Fats Domino, Music Legend and Godfather of Rock and Roll Dies at 89

Fats Domino
Music legend Fats Domino performs on the NBC “Today” television show in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The godfather of rock and roll. A performer who always gave all he had. A man who loved his city and his neighborhood has passed. Tributes to Fats Domino are accumulating, in words and in bouquets and Mardi Gras beads left at the yellow house in New Orleans where, after Hurricane Katrina, a fan spray-painted an erroneous RIP.

The amiable rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, whose steady, pounding piano and easy baritone helped change popular music while honoring the traditions of the Crescent City, is dead at the age of 89.

“He was one of my greatest inspirations. God was tops — but earthly, Fats was it,” said singer Little Richard — another founding father of rock and roll — in a telephone interview from Nashville.

Domino died early Tuesday of natural causes, Mark Bone, chief investigator with the Jefferson Parish coroner’s office, said Wednesday.

Two people from New Orleans — Domino and jazz great Louis Armstrong — have changed the world’s music, said Quint Davis, who produces of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was a decades-long friend of Domino.

Little Richard said he’d known Domino for 60 years and idolized him before that.

“I loved the way he played; I loved the way he was just so wrapped up in his music. He always did a good show.” Domino never “slacked and cheated the people out. Every time, he gave his all,” the musician said.

Domino stood 5-feet-5 and weighed more than 200 pounds, with a wide, boyish smile and a haircut as flat as an album cover. But he sold more than 110 million records, with hits including “Blueberry Hill,” ”Ain’t That a Shame” — originally titled “Ain’t It A Shame”— and other standards of rock ‘n’ roll.

The Rolling Stone Record Guide likened him to Benjamin Franklin, the beloved old man of a revolutionary movement.

“Fats is the godfather of rock and roll,” said Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which made Domino one of the first 10 people it honored.

He said the flag outside the hall was at half-staff Wednesday, and Domino’s music was playing all day.

At the home where Domino spent most of his life, a steady stream of people showed up Wednesday with flowers, beads and cameras. One man brought a guitar and started in on “Walkin’ to New Orleans.”

Angelina Cruz brought her three children from suburban Kenner. She said she’d listened to his songs since she was 10 years old, in North Carolina. “I’m bringing my kids up to the old-school music,” she said.

Domino’s dynamic performance style and warm vocals drew crowds for five decades. One of his show-stopping stunts was playing the piano while standing, throwing his body against it with the beat of the music and bumping the grand piano across the stage.

His 1956 version of “Blueberry Hill” was selected for the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry of historic sound recordings worthy of preservation.

Most people didn’t appreciate the breadth of Domino’s ability, Little Richard said. “He could play jazz. He could play anything,” he said. “He was one of the greatest entertainers that I’ve ever known.”

Domino became a global star but stayed true to his hometown, where his fate was initially unknown after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. It turned out that he and his family had been rescued by boat from his home, where he lost nearly everything he owned, including three pianos and dozens of gold and platinum records.

Many wondered if he would ever return to the stage.

But in May 2007, he was back, performing at Tipitina’s music club in New Orleans. Fans cheered — and some cried — as Domino played “I’m Walkin’,” ”Ain’t That a Shame,” ”Shake, Rattle and Roll,” ”Blueberry Hill” and a host of other hits.

That performance was a highlight during several rough years. His wife of more than 50 years, Rosemary, died in April 2008.

Domino moved to the New Orleans suburb of Harvey after the storm but often visited his publishing house, an extension of his old home in the Lower 9th Ward, inspiring many with his determination to stay in the city he loved.

“Fats embodies everything good about New Orleans,” his friend David Lind said in a 2008 interview. “He’s warm, fun-loving, spiritual, creative and humble. You don’t get more New Orleans than that.”

The son of a violin player, Antoine Domino Jr. was born Feb. 26, 1928, one of nine children. As a youth, he taught himself popular piano styles — ragtime, blues and boogie-woogie.

He quit school at age 14, and worked days in a factory while playing and singing in local juke joints at night. In 1949, Domino was playing at the Hideaway Club for $3 a week when he was signed by the Imperial record company.

