Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, is gravely ill

This is exclusive, and heart breaking for me and for the family and friends of the great Aretha Franklin. She is gravely ill in Detroit. The family is asking for prayers and privacy.

Originally diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Aretha, who turned 76 in March, bravely battled back and refused to be knocked out by illness. Her last performance as on November 2, 2017 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York. Her final public performance was at Philadelphia’s Mann Center in August 2017. It was a miraculous show as Aretha was already then fighting exhaustion and dehydration.

Aretha is surrounded by family and people close to her. She will be so missed as a mother, sister, friend, cousin. But her legacy is larger than life. It’s not just that Rolling Stone called her the number 1 singer of all time, or that she is the Queen of Soul.

Long live the Queen…

Posted in Current Events, Entertainment, Music, News, Open Thread | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Sunday Praise & Worship | Praise is what I do

William Henry Murphy III (born August 2, 1973) is an American gospel recording artist and pastor. He started his music career in 2005, with the release of All Day on Epic Records. This album was listed on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart. His second album, The Sound, was released in 2007 on Central South, and was listed on the Top Gospel Albums chart as well. He self-released We Are One in 2011. This album was listed on the Top Gospel Albums chart, along with the Heatseekers Albums chart. His fourth album, God Chaser, was released in 2013 on Verity. The album reached the Gospel Albums chart, as well as the Billboard 200.

Murphy was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 2, 1973.[1][2] His father and grandfather are pastors/bishops.[3] He moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 2001, with his wife Danielle and two children, to serve as the worship minister at New Birth.[3] He later founded The dReam Center Church of Atlanta in 2006, where Tasha Cobbs is on pastoral staff.[3] His wife Danielle, is also a pastor at the church.[3] William is the residing Bishop of Worship in the FGBCF International ministry (Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship) under cofounder Bishop Paul S. Morton.

Posted in Christianity, Current Events, Gospel, Music, News, Open Thread, Politics, Praise, Worship | Tagged , , , , , , | 53 Comments

Saturday Open Thread | Beto ORourke playing dominoes in the fifth ward

I have NEVER seen anything like this. A candidate running for US Senator playing dominoes with the folks in 5th Ward. Go, Beto! Go! #BetoForTexas. I love this guy. He’s down with the people listening to their needs. This is our time for a new beginning in Texas. VOTE @BetoORourke for US Senate. Rock that vote, Texans!

Posted in Current Events, News, Open Thread, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments

Paul Manafort on Trial – Day 9

Alexandria, Virginia (CNN)A court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller signals that Rick Gates may be assisting the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election beyond the case against Paul Manafort.

In a filing Thursday, Mueller’s team said it wanted to keep a discussion between trial attorneys and Judge T.S. Ellis regarding a question to Gates secret because the transcript of the conversation would “reveal details of the ongoing investigation.”

When Gates pleaded guilty and flipped on Manafort in February, he also agreed to help the special counsel with its investigation into Russian election interference as he was needed. It’s unclear how he has aided the special counsel’s probe beyond the Manafort case, but Gates was a deputy to Manafort on the Trump campaign and worked on the transition and presidential inauguration.

The still-secret conversation occurred Tuesday afternoon in the middle of Gates’ testimony against Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016.

Defense attorney Kevin Downing had asked Gates, “Were you interviewed on several occasions about your time at the Trump campaign?”

Prosecutor Greg Andres objected to the question before Gates could answer.

The lawyers and Ellis then huddled in the far corner of the courtroom to discuss whether the question could be asked. The courtroom’s overhead noise machine was turned on so that Gates, the jury and the public in the room couldn’t hear what they said.

Ellis called for a break in the proceedings immediately after the short discussion ended, and Downing tried to ask about the Trump campaign investigation again.

During the discussion — one of many during a trial, often called a “sidebar conference” in court lingo — the prosecutors now say they discussed “new” details about their “ongoing criminal investigation” into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

“Disclosing the identified transcript portions would reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing investigation … In addition, sealing will minimize any risk of prejudice from the disclosure of new information relating to that ongoing investigation,” the special counsel’s team wrote in a court filing Thursday. “The government’s concerns would continue until the relevant aspect of the investigation is revealed publicly, if that were to occur.”

Posted in 2016 Elections, Conspiracy, Current Events, FARA, Foreign Agent Registration Act, Fraud, News, Open Thread, Politics, Russia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Friday Open Thread | The vile racism of Fox News Laura Ingraham

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Paul Manafort on Trial – Day 8

Prosecutors frustrated by repeated slapdowns from the judge at Paul Manafort’s trial made a formal written protest Thursday, complaining they were unfairly called out in front of the jury.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis sharply dressed down prosecutors on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team Wednesday for allowing an expert witness from the Internal Revenue Service to remain in the courtroom while other witnesses were testifying. Typically, witnesses aren’t supposed to hear anyone else’s testimony in a trial so they don’t influence each other.

