1. News

Making history, trans woman Roem defeats anti-LGBTQ lawmaker in Va.; more in U.S. news


Making history, trans woman Roem defeats anti-LGBTQ lawmaker in Va.

A transgender woman unseated one of Virginia's longest serving and most socially conservative lawmakers Tuesday and is set to make history as the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature. Democrat Danica Roem, a newspaper reporter, defeated Republican Del. Bob Marshall, who had served since 1992. During her campaign, Roem focused on jobs, schools and northern Virginia's traffic congestion. Earlier this year, Marshall sponsored a measure to restrict the restrooms transgender people can use. He also is the author of a now-void constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between one man and one woman and sponsored a bill banning gay people from serving in the Virginia National Guard. Marshall and other Republicans repeatedly misgendered Roem, and Marshall refused to debate her. Roem said she learned to listen to different perspectives and digest complicated policy as a reporter. In her spare time, she sings in a metal band.

• Democrat Andrea Jenkins was elected as the first openly trans person to a major city's city council, according to Victory Fund, and the first openly trans woman of color elected to any U.S. office. Minneapolis residents of Ward 8 voted for her.

• Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie to become Virginia's governor. Gillespie tried to rally Trump's supporters with hard-edge attack ads on illegal immigration and preserving Confederate statues.

• In New Jersey, front-running Democrat Phil Murphy overcame Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to succeed unpopular Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

• Democrat Chris Hurst — a former news anchor and partner of journalist Alison Parker, who was slain on air in 2015 — defeated GOP incumbent Joseph Yost for a Virginia statehouse seat. Gun-control groups backed Hurst; Yost had NRA support.


Man proud of daughter's attempt to shield kids in church shooting

Bob Lookingbill thought he couldn't get any more proud of how his daughter lived her life. Then he found out how she died. He said Joann Ward shoved her oldest daughter, Rihanna, into a corner and fell on top of her three youngest to shield them. "She wouldn't want to remain in this world without her children," Lookingbill said. Ward was one of 26 people who were fatally shot by Devin P. Kelley on Sunday at Sutherland Springs' First Baptist Church. Emily, 7, and Brooke, 5, died in their mother's arms. Ryland was shot in his stomach, groin and arm and "faces a long, long recovery and numerous surgeries," Lookingbill said. Asked how a little boy moves forward, his grandfather paused. "No idea," Lookingbill said, holding back tears. Joann's husband, Chris Ward, was not at the church. Lookingbill said Rihanna is offering glimpses into their loved ones' final moments as her memories trickle in. They don't ask questions, he said, they just let the little girl talk. "She saw her little brother's arm fly apart," he said. "What happened hasn't hit her and probably won't until the funeral." Rihanna told her family and the FBI that after her mother shoved her away, a second woman shielded her before that woman was cut down. A man managed to pull Rihanna to safety. Lookingbill said Rihanna told relatives Kelley appeared to target Ward with extra bullets when he realized she was shielding her children.

Church gunman once escaped from mental health center

The gunman who carried out the massacre of 26 people at a small-town Texas church briefly escaped from a mental health center in New Mexico in 2012 and got in trouble for bringing guns onto a military base and threatening his superiors there, police reports indicate. Devin P. Kelley also was named as a suspect in a 2013 sexual assault in his hometown of New Braunfels. Authorities are looking into whether they mishandled that investigation. An official said it appears deputies investigated the case for three months but stopped after they believed Kelley moved to Colorado. The local district attorney says the case was never presented to her. The records that emerged Tuesday add up to at least three missed opportunities that might have offered law enforcement a way to stop Kelley from having access to guns long before he slaughtered much of the congregation in the middle of a Sunday service. Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased by bystanders and crashed his car. The Air Force confirmed Tuesday that Kelley had been treated in the facility after he was placed under pretrial confinement stemming from a court-martial on charges that he assaulted his spouse and hit her child hard enough to fracture the boy's skull. Involuntary commitment to a mental institution would have been grounds to deny him a weapon provided that records of his confinement were submitted to the federal database used to conduct background checks on people who try to purchase guns.


Twitter doubles character limit
to 280 for (nearly) everyone

Twitter is ending its iconic 140-character limit — and giving nearly everyone 280 characters. Users tweeting in Chinese, Japanese and Korean will still have the original limit because writing in those languages uses fewer characters. The company says 9 percent of tweets written in English hit the 140-character limit. Twitter hopes the expanded limit will get more people tweeting more, helping its lackluster user growth. The company has been slowly easing restrictions to let people cram more characters into a tweet by not counting polls, photos, videos and more toward the limit. Some users were quick to say they didn't want more characters, but rather for the site to handle widespread harassment and propaganda from Nazis and others. — tbt* wires