to local farmers to enable credit card, EBT, and WIC acceptance at the Kingwood Farmer’s Market. The project will also install a high-tunnel and community garden to encourage gardening among seniors and low income citizens in the area.
• Main Street Morgantown: $25,000 grant to design and implement way finding signage to connect existing trails, the Wharf district, and the downtown area.
• Parsons Revitalization Organization: $22,118 grant to add fitness stations and activity panels in Mill Race Park.
• Town of Shinnston: $14,500 grant to conduct a local business health assessment and enhance walkability by completing the Rail Trail and the trail in Ferguson Park.
• Town of Sutton: $11,630 grant to enhance the Sutton Farmer’s Market and promote bicycling in Sutton. The grant project will provide more canopies and tables for the Sutton Farmer’s Market, install a sound system and security system at the Sutton Farmer’s Market, and a plan for a permanent structure. The project will also install 18 bike racks in the area and hold an event to promote cycling.
WVU Extension & Other Experts Help Farmers Increase Knowledge and Profits at Farm Opportunities Day
Experienced farmers, new farmers and youths all have something to learn at the Farm Opportunities Day conference hosted by the West Virginia University Extension Service.
The conference takes place on Saturday, March 21 from 9 AM to 5 PM at the Glenville State College’s WACO Center in Glenville.
Participants will learn more about marketing and increasing income with their farms with an emphasis in topics relevant to small farms around central West Virginia. Industry experts will work with small groups of farmers to provide trusted, research-based advice in various topics.
New for this year, participants can pick from seven tracks for a day-long intensive session to get more in-depth information about a topic. Attendees can choose from a track in farmers markets, technology, small ruminants, beef cattle, beekeeping, high tunnel production and a “beginner farmers” course.
Two unique, hands-on opportunities exist with the small ruminant track and the technology track, both new offerings. The small ruminant track gives participants training with sheep and goats to learn parasite control using eye-lid color and body condition scoring. Computer training sessions in the technology track will help producers looking to improve their record-keeping and technology use in their operation.
In addition to the training, participants will have the opportunity to network at a luncheon that showcases locally sourced foods courtesy of the WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center.
The conference registration fee is $10 for those registered by March 11, and $20 after. Those under the age of 18 are admitted free but must pre-register. Registration is available by calling your local county office of the WVU Extension Service, or online at www.anr.ext.wvu.edu/farm-opportunities.
Connecting the people of West Virginia to the University’s resources and programs is the primary goal of WVU Extension Service and its 55 offices throughout the state. Local experts, like WVU Extension’s agents and specialists, work to help improve the lifestyles and well-being of youths, workforces, communities, farms and businesses through trusted research in the counties in which they serve.
For more information visit www.anr.ext.wvu.edu/farm-opportunities, or contact Daisy Bailey, WVU Extension Service- Gilmer, 304.462.7061, or Calhoun, 304-354-6332.
The Legislature Today 03.10.2015
At the legislature today, the pros and cons of consuming raw milk is debated in the House.
Senate Bill 30 passed overwhelmingly and heads back to the senate to consider house changes to the bill.
In the senate there’s more discussion about funding for state roads and another agreement for more study about that issue.
And we begin a two part series about ginseng.
Could it become a leading cash crop?
These stories and more coming up on The Legislature Today.
How Much Sugar Is in That? 7 Foods with Added Sugar
Health officials say people should eat less sugar. But that’s easier said than done.
Anyone who has tried cutting down on sugar knows to avoid cookies, sodas and candy. But sugar can be hidden in lots of other common packaged foods.
The World Health Organization finalized guidelines Wednesday saying people should keep intake of added sugars to just 5 to 10% of overall calories, which translates to about 25 to 50 grams of sugar a day for most people. The guidelines don’t apply to naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and milk, since they come with essential nutrients.
In the U.S., adults get about 11 to 15% of their calories from sugar; the figure for children tops that at about 16%. By comparison, sugar intakes ranges in Europe from about 7% in Hungary to nearly 25% in Portugal.
But many people aren’t aware of how much sugar they’re eating every day. In fact, that’s one reason the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing the first overhaul of nutrition labels in two decades. In addition to highlighting the number of calories per serving in a bigger, bolder font, the new proposed labels would also for the first time list sugars that are added by manufacturers.
In the meantime, though, companies don’t currently disclose how much of the sugar listed in the nutrition panels of their products are from added sugars rather than naturally occurring ones.
Here are seven examples of foods that might have added sugar or another sweetener like high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient:
SALAD DRESSING: Picking a salad over a ham sandwich seems like a virtuous choice. But the amount of sugar it comes with can vary depending on the dressing you put on top of it. Wish-Bone’s Deluxe French salad dressing, for instance, lists 4 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of sugar per serving (2 tablespoons).
SOUP: A cup of soup of soup is comforting thought, but even savory varieties can have sugar. A can of Progresso’s Rich & Hearty Beef Pot Roast has 4 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of sugar per serving, with a can containing two servings.
YOGURT: Another seemingly healthful choice that can come with lots of sugar. Some of the sugar is naturally occurring from the dairy, but companies add sweeteners too. A container of Chobani’s 0% fat Greek yogurt in black cherry flavor lists 17 grams (about 4 teaspoons) of sugar.
BREAD: That toast you’re about to smother with jam might’ve already been a little sweetened. A store brand of enriched white bread at the convenience store chain Duane Reade listed 2 grams (about half a teaspoon) of sugar for per serving (2 slices)
PEANUT BUTTER: It depends on the variety you pick, but peanut butter can come with added sugar too. Skippy’s Super Chunk variety lists 7 grams (almost 2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving (2 tablespoons).
CEREAL: Most people know that cereal has sugar, especially the varieties for kids. In some cases, you might be surprised that there isn’t much difference between options. Special K with Red Berries, for instance, has 9 grams (more than 2 teaspoons) per serving (1 cup), while Frosted Flakes has 10 grams (more than 2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving (3/4 cup).
FROZEN MEALS: In case it wasn’t clear by now, just because it’s not dessert doesn’t mean it doesn’t have added sugar. California Kitchen’s BBQ Chicken microwavable pizza has 7 grams (almost 2 teaspoons) of sugar in a single-serving pie.
West Virginia News 150311
HOUSE EDUCATION CHAIR WON’T SUPPORT MORE COMMON CORE STUDY
The chairperson of the House Education Committee says she’s “extremely disappointed” with a move in the Senate Education Committee to block the immediate repeal of the Common Core education standards in West Virginia.
The version of the bill that was pending in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday would keep the Common Core standards in place while a two-year study of the effectiveness of those standards, what West Virginia’s K-12 students are taught, is conducted.
