Arlington, Va. – A historic plantation originally built as a monument to George Washington overlooking the nation’s capital, a site that later was home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and 63 slaves, will be restored to its historical appearance after a $12.3 million gift announced Thursday.
David Rubenstein, a billionaire history buff and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, said he is giving the National Park Foundation the funds needed for a full restoration of the historic house, grounds and slave quarters to show visitors how they appeared in 1860, as well as an overhaul of the site’s museum exhibits. Rubenstein said the site crowns the most sacred land in the country, Arlington National Cemetery, but needed major repairs.
Arlington House, as it is known, was built between 1802 and 1818 by Washington’s step grandson, George Washington Parke Custis and his slaves on a hilltop overlooking the new capital city and the Potomac River. Lee later married into the family, and it became his family’s plantation estate.
After the war, the area became a community for emancipated slaves, and Union troops began burying their war dead on the grounds, in part to prevent Lee from returning. It eventually became Arlington National Cemetery, the burial site for many soldiers as well as President John F. Kennedy.
Florida judge strikes down ban on gay marriage
Miami – A judge ruled that gays can marry in Florida’s most gay-friendly county, siding Thursday with same-sex couples in the Florida Keys who challenged a voter-approved ban as discriminatory. But an immediate state appeal quickly silenced their wedding bells.
Circuit Judge Luis Garcia said same-sex couples could get marriage licenses as early as Tuesday in Monroe County, but Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi said the voters’ will must be respected. An overwhelming majority approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 that defines marriage as a union solely between one man and one woman. Her notice of appeal creates an automatic stay that prevents any same-sex marriage licenses from being issued, her office said.
Manning will remain in military corrections facility
Washington – The Bureau of Prisons has rejected the Army’s request to accept the transfer of national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to a civilian facility where she could get better treatment for her gender-identify condition. The military will instead begin the initial treatment for her.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved the Army’s recommendation to keep Manning in military custody and start a rudimentary level of gender treatment, a defense official said Thursday. The initial gender treatments could include allowing Manning to wear some female undergarments and also possibly provide some hormone treatments.
The decision raises a number of questions about what level of treatment Manning will be able to get and at what point the private would have to be transferred from the all-male prison to a female facility.
Manning has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man’s body. Civilian prisons can provide treatment, and the Defense Department has argued repeatedly that it doesn’t have the medical expertise needed. As a result, the Army tried to work out a plan to transfer Manning to a federal prison.
Officials said Thursday that federal authorities refused the proposal.
Commuter train robbers’ photos released
Chicago – Chicago police have released the photographs of two men who allegedly boarded a train coming from Midway International Airport, pulled out guns and robbed passengers of their wallets, phones and jewelry as it rolled into downtown Wednesday afternoon.
The photographs show the men leaving the Roosevelt station near the time of a robbery that occurred on the Orange Line between the Halsted and Roosevelt statisuons.
Police said one woman suffered minor injuries when one of the men struck her in the head with a gun after she refused to hand over her purse.
Lt. Ozzie Valdez said Thursday that some video and interviews with witnesses have led authorities to believe the two men boarded the train just southwest of downtown Chicago, brandished their weapons and loudly announced that they were robbing the people on the train, before going from person to person.
Valdez, who called the robbery an “isolated incident,” said he is confident that the release of the photographs will help police quickly arrest the suspects, though none have been identified yet. He also said detectives were still reviewing surveillance video from the train and the platforms.