Kids and tobacco

In 1982, Maryland raised the age to purchase and consume all alcoholic beverages to 21. Opponents of the measure argued that if an 18-year-old was old enough to serve in the military, the teen was old enough to drink a beer. The argument didn’t go far: Too many young people were dying in alcohol-related traffic accidents to worry about how good a time their enlisted peers might be having on weekends. The tavern owners lost, the public had won — and then-Gov. Harry R. Hughes happily signed the bill into law. In the coming weeks, lawmakers in Annapolis will face a similar historic choice over whether to raise the age to purchase and consume tobacco from 18 to 21. (Balt. Sun)

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Pamela E. Queen: For pay equity, rules must change

Refreshingly, at the December Morgan State University graduation, Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a relatable keynote address to almost 500 graduates. She spoke bluntly, not the sugar-coated, obligatory euphemisms that are quintessential for graduation speeches. She cautioned these graduates, many of whom are black, that hard work will not assure them equal access to opportunity and advancement. Rather, she said, there are “two sets of rules: one for the wealthy and the well-connected, and one for everybody else. Two sets of rules: one for white families and one for everybody else. That’s how a rigged system works. And that’s what we need to change.” (Balt. Sun)

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What we still need to know about Joel Fitzgerald

It’s not surprising that the interviews members of the City Council conducted with political, community and law enforcement leaders in Fort Worth about police commissioner nominee Joel Fitzgerald didn’t produce a conclusive answer about whether he’s the right person to take over Baltimore’s troubled department. He has strong supporters and strong detractors, just as any police commissioner of a major city would. But the trip to Texas wasn’t a waste of time; it gave a sense of just how different is the context in which Mr. Fitzgerald is operating and underscores the need for council members and others to press him for specifics about how he would address the problems Baltimore faces. (Balt. Sun)

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Redistricting

It is a source of irritation to many who live in Maryland’s western frontier that since he took office in 2013, our congressman is from halfway across the state in Montgomery County. Efforts are under way to reverse the cause of this ridiculous state of affairs, and that’s a good thing. However, we now find that we’re pretty much being left out of the process. We like our 6th District congressman, Rep. John Delaney, and have said so. What we resent is the process that put him in office. Even Delaney has said he didn’t like the gerrymandering that got him elected. (Times-News)

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Annapolis can make a better business climate, but it can't save every shop

The looming demise of a small clothing and accessories shop on West Street is not Mayor Gavin Buckley’s fault, no matter what Cindy Loo Hoo’s owners say. The departure of some longtime businesses on Main Street, including the oldest continuously run shop, isn’t the mayor’s fault either. Businesses come and businesses go and most often the reason is a changing market, failure to anticipate outside forces and reliance on outdated business models. Retail owners who rely on foot traffic are staking their fortunes on a whim, and ignore the danger that something will stem that vital flow of customers. (Capital)

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Zeke Cohen: #ShopLocalChallenge lifts Baltimore businesses and economy

A few weeks ago I received a call from a local business owner: “I don’t think we’re going to make it through the holidays,” she said. I was taken aback. I thought her boutique store was thriving. She has a prime location and a loyal clientele that includes my wife. She listed familiar challenges: Transportation and parking, crime, and the perception of violence. Suburban shoppers unwilling to visit the city. The increasing popularity of online shopping. “It feels like the city doesn’t care about us,” she said. (Balt. Sun)

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As long-lasting birth control becomes more popular, make sure it's not forced on low-income women

For women trying not to get pregnant, long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARCs, are among the best options available. No need to worry about taking a pill on time everyday or fumbling for a diaphragm during a moment of passion. LARCs have been found to be 20 times more effective than birth control pills, the patch or the vaginal ring, according to the American Sexual Health Association. But as LARCS become more popular, the medical community needs to make sure women are not being coerced into using the longer-lasting contraception methods, but rather something they choose for themselves. (Balt. Sun)

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Kelly Shackelford: Ruling threatens Md. 'Peace Cross' and other veterans memorials

As many gathered around a Christmas tree last week, attorneys representing thousands of Americans were busy putting the finishing touches on friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial. The “Peace Cross,” as local residents call it, is a simple cross-shaped memorial of concrete and bronze, sitting in the median of a highway in Bladensburg, Md. In 1919, mothers who lost their sons in World War I designed the memorial, which The American Legion then built, dedicating it in 1925. The mothers of 49 men from Prince George’s County chose the shape of a cross as the memorial, recalling the gravestones erected over their sons on European battlefields. (Balt. Sun)

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