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Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Average Commuter Wasted $818 In Time & Money Sitting In Traffic In 2011

For anyone who sat in traffic last year and felt like your time and money was slowly sliding away as the minutes ticked by, you’re not alone. A new report says American commuters wasted more time and fuel in 2011 than the year before, averaging out to about $818 on average in 2011.As a nation we wasted $121 billion in 2011, says a new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute in its annual study of national driving patterns. That’s a $1 billion increase over 2010, notes the Associated Press.

Included in that waste are the 2.9 billion gallons of gas we burned while sitting in traffic, but it’s worth noting that’s an improvement over the peak waste yaer of 2005 when drivers burned 3.2 billion gallons.

52% of Likely Voters Want Illegal Aliens to Go Home, Only 33% Support Amnesty

As the debate over the Obama/Gang of 8 Amnesty plan continues to swirl, a variety of polls are being put out there. The Center for Immigration Studies has its own poll out which suggests that not only do the majority of voters not support amnesty, but the passion is stronger on the anti-amnesty side than on the pro-amnesty side.

Now this is important because after an extended media barrage, the center can shift left on a topic, whether it’s gay marriage, abortion or illegal immigration, but what matters is not that X amount of voters now say that gay illegal aliens should be able to marry their abortions, but how much they care about it.

The media, including sections of the conservative media, has barraged the American public with positive coverage of amnesty. That tends to lead the weak-minded to shift toward amnesty. But the question is how committed are they to it. That questions matters because the weak-minded can be shifted in the other direction once the counter-argument begins.

12,000 Retirement Claims In January

A small town's worth of federal employees chose to retire in January. The Office of Personnel Management received 22,000 applications, about 1,000 more than it expected. It was able to process more than 12,000 retirement claims. That let OPM chip away at its backlog. Over the past year, OPM has been able to reduce the backlog by more than a third. Agency officials reckon they'll eliminate the backlog by September. After that, most applicants would begin receiving their full annuities within 60 days of turning in their access cards.

SEQUESTER CUTS: NAVY TO GROUND BLUE ANGELS

As the sequester cuts Obama signed into law in August 2011 draw closer to implementation, the Navy is making plans to ground the Blue Angels during the latter half of 2013.

This was revealed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert last week, when he sent out a memo showing the Navy's plan for complying with the cuts.

Grounding the Blue Angels for half a year will entail canceling 30 shows and will save approximately $20 million.

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Lincoln

When Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) watched popular movie Lincoln, something didn't seem right. Courtney was surprised to see the film depict two of his House predecessors vote "no" on the 13th Amendment to end slavery. Courtney did a little research, aided by the Congressional Research Service. Sure enough, the record shows all four of Connecticut's representatives — three Republicans and one Democrat — voted in favor of the amendment in January 1865. Courtney has asked director Steven Spielberg for a correction before the movie is burned onto DVDs.

HOMELAND SECURITY SOLICITING BIDS FOR 26.1 MILLION ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION BUT FORMER SEAL EXPLAINS WHY IT’S COMPLETELY NORMAL

On a semi-private website is a solicitation by the Department of Homeland Security for a total of 26.1 million rounds of ammunition, which it is seeking to purchase from a small business. Although this might seem like a lot, sources tell us it is not out of the ordinary.

Going through the website FedBid, DHS’ Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Arteia, New Mexico, is putting out a call for the training ammunition through competitive bids, which have to be at least $10, according to the post. Here’s a breakdown of what it wants:

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Winners Of 2013 Local SkillsUSA Championships Announced

The Parkside High School Department of Career & Technology Education held its annual Open House and SkillsUSA Championships Feb. 2 with tremendous attendance and success. Awards were given out to the winners in the Local SkillsUSA Championships.
The following programs will be sending students to the Regional or State contest in the coming weeks:
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SEE THE PRAYER BREAKFAST SPEECH THAT’S GRABBING HEADLINES: DOCTOR ATTACKS POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, NATIONAL DEBT IN FRONT OF OBAMA

