The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent our advertisers

Monday, February 04, 2013

Bear Surprises Samsung Crew On Washing Machine Shoot

Proper Dog Shelter

Hi Joe,

I know you're a real pet lover and so am I. It really concerns me when people are so heartless especially when the temps are extreme. They don't even provide the basics fresh water, food and proper shelter. A CRATE IS NOT PROPER SHELTER!!!!!! There was a segment on the WBOC news back in Sept. about a dog whose only shelter was a crate. It showed the crate upside down and on its side with water inside. I can't believe people are that unkind. With the extremely cold temps we've had recently it concerns me that there are pets out there trying to survive. Why have a pet if you aren't going to at least provide the basics? 

I contacted Blair Ritchey , at The Career Technnolgy Center by Parkside, to see if he would be interested in a doghouse project for the students to get involved in? He said "yes, but would need the funds to do so." 

Could you get this out to the community so maybe some of the contractors, businesses, roofers or the public who loves animals could help donate supplies. Scrapes of lumber, shingles, screws, nails, money, anything would be greatly appreciated. Blair Ritchey can be contacted at 410-677-5144.

Federal Government Says Bomb-Sniffing Dogs Are Not Very Effective For Passenger Flights

Is the government wasting big bucks on dogs trained to keep explosives off planes?

A new report by the Government Accounting Office says that many of these bomb-sniffing or "threat detection" dogs are failing the task they’re assigned to do -- particularly at high-risk airports -- while they cost taxpayers more than $100 million annually.

All this has come to light as the GAO, the main investigative arm of Congress, has secretly followed and videotaped dog teams at airports.


Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team Press Release

Over the last several months, members of the Worcester County Criminal 
Enforcement Team have been conducting undercover drug distribution 
investigations throughout Worcester County. As a result of these investigations 
the following individuals were apprehended and charged with the following drug 
Ted Davis (Age 18) Pocomoke, Maryland
·         Distribution of crack cocaine in a School Zone – 2 Counts
·         Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine
·         Distribution of crack cocaine – 3 Counts
·         Possession of crack cocaine – 3 Counts
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $100,000.00 Bond
Charles William Smith (Age 48) Pocomoke, Maryland
·         Possession with intent to distribute cocaine in a school zone
·         Distribution of cocaine
·         Possession of cocaine
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $500,000.00 Bond
Norman Lee Crawley (Age 36) Pocomoke, Maryland
·         Distribution of cocaine in a school zone – 2 Counts
·         Distribution of cocaine – 2 Counts
·         Possession of cocaine – 2 Counts
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond
            Orintha Jerome Godwin (Age 30) Pocomoke, Maryland
·         Distribution of crack cocaine – 3 Counts
·         Possession of crack cocaine – 3 Counts
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond
            Eric Vincent Bishop Jr. (Age 37) Pocomoke, Maryland
Distribution of crack cocaine
Distribution of cocaine
Possession of crack cocaine
Possession of cocaine
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond
            Jeffrey Maurice Fisher (Age 50) Snow Hill, Maryland
Distribution of cocaine in a school zone – 2 Counts
Distribution of cocaine – 2 Counts
Possession of cocaine – 2 Counts
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond
            Donyell Antonio Ballard (Age 41) Berlin, Maryland
Distribution of crack cocaine
Possession of crack cocaine
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond
            Dionederick Ronshae Godwin (Age 30) Berlin, Maryland
Distribution of crack cocaine
Possession of crack cocaine
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond
            McKineo John Middleton (Age 26) Frankford, Delaware
Distribution of Heroin in a school zone – 2 Counts
Distribution of heroin – 2 Counts
Possession of heroin – 2 Counts
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond
Christopher Lee Sturgis  (Age 26) Laurel, Delaware
Distribution of heroin
Possession of heroin
Committed to the Worcester County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond
Shamus Montez Hall (Age 36) Pocomoke, Maryland
·         Distribution of crack cocaine
·         Distribution of cocaine
·         Possession of crack cocaine
·         Possession of powder cocaine
            During the apprehension of Mr. Hall, he was found to be in 
possession of approximately 3 grams of cocaine. A subsequent search and seizure 
warrant was executed by the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team at Mr. 
Hall’s residence in Pocomoke, Maryland at which time investigators recovered an 
additional 3.5 grams of crack cocaine, small quantity of heroin along with 
various items of paraphernalia. Mr. Hall was also charged with Possession with 
intent to distribute crack cocaine, Possession of crack cocaine, Possession of 
heroin, and Possession of paraphernalia. Mr. Hall was committed to the Worcester 
County Jail on a $250,000.00 Bond.
                The Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team was assisted by 
the Ocean City Police Department Narcotics Unit and the Pocomoke City Police 
Department during the course of these investigations.
Lieutenant Edward C. Schreier

