Pugh, Van Hollen prevail in key local races

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump dominated their parties Maryland primaries this week and continue on a collision course for a fall showdown for the top office in the land.

However, Baltimore residents may have been focused more on other races that had more direct local implications.

Chief among them was the race for mayor’s seat where Democratic State Senator Catherine Pugh defeated former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, according to the latest results from the city’s Board of Elections.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, Pugh tallied 36.8 percent to Dixon’s 34.5 percent, propelling her to what most observers believe will be an easy triumph in November over Republican Alan Walden.

Baltimore is heavily Democratic and political observers say its near impossible that Walden could beat Pugh in the fall with registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans by more than two-to-one.

“I am the Democratic nominee,” Pugh told supporters and the media during a speech after most of the votes had been counted late Tuesday. “My message is about inclusion, about lifting up the least of us.”

While Baltimore residents were glued to the mayoral primary, voters also had to decide the contentious race between Representative Chris Van Hollen and Representative Donald Edwards for the state’s Democratic nomination for Senate.

Like Pugh, Van Hollen is now heavily favored to win in November and succeed the retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski. Maryland hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate in 36 years.

On Wednesday, April 27, 2016, numbers provided by the State Board of Elections revealed that Van Hollen grabbed 53 percent of the vote to Edwards’ 39 percent.

“I want to say to all Marylanders, whether you are from Baltimore or the Washington suburbs or Western Maryland, Southern Maryland or the Eastern Shore, I will fight hard for you every day in the United States Senate,” Van Hollen said after securing the victory on Tuesday night.

Edwards says the loss means that Maryland is on the verge of having an all-male delegation in what’s known as a progressive state.

“When will the voices of people of color; when will the voices of women; when will the voice of labor; when will the voices of black women; when will our voices be effective, legitimate, equal leaders in a big-tent party?” she said during a post-primary speech.

At the end of the night, Mikulski embraced the idea of Van Hollen replacing her.

“It’s always been first and foremost the agenda and Chris Van Hollen and I have exactly the same agenda,” Mikulski said. “I’m comfortable not only handing over the reins but riding on the buckboard to help him get elected.”

In other races, Baltimore City Council President Bernard Young and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, both Democrats, held onto their seats in the primary.

Kathleen Cox and Keith Truffer, both incumbents were projected winners in the race for Circuit Court Judge in District 3 in Baltimore County.

In Baltimore City, District 8 Circuit Court Justices Shannon Avery, Cynthia Jones, Karen Friedman, Wanda Heard, Audrey Carrion and Michael DiPietro— all incumbents— earned primary victories.

Meanwhile, in Anne Arundel County’s District 5, Circuit Court Justices Glenn Klavans, Stacy McCormack, Donald Schaeffer and Cathy Vitale, all of whom ran together, easily outpaced their closest competitors.

Klavans, however, was behind in the polls to Claudia Barber, who earned the fifth spot on November’s ballot.

Election night usually creates angst among voters and candidates alike and those who work at or near polling places. This election night proved no different.

According to a report from the American Bar Association Journal, a Tuesday hearing at a courthouse downtown took place over whether to extend the time that some polls would be open to voters. The hearing was moved to a nearby sidewalk and parking garage after a fire erupted in the courthouse basement and required the evacuation of the building.

However, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Althea Handy was not deterred and ruled from the bench at around 7:15 p.m. in the parking garage, that four of the polling places in question would be open an extra hour.

The emergency request was made by Edwards’ campaign, which contended that some polls had opened an hour late and lines were forcing voters to wait as long as 45 minutes to cast their ballots, the Journal reported.

4 reasons for a check engine light

— Vehicles rely on many components working harmoniously to function at optimal capacity. Any number of systems can go wrong, and oftentimes the first indication that something has gone awry is an illuminated dashboard signal.

One such signal is the “check engine” light. Many drivers have little idea what to do when this indicator lights up, and this light can cause some anxiety. According to Consumer Reports, a check engine light turning on does not usually require immediate action. However, it does mean that you should make an appointment to have the vehicle inspected for potential problems.

Check engine lights are part of a car’s onboard diagnostics. The light turning on may indicate something minor, such as a loose fuel cap, or something more serious like a misfiring engine. When the light turns on, drivers wondering why may want to see if the answer is related to one of the following issues.

