Muhammad Ali ‘vastly improved’ after bout of pneumonia

— Famed boxer Muhammad Ali has “vastly improved” after being hospitalized over the weekend with a mild case of pneumonia, his spokesman Bob Gunnell said.

“Ali’s team of doctors hopes to discharge him soon,” said Gunnell.

Ali, 72, was admitted to an undisclosed hospital on Saturday.

“The Ali family continues to request privacy and appreciates all of the prayers and well wishes,” read a statement sent from Gunnell.

Ali was born Cassius Clay and won an Olympic gold medal as a light-heavyweight at 18.

In 1964, he became world heavyweight champion in an upset victory against then-champion Sonny Liston, according to Ali’s official website.

Shortly thereafter, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali to reflect his conversion to Islam.

The boxer was also known for his protest against the Vietnam War and refusal to be drafted into service out of religious conviction.

He retired from boxing in 1981 and announced his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease three years later.

Ben Brumfield, Joe Sutton, Kevin Dotson and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.

Indie Soul Music Review: Black Messiah by D’Angelo and The Vanguard

It has been 15 years since we last heard from R&B singer D’Angelo. We heard about the baby drama with Angie Stone; about his being evicted by force from his home; and we have heard about his so-called addictions. Everyone has vices. It just so happens that D’Angelo is the vice for many of his fans and fans of GREAT soul music! Welcome back D’Angelo!

Before this review could hit The Baltimore Times, the Internet was buzzing about the album’s release including some major players in the music business: Kendrick Lamar, Common, Justin Timberlake, Kevin Powell, Questlove and many others! Just hashtag #BlackMessiah to see what everyone has to say about this INCREDIBLE music from D’Angelo.

The album includes twelve tracks of pure genius and thought. The live instrumentation, vocal arrangement, and the grooves are just AWESOME! Do yourself a favor buy the CD, turn the lights out, sip on a glass of wine and just zone out!

D’Angelo, please don’t make us wait another 15 years! You were missed!

How to look your best for holiday parties

— It’s the holiday party season, which means that it’s time to be in the social limelight and look your best. But with indulgent feasts, hectic schedules and cold weather leading to dry, dull skin, you’ll need to take extra steps to overcome a few beauty hurdles, no matter who you are.

Here are some things to consider this season:

Stay Fit

Despite one’s best intentions, it’s hard to ignore the siren call of the appetizer spread and the dessert tray. Compound this with a couple rounds of egg nog and you’re sending your calorie count for the day to new heights. Fight this seasonal battle of the bulge while getting a kick start on your New Year’s resolutions by putting in some extra time at the gym during the holiday season.

When you aren’t socializing, be sure to keep meals on the lighter side. A healthful snack before hitting the party can help curb overeating. However, you may opt to avoid outfits that are excessively clingy or form-fitting, just in case you do over-indulge.

Smooth Skin

The cold winter air makes it harder to keep skin hydrated and smooth. You can rectify this by shaving smarter and using warm instead of hot water in the shower.

Men should consider a hydrating razor like Schick Hydro 5 to enhance razor glide and help prevent irritation. The razor has a Hydrating Gel Reservoir to help reduce friction during repeat strokes by releasing a gel to hydrate skin. Blades contain built-in skin guards that smooth the surface of the skin to reduce irritation. For a shaving gel, check out Edge Shave Gel, which has six formulas for various skin types. Edge Sensitive Skin Shave Gel has soothing aloe and lubricating molecules to enhance razor glide and keep sensitive skin looking great and protected from irritation.

All those cocktail dresses will require a silky smooth shave. However, shaving and showering can be naturally drying, especially in winter. Women should check out a moisturizing razor like Schick Hydro Silk, which contains a water-activated moisturizing serum and five curve-sensing blades with skin guards to help prevent irritation. Shaving and showering can be naturally drying, so your shave gel should offset this effect. Skintimate Skin Therapy Shave Gels, for example, contain nourishing moisturizers and vitamins to help replenish skin’s natural moisture; they foam into a rich, creamy lather, allowing for a close, comfortable shave and healthy-feeling, smooth skin.

Stay Hydrated

Chapped lips are never a good party look, especially when there’s red wine or lipstick in the equation. Keep a medicated lip balm on hand this time of year to combat the parched look, and remember to stay hydrated.

