Tag Archives: politics

Waiting for the End of the World: Al Gore Reviews Elizabeth Kolbert’s ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’

As Al Gore notes in his New York Times review of Elizabeth Kolbert’s latest dispatch from the first row of’ Man Vs. Planet Earth,’ “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” Kolbert has been documenting our continuing assault on our environment and all who live here for some time now.

Gore writes:

Over the past decade, Elizabeth Kolbert has established herself as one of our very best science writers. She has developed a distinctive and eloquent voice of conscience on issues arising from the extraordinary assault on the ecosphere, and those who have enjoyed her previous works like “Field Notes From a Catastrophe” will not be disappointed by her powerful new book, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.”

Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker, reports from the front lines of the violent collision between civilization and our planet’s ecosystem: the Andes, the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier Reef — and her backyard. In lucid prose, she examines the role of man-made climate change in causing what biologists call the sixth mass extinction — the current spasm of plant and animal loss that threatens to eliminate 20 to 50 percent of all living species on earth within this century.

Extinction is a relatively new idea in the scientific community. Well into the 18th century, people found it impossible to accept the idea that species had once lived on earth but had been subsequently lost. Scientists simply could not envision a planetary force powerful enough to wipe out forms of life that were common in prior ages.

In the same way, and for many of the same reasons, many today find it inconceivable that we could possibly be responsible for destroying the integrity of our planet’s ecology. There are psychological barriers to even imagining that what we love so much could be lost — could be destroyed forever. As a result, many of us refuse to contemplate it. Like an audience entertained by a magician, we allow ourselves to be deceived by those with a stake in persuading us to ignore reality.

Read the rest of this review here, then weep.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Video: Pussy Riot on ‘Colbert’, Attack Putin – ‘No PR stunt can fix Russia’s Image’

Pussy Riot’s Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova interviewed by Stephen Colbert last night.

Part One:

Part Two:

Sign off:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

R.I.P. Dept.: Folksinger/ Activist Pete Seeger Dead at 94

The celebrated and influential folksinger and activist Peter Seeger died on Monday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

He was 94 years old.

Seeger scored hit records in the early 1950s as a member of the Weavers; their recording of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950, according to Wikipedia.

The New York Times wrote today:

Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

In his hearty tenor, Mr. Seeger, a beanpole of a man who most often played 12-string guitar or five-string banjo, sang topical songs and children’s songs, humorous tunes and earnest anthems, always encouraging listeners to join in. His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem.

Rolling Stone called Seeger “a seminal figure in American music who kept folk music alive and influenced generations of musicians from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen…”

Pete Seeger and The Weavers sing “Goodnight Irene”:

“Beans in My Ears”:

Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, “Playboys and Playgirls”:

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen, “This Land Is Your Land,” Obama inauguration:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Read Neil Young’s “Honor The Treaties” Facebook Posts

While Neil Young was up in Canada for his “Honor The Treaties” tour, he was also posting on Facebook, sometimes signing his posts “The Passenger.”

Here are some of Young’s posts. The rest are here.

Neil Young
January 15

The Chief’s making stew in the crock pot on the bus. Smells fantastic. We’re rolling west after a night of cold clean air and good sleep in Thunder Bay. Nobody’s tired, nobody’s complaining, no downers on this ride – there is a lot of love in the camp. That’s what happens when music and cause come together.

It confuses me to hear people shouting at us that musicians should just shut up and entertain. Where the hell did that lame-ass idea come from? Music was, is and always will be about social condition and cause and change. Music speaks for the oppressed and downtrodden. Music launches revolution. Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams and Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell and Willie Nelson and John Lennon and Eddie Vedder and Neil Young and all the giants of the art know this. What the fuck kind of
music and musicians are these boneheads actually listening to?

Just wonderin’.
The Passenger

Last Leg
From The Passenger

Good morning. We are in Moose Jaw getting ready for the final haul into Calgary. Yep, we are on a bus and we’re burning bio-diesel, our cleanest available option. Yell all you want but it is way cleaner that gas or regular diesel. And please note, one more time, I am the passenger. I’ve been the passenger all along. I wrote a lot about our journeys on
lincvolt.com and it might be a good idea to check it out. The Passenger Chronicles. A little research never hurts.

