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‘WORK TO DO’ AFTER IRMA

Parts of Florida creep back to normal with workers slowly restoring power, clearing roads and replenishing gas supplies, even as teams scour the Keys and authorities warn of mass devastation.


WHAT FRENCH PRESIDENT VOWS TO DO

After touring the destroyed island of St. Martin, Emmanuel Macron outlines a plan to distribute drinking water, food and medical help.


SANDERS, GOP PUSH BANNER HEALTH CARE BILLS

The Vermont senator is ready to unveil his bill for creating a “Medicare for all” system, while Republican senators renew efforts to repeal and replace “Obamacare.“


SUU KYI WON’T ATTEND UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The move by Myanmar’s leader comes as the country draws international criticism over violence that has driven at least 370,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims to nearby Bangladesh in recent weeks.


HOW MATTIS IS COUNTERING PYONGYANG

As North Korea flaunts its new nuclear muscle, the U.S. defense secretary is spotlighting the overwhelming numerical superiority of America’s doomsday arsenal.


WHY HISTORY OF SYRIA’S WAR IS AT RISK

Activists fear all that has been chronicled about the conflict could be erased as YouTube implements new policies to remove graphic material.


DETAINED UNIVERSITY JANITOR, IN U.S. 11 YEARS, AWAITS HIS FATE

An MIT custodian from El Salvador who became a rallying cry for local opponents of Trump’s immigration crackdown is fighting his deportation while jailed.


IPHONE X PUTS EXCLAMATION POINT ON PRICING STRATEGY

It’s a calculated gamble that Apple can make marginal improvements to mature products like its iPhone better than anyone else while charging accordingly.


SELF-DRIVING BOATS GAINING WIDER ACCEPTANCE

Maritime companies are designing autonomous tugboats, ferries and cargo vessels that won’t need captains or crews - at least not on board.


TRIBE ON HISTORIC RUN

The Cleveland Indians equal the American League record with their 20th straight win, matching the 2002 “Moneyball” Athletics.

 

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The regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Gilmer County Ambulance Service Authority Board is scheduled for Thursday September 14, 2017 at 5:00 PM.

The meeting will be held at the EMS building at 230 West Main Street in Glenville.

The meeting in open to the public.

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The iPhone X is facing “severe short supply” and will be hard to find

That’s according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Google has appealed a €2.4 billion fine from the EU

Google confirmed the appeal, but declined to comment further or give any detail.


Details of Amazon’s new Fire TV have leaked online

The updated device will double as an Echo smart speaker.


Apple is holding its keynote today in Cupertino

We’re expecting to see three new iPhone models, a new Apple Watch, a new Apple TV, more details on iOS 11, and potentially new information about HomePod.


Analysts said that augmented reality will give iPhone X the “wow factor”

Macquarie Research analysts said that the technology could increase iPhone revenue.


The president of Nintendo of America said that the short supply of the new Super NES Classic Edition is “outside our control”

Reggie Fils-Aimé blamed retailers for the lack of units going on sale.


Tesla is eliminating dozens of positions at its SolarCity office in Northern California

The move comes during Tesla’s continued integration with SolarCity.


Xiaomi unveiled its bezel-free Mi Mix 2 a day before the iPhone X launch

The phone has a full-ceramic body and 42 LTE bands.


The cofounders of Google DeepMind have backed Entrepreneur First in a $12.4 million round

The funding round was led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Greylock Partners.


Spotify is killing support for its web player on Apple’s browser

Spotify now suggests switching browsers to access its browser app.

ETC.

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  • Mexico pulls back offer of disaster aid to U.S. after Trump snub:    “Mexico’s government offered to send food, beds, generators, mobile kitchens as well as doctors after torrential rains from Harvey flooded vast parts of Houston. But the earthquake that struck southern Mexico on Thursday killed at least 96 people and left some 2.5 million people in need of aid. Hurricane Katia also hit the Gulf state of Veracruz this weekend and heavy rains have stretched emergency services… U.S.-Mexican relations have been strained by Donald Trump’s threats to curtail trade with Latin America’s No. 2 economy as well as his demand that Mexico pay for a border wall to keep out immigrants and drug traffickers. The ministry noted that the U.S. embassy had taken nine days to respond to Mexico’s formal offer of aid on Aug. 28, and said that “only certain logistical aid” was accepted. The U.S. embassy in Mexico did not immediately respond to a request for comment. While government aid never arrived, Mexico’s volunteer Red Cross rushed food and supplies to storm refugees.”    Reuters


  • Ted Cruz ‘Liked’ a Porn Video on Twitter, and It Feels Good to Laugh Again:  It’s okay to ‘like’ sex, Senator Cruz.  ESQUIRE


  • Equifax managers sold stock before revealing data breach:  “Three Equifax Inc. senior executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the company discovered a security breach that may have compromised information on about 143 million U.S. consumers. The trio had not yet been informed of the incident, the company said late Thursday. The credit-reporting service said earlier in a statement that it discovered the intrusion on July 29. Regulatory filings show that on August 01, Chief Financial Officer John Gamble sold shares worth $946,374 and Joseph Loughran, president of U.S. information solutions, exercised options to dispose of stock worth $584,099. Rodolfo Ploder, president of workforce solutions, sold $250,458 of stock on August 02. None of the filings lists the transactions as being part of 10b5-1 scheduled trading plans.”    Bloomberg


  • Justice delayed.   Sixteen years after the fall of the Twin Towers there still is every reason to believe that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will die before he is tried, convicted, and sentenced by an American military tribunal. Mohammed himself has aged significantly since he was captured in March 2003, say observers who recently witnessed the 24th pretrial hearing in the case against him — a case still without a trial date or the promise of one. The Guardian

  • Meanwhile, for 9/11 first responders, illness and uncertainty grow.   Newsday


  • Sussing out the under-oath questioning of a president. Robert Mueller may have to give Trump immunity after all.  The Daily Beast


  • Anti-Putin Factions Make Gains in Moscow:  There’s no place like the capital. Local council elections in Russia handed upset victories in more than a dozen Moscow districts to the country’s liberal opposition, which has struggled to push back against President Vladimir Putin and his ruling United Russia party. The massively popular leader and his colleagues are still calling the shots, and there’s little sign the Kremlin’s in trouble. But the results of Sunday’s elections do signal that not everyone’s happy with the status quo — and that the opposition’s momentum could potentially keep building.  The Moscow Times

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  ‘drug house ordinance’

Council members of a West Virginia city have passed an ordinance that will hold owners accountable for crimes that occur on their properties.

Local news outlets report the Huntington City Council passed the “drug house ordinance” Monday night.

As part of the ordinance, properties where two or more felony incidents occur within a 12-month period would be declared a public nuisance and the city would issue and order for the eviction of the tenants involved in the illegal activities. The targeted offenses in the ordinance include prostitution, illegal gambling and other activities.

American Civil Liberties Union-West Virginia executive director Joseph Cohen released a statement expressing concern about the ordinance. It says, in part, the ordinance is “shortsighted and fails to account for the best interests of the whole community.”


►  U.S. Supreme Court asked to hear West Virginia gas case

Landowners have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the reversal by West Virginia’s highest court concluding natural gas companies can deduct post-production costs from the royalties paid landowners for mineral rights.

In May, the West Virginia Supreme Court reversed its November ruling in the case after Justice Beth Walker was elected and replaced Justice Brent Benjamin.

In their petition, the landowners say the reversal could have been significant for energy companies in which Walker’s husband owned stock.

The issue is whether Walker therefore should have recused herself from the case.

The state court first ruled 3-2 against deductions by EQT Production Co.

In January, the court agreed 3-2 to rehear the case.


►  West Virginia’s 2 universities get health services grants

West Virginia’s U.S. senators say Marshall University and West Virginia University will get federal grants to support clinical internships and field placements in mental health and drug addiction services.

Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin say the Department of Health and Human Services training grants are $319,000 for West Virginia University and $213,000 for Marshall.

Last week the Senate Appropriates Committee advanced legislation with $50 million for the program nationally.

Capito, who sits on that committee, says she advocated for expanding treatment especially in rural and medically underserved areas.


►  Focus on Fall at Twin Falls Resort State Park Photography Workshop

Reservations are being taken for Twin Falls Resort State Park’s annual Fall Photography Workshop, scheduled to take place October 06-08. Steve Shaluta, Steve Rotsch and Park Superintendent Scott Durham are the instructors.

“This fall workshop is the perfect time to learn new skills and hone old ones,” Durham said. “Twin Falls’ 4,000 acres, complete with the park’s Pioneer Farm, are picture-perfect settings for photography. There is always the possibility you’ll capture photographs of the park’s flora and fauna any time of the year, but the October dates promise fall coloration.”

The workshops are helpful for photographers of all skill levels and include discussions about photography equipment and photo editing tools, composition, use of natural light and flash photography, how to photograph people, action photography, scenic photography, digital imaging and file storage, and even drone photography. Participants are welcome to ask questions during the workshop. Instructors also provide hands-on photography outings, including night photography.

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Photographer Steve Shaluta retired from the West Virginia Department of Commerce after an illustrious and award-winning career. His photos have graced more than 300 magazine covers, tourism advertisements and newspaper and magazine articles. He has also published seven books, including the most recent, “Wonders of West Virginia.” Shaluta now spends his time photographing wildlife between Florida and West Virginia.

Photographer Steve Rotsch is an international award-winning photographer who has been photographing the great outdoors for more than 40 years. He has worked as a forensic photographer, photojournalist, commercial photographer and has been a personal documentary photographer to five West Virginia governors. He also has seven self-published books.

Find information about the instructors on Facebook at “Steve and Steve Photography Workshops.” You can see their work at steveshaluta.com and stevenrotsch.com.

Workshop packages are available and include overnight accommodations, some meals and instruction. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Twin Falls Resort State Park at 304.294.4000.


►  Lewis County woman admits to her role in an oxycodone distribution operation

Makyna Kancso, of Crawford, West Virginia, pled guilty today to an oxycodone distribution charge, Acting United States Attorney Betsy Steinfeld Jividen announced.

Kancso, age 22, pled guilty to one count of “Distribution of Oxycodone.” She admitted to distributing oxycodone in Upshur County in June 2015.

Kancso faces up to 20 years incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zelda E. Wesley prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The Mon Valley Drug and Violent Crime Drug Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, investigated.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael John Aloi presided.


►  Doddridge case called a boost for surface owners in Marcellus gas region

Two Doddridge County residents have won a court ruling and a jury verdict that advocates for surface owners’ rights say provide a boost in the ongoing struggle over the impacts of the Marcellus Shale gas-drilling boom in northern West Virginia.

Last week, a circuit court jury awarded Beth Crowder and David Wentz a total of $190,000 in damages in a case brought against EQT Production Company over a well pad that EQT constructed on the residents’ property — without their permission — in order to drill horizontally underground to reach natural gas supplies located beneath neighboring properties.

David Grubb, a Charleston lawyer who represented Crowder and Wentz, said it is believed to be the first verdict in which plaintiffs were awarded “fair and reasonable rental value” in a such a case against a natural gas producer.

“This is a victory for surface landowners,” Grubb said Friday. “It represents a recognition that drillers cannot use a surface landowner’s property to drill horizontally into neighboring tracts without express permission.”

