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Legendary Singer and Activist Lena Horne Dies at 92

Posted by: TheLCster

AP~Lena Horne, the enchanting jazz singer and actress known for her plaintive, signature song “Stormy Weather” and for her triumph over the bigotry that allowed her to entertain white audiences but not socialize with them, has died. She was 92.

Horne died Sunday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Gloria Chin, who would not release details.

“Her timeless legacy will forever be celebrated as part of the fabric of American popular music, and our deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends, and fans worldwide as we all mourn the loss of one of music’s signature voices,” Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, said Monday in a statement.

Horne, whose striking beauty often overshadowed her talent and artistry, was remarkably candid about the underlying reason for her success: “I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept,” she once said. “I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.”

“I knew her from the time I was born, and whenever I needed anything she was there. She was funny, sophisticated and truly one of a kind. We lost an original. Thank you Lena,” Liza Minnelli said Monday. Her father, director Vincente Minnelli, brought Horne to Hollywood to star in “Cabin in the Sky,” in 1943.

In the 1940s, Horne was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, to play the Copacabana nightclub in New York City and when she signed with MGM, she was among a handful of black actors to have a contract with a major Hollywood studio.

In 1943, MGM Studios loaned her to 20th Century-Fox to play the role of Selina Rogers in the all-black movie musical “Stormy Weather.” Her rendition of the title song became a major hit and her most famous tune.

Horne had an impressive musical range, from blues and jazz to the sophistication of Rodgers and Hart in such songs as “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” In 1942’s “Panama Hattie,” her first movie with MGM, she sang Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” winning critical acclaim.

In her first big Broadway success, as the star of “Jamaica” in 1957, reviewer Richard Watts Jr. called her “one of the incomparable performers of our time.” Songwriter Buddy de Sylva dubbed her “the best female singer of songs.”

“It’s just a great loss,” said Janet Jackson Monday. “She brought much joy into everyone’s lives – even the younger generations, younger than myself. She was such a great talent. She opened up such doors for artists like myself.”

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Statement by President Obama and First Lady Michelle on the Passing of Lena Horne

“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lena Horne – one of our nation’s most cherished entertainers. Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home. Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Lena , and we join all Americans in appreciating the joy she brought to our lives and the progress she forged for our country.”

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Filed under African-Americans, Civil Rights Movement, Hollywood, Music, Uncategorized

Kiss My Ash

Posted by: TheLCster

Written by Robert J. Elisberg

We’ve gotten to the point where the public today accepts glib political demagoguery from spokesmen for the Republican Party. Certainly, ideas and discourse exist in the GOP, but they’ve been elbowed out of the center ring. And of course there’s nothing acceptable about it. Because there are consequences to their words.

Mind you, I’m not referring to normal, everyday political razzle-dazzle. Lying, exaggeration, double-speak. That’s the lifeblood of all politics. Democrats included.

No, I’m talking about those who rant what they know not to be true, or don’t remotely believe in, or couldn’t care less whether it’s true or not, solely because the only thing they want is to create divisive anger in crowds and do nothing more than score political points.

There are consequences to their words.

All parties have long had irresponsible demagogues. But it has become a driving force within the Republican Party because of their lockstep march against All Things Obama.

Of course, today’s glib political demagoguery starts further back, fine-tuned during the Bush Administration which took the responsibility of national leadership and played it as if it was paintball. The whole “you’re with us or you’re a terrorist” mindset may have been great politics, but there were consequences. When your game is to destroy a CIA agent fighting that very terrorism, the points you get weaken America.

Glib political demagoguery is the thoughtless game that got Dick Cheney telling Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” That too was fine politics – but there were consequences. A national debt doubling to $12 trillion. A budget deficit of $482 billion from surplus. And all America is digging ourselves out of them now.

This all hit home very clearly over the past month, as GOP glib political demagoguery has repeatedly showed its consequences, in all its devastation.

The most prominent, of course, is the agonizing disaster of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. For two years, Republicans from Sarah Palin, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Steele and beyond, have hyperventilated with their “Drill, Baby, Drill” pontification, not caring its risks, just that it was grand politics for riling up crowds. And now we see the ghastly consequences.

Already 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled. It could reach past 11 million. In only one day, the slick went from an unthinkable 1,150 square miles to over 3.800. It’s growing faster than The Blob, and nearing the pristine Florida Keys. This is an economic disaster of such catastrophic proportions it could impact the climate. And 11 workers killed.

