Before I get started on the political news, I want to note the passing of one of the great pioneers of rock and roll. Rolling Stone: Little Richard, Founding Father of Rock Who Broke Musical Barriers, Dead at 87.
Little Richard, a founding father of rock and roll whose fervent shrieks, flamboyant garb, and joyful, gender-bending persona embodied the spirit and sound of that new art form, died Saturday. He was 87. The musician’s son, Danny Penniman, confirmed the pioneer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was unknown.
Starting with “Tutti Frutti” in 1956, Little Richard cut a series of unstoppable hits – “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up” that same year, “Lucille” in 1957, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958 – driven by his simple, pumping piano, gospel-influenced vocal exclamations and sexually charged (often gibberish) lyrics. “I heard Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and that was it,” Elton John told Rolling Stone in 1973. “I didn’t ever want to be anything else. I’m more of a Little Richard stylist than a Jerry Lee Lewis, I think. Jerry Lee is a very intricate piano player and very skillful, but Little Richard is more of a pounder.”
Although he never hit the top 10 again after 1958, Little Richard’s influence was massive. The Beatles recorded several of his songs, including “Long Tall Sally,” and Paul McCartney’s singing on those tracks – and the Beatles’ own “I’m Down” – paid tribute to Little Richard’s shredded-throat style. His songs became part of the rock and roll canon, covered over the decades by everyone from the Everly Brothers, the Kinks, and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Elvis Costello and the Scorpions.
Little Richard’s stage persona – his pompadours, androgynous makeup and glass-bead shirts – also set the standard for rock and roll showmanship; Prince, to cite one obvious example, owed a sizable debt to the musician. “Prince is the Little Richard of his generation,” Richard told Joan Rivers in 1989 before looking at the camera and addressing Prince. “I was wearing purple before you was wearing it!”
Read about Little Richard’s (born Richard Wayne Penniman) life and career at the Rolling Stone link.
Now to other news of the day.
As Trump and his personal attorney general Bill Barr take steps to erase the rule of law and establish a fascist dictatorship in the U.S., is President Obama finally getting ready to speak out publicly? Michael Isakoff at Yahoo News: Exclusive: Obama says in private call that ‘rule of law is at risk’ in Michael Flynn case.
Former President Barack Obama, talking privately to ex-members of his administration, said Friday that the “rule of law is at risk” in the wake of what he called an unprecedented move by the Justice Department to drop charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.
In the same chat, a tape of which was obtained by Yahoo News, Obama also lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “an absolute chaotic disaster.”
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association.
“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”
The Flynn case was invoked by Obama as a principal reason that his former administration officials needed to make sure former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November election against President Trump. “So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” he said. “Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it’s the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.”
Obama misstated the charge to which Flynn had previously pleaded guilty. He was charged with false statements to the FBI, not perjury.
Click the Yahoo link to read the rest.
And from Caleb Ecarma at Vanity Fair: As the DOJ Drops Flynn’s Case, Trumpworld’s Next Target is Obama Alums.
Conservative media figures who spent months insisting on Michael Flynn’s innocence, after he twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, are taking a gleeful victory lap in response to the Justice Department moving to drop its criminal case against the retired lieutenant general and former Trump national security adviser. But the reversal is not enough to placate the right-wing media rabble, as they are now calling for Attorney General William Barr to prosecute members of the Barack Obama administration and its judicial allies for their roles in the case….
Shortly after the news broke on Thursday, right-wing radio host Mark Levin appeared on Fox News to boast, and to accuse Obama of conducting a vast shadow operation against the Trump administration. “You know what this is? This is Barack Obama’s blue dress. That’s what that is without the DNA on it,” he told Sean Hannity, referencing Monica Lewinsky’s infamous garment. “[The Flynn case documents] tells us that Obama knew…. Obama was working with the FBI and the intelligence agencies.” Levin also tweeted that “the perps responsible for trying to destroy” Flynn should be prosecuted, a talking point Hannity is now pushing too. “All this does is exonerate General Flynn,” the Fox News host declared on his Thursday radio program. “Now, it’s time to investigate Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Department of Justice…and what they did here is they targeted an innocent man, and they—this is prosecutorial abuse.” Hannity’s colleague Tucker Carlson called Flynn’s case “demonstrably and provably unfair” and accused federal prosecutors of wanting “Flynn crushed purely because he happened to be away from the power they seek, and that’s why they’re still trying to put Roger Stone behind bars…. But the question is: How many other inconvenient Americans would they bankrupt and imprison if they could?”
