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Putin’s Rhetoric at St. Petersburg Forum Raises Global Concerns

Ever since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has engaged in nuclear threats, implying that challenging a nuclear power like Russia could have dire consequences. Today, President Putin claimed that Russia wouldn’t need to use nuclear weapons to achieve victory in Ukraine. This statement came during a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, often referred to as 'Russia’s Davos.'

Putin's interviewer was Sergei Karaganov, a hawkish Russian foreign policy expert who last year called for a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Today, Karaganov suggested using a “nuclear pistol” to threaten the West over Ukraine. Although Putin’s language was less extreme, he did not rule out changes to Russia’s nuclear doctrine. He stated, “This doctrine is a living tool and we are carefully watching what is happening in the world around us and do not exclude making changes to this doctrine. This is also related to the testing of nuclear weapons.”

Putin warned European countries supporting Ukraine that Russia has “many more [tactical nuclear weapons] than there are on the European continent, even if the United States brings theirs over.” He added, “Europe does not have a developed [early warning system]. In this sense they are more or less defenceless.” Tactical nuclear weapons are smaller warheads designed to destroy targets without widespread radioactive fallout.

This week in St. Petersburg has been surreal. On one hand, an international economic forum has been taking place, signaling that Russia is open for business. On the other hand, Russia is in its third year of war in Ukraine and is the most heavily sanctioned country in the world. Tensions between Russia and the West are high.

Earlier this week, at a meeting with international news agency chiefs in St. Petersburg, Putin suggested that Russia might supply advanced conventional long-range weapons to others to strike Western targets. This was in response to NATO allies allowing Ukraine to strike Russian territory with Western-supplied weapons. He repeated this idea again today, saying, “We are not supplying those weapons yet, but we reserve the right to do so to those states or legal entities which are under certain pressure, including military pressure, from the countries that supply weapons to Ukraine and encourage their use on Russian territory.” He did not provide details or names.

Vladimir Solovyov, a prominent Russian state TV host, commented on the possibility of Russia deploying missiles to other parts of the world, saying, “Wherever we think it is necessary, we’re definitely going to put them. As President Putin made clear, we’ll investigate this question.”

In the West, some view this as mere sabre-rattling. Solovyov responded, “It’s always a bluff. Until the time when it is not. You can keep thinking that Russia is bluffing and then, one day, there is no more Great Britain to laugh at. Don’t you ever try to push the Russian bear thinking that ‘Oh, it’s a kitten, we can play with it.’”

CEOs from Europe and America used to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, but not anymore. This year, delegations from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America were present. Russia is using this event to show that despite Western sanctions, there are many countries willing to do business with Russia.

In St. Petersburg, we learned that Vladimir Putin is increasingly confident and determined not to back down. He appears to believe that in the current standoff between Russia and the West, the West will blink first. On Friday, he again threatened to send weapons to Western adversaries without naming specific countries or groups. This threat follows the U.S. giving Ukraine permission to strike within a limited area of Russia with American-made weapons.

Putin reaffirmed his readiness to use nuclear weapons if he perceives a threat to Russian sovereignty, even though he said the current threat level does not warrant such use under Moscow’s nuclear doctrine. However, he noted that this could change.

Russia's saber-rattling has intensified amid new U.S. aid packages to Ukraine and the recent permission for Ukraine to strike Russian targets. Russia has also sent three navy ships and a nuclear-powered submarine to Cuba for an official visit next week, according to the Cuban armed forces. U.S. officials expect the two countries to engage in exercises involving both Russian aircraft and combat naval vessels near the United States, the first such exercise in five years.

New Voter Registration Laws Pose Challenges for Civic Groups in Florida

In late May, Mark Wendell walked through Loch Haven Park in Orlando, Florida, encountering People Power for Florida's voter registration booth. Wendell, having recently moved to Florida, registered to vote with the help of Roxanne Perret, an organizer at the booth. Perret informed him of the new legal requirements: delivering the form to the county supervisor within ten days and providing an official receipt with her group's state registration number. Failure to comply could result in significant fines under a law passed last year.

Over the past four years, states like Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, and Texas have implemented stringent voter registration laws. These laws aim to prevent fraud but have sparked debate, with some arguing they suppress voter participation, particularly among likely Democratic voters.

