Popular website PURCHASEBLACK.COM announces it has closed — reveals the truth about BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — PurchaseBlack.com, a curated online marketplace and mobile app selling products from exceptional Black owned businesses, has decided to stop operations and close. Founder Brian AM Williams has a full heartfelt explanation for the closure, items inspired by “Blessed”, as well as an ebook of over 700 online Black owned product businesses for sale on the website.

“I felt that the meaning of PurchaseBlack.com was too great for me to just close & leave it to everyone to figure out why,” says Williams. He gives detailed issues that he faced including a lack of enough businesses outside of the hair, skin, accessories, and apparel areas to choose from for the PurchaseBlack website. “Unfortunately the Black community does not yet have that diversity of industry with enough depth to support true scalability,” he says. As a result, Williams has decided to close. “It’s hard, but sometimes the best business decisions don’t feel good, and unfortunately this is the best business decision given the circumstances.”

Brian is a Purdue University engineer & an MBA from McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas who has created his own graduate course surrounding Black businesses. His experience in strategy, early stage investing, data analytics, and focus on Black companies allows Brian to hold a rare perspective on the realities of Black owned business in the United States. He comments, “Overall, Black people are very proud and want to be supportive of our business community, but our habits do not reflect the level of support needed to experience the true benefits of buying Black. Basically, Black Americans do not spend enough money with each other & until we do, we won’t get the benefits. We have to be more serious with much less talking & much more spending with each other.”

When the diversity of product companies within the community is limited, that limits how well a company like PurchaseBlack can grow. If the greater purpose of the company cannot be achieved, it doesn’t make sense to continue. Brian continues, “I expect that the Black business community will expand more into areas other than personal care products, apparel, and accessories. Our businesses and customers must have the tough conversations about Black customer dedication & skepticism, Black business performance & quality, as well as knowing that the Black business community has few sources of support other than Black customers. If Black people don’t get serious about our businesses & spend money, our business community won’t survive & we will be to blame. Yet, if we make a few changes, we can thrive!”

PurchaseBlack.com has changed its website to PurchaseBlack.org, where there is the 2017 Ultimate Guide to Black Online Businesses, an ebook with over 700 validated Black owned online businesses that PurchaseBlack has identified over the last 4 years. It’s available for $14.99. “Truth is, we had many more Black companies, but once we started to validate functional websites & a few other things, this is the best list left. We didn’t want to give people bad information”, Williams says. The guide comes just in time for 2017, as many people form resolutions to buy Black after Christmas and Kwanzaa. “I believe it’s the best resource available. Location based directories have been hard for a lot of people who really want to support Black because many times, businesses aren’t nearby. You don’t have to worry about that with this guide because it doesn’t matter what city you live in. All of these Black owned companies are online, so they can be supported from anywhere,” Brian says.

So, what’s next for the founder of PurchaseBlack?

Brian comments, “I’m looking at a few things. Im entertaining conversations in the venture capital/angel investing space, speaking about my experience working with Black companies generating millions of dollars in revenue, considering technology related opportunities, and teaching others what I have learned. I plan on using my personal website, BrianAMWilliams.com to write, teach, and hopefully inspire business owners to reach higher, and staying involved with making a positive impact on the community. I’m not out of the fight, just finding new ways to make progress towards better lives for the community.”

Brian can be reached on his personal website www.BrianAMWilliams.com, via Twitter, Periscope, and Linkedin at @BrianAMWilliams, or via PurchaseBlack.org.

Black Female-Owned Beef Jerky company Earns major respect in Hollywood

Hollywood, CA — Michelle Timberlake, founder of Marjorie’s Beef Jerky, earned her recently earned a lot of respect when she handed samples and gift bags to every single VIP celebrity that attended The American Music Awards Gift Exchange that took place at the W Hotel in Hollywood California.

