Guitarist Jonny Lang says that playing the blues now that most of the greats are gone is like classical musicians still playing music written centuries ago.
He tells the Columbus Dispatch: “Classical musicians weren’t around when Beethoven was going through whatever he was going through to make him write that music; they’re standing on his shoulders when they perform.“
Lang also reveals that while he can’t experience what greats such as B.B. King went through in their early days, he can still appreciate it.
The North Dakota native adds: “Culturally, I couldn’t be further away from the fellows that this music was born from. I don’t have that life experience, but I can imagine what it was like to the best of my ability.”
Lang released his most recent work Fight For My Soul in 2013 and believes pigeonholing music is growing increasingly pointless.
He says: “I can’t keep tabs on what style of music I’m supposed to fit into. A lot of the songs I’ve done over the years, if you played a Muddy Waters record and then played mine, you’d go: ‘No, those aren’t in the same genre.’
A number of US media organizations are spreading fear based on a “bulletin” shared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Department that reportedly warns of possible attacks by ISIS supporters on the July 4th holiday.
ABC News reported on the bulletin, which was issued on June 26, and titled, “Holiday Celebrations Remain Attractive Target.” It was sent to 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States and warned Independence Day celebrations and activities that “appear to defame the prophet Mohammed” would “likely result in threats or plans to conduct violent extremist acts.”
Despite the entire global security apparatus built and vastly expanded since the September 11th attacks over a decade ago, it apparently indicated that FBI, Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center officials “remain concerned about the difficulty in detecting violent extremists—especially lone offenders given the individualized nature of radicalization to violence.”
CNN aired a report acknowledging the violent attacks that took place in France, Kuwait and Tunisia on June 26. Terrorism correspondent and propaganda maestro Paul Cruickshank declared, “The worry is the United States is next.”
Unnamed US officials were said to fear the “symbolic July 4th celebrations coinciding with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will further embolden ISIS supporters in the US to unleash attacks, a threat taken so seriously the Department of Homeland Security and FBI sent out a warning to law enforcement officials a week in advance of the holiday.”
Cruickshank ominously opined, “Terrorist groups have historically been interested in targeting the United States on the July 4th holiday because they see that holiday as being very important to Americans, and if that were to happen, then this would inflict psychological trauma.”
Another report from CNN claims the “Islamist terrorist threat is the highest in years,” and “officials have raised concern about possible domestic attacks tied to the July 4 holiday and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.”
On CBS News’ “This Morning,” former CIA director Mike Morell, in his new position as CBS News senior security contributor or chief fearmonger, declared warnings like Friday’s advisory of potential terrorist attacks in the US during the Fourth of July are routine, but “there’s nothing routine about this particular one to me.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States. That’s how serious this is,” Morell stated.
Morell is correct. Bulletins about potential terrorism attacks in the US on the Fourth of July are routine. One was reported in 2013, 2011, 2004, and 2002.
In 2011, the fear spread by law enforcement officials was that al Qaeda and others were “eager to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden.”
John Solomon and Tara McKelvey unquestionably reported for The Daily Beast that the “threat matrix” had “ticked up in recent weeks.” There was no specific threat, however, “evidence” in bin Laden’s possession had shown an interest in attacking “major holiday gatherings, including Independence Day celebrations.”
Nothing happened. No matter how much individuals like former Bush Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend hyped the threat, no one was attacked by terrorists in America on the Fourth of July in 2011.
That might be because these terrorism bulletins or alerts to law enforcement agencies are just agencies being “prudent.”
“I don’t want to overhype it, but I think what was passed out yesterday is just a prudent–prudent a–alert to law enforcement agencies,” Secretary of State Colin Powell said prior to the July 4th holiday in 2002. “And in the course of the next couple of days, we’ll be meeting on a regular basis to make an assessment of–of any additional threats that might be coming our way.”
What happened in 2002 less than a year after the September 11th attacks? Nothing. (more…)
Rod Dreher, a senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative penned a piece in TIME titled, Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country. He’s upset by the SCOTUS decision in Obergefell. He said,
It is hard to overstate the significance of the Obergefell decision — and the seriousness of the challenges it presents to orthodox Christians and other social conservatives. Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now.
Discerning the meaning of the present moment requires sobriety, precisely because its radicalism requires of conservatives a realistic sense of how weak our position is in post-Christian America.
It is time for what I call the Benedict Option. In his 1982 book After Virtue, the eminent philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre likened the current age to the fall of ancient Rome. He pointed to Benedict of Nursia, a pious young Christian who left the chaos of Rome to go to the woods to pray, as an example for us. We who want to live by the traditional virtues, MacIntyre said, have to pioneer new ways of doing so in community. We await, he said “a new — and doubtless very different — St. Benedict.”
