Billion Dollar Surveillance Blimp To Launch Over Maryland

In just a few days, the Army will launch the first of two massive blimps over Maryland, the last gasp of an 18-year-long $2.8-billion Army project intended to use giant airships to defend against cruise missiles.

And while the blimps may never stave off a barrage of enemy missiles, their ability to spot and track cars, trucks and boats hundreds of miles away is raising serious privacy concerns.

The project is called JLENS – or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.” And you couldn’t come up with a better metaphor for wildly inflated defense contracts, a ponderous Pentagon bureaucracy, and the U.S. surveillance leviathan all in one.

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Commissioners Sued Over Liquefied Methane Gas Zoning

The Accokeek Mattawoman Piscataway Creeks Council is suing the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners over the board’s decision to exempt liquefied natural gas facilities from county zoning ordinances.

The case was heard Friday by visiting Judge James P. Salmon as protestors rallied outside the courthouse.

The amendment to exempt LNG facilities was adopted after a joint public hearing with the Calvert County Planning Commission in October.

Attorney Atty J. Holzer, representing the AMP council, said the amendment passed Oct. 29, 2013, was “unquestionably property specific,” meaning the text amendment to the zoning ordinance was created solely for the proposed export project at Dominion Cove Point in Lusby.

But county attorney John Norris said the amendment applies to all 430 properties zoned as I-1 within the county. The amendment was to allow LNG facilities to bypass local zoning and permitting regulations, but not state or federal ones like those regulating the critical area. Facilities such as Dominion Cove Point and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant are highly regulated by federal agencies and the county does not have the expertise to deal with them, he said. The 2006 ordinance already included the nuclear plant, but the 2013 amendment was expanded to include LNG terminals.

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Cove Point: Is Regulatory Agency Listening?

Hundreds filled the auditorium of Patuxent High School in Lusby, Maryland on May 31, eager to tell two representatives from the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) how they feel about the agency permitting a plant to export natural gas. In a marathon hearing lasting more than six hours, 150 people spoke out for and against the project. In general supporters expressed the sentiment, “Let’s get on with it,” while opponents said, “FERC is failing us.”

Two years ago, Dominion Resources filed its application with FERC to add on to the existing Cove Point facility and ship out liquefied natural gas on tankers bound to Asia. Now, two weeks after FERC released its draft Environmental Assessment favorable to Dominion, many eyes are watching as the regulatory process goes into the final stretch. Among a labyrinth of federal and state agencies which must issue permits before construction gets the go-ahead, FERC will likely have the final say.

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Academic Labor Unrest Spreads to Maryland Colleges

“We simply can not meet the needs of students when we must have two—and sometimes three—adjunct positions to even begin to support ourselves. I’ve heard stories about adjuncts who can’t afford an apartment and are living out of the back seatof their cars,” she adds.

Smith estimates there are about 200 adjuncts at MICA, who teach about 45 percent of the school’s courses; overall, he says, the campus environment is a positive one. “We do enjoy working at MICA and it’s a great place to teach,” he says.

But that’s not enough to outweigh the worries about survival and consistent employment that being an adjunct entails, he points out. “Of course compensation and benefits are big issues, but job security is probably the biggest concern,” he says. “You can have been an adjunct for ten years, but you still don’t know whether you will have a class to teach next semester.”

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