Monday Open Thread – Luther Vandross Week

Luther Vandross-1

We will be ringing out 2014 and ringing in 2015 with Luther Vandross.

Luther Ronzoni Vandross, Jr.[1] (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005) was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Throughout his career, Vandross was an in demand background vocalist for several different artists including Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Barbra Streisand, Ben E. King, and Donna Summer. He later became the lead singer of the group Change, which released its certified gold debut album, The Glow of Love, in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. After Vandross left the group, he was signed to Epic Records as a solo artist and released his debut solo album, Never Too Much, in 1981.

His hit songs include, “Never Too Much”, “Here and Now”, “Any Love”, “Power of Love/Love Power”, “I Can Make It Better” and “For You to Love”. Many of his songs were covers of original music by other artists such as “If This World Were Mine” (duet with Cheryl Lynn), “Since I Lost My Baby”, “Superstar” and “Always and Forever”. Duets such as “The Closer I Get to You” with Beyoncé, “Endless Love” with Mariah Carey and “The Best Things in Life Are Free” with Janet Jackson were all hits in his career.

During his career, Vandross sold over 25 million records worldwide,[2] and received eight Grammy Awards[3] including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four different times. He won a total of four Grammy Awards in 2004 including the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for a song recorded not long before his death, “Dance with My Father”.[4] The song was co-written with Vandross’ friend and protégé, Richard Marx.

Luther Vandross-2

1980–2003: Career success[edit]
Vandross finally made his long desired career breakthrough as a featured singer with the vaunted pop-dance act Change, a studio concept created by French-Italian businessman Jacques Fred Petrus. Their 1980 hits, “The Glow of Love” (by Romani, Malavasi and Garfield) and “Searching” (by Malavasi), both featuring Vandross as lead singer, opened up the world for Vandross. And there was no doubt about whether Vandross liked the song “The Glow of Love”. In an interview that Vibe Magazine did with him in 2001 Vandross said, “This is the most beautiful song I’ve ever sung in my life.” Both songs were from Change’s debut album The Glow of Love.

Vandross was originally intended to perform on their second and highly successful album Miracles in 1981, but declined the offer as Petrus didn’t pay enough money. Vandross’ decision led to a recording contract with Epic Records that same year, but he also provided background vocals on “Miracles” and on the new Petrus-created act, the B. B. & Q. Band in 1981. During that hectic year Vandross jump-started his second attempt at a solo career with his debut album, Never Too Much. In addition to the hit title track it contained a version of the Burt Bacharach / Hal David song “A House Is Not a Home”.

The song “Never Too Much”, written by himself, reached number-one on the R&B charts. This period also marked the beginning of songwriting collaboration with bassist Marcus Miller, who played on many of the tracks and would also produce or co-produce a number of tracks for Vandross. The Never Too Much album was arranged by Vandross’s high school classmate Nat Adderley, Jr., a collaboration that would last through Vandross’s career.[15]

Vandross released a series of successful R&B albums during the 1980s and continued his session work with guest vocals on groups like Charme in 1982. Many of his earlier albums made a bigger impact on the R&B charts than on the pop charts. During the 1980s, two of Vandross’ singles reached #1 on the Billboard R&B charts: “Stop to Love”, in 1986, and a duet with Gregory Hines—”There’s Nothing Better Than Love.”[16] Vandross was at the helm as producer for Aretha Franklin’s Gold-certified, award-winning comeback album Jump to It.[17] He also produced the disappointing follow-up album, 1983’s Get It Right.[18]

In 1983, the opportunity to work with his main music influence, Dionne Warwick, came about with Vandross producing, writing songs, and singing on How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye, her fourth album for Arista Records.[19] The title track duet reached #27 on the Hot 100 chart (#7 R&B/#4 Adult Contemporary),[20] while the second single, “Got a Date” was only a moderate hit (#45 R&B/#15 Club Play).

Vandross wrote and produced “It’s Hard for Me to Say” for Diana Ross from her Red Hot Rhythm & Blues album.[21] Ross performed the song as an a cappella tribute to Oprah Winfrey on her final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show. She then proceeded to add it to her successful 2010–12 “More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour. Vandross also recorded a version of this song on his Your Secret Love album in 1996. He made two public appearances at Diana Ross’s Return to Love Tour at its opening in Philadelphia at First Union Spectrum and its final stop at Madison Square Garden in 2000.[citation needed]

In December 1985, the singer filed a libel suit against a British magazine after it attributed his 85-pound weight loss to AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Vandross said he weighed 325 pounds when he started a diet in May that year.[22]

In 1985, Vandross first spotted the talent of Jimmy Salvemini, who was fifteen at the time, on Star Search. Vandross thought Salvemini had the perfect voice for some of his songs, and contacted Salvemini, who was managed by his brother Larry. A contract was negotiated with Elektra Records for $250,000 and Vandross agreed to produce the album. He contacted his old friends Cheryl Lynn, Alfa Anderson (Chic), Phoebe Snow and Irene Cara to appear on the album. After the album was completed, Vandross, Jimmy, and Larry decided to celebrate. On January 12, 1986, they were riding in Vandross’s 1985 convertible Mercedes-Benz on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, in the north section of Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. Luther was driving at 48 mph in a 35 mph zone when his Mercedes veered across the double yellow center line of the two lane street, turned sideways and collided with the front of a 1972 Mercury Marquis that was headed southbound, then swung around and hit a 1979 Cadillac Seville head on.[22][23][24][25] Vandross and Jimmy were rushed to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Larry, who was in the passenger seat, was killed during the collision. Vandross suffered three broken ribs, a broken hip, several bruises and facial cuts.[1][22] Jimmy, who was in the back of the car, had cuts, bruises and contusions. Vandross faced vehicular manslaughter charges as a result of Larry’s death, and his driving license was suspended for a year. There was no evidence Vandross was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs; he pled no contest to reckless driving. At first, the Salvemini family was supportive of Vandross, but later filed a wrongful death suit against him. The case was settled out of court with a payment to the Salvemini family for about $630,000.[26] The album, Roll With It, was released later that year.

