- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2009


Four sickened by carbon monoxide

Four people from a Northeast home are being treated for carbon-monoxide poisoning, authorities said.

Firefighters were called to the home on South Dakota Avenue about 7:30 a.m. Thursday, D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said. One woman was initially found unconscious, he said.

All four people were taken to a hospital.

Mr. Etter said he thinks a faulty furnace could be to blame.

Firefighters are working to ventilate the home.

Obama daughters return to school

After a day off because of the excitement surrounding their father’s inauguration, President Obama’s two daughters are back in school.

Both girls returned to class Thursday at the private Sidwell Friends School.

Malia, 10, is a fifth-grader at the middle school campus in the District, while sister Sasha, 7, is in second grade at the elementary school campus in Bethesda.

The girls were allowed to skip school on Wednesday after an exhilarating, late-night scamper around their new home that ended when they opened a White House door and found their favorite musical band, the Jonas Brothers, waiting to surprise them.



NOAA OKs millions for watermen relief

Maryland’s senators say $10 million in crab disaster relief has been approved for watermen and others affected by the decline of the fishery.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin issued a statement Thursday saying the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has approved the state’s relief plan and made the funds available.

The agency announced in November that Maryland and Virginia would each be eligible for $10 million because of the failure of the Chesapeake Bay’s soft-shell and peeler blue crab fishery.

The two states asked in May for a disaster declaration for the blue crab fishery. In September, the agency issued a declaration for the soft-shell fishery, saying its harvest value had declined by 41 percent from the late 1990s.


Lawmakers set plans to limit police spying

To prevent police monitoring of law-abiding activists, Maryland lawmakers outlined plans Thursday to prevent the kind of surveillance the Maryland State Police used on dozens who were wrongly described as terrorists in a police database.

Plans for the legislation, which will be introduced next week, were discussed even as further details were made public about the extent of the surveillance.

Equality Maryland, a group that advocates for domestic partner laws, was included on a list of groups described as a threat to public safety by state police, said the group’s former executive director, Dan Furmansky. Opponents of capital punishment and the war in Iraq also were included, as were members of the environmental group Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

The legislation would require police to have “reasonable articulated suspicion of actual criminal activity” before they can conduct surveillance, said Sen. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery Democrat and a lead sponsor of the Freedom of Association and Assembly Protection Act of 2009.


Governor: Share more data on juveniles

Maryland’s governor is proposing a bill that would allow Juvenile Services officials to share information with other agencies within the state and in other states and the District without a parent’s consent.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, announced the Child Safety Net legislation at a news conference on Thursday.

State law currently prohibits such sharing, but Juvenile Services Secretary Donald DeVore told the Baltimore Sun that 60 percent of the children under agency supervision started out as Department of Social Services wards and many have no parents.

Sharing information would be more efficient and would give Juvenile Services workers a broader perspective on children’s situations, officials said.


Lawmakers hear plan for medevac change

The head of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command has outlined some proposed changes to the state’s medevac system to a panel of lawmakers.

Maj. A.J. McAndrew said he would support having two-pilot crews on helicopters. He told lawmakers Thursday that having a second pilot on the medevac that crashed in September, killing four of five people aboard, could have prevented the accident.

Maj. McAndrew also said he supports requiring the state’s medevac system to comply with more stringent federal aviation standards.

But Maj. McAndrew opposed some of the changes proposed by two state senators, including having private certified helicopter providers submit bids on the operation.


Only one bar stayed open late

More than 500 bars in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County were eligible to stay open an extra hour on Inauguration Day, but only one did.

The legislation postponing last call for an hour was rushed through the General Assembly last week and was signed into law by the governor on Monday.

The owner of Acme Bar and Grill in Annapolis, Kevin Epley, said taking advantage of the change was a “no-brainer.” He paid the required $200 fee to the county liquor board so that he could stay open until 3 a.m.

Many bar owners, however, said the extra hour wasn’t worth the $200 fee. Rams Head Tavern manager Mark Colberg said he didn’t expect many people would be drinking after 2 a.m.



School leaders oppose proposed budget cuts

Virginia’s school superintendents say proposed cuts in education funding inevitably would diminish classroom instruction and ultimately would harm the state’s 1.2 million public school students.

Members of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents said Thursday that districts statewide are planning to cut spending because they can’t make up the state shortfall with local funds, and are eliminating raises, cutting teaching and support staff jobs, trimming spending on technology and other programs, and delaying building projects.

“We currently face the most drastic cuts in K-12 educational spending that many of us have ever experienced, and there is no doubt that these cuts will adversely affect the quality of education in the Commonwealth,” Donald Ford, president of the association and superintendent of Harrisonburg schools, said at a news conference.

The superintendents urged the General Assembly to support Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine’s request to pull $500 million from Virginia’s rainy-day fund to pay for the Standards of Quality, state-mandated educational requirements. They also want the legislature to reject Mr. Kaine’s proposals to change staffing ratios and impose funding caps on support positions. Approving them would make $400 million in cuts to local school divisions permanent, they said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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