People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just What We Don't Need

The cost of doing business in Southwest Virginia is too high. As evidenced by the dozens of plant closings and thousands of layoffs of area employees in recent decades. There are many contributors to this heartrending problem, including the high cost of transporting manufactured goods out of the area into metro markets north, south, and overseas.

That being the case, this proposed solution to our other transportation problem will only make it worse:
Higher Sales Tax on Gas to be Proposed in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. -- A bipartisan group of senior state senators from Virginia plans to introduce a bill that would count on a sales tax on fuel to fund the building and upkeep of roads.

The new proposal, to be unveiled in the Senate Finance Committee, calls for drivers to pay a 5 percent sales tax on top of Virginia's gas tax of 17.5 cents per gallon, according to The Washington Post, which is quoting unnamed committee sources.

The concept would raise roughly $600 million annually. (link)
Look, solving Northern Virginia's problems by worsening those we face here in Southwest Virginia is not acceptable. And someone needs to send that message to Richmond. But who?

Where are Roscoe Reynolds and Phil Puckett? Where are the cries of outrage and condemnation? Where is our political leadership?

What A Novel Idea

Let the people choose for themselves!
'Smoking permitted' signs eyed for eateries
By Larry O'Dell, The Associated Press

Richmond -- A Republican lawmaker proposed legislation yesterday that would require restaurants that allow smoking to post a sign at the entrance notifying customers.

The bill by House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, Salem Republican, would eliminate the legal requirement that restaurants provide no-smoking sections, though they still could do so voluntarily. Mr. Griffith said smoke usually drifts into those sections anyway.

Mr. Griffith said his bill would encourage restaurants to go smoke-free without trampling on their property rights. (link)
This won't fly with the cigarette nazis, of course. But it is a breath of fresh air to find a lawmaker who puts such trust in the people, allowing them to decide for themselves what risks they choose to run.

You go, Grif.

Either You Oppose Racism Or You Don't

There are those who argue that Virginia Tech is well within its rights and has the obligation to promote its racial outreach policies on campus (see yesterday's post). Because of past discriminatory acts elsewhere at another point in time long ago, we're always told.

The problem with this dreamy attitude is that it encourages people to be racists and emboldens institutions to continue the practice of discrimination.

Case in point:
Lawsuit accuses black officials of violating whites' voting rights
By Jerry Seper, The Washington Times

A federal court trial is expected to end this week in a Justice Department lawsuit seeking an end to "relentless voting-related discrimination" by black political leaders in a rural Mississippi county -- the first suit brought under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that accuses blacks of suppressing the rights of whites.

The lawsuit targets Ike Brown, longtime political boss of Noxubee County, Miss., who serves as chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee and ...

The two black officials are charged with engaging in a "pattern of discriminatory action" over a period of several years that resulted in the denial of the rights of white citizens of Noxubee County to ... (link)
Many of you will argue that this overt form of racism is justifiable because of the pattern of discrimination that existed for decades in the South. But Ike Brown will be replaced some day by another Lester Maddox, and you'll quickly go back to denouncing racial prejudice.

Then another Ike Brown will come along and ...

We Should Entrust The War To Them?

There are those who would argue that Congress should play a greater role in the battlefield decision-making process, as opposed to the way our system of governance has functioned - marvelously well, I might add - over the centuries, with the president being commander-in-chief and congresspersons serving as court jesters.

When I read such idiocy, I think about circumstances like this:
Advocates of troop surge about-face in Congress
By Charles Hurt, The Washington Times

For many in the Senate, they were for a surge of troops in Iraq before they were against it.

"We don't have enough troops in Iraq," Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said in 2005. "Number one, we cannot fail," Mr. Kerry said. "I've said that many times. And if it requires more troops in order to create the stability that eliminates the chaos, that can provide the groundwork for other countries, that's what we have to do."

He no longer believes that now. He is among at least a dozen Democratic senators who in the past have called for more troops in Iraq but now support a resolution condemning President Bush's plan to do just that.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. has for years advocated increasing the number of troops on the ground in Iraq. But after Mr. Bush offered his proposal to do that earlier this month, the Delaware Democrat drafted a resolution rejecting the idea as not "in the national interest."

"They're going to need a surge of forces," he said in another interview.

By last week, Mr. Biden had reversed his war strategy. (link)
These fools couldn't manage a McDonald's drive-thru order. And we're going to entrust the lives of our brave men and women in uniform to them? I don't think so.

There is a place, however, where Kerry and Biden and their ilk would fit right in and can influence military strategy to their hearts' content. The French ...

The Democrats Should Be Very Afraid

A movement is afoot to imprison any politician who deceives the public. I should start a list:
Honesty In Elections
New York Times editorial

... two Democratic senators, Barack Obama of Illinois and Charles Schumer of New York, are introducing a bill today that would make deceiving or intimidating voters a federal crime with substantial penalties.

The bill aims at some of the most commonly used deceptive political tactics. It makes it a crime to knowingly tell voters the wrong day for an election. There have been numerous reports of organized efforts to use telephones, leaflets or posters to tell voters, especially in minority areas, not to vote on Election Day because voting has been postponed.

The bill would also criminalize making false claims to voters about who has endorsed a candidate, or wrongly telling people — like immigrants who are registered voters in Orange County — that they cannot vote. (link)
Oh. When it said, "the most commonly used deceptive political tactics," I thought the editorialist was referring to all the promises the Democrats made in the recent election campaign that they never meant to keep, and quickly broke once elected.

That common deceptive political tactic survives unscathed.

Scratch Another One

First I learn that windmills slaughter thousands of birds, many of them rare species, each year. Then I read that it currently takes more than a gallon of fossil fuels to produce a gallon of ethanol, a growingly popular substitute for fossil fuels. Now this:
Once a Dream Fuel, Palm Oil May Be an Eco-Nightmare
By Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times

Amsterdam, Jan. 25 — Just a few years ago, politicians and environmental groups in the Netherlands were thrilled by the early and rapid adoption of “sustainable energy,” achieved in part by coaxing electrical plants to use biofuel — in particular, palm oil from Southeast Asia.

But last year, when scientists studied practices at palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, this green fairy tale began to look more like an environmental nightmare.

