Fugitive accused of threatening Trump arrested in Ohio
Friday, September 21
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service says a Pennsylvania man accused of threatening President Donald Trump and law enforcement officials has been arrested in Ohio.
They say Shawn Richard Christy was arrested at 4:45 p.m. Friday in Mifflin Township, near Columbus, by marshals and task force members from Ohio and Pennsylvania.
A federal warrant was issued June 19 for the 27-year-old McAdoo man in connection to Facebook posts threatening to shoot Trump and a district attorney in Pennsylvania. Officials say he also threatened a police chief.
Pennsylvania warrants issued for Christy allege burglary, probation violation and failure to appear for an aggravated assault case.
Authorities say Christy stole a truck Sunday from the area of McAdoo, Pennsylvania, and fled after abandoning it Sunday on Interstate 71 in the Mansfield area, about 65 miles (104 kilometers) north of Columbus.
Bald eagle released at Ohio’s Hocking College
By LARRY DI GIOVANNI
The Athens Messenger
Saturday, September 22
NELSONVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A young bald eagle took flight toward a tree line at noon on Thursday at Hocking College, just a stone’s throw from the college bookstore and near the Hocking River.
A gathering of about 50 students and faculty watched, waited and celebrated a release coordinated by the Ohio Wildlife Center in Columbus, as the rehabilitated bird of prey finally stepped out its cage, extended its impressive wings and showed what flying skills eagles are made of.
The journey of the eagle’s path toward recovery — involving the will to live and fly again, and lots of human kindness to make that happen since mid-May — is quite remarkable.
The juvenile bald eagle — known for their spots on feathers before they reach adulthood — was discovered on May 15 by Stony Joy, a state Department of Transportation worker who was mowing some lawn along the Route 33 bypass to Nelsonville just inside the Hocking County line. It was sitting in the brush near a fence, emaciated, in distress and weak.
“I thought he was injured, but I think he was just starving,” said Joy, who beamed with happiness in seeing the eagle released into the wild four months later.
When he first saw the bird, Joy thought it might be a hawk. He stayed with the bird while he called David Sagan, a Wildlife Management instructor at Hocking College who runs its Nature Center that is known to care for wildlife.
In fact, it was Sagan, aided by student volunteers, who has cared for animals that have included red-tailed hawks, with one of those hawks still housed at the Nature Center. That hawk is male and has injuries which mean it can never be released back into the wild.
But in the case of the young juvenile eagle found next to a fence along the bypass, Sagan knew that time was of the essence to get it help — and fast. Sagan wasn’t alone when he went to retrieve the bird.
“Sagan and two of his students picked up the eagle from ODOT and drove nearly two hours to our hospital facility in Columbus for treatment,” said Jarod Anderson, external relations manager with the Ohio Wildlife Center.
One of the initial beginner classes Sagan teaches is proper animal handling. It served him and the eagle well that day.
“The bird was trying to flee but was trapped by the roadside fence,” Sagan recalled. “I was able to grab the bird without being injured and without further injuring the bird. I called (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) District 4 headquarters and told them I had an eagle and was going to take it to the Ohio Wildlife Center.”
Sagan continued: “They were aware there was a bird that was more than likely an eagle, but did not have anyone who was free to check it out. It became a very long day for me, but I understood the best chance for this bird was to get it to Ohio Wildlife Center.”
Anderson said the path to survival for the eagle was an uphill one, but it started with Sagan’s life-saving gesture. When the eagle arrived at the Ohio Division of Wildlife hospital in Columbus, it was thin, weak, and had “a number of blunt-force injuries,” he remembered. It may have been grazed by a vehicle, but will still intact and had managed to avoid major wing damage.
“Treatment began with IV fluids infused with B12 vitamins, as well as a number of other medications and nutritional supplements,” Anderson said. “X-rays and bloodwork followed, indicating exposure to the West Nile Virus. Tube feeding was necessary because the eagle lacked the strength to eat on his own. With months of care, he stabilized, regained his strength, and was ready to continue down the path of rehabilitation.”
