Some Sunday Evening Jazz Piano: Jessica Williams

As promised Friday, another in an admittedly small circle of female jazz artists who play an instrument. It has long blown my mind how few women there are in jazz or rock for that matter who are more known for their instrumental skills than their vocal skills.

When I want to feature a female jazz singer I have so many to choose from, when I try to feature a woman instrumentalist I can practically count them on my fingers.

Jazz has become a somewhat neglected art form.  There aren’t the clubs, the days of the major labels are in the past.  Hell many of my favorite artists are long dead.

Artists play house concerts and self distribute their recordings.

This is a form of music that is uniquely American. It grew up in New Orleans, it grew out of the Blues and so many other uniquely American influences.

It was nurtured in Harlem, Chicago, St Louis Los Angeles and all the cities from the east coast to the west coast.

While it is thought of as a Black form of music there were integrated bands having to deal with Jim Crow laws years before say professional base ball was integrated.

Jessica is still around just like Carla Bley, who I featured a couple of weeks ago.

I want people to listen to this music.  If you don’t understand it get the Ken Burns series and listen to Wynton Marsalis explain its origins and development.

Jessica Williams


Why I Didn’T Post The Kony Video: “The Kill the Gays” Connection

It would be all too easy for me to claim I immediately smelled a rat, but the truth is I had the video in my tray of items to be posted.

Sometimes sloth is its own reward, even for someone who has chosen the underground papers of the 1960s as a sort of model for her blog.  Having a bit of lag time can be a good thing as questions regarding the video cropped up almost immediately.

There were compelling reasons to believe it.  People like Charles Taylor and Idi Amin have been monsters.  Genocidal atrocities have happened in places like Rwanda.  Horrible civil wars have raged for years and years across the continent of Africa.

But, and here comes the big”BUT”, Europe and the US have this history of colonialism and the backing of some really nasty right wing dictators. We in the US and Europe have supported virtual Nazis, who were friendly to our corporations. We’ve helped these monsters put down rebels who might have brought changes that would have meant democracy in various countries and have removed some very evil dictators.

Our interventions generally have nothing to do with the liberating of people and everything to do with opening countries to the rape and exploitation by our corporations.

As the day passed my initial suspicions were confirmed.

I collected a few articles over the past days that reinforced my initial suspicions.  a sampling follows:

From Socialist Worker:

What they won’t say about Kony 2012

Bill Crane examines the politics behind the “Kony 2012” media campaign–and argues that further U.S. intervention in Uganda won’t help the country’s people.

March 12, 2012

“KONY 2012,” a social media campaign by the charity group Invisible Children that caught fire last week, has brought the wars of central Africa into the media spotlight.

A video produced by Invisible Children that got some 71 million views in less than a week focuses on Joseph Kony, leader of the Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The 30-minute video claims that Kony is “the most dangerous man in the world.”

Invisible Children says it hopes the video will “raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.” The campaign, which jumped from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to the front page of newspapers across the U.S., asks supporters to make Kony “famous” by posting flyers with his image. This, the video suggests, will convince the U.S. government to step up support for the Ugandan military in its quest to “stop Kony”–to kill him or to bring him to trial at the International Criminal Court.

It’s certainly understandable that a campaign against child soldiers and sex trafficking would gain widespread attention. But the Kony 2012 campaign is leaving out a lot of facts that every opponent of violence and injustice needs to know.

Not only does the video dangerously oversimplify the history of Kony and the LRA in Uganda, but it bolsters the position of U.S. imperialism on this question–particularly in its support for the repressive Ugandan government. And this comes at a time when the U.S. military is intervening more aggressively in Africa, including basing troops on the continent.

Continue reading at:

But then some far more disturbing people started to show up as being behind this video:

From Right Wing Watch:

Invisible Children and ‘Kill the Gays’ Pastor Martin Ssempa

Submitted by Josh Glasstetter on Fri, 03/16/2012

A video posted five years ago by a student group at Grove City College – a small evangelical school in Pennsylvania – raises questions about whether Invisible Children, the organization behind the viral juggernaut Kony 2012, has worked with notorious Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa.

Ssempa, a longtime anti-gay activist, is the chairman of the National Taskforce against Homosexuality in Uganda and a major proponent of legislation that calls for the execution of gays and lesbians who are found “guilty” of having homosexual sex. He regularly shows graphic gay porn during his presentations and seems obsessed with outrageous fetishes, typically of the scatological variety, that he claims are common practice among gay men. In addition to bashing gays, Ssempa is a major proponent of restricting access to condoms and fighting the AIDS epidemic with abstinence education – which has had disastrous consequences.

