African American folk singer Rhiannon Giddens, new album


This music video from the USA says about itself:

Americana Music Festival 2015 | Rhiannon Giddens “Waterboy”

Rhiannon Giddens performs at the 2015 Americana Music Festival in Nashville.

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

On the Freedom Highway with Rhiannon Giddens

15 April 2017

There are few singers today as powerful as Rhiannon Giddens, and fewer still with so commanding a stage presence. Born February 21, 1977 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Giddens first made a name for herself as a member of the folk revival group Carolina Chocolate Drops. In addition to her singing, Giddens is an accomplished violinist and banjoist.

Giddens’ 2015 solo album Tomorrow is My Turn was among the best of that year and featured a striking version of the traditional folk song “Waterboy,” often associated with the late folksinger Odetta (1930-2008). Her latest album, Freedom Highway, will almost certainly be counted among the best of this year.

Giddens wrote nine of Freedom Highway’s 12 songs. In these, she reveals a deep feeling for her fellow human beings, as well as a seriousness about history. Moreover, there is nothing, not one note, on this album that feels self-involved or trivial. That, alone, is something remarkable given the current state of both popular and “indie” or “alternative” music.

Accompanying Giddens’ originals are strong versions of “The Angels Laid Him Away,” by blues singer Mississippi John Hurt, and two songs associated with the Civil Rights movement: “Freedom Highway” by the Staples Singers, and “Birmingham Sunday” by Richard Fariña. The latter concerns the 1963 bombing by the Ku Klux Klan of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama which left four little girls dead.

Perhaps the most haunting of the many haunting songs on Freedom Highway is “At the Purchaser’s Option.”

This music video is called At The Purchaser’s Option – Rhiannon Giddens at Augusta Vocal Week 2016.

It was inspired by Giddens’ discovery of an advertisement from the 1830s announcing the sale of a young female slave. The ad mentions, in passing, that the woman has a nine-month-old child who is also available “at the purchaser’s option.” Giddens’ puts herself in the woman’s shoes and sings movingly of her suffering: “Day by day I work the line/Every minute overtime/Fingers nimble, fingers quick/My fingers bleed to make you rich”.

Returning to modern day, “Better Get It Right The First Time,” sees Giddens turn her attention to police killings of innocent youth. She sings: “Young man was a good man/Did you stand your ground/Young man was a good man/Is that why they took you down/Young man was a good man/Or did you run that day/Young man was a good man/Baby, they shot you anyway”.

The instrumentation and arrangements employed by Giddens throughout seamlessly blend a wide variety of influences. On many songs, the grooves of R&B meld with the growling, muted trumpets of 1920s jazz, while old-time Appalachian banjos thump out their always-mournful melodies.

Giddens’ banjo playing has none of the biting twang commonly associated with the instrument today. It has a thick, full sound. She uses slides to great effect in her phrasing. It’s perfect for the flirtatious “Hey Bébé” which resides somewhere between jazz, folk and blues music.

This 2017 music video is called Rhiannon Giddens – Hey Bébé. It says about itself:

“This song was inspired by listening to a whole lot of early Creole music star Amédé Ardoin. I only had one verse when I went to record Freedom Highway with Dirk Powell down in Louisiana — he helped me finish the lyrics and here we are! The bass, drums, and stand-up bass were recorded all in one room … and Alphonso Horne added his genius trumpet to it all, as well as Desireé Champagne on rubboard. Dedicated to the Zydeco dance at O’Darby’s pub in Carencro, LA, and Leroy Thomas and his band.” — Rhiannon

The Hiram Lee article continues:

Freedom Highway and Tomorrow is My Turn before it are a step forward for Giddens. They are superior to her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, however interesting that effort was at times.

Folk music is easy to do wrong. A dull, pedagogical tone creeps into the work of many revivalists. The importance of certain songs is explained and then they are performed in such a way that one never feels this importance in the music itself. They become museum pieces. This is often combined with a silly sentimentality for the “simple lives” of “pure” folk. Period dress and exaggerated “folk” accents are adopted and exploited. It feels like acting, and bad acting at that.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops were by no means the worst offenders in this regard, but neither were they entirely immune to it. Giddens appears to have broken free of many of these limitations. She retains her folk roots while singing and performing in a way that feels very much alive and relevant, both traditional and modern.

