TIME Military

Soldier Dies After Shooting Herself at Fort Lee, Va. Army Base

Security guards open a gate for motorist at the visitor entrance to Fort Lee, Va. on Aug. 25, 2014.
Security guards open a gate for motorist at the visitor entrance to Fort Lee, Va. on Aug. 25, 2014. Steve Helber—AP

No one else was injured

Updated: Aug. 25, 4:57 p.m.

A soldier at the Fort Lee U.S. Army base in Virginia has died after shooting herself in the head Monday morning.

According to the Associated Press, the soldier barricaded herself in an office and was throwing objects while enforcement officials tried to talk her down. She eventually shot herself. It’s unknown whether the soldier suffered from mental health issues.

An earlier statement posted on the U.S. Army Fort Lee Facebook page said the incident sparked a lockdown after reports of a shooter on base.

“Fort Lee first responders responded to a report of a female Soldier with a gun inside the Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters, Bldg. 5020 at approximately 9 a.m. today. Early reports indicate the Soldier turned the weapon on herself and fired one shot, injuring herself,” said the statement.

The base said the shooter had been transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. The army said it would begin an investigation.

The shooting comes just a few months after a soldier at Fort Hood Army base in Texas shot and killed four people and injured several more. That shooter, Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

TIME

Ex-Virginia Governor Talks About Marriage at Trial

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says tension in his marriage was fueled in part by his wife's difficulty dealing with her staff

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says tension in his marriage was fueled in part by his wife’s difficulty dealing with her staff.

McDonnell testified Thursday that it got so bad that he eventually stayed in his office longer than necessary rather than go home and listen to his wife’s complaints.

He also said he often heard his wife, Maureen, yelling at assistants. He said she didn’t appreciate it when he tried to rein her in.

The marriage is a key issue in the McDonnells’ public corruption trial. Defense attorneys suggest they couldn’t have conspired in a gifts-for-favors scheme with a wealthy businessman because their communications had broken down.

TIME Supreme Court

Supreme Court Puts Hold on Virginia Same-Sex Marriages

Supreme Court Blocks Virginia Gay Marriages
A guard stands on the steps of the Supreme Court Building, August 20, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Same-sex marriages could have begun as early as Thursday

The Supreme Court effectively barred same-sex couples from marrying in Virginia Wednesday after it delayed a lower court decision that would have lifted the state’s gay marriage ban. The appeals court ruling demanded that Virginia recognize out of state same-sex marriages and would have allowed same sex-couples to marry as early as Thursday morning.

Same-sex couples in Virginia must now wait until the Supreme Court decides to either decline to hear the appeal, under which the stay would be waived, or to reach a verdict of its own.

The Supreme Court did not provide an explanation for the order, which was requested by a Virginia court clerk, but it didn’t come as a surprise after it put same sex-unions on hold in Utah earlier this year.

The top plaintiff in the case, Tim Bostic, told USA Today that he preferred to hear a verdict from the Supreme Court.

“While we are disappointed that marriages will have to wait, this was not unexpected,” he said. “We feel that this case deserves to be heard by the Supreme Court and be finally decided for all Americans.”

Virginia voted in 2006 to ban gay marriage, but both of Virginia’s Democratic senators—Tim Kaine and Mark Warner—endorsed the practice last year.

 

TIME Supreme Court

High Court Blocks Same-Sex Unions in Virginia

(RICHMOND, Va.) — Same-sex couples will have to wait longer to begin marrying in Virginia after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to delay an appeals court ruling striking down the state’s gay marriage ban.

The nation’s highest court granted a request from a county clerk in northern Virginia to delay a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond that would have allowed for same-sex couples to marry beginning Thursday morning. The state would have also had to start recognizing gay marriages from out of state if the Supreme Court had denied the request. The court provided no explanation for its order.

The federal appeals court last week refused to delay its decision striking down the ban, issued in late July, while it is appealed to the high court. The appeals court’s order did not explain why it denied that request.

The Supreme Court’s decision was not unexpected, as it previously issued an order in January putting same-sex unions on hold in Utah while the federal appeals court in Denver was hearing the case. That court upheld the decision striking down Utah’s gay marriage ban, but delayed its decision from taking effect pending appeal to the Supreme Court. Most other federal court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage also have been put on hold.

Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 that banned gay marriage and prohibited the recognition of such marriages performed in other states.