Throughout the early Middle Ages, Benedict’s communities formed monasteries, and kept the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness. Eventually, the Benedictine monks helped refound civilization.
I believe that orthodox Christians today are called to be those new and very different St. Benedicts. How do we take the Benedict Option, and build resilient communities within our condition of internal exile, and under increasingly hostile conditions? I don’t know. But we had better figure this out together, and soon, while there is time.
I thought this was a piece by the Onion when I read it, but it isn’t.
The people he calls Orthodox Christians, I call Christian hypocrites.
Jesus preached equality. He ministered to the poor, the mentally ill and the marginalized. He welcomed everyone, but warned that a rich man had about as much chance of getting into heaven as a camel getting through the eye of a needle. He would have had no patience for the Christian hypocrites.
Editor’s Note: The following is a recounting of how the sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev unfolded last week in a federal court in Boston.
Formal sentencing in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now convicted on some thirty counts in relation to the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, took place on Wednesday, June 24, at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, MA. Despite the sentence being well known prior to this hearing, the proceedings nonetheless provided some surprises for observers.
Court convened a few minutes late at 9.45 am. with William Weinreb, Aloke Chakravarty, Steve Mellin and Nadine Pelligrini representing the government. David Bruck, William Fick, Timothy Watkins, Judy Clarke and Miriam Conrad were present for the defense. Prior to this the defense and prosecution teams could be observed in the courtroom. The prosecution, for the most part, remained at their table and were shortly joined by Judy Clarke for the defense, whereupon she spoke at length with members of the prosecution. Clarke’s demeanor appeared upbeat as she smiled frequently throughout her conversation with the prosecution.
While Clarke conversed with the prosecution, Miriam Conrad, also for the defense, appeared to await the arrival of her client, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in the courtroom. Upon Tsarnaev’s entrance Conrad greeted him and both client and attorney engaged in dialogue with their chairs inclined towards each other and often leaning close. Although many had predicted that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would not speak at his sentencing hearing due to the upcoming appeals process, I personally became convinced, at this point, that he would in fact speak. My perception was that Conrad, her hand frequently at her client’s back, was preparing him for something .
Judy Clarke made her way back to the defense table just a couple of minutes prior to Judge O’Toole’s entrance. Clarke took her seat, to the left of her client before greeting him.Tsarnaev turned slowly and briefly from his conversation with Miriam Conrad, who sat at his right, and spoke no more than a couple of words to Clarke before returning his attention to Conrad. (Despite one incidence when whatever Clarke said to her client appeared to amuse, my overall impression was that this attorney/client relationship had cooled somewhat since the trial.) Judge O’Toole began by speaking briefly on his review of sentencing guidelines and pre-sentencing reports.
Victim Impact Statements:
It was mentioned that some had provided impact statements in writing, but those who spoke were:
Patricia & Bill Campbell: (Parents of Krystle Campbell who died from her injuries at the first bomb site.)
Karen McWaters: (Friend of Kryslte Campbell and who lost a leg as a result of the bombing.)
Jennifer Rogers: (Sister of Officer Sean Collier who was slain on the night of 04/18/13.)
Bill and Denise Richard: (Who we are told lost their youngest son, Martin, at the site of the second bomb, and whom, along with their daughter, Jane, sustained injuries as a result of the bombing.)
Richard Donahue. (A Transit Police Sergeant who came close to losing his life after being shot by “friendly fire” at the Watertown shoot-out on the night of 04/18/13.)
Michael Chase. (A spectator at the 2013 marathon who states he provided aid to the Richard family and who suffered ruptured eardrums and also a concussion.)
Joseph Craven. (Suffered injuries as a result of the bombing.)
Stephanie Benz. (Suffered shrapnel wounds as a result of the bombing.)
Henry Bogard. (A passer-by who sustained PCS and suffers from PTSD.)
Elizabeth Bourgault. (A runner who was injured.) (more…)
Well the SCOTUS has said that it’s legal for LGBT people to get married in the whole US of A, so that’s settled. Or is it. According to wikipedia:
Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal.
Individuals may marry for several reasons, including legal, social, libidinal, emotional, financial, spiritual, and religious purposes. Who they marry may be influenced by socially determined rules of incest, prescriptive marriage rules, parental choice and individual desire. In some areas of the world, arranged marriage, child marriage, polygamy, and sometimes forced marriage, may be practiced as a cultural tradition. Conversely, such practices may be outlawed and penalized in parts of the world out of concerns for women’s rights and because of international law. In developed parts of the world, there has been a general trend towards ensuring equal rights within marriage for women and legally recognizing the marriages of interfaith, and same-sex couples. Often, these trends have been motivated by a desire to establish equality and uphold human rights.
