Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Never Ever



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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Perpetual War In Afghanistan

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

Audra McDonald Was Paralyzingly Brilliant

Review by KCMetropolis:

http://kcmetropolis.org/issue/november-20-2013/article/american-treasures-with-audra-mcdonald

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

http://www.kcsymphony.org

Top Photo: Audra McDonald (Photo by Andrew Eccles)  

Bottom Photo: Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center For the Performing Arts (Photo by William Rosen)

Random Picture Post

Monday, November 11, 2013

Vote on ENDA

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

Go Cory Go!

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,

Cory

Please Help Me Find A Good Reliable Home

Friends:

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 ohthebilldotcom@gmail.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,
Bill

Monday, October 14, 2013

Listen To Some Amazing Music and Change the World At the Same Time

Dear William,

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!

Sincerely,

Carrie Coogan
Executive Director
Literacy Kansas City

Get event details

Sponsor a GEARS student today!

I can't attend, but would like to make a contribution.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Love John Legend

Especially when he gets up in his higher register...there is just something about it. Love love love him.

If You're Fed Up

So I'm not going to go into a whole diatribe here about how horrible the government shutdown is or how sick of I am of the political posturing from the GOP (The party of death since they want to rip healthcare from people who don't have any...and as a result people will literally die.) No, I get sick of reading blogs telling people what they should and shouldn't do with their political angst. So I simply will give you, my dear readers, an opportunity to utilize your power as a citizen and register to vote and vote dammit.

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

All That Is Old Is New Again

Digging through some random stuff today I found my old "OhTheBill" logo. I still love it actually it sort of reminds me of the new york yankees logo.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Playing To Extremes

From KCMetropolis. I attended this concert Saturday night and while I disagree with some of the things Robert says, I have to say that one of the downfalls of the free show was the crowd in attendance was really really loud. Maybe I'm just used to quiet and respectful crowds at the Kauffman but this crowd was incredibly loud during the performance. I understand it's a free show for the masses blah blah but people need to shut the hell up during a show.

