How Music Videos Are Changing the Game:Interview with artist Hasan Salaam,director Mark Carranceja, and model Ameena Dove

Music Videos Changing the Game:
Behind the Scenes of “Angel Dust.”
Interview with artist Hasan Salaam,director Mark Carranceja, and actress and model Ameena Dove

Interview by Rebecca McDonald of B FRESH Photography and Media

http://bfreshphotography.com/2010/01/20/angel-dust-interview/

“…one of the main issues confronting our youth is teen pregnancy, STDs, and HIV/AIDS. The number of people infected is on the rise, so it is important we get the word out…we have to continue to reinforce protection and testing.” -Hasan Salaam

The underground Hip Hop video genre has been quite disappointing lately- forgettable, in fact. Now that video equiptment is affordable, and rappers have aspirations of becoming actors, everyone and their mamas think they can shoot a quality video. No more is the Myspace rapper–now you must watch out for the YouTube rappers. But think again. It takes true passion, innovative thinking, technical skill and a dope team to pull off a quality production that will leave you wanting more, and waiting for the next video to drop.

[Enter rapper Hasan Salaam, director Mark Carranceja of Noisemaker Media and actress and model Ameena Dove].

Since their collabo-cameo on the scene with “15 Minutes,” people have quietly waited to see what they would come up with next. They brought it to the next level with “Angel Dust” off of Hasan Salaam’s album, Children of God. Think Cops meets Quentin Tarantino meets Wong Kar Wai.

“Angel Dust” is a voyeuristic tale of survival. The fusion of Salaam’s lyrical prowess and Noisemaker’s edgy technical vision create the dark and mysterious world of Angel, dominated by red hot passion and gripping pain. The team pulls viewers into a world of real life consequence in less than six minutes.

On Saturday, January 23, 2010, the “Angel Dust” world premier will be held in Brooklyn, NY at Public Assembly(Facebook RSVP: http://bit.ly/7ysnZ5). The party will double as an HIV/AIDS awareness concert, for Hasan Salaam’s intention is that “…one of the main issues confronting our youth is teen pregnancy, STDs, and HIV/AIDS. The number of people infected is on the rise, so it is important we get the word out…we have to continue to reinforce protection and testing.” The team is working with LIFEbeat on this event, and it is a moment not to miss in the history of the underground Hip Hop music video genre.

Angel Dust 2Angel Dust 1

I sat down with the three powerhouses this week to give you a glimpse into the world of “Angel Dust.”

B FRESH: Describe “Angel Dust” for those readers who are not familiar with the song.
Hasan Salaam: “Angel Dust” is a collaboration between me and Lord Jamar on my second album, Children of God. It was a story I had been wanting to tell for a minute. Jamar let me hear the track and what I had written already fit perfect and the rest of it just flowed.

BF: Brand Nubain’s Lord Jamar produced the track, and also sings the hook. How did you two link up?
HS: We linked at a show in Richmond VA a couple years back.

BF: Since “Angel Dust” is based on a true story, can you describe the unique experience and challenges of rapping about topics such as stripping, prostitution and HIV/AIDS in a substantial and meaningful way– a way that is frequently void in Hip Hop, even among conscious rappers.
HS: Everything is true except the part about her having AIDS, which I wrote as a precaution. We have not spoken in years. I was with her through all of this. We used to be on the hustle together, so her story, in some ways, was mine as well. I was there for the drugs, the hustle–we were supposed to start a business together and make flicks but we chose different paths, I wound up making music she went out to Cali to pursue the dream of making it in the sex industry.

BF: You state that “Angel Dust” is about “…outlining the painful story of a stripper who is destroyed inside a web of her own escapisms.” The video illustrates a very fine line between stripping and prostitution in the world of Angel. What does her world look like?
HS: Her world is just that, escaping her past of abuse with the idea that if she controls the sex, she can control the men. The stripping was just a way to meet clients. She chased the money ‘cuz she felt the money vindicated her troubles, almost like it was medicine for the pain, not realizing that the pursuit of that caused her more pain due to what she was doing to get the money.

BF: When did you first decide to do a video for this song?
HS: Right after we recorded it. My engineer Mike Marvel was like “Yo! You gotta shoot a video for this one!”

BF: How did you and Mark Carranceja of Noisemaker Media link?
HS: We first started building on the set of the video for “Broke and Proud” w/ Rugged N Raw off his Truth Serum album. I was impressed with Mark’s work from the filming, to the editing, to the final product. After that, we shot the video for “15 Minutes.”

B FRESH: When Hasan came to you about this video, what was your first reaction?
Mark Carranceja: Hasan approached me with “Angel Dust” right after we shot “15 Minutes.” I felt honored to work with Hasan again, considering that there are other music video directors that were probably barking in his ear at the time. After my work on “15 Minutes,” I knew that he trusted me with my vision and believed in my skill as a visual artist, and I knew that Angel Dust was more than just another video. This is the first video that allowed me to visualize a world within a world.

BF: What technical challenges in filming the video did you face? How did you resolve them?
MC: Finding the perspective of the story was definitely a challenge that I needed to overcome when I started filming. I wasn’t sure if I should’ve told this story from Angel’s perspective, from Hasan’s point of view, or from a third person. I shot from all three perspectives and I kept finding myself going back to a voyeurist’s point of view. It felt comfortable and it allowed me to film loosely, meaning that I would shoot without a treatment and without the hassles of shooting in a coverage-based fashion. I took some cues from Wong Kar Wai and Lars Von Triers’ technical approach to filmmaking– I allowed for actors to explore improvisation instead of having some set direction that they needed to follow as if the actors were trained circus animals. [Laughs] Overall, Angel Dust is largely built on improvisionational technique. It was imperative that I established a narrative perspective because it sets the tone and cadence for how the story is told.

BF: The glamorous and dark sides of this lifestyle are touched on in a span of about six minutes. Describe the directing and editing process.
MC: As a filmmaker/music video director, I prefer to shoot for the editing room, meaning shoot as much as I can on set so I have options to play with. Allowing myself to film loosely and giving the actors room for improvisation gave me the opportunity to shoot as many takes as I wanted to. I already have a reputation for being a perfectionist, so having more control over what I wanted to see seemed like a dream come true for me, and a nightmare for the actors I worked with. Filming loosely also kept true to the voyeuristic nature of the narrative, as it allowed me to use the lens of the camera as an eye looking through a peephole of a world corrupted by sin, indulgence and debauchery. My approach to editing this music video was done in a non-linear fashion. Since the video is heavily driven by the narrative, a non-traditional approach to editing a music video had to be taken. I was forced to edit this video in the middle, at the most integral part of the story. From there, I worked my way outwards and started filling in the blanks.

BF: What was it like working with Ameena Dove, who plays Angel?
MC: This is my second go around working with Ameena Dove. She, too, is a perfectionist and I enjoy working with an intensely passionate individual like herself. She always came prepared on set and showed that she was emotionally invested in the character from the first to the last take. I look forward to working with her on a future project sometime this year.

BF: What was it like playing Angel Dust? What did you need to do in preparation for the role?
Ameena Dove: Playing this character was challenging at times because Angel lives in a secret world that is taboo to speak of, much less live in. The research to prepare for the role wasn’t easy to find. I wanted info on the hard core lifestyle, so I watched quite a few documentaries, read plenty of articles, walked the strip and of course picked Hasan’s brain to find out what she was really like. I loved playing the character because she has so many elements: She’s strong, sexy, yet weak and vulnerable.

BF: Have you worked on other films or videos and how does this experience compare?
AD: I played an exotic dancer in a short film called Calamity, but it was a very brief part and much different. The other roles (besides these 2) were PG-13. Angel was different and pure due to all her characteristics.

BF: What is your investment in this video?
AD: Well, it’s my first feature film, so hopefully if film makers/directors enjoy it, I’ll receive more leading roles. I’m happy, of course, to have worked with Hasan & Mark again– they’re family so they make it feel like it’s not just work. [Laughs]. And considering the premiere is helping to aid in HIV/AIDS awareness? I couldn’t ask for more!

BF: There is a point in the video where you are crying. Talk about the emotions and process of bringing to life issues that Angel faces, and how you address them.
AD: [Laughs]. Crying was interesting! I played Nina Simone’s “Spell On You” over and over and thought of something completely different to get the tears flowing. When I heard “ACTION!” Angel took over me. It was an outer body experience… It felt amazing.

BF: What was the feeling on set while shooting “Angel Dust?”
HS: It was blessed. Everybody was focused and sincere with their performances. Nina, who played young Angel was amazing! Her first time on screen and she was the most professional one there. It wasn’t your steryotypical video set despite the wardrobe and subject matter– everyone was respectful and understood the message.

MC: As a director, I was focused on getting what I needed to get done, so I am usually numb to any extraneous pressure that occurs on set. I was fortunate enough to work with like-minded individuals who believed in the greater good of the project.

AD: It was shot in many different locations but over all–it was a little of everything. The set was glam at times, raw and raunchy, depressing, uncomfortable, realistic, funny… Most of all… Productive!

