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5k Raises Over $1,000 for Mountaineer Food Bank

That Dam Race 5K, which took place earlier this Summer on July 30th, 2016, raised $1,164.41 in proceeds which will go to the Mountaineer Food Bank. The Mountaineer Food Bank was selected early in the year because of the great work they do and the great service they provide to the state of West Virginia. In the wake of the terrible flooding that has taken place in many areas of the state the Mountaineer Food Bank is needed more than ever. Race coordinator,

The Free Press WV
Burton Spaur, presented the check to the Executive
Director of the Mountaineer Food Bank, Chad Morrison.


The $1,164.41 contribution from the race equals roughly twenty tons of food for the food bank, which translates into roughly 33,000 meals. According to ED, Morrison, much of the food the Mountaineer Food Bank distributes is given to the food bank for free, leaving only freight charges. So even a small donation of one hundred dollars can help bring in many pallets of much needed food.

That Dam Race 5K has been held eight years in a row at the Sutton Dam, in Sutton, WV. The course of the race takes runners and walkers up a difficult hill to the top of the dam, across the dam, through the woods, into downtown Sutton, and finally back to the starting point below the dam. The difficulty and beauty of the course has been a yearly destination for some of West Virginia’s most competitive runners. This race has also attracted runners from as far away as California and England. For more information on the event “Like” the official event page on Facebook, by searching “that dam race 5k”.

Race Coordinator, Spaur, would like to thank Shannon Huff, Kim Conrad, and Anna Stewart for their dedication and help in planning and executing the 5k this year.

That Dam Race 5K organizers could not have succeeded without the help of their generous sponsors and event partners: Premier Bank, Braxton County CVB, Go Mart, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lockards Kawasaki, Cafe Cimino, Braxton County Sheriffs Dept., Braxton County EMS, and the Town of Sutton.

West Virginia Universal Pre-K Provides Significant Benefits

The Free Press WV

First-year findings in a long-term National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and Marshall University study of young students and early education classrooms in West Virginia reveal performance advantages among children attending Pre-K and provide useful information on classroom quality.

Results include:

    •  Children who attended Pre-K outperformed those who had no Pre-K experience in every measure
    •  Benefits of Pre-K were most profound in print knowledge
    •  Classroom quality averages all exceed minimal quality, and several demonstrate higher quality
    •  On average, classrooms demonstrated high quality in fostering a nurturing and safe environment

The initial West Virginia Universal Pre-K Evaluation showed, on average, children with Pre-K experience outperformed those without Pre-K in every measure. Benefits were “large and statistically significant,” with the widest margin in print knowledge.

“We recognize that our state’s future depends on early investment in our youngest citizens,” said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. “We must ensure that every child has access to high-quality preschool to build the foundation for success.”

In addition, the study scored both Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms above average for emotional support, such as fostering and nurturing and safe environment, and organization.

These findings are detailed in a new report, the first in a series spotlighting Pre-K education in West Virginia. NIEER is proud to partner with Marshall University on behalf of West Virginia Department of Education on this five-year study of how the state’s Universal Pre-K program affects child outcomes, with a specific focus on reading outcomes.

The study, launched in August 2015, includes 599 children starting Pre-K, and 573 children starting kindergarten who had attended Pre-K, in seven counties, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, Putnam, Roane and Wood. Researchers will follow the progress of these children through completion of third grade. About half the children are girls, more than 90 percent are white and about 73 percent are from low-income households. In upcoming years, additional students and families will be invited to participate.

Researchers evaluated skills including language, print knowledge, math, and executive functions such as memory, self-control, and attention.

High quality preschool education has been shown to close achievement gaps afflicting American children from minority and low-income families—and this study shows similar effects in West Virginia. The goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of children’s development over time, classroom environments and teaching practices across the participating counties, enabling WVDE to develop a data-driven approach to continuous improvement across all classrooms.

Researchers also are evaluating the quality of Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, focusing on Pre-K and kindergarten rooms in the same seven counties. Evaluation includes both environmental factors and teacher-child interactions, measuring Space and Furnishings, Personal Care Routines, Language and Literacy, Learning Activities, Interaction, and Program Structure.

Results show a range of classroom quality, demonstrating some classrooms are of good quality and others have room for improvement. Teacher experience also varies, with Pre-K teachers generally having less experience teaching and fewer graduate degrees.

“We applaud West Virginia for its leadership in providing quality early learning opportunities,” said Shannon Ayers, Ph.D., associate research professor at NIEER. “We look forward to continuing our work with the West Virginia Department of Education and educators across the state to help achieve the best outcomes for children.”

The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org) at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy and practice through independent, objective research.

Governor Tomblin, Department of Commerce Celebrate West Virginia’s Top Exporters

Governor recognizes 37 West Virginia exporters, announces STEP grant funding
The Free Press WV

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, along with West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette, today awarded the International Market Entry Award to 37 companies from across the Mountain State. These awards honor West Virginia companies that successfully exported to a new country. In 2015, West Virginia companies exported more than $5.8 billion in products to more than 140 countries.  

During the award presentation, Governor Tomblin also announced that West Virginia has been once again selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration to receive funding through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant initiative. These funds will support the West Virginia Development Office’s export assistance program to help small businesses offset the costs of international business.

“Today we celebrate West Virginia companies that have proven our state can compete successfully in the global market. Exports are a vital tool for economic growth,” Governor Tomblin said. “These businesses are an asset to our state as we continue to grow our business landscape and diversify West Virginia’s economy. I always look forward to this opportunity to recognize their successes.”

The Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry Awards honor companies that have successfully exported to a new country in the previous year. Each company receives a framed piece of currency from each new country to which the business began exporting. The presentation is based on the tradition of displaying the first dollar a business earns.

Companies receiving the Governor’s Commendation for the first time this year are Probe America in Beckley, Mountain State Hardwoods in Bancroft, and Mountaineer Brand in Shepherdstown. In a special presentation, Wheeling Truck Center received its 100th export award. Since making their first export sale in 2010, the company has exported to more than 100 countries.  

The West Virginia Development Office International Division helps small- to medium-sized West Virginia businesses enter new foreign markets. For more information on export development services offered by the state, visit www.worldtradewv.org​.

Commendations were awarded today to the following businesses: 


Berkeley County

Library Corporation, Inwood. Countries: Ethiopia and Madagascar. Product: Automation software for libraries. Countries: Ethiopia and Madagascar.

Power Sonix, Inc, Martinsburg. Country: Cote D’Ivoire. Product: Public address systems.


Brooke County

American Muscle Docks & Fabrication, Wellsburg. Countries: Mexico and Norway. Products: Boat docks, hardware, and marine accessories.

Eagle Manufacturing Company, Wellsburg. Countries: Canada; France; Mexico; and South Korea. Products: Safety cabinets, safety cans, spill containment, material handling.

United States Gypsum Company, Weirton. Country: Jordan. Product: Building material - corner bead.


Cabell County

Steel of West Virginia, Inc., Huntington. Countries: India and Thailand. Product: Steel rolling mill.


Fayette County

The Robbins Company, Fayetteville. Country: Albania. Product: Conveyor equipment.


Grant County

Allegheny Wood Products, Petersburg. Country: Australia. Product: Hardwood lumber.


Greenbrier County

Almost Heaven Saunas, LLC, Renick. Countries: Costa Rica and Czech Republic. Products: Indoor and outdoor saunas.

American Foam Technologies, Inc., Maxwelton. Country: Netherlands. Product: Phenolic and urethane foam.

Appalachian Electronic Instruments, Ronceverte. Country: Brazil. Product: Textile quality/ process control equipment.

Ezebreak, LLC, Frankford. Country: Norway. Product: Micro-Blaster kits and accessories.

Falcon Analytical Systems & Technology, LLC, Lewisburg. Countries: Brazil, Ireland and Russia. Product: Gas chromatographs.


Hardy County

Peacock Manufacturing Co., LLC, Wardensville. Country: Honduras. Product: Custom cabinetry manufacturing.


Harrison County

FMW Rubber Products, Inc., Bridgeport. Country: Japan. Product: Ground expedient refueling system (GERS).


Jackson County

Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC, Ravenswood. Country: South Africa. Products: Aluminum sheet, plate, coil products.

