“These people performed a critique of a brutal capitalistic enslavement system, and they rejected it completely. They risked everything to live in a more just and equitable way, and they were successful for ten generations."The Great Dismal Swamp straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border. From the 1600s to about the American Civil War it was a place of refuge, largely for escaped African and African-American slaves, and an important link in the underground railway. [more inside]
New York Times: Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun — Scientists’ warnings that the rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline are no longer theoretical. [more inside]
In April, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order reinstating the voting rights of 200,000 convicted felons who had completed their sentences. [previously] Gov. McAuliffe's plan produced some unintended consequences, and incurred the ire of the General Assembly's top Republicans. The Supreme Court of Virginia overturned the original order in an opinion that rejected the Governor's "blanket use" of his restoration authority. Gov. McAuliffe is now proceeding in accordance with the Court's ruling, signing the first 13,000 individual orders with the assistance of an autopen.
TS Eliot's rejection of Orwell's Animal Farm [The Guardian] Digitised for the first time by the British Library, Eliot’s rejection is now available to read alongside others including Virginia Woolf’s to James Joyce. Eliot’s letter is one of more than 300 items which have been digitised by the British Library, a mixture of drafts, diaries, letters and notebooks by authors ranging from Virginia Woolf to Angela Carter and Ted Hughes. The literary archive reveals that Orwell was not the only major writer to suffer a series of rejections: the British Library has also digitised a host of rejections for James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, showing how his patron Harriet Shaw Weaver attempted to find a printer for the novel she had published in serialised form in The Egoist. [more inside]
Archaeological evidence has emerged to reveal that the previously-thought home of the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe, in Albemarle County, Virginia, was actually a guest house and that Monroe's Highland was something far more grand. [more inside]
...until now? "Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia used his executive power on Friday to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons, circumventing his Republican-run Legislature. The action overturns a Civil War-era provision in the state’s Constitution aimed, he said, at disenfranchising African-Americans." SLNYT: Virginia Governor Restores Voting Rights to Felons
How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell: For the last decade, [Joyce] Taylor and her renters have been visited by all kinds of mysterious trouble. They’ve been accused of being identity thieves, spammers, scammers and fraudsters. They’ve gotten visited by FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors, ambulances searching for suicidal veterans, and police officers searching for runaway children. They’ve found people scrounging around in their barn. The renters have been doxxed, their names and addresses posted on the internet by vigilantes. Once, someone left a broken toilet in the driveway as a strange, indefinite threat. All in all, the residents of the Taylor property have been treated like criminals for a decade. And until I called them this week, they had no idea why.
The March 1st round of voting in US primaries and caucuses is today. Since 1988, no candidate has won his party’s nomination without winning Super Tuesday. With early voting and absentee voting already happening, the people of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will turn out for both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans in Alaska will hold caucuses, as will Democrats in Colorado. Democrats in American Samoa also nominate. On the Republican side, with 661 delegates to be allocated today, Donald Trump currently holds the delegate lead. On the Democrat side, with 865 delegates to be delegated today, Hillary Clinton currently holds the delegate lead. (A more visual delegate tracker) The actual POTUS election odds continue to make Hillary the favorite, from Donald with the rest at long odds. Politico has more information on today, as does the Wall Street Journal and 538. With variable weather for voters, Nate Silver being cautious about assumptions and Obama's surprise endorsement of Trump, it's all to play for.
Dr. Cassie Smith-Christmas writes about her brother, Ian, and the epidemic of suicides (trigger warning) at William and Mary College. The College of William and Mary hosted an open conversation on suicide prevention and mental health April 22 in response to criticisms about mental health on campus. [more inside]
The Equal Justice Initiative has released a report (pdf) on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research. The authors compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950 -- documenting more than 700 additional victims, which places the number of murders more than 20 percent higher than previously reported. "The process is intended... to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way." Map. [more inside]
How do we, the public, decide what's in the public interest? Specifically, in the context of eminent domain: In 2005, in Kelo v. City of New London, the concept of eminent domain, or taking of private property to benefit public interest, was expanded to allow governments to take private property and turn it over to private commercial interests, if deemed to benefit the public. Although some states later passed legislation designed to curb abuses of this power, the state of Virginia is now taking it to the next level. [more inside]
10 years of planning and several years (and almost $1 billion) of construction have come to end on I-95 south of Washington DC as the controversial "Express Lanes" are fully operational today. [more inside]
UVA Hospital employee and former Charlottesville cab driver Jesse Matthew has just been linked to the September 2014 disappearance of UVA student Hannah Graham, the unsolved rape and murder of Morgan Harrington, whose body was discovered on a farm outside of Charlottesville in 2010, and a 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax, VA. Graham and Harrison are two of a number of women who have gone missing near Charlottesville in recent years. [more inside]
Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been found guilty of 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery, and extortion, for receiving $177,000 in gifts from dietary supplement executive Johnny Williams. The governor's wife Maureen McDonnell was convicted on eight counts of corruption and an additional count of obstructing a grand jury investigation.