By Robert Pherigo   
Wed, Sep 25, 2013

Pianist Ji-Yong opens the Harriman-Jewel Series with virtuosity and some questionable interpretive choices but finishes strong in a program of Bach, Busoni, Schumann, Brahms, and Ravel.
Last Saturday night the Harriman-Jewell Series presented Korean pianist Ji-Yong, age 22, at the Folly Theater as part of their Discovery Concert series, which is free to the public. This was Ji-Yong’s second appearance at the Discovery Concerts, his first being in 2004 at the age of 13. It was an evening of extremes. He began the program with Busoni’s transcription of Bach’s organ work Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C Major, BWV 564. His fingers flew over the keyboard at an extremely fast pace at the beginning of the Toccata with a clarity and shape that was exciting and boded well for the rest of the program. After the more improvisatory beginning, which consists of a single line of music, non-harmonized, originally played on the organ pedals, the music becomes more structured, with a rising melody taken through different harmonic modulations and registers of the piano.
Ji-Yong chose to use more rubato than is usually heard but since this is Bach through the prism of late Romanticism it could be justified. What was questionable was his extremely loud playing. Perhaps he was trying to suggest the power of the pipe organ but it was harsh and in no way had the depth and power that great fortissimo playing can have. What should have been full ringing chords became metallic hammer blows. I suspect that when he learns to use gravity and less muscle his fortissimos will acquire a fullness of sound without harshness. The Adagio was beautifully played though the last chord was surely held out longer than Bach or Busoni would have wanted. The Fugue also was very well played, though the initial statement was rather fussy. Ji-Yong made the decision to end each of the three one measure phrases that begin the fugue with a diminuendo and staccato note, whereas Busoni specifically writes a tenuto line over the last note of each of those phases. It’s a small thing but sometimes it’s better just let the music speak without too much messing about. Other than that and the loud volume the playing was brilliant and enjoyable overall.
Next came two Brahms Intermezzos, Op. 118, Nos. 1 and 2, followed by Schumann’s Kinderszenen(Scenes from Childhood), Op.15.  The first Brahms was passionately played though it was questionable to change the dynamic from forte to piano during the second section repeat. The second intermezzo is one of Brahms most beautiful creations but Ji-Jong’s phrasing was jerky at times and his volume extremely soft. There are sections marked pianissimo but when they came there wasn’t a sufficient difference in dynamic to really make those sections as magical as they can be. The Schumann started out wonderfully with the pianist playing the first of these 13 scenes simply and beautifully. From there on it was a mixed bag; the phrasing at times was too extreme, with a melodic line rising suddenly, abruptly in volume, and then just as suddenly falling off. At other times the melodies were too subdued, as in the most famous of these scenes, “Träumerei;” played extremely softly and without much dynamic shape. Ji-Yong was fully involved in his music making but I kept wishing for less fussiness, and more volume! He more or less avoided the middle volumes which was fatiguing as a listener. He would also sometimes linger over final notes or chords and at one point put a rest in the middle of a scene “FĂĽrchtenmachen” that is not indicated in the music!
After the first half I was wondering how he would approach the Bach Partita (No. 1 in B-flat Major, BWV 825) that opened the second half. Here, the music making was much more satisfying. It was clear, direct, and beautifully phrased. The concluding Gigue, though taken at a clip that obscured the accompanying triplet figures, was impressive; controlled and shaped in a way that elicited a murmur of satisfaction from the packed theater before the applause started.Ravel’s La Valse concluded the program. It is a transcription that Ravel himself did of his orchestral piece by the same name. It’s music that is extreme; a kind of hallucinogenic fever dream of waltzing, and Ji-Yong’s extreme way with phrasing and dynamics served him well. This reading was an exciting and virtuosic performance that brought the crowd to its feet, deservedly so. He rewarded their enthusiasm with an encore; my best guess (it was unannounced) is that it was a Liszt reworking of a Schumann (maybe Schubert?) song. It was well played and sent the audience away satisfied.
The free Discovery Concerts are a real treasure for the Kansas City public. It was heartening to see so many young people there paying real attention to what was happening on stage. 
REVIEW:Harriman-Jewell Series
Ji-Yong, pianist
Saturday, September 27, 2013
Folly Theater
300 W 12th St., Kansas City, MO
Top Photo: Ji-Yong
By Robert Pherigo
Classical Contributor
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

Jazz In The Afternoon 2013

UPDATED:

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

The Internet Is For Porn

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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BREAKING: Judge Issues Findings in Reggie Clemons Case

He finds that prosecutors suppressed evidence (a “Brady violation”) and writes that he believes the statement Reggie Clemons gave to police was coerced. He also writes that he does not believe that Clemons has established a “gateway claim of actual innocence.” It is a complex case, and serious allegations of misconduct by prosecutors and police appear to have been affirmed.
It is now up to the Missouri Supreme Court to determine the course of justice and rule on Judge Manners’ findings. That could take months. Given the deeply flawed nature of his trial, Amnesty International hopes that the state’s highest court will move to eliminate any possibility that Reggie Clemons might be executed.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Elizabeth Warren Responds To My Letter

Dear William,

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.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Warren

Friday, August 2, 2013

State Department Says Al Qaeda Will Attack On Sunday

State Department issues travel alert for Americans abroad

August 02, 2013by CBNews.com

The State Department issued a worldwide alert to U.S. citizens traveling abroad on Friday, warning that al Qaeda and its affiliates are planning terrorist attacks that may materialize before the end of August, and suggesting that North Africa and the Middle East are the focus of the threat.

The alert, which expires August 31, 2013, urges Americans traveling in that region to be aware of their surroundings: "U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime service."State Dept: Some embassies to close Sunday due to "security considerations"The alert comes amid a heightened security concerns for embassies across the region after the State Department announced Thursday that any embassy normally open on Sunday would be closed for the day, with the possibility of a longer closure. The announcement was linked to al al Qaeda plot against U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, where Sunday is the beginning of the work week, CBS News correspondent David Martin reported.

Officials say it appears to be a real plot in the making, not just the normal aspirational chatter among terrorists. The same officials say they are still missing key pieces of information.

