Friday Open Thread | Christmas Jams

Christmas candles 84Sleigh Ride” is a popular light orchestral piece composed by Leroy Anderson. The composer had the original idea for the piece during a heat wave in July 1946; he finished the work in February 1948. Lyrics, about a person who would like to ride in a sleigh on a winter’s day with another person, were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. The orchestral version was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra. The song was a hit record on RCA Victor Red Seal 49-0515 (45 rpm) / 10-1484 (78 rpm), and has become the equivalent of a signature song for the orchestra. The 45 rpm version was originally issued on red vinyl. This original mono version has never been available on CD, although the later 1959 re-recording is available in stereo. The orchestra has also recorded the song with John Williams, their conductor from 1979 to 1995, and Keith Lockhart, their current conductor.

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#DylannRoof Death Penalty Trial

dylann-roof-close-upCHARLESTON, S.C. — She recalled watching the young white man stroll into Bible study, thinking he just wanted to seek the word of God. He was handed a Bible and a worksheet about that Wednesday night’s lesson, the parable of the sower, and took a seat next to the pastor. He said nothing for nearly 45 minutes, hanging his head and waiting for the 12 parishioners to stand and close their eyes in benediction.

Then Felicia Sanders heard the first startling boom, she said, as Dylann S. Roof removed a Glock .45-caliber handgun from his fanny pack and methodically shot one African-American worshiper after the next, nine in all, starting with the pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney.

Before it ended, 77 hollow-point rounds later, Ms. Sanders, the first witness to testify in Mr. Roof’s federal death penalty trial on Wednesday, found herself underneath a table muzzling her 11-year-old granddaughter so hard she feared she would suffocate her. Her wounded son, Tywanza Sanders, 26, had already fallen on one side of her; her aunt, Susie Jackson, 87, lay dead on the other. She rubbed her leg in the blood pooling on the linoleum floor so the gunman might think she and her granddaughter were dead.

As Mr. Roof made his way out of the church that unholy night, June 17, 2015, Mr. Sanders moved toward Ms. Jackson, begging for water because he could not breathe.

“When he reached Aunt Susie,” Ms. Sanders wailed from the witness stand, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, “he grabbed a handful of her hair and took his last breath. I watched my son come in this world and I watched my son leave this world.”

Ms. Sanders’s heart-rending account opened testimony in United States District Court after Mr. Roof’s lawyer began to argue for a sentence of life in prison for the 22-year-old avowed white supremacist. Faced with perhaps his only chance to persuade the jury to spare Mr. Roof’s life, the lawyer, David I. Bruck, used his opening statement to concede Mr. Roof’s guilt and suggest doubts about his stability.

“In fairness and in mercy, our society does not invoke the death penalty if there are reasons to choose life, a life in prison,” said Mr. Bruck, the leader of the court-appointed defense team that Mr. Roof plans to jettison during a second phase of the trial, when jurors will decide whether he should be executed. “We do not behave like the person who committed this crime.”

Mr. Roof, dressed in the striped uniform of the county jail, sat expressionless, staring down at the defense table, as he did throughout more than seven hours in court.


Earlier, the lead prosecutor, Julius N. Richardson, an assistant United States attorney, introduced each of the nine victims, showing the jurors their photographs, describing their lives and explaining how they came to gather in the church’s fellowship hall that night. But he spent much of his 49-minute opening statement emphasizing Mr. Roof’s deliberateness and premeditation.

“We will prove to you that the defendant’s attack was cold and calculating,” Mr. Richardson said. “It was done with malice in his heart, in his mind, racist retribution for perceived offenses against the white race.”

Mr. Richardson told the jury that the prosecution would prove that Mr. Roof was well aware of the historic church’s significance to the African-American community and that he intended the attack as a racial call to arms. Founded in 1818, the downtown church, known here as Mother Emanuel, is one of the oldest independent black congregations in the South and played central roles in the plotting of a failed slave revolt in 1822 and in civil rights activities 140 years later.

