Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.
Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here. This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.
Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues harmonica player and frequent sideman for his nephew Magic Sam Shakey Jake Harris. Enjoy!
Shakey Jake Harris - Roll Your Money Maker
"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions."
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
Chris Hedges: Monitoring of AP Phones a "Terrifying" Step in State Assault on Press Freedom
"I find what’s happening terrifying, truly frightening. And when you look closely at all of the documents that were purportedly given to WikiLeaks by Bradley Manning and published through Assange, none of them were top-secret. I mean, as a former investigative reporter for The New York Times, it was my job to go and find out often top-secret information. And that’s why I can’t understand the inability of the traditional press to grasp that we are now in the last moments of an effort to, in essence, effectively extinguish press freedom. ...
What we are seeing is a system put into place where it’s all propaganda. And anybody who challenges—I mean, look, this constant reference to a shield law is absurd, because they just violated the shield law by not going to court and informing AP of a subpoena but doing it secretly. So, I mean, you’ve got to hand it to the Obama administration. They’re far more clever than their predecessors in the Bush administration, but they’re carrying out exactly the same policy of snuffing out our most basic civil liberties and our most important press freedoms. And that’s because they know what’s coming, and they are going to legally put in a place by which any challenge to the centers of corporate power become ineffectual or impossible."
Obama White House Tries To Distance Itself From AP Spying Scandal By Citing Support For Bill It Lobbied Against
One of the assertions continually made by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at yesterday's press briefing regarding the AP Spying scandal was that President Obama believed in "unfettered" investigative journalism. The evidence Carney offered for this assertion was Obama's support for a shield law that died in 2010.
The problem? Obama did not support that law:NPRâ's Ari Shapiro asked Carney to square Obama's belief in an unfettered press with the fact that he has prosecuted twice as many leakers as all previous administrations combined.
Carney said Obama's love of press freedom "is backed up by his support for a media shield law." This would be the shield law that died in Congress in 2010 because of Obama's objections.
Spying on The Associated Press
The Obama administration, which has a chilling zeal for investigating leaks and prosecuting leakers, has failed to offer a credible justification for secretly combing through the phone records of reporters and editors at The Associated Press in what looks like a fishing expedition for sources and an effort to frighten off whistle-blowers.
On Friday, Justice Department officials revealed that they had been going through The A.P.âs records for months. The dragnet covered work, home and cellphone records used by almost 100 people at one of the oldest and most reputable news organizations. James Cole, a deputy attorney general, offered no further explanation on Tuesday, saying only that it was part of a âcriminal investigation involving highly classified materialâ from early 2012. ...
The records covered 20 phone lines, including main office phones in New York City, Washington, Hartford, and the Congressional press gallery. The guidelines for such subpoenas, first enacted in 1972, require that requests for media information be narrow. The reportersâ committee said this action is so broad that it allowed prosecutors to âplunder two months of news-gathering materials to seek information that might interest them.â
Justice Department's pursuit of AP's phone records is both extreme and dangerous
The claimed legal basis for these actions is unknown, but the threats they pose to a free press and the newsgathering process are clear
The legality of the DOJ's actions is impossible to assess because it is not even known what legal authority it claims nor the legal process it invoked to obtain these records. Particularly in the post-9/11 era, the DOJ's power to obtain phone records is, as I've detailed many times, dangerously broad. It often has the power to obtain those records without the person's knowledge (as happened here) and for a wildly broad scope of time (as also happened here). There are numerous instruments that have been vested in the DOJ to obtain phone records, many of which do not require court approval, including administrative subpoenas and "national security letters" (issued without judicial review); indeed, the Obama DOJ has previously claimed it has the power to obtain journalists' phone records without subpoenas using NSLs, and in its relentless pursuit to learn the identity of the source for one of New York Times' James Risen's stories, the Obama DOJ has actually claimed that journalists have no shield protections whatsoever in the national security context. It's also quite possible that they obtained the records through a Grand Jury subpoena, as part of yet another criminal investigation to uncover and punish leakers.
None of those processes for obtaining these invasive records requires a demonstration of probable cause or anything close to it. Instead, the DOJ must simply assert that the records "relate to" a pending investigation: a standard so broad that virtually every DOJ desire will fulfill it. Even if a court were involved in the acquisition of these records - and that's unlikely here - it typically does little more than act as rubber-stamping functionary, just as it does when secretly approving the DOJ's requests for FISA warrants. This is what is reaped from continuously vesting the US government with greater and greater surveillance powers in the name of Terrorism and other fears.