He recorded his first song, “The Fat Man,” in the back of a tiny French Quarter recording studio.

“They call me the Fat Man, because I weigh 200 pounds,” he sang. “All the girls, they love me, ’cause I know my way around.”

In 1955, he broke into the white pop charts with “Ain’t it a Shame,” covered blandly by Pat Boone as “Ain’t That a Shame” and rocked out decades later under that title by Cheap Trick and others. Domino enjoyed a parade of successes through the early 1960s, including “Be My Guest” and “I’m Ready.” Another hit, “I’m Walkin,’” became the debut single for Ricky Nelson.

Domino appeared in the rock ‘n’ roll film “The Girl Can’t Help It” and was among the first black performers featured in popular music shows, starring with Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. He also helped bridge rock ‘n’ roll and other styles — even country/western, recording Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” and Bobby Charles’ “Walkin’ to New Orleans.”

Like many of his peers, Domino’s popularity tapered off in the 1960s as British and psychedelic rock held sway.

“I refused to change,” he told Ebony magazine. “I had to stick to my own style that I’ve always used or it just wouldn’t be me.”

In 1988, all of New Orleans seemed to be talking about him after he reportedly paid cash for two Cadillacs and a $130,000 Rolls-Royce. When the salesman asked if he wanted to call his bank about financing, Domino smiled and said, “I am the bank.”

Ten years later, he became the first purely rock ‘n’ roll musician to be awarded the National Medal for the Arts. But, citing his age, he didn’t make the trip to the White House to get the medal from President Bill Clinton.

That was typical. Aside from rare appearances in New Orleans, including a 2012 cameo spot in the HBO series “Treme,” he dodged the spotlight in his later years, refusing to appear in public or even to give interviews.

His love for his home town was one of the things that stuck with John Jenks, a New Orleans resident who took a photo of himself Wednesday in front of Domino’s house. “He stayed right here — as famous as he got, he stayed right in his old neighborhood here in the 9th Ward.”

Source: Black info

Drake Did Not Submit Latest Album to the Grammys

Canadian rapper Drake arrives at the NBA Awards in New York. Drake has not submitted his latest album, “More Life,”  (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Drake’s “More Life” album won’t earn him more Grammy Awards: The rapper didn’t submit the album for consideration at the 2018 Grammys.

A person close to the nomination process, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to publicly talk about the topic, said the multi-platinum rapper did not submit “More Life” for album of the year or best rap album. The person also said Drake did not submit any of the songs from the album to categories like song of the year, record of the year or best rap song.

“More Life” was released in March and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Drake has described the album as a mixtape and playlist. The album has sold more than 2 million units, according to Nielsen Music. The album, which set streaming records when it was released, includes the Top 10 hits “Fake Love,” ”Passionfruit” and “Portland.”

Representatives for the rapper and the Recording Academy didn’t reply to emails seeking comment.

Nominees in the 83 Grammy categories will be officially announced on Nov. 28. In the best rap album category, nominees could include releases by Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Migos, DJ Khaled, J. Cole and others. Drake could earn nominations for songs where he is the featured guest.

Drake is a three-time Grammy winner, picking up best rap album for 2011’s “Take Care” as well as best rap solo performance and best rap song for “Hotline Bling” earlier this year, and has been nominated 35 times.

The 60th annual Grammy Awards will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 28. Songs and albums released between Oct. 1, 2016 and Sept. 30, 2017 are eligible for nomination.

Source: Black info

Don’t Forget About Us! Everyday Life Still a Struggle In the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria

CRUZ BAY, ST. JOHN – SEPTEMBER 14: William de Leon sorts through the remnants of an office on Estate Lindholm, a hotel damaged by Hurricane Irma, in the Cruz Bay section of St. John in the US Virgin Islands on Sep. 14, 2017. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Scarce food, no electricity and communal dinners prepared over a bonfire. Trash and debris clutter the streets, water is limited and cell phone service is spotty at best. This is now the new normal for many Puerto Ricans and U.S. Virgin Islanders in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which pummeled the islands in late September. Packing sustained winds of more than 155 miles per hour, the Category 4 storm left communities completely flooded and caused “tornado-like” damage, downing power lines and ripping the bark off trees.

