Biden and Sanders Win Key Endorsements As Next Voting Round Nears

 

Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders secured crucial endorsements Sunday from prominent black supporters just days ahead of the first round of voting to pit them in a head-to-head contest.

Senator Kamala Harris, a former Democratic candidate herself, endorsed Biden, while Sanders won the backing of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson as the rival candidates competed for African American support — a key demographic in the fight for the party’s nomination.

Voters in six states go to the polls Tuesday, a week after the “Super Tuesday” elections dramatically reversed the two men’s fortunes, snatching the frontrunner’s title from Sanders and revitalizing Biden, who now holds a lead in delegates to the nominating convention.

Biden did well on Super Tuesday in Southern states with large black populations, states similar to Mississippi, which votes Tuesday. And in Missouri, a Midwestern state also voting Tuesday, one recent poll gives him a 22-point lead.

That makes Michigan, the day’s biggest prize, an almost must-win for Sanders. A survey in that north-central state last week gave Biden a six-point advantage.

“Joe has been there for Michigan when our back was against the wall,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer told AFP Sunday, during an appearance at a majority black church in Detroit.

Michigan’s critically suffering auto industry received a major boost in 2008 from a massive intervention under the administration of Barack Obama and Biden.

But Whitmer predicted a close race on Tuesday; Sanders has a large organization in Michigan with considerable union support.

Also voting Tuesday are Idaho, North Dakota and Washington state.

Sanders focuses on Michigan

Sanders, desperate to kickstart his campaign after losing 10 of the 14 Super Tuesday states, has canceled plans to speak in Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois in order to focus on Michigan.

Jackson endorsed Sanders at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, repaying the self-described democratic socialist for having supported his 1988 bid for the White House.

“I stand with Bernie Sanders today because he stood with me,” Jackson said. “I stand with him because he stands with you.”

“Sanders has a better chance at beating Trump than Biden does,” Sara Long, 25, told AFP as she stood in line for the rally.

“I think that a lot of his views are more progressive, and they’re what this generation is looking for,” she said.

Sanders touted Jackson’s endorsement on Sunday television talk shows, calling him “one of the great civil rights leaders in the modern history of this country.”

“He changed American politics with the concept of the Rainbow Coalition — getting the blacks and whites and Latinos together in ’84 and ’88,” Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.” “So we’re proud.”

Sanders appeared on four Sunday talk shows; Biden on none.

Biden’s Super Tuesday surge brought an influx of donations — $22 million in the past few days, his campaign said in a statement Sunday.

It said $12 million would be spent on hiring new staff and launching a major media campaign in battleground states.

Harris said she was backing Biden, a centrist who touts his ability to work with Republicans because she believes he can best unify the country going into the crucial November elections against Donald Trump.

“I am with great enthusiasm going to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States,” she said in a videotaped statement posted on Twitter.

Eight other former Democratic candidates — including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O’Rourke — had earlier endorsed Biden.

He later tweeted his thanks to Harris, saying, “You’ve spent your whole career fighting for folks who’ve been written off and left behind.”

The endorsement was a bit of a reversal; Harris had sharply chastised Biden in a televised debate last June over his warm words for past segregationist senators and his opposition in the 1970s to busing to integrate US schools.

But many African American leaders have since swung behind Biden, helping to resurrect his once flagging campaign.

Blacks’ ‘best chance’

Sanders has had trouble attracting black voters — Biden won more than four black votes in South Carolina for each one favoring Sanders — making the endorsement from Jackson all the more significant.

Jackson questioned whether moderate policies would benefit African Americans.

“A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path,” said Jackson.

“The most progressive social and economic path gives us the best chance to catch up, and Senator Bernie Sanders represents the most progressive path. That’s why I choose to endorse him today.”

Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Attracts Stars In Music, Politics

The casket of Aretha Franklin arrives at the Greater Grace Temple in advance of her funeral on August 31, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. PHOTO: JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP

Aretha Franklin’s star-studded funeral got underway in Detroit on Friday with political dignitaries and music royalty joining family, friends and members of the public to bid goodbye to America’s “Queen of Soul.”

The service, a celebration of the life and legacy of one of the US music icon, is expected to last six hours at the Greater Grace Temple in her Michigan hometown.

The 76-year-old singer, beloved by millions around the world, died of cancer on August 16, closing the curtain on a glittering six-decade career that spanned Gospel, R&B, Jazz, Blues and even classical music.

Former US President Bill Clinton takes a picture with singer Ariana Grande and her fiancee Pete Davidson at Aretha Franklin’s funeral at Greater Grace Temple on August 31, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. PHOTO: Angela Weiss / AFP

 

Former president Bill Clinton and Smokey Robinson are among those due to give eulogies, with music from Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson, who is to portray Franklin in an upcoming biopic.

Huge lines began forming on Thursday after it was announced that 1,000 members of the public would be allowed into the service, which was initially invitation only for friends and family.

Fans queued in funeral finery, vibrant dresses or even tracksuits and Aretha T-shirts, oblivious to the hot sun so determined were they to be a part of history, as neighbors stood outside their homes to watch.

“Aretha is my icon. She’s everything to me, like my mother,” said Ugochi Queen, a 46-year-old Franklin tribute artist dressed in black ruffles from Gary, Indiana.

“She’s just my idol, I love her, I love her music, I love the legacy that she lived,” she said. “I need closure and that’s why I’m here.”

‘Queen of our city’

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton accompanied her husband to the service. Actress Whoopi Goldberg was also among those invited. Huge blooms of lavender, white and pink roses adorned the church.

Outside, there was a heavy police presence, with roads sealed off, a helicopter circling overhead and officers patrolling on horseback. A screen broadcasting the funeral was erected in a nearby gas station.

Bishop Charles Ellis, the officiating pastor, has promised an upbeat and jubilant service that will be all about Franklin, uplifting her family in their time of grief and celebrating her gospel legacy.

She influenced generations of female singers from the late Whitney Houston to Beyonce, with unforgettable hits including “Respect” (1967), “Natural Woman” (1968) and “I Say a Little Prayer” (1968).

Franklin won 18 Grammy awards and was feted for her civil rights work, raising money for the cause and inspiring activists with her anthems.

She was voted the greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone magazine and for African American women in particular was a role model and a benchmark for success, feminism and empowerment.

“She’s the queen of our city,” said retired nurse Pat Bills, another of those who waited in line, dressed in vibrant salmon pink.

“I’m so thankful that they’ve opened this up to the public so we can be a part of it… She’s given us all so much to be proud of.”

Pink Cadillacs — some having been driven across the country — parked en masse outside the church, expected to follow her cortege to the cemetery where she is to be buried alongside her father and siblings.

‘Inspiring’

They are a nod to her 1985 hit “Freeway of Love,” an anthem to her Motor City hometown, in which Franklin sang about a pink Cadillac, the car company that was founded in Detroit in 1902.

Franklin is expected to make her final journey in the same ivory 1940 Cadillac LaSalle that transported the body of her father in 1984, and that of civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005.

Detroit regards Franklin as royalty. For three days she lay in a golden, open-casket, wearing a different outfit each day — red on Tuesday, blue on Wednesday, rose gold on Thursday and a golden sparkling dress for her funeral on Friday.

Thousands and thousands of members of the public lined up to see her one last time — at her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church, and the Charles H. Wright Museum for African-American History.

On Thursday, more than 40 artists performed for thousands at a free concert, billed “A People’s Tribute to the Queen,” powering through some of her greatest hits, culminating with “Respect.”

“It’s truly inspiring to see how many hearts, how many people my grandma has touched,” said her granddaughter Victorie Franklin.