BF: What challenges did you face while filming? What victories?
HS: No budget, no permits, but we never have those, so fuck it!!!

MC: Wrapping up another collaborative effort with like-minded artists is always a victory. As a director, I am eager to show this video to the public and present a fresh perspective to the music video genre that seems so… uninspired.

AD: Challenges were the RT 1/9 scene in Jersey City. It was very cold because we shot in the winter so we (the girls) froze our butts off in those little dresses! [Laughs] For me personally, it was making sure I portrayed her exactly the way Hasan wanted. There is a fine line between strength and vulnerability, so finding that balance was crucial. The victory of it all was also on RT 1/9 when a cop thought the street walking scene was real and asked us to stop filming because we stopped traffic all the way to the Pulaski Skyway! That’s when I knew we had something utterly genuine.

BF: You all made noise on the scene with the video “15 Minutes” off the same album, Children of God. In contrast, this video looks like a movie. Was this intentional, and did the production of the video feel like a film?
HS: The intention was to make this one better. That’s what we shoot for every time. Since this is a true story, we wanted it to have more of a film feel to it.

MC: Hasan wanted a film-like look to the music video, so he choose me to direct the project because of my penchant for creating work that has a cinematic aesthetic to it.

AD: It definitely feels like a film because of Mark’s remarkable camera angles, technique and editing. Match that with Hasan’s innovative ideas and soundtrack… I say we have one hell-of-a movie!

BF: What was your favorite part about filming?
HS: Watching all of the other artists whether it be Mark, Dove or any of the other actors make my vision come to life. At certain points it was like life re-lived.

MC: Overcoming uncertainty.

AD: Crying and most definitely watching my niece act for the first time! I’m EXTREMLEY proud of her! She’s an amazing kid, so intelligent and in-tune. She stole the show with her performance as a young Angel Dust!!

BF: What do you want people to walk away with after watching the video?
HS: The sense that we are all children of God. No matter what we do or where we are in life– that’s who we are. Also, there are consequences for our actions, people make mistakes and we all have a story to tell. Some are more harsh than others.

MC: I want viewers to feel like they entered a world. And I want music video directors to step up their game.

AD: I want to remind everyone that no matter what our path is, we are all CHILDREN OF GOD. Thank you Hasan & Mark for allowing me to take part in that message. PEACE.

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Obama’s First Year in Office: Rapper NY Oil Squares Off Against Conservative Carol M Swain

Today Live on the BBC’s program “World Have Your Say” Hip Hop Artist/ Activist/ and the I.B.W. Ambassador to Hip Hop NYOILfaced off against conservative Carol M. Swain (http://www.carolmswain.net/biointro.html) in a discussion on Barack Obama’s first year in Office.
On Carol M. Swain, She is widely recognized as an expert on race relations, immigration, black leadership, and evangelical politics and she was a contributor for CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight.
While NYOIL is regarded primarily as a Hip Hop artist, however further inspection reveals a history as a long standing community activist and motivational speaker.

An impromptu face off occurred during the live broadcast between the Conservative Mrs. Swain and Hip Hop Social Pundit NYOIL which resulted in some great TV.

Below is the Youtube Link to both parts of the video, do enjoy and remember Hip Hop means more than some raps and dances.. it is a way of life that encompasses all kinds. As we progress into this new decade let’s let the world know that we are more than they ever imagined we should be. Let them note Hip Hop’s response to the tragedy engulfing Haiti in the form of the HipHop 4 Haiti National relief efforts taking place this January 30th. Let them see that as a culture we permeate every facet of society and we have and will continue to influence great minds and sharp thinkers from amongst our own ranks, ready to lead our communities into a greater future.

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Breakdown FM Podcast: The Wars Waged Against Haiti-Interview w/ Pierre LaBossiere of the Haiti Action Committee

Click HERE to Listen to Interview on Breakdown FM

Pierre LaBossiere is a community elder and long time Haitian born activist who has been letting many of us know about the challenges, triumphs and tribulations that have beset the Island nation.

He’s been doing this long before the devastating earthquake. He’s been doing this long before many of us knew about rap star Wyclef Jean who today has put this country on the map for a generation of people.

LaBossiere and his organization have been on the ground fighting the hindering and oppressive policies put forth by the Clinton and later Bush administrations. He’s been one of those people who has long reminded us about the shady stuff our government had a hand in which resulted in former Haitian President Aristide being removed (kidnapped) from office..

When we saw that President Obama had tapped former President’s Bill Clinton and George Bush to head up fund-raising efforts , the first person we reached out to was Pierre. As I noted he had long let us know that these figure heads were enemies to Haiti and one of the reasons why the island is in such turmoil.

In our interview LaBossiere goes into rich detail about the politics that have shaped this country and left it destitute. he talks about how Haiti after beating their French slave masters were made to pay reparations to France. They are still paying for that victory..

We talked about the immigration policies of Haiti.. Pierre reminded us that while our Brown brothers and sisters were dying in the deserts of the Southwest United States, Haitian refugees were dying in shark invested waters. He connects the dots and show how US policies have simultaneous crippled both countries..

During our interview we got crucial updates including the plight of Boots Riley (lead rapper for the Coup) father Walter Riley who was on the island when the earthquake hit and missing for a few days..

This is a must listen interview that will enlighten you and let you know that Haiti and her people are not some animalistic people who can’t do for self.. They are a people who have been engaged in a war since the days that President Thomas Jefferson considered them a threat to America.. We as a country have never let up..

Included in this interview are several incredible songs from Haitian rapper and historian Mecca aka Grimo… Enjoy and please pass around..

Here’s the URL

The Wars Waged Against Haiti from Thomas Jefferson to Now-Interview w/ Pierre LaBossier

Press the Logo to Listen to podcast

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In these Troubled Times We Need to Remember Martin Luther King, Now More Than Ever: Here are 2 Rare Speeches

Click HERE to listen to Speech

This weekend we celebrate what would’ve been Martin Luther King‘s 81st birthday. In doing this we take time out to reflect on his life and the words he delivered on the issues of peace and social justice.

This year I wanted to put forth one of my favorite speeches by Dr King called ‘Entrance into the Civil Rights Movement.. It’s an important speech in the sense that it highlights what was at the core of King’s essence-his relationship to God and his ability to call upon the Holy Spirit. It’s a very moving speech where he outlines the challenges he was facing as a leader and how he to look deep inside himself in order to move forward…

you can peep the speech here:

http://bit.ly/5t17Ns

As we celebrate, I am also including a YouTube video I put together called MLK vs the Radio.. This is contains portions of speech that King gave in August 1967 to a group of Black radio broadcasters. It’s an incredible piece where he talks about the responsibility and important role Black radio played in furthering the Civil Rights Movement. I wanted to reintroduce this speech because many of us are still reeling from the verbal assaults that have been occuring on radio shows like the one hosted by blowhards like Rush Limbaugh who recently made disparaging remarks about 50 thousand Haitans who dies in this weeks earthquake.. I want people to peep this video and ask yourself if media is doing right by you.. This piece also includes the voices of activist Rosa Clemente, Minister Farrakhan, H Rap Brown and Chuck D of Public Enemy…

-Davey D-

Below is a quick bio from Wikipedia…

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States, and he has become a human rights icon: King is recognized as a martyr by two Christian churches.[1] A Baptist minister,[2] King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president. King’s efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history.

Gentrification in East Austin-16 year Old Young Scholar Gabriel Padilla Does a 3 pt Documentary

A couple of months ago Detroit rap artist and activist Invincible touched down in Austin and San Antonio to share her musical talents and weigh in on an issue many in the community had been grappling with-Gentrification. Invincible noted that poor people being displaced from their neighborhood by a more affluent residents was huge deal in Detroit, so much show that she and her partner Finale did a song about it and accompanied it with a mini-documentary called Locust. The video garnered lots of critical acclaim and has been a powerful teaching tool that Invincible often uses when speaking with young people while touring the country.

Gabriel Padilla

Locust was a big hit when she swung through East Austin and talked with local youth over at PODER headquarters. The organization has long been dealing with gentrification, but Invincible being a popular Hip Hop artist with a video help crystalize the issue even more for the young people she met during her widely attended writing and political workshops. She encouraged people to hone in on their artistic skills and use them to bring attention to issues and concerns impacting their lives and the community.  The workshops were incredible as many of the people stepped up and spoke truth to power. One of the people who was inspired was 16 year old Gabriel Padilla who has a keen interest in politics and pretty handy with editing and working the camera. 

Padilla who has been a part of PODER’s Young Scholars for Justice Program  wanted to get this issue wider exposure so he got together with PODER co-director Erika Gonzalez and counselor Peter Mendoza to do an ambitious full length documentary on gentrification in East Austin. In the weeks that followed, Padilla would come by the PODER office, meet with Gonzalez and Mendoza, help draw out a storyline, get feedback and advice and basically grind away to craft what many are now seeing an important piece of work. His film which has been broken down into three parts was shown last month at Space 12. We are now showing it here on The Southern Shift.