Jurors determined that the residents deserved $95,000 for the rental value of the property and another $95,000 for “annoyance and inconvenience.” The jury declined to award any punitive damages to punish EQT for its behavior.

In the case, Crowder and Wentz were arguing that EQT had trespassed on their property when it built the 20-acre well pad to drill nine horizontal wells, a process that took 16 months and contemplated another three wells would eventually be drilled.

Doddridge Circuit Judge Timothy Sweeney had previously ruled for the residents, saying in a February 2016 order that EQT’s right to do what was “reasonably necessary” to produce gas it owns or leases, that right did not include the authority to drill from the Crowder-Wentz property into mineral tracts that do not underlie that property.

“While EQT clearly has the right to do what is necessary to plaintiffs’ surface land in order to drill well bores into the underlying oil and gas reservation to produce gas from its acreage, it does not have the legal right (absent consent) to drill from plaintiffs’ surface lands horizontally into neighboring mineral tracts,” Sweeney wrote.

The West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization has praised Sweeney’s decision, but also indicated it would be more comfortable if and when a similar legal ruling is spelled out by the state Supreme Court.

“So you are now more likely to win a case to block a well pad on your land, and it certainly strengthens your bargaining position if you want to negotiate with the driller,” the group told surface owners on its website. “This is as good as it gets until the West Virginia Supreme Court makes a decision on this issue that would be binding on all circuit court judges.”

The issue is one of many legal controversies that continue to be debated as the boom in natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region has companies rushing to put together large tracts of minerals they say are needed to make large-scale drilling economical, and as residents push back over the on-the-ground impacts that the industry is having on their daily lives. The issues are complicated by the complex ownership patterns in which many surface owners don’t also hold the minerals under their homes, and because of split ownership of both surface and mineral tracts that has occurred over the decades.

Industry technology has fueled an economic boom in the Marcellus Shale gas fields of West Virginia’s northern counties, but it has also has created problems for surface owners who worry about damage to their homeplaces and peaceful rural lifestyle. The drilling boom also has generated conflicts between gas companies and mineral owners over how the wealth created is being divided.

Earlier this year, those kinds of issues brought another push by the gas industry for a “forced pooling” bill at the Legislature, but the measure died in the House when supporters were unable to build a consensus of support for the legislation among either Republicans or Democrats. The issue will undoubtedly surface again in next year’s session, and was among the topics last month during the initial meeting of a new Joint Committee on Natural Gas Development set up by legislative leaders.

In the Doddridge County case, the plaintiffs had sought between $500,000 and $2.1 million from EQT, arguing for rental value that amounted to a relatively percentage of the projected revenues for the wells on the pad.

EQT argued that those amounts were excessive and a company spokeswoman said EQT “respects that the jury factored in EQT’s position with its decision and is pleased with the outcome.”

“We are concerned that EQT will appeal the judge’s underlying ruling on trespass to the Supreme Court in order to continue to abuse the property rights of surface owners,” said David McMahon, another of the lawyers for Crowder and Wentz and a founder of the Surface Owners’ Rights Organization.

The EQT spokeswoman, Linda Robertson, did not immediately say whether the company planned to appeal any of Sweeney’s decisions in the case.


►  West Virginia teacher found unresponsive in classroom dies

A West Virginia high school teacher who was found unresponsive in her classroom has been pronounced dead.

The Independence High School teacher was found in her classroom on Monday at 8:10 a.m. She was taken to the hospital, where she died. The teacher’s identity has not been released.

Raleigh County Public Schools Superintendent David Price said in a statement Monday that the teacher was unresponsive due to a medical condition.

He says the teacher will be missed and that grief counseling will be available.


►  West Virginia State University plans tuition freeze program

West Virginia State University is planning to freeze the cost of tuition for a portion of its student body starting next fall.

The university announced Monday afternoon that students who participate in the Yellow Jacket Connection program, which allows high school students to earn credit toward a diploma and a college degree, will be eligible for the new tuition loyalty program.

Currently, high school students can earn college credit for $25 per credit hour through West Virginia State, and must complete six credit hours to participate. The new program will ensure that, whatever tuition price students enroll at as freshman, they will continue to pay that price through their senior year.

University president Anthony Jenkins says he may expand the tuition-freeze program in the future.

WV Attorney General, Three Universities Expand Eighth Grade Drug Prevention Program

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has expanded a partnership with colleges in West Virginia aimed at sharing drug abuse prevention information with eighth grade students.

The initiative, launched in March 2017 with the West Virginia University School of Nursing, now involves the Attorney General and four programs at three universities. New additions are the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy, Marshall University School of Nursing and Shepherd University’s Department of Nursing Education.

“These universities continue to be key players in meeting health care needs in our state,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The addition of more universities to the roster expands our geographic footprint and means more opportunities to reach students across the state. Working together to educate students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse will lead to a brighter future for West Virginia.”

The Attorney General’s Office will coordinate events and provide the university serving that area with a detailed curriculum, which then will be presented by the university students. The curriculum covers multiple aspects of the opioid epidemic, including the connection between prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction, prevention and the long-term impact of drug use.

“It’s been an excellent learning experience for our WVU Nursing students to take information about opioids to children and adolescents in the schools,” said Dean Tara Hulsey of the West Virginia University School of Nursing. “We’re glad to participate in the program again this year.”

“The School of Pharmacy is excited to expand our program to combat the drug epidemic in West Virginia by partnering with the School of Nursing and the Attorney General’s Office,” said Dr. Gina Baugh, coordinator of the opioid education partnership with the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy. “We hope that this interprofessional education initiative with allow WVU to be an additional part of the solution to combat the opioid crisis in the state.”

“Through our collaboration with the West Virginia Attorney General, Marshall’s School of Nursing will help to educate students on understanding the opioid epidemic and the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse,” said Dr. Tammy Minor, assistant professor for Marshall’s School of Nursing. “We know healthcare providers must partner with other community health and state agencies to educate the public about misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, namely opioids. We are proud of Marshall’s student nurses and their efforts to implement a preventive program to target school age children and educate them on the dangers of drug abuse.”

“We’re just thrilled that we have this opportunity to partner with the Attorney General’s office,” said Dr. Sharon Mailey, acting dean for and chair of Shepherd’s Department of Nursing Education. “The nursing program is very much connected with the community and we feel a strong obligation of service and to give back to that community.”

The collaboration with each university represents one initiative through which the Attorney General has sought to combat West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate. It follows last fall’s widely successful Kids Kick Opioids public service announcement contest, also targeted at raising drug prevention awareness with elementary and middle school students.

Other efforts include criminal prosecutions, civil litigation, multi-state initiatives, new technology, engagement with the faith-based community and a best practices toolkit endorsed by more than 25 national and state stakeholders.

Jeanette Riffle: Do Katydids Predict The First Frost?

The Free Press WV

Old folks used to say that it would only be six weeks till a frost, when the Katydids started hollering. We have been hearing them at night for quite a while, along with the tree frogs and crickets. When we were small and growing up, Dad used to entertain us with a saying that goes like this. “Katydid did, no she didn’t,” and would repeat that over and over. One time I asked him, “What did Katy do?” He just smiled and repeated it. There is plenty of folklore about these insects on just how they obtained their name. One tale is about a fair young maiden who fell in love with a handsome man but he shunned her and married someone else. After their honeymoon, the couple was found dead in the same bed. The bugs began arguing about whether Katy did it or not. If you listen carefully, you can hear them debating back and forth, “Katy did!  Katy didn’t!” One thing for sure, the earlier you hear the Katydid chirp, the earlier the first frost will be that fall. We love those autumn night sounds. We don’t hear the whippoorwills any more but the folks up the Tanner #4 road say they still hear them.

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Sometimes it sounds like there are crickets in our walls already. I found one recently by the back door that had made it inside.  Another night sound that I am remembering is the whistle of a train. Dad had a brother, Scott Stewart, and his family, that lived at Walker, WV and they had a house and store by a railroad track. One summer I went down to stay a week with my cousins. Every night that train would go through and the train tracks were so close to the house that it shook the windows. That was something different for me. We didn’t have trains where I lived between Lockney and Normantown. In a way, I’m glad we didn’t though, because it was hard to sleep with all that going on and you got woke up every night.

The new puppy is adjusting very well and learning the ropes here. He knows he is to go up to the road for the morning paper with Duane and that is quite a jaunt for him. Next, he gets fed his Puppy Chow and then he wants inside with us where it is warm. After a big romp, he is ready to go back outside again. He has been venturing around a little but not far. This place must look awfully big to a little pup. The weeds have taken over in the garden and he gets lost in them and runs clear to the end of the garden and around the end, till he sees Duane and then joins him. Our deep freeze is full and so is the side by side in the house. We are ready for winter.  I made one turn of pear butter that tastes like apple butter and I found another recipe that I want to try. We sliced and froze pears to use for recipes.

Until next time, take care and listen for the Katydids. God bless !

National News

The Free Press WV


►  Appalachian poor, left out of health debate, seek free care

They arrived at a fairground in a deep corner of Appalachia before daybreak, hundreds of people with throbbing teeth, failing eyes, wheezing lungs. They took a number, sat in the bleachers and waited in the summer heat for their name to be called so they could receive the medical help they can’t get anywhere else.

Among the visitors at the free, once-a-year medical clinic was Lisa Kantsos, whose first stop was the dental tent, a sprawl of tables and chairs where volunteer dentists and students performed cleanings, filled cavities and pulled teeth. After getting a cleaning, she made a stop at a mammography van. Last year, it was free glasses.

“It’s a blessing. It really is,” said Kantsos, a 52-year-old diabetic, “because I don’t have to worry about these things.”

Kantsos and many of the estimated 2,000 others who turned out at the Wise County Fairgrounds in late July are the health care debate’s forgotten.

Even with the passage of “Obamacare” in 2010, they have no insurance because they exist in a desperate in-between zone, unable to afford coverage but ineligible for Medicaid. And because they haven’t benefited from the Affordable Care Act, the debate on Capitol Hill over repealing it has been all but irrelevant to them.

“Whether there was an Affordable Care Act or not, it really hasn’t made any difference for these people,” said Stan Brock, who founded the free traveling Remote Area Medical Clinic in the 1980s.

The need for better, more affordable care around here is undeniable.

The central Appalachian area that includes eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and western Virginia has long been one of the sickest and poorest regions in the country. More recently, it has been ravaged by the decline of coal mining.

“Everything revolved around coal,” said Matt Sutherland, a frequent visitor to the clinic from Castlewood, Virginia. “Now there’s not a lot of work, not a lot for people to do.”

People in central Appalachia are 41 percent more likely to get diabetes and 42 percent more likely to die of heart disease than the rest of the nation, according to a study released in August by the Appalachian Regional Commission and other groups. The study also found that the region’s supply of specialty doctors per 100,000 people is 65 percent lower than in the rest of the nation.

And people from southwestern Virginia die on average 10 years sooner than those from wealthier counties close to Washington, said August Wallmeyer, an author who lobbies the Virginia legislature on health issues.

