Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Japan Tsunami Debris Floating Toward Hawaii

Up to 20 million tons of tsunami debris floating from Japan could arrive on Hawaii’s shores by early 2013, before reaching the West Coast, according to estimates by University of Hawaii scientists.

A Russian training ship spotted the junk – including a refrigerator, a television set and other appliances – in an area of the Pacific Ocean where the scientists from the university’s International Pacific Research Center predicted it would be. The biggest proof that the debris is from the Japanese tsunami is a fishing boat that’s been traced to the Fukushima Prefecture, the area hardest hit by the March 11 disaster.

Jan Hafner, a scientific computer programmer, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that researchers’ projections show the debris would reach the coasts of Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Canada around 2014.

Sammy 06:10 PM | (3) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Rail~Volution shows the way to a greater region

Last week, transportation planners and advocates came to DC for Rail~Volution, a conference committed to “Building Livable Communities with Transit.” DC was lauded for its general walkability throughout the 4-day conference, along with 34 other places around the region, many of which have grown up around Metro stations.

Panels, charettes, and mobile workshops covered all things rail, bus, bike, and pedestrian. Of particular local interest were the lessons gleaned about living car-free, working with younger generations, choosing words wisely, and utilizing new technology.

The car-free lifestyle pays off

Swearing off a car can reap tremendous savings: from $8,000 to $12,000 a year, according to New Jersey parking consultant James Zullo. A car-dependent suburban lifestyle can eat up to 25% of household income versus a slim 9% in a walkable community.

Sammy 05:53 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
EPA Recognizes Maryland Panera Bread as New Green Power Partner

Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Panera Bread’s 35 Maryland locations are on EPA’s list of top green power purchasers among retailers. The company’s green power purchase of more than 11 million kilowatt hours for its 35 Maryland bakery-cafes is equivalent to avoiding the yearly carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of nearly 1,400 passenger vehicles or from more than 800 average American homes’ electricity use.

Panera Bread is purchasing enough wind power with renewable electricity certificates (RECs) for 100 percent of its electricity use. Green power is generated from renewable resources including solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydropower.

Sammy 04:35 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Smart-Growth Efforts Lag
Hartford Courant

Look to Maryland Well-planned development can save money

Officials in Maryland have, unlike most of their counterparts in Connecticut, figured out that sprawl is expensive. They are doing something about it. We, not so much.
So three years ago, Gov. Martin O’Malley and others initiated an extensive planning process called PlanMaryland, which is now nearing completion. The gist of the plan is to increase housing density in areas that are already have roads, water and other infrastructure. To achieve this, the state will focus its money in “priority” funding areas where the density is at least 3.5 housing units per acre.

Planners believe that if 80 percent of the growth in each county can be so captured, 300,000 acres of open space will be preserved and $1.5 billion a year in infrastructure costs will be saved.

Sprawl Is Overtaking Connecticut

If the pollution, energy waste, aesthetic damage and social isolation inherent in sprawl aren’t of concern, the money ought to get the attention of Connecticut officials. A savings of $1.5 billion would have closed the state’s budget gap earlier this year.

Sammy 04:25 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
FEMA denies Prince George’s application for aid
Erich Wagner ― Gazette

More than a month after the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee left much of downtown Upper Marlboro underwater, Frank Kline is still afraid his business might drown.

When Kline’s business, Marlboro Blueprint and Office Supplies, flooded from Sept. 7 to 9, his blueprint-making equipment was destroyed, leaving him with a $1.25 million loss and forcing him to send all of his blueprint orders to his other branches in Waldorf and Lexington Park.
Although President Obama declared Prince George’s County a disaster area Oct. 5, making state and county governments eligible for 75 percent reimbursement for damage to roads, bridges and public facilities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a letter to Maryland on Friday denying its application for assistance to individual residents and business owners.

Sammy 04:18 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
State commission OKs transporation funding proposal
Nicholas Sohr ― Daily Record

A state commission called Tuesday for $870 million to spend on transportation projects every year to be raised through a variety of tax and fee hikes, including a 15-cent increase to Maryland’s gas tax.

The recommendations approved by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding also include increases to vehicle registration fees, the titling tax on new and used cars, higher transit fares and a range of fee increases at the Motor Vehicle Administration. The cost of emission inspections would double to $28.

Sammy 04:13 PM | (3) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Try a Delicious, Farm-Fresh Turkey on Thanksgiving
The Bay Net

This Thanksgiving, Maryland families are encouraged to purchase local, farm-fresh turkeys from one of the dozens of Maryland turkey growers across the state.

“Maryland farmers grow some of the freshest and best tasting turkeys in the country,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Buying locally supports Maryland’s economy and keeps us smart, green and growing. Once you taste a fresh, local turkey, you and your family will be coming back for more.”

