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Potpourri: Jan, 27, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The New York Times says that Joe Manchin's "Senate financial disclosures state that in 2011 and 2012, he made nearly $1.5 million a year from his coal brokerage firm." Do you suppose that coal industry purchasers and sellers are eager to do private business with West Virginia's most powerful politician? Although he put his assets in something called the "Joe Manchin III 2004 Blind Trust," we suspect that parties involved in coal-dealing aren't blind, and know who's utilizing the brokerage.

• • •Boomerang chicken: The U.S. Department of Agriculture now permits slaughtered American chickens to be shipped in freezer compartments to China for processing, then returned to this country for sale, according to the December issue of AARP's magazine. Good grief. Are food corporations so determined to avoid paying American workers that they resort to this bizarre 25,000-mile end-run?

• • • A new international report says the world's 85 richest people own $1.7 trillion -- the same as the amount owned by the bottom half of humanity, 3.5 billion people. Ah, the joys of capitalism.

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Bearing arms in West Virginia: A West Side teenager is charged with shooting another young man in the face with a silver pistol after the two quarreled on Facebook and got into a scuffle.

• • • We quoted MSN News that the Milky Way galaxy has 46 billion Earth-size planets -- "more than the total number of grains of sand in all the Earth's beaches and deserts." But chemical engineer Gary Brown, husband of former Delegate Bonnie Brown, says the planet's grains of sand total far more than 46 billion.

• • • Some NASCAR drivers who call themselves Racers Who Ride are appealing to U.S. motorists to be careful and considerate of bicyclists along America's highways. Billy Tyo of Frametown, Braxton County, sent us a report about it and added: "West Virginia's country roads are perfect for cyclists -- except when a motorist buzzes by and almost wipes them out."

• • • A far-right British politician, David Silvester, says he told Prime Minister David Cameron that England's recent flooding was God's punishment for the "spiritual disease" of homosexuality. By tolerating gays, Silvester said, the British government "acted against the gospel." Well, same-sex marriage is snowballing in this country, so will America suffer worse storms and floods?

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