President addresses Morehouse graduates

Speaking to the newly minted graduates of Atlanta’s historically black and all-male Morehouse College May 19, 2013, President Obama urged them to use the power and advantage of their diplomas “for something larger than yourself.”


Lee A. Daniels

“It betrays a poverty of ambition,” he said to his rain-soaked but rapt audience, “if all you think about is what goods you can buy instead of what good you can do. … just as Morehouse has taught you to expect more of yourselves, inspire those who look up to you to expect more of themselves.”

“Pull them up, expose them, support their dreams. Don’t put them down … do these things … not just for yourself … [widen] your circle of concern … to care about justice for everybody.”

The president did say that his “job, as president, is to advocate for policies that generate more opportunity for everybody … and it is important for all of us … to advocate for an America where everybody has got a fair shot in life. Not just some. Not just a few.”

However, the speech provoked a rush of criticism from some commentators— not for those words but for the president declaring that blacks should no longer use racism as an “excuse” for their own or the group’s flaws.

Confessing that “growing up … Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down,” he went on to say that, “We’ve got no time for excuses. Not because the bitter legacy of slavery and segregation has vanished entirely; [it] has not. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; we know those are still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world … nobody is going to give you anything that you have not earned.”

He urged the Morehouse men to recall both the tragedy and the heroism of black Americans’ past, and “to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured— and they overcame them. … You can overcome them, too.”

Such ideas and commands have always had particular appeal at historically black college and university commencements.

In fact, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, made the same point little more than a week earlier to graduates of North Carolina Central University. “Some will discriminate against you,” he told them. “Discrimination exists, just as gravity exists. But in spite of gravity, planes take off and trees grow. Gravity is omnipresent, but it is not omnipotent.”

That the president’s words drew so much attention is, of course, because almost everything this first black president of the United States does has, either overtly or implicitly, a racialized cast to it.

But, in fact, the president’s critics misread his use of the charged words and phrases.

In one sense, that was understandable, because they were reacting to the old, tawdry American tradition of demanding that black Americans accept their second-class status. That was the cry of the Southern segregationists and their Northern fellow travelers during the years Morehouse’s most famous alumnus, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., became the central figure in the movement that would dismantle Jim Crow.

The “no excuses” meme used in that way really means: shut up and submit.

In sharp contrast, that exhortation, coming from those who have black Americans’ best interests at heart, as the president and first Lady do, actually means what those who have criticized Obama in this instance— support.

That meaning has long been alternately expressed as well by the old folk saying common among blacks: “You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as much.”

Those words were not said as a sigh of woe, but as a command to never submit, no matter how fierce the gales of racism blew.

Indeed, Obama urged his audience to remember that “Every one of you has a grandma or an uncle or a parent who’s told you that at some point in life, as an African American, you have to work twice as hard as anyone else if you want to get by. … And I promise you … that spirit of [pursuing] excellence, and hard work, and dedication, and no excuses is needed now more than ever.

In other words, the president’s “no excuses” command is a warning that the centuries-long struggle of black Americans to gain their full, deserved share of opportunity in their native land continues. That has been, and remains, each generation’s legacy— and heroic responsibility.

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.

Negro Leagues Museum thrives in Baltimore


— Some of the greatest players to play baseball are mostly unknown. Most of the names evoke few memories among the masses.

Grant “Homerun” Johnson, William “Dizzy” Dismukes, Cool Papa Bell, Buck O’Neill, Fleet Walker, Spot Poles, and even Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, one of the first women to ever hurl professionally are names that most people don’t know.

However, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of Maryland has been educating Baltimore residents and others about these unsung stars and the hundreds of others who roamed the diamond and became legends to baseball historians and fans.

“It’s just a great honor that there is a place like the museum where a person can go and learn about the Negro Leagues and the players, like myself, who were so honored to play,” said Johnson, who earned the nickname, “Peanut,” because of her petite frame while pitching for the Indianapolis Clowns in the 1950s.

The museum was founded five years ago by the family of Bert Simmons, who played for the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues and whose dream was a museum to honor the league’s players and its history.

