Update at 11:20 p.m. — The National Weather Service confirms that an EF-0 tornado tracked through Arlington and into the District on Thursday.
Earlier: The storms that whipped through Arlington and the D.C. region yesterday brought power outages and damage, and more trees toppled today, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.
Trees are still coming down today. Please be careful. Pic of tree into a house on N Yucatan. One patient being treated for minor injuries. pic.twitter.com/7r3JTREg1c
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) April 7, 2017
But now the Capital Weather Gang believes the storms caused something else: a rare tornado in Arlington.
As CWG reported, the National Weather Service officially confirmed tornadoes in Herndon and in Southeast D.C. on Thursday. But the CWG team lists several other areas where they believe small tornadoes may have touched down, including in South Arlington near the Pentagon.
Radar indicated rotation there around 1:40 p.m., as noted on Twitter by weather enthusiast Ian Livingston.
And near the Pentagon. pic.twitter.com/dGjCO3hXfe
— Ian Livingston (@islivingston) April 6, 2017
Photographic evidence of damage near the Army Navy Country Club is consistent with tornadic activity, according to CWG. That’s also close to where one person was hurt when part of the Macy’s facade and roof at the Pentagon City mall was damaged and fell onto a car yesterday.
The National Weather Service reportedly is assessing damage near the Tidal Basin to determine if a tornado occurred there and along the H Street Corridor; the same storm caused the Arlington circulation. The Capital Weather Gang indicates the possible Arlington tornado may have been a separate occurrence from the one at the Tidal Basin, or that one tornado may have passed over the entire area in question.
President Trump’s first budget proposal and its ramped-up defense spending could help Arlington’s economy, according to experts, but local lawmakers worry that cuts elsewhere in the federal government could hurt.
Trump’s budget blueprint for fiscal 2018, entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” calls for $54 billion in additional defense spending.
The budget plan would cut federal funding to a swath of programs to help offset the increased defense spending, including a number that help lower-income residents.
That would likely mean a spending boon at the Pentagon, which has approximately 25,000 military and civilian occupants daily.
In addition, defense contractors based in the county could see more work go their way, as well as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an Arlington-based Department of Defense agency.
Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, added that DARPA work can be just as lucrative. DARPA “often subcontracts up to $7 for every dollar spent in house,” Shafroth said.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said the effects of decreased defense spending under President Obama, the result of the federal budget sequester, must be tackled but not in this way.
“We should be serious about addressing the fiscal issues in our country and work together to address the impact that the across-the-board spending cuts have had on the military and our national security,” Warner said in a statement. “However, the roadmap the President has laid out does not meet those goals.”
Of concern in Arlington is reduced spending on the State Department, which operates three D.C.-area field offices in Arlington. Trump’s plan would cut $10.1 billion from State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. That cut could force the closure or downsizing of those field offices, which handle security and investigations among other roles.
“Budgets show us a President’s priorities, and based on what President Trump released today, I’m concerned that he’s continuing to push policies that would hurt Virginians,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement last week. “While I support the Administration’s commitment to investments in defense, deep cuts to the State Department jeopardize our national security.”
“President Trump wants to spend more on defense and border security while making huge cuts to what they defend: our people, our health, and our environment,” he said. “These extreme cuts will hit my constituents particularly hard, including many federal workers at the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency. But their pain will be felt across the entire country.”
Any gains on the defense side may be offset by losses elsewhere, as Trump’s budget plan seeks to shrink the federal workforce. With a hiring freeze already in place, further cuts could be coming.
Analysis by the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at GMU found that Northern Virginia could lose as many as 3,600 federal jobs, under the assumption that between 5.4 and 6.6 percent of all federal jobs in the region are lost.
And the analysis found that any gains in DoD and other departments may not be enough to lessen the impact of losses elsewhere.
Despite others’ gloomy predictions, Shafroth said he is optimistic that Arlington can weather any storms, given how central it is in defense spending.
“On net, especially given the serious situation with North Korea, I believe there will be major job disruption, but, at the end of the day the county’s critical role in national defense and the very large increase in federal spending will lead to disruption, but close to a net overall wash,” he said.
