• A black R&B artist hoped singing for Trump would build ‘a bridge.’ It derailed her career instead.

    Chrisette Michele is singing to nearly empty concert halls. She says she’s finding a new path to happiness.

    A few days after Christmas, R&B singer Chrisette Michele gets ready in the backroom before her concert at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pa. (Hannah Yoon for The Washington Post)By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.January 18

    GLENSIDE, Pa. — Chrisette Michele held hands with her band members during a final prayer, posed for a pre-show Instagram photo and stepped out into what remains of a career battered by a 5-minute-18-second association with Donald Trump.

    The Keswick Theatre in this suburb of Philadelphia sits in a region that is the mecca of the neo-soul music that earned Michele a dozen years of fame, a record deal at 23 and a career-validating Grammy. The last time she sang at the Keswick, her manager and husband, Doug Ellison, reminisced, nearly all 1,500 seats were filled.

    But a few days after Christmas, the die-hard fans clotted near the stage to hear Michele sing were surrounded by a phalanx of empty seats.

    It has been two years since Michele made what many predicted would be a career-ending decision — singing at one of President Trump’s inaugural balls. She accepted the gig against the advice of her fans, former collaborators and even her husband. She believed the performance would be an opportunity to “be a bridge” in a fractured nation.ADVERTISING

    Instead, it sent her life into a tailspin.

    The 36-year-old lost an album distribution deal, and radio stations stopped playing her songs. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and endured a miscarriage that she publicly attributed to stress from death threats and a hydrant of criticism. The singer who wrote “Strong Black Woman” wondered if she should just stop singing forever.

    But Michele is back onstage with a new perspective. Amid the fallout, she told her critics that she is “no political genius,” but she recognizes that’s irrelevant. In the age of social media and partisan politics, it’s impossible to separate the artist from the person. Her music, she acknowledges, can’t exist in a cultural vacuum.

    “While I felt like people took so much away from me in those two years, I’m more grateful for finally having time to look at the last 12” years, said Michele, referring to when she released her first album. “And I think that is the bright side. . . . I want people to know that it’s okay to expect more from me.”

    While trying to rebuild her career, Michele is mentoring other black women and focusing on her mental health, and she’s using her social media platforms to call on followers to vote.

    [Post Reports: For five minutes on stage, two years repenting]

    “On November 6th, we get the opportunity to change the narrative and REBALANCE the scale,” she wrote before the midterm elections, below a 2016 photo of her at the White House with the Obamas. “Your voice matters, my voice matters.”

    She still feels the sting of former fans who saw themselves in her music, then accused her of selling her blackness to a presidential candidate who, while on the campaign trail, repeatedly cast black Americans as impoverished people living in hellholes and dependent on food stamps.

    Part of her worries that it might be too late. As legions of fans have refused to come back, she realizes that a footnote of her career — or perhaps its epitaph — will be her connection to a man she didn’t vote for, whose rhetoric she disdains and whom she has never met in person.

    Fans take their seats ahead of Michele’s concert. (Hannah Yoon for The Washington Post)

    A large swath of people who flocked to her brand of music wrote her off — and never returned, certainly not to the Keswick on a chilly December night.

    “People didn’t feel hopeful from that moment,” Michele said of the performance that changed the trajectory of her career. “They didn’t feel represented in that moment. They felt misrepresented. They felt further misunderstood, and they felt the person they were depending on to speak on their behalf just betrayed them.”

    ‘Yes, Jejus’

    Chrisette Michele Payne’s first solo performance came when she was 4 years old. Michele recalls wearing a pink silk coat from Macy’s and walking down the aisle of her church near her home in Central Islip singing “Yes, Jejus,” because she hadn’t fully mastered the letter “S.”

    Michele was raised by soloists and choir directors, so there was never any question that her life would be defined by God and music. She remembers trips to the library as a child, dissecting the music of Billie Holiday and speeding up the melodies of Charlie Parker.

    Even before finding aspirations of R&B stardom, she had a feeling that her voice had power.

    “I just remember knowing that I can change the feeling of the room when I sang,” she told The Post. “From the time I was a kid, I knew that notes did things to people.”

    By age 23, when she signed with Def Jam Recordings, she was seen as the latest in a line of neo-soul singer-songwriters that included Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, said Tammy Kernodle, a musicology professor at Miami University in Ohio, who, until that inaugural event, was a Chrisette Michele fan.

    Even people who didn’t know Michele’s name knew her voice, as her four-octave range complemented R&B and hip-hop tracks by Jay-Z, Nas and The Roots. She had a brief stint on the reality show “R&B Divas” on TV One. First lady Michelle Obama made a secret trip to hear Michele play in Virginia in 2014, then Michele played at an official state dinner.

    She became famous for a sound and a style that resonated with a certain expression of blackness. She crooned about joy and heartbreak in songs like “A Couple of Forevers” and “Epiphany,” but also penned a political song called “Black Lives Matter.”

    “When we listen to artists, we are looking for their consciousness and their identity,” Kernodle said. “People heard enough in her music to align it with their personal struggle — whether it was a racial or gender struggle. At the end of the day, we do want our celebrities to be advocates and activists for us in those places.”

    In music videos and interviews, she showcased her natural hair, telling interviewers about her “big chop” and describing how she would do comb twists before photo shoots. She found herself explaining the politics of natural hair to white-male record executives. One day, a woman walked up to her on the street and said she based her hairstyle on one of the singer’s music videos.

    “I now become (fans’) lifestyle, or I now become a lifestyle brand — all kinds of words that mean I became a product,” Michele said. “Record labels love that kind of thing. Marketers love that kind of thing. But for artists, it can be unnerving.”

    ‘I am here representing you’

    The call came when Michele and her team were in Barbados, a few days before a performance.

    After a polarizing election, the people planning a day of inauguration events were having trouble booking performers. Jennifer Holliday agreed, saying she was a “bipartisan songbird,” then changed her mind because she didn’t want to alienate her LGBTQ fans. Moby’s public response began with “hahahahaha” and ended with a demand that Trump release his tax returns. Welsh singer Charlotte Church respectfully declined with a tweet that included the poop emoji and the word “tyrant.”

    Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down and Lee Greenwood agreed to sing, but Ellison, Michele’s husband and manager, said it was no secret that organizers wanted a famous black face onstage during at least one of the inaugural balls.

    Michele heard the warnings against taking the job but felt she needed to control her own career. She recruited Travis Greene, a gospel artist, to sing his song “Intentional,” as they’d done on a BET gospel special a year earlier. She picked out a skirt with African motifs.

    The price she was paid to perform — $75,000 — was a vast amount considering Michele would be onstage for just a few minutes, belting out a few notes of someone else’s song, Ellison told The Washington Post. She’d sung for the Obamas and for troops in Iraq for free.

    The death threats started before she signed. The news that she was considering the gig had leaked. #ChrisetteMichele was trending on Twitter before she’d sung a note for Trump.

    Even director Spike Lee weighed in, writing in an Instagram post that he was sorry to read that Michele was performing at Trump’s inauguration.

    “I Wuz Thinkin’ ’bout Using Chrisette’s Song- BLACK GIRL MAGIC In My Netflix Series SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT,” he wrote. ” NOT ANYMORE.”

    Questlove, The Roots drummer and producer who had once collaborated with Michele, offered to pay her to drop the gig.

    In a statement defending her decision, Michele wrote, “I am here representing you because this is what matters.”

    Linette Payne watched her daughter perform at the inaugural ball from her home in New York. She thought her daughter’s performance was solid but hoped people would understand the themes: the African skirt, the Christian song, her daughter’s words about uniting the country.

    “I had no kind of thought in my head that it would turn into the bomb that it did,” Payne told The Post. “Neither of us did. Then she called and told me that CNN called.”

    Michele never met Trump or shook his hand. She took to radio, social media and TV to explain herself, but the defense only further incensed fans.

    “The fact that she kept talking, kept explaining, kept trying to justify herself, means that it kept surfacing, news cycle after news cycle,” Kernodle said.

    Months after the inaugural event, Michele was struggling to crawl out of bed. She had suicidal thoughts, worrying fans with Instagram pictures of pills and hard liquor. When her pregnancy ended prematurely, she posted a graphic picture of a miscarriage, one she found in a Google image search. Fans blasted her for using another woman’s heartbreak to score points on Instagram.

    She says that moment was a mistake and that polycystic ovarian syndrome had always meant having a child would be difficult for her. But she wanted to weaponize her pain to attack her detractors.

