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The Baltimore Sun

Nader decries electoral system, financial rescue

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader last night bemoaned an electoral system that has kept him out of nationally broadcast debates, and he criticized the financial bailout bill that passed the Senate as he was speaking. Nader, talking to about 200 people at St. Johns Church of Baltimore City United Methodist Church, told the crowd that he has not done an interview with any of the major networks since February despite being on the ballot in 45 states. Had he been allowed to participate in last week's presidential debate between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, Nader said, millions more potential voters would have heard his message of cracking down on corporate crime, increasing the minimum wage, providing universal health care and withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Nader, 74, said he favored a government-sponsored debate system rather than the privately organized one now used. "There is no other Western country that tolerates this," he said of the two-party system. Nader devoted a portion of his 45-minute talk to the financial crisis, and said the bailout would benefit reckless gamblers on Wall Street and is something that most Americans oppose. "The tide of public outrage is coming in on [Congress], and they know if it passes and [President] Bush signs it, it will deflate the outrage," Nader said. "But does Congress work for the people or Wall Street?"

Brent Jones

30-year veteran sworn in as Anne Arundel fire chief

John Robert Ray, a 30-year veteran of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, was sworn in yesterday as the department's ninth chief. Ray, who had served as the deputy chief of logistics for the past decade, is the former chief fire marshal for the county and has supervised fire stations, said Battalion Chief Matthew Tobia, a department spokesman. The 52-year-old Arnold resident worked on the incident management team for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and has served as a liaison to the Secret Service during presidential visits to the county. He succeeds David L. Stokes, who retired after serving as chief since late 2006.

Julie Scharper

Back River Neck Peninsula acreage to be preserved

The state Board of Public Works has approved the preservation of 80 environmentally sensitive acres in the Back River Neck Peninsula of eastern Baltimore County through Program Open Space, officials said. The county will receive more than $1.1 million to purchase largely undeveloped agricultural land that will be added to the network of parkland, open space and natural resource areas on the peninsula, officials said. "This acquisition will contribute to Baltimore County's efforts to preserve and protect environmentally sensitive lands on the Back River Peninsula," said Baltimore County Director of Recreation and Parks Robert J. Bartlett.

Conference tomorrow to provide BRAC review

The U.S. Army's regional BRAC office has organized a conference tomorrow to give more than 300 government and business leaders a progress review of the expansion at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. The base is expected to grow by as many as 10,000 jobs during the next three years as the Army implements BRAC, the nationwide realignment of its facilities. The daylong event at Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood will provide participants updates on corridor projects, work force readiness, BRAC installation activity on the post, federal funding and an overview of regional transportation projects.

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