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.
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Hey! Good Evening!
This evenings music features R&B singer Eugene Church. Enjoy!
Eugene Church - Pretty Girls Everywhere
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”
-- Mohandas Gandhi
News and Opinion
Obama as 'Ruthless and Indifferent to Rule of Law' as Bush
The United States' use of drones is counter-productive, less effective than the White House claims, and is "encouraging a new arms race that will empower current and future rivals and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent", according to a study by one of President Obama's former security advisers.
Michael Boyle, who was on Obama's counter-terrorism group in the run-up to his election in 2008, said the US administration's growing reliance on drone technology was having "adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists". ...
Administration officials have argued their use is lawful, though the Pentagon's most senior lawyer, Jeh Johnson, recently admitted that the US was heading for a "tipping point", beyond which it should no longer pursue terrorists by military means because the organisation that Congress authorised the military to pursue in 2001 had in effect been destroyed.
In his study, Boyle said Obama pledged to end the "war on terror" and to restore respect for the rule of law in US counter-terrorism policies.
"Instead, he has been just as ruthless and indifferent to the rule of law as his predecessor ... while President Bush issued a call to arms to defend 'civilisation' against the threat of terrorism, President Obama has waged his war on terror in the shadows, using drone strikes, special operations and sophisticated surveillance to fight a brutal covert war against al-Qaida and other Islamist networks."
John Brennan's extremism and dishonesty rewarded with CIA Director nomination
Obama's top terrorism adviser goes from unconfirmable in 2008 to uncontroversial in 2013, reflecting the Obama legacy
Prior to President Obama's first inauguration in 2009, a controversy erupted over reports that he intended to appoint John Brennan as CIA director. That controversy, in which I participated, centered around the fact that Brennan, as a Bush-era CIA official, had expressly endorsed Bush's programs of torture (other than waterboarding) and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program. As a result, Brennan withdrew his name from consideration, issuing a bitter letter blaming "strong criticism in some quarters prompted by [his] previous service with the" CIA.
This "victory" of forcing Brennan's withdrawal proved somewhat Pyrrhic, as Obama then appointed him as his top counter-terrorism adviser, where he exerted at least as much influence as he would have had as CIA Director, if not more. In that position, Brennan last year got caught outright lying when he claimed Obama's drone program caused no civilian deaths in Pakistan over the prior year. He also spouted complete though highly influential falsehoods to the world in the immediate aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing, including claiming that bin Laden "engaged in a firefight" with Navy SEALS and had "used his wife as a human shield". Brennan has also been in charge of many of Obama's most controversial and radical policies, including "signature strikes" in Yemen - targeting people without even knowing who they are - and generally seizing the power to determine who will be marked for execution without any due process, oversight or transparency.
As it typically does in the US National Security State, all of that deceit and radicalism is resulting not in recrimination or loss of credibility for Brennan, but in reward and promotion.
ACLU calls on Senate to hold for investigation of Brennan's actions in Bush Administration
The ACLU today said that the Senate should not proceed with Brennan's nomination "until it assesses the legality of his actions in past leadership positions in the CIA during the early years of the George W. Bush administration and in his current role in the ongoing targeted killing program".
Liberal opinion gatekeeper Jonathan Alter wants you liberals to STFU about the social safety net
You can already hear the rumbling in the distance -- a train of noisy liberal Democrats barreling straight for the White House. They should arrive just in time for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
The president already has his hands full dealing with angry and unrealistic Republicans. Now he’s getting reacquainted with their counterparts on the left -- a less ideologically inflexible bunch but not necessarily any more susceptible to reason.
Recognizing the enormous stakes in the 2012 election, liberals took the advice of Dr. Evil and “zipped it” during the entire campaign. They refrained from any criticism of the president, lest it help Republican challenger Mitt Romney. ...
While Obama won strong Democratic backing for the so- called fiscal-cliff deal in both the Senate and the House, a chorus of liberal critics rose up to condemn his compromises. ... Just as Republicans must learn to live with tax increases, Democrats must learn to live with -- and vote for -- changes in entitlements.
Cut Corporate Welfare, Not the Safety Net
In Congress' latest "fiscal cliff" deal that supposedly had to be passed in order to avoid economic calamity, we spent $30 billion on extending unemployment benefits for a year, and $205 billion on corporate tax breaks, subsidies and excessive tax loopholes. Most of these Christmas gifts for corporate America are benefiting major, multi-billion-dollar corporations that haven't paid a dime of US income taxes in years, like GE and Boeing. In other words, taxpayers spent six times more on giving free money to companies making record profits than we did to making sure the people who were laid off by these corporations can still feed their families. $205 billion in corporate goodies was okay with Speaker Boehner, but $60 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief apparently wasn't.
One of the most egregious giveaways included in the New Year's Eve fiscal cliff deal negotiated between Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell is an extension of a loophole that allows corporations to book US profits in overseas, tax-free bank accounts. Today, US companies have up to $2 trillion offshored thanks to loopholes like the one in this deal, at the same time Congress is talking about raising the Medicare eligibility age to avoid a fiscal meltdown. Instead of making us give up the pensions and healthcare that we paid for, why not hold rich companies to the same standards as everyone else when it comes to paying taxes? ...
Since the 113th Congress is being sworn in this month, and President Obama's inauguration is set for the 21st, we should organize nationwide actions dubbed as the "Crowning of America's Corporate Welfare Kings." Over the next several weeks, activists can don royal garb, roll out the red carpet, and get members of the House and on record saying that they will support ending corporate welfare and implementing a financial-transaction tax rather than ask us to give up Social Security and Medicare benefits. And if they don't agree to it, we'll know that they side with Wall Street over their own constituents, and make a pledge to vote them out of office in the next election cycle. An action could even be as simple as pointing a cell phone camera at a member of Congress and asking them to take a position on the record.
