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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Nestled away in untrendy Pasadena, an avant-garde group lay the foundation for noise music, and influenced everyone from Sonic Youth to Throbbing Gristle

We were artists using sound as our medium, trying to find a different approach by letting go of the musician part, wrote Rick Potts in his first-person history of the Los Angeles Free Music Society. Formed in the early 70s in the un-hip enclaves around Pasadena, the LAFMS was a loose collective of individuals who banded together to push the boundaries of sound, noise, music and art. To accomplish these goals, they used an unorthodox array of electronic and analog tools: tape loops, kids musical toys, homemade instruments and industrial objects. As founding member Tom Recchion notes: I always felt like Evel Knievel. I could jump off any building and try to test something out.

Over the past four decades, the society has swelled from its original 12 or so core members to include dozens of bands, collaborators and associates, all the while eluding mainstream popularity, even awareness. A new 13 LP box set release by Box Editions eschews a comprehensive approach, instead endeavoring to capture a snapshot of the collective, in a sense memorializing an unwieldy phenomenon that was never meant to be static.

There was a paradigm shift of some sort where there was all this experimental activity happening around the planet, recalled founding member Fredrik Nilsen when asked about the origins of the LAFMS. But in LA, we were so isolated. It wasnt like there was a support system like in Europe or London, or NY. We were kind of off on our own. Although a few sonic innovators spent time in LA, like John Cage in his youth or Harry Partch in his last decade, it had nothing like New Yorks avant-garde legacy, which boasted such seminal figures as Morton Feldman, David Tudor, Philip Glass and La Monte Young.This isolation would prove liberating, allowing the young musicians and artists who formed the core of the group the freedom to explore without preconceived boundaries.

Potts was still in his teens when he met Chip Chapman, another founding member. The first day of high school, we were in this instruments class, and he said he wanted to play the electronic music synthesizer, Potts recalled. Everybody laughed, but by the end of the year, he had figured out how to get the school to buy an Arp Odyssey, and an Echoplex. Meanwhile, hed borrowed gear, made some tapes and got into Cal Arts.

Using the electronic music studios at Cal Arts, Chapman, Potts and his brothers Joe and Tom, would experiment using a wide variety of what could generously be called instruments, including a three-string Japanese guitar with custom, scraped-off failed epoxy resin finish, his dads duck call and a toy violin.

Although other music students at the art school were also pushing into new sonic territories, they werent terribly receptive to Chapmans and Pottss abrasive experiments. The serious electronic music majors hated it because they were sort of inventing ambient music at the time. Our stuff was way too bombastic, Potts says. In the middle of a school concert, a fellow student got up and turned off their tape.

Some of the LA Free Music Collectives instruments. Photograph: courtesy The Box LA and Fredrik Nilsen Studio

The international avant-garde music community was not much more welcoming. The group, which was now calling themselves Le Forte Four, sent a submission to an electronic music festival in Norway, which was rejected, however the experience would eventually give the collective its name. They didnt think they would take the name Le Forte Four seriously, so they submitted it as the East Los Angeles Free Music Society, recalls Nilsen. It got accepted basically based on the name, and then the director of the festival heard it and sent it back with a rejection letter that read, Free minds and ears are one thing, but what about aesthetics?

Recchion was also experimenting with sound with his own group, The Doo-Dooettes, having arrived at it from the perspective of a frustrated artist. I rejected doing paintings and sculpture and visual work because I didnt like the economics of the art world, he recalled. I wanted to work with something that I could get out to more people in a more affordable form. Making records seemed like the best solution.

When Recchion heard the story about the rejection from the Norwegian festival, he says, Thats a great name, why dont we name our collective the Los Angeles Free Music Society? recalls Nilsen. We got a big laugh out of that. And the collective was born.

Other groups would soon come to form the core of the collective: Smegma, AIRWAY, Ace and Deuce. Although they were all committed to fearless experimentation, the results were quite diverse. AIRWAY was notorious for shutting down clubs because they were so loud. That was deliberately part of their act, says Mara McCarthy, founder of the Box and Box Editions. Then you have someone like Tom, who also just makes music by himself that is really quite internally quiet. A poster accompanying the boxset lists the myriad groups and performers that became associated with the collective, including perhaps more well-known underground music figures like Jad Fair, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Christian Marclay.

