Charlottesville Breaking News

Mandela rescued: Film tries to resurrect wife's role

If you don't remember hearing much about a Winnie Mandela biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, that's probably because it was filmed more than three years ago, showcased to negative reaction at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, given a brief release in Canada in 2012 – and then just drifted into the Library of Forgotten Movies, which is filled with hundreds of titles that never get widespread theatrical play.

Based on the reviews from Toronto and the Hollywood buzz over the years, word on Winnie Mandela was not good, to put it mildly.

Rescued by Bishop T.D. Jakes and Image Entertainment, "Winnie Mandela" finally comes to U.S. theaters. And here's the news: It's not so bad after all. For the first 15 minutes or so, the film indeed lived down to low expectations, and I thought I might have to find a place for it on my list of the worst movies of 2013. But once we got past the hagiographic depictions of young Winnie's life, "Winnie Mandela" turned into a serviceable if sometimes overwrought biography, with solid performances and the courage to spotlight not only the heroics but the appalling misdeeds committed by the iconic Ms. Mandela. What a life.

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Nasty in-law: Stick up for your mom

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Dear Carolyn:
At family gatherings, my brother's wife puts my brother down with negative comments, says indirect, hurtful comments to her son's girlfriend, and is, in general, denigrating to other relatives. My mother has started to speak up when my brother's wife says something negative about my brother, which appears to have brought on comments from my brother's wife about how difficult my mother is and how she should go to a nursing home due to her age. (Both of these comments about my mother are utterly wrong.)  
     My sister and I are trying to figure out how to not enable these situations and also how to not engage in her negative behavior. We don't feel avoiding family gatherings is an option. Should we set boundaries? Should we ignore her? We need help with how we should handle ourselves to make our family gatherings more pleasant.  
 – Two Sisters
     No one has your mother's back?
     When she draws your sister-in-law's
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Bypass be gone: It's not too late to undo bad idea

66 Seconds
By Jack Trammell

Rigged polls. Midnight votes. Politicians calling each other names and contradicting themselves in public. Use of the state legislative process to punish opponents. Bureaucratic circumvention of the required or recommended public discourse. Contractors getting rich on no bid or overrun-laden design bid projects. Silence in the major media outlets. If this sounds like a troubled third world country, worthy of another Sacha Baron Cohen movie, think again— it is the current central Virginia battle over the Western Bypass in Charlottesville. Sixty-six seconds (the estimated time savings) has never been so controversial or expensive.

In Virginia, history does matter, and very few people inside or outside the region realize or care to acknowledge that the current bypass war actually dates to 1957.  Fifty-six years ago, a hired consultant recommended a northern route for Virginia’s section of Interstate 64, and a regional war between Lynchburg and Charlottesville politicians and businessmen broke out that was never satisfactorily resolved. Although the state recommended the southern route through the Danville/Lynchburg corridor, federal highway authorities ultimately overrode state politics and mandated that the highway run through/beside Charlottesville. Ever since that time, politicians, businessmen, and even faculty and students in the Danville/Lynchburg areas, the “Lynchburg Lobby,” blame the...

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Farewell, Hook

My photo home prepares to turn out the lights.

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Commentator Bill Emory puts up a new photo nearly every day at
 billemory.com/blog.

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Angels among us: How Charlottesville is becoming a hot spot for start-ups

By Peter Galuszka

Her three-month-old infant Benjamin strapped to her chest, Crystal Icenhour moves from room to room in a cream-colored building on a side street of downtown Charlottesville. “And that,” she says pointing to several trays of plastic-filled bags near a laboratory, “is our product.”

The small bags are sent via Federal Express to various medical laboratories, many at hospitals, from her firm named PHTHISIS Diagnostics, which is Greek for “tuberculosis.” After being mixed with water, their contents are used to measure molecular standards and provide quality control for highly sensitive diagnostic devices.

The seven-person firm offers a line of 15 such products since it began operations in 2006. The firm got started with $4.5 million in grants, many of them from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the state. Angel investors in the local area and North Carolina kicked in about $1 million.

After a lengthy incubation, PHTHISIS is finally showing results. So is Charlottesville as a haven for budding high technology centers. For years, the city has been a much-lauded, up-and-coming tech sector where bright minds come up with new ideas and win funding from angel investors or venture capitalists.

Charlottesville is suddenly starting to get national attention.

It has been ranked as No. 8 nationally, just behind Austin, Texas and ahead of Champaign-Urbana,...

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