Opioids are also taking their toll in Appalachia. In Virginia in 2014, drug overdoses became the No. 1 cause of accidental death, according to Wallmeyer’s 2016 book, “The Extremes of Virginia.”

But Virginia was among 19 states that chose not to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Many states cited the cost, even though Washington pledged to pick up nearly the entire expense. An expansion in Virginia would have covered an additional 400,000 people.

“A lot of people, when the Affordable Care Act was first enacted and went into effect, had the mistaken belief that it was going to help the very poor people, particularly in Appalachia and other parts of Virginia,” Wallmeyer said. “And it’s just not true.”

Wallmeyer said the clinic in Wise County doesn’t see as many patients as it once did from Kentucky, a state that expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

Teresa Gardner Tyson, executive director of Virginia’s Health Wagon, a free clinic that takes part in the Wise event, lamented that the politicians “forget at the end of the day that they’re our servants.”

“They can’t get away from the partisan politics, but here we’re faced with people dying on a daily basis,” she said.

Among the patients at the free clinic was Joey Johnson, who shot himself in the head while playing with a gun when he was a teenager and has been in a wheelchair for 25 years.

No longer receiving health benefits from his stepfather’s union miner’s insurance, he came to the clinic to get a dental filling and have his eyes checked. His Medicaid doesn’t pay for dental check-ups, and he gets just $735 a month in federal disability payments and $20 in food stamps.

“If it wasn’t for this (clinic), my teeth would rot out of my head and I would be in bad shape,” he said before his checkup, sitting shirtless in the heat. Johnson’s assessment of lawmakers’ work on health care is more succinct than any tweet: “They don’t care about us.”

Kantsos voted for Donald Trump last fall in the hope that he could shake up Washington. She said the president needs to concentrate more on his job and less on Twitter.

Sutherland supported Trump, too, and said he thinks the president deserves more time. But Sutherland, who comes to the clinic for dental work and medicine, wishes lawmakers understood how hard life can be in Appalachia. Last year, he said, he walked 30 miles to the Wise clinic because he had no car; it took more than seven hours. Others have it bad, too.

“I’m not the only one,” he said, sitting in a tent where people were getting teeth pulled a few feet away. “I’m really not the only one.”


►  Harvey and Irma to slow U.S. economy but rebound should follow

With businesses disrupted, fuel and chemical refineries out of commission and consumers struggling to restore their lives, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will likely pack a tough double-whammy for the U.S. economy.

Nearly one-fifth of the nation’s oil refining capacity has been shut down because of Harvey, and fuel production has dropped sharply as a result, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Consumers will also spend less in the immediate aftermath of the storms. Even those ready to make purchases will face closed storefronts and dark restaurants.

Irma will cause tourists to delay — and in many cases never take — trips to Florida’s beaches or Disney World. Chemical refineries have also been closed, reducing the production of plastics.

Damage estimates from the two storms are still early, particularly for Irma. Hurricane Harvey will likely cost up to $108 billion, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which would make it the second-most-expensive hurricane after Katrina.

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, estimates that Irma will cause $64 billion to $92 billion in damage.

While the economic toll pales beside the human costs, analysts estimate that the nation’s annualized growth rate will be one-half to one full percentage point slower in the July-September quarter than it would otherwise have been.

But repair work, reconstruction and purchases of replacement cars and other goods should provide an offsetting boost later this year and in early 2018.

“Construction activity will rocket in the affected areas,” predicted Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “Households’ spending on building materials, furniture, appliances, and vehicles will all be much higher than otherwise would have been the case.”

Catastrophic natural disasters often don’t depress the U.S. economy in the long run. The destruction of property reduces the nation’s total wealth. But all the rebuilding and restoration work tends to stimulate economic growth in the following months.

The rebuilding can take time. After Hurricane Katrina bashed New Orleans in 2005, it took seven months for home building permits in the city to return to their pre-hurricane levels, according to Goldman Sachs.

Economists at Goldman estimate that Harvey and Irma will slice growth in the July-September quarter by 0.8 percentage point to an annual rate of 2 percent. But they forecast a healthy rebound, with annualized economic activity 0.4 percentage point higher in the October-December quarter, 0.2 percentage point higher in the January-March quarter next year, and 0.4 percentage point higher in the April-June period.

Irma has so far wreaked much less damage than initially feared, with Citi analyst James Naklicki estimating total costs could reach $50 billion, down from earlier estimate of as much as $150 billion.

Still, more than 7 million people have lost power because of Irma, with most of them living in Florida. The state makes up about 5 percent of the U.S. economy. Flooding from Irma could affect about $1.2 billion of the state’s crops, Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates, and elevate food prices.

With oil refineries along the Gulf Coast shut down, gas prices have jumped about 30 cents a gallon nationwide, on average, since Harvey made landfall in late August. That will temporarily reduce Americans’ spending power because they will have less money to spend on other items.

The impact of Harvey has been particularly harsh in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city. The entire metro area accounts for about 3.2 percent of the nation’s economy.

Higher gas costs will likely increase measures of inflation in the coming months, economists say, but the rise will likely be small and temporary.

Housing costs could rise, too. The cost of lumber has already been rising because of the wildfires in the western United States, said John Mothersole, an economist at IHS Markit. Hurricane-related repairs and rebuilding could push prices higher.

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. chemical refinery capacity has been closed down, Mothersole said. That could make all sorts of plastics more expensive, including PVC pipes and other building materials.

The Federal Reserve, which adjusts interest rates to keep inflation in check, will likely discount any increase in prices.

“The Fed is going to view this, correctly, as a transitory event,” Mothersole said.

Still, Fed policymakers may have a difficult time analyzing the broader underlying health of the economy because of the hurricane distortions.

For example, the number of jobs added in September could be 20,000 to 100,000 lower because of storm disruptions, Goldman Sachs estimates.


►  Getting up to speed on the Equifax data breach scandal

Equifax has been scrambling to explain itself since disclosing last week that it exposed vital data about 143 million Americans — effectively most of the U.S. adult population. It’s come under fire from members of Congress, state attorneys general, and people who are getting conflicting answers about whether their information was stolen.

The company keeps track of the detailed financial affairs of all Americans in order to gauge how much of a risk they are for borrowing money. That means it and its competitors, TransUnion and Experian, are a detailed storehouse of some of the most personal and sensitive information of Americans’ financial lives. And all of it could be used for identity theft.

Here’s the latest on what you need to know about the breach:

WHAT EQUIFAX IS SAYING

Equifax is trying again to clarify language about people’s right to sue, and said Monday it has made other changes to address customer complaints.

The company is trying to staff up its call centers more in order to handle the increased customer service calls. It also now says people will get randomly generated PINs when they try to put a security freeze in place. People had complained about PINs being based on the time and date requests were made.

Equifax also acknowledged that its language particularly over the right to sue has been confusing at best, and said it was removing that language from their website. “Enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not waive any rights to take legal action,” it said.

Some lawyers have already announced suits that they hope will be class-action cases.

AM I AFFECTED? IT’S BEEN HARD TO TELL

Equifax has been the focus of anger and distrust, not only for the breach but over how it initially was handled.

It discovered the hack July 29, but didn’t publicly announce it until more than a month later. People trying to find out if they were affected have gotten some confusing or contradictory information. Consumers calling the number Equifax set up complained of jammed phone lines and uninformed representatives, and initial responses from the website gave inconsistent responses. Many got no response, just a notice that they could return later to register for identity protection. Equifax says it’s fixed the issue of inconsistent responses, in which people could get one response on the computer and a different one when checking on the phone.

The site is equifaxsecurity2017.com and the number is 866.447.7559. Equifax also says it’ll send a notice to all who had personally identifiable information stolen. Equifax is offering free credit monitoring for a year, which people can sign up for at the website.

But considering the size and scope of the breach, it’s probably better just to assume you were part of it.

WHAT ABOUT THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE RIGHT TO SUE THEM?

There has been a significant amount of confusion about that. It partly comes from the industry practice of mandatory arbitration, in which the fine print on many financial products says customers have to use a private third-party arbitration service in order to resolve their disputes. Regulators are trying to crack down on the practice, particularly after the Wells Fargo sales practices scandal.

Equifax released a statement Friday evening declaring that the arbitration requirement and class-action waiver will not apply to this particular breach. In its statement Monday, it said it had again adjusted the language in the FAQs on its website.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Ultimately, the onus will probably be on consumers to try to protect themselves. People should do all the things they’re probably already heard about:

— Closely monitor their own credit reports, which are available free once a year, and stagger them to see one every four months.

— Stay vigilant, possibly for a long time. Scammers who get ahold of the data could use it at any time — and with 143 million to choose from, they may be patient.

— Consider freezing your credit reports. That stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So if you want to apply for something, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand.

WHO’S INVESTIGATING THIS?

A host of state and federal authorities as well as politicians have stepped in to investigate. Credit bureaus like Equifax are lightly regulated compared to other parts of the financial system. Expect more scrutiny from regulators over the credit bureaus.

The chairmen of at least two U.S. House committees say they want to hold hearings. Like the Wells Fargo sales scandal, the Equifax breach is causing bipartisan outrage and concern, but there has been no talk of any new laws to further regulate the industry. Several state attorneys general have also said they would investigate, which could result in fines at the state level.

Lastly the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation’s watchdog entity for financial issues, says it has the authority to investigate the data breach, and fine and sanction Equifax if warranted.

Company executives are also under scrutiny, after it was found that three Equifax executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million just a few days after the company discovered the breach, according to documents filed with securities regulators. Equifax said the three executives “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares.”

Given the seriousness of the breach, there are worries about the long-term future of the company. The sole purpose of why Equifax and the other credit bureaus exist is to be a secure storehouse of crucial financial information. Equifax failed at that.

The stock has fallen more than 25 percent since Thursday and the company is meeting with investors this week in New York in hopes to contain the fallout.


►  How to fix identity-theft issues posed by the Equifax hack

The Equifax breach didn’t just expose sensitive personal information of 143 million Americans — it underscored the huge vulnerabilities that make widespread identity theft possible.

More than 15 million Americans were victims of ID fraud last year, a record high; fraudsters stole about $16 billion, according to an annual survey by Javelin Strategy & Research. The theft of personal information can turn peoples’ lives inside out, damage their finances, eat away at their time and cause tremendous anxiety and emotional distress.

The Equifax attack was particularly damaging. Intruders made off with precisely the information needed to pose as ordinary citizens and defraud them — and did so with data for roughly 44 percent of the U.S. population.

Experts have warned for years that the widespread use of Social Security numbers, lax corporate security and even looser individual password practices could lead to an identity-theft apocalypse.

As Congress, state law enforcement and the nation’s chief financial watchdog look into the Equifax debacle, here are some of today’s biggest security problems and what it could take to fix them.

___

SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS

A decade ago, computer scientist Annie Anton warned Congress that widespread business use of Social Security numbers as identifiers was making them more attractive to identity thieves. “This is a problem of our own making and it is a problem that we can eliminate,” she testified to a House committee in June 2007.

Yet the problem remains un-eliminated. Anton, now a Georgia Tech researcher whose office isn’t far from Equifax’s Atlanta headquarters, argues that SSNs should be encrypted to shield them from prying eyes, much like passwords are. Equifax apparently didn’t take this precaution , a fact Anton calls “shocking.” The company didn’t immediately respond to requests on Monday for more information about its encryption practices.