There has long been concern about the DOJ's snooping into the communications which journalists have with their sources precisely because the DOJ's power to obtain phone data and other sensitive records in secret is now so sweeping. Attempts to enact legislation to protect journalists from this type of concealed investigative intrusion into their source communications have been defeated in part due to the DOJ's insistence that it exercises this power responsibly and only in the most extreme cases.
In Ominous Development, US Navy Launches Killer Robot from Aircraft Carrier
As the US Navy celebrated a breakthrough achievement on Tuesday after successfully launching a jet-propelled drone from the deck of the USS George HW Bush, those concerned about the increasing proliferation of US drones and the deadly programs fueled by the remotely piloted aircraft expressed ominous dread.
It was the first time the US military has been able to launch one of its drones from an aircraft carrier and also a test flight for one of the new Navy's powerful, long-range and stealth version of a drone, the X-47B, which was developed by Northrop Grumman at a price of $1.4 billion.
"As our access to overseas ports, forward operating locations and airspace is diminished around the world, the value of the aircraft carrier and the air wing becomes more and more important," said Rear Adm. Ted Branch, commander of Naval Air Forces Atlantic. "So today is history."
Allan Nairn: After RÃos Montt Verdict, Time for U.S. to Account for Its Role in Guatemalan Genocide
Elderly Man Allegedly Dies in Court Fighting Wells Fargo 'Wrongful' Foreclosure
The administrator of the estate of Larry Delassus sued Wells Fargo, Wachovia Bank, First American Corp. and others in Superior Court, for wrongful death, elder abuse, breach of contract and other charges.
Delassus died at 62 of heart disease after Wells Fargo mistakenly held him liable for his neighbor's property taxes, doubled his mortgage payments, declared his loan in default and sold his Hermosa Beach condominium, according to the complaint.
"Larry Delassus tried everything to save his home," the complaint states. "He told the Bank that they were mistaken; they said no. He contacted the bank seeking information, and was told one thing and then another, and oftentimes, no information at all. He enlisted his friend and neighbor to help him, but the bank refused to recognize him as Larry's representative, despite his numerous applications and appeals. Whatever Larry needed, Wells Fargo created some excuse not to help him.
"At the very end, with his home being sold by the Bank and resold by the purchaser within months for nearly twice what he paid, Larry Delassus, now living in a boarding home, was still fighting for what he and many Americans believe is right by going to court. Wells Fargo, with its virtually unlimited resources, filed a series of procedural motions in its defense, needlessly forcing an ailing Larry to appear in court. Delassus valiantly continued to fight the best he could until his body gave up. On December 19, 2012, as he was sitting in the back of the courtroom, at about the same time the Bank was saying that its actions 'didn't matter,' Larry collapsed, and within minutes, died.
Josh Rosner on How Dodd Frank Institutionalizes Too Big to Fail
Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher testifies before a subcommittee of the House Financial Services committee today on why Dodd Frank has not ended too big to fail, but also has managed to entrench the megafirmsâ advantaged position.
Rosner provided Congressional testimony on this same topic in 2011, and deemed Dodd Frankâs plans for winding down systemically important firms to be unworkable. Rosner has good company here; the BIS and the international bank lobbying group the IIF reached the same conclusion.
Rosner stresses that heâs not advocating the repeal of Dodd Frank but describing what is flawed so it can be remedied or replaced, and that he sees the sort of fixes embodied in the bills approved in the House to weaken derivatives regulations as a step in the wrong direction.
Rosner focuses on Articles I and II of Dodd Frank and describes how their plans to deal with resolving large firms has only made matters worse. Itâs key to understand that these two sections are somewhat at odds with each other. Dodd Frank peculiarly provides for two ways to wind up systemically important firms. Title I says they should prepare for bankruptcy. They need to clean up how they are organized and make sure activities fit or can be mapped into legal entities and prepare living wills, which are plans for how they would wind themselves up. But confusingly, banks can also be âresolvedâ which is more like ârescued with a little pain inflicted on investorsâ under Title II. Title II provides for a second way to deal with stressed financial firms, which includes having the government provide what amounts to debtor-in-possession financing while the bank is restructured. This, sports fans, is what is otherwise known as a bailout.
In his previous testimony, Rosner criticized how having two ways to resolve a firm would create uncertainty in times of stress:It is especially problematic that Dodd-Frank allows for ambiguity when defining institutional failure. The manner in which one is allowed to fail determines and defines its âgoing concernâ value when alive. Every firm must be able to fail under the same regimeâa different resolution regime for a select group of firms will create incentives for creditors of those firms to treat them differently in life than the âless importantâ firms. It was this ambiguity that created the incentives for Lehman to make itself less able to fail and thus less easily resolved.