Eventually, the eagle was taken to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary in Mansfield for its final stage of rehabilitation. The bird sanctuary has large, octagonal-shaped aviaries that are tailor-made for birds attempting to practice and regain “full flight status.”
“This story illustrates what’s best about our mission, seeing donors, friends, volunteers, professionals, and partner organizations coming together to save a life and keep one more wild eagle flying through Ohio skies,” he emphasized.
The rehabilitation of the bald eagle helped by a Hocking College wildlife instructor also demonstrates how well the bald eagle is doing in Ohio, Anderson said. By the late 1970s they were almost extinct in the state, with just four breeding pairs in 1979. Efforts at conservation and wildlife education involving bald eagles took root in Ohio and other states, succeeding to a point where an estimated 221 breeding pairs in the state produced 312 offspring last year.
This year, the Ohio Wildlife Center has treated four bald eagles, its highest total over the past five years.
“The Ohio Bird Sanctuary’s octagonal flight cage provided the final step to recovery, allowing the eagle to practice more complex maneuvers such as turning and banking,” Anderson, skills that were displayed upon its release at Hocking College as it took flight along a tree line next to the Hocking River. “This stage of recovery is vital to ensure that the eagle will be a successful hunter upon his return to the wild.”
Spring Valley Range to Close for Construction
XENIA, OH – The Spring Valley Wildlife Area Shooting Range will be closed beginning October 1, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The range is expected to reopen in the fall of 2019.
The range will be closed so that improvements can be made to the facility, including improved backstops, a new entrance, new restroom facilities and additional shooting stations. The ODNR Division of Wildlife will post signs at the range notifying the public of the closure as well.
Shooters looking for an alternative Class A range should consider the Deer Creek Wildlife Area range.
Class A, B, and C ranges require a shooting range permit for all persons 18 years and older. Range permits are available at all hunting and fishing license outlets and online at wildohio.gov. Permits are not sold at the ranges and must be purchased before arriving. Visitors can purchase one of two permits to use the ranges; a $24 annual shooting range permit allows the permit holder to access any of the five Division of Wildlife owned Class A, B, and C ranges throughout the year or a $5 one-day shooting range permit.
For more information about shooting ranges and rules visit www.wildohio.gov. Private shooting ranges located across Ohio can be found at National Shooting Sports Foundation website Where to Shoot.org.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
Family fights university for using endowment for fundraising
Monday, September 24
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The family of an Ohio State University alumnus who endowed over $30 million to the school is fighting to keep the school from draining the money for fundraising purposes.
Attorney and Ohio State alumnus Michael Moritz donated $30 million to the university in 2001 to endow four faculty chairs and give 30 annual scholarships to needy law students, The Columbus Dispatch has reported. The gift made months before Moritz died was the largest gift to one of the school’s academic units, and Ohio State renamed its law college in honor of Moritz.
The Moritz family now contends the university is illegally draining millions in “development fees” and threatening the endowment’s survival, according to the newspaper. Michael’s son Jeff Moritz has said the money should go to scholarships and not to help court more donors.
The endowment also was being used for only 12 to 16 full scholarships annually instead of the 30 grants mandated in the gift agreement, according to Jeff Moritz.
“My dad’s legacy and what he wanted to do for the law school is evaporating. I find it sickening,” Moritz said. “We want the money to go to scholarships, to do great things at the university — not to be spent flying around the country talking to wealthy donors.”
The withdrawal of development fees was legally enacted by university trustees, according to Ohio State.
University spokesman Chris Davey said the gift agreement doesn’t refer to a development fee, but said that’s of “no consequence.”
“Development fees are entirely lawful and recognized by Ohio law as a ‘prudent’ cost associated with managing an endowment,” Davey said.
