MSNBC Provides Welcoming Community Center for DNC Visitors

I was fortunate to visit the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte on Wednesday, September 5.  This was a great experience, thanks largely to the cool community center provided by MSNBC.   The city was very well-prepared in terms of security and logistics.  However, for those of us without credentials, there really was no public welcome center or place to get an orientation.  Fortunately, MSNBC was ready, willing and able to serve as a community center for the thousands of convention delegates and international media, as well as for plain-old citizens like me.

MSNBC’s efforts paid off very well.  Read here about how and why their ratings rocked during the DNC (and will continue to grow.)  You will also learn about the positive experiences they provided daily for thousands of people in Charlotte, as well as millions of viewers around the world.  Their nearly constant coverage and the overall MSNBC experience have clearly cemented their position (in many minds) as the world leader in all form of news – not just progressive politics.   It was also the one place for thousands to turn on Thursday night after the big speeches were moved indoors (see right.)  Click Below for a Behind-the-Scenes look at the MSNBC Experience and their Coverage of the DNC.

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Categories: Prez Obama, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mickey Hart Accelerates Next Stage in Music’s Evolution

Throughout a career spanning over 50 years, Mickey Hart has been an innovative and inspirational leader in musical research and performance.   Known as “The Rhythm Devils,” Mickey and Bill Kreutzman were the driving force behind The Grateful Dead – particularly during their extended jam experiences.  It is only fitting that Mickey’s latest venture – Mysterium Tremendum – is ground-breaking and entertaining at the same time.  Mickey and his band weave together a host of musical styles and influences, including world music, electronic wizardry, hippie rock, and psychedelic trance.

In this article I will personally review Mickey’s latest CD project.  I will include selected lyrics – written by Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter.  After that I will summarize some other CD reviews, as well as reviews of the band’s live performances.    I have abstracted  some recent interviews with Mickey and several band members – bassist Dave Schools and producer/keyboardist Ben Yonas.  After that you can read about some of Mickey’s innovative, interdisciplinary research projects, as well as some of the awards he has received.  He is truly an interdisciplinary musical scholar who has written some really fine books.

I find the fact that Mickey has been a lifelong musician, who has also explored cutting-edge science to be personally and professionally very inspirational and unique.  I just spent almost three decades in academia earning degrees in Biology, Journalism, and Sociology (Ph.D. Iowa State University in 1986.)   I worked as a Professor of Sociology and Food Science at North Carolina State University from 1987 – 2010.  For the last 15 years I have again been playing a lot of music (guitar, mandolin, and percussion) – something I had done a lot between 1965 and 1980.

Click Below to learn “all you need to know” about Mickey Hart’s life-long and continuing contributions to the evolution of music (and society.)

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Categories: Musician Tributes, Visionaries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Obama Will Lose Millions of Supporters because of His Anti-Marijuana Rhetoric and Policies

President Obama recently doubled-down on his harassment of the 17 states who now make medical marijuana available to adults with medical need.  The president seems to think he can rest on his progressive laurels — figuring no liberals will vote for Mitt Romney.   That may be true; but a significant number of voters are either going to sit this election out or support the Libertarian party candidate – former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.  Most significantly, the groups that are most opposed to Obama’s drug war include those groups he most needs to motivate and mobilize again (e.g., young people, minorities, and those concerned with civil rights.)

Like many others, I was turned-off by the president’s flippant and condescending attitude he displayed during his recent Rolling Stone interview.  He then grew even more sarcastic during the White House Correspondence Dinner and on his appearance on Jimmy Fallon (where he was trying to woo young voters.)  The president we thought would be reasonable and fair, has become a “holier-than-thou” hypocrite who even admits to having smoked marijuana regularly while he was young.  In fact, the Obama administration has greatly accelerated the drug war way past George Bush – ruining millions of people’s lives and wasting billions of public dollars.  You will learn all about that here.

Now he is shifting the blame to congress which is a lazy cop-out.  As you will read, Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders are urging him to get real and end this stupid war on weed.  In this article, you will learn all about the special interest groups that are pulling the president’s strings on this important public policy and public health matter (e.g., lobbyists representing the pharmaceutical industry, alcohol companies, prison guards, police, and private prisons.)  You will also learn about some positive initiatives – including how Anonymous is getting involved in this vital issue.  Click below to learn the truth!!

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Categories: Legalize Ganjah, Prez Obama | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“99% Spring” Organizes Occupy’s Momentum to Fight Inequality and Corporations

The Occupy movement received a major boost from the progressive establishment which will impact American society and the upcoming elections.   The 99% Spring movement has arrived and is already creating a stir at shareholder meetings and in the streets.  This article provides full details on the 99% Spring (including their recent national trainings and links to their tools.)  I also summarize media articles about the debate over whether the two movements are compatible. I believe they clearly are given that many of the same people and groups are involved with each.  Read on in order to learn how and why to get involved with future actions.