PTC Slams CBS For Super Bowl F-Bomb: 'Enough Is Enough'

A TV watchdog group is going after CBS for airing the f-word during Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast.

The Parents Television Council is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to take action against the broadcaster after Baltimore Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco threw out an enthusiastic profanity while enjoying his team’s victory.

“This is f–king awesome!” the Super Bowl MVP exclaimed while hugging teammate Marshal Yanda after the game. The expletive was captured by a nearby microphone and aired live on CBS.


Fire Lt. Killed By 9/11 Illness Saluted

Fullam, killed by a rare pulmonary illness caused by his time at the World Trade Center, was remembered at an emotional funeral Saturday for his endless leadership, courage and generosity.
FDNY Lt. Martin Fullam, from his first toxic minute at Ground Zero until his 9/11-linked death last week, never stopped fighting for his fellow first responders.

Fullam, killed by a rare pulmonary illness caused by his time at the World Trade Center, was remembered at an emotional funeral Saturday for his endless leadership, courage and generosity.

“When he could no longer fight fires, he continued to fight for all the FDNY members who responded on Sept. 11,” said Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.

Iraq War Vet Charged In Fatal Shooting Of Ex-SEAL

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) - An Iraq War veteran charged with murdering former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and a friend turned a gun on the pair while they were at a Texas shooting range, authorities said Sunday.

Eddie Ray Routh, of Lancaster, was arraigned early Sunday in the deaths of Kyle, who wrote the best-selling book "American Sniper," and Chad Littlefield, 35. They were killed at a shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Travis Cox, the director of a nonprofit Kyle helped found, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Kyle, 38, and Littlefield had taken Routh to the range to try to help him. Littlefield was Kyle's neighbor and "workout buddy," Cox said.


Power Outage

We're not sure why but the west side of Salisbury has been out of power for the past 30+ minutes. Many residents are feeling the cold without any heat. 

4 Arrested for Defying San Francisco’s Nudity Ban

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Four protesters were arrested entirely in the buff as they took to the steps of San Francisco City Hall in a brazen challenge of the city’s ban on public nudity on Friday, the first day it went into effect.

One woman and three men — one wearing just a mesh thong — were taken into custody as about a dozen other protesters in various states of undress paraded around with painted slogans on their bodies, holding up signs with messages such as “The Human Body is Beautiful.”

Read More


 An Oregon man may have broken the law and is facing a state investigation after refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding, KATU reports.

KGW has details on the story:

It started on Jan. 17 when a mother and daughter showed up at Sweet Cakes by Melissa looking for the perfect wedding cake.

“My first question is what’s the wedding date,” said owner Aaron Klein. “My next question is bride and groom’s name … the girl giggled a little bit and said it’s two brides.”

325 Army Suicides In 2012 A Record

(CNN) -- The U.S. Army reported Thursday that there were 325 confirmed or potential suicides last year among active and nonactive military personnel. 

"Our highest on record," said Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, deputy chief of staff, manpower and personnel for the Army. 

The grim total exceeds the number of total U.S. Army deaths (219) and total military deaths (313) in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, according to figures published by the military's Defense Casualty Analysis System. 

Marijuana, Synthetics On Legislative Agenda

ANNAPOLIS — Despite coming up short the last two years, several House legislators are trying again to legalize medical marijuana, while others are attempting to tighten restrictions on its synthetic counterparts.

