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Happy New Year - Obamacare Is Born

JAN 1, 2014 - Happy New Year everyone! 2014 is going to be an exciting year for progressive issues. Medical marijuana is being enacted across the country in various states, and gay marriage is winning many key battles is being accepted more and more. JTMP urges our supporters to stay active in 2014 and push for strengthening unions, raising the minimum wage, and protect the environment among other progressive issues.

One important issue and key civil right is access to quality and affordable health care for all, and the Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare" as it is now affectionately known) is a great step in that direction. Obamacare is "born" today and is officially launched. Starting today, millions of Americans cannot be kicked off their health care policy by a greedy insurance company. No longer can someone be denied access to health insurance because of a preexisting condition. As of today, heath insurance companies cannot gouge sick and elderly customers with higher payments. Many health care issues that were not covered before, such as hospitalizations and mental health, are now required to be covered by all policies.

We still have a way to go to assure that every single American has easy and affordable access to high quality health care, but this is a huge step in the right direction. JTMP urges our supporters to push their elected representatives to enact Medicare For All. H.R. 676 is a good place to start. Read more on the Key Features of the Affordable Care Act on the HHS.gov website here. JTMP reminds everyone to purchase health insurance through the exchanges, or you will face a tax penalty. Head on over to HealthCare.gov and sign up!  (photo credit: Pete Souza/CC)

USA Today: Pussy Riot members freed from prison

DEC 20, 2013 - Russia and Putin, in a PR campaign because of the Sochi Olympics and not justice, passed an "amnesty law" for non-violent offenders. It resulted in the 2 members of Pussy Riot being freed from prison 3 months early . Read more on USA Today.

Guardian: Roger Waters Sparks Fury by Comparing Israelis to Nazis

DEC 16, 2013 - Roger Waters, the man who was the main driving force of Pink Floyd, has "sparked a fury" according to the Guardian website by comparing Israelis to Nazis. I actually agree with him. When I was watching the movie "The Pianist" years ago, afterwards I turned on the news and there was Israel erecting walls and closing Palestinians off into ghettos. Whooosh, right over their heads. The IDF does use very harsh, brutal and violent force, very similar to Nazis. Israelis totally believe the ends justify the means, similar to Nazis. Read more on the Guardian website here.  (photo credit: Eddie Berman/CC)

Model Anna Zaiachkivska, "Miss Ukraine 2013", Stands With Protesters in Kiev

JTMP supports the Ukrainian people in their bid for freedom and entry into the EU, it should help them out economically and would be good for the long term. The website PolicyMic.com has an interesting article up about how Ukrainian model Anna Zaiachkivska, known to some as "Miss Ukraine 2013", is out in the streets of Kiev with her fellow Ukrainians calling for President Viktor Yanukovych to step down, and they call for movement towards joining the European Union. They reject a bailout from Russia, and they want to move towards a more freer economy, for the jobs are scarce and people are suffering. Check out the article of Ms. Zaiachkivska helping out at a volunteer tent (still looking hot even bundled up from the cold) handing out hot tea and food to protesters "manning the barricades" at PolicyMic.com here.

Nelson Mandela's Impact on Music and Activism

DEC 11, 2013 Music played a big role in helping free Madiba and bring down apartheid, and CNN has a nice article up today about his impact on music and pop culture. They mention Steven Van Zandt's song "Sun City" protesting apartheid, where he brought together Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, George Clinton, Run DMC, Miles Davis, Jackson Browne and many more to make the song and video singing, "I ain't gonna play Sun City" urging a boycott of South Africa by all musicians until apartheid was gone. (watch below) Paul Simon released "Graceland" with South African musicians such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo also speaking out against apartheid. The Apollo Theater in Harlem that has had so many great musicians come through it paid tribute to Madiba by displaying on it's marquee sign, "He Changed Our World"

The Nation has a post up of the Top 10 Songs About Nelson Mandela. Watch Steven Van Zandt's "Sun City" below.

President Obama Speaks at Mandela Memorial Service, "Our work is not yet done..."

DEC 10, 2013 - President Barack Obama spoke at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela earlier today, and after speaking at length about the legacy of Mandela and his life he also said that today should also be an occasion to "prompt in each of us a time for self reflection, with honesty; regardless of our station or our circumstance." He added, "We must ask; 'How well have I applied his lessons in my own life?' It's a question I ask myself as a man and as a President". Obama then spoke about our own struggle in America with our "Apartheid", slavery; and the struggle it took to free ourselves from that. "It took sacrifice, the sacrifice of countless people, known and unknown to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are beneficiaries of that struggle. But in America, and in South Africa, and in countries all around the globe, we can not allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not yet done. The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality, or universal franchise, may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before; but they are no less important."