According to the video posted by Grove City students, a “team of people” from Invisible Children came to their campus in February of 2005 and showed them a video about child soldiers in Uganda. The students were energized by the film and wanted to help, but they weren’t sure how.

Then “The Vision” for their project arrived, according to the students:

Student 1: A guy named Martin Ssempa came our way, who is a Ugandan-born world leader in the AIDS activism and abstinence education. He came to Grove City College and spoke to us and gave us the plan to send this shipment of “love” over to Uganda.

Student 2: Martin Ssempa is an amazing man. He just shared a lot about his vision for healing in Africa, particularly in his country.

Continue reading at:

From The Advocate:

KONY 2012 Director Detained, Org. Tied to Antigay Groups

By Michelle Garcia
March 17, 2012

It’s been discovered that Jason Russell, the director of the viral video on Ugandan war lord Joseph Kony, may have connections to rightwing antigay organizations. But that’s not his only problem — he was detained Thursday by San Diego police for masturbating in public.

Russell, 33, is the founder of Invisible Children, a nonprofit organization that produces films to educate people on global issues such as environmentalism and human rights. He was arrested Thursday after allegedly vandalizing several cars and masturbating in the streets while possibly being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, police told NBC San Diego.

Lt. Andra Brown said, “Due to the nature of the detention, he was not arrested. During the evaluation, we learned we probably needed to take him to a medical facility because of statements he was saying.”

Russell’s business partner, Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey, said Russell has been under an immense amount of stress since the release ofKony 2012.

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Perhaps we should be asking if Jason Russell is another agit-prop con artist like James O’Keefe…

In a related story:

From The New York Times:

Ugandan Gay Rights Group Sues U.S. Evangelist

Published: March 14, 2012

A Ugandan gay rights group filed suit against an American evangelist, Scott Lively, in federal court in Massachusetts on Wednesday, accusing him of violating international law by inciting the persecution of gay men and lesbians in Uganda.

The lawsuit maintains that beginning in 2002, Mr. Lively conspired with religious and political leaders in Uganda to whip up anti-gay hysteria with warnings that gay people would sodomize African children and corrupt their culture.

The Ugandan legislature considered a bill in 2009, proposed by one of Mr. Lively’s Ugandan contacts, that would have imposed the death sentence for the “offense of homosexuality.” That bill languished after an outcry from the United States and European nations that are among major aid donors to Uganda, but was reintroduced last month.

Mr. Lively is being sued by the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda under the alien tort statute, which allows foreigners to sue in American courts in situations asserting the violation of international law. The suit says that Mr. Lively’s actions resulted in the persecution, arrest, torture and murder of gay men and lesbians in Uganda.

Reached by telephone in Springfield, Mass., where he runs Holy Grounds Coffee House, a storefront mission and shop, Mr. Lively said he did not know about the lawsuit. Nevertheless, he said: “That’s about as ridiculous as it gets. I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue.”

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Protesters back in NYC’s Zuccotti Park for Occupy Wall Street anniversary

From The Guardian UK:

More than 200 people gather to mark six-month anniversary, and organisers vow rally is first of several

Reuters, Saturday 17 March 2012

More than 200 protesters gathered on Saturday in New York‘s Zuccotti Park to mark the six-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Clashes with police resulted in several arrests and three officers injured, officials said.

At least four people were arrested, according to organisers.

Police would not confirm the arrests but said three officers suffered injuries. Police did not provide any details as to the extent of the injuries.

Organisers vowed that Saturday’s rally was the first of several events planned to protest against economic injustice.

Protester Paul Sylvester, 24, from Massachusetts, said he was “thrilled” to be back at the park but said he hoped the movement would begin to crystallise around specific goals.

“We need to be more concrete and specific,” he said.

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Drilling for Oil in Eden: Initiative to Save Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador is Uncertain

From Scientific American:

By R. Douglas Fields
March 17, 2012

Quito, Ecuador— The most biologically diverse habitat in the western hemisphere, the Yasuní rainforest in Ecuador, is under threat. The diversity of species in the Yasuní Park is unmatched by any other park in the world. One hectare contains more species of trees than all of North America, but hidden beneath this Garden of Eden lies temptation: oil worth billions.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is bargaining the fate of the Yasuní Park against the willingness of the industrialized world to pay 3.6 billion dollars in return for a promise not to extract oil from the ecological preserve. The conservation proposal is praised internationally as a creative way to protect the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people living there, but the fate of the Yasuní Initiative is in doubt. There is uncertainty whether the funding can be raised as governments grapple with the international economic crisis, and skeptics question whether the bargain could work.