Some advocates would like to outlaw the use of Social Security numbers by private companies, and even by government agencies outside of the Social Security Administration. Such efforts have gone nowhere, although several states have passed a patchwork of laws aiming to limit access to SSNs and other sensitive information.

Further changes may simply be too late. Even before the Equifax breach, millions of SSNs were already exposed from various hacks — and no one can change them without enormous hassle.

One alternative might be to replace the venerable SSN with a national ID card protected with encryption, much the way credit cards with embedded chips work today. Knowing the number alone wouldn’t be enough; a thief would need the physical card as well. But while other nations have adopted such cards, many Americans have traditionally resisted a national ID.

As Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity strategy at the security company Proofpoint, says, it’s time to address “why we rely on these trivial and compromised pieces of information for some of the most important financial transactions we make.”

___

LAX CORPORATE SECURITY

Security is ultimately an expense on a company’s financial sheets, an important function that produces neither revenue nor obvious benefits (though any failures are immediately obvious).

As a result, many security departments are underfunded or lack the authority to impose sound security practices across the company — including on employees who write software, said Rich Mogull, who runs the security research firm Securosis. And those other employees sometimes make mistakes that lead to breaches, Mogull said.

“Those most responsible ... don’t have the economic incentives to actually make it a priority,” Mogull said.

It might also help if more top executives lost their jobs after a major breach, Mogull said. A massive data breach at Target in 2014, for instance, contributed to the departure of CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

“Boards are now feeling the pressure and responsibility to make sure this stuff doesn’t happen,” said David Hickton, a former U.S. attorney who now directs a cyberlaw institute at the University of Pittsburgh.

But even at companies that give security top priority, the risk is never zero. “Companies can build the proverbial 10-foot firewall around their network and sensitive information, but criminals are always going to find that 11-foot ladder,” said Craig Newman, a privacy and data-security attorney at the Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler law firm.

___

BAD, BAD PASSWORDS

Though Equifax blamed an unspecified “website application vulnerability” in its attack, a more common risk is bad passwords, Kalember said. A breach in one easy-to-guess employee password can get hackers in the door. Once inside, other systems on the network are typically unprotected.

But getting people to adopt strong passwords is difficult — who can remember seemingly random strings of characters for dozens or hundreds of services? Password managers can securely store strong, randomized passwords, but most people don’t use them. The fallback for many people is to reuse passwords, which means that when one service gets hacked, other accounts are also vulnerable.

Ultimately, passwords should be just one of many ways to authenticate one’s identity, Kalember said.

Two-factor authentication — which asks users to enter a second form of identification, such as a code texted to their phone — can provide additional protections. But it’s not always available, and it can be cumbersome for those who aren’t tech-savvy.


►  Apple unveils $999 iPhone X, loses ‘home’ button

Apple has broken the $1,000 barrier with its latest, and most expensive, phone, the iPhone X.

With a price starting at $999 and a host of new features, the phone will be a big test for both Apple and consumers. Will people be willing to shell out really big bucks for a relatively fragile device that’s become an essential part of daily life?

On Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook called the iPhone X “the biggest leap forward” since the first iPhone. (“X” is pronounced like the number 10, not the letter X.) It loses the home button, which revolutionized smartphones when it launched; offers an edge-to-edge screen; and will use facial recognition to unlock the phone.

Apple also unveiled a new iPhone 8 and a larger 8 Plus with upgrades to cameras, displays and speakers.

Those phones, Apple said, will shoot pictures with better colors and less distortion, particularly in low-light settings. The display will adapt to ambient lighting, similar to a feature in some iPad Pro models. Speakers will be louder and offer deeper bass.

Both iPhone 8 versions will allow wireless charging, a feature already offered in many Android phones, including Samsung models. Some Android phones have also previously eliminated the home button and added edge-to-edge screens.

Apple shares were mostly flat after the announcement, down 64 cents to $160.86.

STEVE JOBS HOMAGE

This was the first product event for Apple at its new spaceship-like headquarters in Cupertino, California. Before getting to the new iPhone, the company unveiled a new Apple Watch model with cellular service and an updated version of its Apple TV streaming device.

The event opened in a darkened auditorium, with only the audience’s phones gleaming like stars, along with a message that said “Welcome to Steve Jobs Theater.” A voiceover from Jobs, Apple’s co-founder who died in 2011, opened the event before CEO Tim Cook took stage.

“Not a day that goes by that we don’t think about him,” Cook said. “Memories especially come rushing back as we prepared for today and this event. It’s taken some time but we can now reflect on him with joy instead of sadness.”

The iPhone X costs twice what the original iPhone did. It sets a new price threshold for any smartphone intended to appeal to a mass market.

NEW WATCH

Apple’s latest Watch has built-in cellular service. The number on your phone will be the same as your iPhone. The Series 3 model will also have Apple Music available through cellular service. It won’t need a new plan, but will require a data add-on to your existing plan.

“Now, you can go for a run with just your watch,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer and in charge of Watch development.

Apple is also adding more fitness features to the Watch, and says it is now the most used heartrate monitor in the world. Now, Apple Watch will notify users when it detects an elevated heart rate when they don’t appear to be active. It’ll also detect abnormal heart rhythms.

The Series 3 will start at $399. One without cellular goes for $329, down from $369 for the comparable model now. The original Series 1, without GPS, sells for $249, down from $269. The new watch comes out September 22.

APPLE TV GETS UPGRADE

A new version of the Apple TV streaming device will be able to show video at “4K” resolution — a step up from high definition — and a color-improvement technology called high-dynamic range, or HDR.

Many rival devices already offer these features. But there isn’t a lot of video in 4K and HDR yet, nor are there many TVs that can display it. Apple TV doesn’t have its own display and needs to be connected to a TV.

Apple said it’s been working with movie studios to bring titles with 4K and HDR to its iTunes store. They will be sold at the same prices as high-definition video, which tends to be a few dollars more than standard-definition versions. Apple said it’s working with Netflix and Amazon Prime to bring their 4K originals to Apple TV, too.

The new Apple TV device will cost $179 and ships on September 22. A version without 4K will cost less.


►  FEMA estimates 25 percent of Florida Keys homes are gone

Search-and-rescue teams made their way into the Florida Keys’ farthest reaches Tuesday, while authorities rushed to repair the lone highway connecting the islands and deliver aid to Hurricane Irma’s victims. Federal officials estimated one-quarter of all homes in the Keys were destroyed.

Two days after Irma roared into the island chain with 130 mph winds, residents were allowed to return to the parts of the Keys closest to Florida’s mainland.

But the full extent of the death and destruction there remained a question mark because cellphone service was disrupted and some places were inaccessible.

“It’s going to be pretty hard for those coming home,” said Petrona Hernandez, whose concrete home on Plantation Key with 35-foot walls was unscathed, unlike others a few blocks away. “It’s going to be devastating to them.”

Elsewhere in Florida, life inched closer to normal, with some flights again taking off, many curfews lifted and major theme parks reopening. Cruise ships that extended their voyages and rode out the storm at sea began returning to port with thousands of passengers.

The number of people without electricity in the steamy late-summer heat dropped to around 10 million — half of Florida’s population. Utility officials warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored. About 110,000 people remained in shelters across Florida.

Seven deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with four in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 35 were killed in the Caribbean.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but everybody’s going to come together,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said. “We’re going to get this state rebuilt.”

Irma’s rainy remnants, meanwhile, pushed through Alabama and Mississippi after drenching Georgia. Flash-flood watches and warnings were issued around the Southeast.

While nearly all of Florida was engulfed by the 400-mile-wide storm, the Keys — home to about 70,000 people — appeared to be the hardest hit. Drinking water and power were cut off, all three of the islands’ hospitals were closed, and the supply of gasoline was extremely limited.

Officials said it was not known how many people ignored evacuation orders to stay behind in the Keys.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long said that preliminary estimates suggested that 25 percent of the homes in the Keys were destroyed and 65 percent sustained major damage.

“Basically every house in the Keys was impacted,” he said.

In Islamorada, a trailer park was devastated, the homes ripped apart as if by a giant claw. A sewage-like stench hung over the place.

Debris was scattered everywhere, including refrigerators, washers and dryers, a 25-foot fishing boat and a Jacuzzi. Homes were torn open to give a glimpse of their contents, including a bedroom with a small Christmas tree decorated with starfish.

One man and his family came to check on a weekend home and found it destroyed. The sight was too much to bear. The man told his family to get back in the car, and they drove off toward Miami.

In Key Largo, Lisa Storey and her husband said they had yet to be contacted by the power company or by city, county or state officials. As she spoke to a reporter, a helicopter passed overhead.

“That’s a beautiful sound, a rescue sound,” she said.

An aircraft carrier was positioned off Key West to help in the search-and-rescue effort. And crews worked to repair two washed-out, 300-foot sections of U.S. 1, the only highway from the mainland, and check the safety of the 42 bridges linking the islands.

Authorities stopped people and checked for documentation such as proof of residency or business ownership before allowing them back into the Upper Keys, including Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada.

The Lower Keys — including the chain’s most distant and most populous island, Key West, with 27,000 people — were still off-limits, with a roadblock in place where the highway was washed out.

In Lower Matecumbe Key, just south of Islamorada, 57-year-old Donald Garner checked on his houseboat, which had only minor damage. Nearby, three other houseboats were partially sunk. Garner had tied his to mangroves.

“That’s the only way to make it,” said Garner, who works for a shrimp company.

While the Keys are studded with mansions and beachfront resorts, about 13 percent of the people live in poverty and could face big obstacles as the cleanup begins.

“People who bag your groceries when you’re on vacation, the bus drivers, hotel cleaners, cooks and dishwashers, they’re already living beyond paycheck to paycheck,” said Stephanie Kaple, who runs an organization that helps the homeless in the Keys.

Corey Smith, a UPS driver who rode out the hurricane in Key Largo, said it was a relief that many buildings on the island escaped major damage. But he said conditions were still not good, with branches blocking roads and supermarkets closed.

“They’re shoving people back to a place with no resources,” he said by telephone. “It’s just going to get crazy pretty quick.”

International News

The Free Press WV

►  Europe leaders view devastated islands as locals struggle

France’s president and the Dutch king visited Caribbean territories on Tuesday that were hammered by Hurricane Irma, bringing in much-needed food, water and medical supplies amid accusations that European governments had been unprepared, slow to react and sometimes even racist in their responses to the devastation.

The visit came as residents tried to revive a sense of normalcy amid the chaos and destruction wrought by the Category 5 hurricane with small gestures like sharing radios and rescuing dogs.

The Dutch Red Cross said more than 200 people were still listed as missing on St. Maarten, but with communications extremely spotty a week after the storm hit it wasn’t clear how many were simply without cell service and power and unable to let friends and family know they had survived. The organization said 90 percent of buildings on the Dutch territory were damaged and a third destroyed as Irma roared across the island it shares with French St. Martin.

Yogesh Bodha, a 37-year-old jewelry store employee, said there was no response from European officials for two days, and that he hasn’t seen many changes since Dutch authorities arrived on St. Maarten.