  • Dr. Benjamin Carson delivered a noteworthy National Prayer Breakfast keynote speech in President Barack Obama’s presence
  • Carson attacked political correctness as a “dangerous” threat to free speech and encouraged Americans to boldly share their views
  • The pediatric neurosurgeon also provided his theories about the national debt, deficits, taxation and health care, taking stances that were opposed to the president’s
  • Obama watched intently as Carson spoke for more than 25 minutes
One of the more unique speeches delivered at this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast came from Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Taking the stage before President Barack Obama’s faith-filled address, Carson spoke for more than 25 minutes, tackling issues ranging from education to personal responsibility. His keynote, while predicated upon the theme of Jesus Christ as his ultimate role model, also took a starkly political tone, advocating against some of the very policies the president has implemented.
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Guest Post: Congratulations Charlottesville, Virginia! The First City To Pass Anti-Drone Legislation

This simple piece of legislation proves that you can make a difference at the local level. We need a lot more of this type of thing all over these United States. As I have said many times, it’s not that I am against drones in all capacities; however, we must be vigilant about how these things are used and must have serious safeguards in place to protect civil liberties. Kudos to the Rutherford Institute [5] for leading the charge here.

From US News:
Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.

The resolution passed by a 3-2 vote and was brought to the city council by activist David Swanson and the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group based in the city. The measure also endorses a proposed two-year moratorium on drones in Virginia.

Councilmember Dede Smith, who voted in favor of the bill, says that drones are “pretty clearly a threat to our constitutional right to privacy.”

“If we don’t get out ahead of it to establish some guidelines for how drones are used, they will be used in a very invasive way and we’ll be left to try and pick up the pieces,” she says.

“With a lot of these resolutions, although they don’t have a lot of teeth to them, they can inspire other governments to pass similar measures,” she says. “You can get a critical mass and then it does have influence. One doesn’t do much, but a thousand of them might. We want this on [federal and state lawmakers'] radars.”

Full article here.

Virginia Advances Bill Pushing For state To Establish Its Own Currency

Virginia is one step closer to breaking ties with the country's monetary system.

A proposal to study whether the state should adopt its own currency is gaining traction in the state legislature from a number of lawmakers as well as conservative economists. The state House voted 65-32 earlier this week to approve the measure, and it will now go to the Senate.

While it’s unlikely that Virginia will be printing its own money any time soon, the move sheds light on the growing distrust surrounding the nation’s central bank. Four other states are considering similar proposals. In 2011, Utah passed a law that recognizes gold and silver coins issued by the federal government as tender and requires a study on adopting other forms of legal currency.

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Homeschooling Continues To Grow Despite Challenges To Parents' Rights

While there is debate over reports suggesting a sudden increase in homeschooling since the Newtown shooting, the number of homeschooling families is undeniably growing consistently every year.

In an interview with Jeremiah Lorrig, spokesman for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Lorrig claimed that since the Newtown tragedy, individuals have been anecdotally calling homeschool groups to discuss their concerns about the safety of public schools and to talk more about the option of homeschooling.

According to Lorrig, about 38% of parents who homeschool their children site concerns about the public school environment as the main reason for their decision to educate their children at home. “The environment includes safety, drugs, bullying, and the culture of public schools,” Lorrig said. “As long as safety in public schools is an issue, homeschooling will continue to grow.”

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No Electric

Mt. Hermon Rd from overpass, no electric since 4:00 pm.

Potentially Historic Nor'easter, A Two-Pronged Monster

A historic winter storm is expected to pound the Northeast in the coming day.

What makes this storm so severe? 

Wunderground's meteorologist Shaun Tanner says that the storm system is really the combination of two different storms.

A cold weather system coming out of the Midwest Thursday is expected to merge with a second storm moving up the Eastern half of the United States. The two storms are supposed to marry late Friday, bringing heavy snow and winds gusts of up to 75 mph.

"As much as one to two feet of snow is forecast from the New York City metro area to Maine, with localized heavier amounts possible," according the latest alert from the National Weather Service.


