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NOV 12, 2013 - JTMP has been a strong supporter of the Iranian "Green Movement" and the underground Iranian activist music scene as they push for freedom and democracy in Iran. One band that JTMP video blogged about back in 2010 in our "Iran Freedom Now" campaign called the Yellow Dogs has resulted in a horrible tragedy. Ali Akbar Mohammed Rafie, a musician who was fired from the band the Free Keys and an associate of the members of the Yellow Dogs, in what can only be described as a fit of insanity and rage, shot dead Arash and Soroush Farazmand, 2 members for the Yellow Dogs. This is a major blow and shock to the underground Iranian music scene, and of course to their families.
The Yellow Dogs got their start in Tehran, but their music was not approved by the Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and so therefore was illegal. The band fled to Turkey, and then made it to New York. They were a huge part of the "Green Movement" and the New York music scene, and will surely be missed. One can pay their respects on the Yellow Dog's Facebook page here. Read more on the tragedy on NBCNewYork.com.
NOV 11, 2013 - Hate the war, love the soldier. Happy Veterans Day to all the vets out there. We must remember to support the vets once they get back. Many suffer from injuries both physical and mental from the horrors of war. One place we can all help is donating to the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps out vets with devastating injuries; which happen more these days with better and quicker battlefield medical care. To help out, check out their website at WoundedWarriorProject.org. It would be nice of these politicians that supposedly "support the troops" would shift funding from drones into taking care of our vets. (photo credit: US Archives)
NOV 11, 2013 - As you may well have heard, the Philippines was hit by a record massive typhoon, picture a F5 tornado 300 miles wide, and 10,000 plus have died in a horrible tragedy. The US has sent marines in with food and water, but the situation there is desperate. If you can, please help out by donating to the Red Cross at RedCross.org.
NOV 8, 2013 - Here is a topic near and dear to my heart, food and nutrition. Face it, we Americans eat heavily processed food-like substances, and we need to get back to eating REAL food not in a box or a can. I switched over to a "caveman" diet about six months ago. Living in the city, I know that small convenience food stores sometimes don't even carry fresh produce and other types of real food. However, I and rapper-activist Khnum 'Stic' Ibomu believe that if you take some steps, one can afford to eat healthy and nutritious REAL food on a low budget. Stic, some of you remember him from Dead Prez, blogged on HuffPO last month explaining "7 ways to eat on a hood budget". He not only raps and is active in the community, but also runs his "RBG Fit Club" promoting a holistic life and healthy eating. He blogs about how he runs into people saying. "I want to eat healthy but I can't afford it." But he says there are ways to eat healthy on food stamps (or SNAP) and he should know because he was on food assistance growing up. If one travels a little farther, to a national chain, one can eat healthy. For instance here in DC the grocery chain Safeway has fresh produce, frozen vegetables (frozen food if done right is sometimes better than fresh) and other real, normal food straight from Mother Nature and the least amount of processing possible. They are starting to carry quinoa, coconut water and other healthy foods.
Some of Stics (and my) suggestions are:
1) Choose produce, not a box or can. Fresh produce is not only healthier and more nutritious dense, it is cheaper.
2) Cook big and save some for later. I cook a huge bag of lentils, put in storage containers and refrigerate, and then scoop servings out throughout the week.
3) Make homemade soup! Get some healthy broth in a wax cardboard container (read ingredients) and add fresh veggies!
4) Join a local Co-op or community garden. There are many of those here in DC.
5) Buy what is on sale. Check the flyer and website, and buy only what is on sale.
6) Lentils, split-peas. They are dirt cheap, and are healthy and nutritional dense.
Take your time, shop wisely in only the produce and frozen food aisles, budget your money, and one can eat healthy on a low or "hood" budget. To read all of Stic's "7 way to eat good on a hood budget" read his blog on HuffPo here. Also check out his RBG Fit Club website on leading a holistic lifestyle. (photo credit: Search Influence/CC/Flickr)
NOV 6, 2013 - Carole King was on MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning, talking about MusiCare's 2014 Person of the Year Award she has been honored with, and also how she was in New York to help out Alicia Keys and her awesome non-profit "Keep A Child Alive" getting much-needed health care, food and other assistance to children in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and India. The MusiCares Person of the Year award has gone to many fine activist musicians in the past, like Carole's long-time musical partner James Taylor, and also Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. JTMP has some cool clips from Neil Young's 2010 Award Ceremony on our YouTube Channel, including Norah Jones doing "Tell Me Why". Check out all our videos on our JTMP YouTube Channel here.