Niche Polymer, LLC, Ravenswood. Country: China. Product: Plastic compounding, extrusion.


Jefferson County

Mountaineer Brand, Shepherdstown. Country: Sweden. Products: Natural beard and body care products.

Schonstedt Instrument Company, Kearneysville. Countries: Dominica; Mexico; Panama; Paraguay; and Republic of Macedonia. Products: Underground utility locators.


Kanawha County

Cyclops Industries, Inc., South Charleston. Country: Iraq. Product: Cyclops safety sight glass.

NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.), Inc., Sissonville. Countries: China; Germany; Thailand; and United Kingdom. Products: Spark plugs, oxygen sensors.

Preiser Scientific, Inc., Charleston. Country: Nepal. Products: Laboratory testing equipment for the coal industry.

Resolute Forest Products, Fairmont. Countries: Australia; Italy; Japan; South Korea; Spain; and United Kingdom. Product: Recycled bleach kraft pulp.


Marshall County

Tecnocap, LLC, Glen Dale. Countries: Brazil; Mexico; and Sri Lanka. Products: Metal closures for packaging.


Monongalia County

Gurkees®, Morgantown. Countries: China; Cyprus; Finland; Israel; Poland; Switzerland; Taiwan; and United Arab Emirates. Product: Rope sandals.

Z Electric Vehicle, Westover. Countries: Indonesia and United Arab Emirates. Products: Electric vehicles, EV components.


Morgan County

Caperton Furniturworks, LLC, Berkeley Springs. Countries: Uganda and Vietnam. Product: Wooden furniture.


Ohio County

Direct Online Marketing, Wheeling. Countries: Costa Rica and Germany. Products: Digital marketing; search engine marketing.

TROY Group, Inc., Wheeling. Countries: Chad; China; Cyprus; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Ethiopia; French Polynesia; Hungary; Indonesia; Iraq; Kuwait; Malaysia; Mozambique; New Zealand; Pakistan; Panama; Paraguay; Spain; Thailand; and Turkey. Product: Security printing solutions.

Wheeling Truck Center, Inc., Wheeling. Countries: Ethiopia; Moldova; Guatemala; and Panama. Product: Truck parts.


Putnam County

Kanawha Scales & Systems, Inc., Poca. Country: Australia. Product: Coal train loadout.

Mountain State Hardwoods, Bancroft. Countries: China; Egypt; United Kingdom; and Vietnam. Product: Lumber.

Multicoat Products, Fraziers Bottom. Countries: Canada; China; Costa Rica; Greece; Japan; Mexico; and United Arab Emirates. Product: Construction coatings.


Raleigh County

American Airworks, Sophia. Countries: China; Indonesia; Lithuania; Nigeria; Panama; Qatar; Spain; and Sweden. Products: High pressure breathing apparatus and compressed air components.

Cogar Manufacturing, Beckley. Country: Austria. Product: Feeder breaker.

Englo, Inc. dba Engart, Inc., Beckley.  Countries: Philippines, Thailand; and Trinidad & Tobago. Product: Dust extraction.

Probe America, Inc., Beckley. Countries: Bahamas and Canada. Products: Odor and dust control products.


Wood County

Baron-Blakeslee SFC, Inc., Williamstown. Countries: Costa Rica and Egypt. Product: Industrial cleaning systems.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

WHAT’S BEING ASKED IN AFTERMATH OF DEADLY EARTHQUAKE

Soul-searching mounts over why quake-prone Italy has continually failed to ensure that buildings can withstand such catastrophes.


TRUMP SWINGS TOWARD RIVALS ON IMMIGRATION

The billionaire businessman defeated 16 rivals in the GOP primary by being the most anti-immigrant of them all - but now he’s sounding a lot like the people he defeated.


WHY TURKEY IS RAMPING UP MILITARY PRESENCE IN SYRIA

Turkey’s aim in part is to contain expansion by the Kurds, who have used the chaos of the civil war to seize nearly all the territory along Syria’s northern border with Turkey.


APPLE BOOSTS IPHONE SECURITY

The move follows a botched attempt to break into the phone of an Arab activist in the Mideast using hitherto unknown espionage software.


VOTE ON PEACE DEAL PLANNED NEXT MONTH

Colombia’s president moves quickly to schedule a national referendum on an ageement meant to end a half-century of bloody conflict with leftist rebels.


MURDER MYSTERY UNFOLDING IN MISSISSIPPI

Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi are found slain in their home.


THREAT OF E-CIGARETTES TO YOUTHS MAY BE LESS THAN THOUGHT

Only a fraction of young vapers in the U.S. inhale nicotine, a nationwide survey shows. The majority - two-thirds - say they vape “just flavoring.“


WHO’S CELEBRATING 100th BIRTHDAY

The National Park Service marks the milestone with events across the U.S. including more than 1,000 people on the National Mall to create a giant, living version of its emblem.


DWAYNE JOHNSON’S PAY IS FAST AND FURIOUS

The actor elbows Robert Downey Jr. aside to become the highest-paid actor with an income of $64.5 million.


RYAN LOCHTE IN HOT WATER IN BRAZIL

Brazilian police charge the American swimmer with filing a false robbery report over an incident during the Rio Games.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Bresch, Mylan respond to EpiPen firestorm; new discounts offered

Mylan Pharmaceuticals CEO Heather Bresch blamed problems in the health care system as the reason the company’s two-pack EpiPen products has a list price of $608.

Bresch, the Marion County native and daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, was interviewed on CNBC Thursday as the firestorm over the more than 400 percent increase in the price of EpiPen since 2007 continues to build. Bresch used the forum to announce discount cards for residents least able to afford the medicine which is used when someone has a potential deadly allergy attack.

“First and foremost, ensuring that everybody that needs an EpiPen has an EpiPen. As a mother I can assure you the last thing that we would ever want is for no one to have their EpiPen due to price,” Bresch said.

When asked why the company chose discount counts instead of lowering the price, Bresch said the flawed health care system would prevent the real savings from reaching those who need EpiPen.

“Had we reduced the list price I couldn’t ensure that everyone that needs an EpiPen gets one. So we went around the system,” Bresch said.

The discount cards could cut the cost of the drug in half, Bresch said. Mylan makes $274 on every two-pack of the drug sold. She said the remaining $334 goes through a number of middle men who get their cut.

Bresch said something needs to be done about a health care system where those with insurance are paying higher deductibles and the full list price for needed products.

“There’s no question the system is broken. Everybody should be frustrated. I am hoping that this is an infliction point for this country. Our health care is in a crisis. It’s no different from the mortgage financial crisis in 2007. The bubble is going to burst,” Bresch said.

Responding to Bresch’s interview, Fox Business News analyst Liz Clayman said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline” Bresch completely try to deflect the controversy onto insurance companies and Obamacare.

Clayman said Mylan’s significant increase in the price is not illegal but questions remain, given the importance of EpiPen, if it’s the right thing to do.

“It’s different from having some proprietary espresso machine that Starbucks has. This (EpiPen) is a life-saving drug that no one else makes,” Clayman said.

Bresch said the company has given out 700,000 free EpiPens to 65,000 schools across the U.S. The company is working toward having 30 states require EpiPens in restaurants and hotels in order to help save lives.

Bresch did not directly answer questions about the more than 600 percent increase in her salary during the same time as the EpiPen cost increases. She makes approximately $19 million a year.

Clayman said there remain many unanswered questions.

“People are wondering why when it does not cost $600 to make it,” Clayman said.

Mylan has a large manufacturing facility in Morgantown.

Bresch’s father, Senator Manchin, released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

“I am aware of the questions my colleagues and many parents are asking and frankly I share their concerns about the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs. Today (Thursday) I heard Mylan’s initial response, and I am sure Mylan will have a more comprehensive and formal response to those questions. I look forward to reviewing their response in detail and working with my colleagues and all interested parties to lower the price of prescription drugs and to continue to improve our health care system.”


►   Teachers file grievance over air conditioning issues

A group of teachers in Dunbar has filed a grievance against Kanawha County Schools over heating and air conditioning issues.

The teachers from Benjamin Franklin Career and Technical Education Center filed the grievance last week.