As part of that comprehensive review on math and English standards, the state Department of Education would host public meetings on Common Core. Parents, teachers, school principals and others would have input in other ways as well.
“We adopted Common Core in 2010,” said House Education Committee Chair Amanda Pasdon (R-Monongalia, 51) of the Senate rewrite.
“How much more time is needed and how much more educational opportunity are we going to lose? How many more generations are we going to sacrifice before we decide this doesn’t work?”
Last month, the House approved a bill repealing Common Core, effective this July, with a 75-19 bipartisan vote. “It showed a true movement that we were representing the requests of West Virginians, of parents and educators across the state, and it certainly took a whole new turn (on Monday),” Pasdon said.
During Monday’s Senate Education Committee meeting, Committee Chair Dave Sypolt (R-Preston, 14) said pulling Common Core now would be “disastrous” for West Virginia’s education standards.
“Keeping Common Core would be disastrous,” Pasdon argued on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “As we continue on down the path of implementation of Common Core, we will only continue to see greater challenges. We’ll only continue to see greater concerns.”
Sypolt said the study will allow time for concerns about Common Core to be fully addressed, a move Dr. Michael Martirano, state superintendent of schools, applauded.
It was not immediately clear when the Senate Finance Committee would take up the reworked bill.
If the Senate passes the new version of the bill and sends it back to the House, Pasdon said she would not accept the changes.
Rejection from the House would then put the proposed Common Core legislation into a conference committee made up of both Senate and House members in the closing days of the 2015 Regular Legislative Session.
Saturday is the final day.
MCKINLEY “SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING” GUBERNATORIAL RUN IN 2016
West Virginia 1st District Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) confirms he is “seriously considering” a run for the Republican nomination for governor in 2016.
“We’re giving that a lot of consideration,” McKinley said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“Just a lot of facts have to come into play, (like) whether we can be of more service in the federal government or back here at the state. We don’t know.”
McKinley was first elected to the U.S. House in 2010 when he flipped a seat that, since 1969, had been a solid one for Democrats — with both Robert Mollohan and his son, Alan, representing West Virginia’s 1st District in Washington, D.C.
McKinley is a past chair of the West Virginia Republican Party who has previously run for governor.
In the 1996 Republican gubernatorial primary election, Cecil Underwood beat McKinley and Jon McBride in the Republican primary election. Underwood went on to win the November general election that year.
McKinley, a Wheeling native, began his 3rd term in the U.S. House this past January. With a background in professional engineering, he serves on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
As of now, McKinley is not ruling out another term on Capitol Hill.
“We’re doing fact-finding,” he said. “At this point in my life, I’m not looking for another career. I’m trying to find out — what’s the best way that we can help turn this economy around? I’m tired of West Virginia always being last in all these numbers.”
The 2016 primary election in West Virginia is scheduled for May 10 of next year. The general election will be held on November 08, 2016.
HOUSE PASSES RAW MILK BILL 81-19
Some members of the House of Delegates disagreed on the value of making raw milk more accessible to West Virginia consumers before passing the bill 81-19 Tuesday.
“I just don’t understand why somebody who maybe thinks that a nice cow giving milk is going to be better than buying it pasteurized off the shelf,” said Delegate Jim Morgan (D-Cabell) who used to own a dairy farm.
The bill (SB30) does not allow for the retail sale of raw milk but it does call for the establishment of herd share agreements where consumers could co-own a milk producing animal.
Delegate Michael Ihle (R-Jackson) said the bill was more about freedom of choice.
“I’m not here to make a value judgment about whether or raw milk is good, bad or indifferent for anybody. I just want to give somebody the freedom to put a simple, basic food product in their own body, to me that’s commonsense,” Ihle said.
Delegate Don Perdue (D-Wayne) said there’s information available that points toward the health problems associated with not having pasteurized milk, especially for children. He predicted delegates who voted in favor of the bill would regret that vote.
“Does raw milk pose a greater risk of food-borne illnesses than pasteurized milk? Of course, the answer is yes,” Perdue said.
But House Health Committee Chairman Joe Ellington (R-Mercer) said infections can come from anywhere. He said the milk bill was a matter of perspective and freedom.
The bill goes back to the Senate before heading to the governor’s desk.
$100K FUNDRAISER CANCELED BY WV CONSERVATIVE GROUP
A conservative group that has boosted Republicans has nixed its $100,000 per person breakfast fundraiser.
An invitation obtained by The Associated Press said the Go West Virginia Inc. breakfast would take place Tuesday in Charleston. It said donors wouldn’t be publicly disclosed.
Eric Lycan, an attorney for the group, said the event wasn’t held and none is currently scheduled. The Courtyard Marriott, where the event was supposed to take place, confirmed the fundraiser was canceled.
The politically active nonprofit bought advertisements bashing Democrats last election. The group is buying ads commending the newly minted Republican Legislature.
It worked alongside Grow West Virginia, a political committee that spent $1.4 million to help Republicans, but also discloses its bankrollers.
Go West Virginia held a $25,000-a-plate fundraiser in January.
WV GOVERNOR VETOES BILL NONPARTISAN JUDGE BILL, CITES ERRORS
Citing technical problems, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed a bill making elections nonpartisan for magistrates and judges, including state Supreme Court justices.
The change would apply to the Supreme Court, magistrates, circuit courts and family courts. The elections would take place during the May primary.
Republicans have said West Virginia is one of seven states with judges elected on partisan lines.
Several Republicans said the bill, at the least, would remove the appearance of partisan bias in judges.
Democratic Delegate Tim Manchin has said the bill failed to remove campaign contributions from judicial elections, which he considers a bigger problem.
The Republican-led Legislature still has time to correct the technical concerns. The 60-day session ends March 14.
Tomblin has vetoed five bills so far this year for technical errors.
PROPOSED WV-VA PIPELINE FINDING SOME RESISTANCE
Companies proposing a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia are threatening legal action against property owners who refuse to allow surveyors on their land.
Mountain Valley Pipeline is a joint venture between EQT Corp. and NextEra Energy Inc. It would run from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to another pipeline in Pittsylvania County in Southside Virginia. It would deliver natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale deposits.
Elise Keaton of the Greenbrier River Watershed Association told West Virginia Public Broadcasting the organization had received calls from landowners in four counties who had been mailed letters from the pipeline company.
EQT spokeswoman Natalie Cox said the company is trying to work with landowners to resolve their concerns, but legal action may be necessary to move the surveying forward.
OPERATION “NOT ONE MORE” AIMS TO PROVIDE HARRISON COUNTY SCHOOL CHILDREN WITH SMOKE DETECTORS
By providing functioning smoke detectors to elementary school students in Harrison County, a firefighter from Clarksburg is hoping to eliminate deaths that could have otherwise been preventable.