Mr. McDonnell, who carried his wife over the threshold of the Executive Mansion the day of his inauguration, portrayed her in his testimony as a harridan whose yelling left him “spiritually and mentally exhausted,” and who was so cold that after he sent her an email pleading to save their marriage, she did not reply. ... The government dismissed the defense strategy of portraying the McDonnell marriage as broken, and Ms. McDonnell as a “nutbag” who was smitten with Mr. Williams. The former governor was trying to “throw his wife under the bus,” the prosecutor, Michael S. Dry, said in closing statements.McDonnell and his wife each face jail sentences of up to 20 years for each corruption offense.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the decision overturning Virginia's ban on Same sex marriage:
"We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance."[more inside]
A 17 year-old Virginia teenager who is under investigation for sending a consensual sext to his 15-year-old girlfriend may be forced to have an erection in front of police as evidence in the case. [more inside]
United States Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, has lost the Republican primary election in Virginia's 7th Congressional District to Dave Brat, a political newcomer and economics professor at Randolph-Macon College. [more inside]
Why Are Twenty Far-Away States Trying To Block The Cleanup Of The Chesapeake Bay? After 30 years of attempts, a serious initiative to save the bay exists in the form of an EPA-led plan that limits the amount of agricultural nutrients entering the bay. This pollution causes the "dead zones" in the bay, which are so low in oxygen virtually no animal life can survive. A group of twenty-one Attorneys General, including the AG of Alaska and Wyoming, "argue that the cleanup plan raises serious concerns about states’ rights, and they worry that if the plan is left to stand, the EPA could enact similar pollution limits on watersheds such as the Mississippi." Their actions are in line with the wishes of The American Farm Bureau, a powerful agricultural interest group. [more inside]
Lil Ugly Mane. What do we know about this person? Take a trip on through to the other side... [more inside]
Patrick Henry College has been called "God's Harvard." The tiny, elite school is considered a safe haven for fundamentalist evangelical Christians. It teaches a dominionist "Biblical Worldview" and has a uniquely religious campus culture (pdf) that emphasizes evangelical moral values. Which leaves female students in a particular bind: How do you report sexual assault at a place where authorities seem skeptical that such a thing even exists?
"Our nation's uneven but dogged journey toward truer and more meaningful freedoms for our citizens has brought us continually to a deeper understanding of the first three words in our Constitution: we the people. "We the People" have become a broader, more diverse family than once imagined." In the case of Bostic v. Rainey, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia's Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen has declared Virginia's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional [more inside]
Lenis Guess was one of the pioneers in the Norfolk recording scene. This self-taught vocalist and musician was cranking out records from his 35th Street studio in Norfolk for many artists, including his own and himself. This, producer, singer, musician, performer was at the forefront of the Norfolk sound. With songs like, “I was Born to Be A Drummer,“ his funk band, The 35th Street Gang, were mainstays of the 70s in and around the Hampton Roads area. Lenis himself had hits like, “I Keep Coming Back for More,” and “Working for My Baby.” [more inside]
Here's what could have got you admitted to the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane (Weston) aka Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in the late 1860s: Imaginary Female Trouble... Jealousy and Religion... Tobacco and Masturbation... Carbonic Acid Gas... Parents were Cousins... Fell off Horse in War... Dangerous Minds
"Brigitte Höss lives quietly on a leafy side street in Northern Virginia. She is retired now, having worked in a Washington fashion salon for more than 30 years. She recently was diagnosed with cancer and spends much of her days dealing with the medical consequences. Brigitte also has a secret that not even her grandchildren know. Her father was Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz." [more inside]
Inspired by the NYT Pulitzer prize-winning “Snowfall” report, the Charlottesville VA paper the C-ville Weekly decided to "take our last best shot at untangling the Gordian Knot that is the Bypass problem" in one long, media-rich article.
Four Mile Run is an urban stream that runs through the middle of Arlington County Virginia, inside the Washington Capital Beltway. It is nine miles long, having been accidentally renamed by a typo from its original designation as "Flour Mill Run" [more inside]
240 year-old Menokin House was home to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Menokin Foundation would like to restore it, but all that's left these days are two broken walls and a pair of crumbling chimneys. Even the head of the foundation admits, "Virginia needs another house museum like it needs a hole in the head." So how to honor the home's owner colonial statesman Francis Lightfoot Lee while still trying to present something novel and worth seeing? The Foundation's answer: rebuild the structure, just as it was, but replacing all of its missing components with structural glass.
In the false American imagination, West Virginia is a joke or else it’s a charity case; but more than anything it is unseen, an invisible architecture of labor and struggle; and incarceration shares this invisibility, hidden at the center of everything; our slipshod remedy for an abiding fear, danger pinned to human bodies and then slotted into bunk beds you can’t see from any highway. [more inside]
"When Robert Wood Jr. disappeared in a densely forested Virginia park, searchers faced the challenge of a lifetime. The eight-year-old boy was autistic and nonverbal, and from his perspective the largest manhunt in state history probably looked like something else: the ultimate game of hide-and-seek." [more inside]
"Peter Aaslestad is both a free-lance photographer and an internationally recognized historic preservation consultant specializing in the use of architectural photogrammetry to document existing buildings." [more inside]
Bryn Oh is staging an art exhibition called Virginia Alone simultaneously at the Santa Fe New Media Festival and in Second Life (free account required). [more inside]
“If ever men should celebrate the day with the rapt ardor of devotees, it is the soldiers of the Union,” bent on “saving the Union of the revolutionary fathers from destruction.” The residents of Fredericksburg VA didn't celebrate Independence Day in 1862. It was no longer their Independence Day. However, just across the river, within both sight and sound of the residents of Fredericksburg, the Union Army threw a raucous celebration, complete with fireworks, artillery salutes, mule races, a greased pole, and a greased pig.
