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The Huntington Mall has announced its holiday shopping schedule for 2020.

Interactive display helps to remember MU plane crash victims individually

HUNTINGTON — Despite the great loss that Huntington faced after the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash, one Marshall University student has developed an outlet to help keep history alive.  

Kyle Powers, student body vice president at Marshall and Wayne County native, said he created an interactive display in the Memorial Student Center so those who lost loved ones in the crash know the victims have not been forgotten.

“I want any and all visiting members of the families to know their loved one’s story isn’t done being told,” Powers said. “The 75 will forever be a part of this university, and through this touchscreen, I hope that story never leaves.”

The display showcases the Marshall football team and staff members, and those interested can use the touchscreen to select individuals and see personal and athletic information.

Powers said the idea came from noticing the former display in the student center and thinking that the people were being remembered as a group, but not being seen individually.

“In the old student center there was a picture of the team. I would walk past and think, ‘Is this all we have for them?’” Powers said. “While we memorialize the 75 as a whole, the main idea behind the touchscreen was to provide the community with names and faces for each of the 75 instead of them all as a whole.”

Powers said the project included help from multiple departments, ranging from IT to Special Collections.

One of the helpers for the project was head of the Special Collections Department, Lori Thompson, who said she views the department as Marshall’s “junk drawer” that gets to collect and organize information to make available for anyone interested.

“Special Collections started in the ’70s as a way to not only archive the university’s materials, but also materials from the region,” Thompson said. “We are the place that materials go to live for history. So, it is our job to organize them, make them available to search in and preserve them for future generations of researchers or community members who want to know more about the region.”

Thompson said before the interactive display, former director of Special Collections Department Lisle Brown had created a website to display information regarding the players and staff members who died. Though it “did the job” at the time, Thompson said technology now has provided more opportunities for research and history.

“The perk of have a digital display is that it’s not static,” she said. “They can add new features and information whenever they want to. And over time, when we find new research and information, we can add to it, which is cool.”

Powers said there are no new additions to the display yet, but there are some in the works.

Chaotic presidential transition brings vulnerability, security risks to nation

President Donald Trump’s firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, days after losing the election, and a Pentagon personnel shake-up that has followed have injected uncertainty into the ranks of national security leadership at a vulnerable moment for the United States, adding more turmoil to a period that already carries risk for the nation.

In the week since Election Day, Trump has refused to concede and has publicized false claims of fraud to overshadow the result. He also has declined to give President-elect Joe Biden resources and daily presidential intelligence briefings to aid the transition to the new administration.

The Pentagon turmoil could further jeopardize the prospect of a seamless handover, at what experts say is a sensitive time.

“It is a time of vulnerability, and it’s a time when your enemies can be testing you,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the nonprofit White House Transition Project. “It is the kind of thing that you have to get right.”

National security crises have challenged presidents during past transitions. The Iran hostage crisis — after militant students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran — came to a close in 1981 during the transition between Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, occurred in 1988 during the transition from Reagan to President George H.W. Bush; and Bush ordered U.S. troops into Somalia in his final weeks in office, in 1992, during the transition to President Bill Clinton.

Direct threats to the homeland have emerged during transitions as well. As George W. Bush welcomed President-elect Barack Obama to the White House for coffee on the morning of the 2009 inauguration, their respective national security aides sat in the Situation Room, discussing a possible threat to the event that U.S. intelligence had picked up from the extremist group al-Shabab, according to Kumar, who wrote a book about that transition.

The feared attack never took place, and the inauguration went off without a problem. But the Situation Room meeting, which came after joint crisis training sessions, underscored the vulnerability of the nation during presidential transitions — and how cooperation between the outgoing and incoming teams can reduce risk.

“Foreign adversaries believe that the United States is preoccupied during transitions, and it’s in our national security interest to demonstrate that we are not,” said David Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition. He warned: “Failure to have a smooth transition could put our national security, our economic security and our health security at risk.”

Trump has signaled no interest in ensuring a seamless transition, instead proceeding as though he won a second term. The White House has told federal agencies to continue preparing for Trump’s budget submission to Congress in February.

The situation has prompted accusations that Trump is endangering the country.

“By destabilizing our national security team, we could increase the likelihood that one of our adversaries tries to take advantage of us,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview.

“Trump is always distracted, but he is particularly distracted now, and there’s now also the possibility of having a fractured or inexperienced or incomplete national security team to deal with a crisis.”