The Driver put on an amazing show last night and the good people of Regina filled our hearts for this final push. We are really looking forward to Calgary. I’ve spent a significant amount of time there throughout my life. I love how the city has grown emotionally. Best mayor in Canada. I might have
a big Alberta rib-eye steak tonight. Can’t beat Alberta beef.

A lot of you are talking us down. Sorry you feel the way you do. For those of you with big opinions but little knowledge, check out this year’s nominee list for Grammy Awards. Yep, there it is – Psychedelic Pill – nominated for Rock Album of the year. Is that relevant enough for you?

In the last federal election the balance of power in 40 ridings swung on the absence of a significant Native Peoples vote. With a national voice of 1.6 million I’m thinking that the Native vote, if motivated, could help decide the next election – the one where Stephen Harper and his gang of in-way-
over-their-heads second raters are swept into political oblivion. I hope this message starts to get out there. The only true weapon of change we have is our vote. I am a proud Canadian – I vote.

We’re getting ready to roll. The prairie beckons. There’s much work to be done.




The Passenger

The sun is rising up off of the beautiful prairie. Orange and red and pink and purple. This is Indian country. My heart is full. Last night at dinner we took a look back down the trail we just rode. We remebered the people who danced outside Massey Hall and closed Shuter St. We remebered the people who showed up in Winnipeg in the freezing cold just to wish us safe travels. We remebered the fantastic audience in Regina that hung on every song The Driver played. We feel your love. We thank you for it.

Today is going to be a big one. This is, after all, the heart of the business of Big Oil. Here is where the predominently foreign owned corporations have built towering glass monuments to symbolize their extreme wealth and power. We don’t feel much love from them. But we do honour their commitment to their cause. My morning wish is that some of them take off their suits today, put on their jeans and come to the concert. If they can take some deep breaths with us and feel the music and feel the emotion of the people, maybe they will also start to feel the beating heart of Mother Earth. Maybe they’ll start to see something greater and more powerful than money.

We also honour the men and women who work in the tar sands putting their health and lives on the line No matter what they try to tell you we have never ever wanted you to lose your jobs. We honour your families and your lives. We just want your bosses to clean up the mess that’s been made and to stop expansion until they prove that can be done. Stop the empty television ad campaigns and do something real. We all know you are lying. We just want the oil-glazed governments of Alberta and Canada to stop supporting Big Oil at the expense of human rights. Remeber, if they can do this to the

First Nations, they can do it to you. Honour The Treaties.

Calgary – come on down to the demonstration. It is gonna rock.


The Passenger

Neil Young shared a link.
After Calgary
From The Passenger

Thank you Calgary.

We slept well last night thanks to you and to all the wonderful Canadians who supported us. Our financial goals for the ACFN legal defence fund were overwhelmingly surpassed. Global environmental forces have rallied to our cause. The legal effort to take on Big Oil and the Harper government will be fully funded. Our message to Stephen Harper is simple, we won’t take no for an answer. Honour the treaties.

I have spent the second most time in my life living in Alberta. I have always loved the spirit and pride and honour of the people there. In Alberta your word is your bond. So I know it must rattle you to know that Canada has not kept its word to the First Nations. To you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Please take control of your province and throw this corrupt gang of thugs running Alberta out on their asses. They are making you look very uncool. Vote.

To Randy and the multi-personalty bile spewing personae you have created. You have tenacity. I’ll give you that. You are well versed in the Preston Manning school of media manipulation. But your methods are old and tired. Just like your politics. We all know who you represent. We are not stupid. That’s your fundemental flaw – you underestimate us. We are Canadians. We read. We know things. You have no moral compass. I have nothing but disdain for your tactics.

To the woman from the editorial board of the Calgary Herald who asked the sophomoric questions about plane travel at yesterday’s press conference. You are dragging a once great newspaper – remember, I used to live in Calgary – into the muck. You are no journalist madame. Sneaking around our buses was petty and rude and intrusive. You represent a great city. It is incumbant upon you to show some class. I truly hope you can find some grace. It will make you a better person.

To the people of Sun News Media. What are you going to tell your children when they ask what believe in?

We are heading home. The Driver to California. Me to Ontario. We’ve earned a little r ‘n r. Our mission though has just begun. If you want, you can check in on lincvolt.com at the portal for The Passenger Chronicles to catch our next moves. See you down the road.


