Revolutionary in Sound, Style, and Lyrics.

Someone once told Nas, “You can’t change the world.” Nas responded by saying “I’m not trying…I’m trying to save me in my head from what I’m seeing and dealing with…I’m trying to make sense of it.”

Revolutionary in Sound, Style, and Lyrics. Nas and Damian Marley's new CD "Distant Relatives" tries to make sense of the world.

Here is a glimpse...

posted by Russell Bannan



By John Pietaro

A bloodthirsty Right-wing power-grab. Virulent xenophobia. An ongoing illegal and immoral war. National divide. Governmental spying. Rising popular unrest. Social welfare in turmoil. Fear-mongering. A military industrial complex gone mad and a Democrat in the White House whose poll numbers are in rapid decline….

Contemporary headlines or those of the Vietnam War years? Today’s “great recession” notwithstanding, one overt difference in these times is the silence; God knows we don’t have Phil Ochs this time around.

History will demonstrate that Philip David Ochs (December 19, 1940 - April 9, 1976) was one of our nation’s most profound voices of protest. He was active in the fertile period that bridged the Civil Rights era with the struggle for peace and the youth movement; around him were erupting battles on campuses, town squares and in Washington DC. For an artist of conscience, there was much work to do, so Phil Ochs sang out against war and demanded equal rights and an egalitarian society. His songs damned the establishments that begat the murder of Medgar Evers and allowed organized labor to forget its true mission. He cried for our nation and praised its promise.

Ochs’ songs unashamedly revealed our faults but also offered the means to rectify them. Phil was a presence at demonstrations and other radical actions, not merely a voice on a record. A proud member of the IWW, Ochs traveled to Hazzard, Kentucky during the bloody strikes in the earliest 60s and boldly performed for the pickets and in ear-shot of the mine-owners’ threatening goon squads. Several songs document these struggles, including the hauntingly beautiful “No Christmas in Kentucky”. Shortly thereafter, Phil became entrenched in Civil Rights, traveling to many points on the Klan’s radar. His periods in the Deep South are chronicled in songs such as “Freedom Riders” and the brutally blunt “Here’s to the State of Mississippi”.

From Greenwich Village coffee houses to the national stage, Ochs sang his protest loudly. While his first two albums set the standard for topical singers henceforth, both All the News That’s Fit to Sing and I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymoreoffer stark moments of beauty. Over the next few years, as he matured as a person and a writer, he’d offer the haunting “Changes”. And with “Crucifixion” he emoted about the loss of John Kennedy, but wasn’t he also singing about the loss of innocence, perhaps conscience itself? And “One More Parade”, “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” and then “The War is Over” gave us anthems that would carry the peace movement. “The Power and the Glory” spoke of his pride in our nation’s mission and greatness—even as the FBI began an investigation of him that would span a decade and fill 410 pages. “Cops of the World” spit back into the faces of the reactionary government. Ochs was nobody’s fool.

Phil toyed with fans, and surely his own sense of doom, by titling a 1968 albumRehearsals for Retirement. Its cover depicted his own gravestone with the year of death listed as, of course, 1968. Continually plagued by demons, both inner and outer, Ochs struggled with bi-polar disorder, anxiety and alcohol dependence. Often, his performances became strained as lyrics were increasingly forgotten and melodies faded. In his later period, gigs became arguments with the audience.

Ochs was a major part of the protest surrounding the ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago, performing his best topical material right in Lincoln Park. Later, he was called in as a witness for the defense on behalf of the Chicago 7. Ochs told anyone who’d listen that he felt he spiritually died in chicago, as the police riot rained blows upon democracy.

Ochs staged several ‘The War is Over’ concerts which featured many name performers in both folk and rock music. He would also travel to Chile and befriend the great songwriter Victor Jara. Shortly thereafter, the CIA-backed coupe would take the lives of Jara and thousands of others; this was a terminal assault to the faltering Ochs. By 1976, unable to prevail in this battle on every front, Phil Ochs would die by his own hand.

The protest song’s grandest voice dared to speak back to the criminal Nixon administration, uncovering and exposing with anger and wry humor. He alerted his audiences to corruption and brutality and especially to the right-wing’s manipulation of ‘the American dream’. Ironically, he also warned us that, “a protest song is something you don’t hear on the radio”. He dared us to care, at the expense of himself. And now, as the anniversary of what should have beenhis seventieth birthday approaches we are left to watch new generations of right-wing opportunists flail joyously with a new sense of slovenly power----the silence of Ochs’ loss has become deafening.


Over 40 Actions Across the U.S. target Rite Aid

40+ nationwide events – including one in Denver – target Rite Aid drugstores on Wed. for “corporate greed” & employee disrespect

Zack Mischo, Colorado JWJ activist, with concerned
community members outside
of Rite Aid in
Rite Aid workers, union activists and community supporters mobilized for a national "Day of Action" on Wednesday, December 15th that focused attention on the company's culture of corporate greed and disrespect for workers’ rights.

Colorado Jobs with Justice Activists took to the streets outside a Rite Aid on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver as a part of a National Day of Action for Dignity & Respect against Rite Aid’s “corporate greed” & employee disrespect. Dozens of other events took place at Rite Aid stores in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia. Support actions by 500 employees inside the company’s giant Southwest Regional Distribution Center in Lancaster, CA also took place on Wednesday.

