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A Maryland House Race Shows How Not To Cover AIPAC

The biggest outside spender in the 2022 Democratic primaries was an unlikely group: the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This year, AIPAC—a group backed by Republican mega-donors that is devoted to maintaining strong US support for the far-right government of Israel—is going even bigger, aiming to spend a cool $100 million via its super PAC, the United Democracy Project. If the Koch brothers quietly spent millions to sway Democratic primaries, their chosen candidates would be tarred. Same goes for Big Oil, the NRA and other right-wing special interests. But AIPAC is an exception to this rule.

Workers At A Maryland Apple Store Authorize Strike

It’s been a busy weekend for union organizing efforts at U.S. Apple stores, with the union at one store voting to authorize a strike, while workers at another store voted against forming a union. Back in 2022, workers in Towson, Maryland, became the first formally recognized union at an Apple retail store. That union, which is part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, voted Saturday to authorize a strike. The date of this potential strike has yet to be determined. “This vote today is the first step in demonstrating our solidarity and sends a clear message to Apple,” said the IAM CORE Negotiating Committee in a statement.

Baltimore’s New $1 Billion Jail Will Be Most Expensive State-Funded Project

Nearly nine years after former Gov. Larry Hogan shuttered the old Baltimore City Detention Center, a new centerpiece facility for the city’s pretrial jail population is poised to rise from its ashes. But it’s going to cost you. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which has run the city’s jail system for decades, is pushing ahead with ambitious plans for the Baltimore Therapeutic Treatment Center — a sort of hybrid jail, hospital and mental health and substance use treatment facility for people facing criminal charges.

Why Did Baltimore Lavish Tens Of Millions In Tax Breaks?

Baltimore is often maligned as a shrinking city beset by crime and intractable poverty. But take a walk down President Street just south of Little Italy on a Friday night, and you will enter a world that appears far removed from the idea of a city that is terminally in decay. Past the empty pavilions of the Inner Harbor and east of the city’s increasingly troubled downtown business district, a cluster of towering high-rises emerges from the harbor like a defiant mountain range of concrete. A cobblestone boulevard leads to a European-style thoroughfare dotted with a dazzling array of upscale restaurants and outdoor dining patios.

Baltimore’s Media Nightmare And The Billionairification Of News

David D. Smith, leading stockholder of Sinclair, Inc., announced on January 15 that he was purchasing what is left of the Baltimore Sun, once regarded as the crown jewel of the Maryland city’s media (AP, 1/15/24). Sinclair is a multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 company and one of the largest owners of television stations in the country. The company has been criticized for its conservative and not always accurate TV news coverage (Salon, 7/21/17; New Yorker, 10/15/18). In 2018, the company compelled local TV news anchors around the country to read on air the same copy parroting President Donald Trump’s claims about “fake news” (Deadspin, 3/31/18).

Baltimore’s ‘Downward Spiral’ Of Poverty, Disinvestment, And Policing

The crisis of mass incarceration is about more than the conduct of police officers—it’s a question of public expenditures, and how pouring taxpayer money into incarceration at the expense of other, more humanizing ventures takes a toll on society at large. As public schools and public health programs across the nation grapple with a host of preventable problems arising from underinvestment, state and local governments across the nation spend over $200 billion each year on prisons, jails, and police. Now, a new report from the Justice Policy Institute, “The Right Investment 2.0”, takes a detailed look at the “downward spiral” low-income, predominately Black and Brown communities across Maryland are forced into by this imbalance in public expenditures.

Baltimore Joins Over 100 US Cities In Endorsement Of Medicare For All

Baltimore has officially joined the growing list of over 100 U.S. municipalities advocating for a nationwide Medicare for All healthcare system. This significant endorsement, led by Democratic City Councilmembers Kristerfer Burnett and Odette Ramos, aligns Baltimore with major cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in supporting a federally funded universal healthcare program. Burnett expressed gratitude to advocates who have been instrumental in advancing these resolutions nationwide, highlighting the importance of accessible healthcare for thriving communities. Rev. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr., a local pastor, emphasized the critical need for healthcare as a right, especially for those facing tough choices like affording insulin or groceries.

Maryland Lawmakers Threaten Leading Immigrant Advocacy Group

The retribution from state lawmakers was swift and severe after Gustavo Torres, the executive director of CASA de Maryland, posted a tweet and statement on November 6, calling out Israel’s “terror” against Gaza and urging a ceasefire. Outrage and threats rained down from donors and politicians against the largest immigrant rights group in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Deeply alarmed, CASA took down the post the same day. In its place, a terse apology was posted acknowledging the “hurt” caused to “our dear and trusted partners” and promising a “new statement in the days to come.” That wasn’t apology enough for nine state senators, the entire delegation from Montgomery County (Maryland’s most prosperous and populous).

