2014 - %3, April

The NBA Just Hit Donald Sterling With a Lifetime Ban

| Tue Apr. 29, 2014 2:21 PM EDT

The NBA is no longer OK with awful racist Donald Sterling's awful racism.

Commissioner Adam Silver just announced that the Los Angeles Clippers owner has been banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million. Sterling will be banned from all basketball operations and from attending any NBA games.

Further, Silver said he will be urging the NBA Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the franchise.

Two-and-a-half million is the largest fine allowed by under the NBA's constitution but, as Mother Jones' Ian Gordon points out, it's really just pocket change for him.

"The discipline issued today is based on the Commissioner’s conclusion that Mr. Sterling violated league rules through his expressions of offensive and hurtful views, the impact of which has been widely felt though out the league," the NBA said in a statement.

The announcement was immediately hailed by league players. The Clippers website right now:

This post has been updated.

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This Is the Cast of the New "Star Wars"

| Tue Apr. 29, 2014 1:31 PM EDT

We still have no idea what the plot of the new Star Wars is about, but we finally know the cast! Original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hammil, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker will be joined by newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow.

Episode VII is set to be released December 18, 2015.

Fast Tracks: "Longer Than You've Been Alive" by Old 97's

| Mon Apr. 28, 2014 3:22 PM EDT
most messed up

TRACK 1
"Longer Than You've Been Alive"
From Old 97's' Most Messed Up
ATO

Liner notes:  A master of playing unreliable narrators, frontman Rhett Miller opts for witty sincerity on this spirited celebration of a life in music: "Most of our shows were a triumph of rock/Although some nights I might have been checking the clock."

Behind the music: Still vital after two decades, the alt-country mainstays scored outlaw-country cred last year via the release of two tracks recorded with Waylon Jennings way back in ’96.

Check it out if you like: Americana wits Robbie Fulks and Bobby Bare, Jr.

WATCH: Cliven Bundy's Anti-Government Beliefs, Animated [Fiore Cartoon]

| Mon Apr. 28, 2014 2:36 PM EDT

Mark Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and dozens of other publications. He is an active member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and has a website featuring his work.

tUnE-yArDs Went to Haiti, and All We Got Was This Brilliant New Album

| Mon Apr. 28, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

tUnE-yArDs videos have a distinctly childlike quality about them. They're playful and bold, incorporating flamboyant colors, bouncing choreography, and wild costumes. Sometimes they're full of actual children. Which makes sense, since Merrill Garbus, the creative force behind tUnE-yArDs, wrote some of the act's first songs years ago while working as a nanny.

The video for "Water Fountain," from Nikki Nack, her excellent new album on sale this week, borrows a page from Pee-wee's Playhouse, which Garbus adores. "It was a dream come true," she told me last week, speaking in an uncharacteristically subdued tone to save her voice for an upcoming world tour.

Holly Andres

What draws her to children's art, Garbus says, is the juxtaposition of captivating colors and "very honest messages that can be really dark." She possesses a certain innocence herself: On Nikki Nack, as on tUnE-yArDs' past releases, her wailing lyrics are suffused with an exuberance and unabashed honesty that is unique to her sound. "Water Fountain," Garbus says, "is about my anxiety over the collapse of our societal infrastructure and the lack of drinkable water. It's a childlike chant, but the words are about heavy topics."

In many ways, she sees Nikki Nack, named after a character she invented for the album, as a departure from her previous work. Her aim was to stray even further from Western music traditions than she already has. (Studying in Kenya as a Smith College student had a huge influence on her direction, she explained in an earlier chat with Mother Jones.)

After releasing her critically acclaimed 2011 album, whokill, Garbus spent almost two years studying syncopated rhythms—the new album's original title was Sink-o—and taking drumming lessons with a Haitian dance and performance company in Oakland, California, where she lives. "I realized that most of the music I'm interested in is all syncopated," she says.

She also spent two weeks in Haiti, where she witnessed Vodou rituals. The trip was a lesson in ancient percussive tradition, and a welcome reprieve from her growing fame. "I went to Haiti as a way to disorient myself from releasing a record and doing interviews, from the pressures of being in a band, and of image," she told me. "That's not what feeds me spiritually as a human being."