The death toll in Puerto Rico is now at 51 after officials said two more people died from a bacterial disease spread through animal urine. But the collapse of the island does not end there. Nearly 79 percent of Puerto Rico remains without power while 30 percent of people don’t have access to clean water.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Maria claimed the lives of nine people in the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean nations, including Dominica and the French territory of Guadeloupe.

“The country is in a daze — no electricity, no running water, as a result of uprooted pipes in most communities, and definitely no land-line or cellphone services on island, and that will be for quite awhile,” Hartley Henry, principal adviser to Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, wrote in an email to the Miami Herald. Henry said Skerrit had to be rescued himself after the roof blew off of his home.

It’s been nearly six weeks since the devastating storms, and several Caribbean islands are still in recovery mode from Irma, Maria or both. In Puerto Rico, locals have been forced to get creative with their survival skills. Kevin Jose Sanchez Gonzalez told The New York Times he has been living in darkness since Sept. 5, the day before Irma made landfall and began chipping away at the island’s power system. “It’s like going back in time,” he said.

Other Puerto Ricans are still managing to make do with what they have, cramming four or five families into a single home, surviving off of canned food items and hand-washing dirty laundry in a bucket, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile in the Virgin Islands, locals are struggling to get their hands on tarp to replace missing roofs lost to the storm. Island native and Red Cross volunteer Genevieve Whitaker said thousands of homes across St. Croix suffered extensive damage. For her, she said the main concern has been mitigating the number of people left without roofs.

“It has been pretty slow,” she told Atlanta Black Star. “We are now a month [into recovery] following the storm. While FEMA, along with the Army Corp. of Engineers, has initiated the [Blue Roof] program, which [provides] a sturdier type of roofing, the delivery of tarps was really, really abysmal.”

Whitaker has seen the struggle of locals first hand, as she started volunteering at a clinic shortly after Maria hit. She said disaster relief organizations like the American Red Cross, FEMA, and the V.I. Territory Emergency Management Agency have had a presence on the island, but it is not enough. Residents are still in need of supplies like generators, car power inverters and rechargeable batteries.

CHRISTIANSTED, ST CROIX, US VIRGIN ISLANDS – SEPTEMBER 17: Passengers carry supplies onto a ferry taking them to St. Thomas more than a week week after Hurricane Irma made landfall September 17, 2017 in Christiansted, St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images,)

Slow shipping and delivery of care packages carrying essential items has also been an issue for locals in the disaster zone. Whitaker says she has yet to hear from representatives from UPS, FedEx, DHL or the U.S. Postal Service about what’s going on in terms of shipping. She said officials have blamed the slow service on the internet and sorting issues — which she found hard to believe considering the island’s expensive fiber network connections.

“It’s pretty much up in the air,” she said. “There’s no information at all coming out about that. What I think the U.S. could really do – specifically Congress – is look into the whole matter of our international designation when it comes to shipping. I should have been able to go onto HomeDepot.com since my local Home Depot store wasn’t able to ship [what I needed] … and still have all the options I had before the disaster.”

“We need the light to be shined on us so that we can get what we need,” Whitaker added.Another area the Red Cross volunteer feels the U.S. should assist with the repair of the island’s schools, which were badly damaged by the hurricane. Whitaker said the damage has forced some schools to combine with others and that some are infested with mold created by the wet conditions.

Kari Loya, Head of School at Good Hope Country Day School in St. Croix thinks the conditions may force people to permanently relocate. “Every day that goes by without significant gain (power/connectivity/water/etc.), we lose more families,” Loya told ABS via email, adding that the governor has done a good job of delivering daily briefings and updates on recovery efforts. ” … Either more families leave the island or those who have already left begin establishing roots elsewhere. This makes our economic recovery even slower and longer.”

Still, he said government leaders could have been more effective at focusing clean up efforts on specific streets and having a larger police presence when curfews were lifted to ensure order and security.

While Puerto Rico has received far more media attention, the island nation is still struggling to get its hands on and distribute necessary resources. Barriers ranging from a lack of communication to blocked roads have prevented aid from getting to those who need it the most.

