About two dozen employees of Comcast’s offices at Reston Town Center took to the streets Thursday afternoon to protest President Donald Trump’s actions on immigration. The rally was one of a number nationwide by the telecommunications company’s Technology and Product team.
Holly Bazemore, the company’s director of elastic cloud strategy and deployments, was part of the rally Thursday at the corner of New Dominion Parkway and Reston Parkway. She said shutting the nation off from immigrants would have a devastating effect on companies like Comcast.
“Diversity is what makes innovation, and innovation is what makes great products,” she said. “We’re here to say that our products wouldn’t be as wonderful without our diverse teams — we can’t [be diverse] with this immigration ban.”
Bazemore said simultaneous rallies took place outside Comcast offices in New York, Washington, Denver and the Silicon Valley, as well as at the company’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia.
Employees of Comcast in Philadelphia are walking out in protest against trumps immigration order. pic.twitter.com/hk69WdH088
— Bianca Portillo (@BiancaAmarilis) February 2, 2017
— Tajha C-L (@TajhaLanier) February 2, 2017
The employees were protesting personally, Bazemore said, not on behalf of Comcast; however, she added, the company allocated time to any workers who wished to participate in the hourlong rally.
Comcast spokesman John Demming responded to technology news website Technical.ly about the rallies:
“We understand that some of our employees are concerned and we respect their desire to express their opinions. Our primary focus is to make sure that all of our employees feel safe in their jobs, including while traveling.”
The rallying employees in Reston on Thursday received a lot of feedback, positive and negative, from passing motorists as they chanted and raised their signs, but they remained undeterred.
“We are all together for the same cause, all over the country,” said Dwarkesh Marakna, a DevOps engineer at the Reston office.
The only YMCA in Fairfax County is accepting applications for its more than 50 summer camp options.
Joseph Crawford, YMCA Fairfax County Reston’s executive director, said some residents may be unaware that the cost of the organization’s camps — which can run $180 and up per week, per child — can be covered by scholarship funding.
“We raise all the money locally. Some comes from some companies around here, there’s lot of them in Reston, but the lion’s share of the money donated just comes from families that had positive experiences at YMCAs and they really get it,” Crawford said. “Reston and Fairfax County, specifically, it’s a very philanthropic community, and they have that give-back focus kind of built into their DNA.”
YMCA Fairfax County Reston has about 10,000 members, Crawford said. He said 300 to 400 children and teenagers can be involved in camps at the branch each day during the summer.
“The camps range from age 6 all the way up through teenagers — boys and girls of all ages, a very diverse group,” he said. “We really take a lot of pride in making sure there’s a continuum of care, all the way from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s also high-quality and cost-effective if you have more than one kid, and that’s why we have the scholarship system.”
According to information provided by YMCA Fairfax County Reston, more than $3 million in financial-assistance scholarships have been awarded since the facility opened in 2000.
“Contributions support our Caring for Community scholarship which provides financial assistance for individuals and families who are unable to afford quality childcare, summer camp, membership as well as other programs and services.”
More than $425,000 was awarded in 2016 among over 1,600 scholarships, with 20 percent of those going toward summer camp enrollment.
Crawford said anyone interested in applying for a Caring for Community scholarship should visit the YMCA branch (12196 Sunset Hills Road). Applicants will be asked to supply recent pay stubs (if applicable), tax documents and other financial budget statements.
The director said STEM-based camps such as Lego Robotics are particularly popular, but the YMCA continues to offer more traditional camps as well.
“We have traditional camps, where they can swim, bike and play basketball, that are all right here at the branch,” Crawford said. “A lot of the adventure camps are popular too, where the kids or the teenagers can take local trips around to different museums in the DMV area.”
YMCA is the fifth largest charitable organization in the United States, and Crawford said the scholarship program that helps make camp and memberships possible for many is a large part of what makes it great.
“The membership dues keep the doors open,” he said. “The scholarship money, the money we raise every year, makes sure we’re an inclusive organization so that everybody can come in and out of those doors.”
Photo via YMCA Fairfax County Reston/Facebook
Wednesday, members of the spine team at Reston Hospital Center performed the first procedure using the Mazor X system. Dr. Christopher Good, Dr. Tom Schuler and Dr. Colin Haines of the Virginia Spine Institute completed the first successful case in the Mid‐Atlantic.
The Mazor X system combines unprecedented pre‐operative planning tools and analytics with intra‐operative guidance, giving Reston Hospital Center patients the most advanced spinal surgery options available.
Reston Hospital Center is the first in the region to add the Mazor X surgical assurance platform to its award‐winning regional spinal surgery program.
“We chose the Mazor X system to provide our surgeons with the highest level of pre‐operative assessment and intra‐ operative precision,” said Dr. Raymond Makhoul, Chief Medical Officer at Reston Hospital Center. “As spinal surgery has evolved, more focus has been placed on minimizing trauma to the body during surgery and expediting a return to function through the use of minimally invasive techniques, and this is where Mazor X can deliver its greatest value.”
Minimally invasive procedures can mean less pain, less blood loss, smaller incisions, shorter hospitalizations and shorter recovery time for patients. Smaller incisions usually pose a challenge to surgeons due to the limited view of the anatomy.
The Mazor X system helps to overcome this challenge with a 3D comprehensive surgical plan and analytics that gives the surgeon unprecedented information before the surgery even starts. This results in the surgeon being able to operate with greater precision, efficiency and confidence.
“Our research is showing that robotic surgery can decrease radiation to patients in the operating room as well as improve accuracy of surgery while decreasing patient complications,” Good said. “The new Mazor X system represents the future of robotic spine surgery. Inevitably, it will lead to many future breakthroughs — combining robotic surgery with intra‐operative spinal navigation and increasing the number and types of surgeries we can do robotically.”
