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News 2013 December

Stories for December 2013

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Tuesday, December 31

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Be a quitter in 2014!

Attend a free class to help you quit smoking

Kick off the year by attending the American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking® class offered by the Baltimore County Department of Health.                    

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Financial tips for the New Year

The New Year offers a fresh start, when many of us feel energized, optimistic and open to change. When you set your New Year's resolutions, consider financial goals too.

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Online gift card exchanges carry cautions from BBB

Gift cards are generally considered "safe" gifts by most gift-givers, because they allow the recipient to select exactly what they want. But what can you do if you don't shop where the card was purchased? Before sending off a gift card in the mail for payment, make sure to check out the company thoroughly. Here are a few factors to consider:    

Monday, December 30

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Grandmaster Flash

There are lots of stories about the birth of jazz and the beginning of rock n’ roll, but hip-hop has founding fathers: one of them is DJ Grandmaster Flash. In the early 70’s Joseph Saddler was living in the South Bronx and studying electrical engineering.

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Louis Gossett Jr

Born May 27, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY, Lou has a flair for projecting quiet authority and has scored well personally in a string of diverse and occasionally challenging roles. The aspiring actor caught a break at his first Broadway audition for “Take A Giant Step” (1953), where, beating out 400 other candidates, the then 16-year-old landed the lead.

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Beverly Johnson

The first African American supermodel on the cover of American Vogue was Ms. Beverly Johnson. Beverly was attending college Northeastern University in Boston, MA when she tried her hand at modeling.

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Why All Black People Should Visit Africa

I was 23 years old when I took my first trip to Africa, and if you ask me my trip occurred a little too late. It should have happened as soon as I developed comprehension and understanding. It should have happened before the “African booty scratcher” jokes became funny to me, and before Africa became the dark continent in my mind. However, thank goodness it happened. After visiting the beautiful country of Zambia on two different occasions, I’m convinced that every Black person should visit Africa at least once. It will change your entire life. It most definitely changed mine.

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Is It Necessary To Celebrate Black History Month?

We don’t have a White history month, so why is there a Black history month? Is It Necessary to celebrate Black History Month? Read on...

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A New Era in Beauty for Black Women

This new era of beauty among Black women celebrates the mind. It celebrates our beautiful spirits, our beautiful struggles, and our beautiful hopes.

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Why We Need Another Civil Rights Movement

As a child I would often watch old clips of the Civil Rights Movement and desperately wish I could have participated. The focus and eloquence of Dr. King inspired me. The courage of the children challenged me, and the unity of Black people was something I’d yet to witness in my generation. My soul longed for the days when Black people didn’t sit around and hope for change, but actually fought for it to happen.

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Your "blackness" starts with YOU

Knowing and understanding what being black enough means to your self-preservation.

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Eating well at any age: How to fuel your mind, body and soul

It's common knowledge that children should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, consuming all the nutrients needed to grow up strong. Many adults don't know that it's just as crucial to continue those healthy habits throughout adulthood and well into the "golden years."

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Tips for managing your year-end taxes

The close of every year seems to bring its own uncertainty from a tax-planning perspective. Last year featured the expiration of certain temporary tax provisions and the commencement of automatic federal government spending cuts.

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How to travel happy during the holidays

It’s that time of year again. The holiday travel season is officially underway.

Friday, December 27

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Christmas music: The good, the bad and the ugly

Is the term “Christmas music” an oxymoron?

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The great debate: Are classroom computers a threat to creativity?

What does a wrench, pencil, fork, ruler and a light bulb have in common?

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Navigators provide health insurance road map

A navigation system guides us to our travel destination when there is uncertainty as to how to get there. Without a navigation system, we might find ourselves, lost, confused or may never find our destination.

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Former Raven has ‘strength of a 'champion’

O.J. Brigance enjoyed a successful football career, winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens and earning the respect of teammates and opponents alike.

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NFTE Baltimore appoints new executive director

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), Baltimore, has appointed Andy Hubner executive director.

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Tips for credit card users to protect against theft

On December 20, 2013, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler offered tips and advice to Maryland consumers about the many ways they can protect themselves, especially if they believe their credit or debit cards were used to purchase items at Target stores between November 27 and December 15 of this year.

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Orphans' Court Judge Lewyn Scott Garrett gives back to community

Baltimore Attorney and Baltimore City Orphans' Court Judge Lewyn Scott Garrett awards karate uniforms to kids at John Eager Howard Recreation Center during their Christmas celebration.