As of Friday morning, at least 21 facilities in 18 countries announced that they will close on Sunday pursuant to the State Department's guidance, including the U.S. embassies in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Mauritania, Sudan and Djibouti.

On Thursday, Marie Harf, the deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, told reporters the embassies were told to close as a "precautionary" measure taken "out of an abundance of caution."Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said that the administration took a "responsible step" in closing diplomatic facilities on Sunday.

"They obviously see a somewhat imminent threat to western targets," he explained.

When asked if the decision to close the embassies has anything to do with the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that ends next week, McCaul replied, "That's always a concern, yeah."Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the threat was not based on "the regular chit-chat.""When you have a threat and you think it's serious, you have to put it out," he said. "You get chit chat all the time, but this got to another level."

Sources: Al Qaeda plot tied to embassy closings on Sunday Secretary of State John Kerry hints drone strikes could end in Pakistan The security of American embassies and other diplomatic facilities became a political controversy in the wake of the September 2012 attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four Americans, including then-ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. In the wake of that attack, Republicans accused the State Department of providing insufficient security for diplomatic personnel in Libya.

Ruppersberger suggested on Friday that the current heightened security posture in the Middle East and North Africa is a result of the lessons learned from the attack in Benghazi."We have systems in place as a result of Benghazi," he said. "There is a lot of research and work being done in making sure we have systems in place to protect Americans in our embassies."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jerry Springer Out, Who Is In?

Update: Apparently Dustin Lance Black will not be appearing in Saturday according to an email Nick Padgett sent to me today which is copied below:

Hello,

Sorry, I just saw this in my spam box, and as I have been working around the clock on this benefit, my email overfloweth this week.

To answer your questions...here is the statement that was released last week in regards to this...

Upon our learning that there was concern with Jerry Springer's involvement in this play, we immediately took action earlier this week, and he will not be involved in this benefit performance in any way. It would never be the intent of myself or anyone involved to hurt, harm or offend anyone with anything we do...we felt it best to see that this event is presented peacefully in the intent and spirit in which it was conceived...in order to do that, we must make sure everyone in the community is comfortable, and therefore chose to re-cast the role which he was to play. This event was created to bring our community together and show positive support for Marriage Equality, as we make an impact through the power of the Arts with this historic event, and we hope that with these changes, the benefit can return to how it was intended to be presented, which is to show positive support for Equality right here in the Heart of America.

 Also, to further answer your question, this play is written by Dustin Lance Black, he will not be appearing in it.

 We hope that you will still join us for what promises to be a powerful evening, although it will be a very small audience, the room shall be full of heart. We hope that you will spread the positive word of this benefit, as we certainly do need attendance to make this benefit, well, a benefit for these great organizations, as of now, it doesn't look like it will even make up what it cost to put up this large scale event. Those who were part of the protest against Mr. Springer demanded a local rather than a celebrity, so we have been recasting with local talent, since this benefit was designed FOR the local community, we listened, in order to truly make this a collaborative community effort. I just wish we would see more support now from the LGBT community for this, as it took a lot of work to get a benefit of this scale to KC and by not having the support there, it will prevent even the consideration of future events in any similarity of scale.

 A much longer answer than you were probably hoping for, but we do hope you will join us and spread the love.

 Thank you for your time.

-Nick

 

 

Nick Padgett 

Producing Artistic Director, PADGETT PRODUCTIONS

"Bringing the Stars closer to YOU!"

Performer/Director/Choreographer 

Cell - 816-835-2281 

Email - actnmannick@aol.com 

Fax - 816-470-2129


Charles Ferruza of the Pitch wrote about this and subsequently updated the article with the news that Springer was removed after the threat of the boycott.

From the Kansas Equality Coalition:

Greetings KEC members -The KEC-led boycott of the Kansas City production of "8," which originally was to star Jerry Springer, has been called off. Responding to intense public pressure brought about by KEC's public call to action, the play's local producers have fired Springer and replaced him with Dustin Lance Black.

Congratulations to Kansas City Metro chapter chair Sandra Meade for leading this successful action!

