Local & VCU


VCU employee convicted for sex-based crime with a minor

Two weeks after Sergeant James Deford of VCU Police was arrested on charges of distribution of child pornography, VCU announced an employee was convicted late Monday of an unrelated sex-based crime with a minor.

President Michael Rao wrote in an email to VCU and the VCU Health System that employees facing such charges may be suspended or terminated.

Director of VCU News Center, Anne Buckley, could not confirm who was convicted. Buckley said no additional information was available as it is a personnel issue and the university does not comment on such issues.

Buckley was able to confirm both Deford and the unidentified employee were in the process of being terminated.

Brief by Mechelle Hankerson


Fire call at VCU Medical Center turns out to be false

A fire was reported on the roof of VCU Medical Center in downtown Richmond just before dawn Tuesday, but the call turned out to be false.

Richmond firefighters were called at 6:20 a.m. to the main hospital building in the 1200 block of East Marshall Street for a report of what appeared to be flames coming from a piece of construction equipment, possibly a crane.

Richmond Fire & EMS Lt. Robbie Hagaman said firefighters were initially told there may have been a short circuit in the electrical wiring of a crane on the roof, but that information proved unfounded.

Hagaman said a flag that was waving in front of a large light bulb may have created what someone thought looked like flames.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch


Governor sends health insurance exchange report to General Assembly

Gov. Bob McDonnell has delivered a long-awaited report on Virginia’s response to federal health care reform, but he won’t say whether he supports creating a state-run health insurance exchange or risk having a federal exchange imposed.

In a letter to General Assembly leaders, McDonnell repeats his opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and vows to fight “unfounded federal intrusion” on state prerogatives.

McDonnell does not recommend whether the legislature should act in its pending session to create an insurance exchange or, if so, how.

“The decisions ahead are not easy, and I will neither compromise the financial integrity of Virginia nor leave us vulnerable to the overreaching federal government,” he said in a letter dated Nov. 25 to House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, and Senate President Pro Tem Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince William.

McDonnell said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has failed to properly coordinate the law’s implementation with the states, or say what the federal exchange would look like or what policies would govern it.

“Without the necessary guidance and rules that will govern a Virginia exchange and a federal model to review, it is extremely difficult to evaluate whether ceding control of an exchange to the federal government or creating our own is in the commonwealth’s best interest,” he stated.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch


National & International


British Embassy attacked

Hard-line Iranian protesters stormed British diplomatic compounds Tuesday, hauling down the Union Jack, torching an embassy vehicle and pelting buildings with firebombs in what began as an apparent state-approved show of anger over the latest Western sanctions to punish Tehran for defiance over its nuclear program.

The hours-long assault on the British Embassy and a residential complex for staff, in chaotic scenes reminiscent of the seizing of the U.S. Embassy in 1979, could push already-frayed diplomatic ties toward the breaking point.

Iran’s parliament approved a bill Sunday to downgrade relations with Britain, one of America’s closest allies with diplomatic envoys in the Islamic Republic.

Calling Tuesday’s attack “outrageous and indefensible,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Iran’s failure to defend the embassy and its staff was a disgrace and would have “serious consequences.”

He said all embassy staff had been accounted for and praised Britain’s ambassador to Iran for handling a “dangerous situation with calm and professionalism.”

Brief by The Associated Press


U.S. to pay $2.5M in photo editor’s anthrax death

More than a decade after tabloid photo editor Robert Stevens became the first victim of the 2001 anthrax attacks, the U.S. government has agreed to pay his widow and family $2.5 million to settle their lawsuit, according to documents released Tuesday.

Stevens, 63, died on Oct. 5, 2001, when a letter containing deadly anthrax spores was opened at the then-headquarters in Boca Raton of American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, Sun and Globe tabloids. Eventually four other people died and 17 others were sickened in similar letter attacks, which the FBI blames on a lone government scientist who committed suicide.

Stevens’ widow, Maureen, sued the government in 2003, claiming its negligence caused her husband’s death by failing to adequately safeguard anthrax at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. The FBI probe concluded that Fort Detrick was the source of the spores used in the attacks in New York, Washington and Florida.

The case languished for years in procedural delays and appeals until the FBI announced in 2008 that a Fort Detrick scientist, Bruce Ivins, was responsible for the attacks. Although some of his colleagues and outside experts have raised doubts about his intent and ability to weaponize the anthrax, the FBI formally closed its “Amerithrax” investigation in 2010.

Brief by The Associated Press


Norway killer declared insane

Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik belongs in psychiatric care instead of prison, prosecutors in Norway said Tuesday after a mental evaluation declared him legally insane during a bomb-and-shooting rampage that killed 77 people.

The court-ordered assessment found that the self-styled anti-Muslim militant was psychotic during the July 22 attacks, which would make him mentally unfit to be convicted and imprisoned for the country’s worst peacetime massacre.

The report, written by two psychiatrists who spent 36 hours talking to Breivik, will be reviewed by a forensic panel before the Oslo district court makes a ruling on his mental state.

Brief by The Associated Press

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