Republican connected tech firm targeted black voters on facebook for ‘deterrence’

A database built by Cambridge Analytica, the Republican-aligned firm that shut down over allegations of improper use of Facebook data, targeted Black voters for “Deterrence” in profiles prepared for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign according to reporting by Great Britain’s Channel 4 News. It had already been known that Black voters were focused on disenfranchisement by the Trump campaign and Russian interference. But the new report outlined that 3.5 million Black Americans were profiled specifically in a new digital form of social media-driven voter suppression for ‘deterrence’ by the Trump campaign. What this also reveals is that in 2016 Facebook allowed this to take place. In 2016 many Black voters said that they wanted to stay home on Election Day.

“The ‘Deterrence’ project can be revealed after Channel 4 News obtained the database used by Trump’s digital campaign team— credited with helping deliver his shock victory to become president four years ago. Vast in scale, it contains details on almost 200 million Americans, among more than 5,000 files, which together amass almost five‐ terabytes of data— making it one of the biggest leaks in history. It reveals not only the huge amounts of data held on every individual voter, but how that data was used and manipulated by models and algorithms,” the new investigative report from Channel4 revealed.

Over 3.5 million Black Americans were marked for ‘deterrence.’The digital arm of Trump’s 2016 digital team, called ‘Project Alamo’ included a team from the now defunct British company Cambridge Analytica. Two senior directors of the former Cambridge Analytica team are now working on the Trump 2020 campaign for The White House.

Voter suppression has become mainstream policy for the Republican Party in America. Efforts to suppress the vote became mainstream after the election of the first Black President of the United States, Barack Obama, in 2008.

Voter suppression efforts that disproportionately target Black voters include requiring certain IDs at the polls, shutting down polling locations in predominantly Black areas and polling hours that make it difficult for working class Americans to participate.

Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.8 million votes. In certain states, such as Wisconsin, the margin was thin. Hillary Clinton won the most votes but lost the Electoral College and Trump won four years in the White House.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

Prospering during the pandemic but is Zoom here to stay?

Remember when Bill Gates started Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg opened Facebook?

While it’s widely known that Microsoft and Facebook started respectively in the 1980s and 2000s, not a lot of signifi- cance was given to the start of these now multi-billion-dollar companies. It appears Zoom will follow in their footsteps.

The nine-year-old virtual platform became popular when the coronavirus pandemic began as the platform for not only the home for business meetings but social and religious gatherings, education, and events like weddings and funerals.

MSN reported that Zoom has a market cap of $129 billion and is now worth more than IBM and twice as valuable as VMware. In 2019, CEO Eric Yuan had a net worth of about $3 billion. Today, Forbes places Yuan’s “San Francisco, Cleveland, the United Kingdom. We’ve had visitors from everywhere,” one member said.

Dennis Bell, the founder and CEO of Byblos noted that, “even after the pandemic, Zoom will be a part of everyone’s daily life. It’s a convenient way to reach out to people, especially those who are far from you.”

“Regardless of the time zone differences, you can easily communicate effectively. It provides a lot of opportunities to interact virtually with your team. Zoom can also record videos that allow you to store and have access to it whenever needed. It is also a convenient way to replay a part of your meetings for recording purposes. Zoom was here even before the pandemic, and it is likely here to stay and be a part of the business and people’s lives,” Bell said.

Erik Rivera, the CEO of the online telehealth platform, ThriveTalk says he currently attends as many as 20 Zoom meetings per week. Rivera said the video chat platform is facilitating his business. “As we have moved our operations model entirely online, moving forward, I can only predict that this number will stay high,” Rivera said. Mark Hayes, the head of marketing atvalue at approximately $20 billion.

In its most recent earnings report, the company said revenue over the last quarter increased a whopping 355 percent from a year earlier, as many companies struggle to stay afloat with the deadly pandemic still raging. And, if there were any doubt that Zoom is here to stay, business owners and many users in and around Baltimore say they are committed for the long haul.

Alcoholics Anonymous leaders in the city say they’ve taken measures to ensure the security of their zoom meetings because they believe they’ll be using the platform for some time.

The group hosts 800 meetings each week, and many say Zoom has opened Baltimore’s gatherings to a much larger audience. the advice and tutoring company, Kintell, said he’s also attending countless Zoom meetings and believes they’re here to stay. “At this point, it went from a novelty to standard procedure,” Hayes declared. “In my view, the coronavirus taught the world that a lot of roles could be carried out remotely, for better or for worse.”

