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2017-2-23

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KAINE MEETS POPE FRANCIS IN VATICAN CITY, DISCUSSES GLOBAL REFUGEE AND MIGRANT CRISIS

VATICAN CITY – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine attended a general audience with Pope Francis in Vatican City and spoke with the Pope about the Holy See’s work to address the global refugee and migrant crisis. A photo of the meeting is attached and included below.

“I had a chance to visit with Pope Francis to discuss the global crisis of refugees and migrants which is relevant around the world and to my work in the Senate,” Kaine said. “As the Pope stated so clearly yesterday, it is a 'moral imperative' to protect and defend the 'inalienable rights' of refugees and respect their dignity, especially by adopting just laws that protect those fleeing dangerous or inhumane situations.”

“The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and the Holy See is tremendously important and the work we are doing together to address issues such as refugees, human trafficking, conflict resolution and reconciliation helps us advance peace in the world, as we try to end suffering and cooperate on issues of common good,” Kaine continued.

In Vatican City today, Kaine also met with the Foreign Minister of the Holy See Archbishop Paul Gallagher, participated in a discussion focused on Latin American issues with Vatican officials, and met with the Jesuit Refugee Service to discuss its work with refugees and asylum seekers. 

Photo taken by Paul Haring of Catholic News Service:

Berry Health is Conference Focus

Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture has scheduled its ninth annual Berry Production and Marketing Conference on March 9 from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. in the Gateway Dining Hall on campus.

Keynote speaker Dr. Britt Burton will discuss berry health. She is director of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Center for Nutrition Research.

Conference topics include blackberry/blueberry weed control; blackberry/raspberry production; blueberry production/management; and berry marketing. A $20 per person registration fee includes lunch. To register, visit VSU’s  events calendar at www.ext.vsu.edu.

For more information or for persons with a disability who desire  assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mollie Klein at mklein@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-6960 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 am. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
 

Local Nonprofit Hosts Dinner and Auction at New Restaurant in Petersburg Historic Landmark

Petersburg, February 21, 2017-- Crater Community Hospice is thrilled to be hosting its spring dinner and auction at a recently revitalized building in Petersburg's Old Town. On Sunday March 12, attendees will gather at the Farmers Market Restaurant at 9 E. Old Street.

The distinctive Farmers Market building is a unique architectural example in Petersburg. As early as 1787 a city market was located on the site, with a sequence of public buildings built there over the past two centuries. Robert Bolling entrusted the land to the town in 1806 for permanent use as the market. 1879 marked the completion of the current building. The National Register of Historic Places added the landmark to its roles in 1969.

Attendees at "Welcome Spring!" will gather at 5pm to enjoy music and a gourmet dinner designed by executive chef Frits Huntjens. An auction will offer unique opportunities while raising funds to serve patients and their families and public educational programs. Optima Health and Eastern VA Bank (EVB) are among the local corporate and private sponsors.

E. Jane Elliott, Chair of the Crater Community Hospice Board of Directors, is thrilled to present this event. "We are excited to gather members of our community for a memorable evening. We have assembled several packages including art, wine, and a vacation to Virginia Beach through generous donations and local support. Attendees will enjoy this modern restaurant that honors the historic landmark that houses it, while raising critical support for Crater Community Hospice, a local nonprofit serving families throughout our community."

Limited tickets are still available for this exciting evening. A $75 per person contribution is in part tax-deductible. For tickets, contact CCH Development Director Deborah Williamson at (804) 526-4300 or visit the website at www.cratercommunityhospice.org

STUDENT OF THE MONTH JOSEPH LEWIS CARRICK FEBRUARY 2017

Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that Joseph Lewis Carrick has been chosen the February 2017 Student of the Month.  Joseph, a senior, is the grandson of Ron and Dot Moore of Bracey.  During high school, Joseph has been a member of the Latin and Spanish Clubs, participated with the Brunswick Academy Theatre Tech Crew and this year is the Senior Trip Treasurer.

Joseph works each Saturday at the R. T. Arnold Library in South Hill.  He also volunteers at the Library’s summer reading program each year. 

Joseph enjoys reading and is very passionate about history, especially British history!  His future plans include attending either James Madison University or Roanoke College.  He plans to major in Biology or Business.    

CONGRATULATONS JOSEPH!

ACLU urges McAuliffe to veto anti-immigration bills

By Rodrigo Arriaza and Maura Mazurowski, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday to veto Republican-backed legislation banning local governments in Virginia from designating themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. They also said they plan to fight federal and state policies that they believe violate immigrants’ rights.

At a news conference, representatives of the ACLU of Virginia and other civil rights organizations criticized anti-immigrant measures passed by the General Assembly. They also condemned the recent spike in deportation raids on immigrant communities in Virginia by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as President Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries.