Well-known celebrities such as singer/songwriter A. J. Mitchell, Diamond White who played in Tyler Perry’s Boo Halloween, actor Mathew Russel, actor Miguel Nunez, actress Nikki Ohoo, actress Beverly Mitchell who starred in 7th Heaven, Morgxn Indie Pop Artist, Singer Songwriter Coco Jones, Jada Face of Sitcom Melissa & Joey, Record Producer Scott Storch, Actor Aaron Schwartz, Actor Luke Bilyk, Actress, Singer- Song Writer Kiana Lede, America’s Next Top Model Lacey Claire Rodgers, Singer-Songwriter Samantha Mumba, Actor Brett Davern, Actor Sean Ryan Fox, Azmarie Livingston Emmy Nominated Globe winning Empire, Singer Song-Writer Bryce Vine, Actress Porscha Coleman, Rapper-Singer Khleo Thomas, Actor Michael Taylor known from the movie The Walking Dead, Golden Globe award-winning Chris Mulkey and over 130 more famous celebrities.

All of them got a chance to, not only taste the delicious taste of the famous Marjorie’s Beef Jerky, but Michelle Timberlake and her staff handed each celebrity a gift bag containing a bag of one of her delicious magnificent flavors.

News and television reporters swamped her booth wanting to see what the big talk was about in regards to her amazing beef jerky that can be purchased online at www.MarjoriesBeefJerky.com. Even the reporters were amazed at the taste of this beef jerky.

Timberlake comments, “We put a lot of work into our fame founding product with no MSG and no preservatives (outside the soy sauce). Our beef jerky products are made with natural ingredients and, we are looking forward to increasing our client based in the United States and internationally.”

Wholesale orders available

The company welcomes distributors and wholesale vendors (small and large), and can also ship by the truck load. They just ask for a 4-week lead time so that they can manufacture the product fresh, giving it more shelf life. Timberlake is also planning to have her beef jerky available soon on grocery store shelves throughout the USA.

Those interested in purchasing products wholesale or retail can go to www.MarjoriesBeefJerky.com, send an email to info@marjoriesbeefjerky.com or call (601) 462-9133 or (844) 340-7613.

Pregnancy changes a mother’s brain for years, study shows

— Women expect the physical changes of pregnancy, yet having a baby also produces some changes in the brain.

Pregnancy alters the size and structure of brain regions involved in understanding the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and intentions of others, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Mothers with the greatest degree of overall brain change scored higher than others when tested on the strength of their maternal bonds, the researchers discovered. Many of the changes lasted two years after giving birth.

“We haven’t investigated whether these changes stretch beyond this period,” said Elseline Hoekzema, co-lead author of the study and a senior brain scientist at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

In rodents it is known that some of the changes in brain and behavior following a pregnancy last until old age, Hoekzema noted. In humans, it’s not clear — Hoekzema followed the participants in her own human study for two years only.

Because of the new study’s short timeframe, how long lasting these changes may be in women remains unknown, said Dr. Rodney L. Wright, associate professor of clinical obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“The significance of these changes and the duration of these changes is yet to be determined,” said Wright, who was not involved in this research.

Increasing social awareness

Hoekzema and Erika Barba-Müller, co-lead author and a psychologist, began the study while working together at Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Pre-conception, 25 women who became mothers for the first time and 19 of their male partners underwent high resolution MRI brain scans. After completing their pregnancies, these same participants were re-scanned. For comparison, 20 women who had never given birth and 17 of their male partners were also scanned at the same time intervals.

The new mothers showed a loss of gray matter in several brain areas associated with social cognition, a form of emotional intelligence.

While changes to the brain were clear, how to interpret them is not.

“Loss of volume does not necessarily translate to loss of function,” said Hoekzema, “Sometimes less is more.” She explained that the loss of gray matter could “represent a fine-tuning of synapses into more efficient neural networks.”

Our teen-aged brains undergo a similar process of “synaptic pruning,” explained Hoekzema. At that developmental period, weaker brain connections are eliminated, leaving a more efficient and more specialized neural network, she said. Adolescents with a more “mature” network — meaning, less grey matter — actually show increased brain activity in their thinned-down regions, she observed. “Reduced volume does not necessarily reflect reduced brain activity,” said Hoekzema.

In fact, participants of the new study took cognitive tests during their MRI session with no significant changes seen over time. However, following their pregnancies, the mothers had fewer correct responses on the verbal word list learning task, though to an extent considered insignificant by the researchers.

