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Commentary

Maryland is spending less than half the amount recommended by the CDC to deter tobacco use. We must invest more.

Given all the billions of taxes collected from sales of tobacco products, not to mention the billions more provided through a 1998 settlement over the cost of tobacco-related illness, one would think that states like Maryland would fully fund programs that deter young people from using tobacco (or encourage them to quit). Yet a recently-released report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Lung Association and other health advocacy groups, found most states fall woefully short in this mission. In Maryland, the good news is that the state ranks better than most. The bad news is that its 11th ranking is mostly because so many of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are abysmal.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Too soon to celebrate new Alzheimer’s drug

A treatment that improves Alzheimer’s disease would be a great advance, but Leqembi (lecanemab), which recently received accelerated approval from the FDA, is not that drug. Yes, lecanemab slows decline to an extent detectable on a test, but not to an extent that a relative or caretaker would notice. This drug doesn’t actually make anything better. It just slows the rate that someone goes downhill over 18 months — by less than half a point on an 18 point scale. And we don’t know whether things get better or worse after that. Leqembi is similar to Aduhelm (aducanumab), approved last year by the FDA, despite its advisory committee soundly rejecting it.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Dan Rodricks: Wes Moore delivers the inspiring speech we’ve been waiting to hear

Wes Moore’s inauguration speech hit the notes a lot of us have been waiting a long time to hear from the governor of America’s wealthiest state — that Maryland should also be one of the safest, best educated, healthiest and most progressive in the country. “We know it is unacceptable that, while Maryland has the highest median income in the country, 1 in 8 of our children lives in poverty,” Moore said. “We do not have to choose between a competitive economy and an equitable one. We should not tolerate an 8-to-1 racial wealth gap, not because it hurts certain groups, but because it prevents all of us from reaching our full potential. … This can be the best state in America to be an employer and an employee.”

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Editorial Advisory Board: State’s Attorney Bates should keep these 2 units

Early last week Ivan Bates was sworn in as the new state’s attorney in Baltimore City. His first announced change to the office once headed by Marilyn Mosby was to do away with his predecessor’s policy of not prosecuting low-level criminal offenses, such as marijuana possession and prostitution. Bates has made clear that prosecuting these types of cases will be discretionary rather than having a total ban on prosecution. We agree with this rational approach to prosecuting even what may appear to be minor crimes in the city. While we applaud Bates for this change to his office, we do encourage him to keep two units created by Mosby that are truly critical: the Sentencing Review Unit and the Conviction Integrity Unit.

Perspective: Parklets for outdoor dining in Baltimore create cost, equity concerns

I own a small business in Fells Point. I like eating outside. I love Baltimore. The prevalence of outdoor dining is one of the best things to come out of the pandemic. But cost is among the issues that must be considered. I urge the city to fully consider safety and equity for its citizens and all types of businesses as well as its own revenue stream. We’re now at a crossroads. The permissions granted to restaurants to create parklets at the beginning of the pandemic will be extended beyond the experiment of the past three years. The new iteration of Baltimore City’s curbside retail guidelines incorporates feedback from its first iteration as well as addresses a number of challenges faced by other municipalities in making these accommodations permanent.

Get TikTok off public-funded education devices
More than 20 states have banned TikTok on government-owned devices, with New Jersey and Ohio joining their ranks just days ago. Though the impetus behind these bans is to protect state government information from Chinese spyware, these laws also evict TikTok from devices owned by public school districts and state-supported postsecondary institutions. This is a necessary protection to prevent the Chinese government from exploiting its control over ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, to gain access to America’s schools and the minds of its students.

Commentary: Wes Moore seized this moment in history to become governor

On the weekend before Wes Moore was sworn in as governor of Maryland, “CBS Sunday Morning” aired a profile and interview. “I’d never run for public office before,” Moore said, “but I’ve been a public servant all my life.” Moore also said he understood from the start of his candidacy that a life of achievements in other fields would in no way ensure a successful run for office. “Politics is a very humbling business. When we first got into this race, I was polling at 1%.” When Moore spoke during the interview with correspondent Kelefa Sanneh about how he intends to govern, he returned to the broad themes and inspirational language heard often during his campaign.

Mohler: Leaders make the same mistake every time. Here’s a playbook to flip the script

When crooning about love, The Everly Brothers (under 50, it’s Google time again) reminded us that, “She always breaks my heart in two. It happens every time.” With apologies to Phil and Don, when it comes to crisis management, we could write our own song about those in power, “They always screw it up, they do. It happens every time.” The latest news that classified documents have been located at a number of private Biden locations is simply the latest reminder that our esteemed leaders get it wrong over, and over, and over again. And folks, it just ain’t that hard to get it right. Here are the facts: President Trump had classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. President Biden evidently stored documents at the Penn Biden Center at the University of Pennsylvania and in his garage next to his Corvette at his home in Wilmington, Del. That one would have been a great Beach Boys song.

Commentary: Roger Taney, Thurgood Marshall and why history, symbols matter

Amid a heightened reexamination in recent years of how slavery and systemic racism have shaped the history and identity of the United States, the country has been forced to reckon with how it represents, honors or memorializes historic figures and events. One of the most prominent Marylanders in U.S. history has been at the center of this kind of reckoning. President Joe Biden at the end of 2022 signed a bill directing that a bust of Roger B. Taney, the fifth U.S. chief justice, be removed from the U.S. Capitol. The measure directs Congress to remove Taney’s bust within 45 days of Biden signing it into law, which he did on Dec, 27. It also says Congress must replace it with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice and another Marylander who changed the course of U.S. history.

Artificial intelligence can’t reproduce the wonders of original human creativity

The biggest story of the year — the story we should all be paying attention to — is the increasing power of artificial intelligence. Computer code can write itself, chatbots can generate academic papers, and, with a few keystrokes, a website can produce an image worthy to be framed on any wall. Everywhere we turn, AI is outputting text and images that mimic (and often surpass) humans’ abilities. There’s so much to be concerned about in these developments, especially in the realms of plagiarism and labor replacement, with artists and writers particularly worried about their job prospects drowning in the infinite sea of AI-generated graphics and essays. However, after taking stock of AI’s current limitations, I don’t think that artists and other creatives are in danger of extinction anytime soon.

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