In other words, marriage in the context of the Supreme Court is now legal and binding and all that good stuff. But the religious aspect vis-a-vis Christianity did not come about until the 12th and 13th century.
The Roman Catholic tradition of the 12th and 13th centuries defined marriage as a sacrament ordained by God, signifying the mystical marriage of Christ to his Church.
Up until then, marriage was mostly a ceremonial affair and the church kept out of it. Recognized by the community and mostly for the purpose of sex and having and rearing offspring. Off times prearranged by the parents or though a third party. IE Match Maker.
Then there are the economic and financial aspects. A lot of these are by cultural tradition and generally to make sure the kids and wife are taken care of should any thing happen to the husband. Which in olden days, was all to likely.
Marriage served a number of useful purposes, more so in the past than now I think. Primarily for raising off spring as well as carrying on the family name, farm, business and if royalty the kingdom. Each culture had their own marriage and ceremonial traditions. The Swedes, Finns, Germans…all with their own customs. The Finns being the most liberal of all where people have lived together, some times for years, before getting married.
The exception to all of this is the Native Americantribes which had to formal marriage ceremony.
In American society, part of the discussion about marriage is really about sex. While sex was a part of traditional Native American marriage, marriage was not about sex. Prior to marriage, young people were expected to engage in sexual activities. Sex was not confined to marriage.
The Europeans, and particularly the missionaries, had a great deal of difficulty in understanding that women had power in Indian society and that they had the right to sexual freedom. Indian societies were not organized on the patriarchal, monogamous norms of European society. Christian missionaries were deeply shocked and offended by the fact that Indian women were allowed to express their sexuality. At the same time, many of the European men were delighted by this.
Among some contemporary American commentators, there is a view that there are only two genders: male and female. Yet, in American Indian cultures people did not make this an either/or situation. They viewed gender (and sexuality) as a continuum. Many modern Indians talk about a third sex/gender often called a berdache or two-spirit. Yet in traditional cultures, it wasn’t quite that simple. There was a recognition of the feminine and masculine in all people. There was not an either/or concept of being heterosexual or homosexual. There were in traditional societies male and female homosexuals and transvestites who played important spiritual and ceremonial roles. These individuals were seen as being an important part of the community.
Traditional Native American cultures tended to be egalitarian: all people were equal.This is one of the things that bothered many of the early Christian Missionaries, particularly the Jesuits in New France, as they viewed marriage as a relationship in which the woman subjugated herself to the man. In Indian marriages, men and women were equals.
Imagine that. Men and women as equals. And the off spring belonged to none in particular, but were the responsibility of the whole tribe. And those of LBGT persuasion were considered to be of just another spirit. Pretty progressive if you ask me.
Same sex marriage is recognized if not legal in most European countries as well as a few others.
Marriage has always been about who is whose property (women, slaves, children) and who gets what property. Inheritance, employee benefits, insurance claims, taxation, wrongful death claims–all of the benefits associated with marriage are benefits that keep wealth in the hands of the wealthy. Those with no property are less likely to marry, and have less to protect using marriage law. Movements for economic justice are about dismantling property systems that keep people poor—not tinkering with them so that people with wealth can use them more effectively to protect their wealth.
Today’s same-sex marriage advocates argue in courts and in the media that marriage is the bedrock of our society, that children need and deserve married parents, and that marriage is the most important relationship people can have. These arguments are the exact opposite of what feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonial movements have been saying for hundreds of years as they sought to dismantle state marriage because of its role in maldistributing life chances and controlling marginalized populations.
But personally I would prefer a completely egalitarian society where everyone regardless of gender or gender preference or financial status is treated equally. Much like that of some or even most Native American tribes.
Jeff Lynne and ELO plan to release a new DVD and a new album soon…
Jeff Lynne‘s triumphant revival of the Electric Light Orchestra banner for a Sept. 2014 festival performance will get the home video treatment this fall, when Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Live in Hyde Park is scheduled to arrive in stores.
The concert film, due Sept. 11, is being released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats, and will include the documentary Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne & ELO alongside the band’s Hyde Park live performance, which marked ELO’s first appearance on a festival stage in nearly three decades. According to the Live in Hyde Park press release, Lynne “has been involved every step of the way with every aspect of this production, especially the audio delivery.”
