Saturday, November 26, 2011
Constellation seeks bigger fly ash landfill
TIM PRATT ― The Capital

County opposes plan to add 4 acres to Hawkins Point dump

The Hawkins Point Plant Industrial Waste Landfill began accepting fly ash earlier this month from three Constellation Energy coal-fired power plants, Brandon Shores and H.A. Wagner in Pasadena, and C.P. Crane in Baltimore County. The plants produce 120,000 tons of fly ash per year, Constellation communications manager Kevin Thornton said.

Now Constellation is looking to expand it. The company has filed an application with the state to expand the landfill and disrupt an acre of nontidal wetlands.

That has caused concern among environmentalists and County Executive John R. Leopold, who secured passage of a moratorium on fly ash placement within the county in 2007.

“I think it’s absolutely atrocious that they are going into the wetlands over there,” said Mary Rosso, a former state delegate from Glen Burnie who fought against construction of the landfill. “We lost the battle to stop the landfill, but we can still fight this.”

Sammy 09:41 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Virtual schools are multiplying, but some question their educational value
Lyndsey Layton and Emma Brown ― Washington Post

Virginia company leading a national movement to replace classrooms with computers — in which children as young as 5 can learn at home at taxpayer expense — is facing a backlash from critics who are questioning its funding, quality and oversight.

K12 Inc. of Herndon has become the country’s largest provider of full-time public virtual schools, upending the traditional American notion that learning occurs in a schoolhouse where students share the experience. In K12’s virtual schools, learning is largely solitary, with lessons delivered online to a child who progresses at her own pace.

Sammy 09:37 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Pakistan demands U.S. vacate suspected drone base

The Pakistani government has demanded the U.S. vacate an air base within 15 days that the CIA is suspected of using for unmanned drones.

The government issued the demand Saturday after NATO helicopters and jet fighters allegedly attacked two Pakistan army posts along the Afghan border, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Islamabad outlined the demand in a statement it sent to reporters following an emergency defense committee meeting chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Sammy 09:31 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Proposed initiative on nuclear plants would spur blackouts, state says
Los Angeles Times

A state ballot initiative proposed for next fall would force California’s two nuclear power plants to immediately shut down, causing rolling blackouts, spikes in electricity rates and billions of dollars in economic losses each year, the state’s nonpartisan analyst has found.

The report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office says the shutdown of San Onofre in northern San Diego County and Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County would disrupt one of the state’s most reliable power sources and have profound effects on government and the economy.

The two plants generate nearly 16% of the state’s electricity, the report says, calling them “integral parts of the state’s electricity grid.”

Sammy 09:27 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Marines to wind down Afghan combat in 2012
ROBERT BURNS ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AP)—U.S. Marines will march out of Afghanistan by the thousands next year, winding down combat in the Taliban heartland and testing the U.S. view that Afghan forces are capable of leading the fight against a battered but not yet beaten insurgency in the country’s southwestern reaches, American military officers say.

At the same time, U.S. reinforcements will go to eastern Afghanistan in a bid to reverse recent gains by insurgents targeting Kabul, the capital.

Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in an Associated Press interview that the number of Marines in Helmand province will drop “markedly” in 2012, and the role of those who stay will shift from countering the insurgency to training and advising Afghan security forces.

Sammy 09:25 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Flood of government data fuels rise of city apps

Across the country, geeks are using mountains of data that city officials are dumping on the Web to create everything from smartphone tree identifiers and street sweeper alarms to neighborhood crime notifiers and apps that sound the alarm when customers enter a restaurant that got low marks on a recent inspection.

The emergence of city apps comes as a result of the rise of the open data movement in U.S. cities, or what advocates like to call Government 2.0.

When politicians promise more government transparency, releasing dense spreadsheets with cryptic codes hardly seems like a solution. But backers say citizen number-crunchers can turn the reams of data once buried in the files of city agencies into useful information.

Sammy 09:23 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Briefing: Grants Received by Charles County

Board Docs - Nov 29, 2011 - Charles County Commissioners’ Meeting

3.02 [2:00 p.m.] Briefing: Grants Received by Charles County (Ms. Deborah Hudson, Director of Fiscal & Administrative Services)

Grants Briefing November 2011.pdf (520 KB)

Sammy 09:25 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Briefing: Volunteer Southern Maryland Program

Board Docs - Nov 29, 2011 - Charles County Commissioners’ Meeting

3.01 [1:30 p.m.] Briefing: Volunteer Southern Maryland Program (Mr. Stephen Brayman, Director, and Ms. Nikki Bradburn, Recruitment Administrator, Department of Human Resources)

NACE Position Paper.pdf (246 KB)

CC Briefing_November 2011.pdf (2,419 KB)

Volunteer Opportunities.pdf (376 KB)

Sammy 09:17 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Another Ohio Craigslist job scam death suspected

The FBI is investigating whether a body found Friday in a shallow grave in Ohio is a second killing connected to a phony Craigslist job ad that authorities say lured victims into a deadly robbery scheme.

