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Saturday, March 16, 2013

UN Takes Up Arms Trade Treaty Opposed By NRA

The United Nations on Monday will once again take up an arms trade treaty that has drawn the NRA's ire amid assurances that the Obama administration is “steadfast in its commitment” to getting it done.
The White House helped pull the plug on treaty talks ahead of last year's election amid heavy lobbying by the U.S. gun lobby. Now the world body is taking another shot at reaching consensus on a treaty, and this time the Obama administration says it's committed to getting it done.

“The United States is steadfast in its commitment to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that helps address the adverse effects of the international arms trade on global peace and stability,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Friday.


Does The Holy Spirit Choose The Pope?

The long-awaited papal conclave in Rome officially began when the cardinals chanted an ancient hymn, called Veni, Sancte Spiritus. One of the most solemn of Catholic chants, it is used infrequently, and means “Come, Holy Spirit.” With this hymn, the cardinal-electors pray for the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the “Third Person” of the Trinity, or more commonly, God’s spirit, to help them in their deliberations.

But does the Holy Spirit choose the pope? If so, how does that work?

Feds Fund EcoATM, Robo-Squirrel Despite Warnings About Chronic Disease Research Cuts

The federal government is ready to pay people $45,900 to attend an annual snowmobile competition in Michigan for the next two years.

They're also ready to shell out $516,000 for scientists to develop an ecoATM that will give out cash in exchange for old cell phones and other electronics. And why not drop another $349,862 for a study that looks at the effects of meditation and self-reflection for math, science and engineering majors?

These are just a few of the 164 grants the National Science Foundation approved two weeks ago. Yet around the same time, the administration was warning that the sequester would cut into critical research on chronic diseases. 


Americans Are Eating Fewer Calories, So Why Are We Still Obese?

The good news: we’re eating fewer calories. The bad news: that’s not translating into lower obesity rates.
Two federal studies on the amount of calories Americans eat show that we are eating less than we did about a decade ago, and that we’re also limiting the amount of fast food we consume.

Between 2007 to 2010, about 11.3% of daily calories came from from fast food, down from 12.8% reported between 2003 to 2006, according to data collected by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fast food consumption decreased with age, with adults aged 60 and older eating the least of this type of food. For younger adults, non-Hispanic black adults reporting eating the most fast food, with more than one-fifth of their daily calories coming from fast food chains.

Rand Paul's CPAC 2013 Speech - 3/14/2013

Game On: Early GOP Auditions For 2016 Election

Just two months into President Barack Obama's second term, Republican leaders are lining up to diagnose the GOP's ills while courting party activists -- all with an eye on greater political ambitions. They have danced around questions about their White House aspirations, but the die-hard conservatives are already picking favorites in what could be a crowded Republican presidential primary in 2016.

Thousands of activists who packed into suburban Washington's national conservative summit gave Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul a narrow victory over Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in their unscientific presidential preference poll. Paul had 25 percent of the vote and Rubio 23 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was third with 8 percent.

The freshman senators topped a pool of nearly two dozen governors and elected officials who paraded through the same ballroom stage over three days. There were passionate calls for party unity, as the party's old guard and a new generation of leaders clashed over the future of the wayward Republican Party.


Why Marriage Is Good For Your Health — Until You Get Sick

It’s supposed to last through sickness and in health, but it turns out that it’s a better idea to get married because you love someone, not because you think it’s going to keep you healthy for the long haul.
That’s the message from a study published this month in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, which contradicts previous research that extolled the health benefits of partnership. It turns out that marriage is all well and good — until a person’s health starts declining.