“It seemed like the entire 50,000 were singing and clapping along, which carried on for the whole night. The Hyde Park concert turned out to be one of the most memorable shows ever for me,” says Lynne in a statement. “It’s important to me that viewers experience the Hyde Park show exactly as it was performed on the night … in stereo.”
For Lynne, who’s spent most of the last 25 years focusing on studio work, returning to the concert stage was an experience not without its share of jitters — but one that ultimately left him wanting more.
“For the last 20 years, I’ve been sitting down in the studio playing, so you have to learn all over again how to stand up and sing and play,” he admitted last year. “Once we got that good, that tight, we wanted to play another gig, but my manager said no. We were all fired up and it would’ve been perfect time to do it.”
Happily for fans who’ve been patiently waiting for new music, Lynne evidently feels that time hasn’t passed. Saying he’s “definitely” planning on scheduling some U.S. tour dates in the near future, he revealed, “I’m working on a new album, and that’ll be involved in the new times when we play.”
The SCOTUS held today by a vote of 5-4 in Glossip v. Gross, that three Oklahoma inmates awaiting execution failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the use of midazolam as the first drug administered in a three-drug execution cocktail violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishmen because it “fails to render a person insensate to pain.”
Midazolam is a Schedule IV controlled substance, a benzodiazepine in the same class as diazepam, lorazepam, alprazolam and clonazepam. It has been approved for use in treating epileptic seizures, anxiety disorders and agitation. It is normally administered to patients to relax them before undergoing surgery or a medical procedure. It has never been approved by the manufacturer and the FDA for use in rendering people unconscious before administering a paralytic agent to inhibit all muscular-skeletal movements and potassium chloride to induce cardiac arrest.
Oklahoma and other states started using midazolam after the manufacturer of sodium thiopental, the barbiturate used to induce a state of unconsciousness before administering the other two drugs, objected to it being used to execute people and refused to sell it to any vendor who would sell or transfer it to states to use in executions.
The inmates based their argument on several botched executions where inmates appeared to be experiencing considerable distress before dying. They contended that midazolam failed to render those inmates unconscious while inducing a feeling described by one victim as burning up inside.
After a three-day evidentiary hearing, a United States District Court judge held that the inmates failed to identify an available alternative method that presented a substantially less severe risk of pain. The judge also held that the inmates failed to establish a likelihood that the use of midazolam created a risk of severe pain. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the decision.
Writing for the majority, Justice Alito affirmed the district court decision holding that the inmates failed to establish a likelihood of success on their Eighth Amendment claim.
Justice Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justice Breyer and Justice Kagan. Condemning the execution with midazolam as the equivalent of burning someone to death on a stake, she said,
The Court’s determination that the use of midazolam poses no objectively intolerable risk of severe pain is factually wrong. The Court’s conclusion that petitioners’ challenge also fails because they identified no available alternative means by which the State may kill them is legally indefensible.
“By protecting even those convicted of heinous crimes,the Eighth Amendment reaffirms the duty of the government to respect the dignity of all persons.” Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551, 560 (2005). Today, however, the Court absolves the State of Oklahoma of this duty. It does so by misconstruing and ignoring the record evidenceregarding the constitutional insufficiency of midazolam as a sedative in a three-drug lethal injection cocktail, and by imposing a wholly unprecedented obligation on the condemned inmate to identify an available means for his orher own execution. The contortions necessary to save this particular lethal injection protocol are not worth the price.
Justice Breyer also wrote his own dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ginsburg. He wrote,
I would ask for full briefing on a more basic question: whether the death penalty violates the Constitution….Today’s administration of the death penalty involves three fundamental constitutional defects: (1) serious unreliability, (2) arbitrariness in application, and (3) unconscionably long delays that undermine the death penalty’s penological purpose. Perhaps as a result, (4) most places within the United States have abandoned its use.
Breyer and Ginsburg with Sotomayor and Kagan close behind appear ready to stop tinkering with the machinery of death and decide that the death penalty violates the Eighth amendment, regardless of the underlying facts.
WikiLeaks published documents from the National Security Agency showing details of economic espionage against France by the “Five Eyes’ alliance, which consists of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
One document is an “information need” spying order that was first created in 2002. It shows that the alliance sought information on economic relations with the United States, French business practices, relations with least developed countries and transitional states, foreign contracts, French trade, French views, views on G8/G20 developments/issues, budgetary constraints/contributions to NATO, and “questionable trade activities.”
The information gathered was supposed to support the CIA, Commerce Department, Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, State Department, US Trade Representative and Homeland Security Department. Any information collected was designated “releasable” to any of the “Five Eyes” countries.