Neil Young
8 hours ago [January 21, 2014}
Check out a recent cartoon about the #honourthetreaties campaign.

Neil Young
6 hours ago [January 21, 2014]
Folks, whether you agree with Honour the Treaties or not, please try to back up what you say with facts as we have that will help your points. Diatribes against old rockers are water off a duck’s back for me and don’t help your cause or educate ours. If you are able to, try to add something meaningful when you contribute. everyone would benefit.
respect, ny #honourthetreaties

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Audio/ Video: Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday with ‘Protest’ Songs of Bob Dylan

When Bob Dylan began writing his own material in the early ’60s, he wrote a number of songs dealing in one way or another with racism and the abuse of African Americans in this country. So I thought it fitting on this day in which we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday (he was born January 15, 1929), that we listen to some of the powerful ‘protest’ songs of Bob Dylan.

On August 28, 1963 Bob Dylan was at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the “March On Washington,” performing “When The Ship Comes In” with Joan Baez and “Only A Pawn In Their Game” solo before Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his remarkable “I have a dream” speech:

Most of the songs I’ve included below made it onto The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and The Times They Are A-Changin’. One is from Another Side Of Bob Dylan.

One, “The Death Of Emmett Till,” was recorded for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan but didn’t make the cut.

I’ve also included “Maggie’s Farm,” which may not be as direct as some of the earlier songs, but is certainly about the oppression of the poor by the wealthy (and plenty more).

These are powerful songs. They hit home when they were first released, and all these years later they have lost none of their potency.

Certainly great strides have been made in the area of equal rights since the early ’60s, but things are far from perfect. Consider the Supreme Court cutting the Voting Rights Act last year, and the how badly President Obama has been treated by Republicans in the House and Senate. Or the needless death of Trayvon Martin.

These songs are heavy, and they remind us of what’s at stake, and of the power of music.

“When The Ship Comes In,” August 28, 1963 (performed with Joan Baez at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.):

When That Ship Comes In by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Only A Pawn In Their Game,” August 28, 1963 (performed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.):

Only A Pawn In Their Game by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Blowin’ In The Wind,” 1963 (Town Hall, New York):

Blowin' In The Wind (Live Version) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“The Death Of Emmett Till” (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan outtake):

The Death Of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Oxford Town”:

Oxford Town by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Ballad Of Hollis Brown”:

Ballad of Hollis Brown by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”:

The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Chimes Of Freedom”:

Chimes of Freedom by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“The Times They Are A-Changin'”:

The Times They Are A-Changin' by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Maggie’s Farm”:

Maggie's Farm by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Pussy Riot Members Meet the Press: ‘I don’t want to live in [Putin’s] terrifying fairytale’

Maria Alyokhina ( left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova at first press conference since leaving prison. Photo via The Guardian.

On Friday December 27, 2913, two days after Christmas, the two just-freed members of Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina held their first press conference since their release at the studios of the Russian opposition TV station, TV Rain. The spoke before 100s of journalists.

Here are some of their comments:


“The message of our action in the cathedral is still valid. Our attitude to Putin hasn’t changed at all. By Putin we mean the bureaucratic machine he has built. We’d like to do what we said in our last action – we’d like him to go away.”

“Vladimir Putin is a very closed, opaque chekist [Russian slang for a secret policeman]. He is very much afraid. He builds walls around him that block out reality. Many of the things he said about Pussy Riot were so far from the truth, but it was clear he really believed them. I think he believes that Western countries are a threat, that it’s a big bad world out there where houses walk on chicken legs and there is a global masonic conspiracy. I don’t want to live in this terrifying fairytale.”

They spoke about their new human rights organization, Zone of Law [ a play on “the zone,” shorthand for “prison camp” in Russian]. The new organization will offer legal aid to prisoners who complain of violence, threats, abuse and overwork, according to Rolling Stone.


“We already started to do this [human rights work] in the camp. There we had nothing; the only thing we had was our will. After my hunger strike and letter, the 16-hour slave-working day has become a thing of the past, and they’ve begun to release people on parole. Fear has appeared among the guards at the colony. It’s unbelievably important now to continue this work.”


