What is The Greenbrier, the resort GOP members were headed to when their train hit a truck?

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 1:35 PM

What Is The Greenbrier?

A train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat in the mountains of West Virginia struck a truck Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring several others, according to authorities.

The Amtrak train was carrying members of Congress, their wives and staff members to The Greenbrier resort in the Allegheny Mountains near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, when it struck a garbage truck that was apparently on the track.

According to Capitol Police, there were no serious injuries to anyone on the train. The person killed was on the garbage truck, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Republican members of Congress were on the chartered Amtrak train on their way to a retreat where Vice President Mike Pence was to speak Wednesday night and President Donald Trump was to appear on Thursday. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and several Cabinet members, plus 35 U.S. senators and 180 members of the House of Representatives, were to be at the three-day gathering.

The retreat at The Greenbrier, a resort that sits on some 11,000 acres, is an annual affair for GOP members of Congress. The resort has a storied history that includes stints as a hospital, a holding place for Axis diplomats during World War II, and the site for a secret bunker built to keep top members of the government safe in the event of a nuclear war.

 Here’s what to know about The Greenbrier (from The Greenbrier website):

  • Guests came to the area where The Greenbrier sits as early as 1778 to “take the waters.”
  • Retreats at the property began in the 1830s when politicians, lawyers, planters and others would gather. The retreats took place in the summer, according to The Greenbrier, because the mountains offered relief from the heat.
  • Five sitting presidents stayed there between 1830-1861.
  • By 1858, construction began on the first large hotel on the site. It was known as “The Old White.”
  • Both sides stayed on the grounds of the hotel during the Civil War.
  • The Greenbrier closed during the Civil War.
  • The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway purchased The Greenbrier in 1910, and by 1913 it has expanded the hotel to include mineral baths, a golf course and a new hotel.
  • The resort grows in popularity among the wealthy. Joe and Rose Kennedy honeymooned there and President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson spent a holiday there.
  • The resort sees another major renovation in 1922.
  • In 1941, the U.S. State Department leased the hotel for seven months to relocate German, Japanese and Italian diplomats and their families from Washington, D.C., “until their exchange for U.S. diplomats similarly stranded overseas.” A year later, the U.S. Army purchased and converted the hotel into a 2,000-bed hospital known as Ashford General Hospital.
  • In 1946, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway reacquired the hotel from the U.S. government, renovated it and reopened the hotel in 1948.
  • In the 1950s, amid increasing alarm over a possible nuclear attack, the federal government asked The Greenbrier if it could build an “Emergency Relocation Center,” a bunker that would house the president and/or members of Congress in case of a nuclear attack. The Greenbrier owners agree and built an underground facility code-named “Project Greek Island.” The bunker remained classified and mostly unknown for 30 years. The bunker was decommissioned in 1992.
  • The Greenbrier was purchased in 2009 by Jim Justice. Justice, at the time, was an entrepreneur. He is now governor of West Virginia, who prior to his election in 2016, announced at a Trump rally in Huntington, West Virginia, that he was changing parties to become a Republican.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - JULY 14: A resort employee passes by the Hotel Blast Door, which weighs 18 tons and serves as an entrance to a former government relocation facility, also know as "the bunker," at Greenbrier Resort July 14, 2006 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The bunker, codenamed "Project Greek Island" and planned by the Eisenhower Administration, was a 112,000 square-foot shelter constructed beneath the Greenbrier Resort's West Virginia Wing, to serve as a relocation site for members of the U.S. Congress and associated staff in the event of a nuclear attack on the U.S. soil. The facility was built between 1958 and 1961 and was maintained in a state of operational readiness until the government terminated the lease with the resort in 1995. The bunker will be reopened for public tours on August 20 after a two-year-long renovation. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Rare yellow cardinal a ‘one in a million’ gem for birdwatchers in Alabama

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:47 PM

A yellow cardinal.
A yellow cardinal.(Wikicommons)


Birdwatchers and biologists have been on the lookout for a rare, yellow cardinal that’s been spotted around central Alabama in Shelby County in recent weeks, AL.com reported.

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The bird has been getting a lot of attention recently after  resident Charlie Stephenson first noticed it at her backyard feeder and posted a picture on social media.

The cardinal’s bright yellow feathers are a result of a genetic mutation, according to scientists, who say it’s the same species as the familiar vivid red cardinal, but carries a mutation that changes its coloring.

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The rare cardinal is a different species from the endangered South American yellow cardinal species.

The bird in Shelby County is an adult male and Auburn University biology professor and bird expert Geoffrey Hill told AL.com the mutation is so rare that even he’s never seen one in person.

"I've been birdwatching in the range of cardinals for 40 years and I've never seen a yellow bird in the wild," Hill said. He estimated that there are just a few of these yellow cardinals in the U.S. and Canada in any given year.

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"There are probably a million bird feeding stations in that area, so very very roughly, yellow cardinals are a one in a million mutation,” Hill said.

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House releases Democrats’ rebuttal to GOP memo on alleged government surveillance abuses

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 4:23 PM

 House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks at the Council On Foreign Relations .
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
 House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks at the Council On Foreign Relations .(Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The House Intelligence Committee Saturday released the Democrats’ rebuttal to the Republican memo alleging the FBI and Department of Justice engaged in questionable tactics in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia. 

>> Read more trending news 

Schiff Memo by National Content Desk on Scribd

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The 10-page memo, released two weeks after President Donald Trump blocked it and after wrangling between Democrats and DOJ officials, was authored by ranking Intelligence Committee Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in response to one by House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), and disputes allegations that illegal tactics were used to get warrants to surveil a former Trump campaign aide.

“The Democratic response memo released today should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the FISC. Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said in a statement Saturday after the release of the memo.

Trump tweeted a response to Schiff’s document release Saturday, calling the Democrats’ memo “a total political and legal bust.” He also repeated his claims that special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign is a “witch hunt.”

The president released the Nunes memo last month, which contained information purporting to show that the FBI and DOJ did not provide complete information when requesting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to watch one-time Trump campaign member and foreign policy advisor Carter Page.

>> Related: Trump sends Democrats’ Nunes rebuttal memo back to House committee

The release of both memos came over the objections of investigators in the intelligence communities.

What You Need To Know About Carter Page

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World’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, restricts late-night access 

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 8:38 PM

Travelers pause to check flight information before proceeding to their gates at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Todd Bennett/Getty Images
Travelers pause to check flight information before proceeding to their gates at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.(Todd Bennett/Getty Images)

Hartsfield-Jackson International announced it will soon begin restricting access to the airport between the hours of 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.

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Starting March 2, the world’s busiest airport said access to the terminals, parking decks, SkyTrain and rental car center during that overnight period will be restricted to ticketed airline passengers; people meeting, accompanying or assisting passengers; and “authorized personnel.”

While airport officials have taken steps before to ask overnight visitors to show their boarding passes, the new policy comes amid a growing issue of homeless people sleeping in the Atlanta airport’s domestic terminal overnight.

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Airport officials said the change is “a result of an increasing volume” of passengers and visitors, along with construction projects, and will allow overnight crews to thoroughly clean public areas.

A band performs in the Atlanta airport’s domestic terminal atrium as part of an entertainment series at Hartsfield-Jackson in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

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FDA approves blood test that can detect concussions 

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 10:58 PM

Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. 
Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. (Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a breakthrough blood test that can help detect concussions in adults.

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The blood test, also known as the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator Test, works by measuring UCH-L1 and GFAP, both proteins released from the brain into the blood, within 12 hours of a head injury.

It can be administered as soon as 15 minutes after the injury, but results take a few hours to produce.

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According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury is a “serious public health problem in the United States.” In 2013 alone, there were about 2.8 million visits to emergency rooms for traumatic brain injury-related conditions. Of these, nearly 50,000 people died.

TBI is typically caused by a blow or bump to the head, or a by a head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. It can range from mild to severe. About 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year are assessed as mild TBIs or concussions. 

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Most patients with traumatic brain injury undergo a neurological exam, followed by a CT scan.

For their research, the FDA evaluated data on 1,947 individual blood samples from adults with suspected mild TBI or concussion and reviewed the product’s performance by comparing blood test results with CT scan results.

They found the blood test was 97.5 percent as effective in detecting concussion and 99.6 perfect as effective in ruling out the injury.

The test also costs as little as one-tenth as much as a CT scan.

» RELATED: Which high school sports have the most concussions? 

"A blood test that accurately, reliably and consistently detects the presence of brain proteins that appear in the blood after a brain injury is a major advance," Dr. David Dodick, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology who specializes in sports medicine and neurology, told CNN. Dodick was not involved in the study.

One of the challenges of diagnosing concussions is that the injury’s symptoms can occur at various times. For some, they appear instantly. Others may not experience symptoms for hours or even days.

» RELATED: Football players under 12 at high risk of brain injury, study finds

Symptoms also vary from person to person. Some may experience light or noise sensitivity, or may lose balance.

“This is something that has been a long time coming,” Col. Dallas Hack, who was director of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program from 2008 to 2014 and is now retired, told the New York Times. 

“The concept originally was that we would have something that medical personnel in the field would be able to use to assess whether somebody who had received a head injury needed a higher level of care,” Hack said.

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But Dodick told CNN that researchers still need to better understand when brains have fully healed from trauma and how the protein biomarkers may actually affect prognosis. Additionally, it’s unclear whether or not the new test can determine subconcussive blows, hits to the head that don’t always cause symptoms but do cause brain injury. 

Subconcussive or repeat blows are believed to lead to the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Over time, that damage may lead to personality changes, mood disorders and other behavioral issues.

"These occur much more often than actual concussions, especially in certain collision and contact sports,” Dodick told CNN.

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