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What's News and Who's a Newsmaker?Our perspective on reporting the news is guided by an editorial approach that seeks facts and doesn’t bow to pressure. In everything we produce, we ask:What’s news? We cover the big stories of the day, but we broaden the definition of what’s important: the movements for working peoples’ rights, for peace, for the health of our planet, and against racism – are news.Who’s a newsmaker? We don’t just cover people in high office or limit news to the partisan horse race for power. We think that people who fight for human rights and work for solutions are newsmakers.What matters to a mass audience? We combine sizzle with substance, understanding that craft and entertainment values are critical to winning a large audience. We strive to answer the questions: “Why is this happening to me?” and “What can I do about it?”. TRNN programming provides facts and context to help people advance their interests.What is the real debate? Our debate is fact-based and witty, resisting talking points and narrow partisanship. We question underlying assumptions and search for solutions.Are we objective in method and transparent in presentation? We all have interests. This affects the facts we consider important and the sources we decide to trust. TRNN strives to delve into the complexity of issues and base our journalism on verifiable evidence. We work at being transparent and providing ways for viewers to question, debate, and criticize our work.
"The question we settle in an election is not whether elites shall rule, but which elite shall rule," said conservative pundit George Will on ABC's This Week.That's why we need daily television news that reports with ordinary people’s interests in mind. The Real News is such a network; it’s the missing link in the global media landscape.The Real News Network (TRNN) is a non-profit, viewer-supported daily video-news and documentary service. We don’t accept advertising, and we don’t accept government or corporate funding. TRNN is sustained by viewer donations and earned revenue.Since 2007, we have produced more than 7,000 stories that have been viewed more than 100 million times. The next phase of development is the move to television. We will compete with cable news for an audience in the millions.
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Spreading The Word
At around 1:50 a.m. on Aug. 8, just two days after Baltimore’s first 72-hour Ceasefire, DeJuane Beverly was shot near a house on Liberty and Tulsa roads. He died. Police found no motive. No suspect was arrested.
Naturally, DeJuane’s mother Dedrah Johnson was caught completely off guard. It was the last thing she expected to hear on that Tuesday morning.
“It’s like, you become shut off from people sometimes because you feel like nobody understands what you’re going through,” she said.
After taking time to mourn, Johnson has been actively volunteering and spreading the word about Baltimore Ceasefire 365.
“I want to put it out there. This has to stop,” she said. “I really want to do whatever I can to stop this from happening, but some days are harder than others. So I go to my therapy group on Tuesdays.”
The therapy group is Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters (MOMSD), which meets every Tuesday and Sunday at St. John’s Alpha and Omega Church.
In that group she connected with other mothers dealing with the same kind of grief—and one whose 15-year-old son was murdered just 30 minutes before DeJuane, in almost the exact same way, in the same part of town.
Daphne Alston founded MOMSD in 2008. She knew firsthand what these women were going through. On July 14, 2008, her son Tariq was on the phone with his girlfriend at a party when someone shot and killed him. When Alston got the call, she was devastated. She was living in Harford County and tried a couple different groups, but she says they were predominantly white and the members were mostly parents who had lost their children to drug addictions, motorcycle accidents, or suicide. She says she eventually felt uncomfortable speaking in the groups.
“It would interrupt the group every time,” she said. “So I stopped coming because the women would be so overwhelmed with my story. How could I live through something like that? Many of them had lost homes, marriages broken up, got addicted and all kinds of stuff while going through their grieving process.”
But there was one woman, Mildred Samy, whose son Samuel had also been shot and killed during a dispute at a Waffle House one night.
At the time, Alston and Samy felt they were the only women in Harford County that had this shared experience of losing their sons to gun violence.
“That year I think it was only one murder for the whole county,” Alston recalled.
But when they watched the news at night and talked to one another, Alston says they saw so many women in Baltimore City who were going through the same thing. They felt their pain. Without knowing any of them, they still felt the loneliness these women may have felt. No one was paying attention to people like them, the mothers left devastated by the bullets that snatched their sons.
They decided to start Mothers Of Murdered Sons and Daughters in the city. A co-worker introduced Daphne to the pastor of St. John’s Alpha and Omega, a church in West Baltimore. He gave MOMSD space to operate out of their building and the group has been meeting there ever since. MOMSD officially became a non-profit 501(c)3 two years ago. Daphne says the group has been predominantly self-funded, only receiving their first grant this year.
