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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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Thursday, November 27, 2014

President Obama pardons Turkeys named 'Mac and Cheese'

buzzz worthy. . .

"MAC AND CHEESE" WITH A SIDE OF "EYE": At the annual turkey pardoning ceremony on Wednesday at the White House, President Obama spared a pair of 48 pound turkeys from landing on the dinner table. Technically Cheese won the pardon by online votes. Mac, however, will join Cheese on a Virginia farm for the rest of their lives.The Obama girls participated in the pardoning, but appeared to be unenthused, with Sasha giving the grateful birds the side-eye. Sasha and Malia have been involved in the traditional event for years, but this time they didn't want to pet the turkey when their father asked. Perhaps the teens have outgrown the excitement. "It's a little puzzling why I do this every year," said Pres. Obama."But I will say that I enjoy it, because with all the tough stuff that swirls around in this office, it's nice once in a while just to say to say 'Happy Thanksgiving,'" he said. "And this is a great excuse to do it."
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Brandon Heath to release sixth album, "No Turning Back"

Nashville, Tenn. (Nov. 26, 2014) — Multi Dove Award-winning, five-time GRAMMY® and AMA nominee, and Emmy Award winner Brandon Heath invites listeners to travel back to one of the most impactful moments in his life through his new project, No Turning Back.  Heath’s sixth studio album will be released on February 10, 2015 on Reunion/Monomode Records, Sony Music. The debut title track single featuring All Sons & Daughters is already in the Top 20 on the National Audience Chart and impacting Christian radio. With adds in major markets such as Seattle, Tampa, Minneapolis, Dallas and Los Angeles, “No Turning Back” is currently in rotation on key networks including K-LOVE/Air 1, The Fish and SiriusXM, among others.
No Turning Back not only finds Heath remembering his faith, but also reflects on other major moments and the life changing impact of experiences which have shaped the man that he is today.  The project chronicles the time when Heath first gave his life to Christ at a Young Life camp nearly two decades ago (1995).  Heath hopes that his memories of that moment and the influences of that time will “take listeners back” and lead them to consider what matters most. 
“I want listeners to go back to that pivotal moment in life where they made a decision that changed everything for them,” says Heath.  “Mine is so easy to point out, because it was so huge. It was the moment when I realized Who I belonged to. My life has been richer since I’ve been a follower of Jesus, and I want people to hear that and want it for themselves.”
The breezy, up-tempo vibe of No Turning Back transports listeners specifically to the time when Heath first heard the Gospel as a teenager at Young Life’s Malibu Club in Egmont, BC Canada. Re-visiting the Malibu Club this past summer sparked the artist’s creative juices for the album.  He says of the collection, “These songs are written from the spirit of that 16-year-old new believer, in awe of being forgiven.  It was a cornerstone week for me, and I had no idea just how much better my life would be after I made that decision.”
The record shares glimpses of life lessons that Heath recounts from his own journey such as forgiveness, fear, love and the power of relationships, including his mother and important mentors.  The album also unites the singer/songwriter with GRAMMY® and GMA Dove award-winning producer Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Dave Barnes), who has been an influence in Heath’s life as a mentor and a musician since that very same camp in 1995.
Joining Heath for the first time as a producer, Cash’s music has played a significant role in Heath’s early spiritual development and continues to today.  He contributes “S.O.S.” to the new album, the first song that Heath has ever recorded on a studio album that he hasn’t personally written. 
 “Ed’s voice, to this day, takes me back to those first days of faith,” says Heath.  “He knew immediately what I wanted to convey, and he has helped bring these songs and these memories to life.”
The poignant talent of Heath to bring audiences into his own life experiences, while relating to their own stories through this fresh musical journey, is Heath at his best.  No Turning Back track listing includes 11 songs:  No Turning Back, Only Just Met You, When You Look at Me, When I Was Young, One Way to Heaven, All I Need, Sing Brave, Everything Must Go, Behold Our God, Girl of My Dreams and S.O.S.
This holiday season, Heath will join Steven Curtis Chapman and special guest Jillian Edwards on “JOY: The Christmas Tour,” sharing songs from his 2014 Dove Award-winning album, Christmas Is Here.  In 2015, Heath takes to the road on multiple tours in support of the No Turning Back record.
JOY: The Christmas Tour dates:

11/29/14          Houston, TX               
11/30/14          Longview, TX
12/2/14            Montgomery, AL
12/4/14            Elmira, NY
12/5/14            Bel Air, MD
12/6/14            Lancaster, OH
12/8/14            Omaha, NE (sold out)
12/9/14            Omaha, NE (sold out)
12/11/14          Waco, TX
12/15/14          San Antonio, TX
12/17/14          Warner Robins, GA
12/18/14          Roanoke, VA (w/ Third Day)
12/19/14          Augusta, GA (w/ Third Day)
12/20/14          Tampa, FL (w/ Third Day)

About Brandon Heath:

Since Brandon Heaths debut on Reunion Records with Dont Get Comfortable (2006), he has become one of Christian musics most beloved and respected artist and songwriter. Heath has garnered an Emmy Award, five GRAMMY® nominations and an American Music Award nomination. He has been honored as a six-time GMA Dove Award recipient, including “Male Vocalist of the Year” (2009 and 2010), BMI’s 2014 Songwriter of the Year, and earned multiple additional songwriting honors. His award-winning songs and signature vocals reflect a soaring radio career that includes top hits “Im Not Who I Was,” “Wait and See,” the 2009 GMA Dove Award-winning Song of the Year Give Me Your Eyes,” the eight-week chart topper Your Love,” “The Light In Me,” and many others.

Heath, a Nashville native, first began writing at age 13. His artistry and ability to connect with audiences have compelled countless media outlets across the nation to platform his story and music. Highlights include coverage inThe New York Times, BillboardThe Wall Street Journal, RelevantCBS Evening News and The Discovery Channeland as a presenter on the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury's Failure to Indict Officer Darren Wilson

buzzz worthy. .

Washington, DC  - Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and convener, Black Women's Roundtable, released the following statement regarding the Ferguson grand jury's decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the unjust killing of Michael Brown:

The decision by the grand jury in Ferguson, MO not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting and killing of unarmed Michael Brown is a travesty of justice.  We believe the St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch's gross mishandling of this case is inexcusable. 

The prosecutor appeared to serve as a defense attorney instead of prosecuting attorney seeking justice for an unarmed 18-year-old teenager.  Further, the prosecutor's reckless decision to release the grand jury decision at 9 pm is a critical example of his mishandling of this case.

We urge the U. S. Justice Department to continue its full federal investigation in the wrongful death of Michael Brown, as well as its investigation of excessive police misconduct in the Ferguson Police Department and hope they bring civil rights charges against Officer Wilson

The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Black Women's Roundtable and Black Youth Vote joins the civil rights and social justice community in a call for an end to racial profiling of our young Black men and women who are losing their lives across the country at alarming rates at the hands of police officers who are sworn to protect and serve.

Further, we continue to pray that justice will prevail for the Brown family and stand with them in solidarity in their call for peaceful protest and justice for their son Michael.
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Monday, November 24, 2014


buzzz worthy. . .

THE PRESIDENT:  As you know, a few moments ago, the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown issued its decision. It’s an outcome that, either way, was going to be subject of intense disagreement not only in Ferguson, but across America.  So I want to just say a few words suggesting how we might move forward.

First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law.  And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.  There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry.  It’s an understandable reaction.  But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.  Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words:  “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.  No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.  I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”  Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone.  We should be honoring their wishes.   

I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur.  Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day.  They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.  As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence -- distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact. 

Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.  The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.  Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country.  And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates.  The good news is we know there are things we can do to help.  And I’ve instructed Attorney General Holder to work with cities across the country to help build better relations between communities and law enforcement. 

That means working with law enforcement officials to make sure their ranks are representative of the communities they serve.  We know that makes a difference.  It means working to train officials so that law enforcement conducts itself in a way that is fair to everybody.  It means enlisting the community actively on what should be everybody’s goal, and that is to prevent crime. 

And there are good people on all sides of this debate, as well as in both Republican and Democratic parties, that are interested not only in lifting up best practices -- because we know that there are communities who have been able to deal with this in an effective way -- but also who are interested in working with this administration and local and state officials to start tackling much-needed criminal justice reform. 

So those should be the lessons that we draw from these tragic events.  We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America.  We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades.  I've witnessed that in my own life.  And to deny that progress I think is to deny America’s capacity for change. 

But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren't just making these problems up.  Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion.  I don't think that's the norm.  I don't think that's true for the majority of communities or the vast majority of law enforcement officials.  But these are real issues.  And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down.  What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress.  And that can be done. 

That won't be done by throwing bottles.  That won't be done by smashing car windows.  That won't be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property.  And it certainly won't be done by hurting anybody.  So, to those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your concerns constructively and there are ways of channeling your concerns destructively.  Michael Brown’s parents understand what it means to be constructive.  The vast majority of peaceful protesters, they understand it as well.

Those of you who are watching tonight understand that there’s never an excuse for violence, particularly when there are a lot of people in goodwill out there who are willing to work on these issues. 

On the other hand, those who are only interested in focusing on the violence and just want the problem to go away need to recognize that we do have work to do here, and we shouldn’t try to paper it over.  Whenever we do that, the anger may momentarily subside, but over time, it builds up and America isn't everything that it could be. 

And I am confident that if we focus our attention on the problem and we look at what has happened in communities around the country effectively, then we can make progress not just in Ferguson, but in a lot of other cities and communities around the country.
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NO JUSTICE FOR MIKE BROWN: Officer Darren Wilson is a free man

buzzz worthy. . .

After 3 months of deliberations, a grand jury of 12 members selected by a judge decided no probable cause exists to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed teen Mike Brown. St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCullough made the announcement in a press conference in Missouri at 9:15 beginning with an apology to the Brown family. "Regardless of the circumstances they lost a loved one to violence an such a loss knows no bounds," he said before delivering the decision. McCulloch said the grand jury met for 25 days and heard over 70 hours of testimony and deliberated over 2 days before making a decision. Multiple witnesses for Mike Brown, McCulloch said had contradictory testimonies based on hearsay.
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buzzz worthy. . .


Los Angeles, Calif. (November 24, 2014) — Reunion Records/Beach Street Records recording artist Casting Crowns received its third career American Music Award last night for “Favorite Artist – Contemporary Inspirational.” The award was presented during the AMA live broadcast on ABC Network television at L.A.’s Nokia Theater. For a full list of 2014 AMA winners and nominees, please visit: http://www.theamas.com.

THRIVE, Casting Crowns’ latest album release, hit #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Christian Albums Chart and #6 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart on its recent street week.

The record breaking group is currently on the fall leg of its highly successful Thrive Tour, including a sold out performance at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo. The band will also perform at New Yorks famed Carnegie Hall on January 24, 2015 as part of a full weekend with fans.

Casting Crowns is one of the most successful Contemporary Christian artists, also crossing over onto the mainstream charts with one double Platinum album (CASTING CROWNS), three Platinum albums (THE ALTAR AND THE DOOR, LIFESONG, CASTING CROWNS) and six Gold albums (COME TO THE WELL, UNTIL THE WHOLE WORLD HEARS, PEACE ON EARTH, THE ALTAR AND THE DOOR, LIFESONG and CASTING CROWNS).  Having also released four Gold DVDs and four RIAA Gold certified digital singles; the band currently holds the position as Billboards top-selling act in Christian music since 2007.

The AMA, GRAMMY and Dove Award winning group features Mark Hall, Melodee Devevo, Brian Scoggin, Megan Garrett, Juan Devevo, Chris Huffman and Josh Mix, who have been recording and touring for more than 10 years -- since they heard their first single on the radio in 2003.  Casting Crowns has been honored with three American Music Awards (seven nominations), a GRAMMY Award for its 2005 album LIFESONG (six nominations), 17 GMA Dove Awards and two Billboard Music Awards (four nominations).

Upcoming Tour dates through 2015 are as follows:

11/28/2014                Birmingham, AL                        Boutwell Auditorium
11/29/2014                Bossier City, LA                        CenturyLink Center Arena
12/4/2014                  Fairfax, VA                               Patriot Center
12/5/2104                  Reader, PA                                Santander Arena
12/6/2014                  Providence, RI                           Dunkin’ Donuts Center
12/7/2014                  Pittsburgh, PA                            Consol Energy Center
1/13-17/2015             Miami, FL                                  KLOVE Cruise
1/24/2015                  New York, NY                          Carnegie Hall

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Non-Americans take home major titles at the American Music Awards

buzzz worthy. . .

One Direction won Favorite Artist of the Year on November 23 at the American Music Awards.

Satisfying America's taste for imports, the slow, but steady musical British invasion  continued at last night's American Music Awards as Brits took home top honors.  Brit/Irish pop group One Direction ("Best Song Ever," "Story of My Life") was pronounced Artist of the Year. They beat out Beyonce, whose confluence of top secret marketing, massive video output and major appearances in connection with the 2013 release "Beyonce" was tauted as a genius branding strategy.  Once Direction also won the award for Favorite Album Pop/Rock  and Favorite Pop/Rock Duo or Group.  

British singer Sam Smith ("Stay With Me")  also triumphed over gigantic competitors, beating out Pharrell and John Legend for the  Favorite Male Artist title.

From elsewhere across the waters, the "realest" female MC from the Land Down Under, Iggy Azalea won American Music Awards for both Favorite Rap Artist and Favorite Hip Hop Album, despite being shunned by leaders in the Hip Hop community over the past year. Azalea beat out senior rappers Drake and  Eminem.  The win must have been the ultimate diss to Eminem who recently insulted her online.

Australian rock band 5 Seconds of Summer was presented with the New Artist of the Year award.

Katy Perry was one "made in the USA" artist who  held her own, earning three wins for Favorite Single of the Year for "Dark Horse", Favorite Female Artist Pop/Rock and Favorite Adult Contemporary  (She'll also headline the Super Bowl half time show on February 1, 2015.)

Taylor Swift continues to be a stateside favorite too.  After performing "Blank Space" for the show opener, she later received the evening's special honor, the Dick Clark Award for Excellence.

And the award for the Best Movie Soundtrack goes to. . ."Frozen."  Back in October Forbes noted that music for the animated feature was the only album in America to go platinum, crossing the million albums sold threshold at 3.2 million at that time.

None of the top artists mentioned here walked away empty handed.  Check out what they won on the full list of 2014 American Music Awards winners below:

Artist of the Year: One Direction
Dick Clark Award For Excellence: Taylor Swift
New Artist of the Year: 5 Seconds of Summer
Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist: Sam Smith
Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist: Katy Perry
Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group: One Direction
Favorite Pop/Rock Album: One Direction, Midnight Memories
Favorite Country Male Artist: Luke Bryan
Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Beyoncé, Beyoncé
Favorite Alternative Rock Artist: Imagine Dragons
Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Katy Perry
Favorite Latin Artist: Enrique Iglesias
Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist: Casting Crowns
Favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist: Calvin Harris
Favorite Soundtrack: Frozen
Single of the Year: Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J, "Dark Horse"

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