    “I wanted to say look what you made happen,” she said. ” I wanted to be like, ‘You hurt me so bad that I couldn’t even carry a child.’”

    Karmen Patton Faucett, one of the die-hards in the front row of the Keswick concert, stuck by Michele but understood the animus directed at her.

    Her fans wanted her to be a “generational voice” that spoke to their outrage. When she wasn’t, “they attacked the person, not just whatever action she did. They went after the sinner and the sin at the same time. They couldn’t separate the two.”

    ‘A theater that’s half full’

    After going underground for a year, Michele searched for peace and purpose elsewhere: She opened a Yoga studio. She took up African dance. She started offering voice instruction and launched a mentorship program aimed at helping women find personal and professional success.

    “I wanted some clarity about what I’m supposed to be doing right here because clearly it ain’t supposed to be singing,” she said.

    One topic in the Heartset Over Mindset mentorship series she’s hosting this year is a question she’s spent two years answering:

    How do I stay positive and encouraged to continue even when it’s not easy?

    Part of the answer is being at peace in the moments before she stepped out at the Keswick theater.

    Half the fans, it seemed, had paid extra for a special meet-and-greet after the show, and they stood in a line that stretched from the front of the theater to the back. She shook every hand, accepted every hug.

    That night, she’d belted out a decade’s worth of songs, giving a mostly empty theater one of her longest shows in memory.

    “When you go to a theater that’s half full, you don’t say, ‘Well, it’s half full,’” she said. “You sing to the people that are there.”

    In a sentence about negotiations over Chrisette Michele’s performance fee, this post originally listed an incorrect figure. The post has been corrected and updated.

    In December, Chrisette Michele performs to “a theater that’s half full.” (Hannah Yoon for The Washington Post)

  • Pastor claimed that he went to hell and killed satan.

    Pastor MBORO claimed on his Facebook page that he went to hell and killed satan.

    On a post that was later deleted when people started asking questions, the pastor claims God sent him to hell to get rid of world’s number one enemy.

    He wrote “when I got to hell there was a queue of millions of people waiting to be braai’d by Satan. I even saw some prominent South African politicians. I was so shocked because they lived like angels here on earth. I thought they went to heaven. When Satan saw me he panicked and directed his army to kill me. Like Samson in the Bible, I defeated them. Satan was my last victim”

    His received a moria of insults and condemnation from people who told him to stop misleading people. The post went down after an hour. It is not clear whether he will post it again or not. His claims comes months after another equally controversial pastor claimed he went to heaven and took pictures with Jesus.

    At the time, the pastor claimed that the exclusive photos would only be released to select few members after of course a fee.

    He later released photoshopped images to prove. This is one of the photos he released then.

  • Appeals court sides with Trump in transgender military case

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that a lower-court judge was wrong to block the Pentagon from implementing its preferred policy.Author: JESSICA GRESKO , Associated PressPublished: 10:24 AM EST January 4, 2019Updated: 1:32 PM EST January 4, 2019

    WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court sided with the Trump administration Friday in a case about the Pentagon’s effort to restrict military service by transgender people, but the ruling won’t change who can serve or enlist at this point.

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that a lower court judge was wrong to block the Pentagon from implementing plans to restrict the service of transgender individuals. The unsigned ruling will not allow the Pentagon to implement its policy, however, because other judges have entered orders blocking the administration in similar cases.

    The administration has already asked the Supreme Court to weigh in. The high court could announce as early as this month if it will do so.

    The appeals court ruling said the military’s plan appears to rely on the “considered professional judgment” of “appropriate military officials.” It noted that the plan “appears to permit some transgender individuals to serve in the military.”

    Military policy until a few years ago had barred service by transgender individuals. That changed under President Barack Obama’s administration. The military announced in 2016 that transgender individuals already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017, as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.

    But President Donald Trump’s administration delayed the enlistment date, saying the issue needed further study. While that study was ongoing, the president tweeted in late July 2017 that the government would not allow “Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” He later directed the military to return to its policy before the Obama administration changes.

    Groups representing transgender individuals responded by suing the administration in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Washington state and California. The Trump administration lost early rounds in those cases, with courts issuing nationwide injunctions barring the administration from altering course. As a result, transgender individuals continue to serve openly and transgender individuals have been allowed to enlist in the military since Jan. 1, 2018.

    In March 2018, the Trump administration announced that after studying the issue it was revising its policy. The new policy generally bars transgender individuals from serving or enlisting unless they serve “in their biological sex” and “do not seek to undergo gender transition.” An exception allows the service of transgender service members who previously relied on the Obama-era rule. Groups representing transgender individuals have responded by arguing that the policy is essentially a ban on the service by transgender individuals.

    The lawsuit in the District of Columbia was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter called Friday’s decision “a devastating slap in the face to transgender service members.”

    Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the administration was “pleased with the decision.”

    Two of the three judges who ruled in the case were nominated by Republican presidents. Judge Thomas Griffith was nominated by George W. Bush and Judge Stephen Williams was nominated by Ronald Reagan. The third judge, Robert Wilkins, was nominated by President Barack Obama.

  • Man charged for filming minor in dressing room at Virginia mall

    Photo by: Fairfax County Police

    A man has been charged with filming a teenage girl in the Forever 21 dressing room at Fair Oaks Mall in Virginia.Author: Marcel WarfieldPublished: 8:56 AM EST December 27, 2018Updated: 9:13 AM EST December 27, 2018

    A 39-year-old man has been charged after he was caught filming a minor in a dressing room in a mall in Virginia on Monday, police said. 

    Around 4 p.m., officers were called to the Forever 21 in Fair Oaks Mall after

    A man was then seen exiting the store headed into the mall by an employee of the store. 

    Officers ultimately located the man in an H&M fitting room.  He has been identified as Mumtaz Rauf. 

    Police say he had a pinhole camera, black tape, and a battery powered Bluetooth transmitter that officers believe he was using to remotely gather video and pictures from various fitting rooms. 

    Rauf_spy camera

    Fairfax County Police

    Rauf was charged with unlawful filming of a minor, which is a felony due to the victim being under 18 years of age.

    a teenage girl saw a black device such with camera or cell phone

  • World’s first baby born via womb transplant from dead donor

    By Kate Kelland,ReutersDecember 5, 2018

    1st baby born using uterus transplanted from deceased donor

    This Dec. 15, 2017 photo provided by transplant surgeon Dr. Wellington Andraus shows the baby girl born to a woman with a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor at the Hospital das Clinicas of the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine, Sao Paulo, Brazil, on the day of her birth. Nearly a year later, mother and baby are both healthy. (Courtesy Dr. Wellington Andraus via AP)More

    By Kate Kelland

    LONDON, Dec 4 (Reuters) – A woman in Brazil who received a womb transplanted from a deceased donor has given birth to a baby girl in the first successful case of its kind, doctors reported.

    The case, published in The Lancet medical journal, involved connecting veins from the donor uterus with the recipient’s veins, as well as linking arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals.

    It comes after 10 previously known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors – in the United States, the Czech Republic and Turkey – failed to produce a live birth.

    The girl born in the Brazilian case was delivered via caesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, and weighed 2,550 grams (nearly 6 lbs), the case study said.

    Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at Brazil’s Sao Paulo University hospital who led the research, said the transplant – carried out in September 2016 when the recipient was 32 – shows the technique is feasible and could offer women with uterine infertility access to a larger pool of potential donors.

    The current norm for receiving a womb transplant is that the organ would come from a live family member willing to donate it.

    “The numbers of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own deaths are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population,” Ejzenberg said in a statement about the results.

    She added, however, that the outcomes and effects of womb donations from live and deceased donors have yet to be compared, and said the technique could still be refined and optimized.

    The first baby born after a live donor womb transplant was in Sweden in 2013. Scientists have so far reported a total of 39 procedures of this kind, resulting in 11 live births.

    Experts estimate that infertility affects around 10 to 15 percent of couples of reproductive age worldwide. Of this group, around one in 500 women have uterine problems.

    Before uterus transplants became possible, the only options to have a child were adoption or surrogacy.

    In the Brazilian case, the recipient had been born without a uterus due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. The donor was 45 and died of a stroke.

    Five months after the transplant, Ejzenberg’s team wrote, the uterus showed no signs of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the recipient was having regular menstruation. The woman’s previously fertilized and frozen eggs were implanted after seven months and 10 days later she was confirmed pregnant.

    At seven months and 20 days – when the case study report was submitted to The Lancet – the baby girl was continuing to breastfeed and weighed 7.2 kg (16 lb).

    (Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)11 reactions11%