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Breaking: Virginia AG's Official Opinion on Retroactive Regulation of Health Care Facilities

by: lowkell

Mon May 04, 2015 at 12:05:59 PM EDT

From AG Mark Herring's office:


As you know, the Board of Health is currently revising regulations that apply to certain health care facilities that provide abortion services after a periodic review was ordered by Governor McAuliffe. As part of that process, Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine requested and has now received an official opinion from Attorney General Herring on three issues, the most noteworthy of which is:


"Whether the Board of Health may require that facilities in existence before the enactment of the Regulations for Licensure of Abortion Facilities satisfy the 'design-and-construction standards'  in those regulations."


After exhaustive and careful review, Attorney General Herring has concluded that:


" 2011 and 2013 the Board did not have the authority to apply the design-and-construction section of the regulations to facilities built before the regulations took effect, nor does it have the authority to do so now."


The opinion supersedes and reverses incorrect advice provided to the Board of Health by the previous Attorney General during the regulatory process in 2012. That advice--that design-and-construction standards had to apply to preexisting facilities--is not supported by the law and represented an anomaly in how the Board of Health has treated the facilities it regulates and the way that laws are interpreted in Virginia. This opinion restores the way the Board has traditionally dealt with "design-and-construction" standards of health care facilities--namely that they apply only to new construction and major renovations.


Design-and-construction standards do not apply to preexisting facilities because:


1--The General Assembly did not use any language authorizing the Board to apply design-and-construction standards to facilities built before the new regulations took effect. Laws in Virginia are not applied retroactively unless the legislation explicitly says to do so, which the General Assembly did not do for these regulations.


2--Applying design-and-construction standards retroactively to pre-existing facilities is contrary to the longstanding administrative practice of the Board of Health. The General Assembly knew that the Board of Health has always applied these standards prospectively for health care facilities (hospitals, nursing homes) not retroactively, and it did not indicate in the legislation that these regulations were to be handled differently.


3--Under the statute, the "design-and-construction" regulations are supposed to be "consistent with the current edition of the Guidelines for design-and-construction of Hospital and Health Care Facilities issued by the American Institute of Architects Academy of Architecture for Health." The Guidelines explicitly limit the scope of their application to "new construction and major renovation projects."


4--The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code makes it plain that standards in the building code should not be applied retroactively:


"Any building or structure, for which a building permit has been issued or on which construction has commenced, or for which working drawings have been prepared in the year prior to the effective date of the Building Code, shall remain subject to the building regulations in effect at the time of such issuance or commencement of construction."


Second, Commissioner Levine asked in her opinion request:


"If the Board of Health has the discretion under § 32.1-127.001 of the Code of Virginia to decide which prevails-the Uniform Statewide Building Code  or the Guidelines for design-and-construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities -when the two standards contain conflicting requirements."


Attorney General Herring concludes that the 2013 regulatory process got it right and "the Board was correct in its determination in 2013 that the Guidelines prevail over the USBC" because the plain language of the statute, " Notwithstanding any law or regulation to the contrary, the Board of Health shall promulgate regulations... consistent with the current edition of the [Guidelines]," means that it supersedes any other statutes that may be in conflict.


Third and finally, she asked:


"What § 32.1-127.001 means when it provides that the regulations must be 'consistent with' the current edition of the Guidelines for design-and-construction of Hospital and Health Care Facilities."


Attorney General Herring concludes that, because the Guidelines that must inform the regulations include different sets of standards for different types of hospitals, "the Board's task is to determine which parts of the Guidelines should apply to which facilities so that those regulations substantially conform to the standards established by professionals... Just as the Board has determined that inpatient and outpatient categories of hospitals should be consistent with different sections of the Guidelines, the Board has the discretion to determine which parts of the Guidelines are appropriately applied to regulated health care facilities that provide abortion services, in keeping with their treatment as a category of hospital."


Please see below for an on the record quote about the opinion attributable to Attorney General Mark R. Herring:


"The previous administration provided incorrect legal advice to the Board of Health and intervened in a process that is supposed to be driven by medical professionals. That inappropriate intrusion produced regulations that would impose a de facto abortion ban in Virginia by forcing many health care facilities to either shut down, leaving thousands of women without access to critical services, or to stop offering abortion services. Virginia women can make their own healthcare decisions and they have a right to safely and affordably access the full range of healthcare services they may need in the communities where they live.


"Despite what the previous attorney general claimed, nothing in the law requires or even authorizes the Board to apply these design and construction standards retroactively. Without his interference, the Board would have done what it has always done which is apply these standards to new facilities, not preexisting ones. This opinion corrects the previous administration's incorrect advice and helps restore the integrity of the regulatory process, which should be used to ensure the health and safety of Virginians, not as cover to pursue ideological agendas."

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon May 04, 2015 at 06:12:59 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, May 4. The photo is of Prince William County Democratic candidates at last night's "JJ dinner."

*The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares ("Children who grow up in some places go on to earn much more than they would if they grew up elsewhere")
*If Black People Lived As Long As White People, Election Results Would Be Very Different
*Ben Carson says he will run for president (Add another bigoted extremist to the growing Republican field of them.)
*Pipeline politics: Virginia's Keystone?
*Rep. Dave Brat Claims ISIS Has Set Up Camp In Texas" (The fact that Republicans in that district elected this guy says a great deal about Republicans in that district, none of it good.)
*Pace of death sentences, executions slows in Virginia
*VA chief predicts 'another crisis' in health care without full funding
*Forget 460 - Improve U.S. 58 instead
*Spring surrenders to summer this week

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Video: Bobby Scott, Mark Herring, Ralph Northam, Gerry Connolly Address PW County Dems JJ Dinner

by: lowkell

Sun May 03, 2015 at 21:06:20 PM EDT

Here's some video from tonight's Prince William County Democrats' Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, at which Rep. Bobby Scott was the keynote speaker. Other speakers inluded Virginia AG Mark Herring, Virginia LG Ralph Northam, and Rep. Gerry Connolly (see videos in the comments section). Excellent dinner, thanks to Delegate/future Senator Scott Surovell for inviting me to sit at his table!

