Springsteen lashes out at bankers in Berlin show

Springsteen lashes out at bankers in Berlin show

U.S. singer Bruce Springsteen performs with the E. Street Band during their European tour to promote their latest album ''Wrecking Ball'' in Frankfurt May 25, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Domanski

By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN | Wed May 30, 2012 8:44pm EDT

(Reuters) – Rocker Bruce Springsteen touched on a nerve of widespread discontent with the financiers and bankers at a Berlin concert on Wednesday, railing against them as “greedy thieves” and “robber barons.”

Springsteen, a singer-songwriter dubbed “The Boss” who has long championed populist causes, played to a sold-out crowd at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, singing from his album “Wrecking Ball” and speaking about tough economic times that have put people out of work worldwide and led to debt crises in Greece and other countries.

“In America, a lot of people have lost their jobs,” said Springsteen, 62, who performed for three hours to some 58,000 fans in the packed stadium that hosted the 1936 Olympics and the 2006 World Cup final.

“But also in Europe and in Berlin, times are tough,” he added, speaking in fluent German. “This song is for all those who are struggling.” He then introduced “Jack of All Trades”, a withering attack on bankers that includes the lyrics: “The banker man grows fat, working man grows thin.”

Europe has been especially hard hit since 2008’s financial meltdown that sparked an enduring sovereign debt crisis. Unemployment on the continent has risen to levels not seen since the 1990s.

Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” tour began on May 13 in Spain, which is struggling with its crushing debt load, and it runs for 2-1/2 months with 33 stops in 15 countries before concluding on July 31 in Helsinki.

‘FAT AND EASY ON BANKER’S HILL’

Berlin, largely a working class city, has been a special place for Springsteen since his July 1988 concert behind the old Iron Curtain in East Berlin.

Watched by 160,000 people, or about 1 percent of then Communist East Germany’s population, it was the biggest rock show in East German history, and The Boss boldly spoke out against the “barriers” keeping East Germans in their portion of the city.

Some historians have said the concert fed into a movement gaining moment at the time that contributed to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall 16 months later in November 1989.

“Once in a while you play a place, a show that ends up staying inside of you, living with you for the rest of your life,” he told the crowd on Wednesday after being handed a poster from a fan thanking him for the 1988 concert. “East Berlin in 1988 was certainly one of them.”

Even though Germany has managed to come through the current financial crisis in fairly good shape, Berlin itself is struggling with a double-digit unemployment rate, low wages and a high poverty. And some of the lyrics in Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” album clearly struck a chord with the crowd.

In “Shackled and Drawn”, Springsteen sings about “Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bill. It’s still fat and easy up on banker’s hill. Up on banker’s hill the party’s going strong, down here below we’re shackled and drawn.”

With “Easy Money”, Springsteen rips into the “fat cats” who will “just think it’s funny … when you’re whole world comes tumbling down.” In “Death to My hometown”, Springsteen assails the “greedy thieves and robber barons” who “destroyed our families, factories and they took our homes.” In the song “Wrecking Ball”, he sings: “Hold tight to your anger.”

“The financial world has caused us all a lot of our problems and Springsteen has always been a critical spirit – that’s what I like about him,” said Kathleen Wapp, a 42-year-old doctor’s assistant from Wolfsburg who was at the show. “I like the way he’s not afraid to put a critical light on the key issues.”

“I think it’s great the way he’s taking on the banking industry – he’s got it dead right,” said Matthias Beck, 46, a carpenter from Leipzig. “There’s hardly anything good about banks. They take advantage of the little people, and it’s always hard to find someone who’ll take responsibility when it all goes wrong.”

(Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte)

Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!

Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!

Apr 30, 2012 4:45 AM EDT in The Book Beast

The iconic writer scolds the superrich (including himself—and Mitt Romney) for not giving back, and warns of a Kingsian apocalyptic scenario if inequality is not addressed in America.

Chris Christie may be fat, but he ain’t Santa Claus. In fact, he seems unable to decide if he is New Jersey’s governor or its caporegime, and it may be a comment on the coarsening of American discourse that his brash rudeness is often taken for charm. In February, while discussing New Jersey’s newly amended income-tax law, which allows the rich to pay less (proportionally) than the middle class, Christie was asked about Warren Buffett’s observation that he paid less federal income taxes than his personal secretary, and that wasn’t fair. “He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie responded, with his typical verve. “I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check—go ahead and write it.”

Heard it all before. At a rally in Florida (to support collective bargaining and to express the socialist view that firing teachers with experience was sort of a bad idea), I pointed out that I was paying taxes of roughly 28 percent on my income. My question was, “How come I’m not paying 50?” The governor of New Jersey did not respond to this radical idea, possibly being too busy at the all-you-can-eat cheese buffet at Applebee’s in Jersey City, but plenty of other people of the Christie persuasion did.

Cut a check and shut up, they said.

If you want to pay more, pay more, they said.

Tired of hearing about it, they said.

Tough shit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.

What charitable 1 percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, “OK, I’ll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS.” That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.

Photos: Rich People for Higher Taxes

more-tax-teaser-new

And hey, why don’t we get real about this? Most rich folks paying 28 percent taxes do not give out another 28 percent of their income to charity. Most rich folks like to keep their dough. They don’t strip their bank accounts and investment portfolios. They keep them and then pass them on to their children, their children’s children. And what they do give away is—like the monies my wife and I donate—totally at their own discretion. That’s the rich-guy philosophy in a nutshell: don’t tell us how to use our money; we’ll tell you.

