Thursday, February 23, 2012
Maryland Same-Sex Marriage Bill Approved

The Maryland Legislature approved a law to allow same-sex marriage in the state.

The legislation would make Maryland the eighth state to legalize same-sex unions when Gov. Martin O’Malley signs the bill, as he has said he will do as soon as it crosses his desk.
Opponents have vowed to bring it to voters with a referendum on the November ballot.

Sammy 06:53 PM | (6) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Warm weather breeds early bug bonanza
Doyle Rice ― USA TODAY

One of the USA’s warmest winters in years could lead to a bug bonanza over the next few weeks, with insects like beetles, ants, termites and wasps all coming out much earlier than average.

Sammy 06:49 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Farmland goes for a premium as commodity prices tick up
Chuck Raasch ― USA TODAY

In the last five years, Lon Frahm has bought 4,000 acres of farmland, expanding the size of his wheat and corn operation to more than 30 square miles of western Kansas. He’s done so as farmland prices have roughly tripled in his swath of the Great Plains.

But unlike some regulators and farmland investors, Frahm, 54, says he doesn’t believe the United States is in danger of a farmland price bust similar to the one that devastated the housing industry in the past decade — or that crippled agriculture 30 years ago. He says he won’t be surprised if farmland prices level off or even fall, but not in a catastrophic spiral like the one that left millions of homeowners owing more than their property is worth.

“The fundamentals are there to support (farmland prices) right now, just like they have been for most of the time in the last 100 years,” Frahm says.

Sammy 06:42 PM | (2) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Some states unprepared for shale energy boom
Dennis Cauchon ― USA TODAY

CANONSBURG, Pa. – Aaron Dinnin’s last job was as a prison guard. Before that, he was a roofer. Today, the 33-year-old West Virginian works in a shale gas field near his home and earns more money than ever before. “This is the best job I’ve ever had,” he says.

Expansive underground gas and oil fields being tapped in the nation’s industrial heartland have brought hopes of prosperity and riches to a region that has been in economic decay for a half-century. The energy find appears richest in formations under many of the poorest parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, New York and perhaps other adjacent states.

For the nation, a huge energy source near where tens of millions of Americans live is a once-in-a-lifetime development. For the region, the dream is even grander: that cheap energy will make manufacturing competitive again and restore industrial might that’s been slipping away for generations.


Sammy 06:36 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Teen Alcohol Use: The Damage And Where To Get Help

Adolescents feel less sedated after consuming alcohol when compared to adults. So teens can drink more alcohol, because they are able to stay awake longer. 

When a young person drinks alcohol, his or her developing brain won’t know how to react to protect itself from the rising level of alcohol toxicity. 

According to Johns Hopkins University, the youth’s brain does not have the ability to prevent alcohol poisoning.
Read Johns Hopkins University’s report here.

Alcohol damages a developing brain’s memory and learning functions. These impairments can influence alcohol addiction in the future. 

Sammy 05:45 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Commission Updated on Controversial Project
Marty Madden ― The Bay Net

The Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) project is a plan that will be on hold for a long time due to the sour economy. That’s what MAPP project manager Bob Jubic told the Calvert County Planning Commission Wednesday, Feb. 22 during an update on the plan to ramp up power transmission capabilities in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The target completion date for the $1.2 billion, 152-mile project has been deferred to at least 2019.

The project, proposed last decade by Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI), begins at Possum Point, VA and ends in Delaware. Nine miles of 500 KV AC current lines and three miles of DC current lines will traverse Calvert County, eventually crossing under the Chesapeake Bay and Choptank River, reaching Dorchester County. Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) will own the Calvert County portion of the project.

Sammy 05:36 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
2 Baltimore attorneys sue Facebook over privacy

Two Baltimore law firms have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, arguing that the site has violated privacy laws.

The Daily Record of Baltimore ( reports the law offices of William Murphy Jr. and Peter Angelos filed their lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif. The lawsuit, which also involves a California firm, claims Facebook has used online tracking technology to monitor users even when they are not on Facebook’s site.

Sammy 05:13 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
U.S. Postal Service plans to close, consolidate 223 processing centers
Ed O'Keefe ― Washington Post

The U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday that at least 223 mail processing facilities could close or be consolidated in the coming year as part of a three-year, $15 billion cost-savings plan.

The locations, in some cases employing hundreds of workers who sort mail and prepare it for delivery, stretch from Eastern Maine to the Los Angeles suburbs and dozens of Midwestern communities. In some cases, mail intended for one state will be sorted in another.