Captain Cindy Murphy, Director of Safety and Training for the Clarksburg Fire Department, knew she had to do something after a January fire in Wallace that claimed the life of 7-year-old Hannah Crock, as well as her brother Joshua Crock, age 5, and father David Lee Crock, Jr., age 34, where the smoke detectors in the home did not sound.
“It absolutely broke my heart that somebody I had talked to about smoke detectors was not able to make it out of their home,“ Murphy said.
Hannah had been in a classroom where Murphy spoke about the importance of having properly functioning smoke detectors in the home, as well as other fire safety tips.
Murphy knew she had to do something more.
“I walk in and I do these classes where I talk to the kids about checking their smoke detector batteries and changing them out twice a year—when you change your clock, you change your battery—but I wasn’t doing anything to ensure that there actually was a working smoke detector available to them,“ she said. “From that point, I said I just couldn’t do it this way anymore.“
After talking with her friends to figure out a way to make a difference, she approached Clarksburg Fire Chief Rick Scott with the idea of accepting donations to purchase 10-year smoke detectors and give them to Harrison County’s 850 first graders.
“The plan is I go and I do these classes and some places I’ve already been. I’m going to make sure that I walk back into that place and hand each of these first graders a ten-year smoke detector so that they don’t have to change the battery. All they need to do is test it to make sure it’s still in operation.“
Scott, as well as the community, was immediately on board and Operation “Not One More” was founded.
Murphy said the support has been rolling in from local business wanting to make donations, as well as citizens—she was approached by an anonymous individual who donated enough to provide 60 detectors.
To go the extra mile to make sure the detectors are installed, Murphy has been giving out her contact information for the students to use.
“If you are unable to put up the smoke detector yourself, please call me and I will talk to either one of my firefighters or someone out in the community in one of the volunteer fire departments that can come out and put this up,“ she said. “What I’ve had the kids do is actually take cellphone pictures of themselves up with their smoke detectors and send them back to their teachers so we know that we’re actually making sure those detectors are getting up.“
Murphy was a guest on Tuesday’s edition of “The Mike Queen Show,“ heard on the MetroNews-affiliated AJR News Network.
She said her goal was to provide all 850 first graders with the smoke detector well before the end of the school years in order to prepare for the new class the following year.
Donations can be made in the form of a check written out to International Association of Firefighters Local 89 with “Smoke Detector Program” in the memo line.
The checks can then be sent to the Clarksburg Fire Department at 465 West Main Street Clarksburg, WV 26301.
WV LAWMAKERS OKS BILL NIXING STRAIGHT PARTY TICKET VOTING
State lawmakers have approved a push to remove the option for voters to cast straight party-line ballots by checking one box.
On Tuesday, the Republican-led House of Delegates voted 87-13 to prohibit the practice. Only Democrats opposed the bill.
The Senate cleared a similar proposal last month.
Currently, West Virginia voters can select every candidate from a single party simply by picking the straight-party option.
Last election, almost 71,000 voters cast straight-party Republican ballots, compared to about 53,200 Democratic ones.
Only 12 states allow straight-ticket voting now.
The bill is expected to head to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin soon.
WV CLOSES 3 PAIN MANAGEMENT CLINICS FOR NONCOMPLIANCE
State officials have closed three chronic pain management clinics this year for failing to comply with a law aimed at reducing substance abuse.
The 2012 law gave the Department of Health and Human Resources oversight over pain clinic licensure and codified patient and health safety.
Since January, The Register-Herald reports that the department’s Office of Health Facilities Licensure and Certification has revoked the licenses of the Hope Clinic’s Charleston branch, Beckley Pain Clinic and the pain management operation of Med-Surg Group in Beckley.
Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Allison Adler tells the newspaper that the licensing office will continue a review of applicants until all facilities either achieve compliance or transition patients to other facilities.
ROLLBACK OF WV CHEMICAL SPILL LAW HEADS TO HOUSE FLOOR
A House panel narrowly approved a bill to scale back protections to prevent chemical spills from sullying water supplies.
The January 2014 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents for days spurred the tank law.
At 11:30 PM Monday, the committee voted 13-12 to send the proposal to the floor. Several Kanawha County Republicans opposed it.
An amendment adding safeguards was defeated 13-12.
The bill would deregulate about 36,000 aboveground tanks.
Currently, about 48,000 tanks are registered under the new law.
Approximately 12,000 tanks close to water supplies, or containing hazardous materials, would remain regulated with the bill.
Some lawmakers and industries have said current law goes too far, and the Department of Environmental Protection supports changes.
Environmental groups oppose reducing protections.
The Senate already passed the bill.
FEDS TAKE COMMENTS ON $5B NATURAL GAS PIPELINE
Supporters of a proposed $5 billion natural gas pipeline through eastern North Carolina say it will bring jobs to parts of the state that need them most.
But opponents worry the project will hurt property values and likely will not result in the number of jobs that supporters suggest.
Media outlets report about 100 people turned out Monday in Fayetteville for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing on the pipeline.
The pipeline is a joint project of Dominion, Piedmont, Duke Energy and AGL Resources. It would reach 550 miles from West Virginia to near Lumberton and largely parallel Interstate 95 in North Carolina.
The government is holding two more hearings on the project this week in North Carolina before holding similar hearings in Virginia and West Virginia.
HAZELTON INMATE DIES AFTER FIGHT WITH ANOTHER PRISONER
Federal authorities are investigating the death of an inmate following a fight at the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton.
The Dominion Post reports that the prison announced the death of 24-year-old Arvel Crawford on Monday evening. The prison said Crawford died Friday afternoon following a fight with another inmate in a housing unit. The second inmate was treated for minor injuries. He wasn’t identified.
Crawford’s death is being investigated by the FBI as a homicide.
The prison said Crawford was serving 93 years on charges of murder, conspiracy and possession of a firearm during a violent crime. He had been an inmate at Hazelton since August 04, 2014.
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THE SALARY YOU NEED TO BUY A HOME IN 27 U.S. CITIES
Here’s definitive proof that San Francisco’s real estate market is insane. HSH.com, a mortgage research site, has estimated how much salary you need to earn to afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home in 27 metro areas.
On a national scale, a buyer who puts 20% down would need to earn a salary of $48,604 to afford the median-priced home in America. But that total varies a lot from city to city. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis and Cincinnati rank as the most affordable metros in which to buy a new home – HSH.com estimates that you can buy the median home while making less than $34,000 – while New York, Los Angeles and San Diego are at the high end, requiring salaries of nearly $90,000 or more. But the most expensive city by far is San Francisco, where the site estimates you would need to make $142,448 to buy the median home in the area.