“We’re here this morning to talk about actions to be taken at the state level that must be understood in this larger context,” said Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia.

Gastañaga began the news conference by discussing bills that her group has asked McAuliffe to veto. They include HB 2000, which the Republican-controlled Senate passed on a party-line vote Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Charles R. Poindexter, R-Franklin County, would ban any local government in the state from declaring itself as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, meaning that local officials promise not to cooperate with ICE in detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants.

Senate Democrats have also spoken out against the bill, saying it undermines trust-building efforts between communities and local police.

“Whether it is intentional or not, this is a messaging bill sending a message to immigrants, whether they are here legally or not, that they are not welcome,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellen, D-Richmond. “American citizens are being swept up in ICE raids along with undocumented immigrants. We are better than this as a commonwealth.”

Republicans have supported legislation to crack down on sanctuary cities.

Ed Gillespie, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, issued a statement in support of Poindexter’s bill. He called the ban on sanctuary cities a common-sense approach to immigration policy.

“Local governments should not be able to ignore federal immigration laws,” Gillespie said. “As governor, I would support and sign Delegate Poindexter’s HB 2000 because it is a reasonable measure to keep Virginians safe and enforce the law.”

The ACLU also urged McAuliffe to veto:

·         HB 2002, also sponsored by Poindexter. It would require refugee resettlement agencies in Virginia to file annual reports containing personal details about the refugees, including their age, gender, country of origin and where they were resettled.

·         HB 1468, which would allow local sheriffs and jail officials to hold undocumented immigrants for ICE for an additional 48 hours after they are set to be released. Sponsored by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Manassas, the measure was passed by the General Assembly after a mostly party-line vote in the House of Delegates.

“Supporters of bills such as these that target immigrants point to instances in other parts of the country in which undocumented immigrants were released from custody by local law enforcement and went on to commit crimes in the community,” Gastañaga wrote in a letter to McAuliffe.

Gastañaga’s letter also asked the governor to agree not to sign a 278(g) agreement, which would volunteer state police in apprehending and deporting undocumented immigrants. She said the state’s immigration laws already mandate jails and prisons to check the immigration status of everyone taken into custody.

Two days ago, McAuliffe responded to Gastañaga’s letter and agreed that the use of 287(g) agreements would negatively impact public safety and health.

“I have seen no evidence that entering into 278(g) agreements will enhance Virginia’s public safety,” McAuliffe wrote. “I will not endorse the use of these agreements in the absence of any evidence that they will make our communities safer.”

Several speakers from human rights organizations were present at the news conference, including Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority. According to Nguyen, the three bills that the ACLU wants McAuliffe to veto are merely “message bills” that will encourage immigrant families to “move further into the shadows.”

“They have no clear definition of a sanctuary city, and there are no sanctuary cities in the commonwealth,” Nguyen said. “These bills just incite fear and a sense of unwelcomeness in the immigrant communities.”

Michelle LaRue, Virginia director of CASA, an advocacy organization for low-income immigrant communities, also spoke. LaRue, herself a refugee from Guatemala after escaping the country’s civil war, said the legislation would make undocumented immigrants more afraid than they already are to report crimes, either as victims or as witnesses.

“These bills are affecting safety at large,” LaRue said. “Parents are having their kids, even kindergarteners, walk to the bus stops themselves in fear of not going outside, or having the children run errands for them … Many times, it’s in neighborhoods where it’s not safe to do so.”

McAuliffe has promised to veto any Republican-backed anti-sanctuary legislation. The governor’s spokesman, Brian Coy, told The Associated Press earlier this month that McAuliffe would veto any measure forcing localities to enforce federal immigration laws. Coy said the governor views the bills as “attempts to divide and demonize people.”

“Throughout my administration, I have advocated to make Virginia a more welcoming and diverse home for all of its residents,” McAuliffe wrote in his letter to Gastañaga. “My administration has advanced this goal without jeopardizing the safety of our citizens.”

Environmentalists disappointed by ‘watered down’ coal ash bill

By Julie Rothey, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Environmentalists and some legislators are disappointed in the General Assembly’s passage of a “watered down” bill to prevent Dominion Virginia Power’s coal ash ponds from polluting rivers and groundwater.

The House last week removed from SB 1398 a provision requiring Dominion to complete environmental assessments of its coal ash ponds before getting state permits to close them. On Tuesday, the Senate adopted the House version of the bill.

“There’s been some talk that this thing has been completely neutered,” said the legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax. “It’s been definitely watered down.”

Surovell said he was “not happy” with the House substitute, but he asked his colleagues to approve it anyway. “I think it’s about as good as we’re going to do at this point in the process. It’s going to go to the governor, and hopefully the governor might fix this up a little bit.”