Rising demand for palm oil in Europe brought about the clearing of huge tracts of Southeast Asian rainforest and the overuse of chemical fertilizer there.

Worse still, the scientists said, space for the expanding palm plantations was often created by draining and burning peatland, which sent huge amounts of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Considering these emissions, Indonesia had quickly become the world’s third-leading producer of carbon emissions that scientists believe are responsible for global warming ... (link)
An eco-friendly alternative fuel is destroying the planet.

Where's Crazy Al when we need him?

Gives One Pause

I drove by this place about an hour before it became no more:

4 Killed in Gas Explosion Near West Virginia Resort
By Ian Urbina, The New Yrok Times

An explosion at a store near a West Virginia ski resort yesterday killed four people and injured five others, the authorities said.

The blast occurred just before 11 a.m. at the Flat Top Little General Store on Route 19 in southern West Virginia, shattering windows about a mile away and toppling a fire truck that had responded to the scene after a 911 call about a propane gas leak, fire officials said.

A local volunteer firefighter, a county building inspector and an emergency medical technician, all investigating the leak, were among the dead, whose names were not released, the police said.

Investigators said they believed the blast was caused by gas that seeped into the store from a propane tank and ignited. (link)
The weather was awful when I drove by. Wind and snow.

Little did I know ...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I Have A Suggestion

Rather than send my idea to either Virginia Tech Provost, Mark McNamee mmcnamee@vt.edu or Wayne Scales, chairman of Tech's Task Force on Race, wscales@vt.edu, I thought I'd just offer it up here - how 'bout you erect a sign at each entrance to the campus that reads:

... and be done with it.

Tech report tries to mend race relations
By Greg Esposito, The Roanoke Times

The preliminary report for Virginia Tech's Task Force on Race and the Institution assesses several issues the school faces along with ...

The group was created in response to student protests in April after ...

The protests revealed that students had concerns about campus climate and hiring practices beyond ...

More accountability for improvement, better communication within the university and more resources to address the problem through ...

"Virginia Tech's diversity infrastructure is in a nascent state ..." (link)
All this over skin color. For the love of Christ.

The Democrat Party Is Up In Arms

As the terrorists rampage through the streets of Najaf and suicide bombers wreak havoc in Eilat, here in NeverNeverLand the Democrat Party has more important issues with which to deal:
Bush Says Missing '-ic' Was an Oversight
By Michael Abramowitz, Washington Post Staff Writer

President Bush says the missing "-ic" in the State of the Union address was nothing more than an oversight.

Near the beginning of the speech last week, Bush congratulated "the Democrat majority" for its electoral victory, using a long-standing Republican formulation seen by many Democrats as a calculated insult. Some liberal bloggers and party strategists saw the president's omission of the last two letters of the party's proper name, Democratic, as a sign of insincerity in preaching bipartisanship. (link)
Gee. I didn't know they got so worked up over being called Democrats rather than Democratics. I've certainly learned my lesson.

I can't help but wonder though, what they must think when I refer to them as imbecilic, morally destitute, ethically challenged cowards? Er ... cowardics ...

What Transportation Crisis?

If you thought the Democratics were acting a bit silly over the correct pronunciation of their collective cognomen, you'll find this to be downright mind numbing:
Slavery apology language altered
'Contrition' replaces 'atone'; potential for reparations is issue
By Tyler Whitley, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

The slavery-apology resolution was changed by its sponsor yesterday to try to satisfy critics who thought the original version could lead to reparations.

"The spirit of the resolution is the same," said Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond, the chief sponsor in the Senate. He described the wording change as "a clarification."

The original language called for the General Assembly to "atone for the involuntary servitude of Africans and call for reconciliation among all Virginians."

The amended resolution calls for the legislature to "hereby acknowledge with contrition the involuntary servitude and call for ..." (link)
A simple We Are Sorry won't do.

Lord, God.

What Ye Have Wrought

This is why I come down so hard on homosexuality - and other related psychoses:

Teen youngest sex-change patient
By Bojan Pancevski, London Sunday Telegraph

VIENNA, Austria -- A boy of 14 is believed to have become the world's youngest sex-change patient after convincing doctors that he wanted to live the rest of his life as a female.

The boy -- originally called Tim, but now known as Kim -- has started to receive hormone treatment in preparation for the operation that will eventually complete the sex change.

Tim was diagnosed as a transsexual two years ago [at age 12!], when doctors and psychiatrists concluded that his claims to be "in the wrong body" were so deeply felt that he required treatment. (link)
A confused child is convinced that he is in fact a girl trapped in a boy's body. Experts don't try to talk him out of it. His parents don't tell him to shut up and that he'll grow out of his confused state, a state that all adolescents go through. They willfully mutilate him permanently out of a misguided and contemptible sense of caring.

This kid, at age 12, wouldn't be trusted to know right from wrong, to have the necessary maturity of thought to drink alcohol responsibly or smoke cigarettes. His judment would be questioned such that he wouldn't be allowed to even touch a firearm or enter a theater showing graphic-themed films. He is generally consided to be too young for any of that.

But because his sexuality is involved, society listens to his plea for help, nutures his delusional irrealities about himself, and offers to slice off his not-yet manhood for him.

A child.

Sick. It's just totally depraved.

Talk Is Cheap

Who's the big fat idiot now?
Franken to leave Air America after network sale
By Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times

Air America Radio was rescued from bankruptcy yesterday, but still faces the impending loss of Al Franken, its most popular talker.

The liberal network will be sold to Stephen Green, a Manhattan real estate investment mogul with heavy Democratic ties, including ...

Mr. Green is intent on bringing solvency to Air America, which has been troubled by flagging ratings, cash deficits and management turmoil since it was founded almost three years ago as a foil to popular conservative talk radio.

The network was often called "Err America" by critics.

The network's weekly audience has been stuck at just under 2 million since the beginning -- about one-tenth the number of listeners who tune in each week to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.

Niche or not, the on-air lineup will suffer when Mr. Franken leaves. He told his listeners he would depart Feb. 14 but ... (link)
A fitting epitaph: "Today is both an ending and a beginning -- an end to the right-wing dominance of talk radio, a beginning of a battle for truth, a battle for justice, a battle indeed for America." - Al Franken, on his first broadcast when the network signed on on March 31, 2004.

