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Teen passenger dies in Old Cox Road crash


Dozens of tractors paraded through the streets of South Boston on Saturday morning to preview the upcoming Halifax County Heritage and Antique Machinery Festival, set for May 7-8 at the…

Child porn bring 20 year prison term

A South Boston man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after being found guilty in January of 11 charges of possession of child pornography and computer trespass.


Bluestone takes 7-6 thriller on walk-off hit in eighth inning





Here and there / February 03, 2021
Serendipity watch: After last week’s column on the pending abolition of Virginia’s death penalty, The Wason Center For Civic Leadership (at Christopher Newport University) conducted a survey this week on public attitudes toward crime and punishment. The Wason Center’s findings were released Tuesday: A majority of Virginians (56 percent) favor repeal of the death penalty and elimination of mandatory minimum sentences for some criminal offenses (55 percent). For context, 28 percent of Virginians also favor cutting the budget for prisons and jails, although 24 percent support higher spending, suggesting the desire for criminal justice reform extends beyond capital punishment. The remainder of survey respondents in the Wason poll, by the way, presumably have no particular opinion on how much the state should spend on prisons and jails, judging from the numbers.

The poll certainly shows that views are changing on the archaic institution of the death penalty, which time and again has been shown to be ineffective as a deterrent to crime, incredibly expensive to administer, and rife with racial and social bias. Capital punishment is a relic that has been kept alive by the pandering of “law and order” politicians who frequently have been resistant to real steps to reduce crime, some of which can seem counterintuitive — hence the ease with which these ideas can be demogogued. This said, many of our approaches to crime and policing (War on Drugs, cough cough) are such obviously failures and so plainly destructive that support for reforms cuts across party lines. An example is sentencing reform, which even many conservative Republicans now favor. We have a long ways to go before Virginia and the country rids the system of its worst abuses, but the direction that the wind is blowing seems clear enough.

Speaking of the War on Drugs, you’ll be surprised not in the least to learn that two out of three respondents in the Wason poll (68 percent) support the legalization of recreational marijuana use. Politico published a story Tuesday that captures where the General Assembly is heading on this issue: “Virginia is for stoners? Democrats press legalization in new territory.” Change is wafting around Richmond, let’s just put it that way.

For the record, I support legalization of pot only where the state is able to tightly control production and distribution, making marijuana available to those who want it while doing nothing to incentivize its use. Government has an interest in knocking the props out from under black markets without succumbing to the allure of the big dollars that contraband sales typically generate. Pot should be handled as a public health concern, not as a criminal offense, at least not when it comes to individual users. (Cartels and distribution rings are a different story altogether.) A well-regulated marketplace can make for effective drug policy, as is true in so many other spheres.

Which brings us to our next subject: Surely you’ve heard the name “GameStop” by now. I’m too old and too busy to care much about videogaming, and guess what -— the epic saga of GameStop, a fairly boring brick-and-mortar chain that sells videogames the old fashioned way, across the store counter — is only tangentially related to niche retailing at all. You probably know the story: Millions of small-dollar investors, playing the stock market on commission-free trading apps downloaded on their cellphones, have driven up the stock price of this bedraggled company to stratospheric heights. In doing so, these individual investors — who gather online at low-rent joints like Reddit — have inflicted billions of dollars in loses on hedge funds and big Wall Street players that bet against GameStop’s stock price. In the interests of not creating a trainwreck, I’ll pass on trying to explain all this works — familiarity with short-selling, pump-and-dump schemes and other High Finance Faves is not my thing — but you get the drift: The stock market looks all the world like a casino, and the house finds itself on the losing end for once.

What are lessons that can be drawn from this fascinating (and still-developing) episode? I’ll offer my two cents worth: There are no good guys to be found in a story that fundamentally is about the manipulation of the stock market. Are there distinctions to be drawn between a gaggle of small investors who are doing this mostly for giggles (the internet term is LOLZ) and institutional and big-money actors who do similar things strictly for greed (and because they can?). Why, I believe there is. This has been the week in Occupy Wall Street roared back to life with free trades on the Robinhood app and enough money when pooled together to punish some unsuspecting fat cats on Wall Street. Let the buyers in all directions beware.

On to politics: You probably also have heard or read this week about Marjorie Taylor Greene, the newly elected GOP Congresswoman from Georgia who is a human two-by-four in the ranks of right-wing whackjobs. CNN has done an especially good job of digging up some of Greene’s recent social media posts, on subjects ranging from California wildfires (caused, according to Greene, and I swear I am not making this up, by space lasers fired by aliens in concert with a shadowy Jewish cabal), Nancy Pelosi (upon whom Greene has wished a violent death), school shootings (which Greene has dismissed as false flag events) and assorted other nuttery. For her efforts, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives placed Greene on the Education Committee. A really swell move there, fellas; tell me again how Republican leaders have taken an unwavering stand against political violence?

Rep. Greene is, of course, a problem for Republicans, Congress and the great state of Georgia, but in reading about her recent exploits I couldn’t help but to notice a Fifth District connection: our new Congressman, Rep. Bob Good. The superb columnist for The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg, has a new piece out, “It’s Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Party Now,” that features a photo of Greene standing at the Capitol steps. Standing right next to her? Our congressman, Mr. Good, of course.

None of this comes as any surprise to those who keep track of Good’s ways: He posted a video of himself this week on his social media feed wearing a Campbell (County) Militia hat and standing next to Donald Trump’s wall at the Mexican border. That’s the same wall that isn’t finished, isn’t effective (culprits can cut through the slats with tools you can pick up at any hardware store), and won’t be completed anytime soon, if ever. Good’s desire to preen for his Facebook followers is surpassed only by his complete lack of interest in legislating and governing. He’s a poseur, nothing else.

One thing you can count on in the two years that Good has in Congress before coming up for re-election is that he’ll do nothing to represent the Fifth District, especially not its rural regions, in ways that will make a tangible and positive impact in the lives of his constituents. Need someone who will go to bat for rural broadband or farm industry reforms or economic development or plain and simple infrastructure dollars for the Fifth? Sorry, Bob’s too busy with the role of remora fish in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s shark tank of insanity to do the basics of his $174,000 a year job. I guess that’s the standard we now have for a congressional representative in a district that once claimed James Madison as its own. Quite the comedown, if you ask me.

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