“The majority of black people who live in this city, when they walk out they door, they don’t see hope,” she said. “Broken bottles, trash, blunt guts. How is somebody supposed to be hopeful living in these conditions?”
The conditions of poverty are heightened by the trauma of living in what she calls “homicide density.”
“We just went to a boy’s funeral the other day . . . Dante,” Alston said as she took a pause, thinking about him and his mother as if they were her own family.
Today, the group has around 65 active members who regularly attend the meetings and more than 300 in their extended network.
“A lot of the mothers don’t come out much, but we have a lot of phone conversations,” Alston said.
The group reaches out to every parent or grandparent when someone is murdered. They attend the funeral services and try to keep in touch with the family of the deceased. They also have two liaisons who work to follow up with detectives to be sure that cases are consistently being worked on.
“Look, I’m on the phone seven days a week, still talking to who I can about what happened to my son,” Alston said, “but everybody can’t do that.”
Dedrah Johnson knows the kind of support that these mothers need through her first-hand experience.
“Sometimes they just need someone to sit in the courtroom with them while they have to relive this over and over again. Some of them have the killers walking the streets again in the same neighborhoods because the courts didn’t have enough evidence to convict them. How are they supposed to live with that?”
“We are abnormal. Losing a child is hard regardless, but let’s be real, losing a child to murder is different than losing a child who is sick,” she said. “Sometimes my husband has to point things I do out to me and say, ‘Baby, that’s not normal.’ These women need to know that it’s OK to be abnormal. You can come on over here and be abnormal with us . . . together.”
This piece runs in print in the Baltimore Beat. Photo by J.M. Giordano
House Democrats Help Republicans Pass $700B in Military Spending
A record spending bill overwhelmingly approved by the House on Tuesday authorizes $700 billion for the U.S. military.
The annual National Defense Authorization Act earmarks over $634 billion for the Pentagon and an additional $66 billion for overseas military conflicts including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. The package includes $12.3 billion for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, a moved aimed at North Korea.
The total is nearly $100 billion more than President Trump requested earlier this year. It calls for 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 20 more than requested; 24 Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets, 10 more than requested; and 13 new Navy ships, five more than requested.
In a year of bitter partisan fights over healthcare, tax reform, and immigration, the House approved it with rare unity. The final vote was 356-70, including 127 out of the House's 194 Democratic members. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it's expected to be easily approved. An earlier Senate version was passed by a 89-8 margin. The nearly uniform Democratic support comes despite initial pledges to oppose Trump's proposed military spending increase, which was smaller than what they have now approved.
The U.S. accounts for about one-third of global military expenditures, outspending China by three to one and Russia by ten to one.
Humanity’s 'Carbon Budget' is Smaller Than Generally Believed
Professor Michael Mann discusses a new study showing that the IPCC has underestimated global warming in the industrial era
The Unseen Battle For Raqqa
As Raqqa continues to be liberated from ISIS, Syrian Democratic Forces are working with local tribes to help give them direct control over their futures, says journalist Karlos Zurutuza
Burma's Rohingya Muslims Face Worst Crisis Yet
After decades of persecution, a Burmese military campaign has forced more than 150,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee deadly attacks
The Real Baltimore: Ceasefire Follow-Up
Eze Jackson sits down with Councilman Kris Burnett, Erricka Bridgeford and Kevin McCamant to have a post-ceasefire discussion about the future of addressing violence in Baltimore City
Mayor Cuts Deal to Move Homeless Tents From Outside City Hall
City officials promised to help 55 people find homes, but protesters say a lot more needs to be done to address Baltimore's growing homeless population
Maryland Legislators Push Bill for 100% Renewables by 2035
TRNN speaks to lawmakers and activists about the new proposal, and the opposition it is likely to face
Another Way Ending the War on Drugs Could Save Lives and Resources
A new study by a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health professor estimates Baltimore could save millions of dollars with just one safe injection site for heroin users
Squeegee Corps: From the Corner to Corporate
Baltimore City introduces new program to employ Youth known as "Squeegee Boys/Girls"
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