Musician Lester Chambers: I am the 99 percent, screwed by the music industry

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The lead singer of the 1960s soul rock group The Chambers Brothers is barely surviving on his meager income, even though his voice has appeared on hundreds of albums, movies, TV shows and commercials.

While musicians have penchant for squandering their money on luxuries or drug addictions, 72-year-old Lester Chambers is living in poverty because of an exploitative contract he signed decades ago. He claims he received no money in royalties between 1967 and 1994.

“When you’re a young group, you listen to people say: ‘We’re going to make it better,’” he told Vice magazine. “And that never works, because if they were going to make it better they woulda made it better. Young musicians are still caught in the same situation ‘cos they wanna be heard.”

 “God knows, The Chambers Brothers were not the only ones. And some of them have come forward and some of them haven’t. When you’re told: ‘Go get a lawyer,’ and they know upfront that you really can’t afford a big business lawyer to do this for you, you’re caught between first and second base.”

After writing letters and making phone calls to record companies for years, Chambers and his wife put their complaint online.

Imitating the online postings of supporter of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, Chambers uploaded an photograph to the Internet, holding one of his Gold Records in front of his face and declaring that “Only the 1% of artists can afford to sue. I am the 99%.”

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Lester Chambers Fund: president: give lester chambers his due:

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Anonymous in Paris: Anti-ACTA protest video

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Rally staged against new US electoral laws

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Embracing Our Eccentrics and Protecting Them

Eccentrics are hard to find in our over-medicated, over psychopathologized plastic fantastic world of consumerbots.

In the Fifties there was a character in New York known as Moon Dog, long flowing hair, Viking helmet and spear, like a supernumerary from a Wagner Opera.

Today he would be taken down by Homeland Security as a terrorist threat, hospitalized and forcibly medicated as a threat to the credit spending tourists and consumerbots.

San Francisco had its legendary Emperor Norton during the early 20th century.

We’ve plasticized the world to the point where it is a homogenized mix of corporate outlets, the same stores with the same facades and logos.  We’ve abandoned the cities that had individual character for the ersatz world of shopping malls.

We are afraid of people who are different be they bikers, gays, lesbians, hippies, transsexuals, transgenders, transvestites, vegan,atheists or bicyclists.

When so many people fall into one or more groups who are considered out of the mainstream, even if only slightly one has to wonder who is left in that mainstream.

But I digress.

People who aren’t from Texas, who have never lived here often have strange stereotypes of what Texas is like.  While those stereotype are true they aren’t the only thing one finds as there is also a Texas of Willie Nelson, James McMurtry, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Marcia Ball.

We have Austin with the city slogan, “Keep Austin Weird”

This week we lost one of our Austin Eccentrics. A mentally-ill homeless man who outrageously cross dressed in a manner that has been described as “Gender Fuck”.  Leslie Cochran passed away and Austin’s Sixth Street is a little less weird.

From the Austin Statesman:

By Patrick Beach
Friday Mar. 9, 2012

An Austin icon is dead, and a bit of Austin’s weirdness has gone with him.

Leslie Cochran — the city’s flesh-flashing, cross-dressing, attention-loving, frequently homeless mascot, unofficial ambassador and sometimes mayoral candidate — died about 12:30 a.m. Thursday, said his sister, Alice Masterson of Homestead, Fla. He was 60.

Cochran recently had been admitted to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center after he was found unconscious in a South Austin parking lot. Cochran died “peacefully and comfortably” among family and friends, said Valerie Romness, a longtime friend.

Like Austin’s famed bats, Cochran was initially regarded as something of a nuisance when he arrived in the mid-1990s. Stories tell of a North Austin supermarket worker trying to shoo Cochran out of the store parking lot with a power washer. Soon enough, Cochran was downtown.

Usually dressed in ankle-snapping ladies’ heels and a thong, Cochran was for more than a decade a fixture in Austin, particularly in the Sixth Street entertainment district. He eventually ascended to the highest rank of celebrity, joining the few known by but one name: Leslie.

Friends said he was funny, intelligent and charming. They also described him as an alcoholic, stubborn and unreliable — qualities that often landed him in jail. And since a 2009 head injury, he had been in undeniable decline.

