In March of 1985, Kirk Bloodsworth was sentenced to death in Baltimore County for the brutal rape and murder of nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton. He was granted a new trial through the Maryland Court of Appeals due to exculpatory evidence withheld by the prosecution, but his sentence was only reduced to two life terms without parole. Eight years later, with the advent of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) DNA testing, Bloodsworth was acquitted and released from prison on June 28, 2003. Bloodsworth's eight-year incarceration and near-execution for a crime that he did not commit exemplifies a flawed capital punishment system in Maryland.
For most upperclassmen, winter break is about scheduling fun around college applications. But even once those acceptance letters start rolling in, the stress of payment is only beginning. In a time when the economy has officially entered into a recession, when state and local budgets are in serious deficit, when jobs are being lost by the thousands, when families are losing their homes to foreclosure and when a federal bailout plan has yet to demonstrate its success, the rising costs for college have never been more overwhelming.
Last June, a waiter at the Red Robin restaurant in Lakeforest Mall was stabbed to death by an 18-year-old man who, six weeks earlier, had been caught by police with marijuana at an elementary school. The following August, a Silver Spring man died after allegedly being attacked with a metal bat by his roommate. In October, an elderly Bethesda woman was burned alive in her house. And just last month, a 14-year-old Blazer, Tai Lam, was shot and killed on a county bus.
Imagine that a college student is given the chance to gossip about anything he or she wants, uncensored with the guarantee of anonymity. Now imagine that everyone from 500 different colleges is given the same chance, and the result is JuicyCampus.com. Free to use, JuicyCampus is an anonymous online forum that encourages people to gossip about campus-related or other topics of their own choosing. Popular tags this week include "girls," "hot," "sex," "gay" and "frat." Blog entries revolve around topics that are derogatory, profane, obscene and racist. Threads on campus hook-ups, freshman sluts and overweight students are all the rage.
In Barcelona, they call it "Bicing." In Paris, it's "Velib." The wave of public bicycle sharing programs that has swept through Europe has finally arrived in the U.S., with a successful system implemented in Washington, D.C. as of August. Now, Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin is proposing a similar pilot program for Montgomery County. The program is vital to the citizens in their efforts to conserve the environment, save money and reduce traffic.
In a twisted turn of fate, the checkpoint horrors of the airport meet the reality of everyday commuting. It sounds like a bad movie, but it's coming to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area with no chance of going straight to DVD.
In an attempt to improve teenage driving safety once again, the Maryland General Assembly has passed three laws that took effect in October. These laws increase the length of validity of a learner's permit to two years, require every student driver to have a learner's permit when driving on Maryland roads and allow parents or guardians to be notified when their underage driver receives any moving violation.
On Nov. 4, voters nationwide will gather at the polls to elect the next President of the United States. Whomever the voters choose will have a massive economic crisis to settle. Banks and mortgage companies are failing left and right, sending real estate prices tumbling. Revenue generated by property taxes has decreased as well, leaving public schools, which derive their financial support from property taxes, in a fiscal quandary. Maryland as a whole is suffering from this crisis as well, as the State Legislature's fiscal advisers are predicting an over-$1 billion budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year.
School systems across the country are taking a financial beating this year. Energy costs are skyrocketing. Diminishing property values have significantly reduced the amount of funding available to public schools, which draw most of their funding from property taxes. Amidst this turbulent economic atmosphere, schools are frantically searching for new ways to save money. Instead of laying off staff or cutting back on academic programs, a growing number of schools are considering a four-day school week.
Blamed for bringing evils, pains and diseases to mankind; heralded as the bringer of fire; and defamed as a swindler, thief and trickster - the immortal Prometheus lived a life condemned to eternal pain and retribution for his thievery and deception. He was a scammer draped in a hero's cloak much like the boards that bear his name.
Although controversy over the legal drinking age began 80 years ago during the Prohibition movement, the debate has heated up once again. Two weeks ago, presidents from over 100 colleges prepared a proposal calling for lawmakers to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. Maryland universities that signed the statement include Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, College Park, Towson University and the College of Notre Dame.
When Republican presidential candidate John McCain finalized his pick for vice president, Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) began to endure the usual ruthless media probing associated with being a top executive figure. As a result, the media has nitpicked and scrutinized the pregnancy of her 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol. They've got all the irrelevant details covered - her boy toy, his background, their hobbies, their future plans - except the most relevant piece: her mother's support for abstinence-only education, as publicized during her 2006 campaign for governor. Bristol is living proof that this type of sex education is inadequate.
The Bush administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have recently decided to postpone regulating greenhouse gas emissions until January 20, 2009, or more specifically, until the current President leaves the office. Rather than addressing the growing threats posed by global warming, the EPA, under the Bush administration, is instead choosing to seek out months more of public commentary before making changes.
