Friday Groove: Dave Grohl Announces D.C. Jam Festival for July 4

Poster for the upcoming D.C. Jam. Photo: Washington Redskins

Earlier this week, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl announced plans for D.C. Jam, a new one-day music festival to be held at FedEx Field in Landover, MD on the Fourth of July.

In 2017, Grohl revived Cal Jam, a short lived music festival from the mid-1970’s. The revival was a major success, and it had been long-speculated that Grohl, a DC native, might bring a similar festival to the east coast. The inaugural festival included acts like Queens of the Stone Age, Cage the Elephant and Liam Gallagher of Oasis fame. The second festival in 2018 included Iggy Pop, Tenacious D and a Nirvana reunion, including surviving Nirvana members Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as touring guitarist Pat Smear, who later became a guitarist with Foo Fighters.

Chris Stapleton (Left), Dave Grohl (Center) and Pharrell (Right) are all set to play at D.C. Jam. Photo: Rolling Stone

The festival is set to include a number of acts, including Foo Fighters, Chris Stapleton, Pharrell and Band of Horses. In addition to the many music performances, there will be a world-class barbecue competition, rides, games and tailgating.

July 4, 2020 is also a special anniversary for Grohl and Foo Fighters: it is the 25th anniversary of their debut self-titled album. That first record started as a one-man (Grohl) solo project in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide and the breakup of Nirvana, where Grohl was a drummer. 25 years later, Foo Fighters have turned into one of the most popular rock bands in the world.

Pre-sale tickets went on sale earlier this week, with public sale beginning today. Ticket prices seem affordable, starting at only $50, which is cheap compared to most other concerts and music festivals these days.

Tony Sheaffer is a staff writer at the UB Post who writes a weekly music column, Friday Groove.

Honoring Emmett Till, House passes bill making lynching a federal hate crime

By: Bryan Gallion and Anna Hovey, Capital News Service

Rep. Bobby Bush, D-Illinois, discussing the Emmet Till Antilynching Act at a press conference – WASHINGTON
Picture Credit: Bryan Gallion, Capital News Service

WASHINGTON — The House passed a bill Wednesday to make lynching a federal hate crime. The measure was named after Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955. 

The final vote was 410-4. Three Republicans and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who switched his affiliation from Republican to independent in July, opposed the legislation.

“This bill is too late coming, but it is never too late to do the right thing,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said in a press conference before the vote. 

Till’s story is personal for some members of Congress like Rep. Bobby Bush, D-Illinois, who authored the bill. He represents the Chicago district where Till lived. 

The youth was visiting Mississippi when he was accused of offending a white woman in a store. Till later was seized by the woman’s husband and his half-brother. Till was tortured and murdered. His body was tied to a fan with barbed wire and thrown into the Tallahatchie River. 

The two men accused of the murder were found innocent by an all-white jury, a verdict that outraged much of the nation and galvanized the civil rights movement.  

Rush said he remembers his mother gathering his four siblings to show them the photo of Till laying in his open casket. The Rush family had moved from Georgia a year and a half before the murder.

“I’ll never forget this moment…she said, ‘This is the reason why I would not allow my boys to be raised in the South,’” Rush told reporters ahead of the vote.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, said he was emotional while considering the bill because he knew Till’s mother. 

“We have to commit ourselves to make this country a better country, to try not to let it happen again,” Thompson said on the House floor.

Lynching — a “widely acknowledged practice in the United States until the middle of the 20th century,” according to the bill — was documented in all but four states. Over 4,700 people were reportedly lynched between 1882 and 1968, the bill says. Ninety-nine percent of the perpetrators weren’t punished.

“Lynching is a blot on the history of America, but the even greater blot is the silence that for too long maintained in the context of what people knew was happening,” Hoyer said.

Past acts of racism and violence can’t be erased by passing this legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said, but calling them out will help the nation heal. 

“As members of Congress and as Americans, we have a responsibility to acknowledge the horrors of the past so that they can never happen or occur again,” Pelosi said on the House floor.

