Monday, March 12, 2007

Barack Obama Article

Obama speaks in hometown
by Scott Bolohan
Staff Writer

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was in Chicago last weekend to discuss the Israeli conflict in a regional forum and also spoke at a labor rally.

Since announcing his bid for presidency, the Illinois Senator and Chicago South Side native, Obama has been everywhere from Austin, Texas to Iowa.

On Friday, he spoke at the Sheraton Hotel downtown to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s regional forum, discussing his pro-Israel stance and also discussing the war in Iraq.
Obama had been quiet on the issue of Israel before, but was very staunchly pro-Israel in hopes to impress the forum and gain support.

"Our job is to renew the United States’ efforts to help Israel achieve peace with its neighbors while remaining vigilant against those who do not share this vision," Obama said. "Our job is to do more than lay out another road map; our job is to rebuild the road to real peace and lasting security throughout the region."

Obama discussed the Iraq War and reiterated his opposition of the war from the beginning. He also outlined his plan for a withdrawal of troops beginning in May and with hopes of all troops removed by March 2008.

"Now our soldiers find themselves in the crossfire of someone else’s civil war," Obama said. "This war has fueled terrorism and helped galvanize terrorist organizations. And it has made the world less safe."

Obama said the Iraq War has endangered the U.S. and its ally’s position in the Middle East.

"But a consequence of the administration’s failed strategy in Iraq has been to strengthen Iran’s strategic position; reduce U.S. credibility and influence in the region and place Israel and other nations friendly to the United States in greater peril," Obama said. "Iranian nuclear weapons would destabilize the region and could set off a new arms race…That’s not just bad for the Middle East, but bad for the world, making it a vastly more dangerous and unpredictable place."
Obama also spoke on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency downtown before about 1,500 people at an American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) worker’s union rally.

The rally was in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act passed last week by the House of Representatives. The act grants employees the right to form a union against the wishes of the company. The measure will most likely face tougher opposition from the Senate and Bush has threatened to veto it.

The rally also spoke out against Resurrection Health Care, one of the largest non-profit health care systems in Illinois because they have refused to allow their workers to unionize.
Other speakers at the rally included Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D), U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

Obama’s speech was interrupted by two people protesting against Obama’s remarks about Iran the day before. Obama appeared flustered and said that dissent was welcome, but perhaps they were not aware of his anti-war stance.

Obama also referenced Martin Luther King’s fight for workers and was also very supportive of the workers’ fight for the ability to unionize.

"If some workers are being oppressed, then all workers are being oppressed," Obama said.
After Obama’s speech, the crowd swarmed around him, snapping pictures, shaking hands and getting autographs. His departure stopped the rally for around 10 minutes. Most of the people in attendance did not stay for the remainder of the rally following Obama’s speech.

The DePaulia also participated in a conference call with Obama’s National Press Secretary Bill Burton. The conference call was intended for college newspapers and radios across the country.
Burton said that Obama was running because Obama believes that to change America, the nation’s politics need to change. He said that the failure of leadership is the reason that America has now been able to meet its challenges.

Youth has played big role in support for Obama’s campaign, and Burton said the younger population are going to continue to play a vital role in the campaign.

"He’s committed to making sure college students and young folks everywhere are an important part of this campaign. If you listen to what he says, he specifically points to the fact that at every important juncture in our history, it was young folks that stepped up and forced the change to happen," Burton said. "He considers this to be another such opportunity and looks forward to all that students have to offer."

Burton said that Obama was dedicated to making a college education available to as many people as possible.

"He doesn’t think you should be denied college education just because of where you were born or how much money your folks made. It should be based on whether or not you want to go and whether or not you’re committed to going," Burton said.

Recently Obama has been criticized for his low polling numbers and disconnection that many African American voters are feeling toward his candidacy. Although Obama is considered by some to be the first viable black candidate for the presidency, Burton says that race should not play a role in the outcome.

"He’s always fought to make America a place where you are what you are, and there should be no barriers to your success based on what your race is," Burton said. "I don’t think anyone expected that African Americans, as a group, would vote in a monolithic fashion."

