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Dozens of Fela Kuti albums available for free streaming
04:33 am


Fela Kuti

A Metafilter user going by the wonderful handle “flapjax at midnite” has alerted the world to the existence of a Bandcamp page full of complete Fela Kuti LPs. 48 of them, in fact, which I don’t believe is even his complete discography.

If you’re unfamiliar, good lord take this opportunity! Fela (1938-1997) was an inestimably important African artist who began making music in the late ‘50s, and in the ‘60s pioneered a compelling fusion of psych-rock, funk, jazz, and traditional Nigerian music that he dubbed “Afrobeat.” His music dealt with themes of social justice, which, as he was a Pan-African and a Socialist, got him in major and repeated deep shit in the repressive milieu of Nigeria. The mid ’70s album Zombie, for example, was a blistering attack on the Nigerian military, whose response to the insult included fatally defenestrating his mother in a brutal raid on the Lagos commune in which he, his family, and his band lived. The 1989 release Beasts of No Nation—the recording that served as my introduction to his work—was a lengthy and stunning piece he wrote after being freed from a stint in prison on a politically motivated and trumped up currency smuggling charge.


Now, as heroic as his political struggles were, the man was not unproblematic. It’d be plain wrong to lionize him for his musical innovations and political engagement while leaving out that he was a polygamist who could be disturbingly misogynistic.

There are plenty of good entry points into Fela’s work, but among my favorites is the absolutely KILLER Live With Ginger Baker. The Cream drummer’s African sojurn is a story unto itself, and had no small impact on the development of that continent’s rock music in the ’70s.

Lastly, here’s some great footage from Catalonian television in the ‘80s, mixing interview material with a live concert, a combination which imparts a good sense of the man and his work.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The Clash play ‘Safe European Home’ in newly unearthed live footage
05:37 am


The Clash

Web series The Big Fun Show, a project of One Billion Acts of Peace, has unearthed some unreleased footage of The Clash performing at Detroit USA’s Motor City Roller Rink in 1980. They’ve posted “Safe European Home,” from the LP Give Em Enough Rope, with the promise that if the video gets 100,000 views, they’ll post more of the show.

The video has been up for a few days now, and the hit count is still well below 5,000, so maybe we could give them a little hand? One Billion Acts of Peace is a charitable organization worth knowing about. A project of Peace Jam, it’s “an international global citizen’s movement led by thirteen Nobel Peace Laureates and designed to tackle the toughest issues facing humanity.”

Between now and December 31, 2018, average citizens around the world will work together to create one billion high quality projects addressing the root causes of the most important problems facing our planet—crucial areas like rights for women and children, access to clean water for all, and alleviating extreme poverty.

Additional information on the project is available at their web site. But OK, optimism, social change and Nobel Peace Prizes are all maybe a little hippie-ish for some of you, and you clicked on this to see The Clash. I’ll not keep you waiting.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Disgraceland: Steven Van Zandt rips on Paul Simon
09:48 am


Paul Simon
Steven Van Zandt

Little Steven
Little Steven at a press conference where Coretta Scott King accepted the first $50,000 check (on behalf of The Africa Fund) from Artists United Against Apartheid, 1985
Perhaps one of my least punk predilections is a weakness for Paul Simon, and the album Graceland, specifically. It’s not that I have any compunction about liking “mom rock,” (moms are awesome, and my love for Carole King is also well-documented), but Graceland is steeped in some pretty nasty history. For one, I’m inclined to believe Los Lobos, who appear on the last track, “All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints,” when they say Simon should have given them a writing credit. The album made bank, and he certainly could have stood to give them credit and a little compensation.

But the most well-known controversy of Graceland is Simon’s refusal to cooperate with the cultural boycott of Apartheid—most of the album was recorded in South Africa, but Simon apparently considered himself exempt from the politics of the situation, since he had been invited by South African musicians and didn’t play live shows in the country. I’ll be the first to admit that cultural boycotts can be difficult to understand. From an artist’s perspective, no one wants to be told to avoid an audience or a musical collaboration because their governing body is corrupt. But Paul Simon pulled what we refer to in radical political circles as a “total dick move.”