We’ve gotten to know young Gabriel over the past few months as we would often see him and other young scholars speaking out at school board meetings and city council hearings.  Padilla reminds us all that the future generation is on point  and can move mountains if given the chance. We salute him for a job well done… Enjoy the documentary.

Gentrification in East Austin pt1

Gentrification in East Austin pt2

Gentrification in East Austin pt3

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Interview w/ Paul Mooney pt1-Stop Hating on President Obama

Comedian Paul Mooney is never at a loss for words..Here the former joke writer for Richard Pryor and later everyone from Dave Chappelle to Chris Rock  lets loose about his opinions on President Barack Obama. He is currently promoting his new book.. Black is the New White. He also takes us down memory lane to remind us 30 years ago he and Richard Pryor did a skit about the first Black president.

Is Southern Rap Getting a Bad Rap? Speech of Arrested Development Breaks Down the Evolution & Challenges Facing Southern Hip Hop

Speech talks about the concept behind Arrested Development and how they were one of the first Southern rap groups to get a national platform which in turn helped open doors. He talks about the evolution of Southern rap and how there are many dimensions to it..The early image of Arrested development was centered around building community and taking people back home and away from the harshness of urban life. Sadly there were critics who tagged the group as being ‘alternative’ and ‘hippies’. Speech noted that in reality they were showing a major part of Black life in America.

He says one of the concerns he has is that over the years Southern Rap has become a caricature  and is narrowly focused around one or two types of images. He feels that needs to change.

Do African Americans Honor, Respect & Cherish Black Music? Speech from Arrested Development Weighs in

We caught up w/ Speech of the Grammy Award winning group Arrested Development and asked him how the legendary group was doing. He said they do well overseas. The group gets more love out the country than within.. We then talked about the viability of Black music and why so many African Americans seem to abandon various genres like jazz and blues.

Speech addressed this issue and noted that part of the challenge we have is to honor our music and hold a stake in it. He said far too often we move on after something gets ‘played out’ and others pick up on it , then control it, redefine it and make millions off it..

Naomi Klein Throws Down in Copenhagen-COP15 president says Failure is Not an Option

For those who don’t know there are actually two conferences going on in Copenhagen, Denmark. The first is the United Nation’s sponsored COP15. This is where all the big wigs from around the world are gathering to discuss climate change and craft . The other is Klimaforum 2009. This is the one where activists and folks who feel the politics of COP15 are too stuffy and too compromising are gathering. Tens of thousands are expected to attend, both with huge protests expected later this week..  Here are a couple of stories from both…

This is Naomi Klein speaking at Klimaforum 2009… Note you will have to turn up the volume to hear her…

Last chance to save the world says Naomi Klein

Klimaforum is not about giving charity to the developing world its about taking responsibility and the industrialized countries cleaning up our own mess, Naomi Klein said speaking at the opening of Klimaforum09.

Photo: Mark Knudsen/Klimaforum09.

Speaking at Klimaforum’s opening ceremony in Copenhagen Naomi Klein expressed her doubt whether an ambitious deal would be made at the Bella Centre. “The Bella Center is the biggest case of disaster capitalism. The deal we really need is not even on the table,” she said.

The Canadian author emphasized the importance of civil society to come together to take action on the climate crisis. “There is a difference between a deal and success and Klimaforum09 needs to be the lie detector when the politicians come out with a deal,” she added.

Naomi also had critical words to say about Hopenhagen and its branding extravaganza. “The globe has Siemens logo on the bottom and the whole event is sponsored by Coke. That is a capitalization of hope but Klimaforum09 is where the real hope lies,” she said.

“Klimaforum is not about giving charity to the developing world its about taking responsibility and the industrialized countries cleaning up our own mess,” she concluded.

Klimaforum09 the peoples conference is open from Tuesday 8th till Friday 18th December. The programme features close to 200 workshops, 70 exhibitions and a comprehensive film, theatre and musical events.

The Danish organizers expect up to 10,000 daily visitors and guest speakers include Vandana Shiva, George Monbiot, Bill McKibben, Tim Jackson and Wangari Maathai.

“We would like to tell you that climate change is already seriously impacting us. It brings floods, droughts and the outbreak of pests that are all causing harvest failures,” said Henry Saragih, general coordinator of the global peseants movement Via Campesina, also speaking at the opening cermony.

Nnimmo Bassy, Head of Friends of Earth International, stressed the importance of people getting together to take action.

“At Klimaforum09 we find the real people taking real action. Poluters must be hold accountable and policy makers must start listening to the people,” he said.