While studies of married and single people show that healthy unmarried people are far likelier to die than healthy married people during the 20-year research period, the numbers equal out when both married and unmarried people report poor health. “Marriage is more protective for healthy people,” says lead author Hui Zheng, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

Judge Rules Secret FBI National Security Letters Unconstitutional

A federal judge has struck down a set of laws allowing the FBI to issue so-called national security letters to banks, phone companies and other businesses demanding customer information.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said the laws violate the First Amendment and the separation of powers principles and ordered the government to stop issuing the secretive letters or enforcing their gag orders, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The FBI almost always bars recipients of the letters from disclosing to anyone — including customers — that they have even received the demands, Illston said in the ruling released Friday.


Why Pope Francis Only Has One Lung

Pope Francis is a pioneering pontiff in many ways — he’s the first to take the name of Francis, the first pope from South America, and the first to don the papal robes with one lung.

According to the Associated Press, the new Pope had one of his organs removed as a teenager, presumably after a bout with an infection. At that time, it’s possible that antibiotic treatments that are commonly used today to treat such infections were not as available, and to protect patients from further health problems doctors removed the lung as way to stop the infection from spreading.

“It was probably a pretty bad infection, and maybe even an abscess, that might have caused him to bleed,” says Dr. John Belperio, association professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles. “If he were bleeding a lot in the lung, the only thing to do is to resect the lung, take it out, to stop the bleeding.”

Greatest Marriage Proposal EVER!!!

Children In Nature Wins Friends Of Recreation Award

The Governor’s Children in Nature Initiative won the Delaware Recreation & Parks Society’s 2013 Friends of Recreation Award, given to a person or organization that “has made important contributions toward the advancement and development of parks and open space or the advancement and development of recreation, educational or cultural programs or facilities in the state of Delaware.”

O'Malley To Head To Israel

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will be heading to Israel in April, a common stop for presidential hopefuls.

The trip is meant to replace an eight-day trip canceled in November due to the exchange of rocket fire between Israel and Hamas.


Annual Youth And Non-Ambulatory Hunters With Disabilities Turkey Hunt Set For April 6

DOVER – Prior to Delaware’s 2013 spring turkey season, youth ages 10 to 15 and non-ambulatory hunters with disabilities will have a special one-day hunt opportunity on Saturday, April 6. This year, youth and non-ambulatory hunters with disabilities will be able to hunt turkeys on state wildlife areas. Traditionally, this special one-day hunt had been restricted to private property.

All participants are required to have completed a Delaware-approved turkey hunting safety course. In addition, hunters ages 13 to 15 must have a valid Delaware junior hunting license and must have completed a hunter education course. Young hunters must be accompanied by an adult age 21 or older who is licensed to hunt in Delaware, and who has taken a Delaware-approved turkey hunter safety class. Adult companions may not possess a firearm during the hunt.

All state wildlife areas normally open for hunting during the regular turkey season are also open for the youth/non-ambulatory hunters with disabilities' turkey hunt. However, all state forest lands that are open during the regular turkey season will be closed for the special hunt – these include Redden State Forest, Blackbird State Forest and Taber State Forest.

No special turkey hunting permits are required for hunting on state wildlife areas on this day. Areas are open on a first-come, first-serve basis with no registration required.

As with the regular turkey hunting season, hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. All birds taken must be checked by 2:30 p.m. on the day of the hunt at an authorized turkey check station. Bag limit is one bearded bird per year; birds without beards may not be taken.

Delaware’s regular spring turkey hunting season opens on Saturday, April 13 and runs through Saturday, May 11.

For more information, please contact Matt DiBona, Wildlife Section, at 302-735-3600, or visit

Md. House Approves $37 Billion State Budget

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland House of Delegates has approved the state’s budget, which is about $37 billion.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 101-36 on Friday for the bill, largely along party lines. The measure now goes to the Senate.

Republicans criticized the plan, saying lawmakers have allowed spending to grow too much due to tax increases in recent years and shifts of money from dedicated funds. But Democrats say the state has been able to maintain crucial education funding to invest in the state’s future, even in the aftermath of the recession.


