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Posted in Virginia's News on October 26, 2014
You may have heard rumors, grumblings, and conspiracy theories about planned attacks by ISIS or ISIL militants on American soil—but nothing credible. While the news media are NOT in the business of creating panic, we are raising awareness as it’s passed on to us. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a recent FBI bulletin sent to media outlets warns that the terror organization is trying to persuade noncombatant sympathizers to execute or kidnap specific groups of American citizens.
Posted in Virginia's News on October 22, 2014
For nearly five years, a rock band t-shirt that mysteriously appeared near the University of Virginia has been one of the most connective yet perplexing clues in the death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. Hawes Spencer reports.
With charges starting to pile up against the man blamed for one woman’s rape and another’s disappearance, who decides where to prosecute first? Hawes Spencer has this report.
Halloween reminds us that it can sometimes be fun to explore the dark side. And the rise in popularity of horror movies of the last couple of decades seems to confirm that. A Virginia Tech Professor of pop culture is taking a closer look at scary movies to see what they tell us about the stereotypes that drive them. Robbie Harris has more.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on October 20, 2014
The Virginia Commission on Youth is scrutinizing the practice of finding new homes and transferring custody of adopted children—while bypassing state oversight and safeguards. The practice—known as “re-homing”—was uncovered through last year’s Reuters and NBC News investigation, which found an underground market for adoptive parents who no longer wish to care for their adopted child. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the panel’s focus is on mitigating the reasons that some adoptive parents change their minds.
Jesse Matthew, the suspect in custody for the abduction of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, has been indicted on charges related to a 2005 rape in Fairfax.
Forensic evidence links Jesse Matthew to the 2009 disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in Charlottesville, which had previously been linked to the Fairfax rape, officials said.
Meantime, the man who called in a tip that led to the discovery of human remains behind an empty house in southern Albemarle, says that it was the sheer number of vultures that caught his eye. Hawes Spencer reports.
A vaccine aimed at helping cigarette smokers quit, is entering the next phase in testing. A Virginia Tech professor who’s been working to develop the vaccine got a $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to test the vaccine. Robbie Harris has more.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on October 20, 2014
A Virginia family wants the state look more closely at older drivers after a fatal highway accident…and the issue of loss of farmland in the Commonwealth is at the center of a debate in York County. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Posted in Virginia's News on October 19, 2014
Police in Albemarle County are waiting for results from the state’s crime lab – hoping to learn whether remains found over the weekend are those of missing UVA student Hannah Graham. Sandy Hausman reports on the discovery and what it may mean for the only suspect in the case – Jesse Matthew, Jr.
With the disappearance of Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington, Alexis Murphy, Dashad Smith and other young adults, some people wonder if a serial killer is at work in and around Charlottesville. Sandy Hausman talked with law enforcement experts who say that’s possible – but other factors may account for these tragic cases, Central Virginia isn’t the only place reporting missing people, and such things have occurred in the past.
While state officials express confidence, health care professionals are preparing on the front lines. Sandy Hausman paid a visit to the University of Virginia Medical Center where staff was invited to a lunch-time discussion of ebola. That presentation suggests one of Virginia’s premiere teaching hospitals could handle a couple of cases but maybe not a major outbreak. Sandy Hausman has the story.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on October 16, 2014
The possibility that a now-deceased Ebola patient could have spread the virus to fellow travelers as he waited in a Virginia airport has prompted several state lawmakers to ask Governor McAuliffe to use his authority to impose travel restrictions on Dulles Airport. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the state’s Health Commissioner cautions against overkill … and says Virginia’s health professionals are doing everything they can to keep the situation under control.
Posted in Virginia's News on October 15, 2014
Police have a suspect in the disappearance of Hannah Graham, but their investigation continues. They’re not saying much, but in the first of a two-part series, Sandy Hausman looks at what may be going on behind the scenes and why.
Although the two men are vying for the U.S. Senate seat held by Warner, the Virginia General Assembly and ethics questions surrounding the resignation of former state Senator Phillip Puckett were drawn into the debate.
