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Virginia Politics

Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Dec 18, 2014 at 06:36:18 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, December 18.

*Mr. Obama's Historic Move on Cuba ("Mr. Obama could have taken modest, gradual steps toward a thaw. Instead, he has courageously gone as far as he can, within the constraints of an outmoded 1996 law that imposes stiff sanctions on Cuba in the pursuit of regime change.")
*U.S., Cuba make historic move to ease Cold War stance
*Pope's Intervention Helped Break Logjam in U.S.-Cuba Talks (I'm not a Catholic by any means, but Pope Francis truly rocks!)
*Cuba deal opens new front on political battlegrounds ("GOP critics denounced Obama's move as overreaching and naive, but there's growing public support to end the divide.")
*Right-Wing Media Lash Out After Obama Announces Deal With Cuba ("Right-Wing Media Lash Out" - that's the key phrase here, as that's mostly what they seem to do.)
*The War on Reproductive Rights Will Get a Lot Uglier Next Year (Keep that in mind, all you Democrats who stayed home in November!)
*McAuliffe budget plan helps local governments but not state employees
*McAuliffe briefs lawmakers on Virginia budget cuts, spending ("If we are going to build the new Virginia economy, we must invest in our workforce, in savvy economic development strategies, in education and in infrastructure.")
*McAuliffe budget would boost job fund, teacher pensions ("Despite a crippling budget crunch, Virginia's governor offered big plans, including Medicaid expansion." Actually, Medicaid expansion would help with the "crippling budget crunch!")
*McAuliffe's budget misses some needed cuts ("Conservative and liberal think tanks have pointed to the folly of sales tax holidays, and a 2011 report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission highlighted more than $12 billion worth of tax preferences, many of which are ripe for repeal.")
*Dollars and sense ("Of course, the revenue picture would look considerably different if the General Assembly had agreed to expand Medicaid, as McAuliffe struggled strenuously to do. The GOP-dominated House of Delegates refused.")
*Terry McAuliffe Chances Gun Control in Virginia
*McAuliffe calling for tighter day care rules

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 198 words in story)

Young Woman at Center of Morrissey Case Pledges to "help Mr. Morrissey clear his name & reputation"

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 17, 2014 at 12:30:31 PM EST

The following email was sent by the young woman in the middle of the case against Del. Joe Morrissey. Although she's 18 years old, ergo an adult, I've deleted her name, as I'd rather not be the one to publicly "out" her in such a sensitive case like this one. Her email is in response to this statement by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, calling for Del. Morrissey to "resign from office immediately," and including Senator Mamie Locke's comment that Morrissey had "abused his position of authority and his continued service brings blight on an institution that has stood as an aspiration for democracies for over 400 year." The email further cites the "basic human right to not be preyed upon, especially in the workplace."
Dear Senator Locke,

My name is ***** ***** and I am the young woman in question in regards to the Joe Morrissey matter. I have come across your statement made in respect to the situation. First, let's be clear about one thing, I have not been asked by anyone to comment back upon your statement. I would like to express my deep disappointment of your statement. You have made harsh comments to which you have absolutely no knowledge about. In your statement, you have stated two things that are troubling. 1. The Democratic Party cannot be an organization that stands for the rights and interests of women yet allow someone who has admitted to endangering a young woman to continue to serve as one of our colleagues in the General Assembly. 2.This includes the basic human right to not be preyed upon, especially in the workplace. I intend to make a few things clear.

1.     I was NOT "preyed" upon, but rather given an opportunity to explore my passion of becoming and attorney and to pay for my college expenses that my father, whom I've been estranged from since 9 years old had no intentions of doing. For what's its worth Mr. Morrissey and his law firm has been gracious and provided me with more than my father has in my entire life.

2.     You have stated that YOU and your democratic colleagues stand to protect the rights and interests of women, however, if that's so, where were YOU and YOUR colleagues when my father was physically abusing me? Where were YOU and YOUR colleagues when my father stole my tuition money, but yet YOU and YOUR colleagues are about "protecting the rights and interest of woman".

Despite the circumstances that I raised in and yet again another tragic issue in my life, I have continued to move pass all evil. I was accepted into a governor high school and finished up in 3 years as an A student. While in high school, I was 1 of 3 students to be accepted to attend Stanford Law School to participate in a mock trial. I have gone on to attend college and still maintain straight A's. I intend help Mr. Morrissey clear his name and reputation. If not for me lying about my age and my family intending to extort money from Mr. Morrissey, he would not be in this situation. I appreciate him dearly for making the decision to enter an Alfred plea (to which he has NOT ADMITTED GUILT), sparing me the trauma of a trial and the embarrassment of my family. Next time you decide to express your opinion and pass judgment, I suggest you reach out and have your facts straight and focus on young ladies who have been beaten, victimized and raped.

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 17, 2014 at 06:34:11 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, December 17. Also, check out the video of President Obama announcing his "action to protect one of America's greatest natural treasures by signing a Presidential Memorandum to protect Bristol Bay." Good news!