The result was a "re-centering" and a "transformation in my understanding of rhythm and music," not to mention a "rhythmically challenging album." But Nikki Nack is more than just that. It's also a document that shows how far she has come in her ability to maintain popular appeal while placing herself squarely outside of the mainstream. For that matter, Garbus says she doesn't feel any pressure to cede to pop conventions for female performers—like a hypersexualized public persona. "That trivial bullshit will always be there," she says. As long as people take her music seriously, she doesn't care what else they think.

Desperation—and Hope—Shine Through on Eels' Latest

| Mon Apr. 28, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Eels
The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
E Works/Pias

The latest in his ongoing series of unsparing self-portraits, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett follows a familiar formula, but is deeply affecting regardless. Everett's lovely chamber-pop ballads (plus the occasional rocker) offer candid snapshots of his psychic wounds, often self-inflicted, made all the more poignant by his gruff yet tender voice, suggesting a confused yet well-meaning soul struggling to achieve a more enlightened state.

If the desperation and neediness of songs like "Agatha Chang" and "Series of Misunderstandings" can verge on uncomfortable, Everett also tries to strike a note of hope amid the lamentations. Confirmed Eels fans will want to spring for the two-disc edition, featuring some perfectly good leftovers and live cuts, including a rousing and surprisingly faithful cover of the early Fleetwood Mac classic "Oh Well."

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VIDEO: John Oliver Goes Off on Donald Sterling on HBO's "Last Week Tonight" Premiere

| Sun Apr. 27, 2014 10:34 PM EDT

On Sunday, former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver officially kicked off his new HBO news show, Last Week Tonight. The premiere episode airs at 11 pm ET/PT, and features the first TV interview with Gen. Keith Alexander (Ret.) since he stepped down as director of the NSA.

Below is a preview clip of the inaugural episode, in which Oliver takes aim at Cliven Bundy, and LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his racist rant.

"It turned out to be a rough week for unrepentant racists and recording devices," Oliver says.

Watch:

Clippers Players Just Made One Hell of a Perfect Statement

| Sun Apr. 27, 2014 4:24 PM EDT

The Los Angeles Clippers are owned by a racist jerk who has put the actual Los Angeles Clippers in an unimaginably difficult situation. It's impossible not to feel for them. This silent protest is pretty wonderful.

Magic Johnson on Donald Sterling: "He Shouldn't Have a Team Anymore"

| Sun Apr. 27, 2014 2:23 PM EDT

The Laker great and LA icon didn't mince words when asked about Donald Sterling's alleged racist comments on ABC:

There’s no place in our society for it, and there’s no place in our league. We all get along. We all play with different races of people when you're in sports. That's what makes sports so beautiful. He’s put his own team in a tough situation. So I believe that once Commissioner Silver...does all his due diligence, gets all the information gathered, he’s got to come down hard. He shouldn’t own a team anymore. And he should stand up and say, ‘I don’t want to own a team anymore.’ Especially when you have African Americans renting his apartments, coming to the games, playing for him, coaching for him. This is bad for everybody. This is bad for America.

(...)

He's got to give up the team. If he doesn't like African Americans and you're in a league that is over 75% African Americans...When you've got the president of the United States saying that this is bad. You've got fans around the country—different races of people—saying it's bad, it is time for him to exit.

Magic is the best.

President Obama Denounces Donald Sterling's Racist Tirade

| Sun Apr. 27, 2014 1:04 PM EDT

At a press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, President Obama was asked about the audio recording of racist Donald Sterling's racist comments.

Here are his remarks, courtesy of CNN:

I don't think I have to...interperet [Sterling's] statements for you. They kind of speak for themselves. When people...When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk. And that's what happened here. I have confidence that the NBA commissioner Adam Silver, a good man, will address this. Obviously the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country. It's got an awful lot of African-American players. It's steeped in African-American culture. I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.

I will make just one larger comment about this. You know, we, the United States, continues to wrestle with a legacy of race and slavery and segregation that's still there, the vestiges of discrimination. We've made enormous strides but you're going to continue to see this percolate up every so often and I think we have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there has been this shift in how we view our selves.