Cochran lent a whimsical demeanor to the serious problem of homelessness and relied on the kindness of strangers and friends. But he was no freeloader. He did occasional odd jobs for local businesses and appeared in a commercial for Pinky’s Pagers that aired locally during the 2001 Super Bowl. His runs for public office include a race against former Mayor Kirk Watson, now a state senator, who joked at the time, “My fear is that this will not be an issue-oriented campaign but (about) who has the best legs, and then I know I’m a dead man.”

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Aside from the thought that there is absolutely no reason why anyone in this rich nation should not have a place to live, food and medical care, we lose something when we lose the strange people who absolutely fail to conform to our consumerbot plastic fantastic world.

We lose a little bit of our soul when we no longer see people who are really harmlessly going about being mad, who make no attempt to conform.


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For This We Spent a Trillion Dollars and Killed All Those People?

If this doesn’t send a wave of disgust through you then you have no heart.

Iraqi Militants Stone 14 Emo Kids to Death

From Gawker:

By Louis Peitzman
Mar 10, 2012

American emo kids who think they have it rough should take note of this storyout of Iraq: at least 14 young people have been stoned to death over the past three weeks, apparently for wearing “emo” clothes and haircuts.

It all started last month when Iraq’s interior ministry declared “emo” to be “Satanism,” and demanded that a community police force end the trend for good. In response, militants have been circulating leaflets with the names of emo kids in danger of being killed.

“We strongly warn you, to all the obscene males and females, if you will not leave this filthy work within four days the punishment of God will descend upon you at the hand of the Mujahideen,” the leaflet said.

Another leaflet in Sadr City bore 20 names. “We are the Brigades of Anger. We warn you, if you do not get back to sanity and the right path, you will be killed,” it said.

And sadly, they’re not all talk. So far 14 youths have been brought to the hospital with fatal injuries from rocks and bricks, while 6 others were wounded as a “warning.” But there is no official confirmation that these deaths are linked to the victims’ emo style, in part because hospital sources “were not authorized to speak to the media.”

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BTW Saddam may have run a dictatorship but he kept the religious fanatics under control.

Republicans Hate Women: WI Senator Says Unplanned Pregnancies Are The ‘Woman’s Choice’

From RH Reality Check:

by Michael Hayne
March 9, 2012

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, or as Republican’s know it better as “unnecessary homage to attention-seeking sluts” Day. Radio host, Rush Limbaugh, seems to be monopolizing the ire of females these days now that less well-known misogynists are operating under the radar. Wisconsin Republican state Senator, Glenn Grothman, for example.

Senator Glenn Grothman (R-WI) already made headlines regarding a controversial bill that purports single parents to be potential child abusers, appears to be continuing his role of not knowing remotely anything about women after spouting some pretty nonsensical things that would make Mel Gibson blush.

During an interview with Fox News’ Alan Colmes, Grothman continued to harangue women by claiming that they ‘choose’ to have children out-of-wedlock and that our culture appears to “encourage such a lifestyle.”

I think a lot of women are adopting the single motherhood lifestyle because the government creates a situation in which it is almost preferred, ” said Grothman. (Source: Huffington Post) 

Grothman: There’s been a huge change over the last 30 years and a lot of that change has been the choice of the women. There’s a reason why in the 50s and the 60s you had less than ten percent of the births illegitimate, and now we’re over 40 percent. It’s not that there weren’t abusive men in the 40s or there was a problem with child support. It is the popular culture, led by the social service professions, who are saying…

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Pat Robertson: Lesbians Are “Evil” So Woman Can’t Attend Sister’s Wedding

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by David Badash
March 9, 2012

Pat Robertsontoday told a conflicted woman that her lesbian sister is “evil,” and therefore she may not attend her sister’s wedding — to do so would be blessing an ungodly union. “The Bible is very clear about homosexuality,” Robertson tells her, adding that if this means the end of her relationship with her sister, “tough luck.” Because, apparently, family comes first — unless they’re gay.

That Pat Robertson thinks he has any say in the matter is almost as bad as this woman who actually cannot decide if she should support her sister in a loving union.