Unlike many folk revivalists (and occasionally her bandmates) Giddens does not pretend to be less sophisticated than she is. And why should she?

Hundreds of neonazis in German military


This 2013 German ZDF TV video is called (translated): A task for [German ‘defence’ war minister] Von der Leyen. It says that neonazis in the German armed forces were not dismissed, but even promoted.

Now, in 2017, it looks like Minister Von der Leyen has not fulfilled that task.

From the (Conservative) Daily Telegraph in England:

Almost 300 German soldiers investigated over Nazi salutes and attacks on asylum seekers

By Justin Huggler, Berlin

10 April 2017

The German military is investigating almost 300 of its troops on suspicion of Nazi sympathies and far-Right extremism, it has emerged.

Those under investigation include serving soldiers who gave the Nazi salute and shouted “Heil Hitler”, “Sieg Heil” and “Heil our Führer”.

One soldier posted a picture of Adolf Hitler on WhatsApp with the caption: “Missing since 1945: Adolf please report! Germany needs you!” In another case, a soldier physically attacked a group of asylum-seekers after asking if they were Christian or Muslim.

A total of 275 military personnel are currently under investigation by MAD, the German military’s counter-intelligence service. The investigations emerged in a written answer to a parliamentary question from the opposition Left Party. In a 15-page response, the defence ministry noted its concern that many of the more serious cases had been dealt with too leniently by the military.

The MAD is investigating cases from the last six years, many of which have already been resolved by the military’s disciplinary authorities. Only 11 of those currently under investigation have been discharged. The soldier who posted the picture of Hitler was fined €800 but allowed to remain in the military. A soldier who gave a Hitler salute while serving in Latvia was also allowed to remain in uniform.

In another case, a soldier posted a picture of a machine-gun on social media with the caption: “The fastest German asylum procedure, rejects up to 1,400 requests per minute”. All charges against him were dropped, on the grounds there was no evidence of dereliction of duty.

Of the cases under investigation, 12 date back to 2011-2013, 20 are from 2014, 47 from 2015, and 143 from 2016. There have been a further 53 so far this year. There was no official explanation for the dramatic rise in recent years, but it may be linked to the influx of over a million asylum-seekers over the last two years.

“I expect the armed forces to take an uncompromising approach against far-Right extremists in their personnel,” Ulla Jelpke, a senior Left Party MP said. “Anyone who performs like the SA [Nazi party storm-troopers] must be thrown out, and must be prevented from getting access to arms.”

North Carolina Republican calls Lincoln ‘tyrant’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Was the Civil War About Slavery?

10 August 2015

What caused the Civil War? Did the North care about abolishing slavery? Did the South secede because of slavery? Or was it about something else entirely…perhaps states’ rights? Colonel Ty Seidule, Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, settles the debate.

Without Abrabam Lincoln‘s and his supporters’ opposition to the slaveowners of American southern states like North Carolina in the 1850s and 1860s, there would not be the Republican party in the USA today.

And without the 1960s ‘southern strategy’ of Republican presidential candidates Goldwater and Nixon, the present day apologists of these slaveowners would not be Republican politicians in states like North Carolina now.

By Ed Mazza in the USA:

04/12/2017 11:55 pm ET

GOP Lawmaker Compares ‘Tyrant’ Abraham Lincoln To Adolf Hitler

The North Carolina state representative also called the Civil War “unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

A Republican member of North Carolina’s House of Representatives on Wednesday compared President Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler and called the 16th president of the U.S. a “tyrant.”

Larry Pittman also blamed Lincoln for the U.S. Civil War, which he called “unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

The remarks appeared in the comments section of a Facebook post Pittman wrote last month. Pittman began arguing with commenters on a number of issues, including his support for a law to make the Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equalitynull and void” in North Carolina. …

The comments drew swift rebuke, first within Pittman’s Facebook page and then well beyond.