Bruce Willis on Gun Control: Don't Pick Apart the Bill of Rights

Actor Bruce Willis is speaking out against recent attacks on the Second Amendment and new gun control measures being batted around on Capitol Hill, a far cry from many of the people in Hollywood lately including hypocritical Rambo star Sylvester Stallone.
Bruce Willis says he's against new gun control laws that could infringe on Second Amendment rights. The "Die Hard" star also dismisses any link between Hollywood shootouts and real-life gun violence.

"I think that you can't start to pick apart anything out of the Bill of Rights without thinking that it's all going to become undone," Willis told The Associated Press in a recent interview while promoting his latest film, "A Good Day To Die Hard." ''If you take one out or change one law, then why wouldn't they take all your rights away from you?"
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Van Crashes Into McDonald's In Delmar

A Van crashed into the front of the Delmar McDonald's moments ago.

UPDATE: Three patients being taken to Hospital from the scene. Injuries unknown.

Student Loan Bubble Forces Yale, Penn To Sue Their Own Students

We have not been shy about exposing the massive (and unsustainable) bubble of credit being blown into the economy via Student Loans from the government. We have not been afraid to note the dramatic rise in delinquencies among these loans - and the implications for the government. However, as Bloomberg reports, it appears the impact of this exuberance has come back to bite the colleges themselves. In what can only be described as avendor-financing model, the so-called Perkins loans (for students with extraordinary financial hardships) have seen defaults surging more than 20%. The vicious circle, though, has begun as the ponzi of using these revolving loan funds to 'fund' the next round of students is collapsing thanks to the rise in delinquencies. Schools such as Yale, Penn, and George Washington are becoming very aggressive at going after delinquent student borrowers. While financially hard-up graduates complain of no jobs, the schools are not impressed: "You could take a job at Subway or wherever to pay the bills ... It seems like basic responsibility to me," but perhaps that is the point - avoiding responsibility is seemingly rewarded in the new normal.
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Man Arrested for Trespassing on School Property; Guns Found in Home

An Anne Arundel County man has been arrested after trespassing on school property and while being interviewed as to why he was at the school, police said it led them to a search of the man's home where they found a number of guns.

Police arrested Justin Beaumont, 25, of Glen Burnie.

Investigators said just before 2 PM Monday, a custodian at North County High School, Glen Burnie, noticed what police call 'suspicious activity' at the school. The custodian told investigators he heard the sound of an unknown person pulling on door handle and said he didn't recognize Beaumont and called for a school resource officer. Beaumont was then taken to the school's office. 

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Revolving Zombies

The defining characteristic of a zombified system is the way it hands out its rewards. In an honest economy, people do their best. They work hard. They take their chances. Some prevail because they are productive. Others are just lucky. The chips fall where they may.

But as the system is taken over by zombies, the chips fall where they are told to fall. Rather than to honest and efficient producers, the rewards go to those who curry favors.

Elizabeth Fowler knows how it works. She labored at the left hand of senator Max Baucus, drafting the collection of crimes and punishments that came to be known as 'Obamacare.' Senator Baucus admitted that he had better things to do than actually read it. But he didn't have to. His chief health policy counsel, the aforementioned Madam Fowler, knew what was in it. As a former top lobbyist for Wellpoint, America's largest health insurance provider, she had made sure the chips went where she wanted.

"If you drew an organization chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations," wrote Politico at the time, "Fowler would be chief operating officer."

Fowler had already been through the revolving door more than once or twice. She worked for Baucus before joining Wellpoint ... and after. When she came back to Baucus she replaced Michelle Easton, another Wellpoint lobbyist, who helped guide the senator on health policy while Ms. Fowler was on the Wellpoint payroll.

Then, after the legislation was passed, the White House turned to the clever lobbyist to implement it. After all, the sugar spot in the legislation was the provision requiring people to buy products from companies such as Wellpoint, whether they wanted to or not. As America's new Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council, her job was to make sure Wellpoint got a good return on its investment.