“They should’ve been more organized than they were,” he said. “We have not received any food or water. They say it’s on its way. Let’s see.”

For Liseth Echevarría, who works as a bartender in St. Maarten, offering whatever she could to family, strangers and abandoned pets was helping her cope — and those around her were doing the same.

The manager of a marina next door threw over a hose so that Echevarría and her husband could have a semblance of an outdoor shower. He also offered them a temporary power connection from his generator so they could charge phones and listen to the sole radio station still broadcasting.

“This is the only communication that St. Maarten has with the world right now,” the 27-year-old said.

It was thanks to that radio station that she found out about a flight for all Latin Americans stuck in St. Maarten. She rushed to the airport with her brother, who was evacuating back to Colombia. As she dropped him off, Echevarría saw a Yorkshire terrier tied to a metal barricade, abandoned by a passenger fleeing the island and told they couldn’t bring pets on the plane.

Echevarría scooped up the dog named Oliver and brought him home to meet her three other dogs, including one rescued from a neighbor’s property. The neighbor fled with her son after the hurricane destroyed their home. There was nothing left of it other than jagged pieces of wood and a shower curtain covered in colorful butterflies tangled in a toppled tree.

Echevarría’s husband, Lex Kools, a 26-year-old civil engineer, jumps over the fence every day to feed the other two dogs on the property.

“They were attacking each other, they were so hungry,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron flew into Guadeloupe on Tuesday before heading to hard-hit St. Martin, where he met in debris-littered streets with residents. He was accompanied by doctors and teams of experts who were to help lead the recovery effort.

Macron said 11 people were killed in St. Martin, while another four people died on the Dutch side of the island, bringing the death toll in the Caribbean to at least 35.

At a news conference in the Pointe-a-Pitre airport before departing for St. Martin, Macron said the government’s “top priority” was to help island residents return to normal life.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander, who arrived in St. Maarten on Monday, said the scenes of devastation he witnessed in the hurricane’s aftermath were the worst he had ever seen.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before and I’ve seen a lot of natural disasters in my life. I’ve seen a lot of war zones in my life, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” Willem-Alexander said on the Dutch national network NOS.

At Echevarria’s and Kools’ home on the island, the couple fed relatives and the girlfriend and two children of Echevarria’s cousin, all of whom were staying with them.

Near the front door, a large plastic table sagged under the weight of boxes of spaghetti and cookies, soup cans, chips, bags of almonds and macadamia nuts and rice. Underneath were dozens of bottles of water.

The couple said they took the goods from a grocery store blown open during the storm.

They said they had planned on buying the items, but no one was working at the store and they were running out of food and water. They looked at each other as they observed the looting.

“Do we do this as well?” Kools recalled thinking. “Everybody was just running inside. It was chaos.”

The looting and reports of violence prompted the couple and their guests to run into their house as soon as they parked their car.

“I’m scared,” Echevarría said. “I know they’re breaking into homes at night. ...There’s still no security. There’s no law or order.”

Dozens of people stood in line for hours on Tuesday waiting for flights, some of which never materialized.

“We’ve been here since 7 a.m.,” said Rosa Vanderpool, a 52-year-old accountant who was trying to get her stepdaughter and 4-year-old step granddaughter on a flight to Curacao.

“We only have two days of food left,” she said. “We don’t know if there are any planes. We don’t know anything.”


►  Trump: North Korea sanctions ‘small step,’ warns of more

Donald Trump said Tuesday new U.N. sanctions “are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen” to stop North Korea’s nuclear march. U.S. officials showed Congress satellite images of illicit trade to highlight the challenge of getting China and Russia to cut off commerce with the rogue nation.

The U.N. Security Council’s new restrictions could further bite into North Korea’s meager economy after what Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian government says was a hydrogen bomb test September 3. The world body on Monday banned North Korean textile exports, an important source of hard currency, and capped its imports of crude oil.

The measures fell short of Washington’s goals: a potentially crippling ban on oil imports and freezing the international assets of Kim and his government.

“We think it’s just another very small step - not a big deal,” Trump said as he met with Malaysia’s prime minister at the White House. “But those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.” He did not elaborate.

Despite its limited economic impact, the new sanctions succeed in adding further pressure on Pyongyang without alienating Moscow and Beijing. The U.S. needs the support of both of its geopolitical rivals for its current strategy of using economic pressure and diplomacy — and not military options — for getting North Korea to halt its testing of nuclear bombs and the missiles for delivering them.

Trump said it was “nice” to get a 15-0 vote at the U.N.

But underscoring the big questions about Chinese and Russian compliance, senior U.S. officials told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that effective enforcement by both of the North’s neighbors and trading partners will be the acid test of whether sanctions work.

The U.N. has adopted multiple resolutions against North Korea since its first nuclear test explosion in 2006, banning it from arms trading and curbing exports of commodities it heavily relies on for revenue. That has have failed to stop its progress toward developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could soon range the American mainland.

Briefing the U.S. lawmakers, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea displayed satellite photos to demonstrate North Korea’s deceptive shipping practices. He focused in particular on how it masks exports of coal that were banned in August after the North tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In one example, a North Korean ship registered in St. Kitts and Nevis was said to have sailed from China to North Korea, turning off its transponder to conceal its location as it loaded coal. The ship then docked in Vladivostok, Russia, before finally going to China to presumably unload its cargo.

China accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s external trade.

“The success of the pressure strategy will depend on cooperation from international partners, especially Beijing,” said Susan Thornton, America’s top diplomat for East Asia. “We have also made clear that if China and Russia do not act, we will use the tools we have at our disposal.”

Those tools include more sanctions. In June, the U.S. designated the Bank of Dandong, a regional Chinese bank, as a “primary money laundering concern” over its alleged help to North Korea in accessing the U.S. and international financial systems.

Billingsea described the action as “a very clear warning shot that the Chinese understood.”

He said North Korean bank representatives still operate in Russia in “flagrant disregard” of U.N. resolutions that Moscow voted for. This summer, the U.S. targeted two Russian companies with penalties for supporting North Korean missile procurement.

Lawmakers who spoke Tuesday supported the U.S. pressure tactics, while voicing skepticism that North Korea could be forced into abandon nuclear weapons it regards as a guarantee of survival for the Kim dynasty.

Republican Representative Ed Royce, the committee chairman, said U.S. and allied efforts should be “super-charged.”

Describing the North’s access to hard currency as its “Achilles heel,” he urged the administration to target more entities dealing with North Korea, particularly Chinese banks. He singled out the China Merchants Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China.

Representative Eliot Engel, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, also supported the pressure campaign. But he criticized Trump’s commentary on the North Korean crisis, which he said was making matters worse.

Playing on Trump’s “fire and fury” threat of a month ago, Democratic Representative Gerald Connolly said Trump’s policy looks more like “fecklessness and failure.”

Connolly protested that Trump had branded South Korea’s leader, a supporter of diplomacy with North Korea, as an appeaser.

The State Department’s Thornton said Seoul had “come around very nicely” and appeasement not South Korea’s policy.


►  Bangladesh leader visits Rohingya refugees, assures help

The Bangladeshi prime minister on Tuesday visited a struggling refugee camp that has absorbed some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled recent violence in Myanmar — a crisis she said left her speechless.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina demanded that Myanmar “take steps to take their nationals back,” and assured temporary aid until that happened.

“We will not tolerate injustice,” she said at a rally at the Kutupalong refugee camp, near the border town of Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar district.

On Monday night, she lambasted Buddhist-majority Myanmar for “atrocities” that she said had reached a level beyond description, telling lawmakers she had “no words to condemn Myanmar” and noting that Bangladesh had long been protesting the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

At least 313,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh since August 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts, prompting Myanmar’s military to retaliate with what it called “clearance operations” to root out the rebels.

The crisis has drawn sharp criticism from around the world. The U.N. human rights chief said the violence and injustice faced by the ethnic Rohingya minority in Myanmar — where U.N. rights investigators have been barred from entry — “seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

“The Myanmar government should stop pretending that the Rohingya are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Monday in Geneva, calling it a “complete denial of reality.”

Meanwhile, a Rohingya villager in Myanmar said security forces had arrived Monday in the village of Pa Din village, firing guns, setting new fires to homes and driving hundreds of Rohingya to flee.

“People were scared and running out of the village,” the villager said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety.

Myanmar police disputed that, saying the houses were burned by terrorists they called Bengalis. That term is used derisively by many in Myanmar to describe the Rohingya, who they say migrated illegally from neighboring Bangladesh, though many Rohingya families have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Bangladesh has said it would free 2,000 acres (810 hectares) of land for a new camp in Cox’s Bazar district, to help shelter newly arrived Rohingya. The government was also fingerprinting and registering new arrivals.

Kutupalong and another pre-existing Rohingya camps were already beyond capacity. Other new arrivals were staying in schools, or huddling in makeshift settlements with no toilets along roadsides and in open fields.

Basic resources were scarce, including food, clean water and medical aid.

Aid agencies have been overwhelmed by the influx of Rohingya, many of whom are arriving hungry and traumatized after walking days through jungles or being packed into rickety wooden boats in search of safety in Bangladesh.

Many tell similar stories - of Myanmar soldiers firing indiscriminately on their villages, burning their homes and warning them to leave or to die. Some say they were attacked by Buddhist mobs.

In the last two weeks, the government hospital in Cox’s Bazar has been overwhelmed by Rohingya patients, with 80 arriving in the last two weeks suffering gunshot wounds as well as bad infections.

At least three Rohingya have been wounded in land mine blasts, and dozens have drowned when boats capsized during sea crossings.

Myanmar’s authorities said more than a week ago that some 400 Rohingya - mostly insurgents - had died in clashes with troops, but it has offered no updated death toll since.

Rohingya have faced decades of discrimination and persecution in Myanmar and are denied citizenship despite centuries-olds roots in the Rakhine region.

Before August 25, Bangladesh had already been housing more than 100,000 Rohingya who arrived after bloody anti-Muslim rioting in 2012 or amid earlier persecution drives in Myanmar.


►  UK approves Stonehenge tunnel, diverted to ease druid dismay

British authorities on Tuesday approved plans for a contentious and long-delayed road tunnel under the site of Stonehenge — but altered its route so it won’t impede views of the sun during the winter solstice.

The government said the 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometer) tunnel will bury a frequently gridlocked road that now runs past the prehistoric monument in southwest England.

The tunnel will “reconnect the two halves of the 6,500 acre (2,600 hectare) World Heritage site which is currently split by the road, and remove the sight and sound of traffic from the Stonehenge landscape,” Britain’s Department for Transport said.

It said the revised route will be 50 yards (meters) further from the giant stone circle than previously proposed “to avoid conflicting with the solstice alignment.”

But critics say the tunnel will disturb a rich archaeological site. Tony Robinson, host of the TV archaeology show “Time Team,” accused the government of “driving a thousand coaches and horses through the World Heritage Site.”

University of Buckingham archaeologist David Jacques said “the Stonehenge landscape is unutterably precious and you tamper with it at your peril.”

Conservationists, including the United Nations heritage body UNESCO, say diverting the road with a bypass would be a less disruptive option.

