Selecting A Plan During Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period started on October 15 and ends on December 7, meaning this is the time for you to review your current coverage and decide if there are better coverage options for you based on changes to the current plans, your budget, and your health needs.

During Medicare Open Enrollment, you can keep your current plan or review the options in your area to join a different prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan. The Open Enrollment period gives everyone with Medicare the opportunity to make changes to their Medicare health plans or prescription drug plans for coverage beginning January 1, 2019.

Think about what matters most to you and be open to different options, like Medicare Advantage plans from private insurers, which are plans allowing you to simplify your coverage by combining all your health and drug coverage into a single plan.

People who choose Medicare Advantage plans are often able to lower their out-of-pocket costs while getting extra benefits, like vision, hearing, dental, and prescription drug coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans now offer supplemental benefits that can include adult day care services, in-home support services, caregiver support services, home-based palliative care, and therapeutic massage. Best of all, prices are going down. The average Medicare

Advantage monthly premium will decrease to $28 for 2019.

Medicare health and drug plans change each year, and so can your health needs. Think about your health status and determine if you need to make a change by asking yourself these questions:

•Does my current plan cover my medications?

•Does another plan offer the same coverage at a lower cost?

•Am I interested in having a plan that covers extra benefits like dental and vision?

•Does the network include the specialist or hospital I want for an upcoming surgery?

Get Started on Medicare.gov

Medicare.gov has new tools that can help you review your options:

•Compare Coverage Options Tool: Asks five simple questions to see if Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan meets your needs.

•Estimate Medicare Costs Tool: Helps you estimate out-of-pocket costs depending on the Medicare coverage you choose.

•Plan Finder Tool: Lets you compare plans to see the exact costs for plans in your area based on the prescription drugs you take and the pharmacy you use. If you are open to coverage choices, you may find a plan that costs less, covers your drugs, and offers extra benefits like vision and dental coverage. Try the web chat feature for real-time help.

Once you’ve chosen a plan, check its Star Rating before you enroll. Through the Plan Finder Tool, you can access up-to-date Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. You can use Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.

Medicare Open Enrollment ends on December 7. Now is the time to act if you want to enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage beginning January 1, 2019. If your current coverage meets your needs, you don’t have to do anything. However, if you miss the

December 7 Open Enrollment deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your Medicare coverage.

For more information, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language.

Help in your community is also available. You can get personalized health

insurance counseling at no cost to you from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Visit shiptacenter.org or call 1-800-MEDICARE for your SHIP’s phone number.

More information about Medicare is also available on the Medicare Facebook page and by following @MedicareGov on Twitter.

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Seniors: Don’t Forget To Sign Up For Medicare Drug Coverage This Fall

Fall has arrived, which means it’s time for flannels, football, and finding the perfect health insurance plan.

That’s right— nestled amidst all the seasonal festivities is Medicare’s open enrollment season, which kicked off October 15. Seniors will have until December 7 to select their Medicare plans for the coming year.

Seniors have a cornucopia of coverage options to choose from. In particular, they should be thankful for the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, which enables tens of millions of seniors to afford their medications.

Traditional Medicare plans cover physician and hospital visits, among other basic health services. But for many seniors— particularly those battling chronic conditions— basic Medicare coverage isn’t enough. That’s why many beneficiaries purchase supplemental drug coverage through Medicare Part D stand-alone plans, or Medicare Advantage plans that include Part D benefits.

Part D is Medicare’s privately administered prescription drug program. Since 2006, it has helped seniors fill billions of prescriptions. Currently, three in four Medicare beneficiaries— or more than 40 million people— are enrolled in a Part D plan.

Part D plans aren’t one-size-fits-all. In some states, seniors have as many as 30 different plans to choose from, each of which features different premiums, co-pays, and covered drugs.

However, all plans must meet certain standards. For instance, every plan must cover at least two drugs in six vital categories: immunosuppressants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, antiretrovirals, and antineoplastics. This regulation ensures that people with severe chronic diseases have a choice of medications.

Plans are quite affordable. In 2019, the average Part D monthly premium will cost just over $32, which is even cheaper than the previous year.