Flickr pool photo (top) by Michael Coffman
Metro Station Manager Arrested — A Metro station manager at the Pentagon has been arrested and charged with assaulting a fellow employee. The fight happened Wednesday afternoon inside the station manager’s kiosk, police say. [Washington Post]
Yorktown Grad’s Music Video Goes Viral — Budding hip-hop artist Hovey Benjamin has tallied nearly 1.5 million YouTube views of his new, NSFW music video. Benjamin lived in Arlington and attended Yorktown High School and Virginia Commonwealth University before moving to Los Angeles and signing a record deal. [Real House Life of Arlington, Uproxx]
New Condo and Townhouse Sales Center — Sponsored — Learn about all of the newest and most well-appointed properties in Arlington and DC without the hassle of finding all the information for yourself. Stop by the Sales Center this Sunday from 2-4 p.m. to learn about amenities, features, floor plans, fees, available units, and everything else you could ever want to know about all the condo buildings in the area. Located at 1600 Wilson Blvd. [Keri Shull Team]
Dozens of Arlington Runners Competing in Boston — Seventy-six Arlington runners will be shipping up to Boston next month for the Boston Marathon, one of the sport’s most prestigious races. The field includes local running superstar Michael Wardian, who is also competing in this weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon. [InsideNova]
CERT Training Still Open — A few spaces are still available in Arlington’s Community Emergency Response Team spring training class. The eight-session, 26-hour course begins next week. [Arlington CERT]
Library Exhibit on Baltic WW2 Refugees — Arlington Public Library is hosting an exhibit through April 17 on Baltic refugees from World War II. “‘No Home To Go To’ is the story of people living in refugee camps and finding a home in a new land, as told through their memories, documents, photographs, and memorabilia,” according to the library website. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
‘Day Without Immigrants’ Hits DoD Food Court — Yesterday’s “Day Without Immigrants” strike resulted in multiple restaurants being closed in the Pentagon food court and long lines at the restaurants that remained open. [Fox News]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) A vehicle ran off the side of an I-395 overpass last night and landed on S. Rotary Road at S. Eads Street, a main entrance to the Pentagon reservation.
Once freed, the driver was transported to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital for “further evaluation,” according to ACFD.
The vehicle — described as a hatchback or hybrid SUV — was heavily damaged in the 25-50 foot fall from the highway to the roadway below. It also took out a “large light pole” on the way down, according to a fire department Facebook post.
No other vehicles were reported to be involved.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) February 15, 2017
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) February 15, 2017
Courtesy photo (top), photo (middle) via Google Maps
Renderings of the planned 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center are up at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.
The renderings, located next to the elevator bank in the food court area, show the vision for the gleaming center, with a wall of glass allowing visitors to see the side of the Pentagon that was struck by Flight 77 on 9/11/2001.
The visitor center is set to be built within the highway cloverleaf at the junction of Columbia Pike and Washington Blvd, within easy walking distance of the existing Pentagon Memorial.
At last check, the visitor center was expected to be built by 2020.
The mall display encourages shoppers to donate to the project. The Pentagon Memorial Fund is asking for special individual donation of $90.11 to help build the center.
More on the project, from the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial website:
The Pentagon is the only 9/11 attack site without a visitor center or museum to explain the historic significance of the site. Among the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Memorial each year, few know that this memorial is different from all others in Washington, DC in that it is located where the event took place. Research showed that there is a unique teachable moment at the Memorial to explain the events on 9/11; the stories of the victims and heroes; the role of the Department of Defense and Pentagon; and how the United States and governments around the world are working to help prevent another 9/11.
With the guidance of the project’s official education partner, National Geographic, the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center’s interactive exhibits and education programs will give visitors a sense of the broad impact of the tragedy from a variety of perspectives. Stories of the courage and resilient spirit demonstrated by Pentagon employees, first responders and residents of the area will be shared throughout the exhibits…
There will be a multi-media interactive exhibit space, a Children’s Education Area, a Reflection Area, conference and meeting rooms, an Auditorium, and a Sky Terrace.
The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center site is in a dramatic location, right where the attack of 9/11 took place and adjacent to the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and Air Force Memorial. Its orientation corresponds to the path of Flight 77. This thoughtful arrangement creates a powerful backdrop to heighten the experience for visitors as they arrive at the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center.