The daughter of a prominent Baptist preacher and civil rights activist, Franklin sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the inaugurations of presidents Clinton and Barack Obama.

She was awarded America’s highest civilian honor by George W. Bush in 2005.

AFP

‘Detroit’ Director Says She Would Encourage Trump To See New Movie

Cast and Oscar-winning director of new movie ‘Detroit’, Kathryn Bigelow, who arrived in London to promote her film on Wednesday says she hopes President Donald Trump watches the new racially charged movie.

This follows Trump’s latest remarks on the Charlottesville events.

“I would encourage him to see the movie only in the hope that it might humanize perhaps something that is unimaginable for him. But, my small platform is as a filmmaker and so I hope that I’ve sent a message out to the world that we have to begin to talk about the inequity.

“The film is a kind of indictment against the pervasiveness of racism and obviously we see that pervasiveness occurring yet again a few days ago in Charlottesville, so it’s, I think a very important dialogue to engage in,” Kathryn Bigelow said.

Trump inflamed tension after a deadly rally by white nationalists in Virginia by insisting that counter protester were also to blame, drawing condemnation from some Republican leaders and praise from white supremacists.

Bigelow’s new film recreates the summer civil unrest by African-Americans in Detroit in 1967, and the little-known police interrogation and shootings of three young black men at the Algiers Motel.

British actor Will Poulter said he had to “embrace ignorance” to play a racist cop.

“I wouldn’t implore anyone to embrace ignorance outside of the context of playing a racist. My experience since playing the character has been to develop my understanding and empathy for people outside my own ethnicity group but I think that’s something that we all need to do in the name of bettering race relations and truly progressing”, Will said.

John Boyega, Jack Reynor and Hannah Murray also attended the movie premiere.

‘Detroit’ is out in the U.K on August 25th.

Trey Songz Arrested After Assault On Detroit Cop

Trey Songz, Detroit, Tremaine NeversonAmerican songwriter Tremaine Neverson, who is better known as Trey Songz, will be ending 2016 with some legal issues.

The R&B singer was arrested on Wednesday night when he refused to leave the stage at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

He was performing at the fourth annual Big Show at the Joe alongside other artistes, including Young M.A. and Lil Yachty.

Sources revealed that the 32-year-old threw objects and attempted to break equipment in an “upset and belligerent” manner, when organisers of the event informed him that his time onstage was over.

While police officers at the event came on to remove him from stage, Songz purportedly continued to throw objects, one of which hit a cop.

Michigan Water Contamination: Obama Declares Emergency

Obama on Water ContaminationUS President, Barack Obama, has declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan, where corrosive water leaked lead from old pipes into the water supply.

The water became contaminated with lead, after a change in supplier in 2014.

The emergency declaration will now make available $5m (£3.5m) in federal funding.

Earlier in the week, Governor Rick Snyder had requested $31m from the Federal Government.

He said the need in the city of almost 100,000 people “far exceeds the state’s capability” and sought a disaster declaration.

But reports in Michigan said President Obama denied that request, that would have freed up more than the $5m, as such declarations are only made for natural disasters.

The city switched its water source from the city of Detroit to the Flint River in 2014. It has since switched back to Detroit’s water.

Michigan’s Attorney, Bill Schuette, had said he would investigate the water crisis to see whether any state laws were violated.

The lack of clean water in Flint “is a human tragedy in which families are struggling even with the most basic parts of daily life”, said Michigan’s Attorney General.

Mr Snyder had already declared an emergency in Flint due to the water situation. Local officials deemed it a public health emergency in October.

He has been criticised for his handling of the water crisis, with protesters calling for him to resign.

As a result of President Obama’s announcement, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will co-ordinate the response in Flint.

On Saturday, the singer, Cher, said she would donate bottled water to Flint residents, with some 180,000 bottles to be shipped.

“This is a tragedy of staggering proportion and shocking that it’s happening in the middle of our country,” she said.