According to the latest USDA Census in 2007, 740,000 turkeys totaling more than 13.47 million pounds were raised in Maryland with a total value of $7 million. Turkeys sold directly from the farm to the consumer account for a small portion of the total production. By purchasing a locally-raised turkey, consumers will help support our family farms and community.
To find a local turkey for your Thanksgiving feast, visit www.marylandsbest.net. The website, sponsored by the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Department, lists over 40 farms throughout the state that sell farm-fresh turkeys. Consumers can also find local cheeses, wines, and other Maryland products to serve during the holidays.

Sammy 04:07 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
HESS to Construct New State-of-the-Art High School
Southern Maryland News Net

HESS Construction + Engineering Services, a leading builder of educational facilities in the Mid-Atlantic, has been selected by Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) to manage construction of St. Charles High School, a state-of-the-art science and technology school committed to environmental stewardship.

Designed to engage students in a technology-rich learning environment, St. Charles High School will serve the greater community as a model for environmental study, research, and conservation. Specialized features of the school will be made available for use by all CCPS students in grades PreK-12 and include a 150-seat interactive digital classroom; a room-sized globe that displays animated images of science, the earth, and the environment; and technology that connects students with classrooms around the world.

The new 285,000 square foot, four-story school will provide an innovative and progressive academic curriculum focused on preparing students with the skills that will be demanded of them in an increasingly competitive global climate.  The design includes a state rated capacity for 1,600 students and will house traditional classrooms, a 600-seat auditorium, a 2,000-seat gymnasium, cafeteria, media center and administrative areas.  Athletic features will include a football stadium with seating for 2,000, an eight-lane track, 14 athletic fields, and eight tennis courts.

Sammy 04:01 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Charles County Update: Commissioner Robinson…

... and Mr. Proctor on the Economic Summit


Sammy 09:06 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Charles County Update: Commissioner Collins with Mr. Harry Shasho on the Economic Summit


Sammy 09:03 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
HERO CENTRAL: U.S. VETS Helps Homeless Veterans

About 12 percent of all homeless Americans are veterans. The United States Veterans Initiative, U.S. VETS, provides their clients with services such as job placement, counseling, medical services, and housing.

With eleven facilities in five states and the District of Columbia, U.S. VETS serves thousands of veterans daily and throughout the year.

Sammy 08:45 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Insurers, employers offer incentives to promote healthful habits
Duke Helfand ― Los Angeles Times

American Express Co. paid thousands of employees to exercise this summer, giving each $200 toward their healthcare expenses simply for walking 21/2 miles a day.

Health insurance giant Humana Inc. has begun offering camping gear, cameras and even hotel rooms in the Caribbean to customers who see the doctor and undergo tests for blood pressure and cholesterol.

And when the new year arrives, Blue Shield of California will introduce its new Blue Groove plan offering breaks of up to $500 on insurance premiums or healthcare costs to policyholders in the Sacramento area who fill out health questionnaires and get medical screenings.

Sammy 08:40 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Perry wants flat tax with some popular deductions
KASIE HUNT ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is rolling out an economic plan that includes a flat tax proposal, private retirement accounts for Social Security and a lower corporate tax rate.

The Texas governor on Tuesday was outlining a proposal he calls “Cut, Balance and Grow” that is aimed at creating jobs and fixing the struggling economy, voters’ top concerns heading into the 2012 election. Perry’s plan sets a flat 20 percent income tax rate, but also gives taxpayers the option of sticking with their current rate.

He would maintain popular deductions for families making less than $500,000 a year, and eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits.

His plan also drops the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, and eliminates taxes on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains.

Sammy 08:29 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Asia pays watery price for overdevelopment
DENIS D. GRAY ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Across Asia, areas of high population density are also those most prone to flooding and other water-related disasters, according to an Associated Press analysis of recent U.N. maps. When overlaid, the maps show such convergence in a wide arc from Pakistan and India, across Southeast Asia, to China, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Severe flooding this year has killed more than 1,000 people across Asia, and economic losses are running in the tens of billions of dollars.
Further, the legal and illegal pumping of underground water faster than it can be replaced has compressed water-storing aquifers, causing Bangkok to sink between 0.8 and 2 inches (2 to 5 centimeters) each year. Scientists say the rise of waters in the nearby gulf as a result of global warming could combine with the sinking land to put Bangkok under water much of the time by mid-century.

Similar subsidence and seawater encroachment is occurring in Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila, where a typhoon last month triggered the worst flooding in the Philippine capital in decades.

Sammy 08:23 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Wal-Mart ups the ante in holiday price matching

Wal-Mart announced a new strategy that it hopes will pull in procrastinators early by giving them a big incentive: a guarantee that they’ll get the lowest price no matter when they buy during the holiday season.

The discounter said Monday it will match prices on many of its products. Shoppers who buy something at a Walmart store between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, but then find the identical product elsewhere for less, can get a gift card in the amount of the difference.

The offer excludes some items, such as groceries.

To qualify, shoppers need to bring in the original Wal-Mart receipt and the local competitor’s print ad. Gift cards will not be given out after Dec. 25.

Sammy 08:19 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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