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Illegal Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations – Part One - Appraisal Buzz

Illegal Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations – Part One - Appraisal BuzzIllegal Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations – Part One - Appraisal BuzzBerks food safety inspections February 26 to March 3: Eggs and peeled potatoes stored directly on the floor in one restaurant - Reading Eagle15 Places to Look for Water Damage in Your Home - BobVila.comIllegal Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations – Part One - Appraisal BuzzPosted: 09 Mar 2020 12:00 AM PDTMichael S. Cleveland, President and Principal Scientist at Cleveland Environmental, Inc. and Mold Diagnostic Services.This article originally titled, Recognizing Clandestine Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations for Property Insurance Claims and Property Management Professionals – Part One of Three Parts, was originally posted on LinkedIn. Parts two and three of this article will also be reprinted at another time.Based on a true story…The elderly landlord couldn't feel much worse as he stood outside of his apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida. He was…

“Should You Buy a Smoker's House? How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smells - Realtor.com News” plus 3 more

“Should You Buy a Smoker's House? How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smells - Realtor.com News” plus 3 more

Should You Buy a Smoker's House? How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smells - Realtor.com News

Posted: 30 Jul 2018 12:00 AM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Should You Buy a Smoker's House? How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smells  Realtor.com News

‘Stranger’ tourists, Phish and the plague, kinkajou attack: News from around our 50 states - USA TODAY

Posted: 22 Aug 2019 12:00 AM PDT


Decatur: The city is trying to figure out how to ban guns from a water park were two people were shot. The Decatur Daily reports officials say they need a change in state law before banning visitors from bringing guns into Point Mallard water park. But a state lawmaker from the city says minor changes would allow a gun ban. The issue is a state law that allows weapons at many public venues. A teenager was arrested after two people were wounded during a shooting at Point Mallard in June. City attorney Herman Marks says state law prohibits an outright ban on guns. Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur says lawyers tell him the city could prohibit guns if it also controls access and increases security.


Juneau: The governor has vetoed additional funding for the state's ferry service that was placed in the budget by the Legislature. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed $5 million Monday that was added to the Alaska Marine Highway System budget, CoastAlaska reports. The Legislature previously cut $43 million from the ferry system's budget. A fiscal note attached by the governor's office called the budget item "premature" ahead of a $250,000 study, due in October, commissioned to reshape the ferry system. "I don't know how it could be premature," independent state Rep. Dan Ortiz of Ketchikan says. "We could see that these areas were going to be without needed services." Coastal residents have told Ortiz they're prevented from traveling even in emergency situations unless they find airplane travel while facing up to seven months without ferry service, he said.


Phoenix: Arizonans spend more time on their phones on average than everyone else in the country, according to a study based off Apple's screen-time tracking system. SimpleTexting, a text marketing service, used screen-time data from 2,103 survey respondents to show how much of the day users spend tweeting, watching YouTube videos and more. Arizona had the highest average daily screen time at 276 minutes – more than twice the 131-minute average of the lowest state, Oklahoma. Weekly, Arizonans spend an average of 32.2 hours on their phones. That's roughly 12 hours more than the national average, according to the study. That means that over a year, the state's residents average about 70 full days using their smartphones.


Little Rock: The governor and attorney general are setting aside $1.5 million to create a legal services clinic for military veterans. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Tuesday announced they were each allocating $750,000 to create the University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law's Veterans Legal Services Clinic. The clinic is the first of its kind in Arkansas and will enable students at the law school to provide legal services free of charge to veterans throughout the state. Enrolled students will be trained to represent veterans on various legal issues under the supervision of a clinical facilitator. The clinic will also provide free continuing legal education for practicing attorneys on veteran-specific legal issues.


Hayward: A 400-pound security robot that was knocked over by a vandal last month in Northern California may help bring its attacker to justice. The Hayward Police Department on Tuesday released images of the suspect that the Knightscope K5 robot captured before it was damaged. The 5-foot-tall robot, described by police as an "R2D2" figure, was guarding a parking garage when it was pushed over Aug. 3. K5's photos show a young man in a black T-shirt and jeans running up moments before the attack. Police are asking for the public's help in finding him. The company that built the robot, Knightscope, tells the Fresno Bee that the robot is expected to make "a full and speedy recovery."


Denver: Thousands of people who planned to camp during three days of Phish concerts at a stadium outside the city will no longer be able to because of concerns that fleas in and around nearby prairie dog burrows could spread the plague. The Denver Post reports public health officials are still finding infected fleas in fields surrounding Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. The stadium's owner decided to ban camping during the concerts over Labor Day weekend, and the band posted the notice on its website Tuesday. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people were expected to camp. The band's well-known Shakedown Street, where fans sell souvenirs and food, also will not be allowed because the area normally used by vendors outside the stadium is on a dirt road.


Hartford: The state is looking to purchase up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says it has released a request for proposals for offshore wind power as required by a new state law. The department says it's the state's first solicitation dedicated specifically to offshore wind development, and the timing aligns with a similar offshore wind solicitation by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. Connecticut already plans to purchase about 300 megawatts of offshore wind power from the Revolution Wind project, which is planned for federal waters south of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says the new request represents "the future of the state's environmental, energy and economic potential." Bids are due by Sept. 30.


Rehoboth Beach: A wealthy developer has won a court battle against neighboring property owners in a fight over oceanfront views from their multimillion-dollar homes. A judge ruled Tuesday that Louis Capano III can build his beachfront mansion in Rehoboth Beach without complying with setback rules that were informally agreed to, but never formally adopted, by his neighbors. The judge noted that while other property owners voluntarily built to those more restrictive setback standards, they tried and failed three times to formally amend the community's declaration of restrictive covenants. Other property owners complained that Capano's house will obstruct their own panoramic views of the ocean. They wanted to prevent Capano from building within 30 feet of the coastal construction building line established by state environmental regulators to protect the beach and dunes.

District of Columbia

Washington: The district has enacted emergency regulations to stop the federal government's plan to house unaccompanied migrant children there. The Washington Post reports the regulations by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser's administration were adopted Friday and prohibit licensing facilities housing more than 15 residents. They also require the director of the city's child welfare agency to sign off on facilities housing between eight to 15 children. The rules expire in December. Maryland-based Dynamic Service Solution applied to open a temporary 200-bed shelter in the district. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded it a $20.5 million contract to operate the shelter for children ages 12 to 17. DHHS has defended the shelter and its treatment of unaccompanied minors.


Lake Worth Beach: Officials say a small, raccoon-like rainforest creature ran into an apartment and bit a man after he opened the front door to head to work. WPEC-TV reports the kinkajou bit his foot and scratched his leg but didn't seriously injure him. A woman who witnessed the incident at the Lake Worth Beach apartment said it sounded "like a 300-pound man was tackling him in the kitchen." Natalie Dulach said the furry mammal with sharp claws clung to the man's leg as he fought to get it out. The man managed to lock the long-tailed animal in the bathroom until wildlife officers arrived. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report says the kinkajou was taken to a wildlife facility. Officers didn't say where it came from.


Palmetto: A small-town grocery store has grown in popularity and sold more Eggo waffles than ever in recent years, thanks to Netflix's "Stranger Things." Fans of the '80s-set sci-fi show have sought out filming locations such as the former Bradley's Big Buy grocery store since the show premiered in 2016. The third season has prompted more fans to visit Georgia, benefiting local businesses. Fans are dressing up as characters, reenacting scenes and taking photos at a grocery store, a mall, downtown Jackson and more. Creators Matt and Ross Duffer set the series in fictional Hawkins, Indiana, but filmed in Georgia, which offers tax breaks and other film industry incentives. A building on Emory University's Briarcliff Campus in Atlanta served as the show's Hawkins Laboratory. In Duluth, crews transformed a vacant wing and food court in Gwinnett Place Mall into Starcourt Mall.