If he was really committed to solidarity with South Africans (which he insists, to this day, that he was), it would have been incredibly easy for him to just ask the African National Congress if it was cool for him to visit, just to make sure that he wasn’t, ya know… undermining the struggle for liberation of a long-suffering people. He was even explicitly advised by Harry Belafonte to do just that, (and when Harry Belafonte gives you civil rights advice, you’d best just listen). Simon decided he was just going to go, and upon his arrival, he was treated to protests, with signs demanding, “Yankee Go Home” and “Go Back Simon.”

And here’s the thing—he still hasn’t fucking apologized. I’m not sure if it’s because the album was incredibly successful or because it broke South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo to a larger audience, but he seems to think the legacy of Graceland completely excuses his totally politically unconscionable transgression. In Under African Skies, the 2012 documentary on the album, he’s still a smug dick about it.

And this is why I love Steven Van Zandt. In addition to being a truly brilliant musician, a dedicated and studious curator of rock ‘n’ roll history, and Silvio Dante, Little Steven is down with the people, and a committed activist. In a recent interview with rock critic Dave Marsh on his Sirius/XM radio program Kick Out The Jams with Dave Marsh, he discussed his work with Artists United Against Apartheid. The whole thing was fascinating, but the very best part is Van Zandt hilariously calling out Paul Simon.

Picking up from the point where Little Steven tells the armed resistance movement, the Azanian People’s Organisation, not to just fucking assassinate Paul Simon for his bullshit…

Dave Marsh: I was with you the first time you saw Paul and talked to him about this, at [entertainment attorney] Peter Parcher’s 60th birthday party.

Van Zandt: That’s right, that’s right, that’s right! I’m glad you were a witness, because wait’ll you hear the latest on that. Anyway, I said to them, “Listen, this is not gonna help anybody if you knock off Paul Simon. Trust me on this, alright? Let’s put that aside for the moment. Give me a year or so, you know, six months,” whatever I asked for, “to try and do this a different way. I’m trying to actually unify the music community around this, which may or may not include Paul Simon, but I don’t want it to be a distraction. I just don’t need that distraction right now; I gotta keep my eye on the ball.” And I took him off that assassination list, I took Paul Simon off the U.N. blacklist, trying to…

You mean you convinced them to take him off…

Yeah, because this was a serious thing…

Because this was gonna eat up the attention that the movement itself needed.

Yes, and the European unions were serious about this stuff, man. You were on that [U.N. blacklist], you did not work, okay? Not like America, which was so-so about this stuff, man. Over there, they were serious about this stuff, you know? Anyway, so yeah, this was in spite of Paul Simon approaching me at that party saying, “What are you doing, defending this communist?!”

What he said was, “Ah, the ANC [African National Congress, the organization of which Mandela was President at the time of his arrest and imprisonment], that’s just the Russians.” And he mentioned the group that [murdered black South African activist Steven Biko] had been in, which was not AZAPO…

Was he PAC [Pan-Africanist Congress]?

It doesn’t matter [for this story], but [Paul Simon] said, “That’s just the Chinese communists.”

Yeah, yeah. And he says, “What are you doing defending this guy Mandela?! He’s obviously a communist. My friend Henry Kissinger told me about where all of the money’s coming from,” and all of this. I was, like, all due respect, Paul…

I remember it very vividly, because it was aimed at everybody standing in the general direction.

Yeah, but mostly he was telling me.

Well, yeah, you were the one… Everybody knew who to get mad at first. [laughter]

He knew more than me, he knew more than Mandela, he knew more than the South African people. His famous line, of course, was, “Art transcends politics.” And I said to him, “All due respect, Paulie, but not only does art not transcend politics… art is politics. And I’m telling you right now, you and Henry Kissinger, your buddy, go fuck yourselves.” Or whatever I said. But he had that attitude, and he knowingly and consciously violated the boycott to publicize his record.

Well, to make his record. That’s the violation of the boycott — to make his record.

