Members of Baltimore synagogue speak out after finding swastika

Jewish leaders and Baltimore officials linked arms to pray Sunday after a swastika appeared on a sign belonging to the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The appearance of the Nazi symbol is believed to be the latest in a nationwide series of attacks on Jewish centers — this one less than two weeks after the museum on Lloyd Street opened an exhibit called "Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity." More than 50 people linked arms to pray and to speak out against the act Sunday morning near the sign at B'Nai Israel: The Downtown Synagogue. (Balt. Sun)

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March 17 // Trump proposes complete defunding of Chesapeake Bay Program

President Donald Trump has proposed to drain the Chesapeake Bay Program in his budget — released Thursday — with a requested funding cut from $73 million to $0. The Annapolis-based program started under President Ronald Reagan in 1983 as a bipartisan effort to bring together federal and state governments on bay restoration initiatives. The program uses some of its funding for grants, with Maryland receiving about $9 million in fiscal year 2016. The money has led to programs designed to improve bay health, bolster crab and oyster populations, improve water quality and reduce oxygen-deficient water that suffocates aquatic wildlife. (Capital)

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Federal money to build Purple Line in question under Trump budget plan

Federal funding for Maryland’s Purple Line is in jeopardy, as are Metro’s hopes for a significant increase in money from the government under President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget released Thursday. Trump’s proposed spending plan, which slashes the federal transportation budget by 13 percent, also curbs long-distance Amtrak service out of Washington and cuts millions in federal grants that the region’s governments have relied on for new rapid bus lines, road work, bus stop improvements and bike paths. The cuts came as a shock to many, considering Trump’s campaign pledge to pump $1 trillion into the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. (Wash. Post)

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Maryland Public Television would lose $3 million under proposed Trump budget

Maryland Public Television would lose about $3 million under the budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration, the state network said.  That's the amount of MPT's grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for fiscal year 2017 — roughly 9 percent of its budget. The preliminary budget proposal released by the Trump administration Thursday would eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its $445 million budget.  "Losing CPB funding would strike a crippling blow to the station and have a profound impact on MPT productions and other services we deliver to citizens of Maryland and surrounding states," MPT President and CEO Larry Unger said in a statement emailed to The Baltimore Sun. (Balt. Sun-Tribune)

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Maryland judge's ruling sets up double barrier against Trump travel ban

Maryland U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang ruled Thursday against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, establishing a double barrier preventing the policy from going into effect. For Trump's order banning entry for people from several majority-Muslim nations ban to begin, the Justice Department will now have to persuade judges in two federal appeals courts to overturn rulings against it. The new executive order, issued March 6, had been scheduled to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. The Trump administration tweaked a previous order, which also had been blocked by the courts, to try to avoid claims that it constituted a "Muslim ban." But Chuang, who sits in Greenbelt, and a federal judge in Hawaii looked to the president's past statements and concluded that the ban still discriminated on the grounds of religion. (Balt. Sun)

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In first 'State of the City' speech, Baltimore Mayor Pugh says focus on education, services and jobs will fight crime

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh used her first "State of the City" speech Thursday to set a direction for her new administration: She plans to fight an "unacceptable" crime rate by focusing on social services, not spending more money on police. "Even if we were to add 1,000 new police officers to our streets to patrol daily, that would not solve our crime problem," Pugh said. "Crime is symptomatic of the many problems facing our city today —unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, hopelessness and homelessness." (Balt. Sun)

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Pugh names new Baltimore human services director

Mayor Catherine Pugh has selected the former president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Chesapeake to lead Baltimore's human services agency. Terry Hickey will oversee a $52 million budget, 150 employees and a variety of programs, including homeless intervention services, education and financial literacy classes for low-income households and Head Start centers, Pugh's office announced Wednesday. Hickey, who has served as acting director since December, will earn $121,000 a year. (Balt. Sun)

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Anti-fracking activists arrested for blocking entrance to Md. State House

Maryland Capitol Police ­arrested about a dozen ­anti-fracking activists who blocked an entrance to the State House on Thursday and called on Senate leaders to allow a vote on a bill to ban ­fracking, a controversial ­gas-extraction method. The bill easily passed the House of Delegates last week, but has not moved out of a Senate committee. “We cannot love God with all our heart if we destroy God’s creation . . . nor can we frack and love our neighbor as ourselves,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and a Sunday-school teacher at a Presbyterian church, who was among those arrested. Dozens of other activists chanted, sang and waved signs. (Wash. Post)

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