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August 13, 2013 - Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the condemnation of the harsh and Draconian voter suppression bill that North Carolina Republican state lawmakers and Republican Governor Pat McCrory passed and signed yesterday, saying it "reads like the greatest hits of voter suppression". She also weighed in on the recent gutting of the federal voting rights act and the effort by Republican state lawmakers across the country enacting laws making it harder for people to vote. Speaking in San Francisco yesterday she said, "In the weeks since the ruling, we've seen an unseemly rush by previously covered jurisdictions to enact or enforce laws that will make it harder for millions of our fellow Americans to vote."
JTMP urges our supporters to contact your state lawmakers and governor, and tell them you do not support voter suppression efforts, and demand they start making it EASIER for Americans to vote, NOT HARDER. The USA.gov website has a great place for you to find out how you can contact your state lawmakers and governor, check it out HERE. Watch the C-Span video of her speech yesterday at the American Bar Association conference below. (Photo credit: US Department of State)
August 12, 2013 - North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory quietly signed a bill making it much harder for many North Carolinians to vote, such as eliminating early voting and requiring specific forms of ID one would need to show at the poll to exercise their right to vote at the polls. Republicans on the state level across America have been pushing aggressively to make it harder for people to vote, but some say this effort by state Republicans in NC is Draconian and harsher than most. Although there has been zero evidence of this supposed "voter fraud" in the state, Governor McCrory signed the bill that even stops young people aged 16 and 17 from registering early so they are ready to vote when they turn 18. JTMP is all about urging young kids to get involved in our elections, and this is just absurd. There has always been a low participation by young people in our democratic process, and this is not just unnecessary, but undermines what our government should be doing, which is encouraging people to participate in their civic duty of voting and making it easier for them to vote. This is a clear attempt at trying to put hurdles in front of voters that tend to vote for Democrats. In 2012, over 70% of African-Americans took part in early voting with the "Souls to the Polls" on Sundays after they attended church service, and they tend to vote Democratic. This blatant attempt at circumventing our democratic process and making it harder for Americans to vote is outrageous, and thankfully, as Ari Berman of The Nation reports, 2 lawsuits have already been filed challenging the law. Read more on Charlotte Observer here. (Photo credit: State of North Carolina website)
Eric Holder: US Justice Department to Stop Pursuing Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Low-Level Non-Violent Drug Offenses
August 12, 2013 - Justice Through Music has been blogging about justice recently, and how it is hard for American citizens to move on with their lives after making mistakes, and Eric Holder came out today with something JTMP wants to applaud him for. Speaking to the American Bar Association's House of Delegates in San Francisco, he announced that the US Justice Department will no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for low-level non-violent drug offenses. For those of you who do not know what mandatory minimum sentencing is, it is a stupid idea the US Congress came up with years ago to take away the power of a judge to impose sentences and have automatic jail time for offenders that has caused our prison population to soar and ruin millions of people's lives; often for non-violent drug offenses which are a health issue not a criminal one. Addicts not only have to face battling their demons of addiction, but then they have an albatross around their neck with a criminal charge and a prison record, which interferes with them finding a job and moving on with their lives.
Eric Holder said we as a nation "cannot prosecute or incarcerate" our way to safety, and JTMP wholeheartedly agrees; addicts need health care and treatment, NOT incarceration. Holder added that the stupid "war on drugs" has been "ineffective and unsustainable" and also pointed out the injustice of disproportionate arrests and prosecutions of African-Americans and called it "shameful". Another important and significant thing he is implementing is that he is having prosecutors leave out the amount of drugs involved, thereby stopping the "trigger" of mandatory jail sentences kicking in; but we need the US congress to get rid of the law. JTMP urges our supporters to contact your congress members and tell them you support Holder's move, and ask them to get rid of mandatory minimum sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenders. Tell them we need more funding for treatment, not more prisons. Also, only 10% of low-level non-violent drug offenses are in the federal justice system; we need to work at the state level and get rid of this Draconian practice at the state level too, so contact your state delegates, representatives and state senators and tell them you want treatment for low-level non-violent drug offenses, NOT prison. Read more on CNN.com here. (Photo credit: US Dept. of Justice)
August 11, 2013 - 14-year-old Rachel Parent debates the harmful practice of GMO food with bully TV host Kevin O'Leary and wins! You must see this video! Head on over to our JTMP Green site and check it out!