Stonehenge, built between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C. for reasons that remain mysterious, is one of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s also a spiritual home for thousands of druids and mystics who visit at the summer and winter solstices.

Disaster Recovery Should Heal, Not Divide, Our Communities

The Free Press WV

Houston has barely begun to recover from Hurricane Harvey, as Irma devastates the Caribbean and heads towards Puerto Rico and Florida. Its hard to imagine all the grief, effort, and cost it will take to rebuild from one of these thousand-year storms, much less two.

But we better get used to it. Climate science tells us more superstorms are coming. We should learn how to recover from them in a smart, humane way – one that promotes economic and social justice, so people, families and communities can truly heal.

Trump and the Republicans are about to do it the other way.


Money From Misery

The devastation of Houston was made worse by poor planning and deregulation. That wasn’t an accident: it was greed. Wealthy individuals and corporations want to keep their taxes low, so they blocked government spending for preparedness and recovery.

After Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey in 2012, one of the most vocal cheerleaders for this brand of ghoulish selfishness was Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who dismissed disaster mitigation efforts as “pork” and joined most of his fellow Texas Republicans in voting against aid to Sandy’s victims.

Today, it’s Cruz’s own constituents who are paying the price for this selfish, short-sighted philosophy.

The greed of oil companies like ExxonMobil and Valero led them to lobby against the EPA’s regulation of benzene. As David Sirota and Jay Cassano report, this will probably allow them to escape punishment for leaking this highly carcinogenic solvent, a common element in gasoline, into the atmosphere around Houston in the hurricane’s aftermath.

Why spend money to prevent deadly leaks, these corporations reason, when you can get the rules changed in your favor for a fistful of lobbyist dollars?

In a just world, the politicians and special interests responsible for so much suffering would be forced to step aside so that saner, more ethical people could clean up their damage and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again next time. But we don’t live in that world… yet.


Target: Houston

As Thomas Jessen Adams and Cedric Johnson write about Houston, “the race to capitalize on the disaster, to redistribute wealth upward, and to transform the region has already begun.” The Trump administration, together with the right wing extremists who currently govern Texas, will direct recovery efforts. They are likely to roll back environmental protections – which will make future disasters worse – and further weaken worker protections like the Davis-Bacon Act.

This playbook is familiar to anyone who followed what happened to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

It’s disaster capitalism, straight out of Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine: every catastrophe is an opportunity to consolidate wealth and power for the elites, and undermine the public institutions that serve the majority.

If our current leaders have their way, working people will be driven even further from the desirable parts of the city, making them more dependent on cars and forcing them to give up even more of their lives to difficult and lengthy commutes.

Recovery money will be channeled toward contractors and projects that further enrich the already wealthy, building high-end housing and luxury retail outlets instead of the affordable housing in transit that most people. The Department of Education under Betsy DeVos will try to privatize Houston schools, a move that would increase segregation, reduce social mobility, and make economic inequality even worse.


Ethical Recovery

It doesn’t have to be that way. Disaster recovery could be based on some fundamental ethical principles, including:

1. Disasters are going to happen more often now, so we better get good at recovering from them.

The science is settled. Hurricanes are getting more severe because of climate change. Even as we fight to minimize the harm we’re doing to the environment, we need to accept the fact that disasters like Katrina, Harvey, and Irma are going to shape our world for the foreseeable future.

2. We must never again allow the powerful to use disasters to exploit the powerless.

The recovery from Hurricane Katrina was a national disgrace, thanks to an economically and racially biased plan of action. The city lost 96,000 black residents, nearly one-third of its African-American population, after rebuilding efforts that were slow to help the mostly black Lower Ninth Ward.

Gary Rivlin notes New Orleans no longer has a public hospital. Affordable housing was bulldozed, not repaired.

The city’s 7,500 teachers were fired and charter schools replaced the traditional system. The city’s most disadvantaged children suffered as a result. As Jeff Bryant writes, “here’s no evidence anywhere that the NOLA model of school reform has ‘improved education.’” Borrowing a phrase from TV’s The Wire, Bryant also characterized the charterized school district’s test scores as a case of “juking the stats.”

Hurricane Katrina was a tragedy. The response was a crime.

3. Rebuilding, like all government aid, must respect those most in need.

Our current system of mass incarceration targets people of color, who make up more than half (59 percent) of the nation’s prison population. Although black and white Americans sell and use drugs at roughly the same percentages, the African-American imprisonment rate for illegal drugs is nearly six times higher than the white rate.

Maybe that’s why prison inmates in New Orleans were abandoned, potentially to drown, during Hurricane Katrina, enduring days of horrifying neglect before being rescued.

Prisons must be rebuilt as humane institutions, and plans must be put in place to keep inmates safe.

But prisons are only the tip of the iceberg. Rebuilding efforts provide an opportunity to ensure that affordable housing is available to all those who need it. A recent report from the Urban Institute shows that there is an affordable housing crisis, and that it has reached every single county in the United States. “Without the support of federal rental assistance,” the report concludes, “not one county in the United States has enough affordable housing for all its (extremely low income) renters.”

This is a catastrophe, too, a slow-motion disaster playing out all around us. Its victims deserve to be rescued too. Communities must be affordable, safe, and secure for all of their residents.

4. We need to get smarter about transportation.

Hurricane Harvey destroyed several hundred thousand cars – as many as 1 million, according to some estimates. Insurance companies will bear the multibillion-dollar cost of replacing them, but that cost will then be borne by the economy as a whole in the form of higher premiums.

Most residents will also have to pay an insurance deductible, and lower-income people are more likely to have a high deductible. Given the fact that many Americans say they don’t have $400 for an unanticipated emergency, this means that many Houstonians will suffer another hardship as they replace their cars.

And they will have to replace them, just to survive. Houston is geographically broad, and it’s difficult to live or work there without an automobile. That’s why the car ownership rate there is 94.4 percent, second only to Dallas. By contrast, supposedly car-crazy Los Angeles has an ownership rate of only 86.5 percent.

An estimated 15 percent of Houston residents don’t have car insurance, which is likely to mean they can’t replace them at all. That could doom them to joblessness and poverty, which raises the question: can car ownership ever be considered a fundamental right?

Replacement cars are already making their way to Houston. They will make climate change worse, and so will help lay the groundwork for future disastrous hurricanes. Cars are part of the problem in the long run, not part of the solution.

Houston, like other cities that lack effective public transportation, force their residents to rely on cars. This is like imposing a regressive kind of “life tax” that imposes a disproportionate burden on lower-income people.

Future rebuilding efforts need to concentrate, not just on replacing what was there before, but in replacing it with something better. That means public transportation, and government investment in cheaper and more energy-efficient vehicles.

5. Rebuilding efforts must repair the planet, as well as the city.

We have been repairing the damage caused by climate change by rebuilding infrastructure that makes climate change worse. That is, very literally, insane. We should replace destroyed homes with ones that are energy-efficient, repair highways and bridges so that they impose less wear and tear on vehicles, and (as mentioned above) build or upgrade mass transit wherever possible.

Disaster recovery efforts should also include mitigation of future disasters. In Houston’s case that means slowing or stopping development on nearby wetlands, a reckless undertaking that makes flooding more severe.

Rebuilding efforts must consider the planet, as well as the city.

6. Safe, well-governed communities are a human right.

Lastly, it needs to be recognized that we’ve taken a reckless and shortsighted approach toward urban planning and regulation over the last several decades. Whether it is the deregulation that has contributed to Harvey’s environmental and human toll, or the lack of foresight that is exacerbated our housing and transportation crises, we’ve allowed our cities to become unsafe spaces. That needs to stop.

Every human being has the right to be safe. Every human being has the right to expect that their government will protect them, from human greed as well as natural disasters. Under the sway of the cult of privatization, our municipal, state and national governments have been falling down on the job. That has to change.


Conclusion

As this is being written, Hurricane Irma has devastated much of the Caribbean and is bearing down on Puerto Rico and Florida. Scientists say that its record winds and “epic” size is being fueled by climate change. There will be more storms like it in the future – and very possibly worse.

We need to be ready for disaster – with our satellites, our rescue teams, with our earth movers and cranes. But we also need to be ready with our values and our ideals. It’s time to redefine disaster recovery – not as an opportunity for exploitation, and not even to restore the status quo, but as a way to heal from the rapid and slow-moving disasters happening all around us.

~~  Richard Eskow ~~

Opinion: Oil and Natural Gas: A West Virginia Solution

The Free Press WV

West Virginia history shows the success of the tried and true custom of leveraging our abundant natural resources to not only generate revenue statewide, but to lower unemployment and boost the quality of life for our residents.

West Virginia needs to take a stand and increase its recognition of the potential to once again be the leader within the oil and natural gas industry. West Virginia currently ranks 8th nationally in both the number of workers supported by the industry and in total natural gas production, coming in behind Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

So how do we put West Virginia at the forefront and leverage every advantage to not only put more residents to work, but increase funding to our local communities and create a better future? And, how do we decrease out-migration of both the young and old due to lack of hope for gainful employment?

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently released a report identifying that the West Virginia oil and natural gas industry supported 70,900 jobs and added $8 billion to the state economy in 2015.  However, we still are experiencing an unemployment rate higher than the national average and an inability to compete with the policies and regulations of neighboring states. What is the solution?

The answer lies in reasonable regulations and progressive legislation. The industry currently has restrictions that are hindering its ability to remain competitive with Pennsylvania and Ohio. West Virginia is not growing at the same pace due to its non-competitive drilling laws. By comparison, last year West Virginia natural gas production increased by 4.3 percent while Pennsylvania saw a 9.37 percent increase. This five percent deficit represents the loss of opportunity for West Virginia to realize tremendous investments in wells and accompanying infrastructure and in the creation of much needed, high-paying new jobs.

We must embrace the potential we have before us, which creates a larger impact through the expansion of downstream opportunities and a dramatic increase of jobs in West Virginia and across the entire Appalachian Basin. 

West Virginia’s legislators must recognize that natural gas development represents the single best hope for resolving the issues which plague our state and allow the economic activity it spawns to give hope to West Virginians. Policy reforms must be made to allow the natural gas industry to reach its fullest potential and create jobs.

~~  Charlie Burd - Executive Director, IOGA WV ~~

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

KEYS FELT IRMA’S FULL FURY

Authorities send an aircraft carrier and other Navy ships to help with search-and-rescue operations as a flyover of the hurricane-battered Florida islands yields what the governor says were scenes of devastation.


WHERE HELP HAS BEEN SLOW TO ARRIVE

Caribbean officials struggle to get aid to islands devastated by Irma, with at least 34 people reported killed across the region, including 10 in Cuba.


‘OUR COUNTRY CAME TOGETHER THAT DAY’

Americans mark the 16th anniversary of September 11 with somber tributes, tears and pleas from some victims’ relatives to return to the sense of unity felt after the attacks.


UN OK’S NEW SANCTIONS ON NORTH KOREA

The sanctions do not contain an oil import ban or international asset freeze on the government and leader Kim Jong Un that the Trump administration wanted.


DEATH TOLL FROM EARTHQUAKE WORSENS

The official toll in Mexico’s 8.1 magnitude quake rises to nearly 100 as more deaths are confirmed in the hard-hit southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.