Jonathan Diaz, from the Campaign Legal Center, highlights the impact on organizations and voters, noting these measures seem to target the heightened registration efforts seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to high voter turnout. Historically, third-party voter registration groups have played a crucial role in American democracy, dating back to the women's suffrage movement and the Civil Rights Movement.

In Florida, over 350 groups have registered as third-party voter registration organizations. However, many groups focusing on young or marginalized communities have had to adjust their operations or cease registration drives due to the new laws. Barbara Casanova's group, Citizens First, has adapted despite the challenges, reflecting her belief in civic duty.

Under Florida's law, groups employing noncitizen volunteers face fines of $50,000 per volunteer. They are also barred from using volunteers with certain felony convictions and must submit voter registration applications promptly to avoid fines that could total up to $250,000 annually. Additionally, retaining registrants' personal information for future use is now a felony.

A federal judge recently ruled against the ban on noncitizen voter registration workers, deeming it discriminatory against Latino outreach. However, groups still face immense pressure. Democratic state Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, founder of People Power for Florida, reported fines for missed deadlines and incorrect county filings, adding financial strain to her organization.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, to avoid liability, has shifted from using paper applications to encouraging voters to register online using QR codes. Despite these adaptations, the financial burden remains significant, with new caps on fines threatening the viability of many organizations.

Jamil Davis of Black Voters Matter notes that for 70% of the small organizations his group supports, the new law has led to the cessation of voter registration drives. A 2021 report by University of Florida's Daniel Smith indicated that Black and Latino Floridians are disproportionately likely to register through third-party groups, highlighting the potential impact of these laws on minority voters.

Republican lawmakers defend these measures as necessary for voter protection. State Sen. Danny Burgess and Secretary of State Cord Byrd cite issues like altered registration forms and forged application dates as justification. Recent fines and criminal charges against Hard Knocks Strategies for violations underscore their commitment to enforcement.

In Alabama, similar restrictions include penalties for assisting voters with absentee ballot applications. Missouri's legislation faces legal challenges, with parts of the law on hold pending a trial. These state-level efforts reflect broader Republican concerns about voter fraud.

At Orlando's Loch Haven Park, People Power for Florida continues its registration efforts despite the challenges. Volunteers engage festival attendees, ensuring their voter information is up-to-date and assisting with registration. The new legal landscape has made volunteer recruitment and training more complex, adding to the operational burdens faced by civic groups.

The evolving voter registration laws highlight a contentious intersection of election integrity and voter accessibility. As these laws take effect, their impact on voter participation and civic engagement remains a critical issue for American democracy.

Understanding Lenin's Ideology and Its Modern Echoes

This year marks the centenary of Vladimir Lenin's death, a significant moment in history that warrants reflection on his legacy. Lenin, the architect of the Soviet state, passed away in January 1924 at the age of 53, after a brief but impactful reign. His tenure was marked by the brutal implementation of communist ideology, which laid the foundation for the horrors of the Stalinist era.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago" details the dehumanizing brutality of Stalin's regime, but it is crucial to recognize that these atrocities had their origins in Lenin's rule. Lenin's governance was characterized by widespread terror, arbitrary enforcement, and a complete disregard for human dignity. Estimates of the people tortured, maimed, and murdered under his regime reach well into the millions. However, beyond the sheer number of victims, Lenin's methods of governance were chilling in their systematic and impersonal nature.

Lenin's model of government embraced terror as a means of control. Unlike warnings against bureaucratic overreach, such as President Reagan's famous remark about the dangers of government intervention, Lenin viewed the terrifying power of unlimited government as essential. This approach mirrored that of previous totalitarians like Maximilien de Robespierre, who also employed terror in the pursuit of an ideological utopia.

Lenin, inspired by Karl Marx, translated theoretical ideals into brutal acts. Winston Churchill, in his historical work "The World Crisis," aptly compared Lenin to Marx, highlighting Lenin's ruthless pragmatism in implementing Marxist theories. Lenin's revenge was notably impersonal—while he showed reluctance in killing individuals, he had no qualms about causing mass suffering to entire classes and nations.

Lenin's vision of "true democracy" involved the abolition of traditional democratic institutions. He dismissed freedom of the press as a bourgeois deceit, believing that the state alone should determine the people's interests. This proto-totalitarian idea of the "general will," borrowed from Rousseau, justified the subjugation of individual freedoms for the supposed greater good.