Lihue: Officials say an island stream is coming back to life with help from a watershed restoration project. The Garden Island reports the project funded through a state Department of Health grant has produced positive results in the Waipa Stream on Kauai. The effort that began in 2016 aims to remove dense bush from stream banks and surrounding areas while clearing space for native plants. Officials say food forests are taking root, and there is a new swimming hole. The project overseen by the Waipa Foundation has placed fencing around fields to block feral pigs and in pasture land with horses and cows. The fencing keeps the animals out of the water and helps lower bacteria levels below the state threshold for clean streams.


Murphy: The largest-ever project in the U.S. to remove thousands of juniper trees to help imperiled sage grouse has started in the state. The Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat Project aims to remove junipers on 965 square miles of state and federal land in Owyhee County. Officials say the multiyear project that started this spring could become a template for other western states, as junipers have expanded due to fire-suppression by humans and are taking over vast sagebrush areas and forcing out sage grouse. Sage grouse survival is entirely dependent on sagebrush. Between 200,000 and 500,000 sage grouse remain, down from a peak population of about 16 million. Environmental groups fought the project, contending it was being driven by grazing interests. But federal officials gave final approval earlier this year.


Springfield: New security measures will be put in place next month for tours of the governor's mansion. State Police acting director Brendan Kelly says starting Sept. 3, individuals will have to sign up in advance for tours, provide a photo ID for proof of identity when they arrive, and be screened by metal detectors. Kelly says the measures, adopted after a review of other states' mansion tour policies, show a commitment to giving mansion guests a safe and welcoming experience. The mansion reopened last year after renovations that cost $15 million. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner spearheaded the renovations because maintenance had been deferred for years. Officials say thousands have visited the mansion since it reopened.


Indianapolis: Larry Bird likes the mural but not the tatts. An artist says she'll remove most tattoos from a large painting of the former NBA star on a multifamily residence in the city. The tattoos include two rabbits mating on his right arm and a spider web on a shoulder. Artist Jules Muck says she was just trying to be funny. The mural is a replica of Bird's appearance on a 1977 Sports Illustrated cover when he played college ball for Indiana State. Bird's attorney, Gary Sallee, says the former Indiana Pacers executive "needs to protect" his brand and "doesn't want to be seen as a tattooed guy." Muck says an "Indiana" tattoo will remain on Bird's arm in the mural.


Johnston: The first waterway access point of the Central Iowa Water Trails project opened Tuesday, with the inaugural launch for a new carry-down access site on Beaver Creek. Entering the creek before the access point was constructed was difficult, Mayor Paula Dierenfeld says. "You used to have to drag a canoe across leaves and mud ... but, now, that's all changed," she said. As part of the ceremony, Dierenfeld was one of the first to hit the water in a kayak – something she had never done before, she said as she was getting in. She's previously only been in canoes. The mayor was also given a ceremonial paddle with "Johnston" inscribed on it. Johnston approved the $350,000 plan last year to build the boat ramp. Next year construction will launch on an access point near Terra Park. The overall project plan is to transform 150 miles of waterways in central Iowa into a recreational amenity.


Kansas City: The struggling Kansas City T-Bones baseball team is being evicted from its stadium because of unpaid debts. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City Kansas announced Monday that it's ending its management agreement with the T-Bones and has given the team until Sept. 13 to remove all its property from the publicly owned stadium. The government said in a news release that the T-Bones owed a total of nearly $763,000 in current and past-due utility bills and past-due payments for use of the stadium. The Unified Government said it intends to pursue all remedies to collect the debt. The T-Bones are part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball and not affiliated with Major League Baseball.


Frankfort: Two Democratic lawmakers say they have a proposal that would eventually more than double the state's minimum wage. Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington and Rep. Kathy Hinkle of Louisa say they'll introduce the measure in the House and Senate during the 2020 session, and it would gradually raise the state's minimum wage until it reaches $15 an hour by 2027. The lawmakers say the increase would result in a livable wage for more Kentuckians. Hinkle says the bill is aimed at helping people now juggling two or three jobs to support their families. The minimum wage in Kentucky is $7.25 an hour. Their bill would not apply to businesses with annual gross revenues under $500,000. Previous efforts to raise the minimum wage have died in the Legislature.


Livingston: U.S. Rep. Garret Graves says Livingston Parish will receive a $5.3 million federal grant to fund the elevation of 88 homes that were substantially damaged during the 2016 flood. Graves says the money is part of the $300 million in federal hazard mitigation funds he worked to secure in the months after the flood. Officials say that money is part of the overall $3 billion in federal funding for Louisiana flood protection and drainage improvements. WAFB-TV reports Livingston Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparation Director Mark Harrell said all of the 88 properties will be elevated above the Base Flood Elevation and in compliance with local building ordinances.


Augusta: The National Endowment for the Humanities is going to help a pair of cultural institutions engage more with the public about the state's bicentennial. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree says the funding is going to the Maine Humanities Council and the University of Maine, Augusta, both slated to receive $100,000 for public discussion programs. Pingree says the grants will help "lift up diverse voices and increase access to cultural programming for all Mainers." The Maine Humanities Council plans to use its funding to support programming for Maine's bicentennial celebration next year. UMA's funds will help with a 15-part speaker series called "Maine's Midcentury Moment" that will also be a part of the university's bicentennial programming.


Annapolis: Scientists in the state have been warning of a growing "dead zone" in the Chesapeake Bay. Now the numbers are in, confirming their dire warnings were correct. Natural Resources Department data shows an area with little to no oxygen spread to 2 cubic miles by late July, making it one of the worst in decades. By comparison, July dead zones averaged about 1.35 cubic miles for the past 35 years. The worst section includes the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers and much of the bay, from Baltimore to the mouth of the York River. University of Maryland environmental scientists say heavy rains washed wastewater and agricultural runoff into the bay and produced oxygen-stealing algae. Scientists fear it could harm crabs, oysters and the state's seafood industry.


Worcester: A state public transit agency is considering a fare-free bus system. The Telegram & Gazette reports the Worcester Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board voted unanimously last week to conduct a fare analysis that includes consideration of a fare-free system. In a report in May, The Research Bureau called the WRTA "a perfect candidate" for a fare-free bus system. The report calculated that the $2 million to $3 million annual cost to provide free service could be made up through cost savings, increased governmental aid and partnerships. The report said offering the service for free would reverse the system's declining ridership. WRTA Administrator Dennis Lipka says to go fare-free, "we have to find a sustainable way of making that up," and one-time grants would not be sufficient.


Empire: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has welcomed its 50 millionth visitor. The National Park Service says other visitors applauded when Meghan Boertman entered Sleeping Bear's visitor center in Empire, in northern Michigan west of Traverse City. She was joined by her husband, Spencer, and their children, Jacoby and Levi. It was the first visit for the Boertmans, who live in Norton Shores, near Muskegon. They received an annual park pass, along with a plush black bear, souvenir books and a DVD. Officials say the milestone comes a year ahead of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore's 50th anniversary. Visitor statistics are culled from road, visitor center and campground counters as well as North and South Manitou islands.


