NASA’s Kepler space telescope has detected a faraway planet almost exactly the size of Earth and close enough to its star to be in the so-called habitable or Goldilocks zone, where conditions are not too hot or too cold for liquid water – essential for life – to persist. Many of the planets spotted outside our solar system sport thick layers of gas, but this new planet could very well be formed of rock. In that case, a planet with a family resemblance to our own is orbiting a star 500 light years away.
“We now know that these Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of other stars exist,” says Elisa Quintana of NASA’s Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute, co-author of the study reported in the journal Science. “We thought they did, everybody on the Kepler team hoped they did … but knowing that they exist gives us motivation to find more.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a Senate Democratic proposal gradually boosting the minimum wage to $10.10 hourly would force businesses to spend $15 billion more in salaries in 2017.
The nonpartisan budget office says the increase would impose $1 billion in higher salary costs on state and local governments in 2017, when in full effect.
Facebook users in the U.S. will soon be able to see which of their friends are in close proximity using a new feature the company is launching on Thursday.
Called “Nearby Friends,” the optional tool will only be available to people who choose to turn it on. The feature uses your smartphone’s GPS system to tell your Facebook friends you are nearby — provided they have the feature turned on. Rather than share your exact location, it will only show that you are nearby, say, within half a mile.
Wal-Mart is offering another incentive to its customers to spend more time at its stores.
The world’s largest retailer introduced a new money transfer service Thursday that it says will cut fees by up to 50 percent compared with similar services elsewhere. The Walmart-2-Walmart service is being rolled out in partnership with Ria Money Transfer, a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide Inc.
Shares of MoneyGram and Western Union plunged almost immediately Thursday after the announcement.
... Malcolm Set For May 12
The Charles County Board of Commissioners encourages interested residents to attend an informational meeting on Monday, May 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Malcolm Elementary School (14760 Poplar Hill Road, Waldorf). This meeting is hosted by Synagro, a biosolids and organic residuals recycler.
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss sewage sludge utilization permit 2010-SRC-5574 and a plan of action that will address citizen concerns.
For more information, contact Debbie Tarbox at 301-645-0550 or TarboxD@CharlesCountyMD.gov. Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeks public comments on proposed changes to its regulations for the licensing, inspection, and annual fees it charges applicants and licensees for fiscal year (FY) 2014. The proposed fee rule, published today in the Federal Register, includes fees required by law to recover approximately 90 percent of the agency’s budget authority.
For the FY 2014 proposed fee rule, the NRC’s estimated required fee recovery amount is approximately $930.7 million, an increase of 7.7 percent from FY 2013. Approximately 35 percent of the fees would recover the cost of specific services to identifiable applicants and licensees under 10 CFR Part 170. The remaining 65 percent would be billed as annual fees under 10 CFR Part 171. By law, the NRC is required to collect all fees by September 30, 2014.
Celebrate La Plata, the Annual Spring Festival comes to La Plata Town Hall on Saturday, April 27th from 12 noon to 4PM. This family event will include free activities for children of all ages, live entertainment, craft vendors, delicious food for sale and the La Plata Bed Races.
Over 40 craft and business vendors have signed up to have booths at the event. Among the handcrafted items for sale will be jewelry, paintings, wood carved items, candles, toys, decorations, and other crafts. Craft vendor booths will be set up on the east lawn of Town Hall.
...Maryland Broadband Cooperative Announce Broadband Utilization Assessment
Broadband Assessment Initiative Aims to Grow State’s Digital Economy
The Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland and the Maryland Broadband Cooperative invite all Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s County businesses to participate in a broadband business assessment. The Maryland Broadband Cooperative is launching a pilot project in Southern Maryland affording 500 businesses the opportunity to participate in an online assessment and scorecard project to help gauge and improve their economic vitality by better understanding their utilizing broadband technologies.
They won’t listen. Commissioners Bobby Rucci, Debra Davis and Reuben Collins continue to side with the development lobby and have ignored the interests of Charles County’s citizens who oppose our county’s terrible growth policies.
They won’t listen to the over 2,000 citizens who have registered their vehement opposition to business as usual in the county.
And they won’t listen to Maryland government officials or even Ed McMahon, a nationally recognized expert in planning with the Urban Land Institute who you can watch in this video—https://vimeo.com/67586035.
But you can fight back!
I am horrified at the recent vote to take away the authority of Charles County commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly.
This secret maneuver reminds me of the previous board of county commissioners, which, except for Commissioner Reuben Collins, was roundly voted out of office.
Commissioner Kelly was elected, by me, and many voters like me, to be president, and to have the president’s authority. I am very glad to see the changes she has brought to county governance, and I wholeheartedly support her actions in office.
To those commissioners who secretly hatched and voted for this power grab, without input from citizens like me, if President Kelly’s authority is not restored, I will work day and night to see that you are not re-elected.Read more...
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has increased the Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management Area, located in Charles County, by more than 30 percent. The new 773-acre parcel, known as the Pomfret Tract, is now open to the public. With this addition, Myrtle Grove encompasses 2,496 acres and has replaced Cedar Point as the largest Wildlife Management Area in the Southern Maryland.
Hunting on the new tract will follow all established season dates and bag limits found in the Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland, and will be open for Spring Turkey Season beginning April 18, 2014. Hunter access to Myrtle Grove WMA is generally permitted and does not require possession of a seasonal permit or daily reservations. Hunters must park in designated areas only.
It’s been six months since the Maryland law banning cellphone usage while driving became more strict, and the number of drivers ticketed has more than tripled.
The change in state law makes driving while talking on a hand-held phone a primary offense, allowing police officers to stop a driver on Maryland roadways for just holding their phone.
And later this year, penalties for causing a serious or fatal car crash while talking on the phone or texting will increase, according to a measure Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law Monday.
Voters may get to skip the lines at the polls this summer by receiving and marking their ballots online, but election officials must first decide if the convenience outweighs the security risks.
The State Board of Elections will vote this month on using a new online ballot marking system, which includes electronic delivery of absentee ballots, in the June 24 gubernatorial primary election.
But voter advocates and security hawks warned in recent months that poor authentication methods — as well as inconsistent online requirements — make the system vulnerable to voter fraud.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office is investigating several reports of copper thefts in which suspects stole copper wiring from large light poles. The most recent theft occurred at a school.
On April 16 at about 3:30 a.m., a patrol officer was conducting a building check at Westlake High School, 3300 Middletown Road in Waldorf, when he discovered someone had tampered with the light poles near the back of the parking lot. A closer look revealed the wires were pulled out of the pole, cut and stolen.
Copper wires were recently stolen from two other schools and two businesses. Officers have been directed to increase patrols in these areas and residents are urged to report suspicious activity immediately.