Food For Fines 2017

— The Enoch Pratt Free Library is partnering with the Maryland Food Bank in the month of January for Food for Fines. From January 3 to January 31, 2017, donate a canned food item at any Pratt location and receive a $1 off any library fine.

There is no limit on the amount of cans that can be donated. For example, 5 cans = $5 off of your library card fines. Canned goods must be unopened and unexpired to qualify. To participate, just drop the cans off at the Circulation Desk of your local Pratt Library branch.

In January 2016, the library waived over $13,000.00 in fines. That’s more than 13,000 cans of food collected for the Maryland Food Bank, which is the equivalent of approximately 8,838 meals.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library, the nation’s first free library system, opened its doors in 1886, the result of the generosity and imagination of businessman and philanthropist Enoch Pratt who Pratt envisioned a public library where “races, ages, and socio-economic classes mingled and people could educate themselves— without cost.” His passionate belief continues to guide the organization.

The Maryland Food Bank is a nonprofit hunger-relief organization, leading the movement to end hunger throughout Maryland. For more than 35 years, the Maryland Food Bank has partnered with communities across the state to distribute food to individuals and families in need.

For more information about the Pratt’s Food for Fines campaign, visit:

Happy Happy New Year to you all!

— Hello, to all my readers and fans. This has been a helluva year, don’t you think? Some good and some not so good, but we are still here above ground and blessed. This weekend, we celebrate New Year’s Eve and Day as well as Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. There are a couple of events I want to share with you for these holidays.

Talented newcomer and sweet vocalist Ms. BO’NA, will perform at the New Year’s Event at the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge on Sunday, December 31, also featuring “The Spindles, “BADD,” The Mighty Heat, and the “Family,” just to name a few. For ticket information, call Don at 443-447-2207.

Courtesy Photo

Talented newcomer and sweet vocalist Ms. BO’NA, will perform at the New Year’s Event at the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge on Sunday, December 31, also featuring “The Spindles, “BADD,” The Mighty Heat, and the “Family,” just to name a few. For ticket information, call Don at 443-447-2207.

The Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. of Columbia, Maryland, will host a New Year’s Day party on Sunday, January 1, 2017 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Kahler Hall, 5440 Old Tucker Roe in Columbia. Watch the New Year’s Day football games and enjoy music from a DJ, card games, door prizes, and food. BYOB. For more information, call 301-596-9103.

New Year’s Eve Celebration hosted by Ertha Harris, Mike “Miguel” Stokes and Party Rocka MC ICE will host a New Year’s Eve celebration with music by DJ Mike Jones from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. at the Diamondz Event Center 9980 Liberty Rd. in Randallstown, Md. The tickets include a cash bar, light buffet, champagne toast and party favors. For ticket information, call 443-655-7198.

As the year comes to a close, I want to leave you with some thoughts that someone passed on to me:

*Make peace with your past, so it won’t screw up the present.

*Remember, what others think of you is none of your business.

*Time heals almost everything— give it time.

*Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

*Stop thinking too much— it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.

*No one is in charge of your happiness, except you; and smile you don’t own all the problems in the world.

Happy New Year to you all! May your New Year be prosperous, fun and better than 2016. God bless you and your family. Thanks to you, my friends and fans who continually read my column every week and share it with others.

Remember, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at Until next time, I’m musically yours.

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.”

These big companies had a terrible 2016

— HONG KONG — It’s been a tumultuous year on many fronts.

In the business world, some big names have gone through particularly grueling times in 2016.

Here are the ones that we think had a year they’d rather forget:


Yahoo started the year by axing 15% of its workforce. The struggling tech firm then admitted it had previously suffered not one but two massive data breaches, affecting more than a billion users.

“Yahoo has now won the gold medal and the silver medal for the worst hacks in history,” said online security consultant Hemu Nigam. The attacks have even cast doubt over Verizon’s planned acquisition of Yahoo.

Stock hit: Shares are down 14% from the high they reached in September before the first hack was disclosed.