Federal investigators have been looking into allegations that some Republicans may have offered Puckett a job on the Virginia Tobacco Commission in exchange for his resignation, which switched control of the state Senate to the GOP. Gillespie brought up a recent Washington Post story reporting that Warner had called Puckett’s son and discussed job possibilities for Puckett’s daughter.
Warner explained that he has been a friend of Puckett and his family for nearly 20 years: He added that he spoke with Puckett himself the next day and it was clear that he had made up his mind. Warner later told reporters that he was asked to call Puckett’s son by Democratic state Senator Dick Saslaw and Governor McAuliffe’s chief-of-staff, Paul Reagan.
The “People’s Debate” in Richmond was televised statewide and sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Virginia, AARP of Virginia, WTVR-TV, and WCVE-Public Television. The Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis, was not invited to participate in the debate.
Spending on support functions at Virginia’s public colleges and universities is one reason that higher education costs have escalated over the last two decades. That’s the conclusion of the latest report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, which has been studying why the costs of a college education have soared. The study also found that improving organizational structure and purchasing strategies could help rein in those costs.
When critics question how effectively the Virginia Tobacco Commission is using hundreds of millions of dollars the state received from the National Tobacco Settlement there’s one project that always seems to come up.
It started five years ago as a $25-million grant to establish a medical school in Bristol. Since then the only two things that have been consistent about the plan are the absence of any apparent progress and the Tobacco Commission’s continuing support. Fred Echols reports.
This week, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will paint the town red, opening a massive new show from China. Sandy Hausman reports on The Forbidden City – a look inside the palace that two dozen Chinese emperors called home.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on October 13, 2014
Danville City Council must decide whether the Confederate flag will continue to fly over the site of the final cabinet meeting of the Confederacy…and gun rights activists are angry after the sheriff of Stafford County moved to prevent the open carrying of firearms at a National Night Out event. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.
Posted in Virginia's News on October 13, 2014
While Charlottesville Police have received thousands of leads in the case of a missing student, they now have a new responsibility: running the search for the young woman. Hawes Spencer has this update.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on October 10, 2014
Accused of unconstitutional gerrymandering, Virginia’s General Assembly was told last week by a federal district court in Richmond that it must redraw its Congressional map next year because too many black voters are “packed” into one majority-minority district. But state lawmakers could actually avoid a contentious debate and not address the issue at all during their next session. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it is possible.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on October 8, 2014
While it is true that many Virginians do not have health insurance, that number is dwarfed by those who don’t have affordable access to oral health facilities and dentists. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, because poor dental hygiene also leads to other health problems, Virginia lawmakers are now studying the most feasible ways to address the problem.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on October 7, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to review the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling against Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is already having an impact. The 4th Circuit issued its mandate early Monday afternoon, and same-sex couples began lining up at local courthouses to get married. One of the couples who successfully sued to overturn the state Constitution’s marriage provision renewed the vows that they had first taken in another state. Anne Marie Morgan reports.
There’s no argument about the fact that any amount of lead in drinking water is unsafe. No matter how much, it’s too much, of this potent neurotoxin. But lead has been showing up in well water tests around Virginia. About a fifth of the state’s residents get their water from wells. As Robbie Harris reports, the findings are new evidence of a problem many thought had been solved.
Virginia’s new voter I-D law has Virginia Democrats worried after the state board of elections found nearly two hundred thousand registered voters don’t have a driver’s license. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story on how Republicans say Democrats are overreacting.
Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine is urging the Bureau of Indian Affairs to loosen requirements for federal recognition because six Virginia tribes remain locked out. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
More than 100 law enforcement officers from across central Virginia joined trained search and rescue teams to search rural areas of western and eastern Albemarle County Sunday. Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo says, “Every square inch of Albemarle County is being searched this weekend and we’re going to find Hannah Graham.”
