Friday, December 6, 2013
Never Ever (From Naked Man Song Cycle)
Never will be a moment, ever
When we all will be together, never
Never such a moment,
Never will we look around
And see these faces, all these faces
Never will we hear these voices
Never ever hear this sound
No, never, never will be have that first time
Or this last time, or just this time
Never get to live our lives all over, never ever!
Oh! life will take us where it will
New beginnings, ends
Take each moment as a gift
Take each moment as a gift
Give it back, give it back again
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Endless Afghanistan? US-Afghan agreement would keep troops in place and funds flowing, perhaps indefinitely
By Richard Engel, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent
KABUL – While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key U.S.-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.
The wide-ranging document, still unsigned by the United States and Afghanistan, has the potential to commit thousands of American troops to Afghanistan and spend billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.The document outlines what appears to be the start of a new, open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan in the name of training and continuing to fight al-Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be ending, but renewed under new, scaled-down U.S.-Afghan terms.“The Parties acknowledge that continued U.S. military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate and agree to continue their close cooperation and coordination toward that end,” the draft states.
The 25-page “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” is a sweeping document, vague in places, highly specific in others, defining everything from the types of future missions U.S. troops would be allowed to conduct in Afghanistan, to the use of radios and the taxation of American soldiers and contractors.
The bilateral security agreement will be debated this week in Kabul by around 2,500 village elders, academics and officials in a traditional Loya Jirga. While the Loya Jirga is strictly consultative, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he won’t sign it without the Jirga’s approval.
The copy of the draft is dated July 25, 2013. As a working draft, it is particularly revealing because it shows the back and forth negotiations, as U.S. and Afghan officials added words and struck out paragraphs. The changes are marked by annotations still revealed in the text. The document is a work in progress. US officials say there have been more changes since July. The draft, however, does indicate the scope of this possible agreement with major implications for Washington, Kabul, U.S. troops and the continuation of America’s longest war.
Taken as a whole, the document describes a basic U.S.-Afghan exchange. Afghanistan would allow Washington to operate military bases to train Afghan forces and conduct counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda after the current mission ends in 2014. For that foothold in this volatile mountain region wedged between Pakistan and Iran, the United States would agree to sustain and equip Afghanistan's large security force, which the government in Kabul currently cannot afford. The deal, according to the text, would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015 and “shall remain in force until the end of 2024 and beyond.” It could be terminated by either Washington or Kabul with two years advance written notice.There is however what U.S. officials believe is a contradiction in the July draft, which would effectively ask American troops to provide training and confront al-Qaeda from the confines of bases. While it says operations against al-Qaeda may be necessary, it also says US troops will not be allowed to make arrests or enter Afghan homes.“No detention or arrest shall be carried out by the United States forces. The United States forces shall not search any homes or other real estate properties,” it says.“[The contradiction] was a matter of serious consternation at the highest levels” of the Obama administration over the weekend, according to one senior defense official. “It is the one remaining issue that could ultimately kill the deal." However, US officials believe that in a more recent draft, which was circulated among key Pentagon officials and US lawmakers on Monday, the US has won its position on this point.The document doesn’t specifically say how many U.S. and NATO troops would remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Afghan officials tell NBC News they hope it will be 10 to 15 thousand. U.S. officials tell NBC News the number is closer to seven to eight thousand, with an additional contribution from NATO. Factoring in troop rotations, home leave, and breaks between deployments, the service of tens of thousands of American troops would be required to maintain a force of seven to eight thousand for a decade or longer. The anticipated costs would likely run into the billions quickly.
Afghan officials tell NBC NEWS the agreement is critical to Afghanistan’s future stability. Without ongoing military assistance, training and funding, those officials say the government could collapse and Afghanistan would enter a civil war. If the agreement passes, the draft says Washington would commit to a long -term, indefinite military involvement in this land-locked Asian nation.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council did not comment on the draft version of the agreement, but said that "the President is still reviewing options from his national security team and has not made a decision about a possible U.S. presence after 2014.
