Local & VCU

Hurricane Irene to bring weekend rain to Richmond

Central Virginia is expected to see several days of dry, pleasant weather before Hurricane Irene could turn the weekend into a washout.

The National Hurricane Center is projecting Irene to build and make landfall in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday about 8 a.m., but a more easterly track could send the projected Category 3 storm and its 115 mph winds barreling into the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Irene is the first hurricane of 2011 in the Atlantic basin.

Irene could push wind and rain into Virginia beginning later Thursday and into Friday.

If the storm follows on a more easterly track, central Virginia could avoid damaging winds, but conditions could be worse in eastern parts of the state.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Federal military cuts downsize Fort Lee in Petersburg

More than 50 civilian employees at Fort Lee will lose their jobs by the end of September 2012 as part of massive Army-wide cutbacks, the installation announced Monday.

The downsizing is an effort by the Army to eliminate more than 8,700 positions from its civilian workforce by Sept. 30, 2012; the cuts are based on the Department of Defense resource allocations because of decreased funding in President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget.

More than 30 commands and agencies are affected by the Army-wide reductions, with the majority of the cuts taking place within Army Training and Doctrine Command, Army Materiel Command, Army Installation Management Command and the Department of the Army headquarters.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Health officials report possible measles case on Amtrak trains

Virginia health officials have issued an alert about possible measles exposure on an Amtrak train.

The Washington Post reports that Virginia Health Department spokeswoman Maribeth Brewster said a foreign visitor to northern Virginia had the measles. The visitor took Amtrak’s Northeast regional train No. 171 from Philadelphia on Wednesday. Health officials are advising anyone who took that train to check their vaccination status.

Measles are highly contagious and can be spread through coughing and sneezing and by contact with nasal, oral or throat secretions from an infected person.

Brief by The Associated Press

National & International

Gadhafi calls on loyal residents against Libyan rebels

A defiant Moammar Gadhafi vowed today to fight on “until victory or martyrdom” and called on residents of the Libyan capital and loyal tribesmen across his North African nation to free Tripoli from the “devils and traitors” who have overrun it.

The broadcast came a day after hundreds of Libyan rebels stormed Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya fortress-like compound in the capital but found no sign of the longtime leader. On Monday, the rebels entered Tripoli, pouring into the Mediterranean metropolis of some 2 million people in their thousands in a stunning breakthrough. They claim to control 80 percent of Tripoli.

Tuesday’s ransacking of Bab al-Aziziya, long the nexus of Gadhafi’s power, marked the effective collapse of his 42-year-old regime. But with Gadhafi and his powerful sons still unaccounted for – and gunbattles flaring across the nervous city – the fighters cannot declare victory.

In an address given from an unknown location and broadcast on the Al-Ouroba TV, Gadhafi asked, “Why are you letting them wreak havoc?” The Syria-based satellite station is owned by Iraqi dissident Mishaan Jibouriand has been supporting Gadhafi as well as Syria’s embattled leader Bashar Assad.

Brief by The Associated Press

Russian supply ship fails to reach orbit

An unmanned Russian supply ship bound for the International Space Station failed to reach its planned orbit today, and pieces of it fell in Siberia amid a thunderous explosion, officials said.

The Russian Emergencies Ministry could not be reached for comment. A Roscosmos media officer who refused to be identified said the agency had no immediate comment.

Roscosmos said the third stage of the rocket firing the ship into space failed at 325 seconds into the launch. The ship was carrying more than 2.5 tons of supplies, including oxygen, food and fuel. Since the ending of the U.S. space shuttle program this summer, Russian spaceships are a main supply link to the space station. It was the 44th Progress to launch to the International Space Station.

Brief by The Associated Press

West coast experiences small earthquakes

While the East Coast recovers from earthquake jitters, small quakes have been rocking California.

The U.S. Geological Survey says in a computer-generated report that the latest was a magnitude-4.4 quake that struck at 4:59 a.m. Wednesday about nine miles southeast of Mammoth Lakes.

There was a magnitude-3.6 quake centered six miles southeast of Oakland at 11:36 p.m. Tuesday.

That shaker was felt by people throughout the San Francisco Bay area, but there are no reports of damage.

Brief by The Associated Press

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