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Merrill Garbus, the woman behind the experimental folk-rock band tUnE-yArDs, wrote her song "My Country" with the state of the union on her mind. The melody resembles "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at first but quickly veers into more chaotic territory.
" 'My Country,' first of all, does this thing of playing with the original patriotic melody," Garbus says. "It lands on this really weird, unexpected note, and that's something that musically says, 'There's something suspect here; let's investigate this more.' "
Garbus says she hopes the song will entice listeners to examine the notion of the American dream — an idea she finds disingenuous.
"We cannot all have it," Garbus says. "You know, that's the whole idea of the American dream, that we can all have it as long we work hard — and that is untrue. There are so many ways in our country where we are not giving the same opportunities to everybody."
By visiting Africa this month, President Obama is drawing attention to one of the diplomatic tools that most directly shapes America's relationships with other countries: foreign aid and assistance. But now all policy makers at home feel the United States is pursuing the soundest strategy when it comes to providing aid abroad. We explore the issue with the official in charge of the Africa portfolio for the United States Agency for International Development.