Never tightly structured (For years it functioned as a real disorganization, Recchion jokes), the collective began to dissolve in the early 80s. We all went around and did other things. At the tail end of the 70s, a lot of us started playing rock music, getting real jobs, says Recchion, who moved to New York and was briefly the drummer for Sonic Youth. Still, throughout it all, new groups formed Dinosaurs with Horns, Solid Eye, Points of Friction, Extended Organ records were released, shows booked. Various events such as a 10-CD boxset put out in 1995 and a 2010 three-day music festival in London, reinvigorated the collective.

Then in 2012, McCarthy decided to organize a retrospective exhibition, Beneath the Valley of the Lowest Form of Music, that focused not only on their sonic output, but on the visual art contributions of its members as well. In addition to a stage set up for performances, large tables were lined with an assortment of DIY music-making objects designed for use in performances.

Four years later, the newly released LAFMS Box Box is a record of that exhibition, capturing each of the 25 performances on 13 LPs (the opening nights group improvisation takes up the first two sides). Groups involved range from those featuring core members as well as newer additions, like Dolphin Explosion, made up of the teenage daughters of artists Jim Shaw and Marnie Weber. Designed by Recchion, an accompanying book and set of posters conveys the visual art component, and includes numerous period photographs by Nilsen, who has since established himself as a successful photographic documentarian of gallery and museum shows in LA. Rather than focus on the seemingly impossible task of tracking all the collectives loose threads over time, it freezes an important milestone in its history.

The project also has a bittersweet significance, as it captures the last musical performance and visual artwork produced by Mike Kelley before his death. The legendary Los Angeles artist committed suicide during the exhibitions run, and the remaining shows turned into a kind of tribute to him, according to Recchion. His last artwork, an installation of fabric and musical toy parts included in the show, conveyed the sense of scrappy, child-like wonder that permeated so much of his work. The boxset is dedicated to his memory.

Its shocking to think that theres an international fanbase for what we do now, because it was just something we were doing for each other and for friends, Potts says. I think thats part of the spirit that people got from those records. You could tell that we werent trying to sell ourselves as a band that was going to be signed to a label, that we were doing just whatever we wanted to do.

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The royal family exists to entertain the rest of us, but theyve been a bit boring of late. Step forward Princess Beatrice, with her wounding of Ed Sheeran

At last, in our bewildering world, there is reassuring news. A sinister buffoon may be about to become the most powerful man in the free world, our country may be staggering cluelessly into an uncertain future, Ed Balls may have become a cosy national treasure, but, in one area at least, the old standards are being maintained. Members of the royal family are still behaving like twits. Until this past weekend, some of us may not have known orcared about Princess Beatrice. Is she the onewho looms up at Royal Ascot in a silly hat? Or was she filmed doing something dodgy with the Fake Sheikh?

Now we know. Princess Beatrice is the daughter of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. She has just carved her name in the history books by stabbing the singer Ed Sheeran in the cheek. At a party at the Royal Lodge in Windsor, another pop star James Blunt joked that he would like to be knighted. Mock knightings turn out to be quite the thing at royal parties, apparently it was one of Fergies favourite japes and so Princess Beatrice reached for a ceremonial sword, raised it high over her head, and slashed pops ginger man in the face.

At a time when there has been a dearth of royal madcap stories Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are decorative but dull, Prince Harry is behaving himself, Prince Charles is mellowing the princess stabs pop star story represents something of a return to form. The British public expect at least some of the royal family to make fools of themselves. It is largely what they are there for. They are court jesters to the nation.

Indeed, Princess Beatrice is following something of a family tradition. One of Prince Andrews female guests at his country house has revealed that she was awoken one morning by the prince bursting into her room, pointing a fire extinguisher at her and roaring with laughter. He never tired of playing the trick on female guests, she was later told. Beatrices great-aunt Margaret famously enjoyed the company of the professional criminal John Bindon. At a party attended by Her Royal Highness on the West Indian island of Mustique, Big John amused her by hanging five half-pint beer mugs on the appendage that gave him his nickname.

