VT researchers develop underwater robots

VT Underwater Robot

Virginia Tech photo

Virginia Tech may be hundreds of miles from the ocean, but Tech researchers are developing robotic underwater systems likely to have many future purposes.  WLNI’s Evan Jones has the story.

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Virginia adds ‘bubble boy disease’ to newborn screenings

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia has begun screening newborns for a disorder known as “bubble boy disease.” Media outlets report that Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the addition of severe combined immunodeficiency to the screening list on Monday. Virginia requires newborns to be screened for more than two dozen potentially fatal disorders. Severe combined immunodeficiency affects about one in 50,000 live births. It impairs the immune system, making infants susceptible to infections. The disorder became known as “bubble boy disease” following the case of a Texas boy, David Vetter, who was born with a form of it in 1971. He spent most of his life in a plastic bubble until he died in 1984 at age 12.

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Deadline nears for Virginia Uber, Lyft drivers to register with DMV

VA DMV LogoVirginia is now registering any vehicles used for ride services like Uber and Lyft, and starting next month, all vehicles used this way must have that state registration. As WLNI’s Evan Jones reports, the goal to ensure passengers who use these services are safe.

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Winter wheat production down in Virginia

vdacs.virginia.gov

vdacs.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Winter wheat production is down in Virginia this year.  The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said Thursday that Virginia farmers expect to harvest 15.3 million bushels of winter wheat during 2015. That’s down 13 percent from the previous year. The forecast is based on crop conditions as of June 1 and decreased four percent from the May forecast. Seventy-eight percent of the winter wheat crop was rated in good to excellent condition.

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Former Va. first lady files final brief with appeals court

Bob and Maureen McDonnell (Associated Press photo)

Bob and Maureen McDonnell
(Associated Press photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell has made her final written plea to a federal appeals court reviewing her public corruption convictions. In a brief filed Thursday evening with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, McDonnell’s lawyers restated their claims that the convictions were based on an overly broad interpretation of federal bribery law. Prosecutors have said in court filings that there is clearly enough evidence to support the convictions. A jury in September found former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife guilty of doing favors for a wealthy businessman in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. The Richmond-based appeals court heard arguments in Bob McDonnell’s case last month but has not yet scheduled a hearing in Maureen McDonnell’s case.

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Charges against Va. student bloodied during arrest dropped

Martese JohnsonRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A prosecutor is dropping charges against a University of Virginia student whose bloody arrest sparked a public uproar and a state police investigation. Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney David Chapman said Thursday that he made the decision after reviewing results of a state police investigation into Martese Johnson’s arrest. But he said the findings do not warrant charges against the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control officers who arrested Johnson. The 20-year-old from Chicago was arrested outside a bar on March 18 and charged with public intoxication or swearing and obstruction of justice without force. The arrest gained widespread attention, with photos and videos on social media showing Johnson pinned to the ground, his face bloodied. Johnson, who is black, called the officers racist. Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered the state police investigation.

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Virginia Democrats sue over voter ID law

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Democrats are trying to strike down the state’s voter ID law, joining efforts in two other swing states to challenge voting laws ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The Democratic Party of Virginia said it filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the State Board of Elections seeking to undo the state’s voter photo ID provision, saying the Republican-approved rules make it more difficult for Virginians to vote. Democratic Party attorneys recently filed legal challenges to voting changes made by GOP lawmakers in the presidential battleground states of Ohio and Wisconsin. One of the attorneys involved in all of the lawsuits is Marc Elias, a top elections lawyer who is also serving as the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign’s general counsel. The campaign is not officially involved in the lawsuits.

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Lynchburg woman killed in Campbell Co. accident; two children survive

Campbell CountyFrom Virginia State Police: Trooper D.R. Skiff is investigating a fatal crash in Campbell County. The crash occurred Wednesday (June 10) at approximately 9:30 p.m. on English Tavern Road near the intersection of Russell Springs Road. A 1997 Ford Aspire was traveling east on English Tavern Road when it ran off the right side of the road. The car then struck an embankment and overturned. The driver, Stacy L. Biggs, 30, of Lynchburg, Va., was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected from the car. She died at the scene. Two passengers, ages 3 and 9, were transported to Lynchburg General Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The 3-year-old was secured in a child safety seat. The 9-year-old was not buckled up. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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Morgan Harrington’s mom finds some solace in Matthew plea, but her mission continues

Morgan Harrington

Morgan Harrington

The mother of murder victim Morgan Harrington was in Fairfax for the entire Jesse Matthew trial, showing support for the victim.  Gil Harrington still hopes for justice in Morgan’s case, but she is devoting much of her efforts to help others, as WLNI’s Evan Jones reports.

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Mother of boy found in septic tank faces murder charge

Noah ThomasPULASKI, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia woman whose 5-year-old son was found dead in a septic tank has been charged with felony murder. Pulaski County Sheriff Jim Davis confirmed Wednesday that Ashley White faces the charge in connection with the March death of Noah Terry Thomas. New River Valley Regional Jail records show that White appeared before a magistrate Wednesday and is being held without bond. Neither Davis nor the records revealed any details. White and the child’s father, Paul Thomas, already were facing felony child abuse and neglect charges. Paul Thomas also is being held without bond. The child’s March 22 disappearance prompted a nationwide search involving local and federal authorities. He was found in a septic tank on his parents’ rental property March 26.

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