Del. Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, plans to reintroduce the Maryland Medical Marijuana Act to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana through compassion centers for patients who have an ongoing relationship with a physician.

“People are suffering every day in the state of Maryland, and they are being subjected to going out on the streets to get the relief we should be providing,” Glenn said.


Rep. Andy Harris Makes Case For Sound Spending On CNBC's Closing Bell

Fox News Host Blows Up At NRA Head: ‘That’s Ridiculous And You Know It, Sir!’

Fox News host Chris Wallace tore into National Rifle Association’s contention that President Obama and other elites are hypocritical for employing security guards to protect their children, while downplaying the importance of armed protection in preventing gun violence.

During a heated exchange with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on Sunday, Wallace played a clip of a now infamous NRA ad criticizing Obama for relying on Secret Service to guard his children and asked if the organization believed that every child in America faces a threat similar to that of the Obama kids. LaPierre said that they do, leading Wallace to forcefully push back against the gun chief, saying, “that’s ridiculous and you know it, Sir!” Watch it:

Mean Words Spark U.Md. Sensitivity Campaign

COLLEGE PARK — “That’s so gay. … That’s retarded.”

Phrases like these are the target of the University of Maryland’s Inclusive Language Campaign, launched in the fall to remind students to be aware that their everyday language can be highly offensive.

The campaign hits home for Anthony Douglas, 20, who is bisexual and has a disability.

“I had a great conversation on the bus the other day. A guy used the word retarded. I turned around and jokingly said, ‘Are you talking about me?’” Douglas said. “It made him realize the impact of what he said and he apologized saying he had no idea.”


Al Gore: US Democracy Has Been Hacked

US democracy has been "hacked" by big business and needs to be reclaimed using the power of the internet to hold politicians to account, according to former US vice-president Al Gore.
Offering a blunt assessment of the extent to which private companies influence decision-making in the US, he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "American politics has fallen into a state of disrepair," in an interview to mark the publication of his new book, The Future.

Gore added: "It can be fixed, but we need to recognise that our democracy has been hacked … It has been taken over … and is being operated for purposes other than those for which it was intended."

In the interview, Gore alluded to a 2010 US supreme court decision that banned restrictions on political donations by corporations in the name of free speech.

BREAKING NEWS: Boy Free After Alabama Hostage Standoff, Source Says

Initial reports indicate the 5-year-old boy held hostage in an Alabama bunker is free and his kidnapper is dead, a law enforcement source tells Fox News 

Oyster Recovery "Amazing" In Shore Creek

Now for a bit of good news - and from an environmental group at that.

Drew Koslow, the Choptank Riverkeeper, reports that while walking the shore of Harris Creek in Talbot County, he saw an "amazing" abundance of oysters growing in the intertidal zone, inundated by water at high tide but exposed to the air at ebb.

"You literally couldn't take a step without walking on oysters," Koslow said in a recent release by the Mid-Shore Riverkeeper Conservancy. "In my four years as the Choptank Riverkeeper, I have never seen spatfall density like there is in Harris Creek."

Quote Of The Day 2/4/13

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." -Dwight D. Eisenhower

No Change As Midland City Hostage Situation Enters Seventh Day

MIDLAND CITY, Alabama – Negotiations continue in Midland City, Ala., Monday, where hostage negotiators are attempting to talk 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes out of the underground bunker where he has been holding a 5-year-old boy hostage since Tuesday afternoon.

Federal law enforcement agencies are conducting the negotiations through a PVC ventilation pipe that leads into the bunker. According to an Associated Press report, authorities are also using the pipe to deliver medicine and comfort items, such as a coloring book, a Hot Wheels toy car, and Cheez-Its crackers to the boy, Ethan, who Dykes abducted from a Dale County school bus Tuesday after allegedly shooting the driver to death.

On Sunday, residents of the area laid the bus driver, Charles Albert Poland, Jr., 66, to rest in nearby Ozark, Ala. Poland was remembered as a hero who tried to stop Dykes from taking a child hostage. 



