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 Blues shouter Jimmy "T99" Nelson. Enjoy!
Jimmy Nelson & Sean Carney Band - Piney Brown Blues
“There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'.”
-- Philip K. Dick
News and Opinion
Antiwar.com Sues FBI After Secret SurveillanceFrom an ACLU press release:
Free speech is now being considered a threat to national security, says Antiwar.com founder Eric Garris
Antiwar.com is taking the FBI to court.
The website’s founder and managing editor Eric Garris, along with longtime editorial director Justin Raimondo, filed a lawsuit in federal court today, demanding the release of records they believe the FBI is keeping on them and the 17-year-old online magazine. ...
According to the suit, the ACLU has made several futile attempts to obtain the FBI files since a reader alerted Garris and Raimondo to this lengthy FBI memo in 2011. The details in question begin at page 62 of the heavily redacted 94-page document. It’s clear from these documents, the suit alleges, that the FBI has files on Garris and Raimondo, and at one point the FBI agent writing the April 30, 2004 memo on Antiwar.com recommends further monitoring of the website in the form of opening a “preliminary investigation …to determine if [redaction] are engaging in, or have engaged in, activities which constitute a threat to national security.” ...
The website was also targeted, according to the FBI memo, for links it published to counter-terrorism watch lists (which were already in the public domain), and for the people who were visiting Antiwar.com and/or talking it up at rallies. The FBI noted at least two of Raimondo’s columns and wondered openly, “who are (Antiwar.com’s) contributors and what are the funds utilized for?” This, after acknowledging there was no evidence of any crime being plotted or committed.
After Raimondo wrote about the FBI memo in August 2011, which at the time, independent journalist Marcy Wheeler at EmptyWheel.net deemed a “troubling story,” Antiwar.com started losing donors, and according to the lawsuit, it was big time.In October 2011, one of Antiwar.com’s major donors withdrew his financial support from Antiwar.com out of concern that the FBI would monitor him if he continued to provide, as he wished to do, financial support to Antiwar.com. Since then, three significant donors have also withdrawn financial support, citing their fear that FBI interest in Antiwar.com would lead to surveillance of the donors as a reason for withdrawing financial support. As a result, Antiwar.com has lost about $75,000 per year since 2011 in otherwise expected contributions.
ACLU Lawsuit Takes on FBI Surveillance of News Organizations
SAN FRANCISCO – Today the ACLU sued the FBI in a freedom of the press lawsuit on behalf of two editors at a libertarian online magazine. After learning that their Bay Area-based site, Antiwar.com, was the subject of FBI surveillance, Eric Garris and Justin Raimondo sought the documents the government had compiled on both them and the site. After a year, the FBI has failed to produce any documents, so Garris and Raimondo do not know the full extent of the surveillance and whether it is ongoing. The editors are asking the FBI to turn over relevant documents, and to stop collecting records of their constitutionally protected speech. ...
Garris and Raimondo discovered FBI documents that showed a record of surveillance of the online magazine. In these documents an FBI analyst recognized that Antiwar.com’s content is constitutionally protected speech, but still recommended opening an investigation and continued FBI monitoring of the site.
“There is no reason for the FBI to be conducting surveillance on our news site. The FBI should be investigating actual criminal activity, not snooping on journalists,” said Garris, who has worked for the online magazine since 1995.
“Federal law has important protections against creating files about how people exercise their free speech rights, even when that speech criticizes the government,” said Marley Degner, an attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. “A news organization under government surveillance is not truly free to express itself.”
The editors originally requested FBI records on May 24, 2012, and have legal rights under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act to obtain the records the agency has compiled on them. There is no legal basis for the FBI’s failure to respond to the journalists’ requests.
Virtually Everything the Government Did to WikiLeaks is Now Being Done to Mainstream US Reporters
[M]any journalists and mainstream media organizations purposefully stayed silent when WikiLeaks first came under attack by the Justice Department in early 2011. That disappointing silence left open the possibility that the Justice Department could use those same tactics against others in the future.
And unfortunately now it's clear: virtually every move made by the Justice Department against WikiLeaks has now also been deployed on mainstream US journalists.
Data requests without a warrant... government refusing to notify journalists they’re being spied on... equating journalists and reporting to spies and espionage... potential “conspiracy to commit espionage” charges.
President Obama loves leaks, despises whistleblowers
The New York Times and The Washington Post are propagating a false narrative, one that depicts Obama as some sort of crusader hell bent on plugging all leaks. The reality is the Obama administration has either authorized or acquiesced to the leak of information that is deemed politically beneficial, while relentlessly investigating and prosecuting those who reveal information that reflects poorly on his administration and the U.S. government. ...
Somehow, The Washington Posts’ June 1, 2012, report on the Obama administration’s use of cyber warfare must have slipped through the cracks at the White House and the DOJ. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. and Israel were behind Stuxnet, the cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Prior to this report, there had been speculation that the U.S. and Israel were behind the attack, but no official confirmation. Confirmation was provided to The Washington Post by an official “speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the classified effort code-named Olympic Games.”