These low premiums are no accident. Part D forces private insurers to compete against one another for seniors’ business. Indeed, insurers negotiate directly with drug companies — and the government is prohibited from negotiating or setting prices. The end result is quality coverage at an affordable price.

Part D is a literal lifesaver. Seniors who enroll in Part D coverage experience an 8 percent reduction in hospitalizations, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University and University of Illinois researchers. A 2016 analysis from North Carolina State University, meanwhile, revealed that Part D shrank beneficiaries’ likelihood of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Part D has curbed senior mortality by 2.2 percent each year since its implementation, according to a study in the Journal of Health Economics.

Given Part D’s ample plan choices, low premiums, and lifesaving results, it’s no wonder that 85 percent of seniors are satisfied with their coverage.

Choosing the right health plan is crucial — seniors shouldn’t wait for the foliage to change before signing up this open enrollment season.

Peter J. Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner, is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

The Moral Burden of Thanksgiving

In the bloody summer of 1863, the Union Army defeated General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces at Gettysburg, a three-day battle that changed the course of the Civil War and the long journey from slavery to freedom.

Three months later, in a profound gesture of gratitude, President Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be a national holiday, a national day of thanksgiving. The Union would hold. The people would be free.

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things,” the proclamation read. “They are gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

Thanksgiving has always been about more than football and turkey. It is about justice and the creation of a more perfect union. It has always been political.

Poverty and hunger are enemies of the union. They are homegrown terrorists, traitors to the America we can and must become. They have no place in a nation as rich, powerful and fundamentally good as ours.

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, this is a time not to focus on one big meal on one big day. This is a time to commit and work even harder to end poverty and hunger in this land of plenty.

We have much work to do. There are nine neighborhoods in Chicago— endangered communities— where poverty is at almost 20 percent and unemployment hovers around 40 percent. That is a sin.

There are an estimated 13.1 million children— one in six— in the United States living in households where there is not enough to eat. Experts say that children who suffer from hunger in the first years of their education often lag behind their peers in school, a beginning that can haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The moral burden of Thanksgiving is not to eat turkey but to feed justice.

Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. by merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). The organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.

Baltimore Times Hosts Holiday Extravaganza To Support Small Biz, Community

A dollar circulates in Asian communities for one month, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In Jewish communities, a single dollar circulates for approximately 20 days while four quarters – or two fifty-cent pieces – remain in white communities about 17 days.

By contrast, in the African-American community, a single dollar lasts about six hours, according to the NAACP. Should we not change this scenario in the black community?

The Baltimore Times thinks that we should. And over decades it has continued to work to support and promote small businesses. The newspaper has consistently and repeatedly found ways to help entrepreneurs of all backgrounds make their dollar circulate within the community. “When we thrive, I believe everyone else does as well,” said Baltimore Times Publisher, Joy Bramble.

To that end, the Baltimore Times and the Baltimore Times Foundation are hosting an inaugural Holiday Marketplace at the Coppin State University’s Talon Center on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.

This will be a “shopping extravaganza” which continues the theme of “Shop Small Business Saturday”—a project

developed to support Baltimore’s local artisans, small business owners and entrepreneurs. This “shopping extravaganza” will begin at 10.00 am, and last through 4.00 p.m. at Coppin.

The market offers something for everyone: one-of-a-kind specialty gift items; face painting; demonstrations on the art of gift wrapping; ideas on gifts individuals can make themselves; music; and plenty of free parking.

Open to the public with free admission, the shopping extravaganza will also feature caricatures, a balloon sculpture and much more.

The event is as important for young people as anyone else, said Dr. Ronald Williams, the former Dean of the College of Business and current Lead Faculty of the Employment Certification Program at Coppin State University.

“An event like this is tremendously important. Small businesses are the economic engine of the country, so small businesses certainly have a big socio-economic impact on the community,” Williams said. “An event like this really helps the community, the city, the region and it is very important,” he said.

Mrs. Joy Bramble said that the event is important to the Baltimore Times’ mission of supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses in the communities and showing the importance of such operations on the positive effect they have on local communities. “The Baltimore Times has always supported such community events,” Bramble said.

“We started as a small business and we know the value of the dollar and we know that it is important for entrepreneurs to set an example for young people who might one day aspire to own their small business and to be able to sustain themselves,” she said.