  1. Loose gas cap: Fuel vapors can leak out and air can get in when the fuel cap isn’t secured correctly. This can compromise the fuel system and make the check engine light come on. Take off the cap and then reseal it to see if that alleviates the problem. Cracked caps will need to be replaced.
  2. Dirty oxygen sensor: A faulty or clogged sensor may not provide the right information about unburned oxygen from the vehicle’s exhaust. This sensor monitors how much fuel is burned. Compromised data can cause a decrease in fuel efficiency. Some do-it-yourselfers can replace an oxygen sensor on their own, but those who can’t should have the issue addressed immediately by a professional.
  3. Too much speed or load: Towing a trailer or another heavy item may put strain on the vehicle and cause the light to come on because of loss of power. Lightening the load and reducing speed can help fix the problem. Always consult with the owner’s manual to determine the towing capacity of your vehicle.
  4. Short or faulty code: Computers aren’t always fool-proof, and sometimes an electrical short or another similar problem can cause a light to come on. Bring the vehicle to an automotive supply store. Such stores typically have diagnostics tools that can be hooked into the car’s computer and provide a more detailed understanding of what is triggering the check engine indicator.

In many cases, a steady check engine light is not a serious concern. However, when such a light comes on, drivers should try to find out why as soon as possible. SC163906

VIDEO: Meet the white valedictorian of a historically black college

— At first glance, Joshua Packwood is the embodiment of white privilege: He’s college educated, married, a father of two and he runs a successful hedge fund in Manhattan.

But his life, which began in Kansas City, Missouri, hasn’t always been so good.

CNN Video

Meet the white valedictorian of a historically black college

Does “historically black” mean “exclusively black”? Founded after the Civil War to educate African-Americans who were largely barred from other colleges, financial pressures have led historically black colleges to adopt a new mission — diversify. Here’s what it’s like to be one of the 11% of students at HBCUs who are white.

Before Packwood was born, his father was in a motorcycle accident that left him unable to walk or talk. His mother had to care for her ailing husband and two sons alone. Eventually, Packwood’s father went into an assisted living facility and his mother began a relationship with a man who became physically abusive. At the same time, she was struggling to find steady work and pay rent.

Packwood’s clashes with his stepfather forced him to make the painful choice to leave home. He was just 11 years old.

He bounced from one home to another, briefly staying with friends and family, including a stint in a trailer park with an Inuit woman who had multiple sclerosis and an upper middle class white family where both parents were successful lawyers.

Then he began to rebel. He was expelled from two different schools and had a few minor brushes with the law.

When he was 13, Packwood had just stolen a bike when he ran into Timothy Jones, a middle school classmate who considered Packwood “a troublemaking punk.” Slowly, Jones, who is black, and Packwood got to know each other better.

One day, Packwood was coming out of detention and missed his bus. He needed a place to stay so he asked Jones if he could spend the night at his house. Jones “very reluctantly” agreed, Packwood recalls.

Each night that week, Packwood asked if he could stay another night until finally Jones’ parents decided to take him in. They bought him clothes and a bed to sleep on. “They treated me just like Tim,” Packwood said, “As if I had been with them since birth.”

The Joneses lived in Grandview, a lower-middle class suburb outside of Kansas City. Eartha “Mama” Jones was a stay-at-home mom, who occasionally worked as a part-time salesperson at a mall. Barry Jones, Sr., was a warehouse manager at Grainger, the industrial supply company.

“They got me focused, playing sports, focusing on my grades,” Packwood said. “Having that structure, having that family there…it had a huge impact on me.”

In addition to sports and school, the boys sang in a choir, played video games and made up their own rap lyrics. The Jones family “treated me just like one of their kids — punishment, love and all,” Packwood said.

The results were transformative. “I went from being expelled the previous year, to being the top student at the school and getting all these accolades,” Packwood said.

He lived with the Jones family for about a year, before moving in with his grandmother. But Packwood still spent almost every day at the Joneses and, of course, with Tim.

By then, Packwood was about to start his freshman year at a predominantly black high school, which he described as “very, very poor.” (Packwood says he was at “the lower tier of that economic breakdown.”) The majority of the students — including Packwood — received free breakfast and lunch. Academically, he excelled and was a star athlete, playing varsity football, wrestling, track, and cross country.

Packwood’s experiences led him to want to major in African-American studies in college. So a guidance counselor suggested he consider Morehouse College, one of the most iconic historically black colleges in the United States.

He was accepted to Columbia, Stanford and Morehouse.

Some of his friends were concerned that opting for Morehouse over Columbia (where he had received a full financial aid package) would be a mistake, Packwood said. “People were concerned that I would be sacrificing a great education and opportunities to gain a unique experience that was not guaranteed to be uniquely good,” he said.

But unlike Columbia and Stanford, Morehouse recruited him aggressively, he said. Packwood recalls a phone call where a Morehouse dean tried to encourage him to accept their offer so he wouldn’t “be the only brother on the yard at Stanford.”

Confused, Packwood pointed the dean to the section on his application that noted that his race is white. It made no difference. The school continued to woo Packwood, in part, with an academic scholarship because of his high grades in high school.