The Kansas City Metro Chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition is calling for a boycott of The American Foundation for Equal Rights & Broadway Impact's "8" by Dustin Lance Black, being held at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre in Kansas City, MO, on August 3rd.A press release from Padgett Productions of Kansas City has the headline “JERRY SPRINGER TO HEADLINE STARRY MARRIAGE EQUALITY BENEFIT AT THE KAUFFMAN CENTER”, and goes on further to say that the event will “feature an All-Star Celebrity Cast led by Television powerhouse Jerry Springer.”Jerry Springer is known by many in the LGBT advocacy community, especially the “T” advocacy community, as someone who has relentlessly profited from sensationalizing the suffering of thousands of participants on his television show, a great many of them being members of the transgender community. In the 20+ years of his show, Jerry Springer has had hundreds of shows which have perpetuated and reinforced the negative stereotype of transgender people as being deceitful and worthy of the constant stream of insults hurled at them by the audience, such as freak, she-male, tranny, and “it”. It is my personal opinion that Jerry Springer has done more harm to the transgender community than any other public figure, and those of us who are active in advocacy must constantly fight the stereotypes that he has spent years building up in order to overcome the negative public bias that hinder our access to legal equality.

In a subsequent email from the Producer of the show, Nick Padgett of Padgett Productions in Kansas City, he tried to minimize the importance of Jerry Springer’s involvement, and despite being used to hook people into buying tickets as the “headliner”, he may actually be reading a role during the stage reading portion of the show. It doesn’t matter what role Jerry Springer has. The fact that he is being used to make money in advertising for this effort, or playing any part in the show at all, while ignoring and trampling on the suffering he has caused to the transgender community for over 20 years is disgusting and cannot be tolerated.

Kansas Equality Coalition is a huge supporter of marriage equality initiatives. We initiated and coordinated the large DOMA/Prop 8 Decision Day event in Kansas City one month ago. But an entertainment company can’t make bad decisions in casting a person who has 20+ years of history harming part of the LGBT community, and expect everyone to say it is ok just because you are calling it a marriage equality benefit. This is unacceptable, and Kansas Equality Coalition is calling for a boycott of this event until Jerry Springer is removed from the event entirely, including all advertising and any role with the production itself.Please contact the following and let them know you are disappointed and will boycott this event until Jerry Springer is removed from any and all involvement with the event

Producer: Padgett Productions, Kansas City

actnmannick@aol.com

Kaufmann Center (Miriam Kauffman Theatre): contact@kauffmancenter.org

Social Bar, KC (partial sponsor of the event):http://socialbarkc.com/contact/

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My YouTube Favorites - Weekend Music Edition

Rufus Wainwright, Art Teacher, Venice (Teatro Verde)



I Think It's Going To Rain Today - Babs




Valentine's Day - David Bowie



Carefully Taught/Children Will Listen - Heartland Mens Chorus




Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 4: Fly to Paradise




My Funny Valentine - Bukeka Shoals at the Blue Room



I Can't Stand the Rain - In Performance at The White House |

America's Real Subversives: FBI Spying Then, NSA Surveillance Now

ReturnPublished on Friday, July 26, 2013 by Common Dreams

America's Real Subversives: FBI Spying Then, NSA Surveillance Now

As the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington nears, let's not forget the history of agency overreach and abuse of power

by Amy Goodman

As the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington approaches, commemorating that historic gathering where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous "I have a dream" speech, it is important to recall the extent to which King was targeted by the government's domestic spying apparatus.

TheFBI operation against King is one of the most shameful episodes in the long history of our government's persecution of dissenters.Fifty years later, Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum to remain in Russia, took enormous personal risk to expose the global reach of surveillance programs overseen by President Barack Obama. His revelations continue to provoke worldwide condemnation of the US.

In a heavily redacted, classified FBI memo dated 4 January 1956 – just a little more than a month after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger – the Mobile, Alabama, FBI office stated that an agent "had been assigned by [redacted] to find out all he could about Reverend Martin L King, colored minister in Montgomery and leader in the bus boycott … to uncover all the derogatory information he could about King."The FBI at that time was run by its founding director, J Edgar Hoover, who was deploying the vast resources he controlled against any and all perceived critics of the United States.