(It’s a macabre observation that oil is the sole area Sarah Palin has claimed supposed “expertise.” That was never expertise, mind you, but we see the naked Emperor’s Clothes laid bare. Imagine now how empty the rest of her non-existent qualifications are. And not a word from her since the disaster.)

Yet within just the past month, this is far from the only gruesome case by Republicans of glib political demagoguery that has resulted in crushing consequences.

Think back if you will to February 24, 2009. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was selected by the Republican Party to deliver its response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. With dripping ridicule, Mr. Jindal derided the Obama stimulus investment of “$140 million for something called volcano monitoring.”

Never mind that Sarah Palin, then still governor of Alaska before resigning, let the glib political demagoguery pass. The callousness of this GOP strutting showed itself only a month later, when Mt. Redoubt erupted – in Alaska. There are consequences to glib political demagoguery. Far-greater devastation was only averted because of early volcano monitoring.

But even this isn’t the point. Because, remembering Bobby Jindal and the GOP’s calculated, snide mocking of “something called volcano monitoring,” as if it didn’t matter, as if it was a fake-Socialist, Big Government waste by Barack Obama because he’s Barack Obama – only weeks ago, the entire world saw this:

When Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in Iceland erupted, airline travel came to a complete halt throughout Europe. World commerce was suspended. The world’s climate was impacted. There were a billion dollars in losses. “In terms of closure of airspace, this is worse than after 9/11,” said a spokesman for Britain aviation. “The disruption is probably larger than anything we’ve seen.”

And only a year earlier, the GOP spokesman said: “Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington.”

I’m guessing they’d like to take back that wisecrack about “eruptions.”

This is why government monitor volcanoes. It matters. It has consequences.

It all matters. It all has consequences.

Again.

And again and again.

Like when you engage in glib political demagoguery to rile crowds and endlessly repeat a snarky mantra for political points by attacking “cap and trade” and roaring that “clean coal CLEAN COAL” is the solution, the only solution, the easy answer, you knowingly ignore that there are consequences. And one is the Upper Big Branch mine disaster with 29 men dead.

Disagreement is good. So, too, is active opposition.

But glib political demagoguery is where the line gets drawn.

Our words matters. When you create anger in others to score political points, dismissive of what the devastating results could be, you do not deserve to be on the stage.

The gravest oil disaster in U.S. history. The biggest airline disaster in world history. A mine disaster leaving 29 me dead. All within the last month alone.

The longer list makes it more shameless.

There are consequences for your words.

Far too many Republican spokesman have tried to gut the United States with a shiv, all for 30 pieces of silver and craven political expedience. Too many others in the GOP have quietly, sheepishly acquiesced and enabled them.

Go. Let the adults talk. Let the good and serious people still in your party – and all parties – have the microphone back. You’ve shown your worth. The world can no longer afford you.

Robert J. Elisberg has been a commentator and contributor to such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, C/NET and E! Online, and served on the editorial board for the Writers Guild of America. He has contributed political writing to the anthology, “Clued in on Politics,” 3rd edition (CQ Press).

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Filed under Democrats, Disaster, Environment, Greed, Republicans, Uncategorized

The Winds of Change ~ Cape Wind Farm Project Approved

Posted by: TheLCster

After Years Of Legal Battles, America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Is A Go

AP~The Obama administration has approved what would be the nation’s first offshore wind farm, off Cape Cod, inching the U.S. closer to harvesting an untapped domestic energy source – the steady breezes blowing along its vast coasts.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his decision Wednesday in Boston, clearing the way for a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind was in its ninth year of federal review, and Salazar stepped in early this year to bring what he called much-needed resolution to the bitterly contested proposal.

We are beginning a new direction in our nation’s energy future,” Salazar said.

Cape Wind says it can generate power by 2012 and aims to eventually supply three-quarters of the power on Cape Cod, which has about 225,000 residents. Cape Wind officials say it will provide green jobs and a reliable domestic energy source, while offshore wind advocates are hoping it can jump-start the U.S. industry.

America’s onshore wind industry is the world’s largest, but higher upfront costs, tougher technological challenges and environmental concerns have held back the development of offshore wind farms.

Denmark installed the world’s first offshore wind turbine 20 years ago. China has built its first commercial wind farm off Shanghai and plans several other projects.

The U.S. Department of Energy envisions offshore wind farms accounting for 4 percent of the country’s electric generating capacity by 2030.

