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Blue Ridge Leader News – October 31, 2010

October 31, 2010 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Tim Jon with BRLN No Comments
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Check your Bags

We’ve been watching the planes coming into Dulles Airport with a more wary eye over the past several days; despite questionable inspection practices in some foreign countries, officials have reported no suspicious packages arriving at the local hub for a healthy number of international flights. The Metro Airport Authority announced an all-clear, as it were, at Reagan National, BWI and Dulles, the latter being the preliminary long haul hub for the Washington Metro Region.

One thing’s pretty clear: we can’t just rely on luck and the good nature of strangers to keep our cargo planes safe; I heard someone say that if we can put a man on the Moon, we should be able to inspect packages on airplanes.

Or, should we?

The Low Road

And, the story which got lost in this week’s security concerns in the eastern US and overseas, we find that the suspected terrorist from Ashburn remains in custody. Authorities believe Farook Ahmed took part in planning an attack on metro stations in the region; he didn’t find out until too late (for him) that his ‘partners’ in this worked for the FBI.

Agents got into the act when they discovered that Ahmed had made statements about waging jihad overseas.

The FBI investigation dates back to April, and Ahmed was arrested this past Wednesday.

He’ll most likely spend about 50 years behind bars for all this; that would put the would-be terrorist into his mid-80’s upon release.

Let’s hope it’s a better world when he emerges.

Officials stressed that the public was never in any danger during the surveillance period; I’d have to wage a guess that the metro riders felt just a little less comfortable in their seats following Ahmed’s arrest.

Choose Carefully, and Often

So, you’re all ready to vote on Tuesday, having double-checked your ballot location and studied the races which affect your area. Bully for you.

Not everybody has, as we’ll find out with the voter turnout numbers after reading the returns.

It’s been a fairly loud campaign season on the national level, so it’ll be interesting to see how many turn out on the local level for what appears as a pretty ‘small’ ballot.

We told you last week that the big race for Loudoun County comes in deciding on the 10th District Congressional seat.

Perennial Incumbent, Republican Frank Wolf faces challenges from Democrat Jeff Barnett and Libertarian Bill Redpath.

Frank’s been in office since 1980; some see this as a strength, others try to use it as a point of contention.

He’s beaten every challenge since gaining the seat; not many remember that he lost his first two attempts for the Office, but he hung in there.

Those who head to the polls on Tuesday can expect to see some constitutional amendments on the ballot: the first two concern tax relief for wounded veterans and for the elderly.

The third asks permission to set up a state-level rainy day fund in the event of an economic downturn.

They all sound like pretty good ideas, and if you’d like to find out more, you know where to look.

There’s also a school bond question to round out the decisions.

Voters in Hillsboro elect Mayor and Town Council on Tuesday as well.

Oh, voters in Leesburg can expect to be asked to sign a petition to attempt to get their Town Council Elections moved from the spring to the fall. This is an item of some controversy: supporters say they can get bigger turnouts by moving the local elections to November; detractors say that the Council races would get lost in all the other campaign season hoopla, and that this is a ploy to turn the Town elections into a partisan event.

I will say that it’d get mighty confusing to follow in years of Supervisor Elections. Hey- I’m just sayin.’

So, you’re ready for Tuesday, right?

“More Four Years!”

The local school board’s already made an important decision about next year’s elections. They voted this week to back off of a motion to go with staggered terms on their panel.

This has been a topic of some discussion over the past year- among both the school board and County Supervisors; so far, neither group has gone all the way with the idea.

Some say staggered terms (electing roughly half of the governing body every two years, instead of the whole group every four years) would bring more continuity to the process, and allow for more ‘corporate knowledge’ to trickle down to newcomers.

Others believe that doing this would distract and confuse the voters.

Distraction and confusion- in Loudoun County- who would ever guess?

Million Dollar Lady

Why would a highly-paid Hollywood actress come to Loudoun County to promote a movie? Well, I guess you’d have to ask yourself why Hillary Swank agreed to take the lead role in Conviction in the first place.

The story concerns a wrongfully-convicted felon and his sister, who frees him after an 18 year legal struggle.

She appeared at Prison Fellowship Ministries in Lansdowne this week, for a screening of the film; the Oscar-winner even took questions from the local audience.

Her support lends quite a bit of clout to the plight of individuals convicted of crimes for which they claim innocence.

Now, the cliché in prison is that nobody’s guilty and every prisoner got railroaded.

Well, not every felon can prove their innocence, and in the case of Conviction, I guess they had their facts straight.

I give Swank a lot of credit for choosing all of her roles based on human interest, rather than Hollywood sexiness, or whatever you call that schmaltzy stuff they try to sell out there.

Not that she’s hard to look at.

The part of Betty Ann Waters is just one more great character in her growing arsenal of very respectable work.

I’m glad she stopped by.

You, too.


Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader

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