NYPD's controversial 'Stop and Frisk' policy ruled unconstitutional
A Manhattan Federal Court judge has ordered police stop making trespass stops outside private residential buildings immediately. The tactic was decried by some as infringing on civil liberties.
A key part of the NYPD’s controversial “stop and frisk” tactic has been ruled unconstitutional.
Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered police to refrain from making trespass stops outside private residential buildings — even though the landlord has given officers permission to do so as part of the NYPD’s “Clean Halls” program.
"While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings," Scheindlin wrote in a 157-page ruling.
The New York Civil Liberties Union argued in an eight-day hearing in October that “Clean Halls,” which exists only in the Bronx, leads to people being hassled by cops and sometimes cuffed near their own abode for no legitimate reason.
Bradley Manning lawyer: Alleged WikiLeaker had ‘no evil intent’ to U.S.Ever wonder what happened to that nasty Addington fellow who was Cheney's top aide? He's breathing fresh air at the Heritage Foundation instead the prison cell where he belongs.
Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of instigating the largest leak of state secrets in US history, consciously selected the information he passed to WikiLeaks to ensure that it would be of no harm to the US and would not aid any foreign enemy, his lawyer argued on Tuesday.
David Coombs, Manning’s civilian lawyer, revealed at a hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland what is likely to be a central pillar of the defence case at the soldier’s court martial. A full trial is scheduled to start on 6 March.
Coombs said that the defence would be calling as a witness Adrian Lamo, the hacker who alerted military authorities to Manning’s WikiLeaks activities, to give evidence about the web chat he had with Manning shortly before the soldier’s arrest in Iraq in March 2010. The content of the web chat, Coombs suggested, would be used by the defence to show that Manning selected information to leak that “could not be used to harm the US or advantage any foreign nation”.
The issue of Manning’s motive in allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks goes to the heart of the case against the soldier, Coombs argued. The most serious charge against him, “aiding the enemy”, that carries a maximum sentence – in this case of life in military custody with no chance of parole – rests on the US government proving that Manning knew, or reasonably should have known, that the leak would be exploited by anti-US forces.
Medical marijuana proprietor gets 10-year prison sentence
A man who owned several medical marijuana dispensaries in California that ostensibly operated legally under state law was sentenced on Monday to 10 years in prison on charges that he violated federal law restricting production and sales of the drug.
Aaron Sandusky did not try to fight the charges, admitting to producing and selling medical marijuana in a manner approved by state law. ...
Sandusky’s supporters have long known the sentence was coming, but it wasn’t clear how long he’d be locked up. As it turned out, 10 years is the minimum the judge could have dispensed. In response, nearly 20,000 people signed a White House petition asking President Barack Obama to pardon Sandusky, whose case has been followed closely by the libertarian-leaning Reason magazine.
Although the Obama administration has consistently directed federal prosecutors to avoid wasting resources on individual patients who use marijuana for medical purposes, state-sanctioned production and distribution centers have been busted more frequently in the last four years than at any point in the drug war’s history.
'Smoking Gun': Tar Sands Report Eviscerates Industry Claims
As climate justice campaigners in the US ramp up their efforts to block the Keystone XL pipeline and First Nation activists foment a global 'Earth-centered' movement in Canada, scientists say a new study "conclusively" proves that tar sands oil is both highly carcinogenic and that toxic contamination in Alberta, Canada covers a much wider area than previously acknowledged. ...
The research, published Monday in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that since tar sands production began in earnest in 1978, deposits of PAHs—polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carcinogens that rank among the top 10 hazardous substances on the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry— have increased 2.5 to 23 times—to the point that some lakes are as contaminated as urban lakes. ...
The study confirms what activists blocking the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline have long argued, which is that in addition to be toxic to the atmosphere when they are burned, extreme hydrocarbons like tar sands are extremely toxic to the local environment in and around the areas where they are mined.
"Extraction of the tar sands is the most destructive project on the continent," said Audrey Campbell, an activist with the Tar Sands Blockade who was recently arrested in East Texas protesting ongoing construction of the southern US leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"This study once and for all lays to rest the popular propaganda that all the pollutants up there are from natural sources," University of Alberta water scientist David Schindler told the Edmonton Journal. Schindler said the increased pollution "track(s) almost exactly the rate of expansion in the (tarsands) industry."
'Idle No More' Prepares for Global Day of Action
With worldwide support growing for Canada's First Nations' Idle No More protest movement, protest organizers around the world are preparing this week for a Global Day of Action scheduled for Friday, January 11th.
The day will coincide with a scheduled meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders—including Chief Theresa Spence whose hunger strike, which began roughly one month ago, sparked the mass movement for indigenous rights.
The group has called upon communities around the world to organize under the motto: "Anything. Everything. Anywhere. Everywhere." The demonstrations will be designed to show "support for the rising global Indigenous Peoples Movement by taking action in your community."
Using the twitter hashtag #J11, the group is asking organizers to spread the word and widely promote their actions in order to raise international awareness about indigenous rights around the world.
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
Eugene Church - I'm Your Taboo Man
Eugene Church - Don't Stop Loving Me
Eugene Church - Jack Of All Trades
Eugene Church - The Right Girl, The Right Time
Eugene Church - Sixteen Tons
Eugene Church - Miami
Eugene Church & The Fellows - I Ain't Goin' For That
Eugene Church - Mind Your Own Business
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky