Sunday December 17, 2017

Books, lots and lots of books! Book Store in a Tiny Rural Town Mount Crawford in Virginia enjoys Mega Success

About 25,000 people visit during each session in Green Valley Book Fair and the fair generates about $2 million in annual revenue

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A book store, Pixabay

A bookstore in the tiny town of Mount Crawford, Virginia is nothing fancy – no comfy chairs or coffee like you find in some other stores. Yet this store has proven resilient over the years through a simple philosophy of giving people what they want: books, lots and lots of books.

Getting there in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley is simple. Drive along country roads and just follow the road signs pointing the way, toward the large warehouses tucked into a hillside.

Inside, shoppers with baskets in tow browse tables and shelves brimming with books. Many are loyal customers, like Zoe Dellinger.

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“I’ve been coming here since I was in my early 20s,” Dellinger said. “The thrill of finding a new book is very serendipitous here because you can’t come and say I’m buying the new Nicholas Sparks book today. That’s not what this place is about. This place is about finding wonderful treasures.”

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And those treasures are available at deeply discounted prices.

“I found a wonderful book that I wanted. It was very expensive at the time: 25, 26 dollars is expensive for me to purchase a new book. I found the book here for $5. I was so excited, so that has kept me coming back just to see what treasures I will find, “said Delinger.

In its 2,300 square-meter two-building facility, the Green Valley Book Fair has a half million new and old books in a wide variety of categories including politics, religion, science, travel, cooking, children’s books and just about anything you can think of.

But it wasn’t always this big.

“My parents actually started this book store about 46 years ago,” General manager Michele Branner said. “My dad collected old books and decided that he wanted to sell some of them. This is the old barn that the cow stalls were taken out of, and that my parents actually had shelves built on each row. People would come in and shop and buy books out of here. It went so well. It’s just kind of evolved to what it is today.”

The Green Valley Book Fair opens only six times a year for three-week sessions. About 25,000 people visit during each session, and the fair generates about $2 million in annual revenue.

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“We buy our books at a fraction of retail and we can sell them for the prices that we do and keep our overhead low. That’s why we don’t have any fancy buildings or anything like that, said Branner.”

People have come to visit from all over the U.S. and from faraway places like Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia.

Tim Whitton came from Bristol, Connecticut.

“We have a whole family with us this time. We said you gotta see this book fair and so we brought them all here today. It meets every family’s need that likes to read,” said Whitton.

It’s a simple business ethic: give the people what they want. And despite what you may hear about electronic devices being the ‘end of print,’ it looks like there are plenty of people who want nothing more than to settle in with a good book. (VOA)

  • Manthra koliyer

    this book store is a real treat for Avid readers!

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Wow! Indeed heaven for book lovers.

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Upgrade of murder charge of the white nationalist, James Alex Fields Jr. in Virginia car killing

James Alex Field Jr. murder charge has been upgraded from second degree to first degree who has been accused of killing a 32 year old woman in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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FILE - A photo of Heather Heyer, who was killed during a white nationalist rally, sits on the ground at a memorial the day her life was celebrated at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia.
FILE - A photo of Heather Heyer, who was killed during a white nationalist rally, sits on the ground at a memorial the day her life was celebrated at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • James Allex Fields Jr., the white nationalist who murdered a woman in Virginia.
  • The murder charge has been upgraded for the accused
  • Second-degree murder changed to first-degree murder

US, December 14, 2017: A white nationalist accused of killing a 32-year-old woman when he plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August was charged with first-degree murder Thursday, local media reported.

James Fields Jr., 20, appeared at Charlottesville District Court for a preliminary hearing, during which a previous charge of second-degree murder was changed to first-degree murder, local TV station WSET and others reported from the court.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is seen in a mugshot released by Charlottesville, Virginia, police department.
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is seen in a mugshot released by Charlottesville, Virginia, police department.

Fields would face up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, while second-degree murder carries a penalty of five to 40 years in prison, according to the Virginia penal code.

Court officials and the local district attorney were not immediately available for comment.

Ohio-native Fields is suspected of killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 people.