The year blew up in spectacular fashion for the South Korean electronics giant. Its problems began when it had to recall millions of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after the high-end devices started bursting into flames. It then screwed up the recall by offering replacement Note 7 phones it said were safe but actually turned out to be prone to catching fire as well.

Samsung eventually had to kill the phone off altogether, costing it billions in profits and compounding the damage to its reputation. It was also forced to recall almost 3 million washing machines because they could explode.

Stock hit: Samsung shares took a hit from the Note 7 debacle but have since rallied to reach a record high, helped by the company’s announcement that it will consider overhauling its complicated structure.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo shocked Americans in September by firing 5,300 employees who had secretly created as many as 2 million unauthorized accounts. CEO John Stumpf was pilloried at congressional hearings and eventually had to step down.

The bank’s reputation has been sullied as former employees have come forward with horror stories about a pressure-cooker work environment that they say rewarded unethical practices.

Stock hit: Wells Fargo shares plunged more than 12% in the weeks after the phony accounts scandal erupted. But they’ve risen sharply following Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

Deutsche Bank

Hangovers from the financial crisis are still lingering for many big financial firms, and Deutsche Bank’s has proved particularly painful this year. Already struggling with weak profits and demoralizing job cuts, Germany’s biggest lender was hit in September by a U.S. demand for $14 billion to settle claims it packaged up toxic mortgages in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

That sparked concerns among investors that Deutsche Bank — described as the single biggest source of risk in the global banking system — didn’t have the funds to pay such a hefty bill.

The worries have since eased somewhat and Deutsche Bank said last week it had reached a $7.2 billion deal with U.S. authorities over the toxic mortgage claims.

Stock hit: During the worst of the fears over Deutsche Bank’s finances in September, the lender’s shares hit their lowest level in more than 20 years. They’ve rebounded significantly since then but are still down more than 20% since the start of the year.


This year witnessed the spectacular fall from grace of Theranos, one of Silicon Valley’s most celebrated startups. Cracks started to appear in the biotech firm’s credibility late last year when a Wall Street Journal investigation called into question the company’s scientific claims and blood testing methods. CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who founded Theranos when she was just 19, angrily denied the report’s allegations.

Theranos and Holmes have since suffered a series of humiliating setbacks, including investigations by multiple U.S. government agencies. Theranos was dumped by Walgreens after having to correct thousands of blood test results. And Holmes has been banned from owning or operating a laboratory for two years. In October, the company said it was cutting hundreds of jobs as it shuttered labs.

Stock hit: As an unlisted startup, Theranos doesn’t have a public share price. But in one gauge of how much its valuation has suffered, Forbes slashed Holmes’ net worth this year from $4.5 billion to “nothing.”


Twitter started 2016 with a plummeting stock price and the admission that it was losing users at the end of last year. Hopes that the company might find a way out of its predicament by being bought by a bigger player went up in smoke in October.

Twitter responded by announcing it was cutting hundreds of jobs and killing its video app, Vine (which was later given a small reprieve). The fumbles continued into the final months of the year with the company briefly suspending co-founder Jack Dorsey’s account and losing more top executives.

Stock hit: Twitter shares have been on a roller-coaster ride this year on the speculation it could get bought, but they’re now down 20% since the the year began.


Mylan became embroiled in scandal this summer after it emerged that the maker of the EpiPen had hiked the price of the lifesaving allergy treatment a stunning 15 times since 2009. By jacking the price up by 400% in seven years, the drugmaker and its CEO, Heather Bresch, came to symbolize corporate greed.

Mylan blamed the U.S. health care system for the situation and introduced a voucher program to help cut costs.

But Bresch faced tough questions from lawmakers who accused her and other executives of getting “filthy rich” at the expense of people who needed the vital treatment.

In October, Mylan agreed to pay $465 million to the U.S. government to settle claims that it falsely classified the EpiPen in order to overcharge Medicaid for it.

Stock hit: Mylan shares have sunk more than 30% since the start of the year.

Monte dei Paschi di Siena

In the 544 years it’s been in business, Italy’s Monte dei Paschi is unlikely to have had many quite as grim as 2016. Saddled with €28 billion ($29.3 billion) in bad debts, the world’s oldest operating bank was judged in July to be the weakest major lender in Europe.

