Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance today presented five $500 checks to Southern Maryland FFA Chapters for leadership and chapter development activities during the 2014/2015 school year.
“We are happy to see these funds go towards helping the next generation of farmers gain additional experience in leadership development and agricultural education,” said Secretary Hance.
The following FFA representatives attended the check presentation event at Maryland Department of Agriculture headquarters in Annapolis: Maryland FFA State President Jenell Eck, Maryland FFA Foundation Chairman Bill Schrodel, and Maryland FFA Executive Director Terrie Shank. Each chapter received a $500 check, accepted by the following individuals on its behalf:
Two controversial decisions by the former St. Mary’s County Commissioners will be revisited by the new board. On Monday Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R- 2nd District) asked the board to re-look at the decisions to jettison an expanded jail in favor of renovating the existing facility, and shelving a new Leonardtown Library and instead renovating it as well. Hewitt also asked the new board to seriously consider the request in a petition with more than 3,000 names to accelerate plans for a new Garvey Senior Center on the St. Mary’s County Government Center grounds.
The commissioners in 2013 shelved a jail expansion project, and considerable state funding attached to it, after the bid came in $7 million over the $16.2 million budget. The decision to renovate, to the tune of $9 million was criticized by the sheriff, members of his citizen’s advisory committee and the planning commission as being short-sighted.
No longer impeded by Republican blocking tactics, Democrats are on track to win confirmation of up to 88 of President Barack Obama’s top judicial nominations this year, a total that would be the highest for any president in two decades.
Last year, Democrats made it harder for Republicans to derail Obama’s nominations by weakening the Senate’s rule on filibusters. So far this year, the chamber has approved 76 federal court of appeals and district court judges, all of them lifetime appointments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is hoping to confirm a dozen more before adjournment later this week — votes he is pushing with the knowledge that the Republicans who control the Senate next year will be less accommodating.
Another measure of Obama’s impact is on federal appeals courts, which have enormous influence on their regions of the country and can be conduits for cases to reach the Supreme Court. When he took office, 10 of the 13 appeals courts had more judges appointed by Republican than Democratic presidents. Now the balance has switched, with Democratic-appointed majorities on nine of the courts.
A bipartisan panel of state legislators on Wednesday approved spending recommendations that include a request for incoming Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to reduce ongoing spending by at least $350 million in his first budget.
Instead of recommending a cap on the percentage of growth of the state operating budget, the 21-member joint Spending Affordability Committee recommended that Hogan take steps to decrease ongoing spending in an effort to better align revenue with the cost of state programs. The recommendation is roughly equal to a 3.5 percent limit on the growth of the fiscal 2016 budget, according to Del. John L. Bohanan Jr, D-St. Mary’s County and co-chair of the committee.
Hogan will deliver his first budget on Jan. 23, just two days after taking the oath of office.
Immigrant advocates filed a lawsuit Wednesday over concerns that federal immigration agents could use state driver’s license databases to track down people for deportation.
The National Immigration Law Center sued the Department of Homeland Security demanding documents detailing how federal immigration agents access and use driver’s license data.
The lawsuit comes after immigrant advocates in Maryland received reports that federal agents earlier this year arrested several immigrants with prior deportation orders after apparently identifying them with help from a driver’s license photo and vehicle information.
At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities ? many of them beaten, starved or left alone to drown while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger, The Associated Press has found.
To determine that number, the AP canvassed the 50 states, the District of Columbia and branches of the military ? circumventing a system that does a terrible job of accounting for child deaths. Many states struggled to provide numbers. Secrecy often prevailed.
Most of the 786 children whose cases were compiled by the AP were under the age of 4. They lost their lives even as authorities were investigating their families or providing some form of protective services because of previous instances of neglect or violence or other troubles in the home.
Addressing growing concerns over seafood fraud, a presidential task force called Tuesday for expanded enforcement and a new program giving consumers more information about the origins of the imported fish, crab and other seafood they eat.
The new program would trace seafood from its harvest to its entry into U.S. commerce, with the first phase focusing on species that are of “particular concern” for fraud or illegal catch. For example, shipments of sushi or snapper fillets — which are often fraudulently substituted with a cheaper species or caught illegally overseas — would need documentation that included details about when, where and how it was caught. Such data are already required from domestic fisheries.
“Seafood is one the most traded commodities in the world,” Catherine Novelli, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment, said in a statement Tuesday. “Consumers should be able to have confidence their seafood was legally and sustainably harvested.”
NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, has detected spikes of methane in the planet’s atmosphere. That suggests something is producing or venting the scientifically tantalizing gas, but no one knows what.
Most of Earth’s atmospheric methane comes from animal and plant life, and the environment itself. So the Martian methane raises the question of past or present microbial life. Or the gas elevations could come from geological sources, comet impacts or something else entirely.
The latest study, released Tuesday by the journal Science, indicates there’s less than half the expected amount of methane in the atmosphere around Curiosity’s location in Gale Crater. But over a full Martian year, the rover measured fairly frequent occurrences of elevated methane levels - tenfold increases.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of debate over a method of extracting natural gas.
Fracking, as it is known, was heavily promoted as a source of economic revival for depressed communities along New York’s border with Pennsylvania, and Mr. Cuomo had once been poised to embrace it.
Instead, the move to ban fracking left him acknowledging that, despite the intense focus he has given to solving deep economic troubles afflicting large areas upstate, the riddle remained largely unsolved. “I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fracking is great,’ ” he said. “Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fracking.’ ”
Related USA Today artcle: New York plans to prohibit fracking
With Christmas break tantalizingly close, flu-bitten students and teachers across the USA are limping into the holiday season.
Several public and private schools in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee announced this week they will be starting Christmas break early, because as many as 30% of their students and teachers are out sick as the country faces one of the worst influenza seasons of recent memory.
Meanwhile, schools in Illinois and Ohio that have had a large number of suspected flu cases have shuttered and reopened in recent days, so cleaners can scrub down buildings in an effort to keep the illness from spreading.
The Arctic and its future are looking dimmer every year, a new federal report says.
In the spring and summer of 2014, Earth’s icy northern region lost more of its signature whiteness that reflects the sun’s heat. It was replaced temporarily with dark land and water that absorbs more energy, keeping yet more heat on already warming planet, according to the Arctic report card issued Thursday.
Spring snow cover in Eurasia reached a record low in April. Arctic summer sea ice, while not setting a new record, continued a long-term, steady decline. And Greenland set a record in August for the least amount of sunlight reflected in that month, said the peer-reviewed report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies.
Federal employees who are on pre-approved paid leave during a government closure will no longer be given an excused absence, according to updated Washington, D.C., Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures released today by the Office of Personnel Management.
In previous years, a federal closure day was counted as a non-workday.
“In the past, employees automatically received excused absence if they were on pre-approved paid leave when the federal offices were closed,” said Brenda Roberts, OPM’s deputy associate director for pay and leave, during a Wednesday morning webcast.