SB 1398 would require Dominion to identify the risks of heavy metals polluting the groundwater and alternatives methods of disposal when they apply for a permit to decommission a “coal combustion residuals unit,” commonly called a coal ash pond.

Dominion has ponds containing millions of tons of coal ash at four sites around Virginia. The company hopes to close the ponds by treating and discharging the water and then burying the remaining coal ash with a protective seal.

When passed by the Senate two weeks ago, SB 1398 said Dominion had to complete the environmental assessment on a coal ash pond before getting a permit to close it. The director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality “shall issue no draft permit to provide for the closure of any CCR unit until he has reviewed and evaluated the complete assessments and all comments received relating to that CCR unit,” that version of the bill said.

However, the House dropped that language in the version of SB 1398 that it passed 96-1 on Friday. The Senate then adopted the House version 37-3 on Tuesday.

Under the bill’s final version, the Department of Environmental Quality would not have to consider the environmental studies when granting permits to close coal ash ponds. It says the DEQ director “shall not suspend, delay, or defer the issuance of any permit” pending the completion of the environmental assessment.

“In deciding whether to issue any such permit, the Director need not include or rely upon his review of any such assessment,” the bill states. The DEQ would not have to certify the information presented in the reports or have a public comment period before granting a permit.

Environmentalists were upset that the House had stripped the stronger language from the Senate’s original version of the bill.

“There were some really important pieces that were removed,” said Jamie Brunkow, Lower James riverkeeper for the James River Association. He said the group is especially disappointed that, under the bill’s final version, the DEQ wouldn’t have to wait for the environmental reports before granting a permit.

Dominion wants to close its coal ash ponds at Possum Point Power Station on Quantico Creek in Prince William County; Bremo Power Station on the James River in Fluvanna County; Chesterfield Power Station on the James River in Chesterfield County; and Chesapeake Energy Center on the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake.

Two years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called for the closure of dormant coal ash ponds. The EPA issued that order after untreated coal ash flooded rivers in North Carolina and Tennessee, causing environmental damage.

Under the legislation passed by the General Assembly, when seeking a “dewatering” permit, Dominion would have to conduct an assessment that:

  • Describes any water pollution from the coal ash pond and possible solutions
  • Examines the feasibility of recycling the coal ash
  • Evaluates the possibility of removing the coal ash to a lined landfill
  • Demonstrates the “long-term safety” of the closed coal ash pond

Dominion’s plan is to “cap in place” the pits, by covering them with plastic and soil. Company officials say the process will not pollute the water.

State lawmakers pass laser hair removal regulations

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Laser hair removal in Virginia would have to be done under the supervision of a doctor or other health professional, according to a bill approved this week by the General Assembly.

House Bill 2119, sponsored by Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, would require that laser hair removal treatments be performed by a medical doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner – or by a “properly trained person” working under one of those professionals.

Virginia and New York are the only states that allow people who aren’t health professionals to perform laser hair removal. Thirty states require at least some supervision by a physician during the procedure.

The push for regulation in Virginia began in 2016 when a constituent came to Keam with a horror story about a hair removal treatment performed by a spa employee who turned out to be a janitor.

The problem has affected many people in the Richmond area, according to investigative reports by television stations WWBT and WRIC. They interviewed people who have suffered burns, blisters and scars from local “med spas.” One woman said she feared for her life after receiving a botched laser facial from a spa in Henrico County.

For the 2016 legislative session, Keam introduced a bill that would have required individuals who practice laser hair removal to be licensed by the state Board of Medicine. That measure died in a subcommittee.

The bill Keam carried this legislative session had support from the Virginia Department of Health Professionals and the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. In a 2016 report, those departments said the state’s regulatory framework governing the use of laser technology for hair removal was not up to their standards.

“The lack of comprehensive regulation over the use of laser technology for hair removal specifically, as well as conflicting oversight regarding minimally invasive cosmetic procedures generally, poses a risk of harm to the public’s health, safety and welfare,” the agencies’ report said. It urged lawmakers to consider increasing the regulation of laser hair removal.

Keam’s bill passed the House of Delegates, 90-7, on Feb. 7 and the Senate, 25-15, on Monday. It now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature. If approved, the law would take effect July 1.

Civil Rights/Discrimination Complaint Process

As a participant or applicant for programs or activities operated or sponsored by USDA you have a right to be treated fairly. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or marital or familial status, you may file a discrimination complaint. The complaint should be filed with the USDA Office of Civil Rights within 180 days of the date you became aware of the alleged discrimination. To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA,

Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 (voice or TDD), USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.A complaint must be filed within 180 calendar days from the date the complainant knew, or should have known, of the alleged discrimination.

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