The battle has ended. A winner has been declared. Al Franken is "hurl'd headlong ... to bottomless perdition, there to dwell."

It's a good day.

Another Wonderful Post Headline

This (from the New York Post) will start your day out with a smile:

The story:
January 30, 2007 -- The creepy country estate that Adolf Hitler's chief of propaganda used as his love shack is going on the market to help Berlin cut costs.

Joseph Goebbels first took over the once-placid Tyrolean-style property - located 25 miles northeast of the German capital - in 1936 and used it to entertain Teutonic starlets before and during World War II.

It's also where the evil Hitler henchman reportedly wrote his notorious speech advocating total war in 1942.

The rundown buildings - now used as a barracks for visiting crowd-control troops during May Day protests - cost the city more than $330,000 a year to maintain.
Interesting news. Great headline.

Our Future Commander-in-Chief?

Hillary Clinton has now made it clear that she doesn't want to have to deal with terrorists when she enters the White House in January '09. She just doesn't. She sent that message to George W. Bush while she was out campaigning in Iowa last weekend. Terrorism is his deal. It wasn't her husband's and it won't be hers.

So, when Bush leaves office, he's to take the terrorists with him. That's all there is to it.

Bush had a response (probably more than one but this one is printable):

Hillary Under Attack
By Geoff Earle, The New York Post

January 30, 2007 -- Washington - The White House blasted Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday, accusing her of launching "partisan attacks" that hurt the morale of U.S. troops in Iraq.

White House press secretary Tony Snow jumped on Clinton's statements in Iowa over the weekend that it would be the "height of irresponsibility" for Bush to pass on the Iraq war to his successor.

Clinton had also called for Bush to "extricate our country" from Iraq by the time he leaves office, and said, "I really resent" that he wants to pass the war on.

"Like it or not, the terrorists are simply not going to lay down their hatred on Jan. 20, 2009 - just as they did not lay down their hatreds when George W. Bush took the oath of office, and they had already been in the stages of planning for Sept. 11," Snow said.

Snow said that when Bush talks about handing things over to the next president, "he's not merely talking about Iraq, he's talking about a larger war on terror." (link)

"Make it go away! Make it go away!" Not a good message coming from our soon-to-be commander-in-chief.

To Prove The Point

Whether it be global warming, the war on terror, or chickens that may bring on a planetary pandemic, the left in this country can be counted on to run like frightened children when someone says, "We're all going to die!"

Case in point:

California: Judge Blocks Berkeley Project
By The Associated Press

Citing environmental and seismic concerns, a judge has blocked construction of a $125 million sports center at the University of California, Berkeley, that would mean felling an oak grove.

The plan to renovate Memorial Stadium and build a new training center and parking garage has been challenged by neighbors and city officials as environmentally flawed and seismically treacherous because the site straddles the Hayward Fault. Plans to cut down about three dozen oaks to make way for the center prompted the most visible protest.

Judge Barbara J. Miller of Alameda County Superior Court said opponents’ arguments were strong enough to justify a preliminary injunction until a trial could be held. (link)
Seismic concerns. A tree.

Good grief.

We're All Going To Die! Part CLMXVIII

While we're talking about frightened children who can be easily convinced that the world is coming to an end, let's not forget the secondhand smoke jeremiad that has swept up most of the western world:

The Bogus 'Science' of Secondhand Smoke
Gio Batta Gori, Special to washingtonpost.com

Smoking cigarettes is a clear health risk, as most everyone knows. But lately, people have begun to worry about the health risks of secondhand smoke. Some policymakers and activists are even claiming that the government should crack down on secondhand smoke exposure, given what "the science" indicates about such exposure.

Such claims are certainly alarming. But do the studies ... support [the] claims?

Estimating the risk of those diseases posed by secondhand smoke requires knowing the sum of momentary secondhand smoke doses that nonsmokers have internalized over their lifetimes. Such lifetime summations of instant doses are obviously impossible ...

In an effort to circumvent this capital obstacle, all secondhand smoke studies have estimated risk using a misleading marker of "lifetime exposure." Yet, instant exposures also vary uncontrollably over time ...

In reality, it is impossible to summarize accurately from momentary and vague recalls, and with an absurd expectation of precision, the total exposure to secondhand smoke over more than a half-century of a person's lifetime. No measure of cumulative lifetime secondhand smoke exposure was ever possible, so the epidemiologic studies estimated risk ... (link)

In other words, it's a wild ass guess. A statistical inference used to reach a predetermined conclusion, totally unsupported - and unsupportable - by any facts.

And our politcians are basing public policy on such underhanded and/or clumsy methodology.

Stop it.

A Lasting Legacy

U.S. Navy welcomes the USS Bill CLINTON
Sunday July 2nd '06, Vancouver, BC

The US Navy welcomed the latest member of its fleet today.

Pictured above:

The USS William Jefferson Clinton (CVS1) set sail today from its home port of Vancouver, BC.

The ship is the first of its kind in the Navy and is a standing legacy to President Bill Clinton "for his foresight in military budget cuts"and his conduct while president. The ship is constructed nearly entirely from recycled aluminum and is completely solar powered with a top speed of 5 knots. It boasts an arsenal comprised of one (unarmed) F14 Tomcat or one (unarmed) F18 Hornet aircraft which, although they cannot be launched or captured on the 100 foot flight deck, but form a very menacing presence.

As a standing order there are no firearms allowed on board. The 20 person crew is completely diversified, including members of all races, creeds, genders, and sexual orientations. This crew, like the crew aboard the USS Jimmy Carter, is specially trained to avoid conflicts and appease any and all enemies of the United States at all costs.

An onboard Type One, DNC Universal Translator can send out messages of apology in any language to anyone who may find America offensive. The number of apologies are limitless and though some may sound hollow and disingenuous, the Navy advises all apologies will sound very sincere.

The ship's purpose is not defined so much as a unit of national defense, but instead in times of conflict the USS Clinton has orders to seek refuge in Canada.

The ship may be positioned near the Democratic National Party Headquarters for photo-ops and can be used extensively for social experimentation and whatever other worthless jobs, the ex-commander-in-chief and his wife can think of.