St. Paul: The state's film and TV production incentive program is changing after questions were raised about past awards, including $267,000 for Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show." Minnesota Public Radio News reports the board that runs the Snowbate program announced the changes Monday. Awards would not go to shows built around a national event in Minnesota, nor to projects featuring political candidates. The idea is to fund projects that rely most on in-state workers or feature Minnesota prominently. MPR reported last month that some Minnesota Film and TV board members had questioned the rebate for Fallon's show to come to Minneapolis during the 2018 Super Bowl. Questions were also raised last fall about a documentary on politician Ilhan Omar.


Oxford: The University of Mississippi will open a new $32 million campus recreation center this month. The center will include workout space, an indoor climbing wall, fitness studios, basketball courts and other facilities. It's in a former warehouse of a Whirlpool appliance factory that closed in 2009. Ole Miss began construction in 2016. Campus recreation director Peter Tulchinsky says the new center will accommodate a student population that has doubled since 1983, when Ole Miss opened the Turner Center, its existing recreation facility. The Turner Center will remain open. Ole Miss is basing its parking and transportation department at the center south of Mississippi 6, creating a bus hub and a 700-space parking lot. The center is free for students. Faculty, staff, alumni and community members must buy memberships.


Jefferson City: A judge has temporarily blocked a new state law that sought to shield large hog, poultry and cattle farms from stringent local health rules. Cole County Presiding Judge Patricia Joyce's action means the measure won't take effect as scheduled Aug. 28. Critics of the law have requested it remain on hold through a Sept. 16 court date. If implemented, it would prevent local officials from passing more stringent regulations than the state on large farms. It's directed at protecting the interests of industrial farms known as concentrated animal feeding operations, which can produce beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs more efficiently than traditional farms can but also stoke concerns about air and water pollution.


Two Dot: U.S. Forest Service officials have reached a deal with a landowner meant to increase public access to the eastern side of the Crazy Mountains. The Great Falls Tribune reports the Forest Service will allow landowner Mac White motorized access across public land to reach isolated parcels he owns. In return, the Forest Service will get an easement to build a trail into the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. That will allow access from the eastern side of the southwestern Montana mountain range into the remote Big Elk Canyon. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that work will also begin on a new trail on the western side of the Crazy Mountains next week. The project is meant to reroute and replace parts of a trail where access had been in dispute.


Lincoln: Officials are moving 24 teenage girls out of a state-run facility for female juvenile offenders after learning that many were confined to buildings with fire hazards, holes in the wall, and mold and water damage. The Department of Health and Human Services announced the move Monday after some state lawmakers voiced concerns about the conditions and a lack of staff and programming at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva. The campus in rural central Nebraska serves as a rehabilitation center for girls ages 14-18 who have broken the law and been rejected by other private treatment facilities. All of the 24 girls who live on campus were sent there by the courts as a last resort, and many have significant behavioral and mental health problems.


Reno: The Burning Man Project has announced it will be hosting a ticketed conference in the city next year. The May 6-9 conference, dubbed "Learning Man," aims to explore how Burners can "build bridges between our realities and work to create a better world." Tickets will go on sale in October. The organization has not released the ticket pricing, nor the location of the conference, but says it will be far from a boring, nametag convention. More than 1,500 creators, connectors and cultural ambassadors from the Burning Man community and beyond will gather to "ideate, learn, build networks, and support thriving year-round communities made stronger by their intelligent and conscious integration of Burning Man culture," a statement says.

New Hampshire

Derry: Town officials are trying to figure out how a recently opened time capsule from 50 years ago has nothing in it. Library director Cara Potter tells WMUR-TV that since she started there five years ago, the safe has been sitting on a shelf. Before that, it was kept at the old municipal building in town. The combination was on the back of the safe. Potter said it took several tries to get it open recently on the 50th anniversary of when it was sealed in 1969. But it was empty. No one has a list of what was originally put inside. Officials said they have no idea who could have opened it and taken the items. They even speculated that nothing was put in there in the first place.

New Jersey

Newark: A young girl discovered something slithery at an airport security checkpoint – a 15-inch-long snake. Transportation Security Administration officials at Newark Liberty International Airport said in a release that it appears the thin, black snake with a yellow ring around its neck was forgotten by a traveler Monday night. The girl alerted a TSA officer, and a gray checkpoint bin was placed over the snake that officials said was harmless. Officials closed the security lane temporarily, and Port Authority police took the snake away. New Jersey Federal Security Director Tom Carter says Newark has a robust lost-and-found system, but the owner of the snake should not call them or expect to be reunited with the reptile. It's unclear where the snake was taken.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: A new report says the state is now on track to collect an unprecedented $7.8 billion in the budget year thanks to skyrocketing oil production. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the report says total state revenue collections were roughly $273 million above projected levels through April largely because of oil production in southeastern New Mexico. The higher-than-expected revenue surge for the budget year that ended June 30 could allow for additional spending increases on public schools, roads and other programs. Legislative and executive economists will release new official revenue estimates at a legislative hearing in Red River later this month. New Mexico was already expecting a $1.3 billion budget surplus for the fiscal year.

New York

New York: A landmark Pepsi sign along the East River will also promote JetBlue for the next six weeks, and critics are finding it hard to swallow. An illuminated blue logo advertising the airline was added to the 60-foot Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, Queens, this week. The new signage celebrates a partnership in which JetBlue will serve PepsiCo drinks on flights. The city Landmarks Preservation Commission issued a permit for the JetBlue logo through Oct. 1. But City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a Democrat who represents the area, says some constituents are complaining. Van Bramer says that even a temporary JetBlue sign "shouldn't be there." Nancy Rooney, a PepsiCo vice president of marketing, says the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign is "the perfect symbol" to celebrate Pepsi's JetBlue partnership.

North Carolina

Raleigh: Legislation that prohibits production and possession of smokable hemp next year while laying regulatory groundwork to expand the state's industrial and medicinal hemp industry has cleared a second legislative chamber. The state House voted 63-48 on Wednesday for the General Assembly's annual farm bill. Smokable hemp lacks the concentration of the compound that gives marijuana its high. But law enforcement wants smokable hemp banned because it looks and smells the same – making it otherwise impossible to differentiate during police stops. House members defeated an amendment to delete the proposed May 1 smokable hemp ban. Hemp growers say smokable hemp is an emerging moneymaker for them. The bill now returns to the Senate, where a version already passed, but the measure's top backer wants the ban delayed until next June.

North Dakota

Bismarck: Lawsuits from environmentalists and landowners have made investors skittish and delayed progress another year on the proposed $800 million oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the developer's top executive says. Meridian wants to build the refinery just 3 miles from the state's top tourist attraction, drawing more than 700,000 visitors annually. Environmental groups argue pollution from the factory will spoil scenery and air quality at the 30,000-acre park. Meridian began site work last summer, aiming to have the Davis Refinery operating by mid-2021. Meridian Energy Group CEO William Prentice says the company now plans to have the factory running in 2022 due to funding and legal setbacks. Securities filings show the company has raised less than 5% of construction costs. And the company has two disputes pending before the state Supreme Court.


Dayton: Comedian and Buckeye State native Dave Chappelle is coming home to host the Gem City Shine block party from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday. The Oregon District Benefit Concert and Community Event will be hosted by the Yellow Springs native. The Oregon District is where a shooter killed nine people Aug. 4. Local and national entertainment will be featured on the main stage during the block party, according to a release. The event will be used to honor the lives of people lost and "reclaim the community's favorite places to shop, dine and enjoy time with family and friends," according to the news release from Downtown Dayton Partnership. There will be opportunities at the block party to donate to The Dayton Foundation's Oregon District Tragedy Fund and the Oregon District Business Association.