There are skeptics, however. Although Martin Seeley called Zoom the best alternative to roundtable meetings during COVID-19 and has helped companies adjust to the new normal of communications, he doesn’t believe it’ll remain popular.

“After the pandemic, it will have a great decline in sales because people still prefer traditional face-to-face meetings instead of virtual meetings,” said Seeley, the CEO of MattressNextDay.

“It just happens that companies needed alternative ways to conduct business meetings, and they have discovered Zoom as the best tool for virtual communication.”

David Walter, a local electrician, agreed. “While I do see Zoom as a major part of business and life in the short-term, I don’t see that as lasting,” Walter opined. “It will still be popular because I think a lot of folks didn’t understand all of the benefits, but hopefully, as this virus continues to fade, and if we get an effective vaccine, I think you’ll see somewhat of a return to in-person meetings.”

John Harbaugh shows love for Ravens fans

The Baltimore Ravens have become a part of many families in the city and surrounding areas. That is what happens when a team’s mindset and style of play embodies the city where it is located. Winning a couple of Super Bowls and being a perennial contender doesn’t hurt either.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is one of the two coaches who have brought a championship to Baltimore. He is the son of a coach and was raised with a tremendous work ethic and toughness. It’s no wonder he is close to the Ravens fans.

Plans to have 7,500 fans at M&T Bank Stadium for Ravens games have not materialized as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter everyone’s way of living. Harbaugh took time on Monday, October 12, 2020 to let the fans know he was thinking about them.

“I just want to say, we miss our fans. We have a great fan base; that stadium would’ve been rocking and rolling “ yesterday and they would’ve been fired up for what they saw. I think they would’ve been really into the game,” Harbaugh said about last Sunday’s game.

He went on to recreate the scene when he drives into the stadium and sees the fans tailgating. Harbaugh said he loves seeing the high-fives and smiling faces as well as the “not so smiling ones.”

The drum line at Ravens home games is one of his favorite parts of the game day experience.

“The thing that’s really cool at the game is the drum corps. I don’t know if the people on TV get a chance to hear that or not, but that drum corps is first- rate,” Harbaugh said with excitement. “It kind of reminds you of Friday night lights out there. I hope it’s a tradition. I’m going to put pressure on [Ravens president] Dick Cass right now. That needs to be a tradition that we carry forward here in the future, inside the stadium and outside the stadium, maybe even in the tailgating [lots] when that comes back. That drum corps is really … it’s football, to me, and it really makes a statement.”

The Ravens fan experience isn’t just at home games. When they take the show on the road, fans go with them. That doesn’t go unnoticed by Harbaugh. He hopes to have the fans back at some point as the Ravens make their push towards a third Super Bowl trophy.

“We have great fans, even on the road. We miss you. We hear you. We know you’re out there. We know you’re cheering, and we really appreciate you. I just wanted to say that. So, thanks to all the people who are watching and care. We’ll see you soon when this whole thing gets back to normal,” Harbaugh added.

Bowie State students get social to survive the pandemic

A Bowie State University student’s social media platform has become a news outlet for students and has helped softened the transition for freshmen staying on campus during Covid-19.

Brian Hill, 25, senior and business major from Washington, D.C., created the social media platform GoFechTV for students to connect and receive news in a more stylish form. Hill’s platform became an essential channel for students during quarantine and has eased the transition for freshmen living on campus this year.

“I have freshmen that are wanting to be on the GoFechTV platform. They want to talk to each other on there. They know that people will see them and want to hear about their experience.” Hill said.

GoFechTV is a platform that offers seven segments including campus news, religious sermons, cooking shows and much more. Originally created two years ago, Hill’s brainchild now has over 4,000 followers on Instagram and averages around 1,500 views per segment.

“Even the president of our school has come on our platform to share news. She enjoys our page a lot,” Hill said.

There are nine other students who help create content for the social media site. The students record their segments in their homes and use Instagram Live to interact with their followers. During the summer while students were quarantined, a cooking segment was created to help those who were on a budget feed themselves. The platform also kept the Bowie State community engaged with the news of protests and election coverage. Twenty-three-year old Julian

Cavanaugh, a junior broadcast journalism major and President of WBSU Radio said, “I love GoFech. They have done a lot of good work.” Cavanaugh said that the platform has evolved since everything has become virtual. “I think they did a lot better than Bowie State did with communicating the virtual stuff.”

According to Bestcolleges.com, social media is becoming the most efficient way for colleges to communicate with their students and share information online.