The agreement circulating this week is unlikely to be the last. It first must pass through the Loya Jirga, then go onto parliament for final approval. “We’re looking at 60-days or more” before the US and Afghanistan sign any agreement, defense officials said. Here are highlights of the July draft of the bi-lateral agreement:American bases
While the document specifically says the United States would not seek “permanent bases” in Afghanistan, the US military would have “access to and use of the agreed facilities and areas.” Some of these areas would be for the “exclusive use” of US troops.“Afghanistan hereby authorizes United States forces to exercise all rights and authorities within the agreed facilities and areas that are necessary for their use, operation, defense, or control, including the right to undertake new construction works,” the document says.US troops would be allowed to carry weapons, wear uniforms and guard the perimeter of those areas. The agreement does not say how many “exclusive use” sites there would be in Afghanistan. The United States also would also be permitted to keep vehicles and aircraft in Afghanistan, take off and land from Afghan soil, and fly though Afghan airspace. The facilities would be provided the US government “rent free,” but significant costs would mount in other ways. U.S. payments
The draft agreement says the Afghan government should “eventually” pay for all of its defense and security personal. But until then, “so long as the strategic partnership agreement so provides, the United States shall have an obligation to seek funds on a yearly basis to support the training, equipping, advising and sustaining of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), so that Afghanistan can independently secure and defend itself against internal and external threats, and help ensure that terrorists never again encroach on Afghan soil and threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world.” The specific amount of payment is not stated. The money would be “managed by relevant Afghan institutions.
The document shows a long and hard series of negotiations, particularly on the issue of legal jurisdiction. The draft initially insisted that U.S. military personnel be subject to Afghan laws and, if accused of a crime, be tried in Afghan courts. This section in the July draft is crossed out. Afghan officials tell NBC NEWS the jurisdiction dispute appears to have been overcome, with U.S. troops only being subject to American laws.
The document suggests Afghan negotiators want a long-term U.S. presence, with U.S. forces and contractors providing intelligence, training and funding, but also to keep American forces as confined as possible. It shows Afghans want to keep their U.S. partners, but on their terms. It also suggests the United States is not confident that without a long-term commitment, the Afghan government can bring stability or effectively fight terrorism.
NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube contributed to this report
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Review by KCMetropolis:
American treasures with Audra McDonald
By Anthony Rodgers
Tue, Nov 19, 2013
Tony and Grammy award-winning performer Audra McDonald graced the stage at Helzberg Hall this weekend, performing lesser-known songs from American musical theatre with the Kansas City Symphony.
I must confess that Audra McDonald is a musical idol of mine, and seeing her perform live was more extraordinary than I expected it to be. Her soprano voice has a gorgeous timbre and is malleable in settings ranging from intimate performances to the stages of opera and Broadway. Last Saturday, the Kansas City Symphony and Kansas City Young Audiences brought the Tony and Grammy award-winning artist to the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts and transformed Helzberg Hall into a shrine to the American song.The orchestra played as she walked onto the stage to a flood of eager applause, but with her first notes, she captivated the audience to silence. Opening with “When Did I Fall In Love” from Fiorello!, McDonald was enchanting and proceeded to present an array of American songs, many of which come from the realm of musical theatre. These selections were not, however, those of mainstream popularity, but were instead chosen by McDonald to highlight works and shows that are of interest to her and deserving of greater attention, including “I Double Dare You” and “My Buddy.” This mission to present hidden gems of the song world didn't stop her from singing more well-known songs like “Moments in the Woods” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” She also performed songs from more recent productions, such as “Stars and the Moon” from Songs For A New World and “Go Back Home” from The Scottsboro Boys.
Her programming had a roller-coaster effect on the emotions. Two sweet, poetic lullabies—“Whose Little Angry Man” from Raisin, the musical adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, and “Baby Mine” from Disney's Dumbo—were paired and followed by awkward and hilarious selections from Gabriel Kahane's Craigslistlieder, a collection of songs whose lyrics come from the advertisement website itself. McDonald also sang heartbreaking messages of love and the importance of making someone happy—“I'll Be Here” from Ordinary Days was so intense and beautiful that I became paralyzed listening.In addition to being a talented soprano, McDonald is a wonderful actress and demonstrated this skill through her characterization within each song. While she often gave personal anecdotes between numbers—many laughs were shared by all!—she became another person when singing, telling each story compellingly.
McDonald was accompanied by two groups of musicians. Joining her on tour was a trio consisting of Brian Hertz, piano, Gene Lewin, drums, and Mark Vanderpoel, bass. These three not only played well with one another in a combo setting, but also added tender and unexpected vocals to “Moonshine Lullaby.” The Kansas City Symphony supported McDonald by providing a lush score to the musical numbers. Sunho Kim, the evening's concertmaster, played the solo violin part of “He Plays The Violin” from 1776 seemingly with great ease, although sometimes her sound was lost in the volume of the orchestra. The hazy timbre achieved by the ensemble, however, during “Moon River” was hypnotizing, and an encore performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was icing on the musical cake.
While she has earned Tonys and Grammys, Audra McDonald also has the talent, humor, and heart to support her accomplishments. Performing a set of nontraditional American songs allowed her to demonstrate her brilliant voice and versatility as a performer in addition to inspiring listeners to expand their knowledge of these hidden gems and seek to make someone else happy.