Norman: A judge is expected to rule next week on whether consumer products company Johnson & Johnson helped fuel the state's opioid epidemic in the first such case against a drugmaker to go to trial. A court spokesman says Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman is expected to read his decision in open court at 3 p.m. Monday. Before the six-week trial began May 28 , two other groups of defendants who manufactured opioid drugs reached settlements with Oklahoma. The state claims the companies helped create a public nuisance by aggressively marketing painkillers and downplaying the risk of addiction. The state estimates it will cost as much as $17 billion to abate the crisis. Attorneys for the company maintain they acted responsibly and followed strict industry regulations.


Portland: A free legal assistance program for immigrants in the city has provided nearly 350 people with lawyers to represent them in deportation hearings in its first year. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the program called Universal Reception also helped at least 105 people apply for refugee status. Portland's City Council approved the service last year and put $500,000 toward its budget from property tax collections. This year, Multnomah County allocated $290,000 to the initiative, and the state approved an additional $2 million to expand the service statewide – the first state to do so in the nation. The people who have received free legal services through the program come from Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, Ukraine and Venezuela.


Harrisburg: A committee of Pennsylvania Game Commission staff has recommended a statewide ban on feeding white-tailed deer. The agency biologists say that banning artificial feeding stations would help slow the spread of wildlife diseases. They're asking residents to voluntarily stop feeding deer. The commission often addresses wildlife outbreaks of insect-borne infections, West Nile virus and other flare-ups, but its scientists are most concerned about chronic wasting disease in deer. The neurological disorder is fatal, and exposure cannot be detected until shortly before the deer's death. The disease has spread to herds in 23 states. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that municipalities that have proposed feeding bans in the past have faced opposition and eventually abandoned the idea after backlash from voters who enjoy the pastime.

Rhode Island

Providence: The state ethics commission has decided to open a formal investigation into Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo's dealings with the company that runs the state's lottery. The Rhode Island Republican Party filed a complaint. WPRI-TV reports the commission voted Tuesday to open the investigation. Brandon Bell, special counsel for the party, alleges Raimondo violated state law by negotiating and entering into a tentative agreement with International Game Technology to extend its services until 2043 without going through a competitive bid process. Jonathan Berkon, a lawyer for Raimondo, says they're confident the commission will find this "latest partisan complaint has no merit." Raimondo and legislative leaders announced the proposed terms in June. The deal needs legislative approval.

South Carolina

Charleston: Population growth and crowded highways have paved the way for a passenger ferry service in the area that's expected to begin in October. The Post and Courier reports the Daniel Island Ferry is expected to carry up to 49 passengers from a Wando River dock near Children's Park on Daniel Island to the Charleston Peninsula. There will be stops at the Charleston Maritime Center and Joe Riley Waterfront Park. It won't be the first time Daniel Island residents have been able to commute by boat to the peninsula, but it would be the first regular commercial ferry service the area has seen in decades. Last year, Charleston Water Taxi temporarily offered a commuter schedule when the James B. Edwards Bridge between Daniel Island and Mount Pleasant was shut down.

South Dakota

Rapid City: The city is expected to lose more than $2 million in state funding over the next two years following the congressional repeal of South Dakota's tax on internet service. The 2016 Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which required the state to stop taxing internet services by mid-2020, is projected to lead to a $700,000 loss in state funding next year and $1.4 million the following year for Rapid City. The South Dakota Municipal League estimates it will result in a total revenue dip of $7 million to $10 million for all of the state's municipalities by 2021. The tax applies to retailers that conduct more than $100,000 worth of business in South Dakota annually or more than 200 transactions a year.


Townsend: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has received what it calls a "priceless" donation of Cades Cove artifacts. The cove was a thriving community before the National Park Service began purchasing the land in 1927. Dan and Sidney Lawson were two of its residents. According to the park, Dan Lawson led singing at the Methodist Church, and Sidney Lawson helped to educate children in the cove. Their cabin is preserved as part of the Cades Cove Historic Landscape. Now their great-granddaughter Robin Derryberry, of Chattanooga, has donated a handmade dresser, a family Bible, and wedding and other portraits. Derryberry says her family wants the items to be in a place where they can be enjoyed by the public and preserved for future generations.


Corpus Christi: NASA is flying drones over the city to test the safety of the unmanned devices in a dense urban environment. The tests this month in Corpus Christi are part of a four-year project with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a national drone traffic management system. NASA says in a news release that the drones are flying at altitudes between 200 and 400 feet. It says a city presents obstacles that can reduce line of sight and hinder communication. Urban weather conditions can hamper flight, and cities often lack safe landing options. NASA spokesman Darryl Waller said Tuesday that the agency is gathering and reviewing data with the aim of addressing these issues. He said the Corpus Christi testing has gone well and will conclude Friday.


Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is reminding members that coffee is prohibited no matter how fancy the name, that vaping is banned despite the alluring flavors and that marijuana is outlawed unless prescribed by a competent doctor. The new guidance in the August issue of a youth magazine for members of the Utah-based church doesn't include any fundamental changes to the religion's strict health code. But the significant clarifications seem to reflect growing concern about young Latter-day Saints' adherence to the rules. The article says it aims to clarify issues that could be confusing to young people about the religion's "Word of Wisdom," a set of rules about foods and drinks. The article warns that drinks with names that include the terms cafe, caffe, mocha, latte or espresso or that end in -ccino usually have coffee in them.


Rutland: The Vermont Agency of Transportation is planning to start a program to provide residents in recovery with transportation assistance. Ross MacDonald, public transit coordinator for the agency, says the program will be first introduced in Rutland and the Northeast Kingdom and will work in cooperation with recovery centers and transportation providers. The goal is to help residents having trouble getting to treatment appointments or to and from their employment. The Rutland Herald reports the recovery centers will contact the regional transit center for clients to see if any trip costs are covered through eligible health care programs. If it is not covered, the recovery center will use its allocation and budget to pay for the trip. The Federal Transit Administration has provided $160,000 to fund the program.


Norfolk: The city is suing the state in an attempt to remove an 80-foot Confederate monument from its downtown. The city of Norfolk's suit, filed in federal court, targets a Virginia law that prevents the removal of war memorials. The suit claims the city's free speech rights are being violated because it's being forced to project a message it no longer supports. The 1907 monument was erected at a time when the South was being romanticized and slavery was de-emphasized. Council members voted in 2017 to move the monument to a cemetery. University of Virginia law professor Richard Schragger said Norfolk is employing a relatively novel and untested legal strategy in federal court. The main legal question is whether cities have free speech rights.


Seattle: A new federal lawsuit seeks to establish a "protection zone" for endangered orcas in the Pacific Northwest. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance sued NOAA Fisheries in U.S. District Court in Seattle, saying the agency has failed to act on a petition it filed in 2016 that sought to bar vessels from a 10- to 12-square-mile area west of San Juan Island where the orcas feed from April through September each year. Canada has already announced that no vessel traffic will be allowed from June through October in three sanctuary zones in prime orca feeding habitat. Advocates say vessel noise interferes with the echolocation the orcas use to hunt. The whales are struggling with a dearth of their preferred prey, Chinook salmon.