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AKA Epsilon Omega Chapter helps children smile brighter during holidays

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Baltimore City Chapter, Epsilon Omega, visited two Pre-K classes at St. Jerome Head Start in West Baltimore on December 18 and 19, 2013 to present three and four-year-old students with toys, hats, gloves and other special treats.

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Kwanzaa founder to speak at Reginald F. Lewis Museum

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture has discovered a unique way to celebrate Kwanzaa.

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Reginald F. Lewis Museum seeks to raise revenue and visibility

New hires and family-oriented events among efforts aimed at attracting visitors

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture is Baltimore’s premier facility highlighting the history and accomplishments of African Americans with a special focus on Maryland’s African American community.

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Indulge in skin-loving winter foods for a healthy self - inside and out

Have you effectively "winterized" your home for the season?

Thursday, December 26

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Sign-ups surge ahead of Obamacare deadline

Eager to get health insurance starting Jan. 1, Americans flocked to state and federal Obamacare exchanges Monday to sign up for policies.

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How to raise boys to be good men

Boys do what they are taught. They become what they see. Unfortunately, from mid to late adolescence boys face an array of bad, sexy guy images.

Tuesday, December 24

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10 most Christmassy destinations on the planet

If your Christmas is too often one of tacky decorations, over-cooked turkey and bitter family feuds, now may be the time to put the baubles back in the attic and plan a yuletide getaway.

Monday, December 23

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Target offers 10% discount after credit card hack

A day after Target announced that forty million of its customers had their credit and debit card data breached, the retailer announced a 10% discount for all shoppers at its stores this Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, December 20

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U.S. Senators sponsor Student Loan Bill of Rights

In the aftermath of a recent report that found the lack of student loan servicing standards and information on monies owed, two United States senators will work as a team to create a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

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‘Bodymore’ once more

As of December 16, 2013, the number of homicides in Baltimore reached 224.

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Students fight social injustice through song, dance

Mass shootings across the country and more localized daily violence take a psychological toll on the nation and the community. .

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NaZu and Company: Healing the community through dance

In 1989, Cori Smith was trying to cope with a tragedy in her young life.

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Diggz Attendance Challenge rewards students

Ihedigbo hosts VIP weekend for BCPS students

For ten Baltimore City public high school students, a December weekend became one they will never forget. On December 6, 2013, Baltimore Ravens Safety, James Ihedigbo hosted a VIP weekend for ten students from Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood.

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Three ways to make 2014 your healthiest year!

Is it time to think about the New Year already?

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‘The Wire’ star’s long walk to Mandela

Idris Elba gained fame as the tragically aspirational and business-wise gangster, Stringer Bell, on HBO’s critically acclaimed series, “The Wire.”

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Anthony Michael Hobbs: Talented eight-year-old is one ‘Classy Act’

This actor was in Finish Line’s 2013 holiday marketing campaign, appearing in the athletic retailer’s in-store displays, catalogs and in their website promotions.

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Merry Christmas, happy Kwanzaa and holidays to one and all

Happy holidays to you my dear friends.

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Santa and Mrs. Claus come to town

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus came to town! That is they came to Queenstown Road in Severn, Maryland.

Thursday, December 19

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President Barack Obama

His story is the American story — values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.

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When parents want to give something more

Some of the most meaningful gifts include handwritten notes and the gift of time with parents

Every year I tell myself the same thing: Next year will be different.

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Viral Video: Teens teach 'How to be a Superhero'

"A superhero is someone who does good things."

Wednesday, December 18

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New drug could save millions of lives

A new drug is on the horizon that scientists say will save millions of lives. If approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, it may be here before 2013 comes to a close.

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Teacher to student: You can't be Santa -- you're black!

Incident resparks debate on recent FOX News comments

The family of an African-American high school student in New Mexico says he's crushed after a teacher questioned why he was wearing Santa garb during a school holiday dress-up day last week, CNN affiliate KOAT reported.

Tuesday, December 17

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Sanya Richards-Ross

4x Olympic Gold Medalist, Entrepreneur, Reality Show Star

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Hank Willis Thomas

Hank Willis Thomas, a prominent photo conceptual artist, grew up surrounded by art and culture.

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Marcus Stroud

A self-proclaimed “country boy” from South Georgia, NFL veteran and philanthropist Marcus Stroud remains humble and grateful for his experiences during and after the NFL. Marcus was the 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft and played for 10 years in the NFL for teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills.

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Black Girls RUN!

Black Girls RUN! was created in 2009 by Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners.

