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State News
Posts from February 2013
by Associated Press posted Feb 28 2013 6:36PM
BUCKINGHAM, Va. (AP) - A veteran in Buckingham County has been awarded the medals he earned during World War II.
     Eighty-nine-year-old Charles Lewis received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and eight Air Medals on Wednesday during a ceremony at the Buckingham Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall.
     Lewis tells WSET-TV ( ) that the long delay in receiving the medals doesn't bother him. He says it was difficult for the military to keep track of who earned what because so many service members got out at once at the end of the war.
     Lewis served as a radio gunner after joining the Marines at age 18. He sent a copy of his log book to the government to prove he deserved the medals.
Filed Under :
People : Charles Lewis
by Associated Press posted Feb 28 2013 6:33PM
  FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) - A U.S. Army judge has accepted an offer by a private to plead guilty to violating military regulations in the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history.
     Pfc. Bradley Manning admits to sending hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, State Department diplomatic cables and other files to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad. 
     An Army judge accepted the pleas to 10 charges at a hearing Thursday. Manning could face a maximum of 20 years on those charges alone. 
     Prosecutors say they plan to move forward with an additional 12 charges against him, including aiding the enemy. That charge could carry a life sentence.
Filed Under :
Location : BaghdadMaryland
People : Bradley Manning
by AP posted Feb 28 2013 10:21AM
     ANNANDALE, Md. (AP) - Fairfax County police say a suspect died and an officer was injured in a head-on collision that closed a portion of the Little River Turnpike for hours. 
     Police say the chase began just after midnight when police responded to a domestic dispute report in West Springfield. A man in the home fled from the scene and police say officers chased the man who drove on the wrong side of the road for several miles. The chase ended in Annandale when the man's sports utility vehicle collided with an officer's vehicle.
     Police say the unidentified man died at the scene and the officer was hospitalized in critical condition. The roadway opened about 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
by Associated Press posted Feb 26 2013 4:05PM
 FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) - A military judge has refused to dismiss all charges against an Army private accused of sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
     Lawyers for Pfc. Bradley Manning argued the charges should be dismissed because he was denied a speedy trial. He has been detained for two years and nine months. Defense attorney David Coombs says that prosecutors have dragged their feet and that a commander rubber-stamped their requests for delay after delay.
     Prosecutors say the delays were reasonable, given the complexity of the case and the volume of classified material involved. The judge agreed Tuesday and denied the defense motion.
     Manning faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum life sentence. His trial is scheduled to start in June.
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Maryland
by Associated Press posted Feb 26 2013 3:59PM
 NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - President Barack Obama addressed thousands of shipyard workers in Virginia who are worried about what the future may hold if Congress can't reach an agreement on a spending deal. 
     Obama spoke at Newport News Shipbuilding on Tuesday.
     The shipyard is the largest industrial employer in Virginia. It builds and maintains the nation's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers as well as other warships.  
     Obama's visit came days before the Friday deadline in which automatic government spending cuts kick in unless Congress acts to avoid them.
     With its vast military and defense operations and civilian shipbuilding activities, Virginia is expected to be one of the hardest hit states if the cuts happen.
Filed Under :
Location : Virginia
People : Barack Obama
by AP posted Feb 22 2013 9:44AM

The AP's Andrew Taylor says at first people may not notice the effects of the sequestration but as it goes on everyone from travelers to government workers could feel the cuts.

Filed Under :
Topics : LaborPolitics
People : Andrew Taylor
by AP posted Feb 21 2013 8:17AM

<VIDEO> A Virginia-based private technology security firm described in extraordinary detail efforts it blamed on a Chinese military unit to hack into 141 businesses, mostly inside the U.S., and steal commercial secrets. China denies the claim.
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : Virginia
by Associated Press posted Feb 20 2013 6:21PM
  RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican legislation requiring voters to bring photo identification with them to the polls starting in 2014 has passed over Democratic protests that it disenfranchises Virginia's most vulnerable voters.
     The House completed passage of the Senate bill Wednesday on a mostly party line 65-34 vote.
     Democratic Del. Jennifer McClellan argued that the bill preys on the elderly, particularly minorities, and likened the costs for complying with some requirements for obtaining photo IDs to the Jim Crow-era poll taxes some of them experienced.
     Republicans countered that the bill only ensures that people entitled to cast ballots do so. But when pressed by Democratic Del. Joe Morrissey, none could point to a ballot-box voter fraud conviction or even a criminal charge for such an offense.
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsSocial Issues
Location : RichmondVirginia
by Associated Press posted Feb 20 2013 6:17PM
 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Legislative negotiators have reached a transportation funding reform compromise that could get full House and Senate votes by week's end.
