Chelsea Manning supporters demand her release from solitary

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Supporters of Chelsea Manning have called for her release from prolonged solitary confinement at a Virginia jail, but an official disputes that she’s being held in those conditions.

Former Army intelligence analyst Manning was sent to jail March 8 for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She served years in prison for leaking troves of classified U.S. documents.

The Chelsea Resists group says in a Saturday news release that Manning “has been kept in her cell for 22 hours a day. This treatment qualifies as Solitary Confinement.”

Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne says in a statement that the group’s accusations “are not accurate or fair.” The sheriff says the facility does not have solitary confinement but uses “administrative segregation” and inmates have access to visits, books and recreation.

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12 spring festivals, events in DC area

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So long, snow. Hello, spring.

Here are 12 events — celebrating everything from flowers to food — to ring in a warmer season.

National Cherry Blossom Festival 
March 20- April 14

The near-monthlong festival in the nation’s capital features many individual events, including the Blossom Kite Festival on March 30 and the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 13.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Anacostia River Festival 
Sunday, April 14, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

The Anacostia River Festival, now in its fifth year, encourages recreation along the Anacostia River with canoe rides, a bike parade, lawn games and more. This year’s festival is the official closing event of the 2019 National Cherry Blossom Festival.

(WTOP File Photo)

DC Beer Festival
April 20; noon-3 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

Celebrate the best of regional and national beers at the annual DC Beer Festival at Nationals Park. This year’s event will include pours of 200 beers from 80 breweries, plus bites from local food trucks.

(AP/Seth Wenig)

Spring Azalea Tours at the National Arboretum 
April 19, 24, 26, 29, and May 12 

It’s not all about the cherry blossoms this time of year in D.C. The azaleas are also blooming, and you can catch them in peak perfection at the National Arboretum.

(AP/David J. Phillip)

The National Cathedral Flower Mart
May 3 and 4

A signature spring event in D.C., the annual Flower Mart at the National Cathedral showcases flowers, food and plenty of family activities, including an antique carousel.

(Photo courtesy All Hallows Guild)

Around the World Embassy Tour 
May 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Travel the world, no passport required. The Around the World Embassy Tour allows the public access into many of the embassies located in D.C. Experience global food, culture, music and more.

(WTOP/Rachel Nania)

National Food & Wine Festival
May 4 and 5 

This year marks the 10th annual Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor. Attend a cooking exhibit, learn all about wine pairings, and taste chef-prepared dishes.

(AP/Chris Tilley)

Maryland Craft Beer Festival
May 11, noon to 5 p.m.

The Maryland Craft Beer Festival celebrates 40-plus Maryland breweries (including some that aren’t even open to the public). Live music, food and other activities are also promised.

(Getty Images)

DC Bike Ride 
Saturday, May 18

Pedal through 20 miles of D.C.’s most scenic streets without a single car in sight at the annual DC Bike Ride. This event is less about racing and more about recreation.

(Courtesy DC Bike Ride)

Mount Vernon Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour 
May 17-19 

Sample Virginia wines and take in the views from the residence of the county’s first president along the Potomac River. There’s also live music and tours. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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Woman with gun arrested after dance competition at school

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Richmond police have arrested a woman who allegedly pulled out a gun during a fight after a dance competition at a local high school in Richmond, Virginia.

News outlets reported that police responded to Huguenot High School Saturday night and encountered a fight among participants in a dance competition that had recently ended. Police broke up the fight and arrested the woman with the gun.

Several people received minor injuries during the fight. One person was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

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State police special agent convicted of bribery, obstruction

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ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A Virginia State Police special agent accused of having inappropriate relationships with women who were confidential informants has been convicted of federal charges.

News outlets report that Shade Workman was convicted Friday of bribery, obstruction of justice and making a false statement to the FBI.

Workman was acquitted of a second obstruction charge and using a telephone to commit a federal crime.

Prosecutors told the jury that whenever one of the informants began to waver about having sex with him, Workman would respond by saying it would “suck to go to jail and lose your children.”

Workman’s defense attorney told the jury that prosecutors brought people into court who did not like Workman and did not paint a fair picture of him.

Workman’s sentencing is scheduled for June 11.

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Virginia police officer charged with soliciting a minor

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) — A Virginia police officer has been charged with soliciting a minor online for sex.

The Chesterfield County patrol officer was arrested Friday, just four days after another county officer was suspended for his alleged affiliation with a white supremacist organization.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Officer Simeon Isaiah Crispin Steers-Smith of Richmond was charged with three counts of using a communications system to “facilitate certain offenses involving children.”

Police Chief Jeffrey Katz said department personnel are angry and “reeling with sadness and frustration.”

Katz said the officer is alleged to have made an online solicitation to a task force officer posing as a minor. He has worked for the department since May 2017.

Katz said he has recommended the termination of another officer for alleged activities with a white supremacist group.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.richmond.com

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AAA asks Virginia to give handheld cellphone ban another try

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A proposal to ban Virginia motorists from holding cellphones while driving may get a second chance.

One bill died during this year’s legislative session. But AAA has asked Gov. Ralph Northam to amend another bill to include the ban.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that AAA is calling on Northam to amend a bill that would bar drivers from holding a cellphone while driving in a highway work zone. That bill cleared the legislature. AAA wants the legislation to apply to driving on any road.

Northam has a midnight Tuesday deadline to sign, veto or seek to amend the bill. The legislature will return April 3 to take up Northam’s vetoes and amendments.

State law already makes it illegal to text or email on a cellphone while driving.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.richmond.com

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Fairfax Co. gymnastics coach arrested for sexual relationship with teen

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A gymnastics coach in Fairfax County was arrested on Friday and faces several charges related to what police call an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with a teenage girl.

Capital Gymnastics National Training Center coach Aryan Mazloum-Yazdi, 28, was charged with five counts of taking indecent liberties with a child and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a child.

The Burke gym said in a Saturday statement that gym instructors are prohibited from having contact with athletes outside the gym and that Mazloum-Yazdi will not longer be employed at Capital Gymnastics.

Fairfax County police said an investigation into Mazloum-Yazdi was opened earlier this month. The investigation led to the Friday arrest at Mazloum-Yazdi’s Manassas home.

Parents who are concerned their children may have had an inappropriate relationship with Mazloum-Yazdi should contact their major crimes bureau at 703-246-7845.

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