How 'welcome' are those Obamacare investigations?

Both Gov. Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown say they welcome the federal review into Maryland's botched health insurance exchange that's coming at the request of Rep. Andy Harris. A spokesman for Mr. Brown's gubernatorial campaign said the feds' involvement will be helpful "so we can learn from these challenges," and Mr. O'Malley issued a statement saying the review was "welcome" but blaming vendors who "failed to deliver the product they promised." (Balt. Sun)

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Stopping HIV in Baltimore

Nearly three decades into the AIDS epidemic, medical professionals now have a much better understanding of the disease and how to treat it. But prevention is still the first line of defense against this devastating killer, which has already taken the lives of some 35 million people around the world, including 620,000 Americans. That is why we applaud the Maryland House of Delegates' passage last week of an expanded needle-exchange program in Baltimore City, which has been shown to drastically reduce new HIV infections among intravenous drug users. (Balt. Sun)

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Sheila Dixon: Baltimore isn't perfect but it's getting better

Baltimore is far from perfect — too many are without jobs, our city has too much violence, and the scourge of drug addiction destroys too many lives — but living in Baltimore is objectively better today than in 2000. We are healthier and safer compared to the prior two decades, and relative to other Rust Belt cities that are still grappling with massive deindustrialization, population decline and loss of federal funding, Baltimore has fared well. (Balt. Sun)

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Richard J. Cross III: Extending a handshake

Symbols are meaningful in politics. Sometimes, a gesture as simple as a handshake can resonate with tremendous importance. For me, the most important handshake in American history occurred in China on February 21, 1972. By way of background, John Foster Dulles — President Dwight Eisenhower's secretary of state and a staunch anti-communist — refused to shake Chinese leader Chou En Lai's hand at a conference in Geneva in 1954. He later quipped that the only time he'd meet with Chou would be if their cars accidentally collided. (Balt. Sun)

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Dan Rodricks: Annapolis case prompts 'Wait-What?' moment

While reading court documents recently, I had one of those "Wait-What?" moments. That's where you're reading along, or listening to an explanation, and you suddenly say, incredulously: "Wait. What?" That is, please stop and tell me what I just read or heard was correct — that, in the case at hand, a District Court commissioner told an Annapolis police corporal to change the reported description of a man wanted for first-degree assault. (Balt. Sun)

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Tracy Orwig: Specialty tier payments hurt patients

Health insurers in Maryland and throughout the country are jeopardizing patient health by dramatically and arbitrarily increasing the cost of vital medications. As insurers increasingly assign cancer treatments to so-called "specialty tier" cost structures, patients battling blood cancers and many other serious conditions are forced to pay prohibitively high out-of-pocket costs for their treatment, which causes many patients to go without treatment entirely. (Balt. Sun)

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Eric Rozenman: Supporters of marijuana legalization misread history

Support for decriminalizing recreational marijuana use and increasing its medicinal availability spreads like an oil spill. Colorado and Washington's decriminalization, coupled with President Barack Obama musing that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol — though he hopes his children will avoid the former as a bad habit — accelerate the change. Supporters seek to end so-called victimless crimes and regulate a popular activity wrongly stigmatized. Revenue-hungry states like Maryland, with Senate Bill 658, consider joining them. (Balt. Sun)

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Wayne Creed: In Northampton, yet another zoning tightrope

It was reported last week that the 501(c) Eastern Shorekeeper appears to have entered the fray over new Northampton zoning issues, essentially using a petition and a veiled legal threat to force the Board of Supervisors to follow the “intent” of the Comprehensive Plan. (Daily Times)

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