     If the General Assembly can pass an accord by its scheduled adjournment Saturday, it would be the first comprehensive overhaul of the way Virginia pays for its highway system the legislature has approved since 1986.
     The 10 conferees signed an agreement Wednesday morning.
     Gaining support among the negotiators - five delegates and five senators - is a plan that would replace Virginia's 17 1/2 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax with a 3.5 percent wholesale gasoline tax, boost sales taxes from 5 percent to 5.3 percent, levy a $100 fee on hybrid cars and shift about $200 million a year in sales taxes to highway use in five years.
Filed Under :
Topics : Business_Finance
Location : Virginia
by Associated Press posted Feb 20 2013 6:16PM
  ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - Wegmans Food Markets has recalled its house brand of flour because it may contain small, blue polyurethane balls.
     The supermarket chain says the 5-pound bags its All-Purpose Bleached Flour may contain the balls, which are part of equipment used to sift the flour. The company says they're made of food-grade material that doesn't contaminate the product and are easily seen because of their bright color and size, about half the diameter of a dime.
     The flour was sold between Dec. 24 and Feb. 15. A company spokeswoman says Wednesday there have been no reports of injury or illness.   
     Packages may be returned to stores for full refunds.
     Wegmans has 81 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.
by AP posted Feb 20 2013 10:31AM

<VIDEO> A Virginia family has turned to the ancient practice of acupuncture to help reduce pain for their dog, Triumph, after the pet lost a leg to cancer.
by Associated Press posted Feb 19 2013 5:33PM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawyers for the man convicted of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy say his prosecution was "predicated on a lie," and they intend to file a motion for a new trial.
     The arguments from attorneys for Ingmar Guandique (gwahn-DEE'-kay) were included in records of previously closed hearings in the case that were unsealed Tuesday.
     Levy was an intern for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons whose 2001 murder attracted attention because of her romantic relationship with a California congressman. Guandique is an illegal immigrant from El Salvador and was convicted in 2010. He is serving a 60-year prison sentence.
     The case hinged on a jailhouse informant who said Guandique had confessed to killing Levy. The documents show prosecutors learned a year ago about a problem with a witness but it's not clear if that person was the informant.
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : CaliforniaWashington
People : Chandra Levy
by Associated Press posted Feb 19 2013 1:53PM
  RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Legislation to toughen the penalties for texting while driving is on its way to Gov. Bob McDonnell's desk.
     Without debate, the Senate voted 28-12 Tuesday to pass a House bill increasing the fine for a first offense from $20 to $250. The fine for a second or subsequent offense would go up from $50 to $500. 
     The legislation also changes texting while driving to a primary offense, allowing police to stop and ticket offenders. Currently it's a secondary offense, which means drivers can only be cited if they're stopped for another violation such as speeding.
     Another provision of the bill says anyone convicted of reckless driving faces a mandatory minimum $500 fine if the driver was texting at the time of the offense.
by Associated Press posted Feb 18 2013 6:43PM
 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The governor of Virginia is asking President Barack Obama in a letter to make good on his campaign pledge to avert automatic cuts to federal spending that would disproportionately damage Virginia.
     Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell says the threat of cuts from the 2011 Budget Control Act is already harming Virginia. But unless Obama and Congress agree on their own cuts before March 1, cuts known as the sequester would drain $85 billion from the government's budget over the coming seven months. 
     Virginia would feel the proportionately heaviest burden of any state. It has a heavy concentration of military assets, including the Pentagon and the world's largest U.S. Navy base at Norfolk, as well as defense and civilian government contractors.
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : Virginia
by Associated Press posted Feb 18 2013 6:41PM
  RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Legislative negotiators trying to reconcile two widely differing transportation funding bills say an agreement between them is possible, but finding one that can win final passage is still a tall order.
     Five delegates and five senators were huddling for the third time Monday evening with both parties reporting headway toward a possible handshake deal by Saturday's General Assembly adjournment.
     For the House to accept it, however, Republican Del. Chris Jones says Senate Democrats have to allow about five times more existing sales tax money to be used for transportation than the Senate bill now allows.
     And Democratic Del. Onzlee Ware says House Republicans and Gov. Bob McDonnell must accept keeping at least some of the state's gasoline tax in place. 
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : RichmondVirginia
by AP posted Feb 18 2013 11:28AM
     RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Youth sports programs that use public school property would have to establish procedures for identifying and handling concussions if legislation advancing in the Virginia General Assembly becomes law.
     The House Education Committee voted 16-5 to endorse the bill Monday. The measure has already passed the Senate.
     Democratic Sen. Ralph Northam, a Norfolk pediatric neurologist, is the bill's sponsor. He says sports-related concussions are a big problem that needs to be addressed.