Drinking plenty of water can also help avoid puffy under eyes, which can afflict you when you’re stressed out or not getting enough sleep.

This holiday party season, you can look your best by combatting cold weather and some of the less savory yuletide habits.   

Three growing nonprofits led by women to add to your holiday giving list

If you are searching for an opportunity to volunteer, or a nonprofit to support, there are three nonprofits with local ties that are making a national impact. You may have missed these women led organizations, which are making strides to help children, people in underserved communities and homeless women veterans and in the United States.

Bess the Book Bus

Jennifer Francis runs Bess the Book Bus (“Bess”). Although Francis is based in Florida, she travels around the country giving free books away to underprivileged youth and families through mobile literary outreach. Bess makes trips to Baltimore several times a year. Francis shares the joy of reading and has partnered with Transitional Optical to help children receive free comprehensive eye exams and free glasses. You can help Bess’ team by donating $1, which pays for up to three new books for children. The organization also accepts gift cards and hotel point donations. To learn more about Bess the Book Bus, visit: www.bessthebookbus.org.

Black and Missing, Inc.

Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. (BAMFI) is a nonprofit based in Landover, Maryland and is making a national impact. BAMFI is a free resource to help find missing people. Derrica N. Wilson, the president of BAMFI, became the first and only African American female officer with the City of Falls Church in 2002. Along with her sister-in-law and co-founder, Natalie Wilson, she leads a movement to provide free tools to find missing people of color, and raise awareness about their disappearance, using a variety of media. The founders also educate the community about personal safety, create profiles of missing loved ones online when loved ones are reported missing and offer additional support to family of missing people at no charge. In-Kind and monetary donations as little as $5 can help the black and movement missing to continue. For more information and or to make a donation, visit: www.blackandmissing.org for more information.

Final Salute, Inc.

Jaspen (Jas) Boothe is a disabled Army Veteran who provides housing for women veterans and their children through three transitional homes.

While serving in the Army Reserves, Boothe learned that she would soon deploy to Iraq. During her mobilization, two significant evens occurred. Hurricane Katrina destroyed. Due to her illness, she could not deploy and was facing discharge from the military, while raising a young son. After cancer treatment, Boothe never forgot the limited options that were available in her time of need. In 2010 she founded Final Salute, Inc.

The organization provides housing for women veterans and their children, transportation, employment support, clothing and other services. Boothe has been nationally recognized for her commitment to never leave a fallen comrade behind.

Through Final Salute’s S.A.F.E program, assistance to veterans in over 15 states and territories have been supported to prevent homelessness, by providing emergency financial assistance.

It only costs $25 to provide support services, food and housing for a woman veteran in need. No more than 10 percent of every dollar donated goes toward administrative costs.

Toys, gift cards donations are accepted during the holiday.

To learn more about Final Salute and the services provided, email leadership@finalsalute.org to inquire.

Women in STEM: 10 quotes by GM’s Alicia Boler-Davis

Alicia Boler-Davis was named senior vice president of Global Connected Customer Experience at General Motors last month.

We curated Boler-Davis interviews and speeches on YouTube, and here are 10 direct quotes from the mind making the connection between GM and you. Number one is ridiculously inspiring.

Let’s start with the basics. Boler-Davis recently – and by recently we mean earlier this month – told Fortune Magazine how she discovered her potential in engineering. She wasn’t born a VP, you know.

“In our house, if something broke, they always called me.”

“And in fact, I used to break things, so I could put them back together”

Her mind was ready. But, here’s how she put two and two together and realized her drive to break-and-fix and fix-and-break was called engineering.

“I like math and science, but I like to fix things; and someone said, ‘Oh, engineers do that,’ and I had no idea what an engineer did, and I was in middle school.”

“I remember walking around telling people ‘I’m going to be an engineer,’ but I didn’t really know what that meant.”

Boler-Davis has two young boys now. She said she’s noticed something in their classrooms: Girls are just as math inclined as boys at the elementary level.

“I don’t know what happens in middle school that we get discouraged or we dumb ourselves down to where we don’t believe we can do it, but I think that’s the critical point in middle school: encouraging girls that this is still good.”

Watch the full video below.

YouTube

Fortune Magazine: Alicia Boler-Davis

Boler-Davis has been at GM since 1994. In these 20 years, her roles have included manufacturing engineer; plant manager – She’s the first black woman to hold this title at GM; vehicle chief engineer; VP of customer experience; and her current title.