BRYAN, Ohio (AP) — Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch toy that generations of children drew on, shook up and started over, has died in France, the toy's maker said.

Cassagnes died Jan. 16 in a Paris suburb at age 86, said the Ohio Art Co., based in Bryan in northwest Ohio. The cause wasn't disclosed Saturday.

"Etch A Sketch has brought much success to the Ohio Art Company, and we will be eternally grateful to Andre for that. His invention brought joy to so many over such a long period of time," said Larry Killgallon, president of Ohio Art.

Son Of Rep. Jim Moran Will Not Face Voter Fraud Charges

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says a son of Rep. James P. Moran, D-8th, acted inappropriately but not criminally last October when he appeared to advise an undercover operative on how to illegally cast votes in inactive voters’ names.

“After a thorough investigation, we have concluded that, while (Patrick) Moran’s behavior was inappropriate, it was not criminal,” and no charges will be brought against him, Cuccinelli said in a statement Friday.

Last October, Patrick Moran resigned as field director of his father’s campaign after a conservative organization said it secretly videotaped him advising an undercover operative on how to commit election fraud. 


Beaver Run Elementary Evacuated

Beaver Run Elementary was evacuated due to a false alarm fire. The children have been brought back into the school after the Fire Department found no sign of fire or danger. 

Working, But Still Poor

ho are the working poor?

They're the millions of people who have jobs that leave them mired at the edge of poverty. Their ranks include legions of retail clerks at chains like Walmart, fast-food workers, dishwashers, customer assistance representatives, home health-care aides, factory workers, and farm laborers. Some 46.2 million Americans now live in families where someone is working but earning less than the poverty line: $11,702 a year for an individual or $23,021 for a family of four. Many economists have a broader definition, saying that the working poor are those whose incomes do not cover basic needs: food, clothing, housing, transportation, child care, and health care. By that standard, there are more than 146 million Americans in the poor-but-working class. People in this category generally have no savings and survive from check to check, often filling in the gaps by going into debt. "Any little thing — a child getting sick, a car breaking down — those are quite significant events for these working families," said Brandon Roberts of the Working Poor Families Project.


One Hot Ride

At first glance, it seems to be nothing more than a standard oil truck: White cab, silver tank, parked in the lot behind an oil delivery company.

"It's very unassuming," said Ken Foster, the vehicle's owner.

Upon closer examination, however, there's something a little different about this truck.

A metal bar, bearing a strange resemblance to the handle of a grill, runs horizontally across the side of the tank. In the space where the hose should be coiled, there appears to be a folded set of stairs.


Super Bowl Victory Parade & Celebration

Our VICTORY PARADE begins at Baltimore's City Hall at 10:45am on Tuesday. It will proceed south on Commerce St, continue to Pratt & Howard Streets & end at M&T Bank Stadium. Around 12:30, fans are encouraged to attend a celebration with the team at the stadium. More info: HERE

Hybrid Car Owners Protest McDonnell's Proposed Fee

RICHMOND, Va. - Hybrid and electric car owners circled the Virginia Capitol to protest a $100 yearly fee that would be placed on their vehicles if Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation plan passes.

On Thursday, a Senate committee reviewed the $3.1 billion transportation package that would eliminate the state's gas tax and impose the $100 fee.

McDonnell called the fee on alternative fuel vehicles a substitute for losses in the federal gas tax when he appeared on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" showthis week.

"It's meant to compensate for the federal gas tax that those vehicles do not pay," he said.

Combat Leaders Mull Equal Standards For Women

The heads of U.S. Special Operations Command said women will be welcomed into America’s elite combat units as long as they can meet the same physical standards as men.

Retired Amy Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick just hopes females will be judged as fairly as their male counterparts.

Helmick, who once commanded the physically and mentally grueling U.S. Army Ranger School, said he applauds the Pentagon’s recent decision to allow women to serve in direct combat units.

