Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali, 'The Greatest of All Time,' Dead at 74

Muhammad Ali, the iconic three-time world heavyweight boxing champion who died Friday, had recently shunned the public spotlight he once seemed to revere.
His last known appearance was at a Parkinson's fundraiser April 9 in Phoenix, according to the Arizona Republic.
At the annual fundraising event for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, one of the most recognizable faces on the planet was shielded in part by dark sunglasses, according to a photo posted by the newspaper.
Ali had missed the gala the previous two years, the newspaper reported. On that April night, however, one of the most beloved athletes of all time would receive a final standing ovation.

Ali's last battle

On Monday, the charismatic former boxer became ill with what family spokesman Bob Gunnell described as a respiratory issue.
He was admitted to the HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center in Scottsdale in fair condition that night.
"We expected that to be the case," Gunnell told reporters Saturday. "You know, Muhammad has battled back many times. We expected it to happen this time."
Ali also was hospitalized in January 2015 with a urinary tract infection. He was hospitalized in December 2014 with pneumonia.
"When he came into the hospital, we thought, 'OK, it will be a brief stay,'" said longtime friend John Ramsey, who works for WAVE in Louisville, Kentucky -- Ali's hometown -- and who has a radio show on ESPN.

'Wasn't going to improve'

Ali's condition worsened in recent days, according to Gunnell.
"The family was called when things became more serious," the spokesman said. "We still had a lot of hope it was going to turn around."
Two days ago, doctors told Ali's wife, Lonnie, that "his condition wasn't going to improve," Gunnell said.
Ramsey said Lonnie Ali called him Friday morning. Her husband's health was deteriorating.
"She said, 'You might want to come out,' which I decided to do," he said.

Surrounded by his children

Ali's daughter, Hana, wrote in a tweet that Ali was surrounded by his children in his final moments. They held his once powerful hands. They hugged and kissed their 74-year-old father. They chanted Islamic prayer.
Hanna Ali wrote that the children tried to stay strong. Some whispered in his ear.
"You can go now. We will be okay. We love you. Thank you. You can go back to God now."
After Ali's organs failed, his daughter wrote in the tweet, his heart continued to beat for another 30 minutes: "A true testament to the strength of his Spirit and Will!"
Ali died Friday night at 9:10 MT, the result of septic shock due to unspecified natural causes, Gunnell said. "He did not suffer."
His family was with him during his final 24 hours, Gunnell said.
"They got to spend quality time with him to say their final goodbyes, and it was a very solemn moment," he said.
"It was a really beautiful thing to watch because it displayed all that is good about Muhammad Ali... The champ would have been very proud of his family."

'Daddy is free now'

"Our hearts are literally hurting," Hana Ali wrote on Twitter. "But We are so happy daddy is free now."
Another daughter, Maryum Ali, said in an email to CNN's Jason Carroll: "I am happy my father no longer struggles. He is in a better place. God is the greatest."
Ramsey said he didn't actually see Ali in the hospital. The people who were with Ali were "the kids, family only, and I respected that... it's a very private matter."
Gunnell said many of Ali's closest friends flew in to be with the family. But they waited outside the hospital room out of respect for the family's privacy.
"It's very rough at this point," Gunnell said of the Alis. "All family members are having a tough time."

'Only one hometown'

Ali's life will be celebrated in his Kentucky hometown with ceremonies on Thursday and Friday.
Three off-duty Louisville police officers will escort his bodyto Kentucky, according to police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley.
Ali's family also will accompany the body.
"Muhammad Ali belongs to the world, but he only has one hometown," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said at a ceremony Saturday.
"The 'Louisville Lip' spoke to everyone, but we heard him in a way no one else could -- as our brother, our uncle, and our inspiration."
A public memorial is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. ET at the Yum Center, a basketball arena in the city where Ali grew up and began his amateur career as a 12-year-old.

'The people's champion'

Former President Bill Clinton, longtime sportscaster Bryant Gumbel and comedian and close Ali friend Billy Crystal will be among those delivering eulogies.
The immediate family will have a private gathering Thursday. They released a statement Saturday.
"Muhammad Ali was truly the people's champion and the celebration will reflect his devotion to people of all races, religions and backgrounds. Muhammad's extraordinary boxing career only encompassed half of his life. The other half was committed to sharing a message of peace and inclusion with the world. Following his wishes, his funeral will reflect those principles, and be a celebration open to everyone."
Before the service, Ali's body will be driven through the streets of Louisville. He will be interred at Cave Hill Cemetery.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Honoring those who paid the ultimate price! Memorial Day

Every year on Memorial Day, the president of the United States delivers remarks to honor the fallen. This year, in memory of the Black women and men who have been killed by state-sanctioned violence, I put together the president's own words to honor their sacrifice as well.