Teacher Julie Wiles led the effort to file the grievance and says the problems have been ongoing for years. She says about half of the center doesn’t have cooling or heating.

The grievance comes amid air conditioning and power failures at the school district. On Friday, the district closed seven schools due to power issues. Four schools were also closed the following Monday due to similar issues.

Kanawha schools Superintendent Ron Duerring has said the county has an old ventilation system and not enough money to replace it.


►   Officials edge toward repealing city’s fortune-telling ban

Parkersburg officials have taken steps to lift a nearly 70-year-old ban on fortune-telling in the city.

The City Council voted 5-4 Tuesday to approve the first reading of an ordinance repealing the ban.

City resident Heather Cooper called for the change after she was initially denied a business license for her tarot card-reading business.

Officials had rejected the repeal in July, but court rulings submitted on Cooper’s behalf prompted one councilman to reconsider.

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia recently sent the city a letter saying the ban “is an unconstitutional restriction of speech.“

Washington, West Virginia, resident Janie Baer spoke out against the repeal, saying God would protect the city from any lawsuits that would result from keeping the ban.


►   Ex-hotel employee admits to embezzling more than $955,000

A former hotel employee in West Virginia has admitted to embezzling more than $955,000.

U.S. Attorney Carol Casto says in a news release that 52-year-old Mark Kuhn of Milton pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday in federal court in Charleston.

Kuhn worked for the Charleston Marriott Town Center as an accountant and general cashier, including collecting cash from the hotel’s gift shop, front desk, and restaurant and bar.

The statement says he admitted embezzling from the hotel from 2005 through February 2016 and posted false entries in the hotel’s accounting system.

The statement says Kuhn used the funds for personal expenses, including a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, and numerous vacation trips.

Kuhn faces up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for December 05.


►   WVDEP’s Mobile Aquarium Provides Glimpse Into West Virginia’s Underwater World

West Virginians will get a glimpse of the state’s wild and wonderful underwater world when the Department of Environmental Protection’s mobile aquarium visits Grafton High School on August 30 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The West Virginia-built mobile aquarium is six-feet deep and holds approximately 1,700 gallons of water. It weighs more than 25,000 pounds when full.

The mobile aquarium display is part of the Three Fork Creek survey conducted by the DEP’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation to repair acid mine drainage. The stream survey will be used to assess the effectiveness of water treatment in four tributaries of Three Fork Creek, which has included limestone dosers since 2011.

Since fish, and other aquatic life, are indicators of the health of a stream, every two years a survey is performed on Three Fork Creek. During the 2016 survey, the DEP’s Watershed Assessment Branch staff will collect fish and benthic macroinvertebrates and assess water chemistry and habitat on four sample sites along the creek. After the fish are catalogued, they will be transported to the mobile aquarium for the public to view on August 30. After the event, the fish will be released back to their native stream.


►   DHHR to Host Public Hearing on Proposed Source Water Protection Plan for Town of West Union

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Public Health’s Office of Environmental Health Services will hold a public hearing on Monday, August 29, 2016, to discuss the Town of West Union’s draft Source Water Protection Plan.

The intent of a Source Water Protection Plan is to identify strategies to minimize potential threats to source water and prepare for spills or other emergencies that could affect water service. If approved, the Plan would be valid for three years.

The public hearing will be held on Monday, August 29, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Lions Club building, 300 Court Street in West Union, WV.

Public comments, which will be considered by DHHR during the review process, may be submitted during the August 29 hearing or in writing by September 12 via mail, fax or email. Written comments should include the name, address and telephone number of the writer and a concise statement of the nature of the issues being raised. Issues should be kept relevant to the draft plan.

Persons interested in submitting comments may do so by using one of the following means:

•  U.S. Mail: West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, Office of Environmental Health, 350 Capitol Street, Room 313, Charleston, WV 25301-3713 Attn: Source Water Protection Program

•  Fax: 304.558.4322 with “Protection Plan Comments” written near the top

•  Email: with “Protection Plan Comments” in the subject line

Questions regarding how to submit comments for the public hearing may be directed to 304.356.4270.


►   Senator Manchin to Review Mylan Response to Criticism over EpiPens

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he’s concerned about skyrocketing prices for life-saving allergy injection pens made by a company headed by his daughter.

In a news release Thursday, the West Virginia Democrat says he plans a detailed review of drugmaker Mylan’s response to criticism about the cost of EpiPens.

Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, is CEO of Mylan. She told CNBC Thursday that lowering the price wasn’t an option.

Manchin says he plans to work with others to reduce prescription drug prices.

According to the Elsevier Clinical Solutions’ Gold Standard Drug Database, a two-dose package that cost around $94 nine years ago has risen more than 500 percent to an average cost of $608 in May. The hike has been criticized by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and members of Congress.


►   Report Blasts Plan to Change At-Risk Kids Psychiatric Care

The state Juvenile Justice Commission is accusing the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources of operating under a “cloak of secrecy” while negotiating new contracts to place youths in residential psychiatric facilities.

The commission released a report Monday saying that the DHHR intended to “unilaterally” overhaul the residential placement system without consulting key figures in the juvenile justice system or considering how the changes would affect residential centers’ finances.

The Supreme Court has placed a stay on a pending contract that would include a 180-day limit on juveniles’ stays at the facilities and change how services are billed.

The DHHR has said its changes are aimed at ensuring children with behavioral problems are assigned to a community-based setting, rather than the traditional group setting.

In USA….

The Free Press WV


►   Best, Worst U.S. States for Women

WalletHub set out to find which states do best when it comes to providing equality for women, and the results are good news for Hawaii and bad for Utah. They are at the top and bottom of the list, which uses factors from the workplace (including the pay gap between male and female executives), education (including disparities in “educational attainment”), and politics (including the number of female lawmakers). The best 10 states:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Alaska
  3. Maine
  4. California
  5. Vermont
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Minnesota
  8. Maryland
  9. New York
  10. Wisconsin

And the worst 10:

  1. Virginia
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Kentucky
  4. Mississippi
  5. South Carolina
  6. Louisiana
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. New Jersey
  9. Georgia
  10. Utah

Click for the FULL RANKINGS and methodology.


►   Chicago Leads U.S. in Murders, Lacks Detectives to Solve Them

The situation in Chicago looks dire. According to a Reuters report, the murder rate in America’s third-largest city is skyrocketing while the number of detectives tasked with solving those homicides is dropping. Chicago is on pace to have more homicides this year than in any year since 1997. In 2015, the Chicago Police Department had a 46% clearance rate for murders, leaving hundreds of homicides unsolved. It’s one of the lowest clearance rates in the country, where the average is 68%. Meanwhile, the number of detectives on the force has gone from 1,252 in 2008 to 922. Only 8% of Chicago’s police force is detectives compared to 15% in New York City and Los Angeles.

One recently retired detective in Chicago, which has more homicides than any other US city, tells Reuters you’d be working one homicide only to get assigned one or two more the next day. “You get so many cases you could not do an honest investigation on three-quarters of them,“ he says. Part of the problem is budgetary; another part is a focus on increasing street patrol officers. And while Chicago officials are stumped, Donald Trump believes he has the solution, the Chicago Tribune reports. Trump said Monday that the key to solving Chicago’s problem, according to the “very top police” he spoke to, is law enforcement “being very much tougher.“ Read the full Reuters piece HERE .


►   Man Upset at Tree for Ruining His Car Makes It Much Worse

Five people are homeless after a man’s afternoon of aggressive pruning went awry. WNEP reports Raymond Mazzarella of Pennsylvania was upset because sap from the branches of his neighbor’s tree was dripping onto his car. So he decided to take a chainsaw to the tree’s 3-foot-wide trunk. “Where he thought it was going to go, I don’t know,“ a code enforcement officer says. Where the tree went was directly onto Mazzarella’s apartment building.

Authorities ended up condemning the building after the tree landed on it, displacing five people that lived there. The Red Cross is helping relocate them. Authorities say Mazzarella returned to the condemned building Monday and got into a confrontation with a neighbor. He allegedly attacked the neighbor with his fists and a bat and was arrested. Mazzarella has been charged with assault and harassment.


