Local & VCU


Va. soldier dead after Quran protest, family says

A man from Roanoke County was one of two U.S. service members fatally shot during a protest over the burning of several Qurans.

The Roanoke Times reported Friday that Cpl. T.J. Conrad, 22, was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday.

Conrad’s father, Tim Conrad, said a man wearing Afghan military or police fatigues ambushed his son.

T.J. Conrad leaves behind a wife and 7-month-old son. His family said they were traveling to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be there when the body arrives.

Tim Conrad said his son had been in the Army for about four years, including time in the reserves. He was set to be promoted to sergeant on Thursday.

Brief by the Associated Press


Possible tornado destroys boathouse in Mathews

A possible tornado tore through rural Mathews County on Friday evening, damaging two mobile homes and a boathouse. No one was injured.

Mathews Sheriff Mark Barrick said the powerful winds knocked two mobile homes off their foundations and destroyed a boathouse at Davis Creek Marina. A woman was in one of the homes, but she was not injured, Barrick said.

Power lines were knocked down, outbuildings were damaged and pine trees were sheared off in the storm, he said.

National Weather Service meteorologist James Foster said the agency is trying to determine whether a tornado hit the area.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch


Liberty University may expand to Massachusetts

Liberty University in Lynchburg may acquire a satellite campus in the rural town of Northfield, Mass., providing a brick-and-mortar outpost for online students from the Northeast and, possibly, a secluded site for an undergraduate honors program.

If the deal goes through, the property would be a gift to Liberty from the family of Steve Green, an Oklahoma billionaire and president of Hobby Lobby, a craft-store chain with Christian roots.

“We deeply appreciate the Green family and Hobby Lobby contacting Liberty and making this offer. … We appreciate their confidence in Liberty,” said LU Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr.

In 2009, the Green family bought the site for $100,000 and has since invested $5 million in improvements.

Hobby Lobby recently invited 15 Christian schools and organizations to submit proposals of possible uses of the property.

The goal is to donate the campus to a school or organization with the funds to maintain its century-old buildings and uphold its Christian heritage, said Jerry Pattengale, a college administrator hired by Hobby Lobby to find a new owner.

Liberty responded with strong interest and is a top contender, said Pattengale.

Falwell said Liberty’s proposal is to become part-owners of the campus with another Christian institution.

If Liberty becomes a part-owner, their preliminary plans are to develop an honors program there and hold classroom sessions for online students.

Pattengale said the final decision falls with the Green family and is not expected for at least two months.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch


National & International

Magnitude-6.8 quake shakes Siberia

A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 shook southwestern Siberia on Sunday afternoon, the second to hit the area in two months. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, emergency officials said.

Residents of multistory apartment buildings said objects tumbled off of shelves, windows rattled and chandeliers swayed during the quake, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The earthquake hit about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Kyzyl, the capital of the Russian republic of Tuva, which borders Mongolia.

A quake of similar strength hit the same spot in late December. That quake damaged dozens of buildings, including a bridge over the Yenisei River to Mongolia.

Sunday’s quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey said was centered 11.7 (7.3 miles) below the surface, was felt across a broad swath of southeastern Siberia.

Brief by the Associated Press


Activists rally against Africa dictators UN prize

Human rights groups are urging UNESCO to abandon a prize named after Africa’s longest-ruling dictator, one they say could be tainted by some of the millions he allegedly has looted from oil-rich but poverty-stricken Equatorial Guinea.

The board of the U.N. agency for education, science and culture meets Monday and is expected to discuss the $3 million UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences, which it accepted in 2008.

A chorus of outrage from around the world so far has delayed a decision on the prize that activists say should be quashed definitively.

Many ask how President Teodoro Obiang Nguema can offer such a prize while thousands of his people live without electricity or a clean water supply.

Railing against Obiang’s effort “to abuse the reputation and standing” of UNESCO, the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative accused him of using the prize “to launder the image of his regime.”

Obiang has the support of African countries that form the biggest bloc in the agency’s 58-member executive board, with 14 seats compared to nine held by Western nations.

South Africa’s retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu last year was among signatories to a letter saying they were “deeply troubled by the well-documented record of human rights abuse, repression of press freedom and official corruption that have marked his (Obiang’s) rule.”

Brief by the Associated Press


NC man loses $49k collection of poisonous snakes

A North Carolina man is losing his exotic reptile collection worth $49,000 after police found dozens of venomous lizards and snakes in his home.

Fifty-one-year-old Walter Kidd of Hendersonville pleaded guilty Friday to 30 misdemeanor charges of possessing endangered animals and failing to properly label containers of poisonous snakes.

Police seized the reptiles in August after Kidd was bitten by an exotic venomous snake and rushed to a hospital. Officers said his mobile home was packed with snakes in plastic containers.

Kidd’s attorney says the reptiles were not a danger because they were kept inside his home.

The creatures were taken to the state natural sciences museum in Raleigh.

Brief by the Associated Press

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