Aretha Franklin’s Most Unforgettable Vocal Performances


Aretha Franklin’s Most Unforgettable Vocal Performances

Her voice inspired social change and brought world leaders to tears.

By Justin Kirkland       August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin performs at the Lincoln Memorial

Mark Reinstein

Aretha Franklin is impossible to define. In a time when everything is iconic and stunning and must-see, none of those words seem to do her justice because Franklin’s legacy transcends vocabulary words. Instead, maybe the best way to remember her is simply by listening to the stories she’s already told us. Over the course of seven decades, Aretha Franklin’s voice has had the power to bring world leaders to tears, to fuel the Civil Rights movement, and change the very fabric of music. Franklin, The Queen of Soul, died on Thursday at the age of 76. These are her performances that will remain among the greatest in history.


Franklin’s voice transcended religion. As an artist, she contributed to the secularization of gospel music—echoes of which are still heard today on pop and hip-hop radio. Her performance of “Amazing Grace” went on to sell over two million copies, becoming the highest selling gospel album of all time. But this performance? Even if you don’t believe in a higher power, after listening to Aretha work her way through the hymn, you’d be hard pressed not to wonder if she has some kind of connection up there.


After receiving her own Kennedy Center Honor 21 years before, the Queen of Soul returned to the stage to honor Carole King, the writer of one of her most recognizable hits. King immediately leapt to her feet as Aretha started the song. By the time the song ended, Franklin had shed her fur coat, President Obama was wiping tears, and every person in the place was on their feet.


After legendary opera singer Luciano Pavarotti had to pull out of the 40th annual Grammy Awards following throat problems, the Grammys had to make a quick move. Two hours before the performance, Aretha stepped up to the challenge. What resulted was a performance for the ages. Moving back and forth between Italian and English, Aretha’s soul-infused rendition of the aria from the opera Turnadot was one of the most surprising moments in Grammy, and music, history.


Having originally released the song in 1956, “Precious Lord” had a long history in Aretha’s life. Her mentor, Mahalia Jackson, sang it at Martin Luther King, Jr’s funeral. Four years later, Franklin would sing it at Jackson’s, as well as the dedication of the MLK memorial in Washington D.C.


For President Obama’s first inauguration, his choice to have Aretha sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” was a powerful moment in American history. Here was one of the greatest singers in history—one who’s made great strides for women and people of color—singing at the inauguration of the first black president. No matter what comes next, her performance of the patriotic 1831 song will remain a proud moment in this country’s history.


President Obama wasn’t the first Commander in Chief with the good idea to pull in the talents of Aretha Franklin. The Les Misérables showstopper is admittedly a strange choice for a presidential inauguration, but if anyone has the ability to make it work, it’s Aretha Franklin. The giant Broadway number grows even bigger with her raspy voice and soulful infusion, ending in yet another standing ovation.


A voice like this can do any genre. And as the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she absolutely covered rock music, too. Her cover of The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” highlights the blues roots of the hit, connecting it to the origins of rock music and Franklin’s own training as a gospel musician.


Recorded a year before by Dionne Warwick, Aretha revamped Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Say a Little Prayer” with a burst of energy that set it apart from the original recording. As a guest on This Is Tom Jones, she performed the song effortlessly, cementing it as another single in a long list of successes.


If Aretha Franklin had to be summed up into one song, there’s a pretty good chance it would be “Respect.” While recorded versions and later live performances were a bit slower, the original live performances turned “Respect” up several notches. This performance came right as Aretha’s career was hitting meteoric status. The breakdown after the bridge is just one example of why Aretha is and always will be a live performance master.


Choosing a favorite performance from her concert at Fillmore West is nearly impossible. But alongside covers of “You’re All I Need To Get By” and “Eleanor Rigby,” it always comes back to the most-soul driven performance of the bunch. Taking to the piano and slowing the song down a bit to really tear into those big notes, Aretha’s performance of the Simon & Garfunkel classic is proof that even the most well-known songs can benefit from the gift that is Aretha’s voice.

Scientists seek new ways to combat Florida’s growing ‘red tide’


Scientists seek new ways to combat Florida’s growing ‘red tide’

By Steve Gorman,    Reuters        August 16, 2018

Not All Organic Milk Is the Same; Here Are the Best Dairies


Modern Farmer

Not All Organic Milk Is the Same; Here Are the Best Dairies

By Dan Nosowitz     August 15, 2018

Ivan/Getty Images

There has been much concern in recent years about the encroachment of factory farms onto organic territory; with the premium prices organic foods can bring, many larger farms have engaged in a race to the bottom of quality, trying to just barely squeak above the organic regulations to grab that label without adhering to the spirit of the law.

The Cornucopia Institute, a watchdog group that monitors ethical agriculture in the U.S., issues periodic scorecards for organic producers. This week, they released their dairy scorecard.

All of the producers on the scorecard are certified USDA organic, and Cornucopia isn’t necessarily saying that any of these farms are breaking the rules of the organic seal. Instead, they’re rewarding the companies that go above and beyond the organic rules, which many have argued are far too lax. (Some farmers have gone so far as to create an entirely new, alternative label, so disgusted are they with the shape of organic regulation today.)

The Cornucopia scorecard rewards operations that feed cows more grass than grain, those that provide larger amounts of pasture per animal, whether the farm is owned by the farmer, whether the farm only produces organic milk (rather than a mix of organic and conventional), whether the farm was certified by a tougher agency, and operations that only milk cows once per day, among other factors. (You can out the full criteria at the bottom of this report.)

Smaller farms tend to fare better than large ones; Aurora and Horizon, two of the largest organic dairy producers in the country, both scored a big fat 0, meaning they do the bare minimum to get certified and don’t go beyond the letter of the law at all. But plenty of larger farms are rated highly, including Maple Hill Creamery, Stonyfield Farms and OrganicValley, all of which distribute nationwide.

Organic is not all equal; certainly, the regulations for organic are tougher than for conventional, but sometimes you might be presented with multiple organic options. Why not choose the option that really tries to do the right thing?

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.


Dirty Feed, Done Dirt Cheap: Are Consumers Who Shell Out for

Brazil’s Leading Food Retailer Goes Cage-Free

What Is Causing Florida’s Algae Crisis? 5 Questions Answered

What Is Causing Florida’s Algae Crisis? 5 Questions Answered

By Karl Havens      August 12, 2018

Editor’s note: Two large-scale algae outbreaks in Florida are killing fish and threatening public health. Along the southwest coast, one of the longest-lasting red tide outbreaks in the state’s history is affecting more than 100 miles of beaches. Meanwhile, discharges of polluted fresh water from Lake Okeechobee and polluted local runoff water from the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee watersheds have caused blooms of blue-green algae in downstream estuaries on both coasts. Karl Havens, a professor at the University of Florida and director of the Florida Sea Grant Program, explains what’s driving this two-pronged disaster.

What’s the difference between red tide and blue-green algae?

Both are photosynthetic microscopic organisms that live in water. Blue-green algae are properly called cyanobacteria. Some species of cyanobacteria occur in the ocean, but blooms—extremely high levels that create green surface scums of algae—happen mainly in lakes and rivers, where salinity is low.

What causes these blooms?

Blooms occur where lakes, rivers or near-shore waters have high concentrations of nutrients—in particular, nitrogen and phosphorus. Some lakes and rivers have naturally high nutrient concentrations. However, in Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, man-made nutrient pollution from their watersheds is causing the blooms. Very high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are washing into the water from agricultural lands, leaky septic systems and fertilizer runoff.

Red tides form offshore, and it is not clear whether or to what extent they have become more frequent. When ocean currents carry a red tide to the shore it can intensify, especially where there are abundant nutrients to fuel algae growth. This year, after heavy spring rains and because of discharges of water from Lake Okeechobee, river runoff in southwest Florida brought a large amount of nutrients into near-shore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which fueled the large red tide.

Algae is clearly visible in this satellite image of southwestern Lake Okeechobee, taken July 15.NASA Earth Observatory


The public health advisories about red tide are related to respiratory irritation, which is a particular concern for people with asthma or other respiratory issues. But almost anyone, including me, who has walked a beach where there is a red tide will quickly experience watering eyes, a runny nose and a scratchy throat. The algae that cause the red tide release a toxic chemical into the water that is easily transported into the air where waves break on the shore.

Some people are allergic to cyanobacteria blooms and can have contact dermatitis (skin rash) on exposure. Several of my colleagues have developed rashes after submerging their hands to collect water samples. It is not advisable to purposely contact water with a cyanobacteria bloom. And if farm animals or pets drink water with an intense bloom, they can become seriously ill or die.

Above video: The blooms are causing widespread fish kills and threatening Florida’s tourism industry.

How can states prepare for these events?

The onset of algae blooms is unpredictable. We know high levels of nutrients allow a lake or shoreline to have blooms. We even can predict with some certainty that a bloom is likely in a particular summer—for example, if in the preceding spring heavy rainfall and runoff from the land delivered large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus into the water.

But we can’t predict exactly when a bloom will begin and end, because that depends on things we can’t project. Why did the cyanobacteria bloom start in Lake Okeechobee this summer? Perhaps because there were several successive hot sunny days with little cloud cover and little wind. For some lakes in Florida and many others across the nation, we have loaded the surrounding land with so much phosphorus and nitrogen from agricultural and urban runoff that all it takes is the right weather to trigger a bloom: A rainy spring and then a few perfect sunny days in summer.

We cannot control the weather, but we can control nutrient pollution, both by reducing it at its sources and by capturing and treating water running off of large land areas. Florida has many such projects under way as part of the greater Everglades restoration efforts, but they will take decades to complete.

Nutrient pollution sources include decaying organic material; fertilizers applied to crops, lawns and golf courses; manure from fields or feedlots; atmospheric deposition; groundwater discharge; and municipal wastewater discharge.USGSOne key aspect of rehabilitating polluted lakes, rivers and estuaries is knowing whether actions are having a positive effect. This requires long-term environmental monitoring programs, which unfortunately have been scaled back in Florida and many other states due to budget cuts.

Carefully designed monitoring could help us understand factors affecting the kind of blooms that occur and what triggers them to start and stop at particular times, and provide guidance on nutrient control strategies. We are not monitoring at that level now in Florida.

Is climate change influencing the size or frequency of these outbreaks?

Scientists have clearly shown that there is a positive and synergistic relationship between water temperature, nutrients and algal blooms. In a warmer future, with the same level of nutrient pollution, blooms will become harder if not impossible to control. This means that it is urgent to control nutrient inputs to lakes, rivers and estuaries now.

Unfortunately, today the federal government is relaxing environmental regulations in the name of fostering increased development and job creation. But conservation and economic growth are not incompatible. In Florida, a healthy economy depends strongly on a healthy environment, including clean surface waters without these harmful blooms.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.

America Burns From Climate Change While Trump Officials Attend Climate Denial Conference

Oil Change International

America Burns From Climate Change While Trump Officials Attend Climate Denial Conference

By Andy Rowell         August 13, 2018

The Ferguson Fire burns in the Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park on Aug. 10. Pacific Southwest Region 5 / CC BY 2.0

The disconnect could not be greater. As wildfires raged across the U.S. last week, inflamed by climate changeTrump officials attended the America First Energy Conference, where delegates heard age-old fossil fuelarguments that, amongst others, carbon dioxide makes the planet greener and could not be creating a climate crisis.

The conference comes after an unprecedented heat wave in the Northern hemisphere. Scientists are warning that this summer’s heatwave is caused by climate change, which in turn has caused unprecedented temperatures and wildfires in Canada, Greece, Sweden and the U.S. Indeed this summer’s heatwave was made more than twice as likely by climate change, according to a rapid assessment by scientists.

Some scientists are even warning that we are descending into “hothouse earth,” where a series of positive feedback mechanisms could trigger even more extreme warming.

A record number of Americans now believe that humans are causing climate change, too. The latest survey by the University of Michigan Muhlenberg College revealed that “a record 60% of Americans now think that global warming is happening and that humans are at least partially responsible for the rising temperatures.”

These high temperatures continue to cause massive wildfires with more than 100 major active blazes in the U.S. right now. Some 30,000 personnel are battling wildfires that have devastated more than 1.6 million acres (648,000 hectares) of land.

Meanwhile, the climate dinosaurs continue as if nothing is happening. They deny the science and evidence as the flames get ever closer.

The conference was organized by the leading climate denial think tank, Heartland Institute, which has been regurgitating the same climate denial old rubbish—what we now would now call “fake news”—for the last two decades. It has received significant funding from Exxon and the Koch brothers to do so.

But all their climate denial friends were there too, according to Reuters, including speakers from JunkScience, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and the Center for Industrial Progress and officials from the U.S. Department of Interior and the White House.

The panels included sessions on “Carbon Taxes, Cap & Trade, and Other Bad Ideas,” “Fiduciary Malpractice: The Sustainable Investment Movement,” and “Why CO2 Emissions Are Not Creating a Climate Crisis.”

Another one of the ludicrous conspiracy theories peddled at the conference was “that the United Nations puts out fake science about climate change to control the global energy market.” Oh and they hate renewable energytoo, calling wind and solar energy “dumb.”

According to Reuters, the U.S. officials who attended included White House special assistant Brooke Rollins, Interior Department Assistant Secretary Joe Balash, and Jason Funes, an assistant in the office of external affairs at Interior. All “praised the administration’s moves to clear the way for oil industry activity.”

Tim Huelskamp, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, closed the seminar by stating the person who had made the difference to the climate deniers was Donald Trump. “We have a president who has kept his promises,” he said. “It proves that one man can make a difference.” He called Trump “our last political chance at freedom.”

And in many ways he is right. Trump represents the last chance for the fossil fuel industry to wreck this planet. What they call freedom, we call wildfires. When they see freedom, we see sea level rise.

Huelskamp told Reuters, “The leftist claims about sea level rise are overblown, overstated or frankly just wrong.”

Ironically, the conference was held in New Orleans, which was once ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. As Reuters—not normally seen as left-wing conspiracy theorists—noted: “Evidence of sea level rise, however, is strewn across the state that hosted the conference.”

The panel speakers are so blinkered in their climate denial they do not notice what is happening right now. They may look, but they cannot see. On the speaker’s lectern was the strapline “freedom rising.” Maybe someone should have just written “sea level rising” instead.

A slimy environmental crisis roils Florida’s tight Senate race

    Washington Post
    A slimy environmental crisis roils Florida’s tight Senate Race
Bill Nelson, Rick Scott tangle over blame for the state’s toxic algae blooms.
Photo by Cristobal Herrera/EPA EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9760722E). Blue-Green Algae problem in South Florida. John Emery observes his canoe floating on an accumulation of blue-green algae at Prosperity Pointe, in the Caloosahatchee River’s mouth in Fort Myers, Florida, July 12, 2018.
An algae bloom has residents and government officials concerned, particularly after the 2016 algae bloom that impacted the environment and economies in the region.
In recent days, the U.S. Senate race in Florida has turned decidedly slimy.

Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, have taken turns blaming each other for the toxic blue-green algal blooms plaguing parts of the state, which have killed marine life, raised public health concerns and threatened the Sunshine State’s tourism industry. And even as they accuse each other of inaction, both the two-term governor and the three-term senator have scrambled to prove how dedicated they are to addressing the problem.

In a campaign season dominated by talk of immigration, trade tariffs, the Supreme Court and all things President Trump, the clash in Florida over an unfolding environmental disaster could prove a pivotal issue in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate races this fall.

The state has wrestled with serious algal blooms before, including in 2016, when the toxic goop invaded waterways along Florida’s coast, forcing the governor to declare a state of emergency. Then, as now, the state’s largest freshwater body, Lake Okeechobee, was at risk of overflowing because of heavy rains. That led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency charged with monitoring water levels, to open levees surrounding the lake and dump the water that had been polluted by runoff into rivers and estuaries that lead toward the ocean.

On Florida’s southeast coast, the result has been a gooey, smelly blue-green-brown algae that has closed businesses and sickened dozens of people. Along more than 100 miles of the southwest coast, meanwhile, a bout of red tide has killed thousands of sea animals, including dolphins, manatees and endangered sea turtles. Scientists are continuing to research the underlying causes.

The problem has become a focus in the contentious Senate contest as business owners have raised complaints and some families have been temporarily driven from their homes because of the foul smell.

The blame game hit the airwaves last week when Scott put out a television ad — titled “More waiting, more talk, more algae” — that criticized Nelson and the federal government for allowing discharges of tainted water from Lake Okeechobee that have led to ugly, smelly and potentially dangerous algal blooms in places including the state’s St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

“Washington politician Bill Nelson made a pledge 30 years ago to solve this problem,” Scott’s ad says. “But Nelson’s a talker, not a doer.” The ad concludes with Scott saying, “I don’t wait for Washington.”

Nelson hasn’t taken such criticism quietly. He has visited areas affected by the toxic gunk, which thrives when warm, nutrient-rich water combines with runoff from agricultural operations and other development, and he faults Scott for systematically dismantling the state’s capacity to head off environmental calamities during his eight years as governor.

Nelson also unveiled his own ad this week: “Florida’s algae bloom crisis is a man-made crisis, made by this man,” it says, as a picture of Scott flashes across the screen. “The water is murky, but the fact is clear. Rick Scott caused this problem.”

Frank Jackalone, director of the Sierra Club’s Florida chapter, said that although Scott is trying to shift the blame to Nelson, the governor is the one largely responsible for the crisis.

“The fact is, Rick Scott has had far more power to deal with these issues than Bill Nelson,” Jackalone said. “Bill Nelson has one vote in the U.S. Senate. Rick Scott is the governor of Florida and has had the power to enforce the Clean Water Act in the state. He could have enforced pollution regulations. Instead, he cut back funding, rolled back regulations, and eliminated a large part of his enforcement staff.”

During Scott’s tenure, budgets for environmental agencies have been sharply reduced. The budget of the South Florida Water Management District, which oversees water issues from Orlando to Key West, was cut. Many of the more than 400 workers who lost their jobs in the $700 million cut were scientists and engineers whose jobs were to monitor pollution levels and algal blooms. Scott also abolished the Department of Community Affairs, which oversaw development in the state.

Lauren Engel, communications director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, noted that the blue-green algae is caused by pollution coming from Lake Okeechobee. Like Scott, she pointed to the fact that the Army Corps — a federal agency — is in charge of water released from the lake.

“Pollution buildup in Lake Okeechobee has been going on for decades,” Engel said Thursday, calling criticism that Scott’s environmental policies have allowed more pollution into the lake and made a bad situation worse “an unfair characterization.”

Blair Wickstrom, publisher of the Florida Sportsman, agreed that the problem stretches back at least a decade.

“It’s been going on since before Scott, but since he took office, there’s been a distinct rise in nutrients from Lake Okeechobee and an increase in algae blooms,” Wickstrom said. “This is not an act of God or not because we can’t handle the rain. It’s the lack of regulation at the state level.”

Researchers say they are hampered by a lack of information; Scott’s budget cuts have reduced the number of water-quality monitoring stations around the state as well as the frequency of water sampling. Scientists say the lack of data prevents them from figuring out what has caused these latest toxic algal blooms and providing the sort of early warning that could prompt officials to act sooner.

“It would be interesting to understand why this is happening, but we can’t do that with the data we have,” said Karl Havens, a University of Florida professor and director of Florida Sea Grant.

Last month, Scott declared a state of emergency for seven Florida counties, as he put it, “to help combat algal blooms caused by Lake Okeechobee water discharges from the Army Corps of Engineers.” He ordered the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ramp up water-quality testing, set up a multimillion-dollar grant program aimed at helping pay for cleanups and directed state agencies to aid local businesses affected by the crisis.

For his part, Nelson has implored the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the potential health effects of the algal blooms. He also has proposed legislation seeking tax breaks for small businesses affected by the situation and to make more federal funding available to research the problem.

“The state relies heavily on tourism and outdoor recreation, the fishing industry, real estate and the availability of clean water, so toxic blooms will directly affect some of our most important economic and fiscal drivers,” said Florida TaxWatch President Dominic M. Calabro.

In Stuart, on the state’s east coast, Wickstrom closed his publication’s offices for two weeks in July because of the algal bloom. Employees complained of headaches, itchy eyes, nausea and other ailments.

“I was taking 10 Tums a day,” Wickstrom said. “I’m usually a zero-Tums guy.”

The bloom has somewhat dissipated this week, he said.

“It’s not so bad when it’s just green,” he said of the algae lurking outside his office on the St. Lucie River. “When the green turns to brown, that’s when the putrid smell gets to you.”

Lori Rozsa reported from Florida. She is a former staff writer for the Miami Herald and former bureau chief for People magazine. She is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post.

What If All the Worlds Ice Melted?


How would you adapt to a world without ice?

Follow What.If for more hypothetical scenarios.

What If All the World's Ice Melted?

How would you adapt to a world without ice?➡ Follow What.If for more hypothetical scenarios.

Posted by What.If on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Missouri Workers Ban Together to Beat Down Right-To-Work Law


August 8, 2018

When working people come together, NO ONE can stop us!

Missouri is just the beginning. NO on Prop A!

MoveOn shared a video.

When working people band together, we all win. Missouri just proved this to be true earlier this week when voters shot down right-to-work in the

When working people come together, NO ONE can stop us!Missouri is just the beginning. NO on Prop A!

Posted by AFL-CIO on Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Why Right-To-Work is Wrong!

Robert Reich
August 8, 2018

Voters in Missouri have resoundingly overturned a so-called “right-to-work” law, which was really a “right-to-work-for-less” law. Our video explains how these measures hurt workers in order to enrich top executives and wealthy investors.

Why Right-to-Work is Wrong

Voters in Missouri have resoundingly overturned a so-called "right-to-work" law, which was really a "right-to-work-for-less" law. Our video explains how these measures hurt workers in order to enrich top executives and wealthy investors.

Posted by Robert Reich on Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Accidental Child Gun Deaths

MoveOn shared a video.
August 9, 2018

Kids are still dying and families are still hurting. We need to continue talking about guns. Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. We need a Congress that will act. #Enough

NowThis Politics

This PSA about accidental child gun deaths will give you chills

This PSA About Accidental Child Gun Deaths is Chilling

This PSA about accidental child gun deaths will give you chills

Posted by NowThis Politics on Wednesday, August 8, 2018