The appeals court ruling overturning that ban was the third such ruling by a federal appeals court and the first in the South, a region where the rising tide of rulings favoring marriage equality is testing concepts of states’ rights and traditional, conservative moral values that have long held sway.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring — who has said he will not defend the state’s ban and believes the courts ruled correctly in striking it down — asked the Supreme Court earlier this month to review a lower court’s decision striking down the state’s ban. Herring said he believes the case will prove compelling to the high court because of the “stringent, discriminatory nature of Virginia’s marriage ban” and other factors.

The Virginia lawsuit was filed by Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk, who were denied a marriage license, and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County. The women were married in California and wanted their marriage recognized in the state where they are raising a 16-year-old daughter.

A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati recently considered arguments regarding six cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some observers have said the 6th Circuit may be the first to uphold statewide gay marriage bans after more than 20 consecutive rulings in the past eight months striking them down.

TIME Opinion

Why Troubled Politicians Blame Women Even When It’s Not a Sex Scandal

Former Virginia Gov. McDonnell And Wife Appear In Court For Federal Corruption Case
Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen leave the court in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 24, 2014 Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell shows that it's convenient to have a female scapegoat

Updated Aug. 20, 10:10 a.m. E.T.

Men have been blaming their screwups on women ever since the Garden of Eden. Because Adam totally didn’t mean to eat that apple! He only did it because that crazy Eve chick tricked him into it. She must have had a crush on the snake.

This week, former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell’s defense team started bringing witnesses to testify about Maureen McDonnell’s craziness and the former governor’s saintliness. The couple is facing federal corruption charges related to luxury gifts and loans they accepted from a political donor. The defense strategy so far has been to pin the blame for the whole mess on the ex-governor’s wife, saying she had a “crush” on big donor Jonnie Williams, but wasn’t a public official herself so lavish presents to her don’t count as corruption.

Williams, who testified for federal prosecutors under a generous immunity deal, denied any romantic intrigue with Mrs. McDonnell, saying his relationship with the family was a business transaction to help sell health supplements through his company, Star Scientific. “I thought the governor could help bring this product to the marketplace, and it was not the right thing to do,” he testified.

But the defense is arguing that the governor didn’t have anything to do with the $165,000 in cash and gifts that Williams gave him over a two-year period, it was just little ol’ Maureen being a silly woman in love. Love makes women dumb, right?

Longtime McDonnell aide Janet Vestal Kelly testified for the defense on Monday, calling the former governor “Mr. Honest,” but said his wife was “divaish” and “pathologically incapable of taking any responsibility.” She explained that it was “well known” that Maureen McDonnell would “hide things,” and that she seemed “kind of flirty” with Williams. Kelly said she didn’t want to “pile on” the former Virginia first lady, but that her staff even worried that Maureen McDonnell might be mentally ill and they once staged a mutiny because she was so difficult to work for. The defense also presented a letter signed by Maureen McDonnell’s staff detailing the “worst kind of bullying.” And on Tuesday, Maureen McDonnell’s sister-in-law, also named Maureen McDonnell, testified that she was “very manipulative, very unpredictable and very deceptive.” Suddenly, it’s the first lady’s personality that’s on trial, not her husband’s role as an elected official.

It’s possible that Maureen McDonnell, the former governor’s wife, is the lovesick crazy woman the defense team is making her out to be (she did text Williams: “I just felt the earth move, and I wasn’t having sex” after an earthquake.) But it’s also possible this is an elaborate ruse to blame the wife in order to get both McDonnells out of some serious prison time. (They face 14 counts of public corruption, obstruction of justice and lying on financial documents.) This could be a clever experiment in political alchemy: by transforming a corruption scandal into a sex scandal, it puts the focus on the woman’s behavior instead of the money trail. And it makes sense: sex scandals are easier for the public to understand, and blaming the woman tends to take some of the heat off the man — just ask Paula Broadwell or Rielle Hunter.

But now “blaming the woman” (or using a woman’s behavior to distract pesky critics and prosecutors) is becoming a catchall strategy for exonerating male politicians from calamities that might not have much to do with sex at all. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he was “blindsided” by the scandal surrounding the George Washington Bridge closures in Fort Lee, N.J., which he says was orchestrated by his aide Bridget Anne Kelly (who was later publicly shamed for a “personal relationship” she had with another staff member). Chinese politician Bo Xilai last year blamed his “crazy” wife for embezzling government money and taking bribes (she was convicted in 2012 of murdering a British business associate). Newt Gingrich staffers blamed the collapse of his 2011 presidential campaign on a takeover by his wife Callista. And former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens blamed the $250,000 worth of home renovations from a wealthy oil contractor that led to federal corruption charges in 2008 on his wife Catherine (an investigation later found that prosecutors withheld evidence that would have helped Stevens, who lost his Senate seat and then died in a 2010 plane crash). None of these were explicitly sex scandals, but they were still spun as the woman’s fault.