Average Lifespan in Arlington — Arlington and Fairfax county residents have a higher average lifespan than residents of D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, according to newly-released data. The average life expectancy in Arlington and Fairfax is 86, compared to a nationwide average of 78. [Washington Post]
Protesters Arrested Outside Pentagon — A total of 21 demonstrators were arrested during an anti-war protest outside of the Pentagon yesterday. According to Pentagon police, those who were arrested were attempting to block an employee entrance near the Pentagon transit center. [Patch]
African American History Book — Updated at 7 p.m. — Arlington County’s Historic Preservation Program has published a new, 59-page book about the history of African Americans in Arlington. The book includes the history of Calloway Cemetery. Since 1891 the cemetery, along Lee Highway, “has been the burial site for dozens of African Americans, including a slave who fought in the Union Army.” [WJLA]
Wardian’s Berlin Marathon Performance — Arlington resident Michael Wardian, 42, ran the Berlin Marathon over the weekend in 2:28:19. Wardian is currently on pace to run all five 2016 World Marathon Majors faster than anyone in history. [Twitter, Competitor]
Theater: ‘Man of La Mancha’ — The Arlington Players performance of ‘Man of La Mancha’ was “filled with exceptional performances and is quite inspiring,” writes a reviewer. “Don’t miss it.” The one-act performance is two hours with no intermission. [DC Metro Theater Arts, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The shots were fired during a fight between two groups outside the Doubletree hotel on Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City.
No one was hurt and so far no arrests have been made, according to police.
From the crime report:
DISCHARGE OF A FIREARM, 160925005, 300 block of S. Army Navy Drive. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on September 25, police were dispatched to the report of shots fired. The investigation revealed a physical confrontation between two groups had ensued and one male subject discharged a firearm several times into the air. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6’2″ tall and wearing a black cap, light blue shirt, and blue jeans. There were no injuries reported.
The Arlington County Board is expected to approve $555,000 in interior upgrades to the Aurora Hills Community Center and Library at its meeting this weekend.
The low-slung building, located at 735 18th Street S., near Pentagon City, houses both a library and a senior center. In explaining the need for upgrades, county staff said the center is “an aging facility.”
“The proposed renovation includes demolition of existing and construction of new office, storage rooms, kitchen, new ADA bathrooms, receptionist desk, circulation desk, new floor finishes, additional electrical and mechanical system upgrade,” county staff wrote. “The work will also include the restoration or repair of ceilings and walls in areas that are impacted by this interior renovation.”
Some programs at Aurora Hills will be moved to the Gunston Community Center during construction. The renovations were originally set to take place a bit later than currently scheduled, but were “accelerated” by the County Board, staff say.
The county staff report hints that the Aurora Hills center may eventually be torn down to make way for a new elementary school.
“The site was also identified during the Arlington Public Schools’ South Arlington Working Group process as a possible site for redevelopment in conjunction with Schools;” says the report. “The proposed improvements will provide operational and program value for a number of years until such time that the County and Schools choose to pursue a redevelopment.”
Remembering 9/11 at the Pentagon — President Obama attended a memorial service at the Pentagon Sunday morning. Some 800 friends and family members of victims of the Pentagon attacks were in attendance at the private 15th anniversary event. [Los Angeles Times, NBC 4]
Arlington Remembers 9/11 — Local remembrance ceremonies were held in Arlington for the 9/11 anniversary, including an annual wreath-laying ceremony outside county government headquarters at Courthouse Square and, on Saturday, an event at Fire Station No. 5, the closest Arlington County fire station to the Pentagon — whose firefighters were among the first to arrive on scene at the burning Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The latter event featured crew members of the USS Arlington. [Facebook, InsideNova]
Arlington Has Priciest Homes in N. Va. — The median sales price of homes in Arlington is $453 per square foot. That’s the highest in Northern Virginia. Falls Church is second-highest, at $417 per square foot. [Falls Church News-Press]
Note About Morning Notes — You might notice that the URL of this post is /morning-notes-1500/, reflecting that this is the 1,500th post published with the headline “Morning Notes.” Technically, however, this is Morning Notes post No. 1,515. About 1 percent of the time we either press publish before filling out the headline or have a slight misspelling (it’s the first post we publish in the morning, c’mon) — even though the error is quickly corrected, the erroneous URL has to stay as-is.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Emergency Exercise at the Pentagon — The Arlington County Fire Department will be joining other agencies for an full-scale training exercise at the Pentagon today. The simulated helicopter crash and mass casualty response exercise will take place at the Pentagon heliport along Washington Blvd from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. [WTOP]
Police Warn of IRS Scam Calls — Scammers posing as local law enforcement officers or IRS agents have been phoning Arlington residents recently. “These individuals accuse the victims of owing money to the IRS which must be paid immediately using iTunes gift cards, or other means,” according to a press release. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity as the non-emergency police line.” [Arlington County]
New Ad Displays Coming to Metro Stations — The Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations will be getting new digital displays that will play video advertisements targeted at transit riders. [Borderstan]
Rental House Includes Tiki Bar — A listing for a rental home in the Ashton Heights neighborhood includes a “new tiki bar” in the backyard and off-street parking for four cars. The 4 BR / 3 BA home is listed for $4,500 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington, Zillow]
Actress to Campaign for Hillary In Arlington — Bellamy Young, who plays the First Lady on ABC’s “Scandal,” will stop by Hillary Clinton’s Arlington field office in Dominion Hills next Saturday morning, as part of a series of campaign events in Northern Virginia.