Bill Seeks To Phase Out Over-Use Of Antibiotics In Farm Animals

It’s been almost two years since the FDA asked the farmers of America to pretty please stop pumping up their livestock with antibiotics they don’t need, and yet that amazingly seems to have had no effect. And so today, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York has introduced legislation that would curb the controversial practice.
If enacted — which, honestly, isn’t terribly likely given how much money the pharmaceutical industry makes off this practice — the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act [PDF] would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to effectively ban non-therapeutic use of eight classes of antibiotics — any type of penicillin, tetracycline, macrolide, lincosamide, streptogramin, aminoglycoside, sulfonamide, or cephalosporin.

Maryland Gas Prices May Rise Under New Transportation Plan

ANNAPOLIS, Md. —Gas prices would go up under a new state transportation funding plan.

While many Marylanders may not want a price bump at the gas pump, a major business group is supporting the measure.

A public hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee started the engine of legislative debate on the governor's plan to raise the wholesale gas tax. It would cause a 2-cent hike at the pump this July and as much as 16 cents more in 2015. That money from drivers will help replenish the state's transportation trust fund by 2018 to pay for road and bridge projects and an expansion of mass transit.


Federal Legislation Would Ban Export Of Horses For Slaughter, Protect Public From “Toxic Meat”

While U.S. consumers have been sitting fairly pretty over here during Europe’s horsemeat scare, the hullabaloo has served to stir up some action stateside as well. New federal legislation is seeking to ban the export of American horses for slaughter, reinstate a ban on slaughtering them here and also protect the public from eating “toxic” horsemeat.

In June 2012 a House committee had voted toend funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. but not much has happened since then. This new measure, the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, or SAFE, brings that debate back into public light.

Judge Again Dismisses Wrongful Termination Suit

BERLIN -- A visiting Worcester County Circuit Court judge last week dismissed for the second time a lawsuit filed by a former Berlin Fire Department supervisor against the town and its elected officials, alleging wrongful termination and calling into question the town’s authority to fire, suspend or discipline emergency services personnel. The plaintiff’s attorney said today he has filed an appeal with the state’s Court of Special Appeals.

In May, the town terminated EMS supervisor Norris Phillip Donohoe, Jr. after 23 years on the job when at least two EMS employees filed formal complaints that alleged workplace harassment and discrimination. In July, Donohoe filed a civil suit against the Mayor and Council and Town Administrator Tony Carson, seeking at least $200,000 and alleging the Berlin officials did not have the authority to terminate, or even discipline, him over allegations of harassment and discrimination. Instead, Donohoe, in his complaint, said that authority wrested with his immediate supervisors, the fire chief and the fire company president.


Dr Ben Carson Addressing CPAC Part 1

Dr Ben Carson Addressing CPAC Part 2

Bravo And Steve’s Real Food Cat And Dog Foods Recalled For Salmonella

Batches of raw pet food have tested positive for Salmonella, and have been recalled by the manufacturers. Minnesota Department of Agriculture tests found bacteria in 2-pound tubes of Bravo Chicken for both dogs and cats and Turducken dog food from Steve’s Real Food. The recalls affect one lot for each respective brand – check out the recall announcements for lot numbers, expiration dates, and contact information for the companies. [via Dog Food Advisor]

Sarah Palin Speaks To CPAC In Washington - Part 1

Sarah Palin Speaks To CPAC In Washington - Part 2

Report Makes Chilling Forecast On Northwest Quake

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- More than 10,000 people could die when -- not if -- a monster earthquake and tsunami occur just off the Pacific Northwest coast, researchers told Oregon legislators Thursday.

Coastal towns would be inundated. Schools, buildings and bridges would collapse, and economic damage could hit $32 billion.

These findings were published in a chilling new report by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, a group of more than 150 volunteer experts.

In 2011, the Legislature authorized the study of what would happen if a quake and tsunami such as the one that devastated Japan hit the Pacific Northwest.