Yeah, and he actually had the nerve to say, “Well, I paid everybody double-scale.” Remember that one? Oh, that’s nice… no arrogance in that statement, huh? [laughter]

Now, the punchline. Cut to 30 years later, or whatever it is. He asked me to be in his movie [Under African Skies, the documentary on the making of Graceland, included as a DVD in the album’s 25th anniversary boxed edition]. I said, “Alright, I’ll be in your movie, if you don’t edit me. You ready to tell it like it is?”

He says, “Yep.”

“Are you, like, uh, apologizing in this movie?”


“Okay. I’m not gonna be a sore winner. I’ll talk to you.”

I did an interview. They show me the footage. Of course, they edited the hell out of it to some little statement where I’m saying something positive about Paul. [laughter] And I see the rest of the footage, where he’s supposedly apologizing, with Dali Tambo [founder of Artists Against Apartheid and son of late ANC leaders Adelaide and Oliver Tambo]. He says, “I’m sorry if I made it inconvenient for you.” That was his apology.

In other words, he still thinks he’s right, all these years later!

You’re the only person who’s ever met Paul twice who thinks that’s surprising. [laughter]

I mean, at this point, you still think you were right?! Meanwhile, that big “communist,” as soon as he got out of jail, I see who took the first picture with him. There’s Paul Simon and Mandela, good buddies. I’m watchin’ CNN the other day. Mandela dies, on comes a statement by Bono and the second statement’s by Paul Simon. I’m like oh, just make me throw up. You know, I like the guy in a lot of ways, I do; and I respect his work, of course. He’s a wonderful, wonderful artist, but when it comes to this subject, he just will not admit he was wrong. Y’know, just mea culpa. Come on, you won! He made twenty, thirty million dollars at least, okay? Take the money and apologize, okay? I mean, say “Listen, maybe I was wrong about this a little bit.” No.

Well…unfortunately we live in a country where the money means you don’t have to apologize, and let’s leave that there.


Via Backstreets

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Want to become Anonymous? There’s a workshop for that!
05:17 am



A curious listing popped up in the registration section of Machine Project, a grassroots educational facility in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Bearing the title “Becoming Anonymous,” the listing proposed to teach registrants to learn the techniques used by the infamous and admirable hacktivist collective Anonymous. The class costs $95 for Machine Project members and $110 for non-members; the three 180-minute sessions are scheduled for March 4, 11, and 18 at 7pm.

Here’s the course description in full:

Becoming Anonymous is a three-session workshop that will focus on methods for the circumvention or blocking of digital and real-world surveillance. Browse the internet anonymously. Lock down your computer and passwords. Encrypt your email messages. Build a new you or a new identity. Learn about the benefits of burner phones and bitcoin. Stop individuals, corporations, or the government from tracking you. A toolkit for a new era!

Taught by Professors X & Y who are real-life professors, technology enthusiasts, and privacy advocates. But perhaps we’ve already told you too much.

Participants should have laptops and be 18 or over.

Given the inordinate interest that law enforcement officials are likely to have in such an event, I would imagine that the “teachers” will be present in the form of one or more computer monitors. Although it’s not like you can just arrest some dude called Anonymous anyway.

Here’s a taste of the kind of righteous mayhem you can perpetrate after taking the class, specifically blitzing the websites of the Westboro Baptist Church:

via Internet Magic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Killing Nazis with kindness—by ‘liking’ them on Facebook
04:51 am



Like Attack
January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this year an ad-hoc German collective called Laut Gegen Nazis (Loud Against Nazis) staged an intriguing protest against the Nazi Party of Germany, or the National Democratic Party of Germany, as they style themselves (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD), by using the innocuous tools of Facebook to call attention to the damnable persistence of Nazi ideology in Germany.