NAACP Wants War Memorial Plaque Changed — The Arlington chapter of the NAACP wants a plaque on the war memorial in Clarendon updated. The plaque lists Arlingtonians killed in World War I, but separates two “colored” military members from the rest of the local war dead. The NAACP says it would like to get the plaque removed and replaced. “We owe it to those who fought and died,” said local NAACP president Karen Nightengale. [InsideNova]
Two Restaurant Chains Coming to Arlington — Two regional franchise operators have signed agreements that will bring two expanding restaurant chains to Arlington. A former Domino’s Pizza franchisee is planning to open an Arlington location of Wisconsin-based Toppers Pizza, in addition to locations elsewhere in Northern Virginia. Meanwhile a Five Guys franchisee says it will be opening 10 Newk’s Eatery locations in Arlington and Fairfax counties. The Mississippi-based soup, salad, sandwich and pizza chain is big in the Southeast U.S., with more than 100 locations in 13 states and an aggressive expansion plan. [WTOP, Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Hotels Hacked — Two Arlington hotels have reportedly had their payment systems compromised by hackers. HEI Hotels and Resorts says malware was found on its systems at 20 hotels, including the Le Meridien in Rosslyn and the Sheraton Pentagon City on Columbia Pike. The hack potentially exposed the credit card information of hotel guests and customers. [Associated Press]
Pokemon Go at the Pentagon — Department of Defense officials have put the kibosh on DoD employees playing Pokemon Go on government phones, citing concerns about the game tracking the movement of its employees. The DoD has also reportedly told Pentagon employees to only play the game outside of the building. A Pokemon “gym” inside the Pentagon has been removed. [The Guardian, Twitter]
Bethesda Man Bought $1 Million Lottery Ticket in Arlington — The $1 million-winning Powerball ticket that was sold at a Ballston 7-Eleven store last month was sold to a Bethesda resident. Larry Elpiner says he plans to “share his winnings with family and friends,” in addition to paying for his daughter’s college education. [WUSA 9]
Photo courtesy Noah Kaufman
With the smartphone game Pokemon Go achieving unprecedented popularity, some of the geographic locations of “PokeStops” — the real-world places where the game spawns new Pokemon for players to catch — are coming into question.
As ARLnow.com first reported yesterday, Arlington National Cemetery has asked visitors to refrain from playing the game, after several people were spotted playing at the cemetery and called out on social media. (Some of the graves themselves are PokeStops.)
That followed reports of people playing at the Holocaust Museum, where officials say they’re asking the game maker to remove the museum as a PokeStop.
In addition to the cemetery, there’s another potentially inappropriate PokeStop in Arlington. As a Twitter user pointed out yesterday evening, a marker at the Pentagon that serves as a memorial to the children who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks is a designated PokeStop.
— LucyVanPelt (@LucyAppa) July 12, 2016
The center of the Pentagon is also a Pokemon “gym,” though that seems to raise more questions about Pentagon employees playing the game at work than it raises questions of appropriateness.
No word yet on whether game developer Niantic Labs plans to eventually remove “inappropriate” PokeStops like the Holocaust Museum or the Sept. 11 children’s marker. Such locations in the game were actually originally geotagged by users of another Niantic Labs game called Ingress.
A 25-year-old man from Burke, Virginia took photos of various landmarks in Arlington and D.C. for inclusion in a video that would encourage “lone wolf” terrorist attacks, according to federal prosecutors.
