What a weird thing this O'Malley marriage rumor debacle has turned out to be. While it's fascinating like a car wreck, I'm not sure it's actually means anything besides the obvious political implications. (If it does mean anything, find out what in this Sun story by Abigail Tucker and Stephen Kiehl about How the Internet Has Changed Everything. A good story for its type, but it could have been written two, five, maybe even seven years ago, with just the names changed.) As for the politics, it gives O'Malley a way to get on cameras, pout, act the aggrieved party, to be the victim, which hopefully gains him viewers'/listners'/readers' sympathy, aka votes; in a way the mayor's public denunciation of the rumors yesterday was much like Gov. Ehrlich's now infamous respect State of the State speech a couple of weeks back. O'Malley's the better performer, though.

Anyway, on to the links. The Sun, for sure, gave this thing the full court press, with no fewer than seven news stories and columns. Thankfully, like it often does, Calvert Street has put together a mini-site of all related stories. No fancy cable-news-network catch-all title, though; it's just O'Malley rumor controversy. Besides the aforementioned pieces, check out Jonathan D. Rockoff's profile of the rumormonger himself, Maryland Republican operative Joseph Steffen Jr. Sounds like a real prince, this guy: "Former colleagues said he preferred to wear dark clothing and work behind closed doors, with the lights off. Away from work, he writes horror and science fiction stories." Also interesting is the usually on-the-ball Dan Rodricks, who I think gives the Mr. and Mrs. O'Mayor a tad too much sympathy. Yes, "two people who have given many of their 40-something years to public service, standing in front of TV cameras, photographers and reporters to deny what some creeps said about them on the Internet and elsewhere." But it was also a political opportunity for those two people. However, he gets it dead right when he goes after the, ahem, bloggers: "You can go on the Web site Joe Steffen fed with rumors about O'Malley, read the entries and feel your eyes glaze with boredom and with the weight of sad reality that so much human time and energy goes into divisive and hateful rhetoric and not enough into public service."

Elsewhere: Washington Post stories here and here. Associated Press, via The Washington Times, here. New York Times story here.

Also, can't help but wonder if the O'Malleys are a bit thankful this came along when it did, as the mayor made some more of his trademark dumb comparing-Bush-budget-cuts-to-9/11 remarks just a few days ago?-which he "clarified" yesterday on The Al Franken Show(?!)--allowing both Ehrlich and Republicans and his probable Democratic gubernatorial foe, Mont. Co. Exec. Doug Duncan, to pile on. They couldn't have asked for a better distraction.

Irredemption

While he has been more contrite in the past, even after getting shot, the Rev. Maurice Blackwell, charged with sexual abuse, now demonstrates that he's not going down

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. Like I said yesterday, this is a story that just gets more fascinating, since both men involved--Blackwell and the man he's accused of molesting and who later shot him three times, Dontee Stokes--are sympathetic, complicated human beings.

Around the State

Round 3 on slots begins.

Sun

story

.

Post

story

.

Washington Times

story

. And a decent localized story--ties it into horse farms--from the Hagerstown

Herald-Mail

.

More on the W.R. Grace/Montana case: Turns out a Beltsville (P.G. County) shop got some of the

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from Grace's Libby, Mont., facility.

Feds

Harwood (that would be yours truly's neighborhood) firebombing case.

In other business news, Gap

distribution facility in Harford County, lays off 170. Hopefully not a trend, as those huge warehouses just off 95 provide thousands of steady jobs up there. And in Hunt Valley, circuit board manufacturer Sanmina-SCI to

and lay off 75 (from same collection of briefs: Randallstown to get a Wal-Mart). But maybe jobs for Salisbury, thanks to a, ugh,

.

Baltimore-born cardinal gets to

for a day.

Couple days old, from the

Afro-American

: City firehouse

for former chief Herman Williams.

Also a couple days old, but I'm still learning when these newspapers update their sites. Anyway, from the

Jewish Times

, breakaway group

new Orthodox synagogue in Northwest Baltimore. Also from the

JT

, Detour Dave

a stadium for Owings Mills High.

Yes, old: New Rotunda owner

no big-box stores.

Commuter bus line over the Bay Bridge? According to the

Easton Star Democrat

,

.

From

The Jeffersonian

, Perry Hall Fair

a new location.

Towson U. C- debate

.

From the

Towson Times

, Kenilworth Mall may have stolen the Bead from the Rotunda, but it's

Herman's Bakery.

Dog Bites Man: Lifelong Catonsvillean, and new Balto Co Exec Jim Smith spokesman,

Baltimore County.

Dog Bites Man 2: Drinkers more likely to

.

The

Diamondback

's Jared A. Favole finds that UMd police chief takes job

.

Feature Hole

Sniff: Enchanted Forest characters

from dilapidated Ellicott City site to nearby farm.

An OK

at this year's oyster harvest from Pamela Wood in

Annapolis Capitol

.

East Baltimorean Mark Reutter writes history of Sparrows Point steel-making, and the

Sun

's Carl Schoettler does the

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. And Jonathan Pitts

Richard Hoff about the

's new exhibit on morturary science.

The

Carroll County Times

' Robert Brodsky gets a

with Manchester cop.

Go Look:

at Johns Hopkins, from the

Magazine

.

Around the Dial

On WYPR (88.1 FM)'s

"Statehouse Watch" at noon, Afghanistan doc director Carmela Baranowska at 1.

MPT's

Business Connection

talks with

, including Elkridge-based

CEO Michael Horn. Also on MPT, a

of the Strathmore's opening night, Saturday, Feb. 5, delayed due to "technical difficulties."

Elsewhere

The

LA Times

' Stephen Braun

city officials than the

NYT

was yesterday.

From the Hindu Business Line, Maryland

Indian IT and biotech folks.

Only tangenitally related to Maryland--the movie was screened at Camp David--but how can one not link to a story about

True Grit

? From the

Chicago Tribune

, via

The Wichita Eagle

.

More on

, from

Nature

.

In Other Alt-Weeklies

Brian Grazer, of all people, has produced a documentary on

Deep Throat

,

Inside Deep Throat

, so there's gonna be lots of navel-gazing porn pieces coming out.

, from the

Boston Phoenix

's Peter Keough, will probably end up being one of the better ones.

To keep it on the movie tip, the

San Francisco Bay Guardian

's Lynn Rapoport

the dark heart of date movies.

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