Hurricane Relief
FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO – SEPTEMBER 12: Barefoot Davis, left, who lives on St. Thomas but has not been back to see the damage, helps the crew of East Island Excursions load boats with supplies headed for St. Thomas and St. John in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on Sep. 12, 2017. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Jose “Pache” Ayala, general manager for Puerto Rico at Crowley Maritime Corp. told USA TODAY that one port at San Juan terminal has been forced to store 3,400 containers of supplies, nearly double its usual limit. Moreover, he said the severe backlog has affected goods and supplies from FEMA, including bottled water, food, front-end loaders and about 75,000 gallons of gasoline.

More monetary help may be on the way, however. The U.S. Senate on Tuesday, Oct. 24, passed a $36.5 billion hurricane disaster relief bill that would provide $4.9 billion in low-interest Treasury loans to the U.S. Virgin Islands and PR, The Virgin Islands Consortium reported. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

In recent weeks, the real estate mogul-turned politician has been criticized for his response to the storms. Two weeks after Maria hit, he flew down to survey hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, and then met with U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp in a boat rather than in the island’s battered areas. Critics blasted Trump after he took to social media to grumble about the financial burden of aiding Puerto Rico and threatened to stop emergency funding.

Recovery mode is far from over for residents of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean nations battered by Hurrricane Maria. However, locals like Whitaker are working to ensure the islands aren’t forgotten amid clean-up efforts after the storm. She for one is headed to the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago on Oct. 31, in hopes of raising the profile of the Virgin Islands.

Going forward, she says she hopes the island learns and grows from this disaster. “I hope we build more resilient communities,” she said. “We as communities coming together to focus on much better planning as it pertains to neighborhood captains [and] examining house integrity … It’s a whole framework on how we should proceed.”

Source: Black info

Brazilian Distributor Says It Used ‘Black Is Beautiful’ In Toilet Paper Ad for Color’s ‘Luxury and Refinement’

brazilian toilet paper
A Brazilian toilet paper company has issued a statement about their controversial ad. (Santher)

A Brazilian toilet paper advertisement has been amended because of a controversy. Santher, a paper distributor in São Paulo, launched the Personal VIP Black brand of tissue Monday, Oct. 23, according to The Guardian. Backlash swiftly followed the ad, which included a Brazilian actress Marina Ruy Barbosa — wrapped in black colored toilet paper.

“Black Is Beautiful,” the ad said.

In a statement issued Tuesday on its website, Santher said it sought the black color of the paper because the hue was “considered [an] icon of style, luxury and refinement.”

“In this way, the company announces that the slogan has already been withdrawn from the campaign, in addition to apologizing for the mistaken assumption of the phrase adopted [by] the Black movement, which we both respect and love.”

Other Companies Caught In Advertisement Controversies

Gap Apologizes for Arguably Racist Ad Where Black Girl Is Used as Armrest

Nivea Faces Harsh Backlash Over Ad Claiming Skin-Lightening Lotion Makes You Look Younger

Dove Apologizes for Facebook Soap Ad That Many Call Racist

Many accused the campaign of taking over the #BlackIsBeautiful campaign, which is a movement that begun in the 1960s to praise Blackness.

“The color of the paper is not the problem,” one user said. “The advertising used ‘Black is beautiful’ slogan, which was a ‘S—‘ and Santher can f— themselves.”

“It’s not the color of the paper, my dear,” someone else said. “It is the expression of a 1960s movement to fight racism in an ass paper propaganda.”

“Do you have any idea what the phrase ‘Black is Beautiful’ meant in the ’60s?” another asked. “I don’t blame you. The issue is not black colored paper. Research.”

Source: Black info

Montel Williams Wants Trump and Gen. Kelly to Man Up and Apologize to Widow of Fallen Soldier

Montel Williams is siding with the family of fallen soldier Sgt. La David Johnson in the back-and-forth between his family and the White House.

“If I said something to you right now and I really believe it in my heart, and you call my mother later and said I offended you, and I think back on what I said, and I don’t get it,” Williams, a veteran, begins telling TMZ Wednesday, Oct. 25. “But if I offended you, I don’t have the right to tell you how to feel. You have the right to be offended. And if you are offended, as a man, I should step up to the plate and apologize.”