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning

by: lowkell

Sun May 03, 2015 at 06:55:03 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, May 3. Also, check out that map, which shows what Gov. McAuliffe's and Dominion's plans for massive new natural gas pipelines (resulting in a spike in "fracked" gas produced in West Virginia) will to Virginia's air quality. Yet another reason, in addition to economics and a myriad of environmental reasons, to reject these pipelines.

*An ideological blueprint (This extreme budget is Exhibit A of why Americans should absolutely not allow Republicans to control Congress or the White House in 2016 or beyond.)
*Britain's Conservative Party should be a cautionary tale for U.S. Republicans (Interesting that in Britain, the far-right extremists are NOT part of the Conservative Party, but are taking votes AWAY from the Conservative Party. Here in the U.S., the Tea Party - the equivalent of UKIP, or worse - is an intrinsic part of the Republican Party. Horrifying, really.)
*Four Senate Dems could help hand Obama fast track ("...two newer members, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Tim Kaine of Virginia, may require more convincing to take a vote that would antagonize union groups and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which have made defeating the bill a top priority.")
*Blessed Are the Climate Advocates ("This Vatican moment was a game-changer. Science and religion were forcefully and unwaveringly aligning.)
*We Know What Killed Freddie Gray ("And a police badge shouldn't hide the truth.")
*Notes from the Capitol: Ex-delegates in running to return to legislative seats
*Schapiro: A job some want and few appreciate ("Tommy Norment and Dick Saslaw may be the "Odd Couple" of the Virginia Senate. Their differences notwithstanding, they have an important similarity: power." Also, both are slimeballs in their own way.)
*10 million cartons of cigarettes trafficked out of Virginia (Raise the cigarette tax, obviously.)
*A blow to Metro's funding (Metro funding needs to be going UP significantly, not down.)
*Peninsula's grid is straining, Dominion Virginia Power says (So, is Dominion pushing the cheapest, most environmentally friendly, solution? That would be energy efficiency, and no, they are not.)
*Public Square: Why is Richmond still segregated? (In some ways, we've stagnated or even gone backwards on race in this country over the past few decades...)
*Couple who led Virginia's same-sex marriage push tie the knot
*Vote for light rail ("Virginia Beach has an opportunity this month that it will never have again: A chance to leverage state grants and loans to pay most of the costs of extending light rail to Town Center.")
*Kilgore slams McAuliffe's reasoning on coal tax veto (Not surprising, since Kilgore is bought and paid for by the coal companies.)
*Saines Scores Narrow Win In Sterling Primary
*Va. Beach vote on light rail far from a done deal
*Spring will feel more like early summer in the week ahead

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National and Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat May 02, 2015 at 06:29:57 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, May 2. Also, check out President Obama's weekly address, on "expanding access to education, and to spreading the joy of reading to more children and young adults."

*6 Officers Charged in Freddie Gray's Death ("Evidence of Abuse Leads to a Homicide Ruling in Baltimore")
*In Baltimore, a step toward justice ("That justice would be first and foremost for Mr. Gray and - if it provides an impetus for enacting more sensible rules for dealing with police misconduct - for future victims of abuse by police.")
*A look at the six Baltimore police officers charged in the Gray case
*Bernie Sanders raises $1.5 million in 24 hours, says his campaign (Impressive; let's see if he can keep it up.)
*Chris Christie's Access Lanes To The GOP Nomination Are Closed
*Ben E. King, Soulful Singer of 'Stand by Me,' Dies at 76
*Critics say Manassas zoning overhaul targets abortion clinics (Atif Qarni: Hal Parrish has "created this façade that he's moderate and he really isn't.")
*McAuliffe vetoes police bills, ACLU promises lawsuit
*Va. senators, feds announce new measures against oil-by-rail disasters
*McAuliffe travels in search of cash for Virginia Democrats ("The governor started the week in California and is wrapping it up in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.")
*McAuliffe vetoes surveillance technology bill to chagrin of privacy hawks ("He said bills regulating automated license plate readers would sweep up private and traffic cameras.")
*Philanthropist's latest gift: $10 million to Jefferson's Monticello plantation
*AARP Names Arlington One of the 30 Most Livable Cities
*Tom Bellanca announces Loudoun chairman candidacy as independent (Not what Democrats need...)
*Roanoke police officer on administrative leave over 'disparaging' remarks
*Warming up this weekend, and beyond

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Gov.Terry McAuliffe vs. Sen Chap Petersen on :Veto of License Plate Readers Bill

by: lowkell

Fri May 01, 2015 at 17:17:45 PM EDT

Earlier today, Gov. McAuliffe vetoed this bill by Sen. Chap Petersen (SB 965: "Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act; collection and use of personal information by law-enforcement agencies.")Here's Gov. McAuliffe's veto statement, followed by Sen. Petersen's response.

SB 965 (Statement is identical for HB 1673)

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 965, which would significantly restrict the use of License Place Readers (LPRs) and lead to many unintended consequences affecting public safety, transportation and the efficient conduct of business in the Commonwealth.