The words below were chosen and edited entirely from President Obama's Memorial Day speeches and arranged in chronological order from 2009 to 2014. Although the president often spoke of soldiers who had fallen in war, too many of our young people and adults have become casualties of another dangerous war in our own homeland. They, too, deserve a memorial.

President Obama's Remarks on Memorial Day

"We've gathered here in moments of war, when the somber notes of Taps echo through the trees, and fresh grief lingers in the air.

"Today is one of those moments, where we pay tribute to those who forged our history, but hold closely the memory of those so recently lost. And even as we gather here this morning, all across America, people are pausing to remember, to mourn, and to pray.

"With each death, we are heartbroken. With each death, we grow more determined ... But it reminds us all the meaning of valor; it reminds us all of our own obligations to one another; it recounts that most precious aspect of our history, and tells us that we will only rise or fall together.

"As you summon the strength to carry on each day, know that you’re not alone, and that America will always be at your side.

"To those of you who mourn the loss of a loved one today, my heart goes out to you. I love my daughters more than anything in the world, and I cannot imagine losing them. I can’t imagine losing a sister or brother or parent at war. The grief so many of you carry in your hearts is a grief I cannot fully know.

"It’s natural, when we lose someone we care about, to ask why it had to be them. Why my son, why my sister, why my friend, why not me? These are questions that cannot be answered by us.

"As a country, all of us can and should ask ourselves how we can help you shoulder a burden that nobody should have to bear alone ... One thing we can do is remember these heroes as you remember them ... as Americans, often far too young, who were guided by a deep and abiding love for their families.

"And finally, for all of you who carry a special weight on your heart, we can strive to be a nation worthy of your sacrifice. A nation that is fair and equal, peaceful and free. A nation that weighs the cost of every human life. A nation where all of us meet our obligations to one another, and to this country that we love. That’s what we can do.

"America stands at a crossroads. But even as we turn the page on a decade of conflict, even as we look forward, let us never forget, as we gather here today, that our nation is still at war ... Today most Americans are not directly touched by war. As a consequence, not all Americans may always see or fully grasp the depth of sacrifice, the profound costs that are made.

"This ceremony marks another page in the life of our nation ... Today, in small towns across America, in cemeteries throughout our country and around the world, and here on these solemn hillsides, the families of our fallen share stories of the lives they led. Our hearts ache in their absence. But our hearts are also full — full in knowing that their legacy shines bright in the people that they loved the most

Monday, May 16, 2016

Prince Investigation: Warrant Names Doctor Treating Star Before Death

Minnesota police investigating the death of Prince served a search warrant on a doctor who had seen him twice, prescribed him medication and showed up at Paisley Park to deliver test results only to learn the singer was dead, according to court documents.
The papers do not say why the 57-year-old star was seeing Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg, what drugs he was prescribed or whether he ever picked them up at Walgreen's. Prince was reportedly seen at a local Walgreen's in the days before his death, but the drug giant has declined comment.
The search warrant affidavit details two doctor's visits — one on April 7, which was a week before Prince was taken unconscious off a plane in Moline, Illinois; and another on April 20, which was one day before his death.
"Some tests were performed on Prince and Dr. [Schulenberg] was dropping off the test results to Prince at Paisley Park when he appeared on the death scene," the document says.
The warrant — which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times — sought all medical records relating to Prince from North Memorial Medical Center, where Schulenberg worked.
Efforts to reach Schulenberg since Saturday were unsuccessful. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment. North Memorial Medical Center said he no longer works there but would not comment further.
The court papers add new detail to the emerging picture of Prince's health problems.
An addiction expert in California previously confirmed through his attorney that he was contacted April 20 by a Prince representative who wanted him to meet the "Purple Rain" star.
That doctor, Howard Kornfeld of Recovery Without Walls, sent his son Andrew, who is not a physician, to meet Prince for what he viewed as a "lifesaving mission," according to the Kornfelds' lawyer, William Mauzy.
When the son got to Paisley Park the morning of April 21, he and two staffers found the artist unresponsive in an elevator, Mauzy said at a press conference last week.
When he went to see Prince, Andrew Kornfeld was carrying buprenorphine, which is sometimes used to help opioid addicts withdraw from painkillers, Mauzy said.
The lawyer said the younger Kornfeld planned to give it to a local physician — apparently not Schulenberg — who had agreed to see Prince that morning. That doctor has not been identified.
An autopsy has been performed on Prince but no cause of death has been released, pending toxicology tests.
The affidavit filed in Hennepin County also notes that one of Prince's confidantes, Kirk Johnson, told detectives that the singer had gone to a clinic in 2014 or 2015 and "received fluids during his visit." No other details were provided, and Johnson has not responded to numerous inquiries from NBC News.
Carver County sheriff's detectives went back to Paisley Park Tuesday. The sheriff's office said detectives were "revisiting the scene at Paisley Park as a component of a complete investigation" and did not release any additional information