“They are going to drill. They are going to drill,” an authority on the Yasuní project told me in confidence. “Perhaps ten years from now, perhaps 5 years from now. The next president will need that money.”

Oil is Ecuador’s top export, providing one third of its revenue, but despite the black gold pooled beneath its steamy jungles, Ecuador is a poor country. With little industry, Ecuador’s 58.9 billion GDP is among the smallest in Latin America. (By comparison, the GDP of the USA is 14,600 billion.) Exporting raw materials, primarily petroleum, bananas, and shrimp, has enriched foreign corporations, but the wealth has not trickled down to the people. 50 % of Ecuadorian citizens live below the poverty level. One third of the children in Ecuador are malnourished and 60 % in the indigenous populations according to Health Minister, Carina Vance. Between 1999 and 2000 one million Ecuadorians fled their homeland to escape the misery and financial collapse that left the country’s currency worthless. The US dollar is now the accepted currency.

“At some point conservation and ecology are kind of a luxurious thing. People have to eat,” says Prof. Hugo Navarrete, a Biologist at the Pontifica Universidad Católica del Ecuador, describing the situation from the point of view of those who would benefit from drilling.

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The Koch Brothers Backed Tea Party Demands Tax Exempt Status

From PoliticusUSA:

By: Dennis S
March 16, 2012

I noticed a recent Tea Party dust-up with the IRS over 501 (c) (4) tax-exempt status. The Tea Party wants it; the IRS doesn’t appear to want to give it to them. Now, you can attain that status quite easily if your group is not perceived to be trying to influence elections. It’s pretty much a ‘social welfare’ tax exemption; your little reward for giving a damn about your neighbors and helping with Policeman and Fireman relief funds, cleaning up parks, finding services for those in need, that kind of stuff. Technically a 501 (c) (4) organization is supposed to spend the lion’s share of its time promoting ‘social welfare’ not trying to elect the most radical politician in the district.

Or, in the dry syntax of the IRS, “An organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the community.” Doesn’t mean you can’t stump for the occasional radical pol, it just means you have to be primarily engaged in helping your fellow man and woman.

I thought I’d take a Tea Party tour of the Internet and check out the ‘social welfare’ programs that take up so much TP time. For my first stop, I journeyed all the way to Fredericksburg, Texas seeking the presence of do-gooder programs on their Tea Party homepage.  There were notifications of a few meetings. The sheriff was going to address one of them, then some guy named Cox, founder of the Get Out of Our House Revolution was speaking at another. Don’t know what GOOH is, could be a hint to the adult children, but I doubt it’s a program to help any charities that I know about.

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Gloria Steinem, a Woman Like No Other

From The New York Times:

Published: March 16, 2012

IN 1970, when the Senate was first debating passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, a featured speaker was Gloria Steinem, a 36-year-old magazine writer with a growing reputation as a forceful advocate of women’s issues.

“During years of working for a living, I have experienced much of the legal and social discrimination reserved for women in this country,” Ms. Steinem told the almost exclusively male gathering. “I have been refused service in public restaurants, ordered out of public gathering places and turned away from apartment rentals. All for the clearly stated, sole reason that I am a woman.”

Over the last 40 years, Gloria Steinem has almost always been at the other end of the phone when some member of the news media has sought comment about a pressing issue involving women’s rights, whether it was Roe v. Wade (“If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”), the tax problems that all but doomed the chances of the first woman to run for vice president on a major ticket (“What has the women’s movement learned from Geraldine Ferraro’s candidacy for vice president? Never get married.”) and even the presidency of George W. Bush (“There has never been an administration that is more hostile to women’s equality, to reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right”).

And that raises a question well worth asking in 2012: Where is the next Gloria Steinem, and why — decades after the media spotlight first focused on her — has no one emerged to take her place?

The question resonated last month, when the organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced plans to pull financing from Planned Parenthood, and when Rush Limbaugh’s tirade against a Georgetown law student and her congressional testimony over contraceptive rights became national news.

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Ultra Right Wing Neo-Fascist Republican Steve King: Only Male Land Owners Should Vote

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