And then, in December 2012, whoosh ... she went back through the revolving door. Type in "Elizabeth Fowler" and "revolving door" and you will get the whole story. The 'architect of Obamacare,' say the papers, left the White House to go to the honeypot at Johnson & Johnson.

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Baltimore Faces Financial Ruin Within A Decade

Even if the economy grows at a reasonable rate, the city of Baltimore is on a path to financial ruin, according to a report presented to the city council by the Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management Inc.

With Baltimore’s population and investments plummeting, and poverty and unemployment skyrocketing, the city is expected to go bankrupt within a decade, the report said. The city will accumulate $745 million in deficits over the next 10 years because of a widening gap between revenues and expenditures.

When factor such as the costs of infrastructure needs, pensions and retiree health care are taken into account, the problem looks even worse — the total shortfall reaches $2 billion by 2023, the report found.

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Immigration 'Reform' Will Turn The US Into A Police State

Whenever the federal government decides to reform something we can be fairly sure that the problem is about to get worse, especially if they call the plan bi-partisan. The bi-partisan immigration reform proposal launched last week in the US Senate will be no different.

The new plan, introduced by Sens. McCain and Schumer, would provide a path to citizenship for many of those in the United States illegally. This would only begin after the borders are deemed secure and applicants have paid fees for their illegal entry. They must also pay back taxes on their earnings while working here without government permission. Those on a path to citizenship would be subject to background checks and would be monitored while in the US.

The devil is in the details, and the details of the McCain plan are deeply disturbing. To secure the borders he is calling for a massive increase in drones flying over US territory, spying on US citizens along the border – and presumably within the 100 mile "border zone" over which Department of Homeland Security claims jurisdiction. What if these drones detect suspicious activity unrelated to illegal immigration? Imagine the implications for the federal government's disastrous war on drugs. Imagine what's left of the Fourth Amendment completely tossed into the trashcan. The "privatized" prison system in the US that now benefits from the war on drugs and illegal immigration will no doubt look forward to booming business thanks to the army of drones overhead.

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Student Charged With Rape At Md. High School

COLUMBIA, Md. -- Howard County police have arrested a 17-year-old student at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia in connection with the rape of another student at the school.

Police said Tuesday that DeShawn Jones of Columbia will be charged as an adult with second-degree rape.

Officers say Jones approached a 14-year- old student Monday in a hallway at the school during class hours and asked her to cut class with him. Police say the two walked around inside the school and Jones pulled the girl into an unoccupied room.

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Greatest Empires In History

History's greatest empires covered a fifth of the world, ruled hundreds of millions of people, and lasted anywhere from 100 years to over a millennium.
Empire, which comes from the Latin "imperare" meaning "to command," is a collection of states or ethnic groups united under one ruler or oligarchy.

It is a term that has been used to describe recent US foreign policy. Wrote filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick in a recent USA Today op-ed: "Obama is about to enter his second term as heir of George W. Bush's imperial strategy unless his latest foreign policy appointments signal significant change."

Each empire seemed unstoppable for an age, but in the end they were all consigned to history.

Meow! Hasbro Unveils New Token For Monopoly Game

Scottie dog has a new nemesis in Monopoly after fans from more than 120 countries voted to add a cat token to the property trading board game, replacing the iron, toy maker Hasbro Inc. (HAS) announced Wednesday. It was the first time that fans have had a say on which of the eight tokens to add and which one to toss.

The results were announced after passionate efforts by fans to save their favorite tokens and businesses eager to capitalize on publicity surrounding pieces that represent their products. The shoe and the wheelbarrow had joined the iron as endangered tokens.

The online contest to change the tokens was sparked by chatter on Facebook, where Monopoly has more than 10 million fans. The vote on Facebook closed just before midnight on Tuesday.

