Dialogue Beats Diatribe

If it goes off as billed, Monday’s forum on Common Core educational standards could be insightful to those looking to find out more about the pros and cons associated with the effort, but given that it is being put on by our Board of County Commissioners, and given its track record for advocating conspiracy theories, it is just as likely that the forum will turn into another circus filled with bizarre pronouncements and warnings of government takeovers. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Nov. 1 // Cigarettes, Death And Taxes

Much as Americans hate taxes and tax increases, there's at least one levy even the government wishes people wouldn't pay. That's the tax on cigarettes, which the government dearly wishes people would avoid. When it come to cigarettes, a tax is its way of encouraging smokers to keep their money in their pockets by quitting, and a report this week from a coalition of health advocacy groups suggests the strategy is working. (Balt. Sun)

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Prison Safety

Body scanners, wiretaps and polygraph tests may soon be among the techniques Maryland legislators put into place at state prisons. It is not possible to know exactly what steps will be taken when the General Assembly convenes in January. What is clear, though, is that the violence and corruption have reached a level that can no longer be tolerated. Wednesday’s conversation reflects the statewide concern about a prison system that needs reform. (Times-News)

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The Lesson Of College Cutbacks

There is a certain irony that public institutions with "community" in their very name are taking steps that, at least at first glance, seem unhelpful to the broader society. Maryland's community colleges are now in the process of limiting the work hours of some part-time adjunct faculty, in part, to avoid having to extend health care insurance to them under the Affordable Care Act. (Balt. Sun)

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C. Fraser Smith: Gansler Gives Voters Lots To Remember 

In less than a month, voters have been handed two Gansler items they will almost surely remember. The attorney general has been the subject of decidedly unflattering newspaper articles not once but twice. In one, he seemed to be throwing his weight around with the state troopers who drove him to official events. In the other story, he went to a graduation beach party where underage revelers were dancing on top of tables and drinking. (Daily Record)

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Blair Lee: The Gansler Beat Down

For gubernatorial candiate Doug Gansler, name recognition is no longer a problem. Last week his name and photo got widespread national attention including NBC’s “Today Show,” ABC’s “World News With Diane Sawyer,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” CNN, FOX, Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show,” every Maryland and D.C. television news broadcast, every Maryland and D.C. newspaper, multiple editorials and op-ed columns, endless radio talk shows and all the political blogs. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the widespread photo is of Gansler standing in the middle of a teenage beach party that looks like a Roman orgy. What followed was a public free-for-all over Gansler’s duty to stop the underage drinking made worse by Gansler’s lame attempt to talk his way out of it. (Gazette)

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Dan Ervin: Megatons-To-Megawatts Reduced Real Risks

One of the most remarkable achievements in nuclear-weapons disarmament is scheduled to come to a close next month. For many observers, the success of the megatons-to-megawatts accord between the United States and Russia could increase the prospects of further progress on arms control. (Daily Times)

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Michale Gold: Harry Reid Moving Employment Non-Discrimination Act Toward A Vote

Let's talk about something truly terrifying: LGBT discrimination in hiring. BuzzFeed reported Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is likely to start setting up a Monday vote on beginning debate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA. The current version of ENDA, which includes protections against discrimination based on gender identity -- has been kicking around Capitol Hill since April, although some form of the bill has been introduced almost every session of Congress since 1994. (Balt. Sun)

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