West Virginia

Charleston: Can a governor be forced to live in the capital city? A persistent lawsuit seeking to do just that with Gov. Jim Justice was back in a courtroom Wednesday. The Republican billionaire has been frequently criticized by members of both major parties for being absent from the statehouse. A Democratic lawmaker's lawsuits have accused Justice of violating a passage of the state Constitution that says the governor "shall reside at the seat of government." The result has been a legal back-and-forth on the definition of the word "reside." There are also issues on the authority and ability of the courts to chaperone the whereabouts of the state's chief executive. Wednesday's hearing rehashed some of those questions. After a short discussion, a circuit court judge extended the case by asking for more documents from Justice's legal team and Del. Isaac Sponaugle, who filed the suit.


Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Bucks now have an official team chocolate milk. The Bucks and the state's cult-favorite gas station and convenience store Kwik Trip partnered up on the chocolate milk, the pair announced in a news release Wednesday. The chocolate milk with a green label and Milwaukee Bucks logo will be available at all Wisconsin Kwik Trip locations beginning Oct. 1. The team's official milk will also be served at the Bucks' training center and the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center. The 16-ounce bottles come in 1% and whole milk. The milk comes from Kwik Trip's Nature's Touch brand. Kwik Trip is also becoming the presenting partner of Bucks Sundays at Fiserv Forum during the 2019-20 season.


Casper: A draft bill has been passed that would make it easier for indigenous people in the state to vote. The Casper Star-Tribune reports the state's Select Committee on Tribal Relations passed draft bill language Monday and asked the Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee to sponsor the legislation this fall. State lawmakers say the proposed bill would allow driver's license numbers and Social Security numbers to be printed on tribal ID cards, allowing tribal citizens to use one card when registering to vote. Officials say federal law states a tribal ID can currently be used to vote if presented with a driver's license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

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Dying the Christian Science way: the horror of my father's last days - The Guardian

Posted: 06 Aug 2019 12:00 AM PDT

When I was a baby, my grandfather delighted me by playing a game. He made a fist sandwich, fingers laced together and hidden in his palms, showing me his thumbs closed upon them. Slowly, he would say, "Here's the church, and here's the steeple," raising his index fingers together to form a peak. Then, throwing his thumbs apart, he flipped his interlaced fingers over, wriggling them and crying out, "Open the doors and see all the people!"

My grandfather was a Christian Scientist. His mother had been a Scientist. His only child, my father, was a Scientist. I was raised to be a Scientist.

Now I'm delighted by a different kind of game: counting the churches as their doors close. In 20 years, drastic changes have taken place, but the most arresting is the church's precipitous fall. It's getting harder and harder to see all the people, because they're disappearing.

The early popularity of Christian Science was tied directly to the promise engendered by its core beliefs: the promise of healing. The overwhelming majority of those attracted to the movement came to be healed, or came because a husband, wife, child, relative or friend needed healing; the claims of Christian Science were so compelling that people often stayed in the movement whether they found healing or not, blaming themselves and not the church's teachings for any apparent failures.

The teachings were radically simple. The founder and leader of the church, Mary Baker Eddy, taught that disease was unreal because the human body and the entire material world were mere illusions of the credulous, a waking dream. Those who awoke and knew the "Truth" could be instantaneously healed. (Eddy was big on capitalised generalities; "Life", "Love" and "Spirit" were among her other "synonyms" for God.)

What was the "Truth"? We memorised it in Sunday School, the "Scientific Statement of Being", which assured us that "there is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter". Eddy's definition of man was even more stark: "Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements." We were instructed to repeat as needed for whatever ailment came along, from canker sores to cancer. The trick lay in the application: allow no hint of doubt, neither aspirin nor vitamin, a dogma so dire it was taken to absurd lengths. During the height of the London fad for the faith, in 1911, novelist VS Pritchett was indoctrinated into the mysteries by his father after "dying Cousin Dick" leapt from his deathbed, "miraculously cured". Soon after, Pritchett, a lad of 11, was forced to walk to school on a sprained ankle.

As Pritchett discovered, Cousin Dick's results were impossible to replicate in the real world, and the consequences of Eddy's strictures – she demanded "radical reliance" on her methodology to the exclusion of all else – quickly caused havoc. Newspapers and prosecutors noticed the casualties, especially children dying of unreported cases of diphtheria and appendicitis. In the early years of the church, this touched off battles with the American Medical Association, which tried to have Christian Science healers, or "practitioners", arrested for practising medicine without a licence. Since practitioners did nothing but pray, however, their activities were protected by the US constitution. Reacting with righteous zeal, Church leaders doubled down for decades, furtively slipping protections into the law and encouraging insurance companies to cover Christian Science "treatment". Since it cost very little, the companies cynically complied.

As a result, by the 1970s – a high-water mark for the church's political power, with many Scientists serving in Richard Nixon's White House and federal agencies – the church was well on its way to accumulating an incredible array of legal rights and privileges across the US, including broad-based religious exemptions from childhood immunisations in 47 states, as well as exemptions from routine screening tests and procedures given to newborns in hospitals. The exemptions had consequences: modern-day outbreaks of diphtheria, polio and measles in Christian Science schools and communities. A 1972 polio outbreak in Connecticut left multiple children partially paralysed; a 1985 measles outbreak (one of several) at Principia College in Illinois killed three.

In many US states, Scientists were exempt from charges of child abuse, neglect and endangerment, as well as from failure to report such crimes. Practitioners with no medical training (they become "listed" after two weeks of religious indoctrination) were recognised as health providers, and in some states were required to report contagious illnesses or cases of child abuse or neglect, even as their religion demanded that they deny the evidence of the physical senses. Practitioners, of course, have no way of recognising the symptoms of an illness, even if they believe it existed, which they don't.

A whole system of Christian Science "nursing" sprang up in unlicensed Christian Science sanatoriums and nursing homes catering to patients with open wounds and bodies eaten away by tumours. There, no medical treatment was allowed to interfere with prayer. Assigned only the most basic duties – feeding and cleaning patients – Christian Science "nurses" are not registered, and have no medical training either. Instead, they engage in bizarre practices such as leaving food on the mouths of patients who cannot eat. They provide no assistance for those who are having trouble breathing, administer no painkillers, react to no emergencies. "Do not resuscitate" is their default. But some of these facilities, and the incompetent care they provide, are covered by Medicare, the US's national healthcare insurance programme.

Still, by this point, few people know or care what the Christian Scientists have been up to, since the average person can't tell you the difference between a Christian Scientist and a Scientologist. The decline of the faith, once a major indigenous sect, may be among the most dramatic contractions in the history of American religion. Eddy forbade counting the faithful, but in 1961, the year I was born, the number of branch churches worldwide reached a high of 3,273. By the mid-80s, the number in the US had dropped to 1,997; between 1987 and late 2018, 1,070 more closed, while only 83 opened, leaving around a thousand in the US.

Prized urban branches are being sold off by the score, converted into luxury condominiums, museums and Buddhist temples. The branch I attended, on Mercer Island, near Seattle, is now Congregation Shevet Achim, a Modern Orthodox synagogue.

Worldly erosion eats away at the remainder. New York's Third Church on Park Avenue is still open for spiritual business, but is leased for events during the week, sparking complaints about blocked traffic, paparazzi and partygoers attending celebrity galas in the four-storey neo-Georgian sanctuary. The phrase "God is Love" is traditionally affixed to an interior wall of every branch, but during secular events the words are concealed behind a faux-slate panel, lest they detract from, say, a runway show of Oscar de la Renta resort wear. Alcohol and coffee, shunned by Church members since Eddy's day, are brought in by caterers.