White House Cheif of Staff General John Kelly indicated last week that he advised President Donald Trump on his condolences to Myesha Johnson, the widow of Sgt. Johnson.

Related: More On Sgt. La David Johnson’s Story

Fallen Soldier’s Widow Seeks Answers From the Government on Her Husband’s Death

Under Fire, Trump Defends Call to Soldier’s Grieving Family

Death of U.S. Soldier in Niger Thrusts America’s Africa Policy in Spotlight

“He knew what he was getting into,” Johnson recalled Trump telling her during a phone call. Johnson said his statement “made me cry” out of anger over his tone. The president has denied he used those words.

“The tape shows that Gen. Kelly had a misconception,” Williams says to TMZ. “I’m not gonna call him a straight up liar. Let’s just say that he was off, didn’t remember facts the right way. Be a man and call that woman and apologize. And the president should do the same thing.”

“Just say, ‘It was a misconception, we honor your husband’s service,” the TV personality says. “‘We thank you for your service as a wife, we thank your children for their service and we thank your unborn child for her service because she’s going to have to live the rest of her life knowing her father died in this controversy defending us.’”

Source: Black info

Civil Rights Group: School Retaliated Against Cheerleaders Who Knelt During Anthem

Knelt During Anthem
Kennesaw State University cheerleaders, from left to right, Shlondra Young, Tommia Dean and Kennedy Town stand outside the student center on the school’s campus in Kennesaw, Ga.,  (AP Photo/Jeff Martin)

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A national civil rights group says it has “grave concerns” about actions taken by a Georgia university after five black cheerleaders knelt during the national anthem at a football game.

The Kennesaw State University cheerleaders were told they’d be kept off the field in a stadium tunnel at future pregame activities after protesting racial injustice during the anthem Sept. 30. Four of the cheerleaders then knelt in the tunnel behind the stands at the school’s homecoming game Saturday.

In a Tuesday letter to the state’s board of regents, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said that moving the cheerleaders off the field during the anthem is “an act of retaliation.”

“Denying the cheerleading squad the opportunity to be present during our national anthem is not an act of patriotism; it is an act of retaliation,” the letter states. “The public reports indicate that KSU and other public officials violated these students’ First Amendment rights by retaliating against their peaceful protest based on the students’ viewpoints.”

University officials have said that moving the cheerleaders off the field before kickoff was one of several changes designed to enhance the game-day atmosphere.

“In hindsight, I regret how the events over the past two weeks have unfolded and admit that the circumstances could have been handled better,” Kennesaw State President Sam Olens said in a statement last week. “I believe that a university should be a marketplace of ideas, encouraging free expression and open dialogue.”

The Tuesday letter was also signed by the local chapter president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The NFL has been embroiled in controversy over players using the anthem to protest racial inequality.

Although there have been some college-level protests, college football teams are not typically on the field during the anthem.

Kennesaw State is Georgia’s third-largest university, with more than 35,000 students on its two campuses northwest of Atlanta.

Source: Black info

GOP Senators Offer Searing Criticism of Trump, Reveal Party at War With Itself

Criticism of Trump
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks during a television interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Flake announced he would not run for re-election in 2018, condemning in a speech aimed at President Donald Trump the “flagrant disregard of truth and decency” that is undermining American democracy. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A pair of senators from President Donald Trump’s own Republican Party blistered him with criticism Tuesday in a dramatic day of denunciation that laid bare a GOP at war with itself. Jeff Flake of Arizona declared he would not be “complicit” with Trump and announced his surprise retirement, while Bob Corker of Tennessee declared the president “debases our nation” with constant untruths and name-calling.

Corker, too, is retiring at the end of his term, and the White House shed no tears at the prospect of the two GOP senators’ departures. A former adviser to Steve Bannon, Trump’s ex-strategic adviser, called it all “a monumental victory for the Trump movement,” and Trump himself boasted to staff members that he’d played a role in forcing the senators out.

It was a stunning rebuke of a sitting president from prominent members of his own party — and added to a chorus of criticism of Trump that has been growing louder and more public. Flake challenged his fellow senators to follow his lead, but there were few immediate signs they would.