Doctors Good, Haines and Schuler are joined by doctors Michael Hasz, Donald Hope, Sean Jebraili, Jae Lim, Thomas Mazahery, Ben Nguyen, Brian Subach, Druv Pateder and Joseph Watson on the spine team at Reston Hospital Center.
“As a leader in spine surgery, acquiring the Mazor X was a logical step for us to take,” said John Deardorff, CEO of Reston Hospital Center. “Our Institute for Robotic Surgery is the most comprehensive in the Mid‐Atlantic region. Remaining at the forefront of surgical advancements is key to consistently providing our patients with the highest quality care. Our analysis of surgical guidance systems showed that the Mazor X system would further enable our surgeons to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.”
Reston’s Elizabeth Vandenburg was in D.C.’s Chevy Chase recently when signs dotting the community called to her.
“There was an initiative by the neighborhood, and there were signs all over the place,” she said. “Seeing these signs, it just was really inspirational.”
The signs were part of the “Hate Has No Home Here” project, which started in November in Chicago’s North Park neighborhood. Students at an elementary school devised the slogan and a local graphic designer developed the artwork. Word has gotten out and the campaign has spread across the nation and world.
Anyone can make their own HHNHH signs by downloading the artwork and taking it to a print shop. Vandenburg had 100 signs printed at Sign & Print in Herndon. One is currently in her front yard on Hunting Horn Lane and she is working to distribute the rest to friends and others who have contacted her through Facebook.
“First, I surveyed like 10 or 15 friends, and they said, ‘Sure,'” Vandenburg said. “I raised some money to do it, so I could give some away. … The 100 are pretty much accounted for.”
Vandenburg said she was encouraged to become part of the project because she feels it is important to stand up for what you believe.
“I’ve been an advocate for a lot of different issues, and I wanted my voice to be heard,” she said. “I wanted to feel inspired as I went around Reston. I know Reston is inclusive and supportive of these causes, but having it be visible gives my heart a lift.”
The project defines itself as non-partisan:
This sign is a public declaration that hate speech and hateful actions against others will not be tolerated by the person or organization displaying the sign. In that, it is apolitical. This sign is a statement that, while it is OK to disagree with others civilly regarding issues, it is not OK to intimidate or attack a person or group — verbally or physically — based on attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability or sexual orientation. The colors of the sign — red, white and blue — are the colors of the American flag, not any political party.
Vandenburg said, however, that issues such as President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration emphasize the importance of the project’s message.
“It’s a privilege to be an American,” she said. “I believe it’s my responsibility and duty to speak up.”
For more information on the project, visit its Facebook page.
At that midpoint, referred to as “crossover,” the House of Delegates and the State Senate must have completed action on bills that were introduced in their own chamber and start to work on bills from the other chamber. In order for a bill to become law, it must pass both houses exactly alike before being sent to the governor for his signature.
Already, about half of the bills that were introduced will have been defeated. See how your favorite bill is faring by going to http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm.
If the bill you felt most important to pass has been defeated, there really is no hope that it can be revived unless there was a companion bill that survived the other house of the Legislature. For bills you really oppose that passed their house of introduction, it is time to get to work lobbying members of the other house. Keep in mind that all the work of the Assembly for this annual session will be finished by about Feb. 24.
Some generalizations that can be made about the session to date, subject to shifting winds in the next few weeks, follow. There is a commitment to giving state employees a raise especially for State Police where turnover has become excessive with the low rate of pay. Providing the state share of funding for teachers who are local employees remains in doubt except that additional funding to schools is likely in a small amount. Funding for expanded mental health services that the Governor and a legislative study group recommended is likely. The need in this area is very serious.
The Republican majority that has a history of supporting less government but obtrusive laws into people’s private lives defeated an anti-LGBT bill much like the one that passed in North Carolina. The bill they passed last year was vetoed by the governor. There are bound to be more restrictive laws on women’s reproductive decisions passed, but Gov. McAuliffe has pledged to veto such bills. The appetite to expand access to guns seems insatiable. Numerous bills to expand access to concealed weapons and the defeat of bills that promote gun safety continues unabated. My bill to expand criminal background checks for all gun purchases was defeated in sub-committee.
Redrawing legislative district boundaries after the next federal census is of increasing concern to citizens who want voters picking their representatives not legislators picking their voters with most elections consisting of uncontested incumbents. My bill to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission was defeated. A bill to define the process as being non-political may sound good, but it is unlikely to have any effect without the process being taken over by a truly non-partisan group.
Bills that are common sense to me and to most of the constituents with whom I talk like banning the use of cellphones while driving continue to fail in the Legislature. Much more to come after the half.
If you have a position on an issue before the Legislature, email me at [email protected].
Each year, I survey constituents on issues of concern to them and on issues that are likely to be considered by the General Assembly. Your views are important to me. Please take a few minutes to respond to the survey that can be found at www.kenplum.com.
Fairfax Police to Test Out Body Cams — County officers are expected to begin testing body-worn cameras later this year, once the police department completes (and the Board of Supervisors approves) a set of guidelines governing their use. [WTOP]
‘OK, Campers, Rise and Shine!’ — Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, predicting six more weeks of winter. Monday and Tuesday at Walker Nature Center, a shadow play and activities will help kids understand more about the groundhog. [Walker Nature Center]
Groundhog Day for Grownups — For a more adult way to celebrate Feb. 2, check out the American Tap Room today for their “See Your Shadow” specials. [American Tap Room/Facebook]
Local Theater Students Compete in Georgia — Kids from Lopez Studios Inc. Performing Arts School recently took part in the 2017 iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta. The students won an award for excellence in ensemble work, and Kendyl Florence was honored for student choreography. [Reston Connection]