I attended the three-hour training session in Durham, NC on April 12, 2012 (and have reviewed the entire seven-hour workshop training guide.)   About 25 people were there – with only a few folks under 40.  The training was well-designed and well-received.   We gained important insights and skills – even from this abbreviated session.  To provide a context, during my 25 year tenure as Sociology Professor at North Carolina State University, I designed and conducted similar training sessions and produced companion documents and videos (e.g., team-building, social change, community organization, and watershed management.)  I also have written extensively about the Occupy movement since its beginning.  

Click below to learn how you can join this important initiative.

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Categories: Activism - Occupy, Economy | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Romney’s Bizarre Mormon Beliefs Would Prove Dangerous and Divisive for American Society

Mitt Romney is steamrolling his way to the Republican nomination – thanks in part to the culture and connections of his Mormon faith.  Important questions have been raised about his financial assets and history as a corporate raider.  These issues alone render him unfit to serve as president.  However, his indoctrination into and current leadership within the Mormon Church should be of even greater concern.  This cult-like organization is a pyramid scheme tied to international power and wealth networks.   Romney is actually a Bishop in the Church of Latter Day Saints (i.e., the Mormons.)  If you look closely you swill see how he exhibits the arrogance and self-righteousness you would expect from a mid-level cult leader.  His Mormon upbringing ensures he will always look down on the rest of humanity.  The scary part is how far off base Mormonism is when it comes to truth, equality, and the American way.

One festering part of Romney’s Mormon problem is that those most opposed to electing a Mormon president are also the foundation of the Republican party – namely uneducated and conservative Evangelical Christians.   This is really the battle of two powerful religious institutions – neither of which deserve as much recognition and respect as they receive in American politics.  In this article, you will learn why allowing Romney to become president will give his cult much more credibility than it deserves.  Read about how Romney dodged the draft during the Viet Nam War doing “missionary work” in luxury and safety.  In addition, Mormon preaching and teaching cause social problems to persist, particularly inequality, sexism, environmental damage, and war.  You will learn about all these important issues, plus more.  The media and his opponents need to get over their timidity about discussing religion and start going after this madman with some facts.  We must never have a Mormon in the White House (nor a Moonie or a Scientologist for that matter.)

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Categories: Right-Wing | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

“The Swamp Fox” Provides Insights and Inspiration for Contemporary Activism

South Carolina was in the news recently when Newt Gingriff won the Republican primary.  His victory turned out to be an anomaly, given how his campaign has tanked since then.  It is interesting to note that he won largely by playing  the “Rebel.”  Ironically, one of South Carolina’s most famous rebel sons is Francis Marion (better known as “The Swamp Fox.”)  He was agile and aggressive.  He broke the rules of warfare – using techniques and tips he learned while fighting Native Americans.  In particular, he used the element of surprise to attack the straight-marching redcoats when they least expected it.  He and his men would blend into the natural environment before and after their attacks.

As a youngster, I watched all the Disney episodes, starring a young Leslie Nielsen as the Swamp Fox.  In addition, I  have lived in North Carolina for 25 years – visiting our neighbor’s hot tourist spots – Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston; as well as other spots (e.g., Clemson a couple times.)    South Carolina is a state of contrasts – poor lowland communities leading to world-class beach resorts.  High tech industry competing with Redneck philosophy and racist cultureBattle re-enactments not far from exclusive golf courses.   Anyhow, as one of the premiere colonial settlements, Charleston was also a focal point in the War of Independence.  Today, activists can use the Swamp Fox’s tactics to get their message across, practice civil disobedience, and take things down without hurting peopleClick Below to learn all about one of America’s true heroes – and what his legacy means for our current American Revolution.

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Categories: Activism - Occupy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saul Alinsky Would be Impressed and Encouraged by the Occupy Movement

The Occupy movement learns and benefits from all the struggles and creative activism during the 20th Century.  One of the key intellectual and innovative leaders was Saul Alinsky who has again become part of the public dialogue – thanks to Newt Gingrich.  Just like Mr. Alinsky his reputation has now become larger than life.  At the same time, most people (including Bill Maher) readily admit they don’t know who Alinsky was, what he did, or why he matters to America today.  Given that I taught about Alinsky for many years, I find this lack of understanding and respect to be disappointing – but not surprising.