She spoke to students at the University of California, Berkley Haas School of Business last year.

The topic was leadership. She said challenging the status quo is an important aspect of a leader.

“I’m not in this role to sit at the table and agree with everyone.”

“Driving change takes a lot of courage, and it takes the willingness to challenge an organization regardless of how big it is.”

It gets better.

“The easy thing to do is to keep doing what’s always been done, but challenging the status quo can show you things you didn’t know were possible.”

Almost there.

“When you do that, you’ll gain respect. You’ll gain respect from your team, from yours peers, and from your leaders because you’re operating on a value basis, to what’s important to you on principle.”

“I operate in principles, on ‘what’s the right thing to do,’ and if it’s not right, I’m not going to do it. If it’s not going to help us get better, then I’m not going to agree to it.”

Leadership: learn it.

Watch the full video below.

YouTube

UC Berkeley Haas School of Business: Alicia Boler-Davis

Tis the season to celebrate safely!

This holiday season be sure to celebrate with family and friends in a safe manner. By taking preventive steps and following simple measures most home fires can be prevented. Christmas trees, candles, and other decorations make for a joyous holiday, but what few of us consider is that the holiday season is a time when there is an increased risk of home fires as well as poison hazards to young children and pets.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 230 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees every year. One out of three of those fires is caused by electrical problems, and one in six results from a heat source that’s too close to the tree.

While enjoying this holiday season, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Natural Christmas trees always involve a greater risk of fire. Keep the tree watered at all times.
  • Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent.
  • Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not run an electrical cord under a rug.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
  • Water your tree daily.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended. Using battery-operated flameless candles is an alternative.
  • Do not put candles on a tree or a natural wreath, or near curtains or drapes, and be sure to keep matches and lighters locked out of children’s reach.
  • Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets.
  • Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees.
  • Artificial snow can be harmful if inhaled, so use it in a well-vented space.
  • Mistletoe berries, Holly Berry and Jerusalem Cherry can be poisonous. If they are used in decorating, make sure children and pets cannot reach them.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working properly.

For additional safety tips, visit our social media pages: www.facebook.com/hcdfrs and www.twitter.com/hcdfrs.

The perks of owning an American classic car

Nothing can compare to the nostalgia you feel when you’re sitting at a stoplight and you see a well preserved Riviera drive pass you.

Everybody is looking.

Even though we enjoy the comforts of our new cars, there are some significant perks to owning an American classic car.

Classic cars appreciate.

They will take some work. However, you can usually do the work yourself or take them to a local mechanic.

You can usually purchase them at a low price and they will appreciate in financial value upon your personal investment of time back into your automobile.

Classic cars allow you to be self-sufficient in maintenance.

Classic cars will attract a certain type of car buyer, typically one that is familiar with the operation of an engine so the care and upkeep of the car can be done by the owner and they may not have to depend on the knowledge of a mechanic.

This will save an owner money and is a major perk.

You’re smog proof.

If you’re driving a classic car, you do not have to worry about passing those pesky smog tests because you’re grandfathered in.

If you list your beautiful, classic car with MovieVehicles.com, they can show you how your car can receive amazing tax breaks and benefits. You’re able to write off the cost of your vehicles repairs, restoration, repairs, storage and more on your taxes!

Classic cars give your instant notoriety in your community.

People will ask you to be in parades, and they will request your car at local (or even national) festivals and car shows.

People will also stop you and ask you questions about the make and model of your car and other fun questions that anybody who loves their car will love to answer!

Classic cars are a beautiful part of American History and are fully appreciated by owners and admirers alike.

Here are a few styles by Buick lovers:

instagram

@museotraveller

Just spotted this stunning classic Buick #vintagecar #classicbuick #retro #california

A photo posted by @museotraveller on

instagram

@originalcarspotting

Buick Roadmaster Wagon (1991)

A photo posted by Original Car Spotting (@originalcarspotting) on

instagram

@alzaim_retromotors

instagram

@icemanpro2000

instagram

@_burlingame_motors_

R U S T I C {1927 Buick}

A photo posted by @_burlingame_motors_ on

R.I.P checkbook, adios PIN number: How you’ll manage your money in 2020

— The checkbook is dead. While we’re at it, let’s write an obit for card readers too.