The far-reaching clandestine surveillance, infiltration and disruption operation Hoover ran was dubbed "COINTELPRO", for counterintelligence program.The FBI's COINTELPRO activities, along with illegal operations by agencies like the CIA, were thoroughly investigated in 1975 by the Church Committee, chaired by the Democratic US senator from Idaho, Frank Church. The Church committee reported that the FBI "conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of first amendment rights of speech and association." Among COINTELPRO's perverse activities was an FBI effort to threaten Martin Luther King Jr with exposure of an alleged extramarital affair, including the suggestion, made by the FBI to King, that he avoid embarrassment by killing himself.

Following the Church committee, Congress imposed serious limitations on the FBI and other agencies, restricting domestic spying. Among the changes was the passage into law of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa). Fisa compelled the FBI and others in the government to go to a secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in order to engage in domestic wiretapping.Then came 11 September 2001, and the swift passage of the Patriot Act, granting broad, new powers of surveillance to intelligence agencies, including the FBI. Section 215 of that act is widely criticized, first for allowing the FBI to obtain records of what books people are signing out of the library. But now, more than 10 years later, and thanks to the revelations that have come from the Snowden leaks, we see that the government has used this law to perform dragnet surveillance on all electronic communications, including telephone "metadata", which can be analyzed to reveal intimate details of our lives, legalizing a truly Orwellian system of total surveillance.

In what is considered to be a litmus test of the potential to roll back the Obama administration's domestic spy programs, a bipartisan coalition of libertarian Republicans and progressive Democrats put forth an amendment to the latest defense authorization bill. Justin Amash, a Republican, and John Conyers, a Democrat, both of Michigan, co-sponsored the amendment, which would deny funding to the NSA to collect phone and data records of people who are not subjects of an investigation.The White House took seriously the potential that its power to spy might get trimmed by Congress. On the eve of the debate on the Amash/Conyers amendment, House members were lobbied by NSA Director General Keith B Alexander, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, as well as by hawkish members of the congressional intelligence committees.The amendment was narrowly defeated. A full bill that would similarly shut down the NSA program is currently in committee.Thanks to Edward Snowden, and the journalists who are writing stories based on his whistleblowing, we now know that the Obama administration is collecting oceans of our data. Martin Luther King Jr was a dissident, an organizer, a critic of US wars abroad and of poverty and racism at home. He was spied on, and his work was disrupted by the federal government.

The golden anniversary of the March on Washington is 28 August. Deeply concerned about the crackdown on dissent happening under Obama, scholar Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, wondered if "Brother Martin [King] would not be invited to the very march in his name.

"Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column© 2013 Amy Goodman; Distributed by King Features

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 1,100 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

printed from www.CommonDreams.org

Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/26

Saturday, July 20, 2013

RIP Helen Thomas

Obama Is Hailed For Telling The Truth About Trayvon Martin

"Remarks by the President on Trayvon Martin" http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/07/19/remarks-president-trayvon-martin

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:33 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session.  The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there’s going to obviously be a whole range of issues -- immigration, economics, et cetera -- we'll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week -- the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling.  I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday.  But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.  I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case -- I'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.  The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner.  The prosecution and the defense made their arguments.  The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.  And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works.  But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.  And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.  There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator.  There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.  That happens often.

And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.  And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.  The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws -- everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.  And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn't to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.  It’s not to make excuses for that fact -- although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.  They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.  And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.  So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys.  But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this?  How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?  I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent.  If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.  But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do. I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here.  Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code.  And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation we can’t do some things that I think would be productive.  So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists. When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things.  One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped.  But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing. And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law.  And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive.  And I think a lot of them would be.  And let's figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations. I know that there's been commentary about the fact that the "stand your ground" laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.  On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see? And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?  And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three -- and this is a long-term project -- we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys.  And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about.  There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I'm not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program.  I'm not sure that that’s what we're talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I've got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front.  And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they're a full part of this society and that they've got pathways and avenues to succeed -- I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.  And we're going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that. And then, finally, I think it's going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching.  There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race.  I haven't seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations.  They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.  On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there's the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?  Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character?  That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.  Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.  It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society.  It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.  But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are -- they’re better than we were -- on these issues.  And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues.  And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.  But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union -- not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.Thank you, guys.