The incident took place amid clashes between hundreds of white supremacists and counterprotesters. After hours of clashes, a sedan driving at high speed plowed into the crowd before reversing along the same street.

Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia’s flagship campus.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe blamed neo-Nazis for sparking the unrest in the city, where rival groups fought pitched battles using rocks and pepper spray after far-right protesters converged to demonstrate against a plan to remove a statue of a Confederate war hero.

After the rally, Republican President Donald Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides, drawing condemnation from some Republican leaders and praise from white supremacists. (VOA)

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Sudanese Refugee Freed by Congressman of US, Finds New Life in US with Family

Abduraheem says his work was spreading the gospel; the Sudanese government accused him of espionage, and he was detained along with two other pastors in December 2015.

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Pastor Hassan AbduraheeN
Pastor Hassan Abduraheem, second from left, is shown in prison of refugees in Sudan. VOA.

Six weeks after arriving in the United States, Hassan Abduraheem takes a seat in the back pew of Tar Wallet Baptist Church. Tucked into the woods along a country road in rural Virginia, the church holds about 50 worshippers.

On this cold November Sunday, Abduraheem and his family of eight noticeably increase the congregation’s size. They do their best to follow the unfamiliar English of the old Baptist hymns, which are very familiar to their new neighbors. And they share the hymns from their former home — Sudan.

Standing in a single line in front of the altar, the family fills the church with Arabic song.

“Unbelievable,” Abduraheem says repeatedly, as he describes his journey from a crowded prison cell in Sudan to a fixed-up house on the farm of his new pastor. “Unbelievable” seems like the only word that could describe the turn his life took, thanks to a Facebook post and a U.S. congressman.

Abduraheem’s work as a former pastor is not outlawed in his native Sudan, but Christians are a minority in a diverse country that has suffered through multiple civil wars. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, there has been “an escalation in the Sudanese government’s persecution of Christians,” since the 2011 secession of South Sudan.

Abduraheem says his work was spreading the gospel; the Sudanese government accused him of espionage, and he was detained along with two other pastors in December 2015.

“The first day when they took us to the prison, they beat us,” he says softly.

Abduraheem was shifted from prison to prison. For five months, he wore the same clothes he was wearing when he was arrested. His eyes became damaged from the harsh prison light. Yet, despite constant interrogations, just two meals of beans a day and a tiny cell with barely enough room to sleep, he says the worst part of prison was not knowing.

“It was a very hard time for me, thinking of my family, because I [didn’t] know anything about them,” he told VOA in his first media interview in the United States.

But even after numerous delays to his trial and an eventual 12-year prison sentence, he couldn’t shake a sense of faith.

“No one told me, but I had the peace that something [was] going [on] outside,” Abduraheem says.

An enormous effort

Far away from Sudan, a Facebook post telling Abduraheem’s story reached just the right person.

“I didn’t know any better, so I got in my car and drove to the Sudanese Embassy and asked to speak with the ambassador,” Representative Tom Garrett, a Republican in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, told VOA. Garrett first saw the story on the Facebook page for Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian organization whose African regional director was imprisoned with Abduraheem.

It was the first time a member of Congress had spoken to the Sudanese government in 10 years, according to Garrett’s office.

After thousands of messages, hundreds of work hours and a trip to Sudan, Garrett collaborated with nongovernmental organizations to free Abduraheem in May 2017. The congressman also worked to secure humanitarian parole status to bring the pastor and his family to the United States.

“I commend the Sudanese government to the extent they were willing to acknowledge that mistakes have been made in the past, and there’s a need to reassess how religious minorities are treated. That’s progress,” says Garrett, a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

It’s also an opportunity to advance the relationship between the United States and Sudan, he adds.

“As a result of sanctions dating back to the nineties, Sudan is eager to distance itself from a dark past,” he said in a statement.

Sudanese Refugees
Congressman Thomas Garrett, from left, meets with Pastor Hassan Abduraheem, another Sudanese pastor, Robert Johansen, Adburaheem’s new pastor at Tar Wallet Baptist Church. VOA.