He needed the aid, but Packwood was conflicted. “There was a part of me that was thinking, “Am I taking the scholarship away from another student? Am I getting this purely because I’m going to be the token white guy on campus?”

Ultimately, Packwood accepted Morehouse’s offer. “There is literally only one place like Morehouse on the entire planet, which is predominantly black, all male, so for me to get that experience and have that perspective was really the key differentiator,” he said.

Packwood’s experience at Morehouse included exposure to a wide diversity of blackness and black cultures, something that, despite having grown up “very much immersed and involved in part of the black community,” Packwood said he had never seen. “We had goths we had borders, we had guys who loved heavy metal. You had Republicans, you had sort of everything, you had rich, you had poor, you had guys from deep in the South, from the middle of nowhere, from Mississippi, and then you had guys from L.A., or New York, or wherever it was,” he said.

Many of his classmates were also wealthier, better dressed and more articulate than he was, Packwood said. It made him realize how class could sometimes be more of a unifying factor than race and how poor blacks and poor whites might have more in common with each other than, say, poor whites and rich whites.

As the future of affirmative action is being considered, Packwood — who was both an ethnic and economic minority at his school — thinks both race and class should be part of the equation. “If a sensible policy is found that combines those two, I think we will make a lot of progress in helping them close all the gaps that we see.”

Packwood, who eventually majored in economics, excelled at Morehouse. And in 2008, he became the school’s first white valedictorian.

“Economically now, I’m at the top, and so from one perspective I recognize that I’m very fortunate, and a lot of that is white privilege,” said Packwood.

Catherine Pugh wins Baltimore mayoral democratic primary

— State Senator Catherine Pugh defeated former mayor Sheila Dixon in Tuesday’s democratic primary for mayor.

The race between the two front runners was relatively close, with Pugh pulling in 37 percent of voters and Dixon getting 34 percent of the vote. Democratic candidate Elizabeth Embry came in third with just 13 percent of the vote.

At a victory celebration Tuesday night, Pugh said, “We’ve done some great things in our neighborhoods and communities, but I’m telling you together we’re going to build great neighborhoods throughout this city.”

Maintenance a must when wearing contact lenses

— An alternative to eyeglasses, contact lenses are widely used across the globe. Contact lenses provide the inconspicuous clarity many people desire, and the wide array of materials used to make lenses coupled with the assortment of styles of contact lenses have helped to make them more comfortable than ever before.

It may seem like contact lenses are a relatively recent invention, but they’ve actually been around far longer than one would think. As far back as 1508, Leonardo da Vinci illustrated the concept of contact lenses. Three hundred years later a British astronomer named Sir John Herschel conceptualized the practical lens design. First designs of contact lenses covered the entire eye and were made from glass. By 1948, plastic contact lenses came on the scene and were designed to cover only the eye’s cornea. Through the 20th century, contacts continued to evolve. It is believed that now more than 30 million people in the United States alone wear contact lenses. Two-thirds of those wearers are female, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because contact lenses come in direct contact with the eye, maintenance is especially important. Medical professionals say that teenagers as young as 13 may be able to wear contacts. It’s never too early to share the proper care procedures. The following are contact lens care guidelines, courtesy of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

· Wash hands with soap and water and dry with a lint-free towel before handling contact lenses.

· Never store lenses in water (tap or sterile). Contact lenses must be stored in special disinfecting lens solution.

· Saliva is not a sterile solution and should not be used to moisten dry contacts.

· Minimize lenses’ contact with water. Remove them before swimming.

· Always follow the recommended lens cleaning and storage guidelines from an eye care professional and the contact solution manufacturer.

· Many professionals advise you to rub and rinse contact lenses even if the solution used is a “no-rub” variety.

· Leave empty contact cases open to air dry.

· Replace storage cases and contact lenses as advised by the manufacturer or your eye care professional. Cases can be a source of contamination if they are cracked, dirty or damaged.

· Do not allow the tip of the solution bottle to come in contact with any surface, and keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

Following these recommendations and adhering to proper hygiene can prevent eye infections and injury. TF165114

Pilgrim’s Pride recalls 4.5 million pounds of chicken

— Pilgrim’s Pride is recalling over 4.5 million pounds of fully cooked chicken products.

The chicken — in boxes of whole-grain breaded nuggets, patties, breakfast patties, tenderloins and popcorn-style varieties — may be contaminated with “extraneous materials,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The materials include plastic, wood, rubber and metal, the USDA said in a news release today.

The products were sold in stores under the Gold Kist Farms, Pierce and Sweet Georgia brands. A complete list of the recalled products is available on the USDA website (PDF).

The Waco, Texas, company shipped the products to grocery stores and institutions like schools nationwide, according to the USDA release, a reissue of a statement made earlier in the month. It’s unclear how the “extraneous materials” got into the chicken products.