The Cape Wind Fact Sheet, Project Site Map and the Secretary’s Response to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation are available here or here. More information on the project can be found here.

Seven Must-Know Facts About the Cape Wind Project

  • Cape Wind will be the country’s first offshore wind farm. The US Department Of Energy predicts that offshore wind farms alone will handle 4% of the country’s electricity generating capacity by 2030.
  • The project will be ready to generate power in 2012, and Cape Wind plans on supplying 75% of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island’s power combined with the clean energy technology. At peak capacity, the project has the capability to meet 4% of the entire New England region’s power needs.
  • When announcing the approval of the offshore wind farm, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, “With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”
  • The 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound will be no closer than 5 miles to land, and 14 miles away at its furthest. On a clear day, the turbines would only be a half-inch tall on the horizon when viewed from the nearest point of land. The number of turbines have been reduced from an original proposal of 170 to 130 to address concerns about harming views.
  • Cape Wind will create 600 – 1,000 construction jobs and 50 permanent wind power jobs.
  • The United Kingdom and Denmark are the leaders in offshore wind power, though many countries, like Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, and China, have invested in the renewable energy source as well. In 2007, Denmark (who built the first offshore wind farm decades ago) generated 19.7% of their electricity production from their combined wind power farms. That same year, 1.5% of electricity in the UK was generated by wind.
  • The green light for Cape Wind gives a lot of hope to the many other offshore wind farms being proposed in places like Texas, Delaware, and New Jersey. The Department Of The Interior writes, “the project would […..] be one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the nation, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants by 700,000 tons annually. That is equivalent to removing 175,000 cars from the road for a year.”

President Obama Visits Wind Turbine Blade Plant in Iowa

The President visits a Siemens wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Fort Madison, IA on his White House to Main Street tour and speaks about how his Administrations investments in clean energy are creating jobs and new industries.

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Filed under Alternative Energy, Barack Obama, Change, Environment, Green, Green Energy, Green Jobs, Pres. Barack Obama, Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar (Sec of Interior), Uncategorized, Wind Turbine

Dr. Jill Biden Thanks 2010 National Teachers of the Year

Posted by: TheLCster

Dr. Jill Biden introduces Vice President Joe Biden during a reception for the National Teachers of the Year at the Vice President's residence at the Naval Observatory Residence, April 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

On Monday evening, Dr. Jill Biden hosted the 2010 National Teachers of the Year reception to congratulate teachers across the country for making a difference in their students’ lives. She was joined by the Department of Education’s Undersecretary Thelma Melendez and Chief of Staff Margot Rogers.

Dr. Biden said being surrounded by teachers at the reception made it one of her “absolute favorite events of the year”:

“Just like each of you – I see day in and day out in my classroom the critical importance of education to the lives of Americans and the success of our nation.

I love being a teacher because I see that I can make a difference in the lives of my students. Regardless of the subject I’m teaching, my goal is to impart a sense of confidence in my students that will give them the strength to move in a positive direction.

I know each of you here tonight could share similar stories about your students who have been inspired by something you have taught them – and have, in turn, inspired you.

You stand here as the best of the best – each being honored this week for going above and beyond for your students, and our country.

So – on behalf of myself, my husband the Vice President, and President and Mrs. Obama – I want to say Thank You.”

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Filed under Children, Dr. Jill Biden, Education, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, Vice-President Joe Biden

Breathing While Undocumented by Linda Greenhouse

Posted by: TheLCster

Op-ed by Linda Greenhouse

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Linda Greenhouse

NYT~I’m glad I’ve already seen the Grand Canyon.

Because I’m not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last week has turned it into.

What would Arizona’s revered libertarian icon, Barry Goldwater, say about a law that requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person with whom they have made “any lawful contact” and about whom they have “reasonable suspicion” that “the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?” Wasn’t the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?

And in case the phrase “lawful contact” makes it appear as if the police are authorized to act only if they observe an undocumented-looking person actually committing a crime, another section strips the statute of even that fig leaf of reassurance. “A person is guilty of trespassing,” the law provides, by being “present on any public or private land in this state” while lacking authorization to be in the United States — a new crime of breathing while undocumented. The intent, according to the State Legislature, is “attrition through enforcement.”

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Tucson, has already called on the nation’s business community to protest the law by withholding its convention business. Such boycotts can be effective, as demonstrated in the late-1980s when the loss not only of convention business but of — horrors! — the Super Bowl prompted Arizona voters to reinstate a Martin Luther King holiday in the state.