Trustees approved taking development fees from endowment principals in 2000, and such fees are a “respected and widespread practice among universities and charitable institutions” as a way to raise more endowment money, Davey said.
In 2017, Jeff Moritz filed an action in probate court in Delaware County, where his parents lived when his father died. It sought to reopen his father’s estate and gain legal standing to challenge OSU.
Lawyers for Ohio State and the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine opposed the move, arguing that only DeWine’s office has authority to enforce the terms of charitable trusts. A magistrate ruled Moritz’s request was “arbitrary and unconscionable,” finding he had no standing to intervene and enforce the terms of a gift provided by Michael Moritz prior to his death. That ruling is being appealed to the probate court judge.
The Moritzes lawyer, David Marburger, says they are spending their time, money and emotional energy to get Ohio State officials to “just live up to the agreement they signed.”
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com
Fatal drug overdoses in Ohio increase to record number
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fatal drug overdoses increased to a record 4,854 last year in Ohio, a 20 percent rise compared with the previous year, according to information reported to the state.
Data on unintentional drug deaths provided to the Ohio Department of Health show 2017 was the eighth year in a row that drug deaths increased, The Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday. Ohio’s county coroners logged 4,050 fatal overdoses in 2016.
The newspaper’s review of the data shows the synthetic opioid fentanyl continued to fuel the drug epidemic, accounting for nearly three-fourths of last year’s overdose deaths and killing 3,431 people. That was 46 percent higher than in the previous year. Cocaine-related deaths increased 39 percent from 1,109 in 2016 to 1,540 last year.
Positive news shown by the data included a 46 drop in heroin deaths to 987 last year for the fewest deaths in four years.
Fatal overdoses from prescription opioids also fell in 2017 to 523. That was the lowest number in eight years, down from a peak of 724 deaths in 2011, the newspaper reported.
Russ Kennedy, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, says while review of the data confirms fentanyl is “driving overdose deaths in the state,” Ohio also is seeing “significant progress in reducing the number of prescription opioids available for abuse.”
Kennedy confirmed Sunday that the health department expects to release its own analysis of 2017 drug deaths this week. He also noted that the information shows the number of unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio declined during the second half of 2017 by 23 percent.
A recent state report on drug trends stated that “drug cartels have flooded Ohio” with fentanyl, and many users don’t realize they’ve taken the opioid because it’s being cut into heroin and cocaine and even “pressed” into prescription opioids.
“Drug dealers are flooding communities with different drugs to see what takes. They are very smart businesspeople,” said Lori Criss, chief executive officer of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers.
Cheri Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, said the state’s death toll was high, but could have been much worse.
“The reality is, we’ve focused on opioids and heroin, and now we’re seeing more deaths involving other drugs, so we’ve got to (broaden our) focus on treatment” for all kinds of addiction, Walter said.
Gov. John Kasich’s administration is spending more than $1 billion a year to fight the drug epidemic, most of it to provide addiction treatment though Medicaid expansion. The state also is investing in providing the opioid-overdose antidote, naloxone, to first responders and others and in supporting efforts including drug courts, housing for recovering addicts and educational programs.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com
GOP, Dems unite behind Senate bill fighting addictive drugs
By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans and Democrats joined forces to speed legislation combating the misuse of opioids and other addictive drugs through Senate passage Monday, a rare campaign-season show of unity against a growing and deadly health care crisis.
The measure passed by a 99-1 vote Monday evening. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, voted against it.
It takes wide aim at the problem, including increasing scrutiny of arriving international mail that may include illegal drugs. It makes it easier for the National Institutes of Health to approve research on non-addictive painkillers and for pharmaceutical companies to conduct that research. The Food and Drug Administration would be allowed to require drug makers to package smaller quantities of drugs like opioids. And there would be new federal grants for treatment centers, training emergency workers and research on prevention methods.