The College Media Association, the voice of collegiate media and its advisers nationwide, awards the annual Pinnacle award to deserving college media organizations run by students. There were 19 organization finalists throughout America for the 2019-2020 school year, but none was a Maryland institution. Hill hopes to change that soon.

Na’Shae Wagoner, 18, freshman and business major, said she has been following GoFechTV even before she was a student at Bowie.

“I planned to be on campus before Covid, so I would look on their page for updates. They were very active during Covid,” Wagoner said. Wagoner said she plans to work for GoFechTV during her freshman year when they develop a new segment. “It’s a positive outlet for our peers, especially with everything going on in the world.”

While many other universities have their own newspapers and news channels run by students, they are usually chaperoned by a professor. Hill said the GoFechTV platform is completely student governed and covers a range of topics.

GoFechTV is mostly watched by Bowie State students, although Hill has started to reach out to students from other universities to be guests on their segments. Hill dreams of expanding his platform to other HBCUs. “I think every school should have something like this.”

MACY’S HOLDS NATIONAL HIRING EVENT ON OCTOBER 22

WHAT: Macy’s is holding a National Holiday Hiring event on Thursday, October 22, to fill seasonal positions at stores, call centers and distribution and fulfillment centers, including more than 700 holiday opportunities in Maryland. A variety of opportunities are available with competitive pay, access to flexible scheduling, bilingual work environment, merchandise discount and the opportunity to earn additional bonuses.

New this year to provide a safe and convenient hiring experience, Macy’s will conduct all interviews for in-store opportunities by phone. The quick and convenient process allows seasonal candidates tointerview from wherever. To support Macy’s convenient shopping experience, stores will also offer a new, versatile role focused on picking and packing contact-free curbside pickup and same-day delivery orders.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 22 (local time)

HOW: Prior to the national hiring event, candidates are encouraged to submit applications online to receive a response via email. Candidates can apply online 24/7 nationwide. Open positions and additional information are available at macysjobs.com.

MORE: Macy’s strives to be an employer of choice in every location it does business. Some highlights of Macy’s seasonal hiring program include:

Applicants often receive an offer the same day they apply.

Macy’s migrated approximately 1,000 seasonal positions from 2019 to permanent positions.

Approximately one third of Macy’s store leadership colleagues started their careers at Macy’s during the holiday season.

The average length of service among Macy’s, Inc. professional and hourly colleagues is 10 years and 7 years, respectively.

Macy’s is strongest when it represents the many communities it serves. Macy’s is committed to providing a safe and inclusive workplace by embedding diversity and inclusion into how colleagues think, act and operate. More information about Macy’s Diversity & Inclusion initiatives is available at macysinc.com.

The health and safety of Macy’s colleagues and customers is always our top priority. Macy’s has implemented enhanced safety and wellness procedures to help alleviate any potential health concerns, following the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended protocol. This includes enhanced cleaning of heavily touched surfaces such as equipment, countertops, break rooms, restrooms, vertical transportation, entrances and colleague work areas. Additionally, Macy’s provides colleagues with face masks to help prevent the spread of the COVID19 virus and conducts daily wellness checks which include asking a series of recommended questions and temperature checks to support a safe working environment. Macy’s encourages colleagues to continue to follow the CDC recommended everyday measures and will remain vigilant and partner with local and state officials.

CONTACT: Jacqueline King, Macy’s Media Relations – Jacqueline.King@macys.com

It’s time for your flu shot!

The University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus is again offering free flu shots this season. The flu vaccine is a proven way to prevent or reduce the symptoms of influenza (flu), a serious respiratory disease that killed nearly 1,000 people in Maryland last year and sickened 74,000.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes flu shots even more vital this year, as we face the prospect of two potentially deadly respiratory diseases at the same time. Flu and COVID-19 are both spread from person to person and have similar symptoms and effects, but are caused by different viruses. We’re still waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, but the flu vaccine is ready to go.

Flu shots are one way to reduce the chance you’ll get the flu and possibly end up in the hospital or die of flu. To be clear, the flu vaccine will not protect against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, flu prevention may help save medical resources to care for a rise in the number of COVID-19 patients that experts predict will come with colder weather.

Annual flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone age six months and older. A flu shot is needed every year because there are many different flu viruses and they change from year to year. The flu vaccines protect against the three or four most common flu viruses that research suggests will be widespread this year in the United States.

Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks after a flu shot before your immune system is ready to protect you against the flu. Flu season usually peaks between December and February, but since we’re also dealing with the unknowns of COVID-19, it’s hard to predict whether this will be a normal flu season. So, the earlier you get your flu shot, the better.

Also, it’s possible to have flu or other respiratory illnesses as well as COVID- 19 at the same time. We’re still learning about COVID-19, so we don’t fully know what could happen if you get both. But we do know that flu and COVID happening at the same time could mean bigger problems than we’ve had with COVID alone. Take charge of your health now, by attending Free Flu Shot Friday in October.

Jeffrey Gerbino, MD, is an internal medicine specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus

Maryland State Board of Elections started mailing ballots to voters

Annapolis— The Maryland State Board of Elections announced that it has started sending ballots to Maryland voters for the 2020 Presidential General Election. Almost 800,000 ballot packets were shipped to voters in Maryland over a five day period.

The first set of emails to domestic voters who requested a ballot via web delivery were also sent today. The Board will send ballots to these voters from an email address with the prefix “absentee” and the suffix “@marylandelections.us.” For example, if a voter receives an email from absentee3.sbe@marylandelections.u s, that is a legitimate email from the Maryland State Board of Elections. Voters who requested that their ballots be emailed are encouraged to look for emails from a “@marylandelection.us” address and to add it to their contact list.

The first phase of ballot drop boxes have been delivered. Boxes for local boards of elections’ offices, early voting locations, and additional locations in the most populous counties were delivered. The next delivery phase will be October 15 through 17 and the final phase will be October 22 through 24.

The complete list of ballot drop box locations and their anticipated opening dates is available at: https://elections.maryland.gov/electio ns/2020/PG20_Drop%20Box%20Locati ons.xlsx

Each Maryland jurisdiction will have at least two ballot drop box locations available to voters. Voters can submit their completed mail-in ballots in any drop box located in their jurisdiction of residence.

Once open, drop boxes will remain open until Election Day, November 3 at 8 p.m. In all, 282 ballot drop boxes will be available at 281 locations around the state. Two ballot drop boxes will be available at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board is encouraging voters to cast their ballots by mail. Applications for mail-in ballots have been sent via first-class U.S. Mail to eligible Maryland voters. Applications must be received by October 20, 2020.

Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation and Education

Narconon reminds families that abuse of heroin and opioid drugs has become a national health crisis. Learn to recognize the signs of heroin abuse and get your loved ones help if they are at risk. Visit www.narcononnewliferetreat.org/blog/naloxone‐ availability.html to learn about the overdose reversing drug known as naloxone and find out its availability in your state. Narconon can help you take steps to overcome addiction in your family. Call 1- 800-431-1754 today for free screenings or referrals.

Genetics, Diagnosis, Treatment: NIH Takes on Sickle Cell Disease Globally

Washington, D.C.— Each year, some 150,000 children in Nigeria are born with sickle cell disease, the most common— and often life-threatening— inherited blood disorder in the world. “I was not happy when I read that Nigeria will have the highest contribution to the global burden of sickle cell disease by 2050—if we continue at the present birth rate and the level of inactivity in newborn screening,” said hematologist Obiageli Nnodu, M.D., the lead researcher in Nigeria for the Sickle Pan African Research Consortium (SPARCo), funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. “As a country, we can do better than that. After all, this is a disease where children die undiagnosed, and largely from preventable causes such as bacterial infections.”

Sickle cell disease affects 20 million people worldwide, including at least 100,000 in the United States, mainly African Americans, but Hispanics and Asian Americans, too. To help address the problem on a global scale, the NHLBI has been supporting programs in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 75 percent of the sickle cell disease births worldwide occur. SPARCo, with a hub in Tanzania, and additional sites in Nigeria and Ghana, works to develop an infrastructure for sickle cell disease research, health care, education, and training to take place in Africa.

“We are showing that with effective partnerships, significant advances in health and biomedical science can be achieved,” said Tanzania-based Julie Makani, M.D., Ph.D., who leads the SPARCo consortium.

SPARCo, in collaboration with the Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Center, led by Ambroise Wonkam, M.D., in South Africa created Sickle In Africa, which has a growing electronic registry of more than 10,000 individuals with sickle cell disease.

“The genetic diversity of Africa’s population allows scientific research that will increase our understanding of how a disease caused by a single gene can manifest in such different ways, ” explained Makani.