Vandross also sang background vocals in Stevie Wonder’s 1985 hit “Part Time Lover”. In 1986, Vandross voiced a cartoon character named Zack for three Saturday morning animated PSA spots for ABC Television called ‘Zack of All Trades’.[citation needed]

The 1989 compilation The Best of Luther Vandross… The Best of Love included the ballad “Here and Now”, his first single to chart in the Billboard pop chart top ten, peaking at number six. He won his first Grammy award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1991.

In 1990, Vandross wrote and sang background for Whitney Houston in a song entitled “Who Do You Love?” which appeared on her “I’m Your Baby Tonight” album.[citation needed]

More albums followed in the 1990s, beginning with 1991’s Power of Love which spawned two top ten pop hits. He won his second Best Male R&B Vocal in the Grammy Awards of 1992, and his track “Power of Love/Love Power” won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in the same year. In 1992, “The Best Things in Life Are Free”, a duet with Janet Jackson from the movie Mo’ Money became a hit. In 1993, Vandross had a brief non-speaking role in the Robert Townsend movie The Meteor Man. He played a hit man who plotted to stop Townsend’s title character.[citation needed]

Vandross hit the top ten again in 1994, teaming with Mariah Carey on a cover version of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’s duet “Endless Love”. It was included on the album Songs, a collection of songs which had inspired Vandross over the years. He also appears on Frank Sinatra’s posthumous Duets album. At the Grammy Awards of 1997, he won his third Best Male R&B Vocal for the track “Your Secret Love”.

A second greatest hits album, released in 1997, compiled most of his 1990s hits and was his final album released through Epic Records. After releasing I Know on Virgin Records, he signed with J Records. His first album on Clive Davis’s new label, entitled Luther Vandross, was released in 2001, and it produced the hits “Take You Out” (#7 R&B/#26 Pop), and “I’d Rather” (#17 Adult Contemporary/#40 R&B/#83 Pop). Vandross scored at least one top 10 R&B hit every year from 1981–1994.

In 1997, Vandross sang the American national anthem during Super Bowl XXXI at the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana.

In September 2001, Vandross performed a rendition of Michael Jackson’s hit song “Man in the Mirror” at Jackson’s 30th Anniversary special, alongside Usher.

In 2002, he gave some of his final concerts during his last tour, The BK Got Soul Tour starring Vandross featuring Angie Stone and Gerald Levert.[citation needed]

In the spring of 2003, Vandross’ last collaboration was Doc Powell’s “What’s Going On”, a cover of Marvin Gaye from Powell’s 2003 album 97th and Columbus.

In 2003, Vandross released the album Dance with My Father. The title track, which was dedicated to Vandross’ memory childhood dances with his father, won Vandross and his co-writer, superstar Richard Marx, the 2004 Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The song also won Vandross his fourth and final award in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance category. The album was his only career #1 on the Billboard album chart. The video for the title track features various celebrities alongside their fathers and other family members. The 2nd single released from that album, “Think About You” was the Number One Urban Adult Contemporary Song of 2004 according to Radio & Records.

In 2003, after the televised NCAA Men’s Basketball championship, CBS Sports gave “One Shining Moment” a new look. Vandross, who had been to only one basketball game in his life, was the new singer, and the video had none of the special effects, like glowing basketballs and star trails, that videos from previous years had. This song version is in use today.[27]

Luther Vandross-16

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60 Responses to Monday Open Thread – Luther Vandross Week

  1. rikyrah says:

    this never fails to crack me up

  2. rikyrah says:

    ProgressivePhD @CallOut4
    McAuliffe restores rights of more than 5,100 ex-offenders … @richmonddotcom
    8:31 PM – 29 Dec 2014

  3. rikyrah says:

    they weren’t having any of her foolishness

    December 28, 2014 7:30 AM
    Twisted Sister
    By D.R. Tucker

    It’s hard to believe that nearly twenty years have passed since Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash starred in Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High director Amy Heckerling’s riff on Jane Austen’s Emma. Clueless is still remembered as an above-average teen comedy, but Dash’s career has hit the skids since then; her last truly prominent role was playing Kanye West’s materialistic girlfriend in his 2004 video “All Falls Down.”