The consolidations will affect four processing centers in Maryland, at Cumberland, Easton, Gaithersburg and Waldorf, and three sites in Virginia, at Lynchburg, Norfolk and Roanoke.

Sammy 05:08 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
MEDIA ADVISORY: Commissioners to Hold Press Conference…

...on State Plan to Shift Teacher Pension Costs

Proposals now under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly will shift more than $240 million in teacher pension costs from the state to county budgets. If the plan is approved, counties will face a crippling budget crisis.

The Charles County Board of Commissioners is hosting a press conference on Tuesday, February 28, to highlight the issue and make a statement about funding cuts that may result from the state’s proposed pension shift.

Sammy 04:52 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Smartphone security gap exposes location, texts, email, expert says
Ken Dilanian ― Los Angeles Times

Just as U.S. companies are coming to grips with the threats to their computer networks emanating from cyber spies based in China, a noted expert is highlighting what he says is an even more pernicious vulnerability in smartphones.

Dmitri Alperovitch, the former McAfee cyber security researcher who is best known for identifying a widespread China-based cyber espionage operation he dubbed “Shady Rat,” has used a previously unknown hole in smartphone browsers to deliver an existing piece of China-based malware that can commandeer the device, record its calls, pinpoint its location and access user texts and emails. He conducted the experiment on a phone running Google’s Android operating system, although he says Apple’s iPhones are equally vulnerable.

“It’s a much more powerful attack vector than just getting into someone’s computer,” said Alperovich, who just formed a new security company, called CrowdStrike, with former McAfee chief technology officer George Kutz.

Sammy 02:53 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Renters face fewer vacancies, rising rates
Bobby Allyn ― USA TODAY

Across the country, as more people compete for apartments in the wake of the housing collapse, the market has swung in favor of landlords. For tenants, that means saying goodbye to move-in incentives and watching rents edge higher.

About a quarter of all apartments nationwide offered some type of concession in last year’s fourth quarter. By comparison, 53% of apartments offered concessions in the first quarter of 2010, according to data tracker MPF Research’s latest report.

“The industry moves in cycles, and right now not a lot of apartments are available,” said Jay Parsons, an analyst at MPF Research. Until apartment construction catches up to demand, landlords will maintain their control of the market, he said.

Sammy 02:40 PM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Delays in delivery of tax refunds continue, tax pros say
Sandra Block ― USA TODAY

Taxpayers are continuing to wait longer than usual to receive their refunds, and a recent problem with the IRS’ “Where’s My Refund” tool caused many to fear that their returns hadn’t been filed at all, tax preparers say.

In the past, most taxpayers who filed their tax returns electronically received their refunds in one to two weeks, says Gene King, a spokesman for H&R Block. This year, it’s usually taking 10 to 21 days, he says.

That’s still within the historical time frame for delivery of refunds, says IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge.

Sammy 02:33 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
AGH implants region’s first total artificial heart
Pohla Smith ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Cardiothoracic surgeons at Allegheny General Hospital have replaced a failing human heart with the latest generation total artificial heart implant, the first surgery using this new device in the region.

SynCardia’s Temporary Total Artificial Heart was implanted into a 62-year-old Pittsburgh-area man Feb. 17. That man, who was not identified during a press conference today announcing the successful surgery, was taken to Forbes Hospital in Monroeville suffering from an acute heart attack.
The new artificial heart is approved by the FDA only as a bridge to transplant for patients who suffer from end-stage heart failure of both ventricles.

Sammy 02:26 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Natural gas price drops on supply report
CHRIS KAHN ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The price of natural gas fell Thursday after the government said supplies remain significantly higher than average levels for this time of year.

Natural gas futures on Thursday fell by 4 cents to $2.60 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York.

A boom in North American shale drilling has filled underground storage facilities across the country. The Energy Information Administration says supplies are more than 40 percent higher than the five-year average.

Sammy 02:11 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Copter collision kills 7 Marines in Calif. desert

Two military helicopters collided over the California desert during nighttime training exercises, killing seven Marines in the latest of several aircraft accidents involving Camp Pendleton troops.

The crash happened around 8 p.m. Wednesday and involved an AH-1W Cobra that carries two crew members and a UH-1 Huey utility helicopter carrying the other five service members, Lt. Maureen Dooley with Miramar Air Base in San Diego said Thursday. Six of them were from Camp Pendleton and one was from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona.

Sammy 02:07 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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