Laut Gegen Nazis called it a “Like Attack”—they encouraged liberal opponents of fascist ideas to flood the NPD’s Facebook page by “liking” it and also by posting, as a comment, a link to a liberal-friendly image such as “Rassismus tötet!” (Racism kills!) or a rainbow version of the Nazi logo. In addition users were urged to adopt one of those very same images as their personal icons for the day (as they would obviously be seen on the NPD’s page itself).
Laut Gegen Nazis
The slogan for the day was “Wir überfremden die NPD!”—which clever phrase requires a bit of unpacking. The German word überfremden is not a common one; it appears to be a bit of neo-Nazi jargon, and it means to be overrun by foreigners—such sentiments are surely discernable enough in the U.S. and U.K. as well. The genius of the slogan lies in the fact that Laut Gegen Nazis was proposing to do just that to the NPD’s Facebook page—overrun it with outside elements.

As the Das Kraftfuttermischwerk blog pointed out, the project had the distinct drawback of having to oblige users, however briefly, to “like” such an odious entity as the NPD in order to function. But a sizable number of people appeared not to mind that particular taint, anyway.
NPD Facebook page
In the end, the NPD admins presumably had to work a little harder to maintain their page (it appears that many of the comments were scrubbed, although as of this writing—1/29—a few more recent comments could be seen on NPD’s website), and who knows how many minds, if any, were changed. But it remains a pretty clever implementation of social media to land a collective political point.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Jewelry made from seized guns and ammo
09:14 am


gun control

Bullet Aeternum Pendant Necklace: $245.00
I’m generally turned off by stuff like this (I blame Bono). So often we’re told political art is there to “raise awareness,” as if the issue can be solved with a some savvy public relations hustle and a t-shirt or two. Or, we’re told that the answer to problems of capitalism lie in some sort of ethical consumerism—if we all just do our research and vote with our dollar, we can save the world by shopping! (Check out the video at the end to hear Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek lay out exactly why that’s bullshit.)

But I kind of like this jewelry made from recycled guns, and it doesn’t get on my nerves for couple of reasons. One, the mission statement is pretty clear and the artistic concept isn’t overly ambitious or sanctimonious:

Liberty United recycles guns to make jewelry and art made in the U.S.A.

Guns and bullets are collected by partner communities. These are cataloged and checked by law enforcement and then released for recycling. Liberty United remakes the remnants of these guns and bullets, using ancient and contemporary techniques, into jewelry and art.

As we work to reduce gun violence, we provide jobs in America. Our pieces are handcrafted in the U.S.A., incorporating serial numbers and metal from guns and bullet shells that have been reclaimed and destroyed through the communities with whom we’re collaborating.

Second, 20 to 25% of the profits (not a bad cut) go to established anti-gun violence organizations—not just some paper moon charity the artists invented to appear “aware.” And third, it appears their labor practices are actually on the up and up.

But Liberty United doesn’t claim to be saving the world.They’re using recycled materials, they appear to be providing good jobs for skilled laborers, and they’re making something a hell of a lot more attractive than a pair of TOMS shoes.

The stuff is pretty pricey—even when a choice of metals is offered, the less precious of the two is no drop in the bucket. And we won’t save America from gun violence with swank accessories. But this is a cool concept, and I’ll be damned if I don’t need that claw bracelet at the very bottom.
Skinny Bullet Cuff: $95.00
Gunmetal Aeternum Cuff: $395.00
Bullet Ring: $85.00
Bullet Necklace: $95.00
Silver & Gunmetal Inlay Cage Cuff with Turquoise: $1,295.00
Silver & Gunmetal Talon Cuff: $1,545.00 USD

Via Liberty United

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Garbage in, garbage out: Portugal’s dirty protest against the banks
08:05 am



In Portugal the refuse collectors are on strike, so people are leaving their garbage outside the banks.

According to Euro News, the garbage has been “piling up on some of the streets of the Portuguese capital Lisbon – where refuse collectors have been on strike for three days over plans to privatise the sector.”

Unions representing the refuse collectors estimate 85% of the workers support the strike, which is due to end on 5th January.

Via Matt Bloom, H/T Trevor Ward

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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John Heartfield, the original culture jammer
07:09 am


John Heartfield

John Heartfield
I recently stumbled upon some images by John Heartfield, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head. I had never heard of Heartfield before, but the more I look into him, the more central and essential his work seems.