“Bert’s dream came true with the opening of the museum,” Audrey Simmons, Bert’s widow, said in a recent interview. “I know he would be very proud of the progress we’ve made over the years and he’d also be proud of where we are going in the future,” Simmons said.

The museum is located at 3800 Patterson Avenue, and each year officials hold several special events, including “Back to the Old Ball Game,” in which it invites Negro League alumni and others to participate in autograph sessions, silent auctions and other functions.

The museum features life-sized displays of prominent Negro League players, uniforms, photos and other memorabilia. Also, the museum functions as a unique educational resource in Baltimore. Officials have collected, preserved and display photos, books, artifacts and other items that vividly tell the story of African Americans in baseball from the early 1800s to the present.

“We are full of history,” Simmons said. “Everybody, adults and children alike, can learn the history of the United States through a focus on the Negro Leagues. There’s knowledge of the discrimination blacks experienced, the segregation. There was Jim Crow. All of that was really a part of the history of the Negro Leagues,” she said.

The popular museum also functions as an educational facility with a goal of developing, maintaining and exhibiting materials and artifacts focused on the history of blacks in baseball.

“Our activities are aimed at every level from school age children to adults and including educators, businesses, and community resource persons,” Simmons said, adding that the mission is to provide opportunities for research, exploration and advocacy and to encourage the efforts of children and adults to work together to create a community resource center in honor of the Negro Leagues.

“What people have to realize is that it was an honor for all of us to have played in the Negro Leagues,” said Johnson, who resides in Washington, D.C. “The history is important for so many reasons including the fact that it shows that our young people can do anything they want if they just put forth the effort.”

Mother of Redskin Quarterback RG3 delivers message of hope, inspiration at homeownership workshop

— The mother of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III urged families attending a homeownership workshop on Saturday, April 13, 2013 to live within their means focus on their dreams and never, ever give up— even when faced with adversity.

“No matter how low you start out in life or how many times you’re knocked down, you can get back up again,” Jacqueline Griffin told a standing-room only audience at HomeFree-USA’s Keys to Success workshop sponsored by Bank America, with support from DHCD. “I know how hard it is when you’re striving, when you have goals, and something happens. It’s not what you go through, but how you go through it.”

Griffin described how she and her husband believe in living frugal, faith-filled lives and raised their family with the same values. When her famous son hurt his knee after a Rookie of the Year season with the Redskins, she said, he turned to his parents and asked “Now what?”

“We told him, ‘now comes the test for something greater,'” she said. “I know not everybody is going to be an RG3,” she said, “But whatever your dreams, you have to nurture them.”

Secretary Skinner joined Mr. and Mrs. Griffin and Capitol Heights Mayor Kito James at the daylong workshop in the Washington suburbs. The Griffins recently moved to the Washington region at their son’s request.

HomeFree, like counseling agencies throughout Maryland, is helping prospective homeowners prepare for a strengthening economy, noted Secretary Skinner. After the collapse of the national housing market in 2007, members of the MD HOPE Counseling Network focused on foreclosure prevention. Today, counselors are helping families repair their credit, organize their finances and put themselves in position to buy the home of their dreams.

Programs such as the Maryland Mortgage Program can help families take that first step to homeownership through competitive rates and significant down payment and settlement cost assistance. Learn more.

“Buying a home may not be as far out of reach as you think,” Secretary Skinner said. “And now is a great time to buy— with interest rates at, or near, historic lows and sales prices may never again be as low as they are now.”

5 things about the controversy surrounding AG Eric Holder

— Attorney General Eric Holder, a political lightning rod for Republican critics of the Obama administration, is under fire for two cases involving secret subpoenas or searches for phone records and other information of journalists involved in reports about leaked classified information.

  1. What’s the problem?

In the first case, the Justice Department last year obtained two months of phone records for reporters and editors at The Associated Press as part of a probe that the news service said was focused on its account of a foiled plot to bomb a U.S. airliner in May 2012.

The second case involves subpoenas and search warrants in 2010 to obtain phone records, e-mails and security badge tracking of a Fox News correspondent who reported on classified intelligence about North Korea in 2009.