“When American ultra-conservatives have come to believe beloved Abraham Lincoln is equivalent to Hitler, their politics have jumped the shark and gone from eye-rolling to dangerous for our democratic republic,” North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin wrote on his on Facebook page.

Pittman has made national news before, for cracking birther jokes about President Barack Obama and calling Planned Parenthoodmurder for hire.”

His Lincoln comments came just one day after White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Hitler never used chemical weapons, a comment he later apologized for making.

Pittman has not yet addressed his own Hitler comments.

Republican NC state legislator: Abraham Lincoln was a ‘tyrant’ like Hitler for ending slavery: here.

Rosa Parks’ home in Berlin, saving it from destruction by Detroit’s mayor


This video from the USA is called The Rosa Parks Story.

The mayor of Detroit in the USA not only threatens a graffiti artist with fifteen years in prison for graffiti art.

There is also this.

By Mary Papenfuss from the USA:

04/10/2017 03:27 am ET

What Is Rosa Parks’ House Doing In Berlin?

Detroit planned to demolish the home, so now it’s in artist’s yard in Germany.

If you want to visit the home where civil rights legend Rosa Parks lived, you’ve got a trip ahead of you — all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. That’s because her home is in the backyard of an American artist living in Germany.

It seems like back-of-the-bus treatment for the black woman who had the guts in 1955 to refuse to give up her seat to a white man in Alabama and go to the back of the bus. Instead, she gave birth to the civil rights movement.

Why is her home in Berlin? Short answer? Detroit planned to destroy it.

When Parks’ niece Rhea McCauley found out, she purchased the home for $500 and cast around for ways to save it. She reached out to artist Ryan Mendoza, who happened to be in Detroit at the time. Though they both appealed to Detroit’s mayor to protect the building, they said he had no interest. So they dissembled the home, packed it in shipping containers, transported it to Germany, and put it back together in an expensive operation that took several months, reported Deutsche Welle.

“It is something that is precious,” McCauley told The Associated Press. “It is priceless, yet it is being mistreated. That’s what I saw and that’s how it felt. So when I met Ryan and he said, ‘Let’s bring it to Berlin and restore it,’ I said yes.”

Mendoza, who was born in New York, is stunned that Germany ended up with what he considers a treasure. “The Rosa Parks house should actually be a national monument and not a demolition project,” he told Deutsche Welle.

“The basic question, the fundamental question I ask myself: ‘Is the house worthless or is the house  priceless?’ For the American institutions so far the house has been deemed worthless,” he told Agence France-Presse. “It was put on a demolition list; that’s not a detail.”

Mendoza believes it’s apt that the house stands in a country that tore down a wall, and has left a nation planning to build a wall.

Hundreds of people turned out to see the official unveiling of the home in Berlin last week. The interior still needs some work, but Mendoza has installed a sound exhibit for the home including a telephone interview with Parks.

McCauley said she hopes one day the U.S. will “grow up” and ask for its treasure back.

Marine Le Pen defends French anti-Semitic crime


This video says about itself:

6 April 2016

On April 5, a court in Paris fined former National Front party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen €30,000 for calling the Nazi gas chambers a “detail” of World War II.

By Lydia O’Connor:

04/09/2017 08:03 pm ET

Marine Le Pen Denies France’s Role In Major Holocaust Raid

France should not be blamed, the far-right candidate said Sunday.

Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right presidential candidate, is denying France’s culpability in a roundup of Jews in Paris during World War II.

In an interview Sunday on French television channel La Chaîne Info, Le Pen disputed France’s role in rounding up more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track in 1942 ― a raid that sent many to their deaths at Nazi concentration camps.

“I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” the leader of the National Front party said.

“I think that generally speaking if there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France,” she added, suggesting that those who carried out the raids in Vichy France should bear the blame, not France as a whole.

Le Pen’s comments are in sharp contrast to apologies for the roundup issued by former President Jacques Chirac in 1995 and by current President François Hollande.

Their apologies have “taught our children that they have all the reasons to criticize [France], and to only see, perhaps, the darkest aspects of our history,” Le Pen continued.