Newborn screening, as Nnodu noted, is the first step to reduce mortality and suffering for these children, and for that, they need good tests readily available at the point of care. That’s why NHLBI supports research towards development of diagnostics, such as a new rapid result test that is relatively inexpensive, accurate, and can provide a timely diagnosis of sickle cell disease. The test does not require sophisticated laboratory equipment, electricity, refrigeration, or highly trained personnel— a critical advantage for countries with few resources.

On the treatment front, a large multinational NHLBI-funded clinical trial found that a daily hydroxyurea pill was safe and effective for young children living with sickle cell disease in sub-Saharan Africa. The NHLBI also has its sights on developing genetic therapies for the disease, as part of a newly announced NIH collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of the partnership, which also addresses HIV, is to advance possible gene-based cures to clinical trials in the United States and relevant countries in sub-Saharan Africa within the next seven to 10 years.

“A person’s health should not be limited by their geographic location, whether it’s in rural America or sub- Saharan Africa,” said Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the NHLBI. “Harnessing the power of science is needed to transcend borders if we want to improve health for all.”

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is a trade association of the more than 200 African American-owned community newspapers from around the United States. Since its founding 75 years ago, NNPA has consistently been the voice of the black community and an incubator for news that makes history and impacts their country. For more information, visit: nnpa.org

84-Year-Old Body Builder, Beyonce’ Video Star Endorses ‘A Better You’

Ernestine Shepherd is a world champion bodybuilder. Before one could dismiss that with a “so what?” note, the Baltimore resident is 84.

The now legendary “6-pack granny” recently appeared in a video for Beyoncé’s “Black is King” album. The grandmother and retired school secretary proudly stands as a Guinness World Record holder for the world’s oldest female competitive bodybuilder.

On Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, Shepherd will join UnitedHealthCare to host “A Better You,” a health and wellness event aimed at helping African Americans approaching retirement and other Medicare beneficiaries learn more about Medicare and their health coverage options.

The online event promises to provide safe access to seniors’ resources and information to make informed health care coverage decisions before the annual Medicare Enrollment Period, which begins Oct. 15.

Virtual attendees will hear from Yohnnie Shambourger, former Mr. Universe and Shepherd’s trainer, who will share nutrition tips and walk through a series of exercises.

UnitedHealthcare’s Rita Tolbert plans to guide participants through a Medicare discussion, including eligibility requirements and enrollment windows.

“I always say and truly believe that age is nothing but a number. I won my first bodybuilding competition at the age of 71, after having lived a sedentary life,” Shepherd told the Baltimore Times.

“I feel better now in my 80’s than I did in my 40’s. Exercise and wellness are important to improve our quality of life at any age. People must listen to their bodies and do what works for them – going for a walk, doing some stretches from your seat, and even dancing while you cook. It’s about making movement part of your lifestyle.”

Shepherd said she began her fitness journey as a school secretary in 2007 when she participated in her first bodybuilding contest and won first place honors.

Three years later, Guinness formally presented her the title of World’s Oldest Performing Female Bodybuilder. She called working with Beyoncé an incredible experience.”She recruited me to appear in the music video for the song ‘Power,’ which celebrates the beauty and power of Blackness. When I arrived on-set, she approached me and gave me a big hug,” Shepherd recalled. “She was truly wonderful, and the interaction highlighted that anything is possible, regardless of your age.”

Because staying fit and creating healthy habits are essential, Shepherd has maintained a daily routine. “Typically, I start my day at 4 a.m. and go for a 10-mile run/walk, followed by strength training around 7:30 a.m. I then lead exercise classes at the local gym until 11:30 a.m. and return home for lunch,” she said.

“I have five to six meals a day, which often includes oatmeal, baked white potatoes, chicken, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and tuna. I also supplement my protein intake with 8-ounce glasses of liquid egg whites throughout the day.”

Shepherd and UnitedHealthCare suggest that now more than ever, African Americans approaching retirement need the information to make informed coverage decisions, which is the goal of “A Better You!”

“The last thing you want to do is worry about your coverage options once you need medical attention. Just like forming healthy lifestyle habits, ensuring that your health care coverage options meet your needs is an important way to take care of yourself,” Shepherd stated.

“If Medicare coverage has never crossed your mind, the best thing you can do right now is to learn about it. Understand your needs, learn the terminology, coverage options, and enrollment dates so that once you’re ready to make a decision, you have all the information you need to make an informed choice.

“It’s also important to understand health care if you have parents or loved ones approaching the age of eligibility or needing assistance with their coverage. Learn about the Medicare program so you can help them choose the right plan when the time comes. “

The event is free and open to the public, for more information or to register, visit http://ABetteryou.info/.