Posted in Virginia's News on October 2, 2014
In recent years, as the National Park Service has faced deep funding cuts and a stagnant number of visitors, the country’s demographic changes have made its problems more pronounced. Most visitors to National Parks are white, and increasingly they’re also older. For instance, Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is one of the nation’s most visited and accessible parks, yet recent research indicates that 92% of visitors in 2011 were white.In hopes of shifting the numbers, the Park Service is now supporting new programs and grassroots groups working to attract underrepresented categories of visitors: young people, African-Americans and Latinos. Jonna McKone has the story of the group “Girl Trek” working to get African American women healthier — using National Parks to inspire long-term health.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on September 29, 2014
A Hanover County supervisor is upset because students are seeing a film in which Muslims say U-S actions abroad were among the causes of the 9-11 attacks…and growing numbers of state employees in Virginia are on public assistance while working full time. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Posted in Virginia's News on September 24, 2014
Charlottesville police may be frustrated this hour. Their only person of interest in the Hannah Graham case remains at large, and Sandy Hausman reports they’re still waiting for results from evidence sent to the state’s crime lab on Saturday.
Jesse Matthew, who’s wanted for questioning in connection with the disappearance of UVA student Hannah Graham, is still missing, and he’s become the subject of considerable talk in the town where he grew up. Police say he has no record of violent crime, but reporter Hawes Spencer has been asking around and has come up with some intriguing information. We talked with Spencer about one particular incident.
One of eight babies in this country is born prematurely. Some will be under intensive care for months, while worried parents wait and wonder how their newborn is doing. At the University of Virginia’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, nurses are trying something new to ease the anxiety of families and build trust with the medical team. Sandy Hausman has that story.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on September 23, 2014
One of Virginia’s most polluted industrial sites is now usable again….and something that looks like a cougar has Fairfax County on edge. Those have been among the most read stories in recent days at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on September 23, 2014
Modern DNA testing of biological evidence left in files decades ago by a now-deceased Virginia scientist has exonerated 11 individuals who had been convicted of felonies. At the direction of the General Assembly, the State Crime Commission has been trying to track down and notify 975 convicted suspects of their more recent test results. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, although the DNA testing and notification project has been ongoing for more than a decade, the project is still not finished.
Posted in Virginia's News on September 21, 2014
When Charlottesville police announced they had found the man seen with Hannah Graham on downtown mall security tapes, they refused to identify him. This weekend a British newspaper named him and told his side of the story. Sandy Hausman reports.
While state lawmakers were preparing this week to tackle the budget and Medicaid expansion, they also had an audience of two people who are trying to prevent tragedies like what happened to their daughter and other women in Virginia. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, while Gil and Dan Harrington say they are hopeful that now-missing Hannah Graham is found alive and well, this is eerily similar to other cases of missing or abducted women who vanished.
As the search continues for missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, authorities spent Friday afternoon searching an apartment unit at the Hessian Hill Apartment complex, off of Barracks Road.
Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo says the search was prompted by one of the most productive leads so far in the search for the 18-year-old, last seen nearly 7 days ago.
Also, university police say they have just learned about two possible rapes that may have occurred in the days following Graham’s disappearance.The first incident involved a female U.Va. student who reported being sexually assaulted near Wertland Street in the early morning hours of Sept. 14.
The second incident is believed to have occurred in the 200 block of 15th Street NW during the early morning hours of Sept. 15, where police discovered an unconscious female who is a local resident. The circumstances regarding her injuries are unclear and are being investigated as a possible sexual assault.”
Longo was asked why the public had not been informed of those attacks. He noted that one victim was hospitalized and said he planned to offer more information on those incidents in an upcoming news conference. Beverly Amsler interviews Charlottesville journalist Hawes Spencer:
Posted in Virginia's News on September 18, 2014
Thousands of people gathered at the University of Virginia last night for a candlelight vigil in support of Hannah Graham, a student who disappeared nearly a week ago. Meanwhile, police are asking for more help from the public, and a search is planned for Saturday. Sandy Hausman has details on all three developments.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on September 18, 2014
Just before the start of the General Assembly’s Special Session to debate Medicaid expansion, a state employee could be overheard saying about lawmakers: “They probably won’t get anything done–this will just keep going.” As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, based on early floor debates in the House of Delegates, that person may be right—at least as it pertains to Medicaid expansion.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on September 16, 2014
State Attorney General Mark Herring has announced a $1.15-billion lawsuit against some of the world’s largest commercial banks for allegedly committing fraud against Virginia taxpayers during the nation’s frenzied real estate bubble.