These cracks must be enormous to have let the three dozen current and former Obama administration officials who contributed to The New York Time’s expose on drones slip through them. On May 29, 2012, The New York Times revealed that Obama maintains a ‘Kill List’ and that he counts all military-age males killed in drone strikes as combatants unless proven innocent posthumously. Regarding the president’s indiscriminate counting method, one official “requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.” ...
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has charged six whistle-blowers, a term apparently not in The New York Times’s or The Washington Post’s editorial vocabulary, under the Espionage Act. ... The Obama administration has sent a clear message. Government officials and journalists who wish to work together to create news stories through the leak of classified information that portray the president and his administration in a positive light should have no fear. And to the journalists and whistle-blowers thinking about publishing that other kind of classified information, be prepared to have your emails read, your phones tapped without your knowledge and your life and career turned upside down.
Security Trumps Justice in Upcoming Manning Trial
Tuesday marked the final day of pretrial hearings in the court martial of Manning during which attorneys for both sides and Colonel Denise Lind, who is presiding over the trial, issued a series of revisions for the upcoming trial. ...
The issue on how best to handle classified information throughout the trial has spurred some debate and prompted a "dry run" session after which Lind concluded it was "not possible to elicit coherently nuanced" testimony on classified information in open court and thus decided to close portions of the trial, independent blogger Kevin Gosztola reports.
"The over-riding interest in protecting national security over-rides the risk of miscarriage of justice," said Lind, who also added that it over-rode Manning's First Amendment rights.
New light shed on US government's extraordinary rendition programme
A groundbreaking research project has mapped the US government's global kidnap and secret detention programme, shedding unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years.
The interactive online project – by two British universities and a legal charity – has uncovered new details of the way in which the so-called extraordinary rendition programme operated for years in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to avoid detection in the face of growing public concern.
The Rendition Project website is intended to serve as a research tool that not only collates all the publicly available data about the programme, but can continue to be updated as further information comes to light.
Data already collated shows the full extent of the UK's logistical support for the programme: aircraft associated with rendition operations landed at British airports more than 1,600 times.
Although no detainees are known to have been aboard the aircraft while they were landing in the UK, the CIA was able to refuel during operations that involved some of the most notorious renditions of the post-September 11 years, including one in which two men were kidnapped in Sweden and flown to Egypt, where they suffered years of torture, and others that involved detainees being flown to and from a secret prison in Romania.
Body of Footless Torture Victim Unearthed Near US Special Forces Base in Afghanistan
Laborers digging a water ditch just 200 yards from a former US Special Forces outpost in Afghanistan have discovered the body of a missing Afghan man, Sayid Mohammad, who was last seen being taken to the base after being taken into custody by men associated with the US military.
According to the New York Times, Afghan officials say both of Mohammad's feet had been cut off and that he was buried inside a "military-style black body bag."
The discovery of the mutilated body is just the latest development in a bizarre but pivotal series of events that have pitted the authority of Afghan President Hamid Karzai against the occupying military power of the US military and NATO.
Protests erupted earlier this year following claims that US-backed "death squads" were operating in Wardak Province. In response, Karzai ordered all US soldiers to leave the district, but the mysterious activities and disappearances of Afghan citizens sparked questions about the level of US involvement.
LGBT Community: Senate Dems 'Betrayed Us' on Immigration
As reform bill passes to full Senate, concerns of gay and lesbian familes are left in the dust
Champions of equality slammed Democratic members on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday after it succumbed to the pressure of rightwing threats by removing a crucial amendment to the immigration reform package that would have provided inclusion and protection of LGBT members of immigrant and binational families.
The overall bill was ultimately passed, but only after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the committee's chairman, removed an amendment that included protections and equal legal status for families that include same-sex partners who are non-US citizens.
"I'm committed to ending that discrimination," Leahy said before withdrawing the amendment which Republican lawmakers said would essentially kill the legislation either at the committee level or in the full Senate.
But LGBT activists, tired of their continued exclusion from equal treatment under the law, say the move is just another cave by the Democrats.
“Republicans came after LGBT families, and Democrats didn’t stand up,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of the Immigration Equality Action Fund which advocates on behalf of the LGBT community in immigration matters.
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: The "unbanked" are 27% of those eligible for ObamaCare, and may be denied coverage because they have no way to pay that insurance companies will accept
(I should start by saying that this is a report from Jackson-Hewitt, and it couldn't have been more clear to me from my H&R Block experience this year that the tax preparers want a piece of the action from ObamaCare's stream of rents. I mean, here's the screaming headline on their corporate site: "April 15 is Now the Most Important Day in Healthcare.") That said, this report seems to make some good points. From the executive summary:
• More than one in four uninsured Americans eligible for the new premium assistance tax credits under the ACA does not have a checking account. Among the uninsured, non-elderly population with household incomes in the tax credit eligible range, 27 percent are effectively “unbanked.”