WHICH RED FLAG EQUIFAX HACK RAISED

The attack highlights the vulnerability of Social Security numbers, which are widely used by financial firms as personal identifiers.


VIOLENCE ERUPTS DURING FOOTBALL PARTY

Nine people, including a suspect fatally shot by police, are dead after a man opened fire during a gathering to watch football at a suburban Dallas home.


WALL STREET BUOYED AS IRMA FADES

U.S. stocks rally to record highs as the hurricane swirls north without causing as much damage as many had feared.


WHAT’S PARADOX OF HURRICANE COVERAGE

People on television spend days warning the public to get out of harm’s way - then station their correspondents squarely in the middle of howling wind and rain.


THE ‘IT’ FACTOR: AUDIENCES FLOCK TO FRIGHT FLICK

The horror genre has been stuck in the micro-budget realm for years, but that might change with the record-breaking success of “It” at the box office.

The Free Press WV
SAP Coalition Meeting

The monthly SAP Coalition meeting is today, Tuesday September 12th at Noon at the FRN office on Main Street in Glenville.

Bring your lunch and come plan with us!

We will finalize Day of Hope plans, and work on Red Ribbon Week planning!




The Free Press WV




Apple’s redesigned iPhone 8 will be called ‘iPhone X,‘ according to leaked code

Apple is expected to officially unveil the device in a press event on Tuesday.


Google called a New York Times report that female Google employees make less than men “extremely flawed”

The report was based on an internal spreadsheet created by Google employees.


Nintendo Switch sales are “much stronger” than the PlayStation 4

That’s according to Atul Goyal, an analyst at Jefferies.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify in court later this month to defend his plan to create non-voting Facebook shares

Zuckerberg is scheduled to publicly testify in Delaware Chancery court on September 26.


YouTube’s biggest star, PewDiePie, used a racial slur during a livestream

Earlier this year The Wall Street Journal detailed PewDiePie’s history of using anti-Semitic imagery in his videos.


Snapchat is tapping college newspapers to make campus stories and letting them sell ads

The stories will be visible to Snapchat users located near each respective campus.


Facebook says it’s “unable” to reveal the ads linked to Russia

“Due to both federal law and the fact that investigations are ongoing with the relevant authorities, we’re unable to share the ads,“ a Facebook spokesperson said on Friday.


Uber is making rides in London more expensive so it can give drivers up to £5,000 if they buy greener cars

The firm promised to add 35p more to the fund every time someone takes a ride through its app in London.


YouTube networks Fullscreen and Stylehaul were both hit with layoffs

The multichannel networks helped to sell ads on YouTube.


Uber rival Taxify has appealed the loss of its license and wants to relaunch in London

It had to suspend its services on Friday after Transport for London said it was “urgently investigating” the company.

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  West Virginia tax receipts up 3.9 percent from last year

West Virginia tax officials say collections of nearly $560 million so far this fiscal year are 3.9 percent higher than last year, though August receipts of almost $307 million were lower than budget estimates.

Treasury Secretary Dave Hardy says the boost in collections is good news for the state two months into its new year.

He says severance taxes from production of coal, natural gas and oil are up 8 percent from the same two months last year, though lower than estimated in August.

That’s attributed to a drop in natural gas prices, which are expected to rebound with cooler weather.

The West Virginia road fund’s $69.2 million collected was higher than the estimate and last August’s receipts from legislated increases in registration fees and gas taxes.


►  City charges ahead with electric vehicle chargers

A West Virginia city has installed two new electric chargers to get increased spending from interstate travelers.

The city of South Charleston recently installed two Level 2 electric vehicle chargers, which are believed to be the first in the state to have been installed by a municipality. The stations are free of charge and opened to the public.

Mayor Frank Mullens says the chargers will make the city a destination point because the charging stations show up on electric car owners’ apps. Within walking distance of the stations, there are several restaurants and other destinations.

Mullens says the city plans to install more chargers in partnership with Thomas Memorial Hospital and other businesses.


►  Ambulance strikes elk on U.S. Highway 119

n early morning collision in Logan County left two of West Virginia’s elk dead.

The cow elk and her bull calf were struck and killed by an ambulance on U.S. Route 119 south of Logan near Whitman.  The collision happened around 3 a.m..

The ambulance was not hauling any patients and nobody was injured in the collision.

It’s the second time since the elk were reintroduced in 2016 a vehicle has struck one of the animals.  The first incident happened back in the spring when a bull elk was struck in Logan County.  The elk survived that incident.

One of the elk killed in today’s incident was one of those introduced last year and the calf was one of two born in the state after the reintroduction.

Division of Natural Resources biologists are performing a necropsy on the two elk.


►  State school board proposes lowering teacher requirements

The West Virginia Board of Education has proposed lowering some requirements to become a public school teacher.

Among the proposed changes are exempting education bachelor’s degree holders who meet minimum grade point averages from having to pass a basic knowledge test.

Another change would be no longer requiring non-education master’s degree holders within “five years of directly related work experience” to pass a content knowledge test to teach the subject they hold a master’s in.

Other changes concern teacher licensure tests.

State Schools Superintendent Steve Paine says the proposed changes add more flexibility to help fill job positions without compromising quality.

All of the proposed changes can be found online at wvde.state.wv.us/policies .

The official public comment period ends 4 p.m. October 10.


►  New church opens in West Virginia on site of 2015 fire

Roman Catholic officials in West Virginia have dedicated a new church on the same site of one destroyed by fire in March 2015.

Media outlets report a ceremony was held Saturday for the new St. John’s Catholic Church in Benwood. The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, officiated the service.

A parish hall across the street from the church was remodeled.

The cause of the fire at the old church was undetermined. An adjacent school sustained smoke and water damage and never reopened.


►  Little Free Libraries encourage interaction, literacy

Robo Fred sits at the end of the Morris’ driveway.

His arms and legs are tubes, his hands are PVC pipes, his head is a funnel, and his body is an old newspaper box.

He doesn’t move like some robots might. He stands at his post at 12 Franklin Farms Drive and waits to spill his guts to the next visitor.

Robo Fred, whose torso is filled with books for people of all ages, is one of the newest Little Free Libraries in Fairmont.

—-

Little Free Libraries are maintained by individuals, families, businesses or organizations throughout the world. Built out of various kinds of material, these sites for free book exchanges encourage the public passing by to take a book and leave a book.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit group that fosters the world’s book exchanges by having the libraries register to be official locations. There are some unregistered book exchange locations as well.

The concept of Little Free Libraries really started to grow around 2010, and this year, littlefreelibrary.org reports that there are more than 50,000 registered libraries in the world.

A map on the Little Free Libraries website shows three sites in Fairmont, one in Monongah and one in Barrackville.

—-

Amber Morris and her family created their bionic book-lender over the winter, and set him out for the public’s use in mid-July.

Why is the library a robot? Because Amber’s two boys - Grant, 3, and Jude, 7 - love robots, she explained. And why Fred? That’s actually an acronym for Fostering Reading Every Day.

They had a lot of help from the community in constructing the box. The Times West Virginian donated the newspaper box; D&D Auto Body in Mannington painted the box; Mannington Home Center contributed the plexiglass front; Ace Hardware in Fairmont donated PVC pipe.

Books inside include some for adult readers, such as some written by Stephen King, Anne Rice and Nora Roberts, as well as children’s books, such as “The little House on the Prairie” series and Dr. Seuss books.

A lot of the adult books came from donations by several employees at Mon General Pharmacy, where Amber works; however, children’s books are plentiful at the Morris home, where they homeschool their children.

Amber keeps the library fresh, not only with books, but other fun things, such as stuffed animal “reading buddies” that encourage parents to read to their children. Recently she put in information for the solar eclipse, which went over really well.

Borrowing traffic at Robo Fred has been light so far, she said, adding that it could be people don’t understand the Little Free Library concept.

“We’ve had a lot of people stop and look and ask questions, but I still think it’s kind of novice that they can just take a book,” she said. “It’s OK to stop and take one even if you don’t have a book to put in.”

To help get the word out about her library, Amber sent out a letter from the family to the community, and spoke at the local community center to encourage residents to stop by.

“We’ve seen a few more people stop now that we’re starting to get the word out.”

As Amber held her family’s newest addition, 3-month-old Reese, Grant and Jude looked through the books inside the library.

What does Jude like to read?

“Anything I can get,” he said with a smile. He’s a fan of the Boxcar Children and the Magic Treehouse series. Amber added that he also reads to his brother, with Grant preferring Dr. Seuss books and the Elephant and Piggie series.

“We homeschool, so reading is a big part of our day-to-day,” Amber said. “I feel like as a society we’re so into social media that we don’t really enjoy good books that you can actually hold anymore.”

Their family started the library to not only get to know their neighbors better, but also to bring about a connection to each other and to reading.

“We have tons of books. When I saw (Little Free Libraries), I thought this kind of just goes with our vision of what our family is,” Amber said.

Now that the library is up and running, she plans to keep it going, and possibly adding on. She mentioned that she’d like to add in treats for passing dogs, and possibly a bench nearby so people can sit and read.

—-

Dave Huffman is a Little Free Library veteran. His library at 11 Park Drive opened in November of 2013, and is still running today.

His green library, built out of a magazine holder, is also filled with books for all ages, and he sees kids, adults, families and retirees stop by to pick up books.

“Some are regulars, stopping by every free days on a morning or evening walk, to those that visit every couple weeks or just when they’d like a new read,” Dave explained. “Everyone in and visiting our neighborhood has had nothing but nice things to say about it.”

He stocked the library with books in the beginning, and new books make their way in all the time.

“The people in our neighborhood have been absolutely wonderful about resupplying the library,” he said. “Many times we have more books than will fit.”

Dave added that he’d like to give a personal thank-you to everyone who donates to his library, but usually books are left anonymously.

There is a notebook in the library where people can leave comments, also often anonymous. He shared his favorite:

“Thank you so much for maintaining this. I have borrowed and brought several books. Every time I see this library, I think of my beloved Nannie. She was a teacher and always tried to instill a love of reading. She also said you should try to leave a situation better than you found it. This library does both! Thank you!”

The library takes minimal effort to maintain, and Dave said he definitely plans on keeping it going for the people who visit, which he estimated adds up to around a thousand a year.

“I kind of consider it the neighborhood’s library now,” he said, adding that his neighbors sometimes do more to maintain the library than he does.

For the love of libraries

There are five official Little Free Libraries in the area, according to the organization’s map: Amber’s at 12 Franklin Farms Drive; Dave’s at 11 Park Drive; one in Monongah near the rail trail; and two sponsored by the Marion County Reading Council, one at 1564 Mary Lou Retton Drive and one behind the Barrackville United Methodist Church at 409 Pike St.

Amber said there are resources through Little Free Libraries that she uses for new ideas to update her library, and Dave encouraged those interested in starting their own library to “just do it.”

“Your neighborhood will most likely love and embrace it, and thank you for it,” he said. “Even if you have just a few books to begin with, I can almost guarantee that people will donate and fill it.”


►  WV gas prices remain at same rate as last week

Average retail gasoline prices in Charleston have not moved in the past week, averaging $2.77 Monday, according to GasBuddy.

This compares with the national average that has increased 1.8 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.65, according GasBuddy.