Lawmakers’ focus on combating opioids comes amid alarming increases in drug overdose deaths, with the government estimating more than 72,000 of them last year. That figure has grown annually and is double the 36,000 who died in 2008.
Besides the sheer numbers, Congress has been drawn to the problem because of its broad impact on Republican, Democratic and swing states alike.
California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania each had more than 4,000 people die from drug overdoses in 2016, while seven other states each lost more than 2,000 people to drugs, according to the most recent figures available. The states with the highest death rates per resident include West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire, along with the District of Columbia.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, both Democrats, are among those facing competitive re-election races in November’s midterm elections. Republicans are trying to deflect a Democratic effort to capture Senate control.
Money for much of the federal spending the legislation envisions would have to be provided in separate spending bills.
The House approved its own drug legislation this summer. Congressional leaders hope the two chambers will produce compromise legislation and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature by year’s end.
Brenner refuses to debate opponent
Submitted by Ohio Senate Democrats
DELAWARE, Ohio — Andrew “ECOTAndy” Brenner is now actively refusing to appear at a debate with his opponent Louise Valentine in their run for State Senate District 19.
“This is typical Andrew Brenner behavior. He has blocked hundreds of people on Twitter for simply questioning him or calling out his unreasonable stances, and now he won’t appear at a public forum to answer important questions from voters,” said Alexis Miller, spokesperson for the Ohio Senate Democrats. “Andy and his special interest friends think they can buy the election without ever talking to the people he wants to represent.”
Both Brenner and Valentine were invited to a forum hosted by the Mount Vernon News in Knox County. Valentine accepted and Brenner declined. When the News asked Brenner’s representative if a different date would work, they did not respond.
“People are so tired of electing the same old politicians and then getting left in the dust in favor of special interest friends with lots of money,” said Miller. “Brenner took $27,500 from ECOT, the biggest scam in Ohio history, while they defrauded Ohioans and made up attendance numbers for their students. Now Andy has the Koch Brothers on his side, flooding the district with false ads. Of course he won’t show up to a debate – that would mean he’d actually have to talk to someone other than Bill Lager or the Kochs.”
Some farmers worry Trump’s bailout checks won’t be enough
By JULIET LINDERMAN
Monday, September 24
WASHINGTON (AP) — Farmers across the United States will soon begin receiving government checks as part of a billion-dollar bailout to buoy growers experiencing financial strain from President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China.
But even those poised for big payouts worry it won’t be enough. And while support for Trump is near unwavering in the heartland, some growers say that with the November election nearing, such disappointing aid outcomes could potentially affect their vote.
“It’s pretty obvious that the rural agriculture communities helped elect this administration, but the way things are going I believe farmers are going to have to vote with their checkbook when it comes time,” said Kevin Skunes, a corn and soybean grower from Arthur, North Dakota and president of the National Corn Growers Association.
Corn farmers get the smallest slice of the aid pie. Corn groups estimate a loss of 44 cents per bushel, but they’re poised to receive just a single penny per bushel.
“If these issues haven’t been resolved, there could be a change in the way farmers vote,” Skunes said. “A person has to consider all things.”
Farmers are already feeling the impact of Trump’s trade tiffs with China and other countries. China has hit back hard, responding with its own set of tariffs on U.S. agricultural products and other goods.
The Trump administration is providing up to $12 billion in emergency relief funds for American farmers, with roughly $6 billion in an initial round. The three-pronged plan includes $4.7 billion in payments to corn, cotton, soybean, dairy, pork and sorghum farmers. The rest is for developing new foreign markets for American-grown commodities and purchasing more than two dozen select products, including certain fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, meat and dairy.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last month that soybean growers will get the largest checks, at $1.65 per bushel for a total of $3.6 billion. China is the world’s leading buyer of American soybeans, purchasing roughly 60 percent of the U.S. crop. But since Beijing imposed a 25 percent tariff on soybean, imports prices have plunged.
The lack of initial detail about how the calculations were made left farmers scratching their heads.