    These days, Dash has remade herself as a far-right pundit who loves to ratchet up the rhetoric against President Obama and weave a narrative of African-Americans being trapped in a Democratic “plantation.” Apparently, Dash’s relatives aren’t too thrilled with her new career as one of the few chocolate chips in the otherwise all-vanilla Fox News:

    Stacey Dash, an actress best known for her role in the movie “Clueless” and more recently as a contributor to Fox News, says she is no longer on speaking terms with some family members and friends because they disagree with her conservative political views.
    “My family and I have not spoken,” the 47-year-old Dash said in an interview with The Edit.
    “My cousin Damon and my brother [Darien] were role models to me because they were great capitalists,” Dash continued. “Now we’re not really talking because they were the ones who told me to keep my mouth shut.”
    Damon Dash is a well-known hip hop entrepreneur. Darien Dash is the chief executive of DME Interactive, an internet marketing company.
    “They felt that I should do certain things because I’m black,” Dash said in the interview.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Five Ways Obama Can Mess with Republicans in 2015
    Dec 29, 2014 4:45 AM CST
    He’s freed from the constraints of another election. If the end of 2014 foreshadows the president’s next set of moves, Republicans will not be amused.

    Margaret Talev

    President Barack Obama knows how to get under Republicans’ skin (in so many ways, but in this case we’re talking about going around Congress to get things done), and he ended 2014 with a bang: A climate deal with China. Executive action on immigration. A move to normalize relations with Cuba.

    As he makes his New Year’s resolutions, the liberated, second-term, post-midterm president’s list may well include some new maneuvers to enrage the opposition party. Here are five ways he could do it again in 2015.


    You already know more than you ever thought you would about oil-sands crude, right? TransCanada Corp. wants to complete an $8 billion, 1,179-mile pipeline starting in the Canadian province of Alberta and running 830,000 barrels of oil per day through Nebraska into a network to refineries in Texas and Louisiana. While Obama cares about the Keystone XL project in the context of foreign policy and maintaining good relations with neighbor, ally and trading partner Canada, in 2012 he blocked it because of concerns in Nebraska and kicked it to the State Department for more study.

    Now, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he wants to start the new Congress by taking up a bill by Senator John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, to approve Keystone under congressional authority. Environmentalists and major Democratic donor Tom Steyer are fighting the project, saying it will worsen global warming and could trigger toxic spills. Republicans largely back the project, saying it can create jobs and reduce gas prices. Opponents say such benefits are greatly overstated or downright irrelevant, given how low gas prices have fallen lately.

    Obama was coy throughout the midterms about which way he’ll go, maintaining that it was in the State Department’s hands and that he would weigh the pros and cons. But he doesn’t want Congress to tell him what to do. And in recent weeks, he’s hinted strongly that he’s turned against Keystone XL. He told comedian Stephen Colbert that while it would be good for Canada, “it’s not going to push down gas prices here in the United States,” and that any economic benefit must be weighed against contributing to the warming of the earth, “which could be disastrous.” In his year-end news conference, the president said that “it’s not even going to be a nominal benefit to U.S. consumers.” Asked whether he was issuing a veto threat, he demurred. “I’ll see what they do,” he said of Republicans in Congress. “We’ll take that up in the new year.”

    Campaign finance reform

    So-called dark-money nonprofits, such as those affiliated with the Koch brothers, could find it much harder to muck around in elections. Under current practices, up to half of these groups’ money can be spent on politics. Changes to the Internal Revenue Service regulations governing 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations could shrink the percentage they can devote to election activities such as advertising. Overall, the aim would be to make it more difficult for any nonprofit group to engage in campaign politics; in practice, it would likely be perceived as a disproportionate handicap of conservative donor-backed organizations. These are among the reforms that the administration, regulatory groups or Congress could take on if so inclined (which Congress probably is not).

  5. rikyrah says:

    Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz Welcome Their Second Child
    Dec 29, 2014 By Bea Williams, APR

    It’s official! Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz welcomed their second son, Genesis Ali Dean, on December 27, 2014.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Is It Legal to Crack Down on #BlackLivesMatter Protest Leaders?
    By Josh Eidelson December 26, 2014

    On Saturday, Dec. 20, Minnesota’s Mall of America was partially shut down for hours as at least 1,500 people converged inside for a Black Lives Matter protest. No violence or property damage was reported, according to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). Twenty-five people were arrested, cited, and released. But Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson, citing the overtime incurred by police and the revenue lost by shuttered shops, says the organizers of the protests should pay a higher price.

    “It’s important to make an example out of these organizers so that this never happens again,” Johnson told MPR on Tuesday. She said she plans to file criminal charges next week against leaders of the demonstration, perhaps for aiding and abetting unlawful assembly or aiding and abetting public nuisance. Along with mall security videos to identify the organizers, prosecutors plan to scour Facebook (FB) posts and media interviews. “Who led that march through the Mall of America?” Johnson said to the local CBS station Monday night. “If we can identify those people who were inciting others to continue with this illegal activity, we can consider charges against them too.”

    Is this all constitutional? It’s complicated.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Blue Lives Matter
    Talking about “police reform” obscures the task. Today’s policies are, at the very least, the product of democratic will.
    DEC 22 2014, 10:00 AM ET

    The reactions to the murders of two New York police officers this weekend have been mostly uniform in their outrage. There was the predictable gamesmanship exhibited in some quarters, but all agree that the killing of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos merits particular censure. This is understandable. The killing of police officers is not only the destruction of life but an attack on democracy itself. We do not live in a military dictatorship, and police officers are not the representatives of an autarch, nor the enforcers of law handed down by decree. The police are representatives of a state that derives its powers from the people. Thus the strong reaction we have seen to Saturday’s murders is wholly expected and entirely appropriate.