*Ruble remains volatile as fear grips Russia
*Dick Cheney's tortured logic (The face of evil.)
*America should set torture out of bounds ("...the application of basic humanity and restraint should not depend exclusively on who's in the White House, or even on the letter of the law, which has more protections now but which creative lawyers could still try to manipulate. It must be a moral and political expectation, built into the country's mores.")
*Clinton denounces torture, says black lives matter (She's absolutely right on both counts.)
*Rand Paul is Already Running an Ad Against Jeb Bush (The one who should be running ads is Chris Christie, who is probably the most harmed by Jeb Bush's entry into the race.)
*We Finally Have A Surgeon General Again. Here's What He'll Do Now.
*Is Obama destroying the Russian economy? (So, all the right wingers cheering Vladimir Putin and mocking our president got it totally backwards? Shocker!)
*Cuccinelli Has A 'Funny Feeling' GOPers Might Face Primary Challengers In 2016 (Cooch has a lot of "funny" feelings. Heh.)
*Thousands of miles of Va. rivers are polluted, report shows ("Chris Moore, a senior scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation...called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the General Assembly to fund efforts to reduce pollution from farms, lawns and streets.")
*Virginia GOP labels Gov. McAuliffe's plan as 'unconstitutional gun grab' (Riiiight, because background checks are...oh forget it, let's not even try to pretend right wingers are being rational here.)
*Expulsion of convicted Virginia lawmaker would be first since 1876 ("Del. Joseph Morrissey, convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, has resisted calls to resign.")
*Editorial: Morrissey tries gator defense
*Schapiro: Running out of friends, Morrissey finds a new one ("It's not that lawmakers want to do this; it's that they have to, lest they hand their opponents ammunition for the primary and general elections.")
*Grassley now seeks answers from Fairfax prosecutor on John Geer police slaying ("After getting little new information from Fairfax police or the Justice Department, Grassley asks why the case moved to the feds.")

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 105 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 06:28:34 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, December 16. As for the news story on Gov. McAuliffe's gun proposals, I'm including it mostly because they interview Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was shot and wounded at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.

*Taliban storm Pakistan school; at least 100 dead (Have I mentioned recently how much I despise religious extremists of all kinds?)
*Dick Cheney's grotesque legacy: Why the record is so much worse than reported ("He was an unpopular VP, whom history won't remember kindly. But this is Dick Cheney's real contribution to America." He needs to be tried for war crimes, as does anyone else who ordered torture or participated in it.)
*Ted Cruz reignites GOP civil war (Thank goodness for Ted Cruz. Oh, and please -- don't ever change! LOL)
*Poll: Dems want Hillary primary challenge ("The poll of Democrats nationwide finds that 48 percent say it is better if there is an active primary challenge to Clinton, compared to 43 percent who say it is better if Democrats coalesce behind Clinton early." Jim Webb and Martin O'Malley both have net unfavorable ratings and basically no support in this poll.)
*Sorry, Putin. Russia's economy is doomed (No sympathy for Putin, but unfortunately, the people of Russia will suffer.)
*Climate deniers get even more ridiculous ("The industry now says we need more CO2 in our lives, not less." Utterly insane people who should be completely ignored - and certainly not elected to anything, that's for sure!)
*Virginia Gov. McAuliffe to renew push to expand Medicaid (Lots of "red" states have expanded Medicaid, including three just since the midterms. What are Virginia Republicans waiting for?)
*Vivek Murthy confirmed as surgeon general (Finally!)
*McAuliffe takes bite out of tax preferences to deal with revenue shortfall ("The governor will propose on Wednesday to limit the tax credits and deductions that electric utilities and coal companies take for coalfield production and employment, property owners take for land preservation, and individuals take for purchase of long-term care insurance.")
*McAuliffe rolls out gun reforms (How could anyone, including law-abiding gun owners, be against background checks?)
*Virginia governor announces new voting machines statewide ("Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he plans to include $28 million in his budget for new voting machines statewide. The move, he said, would create a paper trail for individual votes.")
*Del. Michael Futrell joins race for open Virginia Senate seat (Did the Post do separate stories for Atif Qarni and Jeremy McPike when they entered the race? If not, why not?)
*After McDonnell conviction, Virginia needs to get tougher on ethics
*A lawmaker by day and a jailbird by night? You've got to be kidding. (Seems appropriate in anything-goes, no-ethics-laws-to-speak-of Virginia.)
*House's Fightin' Joe must go ("Del. Joe Morrissey was facing felony child porn and sex-related charges involving a 17-year-old staffer at his law office. Last week, he instead entered an Alford plea - maintaining his innocence but acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him - for a count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.")
*As Morrissey hangs on, challenger backs off recall plan
*Jail for Joe ("Joe Morrissey has not attained the legendary status of Marion Barry, the late mayor of D.C., or Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto. But that is not for lack of trying.")
*Colleges, including U-Va., rarely expel attackers after sex assaults (That's crazy.)
*Arlington may give Signature $5 million loan and a break on rent
*A winter story may be ahead, but today it's going to be rainy and mild

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

It Appears a Virginia Dem Shakeup Is in the Works [UPDATED]

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 14:44:23 PM EST

Here are the (strong) rumors -- which I've now heard/had confirmed from multiple sources over the past couple weeks -- as of now. What you're hearing? Thanks.

*Steve Pazmino out as Virginia Democratic Senate Caucus Executive Director after many years. His last day will be Dec. 31, 2014.
*Brian Zuzenak heading over from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (where he's political director) to take over for Pazmino.
*Michael Halle, currently Coordinated Campaign Director for the Democratic Party of Virginia, heading to New York to (reportedly) join "Hillaryworld."

Any interesting rumors you're hearing today? :)

P.S. I love how people "play dumb," claim they have noooo idea, etc, even as the rumor ship is leaking like a sieve...

P.P.S. This all seems highly consistent with a Hillary Clinton for President announcement in the next few months.

UPDATE: I finally caught up with Steve Pazmino this morning. He said this was the "job of a lifetime" (that he's held since January 2003), that he's had a "fantastic run" and is very proud to have built a program here (from every little when he started) in Virginia which others think is worthy of emulating. He said that Gov. McAuliffe and his people have a right to bring in whatever folks they want to run the program.  He noted that we've had our ups and downs, going from 16 Senate Dems to 22 to 20 to 19.  Looking forward, Pazmino says we obviously we can't control the national political climate, but we need to have good candidates here in 2015, run strong campaigns, and motivate the base to turn out and vote. Finally, we talked about Virginia's evolution from more of a "Southern" state back in 2003 to more of a "mid-Atlantic" state today. Of course, it's not inevitable that it will continue in this direction, but the demographics make that path look more likely than not. Still, Democrats obviously can never take anything for granted, and will need to work to convince people to vote for them - and to turn out!  Anyway, good luck to Steve Pazmino in whatever he does next, and good luck to the team that's coming in for 2015!