Members of the press and critics led by Republican foes of Holder complained the covert surveillance amounted to targeting journalists as potential criminals, which would chill investigative reporting and potentially violate First Amendment rights of a free press.

In the investigation of leaks to the AP, employees of the news service were never singled out as potential criminals.

However, the affidavit for a search warrant in the Fox case included an FBI agent’s statement that a network reporter — later identified as James Rosen — could potentially be an “aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” to the crime of disclosing secret information.

In addition, Justice Department officials confirmed that Holder took part in “discussions” about seeking the search warrant.

The Justice Department did not prosecute Rosen, nor did it file charges against him. While he was listed as a “co-conspirator,” that often does not mean he would be considered a target.

Last week, President Barack Obama ordered Holder to review government practices in investigating leaks of secret information.

His administration has been more aggressive in probing classified leaks than those of his predecessors, but Obama said he was “troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.”

Some Republicans complained that Holder’s involvement meant he would be reviewing himself, due to the affidavit that said he took part in discussions on a search warrant of Rosen’s phone records and emails.

  1. What are the latest developments?

On Wednesday, the GOP leaders of the House Judiciary Committee sent Holder a letter asking for further information about whether he lied to Congress when he said at a May 15 hearing that he never took part in any “potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material.”

“… That is not something that I have ever been involved in, heard or, or would think would be wise policy,” Holder said in response to questioning by Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia on possible use of the Espionage Act to prosecute members of the news media for publishing classified information.

The letter to Holder from committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin noted that the affidavit for the search warrant for Rosen’s phone, e-mail and security badge information only became public after the May 15 hearing.

They questioned whether Holder’s response to Johnson’s question amounted to lying under oath because of subsequent media reports that the Justice Department confirmed Holder took part in discussions on seeking a search warrant.

“How can you claim to have never even heard of’ the potential prosecution of the press but were, at a minimum, involved in discussions regarding Mr. Rosen?” asked the letter by Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner.

While Holder was asked about the AP case at the May 15 committee hearing, the issue of the Fox reporter never came up.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that no prosecution ever took place in the Fox case, and therefore it was “self-evident” that any charge Holder lied to the House panel was “inaccurate.”

Implying that Republicans were playing politics, Carney said reporters should “be careful not to conflate facts with statements by members of Congress about what they want to be true.” Pressed further, he added that reporters were “conflating a subpoena with prosecution.”

Asked if Obama still had full confidence in the attorney general, Carney replied: “He absolutely does, yes.”

On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said Holder “was forthright and did not mislead the committee” on May 15.

“Certainly, there are policy disagreements as to how the First Amendment should apply to these series of leak investigations being conducted by the Justice Department and that is and should be an area for the committee to consider,” Conyers said in a statement. “However, there is no need to turn a policy disagreement into allegations of misconduct.”

Meanwhile, a Justice Department official said Wednesday that Holder will meet with officials from media organizations this week as part of his review of how the federal government handles leak investigations.

The meetings with chiefs of Washington bureaus will begin Thursday and include representatives from newspapers, wire services, radio and television broadcasters, and online organizations, the official said.

  1. What’s the background?

With an eye toward the 2014 congressional elections and the 2016 presidential campaign, Republicans are trying to depict the Obama administration as rife with scandals.

These include the two cases involving Holder as well as IRS targeting of conservative groups and erroneous talking points about the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack.

Like many attorneys general, Holder has been a focus of political attacks throughout Obama’s White House tenure.

In particular, conservative Republicans have taken aim at Holder over efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, a decision to stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, and the handling of the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-walking program.

At the same time, Holder has been praised by Obama and liberals for taking a lead role on socially progressive issues such as gay marriage and immigration.

Last year, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa of California led a GOP effort to cite Holder for contempt of Congress in a dispute over documents the panel sought in the “Fast and Furious” investigation.

Issa and other Republicans said Holder refused to turn over requested documents necessary for a full inquiry of the program in which federal agents allowed illegal weapons sales across the border with Mexico, then lost track of the firearms.