     Public schools already are required to have concussion policies. Northam's bill would extend that mandate to non-interscholastic sports programs using public school athletic fields and gymnasiums.
     Opponents of the legislation said they were reluctant to impose the state's will on private organizations.
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : Virginia
People : Ralph Northam
by AP posted Feb 18 2013 10:41AM
     SANDSTON, Va. (AP) - Retired Major Carroll Thackston, a former adjutant general of the Virginia National Guard, has died. He was 79.
     The Guard said Monday in a news release that Thackston died Sunday at Lynchburg General Hospital.
     Thackston served as adjutant general from July 1994 to September 1998. He also served as assistant adjutant general from September 1989 to June 1993, and was chief of staff from December 1986 to September 1989.
     Thackston served in the Army Reserve at the beginning of his military career.
     He also was the mayor of South Boston and served on the town council after he left the Guard.
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : BostonVirginia
by AP posted Feb 18 2013 10:40AM

     WASHINGTON (AP) - George Washington's former home in Virginia is free to visitors on his birthday.
     Monday's Presidents Day holiday marks what would have been Washington's 281st birthday. Tickets to visit his Mount Vernon home are normally $17 for adults and $8 for children ages 6 to 11.
     Visitors to the home on Monday will get to see costumed characters from Washington's time, listen to patriotic music and watch military performances. 
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : Virginia
by Associated Press posted Feb 15 2013 5:34PM
 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The thousands of unmarried Virginia couples who are living together would no longer be breaking the law under legislation advanced by a House committee. 
     The House Courts of Justice Committee on Friday unanimously approved Sen. Adam Ebbin's bill repealing Virginia's 136-year-old law against what the state calls "lewd and lascivious cohabitation." The bill passed in the Senate last month on a 40-0 vote and now faces full House action.
     Ebbin has said census data shows about 140,000 Virginians are cohabitating. The Alexandria Democrat said that the law hasn't been enforced in a very long time and that Virginia is one of four states that make such living arrangements a crime.
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsSocial Issues
Location : AlexandriaVirginia
People : Adam Ebbin
by Deirdre Blake posted Feb 15 2013 5:12PM
You better not think about touching your phone in the car in Virginia.
Legislation that would crack down on people who text and drive is on the fast track to becoming law. The House and Senate Courts committees Friday report the measures for action.
The plans would change distracted driving such as using smart phones to text, troll the Web or check Facebook to a primary offense. That means police could stop and ticket offenders, just for that. Right now, you can only get a ticket for texting if you are stopped for another offense, like speeding.
Filed Under :
Location : Virginia
by AP posted Feb 14 2013 11:31AM
     RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Civil War has dominated tourism promotion in Virginia in recent years, but the road to independence is about to get some additional attention.
     Tourism and hospitality officials on Thursday announced an expansion of the Road to Revolution State Heritage Trail. The trail traces the state's earliest path to independence.
     The trail features Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, James Monroe's birthplace in Westmoreland County, the Hanover County Courthouse, Yorktown, and St. John's Church in Richmond, where Patrick Henry uttered the famous words "Give me liberty or give me death" in 1775.
     A spring travell brochure, a website and social media tools also were unveiled Thursday.
by AP posted Feb 14 2013 9:22AM
     RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Bob McDonnell urged low- and moderate-income Virginians to find out whether they're eligible for a program to allow them to prepare and file their taxes for free.
     The Virginia Free File program is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Taxation and a coalition of tax-software companies. It lets taxpayers who made less than $57,000 in 2012 to electronically their state and federal tax returns for free online using commercial tax-preparation software.
     The governor's office says that most taxpayers who don't qualify for the program can still file their taxes online for free using the state tax department's fillable forms program.
     More information is available at .
Filed Under :
Location : Virginia
People : Bob McDonnell
by AP posted Feb 14 2013 9:20AM
     RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Six Virginia hospitals are part of a pilot project to screen newborns for critical congenital heart disease.
     The Virginia Department of Health says project follows an executive order from Gov. Bob McDonnell to develop a plan to implement screening.
     Officials say that congenital heart defects affect about one in every 110 babies in the U.S. About two of every 1,000 babies have more serious forms of heart disease that can cause serious illness or even death if not found quickly.
     Babies are screened using a sensor that measures the amount of oxygen in the baby's blood. 
     The hospitals participating in the project during the first year: Augusta Health, Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Rockingham Memorial Hospital, University of Virginia Health System, Virginia Baptist Hosp
by AP posted Feb 14 2013 9:19AM
     ABINDGON, Va. (AP) - A University of Virginia-Wise student accused of falsely reporting a gunman on campus will undergo a competency evaluation.