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Governor McAuliffe Announces Legislation to Prevent Gun Violence in the Commonwealth

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 13:20:33 PM EST

Of course, Republicans won't pass these commonsense/no-brainer ideas, because they're totally in the pocket of gun interests, but thanks to Gov. McAuliffe for pushing ahead anyway.

~ Proposals include common-sense measures to protect Virginia communities and keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands ~

 

ARLINGTON - Governor McAuliffe today announced a series of legislative proposals aimed at protecting Virginia residents and families through common-sense gun violence prevention efforts. The proposals include prohibiting the possession of firearms for persons subject to protective orders and those who have committed certain misdemeanor offenses, such as stalking, sexual battery, and domestic violence, as well as revoking concealed handgun permits for parents delinquent on child support payments and closing the gun show loophole.
 

“As Governor, there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the health and safety of the citizens I serve,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Our Commonwealth and our nation have seen too many tragedies as a result of dangerous weapons getting into the hands of the wrong people. These common-sense proposals will keep guns out of the hands of criminals, will keep our communities safe, and will help to build a new Virginia economy.”

 

“These are responsible policies that will benefit Virginia’s neighborhoods and families and will create safer environments for our law enforcement officials,” added Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “By implementing these common-sense measures, Virginia can lead the way on curbing gun violence and can prevent dangerous individuals from illegally obtaining firearms.”  

 

Governor McAuliffe’s legislative package on preventing gun violence includes:
 
Prohibit the possession of firearms for persons subject to protective orders
According to the American Journal of Public Health, when a gun is present in domestic violence situations, the risk of homicide for women increases by 500%. This proposal will aim to prevent domestic violence tragedies from occurring in Virginia by prohibiting the possession of firearms for persons subject to protective orders, which covers acts of violence against family members, inter-partner violence, and other dangerous behaviors.
 
Prohibit the possession of firearms for misdemeanor domestic violence offenders
Past violence is one of the biggest predictors of future violence, as handgun purchasers with violent misdemeanor convictions are 8 times more likely than those without prior convictions to be convicted of a new violent offense. This proposal will aim to stop that disturbing trend by prohibiting possession of firearms for certain misdemeanor offenses, including stalking, sexual battery, assault and battery against a family or household member, brandishing a firearm, and having two more convictions of assault and battery.

 

Curtail handgun trafficking by reinstating the one handgun a month law

As a gun owner and a supporter of the Second Amendment, Governor McAuliffe believes in the right to bear arms, but in a responsible way that prevents dangerous people from stockpiling and trafficking dangerous weapons. This common-sense measure, which was Virginia law for 19 years, limits handgun purchases to one a month and aims to reduce the chances of handguns causing violent tragedies in Virginia and across the nation.
  
Revoke concealed handgun permits for parents delinquent on child support payments
In order to build a new Virginia economy, it is essential that parents are receiving support payments and are able to provide for their children and families. Currently, there are 8889 parents with concealed handgun permits delinquent on child support payments, collectively owing over $15,675,000.
 
Keep handguns out of the wrong hands by closing the gun show loophole
Under current Virginia Law, only Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers are required to conduct criminal background checks prior to selling or transferring firearms.  At gun shows, private vendors are not required to conduct criminal background checks, creating an easy avenue for criminals to illegally gain access to guns. Governor McAuliffe’s legislative proposal changes that, requiring universal background checks for all purchases at gun shows.
 
Give Virginia State Police authority to process voluntary background check requests
Today, the Virginia State Police does not have the authority to process background check requests even when they have been submitted to them by private vendors. This proposal will give Virginia State Police the statutory authority to do so. Governor McAuliffe also is including an additional $100,000 in his budget to ensure that the Virginia State Police will be at every gun show in Virginia and available to perform these voluntary background checks.
 
Make unlawful purchases more difficult by clarifying what information can be displayed by gun show vendors

Today, gun shows can advertize that they are not required to conduct background checks, creating an easy environment to solicit business from individuals legally prohibited from buying firearms. This common-sense proposal will reduce the chance of dangerous people from illegally obtaining firearms at gun shows by preventing gun shows from advertising that they are not required to conduct background checks. 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Video: More Wit and Wisdom...Actually Bigotry and Extremism...from E.W. Jackson

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 12:47:01 PM EST

1. Jackson reiterates his frequently-expressed, yet still completely false, view that Barack Obama "is not a Christian."
2. Jackson also reiterates his frequently-expresses, yet still completely false, view that America is a "Christian nation."
3. Jackson claims that Barack Obama thinks he's "smarter than the Bible" and "smarter than god." (is this guy utterly obsessed with Barack Obama or what?)
4. He says if "any Christian who goes to a church where they say you ought to support the Democrat (sic) Party...you ought to get out of that church...[because churches like that] do not include the Bible and the word of god."
5. "I say to black people in the Democrat (sic) Party who are caught up in it, as I was once caught up in it...I say to them...touch not the unclean thing."
6. "It is clear that the Democrat (sic) Party has become the godless, anti-Christian, anti-faith, anti-bible, anti-family, anti-life party...Think about the progressive coalition that the party is part of...at some point as a Christian one has to ask, am I being on the lord's side in associating myself with these people...all Christians must come out of the Democrat (sic) Party."
7. "If I love god, and these people are demonstrating they hate god...because god is in the way of their amoral vision of what life ought to be...well then why in the world would any Christian or believing Jew want to be associated with them?"
8. He claims Barack Obama is an anti-Semite (because Obama won't do everything Bibi Netanyahu wants him to do and because he follows long-standing U.S. policy about a two-state solution, settlements, etc.). Yes, Jackson's completely bonkers, but remember, Republicans nominated him last year for Lt. Governor of Virginia.
9. Showing absolutely no self awareness of sense of irony, Jackson says he won't follow Louis Farrakhan because Farrakhan is "full of hatred and evil and lies." Speaking of "full of hatred" and "lies," Jackson really needs to look in the mirror once in a while.
10. He strongly recommends watching Fox News, claims it's really "fair and balanced." He also recommends Rush Limbaugh as a "tremendous source of information." Shocker.
Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Corruption of Dominion Power, Virginia Tobacco Commission Summed up in Political Cartoon