At midafternoon, as fellow lawmakers sat in attentive silence, Flake stood at his Senate desk and delivered an emotional speech in which he dissected what he considered his party’s accommodations with Trump and said he could no longer play a role in them.

“We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us and calling fake things true and true things fake,” he said.

Hours earlier, Corker leveled his own searing criticism of Trump in a series of interviews.

“I think the debasement of our nation will be what he’ll be remembered most for and that’s regretful,” Corker said.

A furious Trump didn’t let that pass unremarked. On Twitter, he called Corker “incompetent,” said he “doesn’t have a clue” and claimed the two-term lawmaker “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.”

An overstatement to be sure, but White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in regard to the impending retirements, “The people both in Tennessee and Arizona supported this president, and I don’t think that the numbers are in the favor of either of those two senators in their states and so I think this was probably the right decision.”

Away from the cameras, Trump took credit for helping force the two departures, according to a White House official and an outside adviser, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Until Tuesday, Flake had insisted he had no plans to retire. He was raising money at a good rate and casting his re-election campaign as a test case of conservatism against Trumpism. But he made clear Tuesday he’d concluded that, for now at least, Trumpism had prevailed.

“It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to the nomination in the Republican Party,” he said.

Corker’s retirement plans also underscore the question of what the Republican Party will look like in years to come. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has warned that some candidates running with the backing of Trump allies could not win general elections. And even if they make it to the Senate, certain conservatives could make McConnell’s job even harder as he tries to maneuver legislation through a narrow majority that now stands at 52-48.

Steven Law, head of a McConnell-allied super PAC that supports GOP incumbents and establishment-aligned candidates, wasted no time issuing a statement declaring that Republican former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who was running against Flake with the encouragement of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, “will not be the Republican nominee for this Senate seat in 2018.” Many fellow Republicans had expected Flake to lose the primary and hope they will now be able to recruit a stronger candidate.

There was celebration in the Bannon anti-establishment camp. Said Andy Surabian, former Bannon adviser and now senior adviser to the Great America Alliance “Today’s announcement from Sen. Flake that he would not run for re-election is a monumental win for the entire Trump movement and should serve as another warning shot to the failed Republican establishment that backed Flake and others like them that their time is up.”

Talking principle rather than politics, Flake said on the Senate floor, “We must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it, because it does. I plan to spend the remaining 14 months of my Senate term doing just that.”

Earlier Corker had said of Trump, “His governing model is to divide and to attempt to bully and to use untruths.” He said that he and others in the party had attempted to intervene with Trump over the months, sometimes at the behest of White House officials, but “he’s obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”

“Unfortunately I think world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue,” Corker said.

In between the broadsides from Corker and Flake, Trump himself made a rare visit to the Capitol to join GOP senators for their weekly policy lunch. Senators said he did not joust with Corker or anyone else — or spend much time talking about a tax overhaul, the expected topic for the lunch.

Tax overhaul is an urgent task for Republicans who’ve failed to notch a single significant legislative achievement this year despite controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress. Trump did discuss it, yet it was hardly his focus.

Instead, senators said, he mixed in a review of accomplishments so far on the regulatory front and others. At one point, he essentially polled senators on whom he should nominate as the next Federal Reserve chairman, asking for a show of hands on various candidates. He tweeted later that he had received “Multiple standing ovations!”

McConnell sidestepped reporters’ questions about Corker’s characterization of Trump.

“We’re going to concentrate on what our agenda is, and not any of these other distractions that you all may be interested in,” he said.

However, even for Republicans who had no intention of seconding Flake’s comments, the import of the day’s developments was not lost.

“It’s counterproductive when Republicans are battling amongst themselves,” said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Source: Black info

Senate GOP Votes to Repeal Consumer Rule Allowing Class Action Lawsuits Against Big Business

Repeal Consumer Rule
Vice President Mike Pence speaks on tax reform at the American Enterprise Institute, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a further rollback of Obama-era regulations, the Republican-led Senate voted narrowly to repeal a banking rule that would have allowed consumers to join together to sue their bank or credit card company to resolve financial disputes.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the final vote late Tuesday to break a 50-50 tie. The banking industry had been lobbying hard to roll back the regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau had moved to ban most types of mandatory arbitration clauses found in the fine print of agreements consumers often enter into when opening a checking account or getting a credit card.