    For activists and protesters radicalized by the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, this weekend’s killing may seem to pose a great obstacle. In fact, it merely points to the monumental task in front of them. The response to Garner’s death, particularly, seemed to offer some hope. But the very fact that this opening originated in the most extreme case—the on-camera choking of a man for a minor offense—points to the shaky ground on which such hope took root. It was only a matter of time before some criminal shot a police officer in New York. If that’s all it takes to turn Americans away from police reform, the efforts were likely doomed from the start.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Texas Is Throwing People In Jail For Failing To Pay Back Predatory Loans
    Posted: 12/29/2014 12:46 pm EST

    At least six people have been jailed in Texas over the past two years for owing money on payday loans, according to a damning new analysis of public court records.

    The economic advocacy group Texas Appleseed found that more than 1,500 debtors have been hit with criminal charges in the state — even though Texas enacted a law in 2012 explicitly prohibiting lenders from using criminal charges to collect debts.

    According to Appleseed’s review, 1,576 criminal complaints were issued against debtors in eight Texas counties between 2012 and 2014. These complaints were often filed by courts with minimal review and based solely on the payday lender’s word and frequently flimsy evidence. As a result, borrowers have been forced to repay at least $166,000, the group found.

    Appleseed included this analysis in a Dec. 17 letter sent to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Texas attorney general’s office and several other government entities.

    It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Using criminal courts as debt collection agencies is against federal law, the Texas constitution and the state’s penal code. To clarify the state law, in 2012 the Texas legislature passed legislation that explicitly describes the circumstances under which lenders are prohibited from pursuing criminal charges against borrowers.

    It’s quite simple: In Texas, failure to repay a loan is a civil, not a criminal, matter. Payday lenders cannot pursue criminal charges against borrowers unless fraud or another crime is clearly established.

  9. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Cassandra @CassandraRules · 3h 3 hours ago
    Man Detained, Choked and Thrown to the Ground by #NYPD – For Dancing in the Street for @TheEllenShow’s #DanceDares

  10. rikyrah says:

    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to Be Indicted On Federal Charges In January

    Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal will be indicted by a federal grand jury by no later than January 15, 2015, according to a source close to the investigation of the embattled former member of Congress. A second independent source confirmed that Deal will indeed be indicted, but could not verify when the indictment will be handed down.

    The current investigation by the U.S. Justice Department is believed to be focused on both the campaign-finance charges and the improper use of staff while Deal was still in Congress. A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that Deal will be indicted on multiple charges and that the case against him is “airtight.”

  11. rikyrah says:

    Here Are The Most Popular Baby Names In NYC

    2014 boys

    2014 girls

  12. rikyrah says:

    UH HUH

    UH HUH


    A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.

    The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.

    Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.

    “Tavarez was … was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case,” he recounted at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.

    “I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy,” Anderson testified last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

    He made clear he wasn’t about to pass off the two legit arrests he had made in the bar to Tavarez.

    “As a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics division,” he said.

  13. rikyrah says:

    12 Ways Black Children Are Discriminated Against in Foster Care System

    December 29, 2014 | Posted by Nick Chiles

    Race correlates with involvement in the child welfare system more closely than poverty. While there are local variations, Latino children have not traditionally been overrepresented in foster care, while African-American and Native American children represent double the percentage of the foster care population than they do in the general child population. Whites represent a significantly lower percentage than they do in the general child population, while Asian children are the least likely to enter care. Since the disparity in poverty rates for Black and Latino children is relatively small compared to disparity in foster care placement, race operates as its own separate factor, making Black children much more likely than anyone else to wind up in foster care. But why?

    The System Sees Black Mothers as the Enemy

    The system is most aggressive in taking action against Black single mothers. As one critic, law professor Dorothy Roberts, notes, “If you go into dependency court in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles without any preconceptions, you might conclude that the child welfare system is designed to monitor, regulate and punish Black mothers.” Child welfare involvement presents a clear example of the intersectionality of race and gender oppression. The system operates primarily and punitively against Black mothers.

    Child Welfare System Seeks to Maintain the Social Order

    The child welfare system not only reflects an inequitable social order; it also helps to maintain it. It assumes a nuclear family norm that gives women the responsibility for caregiving, while denying them adequate government support and vilifying those who do not depend on husbands. Like welfare, the child welfare system is a significant means of public support of poor children, especially poor Black children. The child welfare system also extracts an onerous price. It says the system will take care of poor children only if poor mothers relinquish custody of them.

  14. rikyrah says:

    8 of the Most Revolting and Abominable Acts of Cruelty Inflicted on Enslaved Blacks

    December 29, 2014
    Posted by Taylor Gordon

    The Atrocities of the Infamous Madame Lalaurie

    Louisiana slave owner Madame Lalaurie was one of the most infamous slave owners in the state’s history. The conditions she subjected enslaved people to were so heinous and despicable that even other slave owners were appalled by her actions. Journalists of the time couldn’t even bring themselves to describe the awful things she did. Instead, the New Orleans Bee wrote, “We would shrink from the task of detailing the painful circumstances connected therewith, were it not that a sense of duty …. renders it indispensable to do so.” After Lalaurie’s home caught fire one day, a crowd came to fight the flames but soon discovered something so gruesome they couldn’t believe their eyes.

    “Seven slaves more or less horribly mutilated, were seen suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other. The slaves were the property of the demon, in the shape of a woman,” the Bee wrote.