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch, who bring us so many of these unbelievably gross religious atrocities, offers the video and Robertson’s response:

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America’s Authoritarian Turn

From Adbusters:

Speaking truth to power becomes a crime.

08 Mar 2012

Creative Commons Permission

Ever since the rise of Occupy, corporatist authorities have been trying to figure how to squash our emerging social movement. First they tried a media blackout, but when over 700 nonviolent meme warriors were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge our Gandhian ferocity catalyzed a thousand encampments and the 1% could ignore us no more. Next elites tried the Bloomberg model of midnight paramilitary raids backed up by excessive force and sometimes-lethal munitions. That worked well to evict encampments in New York City, Oakland and nationwide … but it backfired when occupiers became diffuse, appearing at scripted events and interrupting the spectacle of corporate-funded politics with mic checks of truth. Now they are trying the new tactic of “lawfare” – using draconian laws to squash free speech in a last ditch effort to put an end to people power.

A week before the G8 Backdown, the US House of Representatives voted in near unanimous consensus in favor of an authoritarian law, H.R. 347, that makes it a federal crime to disrupt “Government business or official functions” or to enter any building where a “person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting.” In other words, to mic check Obama is now a federal crime punishable by a year in prison. And so too is the banner drop if it takes place in any building that a “protected” person might be visiting in the future, even if jammers don’t know it. And so is the anti-globalization tactic of blocking road access to a meeting of world elites, there is a special clause about that too. Obama signed the bill into law on March 9.

History shows that using authoritarian laws to silence the authentic, legitimate concerns of the people always boomerangs into a fatal loss of legitimacy. Governments derive their authority and right to exist from the people and when the people are ignored and beaten back regimes fall.

Read more about H.R. 347 at the and the and then brainstorm below on how Occupy can outmaneuver this new tactic of repression.

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Republicans Hate Women: Georgia GOP lawmaker compares women to cows and pigs

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Friday, March 9, 2012

Republican Georgia state Rep. Terry England says that his experience with cows, pigs and chickens has proven to him that women should be forced to have their babies after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

In a debate over Georgia House Bill 954, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks even if the baby is not expected to live, England recalled the time he had spent with livestock.

“Life gives us many experiences,” he explained. “I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive — delivering pigs, dead and alive. … It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.”

England continued: “You know a few years ago, I had a man come to me in our store, it was when we were debating, talking about dog and hog hunting, I believe, and at that point there was some language inserted in there that dealt with chicken fighting. And the young man called me to the side and he said, ‘I want to tell you one thing.’ And y’all, this is salt of the Earth people I’m talking about, someone I would have never in a hundred years expected to tell me what he told me that day.”

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Bigger Brother: Total surveillance comes to UK

How the Right’s Smear Machine Started

From Reader Supported News:

By Robert Parry, Consortium News
09 March 12

Americans sometimes wonder how the nation’s political process got so unspeakably nasty with vitriol pouring forth especially from right-wing voices like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage, to name just a few. Yet, whenever called on this ugliness, conservatives insist that they are the real victims, picked on by the Left.

This destructive and whiny dynamic has existed at least since the late 1960s when angry passions spilled over from the Vietnam War and grew worse after Richard Nixon exploited Democratic dissension on the war to win the White House in 1968 – and then continued the war for another four nasty years.

As president, Nixon also responded to the fury splintering American society with wedge issues, appealing to the “silent majority” and denouncing anti-war protesters as “bums.” He rode that divisive formula to a landslide victory in November 1972 but soon ensnared himself in the Watergate political spying scandal that drove him from office in August 1974.

Out of all that anger emerged an American Right that believed, as an article of faith, that the Democrats and the “liberal press” had turned Nixon’s run-of-the-mill indiscretions in Watergate into a constitutional crisis to undo Nixon’s overwhelming electoral mandate of 1972.

So, over the next two decades – with Nixon in the background egging on Republican politicians – the Right built an attack machine that was designed to defend against “another Watergate” but also was available to destroy the “liberal” enemy.

