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Dear Editor,

Quoting Mr. Jim Hinebaugh (LTE, 5 September): “... maybe I’m not just ‘woke’ enough.” My response: one can neither be “woke” nor “anti-woke” devoid of a full awareness of that which is represented thereby. But one example: globally-recognized philosopher Dr. Nieman, in the 2023 volume, “Left Is Not Woke,” declares (in the final chapter): “... as I’ve argued, the woke themselves have been colonized by a row of ideologies that properly belong to the right.”

Marx, a Doctor himself (Philosophy), wrote at a Ph.D. level. However, the single exception to the aforesaid was, “The Communist Manifesto,” which he and co-author Engels intentionally published at a working-class reading level. Mr. Hinebaugh claims that Marx stated: “Communists should have no compassion.” Huh? Marx was a self-aware human, ergo a humanist, and his compassion for humanity was boundless. More, it was his very compassion - observing the degraded and disenabling conditions wherein the vast majority of humankind were (and remain) bemired - that drove Marx to (correctly) understand that capitalism was the principal culprit entailing the immizeration of human life.

All of us, we humans, are worthy; we, all of us, also require quality conditions to permit our development. Thus, did Marx develop, scientifi cally, a system wherein all of us could develop freely.

Marx was an atheist, but many a clergyperson are openly communist. Godlessness, obviously, is not required of communists. A common, frightfully incorrect, error is to associate the U.S.S.R., North Korea, etc., with communism. Marx himself would have flatly repudiated the former U.S.S.R., today’s North Korea, etc., as travesties of communism.

To understand Marx, one must turn to the original writings (and not agenda-driven, cherry-picked, quotes). Both brilliant and compassionate, Marx and Engels debunked naïve “Utopian Socialism,” replacing same with, “Scientific Socialism.” The flaming radical Marx of University days was not the family-man Marx of decades later. Yet the core of Marx’s principles never wavered which, clearly and emphatically, were a love of humanity and the unswerving belief and knowledge that we humans, all, were and are more than our all present, oppressive, circumstances.

Charles L. Zorbaugh Petersburg, W.Va.

 By Dr. Glenn Mollette

National football star Aaron Rodgers’ football career may be over, but maybe not. It’s hard to keep a good man down. Sometimes, there is too much to overcome to come back.

Many of us watched the mega media debut of Rodgers as a New York Jets quarterback. His move from Green Bay after 18 seasons catapulted him to New York City celebrity status. He came to the Jets after a hugely successful career with the Packers.

His accomplishments were many and include a Super Bowl ring. He received the Super Bowl MVP award and four NFL MVP awards. He was touted as the man who would revitalize the Jets’ program and lead them to glory.

Rodgers’ financial package to make the move from Wisconsin to the Jets’ program was $75 million over two years. The money is guaranteed even though he may never play again. Rodgers reportedly took a salary cut to make the move.

During a recent Monday night football game on the fourth play of the game, Rodgers’ Achilles heel tendon was torn during the play. The injury requires surgery and the rest of the season to rehabilitate. The spirit of the electrified crowd spiraled south as Rodgers was transported off the field.

Unfortunately, Rodgers’ injury goes along with the game of football and can happen in most any sport. People can and do get hurt. There are no guarantees.

Life has no guarantees. We aren’t guaranteed another day. Regardless of the size of the financial package, doctor’s report, health, prior success, or talent, none of us can count on anything for sure.

The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington

First, a few words from a renowned West Virginia mathematician, the late Katherine Johnson: “We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and go away, but there will always be science, engineering, and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics.”

And from one of the great scientists of all time, Galileo Galilei: “Nature is written in mathematical language.”

And from celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Somehow it’s OK for people to chuckle about not being good at math. Yet, if I said, ‘I never learned to read,’ they’d say I was an illiterate dolt.”

Knowledge of mathematics — or just plain arithmetic — is a basic life skill that adults need to plan a trip, borrow money or just pay the monthly household bills. A deeper understanding of numbers and how they interact is necessary to understand just about any career fi eld a person might want to pursue. But math is getting left behind in public schools as defi cits in students’ reading skills are being addressed.