Sunday, March 27, 2016

He has risen! Happy Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter Sunday) Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover. Many people gathered on the streets to catch a glimpse of him, waving palm branches as he rode by. However, it's important to remember that Jesus was a controversial figure. Some people, in particular the authorities, were extremely suspicious of his teachings and claims - today they would have regarded him as something of a troublemaker.

Today people remember Palm Sunday by decorating churches with palm branches, and giving palms out to the congregation, in some cases fashioned into the shape of a cross (in remembrance of Jesus dying on a cross).

Maundy Thursday

Jesus understands his time on Earth is nearly over. He gathers his friends and followers (his 12 Disciples, including the saints John, Matthew, Mark and Simon) together to share a final meal - the 'Last Supper'. Jesus passed round bread (which he told his disciples was 'his body') and wine (his 'blood'); his way of explaining to them that he would soon die. He also told his friends they should love one another - the 'mandate' or command from which the term Maundy is derived. It was on this night that Jesus was later betrayed by Judas, who identified Jesus to soldiers working for opposing religious authorities (the 'High Priests') in return for money - those authorities then passed Jesus over to the Roman soldiers who were to eventually execute him.

The ceremony of eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Jesus' life is practised today in Christian churches in the form of the Eucharist or communion.

Good Friday

The Roman soldiers who arrested Jesus took him to Pontius Pilate, who was in charge of the province at the time. On Good Friday, Jesus' fate was sealed - Pilate decided to ask a crowd of people outside whether Jesus should be put to death for making claims about being the son of God. They said he should. The method of his execution was one of the most brutal known to man - death by crucifixion, or being nailed to a cross. This is why the cross has such great significance to Christians and is behind the tradition of eating hot cross buns on Good Friday.

Jesus was made to carry his own cross to the spot of his execution, a hill overlooking the city. Here he was nailed to the cross and placed alongside two criminals. A sign was placed above Jesus' cross which read 'The King of the Jews'.

The Bible tells that suddenly, just before Jesus took his last breath, the sky turned black. He was removed from the cross and buried in a tomb.

Christians today often commemorate Good Friday by attending a 'Stations of the Cross' service, where Jesus' last hours on earth are retraced. As Good Friday is seen as a day of mourning, services are very solemn; churches are left unadorned with flowers or similar decorations, and in some churches pictures and statues are covered over.

Easter Sunday

Jesus had told his disciples in advance that he would rise again on the third day after his death. He had been buried in a tomb guarded by an enormous stone so that no-one could steal the body. When some women came to visit the grave a couple of days after his death they found that the huge stone had been moved and the tomb was empty. Jesus was seen that day and for several days later, and revisited old friends who realised what had been foretold had come true - Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.

Easter is, therefore, a time of great celebration for Christians. Churches are sometimes decorated with white lillies, traditional Easter flowers, and the mood is joyful and uplifting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Phife Dawg, rapper and co-founder of A Tribe Called Quest, dies at 45

There are reports this morning that Phife Dawg, co-founder of influential hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, has died. The New York-born rapper, whose real name was Malik Isaac Taylor, was 45 years old.

The news was posted by DJ Chuck Chillout on Twitter just after 1 a.m. eastern time Wednesday morning, and music  website Bluntiqjust tweeted the following: “We’re saddened to report that Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest has passed away. RIP to the legend.” Others, like Aesop Rock, Steve Aoki, and El-P, have chimed in with condolences.

Taylor formed A Tribe Called Quest in 1985 with MC/producer Q-Tip and DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. The group is considered one of the pioneers of old-school hip-hop.

