The Latest On Syria, The Red Line, Weekend MARC Service, and Sequestration Mitigation | WYPR

The Latest On Syria, The Red Line, Weekend MARC Service, and Sequestration Mitigation

Sep 5, 2013

Senator Ben Cardin was one of the lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted yesterday to approve a resolution authorizing limited US military action in Syria. Plus: funding for Baltimore’s Red Line, weekend MARC service, sequestration mitigation, and more.

The Latest On Syria: Senator Ben Cardin was among the lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted yesterday to approve a resolution authorizing limited US military action in Syria. The resolution gives President Obama the authority to launch strikes in Syria in response to the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. The measure prohibits the use of U.S. ground troops in Syria; it’s set to be considered by the full Senate next week. In a statement, Senator Cardin said he did not take the vote lightly and added: "inaction would simply bolster those who wish to lash out and do harm to others." Meanwhile: Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori is calling on area Catholics to observe a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria. Lori says Catholic churches in the Archdiocese will be open for those purposes from 1pm to 6pm on Saturday. That's the same day Pope Francis will lead a prayer vigil in Saint Peter's Square to pray for peace in Syria and the rest of the world.

Transportation Projects: Governor Martin O'Malley announced $1.5-billion in state funding for Baltimore area transportation projects yesterday. As the Baltimore Sun reports, nearly $690-million have been earmarked for the Red Line light rail project, with nearly $250-million more designated for the replacement of 100 Baltimore Metro subway cars. In his weekly essay, WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith takes a look at the Red Line. In related news, O’Malley has also announced that MARC trains will start operating weekend service on December 7th. The Washington Post tells us that current plans call for 9 round trips on Saturdays and 6 round trips on Sundays. The MARC expansion – and the new Baltimore-area transportation projects – are being funded by hikes in the state’s gas tax, approved by Maryland lawmakers earlier this year.

Mitigating Sequestration: Governor Martin O’Malley has announced that the state will spend $9-million on programs that have lost federal funding due to the sequestration spending cuts. The Baltimore Sun reports that the money will help pay for drug abuse and prevention programs, meals for senior citizens, job training, adult education classes, and early childhood education for low-income children. The Washington Post notes that the $9-million comes from a $100-million reserve fund the General Assembly created to shield our state from the sequester.

Mizeur Announces Endorsements: Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur has picked up a dozen endorsements for her bid to become Maryland’s next governor. The nods came from former and current lawmakers from her hometown of Takoma Park – where Mizeur once served on the City Council. Mizeur tells the Washington Post that the endorsements are “incredibly meaningful” to her, and points to Takoma Park’s long tradition of social justice. Mizeur is vying for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who has already picked up scores of endorsements. Later this month, Attorney General Doug Gansler is expected to get into the race, and Gansler has said he expects to claim his own share of endorsements. A program note: we’ll be talking with Lieutenant Governor Brown about his gubernatorial bid – among other things – on the noon hour of Midday with Dan Rodricks.

Port Of Baltimore News: Vice President Joe Biden is planning to visit the Port of Baltimore on Monday, as part of a tour of ports on the East Coast. The Baltimore Sun reports that all the ports Biden will visit are seeking federal dollars to help them handle additional freight expected by the expansion of the Panama Canal. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded the Port of Baltimore $10-million to pay for expansion. In related news: Carnival Cruise Lines could return to the Port of Baltimore as soon as 2015, now that the company has reached a tentative deal with the Environmental Protection Agency on air pollution rules. Carnival says it plans to install pollution control equipment on its ships over the next three years, and in the interim the EPA says it’ll exempt those ships from a new requirement that they use cleaner fuel. That requirement had prompted Carnival to remove its cruise ship “Pride” from Baltimore starting in November of next year; officials tell the Baltimore Sun that move will stand, but add that “schedules have not been finalized” for 2015 and beyond.

No Cars On OC Beaches: The Ocean City Council has nixed a plan to let fishermen park their cars on the beach. OC lawmakers were considering allowing licensed fishermen to park their cars on the beach between November and March, but the Daily Times reports that strong public opposition prompted them to vote unanimously to kill the plan earlier this week.

Baltimore Baseball: the Orioles lost 6 to 4 to the Cleveland Indians last night. They’ll be back at Camden Yards tonight, for a game against the Chicago White Sox – first pitch is set for 7:05pm.

Baltimore Football: The O’s game is just one event that’ll be bringing crowds to Downtown Baltimore tonight… another is the NFL season kickoff concert featuring county star Keith Urban; it’s being held at the Inner Harbor, and is expected to draw 20-thousand people. The concert begins at 7:30pm, an hour before the Ravens start their game against the Denver Broncos. The game itself will not be telecast on the concert stages, but can be seen on NBC.