Haris Qamar has been charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL or ISIS. He’s due in federal court in Alexandria this afternoon.
According to a press release, below, the Pentagon was among the targets suggested by Qamar, who had been previously tried to join ISIS but was prevented from doing so because his father took his passport.
Haris Qamar, 25, of Burke, was arrested this morning on charges of attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Qamar is scheduled to have his initial appearance today in front of Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson at 2 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Alexandria.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, on May 26, Qamar and FBI confidential witness (CW) discussed ISIL’s need of photos of possible targets in and around Washington, D.C., for use in a video that ISIL was purportedly making to encourage lone wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C., area. Qamar allegedly offered CW ideas of where to take these photographs, including the Pentagon and numerous landmarks in Arlington and Washington, D.C., which could be targeted for terrorist attacks. On June 3, a conversation was audio and video recorded when CW picked up Qamar in a vehicle and they drove to area landmarks on the list Qamar had developed. Qamar allegedly said “bye bye DC, stupid ass kufar, kill’em all”. Qamar and CW met again on June 10 and drove to a location in Arlington to take additional photos for the ISIL video.
The FBI first learned of Qamar as he operated over 60 variations of the Twitter handle “newerajihadi”, which Qamar used to express his support of ISIL and share videos and photos of extreme violence, including beheadings and mass shootings. For example, after terrorists murdered employees of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January 2015, Qamar tweeted his prayer for another similar attack with even more casualties.
According to the allegations, during numerous conversations with CW, Qamar expressed his interest and excitement in the extreme violence ISIL is known for. Qamar said he loved the bodies, blood and beheadings, and he recalled watching a video of a Kurdish individual being slaughtered, and liked the cracking sound made when the individual’s spinal cord was torn. On several occasions Qamar allegedly said he could slaughter someone and described how he would do it. Qamar also stated that he admired lone wolf attackers because they love Islam so much that they are willing to die as martyrs for Islam and in the same conversation, Qamar and CW allegedly discussed suicide bombings. CW said that he did not believe in suicide bombings, but Qamar allegedly responded “I believe in it 100 percent.”
On Sept. 11, 2015, terrorists connected with ISIL posted a “kill list” to the internet containing the names and addresses of U.S. military members. A few days later, Qamar allegedly told CW that the residences of several service members who appeared on the “kill list” were near Qamar’s own home, and that Qamar had observed undercover police cars near those residences. According to the affidavit, on Sept. 16, 2015, Qamar tweeted his prayer that Allah “give strength to the mujahideen to slaughter every single US military officer.”
Additionally, the affidavit alleges that on Sept. 25, 2015, Qamar told CW that he tried to join the ISIL in 2014, but that his parents prevented him from going by controlling his passport. Qamar allegedly said that his parents threatened to notify law enforcement authorities and said that he fought with his father and called his father a traitor to Islam. According to the allegations, on Nov. 18, 2015, CW asked Qamar if his father gave him back his passport would he go and join ISIL, and in response, Qamar said if that happened, “I’m done, I leave.”
Qamar faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after the charges were unsealed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg is prosecuting the case with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
Residents Supportive of Cemetery Expansion Plan — The military held a meeting yesterday to reveal preliminary plans to expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike. Local residents were generally supportive of the plan and the need to expand the cemetery. [Washington Post]
Arlington Woman Turns 100 — The Sunrise senior living community in Arlington has celebrated the 100th birthday of a resident, Kathleen Hanawalt. Hanawalt celebrated the event with her daughter-in-law and two grandsons. Hanawalt’s husband died in 1969. [InsideNova]
Endorsements for Gutshall, Talento — Arlington County Board challenger Erik Gutshall has picked up a trio of endorsements from state lawmakers. State Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rip Sullivan have endorsed Gutshall in his primary challenge against County Board Chair Libby Garvey. Meanwhile, School Board candidate Tannia Talento has received the endorsement of School Board member Reid Goldstein. [Blue Virginia, InsideNova]
Sexual Assault Awareness Event at the Pentagon — All branches of the military were represented at a recent event to raise awareness of and combat sexual assault in the military. “Walk-a-Lap for a Survivor” was held in the Pentagon courtyard on April 20. Also participating in the event were members of Arlington-based Doorways for Women and Families. [Pentagram]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf