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Pres. Obama and Trump let their guards down at White House

buzzz worthy. . . By Mona Austin President Obama and Donald Trump met for the first time on Thursday to begin talks about the official...

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Hagel announces furlough relief to government civilians

buzzz worthy. . .

Hundreds of thousands of Defense Department civilian employees who have had to take a weekly unpaid day off from work since July 8 are getting some relief, as the total number of furlough days has been reduced from 11 to six, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on August 6, 2013.

Here is the complete text of the secretary's announcement:

When I announced my decision on May 14 to impose furloughs of up to 11 days on civilian employees to help close the budget gap caused by sequestration, I also said we would do everything possible to find the money to reduce furlough days for our people. With the end of the fiscal year next month, managers across the DoD are making final decisions necessary to ensure we make the $37 billion spending cuts mandated by sequestration, while also doing everything possible to limit damage to military readiness and our workforce. We are joined in this regard by managers in non-defense agencies who are also working to accommodate sequestration cuts while minimizing mission damage. As part of that effort at the Department of Defense, I am announcing today that, thanks to the DoD's efforts to identify savings and help from Congress, we will reduce the total numbers of furlough days for DoD civilian employees from 11 to six.

When sequestration took effect on March 1, DoD faced shortfalls of more than $30 billion in its budget for day-to-day operating costs because of sequestration and problems with wartime funding. At that point we faced the very real possibility of unpaid furloughs for civilian employees of up to 22 days.

As early as January, DoD leaders began making painful and far reaching changes to close this shortfall: civilian hiring freezes, layoffs of temporary workers, significant cuts in facilities maintenance, and more. We also sharply cut training and maintenance. The Air Force stopped flying in many squadrons, the Navy kept ships in port, and the Army cancelled training events. These actions have seriously reduced military readiness.

By early May, even after taking these steps, we still faced day-to-day budgetary shortfalls of $11 billion. At that point I decided that cutting any deeper into training and maintenance would jeopardize our core readiness mission and national security, which is why I announced furloughs of 11 days.

Hoping to be able to reduce furloughs, we submitted a large reprogramming proposal to Congress in May, asking them to let us move funds from acquisition accounts into day-to-day operating accounts. Congress approved most of this request in late July, and we are working with them to meet remaining needs. We are also experiencing less than expected costs in some areas, such as transportation of equipment out of Afghanistan. Where necessary, we have taken aggressive action to transfer funds among services and agencies. And the furloughs have saved us money.

As a result of these management initiatives, reduced costs, and reprogramming from Congress, we have determined that we can make some improvements in training and readiness and still meet the sequestration cuts. The Air Force has begun flying again in key squadrons, the Army has increased funding for organizational training at selected units, and the Navy has restarted some maintenance and ordered deployments that otherwise would not have happened. While we are still depending on furlough savings, we will be able to make up our budgetary shortfall in this fiscal year with fewer furlough days than initially announced.

This has been one of the most volatile and uncertain budget cycles the Department of Defense has ever experienced. Our fiscal planning has been conducted under a cloud of uncertainty with the imposition of sequestration and changing rules as Congress made adjustments to our spending authorities.

As we look ahead to fiscal year 2014, less than two months away, the Department of Defense still faces major fiscal challenges. If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, DoD will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in FY 2014, starting on October 1. This represents 40 percent more than this year's sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion. Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year, but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs.

I want to thank our civilian workers for their patience and dedication during these extraordinarily tough times, and for their continued service and devotion to our department and our country. I know how difficult this has been for all of you and your families. Your contribution to national security is invaluable, and I look forward to one day putting this difficult period behind us. Thank you and God Bless you and your families.
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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beyonce's short and sassy (not fierce) new look!

buzzz worthy. . .

What could Beyonce possibly do to top biking her way to her final concert in Brooklyn?   Why cut her gloriously golden locks down to nearly nothing. It takes a self-assured woman to chop off her hair. Beyonce has never been short on confidence, but for the first time in her 15 year career the pop diva rocks a cropped-to-the-face pixie hairstyle.  She is still blond though. It actually looks like she went a little more blond that usual. Rita Hazan, her colorist called the hue Champagne blond.  Bey still looks feminine with the boyish cut, but sorry "Sasha," it's just not that fierce.  I'll miss her whipping her golden locks back and forth on stage.

Ellen, Miley Cyrus, Keyshia Cole, Pink and Kierra Sheard can all welcome Mrs. Carter to the short blond 'do club.

Beyonce shares a pic of her shockingly short haircut on Instagram on August 8.

I wonder how Bey would look as a redhead?

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Introducing Ethan Kent

buzzz worthy. . .

Dallas, TX --  Ethan Kent is a new face in gospel, but he has been garnering much attention in the process of developing his musical career and preparing for his national debut release.  His single "My Hope Is In Glory" reached the Top 30 BDS Gospel Radio chart this spring and is back in the Top 30 again.  "'My Hope Is In Glory' is one of my favorite morning drive songs to play on air," states Carter Garrett of WTOY Radio, Roanoke, VA.  "It's deeply rooted in the Word, and has a nice contemporary smooth beat!"

Ethan has an edge and freshness to his music artistry.  Describing his sound would include tossing in a mix of genres including jazz, classical, soul and pop that is bound together by the contemporary sound of gospel.  

Ethan recorded a live video version of the single that has become a youtube hit.  "My Hope Is In Glory" is a stylish visual of a hip performance by Kent and showcases his skillful musicality and passion for his craft.  