Reduction in gray matter occurred in various regions of the brains of pregnant women, including the prefrontal and temporal cortex.

“These areas are involved in a number of behaviors,” noted Dr. Kim Yonkers, a professor in psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine who was not involved in the new study. She explained some of these regions are involved in memory, while others are implicated in depression.

Changes in these areas may help women forget the pain or difficulty of pregnancy, suggested Yonkers.

Nearly identical reductions in gray matter were seen among the mothers who used fertility treatments as compared to those mothers who became pregnant naturally.

Using the results

“At this point the results are associative,” said Yonkers, who noted the authors included “strong controls in the study including women who were not pregnant and men.” It remains unknown whether changes last beyond two years, she said, and “we don’t know what happens with multiple pregnancies.”

Overall, Yonkers, who has a long-standing interest in psychiatric disorders in women, finds the study “provocative.”

“Pregnancy is part of many women’s healthy lifestyle and it makes sense that it would confer benefits,” said Yonkers. She believes better understanding how the brain changes during pregnancy could lead to treatments for some medical conditions.

For instance, since attachment or connection was greater in women during pregnancy and postpartum, Yonkers speculated this knowledge might be applied to conditions where emotional response is poor — such as autism.

While the current study does not provide enough evidence for such treatments, Hoekzema observed that “in rats, it is known that some of the neural changes and the effects on maternal behavior can be simulated by administration of a regimen of hormones similar to pregnancy.”

According to Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Wright, the small number of participants made it impossible for the researchers to accurately say whether the brain changes they observed might have been influenced by other factors, such as breastfeeding or stressors in the home related to pregnancy.

Still, based on changes in the teen brain associated with “hormonal surges” and changes in the menopausal brain tissue that follow a significant drop in estrogen, Wright said it “is not entirely surprising that pregnancy, which is also associated with rapid changes in estrogen levels, might also be associated with changes in brain tissue.”

The study is “exciting,” even if it “unfortunately leaves us with many questions,” Wright said. “There still is so much not yet known about the human brain.”

Making Workplace Wellness Count

— Going to the gym is about to get a lot more expensive. That’s because the share of companies offering wellness programs dropped 13 percent this year. These programs— which often include subsidized gym memberships, free fitness trackers, and bonuses for losing weight— keep employees healthy, thereby cutting medical and insurance expenses. At least that’s the theory.

In practice, many companies aren’t seeing a return on their wellness investments. So they’re ditching the programs.

That’s a mistake. Employers can save themselves millions through wellness programs. They just need to find ways to boost workers’ low participation rates.

Properly designed wellness programs pad companies’ bottom lines. Every dollar spent on wellness programs reduces medical costs by over $3, according to a Health Affairs study.

Of course, the programs only work if employees participate. Right now, four in 10 workers opt out. A majority of those employees say they don’t have enough time to take part. And 43 percent say the program locations are too inconvenient.

In response to such concerns, some companies are bringing healthy choices right to workers’ offices.

For instance, Blue Shield California stocks the cafeteria with nutritious food and provides sit-stand and treadmill desks. Eighty percent of employees now participate in the wellness program. Over a four-year period, employees’ physical activity rates increased 32 percent and high blood pressure rates dropped 66 percent.

Other businesses rely on teamwork and a dose of healthy peer pressure to increase participation. Take Bazaarvoice, a software service company in Austin, Texas.

Employees earn points— redeemable for gift cards and other perks— for healthy behaviors, such as undergoing yearly checkups or exercising.

Crucially, employees gain more points when they complete group activities, such as attending a fitness class with their team. Since implementing this team-based framework, participation has skyrocketed. Management anticipates reduced insurance and medical costs as a result.

It’s essential that companies don’t make employees compete for a prize. That’s a sure-fire way to increase apathy instead of enthusiasm.

That’s why my company, furniture manufacturer KI, measures and rewards employees individually. We set specific goals for each employee based on an initial health screening. If they meet their benchmarks, they earn back a portion of their health insurance premiums. The financial incentives and individually tailored goals are a large reason KI boasts a nearly 100 percent wellness program participation rate.

The program saves our company serious money. We spend $2.2 million on the wellness program and save $3.3 million a year on insurance premiums— a return on investment of 50 percent. Our annual health costs per employee are 24 percent lower than the national average.