But a boycott is a blunt instrument that can hurt innocent business owners and their employees. So I will stick to my own personal protest without presuming to urge anyone else to follow my example.

Rather, I’ll offer a reflection on how, a generation ago, another of the country’s periodic anti-immigrant spasms was handled by the Supreme Court. In 1975, Texas passed a law to deprive undocumented immigrant children of a free public education. Many thousands of children — a good number of whom were on the road to eventual citizenship under immigration laws that were notably less harsh back then — faced being thrown out of school and deprived of a future.

…snip…

So what to do in the meantime? Here’s a modest proposal. Everyone remembers the wartime Danish king who drove through Copenhagen wearing a Star of David in support of his Jewish subjects. It’s an apocryphal story, actually, but an inspiring one. Let the good people of Arizona — and anyone passing through — walk the streets of Tucson and Phoenix wearing buttons that say: I Could Be Illegal.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi Threatened: California Man Arrested For Health Care Reform Threats

Posted by: TheLCster

AP~The FBI arrested a California man Wednesday for allegedly making threatening and harassing phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over health care reform, law enforcement officials said.

Gregory Lee Giusti, 48, was arrested at his San Francisco home shortly after noon, said Joseph Schadler, spokesman for the FBI’s San Francisco office.

Schadler did not disclose the charges against Giusti, but said he’s due before a federal magistrate Thursday morning.

Several federal officials said the man made dozens of calls to Pelosi’s homes in California and Washington, as well as to her husband’s business office. They said he recited her home address and said if she wanted to see it again, she would not support the health care overhaul bill that since has been enacted.

One official said the man is believed to have spoken directly with Pelosi at least once.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

A call to a Pelosi spokesman was not immediately returned.

On Monday, the House Speaker told a reporters in San Francisco that “people have been active in expressing their disagreement.”

Sometimes those expressions have risen “to the level of threats or violence,” Pelosi said, explaining that she was not allowed to comment on her own situation.

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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Obama! by Frank Rich

Posted by: TheLCster

Op-ed by Frank Rich

Columnist Frank Rich

NOT since Clark Kent changed in a phone booth has there been an instant image makeover to match Barack Obama’s in the aftermath of his health care victory. “He went from Jimmy Carter to F.D.R. in just a fortnight,” said one of the “Game Change” authors, Mark Halperin, on MSNBC. “Look at the steam in the man’s stride!” exclaimed Chris Matthews. “Is it just me, or does Barack Obama seem different since health care passed?” wrote Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast, which, like The Financial Times, ran an illustration portraying the gangly president as a newly bulked-up Superman.

What a difference winning makes — especially in America. Whatever did (or didn’t) get into Obama’s Wheaties, this much is certain: No one is talking about the clout of Scott Brown or Rahm Emanuel any more.

But has the man really changed — or is it just us? Fifteen months after arriving at the White House, Obama remains by far the most popular national politician in the country, even with a sub-50 percent approval rating. And yet he’s also the most enigmatic. While he is in our face more than any other figure in the world, we still aren’t entirely sure what to make of him.

Artwork by Barry Blitt

Depending on where you stand — or the given day — he is either an overintellectual, professorial wuss or a ruthless Chicago machine pol rivaling the original Boss Daley. He is either a socialist redistributing wealth to the undeserving poor or a tool of Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs elite. He is a terrorist-coddling, A.C.L.U.-tilting lawyer or a closet Cheneyite upholding the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s end run on the Constitution. He is a lightweight celebrity who’s clueless without a teleprompter or a Machiavellian mastermind who has ingeniously forged his Hawaiian birth certificate, covered up his ties to Islamic radicals and bamboozled the entire mainstream press. He is the reincarnation of J.F.K., L.B.J., F.D.R., Reagan, Hitler, Stalin, Adlai Stevenson or Nelson Mandela. (Funny how few people compared George W. Bush to anyone but Hitler and his parents.)

No wonder that eight major new Obama books are arriving in the coming months, as Howard Kurtz reported in The Washington Post last week. And that’s just counting those by real authors, like Bob Woodward and Jonathan Alter, not the countless anti-Obama diatribes. There’s a bottomless market for these volumes not just because their protagonist remains popular but also because we keep hoping that the Obama puzzle might be cracked once and for all, like the Da Vinci Code.

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