Archives March 2022

Relationship’s Balancing Act: Balancing God, Family, & Business – The Connected Corner

The Connected Corner is Buzzing as we talk BALANCE and discuss the best way to keep all of our “Bees in the air”. It is a juggling act, it can be hard, BUT we have an expert in Balancing God, Family, & Business on this week’s show! Join us as we talk with Ret. Senator Barbara A. Robinson, who will share how she kept sane as a seasoned Mother, Wife, Public Servant, Author, and Entrepreneur. Tuesday, March 8, 2022- 8PM EST- Celebrate Women’s History Month with us! Dial in.

President Biden announces ban on Russian energy imports

During his White House remarks, President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil and other energy imports in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Biden acknowledged that the move would drive up US energy and gas prices for Americans, saying, “Defending freedom is going to cost.” According to The Associated Press, the US will make the move unilaterally but are acting in close consultation with European allies, who are more reliant on Russian energy supplies and may not be able to join in immediately.

U.S. Senate passes antilynching law named after Emmett Till

The Senate passed legislation last night to make lynching a federal hate crime in the U.S. The bill, which the House already passed last week in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, will now be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act is one of an estimated 200 bills proposed to ban lynching in the U.S. in the last 100 years. The legislation is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager who was brutally tortured and murdered by white men in Mississippi in 1955. Under the bill, when conspiracy to commit a hate crime leads to death or injury, it could be prosecuted as lynching, according to Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who introduced the legislation.

Rush said that it “sends a clear and emphatic message that our nation will no longer ignore this shameful chapter of our history and that the full force of the U.S. federal government will always be brought to bear against those who commit this heinous act.”

Source: Now This Know This

Death toll nears 6 million as pandemic enters its 3rd year

The official global death toll from COVID-19 is on the verge of eclipsing 6 million — underscoring that the pandemic, now entering its third year, is far from over.

The milestone is the latest tragic reminder of the unrelenting nature of the pandemic even as people are shedding masks, travel is resuming and businesses are reopening around the globe. The death toll, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, stood at 5,997,994 as of Sunday afternoon.

Remote Pacific islands, whose isolation had protected them for more than two years, are just now grappling with their first outbreaks and deaths, fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant.

Anaiya Layland, 12, receives her first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination as her mother, Ashlesha Patel, observes at the Cook County Public Health Department, Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Des Plaines, Ill. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar)

Hong Kong, which is seeing deaths soar, is testing its entire population of 7.5 million three times this month as it clings to mainland China’s “zero-COVID” strategy.

As death rates remain high in Poland, Hungary, Romania and other Eastern European countries, the region has seen more than 1 million refugees arrive from war-torn Ukraine, a country with poor vaccination coverage and high rates of cases and deaths.

And despite its wealth and vaccine availability, the United States is nearing 1 million reported deaths on its own.

Death rates worldwide are still highest among people unvaccinated against the virus, said Tikki Pang, a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore’s medical school and co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Immunization Coalition.

“This is a disease of the unvaccinated — look what is happening in Hong Kong right now, the health system is being overwhelmed,” said Pang, the former director of research policy and cooperation with the World Health Organization. “The large majority of the deaths and the severe cases are in the unvaccinated, vulnerable segment of the population.”

It took the world seven months to record its first million deaths from the virus after the pandemic began in early 2020. Four months later another million people had died, and 1 million have died every three months since, until the death toll hit 5 million at the end of October. Now it has reached 6 million — more than the populations of Berlin and Brussels combined, or the entire state of Maryland.

But despite the enormity of the figure, the world undoubtedly hit its 6 millionth death some time ago. Poor record-keeping and testing in many parts of the world has led to an undercount in coronavirus deaths, in addition to excess deaths related to the pandemic but not from actual COVID-19 infections, like people who died from preventable causes but could not receive treatment because hospitals were full.

Edouard Mathieu, head of data for the Our World in Data portal, said that — when countries’ excess mortality figures are studied — as many as nearly four times the reported death toll have likely died because of the pandemic.