It is largely rumored that the ship will also be the set for the upcoming season of MTV's "The Real World."

The ship was renamed and commissioned USS William J Clinton when someone realized the USS Blowfish was already taken.

Author unknown.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Jim Webb Doubletalk

Our new senator thinks politicians should leave the war-making decisions to the military. Or not:
Webb: Cheney's remarks 'wrong'
By Peter Hardin, Richmond Times-Dispatch Washington Correspondent

Webb -- a former Navy secretary under President Ronald Reagan and a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War -- said no politician has a right to speak for the views of the military.

Webb, who has a son stationed in Iraq with the Marines, slammed what he called "something from the other side . . . that borders on irresponsibility" as a floor debate approaches on Iraq. (link)
Those words spilled from the lips of politician Webb, who also said this:
Webb repeated his concern that the Bush administration has mismanaged the war, failing to make clear an overall strategy and an endpoint.

"And it's wrong to say we're going to let our military people down in terms of winning if we start taking this in a different direction. What we're doing is trying to define specifically how this could be a win."
"We" being politicians.

No, in fact what you're doing, Jim, is trying to manage the war for the military in spite of the views of the miltary that you profess such admiration for and deference to.

Suppose he has a clue?

Quote Of The Day

From this morning's Washington Times:
Tehran's useful idiots

As President Bush works to find strategies for victory in Iraq and dealing with the Iranian threat, the Democratic Party seems determined to send every possible signal to our enemies that they have nothing to worry about when it comes to the projection of American power in wartime. Prominent Democrats are increasingly behaving as if their primary mission is not to defeat Islamists determined to destroy Western civilization, but to do everything they can to ensure that they can turn Mr. Bush into a lame duck for the next two years regardless of the consequences for our national security. (link)
I leave it to others much smarter and wiser than me to determine if in fact the Democrats are useful, or not. But the idiot part certainly fits ...

Oh Yeah. They're Serious This Time.

To millions of people around the planet, including many here in the USA, who fret over the warming of the globe, this news will bring solace, perhaps even great joy:
World leaders rally around climate-change issue
By John Zarocosta, The Washington Times

Davos, Switzerland -- The world's political and business elite packed up yesterday and headed home from their five-day annual session in Davos, united in the belief that climate change poses the most serious threat to the planet.

Much of the attention focused on President Bush's initiative, announced in his State of the Union address, to slash gasoline consumption by 20 percent -- something British Prime Minister Tony Blair saw as evidence that the U.S. mood on climate change "is in the process of a quantum shift."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel lauded the announcement as "encouraging ... and an ambitious target" that is absolutely necessary. (
Goodness. Sounds like these people are serious about solving what many consider to be a problem of Biblical proportions (and others consider to be a Godsend). Perhaps they're going to get to work and do something about that global warming scourge.

But wait. Haven't they all said this stuff before? Didn't they all resolve to solve this pesky global warming problem already? Why do I have this sneaking suspicion that these pronouncements are nothing more than hot air?

Perhaps because none of these jokers has lifted a finger to accomplish that which he professes. In fact, since forcing us to endure the same blarney just a few years ago, these same "world leaders" galloped off in the opposite direction:
Figures reveal Europe falling far short of climate targets
By David Gow, The Guardian

The European Union, self-styled global champion in the battle against climate change, is falling woefully short of its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and will need to take radical measures to achieve them, new projections have shown.

The new figures predict that emissions in 2010 will actually be 0.3% higher than they were in 2004.

... seven countries - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain - would exceed their individual emission limits ... Spain is projected to exceed its 1990 emissions by 51.3% ...

... Ireland is projected to reach 30% above 1990 levels by 2010 ... and Portugal 42.7% higher ... (link)
So we find ourselves going down a well-worn path. European leaders get together, bad-mouth the USA for its substandard environmental standards, sign, with great fanfare, groundbreaking agreements to boost their own environmental standards, and then ignore same. And get together a few years later to (party their brains out and ...) sign another environmental standards agreement they fully intend to ignore. Again.

These people make my bowels move.

Inclusivity Requires Exclusion?

Sometimes a newspaper headline says it all. In the case of the Christian cross that was removed from the Christian chapel at the College Of William & Mary by its empty-minded president so as to bring about greater religious inclusivity, the Washington Times nails it:

More suitable words cannot be written.

The Age In Which We Live

I noticed an interesting phenomenon play out after the November elections. Those bloggers on the left who were so devoted to getting their guy into office, without really ever having or offering up any deep-seated reason why, posting in breathless tones and with a whole mess of exclamation marks, political commentary and links to breaking news stories - as well as to each other - throughout the day, every day, suddenly found themselves, the day after the election, with nothing to say.

So they sniped a bit, and back-patted a bit. Some even tried to keep the campaign going, they'd had such fun. But they eventually came to realize that it was over.

So they soon thereafter started in on the next election season.

Apparently that's the way of the future:
23-Month Campaign
New York Times editorial

In the old days, presidential races were one-year events. John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy on Jan. 2, 1960, and was elected that November. Earlier this month, would-be candidates who were still deciding whether to run in 2008 were being accused of reckless delay. Presidential campaign pundits were saying that if Senator Hillary Clinton had waited another minute to announce, Senator Barack Obama would have locked up every New Hampshire county committee member and hedge fund billionaire.

This really is an election on hyperspeed. (link)
May God have mercy. A never-ending campaign season. Round-the-clock on-the-hour-every-hour political commercials. Too many broken promises to keep track of. Hillary on your TV every day for years to come.

Maybe that's why I find myself, more and more, listening to 40's tunes on the radio.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Movin' On Up

Wise County prosecutor, and once-renowned conservative blogger, Chad Dotson, has been awarded a judgeship:
County gets circuit, district court judges
The Coalfield Progress

Changes are on the horizon in the Wise County judicial system.The General Assembly has promoted county General District Court Judge Joseph Carico to an eight-year term as a circuit court judge.

Also, county Commonwealth Attorney Chad Dotson was chosen to fill Carico’s seat for a six-year term as a general district court judge.

Further, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Elizabeth Wills has been re-appointed for a six-year term.