Black Oral Storytellers Keep Black History Alive In Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland - Shana Bainbridge, a white fifth grade teacher at the predominantly Black Glenmont Middle School in Baltimore, was unsure how she could meaningfully engage her students when her school’s administration challenged her to come up with a project to celebrate Black History Month. “Until we’re put to task to find out something new, we often don’t [learn] about our history,” Bainbridge said. “I thought that was really amazing how generations, not just my students, but the generations before them and the generations before them were able to share their stories and their impact on the world.”

Latest Stats Show US’ Continued Love Affair With Mass Incarceration

Preliminary data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) revealed a notable increase in the number of individuals held in local jails nationwide. As of midyear 2022, the incarcerated population stood at 663,100, marking a 4 percent surge compared to the previous year’s 636,100. The surge is part of a more significant trend that has seen jail admissions rise by 6.6 percent from July 2021 to June 2022, totaling 7.3 million entries. However, the figure is still 37 percent lower than ten years prior, when admissions peaked at 11.6 million. According to the new data, of the incarcerated population in mid-2022, 14 percent were female, representing an increase over the previous year.

Student Activists Are Pushing Back Against Big Polluters And Winning

Baltimore, Maryland - South Baltimore is on a peninsula surrounded by water, highways and train tracks. It's mostly made up of residential row houses, small yards, schools, rec centers and parks. It's also often thought of as a place to avoid — folks are taught to be careful of or even avoid South Baltimore. There was a mass shooting this past July in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Baltimore, and another in early September. "People think Curtis Bay is a dangerous place. It's not. It's just we're surrounded by dangerous things," says Taysia Thompson, 17. Taysia is a part of a group of student activists fighting against a very different kind of danger in their neighborhood: air pollution and climate change.

Maryland’s Parole System ‘Conditions People For Despair’

Thomas “Tahaka” Gaither was out on parole when then-Gov. Glendening of Maryland revoked parole for all persons convicted of a life sentence. Since the late 1990s, Gaither has remained incarcerated—despite once having been deemed fit for release. His story is not unusual for those who’ve experienced Maryland’s parole system. Since 2015, barely half of 523 parole-eligible prisoners serving life sentences have had their cases reviewed, and just 76 have been released. A new study from the Justice Policy Institute, Safe at Home: Improving Maryland’s Parole Release Decision-Making, identifies the problems with the system and attempts to map solutions.

Healthcare Workers In Maryland, Virginia And DC Authorize Strike

Some 3,800 union healthcare workers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., are threatening to go on strike at the end of this month if the leadership at Kaiser Permanente and the union cannot agree to a new contract addressing staffing shortages and low pay for workers. According to a Monday statement from OPEIU Local 2, which represents 8,000 workers in the region, about 98% of health care workers from the union voted to authorize a strike to protest “unfair labor practices” if no agreement is reached by Sept. 30. The health care workers represented by OPEIU Local 2 union include optometrists, pharmacists, nurses and certified nursing assistants.

Unionized Psychiatrists Say Maryland Provider Violated Labor Law

Unionized psychiatrists and nurse practitioners at Cornerstone Montgomery, an independent behavioral health care provider with dozens of locations across the D.C. region, are accusing management of unfair labor practices, arguing that recent policy proposals would sacrifice their ability to care for patients. Represented by the healthcare worker union 1199SEIU, psychiatrists and nurse practitioners say that Cornerstone Montgomery has tried to “drastically” increase the number of appointments on the providers’ calendars, which would decrease the amount of time each practitioner can spend with their patients, and how frequently they meet.

How Cigna Saves Millions By Rejecting Claims Without Reading Them

When a stubborn pain in Nick van Terheyden’s bones would not subside, his doctor had a hunch what was wrong. Without enough vitamin D in the blood, the body will pull that vital nutrient from the bones. Left untreated, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis. A blood test in the fall of 2021 confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis, and van Terheyden expected his company’s insurance plan, managed by Cigna, to cover the cost of the bloodwork. Instead, Cigna sent van Terheyden a letter explaining that it would not pay for the $350 test because it was not “medically necessary.” The letter was signed by one of Cigna’s medical directors, a doctor employed by the company to review insurance claims.
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