For more information and coverage of Klimaforum go here: http://www.klimaforum09.org/

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Below is a story from the UN Conference COP15.. This is where all the delegates and big time honchos from all the developed countries will be meeting. here a lot of politics will come into play and alot of deals will be cut.. We will try and drop news from both places… here’s the link to their official website http://en.cop15.dk/

Here’s where u can find live webcast of COP 15

http://www2.cop15.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop15/templ/ovw.php?id_kongressmain=1&theme=cop15

Failure in Copenhagen is not an option

http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=2257

Connie Hedegaard

If the world fails to deliver a political agreement at the UN climate conference in December, it will be “the whole global democratic system not being able to deliver results in one of the defining challenges of our century”, says incoming COP15 president, Connie Hedegaard.

Will there be a global climate deal at the UN climate conference COP15 in Copenhagen in December? With the clock ticking and a host of major political issues yet to be solved, some people have voiced their doubt.

One hand that is not shaking, however, is the one belonging to Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy. As incoming COP15 president, she faces the daunting task of swinging the baton in front of delegates from all over the globe, thereby making them play the same tune and hopefully, after a concerted effort, end with an accord.

And while thousands of negotiators are still struggling to narrow the score down to something playable, Hedegaard is adamant that Copenhagen will “seal the deal”.

“If the whole world comes to Copenhagen and leaves without making the needed political agreement, then I think it’s a failure that is not just about climate. Then it’s the whole global democratic system not being able to deliver results in one of the defining challenges of our century. And that is and should not be a possibility. It’s not an option,” Connie Hedegaard tells cop15.dk in an interview.

She calls Copenhagen a “window of opportunity” which should not be missed, arguing that it may take years to rebuild the momentum.

“If we don’t deliver in Copenhagen, then I cannot see when again you can build up a similar pressure on all the governments of this world to deliver. So I think we should be very, very cautious not to miss the opportunity,” says Hedegaard, adding that “it would be irresponsible not to use the momentum now”.

Connie Hedegaard is basing her optimism on the fact that nations, after months of political stalemate, began to come forward in September and show their positions. Japan, China, India and Indonesia are some of these “key players” who, according to Hedegaard, have brought new momentum to the climate negotiation process.

“In that sense,” she says, “Copenhagen has already delivered results. If we hadn’t had that deadline, these governments would not have come forward with their targets. They are doing so because they know the deadline is coming closer, and they must start to deliver.”

To effectively break the deadlock, however, two more requirements must be fulfilled. Politicians, including heads of state, need to become more actively involved. And developed countries need to come forward with specifics on finance.

“They cannot just continue to talk about finance. They must show – prove – to the developing world, we know that we are going to pay, or there will be no agreement. And the sooner the developed countries deliver on finance, the better.”

Hedegaard admits that the technicalities of the negotiation process are extremely complex, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for not striking a political, binding deal.

“We know what we ought to do on mitigation, on reductions, on adaptation, on technology and on finance. Well, yes, it’s difficult. But my bet is, it’s not going to get any easier by postponing decisions.”

In order to reach an agreement in December, “as little as possible” should remain to be solved when negotiators arrive in Copenhagen. The high-level section of COP15 is only three days, four at the most. Therefore the negotiation text must be rid of “square brackets” – at this point there are still 2,500 remaining – and the political options must be made very clear before the politicians arrive on the stage, says Connie Hedegaard.

Her personal success criteria for Copenhagen?

“I think what matters is that we, when we depart from Copenhagen, with credibility can say we brought the world on the right track, on a track that makes it credible that we can stay below the two degrees average increase in temperature worldwide. That is basically the success criteria we must try to deliver on.”

During the actual conference, Connie Hedegaard sees her own role as that of one who will be trying to mediate, find solutions and look for possible compromises. And provide a push or a nudge where it’s needed.

“It’s not so that the COP president, the host country, can just tell China or the United States or India what they are going to do. They will decide for themselves. But of course we will argue as strong as we can, push as strong as we can and try to seek solutions as much as we can.”

All through the year, Connie Hedegaard has been working to grease the climate wheels by participating in bilateral talks and informal meetings, thereby making herself acquainted with the positions of as many players worldwide as possible. Her own Greenland Dialogue is one of several series of climate discussions running parallel to the main UN track.

It’s a round-the-clock job and the fervent dedication Hedegaard demonstrates as a minister and one of the world’s chief climate whips carries into her personal life as well.

“You can’t separate that. When you have a job like this, it’s a hundred percent. If you didn’t think that this is really, really important, then you couldn’t work as much, and I also think that your family wouldn’t let you work as much. I’m not only talking on my own behalf, but on behalf of the whole team behind me. People are doing this because they think it’s the most important issue in the world.”