The site’s calculations assume that a buyer spends 28% of gross monthly income on housing, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance, (in line with industry guidelines for standard “front-end” debt ratios) and makes a 20% down payment on a house. To calculate the cost of buying the median-priced house in a given urban area, HSH.com combines its own average interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages in the fourth quarter; the National Association of Realtors’ data on median-home prices in the fourth quarter; average metropolitan property tax data from the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank; and statewide average homeowner insurance premium costs from the Insurance Information Institute, an industry organization.
The data is, of course, an estimate — for one, property taxes and insurance costs will vary depending on the property — but it gives you a good idea of how housing costs varied around the country in the fourth quarter.
THOUSANDS OF U.S. WORKERS OLDER THAN 100? THAT MIGHT BE SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD
Thousands of workers over the age of 100 applied for employment verification through the U.S. government in recent years.
It’s not a trend toward an older workforce, but a sign of identity fraud, according to federal auditors.
A recent watchdog review found that at least 6.5 million active Social Security numbers belong to people who are at least 112 years old and likely deceased.
But only 35 known living individuals worldwide had reached that age as of October 2013, according to the Gerontology Research Group.
The Social Security Administration’s inspector general said in a report on Monday that the questionable identification numbers put the government at risk of fraud and waste.
The review found that one individual opened bank accounts using Social Security numbers for individuals born in 1869 and 1893.
The official database of active Social Security numbers showed that both beneficiaries were alive, meaning they would be older than 145 and 121 years, respectively.
Auditors also discovered that nearly 67,000 Social Security numbers in recent years were used to report wages for people other than the cardholders. The workers reported about $3 billion in earnings between 2006 and 2011.
The report faulted the Social Security Administration for poorly managing data on “numberholders who exceeded maximum reasonable life expectancies and were likely deceased.”
Senators.Ron Johnson (R-WI)and Tom Carper (D-Delegate), who head the Senate committee that oversees the Social Security Administration, said in a joint statement on Monday that the agency needs to clean up its files to prevent fraud.
“It is incredible that the Social Security Administration in 2015 does not have the technical sophistication to ensure that people they know to be deceased are actually noted as dead,” Johnson said. “This problem has serious consequences.”
Among the issues that auditors found, nearly 3,900 Social Security numbers were run through the U.S. government’s E-Verify system for people more than a century old between 2008 and 2011.
“Not only do these types of avoidable errors waste millions of taxpayers’ dollars annually and expose our citizens to identify theft, but they also undermine confidence in our government,” Carper said.
Auditors proposed that the Social Security Administration take action to correct its death records, but the agency disagreed, saying it doesn’t want to divert resources away from efforts to improve payment accuracy with benefits.
“The recommendations would create a significant manual and labor-intensive workload and provide no benefit to the administration of our programs,” Social Security management said in a response to the review.
The agency agreed to other proposals, including one to resolve cases in which multiple individuals are using the same number.
MAJOR SURVEY SHOWS GUN OWNERSHIP DECLINING IN U.S.
The number of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun is lower than it’s ever been, according to a major American trend survey that finds the decline in gun ownership is paralleled by a reduction in the number of Americans who hunt.
According to the latest General Social Survey, 32% of Americans either own a firearm themselves or live with someone who does, which ties a record low set in 2010. That’s a significant decline since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when about half of Americans told researchers there was a gun in their household.
The General Social Survey is conducted by NORC, an independent research organization based at the University of Chicago, with money from the National Science Foundation. Because of its long-running and comprehensive set of questions about the demographics, behaviors and attitudes of the American public, it is a highly regarded source of data about social trends.
Data from the 2014 survey was released last week, and an analysis of its findings on gun ownership and attitudes toward gun permits was conducted by General Social Survey staff.
The drop in the number of Americans who own a gun or live in a household with one is probably linked to a decline in the popularity of hunting, from 32% who said they lived in a household with at least one hunter in 1977 to less than half that number saying so now.
That the number of households with at least one gun is declining doesn’t necessarily mean that the number being purchased is on the decline. Data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check system shows that in recent years there’s actually been an increase in the number of background checks being run, suggesting the total number of firearms being purchased is going up.
But those are concentrated in fewer hands than they were in the 1980s, the General Social Survey finds. The 2014 poll finds that 22% of Americans own a firearm, down from a high of 31% who said so in 1985.
The survey also finds a shrinking gender gap in personal firearm ownership as a result of a decline in the percentage of men who own one, from 50% in 1980 to 35% in 2014.
Fewer women than men own guns, but the percentage among women has held fairly steady since 1980, with 12% now saying they personally own a gun.
Only 14% of adults under age 35, but 31% of those over age 65, say they personally own a gun. That gap has increased over time — in 1980, younger adults were only slightly less likely than older ones to report that they owned a gun.
The poll finds half of Republicans live in households with at least one gun, which is twice as high as ownership among Democrats or independents.
People in higher-income households are significantly more likely than those in lower-income households to own a gun, the survey finds. Gun ownership rates also vary by race, with 4 in 10 white Americans living in households with a gun compared with less than 2 in 10 blacks and Hispanics.
Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely than whites to support requiring a permit to own a gun, although large majorities among all three groups support requiring a permit.
Support for requiring a gun permit climbed to a peak of 82% in the late 1990’s, but has fallen since then. The 72% who support requiring a permit now is at its lowest level since 1987.
Study: Thyroid Hormone Level May Affect Fetal Brain Development
A new study finds that not only low but also high maternal thyroid hormone levels during early pregnancy may significantly lower the infant’s IQ later in childhood.
The study results suggest that the common practice of treating pregnant women who have mild thyroid hormone deficiency may pose unexpected risks to the developing baby’s brain, Medical Xpress said.
Doctors already know that low thyroid hormone levels in pregnant women are linked to lower child IQ scores as well as other risks to the fetus. In this mild form of thyroid disease, there is an increased amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), the substance that spurs production of and maintains adequate amounts of the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, which control how the body uses energy.
“There is consensus to treat subclinical hypothyroidism because it is generally believed that the potential benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risks of overtreatment,“ said Tim Korevaar, MD, the study’s lead investigator and a PhD student at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “There was virtually no evidence in humans until now that mildly elevated levels of thyroid hormone could also be harmful.“
Korevaar and colleagues evaluated data from 3,839 mother-child pairs who participated in the Dutch Generation R Study, an ongoing study from fetal life until young adulthood. Between pregnancy weeks 9 and 18, mothers underwent bloodwork to measure their TSH and free T4, the active form of T4. The children to whom the women gave birth received an IQ test on nonverbal performance tasks between the age of 5 and 8 years.