And if you’ve ever worried about who might be looking over your shoulder at the ATM machine, or the exorbitant fee that money transfer will cost you, don’t fret.

In years to come — not even that many — these problems won’t even exist as the way we bank and control our finances will change vastly. It already has in many ways.

“We’re in this unprecedented space where technology is moving so quickly it’s starting to scare everyone,” said Gi Fernando, founder and investor of Free:Formers, a company which helps businesses and unemployed young adults with digital training.

“It’s sooner than you think,” said Fernando, who claims in five years from now the technology behind how we manage our banking and finances will be unrecognizable.

Here are five things you most likely won’t need in five years to keep your finances ticking along.

Pin numbers and card readers

As biometrics become the choice of more companies, outdated PIN numbers and clumsy card readers will be a thing of the past, said Fernando.

Fingerprints, retina readers, belt buckles, watches and even contact lenses will replace good old-fashioned pin numbers and card readers in our modern day transactions.

“We will see much more use of biometric data,” agrees Steven Lewis, global lead banking analyst at Ernst & Young. “Fingerprints and eye scanners will replace signatures and become more prevalent,” he said.

“For buying stuff it’s going to be pretty frictionless and seamless,” said Fernando, who described a scenario whereby shoppers walk into a store, pick up what they’re after, pay via their device or wearable, and walk out.

Banks — as you know them

Though there will continue to be physical banks, many of them won’t exist as we know them today. Some of them will appear in supermarkets, cafes and coffee shops, and in pop-up stores and concessions, says Fernando.

Like 14th-century coffee houses in Venetian society where business deals were done, these new banking environments will serve a similar purpose. “People have a need to meet face-to-face,” added Fernando.

So while there still will be bank branches, many of them will look and feel more like an Apple store, he suggests.

Cash and checks

There will always be cash despite what advocates of a cashless society may predict. It’s quick, easy, accepted almost anywhere and can keep your paper track simple.

“Cash will take longer to die out,” said Fernando. In the meantime, smartphones and contactless payment methods will grow in popularity as a way to purchase our groceries, clothes, train and bus tickets and more.

The same can’t be said of checks though. “Over the last few years, the check is pretty much dead,” said Lewis. “We’re using digital technology to transmit that check,” he said.

“We’re going to have a suite of different technologies. The early adopters will be very keen to use their phones. Others will still have cash, checks and cards,” added Lewis.

Traditional loans

Want to borrow money but your bank won’t provide the loan? Never fear, there are many different models of peer-to-peer (P2P) lending groups and websites who will lend money directly to individuals and businesses without going through a traditional financial institution.

Lending Club and Prosper are the two largest P2P lenders in the United States. They issued $2.4 billion in loans in 2013, up significantly from $871 million in 2012. And a recent report by venture capital firm Foundation Capital predicts the global market for P2P lending could be worth over $1 trillion by 2025.

Another example — Funding Circle, in the United Kingdom, is projecting massive growth. While banks still provide the majority of lending in the United Kingdom — over 85% — Funding Circle says it hopes to gain a large chunk of that market over the next five to 10 years.

“We’ve seen significant growth amongst P2P lenders over the last couple of years,” said Lewis. “Although they still represent only a tiny fraction of the overall lending market, their approach is beginning to shake up the traditional bank lending model — so much so that some banks are starting to partner with P2P lenders to offer greater choice to customers.”

Wire transfer companies

The days of trudging down to the bank or money transfer agent to send your hard-earned money back home or abroad may soon be over. Already there are a wide choice of companies online which offer money transfers with lower transaction fees — Transferwise, Kantox, CurrencyFair to name a few.

Social media could broaden the appeal, with financial services company Azimo letting users transfer money through Facebook, as well as via the Azimo website and app. While a commercial bank charges on average 12% to send remittances and a traditional transfer operator charges about 6.5%, Azimo says it charges only 2%.

Azimo is growing rapidly, doubling in size every two-and-a-half months, said the company’s CEO Michael Kent.”We estimate that about 98% of money transfers are still being conducted offline,” said Kent, “but with the numbers moving to us we see that changing rapidly and that there will soon be a tipping point as customers realize the cost savings and benefits that digital brings.”

It won’t be an immediate switch though, warns Lewis. “Certainly additional providers will increase competition, but we’re also seeing a number of banks be more restrictive in the money transfer space as they grapple with increasingly complex and punitive anti money-laundering regulations.”