Emmanuel Macron, her opponent

not ‘her opponent’; one of ten opponents

in the election, told France’s BFMTV after her comments, “Some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen.”

Her father, from who she is estranged and had ousted from the National Front party he once led, has been convicted twice for contesting crimes against humanity and stating that the gas chambers used to kill Jews were a mere “detail” of history.

The French affiliate of the World Jewish Congress blasted the younger Le Pen’s comments.

“These remarks are an insult to France, which honored itself in 1995 by recognizing its responsibility in the deportation of France’s Jews and facing its history without a selective memory,” the CRIF umbrella group of Jewish organizations said in a statement published by The Times of Israel.

Le Pen will face off against the other candidates in the first round of France’s elections on April 23. The two top candidates from that election will vie for the presidency in a final election on May 7.

See also here.

So now we see what all that big media punditry claiming Ms Le Pen was so very ‘different’ from her father, National Front founder Jean Marie Le Pen, was really worth. Jean Marie Le Pen openly advocated World War II nazi crimes, and said that the 1940-1944 French Vichy regime, collaborators with Hitler, were supposedly ‘not traitors’. The differences between Mr Le Pen and his daughter are mainly public relations packaging. Marine Le Pen has claimed that the only difference between her and her father was that she had more hair.

There is a clear parallel to what Marine Le Pen says now about the Vichy regime’s round-up for Jews for the Holocaust, and her colleague Björn Hocke of her German extreme right sister party AfD. Björn Hocke called the Holocaust monument in Berlin a ‘shame’, claiming that commemorations of World War II needed a 180 degrees U-turn.

British media anti-left Labour witchhunt


This video from Birmingham in England says about itself:

Stand Up To Racism | Jeremy Corbyn

12 October 2015

Jeremy Corbyn stands up against racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism.

Filmed and edited by Adam Yosef

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Pro-Corbyn Labour roots protest at Blairite brochure

Thursday 6th April 2017

GRASSROOTS Labour activists will rally outside the offices of the New Statesman today in protest at the magazine’s “bias” in running a 30-page attack on Jeremy Corbyn.

A series of editorials, articles and contributions in the liberal weekly’s edition last week urged opposition to the Labour leader, including a call for Mr Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell to quit the party.

One article headline reads: “The stench of decay and failure coming from the Labour Party is now overwhelming,” and betrays its prejudices when editor Jason Cowley admits: “From the beginning we were opposed to the Corbyn leadership.”

Elsewhere, the editor of

Rupert Murdoch owned

The Times is given a guest spot to state: “It will probably require a resounding general election defeat to make Labour come to its senses, root out Momentum and retake the territory that Tony Blair so successfully occupied.”

It looks like the ‘New’ Statesman has become an old ‘New’ Labour=old Tory statesman.

A Momentum Camden member, who did not wish to be named, told the Star: “Thousands of members voted for Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party — yet the media and the Establishment are trying to sabotage democracy.

The group will protest outside the magazine’s offices at 71-73 Carter Lane in central London from 5 to 6pm.

The one-eyed attacks on Mr Corbyn have continued in the broadcasting media. On Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn was asked by an ITV News presenter: “If you’re so concerned about what the Conservative government is doing, wouldn’t it be an idea to step aside?”

Mr Corbyn answered: “We have a strong opposition in Britain — if you bothered to report what we are doing; if you bothered to report what Jon Ashworth is doing on the health service; what Angela Rayner is doing and saying on schools; if you bothered to report what the Labour Party is actually saying.

“It’s your responsibility to make sure the opposition voice is heard as well as the government’s.

Mr Corbyn commented later: “The media must stop treating politics like a game and do its job of informing people about what the government is doing and what we’ll do differently.”

The Clash’s first album, forty years ago


This video shows the Clash playing live in Munich, Germany in 1977.

By Mark Perryman in Britain:

Celebrating the politics of punk

Tuesday 4th April 2017

Next Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of The Clash’s debut album. MARK PERRYMAN reports on a notable event to mark it

FOR most people, the birth of punk happened on or around 1976 with the November release that year of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK. Music and movement were catapulted into the “filth and fury” headlines via the band’s expletive-strewn Bill Grundy TV interview.