If companies aren’t reaping benefits from their wellness programs, they should look to boost participation before axing the initiatives. Companies can’t simply hand out Fitbits— they need to find ways to ensure the fitness trackers wind up on employees’ wrists, instead of in their dressers.

Dick Resch is CEO of Wisconsin-based manufacturer KI.

Dogs may go gray when stressed, just like US presidents, study says

— Whether you call them gray hairs or stress highlights, world-renowned animal scientist and autism advocate Temple Grandin wants you to know that dogs may get them prematurely, too — especially when stressed, such as being left at home alone.

Premature graying in dogs may be an indicator of anxiety and impulsivity, according to a study published in this month’s edition of the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, in which Grandin served as a co-author.

Camille King, an animal behaviorist and owner of the Canine Education Center in Denver, noticed a few years ago that many impulsive and anxious dogs seemed to be prematurely turning gray. When King told Grandin about her observations, Grandin said she encouraged King to lead the research.

“The first thing I thought of when she told me that were the presidents, and how they age and get prematurely gray,” said Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, referring to American commanders in chief.

“The fact that presidents turn prematurely gray was one of the things that made me encourage her to do the study,” Grandin said. “Basically, (the study findings) validated what she had seen in years of doing dog behavior work.”

‘I was surprised’

The study, conducted at Northern Illinois University, involved 400 dogs, 4 years old or younger, with non-white-colored hair so the researchers could adequately determine degrees of graying.

“Normally, dogs wouldn’t be gray at age 4,” Grandin said.

The researchers took two photos of each dog and asked each dog’s owner to complete a 21-question survey, which included questions about the dog’s anxious or impulsive behaviors. Both behaviors hold clues to how stressed the dog might be, sort of like how emotional instability and anxiety are associated with stress in humans.

Anxious behaviors include whether the dog whines or barks when left home alone or cringes or cowers in groups of people, and impulsivity can be seen in whether the dog jumps on people when greeting them or excessively tugs on the leash when going on walks.

The dog owners were unaware of the true purpose of the study when they completed the questionnaires.

Next, the researchers compared the survey responses with how much gray hair appeared on the dogs’ muzzles in their photos.

Grandin helped the researchers build a scoring system to measure the degrees of grayness: A score of 0 is “no gray;” 1 is for gray on the front of the nose only; 2 is for gray hair halfway up the muzzle; and 3 is “full gray.”

It turned out that a high grayness score was significantly and positively predicted by survey responses that indicated both high anxiety and impulsivity.

“Essentially, the results indicate that for each standard deviation increase in the measured trait, either anxiety or impulsiveness, the odds of being in a higher rating category of muzzle grayness increase 40% to 65%,” said Thomas Smith, a professor at Northern Illinois University’s Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment, who was a co-author of the study.

Smith added that he was initially skeptical that a dog’s premature muzzle grayness might be linked to anxiety and impulsiveness.

“However, when we analyzed the data, the results actually were striking,” he said. “I was surprised.”

A similar association between stress and premature graying possibly could be found in other mammals, outside of humans and dogs, but more research is needed, Grandin said.

Is Fido more like us than we thought?

The new study appears to extend what has been previously seen in people — the relationship between stress and gray hair — to dogs, said Matt Kaeberlein, a professor and co-director of the University of Washington’s Dog Aging Project, who was not involved in the new study.

“There are a few things about this study that I really like. One is that it nicely illustrates another way in which dogs and humans are similar, specifically in this case, the way we interact with our environment to experience stress. I like the innovative approach of applying facial image recognition to dogs,” Kaeberlein said.

“I do think it’s important to keep in mind that while hair graying is a useful ‘biomarker’ of aging and experienced stress, it is not particularly precise. We should avoid interpreting causation from correlation,” he said about the study. “Many dogs and people get gray hair for reasons unrelated to their perception of stress or anxiety, so while anxiety (or) stress appears to cause hair graying, gray hair is not necessarily caused by anxiety or stress. In other words, just because your dog gets gray hair doesn’t mean she or he is stressed out.”