Despite their proven success in locating stolen vehicles, identifying drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents, locating missing children and enhancing overall public safety, this bill would drastically limit the use of LPRs by law enforcement agencies. In order to use a LPR without a warrant under this legislation, agencies must prove the LPR is being used for  "known relevance" data collected that are intended for prompt evaluation and that there is suspected criminal or terrorist activity.  This provision is extremely narrow and could impede day-to-day operations.

This bill also sets a strict, seven day retention period for all data collected by LPRs.  Many localities in Virginia retain this data for 60 days to two years.  Seven days is a substantial reduction.  Additionally, law enforcement agencies demonstrate that crimes are often not reported until several weeks later.  Under this bill, essential data would not be available at the time of those reports.  This is particularly concerning when considering implications for the National Capitol Region, where cross-state collaboration and information-sharing are essential to responding to potential criminal or terrorist activity occurring near Virginia's borders.

Furthermore, defining vehicle license plate numbers as "personal information" could dramatically impact state and local agency operations and create public confusion. State law requires that license plates be attached to the front and rear of every vehicle, and license plates must be clearly visible and legible.  

This new definition of personal information would likely prevent the live Internet transmission of video from VDOT's traffic cameras as a violation of the state's Government Data Collection and Dissemination Act.

The bill could potentially cripple the use of innovative, electronically-managed tolling lanes that improve the quality of life for Virginians by reducing commute times and expediting the tolling process.  These projects use cameras that record license plate numbers for billing purposes, saving travelers the time they would spend waiting in line at a toll booth.  The billing mechanism could be in violation of this legislation, eliminating the use of these time-saving travel options.

It would be unwise for me to sign legislation that could limit the tools available for legitimate law enforcement purposes and negatively impact public safety, or derail major transportation projects and jeopardize time-saving technologies that are essential to our economy, our citizens, tourism and the efficient conduct of business. Accordingly, I veto this bill.

First of all, I like the Governor and support his policies on economic development, which have brought thousands of new jobs to Virginia.  I also consider him a friend, and sometimes friends disagree, especially when they are both Democrats.  

Having said that, I believe that he's getting some very bad advice here, both legally and politically.
First of all, this bill was not "rushed through."  The issue has been pending since March 2013, when the Attorney General ruled that License Plate Readers could not be used, except in criminal investigations.  Certain police departments refused to follow that opinion, which led to these bills.

Delegate Anderson and myself filed our legislation in January 2014, after a series of Washington Post articles on the unauthorized use of LPR's.  We continued our bills for a year so as to get the maximum possible input from all sides of the debate

We pre-filed our respective bills (again) before the 2015 session.  There were at least four Committee hearings on our bills, as well as multiple floor debates.  The final product of SB 965 was reached by a bipartisan conference committee and unanimously approved by the House and Senate in February -- after a deliberative process of over a year.  

Secondly, the bill is not "bad legislation."  It was carefully written to only impact "surveillance technologies" which scan and upload personal information.  On its face, it applies to random data collection - not data collected pursuant to a specific investigation or from a specific encounter.  Contrary to the exaggerated claims of opponents, it had no effect on cameras focused on government property or personnel.  

There is no need for the Commonwealth to be collecting private information on its own citizens, without a warrant or investigation. It is time for that Patriot Act mentality to end.    
Law enforcement in this state does a great job.  I'm proud to support them.  But they only have those powers delegated by the Constitution and state law. It is not unlimited.

Today's veto sends just the opposite message.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri May 01, 2015 at 06:10:00 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, May 1.

*Krugman: Ideology and Integrity ("I still think this election should turn almost entirely on the issues. But if we must talk about character, let's talk about what matters, namely intellectual integrity.")
*Why Tesla's announcement is such a big deal: The coming revolution in energy storage (We need affordable energy storage badly; let's hope this is as good as it sounds.)
*Morgan Freeman on Baltimore Protest Coverage: 'F-ck the Media' (Well, certainly f*** CNN, Fox, the Washington Post, and other irresponsible, right-wing media outlets.)
*Freddie Gray died after head 'slammed into bolt in police van', reports say (Can someone explain to me why police get to investigate themselves?)
*Why You Should Be Skeptical About the New Police Narrative on Freddie Gray's Death (Same question as in the last item.)
*Baltimore Protesters Jailed Without Food For Days, Attorneys Say (In what way can this possibly be acceptable in the United States of America?!?)
*The Character Assassination Of Freddie Gray (Sound familiar? A black man is killed, the right-wing media immediately starts smearing him in order to excuse the killing. Rinse and repeat.)
*Iran bill a mess after Cotton, Rubio try to force votes (They're trying to blow up any diplomatic solution with Iran, which would increase the chances of: a) Iran racing ahead with a nuclear weapons program; b) war to stop it. Great, huh?)
*How Rand Paul blew it on Baltimore ("The Kentucky senator tried to present himself as a different kind of Republican. Then the riots happened.")
*AG's office seeks to mediate Sweet Briar College dispute
*Evidence fight points to secret redistricting talks in Virginia ("Virginia House Republicans are fighting to keep hundreds of pages of documents secret as attorneys for Democratic groups push for full access, hoping to find something useful in an ongoing lawsuit over state election maps.")
*McAuliffe says pipeline must protect the environment (He can keep saying that, but it's nonsense; this is a really bad idea on economic and environment grounds.)
*On anniversary of Lynchburg derailment, Warner, Kaine back fee for oil trains
*$12 minimum wage proposed by Virginia lawmakers
*Our view: What are the fairest taxes?
*Virginia rescue team helps save boy in Nepal
*State agencies launching study on effects of coal dust in Norfolk
*In battle of Manassas, a fight over abortion (Very, very strange editorial by the Republican Times-Disgrace. That's right, the decision by right-wingnut Manassas City Mayor Hal Parrish and company to effectively restrict abortion options in their city is somehow the fault of...wait for it..."liberals and progressives!" Amazing.)
*Start pedaling on regional bike trail ("A mile or two at a time, South Hampton Roads' cities are building a recreational trail that could one day connect downtown Suffolk with Virginia Beach's Oceanfront. The plan is more than a decade old and still too many years from completion. But by next fall, 5.3 miles on the western part of the 41-mile path are expected to be finished.")
*Property owners puzzled by Mountain Valley Pipeline route mapping decisions
*May starts with shower risks and breezes; Warming trend begins this weekend