Holder maintained the House contempt vote boycotted by most Democrats amounted to political theater, and he recently criticized Issa for what he called a pattern of incomplete or misleading statements.

“It is inappropriate and it is too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress,” Holder said at the May 15 hearing of the judiciary panel that includes Issa. “It is unacceptable and it is shameful.”

  1. What does Holder have to say?

At the May 15 hearing, Holder testified under oath that he had recused himself from the AP case because he had previously been questioned regarding who knew what about the classified leak. Therefore, he said, he had no role in last year’s decision by Deputy Attorney General James Cole to seek the secret subpoena of AP phone records.

Holder has yet to comment specifically on Rosen’s case. On Tuesday, he told reporters he was “not satisfied” with some federal guidelines on how prosecutors conduct leak investigations involving reporters.

“We’re going to have a real frank, good conversation about this,” Holder said. “And I think, we’re going to make some changes because I’m not satisfied with where we are.”

  1. What happens now?

There will be more congressional hearings and investigations, more political rancor and the possibility of some fallout if further disclosures reveal Holder knowingly misled Congress or inappropriately concealed information.

His defiance in the face of the House contempt citation indicates Holder won’t voluntarily step down unless pressured to do so by Obama, who has steadfastly maintained confidence in him.

The question will be whether Holder becomes a liability for the president.

If the multiple controversies (IRS targeting, Benghazi, reporters phone records) continue to dominate the political discussion, Obama could decide a drastic gesture is needed to try to move past a climate of crises. However, nothing at this point suggests that is imminent or under consideration.

CNN’s Carol Cratty, Dana Bash, Kevin Liptak, Paul Steinhauser and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Wanted: At least 15 Stanley Cherrys

Needed: at least 15 corrections officers like Stanley Cherry to work in the Baltimore City Detention Center. Who, many readers will no doubt ask, is Stanley Cherry?


Gregory Kane

It would be more accurate to ask who he was. Cherry is now deceased, but he was a Baltimore high school and college sports legend before his untimely death from a drug overdose. Oh, and he was also a corrections officer.

From the years 1966-1969, Cherry attended Edmondson High School. A gifted athlete, he excelled in three sports: football, wrestling and lacrosse.

At what was then Morgan State College, Cherry played football and lacrosse. He is mentioned quite often in the book “Ten Bears,” co-written by Chip Silverman and Dr. Miles Harrison.

Silverman was the coach of Morgan’s lacrosse team in the early 1970s. His squad more than held its own with several elite white teams of the era.

In one segment of “Ten Bears” Silverman described what an intimidating force in lacrosse Cherry was. It seems Cherry was knocking opposing players out cold with body checks, which were perfectly legal.

Officials ejected Cherry from the game. Silverman protested, claiming that all of Cherry’s body checks were quite legal.

Didn’t matter, the refs countered. They wanted Cherry out of the game before he killed somebody.

Throughout the “Ten Bears,” Silverman gave examples of Cherry’s menacing demeanor on and off the field. The six words no one wanted to hear, Silverman said, were these: “Stanley Cherry is looking for you.”

Cherry planned to play in the National Football League. When that plan didn’t pan out, he became a corrections officer.

A former prison inmate, now deceased, that knew Cherry since he was a boy wrote several pieces about him for The Baltimore Sun. Apparently Cherry was every bit as intimidating as a corrections officer as he was on the football field, on the wrestling mat and on the lacrosse field.

Inmates didn’t intimidate Stanley Cherry; Stanley Cherry intimidated inmates.

We could use about 15 or 20 corrections officers like Cherry now, especially at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

You’ve no doubt read— or seen a television news report— about what a hot mess, the Baltimore City Department of Corrections (BCDC) is. Federal officials announced the indictment of 25 people on charges of smuggling drugs, cell phones and other contraband into the facility.

Thirteen of those indicted were corrections officers. All of those corrections officers are female.

They are accused of helping members of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) prison gang with its smuggling operation. Four are alleged to have had sex with Tavon White, supposedly the BGF leader inside the BCDC.