     Bryant Alexander Hairston's arraignment had been scheduled for Thursday.
     The Bristol Herald-Courier reports that the arraignment is being postponed until after the evaluation.
     U.S. District Judge Pamela Meade Sargent approved a defense request for the evaluation last week.
     The 20-year-old Martinsville resident is accused of calling 911 on Jan. 23 and reporting that he had seen a gunman on campus. The call prompted university officials to place the school on lockdown.
Filed Under :
Location : MartinsvilleVirginia
by Associated Press posted Feb 12 2013 8:17PM
 COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Police say a University of Maryland graduate student shot and killed one roommate and wounded another before committing suicide.
     Prince George's County Police on Tuesday identified the shooter as 23-year-old Dayvon Maurice Green of College Park. He was studying engineering.
     Police said that Green had been suffering from a mental illness for at least a year.
     Police found a 9 mm handgun next to Green's body. He also had a bag of weapons, including a baseball bat, a machete and a semi-automatic handgun.
     Police say the incident began before 1 a.m. Tuesday when two of Green's roommates saw that he had been setting fires inside and outside the home. Green began shooting while the three were putting out the fires.
     Killed was 22-year-old Stephen Alex Rane of Silver Spring.
Filed Under :
Location : MarylandPark
by Associated Press posted Feb 12 2013 8:16PM
 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Attorneys for the parents of two students who were killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre want a state Supreme Court hearing on their request to put Tech's president on trial for negligence. Meanwhile, the state wants to reverse a jury's conclusion that the university was negligent for failing to alert students right away when the shootings began.
     Attorneys for both sides asked a panel of three Supreme Court justices Tuesday to decide if the full court will hear the appeals. A decision is expected in four to six weeks.
     The dueling appeals stem from a jury's findings in March 2012 that the university botched its response to the massacre, which left the gunman and 32 students and faculty dead in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Filed Under :
Topics : EducationLaw_Crime
Location : Virginia
by AP posted Feb 12 2013 6:51AM
     CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) - A Chesterfield County man faces charges of bringing a handgun into an elementary school.
     Police tell media outlets that 33-year-old Michael S. Berry was carrying the 9mm handgun in a holster on his side when he walked into A.M. Davis Elementary School last week. Berry went to the school to pick up his daughter and left without incident.
     Berry told investigators that he didn't know carrying a gun onto school property is illegal.
     He is charged with possession of a firearm on school property.
     Virginia law allows citizens to openly carry firearms in most public places. Restrictions include schools and courthouses.
Filed Under :
Topics : EducationLaw_Crime
People : Michael S. Berry
by AP posted Feb 12 2013 6:50AM
     WARSAW, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities say a 75-year-old Virginia woman has been returned to upstate New York to face charges stemming from the theft of thousands of dollars and a vehicle from a now-deceased elderly man.
     State police say Treva Wright of Roanoke, Va., was returned to Wyoming County on Monday and charged with felony grand larceny and a misdemeanor offense of New York's general obligations law.
     Troopers say that between May and June 2011, Wright scammed $17,000 and a vehicle from an elderly man living in the rural town of Warsaw.
     Wright returned to Virginia and was taken into custody on an arrest warrant last July, but fought extradition until a governor's warrant resulted in her return to western New York.
     She's being held in the county jail on $10,000 bail. It couldn't be determined if she had a lawyer.
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
People : Treva Wright
by Associated Press posted Feb 11 2013 6:30PM
 McLEAN, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he's willing to compromise on a key detail of his $3 billion transportation package to get it through the state Senate.
     At a news conference Monday in McLean, McDonnell said he would consider a plan that does not fully eliminate the state's 17 1/2 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax. If legislators want to phase the gas tax out over time, or leave a reduced gas tax in place, McDonnell said he would consider it.
     McDonnell's proposal calls for abolishing the gas tax and replacing the money by increasing the sales tax from 5 to 5.8 percent. McDonnell says the tax swap would be revenue neutral at first but generate new money over time because the gas tax is declining and the sales tax is growing. 
Filed Under :
Location : Virginia
by Associated Press posted Feb 11 2013 6:29PM
 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Senate has passed legislation that would allow religious or political organizations at public colleges to restrict membership to people who agree with their mission. Colleges would be prohibited from denying recognition to such groups.
     Opponents said Monday that the legislation essentially sanctions discrimination by taxpayer-funded groups. Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath County said it conflicts with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld a California law school's refusal to recognize a religious organization that excluded gay students.
     Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg called it a "freedom of association bill." He said it's about allowing religious groups to limit membership to people of the same faith.
     The vote was 21-18. A similar bill sponsored by Obenshain previously passed the Senate and is pending in the House.

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