August 9, 2013 - Country star legend Loretta Lynn was named by President Barack Obama to be one of the recipients of the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor that is presented to individuals who, "have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." The award ceremony will be held later his year. 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Executive Order signed by President John F. Kennedy establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom, since then over 500 exceptional individuals have been awarded with this Presidential Medal of Freedom. In a statement President Obama said, "The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours. This year's honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation's gratitude."
The White House website said about Ms. Lynn that she "is a country music legend. Raised in rural Kentucky, she emerged as one of the first successful female country vocalists in the early 1960s, courageously breaking down barriers in an industry long dominated by men. Ms. Lynn's numerous accolades include the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010."
Read more and learn about the other 31 recipients on the White House website here. (photo credit Scott Schram/CC)
August 9, 2013 - JTMP has been posting recently about Americans making mistakes and needing justice and second chances, and The American Scholar website has a great article out really delving into the issue. With the Internet, where people's lives get splayed out permanently for all the world to see, it is especially important for people to be able to get that second chance and move on with their lives. They discuss how 30 years ago, one would have to go to a police station or city hall to get at criminal records, but now with the Internet and sites that let anyone do a background check for $39.99, people's privacy and ability to move past their mistakes and move on with their lives is getting increasingly very difficult to do. The article discusses how many people after making a mistake do not repeat the mistake; it is incorrect to say. "Once a criminal, always a criminal". Read the American Scholar article here, and start a discussion or leave a comment on our Justice Through Music Facebook Page here. (photo credit: Scott*/Flickr)
August 8, 2013 - Americans can buy guns and ammo at Walmart, but apparently they ban free speech. I stumbled across this fact today that back in 1996, Walmart objected to the Sheryl Crow song, "Love Is a Good Thing" that contained the lyrics: "Watch out sister, watch out brother, Watch our children as they kill each other, With a gun they bought at the Walmart discount stores". Reason #148 to not to shop at Walmart. Read more about this in a 2004 article on PBS.org here. Watch Sheryl Crow sing "Love is a Good Thing" live from CrowVideoTV2 below.
August 8, 2013 - Today.com has a cool article out on the "Ten Best Sesame Street Musical Guests", and lists musicians from Paul Simon to Yo Yo Ma. I grew up on Sesame Street, and remember many musicians coming on and helping guide kids with music to good values and bettering the community. JTMP urges our supporters to contact their elected officials and ask them to protect and even increase funding for the arts and public television. Even though he was never on Sesame Street, John Denver had a very close relationship with The Muppets on The Muppet Show, and was a great musician and musical activist. Watch John Denver sing "Grandma's Feather Bed" with The Muppets below from dteeps42 on YouTube, and check out the article with videos of the Sesame Street musical guests on Today.com here. (Photo credit: Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets by Alan Light/CC)
August 7, 2013 - JTMP is excited to announce we are re-releasing Op-Critical's "Fear Not" video in HD, a powerful video and song that is a scathing condemnation of the George W. Bush administration, and how they used propaganda in duping the nation into launching the unnecessary and foolish Iraq invasion and war. The video was directed and produced by filmmaker Dmitry Torgovitsky in 2008, before YouTube had an "HD" feature. So to remind everyone of the debacle of the Iraq War and how we must be vigilant against government propaganda starting foolish wars, we have re-released the video on our JTMP YouTube Channel in full 1080p HD and audio. Watch the video below, and leave a comment about it on our JTMP Facebook Page, and please give us a ""Like"! Thanks!
August 7, 2013 - One of my favorite guitarists right now that is keeping the blues alive, is Joe Bonamassa. Joe loves the blues so much he has formed a non-profit called, "Keeping the Blues Alive", an organization that donates instruments to schools, repairs instruments, and many other projects aimed at teaching young people the great tradition of blues and honoring the American heritage of this great musical genre. They work hard and keeping school musical programs going, at a time when school musical programs are facing cuts and even cancelations. To create buzz and awareness for his organization, he has launched a "Win this Stevie Ray Vaughn Signature Guitar" contest, where anyone can enter to win a fabulous Fender Stratocaster, Stevie's favorite guitar. Stevie Ray Vaughn is a huge inspiration to Joe, as he is to a lot of people, and this is to honor one of the greatest blues guitarists of all times.
Check out the Keeping The Blues Alive Website here, and to enter the contest to win the Stevie Ray Vaughn Signature Stratocaster Guitar, go here. Meanwhile, check out one of the kids his organization is helping, a 16-year-old kid named Tallan Noble Latz playing "The Sky is Crying" below from his YouTube Channel.