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Morning Roundup: Oct. 11

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Protesters occupying Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest after their permit expired Monday accepted a deal from U.S. Park Police allowing them to stay an extra four months, averting a potential clash and keeping alive the anti-war and anti-corporate demonstrations taking place across the country. Police extended the offer to the “October 2001/Stop the Machine” group shortly after a 2 p.m. deadline for protesters to remove their tents, sleeping bags and other gear from the plaza, just blocks from the White House. The sides negotiated privately for several hours on conditions, including that protesters share the plaza with other groups and remove all of their tents except the ones for first-aid and other essentials, according to The Washington Times. Update: A National Park Service spokesman reportedly says the deal is not final.

President Obama’s disapproval rating remains high among the 1,495 registered GOP voters in Virginia. Fifty-two percent did not like the president’s job performance, compared with 54 percent in September. In 2008, Mr. Obama became the first Democrat to carry Virginia in a presidential race in 44 years, and both parties already are battling over what they consider a critical 2012 swing state. Quinnipiac also found the two front-runners for next year’s U.S. Senate race — Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen — would be deadlocked in a hypothetical one-on-one race. The results between the two former Virginia governors have not varied by more than 1 percentage point since Quinnipiac’s first Senate race poll in June, according to the Associated Press.

A Maryland panel on transportation funding meets today in Annapolis to discuss ways the state could raise more money for infrastructure. The state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding is expected to work out different options for raising money for the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund. One option the panel has considered would be to apply the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline purchases. It’s estimated that move would raise about $580 million a year, according to the Associated Press.

A 28-year-old Metro bus driver was stabbed early Tuesday morning by a passenger near the Wheaton station, according to Montgomery County authorities. Police say the man was stabbed in the abdomen and was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities say the driver was picking up passengers at the Silver Spring station just after midnight when he was told by several patrons that a man in the back of the bus had exposed himself. The driver asked the man to stop. As the bus approached the Wheaton station, police say, the man got into a confrontation with a woman on the bus. The driver intervened and later realized he had been stabbed. Police took the 52-year-old male passenger into custody and recovered a knife. He has not been identified, according to the Associated Press.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano are scheduled to participate this morning in an hour-long forum on homeland security. The event will be at the University of Maryland, and participants are expected to talk about sharing information among local, state and federal governments, according to the Associated Press.

Applicants hoping to dispense medical marijuana in the District of Columbia have until Halloween to submit their plans to city officials, pushing the long-awaited program forward even as federal prosecutors put a scare into the cannabis industry’s prospects in California and other states. The D.C. Department of Health began to accept paperwork Oct. 3 from preapproved groups that hope to be among the five picked to open a medical-marijuana dispensary, reports Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times.

More than nine months into D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration, nearly one in every seven of the city’s boards and commissions sits empty with no members. The Washington Examiner reports that only one full-time employee staffs the office responsible for finding and vetting the mayor’s nominations to the city’s more than 150 boards and commissions. The office’s director, Ron Collins, says the previous administration left a large number of board seats unfilled. Since March, Mr. Collins has helped secure more than 110 appointments, including 34 that were approved by the D.C. Council. But according to Mr. Collins’ numbers, hundreds of other vacancies remain, including 21 boards or commissions that don’t have any members.

Liberty University has asked the Supreme Court to hear its case against President Obama’s new health care law, after an appeals court ruled the university’s challenge premature. Invoking the Anti-Injunction Act, which bars lawsuits seeking to block collection of a tax, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond said the so-called “individual mandate” provision of the law requiring Americans to purchase health insurance or face a penalty was effectively a tax and thus cannot be challenged before its effective date of January 2014, according to The Times.

Members of Maryland’s tea party movement are opposing a recommended congressional redistricting map that they say could further shift political power to the state’s Democratic majority. State tea party leaders will hold a rally Oct. 18 in Annapolis to protest a map recommended last week by a governor-appointed commission. They also will implore the General Assembly not to pass any tax increases during its special redistricting session, which begins Monday, The Times reports.

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