More than 1,000 gather in Richmond to oppose abortion bills
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than 1,000 people have rallied at the Virginia Capitol against legislation in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly that would ease restrictions on abortion access. Speakers urged the crowd Thursday to ask lawmakers to vote against the bills they argued would undo protections for pregnant women. Measures that have passed the House and Senate would undo restrictions including a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, as well a requirement that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound and counseling. Abortion-rights groups say those restrictions injected politics into a decision that should be made by a woman and her doctor and made obtaining an abortion overly burdensome.
Sudan seeks to end terror designation in USS Cole settlement
CAIRO (AP) — Sudan's transitional government says it has reached a settlement with families of the victims of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. It's a key step before the U.S. can remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism so it can rejoin the international community. The new government wants to close the book on former President Omar al-Bashir. His three decades of iron-fisted rule ended amid popular protests last year. Copies of the agreements obtained by The Associated Press show that $70 million will be split among families of 17 people killed, as well as 15 sailors who were injured and two of their spouses.
Takes a village: Bear 'foster mom' raises cub saved by dog
BRISTOL, Va. (AP) — An orphaned black bear cub was placed with a foster mother this week after the baby was rescued by a pet dog and carried gently to safety. A wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries told news outlets that the dog’s owner called a wildlife rehabilitator on Feb. 5 after the pet turned up at their home with a cub in its mouth. He said the cub could be up to three weeks old. The cub was taken to the Virginia Wildlife Center in Waynesboro for treatment. The center said the baby was resettled on Wednesday with a new mother who was nursing three cubs of her own.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Some disappointed by Virginia's criminal justice reform push
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Some criminal justice activists are disappointed by the number of reform proposals that have stalled in Virginia's legislature this year, despite a new Democratic majority. Proposals to end solitary confinement, reinstate parole and make it easier to expunge criminal records been put off until next year or sent to a crime commission for study. But Democratic leaders note that multiple reforms have advanced or passed in just the first month of the legislative session. Those include decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, raising the felony larceny threshold from $500 to $1,000 and allowing defendants to choose sentencing by a judge instead of a jury.
Alexandria teen arrested in deaths of 2 in southern Virginia
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Virginia State Police have arrested a teenager from northern Virginia and charged him with murder in the deaths of a couple found slain in the southern part of the state.Police say 18-year-old Mohamed Aly of Alexandria was taken into custody Thursday without incident. Aly is charged in the deaths of 21-year-old Ntombo Bianda of Alexandria, Virginia, and 19-year-old Ayanna Maertens Griffin of Germantown, Maryland. Troopers were called to a single-car crash early Saturday on Route 58 in the Turbeville community of Halifax County, near the North Carolina border. Troopers found the bodies of Bianda and Maertens Griffin. Both suffered gunshot wounds.
PUBLIC UTILITY SALE
Public utility's future in SC to dominate Legislature's time
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers are getting ready for more than a dozen complex meetings over the next month as they decide what to do with state-owned utility Santee Cooper. The first meeting took place Thursday before an audience comprising about 70 senators and House members and a few reporters. No questions were allowed as officials spent nearly two hours going over a 111-page report the South Carolina Department of Administration that was released Tuesday. The report detailed the best bid to buy Santee Cooper from NextEra Energy in Florida, a bid to manage it from Dominion Energy of Virginia or let Santee Cooper reform itself and stay a publicly-owned entity.
Virginia official apologizes for post on disabled students
BOWLING GREEN, Va. (AP) — A Virginia county supervisor has apologized for comments he made on social media that were criticized as singling out disabled and nonwhite students. The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star reports that Caroline County Supervisor Clay Forehand publicly apologized at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. Forehand made a Facebook post last week saying teaching has become challenging because federal guidelines prohibit students from being removed from a classroom for acting up based on race or ability status. Forehand apologized at the meeting for referencing skin tone and disability in the post and said he realized his comments were insensitive. It's unclear whether further action will be taken.
Senate moves to limit Trump on military force against Iran