The Koch brothers are right-wing creepazoids, but they’re giving right-wing creepazoids. Here’s an example: 68 million fine American dollars to Deerfield Academy. Which is great for Deerfield Academy. But it won’t do squat for cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, where food fish are now showing up with black lesions. It won’t pay for stronger regulations to keep BP (or some other bunch of dipshit oil drillers) from doing it again. It won’t repair the levees surrounding New Orleans. It won’t improve education in Mississippi or Alabama. But what the hell—them li’l crackers ain’t never going to go to Deerfield Academy anyway. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

I Gotta Be Able To Counterattack: Rap and the Los Angeles Riots — Jeff Chang

From: Rock and Rap Confidential

I Gotta Be Able To Counterattack: Rap and the Los Angeles Riots

by Jeff Chang

I Gotta Be Able To Counterattack: Rap and the Los Angeles Riots by Jeff Chang

May 3rd, 2012  Los Angeles Review of Books (click here for the original text and associated video/audio)

“PROFILING”: IN THE EARLY 1980s, the street definition of the word was something like “looking fresh and clean.” Most often — as in that party song from the Connecticut crew the Skinny Boyz — “profiling” rhymed with “styling.” It celebrated that moment before the first morning bell after summer break when the schoolyard became a fashion runway, the memory of the weekends when the boulevards thrummed sensually, streets filling with tricked-out cars, youths spilling off the sidewalks flirting or trying to get their mack on.

But by 1989, N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha Police” essayed a new definition of “profiling,” one associated with force, authority, the pathologies of the powerful. That shotgun blast of a song captured all manner of shifts that had taken place: from East Coast to West, revelry to rage, abandonment to containment.

L.A. hip hop, like the punk and skateboarding subcultures of the 1970s, had sprouted from the imaginations of forgotten kids in depopulated urban spaces. They built codes, rules, and vocabularies for themselves to compensate for scarcity and lack. Their play was the organized chaos of the unseen and the unheard.

But with the advent of LAPD Chief Daryl Gates’ Operation Hammer in 1988 those invisible kids moved into the crosshairs, appearing now as dangerous surplus bodies. “Anti-loitering” was the name of the new discourse. Crenshaw and Westwood Boulevard were shut down. Curfews were imposed. Injunctions were prepared. The CRASH units and battering rams occupied the streets.

By 1991, L.A. rap was all tension and little release. On Cypress Hill’s “Pigs,” corrupt cops flooded B-Real, Sen Dog and DJ Muggs’s imaginary Latino real estate (anticipating the Rampart scandal by seven years), as blues guitars oscillated like sirens. On WC & The MAAD Circle’s “Dress Code,” producer Sir Jinx pitched Duck Dunn’s bass and Al Jackson’s drums down to a brooding pace, then added Jimmy Nolen’s telling guitar squall from — what else? — James Brown’s “The Payback.” From restaurant to school to nightclub, WC rapped, “Seems like everywhere I turn I’m assuming the position.” The logic of “profiling” — in the police’s sense — had now penetrated every aspect of daily life in inner-city neighborhoods. The prison was everywhere. Even the apple-for-the-teacher kids of the Pharcyde were begging, “Please don’t pull me over, Mr. Officer, please.”

The year culminated with Billboard’s unusual call for an industry-wide boycott of Ice Cube’s album, Death Certificate. Cube had described it as something close to a mental jailbreak. It was received as an act of sonic terrorism, a 56-minute time bomb whose scattershot targets included Uncle Tom sellouts, Korean-American storekeepers, Al Davis, Cube’s former bandmate Eazy-E, Jesse Jackson, the LAPD, and George H.W. Bush. In retrospect, it seemed, to borrow a line from the French scholar Jacques Attali, like “music [as] prophecy.” Ice Cube’s subtext was unmistakable: “I predict a riot.”

¤

The searing televised spectacle of the 1992 riots would simply overwhelm most of the art, let alone pop music, that followed. One of the exceptions was Kam’s powerful single, “Peace Treaty,” recorded amidst the giddy joy unleashed when Watts gangs formed an unprecedented truce just before the riots. Over a hydraulic bassline borrowed from George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog,” Kam rhymed:

I’ma always remember this

Because my niggas made the history books

And now the mystery looks a lot clearer

The man in the mirror’s got power

And there was one last affirmation and prophecy:

We came to an understanding

Demanding justice

Bust this

We all had our hand in the cookie jar

Looking for enough to make a statement

Daryl Gates — that’s where all the hate went

By the end of June, Gates would be gone.

But it was Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, released 10 days before Christmas, that became the quintessential post-riot album. The public had been primed. Television had brought middle America closer to the rage of urban youth than ever before; meanwhile, the growing controversy over Ice T and Body Count’s “Cop Killer” was bringing rappers (and media multinational Time Warner) closer to middle America’s rage than ever before. Against the backdrop of the reintensified culture wars and the patently empty promises to “Rebuild LA,” The Chronic seemed a heaven-sent balm, a handshake extended by capital to the kids.

On singles like “Let Me Ride” and “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” Dr. Dre matched the crossover appeal of another 1991 track: DJ Quik’s counterintuitive “Tonite,” a seemingly effortless back-porch afternoon gem propelled by a polished bass groove and “day in the life” stories about wild partying the night before. Dre’s songs spoke less explicitly than Kam’s, but no less powerfully, to the atmosphere of the truce parties, the ecstatic freedom of rolling down the street without having to worry, for once, about cops or enemies.

But separated from the prospect of a potential war between armed united gangs and the LAPD — for which authorities were at one point reportedly preparing — The Chronic could also be heard as the beginning of a guiltless, gentrified gangsta: no Treaties, rebuilding demands, or calls for reparations: just the party and bullshit. It was the product that finally and seamlessly closed the gap between the vanilla exurbs and the chocolate inner-cities: a brand-conscious “G” Thang ready for easy consumption.

¤

The strangest record of the post-riot period was an album called Bangin On Wax, with eight tracks each by rappers from Blood and Crip sets. In the opening skit, an older man confronts a room of loudly skeptical bangers, finally shouting at them, “Take out this motherfucker’s ass on the goddamn record! Show the white man you can be smart.”

As art, it wasn’t memorable. The bangers rehashed the old themes, lyrics, and samples long ago popularized by gangsta rappers, but with a specificity that most of the professionals wouldn’t dare attempt. The Blood and Crip rappers called out their neighborhoods, shouted out their sets, and named their street enemies. Legend has it that the record couldn’t be restocked fast enough in Valley Wherehouses.