In addition to personnel changes, Trump could make foreign policy moves before leaving office that could hem in Biden’s future choices, for example by increasing pressure on Iran to make reviving the 2015 nuclear accord even more difficult.

Foreign powers such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey that are likely to receive more pushback from a Biden administration could use the final months of the Trump administration to accomplish goals that might present challenges later, particularly if Washington is preoccupied with a chaotic presidential transition.

Neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended congratulations to Biden. A discordant transition could give both leaders an opportunity to make moves in their own regions.

China could extend its crackdown on Hong Kong or make a move on more disputed islands in the South China Sea, while Russia could take measures in its proxy war in the eastern part of Ukraine.

“Congress can fill part of the void,” Murphy said on Twitter. “Bipartisan statements, resolutions, and legislation can make clear there will be a cross-party consensus around consequences for any escalatory actions by other powers in the transition period.”

Uncertainty about how the United States would react during a lame-duck presidency could also deter foreign powers from taking the risk.

“The problem is, if you actually try to exploit it in a period of this kind of transition, you have absolutely no idea of what the American reaction would be, both immediately or over time,” said Anthony Cordesman, a foreign policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Another transition risk is the possibility that Trump administration officials will continue to declassify materials deemed politically helpful to the president and his allies. Before his firing, Esper had joined the National Security Agency director, Gen. Paul Nakasone, and CIA Director Gina Haspel in pushing against declassification of Russia-related materials, arguing such moves would harm national security and the U.S. military, columnist David Ignatius reported in The Washington Post.

A chaotic transition could disadvantage the Biden administration if a crisis, in addition to the coronavirus pandemic, emerges during its first months in office.

The rocky transition between Clinton and George W. Bush in 2000, following a recount in Florida and subsequent Supreme Court case, delayed the final result by more than 30 days, halving the normal transition period.

The 9/11 Commission Report later found “this loss of time hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees” ahead of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Biden is entering the White House after recent updates to the law — some of which were written and introduced by former senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, Biden’s longtime chief of staff in the Senate and head of his transition team — setting out requirements for the transfer of power.

Among other things, those changes require the creation of a White House transition coordinating council six months before the election. The Trump administration set up the council, which is chaired by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and vice chaired by Chris Liddell, the deputy chief of staff. The law also requires each federal agency to put a senior career employee in charge of the transition activities.

But Trump has refused to set in motion much of what the laws require. The administrator of the General Services Administration, a Trump appointee, is supposed to sign a formal notice to begin the transition but has declined to do so.

“Transitions have taken on a new form since 2010. Prior to 2010, they were much less formal, primarily in secret. After 2010, they have emerged as an important obligation of a candidate, and that’s because of legislation,” said Mike Leavitt, a former Utah governor who worked on the changes to the law after serving in George W. Bush’s Cabinet.

Leavitt said the first priority for the incoming administration is to choose a White House staff and the second priority is to select a national security team, including a national security adviser, secretary of state and defense secretary.

“One of the most important components and most important reasons for (an orderly) transition is that if you are a foreign power and looking for an opportunity to be harmful to the interests of the United States, you’d look for a period of confusion and a lack of controls — and those could potentially come in transitions,” Leavitt said.

The United States has endured disorderly and acrimonious transitions in the past. Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson, for example, didn’t attend the inaugurations of their successors. During the transition from James Buchanan to Abraham Lincoln, seven Southern states seceded from the Union, setting the stage for the Civil War.

“Chaos is probably more the historical normal, but recently we have established new standards, and that’s appropriate — and the question is: Will the current administration meet the task?” said Stephen Hadley, who served as George W. Bush’s national security adviser and played a crucial role in the Bush-Obama transition.

Hadley said that even if Trump doesn’t support the transition, people in his administration and career employees at the agencies understand the importance of a presidential handover and are determined to have a good transition.

“If the president doesn’t disrupt it, it will happen,” he said.

Ohio reissues mask mandate with new provisions

HUNTINGTON — With cases surging across the nation, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said it was time to go “back to the basics” and implemented new measures to reduce COVID-19 spread.

In a special address Wednesday evening, DeWine announced he was reissuing the state’s mask order with three new provisions:

Each business in the state will be required to post a face mask requirement sign at all public entrances.

Each store will be responsible for ensuring customers and employees are wearing masks.

  1. The state is establishing a new Retail Compliance Unit comprised of agents led by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation that will inspect for compliance.

The first violation of this order will result in a written warning and a second violation will result in closure of the store for up to 24 hours.

