Local and VCU

Republicans block bill to lift ‘dont ask, don’t tell’

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked legislation that would have repealed the law banning gays from serving openly in the military.

The partisan vote was a defeat for Senate Democrats and gay rights advocates, who saw the bill as their last chance before November’s elections to overturn the law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

With the 56-43 vote, Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation. It also would have authorized $726 billion in defense spending including a pay raise for troops.

Senate Democrats attached the repeal provision to the defense bill in the hopes that Republicans would hesitate to vote against legislation that included popular defense programs. But GOP legislators opposed the bill anyway, thwarting a key part of the Democrats’ legislative agenda.

Now, gay rights advocates say they worry they have lost a crucial opportunity to change the law. If Democrats lose seats in the upcoming elections this fall, repealing the ban could prove even more difficult — if not impossible — next year.

Brief by The Associated Press

Harringtons say social media has helped murder case

Gil and Dan Harrington say social media websites have had big impact on their daughter’s murder case that’s gone unsolved for nearly a year now.

“It has become a way to participate, give input, give another set of eyes.  It has been valuable,” Gil Harrington said.

After her daughter Morgan Harrington disappeared last October. They hired a public relations company to help manage the media attention they were getting.  Digital Strategist Valerie Elston headed up that effort and explained their methods at Roanoke College to a room full of other PR specialists from around the state.

“Without social media, I think the case probably would have died out in the media a lot faster,” Elston said.

Elston says people flooded to the Facebook page with tips, theories, and volunteered to help with search efforts.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia jobless rate up slightly in August

Virginia’s unemployment rate edged up slightly in August, but still remained well below the national average.

The Virginia Employment Commissionsaid today its adjusted unemployment rate was 7 percent in August. That’s up from 6.9 percent last August.

The agency says August is typically a transition month between summer and fall labor markets.

During the month, the labor force, total unemployment and the number of unemployed normally decline as students quit summer jobs and head back to school and local school districts see their lowest employment levels before school starts back up in the fall.

The agency said more than 61,930 people were receiving regular unemployment benefits in August, down more than 9,430 from July and down more than 30,980 from August last year.

The national rate stood at 9.6 percent in August, up slightly from July.

Brief by The Associated Press

National and International

World’s oldest man marks 114th birthday in US

A Montana resident believed to be the world’s oldest man celebrated his 114th birthday Tuesday at a retirement home in Great Falls.

Walter Breuning was born on Sept. 21, 1896, in Melrose, Minnesota, and moved to Montana in 1918, where he worked as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway for 50 years.

His wife, Agnes, a railroad telegraph operator from Butte, died in 1957. The couple had no children.

Breuning inherited the distinction of being the world’s oldest man in July 2009 when Briton Henry Allingham died at age 113. Allingham had joked that the secret to long life was “Cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women — and a good sense of humor,” according to Guinness World Records.

The Guinness organization and the Gerontology Research Group each have verified Breuning as the world’s oldest man and the fourth-oldest person. Three women were born earlier in the same year as Breuning.

Robert Young, senior consultant for gerontology for Guinness World Records, presented Breuning with a copy of the book’s 2011 edition that lists him as the record holder.

“Walter wasn’t in last year’s edition,” Young joked. “He was too young.”

Brief by The Associated Press

US expects closer Russia-NATO ties

A planned summit between NATO leaders and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev will significantly boost cooperation on the Afghan war, missile defense and fighting drug trafficking and piracy, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

U.S. NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalder said that Wednesday’s foreign ministers session with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will lay the groundwork for the November summit of the 28 NATO members and Russia in Lisbon, Portugal. Medvedev was invited earlier this month.

“I hope what we get out of this is that everyone will leave with an understanding that there is a good basis for trying to achieve some significant breakthroughs by the time we are able to get together at the leaders’ level in November,” Daalder told journalists.

Ties between the alliance and Russia hit a post-Cold War low after the Russo-Georgian war two years ago, when the alliance — under pressure from the Bush administration — froze relations with Moscow.

But since President Barack Obama announced a “reset” of U.S. ties, there has been a shift toward closer cooperation.

Brief by The Associated Press

Man in Brazil amasses $259K in traffic fines

Police in Brazil say they have caught an Italian man who managed to amass $259,000 in traffic fines and other penalties linked to his van.

Police say they arrested 62-year-old engineer Roberto Cintio at his office after a 10-day investigation.

Most of Cintio’s fines were for speeding, which are levied in Brazilian cities by radar cameras without a police stop of the vehicle. Other fines were for parking, not paying vehicle property taxes and other infractions.

A police statement issued Tuesday says Cintio likely evaded police by using false IDs. It says several blank identification cards were found with him.

There was no indication how long it took Cintio to build up the fines on his 9-year-old General Motors van.

Brief by The Associated Press

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