“It is inevitable that there is going to be a female that is going to go to Ranger School and quite honestly, I think that is a good thing as long as the standards do not change,” Helmick said. “The biggest challenge that the Army will have is to ensure that the instructors and the chain of command are making the playing field level for everybody.”

While mostly supportive, direct-action combat arms communities such as special operations and infantry forces continue to react to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s decision to lift the ban that would open up about 237,000 combat-arms jobs to women.

Navy Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, pointed to the SEAL trident on his uniform and then explained how he could foresee a future when a woman would earn one of her own.


Fill In The Blank 2/4/13

My favorite Superbowl Commercial was ______.

Lesbian Wife Named Fort Bragg's Spouse Of The Year

A lesbian wife of a Fort Bragg soldier was named the installation's military spouse of the year through a voting competition.

Ashley Broadway is not recognized as a spouse under federal law, and she recently was denied official membership in a Fort Bragg officers' spouses organization.
But her selection in the competition by Military Spouse magazine was praised by advocates for gays and lesbians, who say it underscores the need for the federal government to extend full benefits to same-sex couples.


Feds to Publicize Drug and Device Company Payments to Doctors Next Year

After years of anticipation, all of the nation's drug and medical device makers must soon begin publicly reporting payments they make to U.S. physicians, according to final regulations announced this afternoon by the federal government.
The release of payments data in September 2014 would mark a milestone in the push to bring transparency to medicine. Once posted, patients will be able to see if their physicians receive money from any of the companies whose products they prescribe. Studies have shown that such payments, however small, bias physicians towards companies and their products.

Prince George's County Schools Considers Owning Student And Teachers' Work

An 8th grader's research paper, a kindergartener's drawing and a teacher's lesson plan would become the property of the Prince George's County Board of Education if a proposed copyright policy is approved.

The proposal says any work created for school or by using school materials would become property of the school board. Property includes staff work as well as student assignments completed inside and outside the classroom.

Lawrence Sung, an intellectual property rights lawyer and partner with BakerHostetler in D.C, says the legality of the proposal is questionable. He adds it's common for employers to own employee work, but in this case, students are not being paid for their work.


Survey Question 2/4/13

Did you feel like calling out of work this morning?

D.C. Conservative Station Shuts Down Political Speech

A Washington, D.C., conservative radio station has refused to sell airtime for a political statement from the writer-actor-singer who performed for years as television’s Buck Howdy – deeming it too “controversial.”

“How sad that we live in a time when a message supporting the Constitution is deemed too controversial,” Grammy-winning musician Steve Vaus, creator of the Buck Howdy character, told WND today.

He has recorded a song that defies those advocating gun confiscation with one of the slogans of the Texas Revolution, “Come and take it.”

More Teens Smoking Pot Than Cigarettes

Seems like teens have gotten the memo that cigarettes are bad for you; however, the same isn’t true for marijuana, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.Released late last week, the government study revealed that in a nationwide study of 15,000 high school students, pot is now more popular among teens than cigarettes, CBS reports. Eighteen percent of surveyed students in 2011 reported smoking a cigarette in the past month, while 23% reported smoking marijuana in the last 30 days.

Perhaps thanks to the anti-smoking campaigns in ads and in schools, or to the personal experiences teens may have with family members or relatives with lung cancer, cigarette use has been on the decline over the past few years.

Read More

Post-Game Super Bowl Pictures

What The O’Malley-Brown Gun Bill Does

By Delegate Mike McDermott

The following breakdown is, by no means, exhaustive as it relates to the intricacies of this large document. I have attempted to break down the basic elements in the bill, and, at times, contrast the provisions with current law. There are a multitude of issues that arise from the proposed legislation which will be the subject of debate. Some reflection and modification of current law is in order, particularly as it relates to mental health issues. I also believe some attention needs to be paid to the issue of Criminal Background Checks. I will keep you posted on any proposed changes. A complete list of current firearm bills that have been proposed can be found on the MGA website. Here is the O’Malley-Brown Gun Bill breakdown:

Defines all Regulated Firearms currently listed as “Assault Weapons” as “Assault Long Guns”.
Defines “Assault Weapon” as an “Assault Long Gun”; an “Assault Pistol”; or a “Copycat Weapon”.
Defines a “Copycat Weapon” as “a semi-automatic centerfire rifle that accepts a detachable magazine”…along with any one of a long list of features.
So, the bill consolidates all of these types of firearms under the heading “Assault Weapon”.