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After Election Obama Doesn`t Care About High Gas Prices

I guess the SPR Threat was politically motivated
When Oil and Gas prices were last at these levels President Obama utilized the threat of releasing the SPRs to put a lid on the rampant speculation in the oil markets. And yes with oil inventories at record levels here in the US, there is rampant speculation in the oil markets once again. The oil market is being pegged right alongside the S&P 500 almost tick for tick, regardless of overflowing supplies at Cushing, or large weekly builds in total US stocks. 

No more elections to campaign for
President Obama and his advisors know this correlation by now, and they have fought this nasty correlation for consumers at the pump, with releasing or the threat to release the SPRs which sends the market in the other direction as oil can drop $20 on any release. 
At the time of the last threat critics said that the president was politically motivated in utilizing the SPR release to manage oil and gas prices lower before the election so that high gas prices wouldn`t become a central voting issue, and hurt his chances of being re-elected. 

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Founder Of 'Ground Zero Mosque' Allegedly Used $167K In Project Funds For 'Personal' Gain: Suit

The founder of the controversial "Ground Zero Mosque" allegedly enriched himself with $167,000 in funds meant for an educational project in 2006 to 2008, according to a new bombshell lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Robert Leslie Deak, a major backer of Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf’s nonprofit, the Cordoba Initiative, says he discovered that the religious leader had allegedly used the funds for “his personal use” including “a luxury sports car, personal real estate, entertainment, lavish trips, and vacation” with an unidentified woman named Evelyn Adorno, the court papers, filed late yesterday, claim

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Wireless Exec With Ties To Obama Wins Contract To Supply Poor With Smartphones

A cellphone company run by a major Democratic donor and President Obama backer has extended its foray into government contracts, from the so-called “Obama phone” to a project intended to provide high-speed Internet access to low-income families -- amid criticism its product is ill-equipped.

Critics also suggest TracFone Wireless CEO F.J. Pollak used his Obama connections to help his company get one of the 14 contracts.

At issue is a $13.8 million pilot project by the Federal Communications Commission that attempts to find the best ways to increase the broadband access rate among the poor and help improve their digital skills – to eventually help them manage household finances, look for work and do other tasks.

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Iran President Ahmadinejad Begins Historic Egypt Visit

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has become the first Iranian president to visit Egypt since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Mr Ahmadinejad is in Cairo for a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which begins on Wednesday.

After arriving on Tuesday, he discussed with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi ways to end the bloodshed in Syria and strengthen relations, officials said.

Mr Ahmadinejad was later warned by Egypt's top Sunni Muslim cleric not to meddle in the affairs of Gulf states.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb of al-Azhar said Iran should not to seek the "extension of Shia reach" and should "respect Bahrain as a sisterly Arab state", according to a statement issued by al-Azhar's media office.

The Islamic republic has been accused by Bahrain's Sunni-led government of fomenting unrest among its majority Shia community.

The president was also told by the head of al-Azhar that Sunnis living in Iran should be guaranteed full rights.

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2.3% Medical Excise Tax ?????? !!!!!!!

The2.3% Medical Excise Tax that began on January 1st is supposed to be “hidden” from the consumer, but it's been brought to the public’s attention by hunting and fishing store Cabela’s who have refused to hide it and are showing it as a separate line item tax on their receipts.

WCSO Press Release 2-7-13


Do They Really Listen?

Senator Raskin purportedly playing computer chess while citizens were testifying yesterday. What a shameful disgrace to the office.

Cupid's Love Is Raining Cats & Dogs!

February 16th, 2013
Cupid's Love is Raining Cats & Dogs!
(Ticket sale cutoff Feb. 11th 4:30pm)

A Gala Valentine's Day Cotillion for
Animal Lovers to
Benefit the Wicomico
Humane Society. 

Saturday, February 16th 6pm
Wicomico Youth and Civic Center
Silent Auction, Dinner and Dancing
Auction items include Kuhn's Jewelers, Wood Creek Golf Links, Francis Scott Key and more!

