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Singer Aaron Neville's Rough Road to Salvation

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 10:00:14 +0000

Jacob Blickenstaff The distinct beauty of Aaron Neville's voice has been a constant through a recording career that covers regional soul of New Orleans, his integral work with his siblings in the Neville Brothers, his crossover pop success with Linda Ronstadt in the '80s, and his more recent tributes to his old doo-wop and gospel influences. Now 75, Neville's latest album, Apache (a nickname from his youth), reconnects him with the sounds of 1960s and '70s New Orleans soul, courtesy of producer Eric Krasno of the bands Soulive and Lettuce. Apache also serves as Neville's reclamation of a youth fraught with challenges. He served a six-month stint in Orleans Parish Prison for car theft at  the age of 19, and was later sentenced for burglary (the result of his falling in with a bad manager, the 1950s R&B singer and pimp Larry Williams). He also struggled with addiction into the early '80s. Neville's poems—candid statements on love, awareness of the world, and his memories—are the lyrical source for the majority of the album, a first for a singer whose work is typically more interpretive. But his original songs have been signposts in a long career, starting with the 1960's "Everyday" on the flip side of his first single, the Neville Brothers staple "Yellow Moon," and "To Make Me Who I Am," from the 1997 album of the same title. Apache presents an opportunity to get to know an honest, humble soul who happens to be one of our greatest living voices. I photographed and spoke with Neville at his farm in Duchess County, New York, where he lives with his wife, Sarah; their peekapoo, Apache Jr.; and a whole bunch of chickens.   allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"> Mother Jones: You were 19 when you first set foot in a New Orleans recording studio. Tell me about the experience. Aaron Neville: I just wanted to sing. I'd been wanting to record, like Ernie K-Doe and Irma Thomas, and I got a chance to be on the same label, Minit Records. Larry Williams got me the first recording session, he and Larry McKinley, who was a disc jockey. I would learn the song right then, because most of the stuff Allen Toussaint wrote. I wrote my first song, "Everyday" and he wrote the B-side, "Over You." It's not like today where they can fix things. Whatever you did was what you had—there wasn't no 10 and 12 takes. If you did harmonies, it was everyone around the same microphone. To hear my voice coming back on the tape, that was amazing: "Oh wow, that's me." Then when it started playing on the radio, that was a big thing there. MJ: I heard a story that Toussaint pushed you to sing more straight-ahead on that first session. Was there much creative tension in that relationship? AN: No, I just sang that the way he wanted me to, and he was satisfied. After he did the music on "Everyday," he started modeling everything else he wrote for me behind that—sort of like a doo-wop thing.  MJ: Tell me about your relationship with Larry Williams. AN: Larry came to New Orleans around '56 and took the Hawkettes out on the road with him, but he told me, "I'll be back for you." When I got out of jail, he got me in the studio to record and took me on the road. He got tired of being misused, so he says he's going to be a pimp—he went to California and started pimping. When I went out there, he was going to manage me, but I had a contract with Minit records, so I did a few gigs with him and Etta James and Johnny Watson at the 5-4 Ballroom. I had to do something to earn my keep. Since I didn't want to pimp, he said we've got this guy who will book some burglaries. We'd go and clean the place out, and we had rooms in a hotel out on the highway and we'd fill it up with clothes and suits and whatever. The whole time I'm saying to myself, "Lord, get me out of this, send me back home, please." So when I did get busted, I said, "Thank you, Jesus." I ended up doing time in '63 and part of '64 fighting forest fires. It was dangerous. Th[...]

Donald Trump Promises to Sue Women Who Accused Him of Assault

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 21:09:54 +0000

On Saturday, Donald Trump vowed to sue the 11 women who have come forward over the last few weeks with accusations of sexual assault against the Republican presidential nominee.

"Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” Trump claimed. "Total fabrication, the events never happened—never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over."

Trump's threat came during a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which was plugged as a major policy speech to lay out his first 100 days in office should he win the election next month. His promise to sue his accusers wasn't the only notable moment.

While taking a hard line on his accusers, he seems to be softening on a key campaign promise: That the US will build a wall along its southern border and that Mexico will pay for it. Now, according to his speech, his position is that the United States will pay for the wall but Mexico will reimburse the US.