A fifth corrections officer is accused of having sex with another BGF member. The four accused of having sex with White allegedly became pregnant with his children, one of them twice.

I confess to having absolutely no understanding of what was going through the minds of any of these 13 young women. The upside of helping incarcerated gang members would be what, exactly?

The upside of having sex with them, getting pregnant and then bearing their children would be what, exactly?

I might not understand, but BGF members certainly do. According to a story in the April 28, 2013 edition of The Baltimore Sun, “Corrections department investigators discovered BGF documents outlining that new recruits are trained to target female officers with ‘low self-esteem, insecurities and certain physical attributes.’ Gang members believe such officers can be easily manipulated.”

I’d love to see BGF members try to manipulate a Stanley Cherry, or a corrections officer like him. It couldn’t and wouldn’t be done.

Cherry was an old-school kind of corrections officer, one that would guarantee an inmate who stepped out of line that the dislocation of a body joint would soon follow.

Had Gary D. Maynard, Maryland’s secretary of public safety and correctional services, had 15 or 20 tough male corrections officers working for the BCDC, he would have saved himself the embarrassment of having to take the blame for the hot mess that exists there now.

He has taken the blame, but has he learned his lesson? Let’s see what kind of corrections officers he picks to work at the BCDC in the near future.

Teen chefs battle in healthy cooking competition

— HealthCorps, a national non-profit co-founded by Dr. oz and his wife Lisa to combat the childhood obesity crisis, hosted a regional Teen Battle Chef (TBC) cooking competition on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 in Baltimore. The annual event brought together five teams of HeatlhCorps high school students from Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C. in competition to cook, plate and present a healthy meal.

Each student team had to rework a classic American meal into a healthier recipe that included at least three fruits and vegetables. Teams then presented their dishes to a panel of judges and explained the recipe’s origin and how they improved the meal’s nutritional value.

The student teams made everything from healthy crab cakes to smoky sweet potato burgers. Judging the tasty fare were local chefs and foodies who volunteered their time and expertise including John Shields, Chef/Owner of Gertrude’s; Rachel Yong, Healthy Food Coordinator; Sheri Sanders, Manager of Donna’s Café; Zach Chissell, Project Manager of Real Food Farm; Lisa Turner, Chef of Phaze 10 and Riq Glispy, Chef for Reinvent U Empower Maryland, Inc.

Sun and Post

You mean the “Washington Post” is NOT a liberal newspaper?


Gregory Kane

Contrary to an assertion in my last column, at least one reader feels it isn’t. He didn’t want to give his name, but he made his point darned clear.

“Dear Mr. Kane: in your most recent “Baltimore Times” piece, you describe the Washington Post as ‘far from a conservative publication.’”

“This, if false:

  1. Editorially, under Fred Hiatt, the WP is now a neocon mouthpiece.
  2. If you recall, the WP endorsed Bob Ehrlich against Martin O’Malley in the 2006 gubernatorial race.
  3. More to the point, the WP’s assault on the Correctional Officers Bill of Rights is the publication’s virulent anti-union bent. The WP— i.e., the Graham family— has never gotten over a major strike by the typesetters’ union in the 1970s, which generated a case of anti-labor PTSD that has afflicted the newspaper ever since. If you were a regular reader of the Post, you would know this.”

Actually, in his e-mail, the reader referred to Ehrlich as “Bo(o)b Ehrlich.” Rather clever wording, but as O’Malley prattles on about the corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center and the subsequent indictments of 13 corrections officers being a “positive achievement,” we all might want to ponder who the real boob is.

However, the reader was right: I am NOT a regular reader of the “Washington Post.” I only read enough of the paper to have learned that Peter Hermann, the former city editor and crime reporter for The Baltimore Sun, is now working for the Washington Post.

Hermann was nearly a legend at The Sun. I remember when I started working at the paper in 1993 that he was working the cop beat in the Anne Arundel County bureau.

Soon he was working the cop shop in the city, and was superb on both beats. He cranked out so many stories as a cop reporter in Anne Arundel County and

Baltimore City that reporters and editors had a nickname for him: The Hermannator.