The researchers found that the average nonverbal IQ of the children significantly decreased 2.1 to 3.8 points below the average of the reference group (those with free T4 levels in the middle of the range) when the mothers’ free T4 level was at or above the 89th percentile. This percentile is considered well into the normal range, according to Korevaar. The average child IQ decreased by a similar number of points when maternal free T4 levels were at or below the eighth percentile, indicating low-normal values.
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RUSSIA’S ANTI-AMERICAN FEVER GOES BEYOND THE SOVIET ERA’S
Thought the Soviet Union was anti-American? Try today’s Russia.
After a year in which furious rhetoric has been pumped across Russian airwaves, anger toward the United States is at its worst since opinion polls began tracking it. From ordinary street vendors all the way up to the Kremlin, a wave of anti-U.S. bile has swept the country, surpassing any time since the Stalin era, observers say.
The indignation peaked after the assassination of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, as conspiracy theories started to swirl — just a few hours after he was killed — that his death was a CIA plot to discredit Russia. (On Sunday, Russia charged two men from Chechnya, and detained three others, in connection with Nemtsov’s killing.)
There are drives to exchange Western-branded clothing for Russia’s red, blue and white. Efforts to replace Coke with Russian-made soft drinks. Fury over U.S. sanctions. And a passionate, conspiracy-laden fascination with the methods that Washington is supposedly using to foment unrest in Ukraine and Russia.
The anger is a challenge for U.S. policymakers seeking to reach out to a shrinking pool of friendly faces in Russia. And it is a marker of the limits of their ability to influence Russian decision-making after a year of sanctions. More than 80% of Russians now hold negative views of the United States, according to the independent Levada Center, a number that has more than doubled over the past year and that is by far the highest negative rating since the center started tracking those views in 1988.
Nemtsov’s assassination, the highest-profile political killing during Vladimir Putin’s 15 years in power, was yet another brutal strike against pro-Western forces in Russia. Nemtsov had long modeled himself on Western politicians and amassed a long list of enemies who resented him for it.
The anti-Western anger stands to grow even stronger if President Obama decides to send lethal weaponry to the Ukrainian military, as he has been considering. The aim would be to “raise the cost” of any Russian intervention by making the Ukrainian response more lethal. But even some of Putin’s toughest critics say they cannot support that proposal, since the cost is the lives of their nation’s soldiers.
“The United States is experimenting geopolitically, using people like guinea pigs,” said Sergey Mikheev, director of the Kremlin-allied Center for Current Politics, on a popular talk show on the state-run First Channel last year. His accusations, drawn out by a host who said it was important to “know the enemy,” were typical of the rhetoric that fills Russian airwaves.
“They treat us all in the same way, threatening not only world stability but the existence of every human being on the planet,” Mikheev said.
Soviet rhetoric was officially anti-Western, but it couldn’t repress ordinary Russians’ passion for the Beatles or their enthusiasm for getting news from jammed Voice of America broadcasts. Those positive feelings spilled over after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
But the list of perceived slights from the United States has long been building, particularly after the United States and NATO bombed Serbia, a Russian ally, in 1999. Then came the war in Iraq, NATO expansion and the Russia-Georgia conflict. Each time, there were smaller spikes of anti-American sentiment that receded as quickly as they emerged.
Putin cranked up the volume after protest movements in late 2011 and 2012, which he blamed on the State Department. It wasn’t until last year, when the crisis started in Ukraine, that anti-Americanism spread even among those who once eagerly hopped on planes to Miami and Los Angeles.
Fed by the powerful antagonism on Russian federal television channels, the main source of news for more than 90% of Russians, ordinary people started to feel more and more disillusioned. The anger seems different from the fast-receding jolts of the past, observers say, having spread faster and wider.
The years of perceived humiliations have “led to anti-Americanism at the grass-roots level, which did not exist before,” said Vladimir Pozner, a journalist who for decades was a prominent voice of the Soviet Union in the United States. More recently, he has to explain the United States inside Russia. “We don’t like the Americans, and it’s because they’re pushy, they think they’re unique and they have had no regard for anyone else.”
Anti-American measures quickly suffused the nation, ranging from the symbolic to the truly significant. Some coffee shops in Crimea stopped serving Americanos. Activists projected racially charged images of Obama eating a banana onto the side of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Russians cheerfully flocked to exchange Western-branded clothing for T-shirts with pictures of an Iskander missile launcher that said “Sanctions? Don’t make my Iskander laugh.”
“This anti-Western propaganda radically changed the atmosphere in the society,” said Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Center, the opinion polling firm. “It has become militarist.”
Many Russians tapped into a deep-rooted resentment that after modeling themselves on the West following the breakup of the Soviet Union, they had experienced only hardship and humiliation in return.
“Starting from about 1989, we completely reoriented toward the West. We looked at them as a future paradise. We expected that once we had done all that they demanded, we’d dance for them and they would finally hug and kiss us and we would merge in ecstasy,” said Evgeny Tarlo, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, on a Russian talk show last year. Instead, he said, the West has been trying to destroy Russia.
The anti-Americanism makes it harder for American culture to make inroads through its traditional means — soft-power routes such as movies, music and education. Last year, Russian policymakers ended a decades-old high school exchange program that offered their nation’s best and brightest the chance to spend semesters at U.S. schools. Few Western artists now perform on Russian soil.
Western diplomats also say privately that they find themselves frozen out of speaking engagements and other opportunities to explain their countries’ positions to Russian audiences. And Russians who work for local outposts of Western companies say their friends and neighbors increasingly question their patriotism.
A handful of business leaders have warned that Russia risks permanently stunting its own economic development with the angry self-isolation.
“I worry that the recent crisis might drive Russia into a certain historic confrontation, hampering the country’s development in all spheres,” said former finance minister and Putin ally Alexey Kudrin in an interview with TASS.
But those are lonely voices amid the torrent of anti-Western fury.
“What the government knew was that it was very easy to cultivate anti-Western sentiments, and it was easy to consolidate Russian society around this propaganda,” said Maria Lipman, an independent Moscow-based political analyst who is working on a study of anti-Western attitudes.
Even McDonald’s, long an embodiment of Russian dreams about the West, was targeted for supposed health violations in the fall. Some of its most prominent locations were forced to shut down temporarily. When they reopened, McDonald’s started an advertising campaign emphasizing its local ties and its 25-year history in Russia, playing down the Golden Arches’ global significance as a bright beacon of America.
Last week, one McDonald’s billboard in the heart of Moscow read: “Made in Russia, for Russians.”