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Baratunde Thurston

Co-Founder & CEO of Cultivated Wit, Author, Comedian

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Cheryl Contee

Co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics, CEO at Fission Strategy, Co-Founder of Attentive.ly, 2010 Most Influential Women in Tech

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Stefanie Brown James

Growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, Stefanie Brown James knew that a career in government affairs and civil rights was the path for her. She started to get involved in civil rights when she joined the Cleveland Youth Council of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

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Shawne Merriman

From the gridiron to the boardroom, Shawne Merriman proves that there is life after playing professional football. Growing up in a rough and tumble neighborhood in Maryland, Shawne avoided the negativity and managed to channel his energy into something positive.

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You won the big one, now what?

Somebody might wake up Wednesday a whole lot richer.

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Student suspended for sexual harassment after hugging teacher

Video shows student hugging the teacher, then the teacher pushing him away

To Sam McNair, a 17-year-old high school senior in Duluth, Georgia, it was an innocent hug.

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Allen West

Former Congressman, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, Author

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The greatest gift of all: A safe and joyous Christmas season

The winter months are a time of celebrations, family, food and gifts.

Monday, December 16

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Baltimore honors Newtown victims

Baltimore City leaders and concerned residents honored the lives of the 26 students and teachers who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary on the first anniversary of the tragedy.

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GM Baltimore Operations hosts Breakfast with Santa for area children

The General Motors Operations facility in White Marsh hosted a Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Saturday, December 7 for needy children.

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Holiday scents take you back

The holiday season gives people the chance to take a break from their typically hectic lives to catch up with family and friends.

Friday, December 13

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'Teaming up with Torrey' toy drive grants holiday wishes

Donate a toy through walmart.com to make wishes of local Boys and Girls Clubs come true

Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver Torrey Smith is ringing in the holiday season with a “Teaming Up with Torrey Toy Drive” on behalf of The Torrey Smith Foundation until Wednesday, December 18, 2013 to grant the holiday wishes of Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore.

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Happy Circle Club brings cheer to seniors

The mission of the Happy Circle Club is to assist and work to provide services to the residents at J. Van Story Branch Senior Apartments. The club members lend support to both the Management Offices as well as the Tenant Council Board whenever required.

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Performance application deadline for MLK Parade closes Monday, December 16, 2013

Join Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement for the 14th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade presented by Forman Mills on Monday, January 20, 2014 at noon.

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Is Frederick Douglass High School due for another name change?

Even though Shakespeare’s Juliet might disagree, in today’s world the name given to a business, product or service can directly influence its success or failure. This can be true as well for a public institution such as a high school.

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Community Concert Choir of Baltimore hosts benefit Christmas concert

Hundreds of music lovers from the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area are expected to crowd The United House of Prayer for All People on Sunday, December 22 at 5 p.m. for the first Christmas concert of the Community Concert Choir (CCC) of Baltimore, Inc.

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Soulful Symphony concert celebrates the spirit of the holiday season

On Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 8 p.m. at the Hippodrome Theatre, Hippodrome Foundation, Inc. (HFI) partner Soulful Symphony with Darin Atwater heralds in the season’s festivities with “Soulful Holidays.”

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Foreclosure workshop pairs homeowners with lenders, counselors

At Mount Pleasant Church and Ministries in northeast Baltimore, Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Kelly L. Vaughn urged homeowners facing foreclosure to look around the crowded assembly hall at the people sitting near them.

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Christmas comes early to Baltimore’s City Hall

The holiday season arrived early at Baltimore’s City Hall and for hundreds of area underprivileged children as part of City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s 2nd Annual Toys for Tots holiday reception.

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The U.S. revolution that supported Mandela

Nearly three decades ago, a handful of prominent black activists began organizing a movement that would eventually help break the back of apartheid in South Africa and force the United States government and American companies to end their support of white minority rule on the continent.

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Reverend John Lunn works to improve Park Heights

Reverend John Lunn has been hailed as a multi-faceted educator with the unique ability to teach on many different levels, a trait that has helped earns him a stellar reputation among the faithful as well as his peers in the ministry.

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Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar closes season with holiday shopping

The Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar wraps up its 36th season with options for holiday shoppers.

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STEM Community Day at BCCC draws techies, techies-to-be

Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) held a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Community Day, Saturday, November 23, 2013 on the Liberty Campus where area residents had a chance to participate in robotics and modern machine operations demonstrations including a 3D printer, programming and STEM information sessions.