José Manuel Barroso, re-elected President of the European Commission, has announced that he would appoint a climate commissioner under his new presidency. Connie Hedegaard, a 49-year-old conservative politician, mother of two and former journalist, has been mentioned as a possible candidate. Would she be interested, once COP15 is wrapped up?

“I’m really not thinking about what is going to happen after this. A lot of things will still have to be done, and Denmark will actually be president of the COP throughout 2010. These weeks and months are not suited for concentrating on anything else but how to land a deal in Copenhagen.”

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Today is World AIDS Day-Remembering Eazy E & Hip Hop’s Stance Against a Dreaded Disease

“I may not seem like a guy you would pick to preach a sermon. But I feel it is now time to testify because I do have folks who care about me hearing all kinds of stuff about what’s up.”

“Yeah, I was a brother on the streets of Compton doing a lot of things most people look down on — but it did pay off. Then we started rapping about real stuff that shook up the LAPD and the FBI. But we got our message across big time, and everyone in America started paying attention to the boys in the ‘hood.”

“Soon our anger and hope got everyone riled up. There were great rewards for me personally, like fancy cars, gorgeous women and good living. Like real non-stop excitement. I’m not religious, but wrong or right, that’s me.”

“I’m not saying this because I’m looking for a soft cushion wherever I’m heading, I just feel that I’ve got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what’s real when it comes to AIDS. Like the others before me, I would like to turn my own problem into something good that will reach out to all my homeboys and their kin. Because I want to save their asses before it’s too late.”

“I’m not looking to blame anyone except myself. I have learned in the last week that this thing is real, and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone. My girl Tomika and I have been together for four years and we recently got married. She’s good, she’s kind and a wonderful mother. We have a little boy who’s a year old. Before Tomika I had other women. I have seven children by six different mothers. Maybe success was too good to me. I love all my kids and always took care of them.”

“Now I’m in the biggest fight of my life, and it ain’t easy. But I want to say much love to those who have been down to me. And thanks for your support.”

 

Just remember: it’s YOUR real time and YOUR real life.

Eazy E

Many of us have forgotten these haunting words from the late Eazy E who died from AIDs back in 1995. His death sent shock waves within the Hip Hop community and helped open people’s eyes. His death also helped shatter the myth of that HIV and AIDS was solely a gay white man’s disease.

Today as we acknowledge the 22cd World AIDs Day where the theme is Universal Access and Human Rights, most of us are far more educated and understand that AIDs is a worldwide situation that has impacted all communities. Sadly in spite of the urgency, many of us have reverted back to what is deemed as irresponsible behavior. Many of us have looked at the success of people like basketball player Magic Johnson who was diagnosed with HIV and come to believe that this disease will not touch us…

Shortly after Eazy E’s death many people began to pay closer attention to a flurry of Hip Hop themed projects that had launched a year prior to his death. Most notable was the Stolen Moments project which was an album and documentary that featured groups like ‘The Pharcyde‘ who performed their dope song ‘Rubbers‘.. Below is the original track. The other video is the live performance that aired in the documentary.

A year prior to Eazy’s death artist like Michael Franti did an incredible song and video called ‘Positive’ which caught our attention..I recall around World AID Day after Eazy E’s death, AIDs activists placed calls to urban radio stations all over the country to see if they could play the song. Sadly many didn’t, claiming it ‘didn’t fit the format’ (Does that sound like a familiar excuse?) . nevertheless the word got out thanks to the accompanying video.

After Eazy E’s death there was another far-reaching project called America is Dying Slowly (AIDS) It featured everyone from Wu-Tang Clan to Organized Konfusion to 8 Ball and MJG to the Goodie Mob. This was by far one of the best socially conscious albums to ever come out. many of the artists covered a variety of themes associated with AIDs thus forever smashing any myths and misconceptions. The subject matter ranged from unprotected sex, to tainted blood transfusions to the fast life of players and the consequences they might suffer. Many people got with the flavor of that album, even though many our urban stations ignored it even with such high profile groups.

Today as we acknowledge World AIDs Day its important to take along hard look at ourselves, our community and our culture. At a date and time where there are so many videos oozing with scantily clad women oozing with sex, we have to be cognizant of the type of message we convey to younger cats as well as ourselves. Many of us portray an air that suggests it’s ok for us to creep around and keep one, two or three females on the side while we have our ‘main honey at the crib. We mess around and slip up just once and boom-HIV and then AIDS.