This article explains why Saul Alinsky’s work that started in my hometown of Chicago in the 1930s is so important and relevant for understanding our society.  This article starts with the latest burst of Newt-inspired news about Alinsky (that will likely continue throughout the campaign season.)  IYou will also learn how right wing politicians continue to spread myths and misperceptions about Saul Alinsky and President Obama’s connections (which are indirect at best.)  Finally, this article also lists Alinsky’s various rules and selected quotes.  As you read, you will see connections to the strategies and tactics of the both the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party.  CLICK BELOW TO LEARN MORE.

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Categories: Activism - Occupy, Visionaries | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Bob Marley Would Say “Occupy Yourself Before You Occupy Outside”

The Occupy Movement has focused on occupying physical spaces to draw attention to important issues.  However, it is even more important that each of us work hard to get our own lives together.  We need to free our minds and resist the outside forces of capitalist consumption.   Be ready to live with less and avoid entrapment by credit schemes.  As the system continues to melt down, only those who are resilient and self-sufficient will be able to thrive.  One of the best ways to do this is to understand and practice the Rastafarian lifestyle as modeled by Bob Marley.   His words that inspired this title are “Judge not, before you judge yourself.”   Get your own life in order if you want to be able to challenge the Babylon system.  He summed it up perfectly:  “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.  None but ourselves can free our minds.”

I personally became aware of and interested in Rastafarianism about ten years ago through Bob Marley’s life and music.  I did my own research into what it means to live the Rasta lifestyle.  I found that this social movement has much to teach us about how to free ourselves and take down the system.  We can’t get one without the other.  I began to teach about this in my social change and social movement classes.  I found many young people eager to embrace the principles and practices that Bob Marley and others preach about in their music.  In fact, the Occupy fighters already believe in and live many of the values and practices espoused by the Rastafarian way of life.  I developed a series of slides to use in my lectures and have included them here.  Each should be self-explanatory.  Then, I include lots of great pix and quotes from Bob Marley’s music and interviews.  This tribute recognizes that Bob Marley’s music and messages are more relevant today than ever.

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Categories: Activism - Occupy, Musician Tributes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Occupy 4:20 for Civil Disobedience and Building Community

One social issue that should be of great interest to members of the occupy movement is the legalization of marijuana.  This cause clearly cries out for organized civil disobedience (as it did in the 1960’s.)    Growing and using both hemp and marijuana were rights for all Americans when our country was founded.  We all have the obligation to finally end this unethical and ineffective war against an ancient plant.  This situation is urgent given how President Obama has actually escalated the war on medical marijuana despite earlier promises and his personal history   Ending the drug war will save billions in police, legal and prison costs.  States like California and Colorado are already harvesting millions of new tax dollars by allowing patients to safely buy medical marijuana.

Fortunately, pot possession laws are easy to break and involve very little chance of getting caught (if you follow the approach outlined here.)  I first explain how we can Occupy 420 to build and sustain the global occupy movement.  Then, I share tips about how to get away with getting high, whenever, and virtually wherever you want.  I have also included some key quotes to inspire you as to why marijuana needs to be legalized NOW.  This article also includes reports of recent Marijuana Activism and a historical perspective on the Flash Mob phenomenon. As an added bonus, the article concludes with insightful and inspiring quotes about Civil Disobedience.  Click Below to Learn How and Why to Get High and Become Free!!

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Categories: Activism - Occupy, Legalize Ganjah | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chapel Hill, NC Dodges Bullets – Community Now Demands Answers

Many people were shocked over the extreme response of the Chapel Hill police to a group of peaceful protestors who were camped out in an abandoned building.   This is especially surprising because this small and sleepy college town has a lot of experience with huge crowds of wild and crazy young people.  I live in the “twin town” of Carrboro which is one of the most hip and relaxed places around.   This incident is a very bad reflection of the democratic process and fairness for which our community has been known.  This could have been much worse if one of the nervous young cops had shot someone.  This shows how it really is time to reign in the police state before it takes hold!!   As Jeff Bridges maintained in The Big Lebowski “This aggression must not stand, man!”  Why are they carrying such deadly weapons?

I was surprised and saddened after hearing about this incident on Countdown with Keith Olberman (now on Current TV.)  Chapel Hill is the last place where police would ever confront the kind of aggressive violence they were dressed up and ready for.  They are able to deal with huge crowds of drunk revelers on Halloween and whenever UNC-Chapel Hill wins a national championship.  Clearly someone up the chain of command (ultimately the mayor) screwed up badly when they estimated the extent of threat that this rag-tag group of protestors represented.  The absentee landlord is the real social deviant who should be taken to task for blighting Franklin Street for a decade.  Fortunately, former US Senate candidate Jim Neal delivered a detailed list of questions that Chapel Hill authorities need to have answered by an independent commission.  Click below to learn all the details.

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