Central to Lenin's ideology was the belief that freedom ultimately belonged to the state, not the individual. He saw people as mere cogs in a vast political machine, a view that stripped away personal agency and autonomy. Although quoting Lenin is now politically unpalatable, his ideas linger in various forms of bureaucratic control and authoritarian impulses.

Today, the resurgence of authoritarian ideologies and the erosion of individual freedoms echo Lenin's legacy. Recent political and social movements have shown an unsettling willingness to rehabilitate figures and ideas once deemed toxic. This includes a troubling trend among some young activists who glorify past tyrannies or embrace radical, anti-democratic rhetoric.

The specter of Leninism manifests in modern efforts to expand state control over various aspects of life, from healthcare and finance to personal freedoms and environmental policies. This growing bureaucratic control, often justified as benevolent oversight, risks replicating the very authoritarian structures Lenin championed.

As we remember Lenin's death a century ago, it is vital to reject his monstrous legacy. The early years of the Bolshevik Revolution brought immense human suffering and societal barbarization. While America has not reached such extremes, the warning signs are evident. Vigilance is necessary to prevent the encroachment of soft tyrannies and to preserve the democratic values that safeguard individual freedom.

The centenary of Lenin's death is a poignant reminder of the dangers of unchecked state power and the importance of maintaining democratic principles. By understanding and rejecting Lenin's legacy, we can strive to prevent the repetition of history's darkest chapters.

Janus Henderson Tightens Grip on CLO ETFs with JAAA's $10 Billion Milestone

The Janus Henderson AAA CLO exchange-traded fund (ticker JAAA) has reached a significant milestone, amassing over $10 billion in assets. This achievement underscores Janus Henderson's leading position in the growing niche of collateralized loan obligation (CLO) ETFs. According to a Monday press release, JAAA now controls roughly 90% of the market share for top-rated CLO ETFs.

Janus Henderson's closest competitor in the CLO ETF space is its own Janus Henderson B-BBB CLO ETF (JBBB), which has gathered about $666 million in assets. This contrast highlights the substantial lead that JAAA maintains within this investment category.

CLOs are bonds backed by leveraged loans that pay floating rates, making them attractive as yields rise. JAAA, although not the first mover in the market, was the second fund of its kind, launched in October 2020. It offers actively managed exposure to CLOs for a fee of 21 basis points, positioning it as one of the more cost-effective options available.

Despite new entries from major players like BlackRock Inc., Janus Henderson has maintained its dominance. JAAA is noted for its institutional use case, such as hedging, as highlighted in a recent Citigroup report. This feature distinguishes it from other CLO ETFs, although Citigroup strategists suggest that the category is still evolving and may eventually support multiple products with institutional applications.

“The CLO category is still in its early innings,” Citi strategists, including Drew Pettit, wrote. “There is a possibility that more than one product can have an institutional use case, which is common in other credit ETF categories.”

The current high-interest rate environment has benefited JAAA significantly. The fund has nearly doubled in size in the first half of the year, ending 2023 with approximately $5.3 billion in assets. Over the past year, JAAA has delivered a total return of about 9%, compared to roughly 2% for the iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG).

John Kerschner, head of US securitized products at Janus Henderson, emphasized the benefits of AAA CLOs, stating, “We believe AAA CLOs are an attractive addition to portfolios due to their diversification benefits, low interest rate volatility, attractive returns, and strong credit ratings.”

JAAA's investment strategy focuses on capital preservation and current income, aiming to provide floating-rate exposure to high-quality AAA-rated CLOs. The fund invests at least 90% of its net assets in CLOs rated AAA at the time of purchase or deemed of comparable quality by the adviser if unrated. The remaining assets may be invested in other high-quality CLOs with a minimum rating of A- or similarly assessed by the adviser.

In conclusion, Janus Henderson's JAAA ETF has solidified its position as a leader in the CLO ETF market. Its growth reflects both the fund's strong performance and the broader appeal of CLOs in a rising interest rate environment. As the market for CLO ETFs continues to expand, Janus Henderson's strategic positioning and product offerings are likely to remain influential.

Roaring Kitty's Comeback Sparks GameStop Chaos

Keith Gill, widely known as Roaring Kitty, made his first on-camera appearance in over three years in a livestream on Friday. This event led to significant volatility in GameStop’s stock price, which fell over 40% from the morning's peak. The trading was halted eight times within an hour as the stock price fluctuated during Gill's nearly hour-long stream.