AN UNUSUAL NEW POLICY FOR WORKING MOTHERS
Global telecommunications company Vodafone Group said it would be setting a global minimum for its maternity leave policy, requiring that, by the end of 2015, all of its 30 operating companies around the globe offer at least 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. That in itself was an unusual move, yet the most interesting detail in the announcement may be the company’s new policy that kicks in once the leave is over.
For the first six months after returning from maternity leave, new mothers at Vodafone will be able to work just 30 hours a week but continue to earn their full-time salaries. Unlike flexible work policies that many women must individually negotiate with their managers, or reduced-hours arrangements that likewise reduce their salary, the new benefit is aimed at helping women transition back into their jobs after giving birth without derailing their earnings or careers.
“We think it’s unique in its nature,“ said Chuck Pol, president of Vodafone Americas. “It gives us an advantage when we’re working with female employees, not only in our business today but as we recruit people.“
He may be right about it being a first. Anne Weisberg, senior vice president at the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, called it “very unusual” and “the first of its kind.“ Weisberg said the policy could help the company retain women during the critical first year following maternity leave, when many struggle to balance the demands of work and a baby on what is almost always very little sleep. “What Vodafone is doing is saying this is a talent management issue for us, it’s not just about complying with legal requirements,“ she said.
Indeed, talent retention was one of the very goals Vodafone had in mind when it designed its new policy. On a global level, women comprise roughly 35% of Vodafone’s employees, but only 21% of its international senior leadership team. Moreover, 65% of the women in the past who opted to leave the company following maternity leave did so within the first year.
Sharon Doherty, a director at Vodafone who was the architect of the new policies, went looking for ways to address those numbers. She noticed that in Italy, Portugal and Romania, where mandates are in place for companies to help women transition back into the workplace after maternity leave, the company’s retention rate was higher. “That led me to ask more questions and find out why,“ she said. She decided to pitch the idea of a company-wide global policy.
Although who qualifies for the benefit will vary somewhat by country, Pol said the reduced hours program for returning mothers and the 16 weeks of paid leave will apply to all full-time female employees in the United States. The company’s U.S. population is relatively small (roughly 500 of the company’s more than 90,000 global employees work here), but those women will see a substantial benefit increase.
Until now, women who worked at Vodafone in the United States got 60% of their pay for 12 weeks as a maternity leave benefit, and had no benefit for transitioning back on full pay at reduced hours. The new policy will go into effect April 1. Pol said the company has yet to work out if that shortened schedule will mean fewer days per week or fewer hours per day.
Vodafone’s 16 weeks of paid leave puts it at the high end of what many companies offer in America, which is one of the few countries in the world where paid maternity leave is not mandated by the federal government. While some tech companies have upped the ante, with Google offering as much as 18 weeks, most companies offer far less. Only 12% of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And in 2012, the average length of fully paid maternity leave offered by even the most generous companies—those that made Working Mother’s annual list—was just seven weeks.
AN ARGUMENT BETWEEN THE U.S. AND VENEZUELA IS PUTTING CUBA IN A VERY AWKWARD POSITION
President Obama’s attempt to mend relations with Cuba while simultaneously turning the screws on Venezuela, Havana’s closest ally, is making for some fascinating triangular diplomacy.
Late Monday night, after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro gave a speech blasting new U.S. sanctions on his administration as an attempt to overthrow him, the Cuban government affirmed its “unconditional support” for Maduro.
Then 88-year-old Fidel Castro chimed in for good measure.
“Dear Nicolás Maduro,“ Castro wrote in a brief message published by Cuban state media that was almost tight enough for a Twitter posting. “I congratulate you for your brilliant and brave speech in the face of the brutal plans by the United States government.“
“Your words will go down in history as proof that humanity can and will know the truth,“ he wrote.
It was telling that the message of support came from the elder Castro, and not his brother, President Raúl Castro.
Raúl Castro, age 83, is the one who has worked out the diplomatic reconciliation with Obama and will meet with the U.S. president next month at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
His older brother has offered tepid support for the U.S. thaw he’s charted, but nothing that would qualify as enthusiasm. And while Raúl Castro also regularly pledges to support the Venezuelan president, he does not have the same close personal relationship with Maduro, who, like his predecessor Hugo Chávez, embraces Fidel Castro as a political mentor.
Venezuela remains Cuba’s top trading partner, and as Caracas replaces Havana as the principal U.S. adversary in the region, the Castro government is caught in the middle. Havana can’t afford to hitch its fortunes to the cash-squeezed Venezuelan government and its wobbly president, who lacks the political acumen of Chávez.
In the coming weeks and at the Panama summit, Cuba is likely to continue voicing support for Venezuela while quietly working out its new relationship with the United States. It’ll be a delicate balancing act, especially as critics of Obama’s opening to Cuba blame rights abuses in Venezuela on a repressive security strategy that they say is being dictated from Havana.
Since the White House announced the sanctions on Monday, Venezuela, Cuba and many in the region have reacted less to those measures than to language in the executive order characterizing the Maduro government as a threat to U.S. national security.
U.S. officials say it’s boilerplate language used whenever such sanctions are imposed, but Venezuela’s government and its backers have seized on the “security threat” element to claim that it’s some sort of prelude to an American attack.
After defiantly bestowing promotions on one of the security officials named on the U.S. sanctions list, Maduro said Monday night that he’ll seek emergency decree powers “to fight imperialism.“
Venezuela’s opposition leaders say it’s a naked power grab to further stifle dissent.
Asked to respond to Maduro’s charge of U.S. plotting, State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the administration’s “intention is not promoting unrest in Venezuela … or undermining its government.” Instead, she said, “it’s about making clear that we don’t accept human rights abusers or corrupt officials.”
The “goal of sanctions,” Psaki said, “is to persuade the government to change their behavior.”
She cautioned against focusing on the “national emergency” and security threat language in Obama’s executive order, noting that it is standard in such orders. “It’s important for everybody to understand that this is how we describe the process of naming sanctions,” Psaki said. Monday’s Venezuela order was “consistent with how we announce and how we describe putting sanctions and putting these executive orders in place.”
Meanwhile, tensions in Venezuela were further inflamed Tuesday by a comment made on a pro-government talk show by Roy Chaderton, the Maduro government’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), which is organizing the Panama summit.
In response, apparently, to a question about how the government would handle new security threats, Chaderton told viewers that when snipers shoot opposition demonstrators in the head, a different sound is emitted. “Because their cranial cavity is empty,“ he said dryly, presumably trying to make a joke.
Chaderton’s comment appeared with the Twitter hashtag “ObamaYankeeGoHome.“
Anti-government street demonstrations in the country last year left 43 dead, and some of the victims were shot by Venezuelan security forces, who have since been granted additional latitude to use lethal force against protesters.