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 06:27:30 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines,  political and otherwise, for Thursday, April 30. Also, check out Jon Stewart skewering Wolf Blitzer and other corporate media morons' coverage of Baltimore.

*Mainstream Media Advance Climate Science Deniers' Misinformation Campaign Against The Pope
*College students are making global warming a moral issue. Here's why that scares people. (Keep doing what you're doing, UMW divestment students and everyone else fighting for a livable planet!)
*The labor roots of Baltimore's anguish ("The city's economic woes are to blame.")
*House Republicans try to gut a key American principle ("In a quest to abolish birthright citizenship, Rep. Steve King and allies called on a bizarre witness.")
*Hillary Clinton is running against parts of President Clinton's legacy (Like everything Dick Morris had a hand in, maybe?)
*Bernie Sanders has made it official: He's running for president
*The Supreme Court Had One Of Its Most Gruesome Debates Today
*Are the Clintons More Transparent Than the Bushes? ("When it comes to their foundations' donors, Bill and Hillary are more open than George W. Bush or his father.")
*Right-wing lunatics think the military is planning to invade Texas. Here's why.
*Va. Supreme Court should open up
*Gov. Terry McAuliffe reached out to Baltimore mayor; says Virginia surveillance bills were rushed
*Dominion questioned about Atlantic Coast Pipeline, other upcoming projects (These are really dumb ideas economically, in addition to violating a fundamental tenet of dealing with global warming: do no further harm!)
*House bill threatens to slash federal funding for Metro (Metro funding needs to be INCREASING, by a lot, not decreasing!)
*Cuccinelli out of office, but not out of politics (The perfect symbol of a Virginia Republican Party gone far off the right-wing rails.)
*State should accept defeat ("A Virginia Beach couple should finally be enjoying retirement after a six-year fight to win fair compensation for land taken by the Virginia Department of Transportation.")
*Navy considering Newport News Shipbuilding's future
*Another day in the 70s, only this time with occasional showers

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National and Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Apr 29, 2015 at 06:28:47 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, April 29. Also, see Sen. Harry Reid's speech on the situation in Baltimore, and how "we must not ignore the despair felt by many communities in America."

*Obama Calls Out America For Not Caring About Issues That Led To Riots In Baltimore (Bingo.)
*Curfew lifts after calmer night in Baltimore ("National Guard patrols while protesters lament violence")
*Right of gays to marry in justices' hands ("Court weighs question: Is change happening too fast?" Too fast? Seriously? This bigotry and discrimation has been going on for hundreds of years!)
*Supreme Court's dopey anti-gay arguments: What's so scary about tossing aside our worst traditions? (Exactly!)
*In a suprise move, Saudi Arabia's king shakes up line of succession ("King Salman replaced his anointed heir with his nephew and named his son as deputy in line to the throne.")
*Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn't Start the Way You Think
*Americans bomb Pew test of basic political knowledge (Americans are uninformed and disengaged, then wonder why we get such crazy, climate-science-denying, ignoramus, right-wing politicians.)
*Kaine confident Iran review bill will pass
*Virginia same-sex marriage advocates optimistic as Supreme Court hears case
*Jim Webb tweaks Hillary Clinton in fundraising appeal
*Va. Supreme Court Justice Millette retiring early ("With the General Assembly out of session, and slated to remain so, the constitution empowers Gov. Terry McAuliffe to fill the vacancy. Such an appointment would be good until 30 days after the legislature convenes again.")
*Forest Service OKs pipeline surveying in Jefferson National Forest (That's crazy.)
*GOP primary challenger to Va. House speaker loses campaign manager ("The high-profile defection from Susan Stimpson's campaign comes as the two vie for conservatives in the Fredericksburg-area district, about 50 miles south of Washington." Niiice.)
*Suburban growth continues to outpace Peninsula cities
*Death of woman shocked 4 times by stun gun in Va. jail ruled an accident (Define "accident." Hmmmmmm.)
*Roanoke County to make pipeline recommendations to FERC
*Schapiro: A Virginian who, almost alone, took the long view on gay marriage ("In 1996, Chuck Robb took a position on same-sex marriage that put him at odds with many Virginia voters. History is proving him right.")
*Legislators want investigation of tuition grants at Sweet Briar
*Hundreds turn out for Portsmouth budget meeting, criticize council
*2016 defense budget provides lots of work at Newport News Shipyard
*Nationals engineer biggest comeback in team history to snap losing streak
*Sunny today with highs in the 70s, then a chance of showers tonight

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

New Study: Eastern, Northern Virginia Much Less Racist Than Average

by: lowkell

Tue Apr 28, 2015 at 11:47:57 AM EDT

Fascinating new study:
Interestingly, on the map above the most concentrated cluster of racist searches happened not in the South, but rather along the spine of the Appalachians running from Georgia all the way up to New York and southern Vermont.

