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Volume 16, Issue 5 - January 31 - February 6, 2008

Way Downstream

In Annapolis, trial lawyer turned novelist Scott Turow visited last week as a guest of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions to tell senators and citizens real-life, high-stakes story: How he came to oppose the death penalty. “Innocence is the principal problem,” said Turow, describing how across America 128 people sentenced to death have later been proven innocent. Backing up his claims were Kirk Bloodsworth and Chris Conover, two Maryland men wrongly convicted of murder. Conover served 19 years before winning freedom; Bloodsworth nine years …

From ocean to mountains, the League of Women Voters of Maryland gives voters straight answers on congressional candidates’ political views from immigration to military to individual liberty. The League’s on-line primary election Voters’ Guide lists all Congressional candidates by district, plus circuit judges standing for election in all seven circuits and all Democrat and Republican candidates seeking election as delegates to their party’s nominating convention. Read up before Maryland’s Primary Election Feb. 12 at…

In Washington, another league, the League of Conservation Voters, seeks to use its clout in Maryland’s First Congressional District, where there’s a spirited GOP primary underway. This League says incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest “understands the Bay and those who depend on it.” Challenger Andy Harris, the group contended, “is trapped in a mindset of a Baltimore politician who thinks that abusing the Bay is okay if there is an economic gain to be made” …

In Southern Maryland, brown pelicans postponed their migration south too long again this year and were caught by freezing temperatures that have, so far, killed two of the big birds. The non-profit Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center in Lusby seeks volunteers to help capture the birds, shelter and feed them, even transport them south to warmer climes: 410-326-0937 …

In Annapolis, Safeway says yes to paper bags, refusing Alderman Sam Shropshire’s appeal to steer customers away from plastic. “According to their response they simply don’t care to consider any new policies that would protect the environment,” lamented Shropshire …

In Anne Arundel County, the feds are spending $1.6 million to house the homeless. Anne Arundel’s slice cut from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pie is part of $1.5 billion in federal grants, the largest amount spent on homeless assistance in the nation’s history. Here, $858,142 will provide housing and support services to more than 65 disabled individuals and families; $542,889 will provide transitional housing or permanent supportive housing for a year for more than 25 homeless families and 19 homeless men; $70,786 will help community residences to provide mental health assessments and support at county shelters. Arundel House of Hope receives $111,725 for its Safe Haven program, which provides permanent supportive housing for four homeless individuals with disabling conditions …

Our Creature Feature comes from Colorado, where Democrats have taken a big step toward winning back the White House: They’ve picked the donkey to serve as the mascot at the national convention in Denver this summer.

His name is Mordecai, he’s seven years old, and he must be a spirited fellow considering that he took a bow and then rolled in the dirt before the vote was announced at the National Western Stock Show last weekend.

This Democrat-donkey business dates back to 1828, when Andrew Jackson’s opponents called him a jackass. Jackson said well, okay, and put the likeness of a donkey on his campaign posters. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast took it from there, and the association stuck.

Meanwhile Cody Morris, whose donkey, Shadow, was rejected, was bummed. Why? Shadow’s a Democrat, he told reporters.

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