►   Cops: Real Estate Agent Did the Deed in Home She Sold

Before the new owner of a home in Friendswood, Texas, could even hook up the appliances, an entirely different kind of hookup apparently took place inside. At least, that’s how it appears after the real estate agent who sold the property was arrested for allegedly having sex inside the home the day after the closing, the Houston Chronicle reports. Kayla Marisa Seloff, 22, and Joshua Gene Leal, 27, were arrested early Saturday after a neighbor heading to work reported seeing two people enter the vacant home, then flashes of light from inside, and called the cops, CW39 reports. Police say when they showed up, they peeked into a window and saw Seloff and Leal on the floor in one of the rooms and that the two initially tried to hide at first as officers gained entrance.

Eventually the pair emerged to talk with police, who say Seloff at first tried to pass off the home as hers, claiming Leal as her husband and the home as their own recently purchased abode. But when cops asked for proof, Seloff came up short and confessed to being the home seller, not the home dweller. The actual new owner said Seloff wasn’t allowed to be there and agreed to charges for both for criminal trespass. It’s not clear if Seloff was charged for the marijuana pipe and small stash of pot cops say they found in her car when she went to get her ID.


►   Dozens Ill as ‘Spice’ Rampages Through LA’s Skid Row

Almost 50 people got sick in Los Angeles on Friday, and another 22 became ill in the city Monday—and the LAPD believes the synthetic drug “spice” is to blame. The people reported feeling sick with “drug-induced symptoms,“ per My News LA, and investigators say the chemicals in the latest version of the drug, which ABC 7 refers to as synthetic marijuana, make it more addictive. Spice has been commonly used in the Skid Row area recently because it’s cheap and easy to find, police say, so they’ve started passing out flyers in the area warning people about the drug’s dangers.

Overdose symptoms included altered mental states, aggression, and even seizures in some cases. The Fire Department’s medical director calls the situation a public health crisis, KTLA reports. “Obviously, there’s a particularly potent batch of some illicit drugs that presumably people here are using,“ he says. “Patients’ lives are in danger.“


►   Woman Paralyzed After Branch Falls on Her at City Park

Cui Ying Zhou was at a San Francisco park watching her little girls play on August 12 when her life changed forever. A 100-pound branch fell 50 feet from a tree and hit her on the head, snapping her spine and leaving her paralyzed, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Now, a relative has set up a GoFundMe looking to raise $50,000 for Zhou and her family. “Cui is a stay-at-home mom who takes care of two little girls age 9 and 5 while husband, Jian Cong Tan works,“ the campaign states. “Jian has since taken time off work to take care of the kids and wife during this difficult time. This tragic event has made it very difficult for the family physically, emotionally, and financially with medical bills mounting.“

Zhou’s skull was also fractured in the incident at Washington Square Park in the North Beach area, which led Mayor Ed Lee to promise the city would review the condition of all its trees. A complete tree assessment had last been updated in 2010, at which time the pine tree that dropped the limb was listed as being in good condition. Arborists who did visual assessments of the trees in the area after Zhou’s accident say they are in good shape, and that what happened was just a freak accident, CBS Local reports. Zhou was still hospitalized as of Saturday, per KTVU. She told the station she doesn’t remember the branch falling, and that she has a lot of pain in her head and back but cannot feel anything from the waist down.


►   Wife Sentenced for Murder of Olympic Bronze Medalist

The wife of a 1984 Olympic medalist was sentenced to a potential life sentence on Tuesday for shooting him in what she claimed was self-defense following years of abuse. Jane Laut, 59, was given two mandatory, consecutive prison terms of 25 years to life for first-degree murder and using a gun during the killing, the Ventura County Star reports. Laut was the high school sweetheart of David Laut, who won a bronze medal in the shot put at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. At the time of his death, the 52-year-old was athletic director at Hueneme High School in Oxnard, Calif., reports the AP. The Lauts were married for 29 years before he was shot to death in a yard of their Oxnard home shortly before midnight on August 27, 2009.

Laut’s defense argued that she had been beaten and raped during the marriage and that on the night of the killing, her husband slammed her head against the wall and threatened her and their 10-year-old son with a revolver. Laut testified that her husband was shot as the couple struggled for the gun. The prosecution said that Laut was shot six times, including in the back of the head, with a gun that had to be cocked before each shot. “That is extraordinarily strong evidence,“ Ventura County Superior Court Judge David Worley said last Friday, adding Laut’s story was “clearly rejected” by the jury. The Star previously reported via court documents that Laut in January 2015 turned down a potential plea deal that would have resulted in a 6-year sentence. Laut is appealing.


►   Man’s Attempt to Get Friend to Stay at Party Kills Him

A birthday party in California turned tragic after the guest of honor was run over and killed by his friend. Police say Jonathan Carlyle Merkley was celebrating his 34th birthday early Sunday at a hotel near San Diego when a woman decided to leave the party. Merkley wanted her to stay and reportedly walked toward her BMW and laid down in front of what the Orange County Register describes as a moving car. The woman didn’t stop, ran him over, and kept going. Police cite witnesses as saying both had been drinking, Fox 5 reports.

Merkley, who suffered major chest trauma, died about 45 minutes later at a hospital. Police tracked the woman down and a car that “may have been involved” was impounded, cops tell the San Diego Union-Tribune. The woman was not arrested but police said on Tuesday that the investigation is continuing. “There’s a lot we still need to find out,“ says San Diego Police Sgt. Tim Underwood.


►   He Killed Her, Now He Wants World to Know Her Sex Life

Parents whose 19-year-old daughter was strangled, raped, and thrown in a river in 2012 are having old wounds reopened as the man serving a life sentence for the crime fights to reveal their daughter’s sexual history to the world, the Huffington Post reports. Seth Mazzaglia was convicted in 2014 of the rape and murder of Lizzi Marriott, whose body has not been found. He said the University of New Hampshire sophomore died accidentally during consensual sex. According to CBS News, Mazzaglia’s girlfriend at the time said she brought Marriott to Mazzaglia as a “sexual offering” and he killed her when she wouldn’t have sex with him. During the trial, Marriott’s sexual history was deemed inadmissible due to New Hampshire’s rape shield laws.

But the state Supreme Court in June ruled that those records be made public as part of Mazzaglia’s appeal, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. Both the state and Marriott’s parents filed emergency motions and they’re now going to court to try to keep any documents regarding Marriott’s sexual past sealed. “This has completely traumatized her family, who ... was just starting to heal,“ their attorney, Rus Rilee, tells HuffPo. The family is joined by more than a dozen organizations, including the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. They argue the state Supreme Court’s ruling would destroy rape shield laws around the country, as victims of sexual assault would be less likely to report it if they knew their sexual histories would become public on appeal. A hearing is scheduled for September 21.


►   Polygamist Fugitive May Have Been ‘Raptured’: Attorney

Lyle Jeffs’ lawyer really wishes she could consult with him regarding a food stamp fraud trial involving 11 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Fox 13 reports. But the polygamist leader of the FLDS, who the New York Daily News notes had been under house arrest for allegedly stealing and laundering $12 million in government benefits, has been missing from home confinement since June, and said attorney is now offering some interesting possible explanations for his vanishing.

In a Utah court filing Monday, Kathryn Nester concedes Jeffs may indeed be guilty of “absconding"—the FBI believes he may have used something slippery like olive oil to weasel his way out from under a GPS monitoring device—but she also threw out some other ideas. Nester said in the filing she’s unsure if he fled of his own accord, whether he was kidnapped, or “whether he experienced the miracle of rapture.“ Both Fox 13 and the Daily News note her theories appear to be a joke and that she informed the judge she’d be OK with delaying the fraud trial, apparently even if her client has ascended into the clouds to meet the Lord.


►   Burt’s Bees Founder Sees a Dream Fulfilled in Maine

President Obama on Wednesday created a new national monument in northern Maine on 87,000 acres donated by the co-founder of Burt’s Bees, fulfilling conservationist Roxanne Quimby’s goal of gifting the land during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the AP reports. The Katahdin Woods and Waters monument adjacent to Baxter State Park includes the East Branch of the Penobscot River and stunning views of Maine’s tallest mountain, Katahdin. The land is cherished by Native Americans, and its history includes visits by naturalist Henry David Thoreau and President Theodore Roosevelt. Quimby began buying the timberland in the 1990s with earnings from the Burt’s Bees line of natural care products. She wanted to see her vision become a reality this year during the centennial anniversary.