An analysis of excess deaths by a team at The Economist estimates that the number of COVID-19 deaths is between 14 million and 23.5 million.

Source: AP News

Russian war in Ukraine threatens food supply

The Russian tanks and missiles besieging Ukraine also are threatening the food supply and livelihoods of people in Europe, Africa and Asia who rely on the vast, fertile farmlands of the Black Sea region — known as the “breadbasket of the world.”

Ukrainian farmers have been forced to neglect their fields as millions flee, fight or try to stay alive. Ports are shut down that send wheat and other food staples worldwide to be made into bread, noodles and animal feed. And there are worries Russia, another agricultural powerhouse, could have its grain exports upended by Western sanctions.

While there have not yet been global disruptions to wheat supplies, prices have surged 55% since a week before the invasion amid concerns about what could happen next. If the war is prolonged, countries that rely on affordable wheat exports from Ukraine could face shortages starting in July, International Grains Council director Arnaud Petit told The Associated Press.

That could create food insecurity and throw more people into poverty in places like Egypt and Lebanon, where diets are dominated by government-subsidized bread. In Europe, officials are preparing for potential shortages of products from Ukraine and increased prices for livestock feed that could mean more expensive meat and dairy if farmers are forced to pass along costs to customers.

Russia and Ukraine combine for nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports. Ukraine also is a major supplier of corn and the global leader in sunflower oil, used in food processing. The war could reduce food supplies just when prices are at their highest levels since 2011.

A prolonged conflict would have a big impact some 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) away in Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer. Millions rely on subsidized bread made from Ukrainian grains to survive, with about a third of people living in poverty.

“Wars mean shortages, and shortages mean (price) hikes,” Ahmed Salah, a 47-year-old father of seven, said in Cairo. “Any hikes will be catastrophic not only for me, but for the majority of the people.”

Source: AP News

OnFire Spotlight: ‘The Courtship’ Premieres Tonight on NBC | Meet The Men

Tonight, NBC embarks on the ultimate fantasy with new dating series “The Courtship,” premiering March 6th at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The series will stream on Peacock the day following its NBC telecast.

Leading lady Nicole Remy, a modern girl tired of modern dating, is transported back to Regency-era England in the hope of finding love.

In a grand 19th century castle set among the rolling hills of the English countryside, a group of 16 eligible suitors must battle to win her heart. Writer and broadcaster Rick Edwards hosts and guides them on their journey, complete with surprise guests along the way.

Tonight’s premiere episode entitled “First Impressions.

The Courtship” is an exciting ride, worth tuning into. Unlike any other dating series, this one has it all from comedy, raw emotions, chorography to of course, romance.

Nicole is no stranger to breaking barriers by her sheer existence. As daughter to her Haitian immigrant father, Claude, and her French-Creole mother, Claire, Nicole has been a leader in predominantly white spaces since a child and hopes that her hard work and grit will allow others from all walks of life to hold positions similar to those she had the blessing to experience.

In her free time, Nicole enjoys exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, particularly through different workouts. In addition to fitness and nature, Nicole loves to travel, read a new book, practice sustainability and mindfulness. She resides in Seattle where she continues her work in software engineering while pursuing her next dream.

Source: Urbanbridgez

As vaccine demand falls, states are left with huge stockpile

As demand for COVID-19 vaccines collapses in many areas of the U.S., states are scrambling to use stockpiles of doses before they expire and have to be added to the millions that have already gone to waste.

From some of the least vaccinated states, like Indiana and North Dakota, to some of the most vaccinated states, like New Jersey and Vermont, public health departments are shuffling doses around in the hopes of finding providers that can use them.

State health departments told The Associated Press they have tracked millions of doses that went to waste, including ones that expired, were in a multi-dose vial that couldn’t be used completely or had to be tossed for some other reason like temperature issues or broken vials.