REVIEW: Kansas City Symphony with Kansas City Young Audiences
Audra McDonald with the Kansas City Symphony
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, MO
For more information, call (816) 471-0400 or visit
Top Photo: Audra McDonald (Photo by Andrew Eccles)
Bottom Photo: Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center For the Performing Arts (Photo by William Rosen)
Monday, November 11, 2013
Employment Nondiscrimination – Passage - Vote Passed (64-32, 4 Not Voting)
Senators passed a bill prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity on Thursday after a week of negotiations and close procedural votes. The bill would bar employers from firing, refusing to promote or refusing to hire workers because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Similar bills have been introduced over recent years, and one passed the House in 2007 before dying in the Senate. This current piece of legislation extends equal employment protection to transgendered individuals for the first time. The bill exempts employers not subject to existing workplace discrimination laws concerning employees’ religions, primarily churches and religious schools. Before the final vote, ten Republicans joined the Democratic caucus in securing the three-fifths vote majority required to invoke cloture. The House is unlikely to vote on the bill.
Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES
Of course. And it won't pass the House because John Boener won't even bring it up for a vote. What an asshole.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Dear William --
I just got off the stage at our victory rally here in Newark, and before I go celebrate with family, friends, staff, volunteers, and other supporters who made this incredible night possible, I wanted to send you a quick note.
Thank you for your support. Thank you for not surrendering to cynicism about politics. Thank you for believing that better things are possible -- and thank you for believing that we can make them real if we work together.
I also want to take a moment to remember a great New Jerseyan and a great American. Earlier this year, Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away. He served his country during war -- the last veteran of World War II to serve in the Senate. He was an entrepreneur who built an international company from scratch. His tireless work in the Senate positively impacted the lives of millions of Americans.
Tonight's victory means that I will have the privilege to finish out Senator Lautenberg's term. It also means we'll have another election next year for a full six-year term.
So let's celebrate tonight's achievement. We earned this together. And as we celebrate, let us recommit ourselves to continuing our work and bringing even more people together to serve our nation. Even with our great history, I believe our best days are ahead of us.
Thank you for being on this journey with me,
I have come to the really difficult decision that I need to give my beloved dog Sidney to a new home. After a ton of consideration and anguish I feel that this is the best thing I can do for him. He is a two (maybe three) year old mutt. When I got him from Pet Connection in Shawnee, they weren't even sure what his breed was so it's hard to say what exactly his breed is. The best I've come up with is a doberman/beagle mix. The shelters that I have contacted say 98% of them are not good environments and mostly are full. That's why I am trying to contact people I know rather than just dropping him off at a shelter where I won't know where he goes. He is a sweet dog and craves attention and the problem is that I can only give him so much attention. What ideally would happen is that I would find a willing person to take him...one who would have a yard that he could run and play in. He gets along with everyone, and most dogs as well. If you know of anyone that could possibly give him a loving home, please contact me here or email. My email is email@example.com and my twitter handle is @ohthebill. Here are two pictures of Sidney give you a better idea of what he looks like. If you don't have any interest, please forward this email to someone who I might not have contact with, it might make all the difference in the world.
Thanks so much,
Monday, October 14, 2013
Please join me tonight from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. for a musical evening at The Phoenix (302 W. 8th Street) with Millie Edwards, one of the Wild Women of KC, singing her heart out in support of Literacy Kansas City's program, GEARS (Guided Educational Access for Reading Skills).
More details on the event and how to support this effort are below. Hope to see you there!
Literacy Kansas City
Thursday, October 10, 2013
It's free, and also takes out a lot of frustration, at least personally, that I have with the current system. So if you are not registered, please click the link above and register..it's the single most effective thing that any citizen of this country can do. It's free, and it's also your responsibility. Tangent over. Well not all the way over. If you are interested to see what the deadlines for different states are to be registered to vote, you'll find them here.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Saturday, September 27, 2013
300 W 12th St., Kansas City, MO
By Robert Pherigo
Robert Pherigo is a composer, pianist, tenor and an occasional conductor. He is a member of newEar contemporary music ensemble, he sang with the Kansas City Chorale for 10 years and he is the pianist for Unity Temple on the Plaza. He has performed with the Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He has performed Liszt in Paris and has music published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing and by Kansas City Music Publishing. Other activities that he enjoys are reading, Haruki Murakami being one of his favorite authors; movies, bicycling, travel, and meditating. Born and raised in Kansas City, Robert went to college at ASU (piano performance with Robert Hamilton), lived one year in Florida, and spent 9 years freelancing in Chicago before returning to Kansas City. You can read his blog at http://52composers.blogspot.com. He is excited to be adding his voice to KCMetropolis, and hopes that his reviews inform, educate, entertain and challenge the reader.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Here are some of the videos I took of Carole singing at the soiree this past week:
So this playlist I created when my friend Carole had this barbecue last year and the title of the event was "Jazz In The Afternoon". It was really fun, Carole sang and a trio of players played a bunch of songs for the people that were invited. She's having another one this Saturday and I'm excited to go with my friend Beacher who is a great friend from the chorus.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Did you know
Roughly 1/3 of internet searches are for porn.