For instance, more research is needed to determine how much genetics might play a role not only in premature graying in young dogs but also how a dog might respond to stress, Grandin said. She added that additional research could also determine how much of the study results were influenced by anxiety and impulsivity, respectively.

“There’s probably some genetic influence where some dogs that are impulsive and anxious don’t turn gray. You see, that would be your genetic interaction, but when you take a big population of dogs, it statistically comes out that anxious and impulsive dogs are more likely to start turning gray before age 4,” Grandin said.

“Genetic factors are important, but genetic factors also can be modified by experience, so you can’t just say an animal’s hard-wired genetics, it’s not. It’s both. Both genetics and the environment are important,” she said.

What to do if your dog is stressed

If pet owners notice that their dog is prematurely graying, they should make an appointment with their veterinarian or an applied animal behaviorist, said King, the lead author of the study.

“A medical workup could be completed along with a screening for anxiety or stress,” King said.

“Once a dog is screened, and if found to be anxious or impulsive, there are many treatment options, such as behavior modification programming, medication, alternative techniques such as a pressure wrap,” she said. “It is very important to have the dog professionally examined to get to the root of the problem, and not assume that because the dog is prematurely gray, it is related to stress.”

If the dog is stressed, what might be a common cause? Being left home alone, Grandin said.

“I’ve been very concerned about all these dogs spending so much time home alone all day. I walk through the streets where I live at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I can hear dogs barking and whining in houses,” Grandin said.

“We have bred dogs to be social beings, and then you leave them home all day and they don’t get to do much socializing,” she said. “I think the home alone problem is a big factor. This is just my opinion.”

Grandin said one of her colleagues tends to leave his dogs with a friend when he is away from home, and she encourages others to do the same.

“Some people take their dogs to doggy day care. Some of those are good. Some of them are run poorly,” she said. “If you have a dog that does not handle being home alone well, maybe you need to be making arrangements to drop him off at the next door neighbor’s on your way to work.”

50th Anniversary Kwanzaa Celebrations at Reginald Lewis Museum

— Baltimore— This year marks the 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa, founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, of Parsonsburg, Maryland. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum will hold a 50th Anniversary of Kwanzaa Celebration on Friday, December 30, 2016 from noon to 4 p.m. to commemorate the occasion. It culminates the museum’s holiday programs celebrating Nia (“Purpose”).

“Kwanzaa was founded to reinforce African Americans’ common bond to each other and to celebrate African heritage and culture. Fifty years later, the holiday still provides an important focal point for African Americans to celebrate family, community, culture and traditional values,” said Roni Jolley, Director of Education.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum is located at 830 E. Pratt Street in Baltimore City. For the complete schedule of events for the 50th Anniversary Kwanzaa Celebrations at the Reginald Lewis, visit: www.lewismuseum.org.

Singing Sensations captivate audiences in Baltimore and beyond

— Many of the members of the Singing Sensations Youth Choir come from challenging backgrounds. Ranging from five to 18 years old, many of them have triumphed over insurmountable obstacles in the face of poverty. However, despite the difficulties they have experienced so early in their lives, they have a strong desire to sing and perform.

A music teacher assembles them all, and the choir goes on to achieve local, national, and even international acclaim. They have traveled to Africa, Trinidad, Canada and dozens of other destinations to perform. While this reads like a short synopsis of a play or movie, these characters are real, and if a title were given to their real-life production, it would be called the “Singing Sensations Youth Choir directed by Dr. Hollie Hood-Mincey.”

Founder and director of the Singing Sensations Youth Choir, Dr. Hollie Hood-Mincey.

Courtesy Photo

Founder and director of the Singing Sensations Youth Choir, Dr. Hollie Hood-Mincey.

Hood-Mincey founded the choir with the goal of exposing youth in the Baltimore Metropolitan area to the diverse and multifaceted aspects of the performing arts. Today, the Singing Sensations Youth Choir is a nonprofit organization comprised of approximately 50 youth.

Howard “Buddy” Lakins serves as director of music, while Patrick Brown is assistant director. Their repertoire consists of choral, patriotic and pop music, spirituals, show tunes, children and freedom songs, Motown, and songs in different languages.