Another document from 2012 shows particular interest in uncovering information on any “French contract proposals” or “negotiations for international sales or investments in major projects or systems of significant interest to the foreign host country,” especially those involving more than $200 million in sales and/or services.
Of particular interest was information on telecommunications networks or technology, electric power, natural gas or oil facilities and infrastructure, including nuclear power and renewable energy, transportation infrastructure, environmental technology, and health care infrastructure, services, and technology.
In one intercepted communication from about 2008, European Union Trade Section head Hiddo Houben and French Minister-Counselor for Economic and Financial Affairs Jean-Francois Boittin criticized US trade policy toward the World Trade Organization (WTO). Boittin was astonished at the “level of ‘narcissism’ and wasteful contemplation currently on display in Washington.”
Houben was especially critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative and how the US seemed to want to negotiate with every nation bordering China, “asking for commitments that exceed those countries’ administrative capacities so as to ‘confront’ Beijing.” If this took 10 years, Houben maintained China would grow disinterested in the process because the world would have changed so much. The US would have to return to the WTO, and it would prove that Washington had “no real negotiating agenda” for nations like China or Brazil.
In another summary of an intercepted communication that is believed to be from 2008, it is clear there was spying against French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte. The diplomat considered confronting the US over corruption related to the United Nations’ oil-for-food program in Iraq after a report from the Iraq Survey Group.
“The ambassador termed the report scandalous, since it named no US companies and he claimed that many French companies with contracts under the OFF program were actually subsidiaries of US firms that also profited from the business dealings. He therefore planned, with foreign ministry backing, to present a list of these US companies to both the US Congress and the media,” according to the summary.
On July 31, 2012, a communication from Finance, Economy and Trade Minister Pierre Moscovici was intercepted. Moscovici indicated, “The French economic situation is worse than anyone can imagine and drastic measures will have to be taken in the next 2 years.”
The documents are the latest documents from WikiLeaks that have been released as part of a project, “Espionnage Élysée.”
“The United States has been conducting economic espionage against France for more than a decade,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange declared. “Not only has it spied on the French Finance Minister, it has ordered the interception of every French company contract or negotiation valued at more than $200 million.” (more…)
The Supreme Court ruled a part of the Armed Career Criminals Act (ACCA), which enables sentencing enhancements for “violent felonies,” unconstitutional because it is vague, requires “guesswork,” and denies defendants due process. Now, thousands of prisoners in the United States prosecuted under this law may potentially be resentenced.
The decision, issued on June 26 [PDF], marked the first time in over fifteen years that the court had found a criminal statute was void for vagueness. Leah Litman for Columbia Law Review previously pointed out, “Hispanic and black offenders receive the ACCA enhancement at higher rates than white offenders do.” The harsh mandatory minimum may explain why many defendants “plead guilty to avoid more extensive prison time.”
ACCA was a prelude to federal “three strikes” laws of the 1990s. In 1984, it was passed so that a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence could be imposed on any person convicted of possessing a firearm as a felon who also had three prior convictions for a “violent felony.”
The law defined “violent felony” as “any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” that “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another.” It lists burglary, arson, or extortion, as well as the “use of explosives,” as crimes that would trigger the enhancement. But vague (and now unconstitutional) part of the law is the “residual clause” that says the law can be applied to any crime that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”
The case the Supreme Court heard, Johnson v. United States, involved whether this part of ACCA covered Minnesota’s “offense of unlawful possession of a short-barreled shotgun.”
Samuel Johnson, a white supremacist, was monitored by the FBI in 2010 as he became more and more involved in a neo-Nazi organization. The FBI suspected he might be planning acts of terrorism. He informed undercover agents he planned to attack “the Mexican consulate” in Minnesota, “progressive bookstores,” and “liberals.” He showed agents “an AK-47 rifle, several semiautomatic firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition.” Prosecutors sought a 15-year sentencing enhancement and were granted the mandatory minimum sentence under ACCA.
As Justice Antonin Scalia explains in the decision, “Since 2007, this court has decided four cases attempting to discern its meaning.” It ruled in 2007 this part of the law covered attempted burglary in Florida and, in 2011, the offense of “vehicular flight from a law enforcement officer” in Indiana. The court, however, ruled in 2008 that the law did not cover “driving under the influence” in New Mexico and, in 2009, that it did not cover “failure to report to a penal institution” in Illinois.
Over the past eight years, Scalia notes that the court made “repeated attempts” but repeatedly failed to “craft a principled and objective standard out of the residual clause.” Seeing how it is impossible to prevent any “risk comparison” from “devolving into guesswork and intuition,” it was deemed to be unfair. (more…)