According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices per gallon on September 11 in Charleston have ranged widely over the last five years, with $2.17 in 2016, $2.48 in 2015, $3.48 in 2014, $3.53 in 2013 and $3.95 in 2012.

ETC.

The Free Press WV

  • Kim and Trump Play Thermonuclear Chicken:  Hopefully, they won’t run out of words. Last weekend’s test of a purported North Korean hydrogen bomb set off a new round of rhetorical salvos between the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump, heightening concern that Washington might start a pre-emptive shooting war. But experts warn that considering Pyongyang’s “black hole,” from which little intelligence escapes, the ability of American weaponry to disable all of Kim’s nukes is limited, allowing for a retaliatory strike. And even under conventional attack, there’s a strong North Korean “use ’em or lose ’em” incentive.  Bloomberg


  • How a Houston Teacher Stumbled Into the Cajun Navy:  She just wanted to listen. But after downloading a walkie-talkie app, Texan Holly Hartman found herself drafted into the Cajun Navy. For 34 hours as Hurricane Harvey raged, she was an amateur emergency dispatcher, consoling and advising a stream of victims in dire situations: a family trapped in their attic, a woman seeking rescue for her elderly father, a mother whose son had been electrocuted. Armed with two minutes’ training, the exhausted teacher guided volunteer boaters to people desperate for help, earning a new appreciation for what first responders face every day.  Houston Chronicle


  • Hemingway’s Cats Weather Hurricane Unharmed in Key West:  No fur flew. Before Irma hit, the 10 staff members who care for the 54 polydactyl cats living in author Ernest Hemingway’s historic Key West home refused to evacuate, saying that the house had withstood hurricanes before. They turned out to be right: After the hurricane passed through yesterday, staff members reported that all humans and cats are safe, through the storm knocked out the power and water services. Now they’ll have to live off their generators and stocked food supplies until help can come.  Mercury News


  • Apple Sees Massive Leak Just Days Before Big Reveal:  There goes the suspense. This weekend an anonymous source emailed secret information about Apple’s iOS 11 to both MacRumors and 9to5Mac, which promptly dispensed it to the public. The leak revealed the existence not just of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, but a mysterious iPhone X and a set of new animated emojis. With CEO Tim Cook set to take the stage at a launch event tomorrow to announce these new developments, the company’s likely on the hunt for the leaker, suspected to be an Apple employee.  Mashable


  • “The original most interesting man in the world.”  It’s surprising that Hollywood hasn’t already figured out how to make a movie about the extraordinary life of Tom Corbally, who was a private investigator and much more. Here’s a reconstruction of a life that touched some of the most powerful and famous people of the 20th Century, a life that ended with the feds closing in and the biggest secrets evidently left untold.  BuzzFeed


  • Trump Company hires Chinese state-owned firm despite election promises:  “Trump’s family business reportedly hired a construction company owned by the Chinese government to work on a project even though Trump promised it would not work with any foreign entities while he was in the White House. A $32 million contract was awarded to the Middle East subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation by DAMAC Properties, the Trump Organization’s partner.”  The Hill


  • Trump May Target More Immigrants With Temporary Protected Status:  The next DACA? Trump administration turns to another class of immigrants. “As the nation’s immigrant community grapples with President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a similar move could be looming for hundreds of thousands of other undocumented immigrants who have been permitted to build lives in the United States, in some cases for decades. At issue is ‘temporary protected status,’ a provision of immigration law that allows the government to grant temporary work authorizations and protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants from certain countries where life remains dangerous. Conditions that could merit the status include armed conflict and civil war, natural disasters, epidemics and ‘other extraordinary and temporary conditions.’ The status is intended to be temporary, but many of the designated countries have had their crises continue for years, resulting in certain groups’ protections lasting for decades.”  CNN

Pat’s Chat

The Free Press WV

The book, “Walking Through the Bible with H.M.S. Richards” was first published in 1948 and yet the reading for September 7 has a statement that I believe would perfectly match our world of 2017.  “This age of great intellectual and scientific light is a dark night spiritually for the world.  The revelry goes on about us today amidst our economic anxieties.  Our amusement life is largely non-Christian—- in fact, anti-Christian.  We may put ‘In God we trust’ on our money, but do we trust Him?”

There were not the scientific light then that we have now, and still we could more easily describe our “amusement life” in the same words that he used.  The movie “Gone with the Wind” was released in 1940 and for the first time the word “damn” was used by Clark Gable.  It has been downhill ever since.  One time there were always twin beds for the parents.  It has gone the same direction as the language, maybe faster.  It is difficult for my kids to find a movie that I will watch with them.  Even those rated PG 13 or 14 are too raw.  I watch Hallmark movies or series sometimes, but I don’t like it that at every gathering in the movies, or at almost every scene early within the movie, they have to make an excuse for wine or stronger.  At least one good thing about it is that I have noticed they keep the alcohol or wine away from the expectant mother.  How can our children grow up with morals if all they see and hear are vulgar or cursing or dirty words and movies that show adultery, and pre-marital sex.  And I have not even touched on the violence that is shown!  Horrible violence.  People say about all this, “It’s just life.” 

Which brings me to the reasons that the seminars we are having at the Adventist Church are is so timely and interesting.  The lessons are deep and to the point.  We are learning all the “signs” of Jesus’ soon return and that it is going to happen soon.  One thing is sure, he never runs overtime.  We end at 8:00.  There is always special music from different people.  Mary Ellen Davidson and Halley Hurst brought to us a beautiful duet called, “Open My Eyes That I May See.”  Bonnie Cutright and Darlene Parker are leaders of the’’’’ the children who attend

Adventist Pastor Finds Suspected Burglar Sleeping in His Bed

Neighbors think the Holy Spirit may have helped with the arrest.

A Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Ghana returned home after a busy Sabbath day to find a suspected burglar sound asleep in his bed.

Asare Nyarko, a pastor in Asamankese, a city of 40,000 people in southern Ghana, arrived home with his family around midnight last Saturday to find signs that someone had broken in, Ghana’s Graphic Online newspaper reported.

Nyarko rushed to the police station to file a report, but the officers did not immediately accompany him to his house. So he returned home with several elders from his church and found a man sleeping in his bedroom.

“The man was fast asleep on my bed, to the extent that not even the noise we made could wake him up,” Nyarko told the Graphic Online.

The man, identified as Richard Yeboah, 27, had apparently broken into the room through the ceiling and had fallen asleep before he could steal anything.

It was unclear why the man fell asleep on the pastor’s bed. Neighbors think that the Holy Spirit might have played a role.

“Neighbors believe the suspect was arrested by the Holy Spirit,” the Graphic Online reported. . . 


Maranatha!

WV Legislative Update: Delegate Brent Boggs - Minority House Finance Chairman

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The 9/11 anniversary that calls into remembrance the tragic terrorist attack in New York City, the Pentagon and plane crash in rural Pennsylvania is etched in our national memory.  However, we, as a nation, have been following violent and deadly storms in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean for nearly three weeks.  As I write on Sunday night, the concerns for the safety and well-being of those affected by the most recent hurricane are at the forefront.  As the damage reports will start to roll in this week, the monetary costs to citizens, insurance companies and state and federal government will certainly be reported in the multiple billions of dollars.  This, stacked on the devastating hurricane flooding last a couple weeks ago, and the amounts are staggering.  All this and we’re only half way through the hurricane season.

The real toll – the factor that cannot be calculated in monetary terms – will be in lives lost.  After that, the lasting effects on those that lost homes; the flooding and wind damage; lost income; utility disruptions that may last for days or weeks.  This storm necessitated the largest mass evacuation in the nation’s history.

One thing is certain:  despite the high technology, computer modeling, satellite imagery and every scientific and meteorological tool at our disposal, we have no control or certainty of where these storms will ultimately hit and the damage that will result.  I am thankful that first responders and law enforcement made the proactive decisions to evacuate residents from areas that were thought to be in danger.  Lives were saved as a result.

To conclude on a much different note, the Legislative interim schedule for September 17 – 20 is included from the Legislative Manager’s office. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Convene Adjourn Committee Location
01:00 PM 02:00 PM Legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority House Gov. Org.
01:00 PM 02:00 PM Post Audits Subcommittee Senate Finance
02:00 PM 03:00 PM Commission on Special Investigations Senate Finance
02:00 PM 03:00 PM Select Committee on Infrastructure Senate Judiciary
03:00 PM 04:00 PM Joint Standing Committee on Education House Gov. Org.
03:00 PM 05:00 PM Joint Committee on Government Operations - JOINT MEETING House Chamber
03:00 PM 05:00 PM Joint Standing Committee on Government Organization - JOINT MEETING House Chamber
04:00 PM 06:00 PM Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability House Gov. Org.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Convene Adjourn Committee Location
08:00 AM 10:00 AM Joint Government Accountability, Transparency and Efficiency Committee Senate Judiciary
09:00 AM 10:00 AM Agriculture and Rural Development Senate Finance
10:00 AM 12:00 PM Joint Standing Committee on Finance House Chamber
10:00 AM 12:00 PM Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary House Gov. Org.
12:00 PM 02:00 PM Joint Committee on Health House Chamber
12:00 PM 02:00 PM Joint Standing Committee on Energy House Gov. Org.
02:00 PM 03:00 PM Commerce Secretary Presentation House Chamber
03:00 PM 04:00 PM Joint Standing Committee on Education House Chamber
03:00 PM 05:00 PM Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability House Gov. Org
05:00 PM 06:00 PM Commission on Interstate Cooperation Senate Finance


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Convene Adjourn Committee Location
08:00 AM 09:00 AM Joint Commission on Economic Development - JOINT MEETING House Gov. Org.
08:00 AM 09:00 AM Legislative Oversight Commission on Workforce Investment for Economic Development - JOINT MEETING House Gov. Org.
08:00 AM 09:00 AM Legislative Intern Committee Senate Finance
09:00 AM 10:00 AM Select Committee on Veterans’ Affairs House Gov. Org.
09:00 AM 11:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on Dept of Transportation Accountability Senate Judiciary
10:00 AM 11:00 AM Joint Committee on Government Operations - JOINT MEETING House Chamber
10:00 AM 11:00 AM Joint Standing Committee on Government Organization - JOINT MEETING House Chamber
11:00 AM 12:00 PM Joint Committee on Children and Families House Finance
11:00 AM 12:00 PM Joint Committee on Government and Finance Senate Finance
12:00 PM 01:00 PM Joint Standing Committee on Pensions and Retirement Senate Finance
12:00 PM 01:00 PM Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Subcommittee Senate Judiciary
01:00 PM 03:00 PM Joint Committee on Volunteer Fire Departments & Emergency Medical Services House Gov. Org.
01:00 PM 03:00 PM Joint Committee on Natural Gas Development Senate Judiciary
03:00 PM 05:00 PM Select Committee on PEIA, Seniors and Long Term Care Senate Finance
03:00 PM 05:00 PM Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding Senate Judiciary


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Convene Adjourn Committee Location
09:00 AM 12:00 PM Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee Senate Judiciary


Please send your inquiries to the Capitol office:  Building 1, Room 258-M, Charleston, WV 25305.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

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