• Many insurance companies plan to require customers to pay premiums automatically through a checking account. While such restrictions may help insurers reduce administrative costs, unbanked customers will not be able to pay their required share of insurance premiums. Though contrary to the spirit and intent of the ACA, such restrictions are permissible under current federal guidance absent a policy clarification
• These restrictions will undermine efforts to expand health coverage under the ACA. Requiring enrollees to pay their premiums using a checking account would effectively deny coverage to the more than eight million unbanked Americans who are otherwise eligible for the new tax credits under the ACA. Unless addressed, such restrictions may hollow out the ACA’s expansion of coverage.
• The impact will be especially large among African Americans and Hispanic Americans, who are over 40 percent more likely to be unbanked relative to white residents in the same income category. This is particularly concerning given the existing disparities in access to health coverage and health status for minority groups. Further, as many as five million veterans and other Americans who receive federal benefits on prepaid debit cards may not be able use those same cards to pay their premiums for federally- subsidized insurance.
• The impact on the unbanked will be disproportionately large in states where the federal government operates a health insurance marketplace. Federal marketplaces will operate in 11 of the 12 states with the highest proportion of unbanked among those eligible for tax credits.
The Internet Is Slaying the Middle Class
In "Who Owns the Future?" Jaron Lanier examines how the Web eliminates employment and job security, along with revenues that give the economic middle stability. ...
His book continues his war on digital utopianism and his assertion of humanist and individualistic values in a hive-mind world. But Lanier still sees potential in digital technology: He just wants it reoriented away from its main role so far, which involves “spying” on citizens, creating a winner-take-all society, eroding professions and, in exchange, throwing bonbons to the crowd. ....
Much of the book looks at the way Internet technology threatens to destroy the middle class by first eroding employment and job security, along with various “levees” that give the economic middle stability.
“Here’s a current example of the challenge we face,” he writes in the book’s prelude: “At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?”
“Future” also looks at the way the creative class – especially musicians, journalists and photographers — has borne the brunt of disruptive technology.
The Secret Donors Behind the Center for American Progress and Other Think TanksCoburn and Inhofe, you'd think that no one state could contain so much contemptible mean-spiritedness. Oklahomans probably keep electing them hoping that they'll stay far away from Oklahoma in Washington DC.
The Center for American Progress, Washington’s leading liberal think tank, has been a big backer of the Energy Department’s $25 billion loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects. CAP has specifically praised First Solar, a firm that received $3.73 billion under the program, and its Antelope Valley project in California.
Last year, when First Solar was taking a beating from congressional Republicans and in the press over job layoffs and alleged political cronyism, CAP’s Richard Caperton praised Antelope Valley in his testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, saying it headed up his list of “innovative projects” receiving loan guarantees. Earlier, Caperton and Steve Spinner— a top Obama fundraiser who left his job at the Energy Department monitoring the issuance of loan guarantees and became a CAP senior fellow—had written an article cross-posted on CAP’s website and its Think Progress blog, stating that Antelope Valley represented “the cutting edge of the clean energy economy.”
Though the think tank didn’t disclose it, First Solar belonged to CAP’s Business Alliance, a secret group of corporate donors, according to internal lists obtained by The Nation. Meanwhile, José Villarreal—a consultant at the power- house law and lobbying firm Akin Gump, who “provides strategic counseling on a range of legal and policy issues” for corporations—was on First Solar’s board until April 2012 while also sitting on the board of CAP, where he remains a member, according to the group’s latest tax filing.
CAP is a strong proponent of alternative energy, so there’s no reason to doubt the sincerity of its advocacy. But the fact that CAP has received financial support from First Solar while touting its virtues to Washington policy-makers points to a conflict of interest that, critics argue, ought to be disclosed to the public.
In Tornado's Wake, Oklahoma's GOP Senators Focus on Disaster Relief Politics
While Oklahomans continue the painful recovery and begin rebuilding efforts following the massive tornado that devastated communities on Monday, the politics of federal emergency aid will likely be focused on the past positions from the state's two Republican Senators, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn.
The total cost of damage in Oklahoma is expected to be vast and yet, as the Huffington Post reports, Inhofe and Coburn will likely "seek to ensure that any additional funding for tornado disaster relief in Oklahoma be offset by cuts to federal spending elsewhere in the budget." ...
Both Inhofe and Coburn have repeatedly sought to decrease disaster aid or make states pay for the aid through other forms of spending cuts. Both backed a plan to drastically cut relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy last year, and in 2011 they both opposed legislation to grant funding for FEMA as the agency quickly ran out of money—funding which Coburn labeled "unconscionable."
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Jimmy Nelson - T-99 Blues
Jimmie T - 99 Nelson - A Great Big Hunk Of Man
Jimmy Nelson - Free and Easy Mind
Jimmy Nelson - Tell me who
Jimmy Nelson - Fine Little Honeydripper
Jimmy Nelson - She Moves Me
Jimmy Nelson - Hot Tamale Man
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!