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Maryland Food Bank graduates 12th class of chefs

Food has changed the lives of several Baltimore area adults; including the dozen who on Friday, December 6, 2013 became the latest to graduate from the Maryland Food Bank’s culinary training program for low-income individuals.

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Watermark fundraises for Anne Arundel County Food Bank

Third Annual “Queen of All Food Drives”

Annapolis’ favorite sightseeing boat, Watermark’s Harbor Queen hosts “The Queen of All Food Drives” during the Annual Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade on Saturday, December 14, 2013. The holiday food drive benefits the Anne Arundel County Food Bank.

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Mail holiday packages with care

Tips from Your Holiday Shipping Experts

With 15 billion cards, letters and packages expected to be delivered this holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service has some tips to help get gifts to their destination swiftly and safely.

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Widow of Reginald F. Lewis addresses students at namesake high school

Reginald F. Lewis High School of Business and Law hosted a birthday celebration on Thursday, December 5, 2013 in honor of the school’s namesake, Reginald F. Lewis.

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And yet another journalistic goof!

OK, it’s official: I’m a goof!

Thursday, December 12

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Mandela memorial interpreter asks forgiveness, calls himself champion

He says he's receiving treatment for schizophrenia

The sign language interpreter widely ridiculed for his performance at the Nelson Mandela memorial stands by his work.

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SAG Award nods honor 'Slave,' snub Redford

The 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations were announced Wednesday morning, and as one of the leading awards show salvos in what is expected to be a competitive season, what didn't get nominated was as notable as what did.

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5 ways to preserve your teeth as you age

Regular checkups can be an important part of preserving your teeth

For all intents and purposes, we really get only one shot to take care of our teeth.

Wednesday, December 11

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The joy of the Gospel

Pope Francis is displaying an extraordinary style and passion that demands our attention.

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Pope Francis named Time Person of the Year 2013

Time has named Pope Francis its person of the year.

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Five golden rules for holiday spending

If you bought the gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” it would cost a record $27,393, according to the 30th annual PNC Christmas Price Index.

Tuesday, December 10

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Quit-smoking drugs safe for your heart

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death world-wide. About half of all long-term smokers will die because of their addiction. But the good news is that nearly 70% of current smokers want to quit, says the CDC.

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Obama, world leaders praise 'giant of history' at Mandela memorial

They gathered in the tens of thousands -- presidents, prime ministers, royals, celebrities and ordinary South Africans -- all united to say farewell to a man hailed as a global symbol of reconciliation.

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How to share the spirit of the holidays when you have lost someone dear

It is early December. The air is crisp. A fluttering of snowflakes drifts slowly down from the sky. It may be a white Christmas this year! You don’t care. You don’t even think it’s Christmas. The love of your life is dying or more sadly, has already left you.

Monday, December 9

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South Carolina sheriff refuses to lower flag in honor of Nelson Mandela

President Obama orders flags lowered to half-staff for the international icon

A South Carolina sheriff is refusing to lower the American flag in tribute to Nelson Mandela, saying the honor should be reserved for American citizens

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Tips for safe winter driving

The weather outside is frightful and the Maryland State Highway administration has some tips to keep you safe on the roads during snow storms.

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It’s Lego® time again at AACC!

Watch teams of youth complete robotic challenges with Legos® based on this year’s theme, “Nature’s Fury,” in a FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) qualifier tournament on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC).

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Important safety tips on holiday lighting and winter fire prevention

For many families across central Maryland, the Thanksgiving holiday marks the beginning of the holiday lighting season for homes and businesses. A

Friday, December 6

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New Orleans author Happy Johnson publishes new children’s book

Bestselling author Happy Johnson released his latest children’s book, “Backyard Bayou,” on Friday, November 29, 2013.

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Entertainment is good for the soul and pictures speak a thousand words!

Hello everyone and Happy Holidays to you! I know the turkey is gone and we have gained a pound or two, but you’ve got just enough time to work it off and start all over again for the Christmas holidays.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Baltimore's bankrupted budgetary solutions

Unfortunately, it came as no surprise to me after reading the latest Sun article outlining a costly crime plan that cost the citizens of Baltimore City close to $300,000 for a document that articulates the very legislative initiatives many of its state legislators have already spearheaded.

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December is Write a Business Plan Month

December is National Write a Business Plan Month— so designated to encourage unhappy employees to become their own satisfied bosses.

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Meet Andrew Bertamini: Regional President for Wells Fargo’s Maryland Region

Over 37 years ago, Andrew Bertamini began his career as a teller with Union Trust Bank (now Wells Fargo). Today, the Anne Arundel County native serves as regional president for Wells Fargo’s Maryland Region. With $1.4 trillion in assets, Wells Fargo ranked first among all financial services companies in market value in the U.S. and third in the world as of December 31, 2012.