“Copycat Weapon” is an “Assault Weapon; “Assault Long Gun” is an “Assault Weapon”; “Assault Pistol” is an “Assault Weapon”…yet a “Copycat Weapon” does not include an “Assault an Assault Long Gun” or an “Assault Pistol”???
The bill bans all “Assault Weapons” from being possessed or brought into the State of Maryland. There are some exceptions to the ban:

Assault Pistols possessed and registered prior to June 1, 1994
A Licensed Firearms Dealer can continue to possess/sell/transfer an “Assault Long Gun” or a “Copycat Weapon” lawfully possessed on or before 10-1-2013. (Note: it seems that “Assault Pistols” are not included)
An individual gun owner who lawfully possessed an “Assault Long Gun” or a “Copycat Weapon” before 10-1-2013 and registers the weapon with the State Police prior to 11-1-2013 may continue to possess said weapon.(Note: Exceptions remain for tubular fed rifles in .22 caliber)

The bill limits all magazine capacities for any firearm to 10-rounds.
(Note: current law allows restricts to 10-rounds for a handgun/20-rounds for a rifle)

The bill adjusts the penalties and expands the definition for utilizing an “Assault Weapon” and/or magazines of greater than 10-rounds in the commission of a crime.
(Note: Current law only addressed Assault Pistols or a magazine of over 20 rounds).

Mental Health Issues/Adjustments:

Those under a court ordered Involuntary Commitment must surrender any firearms in their possession if the attending physician deems it appropriate. Once surrendered, the weapons cannot be returned until the individual is granted relief through the State Health
Department after meeting several criteria for removing the disqualification stipulation.
Those who have been found “Not Criminally Responsible” are disqualified.
Those who have been voluntarily or involuntarily patient for 30 consecutive days or more are disqualified.
Those who have been declared unable to possess a firearm by a court based upon credible evidence of their dangerousness to others are disqualified.
Those under the protection of a guardian appointed by a court are disqualified.
In Order to Purchase a Hangun…:

Possess a valid Handgun Qualification License;
Not be prohibited by Federal or State law from possession
Creation of a “Handgun Qualification License”:

This will be the means through which a person becomes authorized to “purchase, rent, or receive a handgun.” In order to take possession of a handgun, the following criteria must be met:In order to qualify for a Handgun Qualification License, the individual must:

Be at least 21 years of age;
Be a resident of Maryland;
Attend a state approved Firearms Safety Training Course within one-year prior to the purchase of the firearm.The 8-Hour Firearm Safety Course must include the following elements:
Classroom instruction on:
1. State Firearm Law;

2. Home Firearm Safety; and

3. Handgun Mechanisms and Operation.

Firearm’s Qualification demonstrating personal proficiency with the firearm.
Apply to the Central Repository for a National and State Criminal History Check

1. Submit two complete sets of legible fingerprints to the FBI;

2. Pay a fee associated with a Criminal Background Check to the state;

3. Pay a fee associated with the FBI Background Check

Pay a $100.00 non-refundable Application Fee.(Note: The Handgun Qualification License is good for five-years and can be renewed by meeting the same standards as prescribed in the original application and paying all associated fees required).

Individuals who move into Maryland after 10-1-2013:
The bill appears to prohibit bringing any Assault Weapon into the state following the ban date. Regulated firearms that are brought into the state after this date:

Must be registered with the MD State Police within 30-days after establishing residency;
Must pay a non-refundable fee of $15.00 per weapon registered.

Obama Says Boy Scouts Should Allow Gays As Members

President Barack Obama said Sunday that gays should be allowed in the Boy Scouts and women should be allowed in military combat roles, weighing in on two storied American institutions facing proposals to end long-held exclusions.