A Daily Beast report found that numerous Trump administration and campaign officials are hoping to see Flynn resume work for the president in an official capacity. “Years ago when Nelson Mandela came to America after years of political persecution he was treated like a rock star by Americans,” Trump pollster John McLaughlin said Thursday while discussing the possibility of a Flynn–Trump reunion with the Daily Beast. “Now after over three years of political persecution General Flynn is our rock star. A big difference is that he was persecuted in America.” [….]
On Thursday, Trump described Flynn as “an innocent man” and “an even greater warrior,” before appearing on Fox & Friends the following morning to praise his attorney general’s efforts. “Bill Barr is a man of unbelievable credibility and courage, and he’s going to go down in the history books,” he told Fox News, adding that Fox hosts Hannity, Carlson, and Laura Ingraham “should get the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes” for leading the Flynn-innocence media campaign.
Wow. That is through the looking glass stuff. But the way things are going, it could happen. But through the looking glass is where Trump lives. Even with cases popping up in the White House, he still thinks the coronavirus will magically disappear.
President Trump on Friday broke with health experts, telling reporters that the coronavirus will “go away without a vaccine.”
“This is going to go away without a vaccine, it’s gonna go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time,” Trump said at the White House. “You may have some flare-ups, and I guess I would expect that.”
Just days ago the Trump administration launched Operation Warp Speed, a project to accelerate the production of a vaccine for the coronavirus, which as of Friday had infected at least 1.2 million Americans and killed more than 76,000 here….
Asked what led him to believe that the virus would disappear without a vaccine, Trump claimed he had received that information from medical professionals.
“I just rely on what doctors say. They say it’s going to go. That doesn’t mean this year. It doesn’t mean, frankly, it’s going to be gone before the fall or after the fall, but eventually it’s going to go away. The question is whether we will need a vaccine. At some point it will probably go away by itself.”
Who are these mysterious “medical professionals?”
Trump doesn’t think testing for the virus is important either–unless you are Trump, Pence and people working around them. The Washington Post: Trump plays down coronavirus testing as U.S. falls far short of level scientists say is needed.
The president has played down the need for testing as he overrides public health recommendations that would prolong the closures of schools, businesses and much of daily life. Although he is now tested every day with a rapid-result machine, Trump has questioned the value of extensive testing as the gap between available capacity and the amount that would be required to meet public health benchmarks has become clearer.
Trump’s comments came as a second employee in the White House complex tested positive for the coronavirus, a development that prompted increased testing for staff and other precautions not generally available to most Americans.
“This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great,” Trump said at the White House, as he confirmed a positive test result “out of the blue” for a top staffer, Vice President Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller.
During a Friday morning interview on Fox News, Trump ticked approvingly through the current testing figures but did not say what level he thinks is optimal or safe to use as a national benchmark for economic reopening.
Asked about the positive test result for one of his Navy valets, the president said that he himself remains negative but that the valet’s experience is instructive.
“And this is why testing isn’t necessary. We have the best testing in the world, but testing’s not necessarily the answer because they were testing them,” Trump said of the staff members.
WTF?! He found out these people had contracted the virus because they were being tested! What a fucking moron!
I’ll end with this. The AP has learned definitively that the President and his buddies were behind the shelving of the CDC reopening report: AP Exclusive: Docs show top WH officials buried CDC report.
The decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House, according to internal government emails obtained by The Associated Press.
The files also show that after the AP reported Thursday that the guidance document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval.
The trove of emails show the nation’s top public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending weeks working on guidance to help the country deal with a public health emergency, only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation.