The first-ever webcam was used to watch a pot of coffee.
35.6% of internet users are Asian.
One in 6 marriages today occur because the couple met online.
The first message on the internet was “LOG” (which was actually supposed to have been “LOGIN” but there was a huge crash and this difficult task couldn’t be completed for the time being).
Over 75-80% of all emails are considered total spam.
Around 18 country still don’t have internet connection.
There is an anonymous and hidden section of the internet known as the “deep web” where there exists a massive black market for drugs, prostitution, and even hitmen.
Each day, about 20 million people tweet.
There’s an estimated 637 million websites, of which there are over 250 million blogs.
The average internet use blinks an average of 7 times a minute. That’s less than half the normal rate of 20.
The first banner ad was used in 1994.
There are approximately 18 billions devices connected to the internet.
An estimated 65% of Americans watch TV and use the Internet simultaneously.
80% of all Americans are online.
The iPhone 4 is about 2000 times faster than the Super Nintendo.
In Africa, only about 3% of people surf the internet.
In North American, about 70% of people surf the internet.
The “www” part of a web site is optional and is not required by any web policy or standard.
The first ever ISP was CompuServe which still exists under AOL, Timer Warner.
Anthony Greco, age 18, became the first person arrested for spam (unsolicited instant messages) on February 21, 2005.
It’s estimated that 80% of all images on the internet are of naked women.
Despite the prevalence of porn-related searches, it’s expected that the porn world only constitutes about 1.1% of the internet at large.
Gmail first launched on April 1st, 2004. It was widely assumed the service was an April Fools Day joke.
The Internet weighs the same as a strawberry: The weight of all the electrons in motion that make up the internet at any one moment is equivalent to 50 grams.
While a Westboro spokeswoman was boasting about how the church foiled Anonymous on a radio talk show, an Anonymous spokesman called in and hacked the church’s website in real time on the air.
On an average day, a typists fingers travel 12.6 miles.
Alaska is the only state that can be typed in one row of a “QWERTY” keyboard.
On eBay, there are an average of $680 of transactions each second.
Facebook pays at least $500 if you can find a way to hack the site.
You could have been doing something productive while reading through these 30 facts.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
"Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria
"Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria" http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/21/statement-principal-deputy-press-secretary-josh-earnest-allegations-chem
The United States is deeply concerned by reports that hundreds of Syrian civilians have been killed in an attack by Syrian government forces, including by the use of chemical weapons, near Damascus earlier today. We are working urgently to gather additional information. The United States strongly condemns any and all use of chemical weapons. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable.
Today, we are formally requesting that the United Nations urgently investigate this new allegation. The UN investigative team, which is currently in Syria, is prepared to do so, and that is consistent with its purpose and mandate. For the UN’s efforts to be credible, they must have immediate access to witnesses and affected individuals, and have the ability to examine and collect physical evidence without any interference or manipulation from the Syrian government. If the Syrian government has nothing to hide and is truly committed to an impartial and credible investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria, it will facilitate the UN team’s immediate and unfettered access to this site. We have also called for urgent consultations in the UN Security Council to discuss these allegations and to call for the Syrian government to provide immediate access to the UN investigative team.
The United States urges all Syrian parties including the government and opposition, to provide immediate access to any and all sites of importance to the investigation and to ensure security for the UN investigative team.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Thank you for writing me about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA").
As you know, ENDA would prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Current federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability - but not sexual orientation or gender identity. Moreover, state-level protections are not universal. It is astounding that, in 29 states, it is perfectly legal to fire or refuse to hire someone simply because of his or her sexual orientation, and in 38 states it is legal to do so based on gender identity.
I am a proud cosponsor of ENDA, and I am pleased that the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted earlier this year to move ENDA out of that Committee with bipartisan support. The HELP Committee's bipartisan approval of ENDA is a landmark step toward making sure that no one is fired or discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. As Senator from Massachusetts, I am particularly proud of this milestone because Senator Edward M. Kennedy first introduced ENDA in 1994 and for years was a champion fighting for equal rights in the workplace.
I appreciate your thoughts on this important bill, and I hope you reach out again in the future if my office can be of assistance.