The court documents—which were filed earlier this year but just unsealed—accuse the banks of bundling both sound and risky mortgages into toxic securities that were then fraudulently sold to the Virginia Retirement System. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, when the real estate bubble burst, the value of the state pension fund plummeted.
The lawsuit was filed in Richmond Circuit Court against 13 banks, including Citigroup Global Markets, Countrywide Securities, and Goldman, Sachs.
A research team at the University of Virginia reports possible progress in fighting ovarian, breast, uterine, renal, head and neck and pancreatic cancers, and if you’re a taxpayer in Virginia, you’re an investor. Sandy Hausman has details.
The search continues today for Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old University of Virginia student who had recently moved to Charlottesville from Fairfax County where she was an honors student and athlete. Hannah Graham was last heard from early Saturday morning, when she texted a friend that she was heading for a party.
The news sparked worry on campus and brought a new round of grief for a Roanoke couple whose daughter disappeared five years ago.
Anyone with information about Graham is asked to call Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280 or CrimeStoppers at 434-977-4000.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on September 15, 2014
Governor McAuliffe and General Assembly leaders have struck a deal to cut the state budget to cover an unexpected 2.4-billion-dollar-revenue shortfall. The agreement taps the state’s Rainy Day Fund, while closing a 346-million-dollar gap this fiscal year, and 536-million-dollars the next. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Governor stressed the bipartisan nature of the accord—flanked by GOP state lawmakers and the Democratic co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
The General Assembly had planned to hold a special session to debate Medicaid expansion on Thursday. However, Speaker Howell said lawmakers will also take action on new legislation to reconcile and finalize the biennial budget.
Posted in Virginia's News on September 15, 2014
Next week the U.N. will bring experts from around the world for a climate change summit in New York. On the Chesapeake Bay scientists are looking at what a warmer bay might mean for species like the blue crab and striped bass. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on September 15, 2014
Keeping a campaign promise is costing Governor McAuliffe money…and a Virginia fifth-grader is challenging her school’s limit on the use of lip balm. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link. Fred Echols has more.
Flooding is not just a coastal problem. If you reside in a low-lying area prone to flash flooding, you know that during any torrential downpour–not just in a hurricane season–you’re vulnerable. Insurance companies know it as well, and individuals and business are sometimes required to buy flood insurance AND pay higher premiums. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, now one General Assembly panel is tasked with studying the problem and finding ways to mitigate the sometimes exorbitant costs.
Posted in Virginia's News on September 12, 2014
The world is already grappling with war, plague and climate change. Now comes word of another threat – space weather. Scientists have issued a strong Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Saturday. Sandy Hausman explains what that is, and why we should care.
With Richmond’s tallest buildings as a backdrop on the site where the Commonwealth formally honors its war dead—Virginians held a remembrance service for those who died 13-years ago in the September 11th attacks … and presented a civics lesson to citizens who may take being an American for granted. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.
Posted in Virginia's News on September 11, 2014
Virginia lawmakers are coming around President Obama’s plan to combat the Islamic State, even as they say they want to have a say in what could become an extended war. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
President Obama’s announcement he’s going to bomb the Islamic State is giving him some new Republican partners from Virginia on Capitol Hill, while also causing headaches for many in his own party. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on September 10, 2014
While states prepare for the next Affordable Care Act open enrollment period, Virginia lawmakers say they’re not happy that almost a quarter of a million Virginians who are already insured are learning—or about to find out—that their current insurance policy will no longer be in effect. More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.