Gill, a central figure in the 2021 meme-stock surge, reiterated his confidence in GameStop’s strategy and new CEO, Ryan Cohen, during the livestream. He confirmed that screenshots posted on his Reddit account earlier in the week, showing a brokerage account with over five million GameStop call options, were authentic. "GameStop becomes a bet on the veterans, you know—in particular, of course, [CEO] Ryan Cohen,” Gill stated. “I think we’ve seen enough from him to think he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

Gill's influence on GameStop began in January 2021 when his Reddit posts and livestreams fueled interest among meme-stock traders, pushing the retailer’s stock price up by over 1,000%. After a three-year hiatus, Gill's return was marked by cryptic posts on Twitter that ignited another rally, doubling GameStop's share price at its peak.

When Gill announced his livestream, GameStop’s share price surged nearly 30%, making him a billionaire on paper based on his call options' value. However, the stock dropped by 25% before the stream and fell another 12% during it, erasing his earlier gains. Gill addressed reports that E*Trade might ban him from the platform, showcasing his continued monitoring of his account.

On May 12, Gill posted a meme on his Twitter account that seemed to signal a call to action. The following day, GameStop’s stock rose by more than 50%, reflecting his considerable influence. Gill, known for leading the meme-stock movement on Reddit, became a key figure for amateur investors. His May 12 tweet, his first in nearly three years, spurred a stream of posts that many interpreted as endorsements of GameStop.

Gill’s holdings, revealed in a June 2 Reddit post, included $115.7 million in GameStop stock and $65.7 million in call options. Despite the stock's volatility, Gill remains significantly invested. His livestream, though bizarre with a fake head bandage and arm sling, confirmed his ongoing commitment to his positions.

While promoting stock is not illegal, Gill’s public disclosure of his holdings invites regulatory scrutiny. "You can’t trade and tweet," warned Lisa Bragança, a former SEC branch chief. In 2021, Gill testified before Congress, denying any intention to manipulate GameStop’s stock for personal gain.

The Massachusetts securities regulator is now investigating Gill's recent conduct. The SEC has not commented on the investigation, but a former chair suggested Gill's actions might not be tolerated. Gill’s livestream included a disclaimer advising viewers not to treat his opinions as investment advice, yet his influence on GameStop’s stock price is evident.

Legal experts note that determining whether Gill violated securities laws depends on his trading history and intentions. His actions, like posting about his positions and influencing stock prices, will be scrutinized. When his call options expire on June 21, Gill faces a decision that could impact his legal standing and financial outcome. Securities law requires advance disclosure of stock sales by individuals in his position.

Gill's case raises questions about the boundaries of market manipulation in the age of social media influencers. The SEC may use this opportunity to set a precedent, aiming to deter similar conduct. Former SEC chair Jay Clayton suggested that the agency seeks to prevent further market volatility caused by influential individuals like Gill.

Gill’s story highlights the evolving challenges regulators face in managing modern market dynamics influenced by social media. The outcome of his case could shape future enforcement and the behavior of market influencers.

Scottie Scheffler Triumphs at Memorial, Joins Tiger Woods in History

Scottie Scheffler won the Memorial Tournament for his fifth victory of 2024, joining Tiger Woods in history. The win did not come easily and was decided on the 72nd hole. Scheffler secured the victory by one stroke over Collin Morikawa, despite shooting a 2-over 74 on a challenging day at Muirfield Village. Only 11 players finished under-par for the week, with Sunday’s final round averaging a score of 74.93.

The drama unfolded on the 18th hole, where Scheffler’s 8-iron shot from the fairway went over the green due to firm conditions that made it difficult for players to reach the putting surfaces. Morikawa, trailing by one, also missed the green from a fairway bunker, turning the competition into a chipping contest. Morikawa’s third shot nearly went in for a birdie. Scheffler, focused on his own play, noted, “I was just trying to stay in my own little world and focus on getting my ball up and down.”

Morikawa admitted his misread, saying, “I thought it was breaking right, but it broke left. It’s a tough chip shot.” Scheffler then left his chip about five feet short, setting up a winning putt. He holed it to secure his fifth win of the season.