But as an artifact of what the cultural theorist Mark Fisher calls “capitalist realism,” the album is astonishing: the separation into teams; the factional rivalries; the rhetorical gun-waving; the obsession with performance, both spectacular and meritocratic. Here was “reality rap” as blueprint (or redprint, depending on what state you claimed) for reality TV. The riots marked the moment when neoliberalism finally began to understand the value of multiculturalism. After all, what was the alternative? More fires? The riots were the beginning of a new colorized consensus.

Meanwhile, at B. Hall and R. Kain Blaze’s Leimert Park health food store The Good Life, the Heavyweights crew and dozens of other MCs and DJs were building a “True School” hip-hop avant-garde based on freestyle improvisation. They constrained themselves with rigid conceptual rules (no curses, no use of the words “diggety” or “wiggety,” experimentation and booing of wackness highly encouraged) and freed themselves with a D.I.Y. ethic and aesthetic. (Award-winning director Ava DuVernay, a former rapper and open-mic regular, lovingly captures the story in her excellent documentary, This Is The Life.) In a sense The Good Life’s spiritual lodestar was 103rd Street after the 1965 riots, where free jazz and spoken-word trailblazers mingled and collaborated at spots like the Watts Writers Workshop and the Watts Happening Coffee House.

The Heavyweights were centered around Freestyle Fellowship, a local quartet composed of rappers Aceyalone, Myka 9, P.E.A.C.E., and Self Jupiter. Like their heroes Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, and the Watts Prophets, their influence would be incommensurate with mainstream pop success, though artists like Outkast, Mos Def, Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, and Ice Cube would soon cash in on their innovations. In 1993, the Fellowship dropped Inner City Griots, an album that many greeted as rap’s equivalent to Coleman’s The Shape Of Jazz To Come. On “Inner City Boundaries” Myka 9 sang,

I gotta be righteous

I gotta be me

I gotta be conscious

I gotta be free

I gotta be able to counterattack

I gotta be stable

I gotta be Black

The group’s poetic manifesto, “We Will Not Tolerate,” which was rapped in unison (a throwback to the days when Bronx crews measured their clout by numbers: Treacherous Three, The Funky Four+One More, The Furious Five), included lines stronger than anything Kanye ever apologized for, and kept alive the spirit of ’91:

We will not tolerate

Daryl Gates

hates

beats

Blacks

creates mistakes false facts

fuck that

get myyyyy gat

They concluded, “We will not tolerate…FEAR!”

By 1994, young white Hollywood stars were showing up at The Good Life Cafe. TV execs wrote storylines based on the scene. Record deals were signed. Rivalries intensified. Groups imploded. Some artists disappeared back into the mean streets. Some were arrested. Others trooped on, knowing that the times were changing. By the end of the year, The Good Life was over.

And rap’s profile would grow bigger than ever.

Jeff Chang is the author of Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

Chris Drew Touched Many People In His Journey — Lew Rosenbaum

This afternoon, Monday, May 7, 2012 artist Chris Drew passed away.

The most important thing to say is that Chris died as he lived, fighting all the way for the dispossessed and marginalized among us, for the right of artists to speak their mind and to survive. He

Oil on canvas: Diana Berek

died struggling to make sure the art patch project continues, and there are a number of artists beginning to organize to make sure the project does continue. He died urging that the legal battles he had entered not be dropped.

Before there was a national dialogue and a coherent cry on behalf of “the 99%,” Chris devoted his life to providing the artistic means for people to discover their creativity and to participate in the transformation of society. A long time colleague of Carlos Cortez, Chris lived the aphorism that Carlos was fond of telling as we sat around his dining room table: “Never become an artist to make a living. Become an artist to make a life!” While advocating for artists’ individual rights to make a living by their art, Chris never strayed from using art for change for all, and never left the section of society with and for whom he advocated.

Chris touched very many people in his journey. We will remember his strength, his audacity, his willingness to sacrifice, his ingenuity and persistence. We will remember his creativity, his art. As long as we are here, he is still here. Remember that he is still here, the next time you see another artist printing an art patch, when you see another art patch on a book bag or a jacket.

Automation and Robotics News–May 2012: With a special focus on Japan — Tony Zaragoza

Date: Wed, 30 May 2012 21:17:28 -0700 (PDT)
Automation and Robotics News–May 2012: With a special focus on Japan  by Tony Zaragoza

LEADS

2011: The most successful year for industrial robots since 1961
2012: Continuing growth expected
Munich, 23 May 2012 – “2011 was the most successful year for industrial robots in 50 years. Since the first installation in 1961 more than 2.3 million were sold all over the world! ” stated Dr. Shinsuke Sakakibara, IFR President, on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at the AUTOMATICA in Munich. “And the robotics industry is looking forward to a bright future.”

Canon Cameras Betting On Robot-only Production
Canon Inc. is moving toward fully automating digital camera production in an effort to cut costs — a key change being played out across Japan, a world leader in robotics.

Canon bets on robot-only production

Canon, the world’s leader in digital cameras with a 20% market share, is building two automated plants in Oita Prefecture that are expected to be fully online by 2015. (May 14, 2012)

Detroit’s Wages Take on China’s

BY TIMOTHY AEPPEL , WSJ, May 23, 2012

Televisions are being made in the U.S. again, but the effort says as much about marketing as it does about the global shift…

Robots To Drive Era Of New Possibilities
New advancements in robot development are designed for safe human-robot cooperation. AUTOMATICA 2012 demonstrates a trend that has major implications for the factory/warehouse work environment. (May 22, 2012)

Get Ready For The First Robot President

NPR – May 23, 2012
In Japan, for instance, the Fanuc Corp. operates a factory in which robots build other robots. It’s called “lights out” manufacturing because no lighting is needed …

Army Readies Its Mammoth Spy Blimp for First Flight

Army’s massive spy blimp

David Axe, May 22, 2012

TAMPA, Florida — Sure, it took an extra year or so, but Northrop Grumman has finally penciled in the first flight of the giant surveillance airship it’s building for the U.S. Army. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — a football-field-size, helium-filled robot blimp fitted with sensors and data-links — should take to the air over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the first or second week of June. K.C. Brown, Jr., Northrop’s director of Army programs, crows: ”We’re about to fly the thing!” It’s fair to say Northrop and the Army are crossing their collective fingers for the flight to actually take place, and smoothly. Giant airships promise huge benefits — namely, low cost and long flight times — but it’s proved incredibly hard to build and equip the massive blimps with military-grade sensors and communications … and fill them with helium.

Robots on the Farm
05/10/12 — Discovery—Commercial farms of the future may be staffed by robots that will identify, spray and pick individual pieces of produce from plants, even when their targets are grapes, peppers and apples that are as green as the leaves that surround them. As scientists in Israel and Europe get closer to…

Robotic Baristas Now Serving Coffee
05/03/12 — The first version of Briggo went online in November 2011 and it appears to be a hit with students and professors alike. Customers can order drinks off the web, a smart phone app, or at the kiosk itself. Even before ordering, the status of the queue and estimated time for…

Robots to Mine Near-Earth Asteroids
04/23/12 — Pasadena, CA—New report describes the results of a study sponsored by the Keck Institute for SpaceStudies (KISS) to investigate the feasibility of identifying, robotically capturing, and returning an entire Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) to the vicinity of the Earth by the middle of the next decade.  The KISS study was performed…

Japan

Service Robot to Aid Japanese Elderly
04/26/12 — TMCnet—GeckoSystems has recently been working on the release of their new CareBot personal assistance robot, which helps elderly in Japan with most of their daily tasks. Japan recently hit 47,756 in their population of elderly citizens 100 or older. According to GeckoSystems, their CareBot is set to bring safety and…

ADAM Robots Introduced into Japanese Market
05/23/12 — RMT Robotics entered into a sales representative agreement with eepos Japan for the promotion and sale of its ADAM mobile robots in Japan. Eepos Japan will work with RMT to promote and sell the AMR fleets to end users throughout Japan with a strategic focus on the automotive manufacturing and…

Japan’s Most Closely Guarded Secret in Industrial Robotics

The     goal: combining the intelligence of the human being with the     characteristics of industrial robots for human-collaboration     robotics operating in real-life work

Japan’s most closely guarded secret in industrial robotics

environments. (May 25, 2012)

Japanese MH-2 Shoulder Robot Wants To Be Your Friend, Literally
Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, May 29, 2012
Nobody likes being alone, and Japanese researchers from Yamagata University are developing a robot to make sure you’ll never have to be alone again: the MH-2 wearable miniature humanoid lives on your shoulder and can be remotely inhabited by your friends from anywhere in the world.

SunGard Launches New Solution to Help Automate Japanese Securities Lending

PR Web (press release) – May 17, 2012
SunGard has extended its suite of securities finance solutions with the launch of Apex JSFC Trade Manager, which helps reduce the costs and increase the …

Japan Robot Lab Readies Second Prototype for Work at Crippled Nuclear Reactor

PCWorld – May 25, 2012
A Japanese robotics lab has developed a new emergency response prototype that will soon be put to work at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in…

Robots Get a Makeover in Factories

Wall Street Journal – May 31, 2012
Companies including Japan’s Kawada Industries Inc. and Fanuc Corp. and Switzerland-based ABB Ltd. are developing dexterous robots to perform such …

Scientists in Japan create robot bottom

ITN – May 14, 2012
Scientists in Japan have created a robotic bottom which responds to different touches with “appropriate” vibrations.

Meet Hugvie: The robotic, slightly creepy (and not very pocketable

Daily Mail – May 1, 2012
The Japanese inventor calls it the Hugvie. Most people would call it just a little bit creepy. The ‘huggable robotic pillow-phone’ has its own heartbeat and internal …

Japanese Humanoid Robot Can Keep Its Balance After Getting Kicked
Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, May 08, 2012
For some reason, roboticists seem to enjoy testing their creations by kicking them, punching them, shoving them, and even striking them with baseball bats and heavy pendulums. All in the name of science, of course. It wasn’t different with this Japanese pair of robot legs, which as you can see from the photo above, is about to get kicked in the gut.

TERROR, MILITARY, POLICING, SURVEILLANCE

EFF Warns of Police Drone Privacy Concerns

The EFF has issued an appeal to local governments to institute privacy protections against the misuse of drones by local law enforcement agencies. The FAA’s initial rules for allowing flying robots into the National Airspace System were announced on 14 May. Many law enforcement agencies are already obtaining and flying drones but they’re not likely to volunteer that information. It took an EFF Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to make the FAA release the list of who has been approved to fly spy drones over US cities. When local newspapers in Seattle found out from the EFF that police had purchased two drones and made survellience plans without informing the City Council, the Washington ACLU called for the city to develop policies to safeguard privacy and free speech rights.

Robot to Robot: Dragon and Space Station Meet Up
05/25/12 — The privately owned and operated SpaceX Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station on Friday, a success for the Obama administration’s new strategy of using robotic missions and public-private partnerships in space.  NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station helped guide the capsule in, but the craft itself was operated remotely from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. “It looks like we’ve got us a Dragon by the tail,” NASA’s Don Pettit told SpaceX Mission Control, carrying on a long tradition of carefully scripted astronaut quips.  “For the first time, a private American company has successfully launched a spacecraft into…

As Summer Storm Season Arrives, Disaster Robots Are Ready
05/16/12 — Wired—The next time a hurricane slams the US, look for Robin Murphy and her army of machines. Murphy heads the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, where she commands an arsenal of unmanned craft that specialize in emergency response. Her team has been on call since 9/11; the hero bots’ first mission was to comb through the rubble at the World Trade Center. “With the smoke and purple sky from the portable lights, it was like the opening sequence of The Terminator,” Murphy recalls. Since then, the remotely controlled scouts have been deployed to mud slides, caved-in mines, and collapsed…

Robojelly: Hydrogen-Powered Robot Jellyfish
05/11/12 — That innocent-looking jellyfish floating along in the ocean may actually be Robojelly, a hydrogen-fueled robot surveillance jellyfish in development for the Navy. It seems like the U.S. Navy is getting all the cool toys these days. Hot on the heels of the Saffir humanoid firefighting robot, comes Robojelly. Robojelly may…

Police in Washington DC Area Get Recon Robots
05/03/12 — EDINA, Minn—ReconRobotics, Inc. announced today that the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has purchased and taken delivery of 13 Recon Scout XT micro-robot kits, which it has distributed to pre-designated Type 1 tactical teams throughout the Washington DC area. MWCOG purchased the tactical reconnaissance robots using grant funds from…

Robotic Device to Help Commandos
05/01/12 — Hyderbad, India—Scientists plan to equip a robot with artificial intelligence, auto navigation and facial detection features in the next two phases. Eventually, the budding scientists want to enable its operation through an android phone.  Such a Robotic Command System would come in handy for commandos, police personnel and firemen. It…

Meet ‘Robbie’: Darpa’s Seeing, Feeling, Two-Armed Robot

Katie Drummond, May 24, 2012

It’s only been three months since the Pentagon’s latest robot — the one able to staple paperwork and answer phone calls with a single autonomous arm —  demonstrated some of those amazing skills. Now, the freaky humanoid ‘bot is back. And this time, he has two arms. And a name. Meet Robbie. This particular robot was designed by RE2, a robotics firm in Pittsburgh, which showed him off to IEEE Spectrum at their International Conference on Robotics and Automation last week. RE2 was one of six teams initially contracted by Darpa, the Pentagon’s robo-loving research agency, to work on their Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program. Launched two years ago, the program aims to develop robots that can perform complex tasks with minimal input from their human overlords.

Army Readies Its Mammoth Spy Blimp for First Flight

David Axe, May 22, 2012

TAMPA, Florida — Sure, it took an extra year or so, but Northrop Grumman has finally penciled in the first flight of the giant surveillance airship it’s building for the U.S. Army. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — a football-field-size, helium-filled robot blimp fitted with sensors and data-links — should take to the air over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the first or second week of June. K.C. Brown, Jr., Northrop’s director of Army programs, crows: ”We’re about to fly the thing!” It’s fair to say Northrop and the Army are crossing their collective fingers for the flight to actually take place, and smoothly. Giant airships promise huge benefits — namely, low cost and long flight times — but it’s proved incredibly hard to build and equip the massive blimps with military-grade sensors and communications … and fill them with helium.

Pentagon Issues Drone War Talking Points

Spencer Ackerman, May 11, 2012

It’s official: the U.S. drone war over Pakistan, Yemen and beyond really does exist. John Brennan, President Obama’s principal counterterrorism adviser, disclosed the government’s worst kept secret in a Washington speech last week. So now the Pentagon has to talk about it. Kind of. A memorandum for the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s public-affairs shop provides talking points for military mouthpieces to discuss the secretive war in public. Its bottom line: yes, you can say there is a drone war — but don’t say much more about it.

Oops! Air Force Drones Can Now (Accidentally) Spy on You

Spencer Ackerman, May 8, 2012

As long as the Air Force pinky-swears it didn’t mean to, its drone fleet can keep tabs on the movements of Americans, far from the battlefields of Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen. And it can hold data on them for 90 days — studying it to see if the people it accidentally spied upon are actually legitimate targets of domestic surveillance. The Air Force, like the rest of the military and the CIA, isn’t supposed to conduct “nonconsensual surveillance” on Americans domestically, according to an Apr. 23 instruction from the flying service. But should the drones taking off over American soil accidentally keep their cameras rolling and their sensors engaged, well … that’s a different story.

U.S. Drones Can Now Kill Joe Schmoe Militants in Yemen

Noah Shachtman, April 26, 2012

In September, American-born militant Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. In the seven months since, the al-Qaida affiliate there has only grown in power, influence, and lethality. The American solution? Authorize more drone attacks — and not just against well-known extremists like Awlaki, but against faceless, nameless, low-level terrorists as well. A relentless campaign of unmanned airstrikes has significantly weakened al-Qaida’s central leadership in Pakistan, American policymakers say. There, militants were chosen for robotic elimination based solely on their intelligence “signatures” — their behavior, as captured by wiretaps, overhead surveillance and local informants. A similar approach might not work in this case, however. “Every Yemeni is armed,” one unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal. “So how can they differentiate between suspected militants and armed Yemenis?”

INDUSTRY AND MANUFACTURING

ArcelorMittal Steel Mill in Indiana Revived With Lessons From Abroad

May 21, 2012, By <http://online.wsj.com/search/term.html?KEYWORDS=JOHN+W.+MILLER&bylinesearch=true>JOHN W. MILLER
BURNS HARBOR, Ind.—Some steel mills are destroyed by globalization, others reborn.
Left for dead a decade ago, this 50-year-old facility on the shores of Lake Michigan has been rejuvenated thanks to an unusual experiment by its owner, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal. In 2008, Burns Harbor was “twinned” with a hypermodern mill in Gent, Belgium. Over 100 U.S. engineers and managers, who were flown across the Atlantic, were told: Do as the Belgians do. Burns Harbor now enjoys record output. Its furnaces, where steel is made out of iron ore, coal and limestone, are run with software developed in Belgium. Robots are in. Pencils are out. Workers are learning to make the same amount of steel with nearly half the people it employed three decades ago. Productivity is nearing Belgian levels. The transition hasn’t been seamless. As a collective bargaining session looms this summer, union leaders say a tough battle is expected over wages, safety risks and the next wave of automation. But there is also an acknowledgment that increased productivity has saved the mill from oblivion. American manufacturing—from chemicals to washing machines—is growing again. Spurred by stable labor costs, weaker unions and low natural gas prices, today’s manufacturers have emerged from the recession far different from what they were even a decade ago. They employ more highly skilled workers, are more automated and have far fewer workers.

Remade in the USA: A Crib for Baby: Made in China or Made in USA?

BY TIMOTHY AEPPEL, 05/22/12

ROBBINSVILLE, N.C.—Stanley Furniture Co. is betting baby cribs are among the few things Americans will pay a hefty premium for just because they carry a “Made in the U.S.A.” label. The 88-year-old company recently shifted its crib manufacturing back to the U.S. from China, to a sprawling factory here that not long ago was earmarked for closure along with Stanley’s other two domestic plants. Today, the Robbinsville factory is an oddity in an industry that has been abandoning the U.S. because of costs: It is growing and investing over $8 million in new machinery. What prompted the move was a …

Once Made in China: Jobs Trickle Back to U.S. Plants

05/21/12

Manufacturers are returning some production to the U.S. But the experience of Whirlpool of others shows the moves aren’t…

3D Printing Robot To Impact Annual $8B In Retail Furniture Sales

Tables and chairs     for casual dining represent an $8 billion slice of the more than $96     billion annually in retail sales of furniture and home furnishings.     A Dutch inventor named Dirk Vander Kooij believes that his 3D     printing robot that prints out tables and chairs —from recycled     materials, no less— has a more than passing chance to impact that     industry in a very big way. (May 08, 2012)

AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION

Australia’s First Robotic Dairy
05/15/12 — Australia’s first robotic rotary dairy has been opened in a commercial pilot farm in Quamby Brook, Tasmania. The Dornauf family, which owns the dairy farm, had agreed to install the Automatic Milking Rotary (AMR), which has been manufactured and installed by Swedish dairy equipment company DeLaval. FutureDairy project in Australia,…

Robotic Planes, Tractors Loom Behind Autonomous Cars
05/04/12 — Mary Cummings, a professor of aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was interviewed today at Wired’s Disruptive by Design conference in New York, where she offered her views on the state of the art in autonomous vehicles. The work of Google and automakers has shown how cars can drive…

Humans No Match For RoboButcher In $23B Poultry Industry

Big-bang innovation     in poultry processing may hold an answer; big bang meaning     revolutionary, disruptive change, something that redefines the     productivity landscape of today’s annual 50 billion pound, $23     billion poultry processing industry. (May 21, 2012)

Robots Can Perform Surgery, But Can They Debone a Chicken?

Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2012 By CAMERON MCWHIRTER
ATLANTA—Robots fly aircraft into war and help doctors perform surgeries. Gary McMurray has spent eight years getting a robot to debone a chicken. … Now, after pecking away since 2004, the chief of the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s food processing technology division and his team plan a test in June of what he calls a “revolutionary” prototype chicken-deboning robot. The Institute works with industry and the military to find dull, dirty tasks that could be performed by a robot, Mr. McMurray says. This machine, equipped with robotic arms and a surgical blade, is guided by a three-dimensional imaging system that can determine in a split second the size of each chicken and where its skin, meat and bone are, Mr. McMurray says. They have already shown the robot to industry groups, and now are running the test to make sure it can cut meat off a chicken as quickly and efficiently as a man with a knife can.

SERVICE SECTOR

Coming soon to a salon near you

3 May 2012, by John_RobotsPodcast

While Panasonic’s legal department may be cringing at the prospect, this shampoo-bot appears to be headed straight for market, where it can relieve busy stylists from the need to also perform shampoos, while providing customers with more thorough shampoos and less water in the eyes. Add a sanitization cycle to keep from passing germs and parasites from one customer to the next (if it doesn’t already have one), and it just might be marketable as is.

Robotic Surgery: Tool-wielding Robots Crawl in Bodies
05/29/12 — Indystar—Imagine a tiny snake robot crawling through your body, helping a surgeon identify diseases and perform operations. It’s not science fiction. Scientists and doctors are using the creeping metallic tools to perform surgery on hearts, prostate cancer, and other diseased organs. The snakebots carry tiny cameras, scissors and forceps, and even more advanced sensors are in the works. For now, they’re powered by tethers that humans control. But experts say the day is coming when some robots will roam the body on their own. “It won’t be very long before we have robots that are nanobots, meaning they will actually…

Lawn Wars: Robot Mowers To Vie in Court
05/24/12 — Husqvarna Group is taking legal action against Positec Germany GmbH claiming Positec’s Worx robotic mower infringes two of Husqvarna’s patents for robotic mower technology. As pioneers within robotic mowers and as clear market leader, Husqvarna vows to vigorously defend against infringements of its intellectual property. We have had tremendous success with the Automower robotic mower, and welcome that other manufacturers help us to grow this market. However, all manufacturers must do their own engineering work and not just copy existing solutions. We have invested a lot of hard work and resources and will actively defend our technology against infringers, says…

Robotic ‘Fish’ Take to Seas to Catch Pollution Sooner
05/22/12 — MSNBC—In a bid to track sea pollution by mimicking how fish navigate and work together, scientists on Tuesday moved their robotic fish from the lab to the sea. The technology could reduce the time it takes to detect a pollutant from weeks to just seconds, the scientists said in a…

Sounds hollow, but can replace 3 guitarists . . .

Robotic Guitar Can Replace Three Guitarists
05/25/12 — We already know that musically inclined robots will take up the Beatles mantle in the future, and that they are skilled at reproducing the classic James Bond theme. But just to further show how obsolete human musicians are, Vladimir Demin (MrDeminva on YouTube) built a robotic guitar that can replace a group of guitarists. Normally it takes a group of musicians to play this particular Russian tune. Demin’s actuated player guitar can reproduce the song by itself with such unrelenting tempo and perfect accuracy. The robotic guitar can do this because each fret on the instrument has its own dedicated…

PACKING AND SHIPPING

FedEx Ground Accelerates Package Sorting With Digital Cameras

Clint Boulton, May 25, 2012

Few people know what happens to packages before they reach their doorsteps, but FedEx Ground CIO Ken Spangler was game to tell CIO Journal how the carrier sorts 9 million parcels a day—and how that highly automated process has helped the business grow. Spangler said the average hub in the FedEx Ground network can sort up to 7,500 packages per hour, per sorter. This reliance on automated systems to sort packages reduces human error of misdirected packages, speeding up the sorting process. “Almost everyone that comes to see these [sorting hub] operations says ‘wow, where are all of the people?,’” he said.

American Packaging Corporation Puts Seegrid Robots To Work
05/29/12 — American Packaging Corporation (APC), a packaging supplier for major brands such as Pringles, Betty Crocker, and Planters, has invested $150 Million in the last 13 years on new equipment and facility upgrades. Following a $17.5 Million expansion of their Columbus, Wisconsin facility, APC needed to move its packaging materials across much longer distances in less time. APC chose to automate the transportation process with Seegrid robotic industrial trucks rather than Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) once it was determined that the labor costs associated with traditional forklift operations were not optimal and AGVs would be more difficult to integrate. The programming…

BUSINESS OF AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS

Robotics Industry Off to a Great Start in 2012
Robotic Industries Association Posted 05/01/2012
Ann Arbor, Michigan – North American robotics companies enjoyed one of the industry’s strongest opening quarters ever, according to new statistics released from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. A total of 5,096 robots valued at $343.8 million were ordered from North American robotics companies through March, increases of 27% in units and 30% in dollars over the same period in 2011. A total of 4,605 robots valued at $299.6 million were shipped to North American customers in the first quarter, the best opening quarter ever for shipments. “It’s clear that the strong demand we saw in our record-breaking year of 2011 has continued into 2012,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “The activity is especially strong among automotive OEMs and tier suppliers, where robot orders jumped 42% in the first quarter over a year ago. In fact, automotive-related orders accounted for 65% of the new orders in the first quarter of 2012. Non-automotive orders grew six percent,” Burnstein said.

How to pick Robotics Stocks and what to avoid.

15 May 2012, by IKE_RobotsPodcast

We usually forget that apart from an exciting research field, robotics is also a huge industry. Frank Tobe, Editor and Publisher of The Robot Report describe the robotics stock exchange map from an investor’s perspective. There are numerous companies that are currently active on robotics but only a fraction of them rely heavily on that sector, most of these stocks are influenced by other trends. There are also newly formed companies that aspire to cash in on the hype that surrounds robotics as an exotic and innovative sector without providing evidence that they are a viable and healthy investment. You can read more about robotics stocks in the article from everything-robotic.com and also in the Robot Report.

Robots Podcast #103: Robopocalypse

4 May 2012, by John_RobotsPodcast

An avid reader of science fiction, Daniel Wilson originally wanted to be a sci-fi writer, but, because it still wasn’t happening as he approached college, he decided upon a career in science, as the next best thing. Then, after some experience with computers, it occurred to him that they could be programmed to figure out how to solve problems, and he realized that AI and robotics were real fields with huge potential, at which point he was hooked, and that carried him through a PhD. in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. But he never forgot his dream of being an author, and published his first book, How to Survive A Robot Uprising, in 2005, discussing this and other early work in a Talking Robots podcast in mid-2007. His 2011 novel, Robopocalypse, which Steven Spielberg is making into a movie to be released summer 2013, is the starting point for the current interview.

RESEARCH AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Microbots Made of Bubbles Have Engines Made of Lasers

Bubble robots powered by lasers

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, May 22, 2012
We’re used to thinking of robots as mechanical entities, but at very small scales, it sometimes becomes easier to use existing structures (like microorganisms that respond to magnetic fields or even swarms of bacteria) instead of trying to design and construct one (or lots) of teeny tiny artificial machines. Aaron Ohta’s lab at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has come up with a novel new way of creating non-mechanical microbots quite literally out of thin air, using robots made of bubbles with engines made of lasers.

Video: Throwable Robot, Roomba-Riding Humanoid, and More from ICRA 2012
Erico Guizzo & Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, May 21, 2012
If you couldn’t make it to ICRA this year, don’t worry: We’ll bring ICRA to you. The 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation attracted more than 1,700 people to the River Centre convention center in St. Paul, Minn., last week. We’ve been keeping you about the coolest (and the weirdest) projects presented at the conference, and we still have many more stories to come. But today we want to take you to ICRA’s show floor, where over two dozen exhibitors demoed their robotic creations. Check out our video montage after the break.

Video Friday: Robo Cheetah Goes for a Trot, Mind-Controlled Arms, and Robots Playing Football
Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, May 18, 2012
You didn’t think that just because we’re going all-out covering ICRA that we’d let any other cool robot news slip past us this week, did you? Of course you didn’t! There are many more awesome ICRA articles in the works for next week, but in the mean time, here are two robot vids that weren’t at the conference, plus several more that definitely should have been.

African Project Aims To Innovate in Educational Robotics
Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, May 01, 2012
Abibiman mma a w?n anigye robot ho, y?nkambom!
That’s how you say, “African robot enthusiasts unite!” in Twi, one the main native languages in Ghana, a vibrant nation of 25 million people in West Africa. Roboticists there and in the United States are launching today an initiative to enhance robotics education, research, and industry in Africa. The African Robotics Network (AFRON) wants to mobilize a community of institutions and individuals working on robotics-related areas, strengthening communication and collaboration among them.

Europe’s Largest Robotics Laboratory Opens in UK
05/10/12 — The Bristol Robotics Lab is a partnership between UWE Bristol (University of the West of England) and the University of Bristol. It is home to 70 academics and businesses who are leading current thinking in ‘nouvelle’ and service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering. Over $2.5 million has been spent on the new facilities which cover 2,400 sqm, with over 300 metres of specialised laboratory space and two Flying Arenas. “This is probably the largest robotics lab in Europe,” said Libor Kral, Head of Unit Cognitive Systems for Interaction Robotics at the European Commission. Robotics is a key element for…

New-look Moon Rover Robot to Land in 2014
05/24/12 — The lunar rover ‘Asimov’ due to land on the Moon in 2014, will be the first autonomously navigated rover on the Moon. It’s autonomous navigation system is a major technological leap. While the Russian Moon rovers Lunokhod 1 and 2 in the early 70s were fully controlled from Earth, today’s Mars rovers like NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’, which has been tirelessly exploring the Red Planet since 2004, are autonomous. However, Opportunity requires nearly three minutes to process a pair of images — a delay that causes it to move at an average speed of just 1 cm/sec or less.…

Four Factors Critical to the Success of Robotics
05/04/12 — The Atlantic—Successful and failed transformations suggests watching four critical factors: Make it easier for people to do what they are trying to get done.  While the iPad feels like an overnight success, its roots trace back to the Newton Personal Digital Assistant Apple introduced in the 1990s. The Newton was…

Robotic Arm Weaves A Structure Like A Spider
05/01/12 — First, this is not a robotic spider, it’s a non-autonomous robotic arm pre-programmed to weave a structure out of its own surroundings. Down the road, the researchers plan to make the robotic arm autonomous so it can sense where objects are and build its own structure to fit the surroundings.…

Dave Brubeck on the Hypocrisy War in the Name of Freedom

The Origins of Memorial Day

Dave Brubeck on the Hypocrisy War in the Name of Freedom

by LEE BALLINGER And DAVE MARSH

Where does Memorial Day come from? Why do we celebrate it?