In a written motion filed before court convened Thursday, Mueller’s team asked the judge to explain to the jury that the prosecution had done nothing wrong. Indeed, a transcript of the first day of the trial last week shows that prosecutor Uzo Asonye specifically asked that witnesses be excluded “with the exception of our expert and our [FBI] case agent.” The judge and the prosecutor went on to discuss Michael Welch by name and his expertise. And the judge unmistakably approved the exception.

“The Court mistakenly faulted the government for permitting IRS revenue agent Michael Welch, the government’s expert witness, to remain in the courtroom during the proceedings, when in fact on the first day of trial the Court had expressly granted the government’s motion to do so,” prosecutors complained in their motion. “The Court’s reprimand of government counsel suggested to the jury—incorrectly—that the government had acted improperly and in contravention of Court rules. This prejudice should be cured.”

Ellis chastised Asonye in court on Wednesday moments after he called Welch to the stand. “It’s my clear recollection….that I wasn’t admitting experts,” Ellis said. “You need to ask specifically. You’re going to go ahead now, I’m going to permit that, but I want you to remember that.”

Asonye responded that prosecutors would “check the transcript,” but it was their belief that they specifically asked for permission to allow expert witnesses like Welch to remain in the courtroom despite the usual prohibition.

“Well, let me be clear: I don’t care what the transcript says,” Ellis snapped, before backing down a little. “Maybe I made a mistake. But I want you to remember don’t do that again. When I exclude witnesses, I mean everybody. Now, it may be that I didn’t make that clear.”

The judge’s tone suggested he was disturbed by the prosecutors’ actions, although he eventually declared, “It’s not a big deal.”

In their letter, Mueller’s team said that the judge’s action left a “negative impression” of them. “The Court’s sharp reprimand of government counsel in front of the jury on August 8 was…erroneous. And, while mistakes are a natural part of the trial process, the mistake here prejudiced the government,” Mueller’s team wrote, asking Ellis to tell jurors he was mistaken and the prosecution did nothing wrong.

The judge’s slap at the prosecution over the expert witness issue was just the latest in a series of rebukes he’s delivered to Mueller’s squad in recent days over topics ranging from body language to excessive informality to efforts to introduce visual imagery of Manafort’s lavish lifestyle. The prickly exchanges have clearly begun to grate on the prosecution team, which has sometimes protested verbally in court, but did not formally lodge a written objection before Thursday.

Posted in Current Events, FARA, Foreign Agent Registration Act, News, Open Thread, Politics, Russia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Thursday Open Thread | Devin Nunes caught on tape revealing a GOP plan to impeach Rosenstein and end the Mueller investigation

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow obtained a tape of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) at a private fundraiser for Cathy McMorris Rodgers

In the first clip, Nunes confesses that he’s often embarrassed by Trump, particularly his tweets.

“Sometimes we cringe on the president’s tweets,” Nunes said at the event.

In the second clip, Nunes is heard saying that if there was someone that was an American citizen or a political campaign got secrets from a foreign government, “it would be a very bad thing.” He described a scenario where Rodgers may have scored stolen emails that she chose to release.

“Well, if that’s the case, then that’s criminal,” he said.

“With federal prosecutors now claiming in a federal indictment Wikileaks and D.C. Leaks and Guccifer 2.0 were the means by which stolen e-mails were disseminated during the presidential election and lots of still accruing evidence people associated with the Trump campaign and the president’s family and the president himself helped in that dissemination during the campaign, it cannot help that the lead opponent of the Russia investigation privately concedes when he thinks nobody is recording him that sort of activity, if proven, that would definitely be criminal,” Maddow explained.

This after Nunes has spent over a year being “acrobatic in his contortion in making the Russia scandal go away,” Maddow said.

In response to a question from the audience about deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, Rodgers interjects and says that there is a plan in place from the Republicans to impeach Rosenstein.

“It’s a bit complicated, right?” Nunses is heard saying. “I say that because you have to we only have so many months left, right. So if we actually vote to impeach, okay, what that does is that triggers the Senate then has to take it up. Well, and you have to decide what you want right now because the Senate only has so much time. Do you want it to drop everything and not confirm the Supreme Court justice, the new Supreme Court justice?”

He goes on to say Rosenstein deserves to be impeached.

“I don’t think you will get any argument from most of our colleagues. The question is the timing of it right before the election,” he continued.

Getting rid of Rosenstein is how Congressional Republicans can stop the Mueller investigation.

The final segment Maddow pulled from the tape was about how Nunes views his role in Congress and keeping the majority in Congress.

“So therein lies, so it’s like your classic catch-22 situation, where we were at a — this puts us in such a tough spot,” Nunes says. “If [Jeff] Sessions won’t unrecuse, Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones, which is really the danger. That’s why I keep — thank you for saying that, by the way — we have to keep all these, we have to keep the majority. We do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”

Posted in Current Events, News, Obstruction of Justice, Open Thread, Politics, Russia | Tagged , , , , , , , | 65 Comments