According to the Associated Press, some teachers want to bring renewed emphasis to math education. They’re not talking about complex problems involving logarithms, bell curves or quadratic equations. They’re trying to bring elementary students up to speed on simple tasks involving basic concepts such as long division.

Just as some states, including West Virginia, have gone back to basics with the “science of reading” curriculum, there is a movement called “science of math.” While a full description of the “science of math” can lose the casual reader in educational jargon, one explanation used by the AP says it requires teachers “to give clear and precise instructions and introduce new concepts in small chunks while building on older concepts.” That sounds familiar to the grandparents and great-grandparents of today’s elementary school students.

By Autumn Shelton

WV Press Association

The clarity of a Senate Bill passed during the August special legislative session was questioned by members of the Joint Committee on Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) during their recent interim meeting.

Senate Bill 1021, which was passed during the recent special session called by Gov. Jim Justice, established two new sources of funding for certain first responders: the County Fire Protection Fund and the All County Fire Protection Fund.

As written in the bill, as well as an additional appropriations bill, a one time allocation of $3 million was placed into the County Fire Protection Fund to be distributed among counties, based on population, that have a countywide fee “dedicated to fire or emergency services.”

An additional one time allocation of $3 million was placed into the All County Fire Protection Fund for “the exclusive benefit of fire protection or emergency services.” Money from this fund is to be distributed among all 55 counties based on their population.

Both funds are to be administered by the Sec. of Homeland Security and distributed to county commissions. The county commissioners are then responsible for the distribution of those funds in their county, according to the bill.

Additionally, a one-time allocation of $6 million was placed into the state’s Fire Protection Fund to be equally distributed among all of the state’s volunteer fire departments, as long as they meet certain criteria, such as implementing the state auditor’s “Checkbook” fiscal reporting system by 2026.

During the meeting, Committee Vice-Chair, Del. Joe Statler, R-Monongalia, was the first to ask for clarification regarding the bill.

“I didn’t understand this to be one time money,” Statler said of the two $3 million allocations. “I understood it to be base-building in the budget.” He also asked for clarification on when departments will receive their money.

“As we go out and talk to our people across the state this is a big deal because, even if you look at the Fire Protection Fund, it’s roughly $14,000 additional dollars . . . that we gave to each department, again, for the year. If those departments go out and use that as collateral and then find out it’s a one time money–it’s critical.”

DEAR PAWS: Recently, a new member joined our family: a toy poodle mix named Petey who was rehomed by an acquaintance who said they just couldn’t handle him and that he was untrainable. Petey is 4 years old, bounces everywhere, and loves to play soccer by catching a ball and then bouncing it off of his front paws back toward me. He’s incredibly smart, but training him has indeed been a challenge. I know the previous owners never made an effort to train him in basic obedience, and they left him alone for days at a time. His house-training is spotty. How can I make the training process faster and easier for both of us?

-- Doug L 

Burlington, Vermont

DEAR DOUG: You’ve taken on a real challenge: a smart, independent and energetic dog. Petey sounds like a wonderful little guy, though, and I’m so glad you’ve added him to your family and committed to his well-being.

Building trust with Petey is important so that he knows what to expect from you and the rest of the family. Do that by adhering to a schedule: walks, feeding and training at the same time each day, with as little deviation as possible.

Obedience-training a smart and independent dog requires you to be smart about training, too. Petey needs to know the house rules, and he must want to do the things you’re asking him to do (or not do). Look into positive reinforcement methods like clicker training (https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/clicker-training-your-dogmark- and-reward/). Commit to a consistent training regimen so that desirable behaviors are reinforced and negative ones are discouraged. Work with a trainer if you are still struggling with Petey after a few weeks.

By Leann Ray - West Virginia Watch

Have you ever seen a photo of an opossum with their mouth wide open, and it looks like they’re screaming?

That’s me, inside my head, every time I hear someone say, “I don’t follow politics. I hate politics.”

Well, yes, most people hate politics. But you have to stay somewhat informed so you know how to vote.

Right now in West Virginia, we have a Republican supermajority. Because of that, twice now this year they’ve suspended rules during the regular legislative session and the August special session to fast-track their bills for passage.

Here’s what should happen with a proposed bill: It should go through a committee, be read three times on either the House or Senate floor, be questioned by delegates and senators, and West Virginians given an opportunity to request public hearings on the bill.