Professor Williams added that young people need good examples of successful business people who they can emulate.

“What I see is critical now is that our young people being able to earn money sooner … entrepreneurship – the contract work or the gig economy is a way for our young people to start earning money earlier in life,” he said.

“An example of that is that statistics tell us that in the next two years, 50 percent of the population will have an alternative stream of income.

“Our young people need the skills such as coding so that they can begin to take on work even as teenagers that will enable them to earn substantial amounts of money. If you can code at age 15, you may earn more than your parents earn,” Williams said.

And a performance by John Carrington, Magician

And a performance by John Carrington, Magician

There are no tickets required for event and for more details or to request a vendor application – the event is not open to food vendors due to facility restrictions – call 410-366-3900 or email btimes@btimes.com. To RSVP online, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/holiday-marketplace-a-shopping-extravaganza-tickets-27494205910

Celebrate A Magical Holiday Season In Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

Annapolis— Magical! That’s the word that best describes Annapolis and Anne Arundel County during the holidays. A host of events for the young and young at heart makes it easy for everyone to get into the spirit of the season. To help you celebrate, Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County has pulled together a handy list of 14 holiday happenings the whole family can enjoy.

Saturdays, November 17 to January 1— Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park, 1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Don’t miss this spectacular drive-through holiday lights show beside the Chesapeake Bay. The event features more than 70 animated and stationary displays, including traditional Maryland-themed favorites, holiday and children’s displays. Proceeds benefit SPCA of Anne Arundel County. For more information, call: 410-268-4388 or visit: http://www.lightsonthebay.org/.

Sunday, November 25— Grand Illumination and Annapolis Tree Lighting Market Space at the Market House, 25 Market Street in Annapolis from 5 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

With support from the Annapolis business community, the Annapolis Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) host the Lighting of the Tree in Annapolis during the City’s Grand Illumination event. Watch Santa arrive in town and enjoy singing and dance performances by area youth. The Jaycees provide refreshments and ornaments children can use to decorate the tree. Attendees are invited to bring nonperishable food items and new, unwrapped toys for the Jaycees’ annual Angel Tree Project.

Saturday, December 1— State House by Candlelight at the Maryland State House, State Circle in Annapolis from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Enjoy this annual open house featuring performances by young musicians and vocalists from throughout Maryland. The oldest State House in continuous legislative use in the nation will be adorned with 24 Christmas trees representing every Maryland county and Baltimore City. Photo identification is required for individuals age 16 and older. For more information, visit: http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdstatehouse/html/home.html.

Saturday-Sunday, December 1-2 72nd Annual U.S. Naval Academy’s Handel’s Messiah Concerts at the Main USNA Chapel, 108 Blake Road in Annapolis

A long-standing Naval Academy tradition, the U.S. Naval Academy Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs join the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and soloists from the Metropolitan Opera Company to present selections from Handel’s beloved Messiah. Conducted by Dr. Aaron Smith, USNA Director of Musical Activities, the elegant concert has been broadcast on public television stations regionally and nationwide. Saturday Concert at 7 p.m. and Sunday Concert at 3 p.m. For more information, call: 410-293-8497 or visit: https://www.usna.edu/Music/.

Fridays and Saturdays, December 1, 7, 14-15, 21-22 Holiday Candlelight Stroll from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tours depart from Information Booth at Annapolis City Dock.

Stroll through Annapolis alongside a festively attired colonial guide and learn about holiday traditions. Includes tour inside the historic Hammond Harwood House for additional seasonal spirit.

For more information, call 410-268-7601 or visit: http://annapolistours.com/ our-tours/candlelight-stroll.

Sunday, December 2 The 4th Annual Chocolate Binge Festival

Are you a chocoholic in need of a fix? You won’t want to miss the 4th Annual Chocolate Binge Festival! More than 35 chocolate vendors will be selling chocolate specialties, including: chocolate caramels, cakes, bars, truffles, fudge, cookies, candies, hot chocolate and more. Enjoy live music, roasting s’mores with the Fire Department, a gingerbread house moon bounce, Cocoa with the PoPo, a holiday market, the lighting of the Holiday Lights Canopy and a visit from Santa. Noon to 5 p.m. First block of West Street in downtown Annapolis. www.annapolischocolatefestival.com, erik@firstsundayarts.com.