Other hotbeds of racist searches appear in areas of the Gulf Coast, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and a large portion of Ohio. But the searches get rarer the further West you go. West of Texas, no region falls into the "much more than average" category. This map follows the general contours of a map of racist Tweets made by researchers at Humboldt State University.

Note that in Virginia, the northern and eastern portions are much LESS racist than average. The further southwest you go, it transitions rapidly to "more [racist] than average" and then "much more [racist] than average." It's also interesting that this map largely aligns with the partisan divide in Virginia, with the "bluest" parts of the state - the "urban crescent" from Northern Virginia to Richmond to Hampton Roads - being the least racist, and the "reddest" parts of the state being the most racist. It would be fascinating to do this study for other forms of bigotry, such as anti-Latino, anti-LGBT, etc. I wonder if anti-black racists also tend to be bigoted in other ways (that would be my guess, a priori).
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Apr 28, 2015 at 06:24:51 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, April 28. As for Gov. McAuliffe, he's absolutely wrong that a wealthy, professional football franchise should be showered with taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to come here. Massive taxpayer ripoff.

*Vatican climate change summit to highlight moral duty for action
*Rioting rocks Baltimore: Curfew ordered, Guard deployed amid violence
*At Gray's funeral, outrage over way in which he died (And rightfully so!)
*For the GOP, 'one man, one vote' becomes 'one billionaire, one ballot' (But the right-wing media would rather focus on donations to the Clintons' charitable foundation, which does good work around the world, then the fact that the Republican Party is 100% bought and paid for by Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, etc. Nice.)
*Orioles Executive On Baltimore Unrest: It's Inequality, Stupid (There are actually a number of root causes, all of which need to be addressed, but probably wont't be due to Republicans' hostility to government, the poor, etc.)
*The Powerful Scene On The Streets Of Baltimore Monday Night That No One Is Talking About ("Hundreds of Baltimore clergy linked arms and took to the streets in an effort to restore the peace.")
*Fairfax County rescue group headed to Nepal to help in recovery efforts
*Jim Webb tests Iowa waters, weighs run as Hillary 'alternative'
*Hillary Clinton vows to rebuild state parties after Obama-era wipeout ("The Democratic front-runner tells early state activists she'll work to reverse the party's sweeping local losses." She can start right here in Virginia this year, as our entire General Assembly is up for election!)
*Our view: Killed, with not a trace of evidence ("Just in case you're interested - and we hope you are - that would be approximately 76 percent of the bills and resolutions in the House of Delegates.")
*No basis for Virginia Supreme Court to withhold records, state council says
*Take care of quality of life in Chesapeake ("Tonight, the Chesapeake City Council faces a generational decision: Whether to encourage developers to build long-delayed housing projects by reducing what they agreed to pay for infrastructure.")
*Silver Line $200 million over budget; next phase may not open until 2020
*Manassas proposed zoning changes called threat to city's abortion clinic (So much for Mayor Hal Parrish being a "moderate" Republican!)
*Video: Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe "aggressively" trying to move Redskins out of D.C. (Forget the name, this is really, really dumb for other reasons, like shoveling taxpayers' money at billion-dollar corporations and getting very little in return.)
*Sweet Briar says faculty lawsuit is attempt by professors to get a 'financial windfall'
*In Fairfax case, death by 'excited delirium' (More like "death by Taser")
*Capitals endure, triumph in Game 7 over Islanders on Kuznetsov's goal
*It's gradually getting warmer. Mostly sunny today with highs in the 60s.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Apr 27, 2015 at 06:19:01 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, April 27. Also, that photo is from Ayn Rand-worshipping, right-wing extremist Rep. Dave Brat's Facebook page. According to what he calls the "Brat pack," Trump was "in Richmond Friday to offer his support of Dave's great work in Congress," such as "standing up to Obama's destructive policies on illegal immigration, corporate cronyism, and the endless war on the American middle class worker." WTF are they ranting and raving about? Who the heck knows, but it gets super weird and super wacky when you get Dave Brat and Donald Trump together!

*Earthquake Aftershocks Jolt Nepal as Toll Surpasses 3,400
*The GOP's demonic alliance: How the religious right & big business are dumbing down America
*Clinton Foundation acknowledges 'mistakes,' emphasizes transparency
*The GOP estate-tax folly ("Maybe congressional Republicans really are nuts, suicidal or both. The latest evidence is House approval of legislation abolishing the estate tax, sometimes called the 'death tax.'")
*Krugman: Nobody Said That ("Several months into 2014 many leading Republicans - including John Boehner, the speaker of the House - were predicting that more people would lose coverage than gain it. And everyone on the right was predicting that the law would cost far more than projected, adding hundreds of billions if not trillions to budget deficits." WRONG!)
*Poll shows Bush-Clinton toss-up in Va.
*The Biggest Winners and Losers in Sully District ("The biggest losers in the Sully race were former Congressman Tom Davis, Supervisor Pat Herrity, and Congressman Barbara Comstock.")
*Cruz warns of 'liberal fascism' targeting Christians ("Fascism?" Look in the mirror, Sen. Cruz!)
*Virginia's equal rights history may sway court's gay marriage ruling
*Putting brakes on big brother ("State lawmakers ignored Gov. Terry McAuliffe's revisions to legislation to prevent authorities from collecting and retaining surveillance information from license-plate readers for as long as they want.")
*2nd Navy SEAL dies after accident in Little Creek pool
*Week will begin on the chilly side, but coming weekend could be fantastic

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning

by: lowkell

Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 06:41:26 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines for Sunday, April 26.