Memorial Day began as a holiday called Decoration Day. It was established on May 5, 1868 by an organization of Union veterans: the Grand Army of the Republic. Although almost certainly a coincidence, it’s interesting to note that Decoration Day was announced on May 5. That day is now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo, the date when Mexican forces defeated the French at Puebla in 1862 and shortened the Civil War, meaning that thousands fewer soldiers lay in cemeteries to be memorialized.

In any event, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan set the actual celebration of Decoration Day for May 30 because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead had already been held in some cities. One of the first–on April 25, 1866–was held in Columbus, Mississippi. A group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves as well.

Eventually, Decoration Day became Memorial Day and was set for the last Monday in May. This year, Memorial Day weekend was chosen to unveil the new World War II memorial in Washington D.C. That occasion led to some public discussion of the importance of defeating the Nazis. That is all to the good. But World War II, as the following article illustrates, was about much more. Thus, by extension, Memorial Day is about more than its traditions of placing flowers on the graves of our loved ones, having picnics, or watching the Indianapolis 500.

On this Memorial Day, we should pause to reflect on the fact that while Memorial Day arose from the struggle to end slavery, in 2004 slavery is again rampant throughout the world and growing very rapidly. We should pause to ask ourselves how we can build upon the embryonic unity between North and South expressed by those women in Columbus, Mississippi in the spring of 1866. We should also frankly acknowledge that Memorial Day tends to reinforce the traditional American assumption that we can have both guns and butter, even though that is no longer true (yesterday’s LA Times highlighted the fact that 25% of the homeless in the U.S. are veterans).

Finally, on this Memorial Day we should ask ourselves: What was there in the carnage of World War II, a war that filled so many of the cemeteries we will visit today, that points us toward the lasting peace we all want so much? The following article from the May issue of Rock & Rap Confidential attempts to answer that question.

PASS THE BUTTER, PLEASE

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Dave Brubeck has released the solo piano exploration Private Brubeck Remembers (Telarc). Brubeck served in Europe during World War II as an infantryman, although he was usually playing for the troops, music such as the songs heard here: “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” “Where or When,” “Something to Remember You By.” Placed in a wartime context, these tunes transcend nostalgia and become often-intense expressions of yearning, loneliness, and fear.

In his liner notes, Brubeck places the war in a context of both hypocrisy and heroism. He notes how his Japanese-American friends were placed in Stateside detention camps while also describing the liberation of slaves who worked in Nazi factories.

As Brubeck indicates, World War II did indeed have an agenda, one that FDR summarized as the Four Freedoms: freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom from want, freedom from fear.

Discussion of the need for those four freedoms was driven underground by McCarthyism in the early 1950s, only to be resurrected by rock and soul music. The civil rights movement–greatly accelerated by the return of black World War II veterans–spurred a nearly two-decade explosion of socially-conscious music that remains the moral axis of our popular culture.

That music also sprang from the fact that America was almost continuously at war–Korea, Lebanon, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam. Yet even though music inspired and infused anti-war protest, it couldn’t change the reality that the economy was booming and could provide both guns and butter.

Today, the boom in the economy is the sound of its implosion and Dave Brubeck must be experiencing déja vu. Once again, American soldiers in foreign countries are turning to music to combat fear and loneliness. Once again the U.S. has internment camps (for suspected “terrorists” or people who are illegal only because they’re immigrants). Slave labor has returned to factories around the world, which are often used to produce music-related gear.

Once again, discussion of the four freedoms has been driven underground, this time more by music industry cowardice and the likes of Clear Channel than by government edict. All we hear is the sound of guns when what we want is butter. We can no longer have both. If we allow another world war to take place, no one will be around to make an album to commemorate its 60th anniversary.

Lee Ballinger and Dave Marsh produce of one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, Rock and Rap Confidential, where this article originally appeared. For a free copy of the issue, email your postal address to: RRC, Box 341305, LA CA 90034 or send an email to: Rockrap@aol.com

Patron-Saint-of-Street-Artists-Chris-DrewX wb_Wieland_Bechtol

This afternoon, May 7, 2012 artist Chris Drew passed away.

Photo by Nancy Bechtol

The most important thing to say is that Chris died as he lived, fighting all the way for the dispossessed and marginalized among us, for the right of artists to speak their mind and to survive. He died struggling to make sure the art patch project continues, and there are a number of artists beginning to organize to make sure the project does continue. He died urging that the legal battles he had entered not be dropped.

Before there was a national dialogue and a coherent cry on behalf of “the 99%,” Chris devoted his life to providing the artistic means for people to discover their creativity and to participate in the transformation of society. A long time colleague of Carlos Cortez, Chris lived the aphorism that Carlos was fond of telling as we sat around his dining room table: “Never become an artist to make a living. Become an artist to make a life!” While advocating for artists’ individual rights to make a living by their art, Chris never strayed from using art for change for all, and never left the section of society with and for whom he advocated.

Chris touched very many people in his journey. We will remember his strength, his audacity, his willingness to sacrifice, his ingenuity and persistence. We will remember his creativity, his art. As long as we are here, he is still here. Remember that he is still here, the next time you see another artist printing an art patch, when you see another art patch on a book bag or a jacket.