Thursdays, December 6, 13, 20 Midnight Madness Holiday Shopping

Lights, garland, action! Historic Annapolis shops throw open their doors in a glorified block party that’s open to all. Enjoy outside musical performances as well as food and refreshments at many stores as you stroll along Main Street, Maryland Avenue, West Street, State Circle and City Dock in search of that perfect gift. Sponsored by the Downtown Annapolis Partnership.

December 6 and 13, 6 p.m. to midnight; December 20, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Downtown Annapolis.

Saturday, December 8 The 36th Annual Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade

More than 30 brightly lit boats bedecked for the holiday season parade around the Annapolis waterfront and Spa Creek. Themes including Santa Claus, Polar Bear Christmas, a Christmas Angel and the Abominable Snowman have delighted young and old in this traditional Annapolis holiday event. Thousands of lights and a host of jolly revelers make this a fun Christmas event for the entire family. Prime viewing areas include: Eastport, Spa Creek, City Dock and Naval Academy seawall.From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Annapolis Harbor and Spa Creek. 844-463-6392, Eastportyc.org/lights-parade.

Monday, December 31— City of Annapolis New Year’s Eve Celebration

Family activities fill the day and music and dancing fill the night at this annual celebration welcoming the New Year. For the third year, kids’ activities will take place on Weems Whelan fields behind Maryland Hall and Bates Middle School. Participants are invited to park at Park Place garage and take City of Annapolis-provided shuttles to and from Maryland Hall. Activities will include kids’ crafts, obstacle courses, moon bounces and music performed by kids’ rock bands. The afternoon festivities wrap up with on-site fireworks at approximately 5:15 p.m. The second round of festivities includes live music and dancing at Susan Campbell Park at City Dock beginning at 8 p.m. and ending with midnight fireworks. Sponsored by City of Annapolis. 3 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., kid-friendly activities at Weems Whelan Fields behind Maryland Hall, 801 Chase Street in Annapolis. From 8 p.m. to midnight, Susan Campbell Park, City Dock, Annapolis 21401. 410-263-7997, http://www.annapolis.gov/.

Criminal Justice Reform Long Overdue For Black America

As a member of the infamous Wilmington Ten case in North Carolina from 1972 to 2012, I witnessed firsthand why the criminal justice system in the United States needed to be thoroughly reformed. We had been unjustly sentenced in 1972 to a combined total of 282 years in prison for standing up for equal quality education for black students in the public school system in Wilmington, NC in 1971.

For 40 long years, until North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed “Pardons of Innocence” documents for each member of the Wilmington Ten, the issues of unjust and disproportionate mass incarceration, bail reform, racism in the judiciary, prosecutorial misconduct, and reentry challenges were not matters of partisanship, but were matters of fundamental civil and human rights.

Thanks to the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the United Church of Christ (UCC), the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARP), Amnesty International and millions of people across the U.S. and throughout the world, we finally received a modicum of justice with the Pardons of Innocence being issued on December 31, 2012.

In the wake of the recent 2018 Midterm Elections, there now appears to be a more bipartisan interest and commitment in the achievement of significant criminal justice reform in America. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives finally passed the First Step Act with bipartisan support. The legislation establishes the initial steps for criminal justice reform at the federal level. Just last week, even President Trump announced his support of the First Step Act. However, what the U.S. Senate will do is still an open question.

The U.S. Congress should expedite passing the First Step Act as well as other criminal justice reform legislation. For black America in particular, this remains an urgent and crucial public policy objective.

Of the current 2.2 million people incarcerated in the nation’s prisons and jails, a disproportionate number are African Americans and other people of color. According to a 2018 Pew Research Study, in 2016 African Americans represented 12 percent of the U.S. adult population but 33 percent of the sentenced prison population. The ACLU reports that African American men are six times more likely to be incarcerated as white men in the U.S.

According to the NAACP’s Criminal Justice Fact Sheet, African American women are imprisoned at twice the rate of White women. The Federal Bureau of Prisons reported in 2018 that 38 percent of prison inmates are African American.