A nation slightly less brainwashed about royalty might have occasionally questioned whether the antics of these people were worthy of public attention and money but, as the career of Fergie has shown, you can get away with pretty much anything if you are connected to the royal family. From toe-sucking to acting as ambassador for Weightwatchers, from starring in a reality show set on a housing estate to asking a News of the World man for 500,000 for access to Prince Andrew, she has been a gift to the press and to authors.

In the mid-1980s, I wrote a book with Willie Donaldson to mark the marriage of Prince Andrew and Fergie. Called 101 Things You Didnt Know About the Royal Lovebirds, it was written under the name of Talbot Church, a court correspondent who called himself the man the royals trust. It was meant to be a parody of tabloid journalism prurient, snobbish, ill-informed and, above all, absurd.

The problem, we quickly discovered, was that people, and indeed much of the press, will believe anything about the royals. Among the 101 things revealed was a story that Fergie had once been arrested in a New Orleans brothel, having mistaken it for a hotel. Her Romeo prince was so impervious to pain that on one occasion, during PrinceCharless mystical phase, he startled his brother by levitating over a lighted gas ring.

The stories were run by the Sun as fact. One anecdote found its way into Kitty Kelleys biography of Prince Philip. When, years later, Talbot returned to cover the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the same thing happened. I wrote that the Duke of Edinburgh suffered from a rare condition called royal Tourette syndrome, and that three equerries had been given the responsibility of keeping him away from President Obama. The next day, Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, furiously asked his journalists how they had missed the story.

Fiction blurs effortlessly into fact when it comes to the royal family. They were post-truth long before it becamefashionable.

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Image copyright PA / EPA
Image caption Bush described May as “a very intelligent woman”

Kate Bush has described Theresa May as “wonderful” in a Canadian magazine interview.

Speaking to Maclean’s magazine, she said that having a female prime minister is “the best thing that’s happened” to the UK for a long time.

“I actually really like her,” the British singer-songwriter said.

“I will say it is great to have a woman in charge of the country. She’s very sensible and I think that’s a good thing at this point in time.”

The singer was responding to a question from the interviewer about her 1985 song Waking the Witch, which she once said was about “the fear of women’s power”.

Ken Livingstone song

Bush said May was “a very intelligent woman but I don’t see much to fear”.

The singer performed a version of Waking The Witch on her newly released live album of tracks from her 2014 Hammersmith Apollo residency, which could be heading to the top of the UK album chart this weekend.

Bush previously wrote a song for a sketch on a 1990 episode of TV series The Comic Strip, about the former Labour Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.

The lyrics included: “Look to the left and to the right. We need help and there’s nobody in sight. Where is the man that we all need? Well tell him he’s to come and rescue me. Ken is the man that we all need. Ken is the leader of the GLC.”

The track also describes Livingstone as “a sex machine”.

In an 2010 interview with Kate Bush fanzine, Livingstone said: “Of course I was a fan of the song… If only Kate Bush had seen me as a real sex machine!”

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The country music star talks about remaining relevant while authentic and the changing nature of the industry as he releases his new album Gunslinger

If time is indeed a revelator, as the song goes, then it shows how country music today looks and sounds a lot like Garth Brooks.

So imagine what it must be like to be Garth Brooks, releasing a new album and emerging from what was a nearly 15-year retirement. Suddenly he enters a country music industry that feels mighty familiar: touring takes place in sports arenas, not theaters; country stars are comfortable collaborating with pop stars or putting their own stamp on classic rock staples from decades ago; and music artists in general are bypassing record labels so they can control their own music by releasing it independently and getting it directly to fans.

Brooks, 54, is a one-man catalyst who pushed the industry in those directions. When he retired in 2000 to help raise his three daughters in Claremore, Oklahoma, the benchmarks he achieved the previous decade remained untouched: he is musics biggest-selling artist in history, after to the Beatles, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, tallying 138 million in total unit sales. His return to touring in 2014 has also broken more records; global ticket sales since last year have hovered near the five million mark and counting, according to Pollstar.

But numbers aside, Brooks is well aware he is returning to an industry dominated by younger male singers who grew up, not necessarily on his personal trifecta Merle Haggard, George Jones, George Strait but on hip-hop and top 40 dance pop. In that light, the impressive new album Gunslinger (Pearl) sounds more aligned with traditionalists like Chris Stapleton than it does with neo-country groups like Florida Georgia Line. The songs reflect a populist who, even with nothing left to prove, made sure the 10 songs stand tall inside his classic catalog of hits.