The president's comments in a pre-Super Bowl interview on CBS come ahead of this week's meeting of the Boy Scouts' national executive board. A proposal to open up the Scouts' membership to gays is expected to be discussed and possibly voted on at the gathering in Texas.

The Boy Scouts emphatically reaffirmed the no-gays policy just seven months ago, but announced last week they were considering changing the stance. Instead of mandatory exclusion of gays, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue _ either maintaining the exclusion or opening up their membership.


Field Notes 2-4-13

Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities

By Delegate Michael A. McDermott
Week 4 Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2013

Tuesday Judiciary Committee Hearings:
HB-116 would allow for what is commonly referred to as “one-way” wire taps for crimes involving vulnerable adults. Current law allows for use of this type of recording for a multitude of crimes from Murder to Obstruction of Justice. This bill would add crimes against vulnerable adults to the list. We heard from several folks about the need for this mechanism to assist in these crimes, particularly many that cannot even speak for themselves.

HB-156 would increase the fee of removing a shopping cart from a store premise from $25 to $100. The penalty has been in place since the 1950’s and it is believed that the increased penalty would help keep people from removing the carts for fear of prosecution. This crime is already covered by the current Theft statute which carries a more significant penalty of up to $500. I suggested that Montgomery County create a local civil penalty to encourage enforcement that could target their particular problem with these cart thefts.

HB-154 would provide that someone who is sentenced in a District Court case who is convicted and sentenced who is entitled a second (new) trial before the Circuit Court would be allowed to have their sentence stayed pending the outcome of their appeal to the Circuit Court. It would act to release people from incarceration (who have already been convicted) while their case is on appeal. According to testimony, it is unclear if anyone is having difficulty receiving an Appeal Bond while they wait for their Circuit Court trial and this may not even be a problem.

HB-152 seeks to limit the double jeopardy which can occur when a case is tried before a Federal Court which could also have jurisdiction in a State Court. It basically makes the government choose the jurisdiction in which it wants to pursue a case against an individual.

Special Committee on Gun Legislation: Today the committee received an overview of the O’Malley-Brown Gun Bill. We went over the major components of the legislation asking questions along the way for clarification. I have broken the bill down and, although it is not an exhaustive review, it provides a good overview. It can be viewed at this link: Gun Bill Overview.

Wednesday Session-State of the State Speech
Today, all the pomp and circumstance of a joint session in the House of Delegates where we listen to Governor O’Malley tell us how he sees the condition of our state. The governor began by referencing the Ravens, and, had he stopped there, it would have been the most uniting speech of his career. It went downhill from there. The governor is a big government guy and he believes it all the way. He pointed to a list of accomplished areas such as education where Maryland receives “number one” ratings from certain select sources. Essentially, if a state government is willing to outspend us as a percentage of their assigned state funding on education, they can dethrone us. This is also true for our willingness to spend money we do not have to provide various services across the board for anyone who asks. For instance, we are certainly not “number one” in the outcome of the education we provide, but let’s not look at those statistics. I do not blame the governor for drawing attention to areas where the state has been awarded a blue ribbon by some magazine or association, but our failure to be intellectually honest about how we achieve the ranking only hurts our future by focussing on the wrong measure of success: outcome!

Here are some of the governor’s concluding remarks. Where he refers to “a random shuffling of the deck”, he must have been alluding to this speech and our direction as a state. ..

“ I leave you with these thoughts:
Life is an ever evolving story of change and choice –letting go of things and ways that were, in order to reach for that which we have yet to achieve.

It is not some random shuffling of the deck, or a tossing of cards. Life is an intentional process, and it calls for the goodness of our own intentions.

We, here in Maryland, are called to work at the center of this intentional movement. For every decision we make, there is a future foretold.

Jobs and opportunity; public safety, public education, public transportation, the health of our people and the health of our planet. These are our concerns; and they are also the world’s concerns.”-Governor Martin O’Malley

Go here to read the entire speech

Wednesday Judiciary Hearings:
HB-163 would eliminate the Office of Orphans Court Judge from Anne Arrundel County and replace them with the Circuit Court. It was supported by the Anne Arrundel Delegation but was opposed strongly by many judges of the Orphans Court across Maryland. Based upon what I heard and observed, this bill is going nowhere.