Carole KIng has had a rich life. Born in New York City, she graduated high school at 16, married at 17, and had her first kid at 18. All the while she pushed a very successful songwriting career, and in the end would be involved in hundreds of successful songs. She is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also got the Gershwin Prize from President Obama recently. In the 1970s she had her breakthrough as a performer in her album "Tapestry". She continues to perform and help out as a musical-activist, and lent her music to the Boston Strong concert to aid the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Check out Carole singing "Sweet Seasons" at the Boston Strong concert on our YouTube Channel here.
Carole King is helping out Alicia Keys with Keys' non-profit "Keep a Child Alive" Black Ball on Thursday. Both activist-musicians want to remind us that children are in much need of health care, food and other necessities of life in places like Kenya and Uganda. This will be the tenth year of Alicia's foundation, and to find out more and to watch past episodes of this great event, check out KeepAChildAlive.org and the Black Ball event page is here. To read more about Carole's MusiCare's award, check out the Grammy MusiCare's website here. (photo credit: Michael Borkson/CC)
NOV 5, 2013 - I used to crank Five For Fighting's "America Town" album back in 2000. I loved frontman John Ondrasik's songwriting, music, and I especially liked that he was a hockey fan like me and used the hockey penalty for fighting, five minutes for fighting, as the group's name. But, I was shocked and horrified today to stumble upon an interview of him by Madeleine Morgenstern on right-wing extremist conservative Glenn Beck's "The Blaze" website. I almost dropped my laptop when I read how he blames Obama for the Teabagger-started shutdown, and even implied President Obama deliberately told the US Park Service to put up "Closed" signs as to create "horror photo ops for the media". I don't know if I will ever listen to his music again, or listen to it in the same light again. Ondrasik even says he was hopeful President Obama could "bring the country together and decrease the divide", then incredulously blames the massive and constant obstruction by the Teabagger-led right-wing extremist House of Representatives blocking his every bill and the Obama Hatred Derangement Syndrome that Republicans are suffering from on President Obama. Incredible.
As Ondrasik points out in his interview, he and Kid Rock are pretty much the only two musicians that are conservative, and both stumped for the .01 percenter Richie Rich Mitt Romney in 2012...ugh. He mentions in the interview that many people after finding out the right-wing extremist conservative views he holds say "I will never listen to or buy Five For Fighting music again". Count me as one of those. The "fair and balanced" (NOT) interviewer Morgenstern points out his new song "Rebel" "takes a jab at the Sean Penns of the world". Throughout the interview Ondrasik rants that being progressive is not brave, since most people hold progressive views, so they are just trying to fit in. No John, most of us are progressive because we were born this way; there are just more of us than there are of you...sorry. He recently created an "incident" at the Jefferson Memorial during the shutdown (talk about creating a horror photo-op) where he forced a US Park Police officer to ask him to leave the closed Jefferson Memorial. Ondrasik refused and forced the officer to "push him out of the memorial" and Tweeted about it in pics here. If you want to never listen to Five For Fighting's music again and to read John Ondrasik's extremist Teabagger views, corrupt your cache by going to The Blaze here. (Don't forget to clear your cache afterwards and take a shower) (photo credit: Mike Cassidy/CC)
Want to comment? Check out the Justice Through Music Facebook site.
NOV 5, 2013 - 2 important gubernatorial elections will be held today, one in the commonwealth of Virginia and the other in New Jersey. 3 candidates face off in Virginia: Terry McAuliffe for the Democrats, Ken "Forced Ultrasounds" Cuccinelli for the Teabaggers...I mean the Republicans, and the Libertarians are running Robert Jarvis on the ticket. In New Jersey, Chris Christie for the Republicans will face off against the Democrat Barbara Buono. Also, New York City voters head to the polls to pick a new Mayor. Bill de Blasio the Democrat is running against the Republican nominee, Joe Lhota.
JTMP wants to remind our supporters that Governors appoint State Supreme Court Justices, and sometimes that appointment is for life! Many conservatives are using the states to ram through very anti-progressive policies; like getting the government in between a woman and her doctor and require by law he insert a ultrasound device up her vagina in an almost rape. Please pay attention to all elections and offices, especially local. Many progressive policies, like medical marijuana or gay marriage, can be blocked by a Governor and his cohorts he appoints on the State Supreme Court. So, if you live in New Jersey or Virginia, please VOTE!! JTMP urges our supporters to register to vote, keep your registration current, get informed, and vote in primaries and general elections; paying extra close attention to city councils, school boards and others that make decisions that affect your life!