    Louisiana Slave Owner Gouges Hole in Enslaved Man’s Stomach

    The first appeal of a criminal conviction for cruelty to an enslaved person in Louisiana came with the case of State v. Morris. The court said the defendant beat the enslaved man to death “in a cruel and barbarous manner” and the enslaved man’s injuries would serve as proof. The enslaved man was not only found with a series of massive bruises and severe wounds on his thighs, loins and other parts of his body, but he also had a large hole in his abdomen. The court described the hole as being the size of a dollar which appeared to have been “gouged out.”

  15. rikyrah says:

    Chris Rock and Malaak Compton-Rock Divorce After Nearly Two Decades of Marriage

    December 29, 2014
    Posted by Taylor Gordon

    Chris Rock and his wife Malaak Compton-Rock are asking for privacy as they prepare for divorce after nearly two decades of marriage.

    It’s been 19 years since Rock and Compton-Rock tied the knot but for those who have seen the award-winning comedian do stand up, the split doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

    Rock always took jabs at what life was like after marriage and the decision to finally file for divorce suggests that there was a little seriousness behind those jokes.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Black Families Battling Cancer Look to Affordable Care Act as Last Hope In the Midst of Financial Struggles

    December 29, 2014 | Posted by Taylor Gordon

    Many studies have revealed that low-income families impacted by cancer are continuously falling through the cracks of America’s healthcare system.

    For Black families, there is a unique set of circumstances that makes affording cancer treatment even more difficult, but the Affordable Care Act has emerged as a new hope for these families.

    Black people have higher fatality rates from cancer even in forms of the disease that are more common among white people.

    “In 2007 the death rate for all cancers combined continued to be 32% higher in African American men and 16% higher in African American women than in white men and women, respectively,” a report by the American Cancer Society revealed.

    It’s a pattern that is a direct reflection of a healthcare system that is leaving middle- to low-income families struggling to survive as medical costs rise. It’s also the reason so many families are hopeful that the latest wave of healthcare reform could save the lives of many cancer patients.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Kansas’ Brownback apologizes for the wrong kind of failure
    12/29/14 10:51 AM
    By Steve Benen
    Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) spent much of his first term failing so severely, even his critics were surprised. Most notably, the far-right governor launched an economic “experiment” – pushing massive tax breaks his state obviously couldn’t afford – which led to disastrous results, including debt downgrades, weak growth, and state finances in shambles.

    Kansas being Kansas, Brownback managed to win a second term anyway, and as the governor gets ready to start his second term – and somehow clean up the mess he created – the Republican is willing to reflect a bit on his missteps.
    Fresh off a re-election bid that he nearly lost because of the disastrous impact of his massive income tax cuts, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback now says he regrets his triumphant prediction that the tax cuts would be a “shot of adrenaline” to the state’s economy.

    “I probably would have chosen words better at different times, because you go through a campaign where you’ve got to eat the words you inartfully said,” Brownback told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
    I don’t mean to sound picky, but Brownback’s contrition is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of recent events. The governor enacted a radical economic experiment, which he said would give Kansas’ economy a “shot of adrenaline.” It quickly became a fiasco, and Brownback now regrets using the phrase.

  18. Hey Chicas! Can someone do a thread on this? It’s treasonous as hell. Lindsey Graham telling a foreign leader “Congress Will ‘Follow Your Lead’

    Sen. Lindsey Graham to Netanyahu: Congress Will ‘Follow Your Lead’

    During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Appropriations Committee Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the foreign leader Congress would “follow his lead” on a bill to reinforce sanctions on Iran.

    “In January of next year, there will be a vote on the Kirk-Menendez bill, bipartisan sanction legislation that says, if Iran walks away from the table, sanctions will be reimposed,” Graham said. “If Iran cheats regarding any deal that we enter to the Iranians, sanctions will be reimposed.”

    Graham and a variety of senators have been skeptical, to put it mildly, of the long-haul effort by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a deal with Iran that reverses the country’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions. Iranian sanctions are subject to congressional authorization, meaning the Senate could squelch the deal by refusing to play along.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Jeb Bush severs Obamacare connection
    12/29/14 10:12 AM—UPDATED 12/29/14 10:18 AM
    By Steve Benen

    By some accounts, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) hurried into the 2016 presidential race in part because he was concerned about questions surrounding his private-sector work. But at this point, those questions are apparently getting louder.

    Two weeks ago, for example, the likely Republican candidate was eager to criticize President Obama’s breakthrough on U.S. policy towards Cuba, but Bush’s condemnations proved problematic when the public was reminded that Barclays reportedly paid Bush more than $1 million a year, even while the financial giant was being accused of violating Cuban sanctions.

    Late last week, as Jason Millman reported, a similar problem popped up.
    The for-profit hospital chain Tenet Healthcare announced on Christmas Eve that Jeb Bush would be stepping down from its board of directors by the end of the year. Bush, who has served on the board of Tenet since 2007, is starting to cut his business ties as he explores a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. And there’s one obvious reason why keeping Tenet on his resume might not look so good politically: Tenet has benefited greatly from the Affordable Care Act, which much of the GOP base is still committed to repealing.

    Bush is giving up a lucrative board post. He earned $128,500 in cash plus $170,000 in stock last year for a total of $298,500 according to Tenet’s 2013 proxy statement.