*Death toll in Nepal quake exceeds 1,900
*President Obama's Top 10 jokes
*President Obama Reveals Surprise Guest at White House Correspondents' Dinner
*Barack Obama lands the zingers at White House correspondents' dinner ("The president tells diners at the fundraiser he's bringing a new attitude to the final quarter of his presidency, and it rhymes with bucket")
*Contracting allegations expose a hole in protocol, gray areas, at Virginia's SCC ("Allegations of contracting irregularities at the State Corporation Commission are sitting before the Virginia Supreme Court, and the state legislature has ordered changes in the SCC's post-award review process.")
*Gov. Terry McAuliffe to drive pace car at tonight's NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway (And knowing T-Mac, I'm sure he'll be the GREATEST pace car driver in the HISTORY of Virginia! LOL)
*Schapiro: In different ways, McAuliffe, Webb make it all about Clinton
*More review for power line
*A few Va. Senate races expected to have wide-ranging impact
*The stonewalling sheriff ("Rather than delay that day of reckoning, the authorities in Fairfax would be wise to be proactive, transparent and accountable. So far those qualities are lacking.")
*John Guevara takes Republican nomination in Fairfax supervisor race
*Incumbents sweep Prince William GOP firehouse primary (Corey Stewart "won about 73 percent of the vote against challenger Chris Crawford, a defense contractor from Gainesville." Now that THAT is out of the way, hopefully he's off to anger management counseling. LOL)
*Can a tolling and transit deal fix I-66 after decades of failure?
*Despite trafficking, Va. cigarette tax appears unlikely to rise
*Showers and clouds are on the wane, but a bit of a chill will linger in region

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Much of the "Virginia Christian Alliance" Candidate Questionnaire Has Nothing to Do w/Christianity

by: lowkell

Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 08:44:53 AM EDT

Can someone please explain how much, if not most, of this stuff has to do with Christianity? Photo ID? Proof of citizenship to vote? "Illegal aliens?" Eliminating the state income tax? Guns? Offshore oil drilling? Tort reform? Dominion Power? WTF? Of course, this group is a bunch of extremist nuts, but frighteningly, a sizeable number of Virginians agree with them...shuddderrrrr.

(lots more on the "flip")

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 22 words in story)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 06:49:50 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, April 25. Also, see this week's White House address, in which President Obama makes the case for "why new, high-standards trade agreements are important for our economy, our businesses, our workers, and our values." I'm skeptical, but open to being shown exactly how the TPP protects workers, human rights, the environment, etc.

*Bill Nye: Climate change is "not something you should be debating or denying"
*Republicans are engaging in smog and mirrors on climate ("A revenue-neutral carbon tax is a reform Republicans should love. It could end irrational federal subsidies, lower the GOP's most-hated taxes and harness market efficiency to provide some insurance for the planet at a minimal cost. Instead, the party's would-be leaders appear to be looking for any way to avoid engaging seriously.")
*Drone Strikes on Al Qaeda Are Said to Take Toll on Leadership in Pakistan
*Quake in Nepal Kills Hundreds and Destroys Buildings
*The trade-off Obama missed on trade ("Clinton, and Obama, should champion the trade bill - but only after congressional Republicans do what's needed to protect low-wage American workers from the dislocation that will occur")
*Obama's Piecemeal Climate Policy Is Gradually Paying Off ("The next step will be attempting a bi-partisan economy-wide carbon cap-a feat that will probably fall to the next president.")
*North America's Oil And Gas Industry Has Taken Over 7 Million Acres Of Land Since 2000 (Another massive government subsidy for the utterly NON-"free market" oil and gas industry in this country.)
*Gov. McAuliffe Announces Members of ABC Review Panel
*Survey for Atlantic Coast Pipeline approved in part of national forest in West Virginia (Ugh.)
*Teresa Sullivan contract before UVa board
*Feds looked hard, found nothing on Virginia lawmaker Norment (Nothing illegal that is. They weren't looking to see if Norment is unethical and/or "legally corrupt" in many other ways...)
*Norment sponsored bills pushed by Beach lobby firm (Speaking of which...)
*Va. delegates bash effort to aid transgender kids (Digusting.)
*Joe Morrissey says Rosalyn Dance opposed medicaid expansion ("Mostly false")
*Donald Trump receives warm welcome in Chesterfield ("Donald Trump derided President Barack Obama as incompetent while playing up his own political prowess at a gathering of Chesterfield County Republicans on Friday" That says it all!)
*Costs rising on state campuses
*Slain Mary Washington student recalled as a 'force of nature' at vigil
*In the Geer case, Fairfax takes steps toward justice ("Let's hope this is the case that disproves the axiom that justice delayed is justice denied.")
*Marco Rubio wins Chesapeake GOP straw poll
*Our view: Meals tax is clarifying moment for Roanoke
*Looking for warm weather?
This may not be your weekend.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 06:29:58 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, April 24. The photo, by the way, is in "honor" of Domininion continuing to fuel climate change, this time by proving that they were never serious about offshore wind power, but would rather move ahead with a super-expensive nuclear power boondoggle and super-expensive natural gas pipelines to nowhere. Brilliant.

*Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch as Attorney General After Long Delay (Congratulations, Republicans did less than the bare minimum.)
*Krugman: Zombies of 2016 ("A deep attachment to long-refuted ideas seems to be required of all prominent Republicans. Whoever finally gets the nomination for 2016 will have multiple zombies as his running mates.")
*Media Admit Schweizer Reporting Contains "No Smoking Gun
*ABC News Finds More Errors In Schweizer's Clinton Cash
*U.S. Is Often Unsure About Who Will Die in Drone Strikes
*Comcast Plans to Drop Time Warner Cable Deal
*Marco Rubio is for sale: The GOP's epic money-groveling campaign has officially begun ("And it's not just him. The entire 2016 field is cozying up to billionaires for a chance at winning the White House")
*What hostage deaths mean for the future of U.S. drone strikes
*Dave Brat's Bizarre Statements
*McAuliffe touts gas and nuclear, says it's not his job to worry about risks (McAuliffe said a lot of stuff that was either false, misguided, or absurd in that forum. I'll have more on this later, but first read Ivy Main's excellent article.)
*Again: Missing target on Medicaid ("Economists from Moody's Analytics prepared a report to evaluate pressure on public funding for higher education, also measured Medicaid expenditures as a percentage of state spending. The report hardly offers justification for denying health care coverage to lower-income Virginians")
*Sen. Kaine: The problem isn't the drones. It's the U.S. mission
*Mark Warner, Lincoln Chafee to address SC Democrats
*Virginia's clout in D.C. is shrinking (I mean, Eric Cantor was awful, but believe it or not, Dave Brat's crazier and less effective -- plus FAR less powerful.)
*Federal investigators reviewed Va. lawmaker's relationship with lobbyist
*Dominion Resources says off-shore wind project could cost far more than expected (In other words, Dominion bought up the offshore wind lease areas so they could sit on them. Shocker, eh?)
*Virginia's cicada-eating, Kegerator-using head salesman, Terry McAuliffe
*Alexandria mayoral candidates agree: Don't sell off City Hall, Market Square
*Sunny and chilly again. Spring's warmth on hiatus until next week.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Apr 23, 2015 at 06:35:53 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, April 23.

*Republicans again appeal to theocracy
*It's Not the 1% Controlling Politics. It's the 0.01 Percent. ("The more they spend, the more they make.")
*Clintons' wealth intertwined with charitable work (Does that matter in terms of Hillary Clinton's public policy positions is the question.)
*Fox-Generated Benghazi Committee Will Release New Report Just In Time For 2016 Elections (Zero credibility.)
*Conservative Broadcaster Gives Serial Misinformer A National News Show (Sharyl Attkisson...ugh.)
*Marco Rubio takes lead in Sheldon Adelson primary (Sheldon Adelson is a total slimeball. So what does that say about anyone who is a favorite of his?)
*Secret Koch memo outlines plans for 2016 ("The plan comes with a $125 million 2015 budget for Americans for Prosperity, the most robust arm in the network of small-government advocacy groups helmed by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch." Fossil fuel and anti-clean-energy propaganda run amok. We all need to boycott the Koch brothers' companies -- Georgia Pacific, Teflon, Lycra, Stainmaster, American Greetings, Brawny, Dixie cups, Quilted Northern, etc.)
*Governor signs solar energy, 'green jobs' measures on Earth Day
*Times have changed for Virginia's car tax relief ("...growth in the number and value of cars and changing tax rates have dropped the amount of relief that each vehicle owner receives.")
*Is Virginia Becoming a Liberal State? Some Democrats Are Betting on It. ("Democratic leaders in Virginia are embracing liberal stances on social issues in a way that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.")
*McAuliffe announces plan to protect 'Virginia Treasures' ("The program will focus on smaller-scale conservation efforts and land preservation.")
*Editorial: Virginia is taking steps to improve ABC law enforcement
*U-Va. dean says retracted Rolling Stone story attacked her life's work
*In Fairfax, its time for the Justice Department to step in ("Does it take the threat of civic strife to force governments to do what they should do anyway? If Fairfax County is an example, the answer seems to be yes.")
*Republicans vie to replace retiring supervisor in Fairfax's Sully District ("The first step comes Saturday at Westfield High School in Chantilly. Three Republican candidates will compete for the nomination in a firehouse canvass that is expected to draw about 2,000 voters from a population of 130,000 residents.")
*Solarize Montgomery aims to increase solar usage in county
*Amended report: Chesapeake delegate got casino trip ("Del. Lionell Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake, amended his filing with the House clerk to report that Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa., spent $1,665 on his airfare and lodging.")
*Wind gusts up to 30 mph in some
areas as temperatures cling to 50s

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

National and Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Apr 22, 2015 at 06:22:15 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, April 22. As for things that scare conservatives, I'd add "reality," "science," "an informed and engaged electorate," "taking away fossil fuel companies' massive taxpayer-funded corporate welfare," and many other things. Finally, please click here to "Urge Governor McAuliffe To Continue Supporting A Strong Clean Power Plan For Virginia!"

*Newsweek adds disclosure about Koch ties of professor who wrote anti-wind power piece (Good, although why on earth didn't they have that disclaimer in the first place?!?)
*Earth Day: scientists say 75% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in ground (Note to Terry McAuliffe and other "all-of-the-above" fans: natural gas is a fossil fuel.)
*EPA's Clean Power Plan Will Create Quarter-Million Jobs ("New study shows that job gains, not the losses the industry predicted, would follow if new carbon rules are implemented.")
*Mary Robinson, UN Envoy: Climate Agenda Makes 2015 the 'Most Important Year Since 1945'
*Five Years After The BP Oil Spill, Gulf Coast Residents Say "BP Hasn't Made Things Right" (Not even close.)
*Trade war heating up among Democrats ("Referring to Warren by name, Obama said she and other critics are 'wrong on this' and added that although 'some of the information that has been getting thrown out there plays into legitimate fears that Democratic voters have, and progressives have, it's simply not true. It's simply not the facts.'")
*U.S. Chamber, AFL-CIO clash at Senate hearing over Obama's free trade push ("Seeking to win support from more Democrats, Obama taped a midday interview pushing his trade agenda with MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Tuesday at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce in Northern Virginia.")
*Deal on Trade Pact Gives Obama Authority but Builds In a Delay
*The Senate's brief bipartisan love-fest ("The bipartisan bonhomie had lasted all of four hours." (It was also on the bare minimum - moving closer to confirming a superbly-qualified nominee as Attorney General and passing a who-could-not-support-this human trafficking bill. Mazel tov.)
*Cruz Campaign Accuses Paul and Rubio of Wimping Out on Gun Rights After Newtown (What the hell? "Gun rights" are stronger than ever in this country.)
*Why The Koch Brothers Want Scott Walker To Be President (The Koch brothers are John Birch Society extremists; whoever they support should be strongly opposed by voters.)