The summer has been a preparatory journey for the budding artist.  Ethan has traveled much of the South and East Coast promoting his WORK IN PROGRESS CD which will soon release on his own Tonic Blueprint label with distribution via Central South Distribution.   Ethan's upcoming appearances include the WCAO Radio Gospel Cruise on August 10 in Baltimore, MD and he is scheduled to appear at the Shoutfest 2013 in Augusta, SC presented by WAAW Shout 94 FM Radio. Ethan recently was named Artist of The Year by KHVN Radio in Dallas at theirHomegrown Honors Awards.  He is now nominated for an Epitome Award for Artist of The Year which will be presented in Dallas on August 17 by Epitome Magazine.

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Jazz Great George Duke has died

buzzz worthy. . .

By Mona Austin

George Duke, a dynamic jazz piano and keyboard innovator passed away Monday night in Los Angeles, CA.  Duke had been struggling with a form of Luekemia, chronic lymphocytic .  He was 67.

A true master of the instrument, for over 40 years George Duke "tickled the ivory" introducing a signature sound defined by elaborate  arpeggio's and scintillating trills.

Duke's son Rashid thanked supporters in a statement: “The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father’s friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming,” he said. “Thank you all for your concern, prayers and support.”

Duke recorded over 30 albums and produced numerous artists including Miles Davis and Smokie Robinson.  

In the early years of his career, Duke played with Cannonball Adderly, Frank Zappa, and Stanley Clarke.  Each of these majestic group leaders had their own unique interpretation of jazz,  which all perhaps melded into the jazz/funk fusion sound the San Rafael, California born artist engineered starting in 1976 when he went solo.

His latest album, “DreamWeaver,” was released in July.  On its cover two things are missing: Duke's portly cheeks and bushy hair.  The disease had changed his appearance. The album features a  tribute to his late wife Corine who preceded him in death last year as a result of cancer. Songs from "Dream Weaver" exude as much energy and passion as the classic "Dukey Stick" or the duet with Rachelle Ferrell, "Rhyme Nor Reason."  His creative spirit and sensuality drips throughout the love songs on the project as usual.

Earlier this year Duke was interviewed by EURWEB publisher Lee Bailey.  (Click here to listen.) Bailey said he was a "sweet, sweet" man and news of his passing was devastating to report.  I second that emotion.  

Farewell and much respect to a true jazz ambassador.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Comey confirmed as director of FBI

buzzz worthy. . .

The FBI finally has a new leader.

On Monday, July 29,  the Senate confirmed James Comey as the new Director of the FBI.  President Obama had this to say about his nominee:

Statement by the President on the Confirmation of James Comey as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

"I applaud the overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Senators who today confirmed Jim Comey to be the next director of the FBI. Jim is a natural leader of unquestioned integrity.  In the face of ever-changing threats, he has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to defending America’s security and ideals alike.  With Jim at the Bureau’s helm, I know that the FBI will be in good hands long after I’ve left office. . ."

The one lone vote against Comey came from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who delayed the selection process  due to concerns about the domestic use of drones.
Monday's 93-1 vote put Comey in line to succeed Robert Mueller, who is stepping down in September after 12 years heading the agency. Paul was the only no vote.
Comey said he is is "excited" to do the he job.

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Bishop Jakes prepares for Megafest 2013 and a plethora of other projects

buzzz worthy. . .

Last week, pastor, producer and television host T.D. Jakes toured Los Angeles and New York visiting Access Hollywood LiveExtraCNN NewsroomWall Street Journal LiveGood Day LA, and Emmy Magazine to chat about current issues and a plethora of upcoming projects. Jakes shared details about the highly anticipated return of MegaFest, the film adaptation of the hit novel "Heaven is For Real," and his new day-time talk show "T.D. Jakes Presents: Mind, Body, & Soul" slated to premiere on BET this fall. 

Good Day LA Exclusive: Bishop T.D. Jakes: Mind, Body & Soul

"I think I'm gonna be able to really talk to people about who they are and who they are inside". That's T.D. Jakes describing how his new talk show will be much different than the other ones out there. "T.D. Jakes Presents: Mind, Body & Soul" premieres on BET this Fall.

The Bishop also talked to Steve and Maria about who his biggest influence was growing up...and still dictates what he does and how he does it to this day. He also talks about what he calls "a challenging time" these days for parents and their children and how "you can't make a withdrawal if you haven't made a deposit". Aside from the new show, Jakes will also be sharing the stage with Oprah Winfrey next month at "Megafest".

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Happy 52 Birthday Mr. President: Obama spends time with the fellas for his birthday

buzzz worthy. . .

By Mona Austin

BRISTOW, VA -  President Obama turns 52 years old today.  

His birthday weekend kicked off with  a golfing party of sorts on Saturday.  Obama and 11 of his friends spent over 7  hours on the green at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland under sometimes cloudy skies.  The crew was  from Hawaii,  his birthplace and Chicago, where his political life began.  They were teamed into three groups of four including : 

Greg Orme
Marty Nesbit
Hasan Chandoo
Bobby Titcomb
Mike Ramos
Wahid Hamid
Eric Whitaker
Reggie Love
Sam Kass
Laurent Delanney
Marvin Nicholson

The winning team got to ride to Camp David in the Marine One helicopter with the POTUS for an evening celebration. They were: Wahid Hamid, Laurent Delanney, Reggie and Sam Kass.

The remaining golfers arrived by van.  

First Lady Obama joined the gathering by separate transport.

The president returned to the White House.  His plans for today were to disclosed will likely involve sharing his special day with his family before entering a work week that involves travel.
President Obama's week ahead includes travel to the West Coast to discuss plans to help homeowners, appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and visit with troops at Camp Pendleton.

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