Posted in Black Lives Matter, crime, Criminal Justice, Current Events, Department of Justice, Domestic Terrorism, Hate Crime, Institutional Racism, Jim Crow laws, Justice, JusticeForEmanuel 9, Murder, News, Open Thread, racial hate, racial terror, Racism, Violence, White Supremacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 213 Comments

Thursday Open Thread | Christmas Jams

beautiful-christmas-candles-8Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is a Christmas holiday song originally sung by Darlene Love and included on the 1963 Christmas compilation album, A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records. The song was written by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry along with Phil Spector, with the intentions of being sung by Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes. According to Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector was not able to put as much emotion into the song as needed. Instead, Love was brought into the studio to record the song which became a big success over time and one of Love’s signature tunes.

In December 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” first on its list of The Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs, saying that “nobody can match Love’s emotion and sheer vocal power.”

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#DylannRoof Federal Death Penalty Trial | Opening Statements

dylann-roof-trialThe judge in the Dylann Roof federal death penalty trial has denied a motion by attorneys to delay the trial.

Roof’s attorneys wanted to delay the trial because of the publicity surrounding the mistrial in a former police officer’s case. Roof’s lawyers filed the request Tuesday.

“The Court cannot respond to every breaking news story or development in the local court system by continuing a trial that has been scheduled since June 2016 or reopening comprehensive and completed voir dire,” US District Judge Richard Gergel stated Tuesday night.”The Court must maintain the orderly process of criminal trials.”

Jury selection is expected to start Wednesday in Charleston, where a mistrial was declared earlier this week for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager.


The motion states the Slager mistrial, “declared less than 48 hours before the scheduled start of the trial in this case, is highly likely to create undue pressure on the jury to compensate for the judicial system’s apparent failure to punish Mr. Slager by imposing a harsher punishment here.”

Attorneys cite recent news articles and interviews that mention the Roof trial seemingly right along side the Slager trial, adding, “With the widely-held view that justice has not been served in the Slager trial…we have grave doubt whether the defendant can receive a fair trial.”

An order also filed on Tuesday states U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel denied a defense motion to strike the jury panel that has already been qualified. In the order, Gergel states on the same day he granted a defense motion to allow Roof’s standby counsel to be reinstated as his attorneys, the defense team filed a motion to strike the panel and redo individual voir dire, or interviews for prospective jurors, Roof’s attorneys made the request, the order states, because they felt Roof should not have been able to represent himself during the voir dire process and “frequently ignored the advice of his experienced [standby] counsel.”

“The argument essentially repackages the same arguments defense counsel previously raised while acting as Defendant’s standby counsel that the Court rejected,” Gergel said. “The jury selection process in this case has been searching, thorough, and fair.”

Roof’s attorneys say if U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel goes forward, he at least needs to question the jury pool extensively about their opinions in the Slager case.

Race plays a central role in both cases. Slager, who is white, shot and killed a black driver who fled a traffic stop.

Roof is charged with killing nine people at an African-American church in June 2015.

Posted in Black Lives Matter, crime, Criminal Justice, Current Events, Department of Justice, Domestic Terrorism, Hate Crime, Institutional Racism, Jim Crow laws, JusticeForEmanuel 9, Murder, News, Open Thread, racial hate, racial terror, Racism, Violence, White Supremacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 222 Comments

Wednesday Open Thread | Christmas Jams

beautiful-candles-6White Christmas” is an Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.[1][2][3][4]

Accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song.[4] One story is that he wrote it in 1940, in warm La Quinta, California, while staying at the La Quinta Hotel, a frequent Hollywood retreat also favored by writer-producer Frank Capra. He often stayed up all night writing — he told his secretary, “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!”

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Tuesday Open Thread | Christmas Jams

Christmas Candles 56Blue Christmas” is a Christmas song written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. It is a tale of unrequited love during the holidays and is a longstanding staple of Christmas music, especially in the country genre.

The song was first recorded by Doye O’Dell in 1948,[3] and was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by country artist Ernest Tubb; one by bandleader Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires).

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President Obama | 2106 Kennedy Center Honors Reception

This is the President Obama’s last Kennedy Center Honors Reception.


Al Pacino, Mavis Staples, Martha Argerich, James Taylor, and The Eagles

THE 39TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, to be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 27 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network.



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