The slide into irrelevance has been inexorable. The number of practitioners has fallen to an all-time low of 1,126, and during the last decade the Sentinel magazine has lost more than half its subscribers. The Monitor, the public face of the Church, has become a kind of zombie newspaper, laying off 30% of its staff in 2016. It is now available as a five-days-a-week emailed newsletter, or a thin print weekly that has been bleeding subscribers.

Principia, the Christian Science educational institution (a separate entity from the Mother Church), has shed so many students that its future is in question. Its college enrollment was down to 435 in 2018, the St Louis Post-Dispatch reported, while its school had 400 students, with just eight in the first-grade class. With an endowment of $680m, one official noted, "We are going to run out of kids before we run out of money. There just aren't enough Christian Scientists on the planet."

The Christian Science plaza in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Christian Science plaza in Boston, Massachusetts. Photograph: Alan Myers/Alamy

Nowhere is the hollowing out more obvious than at the massive Boston Mother Church itself. The flagship building is part of a complex in the city's Back Bay, known as the Christian Science plaza, itself something of a tourist attraction. Over the past two decades, even as officials were telling the press that membership losses had "levelled off", the Mother Church began cannibalising itself, leasing out and selling off its parts. None of its 1960s-era structures are now occupied by the church that built them, while those still in use by the faithful require millions in restoration. The grand Mother Church extension, once termed an "enormous, domed monstrosity" by an architectural association, rests on foundations that have been deteriorating and settling, causing marked cracking on the interior. Currently under repair, it's slated to close in 2021 for two years.

Remaining staff occupy the nearby Publishing House, home to the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, as it was named on its founding in 2002, an archive for extending church-held copyrights in her unpublished works. It nearly bankrupted the organisation. Led by board member Virginia Harris, the church squandered so much, so fast – $50m on the library (modelled on the US presidential libraries) and an additional $55m on other renovations – that it may have led to Harris's leaving the board in 2004.

But the reality of the existential crisis remained elusive to church officials. In 2005, Nathan Talbot and J Thomas Black, longtime church leaders who had promoted recklessly irresponsible policies encouraging the medical neglect of children, endorsed ambitious plans for raising the dead. Black argued that Eddy wanted to keep alive the possibility of defeating mortality, saying, "What would set us apart as a denomination more than raising the dead?" What indeed? Black himself has had ample opportunity to demonstrate it: he died in December 2011, and hasn't been seen since.

Another church document envisioned a scenario in which an "intergalactic" Christian Science reading room would be established on the Mir space station by 2009. That, too, remains a fantasy. But real estate has pulled them back from the financial brink. In 2014, the board announced that it had sold adjacent development sites on the plaza, one for $65.6m, the other for $21.9m. After years of struggling to balance budgets, staff at a recent annual meeting announced that the church was in possession of more than $1bn in cash and assets.

But for all its attempts to reach a wider world, the church has found that the world could not care less. Outreach in Africa has netted a handful of practitioners in a dozen countries, but nothing on the scale of popular evangelical groups. A former Scientist who worked at the church for a decade told me recently that employees chagrined by their insignificance were constantly praying about the "imposition of omission" – religious jargon for everyone forgetting about them. They were well aware, he said, that "nine out of ten people who go to the plaza know nothing about Christian Science".

For some of its disciples, however, Christian Science remains a menace, causing unnecessary agony and early death. Death is never easy, either for the dying or for those left behind. It's now commonplace for ethicists to lament the ways hospitals encumber or complicate dying, by encouraging hope where there is none, or by refusing to clarify the point at which further intervention may be needlessly expensive or excruciating. But there is something worse than death in a hospital. There's dying unnecessarily of conditions or diseases for which real treatment or pain management is readily available. There's dying without help, without pain relief, without care.

There's dying the way Christian Scientists die. There's dying the way my father died.

You could smell it out in the hall. When I opened the door, a skull with the features of my father lifted itself up off the mattress and stared at me. He was in a hospital bed, but he wasn't in a hospital. He was in Sunrise Haven, a Christian Science nursing home in Kent, Washington, and the smell was decay, from the gangrene in his left foot.

He had been noticeably lame for months. First he was limping. As it got worse, he crafted his own footwear, cutting the toe box out of one of his tennis shoes. Eventually he began having trouble driving. The problem was not poverty or ignorance: my father was well-off and well-educated. He had a PhD from Columbia University, veterans' benefits and Medicare insurance. The problem was Christian Science.

Of course, he didn't want to talk about what was happening. He said it made his mental work "harder". My brother, the only one of his three children who lived nearby, asked repeatedly if he would be willing to see a doctor – questions pressed also by my sister and myself. He rebuffed all offers until August 2003, when he allowed my brother to take him to an emergency room, arguing that all he needed was someone to help "wash" the foot.

When doctors examined him, they found that two or three of the toes were already black. In the best case scenario, they told him, even with medical treatment, he would probably lose them. If he did nothing, the whole foot. And, of course, his life. He was 75.

He began lecturing the doctors on the principles of metaphysics, as suggested by Mary Baker Eddy. Patiently, they told him it was his decision to make. When my brother took them aside privately, asking what to expect, they told him that most people in his condition would eventually accept medical help: it was just too painful.

But despite all of our arguments and urging, his decision was to never go back. He acknowledged the gravity of his situation, but he stayed home. Talking among ourselves, we debated trying to force the issue by calling an ambulance if he fell, knowing that, for as long as he remained compos mentis, he had the right to refuse medical intervention. We feared that if we violated his wishes, he would cut off contact and die alone in the house.

The following month, he hired a Christian Science nurse to stop by. She watched him struggle to wash his foot, and loftily told him that she had seen such conditions "healed completely" by Christian Science. She gave him sanitary napkins to wrap his foot in, urging him to see it solely as a mental problem.

He wept frequently, acknowledging at one point that the ball of his foot had "broken off". The pain must have been intense. On the last day of September, he fell trying to get to the refrigerator. Then he checked himself into Sunrise Haven, where he would receive no medical treatment, or even palliative care as offered in a hospice. His stay would be covered by Medicare, and he would be there for the next seven months.

By 2010, signs of the church's impending mortality had become so unmistakable that officials took a previously inconceivable step. They threw Mary Baker Eddy under the bus. A century after the death of their "beloved founder and leader", the directors took her most precious principle, radical reliance – requiring Scientists to hew solely to prayer – and renounced it in the pages of the New York Times.

"Christian Science Church Seeks Truce with Modern Medicine" read the headline. In the article, Philip Davis, then manager for the Committees on Publication, made an admission so fundamentally at odds with church theology that it would later be described by one of the faithful as "truly jaw-dropping". In an interview conducted in a church office in New York's Grand Central Station, Davis said: "We are a church on a slow curve of diminishment, in good part because of what people see as our stridency." Practitioners would now be less "judgmental", he promised, offering Christian Science treatment to everyone, including hospitalised patients accepting medical care.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. Photograph: Granger/Alamy

Davis's remarks glossed over the scores of bodies left in the church's wake. No one will ever know how many, because the church does not keep statistics. But among those who have come to the attention of child protective services and prosecutors was Ian Lundman, who died in Minnesota at age 11 in May 1989 of juvenile-onset diabetes, after days of vomiting and the ministrations of a Christian Science nurse who carefully noted his condition, dribbled water between his lips, and wrapped his scrotum in a plastic bag and washcloth to prevent his urine from wetting the bed. The nurse, the boy's mother and stepfather, the Christian Science practitioner, Church officials and the Church itself were eventually found to be negligent in a civil trial brought by Ian's father, who was awarded a $1.5m judgment (although the Church and its officials ultimately escaped the damages). There was also two-year-old Robyn Twitchell, whose bowel obstruction and perforation caused him to vomit excrement before he died, in 1986; and Ashley King, who lay in bed for months with a tumour on her leg that grew to 104cm in circumference before she died, in June 1988.