When asked about the Democrat with the highest polling numbers so far, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Burton said Obama was unconcerned with beating a specific opponent.

"Sen. Obama doesn't consider this a race against any one individual or even a group of individuals," Burton said. "He's not just running to win; he’s running because he wants to change business in Washington."

Monday, March 5, 2007

Autumn Defense Interview

No Tweedy, no problem
by Scott Bolohan
Staff Writer

When your other band is one of America’s most popular, people are bound to slap the dreaded "side project" label on any work you do outside the band. But The Autumn Defense, consisting of Pat Sansone and John Stirratt, is a rare band that has been able to establish itself with its own style and sound separate from their day jobs with Wilco. On their third, self-titled album, The Autumn Defense’s lush soft-rock sounds straight out of the 60’s or 70’s. The Chicago based band is coming home for a show at Park West, joined by a string quartet on March 3.

Stirratt is the founding bass player of Wilco, while Sansone joined the band recently to replace multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach. Sansone already knew most of the band through Stirratt and said he felt like he was already "part of the family. I was a natural person for them to ask [to join the band]." Although Wilco has now taken over much of his schedule, he doesn’t write off The Autumn Defense as just a side project.

"We’ve been doing The Autumn Defense for eight years. When we were making our first record, we were just making a record. It never felt like a side project to us, it just felt like a project," Sansone said. "When we’re making the record and singing the songs, it doesn’t feel like there’s anything ‘side’ about it."

Sansone said the band formed because of their similar musical interests in bands such as The Zombies, The Byrds and David Crosby.

"We’ve known each other for a long time. We just all knew each other from being around the Mississippi music scene back in the late 80’s and early 90’s," Sansone said. "I reconnected with John when I moved to New Orleans around ’97. John was living in New Orleans as well, so we just started hanging out and listening to records and we realized we had the same tastes at the time and we started strumming and singing and realized we had a real great vocal blend, which was really the reason we started the band."

The new album was recorded in Chicago and released on Stirratt’s Chicago based Broadmoor Records. Sansone said that Chicago definitely had an influence on the album.

"I think that Chicago kind of lends itself, especially if you’re recording in the winter time, which we did; it lends itself to locking yourself inside because it’s so cold outside. It’s kind of easy to focus and concentrate because you want to be inside. I think that probably did influence this record in trying to make it warm sounding."

The Autumn Defense managed to create a distinct sound from Wilco, although it wasn’t necessarily a goal of the band.

"We certainly didn’t make a conscious effort to make something different from Wilco or different from anything else. Neither of us have the kind of voices that are made to fight against loud guitars. The way that we sing lends us to softer guitars and softer arrangements. I think that’s really what dictates what kinds of instruments that we use, the kind of arrangements we do."
Sansone has also made a name for himself producing and playing with other artists such as Ryan Adams, Andrew Bird and Josh Rouse, as well as producing all three of The Autumn Defense’s albums.

"I think I come to every project that I produce on its own terms. I’m sure I do have a style, but I don’t see it myself," Sansone said. "On this record I was really excited about doing some real string arrangements because I hadn’t really done that before. That was definitely a challenge for me on this record to do something new."

One of Wilco’s strengths is the ability for the members to work on other projects when they’re not working on Wilco, Sansone said. "I think it can only help the whole situation. I think it makes Wilco better."

Unlike the world famous Wilco, Sansone has some modest goals for The Autumn Defense.
"I think one thing we really want to do is get the record released overseas," Sansone said. "I think the other goal is to not have it be three years between releasing records."

The new Wilco album, "Sky Blue Sky," will be the first that Sansone recorded with the band.
"It was great. It was just kind of an extension of what we do live, just the six of us sitting in a room making music," Sansone said. "A lot of the stuff was recorded live. It was really easy, actually."

Sansone said he wasn’t really allowed to talk about the new Wilco record, scheduled for a May 15 release date, but he did give a little hint.

"It’s going to be good, I can tell you that."