Carico, Dotson and Wills will start their terms Feb. 1. (link)
Congratulations, Chad. Make us proud, man.

hat tip to Kilo
photo courtesy of the Coalfield Progress

Quote Of The Day

From Jeff Schapiro:

It's been said before, it should be said again: John Warner is a better actor than his ex-wife.

A former husband of Elizabeth Taylor, Warner performs in the Senate with the timing and presence of that known thespian. Washington is his stage.

The Republican's latest boffo role is consistent with his central-casting mien: wise guardian troubled by petulant ward's perceived recklessness -- this time, on Iraq.

Warner is breaking with Dubya on the troop surge, pressing the Senate to go on record against the buildup. It's an alternative to a Democratic resolution. Both are equivalent to a strong letter -- all words, no action.

Warner's resolution does what so many of his previous theatrics have done: charm Democrats, enrage Republicans and probably get him re-elected.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The Oscar goes to . . . Sen. Warner," January 28, 2007

Asking The Wrong Question

Some ask why. I ask: Why ask?
Race at Virgina Tech: An uphill struggle
Despite multiple diversity programs, Virginia Tech continues to grapple with low enrollment of blacks.
By Greg Esposito, The Roanoke Times

In the past decade Virginia Tech has created multiple positions, programs and committees to address issues of diversity and racism. It published a declaration in support of tolerance and diversity in 2005, signed by various campus leaders, including President Charles Steger. And it saw significant increases in black enrollment early this decade.

But that same university has seen the percentage of black faculty and students dip below 5 percent in recent years. It also has dealt with multiple incidents of racist and homophobic graffiti. And the administration has had to address concerns from students and faculty who believe a racist culture exists at Tech.

Is Tech a university making strides toward real results or do the efforts amount to little more than lip service? (link)
To those of us who actually listened to, and live by the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Virginia Tech should be judged by the content of its students' character, as well as the quality of the graduates it turns out, not by skin coloration.

That means, if Tech turned out only graduates with an Asian background, because they proved to be the most prolific, the most intellectually productive of all students who enrolled or attempted to enroll there, then we are the better for it. And I would celebrate the fact.

If, by the same token, the school set aside degrees and faculty positions for people who were less than qualified for them, who haven't earned them, the effort would be recognized for what it is: Tokenism. Quotas. Affirmative action in its ugliest sense.

Whine about the lack of effort on the part of the university if you choose. To some of us, the effort goes well beyond anything it is obligated to do, and flies in the face of that which we've all been taught to be the right thing to do.

Some ask why. I ask: When will it stop?

The Hard Numbers Reveal The Hard Times

With regard to economic trends here in Southwest Virginia, there are those who see - and tout - great progress being made.

In certain enclaves, they are supported by the facts.

In much of the region, though, the opposite is true. Conditions, in fact, are worsening. And the citizens of Southwest Virginia are proving it. With their feet. And their U-haul rentals.

The latest population estimates have been released by the
Weldon Cooper Center For Public Service at the University of Virginia. The numbers reflect a burgeoning populace in Northern Virginia as well as modest gains in a small handful of area counties but, as we've been saying for too long a time, a steady migration out of most of Southwest Virginia by people seeking gainful employment.

First, a map showing population growth - and decline - by county. Those that have lost population in the last six years (since the 2000 census) are shown in white:

And the supporting numbers:

It should be noted that the loss in population in those counties and cities shown to the right are, in nearly every case, due to out-migration. To no one's surprise who lives in the area.

What may surprise some is this bit of good news:
Suburbs' population swelling since 2000
According to a study, inner cities and rural areas are struggling to retain young people.
By John Cramer, The Roanoke Times

In Western Virginia, Franklin, Bedford, Botetourt and Roanoke counties continued to have population gains as open spaces give way to new homes.

That demographic shift is reflected in the population numbers in Roanoke and Roanoke County. While the city lost nearly 2,600 residents over the past six years, the county gained more than 4,300. If the trend continues, the county's population will exceed the city's in 2008 or 2009. (link)

Three cheers for Franklin, Bedford, Botetourt and Roanoke counties.

As for the rest of us ...

Data and charts courtesy of Weldon Cooper Center For Public Service

The Real Problem That Congress Can't Fix

I heaped scorn in recent weeks on Nancy Pelosi's breathtakingly unimportant "First 100 Hours" maneuver in which she vowed to pass sweeping legislation relating to the minimum wage, lobbyist lunch etiquette, and the now-unnecessary embryonic stem cell spoof. Lobbyists, so you know, are forbidden to offer Pelosi certain gifts. But she's not forbidden to receive them. Hmm.

One of the pieces of legislation about which America held its collective breath had to do with reducing the interest charged on federal college loans. My question at the time was: Who cares?

In the big scheme of things, when it comes to the cost of sending our children to college, interest to be repaid at some later point in time is the least of our concerns.

What's uppermost?

Forget Yale -- Go State
Shocking Prices Force A Reality Check on Families' College Plans
By Kathleen Day, Washington Post Staff Writer

As the price of college has skyrocketed, millions of middle- and upper-middle-class families ... have juggled to find ways to keep pace.

In the past 10 years, tuition, fees and the cost of room and board have increased 31 percent at private four-year colleges and 42 percent at public four-year institutions, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. For the 2006-2007 academic year, for example, living on campus at a private university such as Georgetown costs more than $180,000 over four years. Four years on campus at a state school can also be daunting -- $68,000 over four years to attend the University of Virginia for state residents, $130,000 for out-of-state students. (link)

A $180,000 bill. And we're to get excited because Nancy Pelosi reduced the interest to be tacked on to that amount by 1.6%?

Over the period of a 15-year loan, one ends up paying, with interest, with Pelosi's help, $202,582.80.*

For a 4-year degree.

Thanks, Nance, for cutting down that tree, but what say someone do something about the forest?

* 180 months compounded at 1.6% per month on $180,000. That's $1,125.46 per month.