Of course, the woman isn’t always blameless — for Stevens, at least, there might have been some truth to his claim that his wife paid the renovation bills and he might not have known about the thousands of dollars worth of gifts. And it’s possible that Maureen McDonnell did accept Williams’ money without her husband’s knowledge (although this picture of the governor driving Williams’ car makes that seem unlikely). Some lawyers say Bob McDonnell’s “crush” defense is so nutty it just might work, others say it could be the truth. But it’s still a mighty convenient tactic, and it’s not just used by men; Hillary Clinton was all too willing to blame Monica Lewinsky for the affair with Bill, even though Lewinsky was a young, inexperienced intern and Bill Clinton was the President of the United States.

The trend could be an unfortunate by-product of women’s rights: as women are seen as increasingly capable of succeeding, they’re also seen as increasingly capable of screwing up. For example, Mary Todd Lincoln was famous for overspending on White House decorations and falsifying spending records, but Lincoln didn’t try to blame any of his political woes on her (then again Honest Abe had bigger fish to fry).

There’s an old saying that says, “Behind every great man, there’s a great woman.” These days, it seems the inverse is also true: in front of every embarrassed man is an embarrassing woman.

TIME 2014 Election

Cantor Says He’ll Resign Before Term Ends

Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., left, arrives for a House Republican strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. J. Scott Applewhite—AP

The former House Majority Leader asked that a special election be held to expedite his replacement

Rather than finish out his full final term in Congress, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor will resign from Congress effective August 18, the Republican congressman said Thursday.

Cantor, whose term in office would have extended through a lame duck session until January of next year, asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to schedule a special election to be held on Election Day, November 4, to pick his replacement. With Cantor stepping down early, the winner of that special election will take Cantor’s old seat immediately rather than having to wait until the next Congress convenes to begin the new term.

“I want to make sure that the constituents in the Seventh District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “That way he will also have seniority, and that will help the interests of my constituents (because) he can be there in that consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor said.

A once-rising star in the GOP and likely next in line for Speaker of the House, Cantor’s political fortunes were reversed after his stunning defeat in a June GOP primary.

In the contest to take over Cantor’s seat, economics professor Dave Brat—who defeated Cantor for the GOP nomination in June—will square off against Democrat Jack Trammell. Both men are professors at the same school, Randolph-Macon College.

[Richmond Times-Dispatch]

TIME politics

Former Virginia Governor: My Dysfunctional Marriage Proves I’m Innocent

Bob McDonnell, Maureen McDonnell
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, accompanied by his wife, Maureen, speaks during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Jan. 21, 2014. Steve Helber—AP

Defense lawyers say the gov's wife accepted gifts because she had a crush on a political donor. Will the jury buy it? We asked the experts.

Lawyers for former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, argued Tuesday that the couple didn’t conspire to take over $165,000 in cash, shopping trips, and vacations from a wealthy donor, but instead only accepted the gifts because Mrs. McDonnell had a “crush” on the donor.

McDonnell, who left office in January, is accused of taking cash and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in return for help promoting his dietary supplement company. But the couple’s lawyers are arguing that the Maureen McDonnell let Williams pay for expensive shopping trips and vacations because she had a “crush” on the charismatic businessman, and was unhappy in her marriage to the Governor. “Unlike the other man in her life, Jonnie Williams paid attention to Maureen McDonnell,” her defense attorney William Burck said. The couple face over 20 years in prison if convicted on federal corruption charges.

But will a jury believe the “crush” defense? Some lawyers think they just might.

“I think it’s ingenious, and I think it may work,” says Solomon L. Wisenberg, a D.C. based white collar defense lawyer who served as deputy independent counsel to Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater-Lewinsky investigations. “It certainly doesn’t make either one of them look good, but that’s not the same thing as committing a crime.”

Wisenberg notes that the McDonnells had filed a motion to sever, which would have allowed the co-defendants to face separate charges, but that this motion was denied, which means they had to coordinate their defense arguments. “This allows them to have kind of a complementary defense without pointing fingers at each other, yet it helps him because she’s obviously the principle player, and she’s the first one who roped this guy in,” he says.