Eventually editors sent Hermann to Jerusalem to work as the paper’s Middle East correspondent. Then he returned to the States and worked a bit as a city editor before returning to working the cop beat.

Hermann continued to hang in there as a faithful, loyal Sun reporter even after the turmoil of 2008 and 2009. In 2008, over 40 reporters and/or editors took management’s offer of a buyout. A plethora of talent walked out the door that summer.

In 2009, the paper purged a number of editors, including the head of the copy-editing department. I was stunned.

A newspaper with virtually no copy-editing department! Just how far was the Tribune Company, which owns The Sun, willing to go in ratcheting down journalistic standards?

I got my answer this past March— Sunday, March 3, 2013 to be exact— when I picked up a copy of the Sunday Sun.

There, on what is called the bottom fold of the newspaper, was a “summary of the news.” Here’s what was printed there:


CALL FOR JUSTUCE: The family of LaRelle Ashlyn Amos, a young mother killed by a stray bullet on Labor Day weekend, urged witnesses to come forward as they gathered Saturday to mark the six months that have passed since her death.

Yes, on March 3, 2013, The “Baltimore Sun” did indeed issue a “call for justuce.” And you can bet there was nary a copy editor near the joint when that call was issued.

I have no idea why The Hermannator bolted from The Sun to work for the “Washington Post,” but I have a hunch that the Tribune Company’s lack of devotion to anything even remotely resembling journalistic standards had something to do with it.

Should I be concerned about new virus?

— When the head of the World Health Organization says a new virus is her “greatest concern right now,” people worldwide may wonder whether they should be concerned.

This new coronavirus, which experts recently named MERS-CoV or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, first surfaced in Saudi Arabia in March 2012.

It’s in the same family of viruses as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome – coronavirus) as well as the common cold — but the new virus is not SARS.

“There’s not the same level of concern as there was in Hong Kong or Toronto during the SARS epidemic,” says Dr. Mark Denison, a professor of pediatrics and longtime coronavirus researcher at Vanderbilt University.

Unlike SARS which sickened more than 8,000 people in 2003 and killed 773 worldwide, this new coronavirus does not spread easily between humans — at least not yet.

It’s too early to tell whether MERS-CoV is going to spread or just burn out, so it’s essential that health officials stay vigilant, Denison says. “What’s important is continued reporting of active cases which allows for better surveillance.”

Should I be concerned about MERS-CoV?

So far only 49 cases of MERS have been reported, including 27 deaths. Most of those were older men with other health problems. And most contracted the virus in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar.

Cases have been reported in three European countries (United Kingdom, Germany, France) and Tunisia. But those cases had either traveled from the Middle East or in a few instances were infected through close contact with someone who recently returned from one of the above countries.

As of now, if you haven’t been to the Arabian Peninsula, your chance of a MERS infection is probably considerably less than 1%, or even zero, as all the cases have been linked to that region, says WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl.

What researchers don’t know is how many people may have had mild symptoms and never were reported. The more information scientists have, the more can be done to try to combat the disease.

I recently returned from the Middle East. What signs should I look for?

If you’ve traveled to the countries above and have cold-like symptoms which are getting worse, and you’re having increasing difficulty breathing and a fever, you may want to see a doctor. It’s important to tell your physician where you have been, so you can be tested for regular flu and other illnesses that can cause these symptoms as well as MERS-CoV.

The WHO describes the common symptoms as acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. According to Hartl, the real worry is that patients will develop pneumonia — most, although not all, of the cases have. Many have also had gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea.

What should I avoid?

The original source of the infection is still a mystery, so health officials cannot tell you what to avoid to prevent getting this coronavirus.

Researchers haven’t identified any animal that may be carrying the virus. Early on in the SARS outbreak, an animal called the civet cat was implicated — maybe unfairly, because bats were later implicated too.

It’s not known how the virus spreads between humans, be it droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing or touching contaminated surfaces, but WHO isn’t ruling out contact with surfaces as a possible mechanism of transmission.

It’s also not known how long the virus can live outside the body. The SARS virus was shown to live as long as four days. Other viruses, such as HIV, lose their ability to be infectious within hours.