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 12:39:30 PM EST

The following political cartoon, sent to us by a talented artist, refers to this story on "Dominion's Strange Tobacco Money."
Dominion Resources, the powerful, Richmond-based utility with $13 billion in revenues, has strangely been getting $30 million public funds to bring a natural gas pipeline to a new generating plant in Brunswick County.

Odder still (or maybe not so) the public funds are coming from the GOP-controlled Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission which has figured in a wave of corruption since it was formed in 1999.

Even more bizarre, the tobacco commission made up of politically-appointed people arranged for Dominion to receive millions more than its own staff recommended, according to an intriguing report by the Associated Press.

Keep in mind, as the AP story points out, that "Dominion is without peer in terms of political sway in Virginia and routinely gets friendly legislation passed with broad bipartisan support." Not coincidentally, Dominion "is the single biggest donor to state-level politicians, as well as one of the biggest gift givers - often treating lawmakers to Washington Redskins games or paying for them to attend events like the Masters golf tournament in Georgia."> Oh, and "CEO Thomas Farrell II and McDonnell are childhood friends."

Also worth noting is that Farrell - pictured in the political cartoon - received $10.9 million in compensation in 2013, while his company earned $545 million in the third quarter of 2014 alone. Does this sound like a company that needs any taxpayer-funded corporate welfare at all, let alone $30 million?!? In this case, the money came from the Virginia Tobacco Commission, headed up by that fine, upstanding public servant, Del Terry Kilgore - the same guy who offered Phil Puckett a job on his commission if he'd quit the State Senate and throw it to Republican control. Charming, eh?

Of course, this is the same company which has spent millions of dollars over the years to purchase our legislature, and with it the right to control Virginia's energy policy. Keep in mind that this is a regulated utility with massive amounts of business before the state. The fact that they're allowed to basically purchase the people charged with regulating them should be unacceptable to Virginians of all political persuasions. Also, just curious, but why is Bob McDonnell going to jail for 10 years regarding Star Scientific, when Dominion Power and its bought-and-paid-for legislators (e.g., Terry Kilgore) have been doing that sort of thing for much, much longer - and on a far, far larger scale?

P.S. As a reader points out, see this article about Tom Farrell essentially buying his son a seat in the state legislature, and also this article about how "Farrell and his father, Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell, made a movie last year about VMI cadets in the Civil War. The project got $800,000 in tax credits and, laughably, a $200,000 grant." More taxpayer-funded welfare for the wealthy. Perhaps the Tea Party should be protesting crap like THIS for a change?!?

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 06:38:07 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, December 15. That video, by the way, is included for comic relief more than anything. :)

*Negotiators Strike Last-Minute Deal To Reduce Carbon Emissions
*With nominations, Harry Reid lands a late punch before bowing out as majority leader (Nice.)
*Krugman: Wall Street's Revenge ("Dodd-Frank Damaged in the Budget Bill")
*Hostage standoff in heart of Sydney
*Democrats divided on their path to 2016 (Yep, let's have this debate.)
*Cheney: 'I'd do it again in a minute'  (Sociopath.)
*Fact-checking Dick Cheney on the torture report (Also a liar.)
*Teen's Death, Ruled Suicide By Local Officials, Now Being Investigated By FBI As Possible Lynching (That's sure what it sounds like.)
*McAuliffe to unveil gun control measures, including expanded background checks (Excellent, let Republicans try to explain why they're against this.)
*Today's Top Opinion: Zero?  (For once I agree with the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board: "When you don't accept any gifts, there's nothing to report.")
*Increasing oversight on road projects  ("The failed limited-access, tolled U.S. 460 route that former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his transportation secretary, Sean Connaughton, relentlessly pushed forward represents, perhaps, the most wasteful application of Virginia's public-private transportation law.")
*For many in Va., Medicaid coverage gap is unaffordable
*Tim Kaine, bridge builder? (Perhaps he is, but the problem with this op-ed is that the person writing it, Fred Hiatt, has zero credibility on anything.)
*Convicted Va. delegate says he needs more time to decide whether to resign
*Our view: How to stop a pipeline (As soon as I got done snorting cheerios out my nows at the idea that there's any kind of "free market" in energy in this country, I stopped reading this.)
*Susan Stimpson says Bill Howell has been the force behind major Va. tax hikes ("Mostly true" - interesting.)
*Mild to start the week, but winter could make stormy weekend return

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning

by: lowkell

Sun Dec 14, 2014 at 07:33:36 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, December 14. Also check out Eric Byler's video of what he calls a "haunting, artful demonstration at #BlackLivesMatter event in Washington DC."