To find your polling place in Virginia go here, to find a polling place in New Jersey go here, and to find your voting location in New York City go here. Please bring ID, voter registration card and anything else you might need to clear the voter suppression hurdles conservatives have put up recently. Don't let anyone stop you from voting!
NOV 1, 2013 - Music has been playing a huge role in the Arab Spring and helping to fuel the youth uprisings and calls for progressive changes in their countries. A Danish rapper, Martin Fernando Jakobsen, saw what was happening, and stepped in to help fund Tunisian and activist rappers across the Middle East. Jakobsen has set up "Turning Tables", where he helps young rappers who want to sing about political change get into the studio and get their words out. In an interview on TheNational.ae, he tells Janne Louise Anderson, "The youth movement and the young people's freedom of expression and artistic freedom face an uncertain future because of opposition by powerful conservative forces, societal norms and limited production and expression." Jakobsen also talks about the brutal governmental and police policies that arrest and even jail rappers for expressing their political beliefs. Some rappers in Tunisia have had to go underground after being sentenced to years in prison in absentia, merely for speaking out artistically. Jakobsen also tells Anderson, "We are supporting young people who are fighting for a Tunisia that respects basic freedoms and equal opportunities for all, through the targeted use of art festivals, music events, and the creation of independent media that conveys the youth's views on Tunisia's future." Jakobsen plans to spread his help to Syria and Jordan soon.
Turning Tables allowed Middle East rappers, Vipa, WMD and Katybon, to collaborate on "Up On The Roof" YouTube music video (watch below), and Vipa commented in The National's article, "Tunisians try to move forward with great desire, but there are always some barriers that prevent us from trying to spek about justice, be it political, or economic or social." Read the entire Jakobsen interview on TheNational.ae website here. To learn more about the non-profit Jakobsen has set up to help activist-rappers, check out TurningTables.org.
OCT 31, 2013 - mtvU, the TV channel started by MTV, is airing a six-episode series produced by Shepard Fairey titled "Rebel Music" that will detail worldwide youth uprisings and how they are using the power of music to change their world for the better in countries such as Egypt, Afghanistan, Mexico, Israel/Palestine, India and Mali. The first 2 episodes air on November 18 at 9:00 PM EST, with 4 more episodes being released weekly, and will also be available on the website RebelMusic.com.
Many social justice issues are explored. In the Egypt episode the we meet civilians using protest songs and social media to challenge mindsets and long held beliefs that have tainted their nation's past. In the Afghanistan episode we meet a young girl just wanting to ride a bike, and a rapper and a heavy metal band risking their lives for social change in a rapidly changing culture. The Mali episode spotlights musicians in Bamako that are using music to rally their people back to democracy and freedom during a violent period of change in Mali. The India episode of course goes into the horrible sexual rape and abuse rampant in India that has come to light in the news recently. The Israeli/Palestine episode features musicians and bands from both sides of the struggle, and how they are trying to use music as a bridge to peace and understanding. The last episode highlights Tijuana, Mexico which is a war zone plagued my murder and violence fueled by the stupid drug war. Musicians there are using music to bring back local cultural pride, and call for an end to the violence there.
Check local listings on your TV provider's website for exact time and channel number (Verizon is channel 212). For more info check out mtvU's press release on it on the website TVByTheNumbers, mtvU's website here.
Visit RebelMusic.com for more info and video.
OCT 31, 2013 - Happy Halloween and Super Samhain everyone! I ran across this article on SFBG.com of a cool political band playing in San Francisco tonight. To honor their Jewish heritage they named themselves "The Shondes", from the Yiddish word 'shonde' which means "shameful", and was a term used for outcasts in the Jewish community. When the band members started to get into activism and challenge long-held beliefs, they were yelled at and even spat upon, and were called 'shondes'. In the SFBG.com interview they say their big issues are universal healthcare, ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine (which I am sure got them called 'shondes' for doing) and trans justice. They also fight racism, economic depression and support community organizing and activism. JTMP agrees! To read the whole SFBG.com interview go here. (photo credit: Frank Stefanko)