The company learned about the problem after customers complained about finding plastic in the nuggets, and it let the government know on April 6. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service found that more chicken products were also contaminated. Today’s recall expands the initial recall from April 7.

There have been no confirmed reports of health problems related to the chicken products, the USDA said. Consumers who have a recalled product in their refrigerator or freezer are advised to throw it away or return it to where it was purchased.

If you have other questions, call the company at (800) 321-1470 or the USDA’s meat and poultry hot line at (888) 674-6854. The USDA’s “Ask Karen,” a virtual representative, is also available to answer food safety questions 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov.


™ & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

After excluding black neighborhood, Amazon rolls out Prime Now in Roxbury

— Amazon backtracked on its decision not to offer its same-day delivery service to an historically black neighborhood in Boston.

Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood is one of the city’s poorest. More than 60% of the population lives below the poverty level. More than 80% of the population is black or Latino.

And when Amazon rolled out Prime Now in Boston, it excluded the neighborhood from the service, despite offering delivery to areas on all sides of Roxbury’s borders.

But after Bloomberg posted a report revealing the discrepancy last week, local and state officials called on Amazon to expand into Roxbury.

Amazon announced Tuesday it would expand the Prime Now service area.

“[A]mazon informed me today that they will now be offering same day service to every neighborhood in Boston. I thank them for this decision,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted on Tuesday.

Amazon Prime Now is offered to Amazon Prime subscribers. Prime Now is available in 27 metro areas across the United States, and it allows users to purchase items that can be shuttled to their door the same day they’re purchased.


™ & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

Rapper Lil’ Kim criticized for ‘looking white’

— Lil’ Kim looks nothing like she used to.

The rapper and former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant posted a series of selfies on Instagram over the weekend showing her decidedly lighter and blonder, with some accusing her of “looking white.”

The photos of Lil’ Kim, who was born Kimberly Jones, immediately kicked off multiple questions including, “Is that really Lil’ Kim?”

It also reignited conversation about her former relationship with the late rapper the Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls, who was gunned down in 1997. The pair had a tumultuous love affair, which some blamed for possibly causing Lil’ Kim to have low self-esteem.

The female rapper has long been the subject of speculation that she has undergone plastic surgeries. In 2005, she told radio personality Angie Martinez that she got her nose fixed.

“It don’t bother me because I told you, I’m beautiful,” Lil Kim said. “I love myself. … People think I did it because I had low self-esteem, but that wasn’t the case. I think I did it because I was a little too vain.”

But the conversation now has heightened into chatter about whether her new look is the result of surgery, skin bleaching, makeup, Photoshop or a combination of any or all.

Some observers have worried that Lil’ Kim is setting a bad example for young women of color.

6 steps to creating fairy gardens for kids

Gardening can be an enjoyable activity for adults and children alike. Gardening encourages creative thinking and can make for an eco-friendly activity as well.

Adding a touch of whimsy to gardening can make it that much more attractive to children. Perhaps that is why fairy gardens have become so popular among youngsters. Fairy gardens can be designed in outdoor gardens or in containers that children can nurse and enjoy indoors. Here are six steps to get your fairy garden up and running.

  1. Choose your container or location. Decide where to place the fairy garden. Hollowed-out tree stumps are both contained and outdoors, and kids may feel like the fairies inhabited this neglected area of the yard and made it their own. Otherwise, use containers you already have, such as old pots, hanging baskets, picnic baskets or cookie tins. Wooden birdhouses with their roofs removed also can make for clever places to house the gardens.
  2. Choose a theme. Fairy houses can take on any theme their creators prefer. Themes help children decide what to include in their gardens. For example, a seaside retreat may work well with little reclining chairs, sea grasses and succulents. You can then complete the theme by adding some seashells and colored stones.
  3. Draw up your design. Before securing anything in the container or digging into your garden bed, sketch out a garden design. This gives you an idea of how the finished product will look. Even before planting, gently place plants and other components in their spots and move them around accordingly until you find the desired look.
  4. Include similar-needs plants. Mixing plants that have different requirements can make it challenging to care for the fairy garden, so select plants that require similar levels of sunlight, prefer similar soil conditions and require roughly the same amount of watering. Herbs are a smart choice because they stay small and are easily maintained.
  5. Don’t forget a fairy dwelling. You will need to add a house for the fairies to inhabit. Small bird houses can work, but you also can consider old teapots, bird-nesting boxes or even homemade houses assembled out of bark and twigs. Use your imagination and the garden will take on a life of its own.
  6. Invite the fairies. Children can invite fairies to take up residence (fairies often show up at night and tend to remain unseen), or children can create their own fairies using craft materials.

Fairy gardens are a fun way to introduce children to gardeing. Once families get started, they may want to create entire fairy villages. GT164994