Supporters say the move will create hundreds of jobs in a region hurt by the closing of paper mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket. But critics fear that property maintained by the National Park Service would hinder efforts to rebuild a forest-based economy. This spring, Maine’s legislature passed a symbolic bill saying the legislature didn’t consent to the federal government acquiring the land. And Republican Governor Paul LePage opposed the proposal, calling it an “ego play” that was supported by “out-of-state liberals.“ Quimby’s son, Lucas St. Clair, who’s marshaled the effort, brushed aside such criticism on Wednesday. “Many parks over the history of the park system have been criticized upon creation. Governor LePage is not the first governor to oppose the creation of a new park. But when we look to the future, we see huge amounts of success,“ St. Clair told the AP.


►   Accused Face Biter’s Organs Malfunctioning, Says Dad

The father of a college student accused of randomly killing a couple and biting the dead husband’s face says his son’s organs are malfunctioning, the AP reports. Dr. Wade Harrouff told the Palm Beach Post that his 19-year-old son, Austin Harrouff, who is in critical but stable condition, has a malfunctioning liver, fluid in his lungs, and a bleeding esophagus. The South Florida dentist said the hospital is doing an MRI on Wednesday. Martin County Sheriff William Snyder has said Austin Harrouff may have ingested chemicals from the garage of John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon during the August 15 stabbings, which also wounded their neighbor. The sheriff says the former high school football player and wrestler will be charged with murder once he’s out of the hospital.


►   With Mom Dead, Her 3 Kids Missing, Cops Hunt Aunt

Kimberly Harvill was found dead on the side of a California road on August 14, and her three young children are missing. Los Angeles County authorities are now searching for two people suspected of kidnapping them, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the LA County Sheriff’s Department, Joshua Robertson, 27, and Brittany Humphrey, 22, were last seen with the kids—Joslynn Watkins, 2; Brayden Watkins, 3; and Rylee Watkins, 5. Humphrey is Harvill’s half-sister, CBS LA reports.

Robertson has a criminal history, and both he and Humphrey are considered armed and dangerous, authorities say; the pair is believed to have left California. They are likely driving Harvill’s green 1999 Ford Expedition, which has a rear sticker that says “RIP Chad Watkins” as well as a six-person stick-figure family decal. Harvill’s neighbor tells ABC 7 the children lost their father to suicide. Harvill was found with head trauma and gunshots to the upper body, and police also want to question Robertson and Humphrey about her murder.

In The World….

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►   10 Least Livable Cities in the World

The Economist Intelligence Unit has compiled a list that no city wants to be on—the “least livable” ones in the world for 2016. Factors include education, health care, safety, and the threat of terrorism. Here are the worst 10, with their ranking out of 100:

  1. Damascus, Syria (30.2)
  2. Tripoli, Libya (35.9)
  3. Lagos, Nigeria (36)
  4. Dhaka, Bangladesh (38.7)
  5. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (38.9)
  6. Algiers, Algeria (40.9)
  7. Karachi, Pakistan (40.9)
  8. Harare, Zimbabwe (42.6)
  9. Douala, Cameroon (44)
  10. Kiev, Ukraine (44.1)

Click for the full report. Or see details on the particular cities at Business Insider.


►   Burkini Inventor: Who’s Worse, Taliban or French Politicians?

The inventor of the burkini believes France and others who want to ban it have fundamentally “misunderstood” what the garment is all about. Aheda Zanetti, writing in the Guardian, says she invented the burkini in 2004 after watching her niece try to play netball in a makeshift skin-covering athletic uniform and hijab. Zanetti had missed out on sports when she was young and didn’t want the same fate befalling her niece, especially as sports are so important in Australia where they live. Zanetti reclaimed a little of what she lost when she tested out the first burkini at a local swimming pool. It was the first time she had swam in public. “It was absolutely beautiful,“ she writes. “I felt freedom. I felt empowerment.“

Zanetti says the burkini is about empowering women—and not just Muslim women, but any woman who prizes modesty—to participate in all aspects of life. She says she wants to “give women freedom, not take it away.“ Ironically, it’s liberty-prizing France trying to do that. “This has given women freedom, and they want to take that freedom away?“ she writes. “So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians?“ She says banning the burkini is a way of taking away options for Muslim women and forcing them “back into their kitchens.“ Read the full piece HERE .


►   Legendary Nazi Gold Train May Be Just a Legend

Explorers’ great hopes for finding a legendary Nazi gold train in Poland appeared dashed Wednesday when, after digging extensively, they admitted they have found “no train, no tunnel” at the site, the AP reports. The legend has sparked a gold rush, drawing in treasure hunters from across Europe to Walbrzych in Poland. Local legend says in 1945, the Nazi Germans hid a train laden with gold and valuables in a secret tunnel nearby as they were fleeing the advancing Soviet army at the end of WWII. Last week two explorers—Andreas Richter and Piotr Koper—moved in with heavy equipment and dug deep at a site near rail tracks in Walbrzych, following comments by residents who said they had knowledge of the train’s existence.

Richter and Koper said last year that their own tests using earth-penetrating radar confirmed a train was at the site. But the explorers’ spokesperson said Wednesday that they found “no train, no tunnel” there and that the machines were covering over the three pits that cost $37,000 to dig. Saying “hope dies last,“ the spokesperson said a smaller-scale search using probes will resume at a nearby site in September. The dig confirmed findings by experts from a university in Krakow last year who used magnetic equipment but found no trace of train or tunnel.


►   Nigerian man faces charges for naming his dog after president

A Nigerian man is being charged for provoking people and “breach of peace” by naming his dog after President Muhammadu Buhari and painting the name twice on the pet, police said on Wednesday.

“The man bought a dog, named it Buhari, wrote Buhari on both sides of the dog and paraded it” in front of people from the north, said Abimbola Oyeyemi, police spokesman in the southern Ogun state where the man lives.

He was arrested after a citizen from the north reported him to police but released by a court on bail until his trial starts, the spokesman said, without naming the man.

“His action is provocative and capable of breaching the peace, as you know the volatility of Nigeria now,“ said Oyeyemi.

Nigeria is in the middle of its worst economic crisis in decades as a slump in oil prices boosts unemployment.

Tensions sometimes erupt between northerners, who are Muslims, and people from the predominantly Christian south.

Buhari is a Muslim from the north.


►   A Day of Biden, Turkey, Syria Illustrates Convoluted Region

If you needed further proof of just how convoluted the situation in Syria is these days, look no further than Wednesday’s visit by Joe Biden to Turkey. The main point of his trip didn’t directly involve Syria—he was there to try to ease tensions with Ankara, which blames the US for playing a role in a failed coup attempt last month. But the visit coincided with a US-backed Turkish military offensive into Syria against the Islamic State, and that’s where things get complicated. Coverage of the two developments:

  • At a press conference, Biden insisted that the US “had no knowledge beforehand of what was to befall you on July 15,” referring to the coup attempt. “Turkey has the United States’ unwavering support,“ he added. The Wall Street Journal.
  • But that support does not involve quickly extraditing the man Turks blame for the coup, Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in Pennsylvania. “We have no, no, no, no interest whatsoever in protecting anyone who has done harm to an ally, but we need to meet legal standard requirement under our law,“ said Biden, per USA Today. He urged patience; lawyers from the Justice Department are working with Turkish lawyers on the extradition request.
  • Hours earlier, Turkish tanks rolled across the border into Syria in a bid to oust ISIS militants from the border town of Jarablus, a key site in that it’s last big town held by ISIS on the Syria-Turkey border. The Guardian.
  • US airstrikes backed the mission, given that the US and Turkey share the goal of defeating ISIS. But Turkey had a dual purpose: to knock back ISIS and Syrian Kurds who were threatening to take over the town. Those Kurds are US allies in the ISIS fight, but Turkey considers them a threat because a Kurd-controlled border town could inflame Turkey’s own Kurdish population. The New York Times.
  • In the end, Turkey-backed militants, not the Kurds, appeared to have taken control of the town, reports CNN. (Biden had publicly warned the Syrian Kurds to hold back or risk losing US support elsewhere, notes the Times.)
  • Syria, meanwhile, is also fighting ISIS, but it objected to the invasion as a breach of its sovereignty. It views the Turkey-backed militants as terrorists as well. ArmenPress.am.