Tickets are $35/person, to purchase, please stop by the Wicomico Humane Society or contact
Kayla Christiano at events@wicomicohumane.org
and 443-366-5455

Please bring your favorite cocktail, wine or beer to celebrate with your sweetheart.Want to celebrate with a group? Reserve an 8 top table for only $250

NOW YOU CAN ENCRYPT YOUR CALLS, TEXTS TO PROTECT THEM FROM BEING SPIED ON

There are those who might be concerned about spying — by the government, hackers or someone else — on their phone calls and text messages. Well, now there’s an app for that.

According to Slate, the firm Silent Circle has released a smartphone app that encrypts data. As Ryan Gallagher for Slate puts it, “that means photographs, videos, spreadsheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds.”

The company’s press release stated the Silent Phone app is available for both Apple and Android devices. It is described as the first peer-to-peer encryption tool for smartphones and tablets, which means information doesn’t pass through a third-party.

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GOVERNOR O’MALLEY TO INDUCT FARM FAMILY INTO AGRICULTURE HALL OF FAME

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Martin O’Malley will induct one farming family into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame during the annual “Taste of Maryland Agriculture” event on Thursday, February 7, 2012, at the Loews Annapolis Hotel. 

The Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame is the state’s most prestigious agriculture award recognizing their high standards of achievement and commitment to the industry and their communities.

Nearly 700 people are expected for the Maryland Agriculture Council’s annual event, which brings together the State’s agricultural leaders and lawmakers. In addition, the Agriculture Council will present its annual educational grants. An extensive menu of locally produced heavy hors d’oeuvres will feature the variety and bounty of Maryland’s agricultural products, along with Maryland wine tasting.

Kevin Nealon On Conan - Racist Ski Trails

Maryland Woman Arrested For Rape

Location: Unit block of Mt. Zion Road, Laurel, DE

Date of Occurrence: November of 2011 – August 2012

Victim:
14 year old male

Defendant, Charges, and Bail Information:
Katheryn L. Carmean, 35, Berlin, MD (Photo Attached)
Rape 3rd (10 counts)
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child
Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Arraigned at JP2 and committed to Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution on $57,000.00 secured bail.

Resume:
Laurel, DE- Delaware State Police detectives have arrested a 35 year old Berlin, Maryland woman in connection with allegedly raping a 14 year old male.

On Wednesday February 6, 2013, detectives at Troop 4 in Georgetown began a rape investigation after a 14 year old boy disclosed to a family member that he had a sexual relationship with Katheryn L. Carmean, 35 of Berlin, Maryland. The incidents reportedly occurred over a ten month period as the victim would periodically stay at Katheryn Carmean’s residence located on Mt. Zion Road near Laurel. Carmean, who recently moved to Maryland, was an acquaintance of the victim through a friendship with her son.

Detectives conducted a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the complaint and obtained a warrant for Carmean’s arrest. She was picked up yesterday at her place of employment in Seaford and brought back to Troop 4 where she was charged with the above listed offenses. She was arraigned at JP2 and committed to DJBWCI on $57,000.00 secured bond.

Because of the sensitivity of this case, and in consideration of the victim, only limited information will be released.

Proposals To Reinforce Open Meetings Compliance Face Hearing

Bills to increase compliance with the Open Meetings Act by public bodies in Maryland and stiffen penalties for violating the law will get a hearing Thursday afternoon in the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

One of the bills, sponsored by Del. Dan Morhaim who chairs the Government Operations Subcommittee, is significantly different than what MarylandReporter.com initially reported in January.

Back then, before the legislation was drafted and introduced, Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, said he wanted the Open Meetings Compliance Board to be able to fine public bodies that close meetings improperly from $1,000 to $10,000. The unpaid panel reviews complaints from the public and rules on whether public bodies have complied with the law, but it cannot issue fines, impose penalties or reverse actions on public business taken behind closed doors.

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GOVERNOR O’MALLEY AND LT. GOVERNOR BROWN TO HIGHLIGHT ADMINISTRATION’S JOBS AGENDA

ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 7, 2013) – TODAY, Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown will highlight the Administration’s agenda to create jobs and expand opportunity for more Marylanders. 