The bank tried desperately to solve its problems itself, but its attempt to raise €5 billion ($5.2 billion) from private investors failed. That forced it to turn to the Italian government last week for a bailout.

Stock hit: Monte dei Paschi shares have nosedived 88% since the start of the year and have been suspended following the bailout announcement.

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

Zion Harvey, mother to ride Donate America float in Rose Parade

— On Jan. 2, 2017, people from across the country will share in the 128-year-old tradition of watching the Rose Parade, which is held every year in Pasadena, Calif. For the past 14 years, Donate Life America has participated in this celebration by creating a float to promote organ and tissue donation, and this year will be no different! Gift of Life Donor Program – the organ procurement organization (OPO) serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware – is supporting Zion Harvey’s journey to California to ride on the float, along with his mother, Patti Ray, who will walk alongside the float as a living donor. Zion is one of 23 people who were selected to ride on the Rose Parade float.

Nine-year-old Zion, a Baltimorean, was the first child in the world to receive a double hand transplant in 2015, when surgeons from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Penn Medicine and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Philadelphia, joined to complete this innovative transplant. The surgical team successfully transplanted donor hands and forearms onto then eight-year-old Zion in the complex, 11-hour procedure.

At the age of two, Zion developed sepsis, a life-threatening infection that attacked his entire body and eventually required amputation of both of his hands and his legs below the knee. The infection also damaged his kidneys, which required him to receive a life-saving kidney transplant from his mother when he was just four years old.

Today, nine-year-old Zion Harvey can throw a baseball over home plate since receiving his transplant. He can write in his journal, prepare himself lunch and manage zippers on his clothes. However, for most of his life, these and many other ordinary actions were impossible for him. When asked how his life has changed now that he has hands, Zion said, “I’m still the same kid everybody knew without hands. But I can do everything now. I can do the same things even better.” Zion and Patti Ray are excited to participate in the 2017 Rose Parade, and are grateful to Gift of Life Donor Program for allowing them to be a part of this special celebration.

The Donate Life America's float theme “Teammates in Life,” stresses the importance of working together to save lives. The float depicts a spectacular Polynesian catamaran, which will be propelled by Zion along with a team of 23 organ, eye and tissue transplant recipients— rowing in unison with strength gained from their donors.

Courtesy Photo

The Donate Life America’s float theme “Teammates in Life,” stresses the importance of working together to save lives. The float depicts a spectacular Polynesian catamaran, which will be propelled by Zion along with a team of 23 organ, eye and tissue transplant recipients— rowing in unison with strength gained from their donors.

Donate Life America’s float is supported by more than 50 organizations from across the U.S. to help promote the life-saving power or organ donation, and to raise awareness about the more than 119,000 men, women and children in the United States who are currently awaiting a transplant.

The float’s theme is “Teammates in Life,” which stresses the importance of working together to save lives. The float depicts a spectacular Polynesian catamaran, which will be propelled by Zion along with a team of 23 organ, eye, and tissue transplant recipients – rowing in unison with strength gained from their donors. The sails of the vessel will feature 60 floral portraits of donors interwoven with Polynesian designs and patterns. Just as the donors’ gifts empower the lives of others, the sails help power the catamaran on its journey. Sixteen living donors, including Patti Ray, will walk alongside the float carrying flowers in celebration of the life they have given to others and the quality of life they continue to enjoy themselves. For more information about the float, visit

Gift of Life Donor Program has worked tirelessly for the past 42 years to coordinate donors’ generosity with those in need. Since 1974, Gift of Life – the organ procurement organization for the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware – has helped save nearly 42,000 lives through organ donation, and enhanced over half a million lives through tissue donation. For more information or to register, visit

HBCU SWAC Round-Up Women’s Basketball Recaps – December 28


Wed, December 28, 2016

Texas A&M 90, Prairie View A&M 62


COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Prairie View A&M fell to Texas A&M 62-90 in College Station on Wednesday night to conclude its non-conference schedule. The Panthers were led by Jeronia Allen, who netted 19 points along with grabbing seven boards. Tori Carter and Dominique Newman also had strong contributions, netting 13 points each in the loss.