But we need to do more than merely stating the statistics of criminal justice that bear witness to the racial, social, and economic inequities and injustices. We need solutions. We need more research about the successful programs and projects that can prevent mass incarceration while we emphasize the urgency for criminal justice reform legislation at both the federal and state levels. We also need more effective programs for the hundreds of thousands of incarcerated people preparing to reenter society without the counterproductivity of recidivism.

I have served on panel discussions amicably with Mark Holden, general counsel of Koch Industries, who also supports the First Step Act, a bill grounded in evidence-based and data-driven practices that we know keep communities safe and provide people with the second chances they need to lead productive lives. The bill specifically provides programs to help reduce the risk that prisoners will recidivate upon release from prison. Mark and I are on the same page on the issues of reentry and the need to reduce systemic reincarceration.

In fact, Koch Industries has been funding criminal justice reform efforts for more than a decade and was one of the first major corporations in the U.S. to “ban the box” by removing questions about criminal history on its employment applications. Other corporate leaders should also “ban the box.”

Earlier this year at the NNPA’s Mid-Winter Conference, we were pleased to welcome Brother Lamont Carey, a former prison inmate, noted author and founder of Contact Visits, a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization that he established to assist people preparing to reenter society from prison. It was reassuring to see how Lamont was able to break free of the stigma of incarceration and make a positive and productive contribution to help others transform their lives, families and communities.

Lastly, on the related issue of bail reform: There are nearly a half million people, most of whom are people of color, who are sitting in jail today only because they cannot afford to post a monetary bail. Google and Koch have also teamed up to raise awareness about the necessity for bail reform in America. They believe that individuals accused of a crime should not be required to provide bail unless deemed a threat to public safety or a flight risk, because freedom should not hinge on a person’s financial worth.

The time is now for action, not more partisan debate. No more postponements. No more excuses. The U.S. Congress should pass the First Step Act. We want equal justice. Criminal justice reform for black America is long overdue.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). He can be reached at dr.bchavis@nnpa.org.

Former Baltimore Times Writer Reflects On What Maya Angelou Taught Her

Kimberly Brown says she has always shared the journey of others in her reporting, whether it was an obstacle, new venture or victory. Now, the former Baltimore Times journalist has written a new book about her own journey.

While the title, “Reflections – What Ms. Angelou Taught Me” is certainly an ode to the late poet Maya Angelou, Brown also pays tribute to her parents in the opening of the book.

“To my mommy and daddy, you both have stuck by me no matter how outlandish my dreams or wild my beliefs. I love you,” Brown writes in the forward to “Reflections…”

And, while telling the stories of others has been a major part of her work as a journalist, Brown decided it’s time to tell her own story.

“Along the way I neglected to share the truth of my own path so as a way to open up about challenges which I endured, the book was written,” she said. “I am a private person who failed to realized that some of my adversities could possibly offer encouragement.”

In telling her story, Brown says she drew strength from Angelou, the famed poet, author and civil rights activist who died in 2014.

“What I have learned from observing Maya Angelou is that there’s strength in owning who you are and being true to self. Also, as a woman of color, we essentially hold the key to recognizing our own worth as well as hold value to who we are and what we offer into the world,” Brown said.

Growing up, Brown recalled watching the ABC Television presentation of “Roots,” the gripping true story of the enslaved ancestors of author Alex Hailey. She says the book and television series also helped to shape her as a writer.

“Some people, like myself, embraced the story and wanted to learn more, while others who still to this day, believe slavery has no connection to the mindset or behaviors we experience in our community,” Brown said. “I feel whenever we fail to acknowledge a timeframe in American history it can affect a culture moving forward.”

Brown also notes the importance of being humble.

“After going through but so many challenges along your path, if we’re not humble already, life will humble you,” she said. “I don’t understand what’s the big turn off about being humble. Although, I do understand we should definitely be compensated for our worth or involvement in work related projects.”

As far as awards and accolades, Browns says she believes just having an opportunity to keep doing what she loves and being able to reach higher goals is in itself fulfilling.

“Of course, at some point there is a desire to retire so to do so fruitfully is a reward within itself,” she said.

Brown also hopes that anyone who reads “Reflections” will understand regardless of their background or circumstance that anyone can succeed.