►   Students Trapped in Attack on American University in Kabul

An attack Wednesday on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul left dozens of students and foreign staff trapped inside campus buildings, Reuters reports. The attack by suspected militants armed with guns and explosives started around 6:30pm and was followed by more than an hour of shooting when Afghan forces arrived. According to the AP, one of its photographers, Massoud Hossaini, was in class at the university when the attack started. Hossaini says he was shot at when he looked out a window after hearing an explosion and at least two grenades were thrown into his classroom. Students proceeded to barricade themselves in classrooms. A witness told CNN fires were burning on the campus.

Eighteen people were reported injured in the attack, and authorities say a university guard was killed. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban seems like a likely culprit. More than 1,000 students are enrolled in the American University of Afghanistan. The US-style liberal arts school shut down for a time after two teachers, one American and one Australian, were abducted August 07. They haven’t been seen since.


►   Why a 6.2-Magnitude Quake Reduced Towns to Rubble

At a magnitude 6.2, the earthquake that struck central Italy this morning, killing at least 120, wasn’t especially powerful. So why was it so devastating? Three factors: depth, geography, and age. Depth is pretty straightforward: The quake was a shallow one, at six miles down, which exacerbates the surface shaking. As for geology, it’s complicated, report Live Science and the New York Times. The area where the quake hit is the site of a “complex interaction” of two tectonic plates, the African and Eurasian, whose movement is causing the basic of the Tyrrhenian Sea (part of the Mediterranean) to expand. That extension is causing tension in the Apennine Mountains, where the quake took place.

And then there’s the age of buildings. New buildings are subjected to earthquake-related building codes that are actually “state-of-the-art in the field,“ an earthquake engineering expert tells Time, but retrofitting Italy’s century- and even millennia-old buildings ranges from the costly to the impossible. Hard-hit Amatrice is home to many centuries-old stone buildings, and “even 100 years ago, they didn’t know how to build structures to withstand earthquakes,“ a professor of planetary geosciences tells the Times. And those earthquakes will keep coming. “It is expected for earthquakes of that size to occur” in that area, a seismologist tells Time.


►   Cops: Assailant in Fatal Hostel Attack Yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’

A French man shouting the Arabic phrase “Allahu akbar” stabbed a British woman to death and wounded two men in an attack at a hostel in northeast Australia, police said Wednesday. The 29-year-old suspect did not have any known links to the Islamic State group and appeared to have acted alone, said Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski, per the AP. Police were trying to determine whether the man had been motivated by extremism, or something else. “We are not ruling out any motivations at this early stage, whether they be political or criminal,“ said Gollschewski, adding that investigators are also looking into the suspect’s mental health and history of drug use.

The attack took place Tuesday night at a hostel in the town of Home Hill. A 21-year-old British woman was found dead at the scene and a 30-year-old British man was hospitalized in critical condition. The third victim was treated and released. The assailant, a French national visiting Australia, shouted “Allahu akbar"—the Arabic phrase meaning “God is great"—both during the attack and while being arrested by police, Gollschewski said. He has not yet been charged. In the US, the FBI is investigating the double stabbing of a couple in Roanoke, Va., over the weekend in which the suspect yelled the same phrase, reports CBS News. Both victims were seriously wounded, and Wasil Farooqui, 20, is in custody. Police say he told them he was hearing voices before he attacked.


►   ‘Flying Bum’ Crashes —Ever So Slowly

The world’s longest aircraft is likely going to have a similarly lengthy repair bill after a bit of a bumpy landing on Wednesday during its second test flight in the UK, the BBC reports. The $33.1 million, 302-foot-long Airlander 10—officially named the Martha Gywn, but called “the Flying Bum” by some for its “pert, round back,“ per the Independent—was returning to the Cardington airfield in Bedfordshire when an eyewitness said a line hanging from the plane hit the pole and caused the plane to slow-mo its way into a nosedive, inflicting damage to its cockpit. A rep for manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles refutes the pole claim, but says the company is assessing what happened and tells the Independent the crew is safe and no injuries have been reported.

Orientation Weekend for New Students Ushers in Fall Semester at GSC

GLENVILLE, WV – Around 350 freshmen arrived on campus at Glenville State College on Friday, August 19 for the 2016 fall term. Glenville State College’s class of 2020 is made up of students from throughout West Virginia, sixteen other states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.

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New Glenville State College students move into Goodwin Hall

 

Orientation and social events were provided to the new Pioneers throughout the weekend to ease the transition into student life at GSC.

Faculty, staff, and returning students continued the time-honored tradition of assisting the new students to move-in. Parents and families of the new Pioneers also had an opportunity to meet GSC President and Mrs. Barr when they held a session for parents to inform them about what GSC offers students and the unique point-of-view of the presidential couple. “You can make a difference in their successes – they won’t always tell you that – but you can,“ Betsy Barr told parents. “We feel that Glenville State is a very caring community and we’re glad that you and your student chose us,“ continued President Barr.

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Students in GSC’s Class of 2020 assemble for Fall Convocation where they are
formally inducted as members of the campus community


On Saturday, August 20 a Community and Student Organization Fair and picnic allowed community businesses, churches, and student groups and clubs to set up displays to introduce and promote themselves to the new students. The event also was an opportunity for the new Pioneers to learn what the campus community has to offer them during their time at Glenville State College.

Upperclassmen returned to campus on Sunday, and fall semester classes started at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, August 22.

Students may still register at GSC until Friday, August 26. For more information, contact the GSC Office of Admissions at or call 304.462.6130 or toll free at 800.924.2010.

State Youth Environmental Conference Full of Fun and Learning

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Members of West Virginia’s Youth Environmental Program will tour some of the state’s most beautiful areas, participate in workshops and activities that focus on preserving our natural resources and learn about science from the experts during this year’s state Youth Environmental Conference.

The 41st annual event, sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, is scheduled for September 30 through October 02 at Canaan Valley Resort State Park. A limited number of scholarships are provided to members of the DEP’s Youth Environmental Program, for youth ages 14-18, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Among the activities scheduled for this year’s conference is a recycling workshop, which will include a craft project; a presentation on wetlands from Alyssa Hanna of the Canaan Valley Institute; and an additional presentation on wind energy turbine technology from Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College.

Tours are scheduled for the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, Seneca Rocks Discovery Center and Smoke Hole Caverns. Conference attendees can also participate in a recycled art project, as well as an environmental project idea swap with other Youth Environmental Program members. A dance is planned for Saturday night.

For information on how your youth group can become a member of the state Youth Environmental Program and take part in the Youth Environmental Conference, please contact Diana Haid at 304.926.0499 x 1114 or email by September 12, 2016.

Body Cameras Are Not A Magic Solution To Policing Problems

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Over at the Daily News Shaun King is writing a 25-part series on “solutions for police brutality.” The sixteenth article in the series is on police body cameras and includes a number of misconceptions that I want to address. Body cameras are a valuable tool in the quest to increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement, but discussions about body camera policy shouldn’t misrepresent the difficulties associated with policy-making or police officers’ motivations.

King is right to highlight the number of people killed by American police every year and the impact video footage can have in securing convictions against officers who unlawfully use deadly force. Video footage has played a crucial role in investigations into police misconduct. Police officers involved in the deaths of Samuel DuBose, Walter Scott, and Laquan McDonald are facing murder charges, undoubtedly thanks to video captured by a bystander, a body camera, and a dash camera.

According to The Guardian‘s “The Counted” project 1,146 people were killed in interactions with police in 2015. That’s a rate of about three a day. That rate has held roughly steady into this year, with 693 police-involved deaths in 2016 so far. This is an unacceptable state of affairs, and it’s appropriate, given the number of people killed by American police, that criminal justice reform advocates have pushed for police officers to wear body cameras. It’s intuitive to think that if police knew their actions were being recorded they would be more hesitant to use deadly force.