The vote reflects the effort of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to undo regulations that the GOP argues harm the free market. The measure now moves to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president applauded the vote.

“The rule would harm our community banks and credit unions by opening the door to frivolous lawsuits by special interest trial lawyers,” Sanders said.

Democratic lawmakers said the CFPB’s rule would have given consumers more leverage to stop companies from financial wrongdoing. They cited the sales practices at Wells Fargo and the security breach at credit company Equifax as examples of misdeeds protected through forced arbitration.

“So who does forced arbitration help? Wall Street banks and other huge corporations that never pay the price for cheating working people,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Richard Cordray, director of the consumer bureau, said: “Tonight’s vote is a giant setback for every consumer in this country. Wall Street won and ordinary people lost. This vote means the courtroom doors will remain closed for groups of people seeking justice and relief when they are wronged by a company.”

Republicans said the arbitration system has worked “wonderfully” for consumers. They said the payouts for the average consumer in arbitration cases are generally much larger and come more quickly than when compared to the relief gained through class-action lawsuits.

“The effort to try to characterize this as some devious system that has been created to try to stop consumers from having access to fairness is simply false,” said Sen. Mike Crapo, the Republican chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “We have a very fair system that has been working for over 100 years in this country.”

Crapo said the average pay-out for consumers in class-action lawsuits against financial companies was just $32, but lawyers stood to make millions.

Democrats argued that consumers generally don’t have the time and means to pursue claims in arbitration, and since most disputes revolve around small amounts, they typically just give up. They said banks and other financial firms know that in the end they won’t have pay a real price for taking advantage of a consumer.

But class-actions would serve as a powerful tool for consumers, they said.

“Once again, we’re helping the powerful against the powerless,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as the Senate neared the vote, sensing the Democrats would lose.

Two Republicans sided with Democratic lawmakers to keep the rule — Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

The advocacy group Consumers Union and several veterans groups, including the American Legion, lobbied to keep the rule. They said consumers would still have the option to use arbitration to resolve a dispute if both parties want to go that route.

“Without the CFPB rule, consumers can be forced into a rigged system where they have no recourse. It’s a disgrace,” said Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association for Justice, an advocacy group that works to improve the legal system.

The American Bankers Association cheered the Senate vote. “Today’s vote puts consumers first rather than class-action lawyers,” said Rob Nichols, the group’s president and chief executive officer.

Source: Black info

Venezuela Opposition Governors Take Oath of Office Before Before Controversial Assembly

Opposition Governors Take Oath
This Oct. 18, 2017 photo shows a spray-painted message on a wall that reads in Spanish; “I will not vote,” next to the name of opposition gubernatorial candidate Carlos Ocariz, in Guarenas, Venezuela. Polls favored Ocariz to win handily in Sunday’s election, but his opponent, a pro-government candidate won. A similar trend played out on a statewide level and across much of the nation as opposition candidates were hurt by high abstention rates in their strongholds. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Four of the five opposition governors recently elected in Venezuela took an oath Monday before leaders of the all-powerful, pro-government constitutional assembly, reversing an earlier refusal and underlining fractures in the opposition.

The small ceremony in Caracas came less than a week after the opposition governors boycotted a swearing-in event at the constitutional assembly’s chamber. Throughout the campaign, opposition candidates said they would never yield to socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s demand that any newly elected governor take an oath and “submit” before the constitutional assembly.

Opposition leaders and dozens of foreign governments consider the assembly unconstitutional.

After initially refusing the oath, the opposition governors pressed their local legislative councils to swear them into office, as the Venezuelan constitution dictates. But the constitutional assembly, which has ruled with virtually unlimited powers since being elected in July, decreed that local councils could not swear any governor into office before they first took an oath before the assembly.

The move put the governors in a tight spot: Continue to refuse and risk losing their offices or be sworn in at the cost of caving in on a firmly held position.