*Climate Deal Would Commit Every Nation to Limiting Emissions
*After prolonged debate, spending bill clears Senate
*Path cleared for confirmation of some Obama nominees ("A host of President Obama's nominees to key executive branch posts advanced Saturday in an unusual Senate session, setting up the likely confirmation early next week to fill vacancies at the State Department, the surgeon general, energy boards and other agencies." FINALLY!)
*Elizabeth Warren is catching fire ("The Massachusetts senator's latest moves inspire liberals hoping for a 2016 challenge to Clinton.")
*Thousands March in Washington to Protest Police Violence
*Justice Scalia: Constitution Doesn't Prohibit Torture (This extremist Supreme Court Justice is probably THE case study in why it is so important Democrats control the White House indefinitely, or at least until Republicans return to sanity.)
*Dem: Don't be scared of Warren (Jim Moran has some, er, interesting things to say about Elizabeth Warren.)
*Sources: Va. gov. to include Medicaid expansion in budget ("...even if a Medicaid expansion proposal is highly unlikely to succeed, some supporters want the governor to try anyway." Agreed.)
*McAuliffe to unveil gun control measures, including expanded background checks ("...the governor is betting that the mass shootings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., and at Virginia Tech in 2007 make it politically toxic for Republicans in more moderate districts to oppose the measures.")
*Morrissey, back in his office Saturday, vows revenge (Uh huh.)
*Del. Morrissey to announce next steps 10 a.m. Sunday (This should be...entertaining?)
*Morrissey to address demands by McAuliffe, Democrats that he resign
*Schapiro: Va. legislators and their hidden pay raise
*After the Rolling Stone story, what's next for U-Va.?
*Our view: Let's talk about Henry Street
*It's in Virginia's Budget: Tons of data
*Property rights outweigh pipelines ("Three natural gas pipelines proposed to pass through Virginia are being hailed as economic boons, bringing thousands of jobs and luring manufacturers to the commonwealth.")
*Tempers remain frayed over Arlington streetcar abandonment (And rightfully so, as this was one of the stupdiest things Arlington's ever done.)
*D.C. area forecast: Still breezy today, but no big chill this week

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Virginia House Dem Caucus: "Delegate Morrissey should resign immediately"

by: lowkell

Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 12:37:09 PM EST

A strong statement from Virginia House Democrats, with Minority Leader Toscano stating that Morrisey's conviction "disqualifies him from serving in the House," and with the entire caucus demanding that Morrisey "should resign immediately." Now, we'll see if he does, or if he needs to be expelled.
Richmond, VA - In light of his conviction for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, the House Democratic Caucus calls for the immediate resignation of Delegate Joe Morrissey.  The House of Delegates is the oldest legislative body in the United States of America and should hold its members to the highest standards of ethical conduct.  A conviction arising out of sexual misconduct involving a minor, accompanied by significant active jail time, and legislative service while serving in a jail work release program is not consistent with those standards.

"This is a very troubling case," said Minority Leader David Toscano, "and disqualifies him from serving in the House.  Our citizens are looking very closely at their legislators and the integrity of the body and his trust with his constituents and his colleagues has been broken.  For the good of the General Assembly and the Commonwealth, he should immediately resign, and we are actively exploring all available options, including removal, if he does not."

"The House Democratic Caucus believes that Delegate Morrissey should resign immediately so that that the People of the 74thDistrict can be served by a member who can focus on their needs without significant personal distractions," said Caucus Chairman Scott Surovell.  

Also, Del. Krupicka tweets, "I encourage Mr. Morrissey to resign immediately. His acts related to his improper relationship with a minor discredit our legislature." Aneesh Chopra tweets, "I'm with Rob."
Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 07:12:43 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, December 13.

*Senate moves forward on $1.1 trillion spending bill as deadline is pushed back ("The Senate will convene a rare Saturday session after it moved toward passing a $1.1 trillion bill to fund almost all of the government through most of 2015 but detractors on the right delayed final approval of the sweeping measure.")
*Jeb Bush and associates hint at a 2016 run
*The Week Elizabeth Warren Decided to Run for President ("Or may have decided. We won't know for a few months...but if she chooses to run, we're going to look back at this week as a pivotal moment in Warren's decision-making.")
*Holder won't compel reporter to reveal source
*Yes, Virginia, There Is a Democratic Front-Runner ("Senator Tim Kaine is staying with his embrace of Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, even though his fellow Virginia Democrat Jim Webb looks like he will run too.")
*Morrissey enters plea, sentenced to 12 months with 6 suspended ("Del. Joseph D. Morrissey was convicted of one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. After a hearing, the prosecutor said the former Morrissey law office employee is pregnant.")
*Prosecutors: explicit text messages sent between Del. Morrissey, 17-year-old ("On Morrissey's iPhone, 15 other nude and semi-nude photos of the victim were found, according to a detective who was prepared to testify for the prosecution. A summary of the detective's findings also reported that attempts to delete the photos were unsuccessful.")
*McDonnell opposed appointment of trial judge's wife ("Almost 18 years ago, then Del. Bob McDonnell worked against the state Supreme Court nomination of Judge Margaret P. Spencer.")
*Our view: Make the UVA report public ("If the university can't promptly summon the courage to promise the report will be made public, maybe Herring - or Gov. Terry McAuliffe - should publicly call on the university to do so.")
*Poor schools in Va. hit harder by funding cuts, study says ("Across Virginia, school divisions have been grappling with a decline in state education funding since 2008. But poor school divisions have born a disproportionate brunt of the cuts, according to a study by the Commonwealth Institute.")
*Preliminary report urges sentence of at least 10 years for McDonnell ("Had the former Va. governor taken an early plea deal, he could have faced a 3-year term at most.")
*Prosecutors won't pursue charges in resignation of ex-Va. Senator Puckett ("The Democrat quit in June amid job talks on the GOP-controlled state tobacco commission.")
*McAuliffe: No fundraising in special sessions
*Virginia car-tax relief is not in danger, McAuliffe's office says (And it never was, given that Teapublicans control the House of Delegates by a huge margin. Not sure why this was ever a story at all.)
*Officials to consider road widening, HOT lanes through Arlington portion of I-66 (Hell no on road widening inside the Beltway. In general, I'm reading the superb book "Walkable City" by Jeff Speck, and the bottom line is that we should be focusing our limited resources on pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders, NOT on roads. All widening roads does is "induce" demand, which basically kills any benefit of said road widening, while harming the environment and all our pocketbooks. Brain-dead stupid.)
*U-Va. students put their names to account of attack aftermath
*Investigation of Va. Beach mayor likely to take months
*Seasonable this weekend, and warmer temperatures into next week