US State Department 'Twists Arms' on Monsanto's Behalf
The U.S. State Department does the bidding of biotech giants like Monsanto around the world by "twisting the arms of countries" and engaging in vast public campaign schemes to push the sale of genetically modified seeds, according to a new report released Tuesday by Food & Water Watch.
The report, Biotech Ambassadors: How the U.S. State Department Promotes the Seed Industryâs Global Agenda, which pulls from over 900 State Department diplomatic cables (obtained via WikiLeaks), reveals an environment wherein US ambassadors act as sales representatives for the global biotech industry.
U.S. ambassadors and their staffs actively lobby foreign governments to adopt pro-biotechnology policies and laws, create "rigorous public relations campaigns to improve the image of biotechnology" and challenge "commonsense biotechnology safeguards and rules â including opposing genetically engineered (GE) food labeling laws."
"It really goes beyond promoting the U.S.'s biotech industry and agriculture," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops, and pressuring foreign governments to also reduce the oversight of biotech crops."
Sequestration threatens U.S. flood-warning systemHat tip to Keith930:
The government's automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, are taking down up to 150 of the nation's stream gauges -- devices that provide life-saving flood warnings and help scientists track drought conditions. The first round of nationwide closures started this month.
These streamside outbuildings shelter data-gathering equipment so it can be fed to satellites. They track temperature, stream flows and pollution levels.
Stream gauges aren't getting the same sequester-cut attention as airport control towers or Head Start classrooms. ... Scientists use stream gauges to determine how much water will be available for the hundreds of hydroelectric dams. The data helps drive decisions about when farmers should draw water from rivers to water their crops. ...
Michael Lewis is head of the USGS in Idaho. He spent the last few weeks trying to determine which water gauges would have the least impact on the state if they had to be shut down. Lewis says that was a nearly impossible task, since the gauges work together as a system.
Mysterious Poop Foam Causes Explosions on Hog Farms
[S]tarting in about 2009, in the pits that capture manure under factory-scale hog farms, a gray, bubbly substance began appearing at the surface of the fecal soup. The problem is menacing: As manure breaks down, it emits toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide and flammable ones like methane, and trapping these noxious fumes under a layer of foam can lead to sudden, disastrous releases and even explosions. According to a 2012 report from the University of Minnesota, by September 2011, the foam had "caused about a half-dozen explosions in the upper Midwestâ¦one explosion destroyed a barn on a farm in northern Iowa, killing 1,500 pigs and severely burning the worker involved."
And the foam grows to a thickness of up to four feet thickâcheck out these images, from a University of Minnesota document published by the Iowa Pork Producers, showing a vile-looking substance seeping up from between the slats that form the floor of a hog barn. Those slats are designed to allow hog waste to drop down into the below-ground pits; it is alarming to see it bubbling back up in the form of a substance the consistency of beaten egg whites.
And here's the catch: Scientists can't explain the phenomenon.
Heh, well if scientists can't explain it...
'Summer Heat': Our Bodies vs Industry's Money Says Climate Movement
As the approaching months bring warmer weather, the climate movement is planning a mass mobilization across North America this summer with a simple message to those in power: "We're ready to fight."
Designed to increase the size of their movement and up the pressure on politicians and the fossil fuel industry that has laid seige to Washington and Ottawa decision-making, activists in the US and Canada say they are willing to put their bodies on the line to fight the power of big industry.
The various groups involved in the campaign include Canada's Defenders of the Land and the Idle No More indigenous movement, a mix of front-line community groups--like Bold Nebraska and New Yorkers Against Fracking--who have picked up local battles against the fossil fuel industry, more aggressive activist/blockaders--such Tar Sands Blockade and the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance who have staged direct actions against oil and gas infrastructure project, online organizing outfits like CREDO Action which continues to build a list of those willing to engage in civil disobedience, and other large groups like 350.org and the Hip Hop Caucus which are both spearheading the organizing effort and building their own capacity by supporting the work of others.
So far the group says they have active events planned for the following areas, with more to come:
Bay Area Shuts Down Chevron â Bay Area, California
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
Recommended by Oaktown Girl:
A Little Night Music
Shakey Jake and The All Stars - A Hard Road To Travel
Shakey Jake Harris - Mouth harp blues
Shakey Jake Harris - Still Your Fool
Shakey Jake Harris - Gimme a smile
Magic Sam & Shakey Jake Harris - Leaving In The Morning
Shakey Jake - Call Me If You Need Me
Shakey Jake Harris - Ragged and Dirty
Shakey Jake Harris - Farther On Up The Road
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us? Well you'll see why very soon. So what are you waiting for?! Head on over now and be one of the first!