Scheffler’s first victory of the year came at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, followed by wins at The Players, Augusta National, and Hilton Head for the RBC Heritage. The Memorial win marks his first career PGA Tour win after April, coming just a week before the U.S. Open.

Reflecting on his victories, Scheffler said, “It’s hard to rate the difficulty of wins, but this one is up there. Being at Mr. [Jack] Nicklaus’s golf course and winning here is very satisfying.” He recalled a conversation with Nicklaus, who once told him, “One day, you’ll make the putt on 18, and you’ll be walking off to shake my hand.” That moment came true for Scheffler this year.

In the final round, Scheffler didn’t always look like the top player in the world. He had bogeys at the 4th and 8th holes but made a birdie at the 6th. His only par-breaker of the day, he managed several crucial pars, including a significant 25-foot par save on the 16th, maintaining his two-shot lead.

Despite missed birdie opportunities on the 12th and 13th holes, Scheffler’s steady play on the 17th and 18th holes secured his win. Tournament host Jack Nicklaus noted, “Scottie didn’t have his A-game today, but he put enough together to win the tournament, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Scheffler’s victory at the Memorial also carries historical significance. Only one other golfer, Tiger Woods in 2001, has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Players, the Masters, and the Memorial in the same year. Woods’ victory at Muirfield Village that year marked his fourth win of the season.

Scheffler’s final round saw him struggle at times, but his composure under pressure ensured his victory. His win was also his first as a father, with his wife Meredith and son Bennett there to witness it. Scheffler expressed pride in his wife, saying, “Watching her be a mom the last month or so has been really special. I couldn’t do what I do without her support.”

This win adds to Scheffler’s impressive 2024 season and sets the stage for his next challenge at the U.S. Open.


Murder in Grand Marais: A Town Divided by Tragedy

Grand Marais, a quiet town on Lake Superior’s North Shore, is home to around 1,300 residents. Known for its serene beauty and artistic community, it attracts many tourists during the summer. However, the town’s peaceful exterior was shattered by a shocking crime in March 2023, which has since divided the community.

On March 8, 2023, a violent altercation occurred between Larry Scully, a 77-year-old resident, and Levi Axtell, a young father. Scully, known in the town for his eccentric behavior and conspiracy theories, had a past conviction for sexually assaulting a child in 1979. Despite this, he lived relatively unbothered in his cluttered house.

Axtell, a 26-year-old man with a history of substance abuse and mental health issues, became increasingly paranoid about Scully, believing him to be a threat to his daughter. This paranoia culminated in a brutal attack where Axtell killed Scully with a shovel and a moose antler.

The murder sent shockwaves through Grand Marais. Many residents had mixed feelings about Scully. While some saw him as a harmless eccentric, others believed he was a danger, particularly to children. Axtell’s actions, though violent and extreme, were viewed by some as a misguided attempt to protect his daughter.

In the aftermath, the town was split. A faction of the community viewed Axtell as a hero who had rid the town of a predator. Another group condemned the act of vigilante justice, arguing that it was not Axtell’s place to take the law into his own hands.

Axtell was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. During his arraignment, it was revealed that he had been struggling with severe mental health issues. A court-appointed psychologist determined that he was not competent to stand trial due to hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.

Axtell was committed to a secure psychiatric facility for treatment. His case highlighted the failures of the legal and mental health systems in providing adequate support and intervention, both for him and for Scully, who had been struggling with his own mental health issues.

The town of Grand Marais continues to grapple with the implications of this tragic event. The divisions it has caused reflect deeper issues within the community and beyond. Questions about the adequacy of mental health support, the effectiveness of the legal system in protecting vulnerable individuals, and the role of community in ensuring safety remain unresolved.

While some residents continue to view Axtell’s actions as justifiable, others call for a more measured and lawful approach to dealing with perceived threats. The case serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences when individuals take the law into their own hands, and the importance of addressing mental health issues proactively.

The murder of Larry Scully by Levi Axtell is a tragic event that has left an indelible mark on Grand Marais. It underscores the complexity of human behavior and the dire consequences that can result from a lack of proper support systems. As the town moves forward, it faces the challenge of healing its divisions and finding ways to better protect and support all its residents.