Despite the WASP-y name, Heartfield was German, and although he lived until 1968 his best-known work was during the Weimar era and also the years preceding World War II. He was born Helmut Herzfeld in 1891 and, in a detail that tells you everything you need to know about him, he adopted the English name John Heartfield (“Herzfeld”) in 1917 to protest the anti-British sentiment that was engulfing Germany at the time. His brother was born Wieland Herzfeld and for reasons I don’t fully understand decided to add an “e” to his name, making him Wieland Herzfelde. Heartfield and Herzfelde (along with the expressionist painter George Grosz) started an influential publishing company called the Malik Verlag—that also happened in 1917, the same year Helmut became Heartfield.
Adolf der Übermensch
“Adolf, der Übermensch: Schluckt Gold und redet Blech,” 1932 (“Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Tin”)
Heartfield designed book covers for Upton Sinclair and many other authors and also designed stage sets for Bertolt Brecht. As with his anti-nationalist protest, Heartfield’s connection to the names “Sinclair” and “Brecht” indicates much about his artistic and political sensibility. He was part of the Dada scene as well (check out the “Soeben erschienen” cover below). One thing I didn’t realize until I began researching Heartfield was how much more politicized the German Dada scene was, as opposed to the French variety. If Heartfield’s work is anything to go by (it may not be), the German Dadaists were far more engaged with political struggle.

The man led an interesting life. As a child he and his siblings were abandoned in the woods by their parents—eventually an uncle consented to raise them. In the spring of 1933, the Nazis raided his apartment, but he escaped through the window. Eventually he emigrated to Czechoslovakia on foot—that is, he walked to Czechoslovakia in order to escape the Nazis.
This is the cure
“Das ist das Heil, das sie bringen!” 1938 (“This is the cure that they bring!”)
That’s enough about Heartfield’s life—let’s talk about the work. I’m hesitant to say that Heartfield “invented” photomontage or anything like that, there were certainly people doing that sort of thing before World War I. But there is surely a case to be made that Heartfield was one of the pioneers of photomontage and arguably one of the very first to use it to such powerful effect. In many ways Heartfield might be the first photomontage artist to influence directly a lot of the counterculture movements of the Sixties and beyond. It’s pretty clear he occupies a very special position, and many of his images are decades ahead of their time. You can see Heartfield’s influence in culture jammers of all kinds, from Plunderphonics to every kind of sampleriffic noise collage and beyond.

If you look around the world today, especially on the Internet, you’re sure to see a Heartfield heir somewhere in the mix. Every time you see the head of Obama or George W. Bush pasted onto something else as a political comment, you’re seeing the Heartfield ethic in action. Adbusters has been doing Heartfield-type stuff for years now.

The question arises, Why does Heartfield’s work seem so rich and penetrating whereas (as an example) the Adbusters approach tends to pall after a while? It’s tempting to say that it’s because Heartfield was so willing to go for the jugular in his images, but I actually think it’s something like the opposite. Adbusters isn’t exactly known for pulling its punches either, you know? No, I think what makes Heartfield’s images work so well is actually a kind of delicacy, a perhaps-Continental sensibility that avoids hyperbole in favor of nuanced depth—even the crazy images of Hitler and Goering aren’t all that hyperbolic, they’re witty and they have one foot grounded in the regular world somehow. In a way there’s a lesson there. It doesn’t take artistry of craftsmanship to come up with a visual pun, the craft comes in the execution, the ability to create an image that may have blood, skeletons, misery, and suffering in it and yet not make you turn away.
Hurrah, the Butter is Gone!
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Mittageisen
Siouxsie and the Banshees appropriated one of Heartfield’s most famous images when they released a German translation of their song “Metal Postcard”—you can compare the two images above. The name of the Siouxsie single is “Mittageisen,” which is a pun. The German word Mittagessen means “lunch”—Mittageisen would translate as “midday iron.” The original Heartfield print is called “Hurrah, die Butter ist alle!” which means, “Hurrah, the butter is gone!”—it’s a reference to Hermann Goering’s famous 1936 speech in which he said, “Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.” Heartfield’s ingenious answer is to make a typical Aryan household in which there is only iron on the dinner table.
Here’s Siouxsie and the Banshees playing “Mittageisen” in 1979:

Here’s a playful documentary about Heartfield’s work:

After the jump, several more examples of Heartfield’s searing and sarcastic imagery….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Beastie Boys Square’: Petition aims to give NYC’s Ludlow/Rivington intersection a new name
06:12 am


Beastie Boys

Paul's Boutique
An energetic New Yorker wants to have the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington streets in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where the remarkable 360-degree album art for the Beastie Boys’ classic 1989 album Paul’s Boutique was photographed, renamed “Beastie Boys Square.”

Here’s some of the news report, from DNAInfo’s Serena Solomon:

A Brooklyn resident wants to name the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington streets after the hip-hop trio, marking the corner shown on the cover of their groundbreaking 1989 album “Paul’s Boutique.”

“I think the Beastie Boys represent New York in a certain way,” said LeRoy McCarthy, 46, who earlier this year proposed a street co-naming for rapper Biggie Smalls in Clinton Hill.

“They grew up here. They are New Yorkers.”

McCarthy, a film location scout who previously worked for a record label in Atlanta, has gathered nearly 20 signatures so far on a petition for the Beastie Boys co-naming, including eight of the nine businesses on Rivington Street between Ludlow and Essex streets and many of the apartments on the block, he said.

He hopes to present his proposal to Community Board 3 soon.


“I think that the Lower East Side, what it used to be, is a good place to honor the Beastie Boys,” said McCarthy, who fell in love with hip-hop as a child.

“It represents New York. New York is always changing, New York is always on the move, New York is dirty [and] it is beautiful.”

Here’s the petition. Do sign it!

As it happens, I’m moving from New York to Cleveland in a couple of days, and completely coincidentally I held my farewell party about a block away from that Ludlow/Rivington intersection.

Here is that intersection as it looked in June 2011, according to Google Maps.
Ludlow & Rivington, June 2011
In May of this year Palmetto Playground in Brooklyn Heights was renamed Adam Yauch Park.

McCarthy is also looking to do something similar for Wu-Tang Clan “in the Park Hill neighborhood of the hip-hop group’s native Staten Island.” I definitely support this idea, but (speaking as a resident of Staten Island, even if only for another forty-eight hours) I propose renaming the “Spirit of America,” the only Staten Island Ferry boat currently in service that is not named for a human being, after the obvious choice: RZA. I would certainly sign a petition to that effect, and in fact I think if you jump ahead 25 years or so, it’s almost inevitable. Because RZA rules.

Here’s a very good interview from the AV Club with Jeremy Shatan, who took the original 360-degree photo. The interview is very informative, I’m a Paul’s Boutique nut but there were things in here I didn’t know.

via Brooklyn Vegan

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Mother Jones speaks: The only known voice recording of ‘the most dangerous woman in America’
06:51 am

Class War

Mother Jones

Mother Jones
In times like these, a voice like that of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones grows more and more needed with every passing day.

If you’ve never heard it before, take the time to listen to that voice. It’s the only recording we have of it. The occasion was May 1, 1930, the 100th birthday of Mother Jones.

If only we had a nationally famous person who would ever dare to say the kinds of things Mother Jones used to say. I can’t think of one.
Mother Jones
Mother Jones marching to give Theodore Roosevelt what-for about children spending their days in coal mines instead of schools.

Here are some other pithy things the microphone might have recorded if it had been available on other days in Mother Jones’ life:

I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.

No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.

I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.

If they want to hang me, let them. And on the scaffold I will shout Freedom for the working class!

By the bye, Mother Jones was capable of stretching the truth every now and then. This recording was supposedly made on Mother Jones’ 100th birthday, but the evidence shows that when she died later on in 1930, she was actually only 93 years old.

Politifact has called this “the lie of the last 100 years.”

via Lawyers Guns & Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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