The body was found Friday near a shopping mall in Akron, agency spokeswoman Vicki Anderson told The Associated Press.

The cause of death and identity are under investigation. The FBI is working on the supposition that the body may be that of Timothy Kern, 47, who hasn’t been seen in more than a week.

Sammy 09:14 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Four common meds send thousands of seniors to hospital
Jenifer Goodwin ― USA TODAY

An estimated 100,000 older Americans are hospitalized for adverse drug reactions yearly, and most of those emergencies stem from four common medications, a new study finds.

The four types of medication—two for diabetes and two blood-thinning agents—account for two-thirds of those drug-related emergency hospitalizations.

“Of the thousands of medications available to older patients, a small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications caused a high proportion of emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events among elderly Americans,” said lead study author Dr. Daniel Budnitz, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s medication safety program.

Sammy 09:10 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Live: NASA a ‘go’ for Mars rover launch
Marcia Dunn ― USA TODAY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is all set to launch the world’s biggest extraterrestrial explorer.

A six-wheeled, one-armed Mars rover is due to blast off Saturday morning from Cape Canaveral. The unmanned Atlas V rocket will put the spacecraft on an 8½-month trek to the red planet.

The rover, nicknamed Curiosity, is the size of a car. It’s a mobile laboratory holding 10 science instruments that will sample Martian soil and rocks, and analyze them right there on the surface. There’s a drill as well as a stone-zapping laser machine.

MORE:  Details on the rover

Sammy 09:05 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Many Tricare users now learning of Sept. data theft
Steve Vogel ― Virginian-Pilot

The letter that arrived Saturday at the home of Fred MacLean in Fayetteville, N.C., held bad news: Computer backup tapes containing the retired Army chaplain’s personal information with the military’s Tricare health system had been stolen.

MacLean is hardly the only one receiving bad news. Letters are being sent this month and next to the homes of all 4.9 million Tricare military beneficiaries whose personal data has been stolen in one of the largest health-data breaches ever reported.

The data on the tapes include names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and laboratory tests, but not any financial data such as credit card or bank information, according to the letter from Science Applications International Corp., a defense contractor for the Tricare Management Activity.

The tapes were stolen Sept. 12 from the car of an SAIC employee in San Antonio who was transporting the data from one federal facility to another as part of required backup procedures. The theft was publicly revealed on the Tricare website and publicized in late September. But many beneficiaries, including MacLean, are just learning the news with the arrival of the letters.

Sammy 09:00 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Military-civilian gap is growing as fewer choose to serve
Sabrina Tavernise ― Virginian-Pilot

A smaller share of Americans serve in the armed forces than at any other time since the era between World War I and World War II, a new low that has led to a growing gap between people in uniform and the civilian population, according to a new survey.

At any given time in the past decade, less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has been on active military duty, compared with 9 percent of Americans who were in uniform in World War II. As a result, there is a growing generation gap, with younger Americans far less likely than older ones to have a family member who served.

The survey, by the Pew Research Center, found that while more than three-quarters of Americans over the age of 50 have an immediate family member who served in the military, among Americans ages 18 to 29, the share is only a third. About 6 in 10 of those ages 30 to 49 have a family member who served.

Sammy 08:58 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Safety questions fly as highway trucks get heavier
CLARKE CANFIELD ― Frederick News-Post

Officially, the national weight limit for freight trucks on interstate highways is 40 tons. In reality, trucks are getting heavier in more states — legally — and advocates for highway safety and the trucking industry are sharply at odds about it.

Trucks heavier than 80,000 pounds are allowed to operate on federal highways in at least 20 states. Congress added Maine and Vermont to the list last week, granting exceptions to allow trucks up to 100,000 pounds on interstates there for the next 20 years. The change went into effect Friday when President Barack Obama signed it.

Critics say that heavier trucks make highways less safe because they’re harder to control and stop, and that they leave taxpayers on the hook for damage to roads and bridges. Furthermore, they claim, the latest increases will spur the trucking industry to seek higher limits in other states.

Sammy 08:52 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
GM spent $1.78M lobbying federal government in 3Q
Frederick News-Post

General Motors Co. spent 29 percent less lobbying the federal government in the third quarter this year than last, but it still spent $1.78 million to influence legislators and agencies on gas mileage and pollution regulations, electric vehicle infrastructure funding, distracted driving regulations and other issues.

The Detroit company is still 26.5 percent owned by the government, which gave GM $49.5 billion in aid to save it from the auction house. The government is waiting to sell its remaining 500 million shares until the stock market recovers.

Sammy 08:51 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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