Astronomers Revise Timeline of Milky Way's Last Major Merger

The Milky Way's history is more recent and dynamic than previously believed. This revelation comes from data collected by the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft, which is mapping over a billion stars in the Milky Way and beyond. Gaia tracks their motion, luminosity, temperature, and composition, offering unprecedented insights into our galaxy’s past.

The Milky Way has expanded over time by absorbing smaller galaxies. Each collision left ripples in the star populations, altering their movement and behavior. Gaia aims to decode the Milky Way’s history by examining these ripples, focusing on the positions and motions of over 100,000 nearby stars. This is just a small sample of the approximately two billion celestial bodies Gaia observes.

Dr. Thomas Donlon from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Alabama explained, "We get wrinklier as we age, but our work reveals that the opposite is true for the Milky Way. It’s a sort of cosmic Benjamin Button, getting less wrinkly over time." He noted that by studying how these ripples diminish, scientists can determine when the Milky Way had its last significant merger. This event occurred billions of years later than previously estimated.

The Milky Way’s halo contains a large group of stars with unusual orbits, thought to be remnants of a major merger. This merger, known as Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus, was believed to have occurred between eight and eleven billion years ago, when the Milky Way was young. However, Gaia’s latest data suggests these stars arrived during a different event, much more recent than once thought.

Dr. Heidi Jo Newberg from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute stated, "For the wrinkles of stars to be as clear as they appear in Gaia data, they must have joined us less than three billion years ago — at least five billion years later than was previously thought." She explained that new star ripples form as stars move through the Milky Way's center. If the stars had joined eight billion years ago, the ripples would have merged into a single feature.

The findings propose that these stars came from a more recent event named the Virgo Radial Merger, which occurred less than three billion years ago. This discovery reshapes the understanding of the Milky Way’s history.

Dr. Donlon highlighted the importance of Gaia’s contributions, "The Milky Way’s history is constantly being rewritten at the moment, in no small part thanks to new data from Gaia." He added that the picture of the Milky Way’s past has changed significantly in the last decade, and this understanding will continue to evolve.

The revelation that a large portion of the Milky Way was acquired only in the last few billion years contradicts previous models. Many astronomers had considered recent major collisions with dwarf galaxies to be rare. The Virgo Radial Merger likely brought along other smaller dwarf galaxies and star clusters, all joining the Milky Way simultaneously.

Future research will determine which smaller objects, previously associated with the ancient Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus merger, are actually linked to the more recent Virgo Radial Merger.


Jelly Roll: From Struggles to Stardom

Jason DeFord, known to his fans as Jelly Roll, emerged from Antioch, Tennessee, defying the odds stacked against him. A mixtape rapper with a criminal past, Jelly Roll spent years in the southern rap circuit, battling both competitors and addiction. His journey took a transformative turn when he shifted to country music, finding his true voice and openly singing about his pain. At 39, Jelly Roll has become a symbol of redemption and success, inspiring millions, including rock legend Jon Bon Jovi.

The Transition
Jelly Roll's career was at a crossroads when he decided to venture into country music. His rap career had been marked by struggles and personal battles. However, his transition to country allowed him to express his struggles through a different medium, connecting deeply with an audience that related to his raw and honest storytelling.

In a recent conversation with Jon Bon Jovi, Jelly Roll expressed his gratitude and excitement for the newfound clarity in his music. "I feel even better. I’m feeling comfortable in my voice, in the songs I’m writing, and I’ve never been more clear on who I’m singing to," he said. This clarity, he noted, came from realizing his music resonated with hardworking, blue-collar Americans.

Health and Well-being
Jelly Roll has also made significant changes to his lifestyle, prioritizing his health for the first time in his life. He quit drinking as much, improved his diet, and incorporated regular exercise into his routine. These changes have not only improved his physical health but also his mental clarity and singing voice. "I didn’t know you could think this clearly," he laughed, highlighting the positive impact of his healthier habits.

Musical Evolution
Jelly Roll’s music defies traditional genre boundaries. His sound is an amalgam of country, rock, and rap, creating a unique and powerful style. This blend of genres was evident in his recent performance at Stagecoach, where he received rave reviews.

Despite his success in the United States, Jelly Roll has faced challenges in taking his music overseas due to legal issues stemming from his past. He remains hopeful that these hurdles will be overcome soon, allowing him to share his music with a global audience.

