Charlottesville Breaking News

Peace plan: Scott Atran talks to terrorists

Scott Atran runs with a rough, international crowd– jihadis, mujahideen, and lashkars– otherwise known as Islamic fundamentalists, otherwise known as terrorists, who have invited Atran into their worlds. As we know all too well, their worlds can be dangerous, even for a westerner with an invite.

Atran visited Kashmir after the earthquake in 2005 to look at relief efforts, as well as to investigate jihadi groups, who were riding around on military trucks and using loudspeakers to announce that people had turned away from God, and that the way back to God was to join the jihadi movement. Shortly after arriving there, Atran, hosted by Kashmiri Nationals (neither pro-Indian, nor pro-Pakistani), was told that Lashkar-e-Taiba (an Al Quaeda-affiliated group operating mainly out of Pakistan) was looking for him, a search, he says, that equated to a death threat. He had to hide under the floor-boards of a mosque.

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, he was interviewing a jihadi commander by conducting an anthropological experiment, which involves asking the question: If a child is born to Zionist parents but is raised by jihadi parents, will the child grow up to be a Zionist or a jihadi?

Atran claims he has asked this question in many countries all over the world and never feared for his life afterward, but his experience in Sulawesi was different. The commander replied: "The child would grow up to be a jihadi." Then he looked at Atran and asked, "but,...

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The week in review

Latest slam on the BoV's June debacle: The American Association of University Professors releases a report on Rector Helen Dragas' firing of President Teresa Sullivan and calls it a "crude exercise of naked power," as well as "a failure of judgment, and alas, of common sense." Ted Strong has the story in the Daily Progress.

Latest bombshell in the Hash case: Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins said in a 2010 deposition he was told to forge reports and lie to the prosecutor's office as lead investigator in the 1996 murder of Thelma Scoggins, and that he didn't believe Michael Hash had anything to do with it. Hash's conviction was overturned in 2012 when a federal judge cited police and prosecutorial misconduct. Now being sued by Hash, Jenkins says he believes Hash was the murderer. The Culpeper Star-Exponent has the story.

Biggest leak: A natural gas leak in the median of U.S. 29 March 13 closes the road between Rio Road and Hilton Heights Road for several hours.

Biggest leak week: Charlottesville launches "Fix a leak week," part of an EPA national program to fix residential water leakage, from March 17-23.

Biggest whistleblower reduction: Judge Norman Moon slices a jury award of $1.46 million to former UVA assistant p...

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Spotlight on Farmington

Area: Farmington

Price range: $575,000-$5,900,000

Schools: Murray, Henley, Western Albemarle
Pros: location, amenities, beautiful neighborhood

Cons: high cost of ownership, close identification with club

“Farmington is primarily identified by the club,” says Elizabeth Feil Matthews, a realtor with McLean Faulconer and listing agent for the home that sits at 935 Windsor Road.

The club Matthews refers to was built sometime prior to 1780 on land confiscated from Francis Jerdone, a Tory. Mr. Jerdone regained ownership of his estate and sold it in 1785 to George Divers, who obtained plans drawn by Thomas Jefferson to augment the home with the addition of a two-room octagonal structure.

The notion of transforming the Farmington estate of nearly 1,000 acres into a club first materialized in 1927, and the vision became a reality on May 15, 1929 when Farmington Country Club officially opened its doors. While club policy long banned minorities, a revolt at UVA launched in 1973 by then-Student Council president and now esteemed Politics Professor Larry Sabato– detailed in a 2001 UVA publication titled "Beyond Black and White" – led to the club changing its membership policy after its members purchased...

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Vinegar Hill: Building goes on the block

First the what's-playing sign was missing from the side of Vinegar Hill Theatre. Then a for-sale sign appeared, leaving loyal moviegoers wondering if their favorite cinema house was threatened again. The two events are not related– the movie sign blew down– and the theater is still open, but the building that houses it and Camino restaurant is on the block for $1.2 million.

When Ann Porotti and then-husband Chief Gordon purchased what would become Vinegar Hill Theatre in 1973, it was owned by Symington Garage and housed a motorcycle showroom, says Porotti.

Gordon had a vision, and by Valentine's Day 1976, Charlottesville had its first foreign film/classic American cinema.

In 2005, Porotti tried to sell the Market Street building, which by then also included a restaurant she'd added. That didn't happen, and in 2008 after the Virginia Film Festival, she announced Vinegar Hill was closing. That's when Adam Greenbaum, owner of the Visulite in Staunton, swooped in and took took over running the theater.

Porotti is blunt ab...

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Deaton: Candidate calls for moratorium on death penalty prosecutions

Calling the death penalty "barbaric," Steve Deaton, candidate for commonwealth's attorney in Charlottesville, wants a moratorium on prosecutions that could lead to death row.

"It's something I've been thinking about a long time," says Deaton. "I'm surprised no one brought it up– it's so out of character for Charlottesville."

Actually, City Council did pass a resolution calling for a death penalty moratorium in the state in 2000 that gained no traction in the General Assembly. And no one has been sentenced to death in Charlottesville since 1905, when former mayor Sam McCue was hanged for the murder of his wife Fannie.

Deaton also objects to the threat of the death penalty to convince suspects to plead guilty to life in prison. "It shouldn't be used as a bargaining chip," he says. "I think it's horrendous to use the threat of the death penalty."

He cites as an example the murderers of Jayne McGowan, the 26-year-old who was slain in her St. Clair Avenue home in 2007. Cousins William Douglas Gentry, Jr. and Michael Stuart Pritchett were charged with capital murder and pleaded guilty in an agreement under which the prosecution said it would not seek the death penalty.

Steve Northup, executive director of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, points to Virginia cases in which innocent people have been threatened with the death pe...

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