Sitting on the edge of a couch in a recording studio nestled inside Nashvilles Music Row, Brooks says that while making the record he was well aware of the dangers an older artist can face when chasing trends. Theres nothing more unflattering than someone whos chasing, he says. That said, he did make sure Gunslinger retained a modern edge. On Baby, Lets Lay Down And Dance, Brooks hired Justin Timberlake drummer Brian Frasier-Moore and bassist Eric Smith to give it a slinky groove while Ask Me How I Know How sounds tailored for modern country radio. The updates come from his retirement years when his daughters introduced him to younger artists like Timberlake, Beyonc and Bruno Mars.

Brooks says his touchstones in recording Gunslinger were New Moon Shine by James Taylor and Storm Front by Billy Joel two well-received mid-career albums by establishment artists who managed to sound rooted in the present without shedding the integrity of their past.

Thats what you want to do as an older artist you want to reinvent but there has to be that vein in there for why people were listening to you before in the first place, he says.

Long before Radiohead and other groups retreated from the industry to realign how they connect with fans, Brooks was tinkering with the traditional relationship between labels and listeners by asserting independence rarely exhibited in the Nashville power structure. After establishing himself with a string of hits in the early 1990s The Dance, Friends in Low Places, Unanswered Prayers, The Thunder Rolls, among many he negotiated a deal where he parted ways with EMI-owned Capital Nashville but retained ownership of his master recordings. From there he worked a deal to make his entire catalog available through Walmart stores and this week launched a special 10-disc box set at Target. He and Yearwood also released Christmas Together, a seasonal duets album, last week.

Brooks says illegal streaming via YouTube and other online services have threatened to make his catalog worthless.

Because youre whack-a-moling. [You] cant protect it, he says. He was a holdout to Spotify and iTunes for years but in October signed a deal with Amazon Music to allow official streaming of parts of his catalog but that was only after he launched GhostTunes, his own streaming service he says now has an uncertain future.

He admits to worrying that technology companies will one day hold all the cards, from creative control to distribution to publishing, a situation that will create uncertainty regarding royalty rates for songwriters, among other things, and force consumers to juggle services. Itll be the wild west then, he says. The people who make up the rules will be the individual [technology] companies.

The on-demand nature of streaming is also poised to erode one of the best things about music: discovering something you might love by chance, not through the metrics of an anonymous programmer. How many songs in your life were your favorite songs but never were singles on albums? [The Eagles] Hotel California had about three or four that made my life but never were singles. But youre not going to hear them now, he says. At his stage in life, Brooks admits that he struggles with a business that is laser-focused on individual songs but not necessarily artists, especially talented new ones, who may have a backlog of songs.

The hardest part about this business is accepting the back end with the same love that you accepted the front end, he says.

Despite the shifting nature of the music business, touring has remained the centerpiece of his career. Even during his retirement he managed to play a series of stripped-down shows at the Encore in Las Vegas. There, he performed solo, often acoustic, and performed numerous covers in addition to his own songs. The casual setting provided a stark counterpoint to what he calls the freak show the full-scale stadium spectacle he has refined over many years. During these recent dates, he makes sure to bring a bit of the Vegas experience into the arena: simple moments featuring just vocals and guitar. If you do the freak show and not do that, then the freak show is a lie of smoke and mirrors and at some point its going to break.

The freak show is something Brooks introduced to country music through his love of arena rock titans like Kiss. Back then he received a lot of flak for turning country away from its supposed roots. Today, with Merle Haggard and many others gone, it has not escaped him that his music now represents the tradition.

It is kind of weird as the years go by you start getting to be known as the country guy when anybody that was alive or around knows when you came out, they wanted to hang you because they didnt think your stuff wasnt country at all, he says. I dont know why it works that way but it always does.

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Cuban-born superstar Gloria Estefan is one of Latin music’s biggest stars, but she rarely considers the magnitude of her countless accomplishments.

In the latest episode of HuffPost’s parent-child interview series Talk To Me, she spoke with her daughter, up-and-coming singer Emily Estefan, about her legendary career. Estefan said she tends to only realize the impact of her decades in the music business right before she gives an important speech. 