106-degree temperatures in Richmond, VA aren't even the worst of it. A weatherman for the local CBS affiliate delivers the last forecast Richmonders will need. (slyt)
Uproar over forced resignation of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan enters second week. [more inside]
In the state of West Virginia, the government has just purchased 1064 Cisco 3945 routers at a price of $22,600 each. These are being used to service small public libraries with as few as four PCs when a much smaller router such as the Cisco 1801 would be more appropriate. Local journalists have found out about this and are starting their own investigation. A consulting firm has been retained to audit what exactly happened. [more inside]
ILU-486, a chilling short story by Amanda Ching, in the vein of dystopian classics like The Handmaid's Tale and inspired by recent events in Virginia, has been sweeping the blogsphere. [more inside]
"The legislative goal of HB1160 is to codify in Virginia law noncompliance with...section 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA)." [more inside]
Dahlia Lithwick: This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law. [more inside]
"A Maryland boat was sent to the bottom by the Virginian navy, and a long contest was the result..." Hostility between Maryland and Virginia began the moment Maryland was created in 1632. Virginia objected to the Catholic nature of the new colony, as well as the unusual border which gave Lord Baltimore's colony ownership of all the Potomac River. Disputed maritime borders lead to conflict over the prized oyster, and naval confrontation on the Chesapeake became common. Maryland eventually created an Oyster Navy, which was charged with bringing order to the Bay and enforcing harvesting laws against the oyster pirates. The "Oyster Wars" were frequently violent. [more inside]
Tangier Island, Virginia, is mere inches above the Bay around it. There isn't much dry land. Kids play on the airstrip. The people have a unique accent (which is becoming hard to find). With the land mostly marsh, folks bury their dead in their yards. It's a watery place, but charming. If Irene delivers even a glancing backhand blow, the entire island will be underwater. [more inside]
Nothing to do this coming week? Head over to Galax, Virginia to catch the Old Fiddler's Convention, a mountain music festival & competition that has been ongoing since 1935. Galax, located on Virigina's Crooked Road is in the heart of Virginia's musical heritage trail, a well mapped excursion that takes you way off the interstate's beaten path to experience old time Appalachian music in some of the most beautiful settings in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you take the trail outside Galax, make sure you stop at the Floyd Country Store for daily (and nightly) jams inside the store, much like the Fiddler's convention's campgrounds' awesome impromptu jams
I know you can dance, but can you flatfoot? The Stanley Brothers of Virginia: Rank Strangers :: Jacob's Vision :: In The Pines :: How Mountain Gals Can Love
The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is America’s first water-based national historic trail. It consists of the combined routes of Smith’s historic voyages on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in 1607-1609. Designated by Congress in December 2006, the trail stretches approximately 3,000 miles up and down the Bay and along tributaries in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. [more inside]
And the Articles of this confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the union shall be perpetual...
“It’s time to return America to the common sense conservative principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual responsibility. The Repeal Amendment would provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against Congressional overreach, and get the government working for the people again, not the other way around. In order to return America to opportunity, responsibility, and success, we must reverse course and the Repeal Amendment is a step in that direction.” —incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), on a proposed amendment allowing a 2/3 vote by the state governments to overturn any federal law or regulation. [more inside]
Joe Mozingo had always been told that his family name was "maybe Italian." In a three-part article in the L.A. Times, the "blue-eyed, surfing son of a dentist" journalist discovers that the Mozingo name actually traces back to an African slave freed in 1672. [more inside]
Climate change researcher MichaeMann has had his work subpoenaed by Virginia Attorney General Ken "Cooch" Cuccinelli. The subpoena "relates to data and other materials that Dr. Mann presented in seeking awards/grants (pdf) while in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mann has previously been investigated by Penn State, his current employer, for issues related to the hacked CRU emails, and cleared of wrongdoing. A representative from the Union of Concerned Scientists calls this action "a witch hunt."
Born 88 years ago in a bear cave in Eastern Oregon, Virginia Beavert now teaches a language with no textbooks, no study abroad programs, and no dubbed TV shows. The only surviving elder of the Yakama who knows the sacred songs and parables of the "Dreamer Religion", Waashat, Beavert researches and teaches Sahaptin (Ichiskíin Sínwit). [more inside]
It's April 9th! Appomattox Day! The day R.E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Ending the Civil War! Jon Stewart wants to call it Union Victory Month. I'm content with a day. So as Floydd suggests raise a glass of usquebaugh! [more inside]