    Just so we’re clear, Jeb Bush isn’t accused of doing anything wrong during his tenure on the company’s board.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Obama warns GOP he plans to use veto pen in 2015
    4 hours ago

    HONOLULU (AP) — Warning from President Barack Obama to congressional Republicans: I have a veto pen and, come January, I won’t be afraid to use it.

    Since taking office in 2009, Obama has only vetoed legislation twice, both in fairly minor circumstances. But with Republicans set to take full control of Congress next year, Obama is losing his last bulwark against a barrage of bills he doesn’t like: the Senate.

    “I haven’t used the veto pen very often since I’ve been in office,” Obama said in an NPR interview airing Monday. “Now, I suspect, there are going to be some times where I’ve got to pull that pen out.”

    He added: “I’m going to defend gains that we’ve made in health care. I’m going to defend gains that we’ve made on environment and clean air and clean water.”–politics.html

  21. Ametia says:

    The Cultural Crimes of Iggy Azalea
    Amy Zimmerman

    Iggy Azalea doesn’t wear blackface, but that doesn’t mean her drag performance doesn’t share some essential genetic code with the old-school American minstrel show.

    Iggy Azalea was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly in New South Wales. A white, Australian, female recording artist and model, the woman now known as Iggy is currently the female rapper with the longest-leading number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s increasingly difficult to listen to the radio without hearing Iggy’s boisterous “Fancy,” or her misguided attempt to lend fellow shiny-haired it girl Ariana some street-cred on “Problem.” But if you turn on the radio (or if you’re under the age of forty and listen to music on Spotify) looking for Iggy’s hot new flow, be forewarned: the 24-year-old Aussie doesn’t do much more than mimic the identifiably black spitting style of the American South

  22. Exclusive: Boy’s letter to Santa, ‘I just wanna be safe,’ gets heartfelt response from Obama

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

    Or in this case: Yes, Malik, someone very high up cares about your safety: the president of the United States.

    “I’m like OMG! It’s a letter from Obama, from the president,” 13-year-old Malik Bryant said Sunday, as he held the signed letter, on cream-colored White House parchment paper, that he had just opened.

    Malik, who lives in the impoverished, high-crime Englewood neighborhood on the South Side with his mother and two sisters, had only one wish this year when he participated in a local charity’s annual Letters to Santa program.

    It wasn’t electronics, nor clothes, nor games.

    “All I ask for is for safety. I just wanna be safe,” Malik wrote earlier this month.

    Malik was one of about 8,500 Chicago Public Schools students who wrote letters to Santa in the program run by DirectEffect Charities, a 13-year-old Chicago nonprofit.

    His and other letters from students at 12 schools this year were distributed to big-hearted folks across the city and suburbs who fulfilled the wishes — much the same as similar programs run by organizations across the city, including the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust.

    “When I pulled this one letter from a seventh-grade class at an Englewood elementary school, I couldn’t stop reading it,” said Michelle DiGiacomo, CEO of DirectEffect. “All this kid was asking for was safety. I was floored.”

    During more than a decade of running Letters to Santa, DiGiacomo has seen her share of daunting requests from children, but none like this.

    “I didn’t know what to do with it. Malik’s teacher suggested we get him winter wear and some school supplies. So I sent off his letter to one of our Santas. Yet I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” she said.

    “Then it hit me. Someone bigger than Santa needed to see this letter. I thought the president of the United States needed to see it,” DiGiacomo said.

  23. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    deray mckesson @deray · 11h 11 hours ago
    Have y’all seen the Apple commercial with the black grandmother? It makes me teary eyed. Everytime.

  24. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    The Associated Press @AP · 3h 3 hours ago
    President Obama warns Republicans that he expects to use his veto pen far more often next year:

  25. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    The Associated Press @AP · 2h 2 hours ago
    Italian premier says evacuation of Greek ferry is complete, only captain and 4 rescuers remain:

  26. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    “National Latino police officers group urges members not to ‘disrespect’ NYC mayor”


    Latino Officers Association: Respect mayor’s office

    The National Latino Officers Association issued a statement late Sunday urging police officers to maintain discipline in honor of the sacrifice of Ramos and his partner, Officer Wenjian Liu.

    “The Office of the Mayor deserves to be respected regardless of the disagreements you may have with the elected holder of the office,” the statement said. “It is the office itself that merits your esteem and when you disrespect the Office of the Mayor, you tarnish the image the public has for the position you hold as the protectors of our great city.”

  27. rikyrah says:

    A tale of two election theses
    12/29/14 09:15 AM—UPDATED 12/29/14 09:16 AM
    By Steve Benen

    In the immediate aftermath of this year’s midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans had an interesting disagreement about the nature of the results. Everyone could see the wins and losses, and everyone could read the exit polls, but the parties had wildly divergent interpretations about voters’ attitudes.

    For Republicans, the 2014 elections reflected a center-right nation reasserting itself, strenuously objecting to President Obama’s agenda. For the GOP, this couldn’t be more obvious: Republicans nationalized the cycle, President Obama was effectively on the ballot, and Dems lost big. Ergo, the American mainstream wants to see conservative governance going forward.

    For Democrats, most notably at the White House, this year’s midterms were about something very different: the public’s disgust with inactivity. Washington spent the last two years spinning its wheels, accomplishing nothing, and by Election Day, voters weren’t rejecting liberalism so much as they were expressing contempt for political paralysis.