By the way, here's what a DDoS attack looks like when it's visualized (via Gizmodo):

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Richard Branson Describes "Bizarre" Lunch in Which Donald Trump Waxed About Revenge

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:02:32 +0000

As our own David Corn noted just this week, Donald Trump loves nothing more than seeking cold revenge. It turns out billionaire Richard Branson has a Trump story that illustrates Trump's obsession with vengeance perfectly.

Branson, the billionaire owner of the Virgin Group, wrote a post on his company's website on Friday afternoon describing an out-of-the-blue lunch the two men shared "some years ago." Branson says it was the first time he and Trump had met, but Trump had only one topic he wanted to discuss.

Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help. He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people.

He didn't speak about anything else and I found it very bizarre. I told him I didn’t think it was the best way of spending his life. I said it was going to eat him up, and do more damage to him than them. There must be more constructive ways to spend the rest of your life. (Hopefully my advice didn’t lead to him running for President!)

I was baffled why he had invited me to lunch solely to tell me this. For a moment, I even wondered if he was going to ask me for financial help. If he had, I would have become the sixth person on his list!

Branson wrote earlier this month that "Mr Trump's temperament is irrational [and] aggressive," and added on Friday that those character defects are perhaps the scariest part of this election. "What concerns me most, based upon my personal experiences with Donald Trump, is his vindictive streak, which could be so dangerous if he got into the White House," Branson wrote.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Mother Jones.


This November, Marijuana Activists are Pushing Pot Over Pills

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 17:28:36 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> With less than a month to go before Election Day, several state level marijuana legalization campaigns have rolled out messaging that pitches weed as an alternative to deadly opioid painkillers. This week, groups backing recreational legalization in Arizona and Massachusetts launched ads arguing marijuana should be an option for pain patients. Arizona's Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign ran its ad during Thursday night's NFL game, featuring former pro quarterback Jim McMahon, whose career included a stint with the Arizona Cardinals, talking about the painkillers he was prescribed for injuries. "I was using them daily pretty much the rest of my career," he says in the ad. "It takes its toll." Framing marijuana as an alternative medical treatment is of course not a new argument for pot proponents, but the strength and prominence of the country's opioid epidemic has given marijuana activists a new chance to argue that cannabis offers a safe, overdose free option to fight pain. Legalization activists are pointing to recent studies to make their case. One paper that came out last month found that states with medical marijuana saw fewer suspects in fatal traffic accidents test positive for opioids. And earlier this year, researchers at the University of Michigan found chronic pain patients who used medical marijuana were able to reduce their use of opioid drugs by 64 percent. "It's not just an argument, it's an argument based on solid data," said Jim Borghesani, communications director for the legalization campaign in Massachusetts, a state with one of the higher rates of drug overdoses in the country. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> Earlier this month, Nevada backers of recreational marijuana legalization ran an ad showing a marine veteran who says he was prescribed OxyContin, Percocet, and Hydrocodone. After taking so many pills, "You're addicted; You know you're addicted," he said. With marijuana, he says he can treat his pain but "I can also live." Proponents of a Florida bill legalizing medical use are running an online ad similar to the TV spots from the recreational legalization campaigns, showing a doctor who condemns prescription painkillers as "dangerous narcotics that have significant risks."   The death toll from opioid painkillers is staggering, rivaling that of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the late '80s and early '90s. In 2014, there were nearly 19,000 opioid painkiller deaths, along with more than 10,500 heroin overdose deaths, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Painkiller abuse has ravaged communities across the country, and opened the door for a heroin addiction crisis in some towns. Marijuana advocates have long pitched the drug's promise to bring relief to people diagnosed with serious diseases, highlighting an evolving series of conditions. "For years, it was all about cancer and AIDS and glaucoma and these things, and then all of a sudden in 2013 with Sanjay Gupta it became about epilepsy and kids with intractable seizure disorders," said Ben Pollara, head of the pro-medical-marijuana campaign in Florida. "What you're seeing with opiate use and abuse and addiction as a rationale for marijuana reform has come about it a similar way."  Just about three weeks out from the election, a new Gallup Poll shows 60 percent of Americans support legalization.[...]