“It has been a lot of hard work but I have seen our children develop socially, emotionally, academically, professionally, and musically,” Hood-Mincey, a music teacher for Baltimore City Public Schools.

As a teacher at Furman L. Templeton Elementary School, Hood-Mincey worked with students from impoverished neighborhoods and low-income households, who love music. She asked the school’s principal if she could start a choir and was granted her request.

Not long after the choir’s assembly, The Sun Newspaper published an article about the choir written by columnist Gregory Kane.

“People started sending in donations, and we were able to buy instruments, travel and do 22 concerts. We are still going strong today,” said Hood-Mincey.

Hood-Mincey says sponsorship is needed to keep the mission of the organization moving forward.

“My ultimate goal is to take these kids to every continent so they can see the world. I would also like to see them on the Stellar Awards,” she said.

Most recently, the Singing Sensations presented “One Sound, One Season, One Savior,” on Sunday, December 18, 2016 at FCF World Outreach in Owings Mills, Maryland. Hundreds attended the concert and the proceeds benefited the choir’s scholarship fund.

During the concert, a moment of silence was held for a fellow choir member, Noelle Bradford. The 12-year-old Sumter, S.C., resident died tragically in a car accident on Saturday, December 17, while traveling to Baltimore for rehearsal. Johnathan Cruse, 28, who was traveling in the vehicle also perished in the accident. The Singing Sensations Youth Choir sang, “The First Noel” in her memory.

The Christmas concert was one of the organization’s two annual fundraisers. The next will be a Black History Month concert that will take place at Morgan State University in February.

“When people come to see them perform, many ask, ‘How do you keep 50 kids sitting like that?’” said Dr. Hood-Mincey. “I tell them that we teach the children about presence and being excellent. These kids are like my family. Some of these children have lived with me. I fed them, dressed them and took them to school every day as if they were mine. The Singing Sensations Youth Choir is truly a ministry and more than a typical choir.”

The Singing Sensations Youth Choir is always open to additional performers. “We really don’t turn down any children,” she said. “We are trying to build character and confidence. Some of our kids came to us in a shell, and are now some of our best performers.”

Barbara Cooper a dedicated supporter of the choir, is always among their audience.

“They are very inspirational,” said Cooper noting that they were her favorite choir. “They are very well-disciplined children who come from all walks of life. They have some melodious voices. Dr. Hood-Mincey has taken them out of their environment and taken them all over the world.”

Cinnamon Brown-Mack, who also attended the Christmas concert, gave the choir rave reviews.

“The Singing Sensations Youth Choir was amazing,” she said. “I was blessed and inspired by them. Dr. Hollie Hood-Mincey and her vision is truly from God.”

For more information about the choir, visit: www.sensationalsingers.org or call Dr. Hood-Mincey at 443-622-4994.

Alzheimer’s Research Continues: Generation Study Now Recruiting Volunteers

— Officials at the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative say they have made great strides in the fight to find a treatment to delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s or to prevent the disease altogether. The organization is working with researchers at Georgetown University in Washington to recruit participants for a research study in cities across the country.

“To date, we have screened two and enrolled zero participants at Georgetown University Medical Center. Our goal is to enroll at least 10 participants at our site,” said Dr. R. Scott Turner, Ph.D., director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center in Northwest, Washington, D.C. “For the nationwide study, we estimate that we will need to screen approximately 100,000 people to obtain the approximately 1,300 cognitively healthy older adults, who carry two copies of the e4 type of the APOE gene and are eligible for the Generation Study.”

APOE is a gene that makes apolipoprotein E. There are three different types of the APOE gene called alleles – e2, e3, and e4 and everyone has two copies. The combination of the three determines an individual’s APOE genotype.

The Generation Study seeks to recruit participants between the ages of 60-75, with no cognitive impairments, but who are likely to develop the more common form of late-onset Alzheimer’s based on genetic risk.

This study will be the first to incorporate genetic testing and counseling into the screening process.

The API Generation Study serves as a complement to the research being conducted in Colombia that was highlighted on 60 Minutes earlier this month.

The Colombia study, which serves as a complement to research being conducted in Colombia is being conducted among a large Colombian family that has a rare genetic mutation which makes them certain to develop Alzheimer’s by their mid-forties.