    With these assumptions in mind, President Obama has been extremely busy lately, announcing a series of major policy breakthroughs. Congressional Republicans seem dumbfounded. “Didn’t he see the election results?” GOP lawmakers keep asking. “Doesn’t he realize he lost?”

    But for Obama and his team, the election results are precisely the reason to aggressively pursue the administration’s agenda – if the public is hungry for change Americans can believe in, the president has been eager to give them exactly that.

    And at this point, the Democrats’ assumptions about voters’ attitudes look pretty smart.
    Improving views of the economy have helped hike President Barack Obama’s approval rating to a 20-month high, a new CNN/ORC poll showed Tuesday, as markets climbed to record levels at news of an economy in overdrive.

    More Americans still disapprove of the job Obama is doing as President. But at 48%, Obama’s approval rating is at its highest point in CNN polling since May 2013.
    This is just one poll, of course, but Gallup’s daily tracking put Obama’s approval rating at 41% at the start of the month, before climbing to 47% last week.

  28. rikyrah says:

    If Obama’s a socialist, he’s really bad at it
    12/29/14 08:35 AM
    By Steve Benen

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped the 18,000 mark for the first time in its history last week, prompting Matt O’Brien to reminisce about “the worst op-ed in history.”
    On March 6, 2009, former George W. Bush adviser Michael Boskin offered whatever the opposite of a prophecy is when he said that “Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing the Dow.”

    Now let’s set the scene. Obama had been in office for less than two months at that point, and in that time, stocks had admittedly fallen a lot as markets worried that the big bank bailout known as TARP wouldn’t actually be enough to save the banks. It got so bad that Citigroup briefly became a penny stock.

    Boskin, though, didn’t think that this once-in-three-generations financial crisis was to blame for the market meltdown. Instead, he blamed it on Obama for … talking about raising taxes?
    Yep. On the day President Obama was inaugurated, the market closed at 7,949.09. By mid-March 2009 with the economy still spiraling, the Dow sunk even lower, shedding another 1,500 points.

  29. rikyrah says:

    December 28, 2014 3:18 PM
    Sorry, New York Post. There’s No Comparison.

    By David Atkins

    GQ did a humorous roundup of some of the craziest politicians in America. They included most of the ones you might expect: Ted Yoho, Joe Arpaio, Joe Barton, Virginia Foxx and the like. Of their twenty politicians listed, seventeen were Republicans.

    The New York Post took great offense to this, throwing up an article about supposedly crazy Democrats. But the attempt at false equivalence shows just what’s wrong with the Republican Party—and with those in the supposedly objective press who play the false equivalence game.

    Politics is full of exaggeration and hyperbole. Anyone who has seen an NRCC or DCCC fundraising email is well aware of this. It’s not exactly a surprise when a politician overstates their case or speaks in exaggerated metaphor, but that’s what constitutes most of the examples in the New York Post’s list of “crazy”—and why their list includes well-respected Democratic politicians, while the GQ list targets the GOP’s fringe. So the New York Post takes offense over Debbie Wasserman-Schultz saying that Scott Walker “gave women the back of his hand” or Harry Reid’s calling the Koch brothers one of the main causes of climate change. In some cases the supposed Democratic offenses are wisps of nothing, like Bernie Sanders saying the VA provides a high level of care, or Kay Hagan refusing to participate in a debate.

    These aren’t really policy considerations, and where they are policy considerations they show Democrats in line with both science and the American people, whether the topic is the minimum wage or the VA or climate change.

    The GQ list, by contrast, is about mostly conservative politicians saying, believing and doing truly scary and unpopular stuff: Arpaio torturing his inmates, Barton apologizing to BP and saying carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant, Rand Paul saying that a “right to healthcare” means enslaving doctors, or Jody Hice seeing signs of the apocalypse from Revelation.

    These things are not in the same ballpark, no matter how much conservatives and many journalists would like to pretend that they are. The modern conservative movement really is full of crazy that is unmatched on the other side

  30. rikyrah says:

    December 28, 2014 8:31 PM
    Pope Francis and the New Moral Majority

    By David Atkins

    I’ve often described myself as a political pessimist, if only because I’m skeptical of the power of politics as usual to resolve the multiple crises facing the nation and the world at large. I think significant upheavals and disruptions are likely. That having been said, I’m actually an optimist in terms of the longer trajectory: I do believe there is a moral arc that bends toward justice, and demographic changes will only hasten the arrival of a better system.

    Obviously, if you’re looking for bad news you can find it everywhere. It’s entirely possible we’re headed for a climate-ravaged corporatist dystopia of inequality that mirrors feudalism.

    But signs of a new moral awakening are also out there—not the least of which is, incredibly, coming from The Vatican:

  31. rikyrah says:

    GOP learns lessons from Sam Brownback’s tax scare
    Republicans once idolized the tax-cutting superstar; now they look askance at him.
    By Rachael Bade
    12/26/14 5:38 AM EST

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich will roll out “responsible” tax plans that protect against revenue gaps. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Arizona’s new Republican governor are delaying big dreams of nixing the income tax as they face budget shortfalls. And Missouri Republicans, once jealous of their neighbor Kansas’ massive cuts, are thankful they trimmed less.
    Call it the Brownback effect.