At Least She's Consistent

Jane Fonda, the traitor who helped bring about the defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War, is at it again:
Fonda Reprises A Famous Role At Peace Rally
The Actress Speaks Out Against the War in Iraq
By Linton Weeks, Washington Post Staff Writer

For her next act, Jane Fonda has entered the war against the Iraq war. At the tail-end of yesterday's on-the-Mall rally, organized by United for Peace and Justice, Fonda stood onstage with the Capitol behind her and addressed the sun-drenched thousands. "I haven't spoken at an antiwar rally in 34 years," she said. But, "Silence is no longer an option."

The first time Fonda, 69, spoke out for peace, the country ... (link)
Though a good argument can be made that she should be sitting in prison for her treasonous actions back in the '60's, it can also be argued that she has at least held to her convictions.

The same cannot be said about some of her fellow anti-warriors. Take Virginia's new senator, Jim Webb, for example. How much he seems to have changed his tune over the years. From an October article in The New Yorker:
Webb, who is sixty, returned to Virginia, where he is running as an antiwar candidate, under the banner of the party of Hillary Clinton and the former protester John Kerry, whose handshake he refused for twenty years.

Webb declared Jimmy Carter’s blanket pardoning of draft resisters a rank betrayal and an abuse of Presidential power. When President Clinton left office, he wrote, “It is a pleasurable experience to watch Bill Clinton finally being judged, even by his own party, for the ethical fraudulence that has characterized his entire political career.”
Webb even held less than kind feelings for Ms. Fonda not that long ago, as it turns out:
According to Robert Timberg’s book “The Nightingale’s Song,” Webb was recruited into the Reagan Administration by a Republican official who had once heard him being interviewed on the radio. The interviewer, talking to Webb about “Fields of Fire,” mentioned that Jane Fonda was in town and asked Webb whether he might wish to meet her. “Jane Fonda can kiss my ass,” Webb replied. “I wouldn’t go across the street to watch her slit her wrist.”
Now Jim Webb walks arm-in-arm with this Scum of the Earth. He locks arms with the "ethically fraudulent" Bill Clinton. And he can be found on a regular basis swapping sloppy kisses with Kerry and the other Democrats he once, not long ago, loathed with a passion.

It can be said that Jane Fonda has held to her principles all these many years. For that, she has rightfully gained a small bit of esteem.

As for our new senator, the same hardly holds true. He has turned out to be nothing more than a politician - in the worst sense of the word. What an embarrassment.

Count Me Out

Most everyone agrees the planet is warming, though some of us believe it is a temporary phenomenon that proves to be part of an age-old cycle.

Most of those who have decided that the globe is heating up have also decided that it is necessarily a bad thing. Some experts, though, have made a good case for it being actually quite beneficial. Guess we'll find out.

But where these frightened people start getting dangerous is when they make proposals to stop the warming. Take the Europeans, for instance, a great example of a frightened group of human beings who are renowned for overreaction (you may recall the problem they addressed and the draconian methods they adopted a few decades ago with regard to die Endlösung der Judenfrage). In this case, they are hell bent on bringing economic ruin on themselves:
Eco-protection or economic suicide?
By Paul Driessen, The Washington Times

Europeans have set themselves up for a head-on collision between ecological purity and economic reality.

Europe is finally realizing it cannot meet even current Kyoto Protocol commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels, by 2012. Economic ministers are worried Kyoto will impact living standards, and send facilities and jobs to China and India, which aren't required to cut emissions.

Spain is some 20 percent above its target, Italy 15 percent -- Austria 25 percent. Germany is "just" 7 percent above its target but faces a future with no nuclear power (by law it must shut down all reactors by 2020), no coal-fired generators (greenhouse gases), little hydroelectric (4 percent of its total electricity), unreliable natural gas (Russia controls the spigots), and forests of gigantic, undependable wind turbines.

But the European Commission wants still more draconian reductions by 2020, since even perfect compliance with Kyoto would keep global temperatures from rising only 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. That's why alarmists now say we must slash total global emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent by 2050, to keep CO2 at a "safe" level and "stabilize" a climate that has never been stable. (link)
An 80% reduction in emissions, folks, means we would have to eliminate all modes of transportation currently in use, all air conditioning and heating systems (other than solar), and nearly every method of crop production. In other words, we'd have to revert to the Dark Ages.

To solve a problem that may not exist.

That, if it exists, may not be harmful.

Are we prepared to follow the Europeans off this cliff?

Good For Them, Bad For Us

The following article originally appeared in the Roanoke Times on December 17, 2006

What’s Good For Them Is Bad for Us
By Jerry Fuhrman

I read with dismay in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Monday that Governor Kaine intends to propose another series of tax increases next year in order to fix the roads up north.

It’s dismaying for two reasons: (1) the state is already so awash in cash that it is incapable of spending it fast enough and (2) the transportation issue is, by and large, a Northern Virginia issue, one that, in its being solved through higher taxes, will have an adverse effect on this area. While Northern Virginia gains nice roads, Southwest Virginia loses more jobs.

Up north, the issues of the day revolve around businesses being stacked atop one another. Smart growth (sometimes called growth management or land management), and mass transit, along with alternative fuels, are the primary topics of discussion.

Here in Southwest Virginia, our most pressing issues relate to employers and how we might gain a few. And to hold on to the few we have. We talk here of improving the quality of a woefully inadequate public education system. And of improving the quality of the drinking water. In Southwest Virginia - in 2006 – we talk about putting sewer systems into communities that have never had them.

It’s not that we don’t have our own transportation wish list. There is certainly discussion in some circles about the necessary completion of the Coalfields Expressway and about much-needed improvements to U.S. 58. Then there’s the ongoing debate about
I-81 from Roanoke to Wytheville and whether it needs to be upgraded, or converted into some kind of traffic-congesting toll road.

That's all, in the big scheme of things, probably important. But generally, transportation issues aren't uppermost in the thoughts and discussions of folks around here.

What’s uppermost? Paychecks. Food. Clothing. Shelter. The kinds of things taken for granted in the fabulously prosperous north. We think about our small communities like Chilhowie and Galax and the Narrows being decimated by the loss of thousands of jobs in recent years.

What we need in order to solve our job-loss problems are employers, pure and simple. What we don’t need are more taxes adding to an already heavy burden being carried by those who provide us with an ever-dwindling number of jobs.