“In the rare moments when I’m actually watching one of those videos that they put together before I do a speech, that’s when it really hits me,” she said. “All the stuff we’ve done. It feels very fast, so I can warn you right now, enjoy every second because it goes like a flash.” 

Throughout her impressive career, which has spanned music, television and a Broadway musical based upon her life, the Grammy Award winner has learned some invaluable life lessons. She stressed the importance of finding a passion and dedicating yourself to it, regardless of the plans that others may have for you. 

“Find what you love, what you love to do, because if you work at what you love to do, then it doesn’t feel like work,” she said.

She added that even at the age of 59, she’s still discovering aspects of the business that get her most excited. Now that she’s an established music powerhouse, she said she has the privilege to choose roles and projects she truly enjoys.  

Over the years she’s also fine-tuned her definition of success and it has nothing to do with career milestones or a bank account. 

“To me success is having loving and wonderful relationships with family and friends, doing what you love and being able to choose in your life and balance,” she said. With that in mind, Estefan said she hopes to focus more on those relationships now that she’s accomplished so much professionally. 

“My dreams and goals are now to be able to enjoy everything that we’ve worked so hard to achieve, to spend less time working,” she said. 

Hear more from Gloria and Emily Estefan in the video above. 

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Didier Marouani, who founded disco band Space, detained with lawyer in bank in Moscow after row over songs with Philipp Kirkorov

The leader of a cult French disco band has been detained in Moscow following a plagiarism dispute with a Russian pop star who recently made the news speaking about his long friendship with US president-elect Donald Trump.

Didier Marouani, who founded the band Space in 1977, was detained with his Russian representative Igor Trunov in a bank in downtown Moscow on Tuesday evening, state news agency TASS reported. The agency later published a photograph of the Frenchman inside the bank, scratching his head with a bemused look on his face.

The lawyer for Russian pop star Philipp Kirkorov said Marouani and Trunov had been detained on suspicion of extorting 1m from his client. Kirkorov was reportedly questioned by the police while the two were still in the bank.

The pop stars squabble stems from a plagiarism lawsuit Marouani brought in a Moscow court this month, alleging that Kirkorovs song Cruel Love was partly copied from the Space tune Symphonic Space Dream. The French group sought 75.34m roubles (925,000) in damages and a ban on Kirkorov performing his 2002 hit.

The Russian side dismissed the accusations as a PR ploy, and Cruel Loves composer, Oleg Popkov, claimed that it had been registered in the Russian Authors Society in 2000, two years before the Symphonic Space Dream came out. Its still not clear who stole from whom, he told state news agency RIA Novosti.

A Moscow court rejected Marouanis lawsuit, saying it had no jurisdiction to try it, and Trunov said they might go to a US court. But on Monday, he told TASS that after three days of negotiations Kirkorov had consented to pay Marouani compensation.

The French musician flew to Moscow the same day, although Kirkorovs lawyer soon denied that an agreement had been reached. Police were waiting in the bank where the French side had come in the expectation of signing a settlement.

Kirkorov told the tabloid Life that Marouanis accusations forced me to appeal to law enforcement and ask for protection from the state, so that they would shield me from such insinuations.

A staple of the pop scene since the late Soviet era, the flamboyant Kirkorov was outspoken in his support of Trump during the US election. He told the Guardian he had known Trump since 1994 and that the two had found common ground talking about the beauty of Russian and American women.

Space had a hit in the UK with Magic Fly in 1977, but have enjoyed more long-lasting popularity in eastern Europe, where they still occasionally tour.

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Musician who has performed at the Standing Rock protest site asked Obama to intervene in an impassioned Facebook post before Trump becomes president

Neil Young has called on President Barack Obama to intervene in the North Dakota pipeline standoff and criticized the unnecessary and violent aggression faced by protesters gathered at the Standing Rock site.

In November, Young spent his 71st birthday performing for those at the Dakota Access pipeline protest site, and on Monday, in a long Facebook post, he requested Obama step in and end the violence against protesters.

The camp grows as winter comes, he wrote together with the actor Daryl Hannah. Standing in protection of our most vital life support systems, but also for the rightful preservation of Native American cultural ways and their sovereignty.