“I am very well aware of the burden this will place on employees and the owners. But these are places where it is difficult or impossible to maintain mask-wearing, which we know now is the chief way of slowing this virus,” DeWine said.

The governor also will update the existing public gathering order, which currently limits gatherings to no more than 10.

“Specifically, open congregate areas can no longer be open,” DeWine said. “The order will require everyone to be seated and masked unless they are actively consuming food or drinks, and it will prohibit things such as dancing and games.”

DeWine said he will also decide whether to close bars and restaurants in a week.

He urged Ohioans to follow the basics: Wear a mask, maintain physical distance and wash hands. He said to not let someone into your “bubble,” even close friends and family.

“During the spring and summer virus surges, the most COVID patients in the hospital at one time was a little over 1,100,” he said.

“Last week, we were at almost 2,000 COVID patients in our hospitals. Today — one week later — we are approaching 3,000. Ohio also has a record number of patients in our intensive care units. A month ago, 240 patients with COVID were in the ICU receiving critical care. Tonight, more than 700 of our fellow Ohioans are in the ICU.”

Deaths have also increased. In October, 86 Ohioans died of COVID-19. More than 100 have already died in November.

DeWine said if the trend continues, elective procedures at hospitals will again need to be put on hold. He said that is coming sooner rather than later.

Ohio recorded its second highest daily total of COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with 5,874 new cases reported, for a total of 267,356. The state has reported 5,623 deaths related to the virus.

The Lawrence County Health Department reported 42 new positive cases Wednesday. Due to the increased number of cases and the time it takes to investigate/contact trace, the department shortened its daily release and did not report the number out of isolation.

Ohio joined just a handful of states reinstating stricter pandemic guidelines, including West Virginia’s eastern border state of Maryland. Though cases and other metrics are booming in West Virginia as well, Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday he was not ready to take anything off the table — though he didn’t specify what was on the table besides “everything.”

“I don’t know what else I can do,” Justice said. “I have given it everything I have. I don’t know what else I can do.”

For the fifth time in seven days, West Virginia on Wednesday set a new record for the highest number of new daily cases — 885 since Tuesday — for a total of 30,201. Though hospitalizations have dipped slightly in that same time — down to 277 from last week’s high of 290 — state officials agreed at Wednesday’s briefing that the virus was continuing to grow in West Virginia.

Seven new COVID-19-related deaths were reported, including 70-, 71- and 84-year-old Cabell County residents. The county has reported 40 deaths, while the state has reported a total of 553 deaths related to the virus.

“Understand that while an increase in testing does identify new cases, that those cases are real activity in West Virginia. It’s not just a proportional more tests, more positive cases — there’s actually more disease in West Virginia,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus czar. “(COVID-19 rates continuing to increase) tells us that West Virginia, while people have done well, and we’re so proud of our citizens’ actions and working together as a community of West Virginians, that we need to step it up.”

Total cases per county are: Barbour (243), Berkeley (2,026), Boone (474), Braxton (92), Brooke (318), Cabell (1,908), Calhoun (41), Clay (81), Doddridge (83), Fayette (879), Gilmer (166), Grant (218), Greenbrier (272), Hampshire (188), Hancock (306), Hardy (136), Harrison (811), Jackson (478), Jefferson (800), Kanawha (4,324), Lewis (178), Lincoln (322), Logan (864), Marion (512), Marshall (634), Mason (214), McDowell (186), Mercer (951), Mineral (426), Mingo (786), Monongalia (2,595), Monroe (284), Morgan (185), Nicholas (230), Ohio (863), Pendleton (80), Pleasants (49), Pocahontas (77), Preston (287), Putnam (1,241), Raleigh (1,016), Randolph (511), Ritchie (77), Roane (125), Summers (184), Taylor (196), Tucker (71), Tyler (94), Upshur (330), Wayne (713), Webster (43), Wetzel (281), Wirt (61), Wood (1,233) and Wyoming (458).

There were 576 active cases in Cabell County on Wednesday.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also urged the Bluegrass State to step it up as the state recorded a new single-day record with 2,700 new positive cases, for a total of 127,344. There were 14 new deaths reported, for a total of 1,604.

“The entire state is in danger,” Beshear said Wednesday. “COVID-19 is absolutely everywhere. We need everybody to wear your masks and follow red zone reduction recommendations and school recommendations.”

Boyd County was identified as being in the red zone last week.

The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department reported 24 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. There are 388 active cases in the county.

More than 134,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across the U.S. on Wednesday, for a total of 10,170,846, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been 239,590 deaths related to the virus.