The study consists of two parts. Part I includes assessments of memory, thinking, and mood, along with meeting with a healthcare professional to learn your APOE gene test results. All participants who learn their APOE results will be followed for one year. Individuals who learn that they have two copies of the e4 type of APOE may be eligible for Part II of the study, examining whether anti-amyloid medications— compared to placebo— prevent the onset of memory and thinking problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants in Part 2 of the trial will be followed for five to eight years and will be asked to visit the study site every few months.

The Generation Study is largely being recruited through the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry’s GeneMatch program which connects Alzheimer’s prevention studies with eligible volunteers, based in part on their genetic status.

Through GeneMatch, interested individuals submit a genetic sample to be analyzed.

Turner and fellow testers are hopeful that by targeting changes in the brain before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear, they can make significant progress towards staving off or preventing the disease.

“Prevention,” said Turner. “Will likely be, easier than cure.”

Visit www.endALZnow.org/GeneMatch or www.generationstudy.com for more information about GeneMatch and the Generation Study. Interested individuals in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area may also contact the George Washington University Medical Center Memory Disorders Program at 202-784-6671.

As Obama departs, we owe him our thanks

— The final days of the Obama presidency are upon us. His popularity is rising with the economy, and with the increasingly stark contrasts to his successor. It is worth being clear about the legacy that he leaves behind.

Obama came to office facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The global financial system teetered on collapse; the auto industry faced bankruptcy; the economy was shedding 400,000 jobs a day. He also inherited the catastrophe George Bush had created with the debacle in Iraq and government misrule dramatized by the shame of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Courtesy Photo/NNPA

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Now, eight years later, the economy nears full employment, with more than 15 million jobs created and private sector job growth at a record 81 consecutive months and counting. Wages are beginning to rise, after long years of stagnation or worse. The auto industry has enjoyed some of its most prosperous years.

This isn’t an accident. Obama helped rescue the economy by passing the largest stimulus in history, the most ambitious financial reform since the 1930s, and daring and direct intervention to save the auto industry. Economic growth helped lower the annual budget deficit to less than half the level he inherited.

Obama also passed the largest health care reforms in six decades, providing health insurance for 20 million Americans. His reforms saved those with pre-existing conditions, provided the young with protection under their parents’ programs and, although most Americans don’t realize it, slowed the rise of health care costs dramatically.

Running for re-election in 2012, Obama recognized that income inequality had become “the defining issue of our time.” With his progressive tax reforms both in his health care plan and in the partial repeal of the top-end Bush tax cuts, and with expanded tax credits for low-income workers and families with children, Obama made a significant beginning in addressing that inequality.

Abroad, Obama struggled against great opposition to reduce America’s exposure in the wars without end in the Middle East. His nuclear agreement with Iran, not only dismantled its nuclear weapons capable facilities, it also provided the most comprehensive and aggressive verification mechanisms in the history of arms control. In opening relations with Cuba, he helped reduce America’s isolation in our own hemisphere and made the historic turn from a policy of embargo that had failed for five decades.

His most historic contribution was to understand the clear and present danger of catastrophic climate change. The agreement with China and subsequent Paris Accord cemented a global consensus on the need for bolder action on global warming. On his watch, America began to reduce its reliance on coal and its greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama won a majority of the votes in both his election and re-election, something neither his predecessor nor successor achieved. He governed with grace and dignity, despite grotesque and too often racist provocations. His family provided a model for all Americans, with Michelle winning hearts across the country. He and his administration were remarkably free of scandal. His administration demonstrated once more that competence could be valued in Washington.

He did all of this while facing unprecedented, unrelenting partisan obstruction, with the Republican leader of the Senate opposing him at every turn, intent on making him a one-term president. In part because of that opposition, much remained undone. The stimulus would have been larger and the recovery stronger except for Republican opposition. The national minimum wage would have been raised. A national infrastructure project to rebuild America would have been launched. Progress on making America the leader of the green revolution, the next global industrial revolution, would have been greater. Guantanamo, the shameful prison in Cuba, would have been closed. The Voting Rights Act would have been revived, and much more.

