Archive for November, 2013

Virginia Considers On-Line Voting for Military

Internet.VotingVoting among the armed forces continues to be a logistical challenge—especially for those who are deployed.  Now a state commission that advises the General Assembly on technology issues has recommended enabling military personnel who are stationed overseas to cast their votes on-line if needed.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, some information technology experts also warned about ballot security and integrity.

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The Fallen Snow: Debut Novel

FallenSnowA debut novel by a Virginia Tech alum is getting praise for its take on the complexities of love and change in the wake of war.  “The Fallen Snow” is an early 20th century story set –both in a close knit, Appalachian Town– and war time France.  Robbie Harris spoke with John Kelly, who lives in Washington D.C.  He says he first  began thinking about the idea for the book when he was in college  thirty years ago.

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The REAL Thanksgiving Feast


Photo: Washington & Lee University
Executive Chef J. Young prepares a historically accurate Thanksgiving meal.

As you plan this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, you might want to consider what the Pilgrims really ate.  Sandy Hausman went to Washington & Lee University for a taste of the original feast and found eel and beer were likely part of the meal, but turkey – maybe not.

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Students Help On-Line Shoppers Fight Forced Labor With Informed Purchases


Photo: Virginia Tech
University Honors students, from left, Kwamina Orleans-Pobee, Nicholas Montgomery, and Wes Williams want to make their tool, AboliShop, available for public use for Black Friday shoppers.

It’s estimated some thirty million people around the world are forced into slave labor. And while there’s been an international outcry, it was hard to know what labor conditions are behind the products you buy. Now a team of students at Virginia Tech has come up with an easy way for online shoppers to see how their purchases stack up on the human rights scale, before they buy.   Robbie Harris reports.

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State Board of Elections Certifies Dem Win in AG Race

Board 02With little fanfare, the State Board of Elections painstakingly waded through the November 5th vote tallies sent in by localities … and certified Democrats Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, and Mark Herring as the winners of their statewide electoral contests.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, Herring’s certification as Attorney General-elect by the closest statewide margin in the Commonwealth’s modern history is prompting speculation that Republican Mark Obenshain will challenge those results.

If Obenshain asks for a recount, Virginia will conduct it under a new law passed since the last statewide recount in 2005.  The law, sponsored by Senator Creigh Deeds, would require all optical scan ballots to be recounted … and provides an option of manually checking under-votes to determine if the machines missed tabulating them.


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VaNews for 11.25.13

VPAPnewThere’s concern about this year’s acorn crop in Virginia and a source of public school funding disparity you may not have thought about. Those stories have been among the most clicked this past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on Fred Echols reports.

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Physical Education Guidelines

200018316-004In an effort to fight early obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and related ailments, the Virginia State Board of Education is moving forward with proposed guidelines for physical education as required by the General Assembly.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports that the new rules will apply to public elementary and middle schools in the Commonwealth.

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Virginia Conversations: Cookin’ Up A Thanksgiving Feast

Feasting backed turkey on holiday table ready to eatOn this edition of Virginia Conversations, we’re talking turkey with all the fixings.  Our guest chefs are cookbook author Kendra Bailey Morris and Patrick Ehemann who’s the Executive Banquet Chef of Richmond’s historic Jefferson Hotel.  Join host May-Lily Lee as they share Thanksgiving recipes and cooking tips.


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Coffee Under Threat

coffeeWhat does global warming have to do with coffee?  One Virginia business owner says “a lot.” So much that your morning cup of “joe” is going to get costlier. And he’s not alone. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, dozens of the Commonwealth’s businesses are pressuring the General Assembly and Congress to seriously confront the challenge of climate change before there is an economic crisis.

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Mental Health Services in the Spotlight

EmergencyA community mental health organization is in the spotlight, after this week’s attack on State Senator Creigh Deeds and the apparent suicide of his son.  The Richmond Times-Dispatch said Gus Deeds had undergone a psychiatric evaluation Monday, but he was not admitted for in-patient care, because no hospitals in the area had psychiatric beds available.  Now, Sandy Hausman reports that several facilities in the region could have admitted Gus Deeds.

Some experts in the mental health field say it is not uncommon for a person suffering from mental illness to be turned away from treatment.  Tommie McNeil has that story, along with more on the Inspector General’s report on access to care.

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Deeds Tragedy: Mental Health Services in Question

dt.common.streams.StreamServerState Senator Creigh Deeds is recovering after being stabbed at his Bath County home yesterday, evidently by his 24-year-old son.  The attack and subsequent apparent suicide by Gus Deeds have raised new concerns about whether Virginia provides adequate mental health services.  Sandy Hausman has  more on what experts hope will happen next.

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Attorney General Argues for Montgomery’s Innocence

dp-dp-johnathon-montgomery-jpg-20130821It would be true justice for a state appeals court to declare Johnathon Montgomery innocent of the crimes of which he was convicted. That’s the argument of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who today appeared before the  Virginia Court of  Appeals to urge approval of a Writ of Actual Innocence for Montgomery.  The panel weighed questions of justice versus executive and judicial separation of powers.

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Sen. Creigh Deeds: Authorities Consider Case Attempted Murder, Suicide

CreighState Senator Creigh Deeds is now listed in fair condition at UVA Medical Center after being stabbed multiple times in the head and torso  at his Bath County home this morning.

Police were called to the home just before 7:30.  The Senator’s 24-year-old son, Gus, is dead of a gunshot wound.

Authorities say at this stage in the investigation, they’re looking at the altercation as an attempted murder and suicide.

Deeds, who is 55, has served the 25th district since 2001.

You can hear the complete 3:30 p.m. State Police briefing in Charlottesville.