A message for state Senators Phil Puckett and Roscoe Reynolds, both of whom can be called upon to loyally carry the Democratic Party’s water when it’s time to vote in favor of another tax hike to solve transportation issues that are, overwhelmingly, northern Virginia issues: Your allegiance is not to Fairfax or Alexandria. You owe it to your constituents here to vote in their best interests. In fact, it goes beyond that. Your votes in favor of tax hikes do considerable damage to those who are most in need of your help.

There are those who argue that we shouldn’t be trying to pound a wedge between north and south; that we’re all ultimately in this together. Really? It’s fair to suggest that higher taxes will drive more Southwest Virginia employers out of business and our governor and most state legislators are arguing in favor of raising them and raising them again. We are all in this together to benefit whom?

We’re going to raise taxes here to pay a quarter of a billion dollars to construct a tunnel for a small stretch of rail line from Tyson’s Corner to Dulles airport (that amount is just to run it underground; the four-mile railroad extension project will cost $4 billion in its entirety) so as to not affect property values and to preserve Tyson’s scenic ambience?

We’re willing to vote people out of work in Saltville and Pulaski and Hillsville for that?

People in the state’s poorest county, Lee, are going to pay for a tunnel in Fairfax County, the state’s wealthiest, so people don’t have to look upon an unsightly train track when they stroll over to Starbuck’s for their daily Venti Peppermint Java Chip Frappuccino?

I don’t think so.

It’s time our elected representatives were on our side. That means voting to create jobs. And that is accomplished, in part, by reducing the tax burden on Southwest Virginia’s employers.

Folks up north want their roads repaired? Ain’t nobody stopping them.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

If It Weren't For Those Pesky Statistics ...

Someone is trying to blow happysmoke up your Fruit-of-the-Looms over in Martinsville:

Consultant sees bright future of growth for city's uptown
By Mickey Powell, Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

An expert on revitalizing commercial business districts said Thursday that uptown Martinsville is ripe for economic growth due to changes occurring in the community.

“I cannot ever remember working in a community that’s had so many new opportunities appear, bang, at one time,” said Kennedy L. Smith, co-founder of the Community Land Use and Economics Group LLC (CLUE).

Examples she mentioned include the ... (link)

Now far be it from me to question this expert's highly remunerated conclusions.

So I'll let others do it:
Effects of population drop far-reaching, officials say
By Debbie Hall, Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

More job opportunities and better pay elsewhere are root causes of the declining population in Martinsville and Henry County, and the future outlook is “not good.”

Qian Cai, director of the Demographics Unit at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, said declining population will affect all sectors of the locality.

Between 2000 and 2006, Henry County’s population dropped from 57,930 to 54,506, according to population estimates released by the center this week.

Martinsville’s population also declined, from 15,416 in 2000 to 14,320 in 2006, according to the center.

The decline is not just in Martinsville and Henry County. It extends to other areas of Southside and Southwest Virginia, where populations are both aging and shrinking, Cai said. (link)
So. The economic outlook for Martinsville and Henry county is either "bright" or it's "not good," depending on which expert you listen to.


I'll go with the cheerleader. Seems to be the way we do things around here.

And We Need Gun Control Why?

This (from Great Britain) could be us, if we let the Stalinist left have its way here in the USA:

Gun crime: Labour 'losing control'
The Press Association

Labour has been accused of losing control of gun crime as new figures show a sharp rise in armed robberies.

Guns were used in 4,120 robberies last year - a 10% jump - including a 9% rise to 1,439 in the number of street robberies where guns were used.

There was also a rapid and unexplained increase in the number of times householders were confronted in their own homes by armed criminals.

Residential firearms robberies show a 46% leap, a record 645 cases in England and Wales - up 204 on the previous year and four times the level recorded in 2000-01.

The Home Office report shows that handguns are the most commonly used firearm in robberies, reported in 2,888 cases. (link)

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Britain has, next to Russia, Cuba, and Iran, the most restrictive gun control laws on the planet, with possession and ownership of handguns - that would be the weapon "most commonly used" in robberies, being completely outlawed.

As we have been saying for decades, and has proven to be the case now in jolly old England:

When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Guns

Resolve to fight them with your last breath ...

Oops. Not Fulfilling My Duties Here.

I forgot to make my daily empty and utterly insincere apology to those who find comfort in it.

I sincerely apologize.

I Enjoy A Good Line

Although I disagree with those who argue - in the payday lending debate - that we need to prevent citizens from attempting to obtain loans that might be used - shudder - to buy food for the dinner table, I think there is a good point made here, if on a totally different subject, by the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial staff (in "Systematic"):
In 2005 alone, 90,859 Virginians took out 13 or more payday loans at 391 percent interest. Fairfax Senator Richard Saslaw has said payday lending's large customer base demonstrates a desire for these loans to continue -- which motivated him to introduce legislation "reforming" the industry. Along that line of reasoning, many people on college campuses around the state eagerly await a bill to reform marijuana laws.

Tea Anyone?

I had a perplexing conversation with a friend a few weeks ago about her new church affiliation. She lives in a very upscale part of Northern Virginia and is now a member of one of the Episcopal churches in her neighborhood. Hers happens to be one of those whose congregation has decided to stay within the church and to not break away over the homosexual bishop issue that has torn other congregations away. She is, as you might imagine, very liberal.

She's also an atheist.

An active atheist member of the Episcopal Church USA.

You now understand why our conversation was perplexing. She joined the Episcopal Church to obtain communion ... with others of like mind ... not with God. To her, it isn't so much a church as a social club. A soc...

I was reminded of that conversation by the news that she has a new tea party organizer:

Miss. priest next Va. bishop
Tupelo's Johnston will lead one of the largest dioceses in the Episcopal Church
By Alberta Lindsey, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

A 48-year-old priest from Tupelo, Miss., will be the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

The Very Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church since 1994, was elected bishop coadjutor of the diocese on the third ballot, beating four other candidates. (link)
I wonder if the Very Rev. has a clue as to what he's getting into.

Who knows, though. The Very Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston may have been chosen for his ability to lead Pilates classes. Or maybe he plays a mean saxophone. Or perhaps he tells funny jokes. Or ...

