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]
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) has proclaimed April to be Confederate History Month in his state, without referencing slavery or civil rights. The move has angered civil rights leaders and revived a controversy that has lain dormant for eight years. FireDogLake is reporting that the neo-confederate group which lobbied Governor McDonnell to make the proclamation has ties to white supremacists. [more inside]
Last month, Virginia Davis passed away at 90 years of age. She was the real life (warning: lousy formatting) little girl (warning: teh kyoot) whom Walt Disney sent into the land of cartoons, responding to the popularity of Max Fleisher's Out of the Inkwell series, which used his "rotoscope" and brought cartoon figures into filmed space. Walt reversed the formula, and found his first star.
1923: Alice's Wonderland [more inside]
1923: Alice's Wonderland [more inside]
"Uh oh, They're here": A Washington Post editorial about Elisha Strom, who blogged about the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force in northern Virginia with intensity and focus, displaying officers' photos, their cars, and in one now-gone entry, one officer's home. For this on July 16 she was arrested. [more inside]
Since 1870, the Hatton Ferry in Hatton, VA, has been helping people and vehicles cross the James River - under pole power [ferry is cable-assisted, and poling starts at 3:42]. Before the nation was connected by a network of bridges, pole barges like this were a common means of transportation across smaller waterways. Hatton Ferry is thought to be the very last working survivor of those thousands of the pole-driven ferries; but today, due to DOT budget constraints, it may go out of existence. [more inside]
"We were having dinner about four months ago and I was showing Clelia some pictures I'd taken in the air, and she said, 'Oh, that's so beautiful. I want to do that,'" Ben said. Easier said than done when you're 95. [more inside]
Arlington: The Rap (SLYT)
This weekend, at a pizza restaurant in the liberal suburb of Arlington, Virginia, more than 50 people attended the first event held by the National Council for a New America - which is intended to "be a dynamic, forward-looking organization that will amplify the common-sense and wisdom of our fellow citizens through a grassroots dialogue with Republican leaders." The speakers included former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, who said, "This is not about messaging, this is not about branding. This is about trying to foster some discussion, because what's going on in Washington right now is not reflective of the mainstream of this country." [more inside]
Music in the Digital Library of Appalachia provides an unprecedented resource for study of repertoire, technique, lore, and the musical interchanges among the region's traditional musicians. Once you know what you like, it's easy to find the music live with Blue Ridge Music Trails. Meet musicians who have grown up with that music, visit settings in which Blue Ridge folk music thrives, see traditional dancing, and in many cases, take part in the festivities. The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, winds through the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Along the trail, the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Traditional Country music is as beautiful and rugged as the landscape itself. [previous 1, 2]
Despite being a tobacco state, Virginia lawmakers passed a smoking ban today. Their ban covers most restaurants and bars, but permits smoking in private clubs and in establishments that construct separately ventilated enclosed smoking rooms for patrons. You can follow the journey of the bill here.
Powhatan's Mantle was the emblem of kingship worn by Wahunsenacawh, also known as Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas. A deerskin cloak ornamented with shell beadwork, it may at first appear to be only clothing but in fact it is also a map of the Powhatan Confederacy, which ruled most of eastern Virginia when the English first settled there. The mantle was acquired by one of the John Tradescants whose collection was the foundation of Oxford University's Ashmolean Collection and the mantle resides there still today. The first linked article is a fascination article about the mantle as well as a gallery of images of and related to Powhatan's Mantle.
You may remember Stan Brock from as the British anaconda wrangler from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (top right video). These days he runs Remote Area Medical, a volunteer airborne relief corps that brings medical, dental, and educational assistance to remote areas of the world. Every year, they go to remote Appalachian Virginia, a one day drive from Washington DC, for a 3 day event at the fairgrounds.
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