Asked about the confusion, Rob Johansson, the Agriculture Department’s chief economist, responded that the USDA took into account a number of factors “including the share of production that is exported and the value of trade directly affected by the retaliatory tariffs.”
“The level of damage is not the same for each commodity,” he said in a written response to questions submitted by The Associated Press.
He estimated that there would be more than 784,000 applications for relief.
The USDA has since released a detailed analysis of how the department made its calculations.
The breakdown has stunned corn and wheat farmers who say the payments are uneven and won’t do much of anything to help keep struggling farms afloat.
A lobbying group that represents wheat growers is challenging the way the administration determined payments for wheat farmers, who are set to receive 14 cents a bushel. Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said the USDA assumed U.S. wheat would be sold to China this year when it made its calculations. But the assumption was flawed, he said.
China typically makes its requests for American wheat between March and June. U.S. wheat farmers have sold, on average, 20 million bushels of wheat to China over the past three years. But none came this year, Goule said, as Trump escalated his threatening rhetoric on trade with Beijing. He hopes the per-bushel rate for wheat goes up if there’s a second round of payments.
“I am very certain that we will not sell any wheat to China this year,” Goule said. “The window we sell in has come and gone.”
The response among farmers has been mixed. While some are grateful for the help, most are eager for the trade disputes to be quickly resolved.
“Nobody wants to have an aid package. I mean, if you’re a farmer you’re in the business of producing a crop. We just want a fair price for it,” said Joel Schreurs, a soybean and corn producer near Tyler in southwestern Minnesota who sits on the board of both the American Soybean Association and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.
His personal operation is about 1,000 acres. He farms an additional 500 acres with his son-in-law and other relatives. He estimates that the tariffs would cost him $40,000 to $50,000 in lost income and that he would get $16,000 to $20,000 in emergency aid.
Schreurs worries that it will be hard for farmers to get back the buyers they’ll lose as a result of the trade wars. “And in the short term we have to find another home for those beans, otherwise they’re going to pile up and it will keep prices depressed,” he said.
In the Midwest, growers typically farm both corn and soybeans. Those farmers would get payments for both under the program, which began sign-ups Sept. 4.
Perdue said checks could start going out as soon as the end of September for crops that have already been harvested; payouts are based on yield.
In a recent C-SPAN interview, Perdue said he understands growers’ frustrations.
“Farmers always live in unpredictable times,” he said. “They’re very resilient, but obviously the longer trade issues go on the longer it bears on them regarding what is the future.”
Jack Maloney says corn farmers will be getting so little in bailout aid that for roughly 200,000 bushels of corn a farmer would get only about $2,000 for their losses.
“That’s not even beer money,” said the Brownsburg, Indiana, corn and soybean grower.
Maloney, 62, began farming full time in 1978 and now has two employees. He said some fellow farmers are angry and upset.
“Agriculture has always been the butt of all the trade wars,” he said, adding that this isn’t the first time he’s seen trade disruptions affect the agricultural markets.
Maloney said he had already cut back on expenses during the past three years and hasn’t taken a paycheck from his farm for more than a year because of tough times before the trade war began. He said the recent tumult has dashed hopes for stabilizing agricultural markets anytime soon.
“We were seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel — the markets were improving a little,” he said, “and then this tariff thing happened and this trade war.”
Daniel Weinand worries the market downturn could be the death knell for his farm. Weinand, 30, grows corn, canola and yellow peas on 900 acres of rented land near Hazen, North Dakota. He said he expects to reap about 30,000 bushels of corn, and to receive about $300 in aid.
“A penny a bushel on corn, it’s not that it’s entirely worthless. But it almost is,” he said. “I don’t know how many more years I can weather.”
Associated Press writers Richard Lardner in Washington, Rick Callahan in Indianapolis and Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the payment figure to corn, cotton, soybean, dairy, pork and sorghum farmers is $4.7 billion, not $4.7 million