The document, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen. It included detailed “decision trees,” or flow charts aimed at helping local leaders navigate the difficult decision of whether to reopen or remain closed.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that the documents had not been approved by CDC Director Robert Redfield. The new emails, however, show that Redfield cleared the guidance.
This new CDC guidance — a mix of advice already released along with newer information — had been approved and promoted by the highest levels of its leadership, including Redfield. Despite this, the administration shelved it on April 30.
Read the rest at the AP link.
So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?
Hey, it’s Sunday! With all the disturbing news lately…Weiners, murderous mothers, fleeing refugees and a shitty economy…I had to find something more enjoyable for today’s links. I’ve found a few that jumped out, just begging to be highlighted in this morning reads post. So let’s see where all this takes us…
Since Obama has lifted travel restrictions on Cuba, many people have gone to visit their families, bringing lots of medicine, food and other goods with them. In this article from the NYT, Alejandrina Hernandez is a housekeeper living in the US the last 6 years. Her son goes to school in Miami. She is one of many who make repeated trips back to their home country of Cuba. For Cubans in America, Home No Longer Seems So Far Away – NYTimes.com
Jose Goitia for The New York Times
Ms. Hernández also brought more than 100 pounds of food, clothes and medicine for her family and other Cubans whose relatives in the United States paid her $8 a pound to ferry gifts.
“I need to see my family, but these trips are very expensive,” said Ms. Hernández, who has returned eight times to see her husband and mother in the past 18 months. “This way, I more or less break even.”
It looks like a large amount of people are making this round trip to their home land, according to the article:
Economists and travel agents estimate that 400,000 passengers will fly to Cuba from the United States this year, nearly four times the number in 2008 — and more than at any time since the United States cut ties with the island some 50 years ago, they say. The visitors bring cash and huge bundles stuffed with goods that the embargo and Cuba’s economic woes have put beyond reach, from basics like milk powder, bouillon cubes and vitamins to luxuries like BlackBerrys and flat-screen televisions. Much of it goes into the living rooms and pantries of relatives, or to retailers who operate Cuba’s voracious informal market.
And with the recent changes, more cash and US goods will be able to get into the island.
The Obama administration also relaxed restrictions on travel by non-Cuban Americans. In March, it expanded the number of airports that can handle direct flights to Cuba, to 11 from 3. And it now allows any American to send Cubans up to $2,000 a year to help private businesses.
Even with all the political back and forth between Senators like Marco Rubio, who is against the easing of restrictions, and those in the State Department who support the Obama administration, there are shades of sadness and humor in the lives of the Cuban Americans that are now able to go back home for a visit.
Although she misses her family and the distinctive smell of Cuba’s sea, enough to bring tears to her eyes, Ms. Hernández said she would stay in Florida until her son finished college or her sore joints prevented her from working, shuttling between her trailer in Hialeah and her husband’s noisy home in a warren of apartments carved from a once-grand Havana building.
“I have half my heart here and the other half there,” she said. “The sad thing is, I am not really happy in either place.”
In other words, both places suck ass!
This week Boston Boomer mentioned the big cat that was seen running around Connecticut. Well check it out…Mountain lion killed by car on Connecticut highway – CNN.com
Officials say the mountain lion is likely the same one that was seen this week in nearby Greenwich.
A mountain lion was killed in a car accident in Milford, Connecticut, on Saturday and authorities say the cat may have been the same one spotted this week in nearby Greenwich.
Connecticut DEP says it’s possible and even likely that the mountain lion killed early Saturday morning is the same cat that’s been roaming around Greenwich this month. The animal was last seen Sunday on the campus of a college prep school.
The 140-pound male cat is at a DEP facility where his body, along with paw prints and other specimens are being analyzed and tested to determine if it is the same cat seen in Greenwich.
Although mountain lions are not native to Connecticut, they can roam hundreds of miles a day. That is just mind-boggling to me. I wonder where this cat originally came from…just how far did he travel to get to Milford, CT.
Recently, the US Department of Health has added another eight substances to the list of cancer causing materials. Eight substances added to U.S. Report on Carcinogens, including formaldehyde, may increase cancer risk
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has added eight substances to its Report on Carcinogens, a science-based document that identifies chemicals and biological agents that may put people at increased risk for cancer.