Nearly 1.5 million doses in Michigan, 1.45 million in North Carolina, 1 million in Illinois and almost 725,000 doses in Washington couldn’t be used.

The percentage of wasted doses in California is only about 1.8%, but in a state that has received 84 million doses and administered more than 71 million of them, that equates to roughly 1.4 million doses. Providers there are asked to keep doses until they expire, then properly dispose of them, the California Department of Public Health said.

Source: AP News

Mayor Scott supports bill to notify police of criminals released on bail, says crime plan is working

A bill was proposed last month to close an over 30-year gap in the criminal justice system that would notify the Baltimore Police Department whenever someone is released on bail.

Mayor Brandon Scott joined C4 and Bryan Nehman on Thursday morning to discuss the bill proposal and crime rate within the city. 

“Every other jurisdiction in Maryland already gets that’s notification,” Scott said. “We’re the only one that doesn’t.”

The bill is supported by officials across the state, including Gov. Larry Hogan.

Senate bill 586 will reportedly help police protect victims and other members of the community.

“This is about us being notified so the police department can adjust appropriately,” Scott said, adding that witnesses deserve the right to know as well.

Scott said the loophole that has existed for “far too long “needs to be cleared.

The bill’s sponsor, Baltimore City Sen. Cory McCray, D-District 45, emphasized the focus is actually on violent criminals.

 When it comes to crime, Scott said he believes his crime plan is working.

“When you’re talking about building something from the ground up and an issue that has existed longer than the 30 years issue; for anyone that was looking for a miraculous Super Bowl win day one, it was never going to be like that,” Scott said. ” We’re always going to have to make adjustments. When I’m talking to you today and the Baltimore Police Department has a 58% clearance rate on homicides, something they have not had in a mighty mighty long time, that portion is clearly working.”

He said that cooperation with federal partners has improved as well.

While Scott believes the crime plan is working, he said he isn’t happy. 

“Am I happy? Hell no, I’m not happy,” Scott said. “We have to continue to work on it each and every day. How can we expect Super Bowl results when we don’t even get basic information about when we arrest someone for murder and they get released next month?”

Source: WBAL

Ex-officer cleared in shooting during Breonna Taylor raid

A Kentucky jury on Thursday cleared a former police officer (Brett Hankison) of charges that he endangered neighbors when he fired shots into an apartment during the 2020 drug raid that ended with Breonna Taylor’s death.

The panel of eight men and four women delivered its verdict about three hours after it took the case following closing arguments from prosecution and defense attorneys.

Hankison had been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing through sliding-glass side doors and a window of Taylor’s apartment during the raid that left the 26-year-old Black woman dead. Hankison’s attorneys never contested the ballistics evidence, but said he fired 10 bullets because he thought his fellow officers were “being executed.”

Asked what might have swayed the jury, Mathews replied, “I think it was absolutely the fact that he was doing his job as a police officer. … The jury felt like you go out and perform your duty and your brother officer gets shot, you got a right to defend yourself. Simple as that.”

Source: AP News

5 things to watch in the Texas primary election

Texas kicks off the 2022 midterm elections Tuesday with the nation’s first primaries.

Two big-name Republicans, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, will seek to beat back challenges from the right. In South Texas, the most conservative Democrat in the U.S. House, Rep. Henry Cuellar, is attempting to survive a rematch against Jessica Cisneros, the progressive who nearly ousted him in the primary two years ago.

The contests will be the first test of how the restrictive new voting law enacted by Texas Republicans last year will reshape the electorate.

One important wrinkle in Texas: To win the primary, candidates don’t just have to beat their rivals but must win more than 50% of the vote. Otherwise, the top two finishers advance to a head-to-head runoff election on May 24. That threshold could play an important role in several House primaries.

Here are five things to watch in Tuesday’s primaries in Texas:

First test of restrictive voting law

Texas is among the slew of Republican-dominated states that enacted a new law that makes voting by mail more difficult and outlaws some options — such as drive-through and 24-hour early voting — that large Texas counties had used in 2020.