How to help your children remember neediest during this busy holiday season

— Knowing when to talk to your children about serious problems they may face sooner rather than later can be difficult for parents.

While burdening a child with a complex issue at too early of an age may frighten or confuse them, it’s important to ensure they’re prepared for what they most certainly will be exposed to, says former Peace Corps volunteer and children’s author Lois Brandt.

“When I was a young girl, I opened my best friend’s refrigerator and discovered that her family had no food,” Brandt says. “I didn’t know what to do as a child facing this horrible issue. I didn’t know how to help my friend.”

Twenty percent of American children— one of every five— live in households that struggle to afford food, according to a 2012 report from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Chances are that your child will have classmates whose families are struggling to put food on the table.

“Children follow where parents lead. Talking to your children about hunger shows them your empathy for others; it prepares them for the moment they may encounter hunger among their friends or classmates, and it assures them that they can talk to their parents about this problem,” says Brandt, author of “Maddi’s Fridge,” a colorfully illustrated children’s picture book inspired by Brandt’s experience with her childhood friend.

She offers tips on how to talk to children about the widespread problem of child hunger:

•Young children may not understand complex issues; keep the discussion age-appropriate. While it’s important to be honest with children about issues they may encounter, adults do not have to scare or confuse them.

“When I read ‘Maddi’s Fridge’ in classrooms,” Brandt says. “I’ll ask what the book is about. The very first hand in the air always says ‘friendship.’ I was very careful to ensure that the story gently entertains. First- through fourth-graders laugh at eggs in backpacks and Vin Vogel’s great illustrations.”

•Have a brainstorming session on what makes a good friend. This puts the discussion in terms that children are comfortable with. Talk about times when you were a child and helped your friends. Ask your child to tell you about a time he or she helped a friend on the playground or in the classroom. Emphasizing the web of relationships we all live in will empower your child with a sense of community, even when facing large problems.

•Discuss with your child ways they can help. Children want to know where they fit, what their role is. Let you child know that he or she can be part of the fight against childhood hunger. Bring food to a food bank, take meals to a needy family, support food drives by your school and religious organization. Suggestions for ways to help can be found on websites for organizations like Feeding America (www.FeedingAmerica.org), a national network of food banks, or on Maddisfridge.com

Lois Brandt’s new book, “Maddi’s Fridge,” illustrated by Vin Vogel, is the first picture book to address child hunger in the United States. Ten percent of proceeds from sales of “Maddi’s Fridge” go to hunger solutions. For more information about her new book, visit: www.MaddisFridge.com.

Consumers warned about new twist on old scam

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler urges consumers to be on alert for a scam that delivers to victims a fraudulent “Publisher’s Clearing House” letter informing them that they’ve won a $75,000 “second place prize.” The mailing includes a worthless check for $4,216.74 and a demand by scammers that recipients send their own $2,000 check back to the company.

“No legitimate contest will ever ask you to send money in order to claim a big prize,” said Attorney General Gansler. “The check looks genuine and the prize is appealing, but it’s just another scheme that really is too good to be true.”

The scammer’s letter states that the check they’ve sent is supposed to cover the cost of “processing duty taxes” and that it must be deposited only after calling a “claims agent.” When the check is deposited, the “claims agent” calls back, saying a mistake was made in the amount of “duty taxes” and demanding a return of $2,000. Believing that they’ve still come out ahead, victims then write their own $2,000 check and send it to the scammers. Later on, the consumer learns that the original $4,216.74 check has bounced, and they’re out $2,000 of their own money.

Skeptical consumers may notice that the “check” issued to them does not match the fraudulent name on the letterhead, “Publishers Clearing House.” The name on the check is “Bob’s Market and Greenhouses, Inc.,” which is a real company located in West Virginia. Bob’s Market and Greenhouses alerted Attorney General Gansler’s Consumer Protection Division to the scam and noted that the check in question had been stolen and has apparently been photocopied or forged.

Any Maryland consumer victimized by this scam should contact their local law enforcement agency and file a criminal complaint. Additionally, a victim or anyone else who receives such a letter is urged to submit a complaint to the Consumer Protection Division by visiting http://www.oag.state.md.us/consumer to file online or print out a complaint form. Consumers may also call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 410-528-8662 or 1-888-743-0023.