It is an awakening. All here together, with their non-native relatives, standing strong in the face of outrageous, unnecessary and violent aggression, on the part of militarized local and state law enforcement agencies and national guard, who are seemingly acting to protect the interests of the Dakota Access pipeline profiteers, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars, above all other expressed concerns.

The musician then expressly appealed to the outgoing president to step in. They stand for all that is good and they stay strong. We are calling upon you, President Barack Obama, to step in and end the violence against the peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock immediately.

He then turned his attentions to president-elect Donald Trump, who he refers to as the surprise president, saying he brings a bounty of opportunity and his tenure will highlight the great issues of our time.

The surprise president claims he does [not] believe in climate science nor the threats it presents and his actions and words reflect that claim in tangible and dangerous ways, he wrote.

Do not be intimidated by the surprise presidents cabinet appointees as they descend the golden escalator. Those who behave in racist ways are not your leaders. The golden tower is not yours. The White House is your house.

In May, Young who said he supported Bernie Sanders allowed Trump to use his song Rockin in the Free World on the campaign trail, after initially saying he would not have allowed him to use it if he had been asked beforehand.

He ended the post with an appeal for people to be inspired by the Standing Rock protesters and stand up to the Trump-led administration.

Be counted, he wrote. Be like our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. Be there if you can. The progress we have made over 240 years as a nation, has always come first from the people.

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We the people can create change by standing together. This is crucial to remember for the next four years

The reports are rolling in: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead. If you read the obituaries, most news outlets seem to agree that the cause of death was simple: the election of Donald Trump, who railed against the deal during his campaign. But the pundits have the story wrong.

The real story is that an unprecedented, international uprising of people from across the political spectrum took on some of the most powerful institutions in the world, and won.

Sure, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders campaign focus on the TPP elevated US awareness about the pact, a wide-reaching international agreement negotiated by the Obama administration. But no single politician killed this deal.

If not for the constant pressure from activists and civil society groups, the TPP would have become law long before the recent US election. But thanks to intense, creative and strategic organizing from the day the text was finalized in 2015, there was never a majority of support for the pact in Congress. Thats why it was never implemented.

The TPP is a massive global deal that was negotiated in secret with hundreds of corporate advisers given special access while the public was locked out. It would have handed multinational corporations like Walmart, AT&T and Monsanto extraordinary new powers over everything from the wages we earn, to the way we use the internet, to the safety of the food we feed our children.

Perhaps most shockingly, the TPP would have allowed corporations to sue governments before tribunals of three corporate lawyers, essentially creating an unaccountable, shadow legal system outside of our traditional courts to punish governments that pass laws that corporations dont like.

A simple agreement to lower tariffs and other anticompetitive barriers to trade wouldnt have been so controversial. But big business couldnt resist the urge to abuse the extreme secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations to stuff the pact with a wishlist for policies they knew they could never pass through traditional means.

That unchecked greed was the TPPs demise. What emerged from the closed-door negotiations was more than 5,000 pages of policy so clearly against the public interest that it awakened a firestorm of opposition that swept the globe, and in the end, sent the TPP to its grave.

While negotiations were still under way, tens of thousands of people joined mass protests in Japan, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Rim nations. They pushed back on the TPPs worst provisions, held their leaders feet to the fire and dragged the talks out for years. This early wave of international resistance changed the game: it bought time for activists to organize an effective opposition in the US, which was seen as all-important in the global calculus of the Washington-led deal. If Congress did not ratify the TPP, it would die.

In the meantime, an unlikely alliance was forming. Activists, farmers, labor unions, tech companies, environmentalists, economists, nurses, LGBTQ advocates, libertarians and librarians mounted an intense opposition to the fast track legislation that the White House needed to rush the final agreement through Congress. The coalition that formed grew from dozens, to hundreds, to literally thousands of organizations, many working together for the first time, ranging from Black Lives Matter to Doctors Without Borders to the Tea Party.

We marched in the streets. We rallied outside the hotels and resorts that hosted the secret negotiations. Cancer patients protesting about the TPPs impact on healthcare access engaged in civil disobedience and were arrested. Internet freedom activists mobilized thousands of websites for online protests that bombarded lawmakers with emails and phone calls. Academics picked apart leaked versions of the deal, and coordinated with advocates to launch a campaign to educate the public on its flaws.