Speaking to an audience that contained leaders from all over the world, Obama then spoke about the struggles for civil rights and equality around the globe, such as poverty here in America, to gay rights in Russia, or women's rights in Saudi Arabia. "For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today men and women are still in prison for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today. And so we too must act on behalf of justice."

We agree Mr. President, and JTMP asks our supporters to take this day to not only act on behalf of justice and celebrate the great life of Nelson Mandela, but to also take this time to do some self-reflection, and ask ourselves, "Have I applied Mandela's lessons to my life as much as I can?" Watch the full speech by President Obama from Politico below.

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

DEC 9, 2013 - JTMP joins the world in celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, a man who brought civil and voting rights to millions. A man who lived a life of grace and non-violence in spite of the arrests, beatings and the jailings he received because of his activism. He truly moved the whole world, and will be remembered for generations to come. I drove by his statue in front of the South African embassy here in DC the other night, and traffic had to move to one lane for all the people wanting to drop off flowers and stop by and pay their respects. Cars were not honking at each other, and would calmly take turns being nice to each other. To have that effect on DC drivers is nothing short of miraculous. Nelson Mandela has that effect on almost anybody, anywhere. To remind us to live in quiet peace and dignity. We join all who will be mourning and paying respects to this world leader all this week. Vice President Joe Biden released a statement on Nelson Mandela's death on behalf of the White House, along with President Obama; who just left with the First Lady for South Africa to attend the memorial service scheduled tomorrow. South Africa braces for a huge gathering of world leaders to pay last respects for this great man, which will be a massive security and logistical undertaking. (photo: Mandela voting in 1994 elections - credit: Paul Weinberg/CC)

Quiet Company: That "Atheist Band From Austin" Sings of a Man's Loss of Faith

DEC 6, 2013 - Great music has always been a part of Austin and one band in particular, Quiet Company, has been turning heads and really gaining attention not only because of their good tunes, but the band leader Taylor Muse had a loss of Christian faith and wrote about it with the 2011 album We Are All Where We Belong. It was tough transition for him, for growing up in Austin he said Christian music was a big part of all bands. However he came home one day and told his wife, "I'm having a little bit of a crisis of faith. I just realized today that I can't make a case for Christianity that would convince myself." He set out to write songs to counter the Christian message of worrying about the afterlife and saying this life is "...not your home, This is not where you belong." Muse takes the opposite side, and sings about the humanist message about living your life today here and now saying, "This is your one chance to make your life into what you want it to be."

Listen to a great interview on NPR.org here, and check out the band's website here. Listen to a great song to sing your daughter to sleep to, reassuring her she can let go all the nonsense that Christianity fills your head with and "Set Your Monster Free" below:

Tell Congress to Pass Second Chance Reauthorization Act!

DEC 5, 2013 - JTMP urges our supporters to contact your congress member and tell them you support second chances, and you want them to vote YES on the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, or S. 1690/H.R. 3465, that extends prisoner reentry programs for an additional five years at the federal and state levels. Members of Congress from all sides have come together to introduce the bill, and it makes sense. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves a second chance. These programs will help these people get access to housing, jobs and other things you need in life to survive. Please contact your congress member today and tell them you support second chances, you support the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, and tell them to vote yes!

Need to find your congress member? Find them and even get a letter/email template to send your congress member, and read more about this on the Faces and Voices of Recovery website.

Andre Cymone Releases First Album in 26 Years, Talks Politics and Activism with Vibe

DEC 4, 2013 - Andre Symone is someone you know, but didn't know you knew. You heard his bass guitar on stage with Prince and he produced and wrote songs for numerous people. He actually grew up with Prince in his childhood home. He became very active in community organizing and politics because of his mother, who was a social worker. In 2012 Andre wrote the song "America" and donated all the proceeds to President Barack Obama's reelection campaign. The Vibe website has a great interview up and he talks about his new album, his songs "Trayvon" and "America", the state of "black rock music", and celebrity activism. Read the entire interview on Vibe.com here.  (photo credit: Vox EFX/Flickr/CC)

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