With those rules suspended, legislators can just pass multiple bills and move on. In last month’s special session, the Senate voted unanimously to suspend the rules for 27 bills, which were then unanimously approved and sent to the House. The House suspended rules for eight bills, which then were sent to the Senate.

By suspending the rules, the Republican Party in West Virginia isn’t allowing for transparency. There’s no floor discussion. There’s no chance for the public to call for a public hearing to speak out against bills, even though the Republican lawmakers don’t listen when they do anyway.

This is an important part of democracy we’ve lost because one party has the numbers to do what it wants.

During the regular legislative session earlier this year, the Senate suspended rules to pass a bill clarifying that when a governor declares a state of emergency, it will expire after 60 days unless written notice is provided to the Legislature. This was in response to Gov. Jim Justice declaring a state of emergency on March 16, 2020 for the Covid-19 pandemic that did not end until Jan. 1 of this year.

Legislators also suspended rules to pass bills splitting the Department of Health and Human Resources into three agencies and to create the “The Anti-Racism Act,” which Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, called “a solution in search of a problem.”

DEAR PAWS: I have a pet rabbit, Brownie, who is nearly 10 years old! He’s a Holland Lop, I think. He doesn’t do much at this age but sort of half-heartedly flop around his cage and the porch, then he settles onto the raised shelf in his cage and nibbles on carrots.

He seems healthy, just slow. How much longer does he have left? Do you think he’s lonely?

 -- Vicky R.

Macon, Georgia

DEAR VICKY: First of all, wow! Ten years is quite a lifespan for a Holland Lop. It’s a testament to how well you care for him.

While the average lifespan of this rabbit breed is six to eight years, I have heard of H-Lops reaching 10, 12 or even 16 years of age! Care and comfort are really important for rabbits at any age.

They need a secure hutch, stable temperatures in summer and winter, fresh water always available, and good nutrition. They also need things to gnaw on so their front teeth don’t grow too long, as well as plenty of fresh vegetables.

Introducing a new rabbit to the mix can be risky. They might not take to each other, and fighting with another rabbit can cause stress, which can be deadly. It sounds like Brownie is doing really well for his age. I recommend checking in with his vet if you notice any changes in his behavior or ability to get around. It sounds like you’re a little concerned that he isn’t moving around as much.

Contacting the vet within 48 hours is a good rule for any changes in behavior, diet or activity for rabbits and other small pets.

Send your tips, comments or questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

(c) 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced an essay contest for West Virginia fourth graders as part of the celebration of the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

The Capitol Christmas Tree – known as “The People’s Tree” – lights up the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol during the holiday season and is selected from a different national forest each year.

This year, the tree will be harvested in Randolph County from the Greenbrier Ranger District and will travel around West Virginia throughout November before heading to Washington.

“This essay contest will allow one outstanding fourth grader to take part in the official tree-lighting ceremony in Washington, which will showcase not only our remarkable forestry, but also our strong community spirit. I’m grateful to the Forest Service for their hard work and partnership on this celebration, and I can’t wait to read about what our Wild and Wonderful home means to young West Virginians across the Mountain State,” said Senator Manchin.

Students are invited to describe in 500 words why they love West Virginia’s forests and public lands, incorporating the theme of the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree: “Endlessly Wild & Wonderful.”

Senator Manchin will select one student from statewide submissions to receive a once-in-a-lifetime all-expenses paid trip for the winner and one guardian to travel to Washington, DC in late November or early December to take part in the offi cial tree-lighting ceremony alongside members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and the public.

One of the hardest things to watch as Congress has evolved over the past decade or more is the extent to which its oversight muscles have atrophied.

Sure, committees on Capitol Hill still haul members of the administration in front of them to ask uncomfortable questions. But while there has always been a tinge of theater to the practice, these days it often seems to be mostly about the show—and in particular about scoring political points—and not so much about helping our government operate effectively.

To be blunt, this is a waste. I’ve always believed that what our founders had in mind was to encourage a creative tension between the president and Congress that would inspire constructive policy-making and produce government action in the nation’s best interests. Oversight is Congress’s chief tool for achieving this.