Speaking of the more than 50 Christian Science parents or practitioners who have been charged with crimes for allowing children to suffer or die of treatable conditions, Davis promised that "the church of today would not let that happen". Himself a practitioner, he breezily added that, "In the last year, I can't tell you how many times I've been called to pray at a patient's bedside in a hospital."

The epochal change had been broached two weeks earlier in a Sentinel article titled "Christian Science Versus Medicine?" Neither medical care nor "today's practice of Christian Science" were "ideal", it asserted, adding that both systems had achieved a "limited record". False equivalency was hardly new, but admission of the faith's limitations was. Inevitably, however, the editorial wanted it both ways, claiming that the church's record of healing children was "one of the most significant contributions this denomination has made to society". Significant, yes, but not in a good way.

Nonetheless, in the past decade or so, church officials have begun pulling back on aggressive state lobbying, often taking a neutral position on religious shield laws. But neutral is not good enough. Neither Davis nor any other official has expressed remorse for a century of suffering and death caused by the church. And while the softening may have curtailed medical neglect involving children of Scientists, it has done nothing to stem abuse by other sects – abuse the church alone enabled.

It was the Christian Science church that put religious exemptions to child abuse on the books, opening a Pandora's box and releasing all manner of religious extremists and militant anti-vaccination fanatics. It was church officials who engineered the 1970s US federal regulation that led to virtually every state enacting laws allowing parents to neglect children and get away with it.

Rita and Doug Swan, founders of the non-profit organisation Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, have tirelessly lobbied against these laws, and some states have done away with them in whole or in part. The Oregon legislature became so ashamed of allowing Followers of Christ, a Pentecostal faith-healing group, to fill a cemetery with newborns and stillborn children that it repealed its religious exemption laws in 2011. But some Followers simply picked up and moved to Idaho, which has become the go-to state if you are prepared to let your kids die. There, their children have died of everything from pneumonia, seizures and sepsis to a ruptured esophagus, mostly due to medical neglect – and the name of every one of them should be nailed to the door of the Mother Church.

So did the softening of some Christian Science attitudes suggest that the church was undergoing a genuine change of heart? Or were they trying to save their jobs, their pride and the institution? At that time, officials were grasping at relationships with ecumenical groups and New Age alternative healers – anything to boost membership. Shirley Paulson, for example, sister-in-law of former US treasury secretary Hank Paulson (also a Christian Scientist, taught by Nathan Talbot), contributed to a series of summit meetings – known as "Church Alive" – which sought to jazz up services with ideas fresh from the 1950s: reading from recent translations of the Bible (more recent than the King James version, that is), singing hymns a cappella, and urging Sunday School students to rap their narcotic weekly "Lesson Sermons".

Many in the congregation resisted. In 2013, Paulson spoke of trying to drag Christian Science into the modern age. "We cannot live in a time capsule designed by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century," she explained, "because if we do, we will float away in the ocean and no one will remember." When news broke the following year that Church Alive was dead, Andrew Hartsook, a former member of the church and frequent critic of its leadership, wrote: "Finally, the panel discussions, the group sings, the conga lines and the bongo drums are falling silent." Fellow Scientists shared his disgust, and protests have riven the movement over the past 20 years, as they always have.

It is hard, at this late date, to be moved by Scientists' threadbare theological squabbles and internecine court battles, by the minutiae of their predicaments. The church deserves to die, and it is dying. It just can't happen soon enough.

Toward the end, my father was under the care of first one, then another practitioner, and they seemed to have set him a number of tasks. Practitioners commonly assign strange forms of mental homework, asking patients to recall previous healings, or things they are grateful for. This became such a hackneyed tradition that students at the Christian Science college, Principia, call it "the gratefuls", which itself sounds like a disease.

He left a list of "healings" on a note I found next to his telephone. There were exactly 11, some dated. The first was his grandmother's 1906 recovery from a tumour, the second his father's 1918 first world war healing. My grandfather always spoke of rejecting medicine by walking out of a US army hospital in France, past scores of patients stacked in the halls. He may have done so, but the passenger manifest of the USS Mercy, the ship that brought him back from France, numbers him among the "sick and wounded", suffering "pleurisy with effusion".

Five of the 11 healings were my father's own. The first was a 1936 "healing" of a broken arm when he was eight. In another document, he elaborated, describing the event in terms suggestive of the numbness and disassociation that characterised his speech and behaviour: "A personal healing of an arm broken during childhood. Doctors, examining x-rays, said that the arm had been broken badly, but that somehow it had set itself. Immobilising the arm in a cast, they predicted it would take many weeks to mend. Their predictions proved to be greatly exagerated [sic] and despite their concerns, the arm has been completely useful for over 50 years."

The list was typical of the way Christian Scientists interpret physical recovery – however imaginary, imperfect or incomplete – as a spiritual triumph. Two other healings during the mid-80s involved a self-diagnosed heart attack and a case of rheumatic fever, a condition rare in this country due to antibiotics. The rheumatic fever was prolonged. For nearly a year, while serving as First Reader in his church, he experienced severe joint pain and near-immobility. When he recovered, he was proud of being able to climb a nearby mountain, Mount Si.

This was considered such a marvellous healing that Mother Church officials interviewed him about it. A transcript of the interview survives in his papers. If it was indeed rheumatic fever (and the symptoms he described match that condition), it may have caused ongoing scarring of the heart valves, leading to poor circulation in the extremities, and ultimately gangrene.

In coping with his situation, it was hard not to respond with the same blank disconnection that he himself brought to it. When pressed to deal with reality, he fell back on bullying, irritably refusing all but the most trivial forms of help (mainly food), responding to expressions of alarm and concern not with kindness, but with sarcasm and contempt. But that was who he was. He had always been abusive and full of rage. Where that came from is unclear, but he apparently endured much as a child, forced to "heal" his broken arm at the age of eight. Whatever he experienced then, I can only imagine, but I know what it made him.

And yet it was difficult to watch his self-neglect without feeling the desperation and horror of it. For a time he spent days sitting up, on the edge of the bed or in a chair, bent over, sometimes rocking back and forth and groaning. On the phone, he wept often, sounding weak or faint. I tried to talk to him about the church's loosening standards, but he was having none of it, saying a choice had to be made between God and Mammon.

When I visited him at Sunrise Haven, I was asked to wait long minutes in a dark, deserted "day room" before being allowed to see him. He had lost a lot of weight and was flat on his back in bed. When I first sat down, I thought something had fallen to the floor beside him.

Then I realised it was his foot, resting there, wrapped unrecognisably in blue bandages almost to the knee, with scabbed flesh showing at the top. He was breathing heavily, summoning energy to answer my questions. In some ways, he was his old self. I had brought him the free peanuts from my flight, and he shook a few in his hand, whisking them back and forth in his palm in a reflexive, almost jaunty, gesture.

But it was not a mood he could sustain. He said at one point that the foot was "intransigent", and there was something terribly resigned and rueful in his tone. When I returned a few days later, he was worse, grimacing often, speaking only in terse, telegraphic bursts. After a few minutes, he moaned and said: "I think you're going to have to leave the room for a minute." He apparently called his practitioner. From the hallway, I could hear him talking loudly on the phone, probably declaring the "Truth". When I returned, he was no better. Eventually, I said I had to be leaving, and when I looked back at him from the doorway, he said: "See you next time."