“We really are provocateurs. But there’s no need to say that word like it’s a swear word. Art is always provocation.”

Tolokonnikova said her thinking has evolved while in prison, and it was now “absolutely obvious” that if she could redo the past, she would not participate in the band’s 2011 “punk prayer” against Putin.


“I was smaller, I was younger and I had other understandings about my goals. I don’t think that you have to chain yourself to some moments in the past. I would like to be judged by those things that I’m going to do now.”

And there will be no Pussy Riot concerts to capitalize on their notoriety.

Alyokhina: “I think we can popularize our ideas without concerts.”

For more of this story:

The Guardian

Rolling Stone

The Telegraph

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova & Maria Alyokhina Are Free

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova after release in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Photo via the Voice Project.

The two imprisoned members of Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were freed today (Monday, December 23, 2013) under a new amnesty law. Both women had served nearly all of their two-year sentence.

Maria Alyokhina was set free in the western city of Nizhny Novgorod this morning, while Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was freed later in the day in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk.

Upon her release, Tolokonnikova yelled, “Russia without Putin!,” Rolling Stone reports. She then told reporters:

I’m in the mood to work after getting out from prison. My exit from prison is only just the beginning, as far as the line between freedom and bondage remains very narrow in Russia, in an authoritarian state.

In a telephone interview Alyokhina told the New York Times “she did not want amnesty, and that officials had forced her to leave the prison. She said that the amnesty program was designed to make Mr. Putin look benevolent, and that she would have preferred to serve the remainder of her sentence.”

I think this is an attempt to improve the image of the current government, a little, before the Sochi Olympics — particularly for the Western Europeans. But I don’t consider this humane or merciful. This is a lie. We didn’t ask for any pardon. I would have sat here until the end of my sentence because I don’t need mercy from Putin.

More from the New York Times here.

More from Rolling Stone here.

More photos from the Voice Project here.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Pussy Riot Member Maria Alyokhina Reportedly Free

Maria Alyokhina (left) is free.

Reuters reported this evening that Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina is now free.

Maria Alyokhina, a member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, walked free from jail on Monday under an amnesty allowing her early release from a two-year sentence for a protest in a church against President Vladimir Putin.

“They’ve just released her,” Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of fellow band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who is also due to be released under the amnesty, told Reuters.

For more of the story, head here.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Russian President Putin Confirms Amnesty for Pussy Riot Members

Maria Alekhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikov. Photo via Earth First!

Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that the imprisoned Pussy Riot members will be freed under an amnesty but described their protest against him in a church as “disgraceful behaviour,” NDTV reported.

The amnesty will also free 30 people arrested in a Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil — before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics in February 2014.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are serving two-year sentences for a protest at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which included the filming the music video “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!”

Putin said the amnesty was passed to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia’s post-Soviet constitution, and not with the Greenpeace protesters or Pussy Riot in mind.

At an annual news conference today Putin said:

“It (the amnesty) is neither linked to Greenpeace, nor this group (Pussy Riot).”

But Putin also said, “I was not sorry that they (the Pussy Riot members) ended up behind bars,” Putin said. “I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behaviour, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women. They went beyond all boundaries.”

For more of the story go here.

Pussy Riot-Punk Prayer:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova To Perform at Prison Concerts

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will be performing at several prison concerts this coming Friday and Saturday, according to her lawyer, Irina Khrunova, who shared the information with the online television Dozhd TV.

“She told me over the phone that they would visit a few penitentiaries in the Krasnoyarsk Region with concerts on December 20-21,” Khrunova said. “This is because there is some kind of music band at the hospital she is in that Tolokonnikova [has] very successfully integrated [with]. They will give New Year’s concerts.”

A spokeswoman for the local penitentiary authority, Yekaterina Brotsman, confirmed that Tolokonnikova was scheduled to take part in prison concerts later this week, Radio Free Europe reported.

Tolokonnikova won’t be offering a rendition of Pussy Riot’s “Putin Zassal,” the song that landed her in prison. The title has been translated as “Putin has Pissed Himself,” “Putin Chickened Out,” “Putin Got Scared” and “Putin is Wetting Himself,” according to Wikipedia.

Brotsman said that the repertoire for the concerts had been vetted by prison authorities and will include mostly rock ballads and pop songs.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-