- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Lawmakers examine gay marriage bill

D.C. lawmakers have moved forward with a proposed same-sex marriage bill.

On Tuesday, council members from the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary approved the bill 4-1, and it now goes to the full council.

The committee held two public hearings on the bill after it was introduced in early October and heard from more than 250 people who supported or opposed the bill.

The full, 13-member council is expected to vote on the bill in December.



Store evacuated after 14 fall ill

A Giant Food store reopened Tuesday evening after it was evacuated in the afternoon when 14 people fell ill and complained of a strange odor in the store.

Montgomery County fire department spokesman Capt. Oscar Garcia said one person was sent to the hospital and more could follow. Firefighters and a hazardous-materials team were called to the scene about 1:20 p.m.

Capt. Garcia said firefighters evaluated 14 people who felt ill after smelling what they thought was gasoline. It was not clear how many were store employees and how many were customers.

The store was evacuated, along with two smaller shops nearby.


Report details river pollutants

Pollution in the Potomac River and its possible links to intersex fish are the subjects of a new report.

The Potomac Conservancy plans to release its third annual State of the Nation’s River report Wednesday. The report details pollutants found in the Potomac that can disrupt the endocrine system, the system that produces hormones that control growth and development.

A study last year found as many as three-quarters of male smallmouth bass in the Potomac’s South Branch had started to produce eggs, with the highest percentage near population and farming centers.

Many scientists suspect pollutants, including some household detergents and drugs such as birth-control pills, may be to blame.


12 people charged in library thefts

Prince George’s County prosecutors announced Tuesday that 12 people - all Maryland residents, ranging from 20 to 51 years old - have been charged with checking out $87,000 worth of books from the county’s public libraries to sell them for quick cash.

Some of the 12 also have been charged with stealing from other Maryland libraries.

The Prince George’s County library system lost $87,000 worth of material to thefts from November 2008 to July, prosecutors said. Textbooks and other works were quickly sold to used-book stores at a fraction of their original value, according to investigators.

County authorities said the suspects, at least some of whom were related, withdrew close to the limit of 75 books from 12 of the library system’s 18 locations. Each is charged with theft over $500 and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Some college libraries also were hit.

“[Book thieves are] traveling quite far and wide for the little bit of money they get,” said Mary Eilerman, chief of security at Harford Community College, which was victimized. “They were ripping off the bar codes and handing them over to book-consignment shops as quickly as they could.”

Miss Eilerman said a $100 textbook would yield about $3 or $4 at a consignment shop. She said one of the suspects told her she was using the cash from the thefts to buy Ecstasy.

The loss represents about 2 percent of the $4 million that the Prince George’s system spends on materials annually.


City confiscates horses from vendors

Baltimore health officials have confiscated 19 horses from street vendors who sell produce from horse-drawn carts in the city.

Officials said an inspector found the horses, kept near the B&O; Railroad Museum, were living in “unsafe and inhumane” conditions.

The Humane Society of the United States said the horses will be taken to Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Md.

The Humane Society said the horses’ small stalls had piles of feces and were infested with rats. It said many of the animals had medical ailments.

Some of the vendors are denying the health department’s charges. They will have a chance to contest the city’s actions in a future meeting.



VDOT says it’s ready for winter

The Virginia Department of Transportation said it’s ready to keep the state’s roads clear of ice and snow this winter, despite cutbacks elsewhere in the agency’s budget.

VDOT officials said they have increased snow- removal funding by about $4 million so the agency can provide adequate manpower, materials and equipment to get the job done.

The agency has a $79.6 million snow-removal budget for state-maintained roads this winter. An additional $14 million is budgeted for snow and ice removal on roads maintained by the state through interstate contracts.

The department said more than 3,000 crew members will be standing by to handle snow removal. More than 2,300 pieces of equipment, 62,000 tons of sand and 239,000 tons of salt will be available.

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