    Republicans once idolized Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as a tax cutting superstar — now he’s a lesson in what not to do.
    “It’s a cautionary tale on a national scale … Many of us felt that [Kansas] had been too aggressive,” said Indiana Senate Majority Leader and tax committee chairman Brandt Hershman, who helped GOP Gov. Mike Pence cut corporate taxes last spring. “We all like low taxes … but we have to ensure the stability of a revenue stream to provide basic services that our citizens expect.”

    It’s a major turnaround from two years ago, when Brownback was considered a Republican trailblazer for conservatives around the nation who dreamed of phasing out their state income tax.
    Now, Republicans are rethinking how aggressive they can be on taxes in light of the projected $279 million revenue gap that’s plaguing Kansas this year — shortfalls that resulted in the state’s credit rating being downgraded and nearly booted the Republican from office in a state that bleeds red.

    Read more:

  32. rikyrah says:

    President’s Test: Family Vacation With Teenage Girls
    DEC. 28, 2014

    KAILUA, Hawaii — As president, Barack Obama must contend with challenges of global importance, even while on vacation. But as a father, he potentially faces a test on the home front: A two-week family vacation with teenage daughters.

    Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, have come here — to the place their father spent much of his childhood — almost every Christmas since they were born, and every year Mr. Obama has been in office.

    But now that they are teenagers they have entered the years when experts say children are less interested in, say, a beach day with the parents.

    Despite the unique experience of growing up in the White House, protected by Secret Service agents and minders who carefully control their media exposure, the Obama daughters appear, in rare glimpses, to be, well, teenagers who at times show spunk and independence.

    They take selfies. They roll their eyes at their father’s jokes. They prefer Beyoncé to the singalongs in “Frozen.”

    “I used to use my kids as an excuse to see all the Disney movies,” Michelle Obama recently told People magazine, “and now I beg them and they won’t go.”

    These days appear to be different for the family than they were in 2011, when the daughters were photographed holding their father’s hand on a visit to Sea Life Park in Waimanalo.

  33. rikyrah says:

    In North Dakota, a Tale of Oil, Corruption and Death
    DEC. 28, 2014

    FORT BERTHOLD INDIAN RESERVATION, N.D. — Tex G. Hall, the three-term tribal chairman on this remote, once impoverished reservation, was the very picture of confidence as he strode to the lectern at his third Annual Bakken Oil and Gas Expo and gazed out over a stuffed, backlit mountain lion.

    Tall and imposing beneath his black cowboy hat, he faced an audience of political and industry leaders lured from far and wide to the “Texpo,” as some here called it. It was late April at the 4 Bears Casino, and the outsiders endorsed his strong advocacy for oil development and the way he framed it as mutually beneficial for the industry and the reservation: “sovereignty by the barrel.”

    “M.H.A. Nation is No. 1 for tribal oil produced on American soil in the United States right now currently today,” Mr. Hall proudly declared, referring to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

    But, in a hall decorated with rigs and tepees, a dice throw from the slot machines, Mr. Hall’s self-assurance belied the fact that his grip on power was slipping. After six years of dizzyingly rapid oil development, anxiety about the environmental and social costs of the boom, as well as about tribal mismanagement and oil-related corruption, had burst to the surface.

    By that point, there were two murder cases — one person dead in Spokane, Wash., the other missing but presumed dead in North Dakota — tied to oil business on the reservation. And Mr. Hall, a once-seemingly untouchable leader, was under investigation by his tribal council because of his connections to an Oregon man who would later be charged with murder for hire in the two deaths.

    In 2012, the man, James Henrikson, 35, who had five felony convictions in his past, operated a trucking company called Blackstone out of the tribal chairman’s garage. Blackstone worked primarily for the chairman’s own private oil field company, enjoying privileged access to business on the reservation as his subcontractor.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Twenty states will raise their minimum wage on Jan. 1

    The minimum wage will rise in 20 states and the District of Columbia on Thursday, as laws and automatic adjustments are made with the start of the new year.

    In nine states, the hike will be automatic, an adjustment made to keep the minimum wage in line with rising inflation. But in 11 states and D.C., the rise is the result of legislative action or voter-approved referenda, according to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Two more states — Delaware and Minnesota — will get legislatively driven hikes later in the year, while New York will raise its minimum wage on Dec. 31. Twenty-nine states will have minimum wages above the federal minimum of $7.25.

    The size of the hikes range from 12 cents in Florida to $1.25 in South Dakota. Among those states hiking the minimum wage, Washington state’s will be highest at $9.47. Oregon’s is next at $9.25., followed by Vermont and Connecticut at $9.15. Massachusetts and Rhode Island will have $9 minimum wages.

    Of the states where the minimum wage is rising due to legislative or voter action, five — Alaska, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont — and D.C. will also newly implement inflation indexing, bringing the number of states that tie future minimum wage hikes to inflation to 15.

  35. rikyrah says:

    The Top 10 Awesomely Luvvie Posts of 2014

    Luvvie — December 26, 2014

    This was a grand year for me and more people than ever read my words. My traffic hit many milestones and December 2014 is my most-read month EVER. I totally appreciate all the reads and shares and comments. In fact, the comments on my posts are my favorite things about writing. Seriously. Y’all are EVERYTHING.

    It’s been so fun covering all things pop culture, from TV to movies to race to travel and randomness.

    I’m doing a look back at the year and below are the top posts of 2014. Read them if you missed, and share the ones that were your favorites.

  36. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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