The latest House bill is far from the first anti-lynching legislation that Congress has considered. Almost 200 were introduced during the first half of the 20th century, and three were passed by the House between 1920 and 1940. 

Rep. George Henry White, a Democrat from North Carolina and the only black member of Congress at the time, proposed the first antilynching bill in 1900.

“I am proud of House leadership and Representative Rush…but I do have to say that we must admit it is a bit of a travesty that it has taken 120 years for the U.S. government to address this crime,” Rep. Karen Bass, D-California, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, said in the same press conference where Hoyer and Rush spoke.

The Senate has considered such legislation before but hasn’t enacted any despite requests from civil rights groups, previous presidents and the House, the bill says. 

In 2018, the GOP-run Senate passed a bipartisan bill to make lynching a civil rights violation — proposed by Sens. Kamala Harris, D-California; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey and Tim Scott, R-South Carolina — but it failed to pass in the then-Republican controlled House. It passed in the Senate again last year. 

“Lynchings were horrendous, racist acts of violence,” Harris said in a statement. “For far too long Congress has failed to take a moral stand and pass a bill to finally make lynching a federal crime…This justice is long overdue.” 

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill by Friday, before the end of Black History Month. When asked if President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law, Bass asked, “How could he not?”

Cardin and Van Hollen aim for net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050

By: Anna Hovey, Capital News Service

Tailpipe emissions are major contributors to greenhouse gases. Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen are proposing a bill to get the United States to “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Photo Credit: Anna Hovey/Capital News Service

WASHINGTON — A bill aimed at achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by no later than 2050 has been introduced by Maryland Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.

The United States produced 16% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2016, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. That is second only to China, the world’s most populous country, which accounted for 29%.  

“As the climate crisis, which threatens the health and well-being of my constituents in Maryland and Americans across the nation, becomes increasingly apparent, people are rightfully demanding action from their federal government,” Cardin said in a statement.

The senators’ Clean Economy Act was introduced in the wake of last month’s United Nations annual Emissions Gap Report, which revealed that current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally are not yet sizable enough to avoid a potentially catastrophic increase in the global temperature. 

The new measure also follows a series of environmental law rollbacks under President Donald Trump. Some 95 air pollution and emissions laws have been eased in the last three years, according to The New York Times.

Trump has also announced his intention to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a decision that will not take effect until November 2020. 

Prospects for the bill are uncertain in the GOP-controlled Senate, which has not been receptive to major environmental legislation. 

Besides Cardin and Van Hollen, the legislation is co-sponsored by a total of 30 other senators – 29 Democrats and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

The senators’ bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency to set emissions targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040. 

“This legislation provides EPA with important tools to confront carbon pollution change while promoting economic growth,” Van Hollen said in a statement.

“The Clean Economy Act recognizes that the EPA lies at the center of America’s climate future and empowers it to address climate change proactively,” Cardin said. “Making the necessary investments to reach net-zero will strengthen our economy, create good-paying jobs, and protect public health and national security.”

“It’s past time we get serious about addressing climate change,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democrats’ 2016 vice presidential nominee and one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

“The success of our economy is directly linked to our ability to develop innovative clean energy technologies and avoid the escalating costs of climate change,” Van Hollen said. 

Among the bill’s supporters are the United Steelworkers, the American Federation of Teachers, Clean Water Action, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund and Environment America.

Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions Campaign, said in a statement that it was essential that the federal government follow the many states that have made addressing climate change a top priority. 

“By cosponsoring and supporting the Clean Economy Act, senators will put the American government’s might behind the great work that’s being done in states across the country,” McGimsey said. “Record-breaking extreme weather is devastating families and communities… Before it’s too late, members of Congress who haven’t already done so must step up and counter the existential threat of climate change.”

Presidential candidate and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, are among the bill’s other co-sponsors.

“In California, we’re ahead of schedule to meet the ambitious goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045, “ Feinstein said. “At the same time, our economy has grown to be the fifth-largest in the world. That’s proof positive that fighting climate change supports a strong economy.”