You Need To Chill

Noun: catastrophe ku'tastrufee
1. An event resulting in great loss and misfortune
2. A state of extreme (usually irremediable) ruin and misfortune
3. A sudden violent change in the earth's surface

This guy, a former Virginia transportation commissioner, needs to get back on his medications. Pronto:

Transportation isn't a crisis; it's a catastrophe
Ray D. Pethtel, writing in the Roanoke Times

It's pretty obvious to most informed observers that Virginia has a transportation funding crisis. Perhaps the word "catastrophe" is more appropriate. Why? Consider these facts:

● There were 153,849 reported crashes on Virginia's highways in 2005 with 76,023 injuries and 948 deaths. Highway crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Every year, there are about as many deaths on Virginia's highways as there are on today's battlefields. That's a catastrophe.

● In 2006, reported crashes cost Virginians $100 million in property damage. That's a catastrophe.

● In 2003, according to the urban mobility reports prepared by the Texas Transportation Institute, congestion in Virginia Beach alone cost $367 million in lost productivity. That's a catastrophe. (link)

Look, I understand the need and the urge to scare the crap out of the citizenry. Mark Warner taught us that it is a very effective way to bring about otherwise unwarranted tax increases.

But one can carry it too far, man. Yours is a case in point. You come across like you've lost your mind. The high cost of repairing property damage is a catastrophe? Traffic congestion is a catastrophe?

Let's compare our transportation problem to other very real human catastrophes:

2004 - South Asia - An earthquake causes tsunamis that hit Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand and other South Asian nations. The death toll is more than 120,000.

● 1976 - China - A deadly earthquake of a magnitude 8.0 strikes Tianjin, China, on July 27, 1976. The official casualty figure issued by the Chinese government was 255,000 people.

● 1970 - Bangladesh - Bangladesh loses more than 300,000 people in November 1970 from cyclone-induced flooding.

● 1959 - China - In July 1959, massive floods in China kill at least 2,000,000 people.

● 1938 and 1939 - China - Floods kill 1,000,000 people in a two-year period in China.

● 1931 - China - The massive flooding of the Yangtze River in China in 1931 caused more than 3,000,000 deaths from flooding and starvation.

● 1887 - China - In 1887, about 900,000 people died when the country's Yellow River burst its banks in the worst-ever recorded flooding.

● 1556 - China - A quake hits the Chinese province of Shansi on February 2, 1556. It kills 830,000 people.

● 1201 - Mediterranean - The deadliest earthquake in history kills approximately 1,100,000 people in Egypt and Syria.

Feeling a bit silly about now? These are catastrophes. Sitting in traffic on I-95 in Springfield on a Friday afternoon is a pain in the ass. And it wastes petrol. And take-home pay. But it's hardly a catastrophe.

So get a grip. You make yourself look foolish and you're hurting the tax hike cause.

Sources: Discovery Channel, U.S.G.S., BBC

'... but I support the troops'

There is but one Democrat in all the land (outside of Cindy Sheehan's alternate universe) that has the courage to act on his convictions:

Feingold Pushes Plan to Cut Off War Funds
By John Bresnahan. The Politico

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has scheduled a hearing next Tuesday in his Judiciary Committee subcommittee to explore whether Congress has the authority to cut off funding for the U.S. military campaign in Iraq. The move comes as Congress prepares to vote on a congressional resolution opposing President Bush's escalation of the war.

Feingold, a fierce war critic, will force Democrats to consider an option many consider politically suicidal: cutting off funds for the military campaign in Iraq. Democratic leaders have privately called on members to restrain from seeking any funding restrictions and focus instead on congressional resolutions condemning the Bush policy. The resolutions are nonbinding and therefore symbolic. (link)

There are those out there who will read this and think: There's no way the Democratic Party would cut off funding going to our troops while they are fighting a war against a powerful, well-financed, and well-armed foe. Believe it. Don't ever forget it.

To the Democrats, many of whom have been opposed to our participation in this war from the beginning but were too frightened by the poll numbers early on to be too outspoken, losing has become of utmost importance. And, because they have taken such a determined stand in opposition, they will fight to see that we do not win.

They will do whatever is necessary to bring about America's defeat in Iraq.

Russ Feingold is just the first Democrat to admit it and openly work to make it happen. The first of many.

hat tip to Matt Drudge

Kinda Makes One Question His Sincerity

Next time MopTop starts shedding tears over the plight of the poor in Bush-ravaged New Orleans, I will reflect on this story:

Edwards Home County's Largest
By Don Carrington, Carolina Journal

Raleigh - Presidential candidate John Edwards and his family recently moved into what county tax officials say is the most valuable home in Orange County [east of Burlington; west of Durham]. The house, which includes a recreational building attached to the main living quarters, also is probably the largest in the county.

The Edwards residential property will likely have the highest tax value in the county- Orange County Tax Assessor John Smith told Carolina Journal. He estimated that the tax value will exceed $6 million when the facility is completed.

The rambling structure sits in the middle of a 102-acre estate on Old Greensboro Road west of Chapel Hill. The heavily wooded site and winding driveway ensure that the home is not visible from the road. "No Trespassing" signs discourage passersby from venturing past the gate. (link)
I like that "No Trespassing" twist. Edwards, a man who carries the weight of the country's poor and downtrodden on his shoulders, a man who embraces them with the compassion and sense of purpose of a liberator, wants to make sure he doesn't have to come too close to one of them. After all, they have diseases. Pestilence. Viruses. Filth. Foul language. Wal-Mart clothing ...

hat tip to Matt Drudge

Friday, January 26, 2007

Uh Oh

Those of you who live in the outside world won't relate to this breaking news. We who live here on the frontier, however, have a special appreciation for it:

Wal-Mart fabric, craft department faces uncertain future
By Wayne Quesenberry, Staff, Bland County Messenger

The potential closing of the fabric and craft department at the Wytheville Wal-Mart Supercenter has local customers in a bind. Word that the company is phasing out this merchandise has been making the rounds for several weeks.

Management at the Wytheville store declined comment and directed inquiries to the retail giant's media relations division in Bentonville, Ark. Media spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone issued a press release late Friday afternoon that neither confirmed nor denied the closing. (link)
This a black day in Southwest Virginia.