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Ihedigbo hosts charity scholarship cruise

On the field Super Bowl champion James Ihedigbo is fierce against his competitors and works diligently to help his team defeat NFL opponents.

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Dunkin’ Donuts honors 10 community heroes

Robert Cradle has provided grooming services for the homeless and children in need throughout Baltimore through Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation (R.B.C.F).

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Disney Junior Live on Tour! Pirate and Princess Adventure comes to the Lyric

Features Cierra Sanford who portrays “Doc McStuffins”

Disney Junior Live on Tour! Pirate and Princess Adventure has arrived in Baltimore. The show runs Dec. 6 through Dec. 7, 32013 at the Lyric Opera House.

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AACC Dance Company performance features original choreography

The AACC Dance Company, celebrating its 25th anniversary, presents, “Flying By the Seat of Our Pants,” at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Dec. 5-7, at the Robert E. Kauffman Theater in the Pascal Center for Performing Arts on the Arnold campus, 101 College Parkway.

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Mary J. Blige releases “A Mary Christmas” featuring Barbra Streisand, The Clark Sisters, Jessy J and Marc Anthony

“I love Christmas. People are happier,” said nine-time Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige about the holidays.

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Sweet Honey in the Rock: 'Celebrating the Holydays' at Maryland Hall

Internationally-renowned a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock will perform at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on Sunday, December 8 at 7 pm.

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A Baltimore primer for local TV stations

Poly High School? POLY HIGH SCHOOL? Who would utter such nonsense? Well, WJZ-TV reporter Kai Reed for one.

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Nelson Mandela death: South Africans, world mourn former president

Nelson Mandela death: South Africans, world mourn former president By Arwa Damon and Faith Karimi CNN Editor's note: Send us your stories, memories and photographs of the Nobel Peace prize winner and former South African president. SOWETO, South Africa (CNN) -- In a symbol befitting a nation in mourning, a dark gray cloud swept over Johannesburg on Friday as news spread that international icon Nelson Mandela is dead. Under overcast skies that threatened rain any minute, South Africans draped in flags and images of Mandela gathered on the streets to sing and dance. Others wept as they lit candles near his home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton. Children spelled out "we love you Mandela" on the grass using rocks. Nearby, stuffed animals and flowers sat in a heap. In Soweto township, where Mandela lived before he was thrown into prison for 27 years, giant posters of his face adorned walls. Residents surrounded his former red brick house on the busy street and crooned freedom songs. Mandela, 95, died Thursday. The nation's first black president battled health issues in recent years, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations. Memorials popped up from Los Angeles to Chicago, where flowers and candles were laid in front of murals bearing his likeness. In Washington, crowds gathered in front of the South African embassy. And in his native South Africa, citizens woke up to the news Friday after President Jacob Zuma announced his death late Thursday. "It was a surprise. I was asleep so I didn't know when Zuma announced his death," said Wilson Mudau, a cab driver in Johannesburg. "I woke up and was shocked when I saw it on television. It's sad, but what can we do. Let him rest in peace. It's time ... Madiba has worked so hard to unite us." South Africans affectionately refer to him as Madiba, his clan name. Man of complexities Mandela helped South Africa break the shackles of racial segregation and do away with white minority rule. Imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against apartheid, he emerged from prison in 1990 determined to unite the nation. Instead of anger and bitterness at the white government that imprisoned him, he chose forgiveness and reconciliation. "As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison," Mandela said after he was freed. His call to avoid vengeance inspired the world. It also set him on a path of evolving roles, from freedom fighter, to prisoner, to South Africa's symbol of the struggle against racial oppression. But one role remained dominant: father of modern South Africa. And four years after he left prison, he became the nation's first black president, cementing his place in the consciousness of the nation and the world. "I'm just glad he finally found his place of rest," said iReporter Omekongo Dibinga of Washington. "From the family drama to his health problems, it just seemed like he could never get a break in his later years. Now I hope be can finally rest but he'll probably still be watching down on us in frustration. " 'We all knew he'd leave us at some point' With his recent bouts of illnesses, some seemed prepared for the worst. "We all knew he'd leave us at some point," said Tony Karuiru, a Johannesburg resident. "But we were hoping that he would be with us during the festive season. It's the holidays, we're all expecting bonus. I just wish God would have given him a bonus of a few more days as well. " Thomas Rabodiba, 38, said even though Mandela's death was expected after so many years of illness, he's having a hard time accepting it. "At first, I heard rumors and thought it was the usual rumors I'd heard before," he said. " After I heard the president's announcement later that the old man has departed, then I believed that he's really gone." His legacy Mandela will be remembered for many things, but his message of forgiveness and reconciliation will resonate the most. "Mandela's biggest legacy ... was his remarkable lack of bitterness and the way he did not only talk about reconciliation, but he made reconciliation happen in South Africa," said F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last white president and Mandela's predecessor. His casket will lie in state for several days in Pretoria. Next week, it will be flown to his ancestral hometown of Qunu for a state funeral and burial, sources said. Until that funeral, Zuma has ordered flags around South Africa to be flown at half-staff. "He is now resting. He is now at peace," Zuma said late Thursday. "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father." The United States followed suit while Buckingham Palace said it will fly the Union flag at half staff when Queen Elizabeth II leaves Friday morning. "We must pay tribute to Mandela, the best state leader of all time," said Zaid Paruk, 23. And the tributes have poured in from leaders near and far. "Nelson Mandela achieved more than could be expected of any man," Obama said. "Today, he has gone home. And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us - he belongs to the ages." In the final years of his life, secret plans were hammered out between the government, the military and his family as they prepared for a fitting farewell. Events will be held over the next 10 days, culminating in a state funeral to be broadcast worldwide and a private farewell for those closest to him. CNN's Greg Botelho, Catherine E. Shoichet, Robyn Curnow, Susannah Palk and Max Foster contributed to this report. The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 5

