Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Ambassadors for a presentation on the latest news in astronomy. Finish the evening by relaxing and enjoying the night’s beauty with the members of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club for a tour of the night sky. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets. Feel free to bring your telescope or binoculars for your own exploration.
$10/car parking fee. Campers must return to the campground following program. Entrance gates close one hour after the program start time.
Roger A. Heston (1955 – 2022)
Roger A. Heston, 67, of Bentonville, Virginia, passed away at his home on Monday, December 5, 2022.
Mr. Heston was born on September 24, 1955, in Fairmont, West Virginia, to the late Richard and Margie Drake Heston.
Survivors include his son, Jason R. Heston of Fairmont; two brothers, Clyde Heston of Bentonville and Gary Heston of Fairmont and two grandchildren, Isaiah and Brittany Teets, both of Fairmont.
Governor Youngkin announces budget language to halt prosecution of COVID-shutdown related fines, penalties, and begin reimbursement process
On December 6, 2022, Governor Youngkin issued an Executive Order directing enforcement agencies, boards, and commissions to report all fines, fees, and suspensions related to the COVID-19 shutdown violations. The Governor also announced he would direct agencies to halt further collection and enforcement action in his upcoming budget to be delivered on December 15th. The budget will also direct the Secretary of Finance to work with agencies to develop a reimbursement process for individuals and businesses who paid unjust COVID-19 fines and fees.
“I am today requiring a statewide review of COVID-19-related penalties imposed by the Northam administration. The fact that businesses are still dealing with COVID-19-related penalties and fines is infuriating. Livelihoods are on the line,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “In the previous administration, we saw our government shut down businesses, close our schools, and separate us from each other. While we can’t undo the damage done during the Northam administration, we are taking action going forward to end COVID-era draconian overreach.”
“I look forward to working with the General Assembly to address this, forgive COVID fines and fees and restore unjustly suspended licenses,” Governor Youngkin continued.
The budget language will not apply to instances where the violation was in relation to practices, guidelines, rules, or operating procedures intended to protect the health and safety of individuals, patients, residents, and staff of hospitals, nursing homes, certified nursing facilities, hospices, or assisted living facilities.
Virginia is expected to received at least $16.8 million; prohibits deceptive and youth-focused marketing of e-cigarettes
On December 6, 2022, Attorney General Jason Miyares announced that Virginia has joined a bipartisan coalition of 33 states to secure a $434.9 million settlement from JUUL Labs, widely recognized as the leading e-cigarette manufacturer, resolving allegations of nationwide efforts to lure America’s youth into using “vaping” products. The settlement resolves claims that since 2015, JUUL has used social media marketing campaigns, easily concealable e-cigarette designs, youth-friendly flavors, and other means to addict a new generation of Americans to nicotine.
“I am proud of my office’s efforts to address the harm caused in this case nationwide and here in Virginia. Our consumer protection section will continue to work tirelessly to hold bad actors accountable when they disregard the health and welfare of Virginians, particularly our youth,” said Attorney General Miyares.
Under the terms of the settlement, JUUL is required to pay Virginia at least $16.8 million, with the first payment of $1.58 million to be paid after the settlement is approved in court. The settlement prohibits JUUL from engaging in a variety of misleading, youth-focused marketing tactics, including:
- Marketing to youth
- Funding education programs
- Depicting persons under age 35 in any marketing
- Using cartoon advertisements
- Selling flavors not approved by FDA
- Allowing access to websites without age verification on the landing page
- Advertising in outlets unless 85 percent of the audience is adult
- Using paid influencers
Attorney General Miyares filed the settlement as a proposed Consent Judgment today in the City of Richmond Circuit Court. The settlement requires court approval.
The following states joined Virginia in the settlement: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The investigation was led by Connecticut, Texas, and Oregon, with support from Virginia and other states.
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – Flags to be flown half-staff
This December 7, we remember the world-changing event known as Pearl Harbor Day, or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his December 8, 1941 speech declaring war on Japan, “a date which will live in infamy.”
Early on Wednesday morning, December 7, 2022, many will gather at Pearl Harbor National Memorial for the 81st Commemoration. The early start marks the moment to the minute 81 years ago when Japanese warplanes descended on Oahu, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, injuring thousands more, and dealing a near-fatal blow to the Navy’s fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Most young Americans who died that day, along with those who served in uniform during World War II or on the home front war effort, are collectively known as the Greatest Generation. Their sacrifices reflect the theme of this year’s Commemoration: Everlasting Legacy.