How can I help my family?

While there’s no cure for MERS-CoV, there are things you can do to protect your loved ones — the same measures you would take to prevent spreading the flu or other viruses.

If you’ve recently returned from Middle East and aren’t feeling well, stay home and avoid contact with babies and people who may already be sick. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze (tissue, sleeve or elbow, not your hands) and wash your hands frequently.

There currently is no vaccine or treatment for MERS-CoV.

A lot has been learned about new coronaviruses over the past 10 years by studying the SARS virus because the National Institutes of Health have continued to support research on it, Denison says, adding that he’s hopeful that knowledge could be “potentially applied towards vaccines,” if MERS-CoV develops into a pandemic.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

President Salutes Morehouse graduate Leland Shelton

Imagine this. You have earned a Phi Beta Kappa key, which makes you a member of the world’s most prestigious academic honor society. In a few days you will graduate from Morehouse College. After a quiet summer spent with family and friends you head off to Harvard Law School.

As you make final preparations for commencement day you miss several telephone calls. You are so busy, You don’t have time to retrieve your voice mail messages. One of the calls you missed was from the White House with perhaps the most exciting news of your life.

Leland Shelton knew his world would forever change after receiving his political science degree from Morehouse. His childhood hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Morehouse graduate. However, he told me hearing the President of the United States call his name caught him by such great surprise, his fellow graduates had to help him rise from his seat when the commander in chief told him to stand up.

Here are the words that brought to light Leland’s remarkable life story and propelled him into the national spotlight:

When Leland Shelton was four years old— where’s Leland? Stand up, Leland. When Leland was four-years-old social services took him away from his mama, put him in the care of his grandparents. By age 14, he was in the foster care system. Three years after that, Leland enrolled at Morehouse. And today he is graduating Phi Beta Kappa on his way to Harvard Law School. But he’s not stopping there. As a member of the National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council, he plans to use his law degree to make sure kids like him don’t fall through the cracks.

When I spoke with Leland it was my intention to learn who and what inspired him to complete his college degree on time. I wanted to learn more about this young man who attended Baltimore City Public Schools. First, of all he was very polite and respectful. His responses were not only articulate; Leland’s words revealed a well-grounded, thoughtful young man fully prepared to envision his life beyond the glare of instant celebrity.

Leland, who graduated from Baltimore’s City College in 2009 said, he was accepted at several colleges including the University of Delaware. However, he knew as a child he wanted to attend Morehouse College. His choice was inspired by watching the 1999 animated feature, “Our Friend Martin.” The movie tells the story of a 12-year-old African American boy who may be held back in the seventh grade, because he is not studying. He is inspired to turn his life around once he learns about the many challenges Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to overcome after completing his Morehouse education.

Leland says his grandparents were a major influence is his life and credits them as the source of his drive and tenacity. “My grandparents raised me. They never had the opportunity to go to college, but I grew up watching all the sacrifices they made for me. I knew I had to make them proud.”

His transition to college was a lonely time for Leland. “When I first came to

Atlanta [to attend Morehouse] I had no friends, no relatives. I was an okay student in high school. But, I immediately decided to dedicate the next four years to not being average” says Leland.

Another important part of his success was the financial and moral support he received from the Black Professional Men, Inc (BPM). Following the advice of his high school guidance counselor

Leland applied for and was award a thousand dollar scholarship from the Baltimore based mentorship organization.

Leland says Rodney Carter, BPM vice president was always there for him. “The money was helpful, but his guidance and mentorship was priceless. Each years BPM hosts a breakfast the Saturday before Father’s Day and awards 12 scholarships to black male high school seniors who have been accepted into some of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities.”

Two years ago Carter called to tell me one of his students, Fagan Harris, a Stanford grad had been selected as a Rhodes scholar. In terms of high academic achievement that accomplishment would be pretty hard to top. Yet, I think most would agree a presidential shout-out is a unique recognition that not only excites the imagination, it acknowledges a student population often ignored or burdened with negative stereotypes.