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 277 words in story)

Virginia and National News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Apr 21, 2015 at 06:17:35 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, April 21.

*Confirm Lynch now ("Politics have kept the nominee in limbo.")
*Editorial: Earth Day serves as reminder of the goals we must pursue together
*New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News strike deals for anti-Clinton research (Yep, that's your so-called "liberal media" at work!)
*Inside the right's new "Clinton Cash" obsession: The sketchy new Hillary "exposé" that hooked the New York Times ("The right's propaganda machine duped the media on the Clintons once before. Now they could be doing it again")
*Rising Death Toll Leaves Europe With New Refugee Crisis
*Egyptian Court Sentences Morsi to 20 Years in Prison
*Candidates kicking in to their own campaigns in key Senate races ("Candidates are kicking in to their own campaigns to build early fundraising stakes in key contests for control of the state Senate.")
*Ex-Virginia first lady McDonnell tries to get corruption convictions tossed
*Bob McDonnell's wife: Corruption trial was unfair
*ABC shakes up leadership of enforcement division
*Our view: Our sleep-walking senator ("Is John Edwards awake?Judging from the latest campaign finance reports, it doesn't appear so."
*Problems with Virginia's voting systems undermine confidence in our election results
*Beware Stalling Growth in Northern Virginia
*Lawmakers want assistant Norfolk prosecutor as judge
*Fairfax posts record low crime rate in 2014 ("Arlington and Alexandria are also at historic lows, and Prince George's recorded a 9 percent decrease." It continually amazes me that people erroneously think crime is high, when in fact the crime rate is the lowest in many decades.)
*McAuliffe on Redskins stadium in Virginia: 'It's where they belong' (Nope, McAuliffe is wildly wrong. First off, we shouldn't give Dan Snyder and Compan a dime of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare. Second, the team actually "belongs" in Washington, DC, at the RFK site, right at a Metro stop, not in exurban Virginia.)
*Casey: The Roanoke Tea Party tries again for control of county board
*Prince William GOP candidates prep for firehouse primary
*Do Fairfax Democrats Have A Mount Vernon Problem? (Fortunately, Republicans appear to have picked a teahadist nut as their candidate, which should help the "blue team." Let's hope they do the same in Sully as well!)
*2 Montgomery County supervisors won't seek re-election
*Suspect due in court in fellow UMW student's slaying as loved ones, friends prepare to attend her funeral (So awful.)
*Mostly sunny and breezy today;
rain and cooler weather ahead

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Apr 20, 2015 at 06:23:35 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, April 20.

*"He's filling the government with Muslims": Inside New Hampshire's wacky GOP 2016 cattle call (These John Bircher Society types are disturbing, probably disturbed as well.)
*Karl Rove Misrepresents Abortion Language In Human Trafficking Legislation To Blame Democrats For Lynch's Stalled Confirmation ("Karl Rove misrepresents" is pretty much the story of his entire career.)
*Can the GOP learn from California? (Doesn't look like it.)
*Republicans look to lift spending caps ("Republicans are already talking about another big spending deal to ease sequestration and budget caps." Watch the Teahadists go ape!)
*ISIS Video Appears to Show Executions of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (Utterly evil.)
*Dr. Oz to use show to attack critics who want him booted from faculty position for 'quack medicine' (This guy is the worst.)
*Potential 2016 Dem candidate O'Malley: GOP's prescription for what ails the US economy is 'bullsh*t'
*Marco Rubio's latest global warming denial: 'There has never been a moment climate is not changing' (And there has never been a moment where Marco Rubio isn't a knee-jerk, doctrinaire, right-wingnut Teapublican. He also lives in the 1950s or something, the guy's definitely not mentally living in 2015.)
*McAuliffe says Hillary Clinton's message will play in Virginia
*Half-measures on ethics in Virginia (I wish they were "half-measures." As it is, they're not even 0.0001% measures!)
*GOP ahead in cash race for Va. campaign season ("The combined committees of Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Sen. Ryan McDougle and the Senate Republican Caucus have nearly $2 million on hand. By contrast, the committees of Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Sen. A. Donald McEachin and the Senate Democratic Caucus have about more than $700,000 combined. ")
*Roper: Is Marcellus play too near its peak to justify three huge new pipelines?
*McAuliffe finds himself back in campaign mode for Hillary Clinton ("But this time Virginia's governor is taking a lower-profile approach than he did for Clinton in previous races.")
*The D.C. boom is slowing - and people are moving on (Strange article, conflicts with every population projection I've seen.)
*Response to Brian's Schoeneman Hit Piece, by Sully Candidate John Guevara (For anyone who says Democratic primaries are nasty, check this one out by our friendly Republicans!)
*Former Gloucester supervisor Teresa Altemus challenges incumbent Chris Hutson for GOP nomination
*Loudoun sheriff's race gets ugly ("The apparent embezzlement of seized drug money by a deputy has become an campaign issue.")
*Late day storms likely in region following a pleasant middle of the day

Discuss :: (3 Comments)
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