"Rite Aid management is driving this company in the wrong direction," said Craig Merrilees, spokesperson for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that is helping 500 Rite Aid warehouse workers in Lancaster, CA win their fight for respect and a union contract. “Rite Aid executives are taking millions of dollars for themselves – then telling employees to pay for management’s mistakes by gouging workers for health insurance. This kind of corporate greed is wrong; it’s ruining Rite Aid and wrecking America. Citizens across the country are volunteering to help Rite Aid workers stand up and fight back against corporate greed."

“If you can’t get a decent salary and affordable benefits for hard working families, wherever it may be, and if you can’t go to work with the dignity you are due as a human being…how in the hell do we ever expect to lift ourselves out of this [financial] crisis,” said Russell Bannan, activist with Colorado Jobs with Justice, who helped organize the event in Colorado. “In this community, we are saying this type of behavior is unacceptable and it is time Rite Aid is held accountable.”

The nationwide actions are being sparked by a rash of poor decisions by Rite Aid officials across the country:
• In Cleveland, OH, executives are trying to dramatically increase employee health care costs. The company announced plans to impose higher costs on Jan. 1 that could possibly lead to a strike.
• In Lancaster, CA, Rite Aid executives stalled talks with 500 warehouse employees for nearly two years. Now officials are proposing to gouge employees by "marking-up" the cost of health insurance 28 times over the increases charged by insurers.
• In Rome, NY, Rite Aid is closing a distribution facility that pays family-sustaining wages and benefits and provides workers with a voice on the job. Work is being shifted to a nearby location that pays low wages with few benefits and no job rights.
• In Pennsylvania, thousands of Rite Aid workers are trying to reach a fair settlement.

For a complete list of the actions taking place nationwide on Dec. 15, please contact Amy Willis at 415-517-4958 amy.willis@ilwu.org # # #


Rite Aid is Wrecking America...We're Fighting Back!

The Rite Aid drug stores employ thousands of workers who are fighting for more respect and a voice on the job. Since Rite Aid’s CEO John Standley doubled his compensation to over $4 million, he’s been trying to cut pay and benefits for workers at the company’s retail stores and distribution centers:.
  • In Ohio, Rite Aid officials are going after the health care benefits for retail store employees.
  • In Pennsylvania, Rite Aid workers are trying to get a decent contract without big benefit cuts.
  • In Rome, NY, Rite Aid just announced they are closing a union warehouse and going non-union.
  • In Lancaster, CA, 500 warehouse workers have been fighting for over 5 years to get a union contract.

Let’s help these workers who are standing up and fighting back!
  1. Be a part of the Rite Aid Day of Action on Wednesday, December 15th. In downtown Denver people will be flyering at the Rite Aid on 16th Street Mall (750 16th St, Denver) from 11:00am to 1:00pm and delivering a letter to management from customers at 1:00pm.*
  2. Send Rite Aid CEO John Standley a message.
  3. “Like” Rite Aid on Facebook and leave a comment on one of their posts – something like: It’s time for RiteAid to stop bullying and cheating its workers. Negotiate fair contracts now!
  4. Tweet: Petition @riteaid to negotiate fair contracts now! http://act.ly/2t7 RT to sign
* Actions are planned in Jobs with Justice coalitions in Cleveland, Boston, Richmond, and several cities across Oregon and Washington and in Pennsylvania, California, and DC. Contact ILWU for details. Or, you can plan your own action.


It's Accountability Time

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee an organization that fights to elect bold progressive candidates to federal office is standing up to hold President Obama accountable to the promise he made during his campaign. The website boldprogressives.org launched a petition stating:
"President Obama, ARE YOU KIDDING? Democrats lost in 2010 because they caved instead of fighting on popular progressive issues. Americans strongly oppose more tax cuts for millionaires and nearly a trillion in new debt. If you don't fight on this issue, Democrats may lose even more seats in 2012 - and possibly even the White House."
The failure of the progressive left thus far has been our focus on only engaging and mobilizing during election season.

Our resources should be overwhelmingly spent on organizing to hold our representatives accountable between the elections. That is our responsibility, our right, and our duty as citizens and even more so as organized citizens. Any lack of real progress by elected officials is on us and our failure to do so. As the late Fred Ross said: "90 percent of organizing is follow-up."

Now that the elections are over...It's accountability time.

Posted by Russell Bannan



Stand Up for Our Workers who are Workless

AFL-CIO video of unemployed Americans telling their story.

In the video, an unemployed auto worker, university researcher, pipefitter, legal secretary and others who have been unable to find new jobs describe just how important to their survival it is for Congress to restore emergency unemployment benefits that expired Nov. 30.

Vote Now for your favorite greedy, most cold-hearted...Scrooge!

National Jobs with Justice annual Scrooge award!

Each year, national Jobs with Justice gives an “award” to the greediest, most cold-hearted company or person of the year. Nominations for the 2010 Scrooge of the Year are in, and it's time to vote. Please read about the candidates below and then VOTE for your favorite greedy Scrooge! We'll announce the winner on December 20th.

This year's nominees are....

Stop the Lies

You can help Stop the Lies. Go to http://www.afscme.org/stopthelies

Public service workers are under attack -- but the real cause of our country's economic troubles are greedy Wall Street CEOs, their friends in Washington who turn a blind eye, and the right-wing talking heads who spin the lies. Add your name to stop the lies: http://www.afscme.org/StopTheLies