The focus is the importance of remembering Pearl Harbor and how the Greatest Generation saved us from tyranny and brought us peace through reconciliation.
Governor’s Order for the Commonwealth of Virginia
In accordance with the authority vested in me as Governor, I hereby order that the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia to be flown at half-staff at all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in the Commonwealth in solemn respect and memory for the nearly 4,000 American service men and women killed or wounded in the early morning of December 7, 1941, at the United States Navy Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
I hereby order that the flag shall be lowered at sunrise on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, and remain at half-staff until sunset.
Ordered on this, the 6th day of December 2022.
New House Democratic leaders look ahead to being in the minority in January
WASHINGTON — As Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy struggles to gain support to become speaker, Democrats have rallied around their new leaders, Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar, after the dust settled from the 2022 midterm election.
“It’s all wine and roses right now…because we are coming off a historic over-performance in terms of the House of Representatives,” Jeffries, who will be the first Black man to lead the House Democrats in January and represents New York’s 8th District, told reporters Tuesday.
As minority leader, Jeffries will be tasked with uniting the progressives and moderates of the party, who have clashed over policies in the past.
Specifically, “the squad” – progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; Cori Bush of Missouri, and Jamaal Bowman of New York – have been vocal in their criticisms of the moderate sector of the party.
Jeffries said that it should not be difficult to find a level of unity among them.
“At the end of the day, what unites us is our genuine, authentic commitment to putting people over politics, to fighting for lower costs for better-paying jobs for safer communities, defending democracy, fighting for freedom, protecting the public interest and showing economic opportunity in every corner of America,” Jeffries said.
Another question many observers have is how the new Democratic leadership will work to bridge the gap with Republicans dominated by pro-Trump and far-right ideologues.
The House Republicans are struggling to coalesce around a leader. McCarthy is believed to be short of the 218 votes he needs to become speaker, largely because a handful of the most conservative members of his caucus have vowed to oppose him.
McCarthy’s path to the speakership may have been further complicated on Tuesday when Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, announced he would challenge McCarthy for the top post. Biggs called McCarthy “a creature of the establishment status quo.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 38% of Americans believe that partisan relations in Congress will worsen.
“We are genuinely interested in trying to find common ground with the other side of the aisle to advance priorities that make life better for everyday Americans,” Jeffries said.
However, common ground may be difficult since Democrats have continued to bash the Republican Party’s recent push for abortion bans and refusals to condemn those endangering democracy.
“There is an essential question facing Republicans. Do they have an affirmative vision for our country? Or is their only plan to divide us, suspend our Constitution, and roll the clock back on liberty?” said Clark, the incoming minority whip.
Former President Donald Trump posted on TruthSocial on Saturday that “a Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” The post about terminating the Constitution has sowed even deeper divisions between the two parties, and Democrats continue to criticize those GOP colleagues who have not yet condemned Trump’s statement.
“It should not be that complicated to denounce the former president,” Jeffries said.
Democrats also doubt that a Republican House can pass legislation raising the debt ceiling and keep the government open.
“We also talked about the importance of preventing a GOP-led government shutdown,” said Pete Aguilar, the incoming House Democratic Caucus chairman.
Jeffries and other party leaders, including President Joe Biden, have specifically been targeting the MAGA wing of the GOP. party.
“The notion that extreme MAGA Republicans would threaten to default on our nation’s debt for the first time in American history in order to blow up Social Security and Medicare is stunning. It’s catastrophic,” Jeffries said.
By COURTNEY COHN
Capital News Service
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: American Goldfinch
These two American Goldfinches hit the same window at the same time and ended up here at the Center for care.
Though both are currently having breathing difficulty, and the male has significant head trauma with bleeding from the left ear, neither sustained any fractures. They are recovering together while they receive supplemental oxygen and pain medications.
Do you know what to do if a bird hits your window?
Though it was once standard to contain a window strike bird and let it rest for a few hours before attempting release, research has now shown that this is inadequate. Many of the issues we see with window strikes manifest 24+ hours after the strike, long after the bird can fly off.
If you see a bird hit a window, contain it right away and call the closest permitted rehabilitator. Do not release it! In the meantime, take steps to break up the reflections on your windows with tape, paint, or decals spaced no more than 2” apart. Prevention is better than treatment!
A new record!
Yesterday we surpassed last year’s intake number with this window strike pair. We are hopeful that they will soon be released together to enjoy the rest of their wild lives!
If you are looking for an easy way to help native wildlife become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.