King clearly thinks that police are hesitant to adopt body cameras, despite the fact that they are supported by a clear majority of the public:

it’s my strong belief that police officers and departments are scared to death of this innovation. The proof is all around us. Not only are police departments outrageously slow to adopt the technology, but we continue to see case after case where departments claim to have purchased body cameras, but officers are not wearing them when they use lethal force.

I think King is being unfair to police officers and is not considering the many crucial issues that have to be finalized before an effective body camera policy can be implemented.

It’s of course difficult to generalize when it comes to police officers. There are roughly 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about three quarters of a million people work as sworn state and local law enforcement officers. Clearly, it’s going to be difficult to establish what every police officer in the United States thinks about body cameras.

It’s crucial that body camera policies are carefully thought-out. Without the right policies in place body cameras cannot be tools for increased transparency and accountability in law enforcement.

But that doesn’t mean that researchers haven’t tried to give us some insight into police attitudes towards body cameras. Late last year the American Journal of Criminal Justice published research showing that half of the law enforcement command staff at the local, state, and federal level in a southern county of approximately 1.3 million people support body cameras. The research also showed that half of the same command staff was neutral when asked if body cameras would improve officer interactions with citizens. However, a third of police leadership agreed or strongly agreed that body cameras would improve such interactions.

A 2012 PoliceOne/TASER nationwide survey of 785 local, state, and federal law enforcement professionals found that an “overwhelming majority of police officers believe that there’s a need for body-worn cameras.” The same survey found that 86.4 percent of respondents believe body cameras can reduce false accusations and litigation.

Of course, these surveys aren’t perfect and don’t provide us a full picture of police attitudes towards body cameras. But it’s safe to say that police officers are not universally “scared to death” of body cameras. Yet, according to King, even departments that do express an interest in body cameras can be “outrageously slow to adopt the technology.”

I, like King, have noted delays in body camera deployment, but we shouldn’t forget that data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that 32 percent of local police departments used body cameras in 2013 (the last year such data is available). According to Arizona State University criminologist Michael White, every police department with more than fifty officers will be equipping officers with body cameras by 2017 or 2018. But there will still be plenty of work to be done: only around 12 percent of local law enforcement agencies have at least fifty officers.

There are a range of reasons why body camera implementation can be delayed that aren’t related to police officers’ perceived desire to resist increased transparency. Body cameras are expensive and impose a fiscal burden on local governments and states that cannot be ignored. Criminal justice reform advocates understandably want footage of use-of-force incidents available to the public. Storing and curating all of this data costs money. In May, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said that body cameras would cost $11.6 million over five years. Body cameras for Los Angeles Police Department officers are set to cost $57.6-million over a five-year period.

Police departments are not always the institutions responsible for delaying body camera deployment. The Los Angeles City Council stalled body camera plans, citing the price tag and concerns over how the LAPD selected its body camera manufacturer. Last year, the full body camera deployment in Wichita, Kansas was delayed thanks to a lack of federal funds. Data storage concerns delayed the Colorado Springs Police Department body camera roll-out earlier this month.

Perhaps most importantly, body camera programs can be delayed for policy reasons. It’s crucial that body camera policies are carefully thought-out. Without the right policies in place body cameras cannot be tools for increased transparency and accountability in law enforcement.

In his article King discusses “hardcore” policies, writing, “As long as police openly feel like they can turn their cameras off and on at will, the cameras are basically an expensive piece of junk and a mockery of the hard work good people have put in to reform a very serious American problem.” He goes on, “Perhaps the cameras should not even be controllable by officers, but roll constantly.”

These comments raise questions King doesn’t answer. Police regularly talk to the victims of crime and enter private residences. Is it reasonable for police officers to expect the victims of domestic assault to talk to them with a camera rolling? Should cameras be rolling when officers are talking to informants or children who have been sexually abused? What if a citizen calls the police to help her deal with a mentally ill family member and then asks the responding officer to turn his body camera off? After all, footage of living rooms and bedrooms can reveal private information. What’s the best policy for this situation? Should the officer disregard the citizen’s privacy concerns and film the interior of her home anyway?

Policies can address these issues, and I outlined my own thoughts on the best practices for body camera policy in a paper published last year. King should acknowledge that body camera policy is difficult and must be carefully thought through in order to avoid devastating privacy violations. “Hardcore” policies that keep body cameras rolling constantly could have harmful unintended consequences that would outweigh the benefits of body cameras.

It is undeniably frustrating when police officers fail to turn their cameras on during deadly use-of-force incidents, and officers that fail to have body cameras on when they kill someone should face harsh consequences. Yet this frustration shouldn’t lead us to doubt the motives of an entire profession or to propose policies that do not take into account the potential privacy violations made possible by body cameras.

~~  Matthew Feeney - A policy analyst at the Cato Institute ~~

Did You Know?

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SEARCH UNDERWAY FOR SURVIVORS IN ITALY QUAKE THAT KILLED MORE THAN 200

The number of dead and missing is uncertain given the thousands of vacationers in the area for summer’s final days.


WELCOME TO CONSPIRACY ELECTION

Trump and his surrogates hint at a mysterious “illness” afflicting his rival while Clinton warns of murky ties between the GOP nominee and the Russian government.


HOW AMERICANS VIEW ROLE OF GENDER IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE

According to a new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, 37 percent of respondents say being a woman will help Hillary Clinton become president, 29 percent argue it will hurt her, and 33 percent think it won’t matter.


IN IRAN, UNIQUE SYSTEM ALLOWS PAYMENTS FOR KIDNEY DONORS

The program, which has seen the country’s waitlist for kidneys effectively drop to zero, is championed by some Western doctors, but some ethicists worry it takes advantage of the poor worldwide, The AP finds.


WHO PURSUES SYRIA COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA

The Obama administration’s fresh bid to enlist Moscow as a partner in the Syrian conflict comes despite more than a month of dashed hopes as the situation on the ground becomes more volatile.


COLOMBIA’S PRESIDENT RUSHING PLEBISCITE ON DEAL WITH REBELS

The announcement of an accord after four years of talks opens the possibility for Colombians to put behind them political bloodshed that killed 220,000 and displaced 5 million.


QUAKE DAMAGES SCORES OF MYANMAR’S HERITAGE BAGAN TEMPLES

Yet, much of what fell is modern material, sanctioned by the country’s former army rulers who put top priority on restoring the temples with little regard for the original architectural styles.


BOLD MOVES, TEPID GAINS

Central banks pump trillions into financial systems and drive interest rates about as low as they can go. Yet after several years, the results are ... meh.


WHERE WORLD’S FIRST SELF-DRIVING TAXIS DEBUT

Select members of Singapore’s public can hail a free ride through their smartphones in taxis operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup.


U.S. SOCCER SUSPENDS GOALKEEPER HOPE SOLO

The six-month suspension follows the goalie’s disparaging comments about Sweden following the Americans’ early departure from the Rio Olympics.

In West Virginia….

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►   Marion County BOE Sues West Virginia Department of Education

The Marion County Board of Education is suing the West Virginia Department of Education for being under funded.

An audit of the WVDE showed Marion County was underpaid by $1.6 million between fiscal years 2009 and 2015.

The audit also showed that some counties in the state were mistakenly over funded.

Superintendent Gary Price said the amount of money withheld played a part in filing the lawsuit.

“We could do something significant with that. Should we get that money sometime in the not too distant future, we’ll probably put that in a rainy day-type account and save that for something such as a facility upgrade,” said Price.

Price said he does not have a time table for if and when the Board of Education will receive any money.


►   Mylan’s EpiPen at center of controversy

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch could be called to Capitol Hill in the near future to answer questions about the significant rise in the cost of Mylan’s EpiPen. Three members of the U.S. Senate and a member of the U.S. House have written letters calling for reviews and investigations.

Mylan, which has a large operation in Morgantown, hasn’t had much response to the criticism. It has said it’s investing in its product.

“They say, ‘We’re very concerned with making sure the product does its job and is accessible,’ Boston-based health issues writer Ed Silverman said Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “Then they sort of go sideways and talk about how they have programs to help people afford the device but there are questions about people actually getting sufficient help.”

A lot of people, including children, need EpiPens in case they get stung by a bee or have another allergic reaction that could be deadly in some cases. The product doesn’t have much competition. The price for a two-pack is now about $600, up 461 percent since 2007. Bresch, the Marion County native and daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, has seen her pay increase by 671 percent, from approximately $2.4 million to $19 million, during the same period of time.

