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 guitarist Dave Specter. Enjoy!
Dave Specter and Jimmy Johnson - Feel So Bad
“What he realised, and more clearly as time went on, was that money-worship has been elevated into a religion. Perhaps it is the only real religion-the only felt religion-that is left to us. Money is what God used to be. Good and evil have no meaning any longer except failure and success. Hence the profoundly significant phrase, to make good. The decalogue has been reduced to two commandments. One for the employers-the elect, the money priesthood as it were- 'Thou shalt make money'; the other for the employed- the slaves and underlings'- 'Thou shalt not lose thy job.'"
-- George Orwell
News and Opinion
White House denounces Amash amendment as dismantling of NSA
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday evening that a bipartisan-supported amendment expected to go before a vote later this week would “hastily dismantle” a key counterterrorism tool used by the United States intelligence community if approved.
The amendment, authored by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) and supported by democratic colleague Rep. John Conyers, would forbid the NSA from further interpreting Section 215 of the Patriot Act in the manner that has allowed the agency to routinely collect the daily phone records of millions of Americans for the past several years.
The proposal, wrote Amash, “Ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act” and “Bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.”
Responding to the White House’s remark, Amash wrote on Twitter, “When's the last time a president put out an emergency statement against an amendment? The Washington elites fear liberty. They fear you.”
WH: We're against Amash/Conyers amendment because it's not an "open" process, unlike what the FISA court & NSA do in total secrecy— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 24, 2013
The Liars Are “Very Concerned” Program They Lied About Will Be DefundedThey probably can't do a search of the Constitution and find the Fourth amendment, either. More NSA claims that look more than a little bit false:
[Clapper and Alexander] who have lied repeatedly about these programs felt the need to conduct Top Secret briefings to provide information that hadn’t been provided in the past.
All of which makes me very unsympathetic to Clapper’s stated worry.A day before the House is expected to vote on restrictions to the National Security Agency’s controversial phone surveillance program, the director of national intelligence told CNN Tuesday he would be “very concerned” if the measure were to pass.This program is problematic for several reasons: it is overkill to achieve its stated purpose and it violates the intent of the Fourth Amendment.
But add to that the trust those overseeing the program chose to piss away by lying about this collection repeatedly in the past.
If Amash-Conyers does pass (and it’s still a long-shot unless each and every one of you manages to convince your Rep to support it), it will be in significant part because Clapper and Alexander abused the trust placed in them.
NSA Says It Can’t Search Its Own Emails
The NSA is a "supercomputing powerhouse" with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture.
But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees' email? The agency says it doesn’t have the technology.
"There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately," NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.
The system is “a little antiquated and archaic," she added.
Ex-CIA official to address government-wary hackers
Joseph DeTrani, a long-time CIA official who served as a U.S. envoy in talks with North Korea regarding its nuclear activities, will open the hackers' conference on August 2 with a speech about weapons of mass destruction and cyber technology. Former Air Force General Robert Elder, who created one of the U.S. military's first cyber units, will speak the following day.
Def Con founder Jeff Moss said the two had been invited long before his July 11 request that federal officials stay away from the convention to defuse tensions over the U.S. mass surveillance programs leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Moss said that having former U.S. officials at the conference could be useful to the hacking community because they are uniquely placed to help explain the government's position on the surveillance programs.
"Being former, not current, they might be able to speak more freely and offer a more nuanced perspective," said Moss, who is known in hacking circles as The Dark Tangent.
How The CIA Can Send A Drone After Any Mobile Phone
Since 2001, armed Predator drones have been used by the CIA in many foreign nations to attack individuals on the ground. There's a new revelation about them, too: In some cases, the NSA helped the CIA find targets by locking onto their powered-off mobile phones. Even when phones have their batteries removed, it appears the NSA still has the ability to locate them. ...
[Through a program called] "The Find," the Post article says, is run by a team in the basement of the NSA's headquarters whose job is to track the location of mobile phones in real time. Because many phones have chips that stay on even after a battery has been removed, tracking powered-down phones is within the realm of possibility
Russian state news agency says US leaker Edward Snowden has documents to enter Russia
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden was given a document on Wednesday that allows him to leave the transit zone of a Moscow airport and enter Russia, a state news agency said. ...
Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unidentified security official as saying that Snowden was given the document Wednesday, allowing him to formally enter Russia.
Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer advising Snowden, also arrived at the airport Wednesday to meet the NSA leaker, but refused to comment before the meeting.
Yemeni Journalist Who Obama Kept in Prison Is Free
Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who United States President Barack Obama had been keeping in prison, has been released.
Shaye was apparently given a presidential pardon that requires him to remain in Sanaa for two years. This means he would be prohibited from traveling to many of the areas where US drone strikes have taken place while he was in prison or where they will take place over the next two years. ...
Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni youth activist and writer who testified before Congress this year on the impact of US drone operations in his country, reacted, “After FOUR years of jailing him by order from Barack Obama, Yemeni government releases journalist Abdulelah Shaea.” He also said, “Only Barack Obama can compete with Yemen’s dictators (throughout history) in jailing journalists and killing civilians in Yemen.” ...