Gilmer County Schools Community Meeting - 03.24.15
MULTIFAMILY YARD SALE - Saturday, March 14, 2015
MULTIFAMILY YARD SALE
Gilmer County Recreation Center
March 14, 2015
10:00 AM - ??
**Lots of stuff at great prices….women, men, kids, baby clothes, Avon, & MORE.
**Something for everyone!
Parent and Support Group Meeting - 03.18.15
When Capitalism Becomes an Act of War
Novelist Rana Dasgupta recently turned to nonfiction to explore the explosive social and economic changes in Delhi starting in 1991, when India launched a series of transformative economic reforms. In Capital: The Eruption of Delhi, he describes a city where the epic hopes of globalization have dimmed in the face of a sterner, more elitist world. In Part 1 of an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Dasgupta traces a turbulent time in which traditional ways of life are dissolving as a new class of entrepreneur-warriors are wielding unprecedented power — and changing the global landscape.
Lynn Parramore: Why did you decide to move from New York to Delhi in 2000, and then to write a book about the city?
Rana Dasgupta: I moved to be with my partner who lived in Delhi, and soon realized it was a great place to have landed. I was trying write a novel and there were a lot of people doing creative things. There was a fascinating intellectual climate, all linked to changes in society and the economy. It was 10 years since liberalization and a lot of the impact of that was just being felt and widely sensed.
There was a sense of opportunity, not any more just on the part of business people, but everyone. People felt that things were really going to change in a deep way — in every part of the political spectrum and every class of society. Products and technology spread, affecting even very poor people. Coke made ads about the rickshaw drivers with their mobile phones —people who had never had access to a landline. A lot of people sensed a new possibility for their own lives.
Amongst the artists and intellectuals that I found myself with, there were very big hopes for what kind of society Delhi could become and they were very interested in being part of creating that. They were setting up institutions, publications, publishing houses, and businesses. They were thinking new ideas. When I arrived, I felt, this is where stuff is happening. The scale of conversations, the philosophy of change was just amazing.
LP: You’ve interviewed many of the young tycoons who emerged during Delhi’s transformation. How would you describe this new figure? How do they do business?
RD: Many of their fathers and grandfathers had run significant provincial businesses. They were frugal in their habits and didn’t like to advertise themselves, and anyway their wealth remained local both in its magnitude and its reach. They had business and political associates that they drank with and whose weddings they went to, and so it was a tight-knit kind of wealth.
But the sons, who would probably be now between 35 and 45, had an entirely different experience. Their adult life happened after globalization. Because their fathers often didn’t have the skills or qualifications to tap into the forces of globalization, the sons were sent abroad, probably to do an MBA, so they could walk into a meeting with a management consultancy firm or a bank and give a presentation. When they came back they operated not from the local hubs where their fathers ruled but from Delhi, where they could plug into federal politics and global capital.
So you have these very powerful combinations of father/son businesses. The sons revere the fathers, these muscular, huge masculine figures who have often done much more risky and difficult work building their businesses and have cultivated relationships across the political spectrum. They are very savvy, charismatic people. They know who to give gifts to, how to do favors.
The sons often don’t have that set of skills, but they have corporate skills. They can talk finance in a kind of international language. Neither skill set is enough on its own by early 2000’s: they need each other. And what’s interesting about this package is that it’s very powerful elsewhere, too. It’s kind of a world-beating combination. The son fits into an American style world of business and finance, but the thing about American-style business is that there are lots of things in the world that are closed to it. It’s very difficult for an American real estate company or food company to go to the president of an African country and do a deal. They don’t have the skills for it. But even if they did, they are legally prevented from all the kinds of practices involved, the bribes and everything.
This Indian business combination can go into places like Africa and Central Asia and do all the things required. If they need to go to market and raise money, they can do that. But if they need to sit around and drink with some government guys and figure out who are the players that need to be kept happy, they can do that, too. They see a lot of the world open to themselves.
LP: How do these figures compare to American tycoons during, say, the Gilded Age?
RD: When American observers see these people they think, well, we had these guys between 1890 and 1920, but then they all kind of went under because there was a massive escalation of state power and state wealth and basically the state declared a kind of protracted war on them.
Americans think this is a stage of development that will pass. But I think it’s not going to pass in our case. The Indian state is never going to have the same power over private interests as the U.S. state because lots of things have to happen. The Depression and the Second World War were very important in creating a U.S. state that was that powerful and a rationale for defeating these private interests. I think those private interests saw much more benefit in consenting to, collaborating in, and producing a stronger U.S. state.
Over time, American business allied itself with the government, which did a lot to open up other markets for it. In India, I think these private interests will not for many years see a benefit in operating differently, precisely because continents like Africa, with their particular set of attributes, have such a bright future. It’s not just about what India’s like, but what other places are like, and how there aren’t that many people in the world that can do what they can do.
LP: What has been lost and gained in a place like Delhi under global capitalism?
RD: Undeniably there has been immense material gain in the city since 1991, including the very poorest people, who are richer and have more access to information. What my book tracks is a kind of spiritual and moral crisis that affects rich and poor alike.
One kind of malaise is political and economic. Even though the poorest are richer, they have less political influence. In a socialist system, everything is done in the name of the poor, for good or for bad, and the poor occupy center stage in political discourse. But since 1991 the poor have become much less prominent in political and economic ideology. As the proportion of wealth held by the richest few families of India has grown massively larger, the situation is very much like the break-up of the Soviet Union, which leads to a much more hierarchical economy where people closest to power have the best information, contacts, and access to capital. They can just expand massively.
Suddenly there’s a state infrastructure that’s been built for 70 years or 60 years which is transferred to the private domain and that is hugely valuable. People gain access to telecommunication systems, mines, land, and forests for almost nothing. So ordinary people say, yes, we are richer, and we have all these products and things, but those making the decisions about our society are not elected and hugely wealthy.
Imagine the upper-middle-class guy who has been to Harvard, works for a management consultancy firm or for an ad agency, and enjoys a kind of international-style middle-class life. He thinks he deserves to make decisions about how the country is run and how resources are used. He feels himself to be a significant figure in his society. Then he realizes that he’s not. There’s another, infinitely wealthier class of people who are involved in all kinds of backroom deals that dramatically alter the landscape of his life. New private highways and new private townships are being built all around him. They’re sucking the water out of the ground. There’s a very rapid and seemingly reckless transformation of the landscape that’s being wrought and he has no part in it.
If he did have a say, he might ask, is this really the way that we want this landscape to look? Isn’t there enormous ecological damage? Have we not just kicked 10,000 farmers off their land?