Prairie View A&M (5-7) was outmatched from the opening tip in this one. The Panthers were outscored 27-18 after the first quarter. PVAM outscored Texas A&M 19-16 in the second to narrow the deficit going into the second half. However, the Panthers allowed the game to get away from them in the second half, being outscored 47-25 in the second half, leading to the loss.

Next up, the Panthers will open conference play at Southern on Jan 2 at 5:30PM CT.

LSU 93, Alabama State 40


BATON ROUGE, La. – Alabama State could not keep up with LSU in a 93-40 loss on Wednesday night. The Hornets were led by Ziara Doe, who scored eight points along with two assists in the loss.

Alabama State (1-9) fell behind early and would not recover. The Hornets trailed 22-9 the first quarter, and would be outscored 9-21 in the second for a 18-43 halftime deficit. The Hornets would be outscored 22-50 in the second half, leading to the loss.

The Hornets will open conference play on Jan. 2 by hosting Grambling State at 5:30PM CT.

Ole Miss 67, Mississippi Valley State 30


OXFORD, Miss. – Mississippi Valley State was outmatched from the beginning in a 67-30 loss to Ole Miss to conclude its non conference schedule on Wednesday. Christine Reed led the Devilettes with eight points along with grabbing three rebounds in the loss.

Mississippi Valley State (3-8) fell behind early in the first quarter. The Devilettes trailed Ole Miss 22-10 after the first quarter of play. The Devilettes would be outscored 17-12 in the second quarter, for a 22-39 halftime deficit. MVSU would only manage eight points in the second half, leading to the defeat.

MVSU will be in action again on Jan. 2 when the Devilettes begin conference play against Arkansas Pine Bluff at 5:30PM CT.

Houston 85, Alcorn State 70


HOUSTON, Texas – Alcorn State fell in its non-conference finale 85-70 to Houston on Wednesday. The Braves were led by Talisa Sherman, who netted 15 points along with four rebounds. Alexus Freeman also contributed 13 points and four boards in the loss.

Alcorn State (0-11) played well early on. The Braves took a 19-16 lead after the first quarter. The Braves would continue their strong play in the second, outscoring the Cougars 20-17 in that frame for a 39-33 halftime lead. The Braves could not keep up its their strong play in the second half. Alcorn State would be outscored 29-8 in the third quarter for a 62-48 deficit going into the fourth. The Braves would outscore Houston 25-23 in the final frame, but it would not be enough as the Cougars would take the win.

Alcorn State will begin conference play on Jan. 2 when it plays host to Texas Southern at 5:30PM CT.

A pregnant restaurant server gets a $900 tip

— A server and bartender at a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, got a shocking — but pleasant — surprise from a customer earlier this month: a $900 tip.

“You always hear about these happening, but you never expect to be the recipient of it,” Sarah Clark told CNN affiliate KHPO. “It’s a huge, huge help for me and my family.”

Especially for a family’s that’s growing. Clark is nine months pregnant — her due date is January 8 — and she won’t get any paid time off during the pregnancy, which is common in the restaurant industry. Her fiance will temporarily be out of work too because of knee surgery.

“I couldn’t believe what I was looking at at first because it was such a high amount,” she said. “Nine hundred dollars is a lot of money. It took a while for it to set in, and once it did I cried for a little while.”

Clark said the woman who left the big tip had been in the restaurant before and that she had talked with her several times. That’s probably because Clark and the woman have a lot in common right now — the big tipper is pregnant too.

“I don’t know if she really understands how much this is going to help us this season,” Clark said. “Me being on maternity leave and him being out of work, we’re not going to be making any income. So this is really going to help with rent and other bills and things like that.”

Besides the tip, the woman also left Clark with one more bit of kindness, a nice note, written right on the receipt: “This is God’s money — He gave it to us so we could give it to you. God bless.”

Obama press secretary’s advice for his successor

— NEW YORK — Josh Earnest has some advice for Sean Spicer, who will soon be taking over his job as White House press secretary.