After he was abducted in July 2010 by Yemeni intelligence agents and went on television to share what had happened to him, US government officials, according to Scahill, began “privately telling major US media outlets that were working with Shaye that they should discontinue their relationships with him. The government alleged he was “using his paychecks to support al Qaeda.”
Obama to move forward with plan to arm Syrian rebels
Reluctant approval from Congress for providing military support to Syrian rebels allows the Obama administration to move forward with plans first announced almost six weeks ago. ...
Its plans so far stop short of calls by some in Congress, such as veteran Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, to establish a "no-fly" zone over Syria.
In a letter released Monday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey warned U.S. military involvement would likely cost billions of dollars and include a range of risks for the forces involved.
"It is no less than an act of war," Dempsey wrote to Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Is Detroit's Bankruptcy Really a Feeding Frenzy for Privatization?
I'm hearing, you know, cents on the dollar for unsecured creditors creditors, but I see most of the damage being inflicted on our labor unions, on our city workers, and on the assets of our city. There have been a lot of conversations under the emergency manager, and certainly now under bankruptcy, about all the city assets that can be put up in a fire sale to help the city, supposedly to help the city pay off their debts. So they're talking about, for example, selling what's a very cherished public park in the middle of the Detroit River called the Belle Isle. They're talking about selling that. They're talking about selling the art collection that's housed within the Detroit Institute of Art, which is apparently worth millions, and so that they're going to just have a feeding frenzy privatizing what previously were understood to be public assets. And that's partly what I see coming down the pipe. ...
So it seems that this is the way that--it's kind of a bit like the shock doctrine that the banks are going to make out. They're going to get paid. Kevyn Orr, who comes out of a financial institution, Jones Day, will make sure that he's going to take care of his fellow financial, you know, empire and that it's going to come at the expense of working-class people pretty much in the same way that the bailout of GM and Chrysler was done on the backs of the workers. That's what's happening. That's what's going to happen in the city of Detroit.
Billion Dollar Baby: U.S. Chamber is First to Hit Lobbying Milestone
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made big news with the filing of a simple quarterly report.
When the behemoth business trade group reported its lobbying numbers for the second quarter of 2013 on Monday, it set a new record: The Chamber became the first organization to report uschamber.jpgtotal lobbying expenditures of more than $1 billion, according to OpenSecrets.org. Reporting that it spent $19.11 million from April through June, its grand total now stands at $1,002,845,680 since 1998, when the Center for Responsive Politics began tracking lobbying data.
For perspective, General Electric, the next highest spender, sits just under $294 million over the same period.
In 2012 alone, the Chamber -- which boasts a business membership in the hundreds of thousands -- devoted $136.3 million to influencing government policy, more than triple the total of the second highest spender. In fact, the lobbying expenditures of the next five firms added together still wouldn't equal the Chamber's outlays.
Larry Summers will destroy the economy (again)
Obama’s leading candidate to run the Fed is an ignoramus with the worst track record in America on regulating banks
Multiple sources confirm to Salon that the White House is leaning toward choosing Larry Summers to replace Ben Bernanke as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, a prospect which has made many liberals apoplectic. Previously, the biggest booster of Summers appeared to be Summers himself, as he was waging a one-man campaign for the position. But over the past week, he has won the backing of influential players at the White House with the ear of the President, many of whom are his personal friends and colleagues. ...
Summers’ true position on monetary policy is more conjectural (actually a problem when putting someone into a position of running monetary policy). But there’s no question that, on financial regulation, Larry Summers has perhaps the worst track record of any major economic figure in America. And the Federal Reserve plays a key role, perhaps the primary role, in regulating banks. Led by point person Daniel Tarullo, the Fed has recently doubled leverage requirements for the largest financial institutions. It’s hard not to see the Summers pick as designed to babysit Tarullo, and blunt any policies that come down hard on the banks. Tarullo and Summers are personally close, but Summers typically listens to his own set of sources on financial regulation – the ones in the very expensive suits – and this has had disastrous consequences for over 15 years. ...
In short, if we wanted to pin the crisis on one person, Summers would be a viable candidate. Nontheless, he failed upwards by taking a lead position on the Obama economic team, and the man responsible for much of the financial crisis would set to fix it. He predictably failed again. Summers lowballed the estimate of how much stimulus would be necessary to get the economy back to full employment; he lied to key members of Congress about the Administration’s commitment to providing housing debt relief and support for cram-down, where bankruptcy judges would be empowered to rewrite the terms of mortgages (this never happened, as the White House withdrew support and created a mortgage relief program that has massively underperformed); and he stood mute about monetary policy efforts to turn around the economy, which would be his main area of impact at the Fed. So on fiscal, debt relief and monetary terms, when the economy was reeling and everything counted, Summers missed on all three.
Evidence Mounts Agent Provocateurs Used by Brazilian Police
Police sent infiltrators and agent provocateurs into crowds of protesters in Rio de Janeiro Monday—the first day of the Pope's visit to Brazil— as extensive video footage and witness testimony strongly suggests.