Building a new life

Abduraheem and his family visited the congressman in Washington, D.C., last month to see where their life in the U.S. became possible. While it was their first time in the American city, it also was a new experience for their congressman.

“You can love a bill, you can believe in a bill, you can advocate on behalf of a bill, but you can’t say a prayer with a bill, have dinner with a bill, shake hands with a bill. It was sort of surreal,” Garrett says of meeting Abduraheem at the airport.

Five churches in Garrett’s district banded together to fix up a home for the family, launching a GoFundMe page to pay for food, clothing and other expenses while the family waits for work authorizations. In the meantime, family members have been adjusting to the incredible change of leaving Sudan to build a life in America.

For them, everything is new — from discovering constant running hot water to buying winter coats for the snow they will soon see for the first time. But those immense changes are grounded by Abduraheem’s certainty.

“Even though it is hard for us to leave our country, I think it is also better,” Abduraheem says of his family. “I don’t want them to grow there and go through a lot of difficulties like I went through it. Here, I know they can have a chance.” (VOA)

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US Presidential Election 2016: Voting begins across 6 Different Time Zones

Polling booths will open between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time and close between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m

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Representational image. Flickr

Washington, November 8, 2016: As Americans go to the polls on Tuesday to elect their 45th president, here’s what to watch out for:

All 50 states and Washington D.C. go to the polls across six different time zones on election day. Thirteen of the states are operating with split time zones.

Depending on the state, polling booths will open between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time and close between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. (If a voter is in line when polls close, then he or she gets to vote.)

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But it is not just winning the popular vote that counts. The US’ system is a race to secure 270 out of the 538 votes in the electoral college.

Most of the US will have to wait for polling stations to close (typically between 5.30 a.m Wednesday and 6.30 a.m Indian time) for state projections.

One small town, Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, which is keeping alive a tradition of a midnight vote that began in 1960, has declared its result before the polls even open everywhere else.

Once the polls have closed, there will be a projection for each state based on opinion polls taken throughout the day, which are a good indication of the results – but not always correct.

According to CNN, the solid Republican states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The lean Republican comprise Georgia, Iowa, Maine 2nd Congressional District, Ohio and Utah.

The solid Democratic states comprise California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota and New Mexico.

The leans Democratics are Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Battleground or Swing states (a state where the two major political parties have similar levels of support among voters, important to determine the overall result) are Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Nebraska 2nd Congressional District, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

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The results are expected to be known in India by 9.30 a.m. IST on Wednesday morning. That’s when West Coast polls close and history suggests a winner’s declared. It was bang on the hour in 2008, and 15 minutes later in 2012.

Polls begin to close in western states from about 10 p.m. ET — or 8.30 a.m. India time.

Usually by around 11 p.m. ET November 8 on the East Coast it becomes clear that one side has prevailed, although the result could come sooner than that.

All eyes will be on the key battleground state of Virginia, which voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but was previously solid Republican.

Georgia is another one to watch. The state has voted Republican since 1996, but the party’s margin of victory has eroded in recent elections.

Also expect projections from Indiana, home to Trump running mate Mike Pence, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vermont.

Half an hour later, polls close in two further important states, North Carolina and Ohio, the swing state which has backed the winner at every presidential contest.

By 8 p.m. ET (6.30 a.m. IST), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma will begin their state projections.

Another half hour later (7 a.m. India time) polls will close in Arkansas, which backed former President Bill Clinton at successive elections in the 1990s, but has voted Republican since 2000.

New York, Colorado, Michigan, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska might show their projections by now.

Polls close in the biggest electoral prize on the map, California, which is a Democratic stronghold, as well as Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii — 10.30 p.m. ET or 9 a.m. India time.

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Depending on how the electoral college is stacking up, every media outlet could declare the next president of the US.

The president-elect will not actually become the 45th president of the US until January 20, 2017, which is Inauguration Day. The president-elect will place his or her hand on the bible and take the Oath of Office at noon.

From then, the government is in their hands. So is the White House. Usually, the sitting president and their spouse host the incoming-First Couple for tea before the ceremony.
About six hours later, the new First Family moves in. (IANS)