Americans Seriously Digging Irish Whiskey: Sales Increased 400% In The Last 10 Years

Maybe you cried when you heard about all thatScottish whisky going down the drain, but it sounds like Americans hold Irish whiskey in a very special place in our hearts: Drinkers have swilled enough of the stuff to give it an almost 400% boost in the booze market since 2002. It is much better than the green beer we see St. Patrick’s Day revelers chugging and often depositing into street corner trash cans.

MarketWatch says Irish whiskey is the fastest growing category in the American spirits market with that 400% increase. Even in the last year it’s grown 22.5%, says the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Berlin Council Supports Brewery’s Special Event Plans

BERLIN -- Burley Oak Brewery is looking to to partner with town businesses to provide four different weekend festivals aimed at attracting craft beer devotees to Berlin.

“The craft beer demographic is one that we like to have in town because they like to spend money,” said Burley owner Bryan Brushmiller. “We’ve seen it work well for us. So we decided to do four events that would bring this demographic to town.”

The festivals would be staggered quarterly, taking place once every two or three months. All would involve outside space and live entertainment.


China Companies Buying Up Filing Stations In U.S.

According to Reuters, one of China's largest private companies, has been quietly purchasing natural gas rights in our nation, and working to establish a network of natural gas filing stations along U.S. Highways. ENN Group started working with a small Utah-based company two years ago, and has opened five filing stations since, with another three to be opened within weeks. Natural gas fracking is a highly controversial process, and has lead to the contamination of land, ground water, and drinking wells throughout our nation. Now we're letting foreign companies take part in this risky process? This is insane. Our energy production should be part of the commons, and subject to much stricter regulation. For the sake of our nation, it's time to get foreign and domestic profits out of energy production, and move to cleaner, greener sources or energy.

Council, Volunteers Ink New Agreement

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and Council and the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company (OCVFC) celebrated this week the signing of a new contract of sorts between the two entities.

“This is a good occasion today … it has been an honor to stand together with our volunteers, and in this case our volunteer fire company,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.

The mayor stood with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the OCVFC and the Mayor and City Council that he was prepared to sign and execute that moment.



Democrats Are Pushing Back Against President Obama's Proposed Cuts To Our Social Safety Net

Party leaders Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi may be on board with President Obama's so-called “Grand Bargain,” but rank-and-file democrats are vowing to protest any plan that cuts Social Security or Medicare. America's Senator, Senator Bernie Sanders, said, “Some of us believe very strongly that it would be absolutely wrong to cut Social Security benefits.” Democratic leaders are offering cuts to health and retirement programs, in an effort to get the GOP to compromise on new tax increases. But recent history shows us that Republicans will never compromise. Time and time again they've threatened to crash our economy, let poor and elderly people starve, all so they can protect tax breaks for their millionaire and billionaire buddies. We need to stop negotiating with these economic terrorists. President Obama and the Democrats need to listen to Bernie Sanders and take our social safety net off the economic chopping block.

Resort Will Shuffle Staff For ACA

With 2013 being used as the “test” year to determine one’s obligations once the 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act – popularly known as “Obamacare” – rolls around, the Town of Ocean City will likely be doing some major re-shuffling of staff this coming season to avoid adding some employees to its health care plan.

“We are really having to get very creative as to how to estimate additional staff this summer, and what it may come down to is having twice as many part-time personnel as we used to,” said Ocean City Fire Department Chief Chris Larmore, whose department will likely be one of the most heavily affected.

“There is an immense amount of time currently going into figuring that out.”