The other sad secret we never want to talk about is what happens to so many us behind the walls inside prison. There’s some ill things like rapes taking place and when cats get out they inadvertently spread the disease not realizing they have been infected. Many of us act like there is no longer a risk in having sex. Many of us have been so into getting our groove on that we have all but forgotten Eazy E’s final words. At the time of his death he was the ultimate mack.. How soon we forget our history.

In anycase its up to us brothas to do the right thing. lets keep ourselves informed.. Lets help with the fight to find a cure. Lets get tested and be honest with ourselves. Finally lets set an example for our seeds as well as ourselves and behave responsibly. The rapid spread of this disease in our community is inexcusable and well within our reach and preventing. Hopefully brothas will take this to heart and step up their game. and hold it down.. Keep HIV and AIDS at bay and don’t let Eazy E’s death be something that happen in vain..

Below are some crucial facts that we should all know about HIV and AIDs.. This comes from the site Beyond the Odds which is spearheaded by my Hard Knock Radio co-host Anita Johnson.

Facts About HIV and AIDs Every One Hip Hop Head Should Know

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus may be passed from one person to another when infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions come in contact with an uninfected person’s broken skin or mucous membranes*. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/qa1.htm

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome:

Immune Deficiency means a weakness in the body’s system that fights diseases.

Syndrome means a group of health problems that make up a disease.

AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. If you get infected with HIV, your body will try to fight the infection. It will make “antibodies,” – (chemicals that are part of the immune system that recognize invaders like bacteria and viruses and mobilize the body’s attempt to fight infection special molecules to fight HIV.

A blood test for HIV looks for these antibodies. If you have them in your blood, it means that you have HIV infection. People who have the HIV antibodies are called “HIV-Positive.”

Being HIV-positive, or having HIV disease, is not the same as having AIDS. Many people are HIV-positive but don’t get sick for many years. As HIV disease continues, it slowly wears down the immune system. Viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria that usually don’t cause any problems can make you very sick if your immune system is damaged. These are called “opportunistic infections.”

http://www.aids.org/factSheets/101-what-is-aids.html

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluid or breastmilk from an HIV-positive person enters the body of an HIV-negative person. HIV can enter the body through a vein, the lining of the anus or rectum, the lining of the vagina and/or cervix, the opening to the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes — such as the eyes or inside of the nose — or cuts and sores. Intact, healthy skin is an excellent barrier against HIV and other viruses and bacteria.

Worldwide, the most common way that HIV is transmitted is through sexual transmission, including anal, vaginal or oral sex with an HIV-positive person. HIV also can be transmitted by sharing needles or injection equipment with an injection drug user who is HIV-positive, or from an HIV-positive woman to her infant before or during birth or through breastfeeding after birth. HIV also can be transmitted through receipt of infected blood or blood clotting factors.

http://www.globalhealthreporting.org/diseaseinfo.asp?id=277

Does having HIV mean you’ll die?

Testing positive for HIV means that you now carry the virus that causes AIDS. It does not mean that you have AIDS, nor does it mean that you will die. Although there is no cure for AIDS, many opportunistic infections that make people sick can be controlled, prevented or eliminated. This has substantially increased the longevity and quality of life for people living with AIDS. Bottom line, HIV/AIDS is not the same death sentence it was say 25 years ago. People are living long healthy lives with HIV and AIDS. The sooner you start to become aware and the more you know about the “virus” the better your chances are delaying the effects of the disease.

http://www.aids.org/info/aids-hiv-positive-will-i-die.html

Do I have to tell everyone that I’m HIV positive?

No. Who you tell your status is your own business. They only people that need to tell are anyone you are going to have unprotected sex with. Not disclosing your status is punishable by law. Any person who exposes another to HIV by engaging in unprotected sexual activity is guilty of a felony, when the infected person: 1) knows he/she is infected; 2) has not disclosed his/her HIV-positive status; and 3) acts with the intent to infect the other person with HIV. The felony charge is punishable in the state prison for three, five, or eight years.

http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/AIDS/Documents/RPT2002AIDSLaws.pdf

How do I protect myself and my partner from contracting HIV?

Getting tested, knowing your status and limiting risk-factors for contracting the virus like sharing needles or having unprotected sex with other people, is the best way to protect yourself and your partner. Many health advocates suggest getting tested at least 3 to 4 times a year and more depending on the person’s sexual behaviors.

Can you tell someone is HIV positive just by looking at them?

No. A person living with HIV may look healthy and feel good just like you. A blood test is the only way a person can find out if he or she is infected with HIV.

http://data.unaids.org/pub/BrochurePamphlet/2009/20090401_prevention_fast_facts_en.pdf

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