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

BREAKING: No Indictment in Puckett Resignation Case; Del. Morrissey Going to Jail on Sex Charges

by: lowkell

Fri Dec 12, 2014 at 15:30:14 PM EST

Yep, just another quiet day in ever-so-ethical Virginia (snark). By the way, let me be one of the first Virgnia Democrats to call on Del. Morrissey to resign immediately for his appalling behavior (even though, this being Virginia and all, he's allowed to work in the House by day, go back to the "big house" at night, to paraphrase Jeff Schapiro).

UPDATE 8:11 am Saturday: Sure hope we get a statement from the Virginia House Democratic Caucus today. So far...continued chirping crickets.

UPDATE 8:34 pm: Other than Atif Qarni, not a single one of the 15 or so Virginia Dems I contacted a few hours ago has responded. I'd say while I'm not surprised, I'm disappointed.

UPDATE 6:34 pm: Just checking Twitter, I see that another Democrat - Jeremy McPike, who's also running for State Senate in the 29th district - tweeted, "Morrissey enters plea.  Time for change. #MorrisseyTimeToResign"

UPDATE 5:43 pm: I forgot, but actually Del. Mark Keam called for Morrissey to resign on July 1, 2014. At the time, Keam said, "Virginians deserve better from their public servants. For the sake of the Commonwealth and its residents, I call on Delegate Joe Morrissey to resign immediately and to deal with his legal problems as a private citizen.‚Äč"

UPDATE 5:32 pm: Democrat Atif Qarni, who almost defeated Del. "Sideshow" Bob Marshall last year for House of Delegates, and who is running this year for State Senate in Virginia's 29th district (currently held by Chuck Colgan), has called for Joe Morrissey to resign. According to Qarni, it's "disgusting" and "predatory behavior" for a 57-year-old man to engage in a sexual relationship with a child. Regardless of party affiliation, Qarni adds, Morrissey's behavior is "unethical" -- "what's wrong is wrong."

UPDATE 5:08 pm: Dead silence. The sound of crickets quietly chirping...

UPDATE 4:46 pm: I'm checking with Virginia Dems to see if any of them will call on Morrissey to resign. So far, seems pretty quiet... By the way, note that Morrissey's district is super "blue"/safe, so THAT is no excuse.

There's More... :: (12 Comments, 2 words in story)

Craig Parisot Scrambles to Follow Kathleen Murphy's Lead, Waffles on Unpopular Opinion

by: lowkell

Fri Dec 12, 2014 at 12:50:05 PM EST

From the DPVA:


After refusing to support all-day kindergarten, Craig Parisot is now scrambling to hide his unpopular position -- and has the chutzpah to expect voters will fall for his empty platitudes.

A WAMU article yesterday noted that "Republican Craig Parisot says he does not have a position on whether or not Loudoun County should offer full-day Kindergarten." Full-day kindergarten, of course, is a very important issue in Loudoun County, as it is one of just four localities that lack this vital service. Kathleen Murphy, Democratic candidate for Delegate, supports funding full-day kindergarten and has said she will make it a priority when elected.

After taking heat all day for his refusal to support this critical funding, Craig Parisot abruptly flipped his position and posted a late-night Facebook update claiming new, convenient support for all-day kindergarten. Absent from his empty release, however, was any substantive policy offerings.

"Loudoun voters will see right through Craig Parisot's political pandering," said Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. " "His statement to WAMU was clear as day, Craig Parisot refuses to support all-day Kindergarten in Virginia. Nomidnight press releases or Facebook posts can change the facts." 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

McDonnell Felonies: A "Handful of Vitamin Pills?"

by: lowkell

Fri Dec 12, 2014 at 08:39:11 AM EST

From the Democratic Party of Virginia:

Virginia Republicans, not content just to usher in an offensive new chair, are rehashing the McDonnell trial to share how little they've learned from the ordeal.  In a Bearing Drift post, Shaun Kenney, the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Virginia, dons his tinfoil hat to trump up far-fetched smears on a federal judge while downplaying one of the most serious ethics violations in recent Virginia history.

Kenney asserts that the judge assigned to McDonnell's trial was somehow unable to render a fair verdict due to votes cast by the former governor nearly 20 years ago. But even more troubling, he goes further to claim that the whole trial was "based on what amounts to a handful of vitamin pills." If this is Virginia Republicans turning over a new leaf and taking ethics reform seriously, well, they're not doing it right.

"By downplaying McDonnell's serious ethics issues as nothing more than a 'handful of vitamin pills,' Virginia Republicans show how little they have learned from this experience,"  said Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. 

The timing of the Executive Director's tirade is especially odd given that just this week, House Republicans insisted that they've finally gotten to where Governor McAuliffe was a year and a half ago by supporting a $100 gift ban. How serious they are remains to be seen, but trying to downplay Bob McDonnell's crimes isn't the best foot for Republicans to put forward.
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Dec 12, 2014 at 06:44:30 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, December 12. Also check out the video of Secretary of State John Kerry speaking about climate change in Lima, Peru.