I never saw him again.

His foot fell off in early April, a fact confirmed to my brother by the "nurses" who had passively presided over it. Around that time, my father offered his son a piece of unsolicited advice, telling him that if his toes ever turned black, he should "take care" of them.

Over the coming days, he periodically stopped eating, speaking in monosyllables. He died on 20 April 2004.

"Jonestown in slow motion" is how one writer described Christian Science – a reference to the apocalyptic cult where more than 900 people died in a mass suicide in 1978. Aided and abetted by his religion, my father killed himself in the slowest and most excruciating way possible.

Sometime after his death, I dreamed about him. I was alone in a warehouse – a dark, menacing space – and in it my father had dissolved into a miasma, covering the floor with a kind of deadly, toxic slime. Somehow, I was tasked with the problem of cleaning it up, without ever touching it. It was, of course, impossible.

That is where Christian Science leaves us. It could disappear today or tomorrow or years from now, but its own beliefs, and the religious exemptions it has seeded in laws all across the US, will leave a disaster in their wake, resulting in lives ruined, in unnecessary suffering and death, and in legislation that allows every crackpot cult and anti-vaccination zealot to sacrifice their children. Christian Scientists can renounce Eddy all they want, but it will not undo the evil they have done. That is their legacy.

This is an edited extract from the new 20th anniversary edition of God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church by Caroline Fraser, published by Metropolitan Books

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Inside the world's first fully automated mixed waste processing facility - Waste Today Magazine

Posted: 13 Dec 2019 12:00 AM PST

When fully automated waste and recycling facilities were just a concept in the industry, Norwegian municipal solid waste (MSW) hauling company Romerike Avfallsforedling (RoAF) turned the concept into a reality.

Powered by a sorting system installed by Germany-based Stadler Anlagenbau GmbH, RoAF opened the world's first fully automated mixed waste processing facility in 2016 in the village of Skedsmokorset, just outside of Oslo, to help meet the needs of Norwegian municipalities that were facing high labor costs. While the concept was three years in the making, Stadler needed just three months to complete construction of the facility.

RoAF collects household and food waste from 10 municipalities in Norway, including Skedsmo, which boasts a population of roughly 53,000 people. When waste arrives at the automated plant, it's first fed onto a conveyor, which delivers the waste into the sorting plant.

Green bags of food waste are sorted from the rest of the material stream and taken to an on-site anaerobic digestion facility, where they're turned into biogas, which fuels RoAF's waste collection trucks. Meanwhile, residual waste, along with recyclable materials, pass through a screening drum and near-infrared (NIR) optical sorters, from Norway-based Tomra. Material is first separated by size in the screening drum and then into five types of plastic, mixed paper, metals and residual waste.

Plastics, metals and mixed paper are recovered at the facility for further recycling, while the waste is incinerated and used for nearby heating and electricity applications.

A new concept

High labor costs and Norway's remote location were the main drivers behind the city of Oslo's request for a fully automated mixed waste processing facility. The municipality put out a bid to design and construct the first facility of its kind and awarded the bid to Stadler Anlagenbau.

Mat Everhart, CEO of Stadler America, has toured the facility many times. He says at the time the plan was proposed, the automated concept was not only new to Stadler, but also "new for the world."

"Essentially, the cost of labor to recycle outweighed the value of recyclables," Everhart says. "They put out a bid to all the major European players for a system that was fully automated with no manual labor sorting required because it made financial sense for them."

Everhart says people touring the $234 million facility always notice two things: the smell of the plant and how clean the fiber looks after sorting.

"The thing you hear about mixed waste processing is that it's hard to get good quality fiber out of it," Everhart says. "Any recycler I've taken to this plant couldn't believe how good the paper looks and the fact that it didn't smell."

While construction of the plant was underway, the Norwegian municipalities redesigned their residential waste and recycling collection program. Municipalities chose bright green bags for food waste collection because of the optical sorters' ability to identify the green bags from the rest of the material and waste, Everhart says. Much thought was put into the front-end design of the plant, which separates the bagged food waste and fiber from the rest of the material stream early in the process.

"The system has a very advanced amount of technology to separate the organic material, but also to get the fiber away as soon as possible so the material doesn't absorb that odor," Everhart explains.

"Any recycler I've taken to this plant couldn't believe how good the paper looks and the fact that it didn't smell." –Mat Everhart, CEO, Stadler America

Norway's collection system is also different from North America's in that the country uses a three-bin collection system: one bin for food waste in green bags, plastic and residual waste; the second for paper and cardboard; and the third for glass and metal.

"The difference is rather than asking the consumer to do the first step in recycling, we've given them a way to separate [material]," Everhart says.

Operations at the plant were so successful that within one year of opening, RoAF completed a "major expansion" at the facility to increase capacity and open its doors to waste management companies and municipalities interested in delivering waste and recyclables to the plant.

Technology at its best

In all, the plant includes a variety of processing equipment, including 145 conveyors, 16 NIR optical sorters, two drum screens, one vibrating screen, a star screen, a shredder, two bag openers, two ballistic separators and an eddy current.

"It is all well-known technology but put together in a new way," says Oivind Brevik, RoAF's administration director.

One of the keys to achieving full automation at the facility was strengthening the front end of the system, which includes Stadler's screening drum, and the addition of several Tomra optical sorters, which enables the plant to operate without manual labor on the sorting lines, although there are two employees on-site who are charged with monitoring the site's machines.

"The real skill is our ability to know how to take our own equipment and integrate it with Tomra's optical sorters," Everhart says.

The facility processes 40 tons per hour. Of the mixed waste that is brought to the facility, 5,000 tons of recyclables are recovered annually, including 2,500 tons of high-quality plastics, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and film grades. Everhart says the material recovery rates at the automated facility are comparable to recovery rates at single-stream material recovery facilities (MRFs) in the United States, adding that fully automated facilities are feasible in the North American market.

Automation in North America

While Norway is home to the world's first fully automated mixed waste processing facility, automation technology is increasingly being adopted at waste and recycling facilities in the U.S.

"There are MRFs that are highly automated that are already in place," Everhart says. "The companies who lead the market today are using it, but they don't advertise it. You have high automation already."

The amount of labor used on sorting lines has changed drastically over the years in the industry. Ten years ago, the "industry standard" was to have at least 40 sorters in a 40-ton-per-hour system, Everhart says. Today, operators are using less manual labor in favor of automation to help offset challenging commodity prices and high operating costs, as well as to help with productivity and to increase quality.

"Over the years, it's changed to a target range of about 20 to 30 laborers," Everhart says. "In the last year, people are starting to flirt with three to four sorters in a facility."

Everhart says, "MRFs are putting concepts and designs together" where there will be fewer than 10 people working in an average 35-ton-per-hour facility in the next year or two.

However, he notes that one of the immediate challenges to achieving full automation in North America will be the integration of robotic sorting technology into existing waste and recycling operations.

"The problem is that people utilizing robots are early adopters," Everhart says. "The issue is not the technology or programming, but it takes people at the plant thousands of hours to figure out how to get it set up right. Manufacturers making the robotic sorters are just getting enough hours in real-life applications to get the kinks worked out. It's definitely improving, but it's not as quick as everybody would like it to be."

This article originally appeared in the Nov./Dec. issue of Waste Today. The author is the digital editor for Recycling Today Media Group and can be contacted at kmaile@gie.net.


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