The Pistols and the rest were key to the detonation of a youthful mood of revolt alongside the not entirely dissimilar The Damned, Manchester’s Buzzcocks and the more trad-rock Stranglers. Giving the boy bands a run for their money, The Slits pushed perhaps hardest at punk’s musical boundaries, their Typical Girls track quite unlike what the others were recording.

But it was The Clash who more than anyone symbolised the punk and politics mix, showcased on their debut album The Clash, released 40 years ago on April 8, 1977.

Its 14 tracks, played at furious speed, were two-minute classics. Boredom with the US, hate, war, non-existent career opportunities and an angry demand for a riot of their own all featured. And there was an inspired cover version, backed by a pitch perfect reggae beat played slow, of Junior Murvin and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Police and Thieves, with the lyrics almost spoken rather than sung.

The album cover shows the youthful threesome of Strummer, Jones and Simonon in their artfully stencilled shirts and jackets that were to become their signature stage wear uniform completed by the obligatory skinny jeans, white socks and black DMs.

The print quality is purposely poor to add a degree of authenticity that this band hardly needed. But it was the back cover, a scene from the 1976 Notting Hill carnival riots with the Met’s boys in blue, that’s the more telling. It shows them in hot pursuit of black youth who are retreating and regrouping under the Westway flyover in west London.

It was that reality in ’76 that inspired The Clash’s anthemic White Riot and the lines: “White riot! I wanna riot. White riot! A riot of my own!”’ At the time the National Front’s streetfighting racist army was laying waste wherever they marched. Their leaders John Tyndall and Martin Webster were pretty much household names and the NF was getting an indecently high enough number of votes to suggest an electoral breakthrough might be a possibility.

The potential for White Riot to be misinterpreted then — and now too — is obvious. But the band’s intent couldn’t be clearer.

Living and recording in and around the Westway, they embraced the changes the local community had undergone since the 1950s. Caribbean music, food and fashions were as much a part of who The Clash were as rock’n’roll, Sunday roast and safety pins.

It was a spirit of Black defiance that they sought to share, not oppose: “All the power is in the hands/Of people rich enough to buy it,/While we walk the streets/Too chicken to even try it./And everybody does what they’re told to/And everybody eats supermarket soul food!”

A year after the album’s release, The Clash headlined the first Rock against Racism carnival in London’s Victoria Park.

The dayglo politics of this musical culture of resistance fitted perfectly with the agitprop look and lyrics of the band, as it did with Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex’s punk feminism, Tom Robinson with his liberatory number Sing If You’re Glad to be Gay and Birmingham’s Steel Pulse’s Handsworth Revolution.

This wasn’t just a line-up that commercial promoters in ’78 would die for, it was a platform to challenge prejudice both without and within that we could dance to, or jump about to.

Of course, like all successful musicians, The Clash became celebrities and the venues became bigger and bigger. But, through force of circumstance, the band bailed out before they reached U2’s overblown proportions or outstayed their musical welcome like the Rolling Stones.

1977 is a moment to look back to and remember but not to fossilise, that would be the antithesis of everything The Clash represented or, as the final track from the album put it: “I don’t want to hear about what the rich are doing, I don’t want to go where the rich are going.”

Garageland. That’s where they came from and never entirely left either. Its why more than anything else the ’77 Clash still matter four decades on and to mark the 40th anniversary there’ll be a night of live music like no other at London’s Rich Mix on April 8, hosted by RMT and supported by the FBU.

The album will be played in both the original 1977-era Clash style and a 2017 remix on a bill that mixes bands, solo performers, discussion and spoken word. Syd Shelton’s incredible photography of ’77 punk and the rise of Rock against Racism is on show and among the artists appearing are 48 Thrills with Steve North, Dream Nails, Emily Harrison, Sean McGowan, Nia Wyn, Joe Solo, Captain Ska, Attila the Stockbroker and Comrade X.

’77 Clash Night is at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road, London E1, with a 6pm start. Tickets, price £9.99, are available from philosophyfootball.com or call (01255) 552-412 to reserve.