around the region

August 26, 2008

ACLU asks court to let spy suit move forward

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Believing Maryland State Police officials have not disclosed all documents related to a 14-month surveillance operation, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a court brief asking that its Public Information Act lawsuit continue moving forward. Details of state police spying emerged this summer as part of the lawsuit, filed in Baltimore Circuit Court by the ACLU of Maryland. In 2005, undercover agents secretly joined the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance, a peace group; the Baltimore Coalition Against the Death Penalty; and the Committee to Save Vernon Evans. Vernon is death row inmate. The documents also show that state police entered the name of a longtime peace activist into a law-enforcement database of people thought to be terrorists or drug traffickers. Last month, Gov. Martin O'Malley asked a former U.S. attorney general to conduct an independent review of the surveillance operation. Attorneys for the state police recently asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, saying it had fulfilled the public information request that led to the lawsuit. But ACLU attorney David Rocah said he does not believe the state police have disclosed everything, pointing to documents that refer to other documents and summaries that are based on logs.

Julie Bykowicz

State agency to provide funds for energy programs

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The Maryland Energy Administration announced yesterday it is making available $1.5 million in below-market-rate loans to nonprofit groups, local governments and eligible businesses to implement energy conservation and efficiency programs. The loans are designed to support efforts to make buildings more efficient through lighting that uses less energy, for audits that identify upgrades such as better insulation, and other projects. Proposed projects must pay for themselves through energy savings in seven years or less, which would be the term of the loan. Funding for the loans comes from a program re-named by the General Assembly this year for the late Del. Jane E. Lawton, a Montgomery County Democrat known for her environmental stances. She died last year.

Laura Smitherman

Vandalism cancels classes at Balto. County school

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A Baltimore County private school canceled classes yesterday after vandals broke several windows, the school's principal said. Del Riener, principal of Emmanuel Lutheran School in Catonsville, said the windows were broken sometime Sunday night. Reiner said he expected the school to open today.

Brent Jones

Elderly driver died of crash injuries

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The state medical examiner has ruled that an 82-year-old man who drove his car across the yellow line and crashed into a garbage truck in Edgewater last month died as a result of injuries he suffered in the crash, Anne Arundel County police announced yesterday. Walid Yusuf Ibrahim was driving his 2001 Toyota Avalon east on Mayo Road near Millhaven Drive about 11:30 a.m. July 1, when he crashed into the truck. He was taken to University of Maryland Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police said. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore determined that Ibrahim died of his injuries. Alcohol and excessive speed did not appear to be factors in the crash, police said.

Arnold fire destroys two-story home, car

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A fire destroyed a two-story home and a Mercedes-Benz in Arnold yesterday morning and damaged two nearby houses, an Anne Arundel County Fire Department spokesman said. About 1:15 a.m., firefighters responding to a call discovered a frame home in the 1200 block of Viking Drive South engulfed in flames, said the spokesman, Battalion Chief Matthew Tobia. A Mercedes-Benz parked in front of the home also caught fire, and the siding on neighboring houses was melting from the heat."The siding on both homes was literally dripping off," Tobia said. More than 30 firefighters worked to bring the fire under control in about an hour. The lone occupant of the burning house, an adult male whose name was not released, was alerted to the blaze by a working smoke detector and escaped without injury. Six people were also evacuated from neighboring homes without injury. One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion at Anne Arundel Medical Center and released, Tobia said. Total damage is estimated at $750,000, he said.

Julie Scharper

Transit agency to hold briefing on bridge accident

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