Taylor’s family released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon: “We regret to share the news that on Tuesday March 22, 2016, Malik has passed away due to complications resulting from diabetes. Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend. We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten. His love for music and sports was only surpassed by his love of God and family.”

Adds Taylor’s manager, Dion Liverpool: “While I mourn the loss of my best friend and brother, I also will celebrate his incredible life and contribution to many people’s ears across the world. Even with all his success, I have never met a person as humble as he. He taught me that maintaining a positive attitude and lighthearted spirit with carry me a long way in my career he will be sadly missed by not just his personal and close friends and family but the entire hip hop Community all over the world.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hip-Hop in Politics: What a Difference a Generation Makes

In the 1990s Washington was polarized on many of the same issues as today: taxes, the economy, gun control. But there was one cultural idea that seemed to have bipartisan support: that rap music was a symptom of the destruction of American values.
In 1992, Republican Vice President Dan Quayle called legendary rapper Tupac's acclaimed first album "2Pacalyse Now" a disgrace to American music.
"There is absolutely no reason for a record like this to be published," said Quayle at the time, calling on Interscope Records to withdraw the album. "It has no place in our society."
At the same time a prominent Democratic figure, Tipper Gore, was in the midst of a campaign against gangsta rap, testifying at a Congressional hearing on the genre's ills.
What a difference a generation makes.
Today attention is lavished on Republican Senator Marco Rubio's love of hip-hop, and specifically gangsta rap. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote a column, "The Rap on Rubio."
In an interview with BuzzFeed the 41-year-old Rubio said that he was not condoning the violence in Tupac's music and gangsta rap, but that he views the music as a mirror of American society.
"I think Tupac's lyrics were more insightful, my opinion, with all apologies to the Biggie fans," said Rubio. "In some ways, rappers are like reporters. In particular, at that time, from the West Coast, it was a lot of reporting about what life was like ... so the '90s was a time when this was really pronounced. You had gang wars, racial tension, and they were reporting on that," he said.
It's a sentiment that the current U.S. president, a Democrat, subscribes to as well. President Obama, who is a decade older than Sen. Rubio, is such a fan of rapper and businessman Jay-Z that he was a VIP at the president's inauguration.
Jay-Z has also come under criticism for his lyrics, with some critics claiming he has glorified violence and drugs. In response, Jay-Z says that like Tupac and his mentor Notorious B.I.G. (also mentioned in Rubio's interview), he is not advocating a certain lifestyle, but providing a window into a part of America that many don't see.
At a fundraiser in Ohio last year, President Obama said it was "an honor" to share the stage with the rapper, not only because his music is on the president's iPod but also because he tells "American stories."
Politicians are even getting personal with hip-hop stars. Sen. Rubio talks of knowing the real name of the Miami-born Cuban-American rapper Pitbull. President Obama has often said the he and Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, have led "parallel lives," achieving success in America despite early struggles with absentee fathers and poverty.
Since 2008, Jay-Z and his wife, the pop star Beyonce, have become staunch supporters of the president and friendly with the first family.
"I've gotten to know these guys over the first several years," the president said in a radio interview last October. "They're good people. We talk about the same things I talk about with all my friends."
Hip hop historian Davey D, a professor at San Francisco State University, told the Washington Examiner that the evolution of hip-hop in politics has less to do with a shift of values and more to do with time. He points out that Rubio and Obama favor hip-hop artists who are not new; they've been popular for a decade, if not longer.
"Anyone who's under a certain age -- at this point I'd say 50 -- probably has some sort of engagement with hip-hop," he said. "It's hard to ignore."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Breaking news : Singer vanity passes away at age 57

She was a favorite 80s pin-up girl and one of Prince‘s most famous protegés and now Vanity, born Denise Katrina Matthews, has tragically passed away today [Monday, February 15, 2016].

The lead singer of girl group Vanity 6 died earlier this afternoon in a Fremont, CA hospital after years of battling kidney failure and, more recently, an abdominal illness.

A few months ago, Vanity set up a GoFundMe page, and said she’d been diagnosed with sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis—an inflammation of the small intestines.

After rising to fame in cult classic movies like The Last Dragon, Vanity had a well-known battle with crack addiction in the 90s,with an overdose leading to kidney failure and ongoing daily dialysis treatments.

She will be sadly missed and the Musical community has lost another great actress performer and friend rest easy for you are now in the arms of your maker.