Which is why, in retrospect, the decision by President Lyndon Johnson and his top aides to withhold from the public their evidence of Nixon’s sabotage of the Vietnam peace talks in fall 1968 proved to be the opposite of their stated intention: to hide the dirty secret for “the good of the country.”

As Johnson’s national security adviser Walt W. Rostow observed in 1973 as the Watergate scandal was unfolding, Nixon may have dared undertake that domestic spying program because he had gotten away with his 1968 skullduggery unscathed.

Because the Republicans had not been held accountable, Rostow noted, “There was nothing in their previous experience with an operation of doubtful propriety (or, even, legality) to warn them off, and there were memories of how close an election could get and the possible utility of pressing to the limit – and beyond.” [To read Rostow’s memo, click here, here and here.]

Indeed, if Johnson had revealed Nixon’s peace-talk sabotage in 1968 – or if Rostow had released the evidence after Johnson’s death in 1973 – the public’s perception of Nixon and Watergate might have been dramatically different. Instead of a one-off affair that could be blamed on some overzealous subordinates, the break-in at the Democratic headquarters might have been seen as part of a larger pattern.

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Imposing ‘Sharia': Roman Catholic Version

From Huffington Post:

Founder and director, Shalom Center

During the last few weeks, we have seen an outrageous attempt to impose sharia law on the US government and the American public.

NOT Muslim sharia; it is Roman Catholic “sharia” about contraception that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been trying to impose on Americans of all faiths and beliefs who happen to work at a Catholic-sponsored hospital or university.

Have Muslims been campaigning to impose sharia law on US courts? NO! Of the many faces of Islam in America, the face of the future — open in wonder and questioning — is the one our society could be, should be, encouraging. This one:

Yet the same voices — Fox News, various candidates for President — that have bitterly attacked non-existent attempts by American Muslims to impose sharia on the public have not criticized this actual real-life attempt at doing so by the bishops. Indeed, many of these same voices have supported the bishops.

The bishops warned about “religious oppression” even when the Catholic Hospital Association celebrated the arrangement that the Obama Administration worked out, making sure that health insurance companies will pay for free contraception without involving the Catholic-sponsored employers who might object.

The only threat to religious freedom was the attempt by the bishops to deny religious freedom to the employees of those institutions — Catholics and others — whose religious consciences are totally at peace with the use of contraception.

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Why the American Empire Was Destined to Collapse

From Alternet:

Author and social critic Morris Berman says the fact that we’re a nation of hustlers lies at the root of our decline.

By Nomi Prins
March 7, 2012

Several years after the Wall Street-ignited crisis began, the nation’s top bank CEOs (who far out-accumulated their European and other international counterparts) continue to hobnob with the president at campaign dinners where each plate costs more than one out of four US households make in a year. Financial bigwigs lead their affluent lives, unaffected, unremorseful, and unindicted for wreaking havoc on the nation. Why? Because they won. They hustled better. They are living the American Dream.

This is not the American Dream that says if you work hard you can be more comfortable than your parents; but rather, if you connive well, game the rules, and rule the game, your take from others is unlimited. In this paradigm, human empathy, caring, compassion, and connection have been devalued from the get-go. This is the flaw in the entire premise of the American Dream: if we can have it all, it must by definition be at someone else’s expense.

In Why America Failed, noted historian and cultural critic Morris Berman’s brilliant, raw and unflinchingly accurate postmortem of America, he concludes that this hustling model, literally woven into the American DNA, doomed the country from the start, and led us inevitably to this dysfunctional point. It is not just the American Dream that has failed, but America itself, because the dream was a mistake in the first place. We are at our core a nation of hustlers; not recently, not sometimes, but always. Conventional wisdom has it that America was predicated on the republican desire to break free from monarchical tyranny, and that was certainly a factor in the War of Independence; but in practical terms, it came down to a drive for “more” — for individual accumulation of wealth.

So where does that leave us as a country? I caught up with Berman to find out.

Nomi Prins: Why America Failed is the third book in a trilogy you wrote on the decline of the American Empire. How did this trilogy evolve?