“Make sure you know where the president’s head’s at,” Earnest said, “because your ability to faithfully represent his point of view is critically important.”

A big part of Earnest’s job for the past two and a half years has been representing President Obama’s views during daily White House press briefings.

On Thursday President-elect Trump announced the appointment of Spicer as press secretary. Trump also named a communications director, Jason Miller, and a director of strategic communications, Hope Hicks, as well as a director of social media, Dan Scavino.

In a recent set of interviews for CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Earnest and other Obama press aides said they had prepared a stack of briefing materials for their successors.

“Even though obviously many people in this building, including the president, were rooting for somebody else, we have already prepared a binder to provide to the Trump team,” Jen Psaki, the outgoing communications director, said.

It is full of logistical information that transcends party affiliation — “everything from how to do a briefing to what to do when Marine One lands,” she said.

The interviews took place before Spicer, Miller and Hicks were named to their respective posts. When asked what the Trump administration should know about the press-president relationship, Psaki said “there are certain things that will make their lives easier, that may be contrary to what they or others may think.”

The press briefing is an example: “It has a certain efficiency,” she said. “There are hundreds of questions that come into the White House every day. There would be no way to answer those if we didn’t have a press briefing every day.”

Trump aides have spoken publicly about rethinking some aspects of the daily briefings.

Both Psaki and Earnest asserted that the briefings have an important function for democracy, providing accountability to the public.

Of course, White House correspondents can recount many, many times when Earnest and his predecessors evaded questions and sparred with reporters during briefings and outside them.

“I think that people can understand that there’s a give and take,” Earnest said, and other times when “I am asked about things that I can’t discuss publicly.”

But, he said, continuing to share advice with his successor, “none of that should come close to compromising the truth. Once it does, it significantly undermines your ability to be an effective advocate for the administration and for the things that you believe in.”

Watch the interviews with Earnest and Psaki on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” 11 a.m. ET on CNN.

University stands by ‘Problem of Whiteness’ course

— The University of Wisconsin-Madison is offering a course next semester called “The Problem of Whiteness,” and it’s not sitting well with a Republican legislator.

Wisconsin Rep. Dave Murphy, who is also the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, has asked the university to cancel the course, saying it prompts racial division.

“I am extremely concerned that UW-Madison finds it appropriate to teach a course called, ‘The Problem of Whiteness,’ with the premise that white people are racist,” Murphy said in a statement this week. He even threatened to pull funding for the state university.

The course, taught by Professor Damon Sajnani, is part of the African Cultural Studies program at the university’s College of Letters and Science.

“Have you ever wondered what it really means to be white? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably ‘no.’ But here is your chance!,” reads the course description.

“In this class, we will ask what an ethical white identity entails, what it means to be #woke, and consider the journal Race Traitor’s motto, ‘treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.'”

The course description says it includes readings from W.E.B. Du Bois, Ta-Nehisi Coates and the professor’s own article analyzing Rachel Dolezal.

Murphy said the university must discontinue the class.

“If UW-Madison stands with this professor, I don’t know how the university can expect the taxpayers to stand with UW-Madison,” he wrote.

The university defended its curriculum and said it takes pride in offering a variety of courses.

“We believe this course, which is one of thousands offered at our university, will benefit students who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of race issues. The course is a challenge and response to racism of all kinds,” read the university statement

Murphy also questioned the university’s decision to have Sajnani teach the course.

“Even more troubling, the course is taught by a self-described ‘international radical’ professor whose views are a slap in the face to the taxpayers who are expected to pay for this garbage,” said Murphy.

In his statement, he referred to Sajnani’s controversial tweets on topics such as police brutality and the Ku Klux Klan.

Murphy was joined in his criticism by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who wrote on Twitter, “This is racism against white people. ALL racism is wrong.”

The professor is standing by his class and continues to share messages of support on his Twitter page.

“Good day haters! Keep fueling me with your Tomfoolery. The angrier whites are about interrogating their identity the greater is the need for it,” he stated on Twitter.

“My only complaint about this course is that I already graduated from the UW and can’t take it,” one person posted.