One of the two suspected infiltrators captured on film may have thrown the Molotov cocktail that was used as pretext for police to charge on hundreds of demonstrators with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets and attack protesters and journalists alike with blunt force objects.
Military police released a video shortly after the police crackdown, allegedly showing that the repression was a direct response to protesters' violence. Yet, the video was mysteriously removed when photo and video evidence emerged suggesting that the person pictured throwing the Molotov cocktail, and his associate, were police officers. ...
Police appeared to target journalists and videographers who were recording Monday's events, bludgeoning the head of an AFP photographer and arresting at least two journalists with the Midia Ninja media collective.
USDA Fast-Tracks 'Rubber-Stamp' Approval of 'Dangerous' GE SeedsCompare the following to the above. Gosh, it looks like European governments actually maintain a few shreds of democratic instinct. Imagine that, enforcing the people's will on corporations! I wonder how long that will last in the current global plutocratic takeover.
Watchdog: 'It's clear that these federal agencies are working on behalf of corporate agribusiness, not US taxpayers and consumers.'
The USDA 'rubber-stamped' the first of many 'dangerous' new genetically engineered (GE) seeds Friday under the department's new streamlined approval process.
The fast-track process allows the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to "make a determination of nonregulated status for crops with GE traits that have already been approved in another crop" without a new review, allowing for a more "timely and predictable review process," according to Mike Firko, APHIS Acting Deputy Administrator for biotechnology regulatory services.
"As expected, the fast-track approval process has made it all that much easier for the USDA to rubber-stamp a host of new GE crops," Katherine Paul, Associate Director of the Organic Consumers Association, told Common Dreams.
Evacuated Drilling Rig in Gulf of Mexico Catches Fire - Gas Leaking Uncontrolled
A drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico was evacuated Tuesday morning after a natural-gas well blew out in shallow water off Grand Isle, La. Natural gas was leaking from the well, leading to a film on the water, but it was dissipating quickly, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
However, on Wednesday, Hercules Offshore said the natural gas flowing from the well ignited, which spread to the rig.
Walter Oil & Gas Corp., a private company based in Houston, reported the accident about 55 miles offshore, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and BSEE.
Hercules said it is working with Walter and regulatory authorities to determine the cause of the incident, but its immediate focus is on stopping the flow of natural gas from the well.
Arctic thawing could cost the world $60tn, scientists sayHat tip to Agathena:
Rapid thawing of the Arctic could trigger a catastrophic "economic timebomb" which would cost trillions of dollars and undermine the global financial system, say a group of economists and polar scientists.
Governments and industry have expected the widespread warming of the Arctic region in the past 20 years to be an economic boon, allowing the exploitation of new gas and oilfields and enabling shipping to travel faster between Europe and Asia. But the release of a single giant "pulse" of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea "could come with a $60tn [£39tn] global price tag", according to the researchers who have for the first time quantified the effects on the global economy.
Even the slow emission of a much smaller proportion of the vast quantities of methane locked up in the Arctic permafrost and offshore waters could trigger catastrophic climate change and "steep" economic losses, they say.
Tragedy on the Antarctic High Seas
Last week history was almost made. Delegates from two-dozen nations gathered to discuss the fate of the Southern Ocean. Several countries were proposing what would have become the world’s largest marine reserves to protect biodiversity at the bottom of the world. Years of science – in some cases spanning more than 150 years – were built into the proposals, particularly in the Ross Sea, a region deemed by many scientists to be the most pristine marine ecosystem left on Earth.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which oversees 10 percent of the global oceans, agreed to join the international movement to contribute to a global network of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2012. Yet the Commission, lauded as a leader in international high seas management, and founded on values of conservation and science as an ocean counterpart to the Antarctic Treaty, failed to reach consensus. Despite days and nights of intense discussions about the science-based proposals, increasing pressure from international conservation organizations, and a media storm attracting public interest across the globe, the waters around Antarctica did not receive protection.
Contact The Decision Makers
As a global commons, the Antarctic belongs to all of us. Decision-makers meet again this October in Hobart, Australia, to continue deliberations. As human well-being is directly tied to the ocean, I believe that we all have a personal stake in these issues.
This link will take you to a site put together by the Antarctic Ocean Alliance where you can email decision makers in all of CCAMLR’s countries. I encourage you to raise your voice in support of CCAMLR’s efforts for marine protection.
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
Dave Specter - The Hollywood Park Shuffle
Dave Specter with Jimmy Johnson & Buddy Guy - Somebody Done Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man
Dave Specter & Sharon Lewis: In Too Deep
Dave Specter - Sweet Serenity
Dave Specter - Texas Top
Dave Specter and Steve Freund - Is What It Is
Dave Specter + Barkin' Bill - Bluebird Blues
Dave Specter and Tad Robinson - What Love Did To Me
Dave Specter - Soul Serenade
Floyd McDaniel with Dave Specter and the Bluebirds: St. Louis Blues
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!