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The dirty war on WikiLeaks

From The Guardian UK:

Media smears suggest Swedish complicity in a Washington-driven push to punish Julian Assange, Friday 9 March 2012

War by media, says current military doctrine, is as important as the battlefield. This is because the real enemy is the public at home, whose manipulation and deception is essential for starting an unpopular colonial war. Like the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, attacks on Iran and Syria require a steady drip-effect on readers’ and viewers’ consciousness. This is the essence of a propaganda that rarely speaks its name.

To the chagrin of many in authority and the media, WikiLeaks has torn down the facade behind which rapacious western power and journalism collude. This was an enduring taboo; the BBC could claim impartiality and expect people to believe it. Today, war by media is increasingly understood by the public, as is the trial by media of WikiLeaks‘ founder and editor Julian Assange.

Assange will soon know if the supreme court in London is to allow his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual misconduct, most of which were dismissed by a senior prosecutor in Stockholm. On bail for 16 months, tagged and effectively under house arrest, he has been charged with nothing. His “crime” has been an epic form of investigative journalism: revealing to millions of people the lies and machinations of their politicians and officials and the barbarism of criminal war conducted in their name.

For this, as the American historian William Blum points out, “dozens of members of the American media and public officials have called for [his] execution or assassination”. If he is passed from Sweden to the US, an orange jumpsuit, shackles and a fabricated indictment await him. And there go all who dare challenge rogue America.

In Britain, Assange’s trial by media has been a campaign of character assassination, often cowardly and inhuman, reeking of jealousy of the courageous outsider, while books of perfidious hearsay have been published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or resuscitated on the assumption that he is too poor to sue. In Sweden this trial by media has become, according to one observer there, “a full-on mobbing campaign with the victim denied a voice”. For more than 18 months, the salacious Expressen, Sweden’s equivalent of the Sun, has been fed the ingredients of a smear by Stockholm police.

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Rush Limbaugh Calls Sandra Fluke a Slut – Reformed Whores’ Response Video

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Rush Limbaugh Is No Joke

From Common Dreams:

by David Macaray
Published on Friday, March 9, 2012 by Common Dreams

It’s disappointing to hear people (liberals, progressives, Democrats) dismiss Rush Limbaugh as simply a “clown,” or a “blowhard,” or “an idiot,” or, more thoughtfully, as “a political entertainer and not a political pundit,” as if his 14-15 million reported regular listeners didn’t count for anything—as if they didn’t vote or make political contributions.  Let’s not kid ourselves.  Limbaugh’s audience doesn’t regard him as a joke.  They regard him as a modern day prophet.

As shamelessly full of smears, half-truths, bogus statistics, and outright lies as his radio show is, his listeners pay closer attention and give more credence to what Limbaugh says on the air than to what they read or hear in the so-called “liberal media,” and, sad to say, to what they see printed in textbooks and encyclopedias.  The man has enormous influence.

And if you don’t think 14-15 million regular listeners is a significant audience, just look at what the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the total number of labor union members in the U.S. to be.  As of 2011, it’s 14.8 million.  Those are Limbaugh numbers.

In 1993, my union had its own “Limbaugh moment.”  I was in my fourth one-year term as president of the local—still fairly popular with the troops, still tight with the shop steward corps—but winning re-election each time by increasingly smaller margins.  At the end of one of our regular monthly meetings, a member approached me and asked why we were serving Snapple (along with beer and assorted soft drinks) as one of our refreshments.

He informed me that Snapple was a major sponsor of Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.  While I was familiar with Limbaugh’s brand of politics and rhetoric, I rarely listened to him, so I had no idea who sponsored the show.  This member argued persuasively that, in the name of American trade unionism, we needed to discontinue serving Snapple at union meetings.  It didn’t take much to convince me.  I heartily agreed.

For anyone unfamiliar with Limbaugh’s views on organized labor, switch to April of 2010, following the Massey (West Virginia) coal mine explosion that killed 29 miners.  Limbaugh went on the air and, with those punishing baritone pipes, shrilly and self-righteously railed against the UMW (United Mine Workers), accusing the union of not having done enough to prevent this terrible disaster.  His remarks were sarcastic and bullying…typical Limbaugh.

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