In Florida, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Are Campaigning in Parallel Universes

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:39:46 +0000

Hillary Clinton events are a master class in stagecraft, each as perfectly choreographed as the next, but every once in a while the barely controlled chaos of her rival's campaign intrudes. At a Clinton rally last week at the Kendall, Florida, campus of Miami-Dade College, that moment came a few minutes into her speech, when a young man in an American Eagle T-shirt began shouting "Bill Clinton's a rapist!" The protester was escorted out, and Clinton resumed discoursing about climate change and rising sea levels in Miami Beach until, a few minutes later, another protester shouted the same thing. He, too, was ushered out, and Clinton returned to her stump speech. The scene in Kendall could have been a metaphor for the race itself: a by-the-book campaign sticking relentlessly to the script while a crazed man keeps shouting about rape. As the presidential contest lurches toward Election Day, both candidates are throwing everything they can into Florida, a state Trump must win and Clinton would really like to. The former secretary of state's visit to Miami-Dade, where she was joined by Al Gore, preceded a three-day, four-stop swing by Donald Trump from the Panhandle to Palm Beach County. Sen. Tim Kaine flew in for a Saturday block party in Miami's Liberty City and a Sunday morning visit to a Spanish-speaking church. Gov. Mike Pence held a Pensacola rally Friday and attended a Miami-Dade Republican dinner that night. Earlier in the week, former President Bill Clinton stopped in three cities to push voter registration. Yesterday, President Barack Obama rallied voters in Miami Gardens. But the two campaigns may as well be operating in parallel universes, differing wildly in style and substance. Clinton events are displays of total solidarity. In Kendall, she was joined by Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in one of the year's most important Senate races. Former Rep. Joe Garcia, who is challenging Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in one of the year's most expensive House races, lingered in the back of the gym, posing for photos and gabbing with press and supporters. Even Gore showed up to deliver a rambling speech in a county he could be forgiven for refusing to visit ever again. You couldn't sit in traffic for very long in South Florida without hearing radio ads from a stable of Clinton endorsers, including former CIA director Michael Morell, first lady Michelle Obama, and Miami Rep. Frederica Wilson. As Clinton herds her party, Trump is still fighting with his. His rallies in West Palm Beach and at Lakeland in central Florida were notable for how few Republicans of note attended. Rubio is supporting Trump, at least in theory, but has not been in the same building as the man he once mocked for having a small penis since their final primary debate in March. Curbelo, like numerous other South Florida Republicans, rejected Trump last spring. The absences did not go unnoticed: The campaign itself brought them up as evidence that party leaders were undermining Trump's candidacy. A state representative who spoke at Trump's West Palm Beach rally was introduced as "the only elected official who showed up today," to jeers from the crowd. When it was her turn to speak at the event, former Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll—who resigned in disgrace midway through her first term in 2013 amid state and federal probes relating to her ties to a veterans charity—admonished the state's elected Republicans for choosing to "cut tail and run" from the nominee. Instead of denouncing Trump's comments about women on a decade-old Access Hollywood tape, she said, conservatives should have saved their criticism for the corrosive morality of Hollywood culture. In his Florida swing, Trump brought a message as insular as his movement. As he reeled from a flood of allegations of sexual assault over a period spanning several decades, he seemed to cede the entire universe of undecided or persuadable vote[...]

Powerful New Clinton Campaign Ad Features Khizr Khan

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:31:50 +0000

The Clinton campaign released a powerful ad on Friday featuring Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father whose speech at the Democratic National Convention in July became the defining moment of the convention—and prompted Donald Trump to smear him and his wife, Ghazala Khan.

The new ad features Khan in his home, recounting how his son lost his life as a soldier in Iraq by sacrificing himself to save the rest of his unit from a suicide bomber. "My son was Captain Humayun Khan, he was 27 years old, and he was a Muslim American," Khan says at the end of the ad. Then, fighting back tears, he continues, "I want to ask Mr. Trump, would my son have a place in your America?"

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The one-minute ad will run in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.