Hard-hitting activism and public outcry slowed the TPP down, and as a result, dragged it fully into the spotlight just as the US headed into a contentious election season.

It wasnt a coincidence that Donald Trump saw the TPP as a useful stump speech talking point. Widespread suffering caused by previous trade deals laid a strong foundation for skepticism, making President Obamas devotion to the Wall Street-friendly deal, and Hillary Clintons previous support for it, a huge liability for the Democratic party. As more and more people learned about what the TPP really meant for them and their families, it became politically toxic, to the point that no major party candidate for president could openly support it.

This was a sign that the TPP was on its deathbed, but with the threat of a last-minute push during the lame duck session after the election, we needed to be sure. So we targeted undecided lawmakers with protests and flew inflatable blimps outside their offices. We harnessed the power of music to draw huge crowds across the country to Rock Against the TPP concerts and teach-ins, taking our opposition to the TPP into the cultural mainstream. We tuned out the chorus of voices that told us that corporate power would always prevail in the end. And finally, we claimed our victory.

Now more than ever, its crucial that Americans understand how the TPP was really defeated. An organized and educated public can take on concentrated wealth and power and win. With four years of new battles ahead of us, this is a story we must commit to memory, and a lesson we must take to heart.

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(CNN)Couples have gotten married in all kinds of wacky venues — restaurants, racetracks, even a shark tank. So why not throw a grocery store into the mix?

That’s where Larry and Mary Tinson held their nuptials last week, in an Albany, Georgia, supermarket that holds special significance for them — it’s where their romance began.
    Four years ago, Larry Tinson, just back from a tour in Afghanistan, stopped by Harvey’s Supermarket to grab some cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner when something else caught his eye — Mary.
    “I heard someone say ‘Hey girl’ and I turned around and said ‘Oh my God, Larry? I haven’t seen you in over 20-something years,” Mary Tinson told CNN affiliate WALB.
    The two had met a few times before, but it wasn’t until that fateful day in the grocery store aisle that things turned romantic.
    Fast forward to 2016. The two lovebirds are looking for a place to get married and decide Harvey’s is the natural choice. The folks at the supermarket were thrilled to help.
    “We are extremely excited to be part of this special day,” Ken Wicker, vice president of operations at Harvey’s, told WALB. “To our knowledge this is the first time we’ve ever had a real wedding in one of our supermarkets.”
    Harvey’s helped the Tinsons plan their big day, including helping line up the live music and getting them a wedding cake topped with — what else? — cranberries.
    And the wedding was held on Thanksgiving Day, since Thanksgiving dinner is what drove Larry to the supermarket in the first place.

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    It started with Sam Harris, moved on to Milo Yiannopoulos and almost led to full-scale Islamophobia. If it can happen to a lifelong liberal, it could happen to anyone

    I am a happily married, young white man. I grew up in a happy, Conservative household. Ive spent my entire life save the last four months as a progressive liberal. All of my friends are very liberal or left-leaning centrists. I have always voted Liberal Democrat or Green. I voted remain in the referendum. The thought of racism in any form has always been abhorrent to me. When leave won, I was devastated.

    I was curious as to the motives of leave voters. Surely they were not all racist, bigoted or hateful? I watched some debates on YouTube. Obvious points of concern about terrorism were brought up. A leaver cited Sam Harris as a source. I looked him up: this intellectual, free-thinker was very critical of Islam. Naturally my liberal kneejerk reaction was to be shocked, but I listened to his concerns and some of his debates.

    This, I think, is where YouTubes suggested videos can lead you down a rabbit hole. Moving on from Harris, I unlocked the Pandoras box of Its not racist to criticise Islam! content. Eventually I was introduced, by YouTube algorithms, to Milo Yiannopoulos and various anti-SJW videos (SJW, or social justice warrior, is a pejorative directed at progressives). They were shocking at first, but always presented as innocuous criticism from people claiming to be liberals themselves, or centrists, sometimes just a regular conservative but never, ever identifying as the dreaded alt-right.

    For three months I watched this stuff grow steadily more fearful of Islam. Not Muslims, they would usually say, individual Muslims are fine. But Islam was presented as a threat to western civilisation. Fear-mongering content was presented in a compelling way by charismatic people who would distance themselves from the very movement of which they were a part.

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