“This strikes me as a more atypical defense, but that doesn’t mean it’s a Hail Mary pass,” says Josh Bowers, a professor at University of Virginia Law School who specializes in criminal procedure. “It could very well be the truth, and sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.”

But is Maureen McDonnell falling on her sword to protect her husband? “She’s got a lot less room to maneuver than he does,” Wisenberg explains. Mrs. McDonnell would have frequent private meetings with Williams, one former staff member called him her “favorite playmate,” and the two allegedly exchanged over 1,200 texts and phone calls over two years. “What’s she gonna do, say ‘It’s all my husband?’ The facts don’t seem to support that. What are her options other than what she’s doing?” he adds. The defense team also argued that Mrs. McDonnell was never a public official, and so shouldn’t be held to the same standards as her husband.

Wisenberg also notes that it might have been a misstep for the prosecution to start off with testimony from the McDonnell’s daughter Cailin, whose wedding was partially funded through gifts from Williams. Cailin McDonnell Young cried on the stand when she testified Tuesday that Williams had footed the bill for the catering at her 2011 nupitals. Wisenberg says Cailin’s tears on the witness stand could bode well for the defense, since a crying young woman makes the prosecution look like bullies, especially since juries are more likely to remember what happens at the beginning and end of the trial. “She’s an attractive young female testifying about the wedding, asking for Kleenex,” he says. “If I’m on the defense, I’m doing high-fives under the table.”

MONEY Shopping

WATCH: Shop This Weekend and Escape the Sales Tax

Several states are suspending sales taxes to encourage shoppers to hit the stores.

TIME weather

Suspected Tornado Kills at Least 2 at Virginia Campground

Virginia Storm Tornado
A tractor trailer truck lies on its side in the median of U.S. Route 13 while a fire engine responds to a nearby campground after a severe storm passed through the area, Cheriton, Va, July 24, 2014. Jay Diem—Eastern Shore News/AP

Campers at Cape Charles, Va. have been tweeting photos from the scene

Update 12:11pm

At least two people were killed and 20 injured when a suspected tornado touched down at a Virginia campground Thursday morning, leaving overturned campers and injuries in its wake.

Corinne Geller, a spokesperson for the Virginia Police Department, confirmed that the weather event had left two dead. Earlier reports from a local fire department had said there were three fatalities.

“It came in real quick,” Easterville volunteer firefighter Brittney Eder told the AP. “The sky turned jet black.”

At 8:38 am, the National Weather Service tweeted out a tornado warning for the area. The twister hit the Cherrystone Campground, near Cape Charles, shortly before 9 am.

While the weather incident can’t be confirmed as a tornado until a storm survey team has assessed the campgrounds, NWS meteorologist Mike Rusnak says that based on the type of thunderstorm in the area and “from the pictures we’ve seen, we do think it was a tornado.”

Jordan Bertok was on the campgrounds with her family at the time of the storm and has been tweeting pictures of the devastation. “Just lived through a tornado,” she wrote. “Children are missing. People are dead. Trees are down.” Continuing with the message: “This is hell. I’m in hell.”

Betrok’s grandparents went in their car to take cover. They were hospitalized for injuries, although Betrok said that they are “doing well.”

Local media outlet WAVY-TV reported that six ambulances and a mass casualty truck arrived on the scene to assist the injured and help transport them to the hospital. The news source also reports that some boats were flipped in Oyster Bay, although it’s unknown whether they were occupied.

TIME justice

Police Say They Won’t Take Explicit Photos of Teen in Sexting Case

Following a wave of backlash.

Police in Virginia have backed away from a controversial plan to take sexually explicit photos of a 17-year-old to corroborate the images with evidence in a sexting case, the Associated Press reports.

The teen in question faces two felony charges in juvenile court for manufacturing and distributing child pornography after exchanging sexts with his then-15-year-old girlfriend. Police and prosecutors received a warrant to take the sexually explicit photos to compare against photos he allegedly sent.

But amid a wave of backlash, Manassas Police Lt. Brian Larkin told the AP Thursday that his department would not move forward with the plan and will let the search warrant expire. He did not give a specific reason.

A day earlier, the Manassas Police Department issued a statement saying it was not their policy to “authorize invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature.” That statement did not elaborate on whether the images would be taken.

[AP]

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