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AACC Child Development Center receives top state rating

Anne Arundel Community College’s Child Development Center recently was awarded the highest rating, a Maryland EXCELS Level 5, from the Maryland State Department of Education indicating high-quality education for preschool-aged children.

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2 million Facebook, Gmail and Twitter passwords stolen in massive hack

Hackers have stolen usernames and passwords for nearly two million accounts at Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and others, according to a report released this week.

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Fresh fast food strikes planned for Thursday

Fast food protests aren't going away.

Wednesday, December 4

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Obama's uncle wins immigration battle, gets OK to stay in U.S.

Onyango Okech Obama -- an uncle of President Barack Obama who has been in the United States illegally for decades -- has gotten a federal court's OK to stay in his adopted country, according to an attorney representing the uncle.

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Ledisi’s new project introduces growth, love

Grammy-nominated singer Ledisi embraces change on her own terms on her fifth major studio album “The Truth” which will be released in stores February 2014.

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AACC’s Truxal Library receives architectural award

The Andrew G. Truxal Library at Anne Arundel Community College received an Award of Merit from the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Tuesday, December 3

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VIP: 5 things to know about Wendell Pierce

Five things to know about Actor Wendell Pierce, 46, of The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC) and Treme (HBO) -- which kicks off its final season Sunday night -- shares some interesting tidbits about himself.

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Facebook friend donates kidney, saves woman's life

Some say Facebook friend lists are made up of people not very close at all, but all it took was a status update for a grade school classmate to step up and save a woman's life.

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Black Writers Guild of Maryland hosts “Men on Books” panel

Black Writers Guild of Maryland (BWG) hosts a panel discussion, Men on Books, featuring five local authors on Saturday, December 7, 2013 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Enoch Pratt Free Library– Pennsylvania Avenue Branch located at 1531 W. North Avenue in Baltimore.

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Charm City gives on #GivingTuesday

Charm City gives on #GivingTuesday

At least 15 businesses and nonprofits are doing more than just encouraging Charm City residents to open their hearts and wallets; they are joining forces to help raise $5 million to benefit Baltimore charities on GivingTuesday— better known as #GivingTuesday.

Monday, December 2

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Tips for getting the most out of Social Security retirement benefits

Too many people end up getting less than what’s due them from Social Security when they retire because they don’t know the rules and the real financial impacts, says independent retirement advisor Gary Marriage, Jr.

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The 2013 Poinsettia Tour of Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill, Bolton Hill and Madison Park Neighborhoods

The Poinsettia Tour of grand historic residential homes and buildings located in Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill, Bolton Hill and Madison Park Neighborhoods will take place on Saturday, December 7, 2013 from noon to 5 p.m. Each home will show its unique charm and historic significance to Baltimore’s history. This will be an exclusive opportunity to see homes and buildings that are rarely open to the general public.

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Bill Gates: Where to put the smart money to end AIDS

A decade ago, over 1 million people in Zambia were living with HIV.