As a rising junior Leland interned in the Washington, D.C. office of Senator John Kerry. “I learned a lot about the workings of our Congress. I was provided the opportunity to sit in on congressional hearings on foreign relations and briefings on SNAP benefits, and other welfare issues.” He crafted memorandums to staffers, conducted research and submitted a policy recommendation to a legislative assistant.

When asked about his future, after he completes law school, Leland plans to return to Baltimore and practice child advocacy law.

Congratulations to Leland and all the proud members of the class of 2013, with a special shout out to Jessica Brockington who graduated from Howard University.

For more information about this year’s Black Professional Men’s breakfast and awards ceremony visit:

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes about academic issues because she believes “only the educated are free.”

O’Malley, O’Reilly and Cobor, Oh My!

This story about the federal indictments handed down regarding corruption at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) just keeps getting better and better or worse and worse, depending on your perspective!


Gregory Kane

Let’s recap: in late April some 25 people were indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and drug possession with intent to distribute.

Seven of those people were, at the time, BCDC inmates and members of the prison gang known as the Black Guerilla Family (BGF). Five were gang members, relatives or sympathizers not incarcerated and 13 were corrections officers, all of whom worked at the BCDC. All are female.

The indictments allege that the corrections officers helped the BGF smuggle drugs, cell phones and tobacco into the BCDC. Federal officials also say that four of the corrections officers had sexual relations with Tavon White, head of the BGF at the BCDC.

All four allegedly became pregnant with White’s children, one of them twice.

By any reasonable standard, what we have here is a mess. It might even be called a “putrid mess,” as one U.S. senator called America’s involvement in Vietnam back in the 1960s.

Enter Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley— a.k.a. the Notorious Martin O’Shameless— telling the press that the indictments are a “positive achievement.”

The proper words to describe what happened at the BCDC might be “low down, dirty, crying shame.” However, O’Shameless is a master at making his political failures look like victories.

Didn’t the man run for governor in 2006 on a record of failure? Didn’t he win?

Didn’t he commit the gaffe of the decade in 2010 when, running for re-election against former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, he called illegal immigrants “new Americans”? Didn’t his popularity surge after uttering such nonsense?

Any guy who can do that can certainly hoodwink Marylanders into thinking that what happened at the BCDC is a “positive achievement.”

But O’Shameless has presidential aspirations. He would be sorely mistaken in assuming that voters in the rest of the country are as sappy as the ones here in Maryland. And he would be just as mistaken if he believes that all of us are going to buy into his spiel that the protections that corrections officers get in a bill he signed into law three years ago didn’t help foster the culture of corruption.

It’s called the Correctional Officers’ Bill of Rights, which I’ve abbreviated to COBOR for the sake of simplicity.

If we listen to Jeff Pittman, a local representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, COBOR is pretty harmless. It doesn’t protect dirty, corrupt corrections officers at all.

“It’s not about protecting dirty correctional officers. It’s about protecting due-process rights of officers of integrity who are facing charges.”

Look, Pittman, I was born at night. But not last night, OK?

The fact is COBOR will, indeed, at some point protect dirty corrections officers. FBI agents that investigated the corruption at the BCDC acknowledged that.

According to a story that appeared on the Web site, “one FBI agent is now claiming the ‘rights’ helped shield bad apples from discipline,” and that “an affidavit attached to the indictment and written by an FBI agent clearly states that disciplining guards under the bill of rights ‘has proven to be very difficult, so cases are dropped.”

The piece de resistance comes from The Washington Post, far from a conservative publication.

“The absurd situation took root at least partly because….this bill of rights grants extraordinary rights to guards, including shielding them from threats of prosecution, transfer, dismissal or even disciplinary action during questioning for suspected wrongdoing.”

The “absurd situation” WP editors refer to is, no doubt, what happened at the BCDC. It’s so absurd that Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly has commented on it at least twice, in an attempt to do what most Marylanders will refuse to do: Hold O’Shameless accountable.

O’Malley has called O’Reilly’s comments about the BCDC mess a “cheap shot.” Methinks the shameless one doth whine too much.