This morning at 11:30 a.m., the Governor will join the Federal Facilities Advisory Board for the release of a strategic plan to support the State’s federal community. At 1:00 p.m., the Governor will testify before the Senate Finance Committee on the Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) initiative to bridge the gap between Maryland’s workforce and the jobs in highest demand. At 1:45 p.m., Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown will testify on the Veterans Full Employment Act before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee - a bill to remove barriers to employment for Maryland veterans and their spouses.

VA Promises More Steps To Address Veteran Suicides

A new Veterans Affairs Department task force will focus on improving mental health services following a report that noted an increase in the suicide rate among veterans.

Robert Petzel, the under secretary for health at the VA, says (.pdf) the agency has developed a taskforce that will provide recommendations for innovating mental health care services and training in suicide prevention techniques. The taskforce will provide Petzel with "a full report with identification strategies and patient-centered focused health care options" by March 1.

Petzel is responding to a Feb. 1 VA report (.pdf) that says roughly 22 veterans killed themselves each day in fiscal 2010, up from a recent low of 18 in 2007. It notes that, while rising, veteran suicide rates have not increased as quickly as suicide rates among the general population.

The report says that preliminary evidence for fiscal 2012 shows a decrease in the rate of non-fatal suicide attempts for service members using Veterans Health Administration services. The same data shows a decrease in repeat attempts during the following 12-month period.

The report says that most veteran suicides are among those age 50 years or older and that most who call in to the Veteran Crisis Line are men between the ages of 50 and 59.

For the crisis line, the VA says fewer veterans call in currently thinking of suicide, meaning the need for rescue services for callers has decreased.

A follow-up report is expected in May 2013 once that VA and Defense Department's joint "Suicide Repository is completed and additional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is obtained and analyzed," says Petzel.

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Red Cross Benefit


Woman Hits Fiance With Beer Can, Then Bean Can

An Ocean City woman was arrested on assault charges twice within a span of a few hours on Tuesday and early Wednesday morning after allegedly attacking her fiancé first with a can of beer and later a can of beans.

On Tuesday, Kathleen Theresa Machen, 47, of Ocean City, was arrested on second-degree assault charges after allegedly attacking her fiancé by hitting him in the head with a can of beer. Ocean City Police responded to the residence on Philadelphia Ave. near 12th Street and attempted to place Machen under arrest on a second-degree assault charge.

After the arrest for second-degree assault, Machen was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was released on her own recognizance with the specific stipulation she was not to return to the residence nor have any contact with the victim. She reportedly did not heed that warning and returned to the residence to allegedly assault the victim again.

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Blackberry Not Working

Government Shouldn’t Define ‘Church’

Under pressure from religious and conservative groups, the Obama administration has offered another compromise on the issue of birth control coverage within the Affordable Care Act. While exempting churches and some religiously affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and universities, from supplying the coverage, the new proposal calls for their employees to receive stand-alone private insurance policies providing birth control coverage at no cost. Insurance companies will foot the bill, but only the naive can possibly think the cost won’t find its way back to the institution in the form of higher health premiums.
Numerous lawsuits filed against this and other portions of “Obamacare” will proceed and for good reason: the federal government seems intent on setting rules on matters of conscience and worse, defining what constitutes a church, or religious institution.

One of the litigants is Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores, whose CEO, David Green, is an evangelical Christian. Green says, “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.” That mandate includes, in addition to contraceptive coverage in employees’ health care, “preventive services,” including “morning-after” pills and other drugs, which Green considers abortifacients. After Hobby Lobby’s appeal to Justice Sonia Sotomayor was rejected, the Christian Post reports the company then made plans to “…shift the beginning of its employee health plan to temporarily avoid $1.3 million a day in fines for each day since Jan. 1 that it did not comply with the Affordable Care Act.” (According to the new health care law, businesses with more than 50 employees that refuse to comply can be fined by the IRS $100 per day per employee.) Hobby Lobby’s appeals continue.

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