President Bush recently signed a bill granting immunity to telecommunication providers that complied with National Security Agency (NSA) edicts to turn over American client records. Approved by the Senate last Wednesday with a decisive 69 - 28 vote, the law will broaden the scope of U.S. counter-terrorist intelligence measures while increasing congressional oversight. The new legislation arose from concerns that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 was ineffective at checking government power, a fear that was confirmed when a 2005 New York Times article revealed the existence of an invasive government-run domestic wiretapping program. Although many liberals have reproached the bill as a heinous violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights, the law will better equip U.S. intelligence agencies to anticipate and eliminate terrorist threats - and does much to ensure that civil liberties are not compromised in the process.
For Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students, a new bus policy proposal means it may be time to get out the old walking shoes. Current MCPS bus policy states that high school students who live within two miles of their schools must find alternate transportation, as must middle school students who live within one and a half miles of their schools and elementary school students who live within one mile of their schools.
The College Board – makers of the SAT Reasoning Test required for entrance by colleges across the nation – announced a policy change in June. Starting with the class of 2010, students can now choose to only show certain test scores to schools, with the ability to hide attempts that resulted in low grades. Colleges now won't know whether a score was earned in one try or six. Before the cheering begins, however, look at the other side of the coin. Although this change is a stress reliever for many, its repercussions, as well as the College Board's motives, are far more sinister.
One of the 17.5 mandatory course credits required for graduation, the technology education credit, used to be easy to earn, with a choice of 17 different technology education classes at Blair. Thanks to a new Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) technology education program, students are now faced with limited course choices, and classes that currently offer the credit and valuable technological skills are now fated to disinterest and decreased student enrollment.
Representative Al Wynn's 15-year career in the House of Representatives has been marked by a series of ups and downs. After winning the Democratic primary by a little more than three percentage points over challenger Donna Edwards two years ago, Wynn lost to her by more than 20 percent in this year's Feb. 12 Democratic primary. Instead of gracefully serving out the remainder of his term, Wynn sent shockwaves throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. by announcing in March that he would resign, effective last weekend.
While students and staff have every right to be protected from sexual harassment, it crosses boundaries when kindergartners who cannot tie their shoelaces have the permanent label of "sexual harasser" on their record. To consider any unwanted advance as sexual harassment will not solve anything. Instead of catching the real culprits and finding the true motivations for student behavior, sexual harassment policies in schools condemn everyone.
The Supreme Court voted 6 - 3 on April 28 to uphold Indiana voter identification laws, ruling that states can require voters to show IDs before allowing them to cast ballots. Some states have long required voters to identify themselves at the polls, but no state had a requirement for a current government-issued photo ID until Indiana and Georgia passed such legislation in 2005. These ID requirements promise to prevent voter fraud, but some people argue that the voter ID laws suppress voting, especially by minority and would-be Democratic voters. Should states take advantage of this ruling and require voters to present IDs before allowing them to vote?
Bryan Moore was only twelve years old when he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, caused by obesity and lack of exercise. Now a ninth grader, Moore has his name on a bill that aims to increase physical education requirements in school - including doubling high school requirements to two years.
As senior Gabriela Acosta walks into her Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology classroom, a tall female teenager with short brown hair and a button up shirt stands at the front of the board talking to teacher Julia Smrek. While students continue to file into the room and take their seats, Acosta assumes the new girl to be a transfer or guest from another school. However, Smrek instead turns around and introduces the guest as Ms. Emma Aguilar, the class's new student-teacher for the semester from the University of Maryland. What Acosta soon came to discover in her AP Psychology class is that she and her new student-teacher would not only share the same classroom, but also the same birthdate.
Real world experience has long been considered one of the best ways to prepare for life beyond high school. But as the struggle of scoring competitive internship and work programs mounts, students are often left to sort through this puzzle themselves. The capstone program - just one year old - provides students with the guidance they need to venture on personal academic journeys that will enrich them beyond the classroom.
They live their lives just like anyone else. They work, go to school and pay their bills. Yet many of them live in misery - either shunned and hated for who they are or forced to keep their lives secret for fear of being hated - because they are transvestites and transgenders.
This Earth Day, activists, politicians and pundits around the country will be discussing ways to make our society and technology more energy efficient. But it would be a shame if on the one day when the world focuses on the Earth's natural environment and resources, students and staff at Blair ignored the school's own problems with energy efficiency. Numerous methods to make Blair more energy efficient exist, many simple, some complicated and others ingenious. But no matter what, they should be considered as possible alternatives to the way the school currently consumes energy.
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