END1:52 P.M. EDT 

Photo: Getty Images

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Forgive them, for they know not what they do

Forgiveness is the only way. Forgive the jurors of the Trayvon Martin case for not convicting the person responsible and the tragedy that ensued.

Giuseppe Verdi - Macbeth, Act IV: Patria oppressa!, 'Chorus of Scottish Exiles' lyrics
Oppressed land of ours!
You cannot have
the sweet name of mother
now that you have become a
tomb for your sons.
From orphans, from those who mourn,
some for husbands, some for children,
at each new dawn a cry goes up to outrage heaven.
To that cry heaven replies
as if moved to pity,
oppressed land, it would
proclaim your grief forever.
The bell tolls constantly for death
but no-one is so bold
as to shed a vain tear
for the suffering and dying.

Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Farewell Joe

I have mixed feelings about this. Feelings that I won't necessarily publish on this blog, but nonetheless are there. I do wish HMC the best and I believe that I will sing Joe's last show with HMC "Baby It's Cold Outside". Here's the text of the press announcement from HMC's site:

Heartland Men’s Chorus congratulates Dr. Joe Nadeau on his appointment as Artistic Director of the Gay Mens Chorus of Los Angeles. He will begin his new post in August and will lead HMC’s artistic efforts through the December 2013 concert.
A national search for the next Artistic Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus will commence in early fall, with the goal to announce the new appointment in early 2014. HMC maintains a consistently strong position administratively and financially, with a deep and broad base of community support.  The organization is well positioned to attract top artistic talent to lead the organization to the next level of excellence and success.
Joe joined the HMC staff in 1998. During his 15-year tenure, the Chorus has grown dramatically in terms of members/ singers, audience, and local and national recognition. More than 140 men now perform in a concert cycle to consistently sold-out houses.  A three-concert, four performance season has increased to a seven performance season, drawing the largest audiences for choral programming in our region.
Under Joe’s leadership, the Chorus earned a reputation for cutting-edge, relevant programming. This includes the development and pioneering of the unique musical documentary format, which has now been adopted by choruses all over North America. The musical documentary combines visuals, narration and other production elements, with excellent choral performance to illuminate timely societal issues.  Presentation topics have included: gays in the U.S. military; treatment of LGBT members in faith communities; gays in Hollywood and as portrayed in film; songs of the civil rights movements sung by women, people of color, and the LGBT community; and stories of the coming out process. Through these moving concerts that entertain and educate, Joe has enabled the Chorus to achieve its vision: Our Voices Enlighten, Inspire, Heal and Empower.
Joe’s artistic vision will continue in HMC’s upcoming 28th season as the Chorus carries out the concerts he has planned. His final concert with Heartland Men’s Chorus will be Baby, It’s Cold Outside on December 6-8, 2013. Guest conductors will be invited to lead the Chorus for the 2014 March and June concerts. The March 2014 concert, a Kansas City premier of Andrew Lippa’s new work, I Am Harvey Milk, showcases the Chorus’s artistic national impact: Joe helped position HMC to be one of seven co-commissioning choruses for the work. He also conceived the final concert of the upcoming season, Vegas, Baby, scheduled for June 13-15, 2014. Among the most ambitious productions the Chorus has undertaken to date, it will mark the first time HMC has presented three performances of its summer concert. All season concerts will take place at the historic Folly Theater, HMC’s performing home since 1994.
The HMC Family extends its thanks to Joe, and extends congratulations and all best wishes.
picture credit: HMC Farewell page

Fly To Paradise

Here is the final cut of the Virtual Choir that I participated in. So awesome! Here's an excerpt from the email that was sent from Eric Whitacre: 

The numbers this time are astonishing: 8,041 video submissions, more than doubling the numbers for Virtual Choir 3. 101 countries represented including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Cuba and seven nations from the African continent. We have truly become a global choir.