For most Americans, the recovery was slow; for many it was invisible. Donald Trump won election promising working people a better deal. He appealed to our weariness with war, suggesting a less interventionist policy. He played upon divisions, rousing fears about immigrants and Muslims. He pledged to “Make America Great Again,” in part by undoing everything Obama.

So it is worth marking what Trump will inherit, as we head into what is already a rocky and tempestuous presidency. Unemployment under five percent. Eighty-one months of jobs growth and counting. Average wages rising at 2.4 percent over the last year. Growth at 3.5 percent over the last full quarter. Inflation at two percent. 20 million more Americans with health insurance.

America, one of the global leaders in the green industrial revolution. A president respected at home and abroad, known for his thoughtfulness and his great eloquence. Let us hope that Trump can build on that legacy, and not lead us into a far deeper hole.

Keep up with Reverend Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.

Presidents’ Roundtable sets goals for New Year

— Among the primary goals in 2017 for The Presidents’ Roundtable is to accelerate the formation of entrepreneurial opportunities for the African-American community and to expand and diversify the business opportunities for corporations that currently make up the ambitious organization.

“[Goals include] starting in Baltimore and the Baltimore region, but then expanding nationally and internationally,” said Robert L. Wallace, a member of the Presidents’ Roundtable and CEO of the BITHGroup Technologies, Inc., a Charm City-based information technology services company that specializes in managed security services, health information systems, infrastructure IT services, wireless engineering, and biometrics.

Former Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Joseph Haskins, Jr., Chairman, CEO and President, The Harbor Bank of Maryland at PRT Annual Awards Gala.

Courtesy Photo/PRT

Former Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Joseph Haskins, Jr., Chairman, CEO and President, The Harbor Bank of Maryland at PRT Annual Awards Gala.

Among goals for next year are, to structure and disseminate to the community the corporate knowledge of the organization’s family of companies so that the information and experience is readily available to other minority entrepreneurs and the community at-large, Wallace said.

The Presidents’ Roundtable (PRT), will also provide consultative input and services to the political and business leadership about how to effectively integrate African-American entrepreneurs and the community into the economic mainstream.

Further, the group wants to facilitate the formation and acceleration of strategic alliances and partnerships between PRT corporate members and the overall business community, according to Wallace.

Founded in 1983, the PRT consists of 21 African-American entrepreneurs in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. region who employ more than 1,750 workers and oversee and control assets that exceed $1.1 billion.

B. Tyrous Addison of the Atlas Insurance Agency; Dorothy Brunson of Brunson Communications; Raymond V. Haysbert of Parks Sausage Company; and William March of March Funeral Homes are among the founding members.

Dr. Sheila Brooks, president and owner of SRB Communications; Stanley Tucker, president of Meridian Management Group; James Davenport, president of American Technology Corporation; and Donna Stevenson, president of Early Morning Software; are among current PRT members.

In November, the PRT held its annual awards gala in Baltimore where it awards students in need from HBCUs in the region entrepreneurial scholarships.

“The organization has now awarded $80,000 in scholarships over the past three years to five HBCUs in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore region,” Wallace said in an email. “We are committed to entrepreneurial education for students attending HBCUs in this region.”

To help accomplish its goals, PRT has partnered with such businesses as Merrill Lynch, State Farm, MedStar Health; Cadillac; M&T Bank; the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development; Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development; Mahogany Inc.; Washington Gas; Edwards & Hill Office Furniture; the Commercial Group; SRB Communications; Penan & Scott, P.C.; Giant; Mercedes-Benz of Silver Spring; Earth’s Enrichments; the MTA; Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport; Pepco; Exelon; BGE; and the Harbor Bank of Maryland.

Also, PRT’s Reach Foundation works in close collaboration with the leaders of PRT to promote social welfare and to improve the economic conditions of small and minority businesses, and the community at-large, Wallace said.

“PRT Reach Foundation supports education and encourages college students to become entrepreneurs,” he said. “PRT Reach seeks to achieve its goal through professional development activities, outreach programs and intellectual works that are not readily accessible from community and business advocacy groups, government agencies and others.”

For more information about the Presidents’ Roundtable and its future plans, visit www.presidentsroundtable.net.