“There will be challenges as well as obstacles along the path, but just continue to move ahead with faith and belief in your gifts,” she said. “I want readers to feel encouraged and inspired that they can accomplish or pursue what is in their hearts to achieve despite what they may have endured in the past.”

“Reflections – What Ms. Angelou Taught Me,” is available for sale at: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reflections-what-ms-angelou-taught-me-brown/1128969065?type=eBook.

Lamar Jackson gives Ravens a glimpse of the future

The Baltimore Ravens traded back into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. The selection was the last first-round pick that Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome will make in his career.

Judging from what Jackson was able to do against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, Baltimore has a bright future. The NFL is moving towards a league that places more of an emphasis on scoring.

Dynamic playmakers such as Jackson are electrifying fans on game day with their highlight reel worthy performances.

Baltimore desperately needed a win last Sunday to stay on pace with the other teams fighting for the final wild card spot down the stretch. Starting quarterback Joe Flacco is sidelined due to a hip injury and wasn’t able to play in week 11. Jackson made his first NFL start in place of Flacco last Sunday.

The Cincinnati Bengals have been a thorn in the Ravens’ side over the years. Jackson’s 150 passing yards and 117 rushing yards pushed Baltimore to a 24 – 21 win over their division rivals.

Logging 27 rushing attempts is far from the conventional way to use a quarterback. However, Jackson’s ability to run the ball is rather unique. He is also a dangerous passer.

Jackson’s style of play has evoked comparisons to former Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Ironically, Vick was pretty vocal about the way the Ravens used Jackson, saying it isn’t likely to be repeated.

“That game plan yesterday will only exist yesterday. They’ll never be able to go out and duplicate that again,” Vick said on FS1 show Speak For Yourself.

“It’s going to be eight-man boxes from here on out. This will give Lamar Jackson the chance to work on becoming a better passer. Next week, he’ll have to go out and pass the football, then you’ll be complimentary with the run game— 27 runs is too much. The focus has to be on getting better as a passer.”

Some of the Bengals players came away pretty impressed with Jackson. His style of play puts a different form of stress on defenses.

“It’s like facing two different offenses. Joe Flacco, he just stands back there and isn’t very mobile but he throws the ball hard. This guy [Lamar Jackson], is very unpredictable,” Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict said.

“It was totally different. A running quarterback who is a dual threat…pass and run. It makes you play smart. You don’t know whether he’s rolling or not. It’s a guessing game for the most part on things like that,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick added.

Jackson’s performance prompted NFL Network Good Morning America host Peter Schrager to heap plenty of praise on Jackson.

“This is was the most amazing performance of the week. It was Tim Tebow with an even greater arm,” Schrager said on the Monday show.

The future is bright for Jackson and the Ravens. Flacco’s injury may allow Jackson to start a few more games in the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see how defenses adjust to Jackson’s dual-threat ability and how Jackson adjusts in return.

“This guy is a great quarterback already,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “And he’s just going to get better from here on out.”

Take Me Back To Astroworld: Travis Scott Show Review

As a young kid, I was never very picky about things. Tuna sandwich for lunch? Cool. Heading to the park today? Great! We’re going to Disney World? Awesome! I was pretty much a go with the flow kind of guy— easy to satisfy and hard to disappoint.

Nowadays, I wish I could say the same, but after a recent experience, I know that it isn’t going to be easy.

I’ve been listening to Travis Scott for quite some time now. My opinions about him and his music have differed over the years, but his last two solo projects have impressed me. He has truly showed his artistic and creative abilities. His use of voice variations, vocal effects, and sudden production changes all lead to this one of a kind sound that people have grown to yearn for.

Because of these things, Travis has gained mega star status, and has consistently drawn large audiences to his live performances. Many people in my circle have attended his concerts over the years have all described them as crazy, fun and full of energy. However, that pretty much describes any situation where you would have tens of thousands of millennials in one place. Nonetheless, I decided to see for myself.

Travis Scott’s Astroworld Tour kicked off right here in downtown Baltimore on November 8, 2018. One of my friends, Kendall, had four tickets to the show, and I was one of those of lucky four!

I didn’t know how much of a ride we would be in for. As we walked into the arena there wasn’t an immense amount of energy in the air. People seemed “relaxed” and ready for a good show.