All these conversations that democracies have are not being had. People think, this exactly what the socialists told us that capitalism was — it’s pillage and it creates a very wealthy elite exploiting the poor majority. To some extent, I think that explains a lot of why capitalism is so turbulent in places like India and China. No one ever expected capitalism to be tranquil. They had been told for the better part of a century that capitalism was the imperialist curse. So when it comes, and it’s very violent, and everyone thinks, well that’s what we expected. One of the reasons that it still has a lot of ideological consensus is that people are prepared for that. They go into it as an act of war, not as an act of peace, and all they know is that the rewards for the people at the top are very high, so you’d better be on the top.
The other kind of malaise is one of culture. Basically, America and Britain invented capitalism and they also invented the philosophical and cultural furniture to make it acceptable. Places where capitalism is going in anew do not have 200 years of cultural readiness. It’s just a huge shock. Of course, Indians are prepared for some aspects of it because many of them are trading communities and they understand money and deals. But a lot of those trading communities are actually incredibly conservative about culture — about what kind of lifestyle their daughters will have, what kinds of careers their sons will have. They don’t think that their son goes to Brown to become a professor of literature, but to come back and run the family business.
LP: What is changing between men and women?
RD: A lot of the fallout is about families. Will women work? If so, will they still cook and be the kind of wife they’re supposed to be? Will they be out on the street with their boyfriends dressed in Western clothes and going to movies and clearly advertising the fact that they are economically independent, sexually independent, socially independent? How will we deal with the backlash of violent crimes that have everything to do with all these changes?
This capitalist system has produced a new figure, which is the economically successful and independent middle-class woman. She’s extremely globalized in the sense of what she should be able to do in her life. It’s also created a set of lower-middle-class men who had a much greater sense of stability both in their gender and professional situation 30 years ago, when they could rely on a family member or fellow caste member to keep them employed even if they didn’t have any marketable attributes. They had a wife who made sure that the culture of the family was intact — religion, cuisine, that kind of stuff.
Thirty years later, those guys are not going to get jobs because that whole caste value thing has no place in the very fast-moving market economy. Without a high school diploma, they just have nothing to offer. Those guys in the streets are thinking, I don’t have a claim on the economy, or on women anymore because I can’t earn anything. Women across the middle classes — and it’s not just across India, it’s across Asia —are trying to opt out of marriage for as long as they can because they see only a downside. Remaining single allows all kinds of benefits – social, romantic, professional. So those guys are pretty bitter and there’s a backlash that can become quite violent. We also have an upswing of Hindu fundamentalism as a way of trying to preserve things. It’s very appealing to people who think society is falling apart.
LP: You’ve described India’s experience of global capitalism as traumatic. How is the trauma distinct in Delhi, and in what ways is it universal?
RD: Delhi suffers specifically from the trauma of Partition, which has created a distinct society. When India became independent, it was divided into India and Pakistan. Pakistan was essentially a Muslim state, and Hindis and Sikhs left. The border was about 400 kilometers from Delhi, which was a tiny, empty city, a British administrative town. Most of those Hindis and Sikhs settled in Delhi where they were allocated housing as refugees. Muslims went in the other direction to Pakistan, and as we know, something between 1 and 2 million were killed in that event.
The people who arrived in Delhi arrived traumatized, having lost their businesses, properties, friends, and communities, and having seen their family members murdered, raped and abducted. Like the Jewish Holocaust, everyone can tell the stories and everyone has experienced loss. When they all arrive in Delhi, they have a fairly homogeneous reaction: they’re never going to let this happen to them again. They become fiercely concerned with security, physical and financial. They’re not interested in having nice neighbors and the lighter things of life. They say, it was our neighbors that killed us, so we’re going to trust only our blood and run businesses with our brother and our sons. We’re going to build high walls around our houses.
When the grandchildren of these people grow up, it’s a problem because none of this has been exorcised. The families have not talked about it. The state has not dealt with it and wants to remember only that India became independent and that was a glorious moment. So the catastrophe actually becomes focused within families rather than the reverse. A lot of grandchildren are more fearful and hateful of Muslims than the grandparents, who remembered a time before when they actually had very deep friendships with Muslims.
Parents of my generation grew up with immense silence in their households and they knew that in that silence was Islam — a terrifying thing. When you’re one year old, you don’t even know yet what Islam is, you just know that it’s something which is the greatest horror in the universe.
The Punjabi businessman is a very distinct species. They have treated business as warfare, and they are still doing it like that 70 years later and they are very good at it. They enter the global economy at a time when it’s becoming much less civilized as well. In many cases they succeed not because they have a good idea, but because they know how to seize global assets and resources. Punjabi businessmen are not inventing Facebook. They are about mines and oil and water and food —things that everyone understands and needs.
In this moment of globalization, the world will have to realize that events like the Partition of India are not local history anymore but global history. Especially in this moment when the West no longer controls the whole system, these traumas explode onto the world and affect all of us, like the Holocaust. They introduce levels of turbulence into businesses and practices that we didn’t expect necessarily.
Then there’s the trauma of capitalism itself, and here I think it’s important for us to re-remember the West’s own history. Capitalism achieved a level of consensus in the second half of the 20th century very accidentally, and by a number of enormous forces, not all of which were intended. There’s no guarantee that such consensus will be achieved everywhere in the emerging world. India and China don’t have an empire to ship people off to as a safety valve when suffering become immense. They just have to absorb all that stuff.
For a century or so, people in power in Paris and London and Washington felt that they had to save the capitalist system from socialist revolution, so they gave enormous concessions to their populations. Very quickly, people in the West forgot that there was that level of dissent. They thought that everyone loved capitalism. I think as we come into the next period where the kind of consensus has already been dealt a huge blow in the West, we’re going to have to deal with some of those forces again.
LP: When you say that the consensus on capitalism has been dealt a blow, are you talking about the financial crisis?
RD: Yes, the sense that the nation-state — I’m talking about the U.S. context — can no longer control global capital, global processes, or, indeed, it’s own financial elite.
It’s a huge psychological dent in people’s faith in the system. I think what’s going to happen in the next few years is huge unemployment in the middle class in America because a lot of their jobs will be outsourced or automated. Then, if you have 30-40% unemployment in America, which has always been the ideological leader in capitalism, America will start to re-theorize capitalism very profoundly (and maybe the Institute of New Economic Thinking is part of that). Meanwhile, I think the middle class in India would not have these kinds of problems. It’s precisely because American technology and finance are so advanced that they’re going to hit a lot of those problems. I think in places like India there’s so much work to be done that no one needs to leap to the next stage of making the middle class obsolete. They’re still useful.
~~ Lynn Parramore ~~
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