The industrial chemical formaldehyde and a botanical known as aristolochic acids are listed as known human carcinogens. Six other substances — captafol, cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder or hard metal form), certain inhalable glass wool fibers, o-nitrotoluene, riddelliine, and styrene — are added as substances that are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens. With these additions, the 12th Report on Carcinogens now includes 240 listings. It is available at http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/roc12.
Be sure to click that link to the National Toxicology Program and see what other chemicals and materials are on that list of 240 cancer causing items.
This next article is the one that “jumped” out at me…Junrey Balawing becomes world’s new smallest man as he enjoys 1st beer | Mail Online
Junrey Balawing sips a beer nearly as big as him as he celebrates becoming the world’s smallest man.
The 22-inch Filipino turns 18 on Sunday when Guinness World Records will award him the crown – which he takes from Nepal’s 26.4-inch Khagendra Thapa Magar.
Mr Balawing said: ‘I am so excited! I am small, but now I am a man.
Damn, that pint glass looks like it is almost the same size as he is. (And no, I do not have news items about midgets as one of my RSS feeds. I just spot these articles and images of Little People during the regular course of the day.)
This next link should bring some of you back in time, to that golden era of Music Videos…MJ’s ‘Thriller’ jacket could go for $400k at auction – The Marquee Blog – CNN.com Blogs
“It is truly the most iconic piece of pop culture history,” Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, tells CNN. “You see the jacket and you know what it [is] immediately and who it belonged to.”
The estimated price is $200,000-$400,000, but that’s what Julien refers to as a “conservative estimate.” He says people have expressed interest in purchasing the jacket for even more.
I remember when this video made its debut on MTV. We never had cable when I was growing up, and I wanted so desperately to see the Thriller video. I had to wait until the damn thing was released on VHS. They had put out the full length video with a “Making of Thriller” on tape, and we rented it…you know those VHS tapes were expensive as hell back then. (My mom got the Blues Brothers tape for my brother back in 1982 and paid 80 bucks for it.) To me, this red jacket is symbolic of my childhood. So many memories stem from Michael Jackson and his music during the 1980’s. Now that I look back, I have to laugh. That was one ugly ass jacket.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: Tennessee, that great state where saying the word “gay” will get you arrested for breaking the law, has again made headlines. Now posting a picture that causes emotional distress can get you in trouble. Which makes me wonder if all those horrible images of aborted babies and the other crap PLUBs post on websites and stuff can be considered illegal. Hmm…. Tenn. law bans posting images that “cause emotional distress”
A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it. Violations can get you almost a year in jail time or up to $2500 in fines.
The Tennessee legislature has been busy updating its laws for the Internet age, and not always for the better. Last week we reported on a bill that updated Tennessee’s theft-of-service laws to include “subscription entertainment services” like Netflix.
The ban on distressing images, which was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam last week, is also an update to existing law. Tennessee law already made it a crime to make phone calls, send emails, or otherwise communicate directly with someone in a manner the sender “reasonably should know” would “cause emotional distress” to the recipient. If the communication lacked a “legitimate purpose,” the sender faced jail time.
Damn, it is a good thing I didn’t post a picture of Michael Jackson’s Thriller jacket, that image is definitely one that can cause some emotional distress. I wonder if a picture of George Takei wearing the Thriller jacket would also qualify as breaking the “‘gay is the word” law…What do you all think?
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: All that talk of Michael Jackson was just a teaser for you! Check out this new series that is going to be published on Guardian this week. A history of modern music | Music | guardian.co.uk
In a seven-part series, Guardian and Observer critics chart the history of modern music, tackling a different genre each day and picking 50 key moments. Use this interactive guide to travel through time and see their selections
Cool innit? That first article is about Pop music, and did you see who is the image on the link? The King of Pop himself…
Well, that is it for me, if you want to post newsy links below go ahead. I know that these aren’t very meaty articles, but can you blame me? Sometimes, you just wanna have a little fun…right?