*House approves spending bill just before deadline
*Democrats' Warren wing sends message with revolt
*Eugene Robinson: Senate report shows that the U.S. answered evil with evil
*Untrained CIA Agents Were Just Making Up Torture Methods As They Went Along (Everyone involved in this should be prosecuted.)
*Backers: Romney more open to 2016 run ("He has sounded unimpressed with the emerging GOP field, associates say." Yeah, so are the rest of us! LOL)
*House Dem: GOP Gave Dems 'Virtually Everything' We Wanted (Interesting take by Rep. Jim Moran. Not sure I agree with it, but interesting...)
*McAuliffe to lead Chesapeake Bay group
*Renewable energy tax credits help level the field with tax-subsidized fossil fuels
*Virginia illogically denies Medicaid expansion as red states embrace it (It's not "Virginia," it's specifically "Virginia Republicans" who are denying it.)
*Sen. Tim Kaine's war powers push wins Foreign Relations Committee nod
*Ticking clock at NSU ("The problems at Norfolk State University were so bad last year that governing board members ousted the president without specifying a cause two years into his three-year contract. New members were appointed to the board; a veteran university president, considered a fixer for troubled institutions, was recruited and hired to stabilize the state's largest historically black school.")
*Uproar at U-Va. spawns debate about school's treatment of fraternities
*UVA's Heartening Response to the Rolling Stone Fiasco  
*U-Va. students challenge Rolling Stone account of alleged sexual assault
*Va. panel delays action on easing some probation checks
*Congress budgets $20 million to repair Wallops spaceport
*Norfolk finds no easy answers to shootings involving police
*New 'Justice for John Geer' group forms, Grassley staff seeks information
*Temperatures may hit the 40s today, but it will feel more like the 30s

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R) Has a Really Bad Voting Bill; Here are Some Better Ideas

by: lowkell

Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 14:46:28 PM EST


Instead of
Instead of this really stupid bill (click on image to "embiggen") by right wingnut and "Agenda 21" conspiracy theory/global warming denier nutjob Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-of course), how about some better ones?

First, though, why is Lingamfelter's bill -- "that when no candidate for an office receives more than 50 percent of the total votes cast at the general election for that office, a run-off election between the candidates receiving the highest and next-highest number of votes for that office shall be held" - a bad idea? Simple: because run-off elections (in this case, "to be held on the fourth Tuesday following the date of the certification of the results of the general election") almost always have far lower turnout than in the general election. In fact, according to Fairvote.org:

Run-off elections for all offices also tend to have lower turnout that first round elections, especially if the first round election takes place on the same day as several other elections. For example, of 171 regularly scheduled primary runoffs for U.S House and U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2012, all but six of them resulted in a turnout decrease between the initial primary and the runoff, meaning that 96.5% of federal runoff elections had fewer people voting in the second round than in the first. The average decline in turnout was 35.3%. Additionally, the longer the wait between the initial primary and the runoff, the higher the decrease in voter turnout between elections. Primary elections with a gap of more than thirty days had a median decline in voter participation of 48.1%, while those with a gap of twenty days or less had a median decline of 15.4%.
It also, of course, costs money to conduct a run-off election. As Fairfvote.org explains, this is because "jurisdictions must print ballots, recruit and train pollworkers, locate precincts, and prepare voting equipment -- not once, but twice." Another problem: "this process can often disenfranchise overseas and absentee voters, who will not have enough time to return their ballots after they have been printed and mailed to them." And yet another problem:
... two-round runoff elections require candidates to raise money twice, often requiring an influx of additional special interest contributions for the second round runoff. Coupled with low turnout in the runoff, this can allow these donors to leverage their campaign dollars for even greater influence, sometimes against the public interest. Similarly, well-organized groups who do not represent a majority of voters can take advantage of low turnout in the second round runoff to try and exert disproportionate influence over the result.
Blech. Finally, keep in mind that lower turnout benefits...wait for it...yep, Republicans. So, shocker that a Republican, particularly one as right wingnutty as Scott Lingamfelter, would come with this idea? Nope.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 422 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 06:35:46 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, December 11. Also see the video at 3:30 for Rep. Jim Moran's comments on the torture report. According to Moran, "we don't win wars unless we can seize the high ground...recognition of the human rights of people...the United States needs to lead by example" or the world will be a "more dangerous place." Moran adds, "this is a program we should be embarrassed about," and we should "applaud" Sen. Feinstein for her "courage" in releasing this report. Finally, Moran argues that this will be repeated unless we "hold people accountable," that Bush was "clueless," Cheney was not clueless, former CIA Director Hayden "clearly lied" deliberately and "needs to be held responsible."

*Liberals criticize easing of limits on Wall Street
*After Senate's report on CIA interrogation tactics, it's time to see who we really are ("And now the Senate torture report has made the unimaginable entirely too imaginable, documenting murder, torture, physical and sexual abuse, and lies, none of them isolated crimes, but systematic policy, endorsed at the highest levels, and still defended by many who approved and committed them.")
*Reactions to the CIA report suggest that many involved would do it all over again (As far as I'm concerned, anyone who supports torture should be automatically disqualified from holding public office of any kind.)
*Sen. Mark Udall, Discussing Secret CIA Report, Calls for Director's Resignation (""'The CIA is lying,' the Colorado Democrat said on the Senate floor Wednesday.")
*Horrors Of Torture Report Could Mean International Legal Cases Against Participants
*Jeb Bush's damning secret history ("The 2016 presidential hopeful has a checkered financial history. Republicans nominate him at their peril")
*McAuliffe, Jones, back transportation reforms
*The Chesapeake Bay's tributaries are warming, and pollution could worsen (Stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, ASAP!)
*Warming watershed harms bay, river life (Ditto.)
*Wittman's bay accountability bill passes House, heads to president (Still need a lot more, including action on global warming.)
*U-Va. accuser's friends tell their story of the night of the alleged sex assault
*Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe, state GOP play one-upmanship over caps on gifts
*Moran calls Bush clueless, Cheney culpable on CIA torture (I wonder how "clueless" Bush really was.)
*House Republicans propose $100 cap on gifts (How about zero?)
*Hubub in Hanover ("Those who say a film about 9/11 is inappropriate because it includes Muslim perspectives are wrong.")
*Bob McDonnell adds Virginia Beach lawyer to defense team
*Virginia tobacco body under scrutiny (again) for suspiciously large gas project grant
*McAuliffe in line to lead National Governors Association during presidential race
*Arlingtonians grapple with costs, revenue in annual budget hearing ("Arlington, which spends almost half of its general fund budget on schools, last year cut its tax rate by a penny to $0.996 per $100 of assessed valuation.")
*Gov. McAuliffe inaugurates 95 Express Lanes ("...officials with Transurban, the company that operates both sets of lanes, said they expect the range to be 20 cents to 80 cents per mile, with an average trip costing $6 to $8 since many drivers won't go the full 29 miles in the I-95 lanes.")
*Wind gusts may reach 30 mph, but warmer today with lots sunshine

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 06:35:15 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, December 10.