Images released by the government on Twitter showed the newly elected governors of Anzoategui, Merida, Nueva Esparta and Tachira state holding up their right hands during a ceremony with Delcy Rodriguez, the assembly’s president and one of Maduro’s fiercest allies.

The elected governor of Zulia, Juan Pablo Guanipa, refused to participate, leaving up in the air what will happen in Venezuela’s largest state.

On Twitter, two of the sworn-in opposition governors appeared to defend their decision. Tachira Gov. Laidy Gomez said the “humiliation of a leader” can be a means of achieving freedom. Anzoategui Gov. Antonio Barreto said that in order to resolve the nation’s crisis they were making “the biggest of sacrifices.”

While some supporters emerged online to defend them, both governors were met with an onslaught of criticism from disappointed Venezuelans.

“Traitor!!!!!” one woman angrily wrote.

According to the Electoral Council, opposition candidates won just five of the 23 governorships up for grabs in Oct. 15 elections that the opposition had been projected to dominate.

Opposition leaders are disputing the results, claiming the Electoral Council committed fraud through a series of maneuvers designed to give government-backed candidates an edge. In Bolivar state, the Democratic Unity Roundtable has presented evidence of possible ballot tampering.

Andres Velasquez, the opposition’s candidate for governor in Bolivar, said the four opposition governors who took the oath deserve “full repudiation” by Venezuelans.

The squabbling over the oath seemed certain to sow further discord among members of the opposition, who have struggled to put forward a united message since the regional elections. While thousands of Venezuelans frustrated with their nation’s triple-digit inflation, high crime and food shortages participated in four months of protests earlier this year, more recently the opposition has struggled to mobilize supporters.

Official election results show thousands in opposition strongholds did not participate in the vote.

Source: Black info

California’s Chief Justice Calls for End to Cash Bail

End to Cash Bail
FILE – In this March 23, 2015, file photo, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye delivers her State of the Judiciary address before a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. California’s  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s top judge said Tuesday that she wants to do away with the state’s cash bail system, adding a powerful voice to criticism that it keeps poor people behind bars while wealthier suspects can pay for their freedom and increasing pressure on state lawmakers to pass a bail reform measure.

The bold proposal endorsed by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (ta-NEE’ kahn-TEEL sah-kah-OO-weh) would instead rely on assessments of defendants’ flight risk and danger to the public to determine whether they should be released. Judges could order weekly contact with a pretrial services officer, monitoring, home confinement, or other restrictions and would have the authority to hold suspects in the most serious cases.

The proposals are contained in a report by the judiciary and will require legislative approval to go into law. Cantil-Sakauye, a Republican appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said the report should serve as a framework for discussions with Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature.

“I support the conclusion that California’s current pretrial system unnecessarily compromises victim and public safety,” she said in a statement.

The proposal is likely to face fierce opposition from the bail industry. Similar bail reform measures approved in New Jersey and New Mexico have faced lawsuits.

The centuries-old cash-bail system has become one of the flashpoints in the debate over equal justice. Critics argue that many poor defendants languish in jail for minor offenses while wealthy suspects accused of serious crimes can often post bail while awaiting trial.

“Thousands of Californians who pose no risk to the public are held in jail before trial,” said Brian Back, a judge in California’s Ventura County who co-chaired the judicial group that proposed the bail reforms in the state.

Opponents of scrapping cash bail say it ensures people show up to court. Bail is money or property that can be forfeited if suspects fail to appear.

A bail reform bill was approved by the state Senate in the most recent legislative session, but its author, Democratic Sen. Bob Hertzberg of Van Nuys, said he would have had to make additional compromises to get it through the Assembly before the Legislature adjourned in mid-September.

Top state officials promised to study the issue and try again next year. Brown, a Democrat, has said inequities exist in California’s bail system and pledged reform.

Herzberg said in a statement Tuesday that he looked forward to moving his legislation forward next year. He said opponents of the measure had urged lawmakers to hold off on it to await the recommendations of the judiciary. He said now the judges “have ruled: We must replace money bail because it is unsafe and unfair.”

The chief justice made headlines earlier this year when she clashed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly over immigration arrests at courthouses, saying the practice would affect the public’s confidence in the court system.

Source: Black info

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