Tuesday’s primary will be the first election to take place under the restrictive new law. And operatives and activists across the nation will be watching closely to see how the law affects primary turnout.

Already, there are signs that many more votes than usual will be turned away. Large Texas counties reported unusually large numbers of rejected mail-in ballots due to confusion over the state’s new identification requirements for those ballots.

Though other states with new voting laws, including Arizona, Florida and Georgia, have implemented different restrictions, many are similar to what Texas enacted, turning Tuesday into a first run that could offer a preview of what’s to come in those states’ primaries, as well.

Can progressives change the narrative in South Texas?

Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney, came within a few points of ousting Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar in their 2020 primary.

Now, with Cuellar under investigation by the FBI, progressive groups like Justice Democrats, which recruited Cisneros to run, are increasingly optimistic about their chances to defeat the long-time incumbent and lone remaining House Democrat to consistently vote against abortion rights bills.

Progressive heavyweights Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have both endorsed Cisneros, but recent ads from her campaign and its allies have focused on Cuellar’s potential legal issues. One TV spot from Cisneros splices together news reports about the FBI probe. Cuellar, meanwhile, ran an ad titled, “Don’t believe her lies,” which attacked Cisneros as insufficiently supportive of border security.

Victory for Cisneros, in a district that covers a long stretch of the southern border but also extends as far north as San Antonio, would be a massive one for progressives, who were put on the back foot when Republicans, including Trump, outperformed expectations in South Texas in 2020.

Big GOP race might not be settled on Tuesday

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a two-term incumbent, could be forced into a GOP primary runoff if he doesn’t win a clear majority on Tuesday night.

And with recent polling showing him falling short of that threshold, the big question in this very expensive race is which of the three challengers is most likely to advance to a potential one-on-one contest.

Paxton, Trump’s endorsed candidate, is running under a cloud of ethics concerns, including an unresolved 2015 indictment for securities fraud and more recent allegations, lodged by a group of his own (now former) top aides, that he abused his office. Paxton has denied any wrongdoing, but his primary opponents have sought to use his existing legal troubles — and the possibility of more to come — to undermine his bid for a third term.

If he doesn’t win the nomination outright, Paxton will face either Land Commissioner George P. Bush, former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman or U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmer —- all three of whom are well-funded with strong political brands across the state.

Heavyweight governor’s race to be teed up

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is seeking a third term. And though he faces primary challengers — including Don Huffines, a former state senator, and Allen West, a former Florida congressman and former chairman of the Texas Republican Party — he is the heavy favorite to secure the GOP nomination.

Abbott is on a collision course with Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman whose near-miss in the 2018 Senate race rocketed him to Democratic stardom, but had a failed 2020 presidential primary run.

Texas is a Republican-leaning state and economic and historical factors suggest 2022 will be a favorable year for the GOP. O’Rourke, though, argues that Abbott’s management is to blame for the widespread power outages during the 2021 winter storm in Texas and for the GOP’s focus in the state on cultural issues — including passing a law that effectively outlaws abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

House races to watch

When Texas lawmakers redrew the state’s congressional districts last year, they effectively turned swing districts into a thing of the past. Battlegrounds were turned into safe seats, some for Republicans and some for Democrats.

That’s made the primaries the most intense competition for seats in the U.S. House.

Republicans Reps. Dan Crenshaw, of Texas’ 2nd District, and Van Taylor, of the 3rd District, face challengers who argue they are insufficiently conservative and haven’t been supportive enough of Trump.

In the 8th District, where GOP Rep. Kevin Brady is retiring, establishment favorite Morgan Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL backed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC, faces far-right opponent Christian Collins, who’s been supported by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn.

In two open-seat races that favor Democrats, two leading contenders — former Austin City Councilman Greg Casar in the 35th District, who, like Cisneros, has been endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders, and state Rep. Jasmine Crockett in the 30th District — are all but certain to lead the pack, but the key question is whether they will cross the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff.

Source: WBAL