The most adrenaline-rushing thing I saw on the way to my seat was a guy who almost dropped his popcorn and caught it before it hit the ground— it was quite the catch.

After a slew of popular opening acts such as: “Sheck Wes,” “Trippie Redd,” and “Gunna,” everyone in the crowd was ready for the main event. As soon as the lights went back down, everyone in the arena stood up and this very colorful but almost dark video with a very psychedelic feel began to play, as the audience was introduced to Astroworld. In the video, were several references to both Travis and the theme park and as everyone’s attention was focused on the screen— BANG on an entirely different stage at the opposite side of the arena, Travis pops up out of the ground.

Ticket holders with standing room on the floor all simultaneously ran to the other side of the arena. It was quite the spectacle.

While watching this incredibly intense performance, I noticed a large “coaster looking” object behind Travis. Before I could even blink, Travis began to walk over to it and you wouldn’t believe that it was a “miniature” upside down roller coaster.

Travis started performing while literally going upside down, riding it during one of his songs. He even let a fan get on and ride it too. The amusement park theme was in full effect.

After that, Travis disappeared for just about a minute. Where did he go, we all wondered— and BOOM there he was on the other stage in the arena. Once again, people ran towards that side of the arena. The crowd was in a frenzy and, at this point, I officially declared this to be to be the most exciting concert I had ever attended— and still it wasn’t over yet!

An even bigger roller coaster hovered over everyone, then dropped down from the ceiling and Travis strapped himself up and rode it above both stages, all while still performing!

There was never a stop in action and during the more “chill” songs a simulated skyline of Houston was shown on the circular screen going around the arena.

After all of this, all I can say is…. take me back to Astroworld!

A Mother’s Cry Thanksgiving Event For Women Impacted By Violence

Continuing the tradition of giving to mothers who have lost children to violence, A Mother’s Cry recently held their 11th Annual Thanksgiving Event at the Lillian Jones building located at 1303 Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore.

More than 100 women impacted by violence were given all the trimmings for a Thanksgiving meal and served dinner. The event was organized by Millie Brown, founder of A Mother’s Cry.

“More than 100 hundred women— all who have been impacted by the violence on our streets attended this event,” said Brown. “Others who were in attendance came to support them. We also fed and gave food to those who needed some help for the holiday.”

Craig Wolf, who ran an unsuccessful bid for Maryland Attorney General, was among those who attended the event.

“It was such a beautiful event,” said Brown. “Mr. Wolf and his family were very passionate about saving lives and trying the comfort the survivors.”

According to Brown, donations came from a variety of sources, including Giant Food, the Wolf family, and a donor who requested anonymity.

“In addition, Under Armour donated certificates for turkeys and groceries,” said Brown. “Johns Hopkins’ Catering department donated the hot food that was served, which they do each year.”

Brown’s son, Will Brown, is an artist, and has been giving mothers portraits of their children since she founded A Mother’s Cry 11 years ago.

“They can look at those portraits, which gives them a part of their lost child,” said Brown. “It goes beyond a plate of food. It means so much to the mothers after losing their child.”

She added, “We are looking for funding to help buy supplies to keep pace with the many portraits my son has to paint.”

A Mother’s Cry is a local group that supports mothers who have lost children to violence.

Artist Will Brown holding two-year-old  Ta’liya Fleming, who has lost three godbrothers to gun violence. She loves Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Millie Brown holds the paintings her son created for her.

Courtesy Photo

Artist Will Brown holding two-year-old Ta’liya Fleming, who has lost three godbrothers to gun violence. She loves Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Millie Brown holds the paintings her son created for her.

“I started having events,” said Brown. “I would have events on Mother’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays to get the mothers together to let them know they are not alone. I started asking for donations to give to the mothers. I have never asked for money – only gifts, which have come in a variety of forms, including manicures, pedicures, gift cards, dinner, appliances, jewelry, flat screen televisions, and tickets to shows.”

Brown, who is the recipient of numerous awards for her work with the group, said her annual Christmas event for the mothers will be held at the Under Armour House located on 1100 Fayette Street in December.

For more information about “A Mother’s Cry,” or to find out how you can help, call: 443-303-6289 or email: brownmillie98@gmail.com.