Personal Life
Jelly Roll’s journey has been marked by personal milestones, including his recent elopement to Las Vegas, reminiscent of Jon Bon Jovi's own spontaneous wedding decades earlier. This personal connection added depth to their conversation, highlighting the parallels in their lives and careers.

Industry Insights
Jon Bon Jovi offered Jelly Roll valuable advice on maintaining his voice and managing the fast-paced music industry. "Don’t feel bad about asking for help," Bon Jovi advised, sharing insights from his own experiences. He emphasized the importance of seeking support and staying grounded amidst the chaos of a successful music career.

Future Plans
Looking ahead, Jelly Roll is focused on completing his next album, with plans to release it by the end of the year. Despite having released 29 projects throughout his career, he considers this upcoming album his sophomore effort under his current label. His independent spirit remains strong, having retained ownership of his music even as he partners with major labels for distribution and radio promotion.

Jelly Roll’s unique sound and compelling story have positioned him as a rising star in the music industry. His ability to blend different musical styles and his honest, heartfelt lyrics continue to resonate with fans across the country. As he prepares for his first headlining arena tour, Jelly Roll’s journey from the streets of Antioch to the stages of America’s biggest venues serves as a testament to his resilience and talent.

His ongoing conversation with Jon Bon Jovi, a music icon in his own right, underscores the respect and admiration Jelly Roll has earned from his peers. As Bon Jovi aptly put it, "You are Jelly Roll. You have a unique sound, which I think is great because it’s an amalgam of all those things."

Jelly Roll's story is one of transformation, perseverance, and ultimate triumph, inspiring fans and fellow musicians alike. His journey is far from over, and with his upcoming album and tour, Jelly Roll is poised to reach even greater heights.


Thomas Bangalter's New Chapter: From Daft Punk to Orchestral Music

Thomas Bangalter, once half of the iconic electronic duo Daft Punk, has embarked on a new musical journey. After years of blending human and machine sounds with his partner Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Bangalter felt the need to disconnect from technology. He shared his thoughts via Zoom, expressing a desire to dominate technology rather than be dominated by it.

Since Daft Punk disbanded in 2021, Bangalter has observed the increasingly complex relationship between humanity and technology. He described feeling overwhelmed by the omnipresence of machines in daily life. This prompted him to take a radical step away from electronic music and embrace a purely human form of musical expression.

Bangalter's latest project is an orchestral ballet score for "Mythologies," a 90-minute piece commissioned by choreographer Angelin Preljocaj for the Opéra National de Bordeaux. This score, which premiered live last summer and was released as an album earlier this year, marks a significant departure from his previous work. Bangalter, lacking formal training in orchestration, immersed himself in learning notation software and composing the entire piece alone. The score's extensive parts span 600 pages, with the conductor’s version running to 250 pages. He likened the process to climbing a mountain, focusing on completion rather than style.

Creating "Mythologies" allowed Bangalter to find solace in a different form of musical creation. After years of interacting with machines, he found working with a blank notation page soothing. This shift in focus also aligns with the human-centered approach that characterized Daft Punk’s final album, "Random Access Memories." Unlike his past work, this project involved no synthesizers or amplifiers, relying solely on the natural sounds of instruments and the movements of dancers.

Bangalter’s composition carries influences from Stravinsky and Prokofiev, blending refined elements with a sense of grand pleasure. Despite its classical nature, echoes of Daft Punk’s rhythmic motifs are present, maintaining a connection to dance music in a new context.

The decision to explore ballet holds personal significance for Bangalter. His family has a rich history in dance, with his mother, aunt, and uncle all being involved in the art. His late mother was a ballet dancer, adding a layer of legacy to his new work.

When asked abouarious forms.

Bangalter views his current work as a continuation of the craftsmanship celebrated in "Random Access Memories." He sees parallels between the theatrical elements of Daft Punk and his orchestral compositions, both requiring a blend of reality and fiction.

Composing "Mythologies" differed significantly from producing a pop album. While pop music involves extensive time in recording and experimentation, orchestral music demands rapid preparation and limited rehearsal time before performances. Despite the intense schedule, Bangalter found the process rewarding and fundamentally different from his previous experiences.

Thomas Bangalter’s shift from electronic to orchestral music represents a profound transformation in his artistic journey. It reflects his desire to reconnect with human elements in music, honoring his family’s legacy and exploring new creative landscapes.

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