Obama Administration Wants to Hand Over Access to Your Financial Records To Law Enforcement Agencies

The Obama Administration wants to hand over access to your financial records to the CIA, NSA, and other law enforcement agencies. According to a new report from Reuters, a Treasury Department plan gives spy agencies full access to more raw financial data then ever before, under the guise of national security.Already, financial institutions are required to report “suspicious customer activity” to the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, but spy agencies must make case-by-case requests to access the FinCEN database. Under the new plan, agencies would have unlimited access to the financial records of millions of Americans. A Treasury spokesperson said that U.S. Law already allows FinCEN to share information with agencies, and that there are privacy safegaurds in place under the Bank Secrecy Act. But Michael German of the ACLU calls the proposal “a black hole” - saying, “Time and again, we have evidence, unfortunately well after the fact, that somebody's civil rights have been violated; that the intelligence community simply ignores the rules.” Allowing more government surveillance is a bad idea. Over the past decade, we've seen Presidents and spy agencies chip away at our civil rights, all in the name of national security, and this plan is simply another attack on our privacy. As Benjamin Franklin said,“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” . We must stand up for the precious civil liberties guaranteed to us in the Constitution, or we'll soon find they no longer exist.

Dental Clinic Eyes Future Growth

BERLIN -- With a two-year anniversary approaching next month, the Worcester County Dental Clinic in Berlin is planning an advertising campaign to increase awareness of the services offered.

“I still feel like the community doesn’t know we’re here yet,” said Clinic Director Krista Hill. “Not everybody knows we’re here.”

Located on William Street, the clinic serves youth under the age of 21 as well as pregnant women. This is a significant expansion on the services available when the facility first opened in 2011.

“When we first started, the grant was originally written for children under 18,” said Hill. “We have since expanded to be children under 21. So we’ve increased that upper limit and also included are pregnant women.”


Progressive Lawmakers Unveil Alternative Budget: Tax The Rich, Cut The Pentagon

As the House Budget Committee discussed marking up Chairman Paul Ryan's austerity budget on Wednesday, leaders from the Congressional Progressive Caucus revealed their fiscal plan for America.

Entitled "Back to Work," the budget lays out policies that proponents say would bridge the deficit by stimulating employment, raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting the Pentagon budget.

However, it has virtually no chance of passing.

Symbolic of the CPC's status, caucus leaders held a press conference heralding their plan in a hallway of the Cannon House Office Building, adjacent to the hearing room where the Ryan budget neared its first hurdle.

"Our fight is with the outside," conceded CPC co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona. "The Progressive Caucus' fight and momentum is from the outside, and we know that's the pressure point."

Grijalva described the CPC budget - the third such plan the caucus has published in three years - as part of a long game.


Senate Budgeters Cut Pension Contribution By $100 Million

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted Thursday to cut $100 million in contributions to the State Retirement and Pension System for fiscal 2014. The committee tied the unexpected move to passage of legislation that will eventually ensure the state puts aside enough money for employee and teachers pensions. But the cut also adds a year to achieving long-term funding goals for those pensions.

As it finished work on Gov. Martin O’Malley’s $37 billion budget, Senate budgeters voted unanimously to cut some of the proceeds from the increased pensions contributions of state workers and teachers. Since 2011, those employees pay 7% of their paychecks toward their own pensions, a two percentage point increase designed to help reduce pension liabilities that are at least $19 billion.

The changes in pension contributions and benefits passed in 2011 were designed to make the pension system 80% funded in 2023. With $40 billion in current assets, the pension fund now has enough money to cover about 65% of future obligations, assuming it meets its long-term target of 7.75% return on investment. Some analysts and a major bond rater consider that rate unrealistically optimistic.


Wicomico Continues Work On Tier Map

SALISBURY – The Wicomico County Council is taking steps to submit a tier map to the state following several weeks of public outreach and a public hearing regarding the ongoing “septic bill”.

The Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, also referred to as the “septic bill,” requires counties to make a number of changes to their subdivision codes, including the adoption of a four tier system for categorizing the development of land in the county and the determination of the type of sewer system that will serve the subdivisions in the tiers.

Tiers II and III would allow major subdivisions to be built on septic systems in either a limited capacity or after a public hearing and approval of the Planning Commission, respectively. Tiers I and IV would not allow any major subdivisions to be built on septic systems.


Uh Oh

Starry Starry Night, (Vincent) Secrets Of Old Age