HB-150 would require that a person who is involved in a motor vehicle accident where a fatality or serious injury occurs cannot refuse to submit to a test of breath or blood to determine alcohol concentration. This bill seeks to increase the number of drivers tested and an overall strengthening of DWI enforcement in Maryland in accident cases. There was only token resistance offered by the Office of the Public Defender.

HB-78 is the “Pit Bull” legislation which seeks to mitigate the court case which made all owners of Pitt Bull dogs liable for any attacks, damage, or bites inflicted by the dog. This bill would provide that an owner can provide evidence to show that they had no reason to believe the dog in question was previously aggressive (a rebuttable presumption). Effectively, this bill will widen the liability incurred by dog owners in general as opposed to being breed specific. The impression from the co sponsors of the legislation is that the bill is a compromise and does not reflect the will of the House of Delegates in a bill which was passed last year by the House. The hearing was long with many people testifying on the bill.

Thursday Afternoon Judiciary-Budget Briefing
We received our annual budget fiscal briefing by Director Warren Deschenaux of the Office of Policy Analysis from the Dept. of Legislative Services. Overall spending increases over 6%. There are hundreds of millions in new spending and some restoration funding. The budget includes a 3% COLA for State employees as well as Merit raises. Our debt service currently stands at $100 million, but more state spending involves trading current dollars for bonds (debt). This will increase our debt service in coming years to over half a billion dollars which will have a significant impact on future budgets. It is the proverbial kicking of the can down the road. The next two administrations will be addressing the folly of the current administrations spending policies.

There is a new $25 million fund for School Security (this will not go far across an entire state). The budget throws a one time bone to municipal governments by giving them a slight increase for local transportation issues. This is nowhere near the 90% amount the governor took from local government funding several years ago. Ironically, the governor does not call for increasing any funding for the counties in this regard. Some of these breakdowns can be found on page 5 at the above link.

Special Committee on Gun Legislation: Today the committee heard from Dr. Daniel Webster (John Hopkins) and Secretary Joshua Sarfstein (MD Dept. of Health) regarding studies on gun violence and firearms registration components instituted by various jurisdictions. The relevance of the information was questionable as there was no comparison/contrast with what Maryland is currently doing in this regard. Some information that would have been helpful was simply missing from the presentation.

Press Conference on Gun Bill: There was a Senate-House Press Conference on the O’Malley-Brown Gun Bill. Sadly, while Republicans are standing up to the assault on the 2nd Amendment, so far the Democrats have been mostly silent with any opposition. Only Senator John Astle and Delegate Kevin Kelly have spoken up against the bill.

Friday Morning Eastern Shore Delegation Meeting:
The Delegation met with Secretary Joshua Sharfstein of the MD Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene. We also met with representatives of various Hospice organizations from the Eastern Shore who reported on their activities. We received an update from the folks representing the Healthy Families Programs and agreed to write a letter to support a funding increase. Minutes from the meeting are available at this link: Delegation Minutes 2-1-13.

Age-Activated Attention Deficit Disorder

Md. County Recommends TB Testing In School

Wicomico County officials are recommending that students and staff at a Salisbury high school be tested as a precaution for tuberculosis after a student was diagnosed with it.

Officials say skin testing will be free to anyone who had extended contact with the infected student, who attends James M. Bennett High School and is currently receiving medical care.

The school district sent out a letter to parents and staff and also held an informational meeting.


Are Crop Circles More Than Just Modern Pranks?

A Tasmanian historian used Google Earth images to argue that crop circles, which are often dismissed as jokes taken too far, are not simply a modern hoax, according to the Huffington Post.

Many were persuaded that the intriguing circles were nothing more than pranks when two British men, David Chorley and Doug Bower, revealed in 1991 that they, under the cover of darkness and armed with wooden planks and barrels, had been creating circles across the wheat fields of southern England since 1978.

Read More