*A grim portrait of CIA tactics ("Report details brutality, pattern of deception")
*The 10 most harrowing excerpts from the CIA interrogation report (Appalling on every level. People need to be prosecuted for this crap.)
*This is not how Americans should behave. Ever. ("The Senate's CIA report tells of inhumanity that should never be condoned - or repeated.")
*Horror and shame ("Exposing the CIA's stain on America")
*Senate Torture Report: No, Bin Laden Was Not Found Because of CIA Torture ("The CIA disagrees-and in a footnote, the Senate intelligence committee says the agency is still wrong.")
*"Rectal Feeding," Threats to Children, and More: 16 Awful Abuses From the CIA Torture Report
*Why Dick Cheney Is Really Freaking Out About The New Torture Report
*David Ignatius: The Senate's CIA report is a necessary public accounting (Yes, although not sufficient. For that, we need justice.)
*The Jonathan Gruber hearing was a zany coda to Darrell Issa's tumultuous tenure (Speaking of "appalling" in a different way -- Darrell Issa is a disgrace to America.)
*Fox melts down after torture report: 'The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome!' (Fox is just a cringe-inducing embarrassment.)
*Budget bill shows GOP's new muscle (Elections have consequences, and when Democrats stay home, we hand power to the Republicans. Not good.)
*Senators, Gilmore, VCU expert weigh in on CIA actions (Mark Warner -- "We must demonstrate to the world that, as Americans, we're willing to look squarely at our actions, and always look for ways to do better")
*Schapiro: Republicans fight among themselves - again ("In Augusta County, tea party and libertarian Republicans are so determined to take out Sen. Emmett Hanger in 2015 - for twice supporting raising taxes since 2004 and pushing this year for a Medicaid-financed expansion of Obamacare - that they are attempting to rig the nominating process against him.")
*Public-private road deals could face more oversight ("The proposal by Gov. Terry McAuliffe seeks to increase oversight and transparency amid anger over a deal that Bob McDonnell struck under his administration: the Midtown-Downtown Tunnel toll project.")
*Tim Kaine: 'Weak argument' to justify campaign against Islamic State with past authorizations
*Pillion wins 4th District election for Virginia House of Delegates seat (Another cookie-cutter right winger for a Virginia General Assembly already drowning in them.)
*Warming watershed harms bay, river life ("There is no mistaking the trend: Air and water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have been getting warmer for the past 50 years. Climate scientists, unfortunately, predict it will get worse.")

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 115 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 06:34:55 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, December 9.

*Spending bill hits snag as deadline looms
*The New Republic is dead, thanks to its owner, Chris Hughes (What is Hughes trying to be, the Dan Snyder of media? Ugh.)
*Bush Officials Step Up To Blast Torture Report Before It's Out (These torturers and torture enablers should be prosecuted.)
*Why the upcoming battle over the Senate torture report is such a big deal
*Paul Krugman destroys conservatives' favorite myths about the Obama economy
*Frank Luntz Repeatedly Touted Koch Group Ads Without Disclosing His Koch Brothers Backing (Yep, that's our Frankie!)
*The Democratic Party's long term problem is worse than you think (They should have done what I did back in 2005, and what Republicans have done for a long time -- decided to focus their efforts on the state level. But noooooo.)
*Sharp Racial Divisions in Reactions to Brown, Garner Decisions (Many whites continue to be utterly oblivious.)
*The secret GOP tech summit to plot 2016 (What are Dems doing on this front?)
*Surgeon general nominee likely to get vote (Basically, he was blocked by Republicans who are in lockstep with/terrified of the NRA.)
*Why are subsidies wrong for renewable energy, but OK for fossil fuels? (In fact, fossil fuels get orders of magnitude more in subsidies, both explicit and implicit, then renewable energy gets. Fossil fuels have also gotten those subsidies for many decades, while clean energy hasn't. So just ignore the fossil fuel corporate welfare bums and their incessant whining.)
*Our view: Virginia's not really into us (Talk to your Republican delegates and senators about it!)
*Mountain Valley Pipeline eyes Roanoke County as site for compressor station
*For women's health ("When Republican leaders in Virginia ushered through strict regulations targeting women clinics during the administration of former Gov. Bob McDonnell, they fully intended to stop abortion in the commonwealth.")
*JLARC blasts Virginia's workforce training efforts ("General Assembly researchers presented a withering analysis of Virginia's workforce development system Monday, describing a clunky collection of players that often fail to meet the needs of local businesses.")
*Virginia rocket-maker Orbital moves forward on $4.5 billion merger
*Suddenly, It's Raining Gas Projects and Tax Breaks (The fossil fuel, taxpayer-funded corporate welfare gravy train continues.)
*University of Virginia outlines campus safety plans
*U-Va. Greek system suspension to remain until Jan. 9
*A rush to publish on rape at U.Va.
*Virginia's licensing requirements hurt a Loudoun County charter school
*Misery index rises as rain, wind, and cold sweep into the area

Discuss :: (10 Comments)
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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