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Hospitals Issue Warning

HospitalHospitals here in Virginia are sounding the alarm – warning state lawmakers that they’ll be in big financial trouble if the legislature does not expand Medicaid. Sandy Hausman tells why that’s such an important issue for medical centers statewide.

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Newborn Screenings

NewbornWhile some parents may not realize it, the difference between taking home a healthy bundle of joy from the hospital and a child who may suffer from a lifetime of health complications … is a prick on the heel, about five drops of blood, and a team of scientists.  It’s the newborn screening that every child born in the Commonwealth goes through.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, affected parents and medical professionals on Friday quietly celebrated a medical milestone.

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VaNews for 11.18.13

VPAPnewVirginia restaurants may soon be able to tweet you about Happy Hour and a frustrated high school football coach takes it out on the band. Those are among the most clicked stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at Fred Echols talks with David Poole.

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Virginia Conversations: The Whistleblower

whistleOn this edition of “Virginia Conversations” —  the risks and rewards of being a whistleblower. Host May-Lily Lee talks with a former NASA employee who helped expose cover-ups in the investigation of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.  How his decision changed his life…

Plus, hear from the State Inspector General on laws now in place in Virginia to protect and compensate whistleblowers.

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VaNews for 11.11.13

VPAPnewSome people are questioning a sentence of six life terms given to a Hampton Roads teenager involved in a robbery and a Southside Virginia election comes down to the luck of the draw. Those stories are among the most clicked this past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at Fred Echols reports.

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Virginia Conversations: Election TakeAway

FlagThe ads have stopped running and the votes have been counted… join us to sort out this year’s election returns on this edition of Virginia Conversations.
Political analysts Robert Roberts from James Madison University and Craig Brians from Virginia Tech join host May-Lily Lee to discuss both the winners and the losers of the election, as well as the tone of the campaign season itself.

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Governor & Governor-Elect Do Lunch

GovsMeet03As contentious as the Virginia gubernatorial race was, the current governor and governor- elect seem to be getting along quite well.  But both Governor McDonnell and Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe said during a Thursday briefing that although they do have some differences, they’ve agreed that those differences don’t matter much right now. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, they said the goal is to bring Virginians—especially the legislature—together.

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VA Lawmakers Weigh In On Calls for ACA Delay

ACA-Website-Wait-100113Some Democrats are now asking the White House to delay the signup period on Healthcare dot Gov for uninsured individuals. Matt Laslo reports Virginia Democrats disagree…even as the website continues to suffer major glitches.

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Governor-Elect: First Order of Business

electionnightpicGovernor-elect Terry McAuliffe says his first order of business after a very contentious campaign is to call lawmakers on the other side of the political aisle. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Democrat says his goal during his term in office is to bring more jobs to the Commonwealth and build the economy, which can’t be done without a bipartisan effort.

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What the Election Means for VA’s General Assembly

gen ass

File Photo

While Democrats trimmed the Republican majority by at least one seat in the elections, the GOP still retains a solid majority in the House of Delegates.House Speaker William Howell says the Republican party hopes it can find common ground with Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe.

The Senate is split with 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats.But the Lieutenant Governor’s tie-breaking authority may not help in forming a Democratic majority in the Senate–depending on which party wins Northam’s Senate seat, which he will resign as the Lieutenant-Governor elect.  If the Republicans win, they will hold an outright 21-19 majority.  If Democrats win, Northam would help form a majority.  But that is not final either, because the Senator who wins the Attorney General’s election–which is currently too close to call–will have to resign his Senate seat.  Mark Obenshain’s district is considered reliably Republican, while Mark Herring’s district is thought to be more of a toss-up.



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The Minority Vote: Virginia’s Latino & Asian Population

Xavier Medina Vidal, Virginia Tech

Xavier Medina Vidal, Virginia Tech

Campaign communication about immigration reform has an effect on voters from a variety of backgrounds.  That’s part of the analysis of an exit poll conducted statewide after this week’s vote in Virginia. Robbie Harris has more.

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Captain Phillips: Movie Hits Close to Home


John Flood, assistant director of the University of Virginia’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. Photo: Dan Addison

Tom Hanks’ latest film, Captain Phillips, opened last month – taking in $26 million in its first weekend at the box office.  Here in Virginia, some people take a special interest in the tale of a U.S. cargo ship from Norfolk captured by pirates off the Somali Coast in 2009 – its captain held hostage.  Sandy Hausman reports that negotiations were led by a Virginia man with advice from UVA.

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Election Day Hotline

voting_rights_3002112985_80b5a719b1The ACLU of Virginia has once again set up an election day hotline for voters who experience problems at the polls. The organization will also respond to questions and provide information to voters should they need to cast a provisional ballot or if their votes are being challenged for some reason.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the state ACLU says it’s also prepared to advocate on behalf of voters whose rights have been abridged.


The Virginia ACLU election day hotline number is (804) 644-8080. 

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Alliance Addresses Immigrant Tax Issues

4471416713_7bf9ea46c2_oThere is mounting pressure on Congress to address the issue of immigration reform.  And as lawmakers are asked to relax the criteria for allowing undocumented immigrants to live, work, and achieve U.S. citizenship, an alliance has been formed between advocates and tax preparers. The tax experts are not only dispelling the rumors about immigrants NOT paying taxes, but they’re also trying to help them establish a stronger foothold in the economy.  Tommie McNeil reports.

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VaNews for 11.04.13

VPAPnewThe non-luxuries of travel for Virginia gubernatorial candidates and a ghost in the executive mansion drew plenty of attention over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews at Fred Echols talks with David Poole.

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Virginia Conversations: Days Away from the Election

electionVoteWe’re approaching election day here in Virginia and on this edition of Virginia Conversations, our political roundtable wraps up the campaigns for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and State Attorney General.  You’ll hear predictions, comments, opinions and lots of questions from our listeners, and host May-Lily Lee.

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