All of those components have created a lot of questions, Silverman said.

“Here’s a device that can really make a big difference and suddenly the cost goes up exponentially and that’s a budget buster for a lot of people,” he said.

The increases in cost were a modest five percent in 2008 and 2009 followed by 10 percent hikes from 2010-2013 and then 15 percent increases every other quarter beginning in late 2013. The EpiPen represented 40 percent of Mylan’s profits in 2014.

Mylan has been under fire for the last few years after choosing to move its headquarters overseas to avoid a higher federal tax rate. Some may see what Mylan is doing as good business moves, Silverman said.

“They are doing things to lower the corporate tax rate, which means there are more profits flowing. They are doing what they need to do to make sure the products they sale are not only selling but are selling for the best price possible,” he said. “The maximum price (of the EpiPen) may help the bottom line but on a broader scale what if it means that certain kids can’t get EpiPen?”

A 2008 controversy involving Bresch found she didn’t complete the coursework but was granted an MBA by WVU. The fallout included the resignation of several university officials at the time including then WVU President Mike Garrison.

Silverman works for statnews.com. He’s a senior writer and Pharmalot columnist and has covered the pharmaceutical industry for the past two decades.


►   FEMA Statistics For Week Of August 23

More than $111 million has been approved for survivors as of August 23.
   
Individual Assistance Update (as of COB August 23)

•    Total registrations: 8,732
•    Total Individuals and Households Program grants approved: more than $38.9 million
o    Housing Assistance: more than $32.7 million
o    Other Needs Assistance: more than $6.2 million
•    Total DRC visits: 9,151
•    Number of low-interest disaster loans from SBA approved: 682
•    Total low-interest disaster loans approved by SBA: more than $44.2 million

Public Assistance Update (as of August 23)
•    Total Public Assistance Grants obligated: more than $7.8 million

National Flood Insurance Update (as of August 23)
•    Total number of claims: 951
•    Total amounts paid on all claims: more than $20 million


►   FEMA Asks Schools to Reconsider Using Portable Classrooms

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked schools in West Virginia to reconsider using portable classrooms for students affected by recent floods.

FEMA asked Kanawha County Schools last week to consider alternatives to portable classrooms because of how expensive it would be to use the units for such an extended time.

Bridge Elementary and Elkview Middle schools had planned to use portable classrooms for students from schools that were destroyed by the floods.

Charles Wilson, the Kanawha County school system’s executive director of facilities planning, says the cost of using the portable classrooms would be over $12 million. He says FEMA’s request only relates to where students will go to school until new schools are rebuilt.


►   Criticism of Obama’s EPA toned down at grant ceremony

Previous harsh criticisms of the Obama administration were absent in Huntington Wednesday when economic development projects across the state received approximately $10 million in federal funds through the federal POWER grant program.

Representatives of the Appalachian Regional Commission and the federal Economic Development Authority were on hand to give the money to areas that have been hit hard by coal’s decline. The POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) grants total just shy of $39 million for West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

West Virginia Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins chose not to criticize the Obama administration’s EPA during his remarks.

“We’re not here necessarily talking about the ‘Why are we in this situation?’ We are talking about the what–what can we do to build the future?”

The future in Appalachia can be a bright one,  ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl said.

“Appalachia is the next great investment opportunity in America,” Gohl said.

Thousands of coal jobs have been lost in the three states during President Barack Obama’s two-term presidency. Many coal companies have filed for bankruptcy. Communities have felt the brunt of the fallout. The Mingo County Commission could vote as early as Thursday on additional county layoffs.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline” that while the Obama administration deserves part of the blame for its policies, it’s time to move on.

“We’ve got to think about the future. We can’t think about the past. As long as we continue to do the things we’ve always been doing we’re going to continue to get the same results,” Tomblin said.

The West Virginia portion of the grants includes $200,000 for a strategic plan for the former Hobet mountaintop removal mining site. Tomblin believes the site should be converted into a large industrial site for southern West Virginia.

“These kind of grants lets us look forward to thinking about what our future is going to be like in a different way than we have in the past rather than just status quo,” Tomblin said.

Some of the projects on the receiving end of the nearly $10 million in West Virginia include:

$200,000 for development of a strategic plan for the Hobet surface mine site in Boone and Lincoln counties.

$1,870,000 to the Coalfield Development Corporation in Wayne for the Appalachian Social Entrepreneurship Investment Strategy.

$1,250,000 to the Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc. in Shepherdstown for the Growing Triple Bottom Line Small Businesses in Coal Impacted Communities in Central Appalachia project.

$967,500 to the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority in Beckley for the New River Gorge Region – Developing an Entrepreneurial Economy project.

$1,500,000 to the Bluewell Public Service District in Bluefield for the Mercer County Regional Airport Development and Diversification Initiative.

$1,372,275 to the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority in Man for the Southern Coalfields Sustainable Tourism & Entrepreneurship Program.

$2,196,450 to the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education in Charleston for the EntreEd K-14: Every Student, Every Year project.

$622,500 to the Randolph County Development Authority in Elkins for the Hardwood Cluster Manufacturing Expansion Project.

$10,000 to the EdVenture Group to provide grant-writing assistance to apply for a POWER Implementation grant to train displaced workers in computer coding and other IT skills.

Other grant information can be seen  HERE .


►   Senator Manchin mum on EpiPen hikes by daughter’s drug company

As a pharmaceutical company run by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s daughter faces scrutiny for hiking prices on life-saving allergy injection pens, Manchin is remaining mum.

The Democratic West Virginia senator’s daughter, Heather Bresch, is CEO of Mylan, which manufactures EpiPens.

A two-dose package cost around $94 nine years ago. The cost averaged more than six times that in May.

Manchin spokesman Jonathan Kott said Wednesday the senator had no comment.

Several senators are demanding more information and requesting congressional hearings and investigations.

Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Mylan for possible antitrust violations.

Hillary Clinton, whom Manchin has endorsed for president, called the increase “outrageous.“

A Mylan statement Tuesday cited health insurance changes with higher deductible costs for many.


►   Appalachian coal towns hit by layoffs due money for growth

Officials say 29 projects in nine Appalachian states and in Texas are being funded by nearly $39 million from a federal initiative aimed at stimulating economic development in U.S. communities hard hit by coal industry layoffs.

Officials for the Appalachian Regional Commission and other agencies announced the projects Wednesday at a news conference in Huntington, West Virginia.

The funding comes from $65.8 million made available from the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization initiative, or POWER.

Officials say the investments are expected to create or retain more than 3,400 jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and other industries.

Appalachian states involved in the projects are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The ARC says about 23,000 Appalachian coal jobs were lost between 2011 and 2015.


►   Worthington man tried to stay patient with $1 million winning ticket lost in his Jeep

A Marion County man has claimed his lottery winnings in Charleston Tuesday.

Worthington resident Teddy Harbert won $1 million on a Powerball ticket in the July 30 drawing but he couldn’t find his ticket because he lost it in his vehicle, he said.

“My daughter called me the morning after the drawing and I realized I had the ticket, however I lost it,” Harbert said in a Lottery news release. “I had put it in the console of my Jeep and it fell through and I couldn’t find it. Several days went by and I told some of my friends that I had it and couldn’t find it. So, finally I went through the Jeep and was ready to clean it out completely when I found it stuck down the side of the console. That was a relief.”

The electrician indicated he’ll save a bit of the prize.

“I never got too excited over it. I remained calm and I have already put most of it back for retirement,” Harbert said. “A buddy and I are going to take a trip to Alaska and I am able to take care of some things now.”

Harbert purchased the ticket at the Worthington Circle K. The store will receive a $10,000 sales bonus for selling the winning ticket.

According to the West Virginia Lottery, in a little over a month, four tickets worth $1 million from the Powerball and Mega Millions were sold in West Virginia. The “Mountaineer 26” won $1 million playing Mega Millions on August 2, Sam and Barbara Ratliff of Elkview won $1 million from the June 25 Powerball drawing and Robert Lane of Fairmont won $1 million from the July 06 Powerball drawing.

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