One big reason is that making government work well is tough — and always has been. Even when accomplished officials are doing their best, they can struggle to ensure that their agencies and programs are being both efficient and effective, not to mention hewing to what Congress intended.

Congress’s job is to look into every nook and cranny of the executive branch, pay attention to what’s being done in the people’s name, weigh whether it’s the right course, and, if necessary, legislate improvements.

But there’s more to it than that. I’m not suggesting Congress should directly be involved in the management of federal programs, but it does have a responsibility to ensure that the president and his administration are operating in ways that serve US interests, take into account public sentiment, and meet a very high standard for prudence, foresight, and even wisdom.

Fred King Professor, Vice President for Research West Virginia University

The American public’s trust in higher education has waned considerably within the last decade.

This is an interesting, new dynamic: Academia’s detractors represent various segments of America – from those living in rural, poverty-stricken areas who feel higher ed is out of reach and out of touch with the real world to the wealthy, powerful and elite (many of whom, ironically, hold college degrees themselves). Companies are even encouraging young people to bypass the college experience altogether or drop out to join their workforce, learn on the go rather than forego income for the time it takes to earn a degree.

Certainly, disruption is coming to higher ed, particularly for land-grant, R1 institutions like West Virginia University, where I have served as vice president for research since 2012.

Land-grants, such as ours, have prided themselves on serving their state and residents first and foremost since Abraham Lincoln’s vision to expand higher education access to all as outlined in the Morrill Act of 1862.

But it’s not 1862, anymore. We need to realize that our traditional landgrant mission is rapidly changing and the array of stakeholders expanding. This also applies to being an R1 institution. We have to be leaders in research with impact at every level from our local community to our global community. At the same time, we have to be the driver of economic revitalization through workforce development and research commercialization.

Currently, West Virginia University is in the midst of an academic transformation, a difficult but necessary move for the university to emerge from this time of disruption as a more focused and relevant institution.

If we are to regain public trust and attract future students, we must offer a compelling education tailored to meet the needs of the 21st century. Our students will be competing in a world in which data will reign supreme and those who master the tools of AI and analytics will create and lead the companies of tomorrow.

As we adjust our academic offerings to better serve the needs of students, we also must focus our resources on areas of research strength such as astrophysics, neurosciences and robotics, just to name a few. We also need to continue building in areas such as cancer research and data sciences to meet future needs of the state and its citizens.

By Rachel Pellegrino — WOWK

Just two weeks into West Virginia’s 2023 high school football season, many people are questioning if lawmakers fumbled the new transfer portal rule.

The backlash has come after a number of blowout games with some schools winning by 50 points or more. Athletes and parents have taken to social media blaming the new rule which passed in the 2023 Legislative Session.

“It’s not that there haven’t been some scores like that in the past, but I think this situation with the transfer portal has compounded that issue,” said Del. Dana Ferrell (R-Kanawha). “It’s a fact that some of these teams like St. Albans, South Charleston and Riverside have all been depleted by transfers.”

As the law stands, high school athletes are now able to transfer to another school one time without being penalized and losing a year of eligibility. According to Ferrell, there are also no restrictions within the law that require students to transfer within their district.

The bill failed the last two sessions, but passed this year because Ferrell said it was tacked on with the Hope Scholarship like a “trojan horse.” However, those in favor of the bill argued it would allow athletes more freedom.

The Intelligencer, Wheeling

As school districts across the state set aside funding for items such as classroom video cameras, West Virginians got a reminder of the horrific case that prompted a law to require such additions.

Kanawha County Schools and former teacher Nancy Boggs recently settled lawsuits totaling nearly $12 million in cases involving Boggs’ abuse of special education students in her classroom.

According to the Associated Press, Boggs was seen on surveillance video abusing multiple students at Holz Elementary School in Charleston, in 2021. She admitted to hitting one student with a cabinet door, pulling her hair and pulling a chair out from under her. Boggs also admitted to slamming another child’s head into a desk and slapping a third child.

As Boggs was being sentenced to 10 years in prison for her crimes, Judge Maryclaire Akers said the teacher made her “classroom into a place of ... torture.”

It is difficult to believe, though we know other communities across the state have dealt with similar instances in which monsters masquerading as educators made their way into classrooms. Boggs’ case is all the more nauseating because she was dealing with special education students.

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