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 piano player and composer Floyd Dixon. Enjoy!
Floyd Dixon - I'm going to move to the outskirts of town
"Our president delivered his State of the Union message to Congress. That is one of the things his contract calls for -- to tell congress the condition of the country. This message, as I say, is to Congress. The rest of the people know the condition of the country, for they live in it, but Congress has no idea what is going on in America, so the president has to tell 'em."
-- Will Rogers
News and Opinion
North Korea Nuclear Test Sends Message to Washington One Week After U.S.-South Korean War Games
The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting today after North Korea conducted its third-ever nuclear test in defiance of U.N. orders. According to international monitors, the underground explosion was roughly twice as large as North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2009. North Korea had vowed to conduct rocket launches and a U.S.-aimed nuclear test after the U.N. Security Council resolution tightened sanctions in response to a rocket launch two months ago. "North Korea has been saying for years they would like to have a peace agreement to formally end the [Korean] war, and they would like to have negotiations directly with the United States," says Tim Shorrock, an independent journalist who has covered Korea for more than 30 years. "The only way out of this for the United States is to hold direct negotiations and talks with North Korea on stopping its nuclear program and stopping its missile program."
Obama’s State of the Union address to outline ambitious second-term agenda
Barack Obama plans to use his state of the union speech on Tuesday to kickstart an ambitious second term-agenda with commitments to immigration reform, gun control, cuts in nuclear weapons stockpiles and, above all, the economic recovery that eluded him over the past four years.
The speech presents Obama with a rare opportunity to rally the country behind his objectives, free of the constraints of the next wave of elections. But however ambitious his plans, the president still faces the challenge of getting some of the most contentious of those past a House of Representatives under Republican control.
The White House has made it known that Obama will focus on strategies to strengthen the American middle class as a means of improving the economy.
Obama told congressional Democrats last Thursday that his state of the union address will keep job creation at the heart of that goal.
On Climate, A Call for Obama to Speak Forcefully and Act Urgently
Groups say that climate crisis must begin with strong rhetoric, but true test is immediate action
Following his remarks on climate change made during his inaugural address last month, progressives and environmentalists are making it clear what they want and expect from President Obama on Tuesday night when he delivers his State of the Union address: More.
Calling the challenge posed by human-induced climate change "so large it threatens to render meaningless everything else we do," Bill McKibben, climate activist and co-founder of the group 350.org, urged Obama to take the reins forcefully in both rhetoric and action.
The president, McKibben argued, should "put the full power of the federal government behind a crash program to insulate homes, scale up energy efficiency" and move the US toward a renewable energy future immediately.
Sierra Club president Michael Brune championed the president's ability to "inspire millions to believe in the possibility of change and the power of hope" and said he should use his position to prove that solving the climate crisis is an incredible opportunity for the country rather than a burden.
Touré: America May Have Committed War Crimes Via Drone—but Keep Up Strikes Anyway
The progressive music journalist and television personality Touré has joined his MSNBC co-host, Krystal Ball, in defending America's drone war, even though he thinks war criminals may be running it!
That isn't misrepresentation or hyperbole.
"I know war crimes may have been committed via our drone program," Touré writes in a depressing opinion piece published Monday at MSNBC.com, "but I am pro killing Al Qaeda leaders via drones even if they are American citizens. That is not a war crime. The authorization for use of military force gives the president that power and frankly you cannot join al Qaeda in a time of war and traitorously plot against us in a foreign country and expect Constitutional protection."
He ignores the fact that procedures for treasonous citizens are explicitly dictated by the Constitution, and that the controversial subject here isn't whether Al Qaeda members should be killed, it is the process that we use to determine that someone is in fact a member of Al Qaeda.
Later in his piece, he states, "a special court to oversee who is being targeted would be a good idea," then says, "I wonder if some in this nation are getting a little soft when they are defending the civil liberties of al Qaeda members," without seeming to realize the contradiction. He adds, "the drone program is a huge asset," then repeats, "I am not pro-drone." He can't bring himself to condemn what Obama has done, or to fail to condemn what Obama has done, so he "hedges" in a way that amounts to nonsensical self-contradiction.
Obama’s Turn in Bush’s Bind
If President Obama tuned in to the past week’s bracing debate on Capitol Hill about terrorism, executive power, secrecy and due process, he might have recognized the arguments his critics were making: He once made some of them himself.
Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country’s core values in the name of security.
The debate is not an exact parallel to those of the Bush era, and Mr. Obama can point to ways he has tried to exorcise what he sees as the excesses of the last administration. But in broad terms, the conversation generated by the confirmation hearing of John O. Brennan, his nominee for C.I.A. director, underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush’s approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces. ...
The confluence of these debates suggests the ways Mr. Obama is willing to emulate Mr. Bush and the ways he is not. In effect, Mr. Obama relies on his predecessor’s aggressive approach in one area to avoid Mr. Bush’s even more aggressive approach in others. By emphasizing drone strikes, Mr. Obama need not bother with the tricky issues of detention and interrogation because terrorists tracked down on his watch are generally incinerated from the sky, not captured and questioned. By dispensing with concerns about due process, he avoids a more traditional war that he fears could lead to American boots on the ground.
Technological Innovation Diminishes State Power
All the traditional tools of state power -- the monopoly over arms and violence, dominance over tools of communication, and external recognition of exclusive legitimacy -- are eroding rapidly. As Tufts University's Itamara Lochard has documented, the number of autonomous armed militias in the world vastly exceeds the number of sovereign nation-states by a factor of at least 10, the Internet is used more to challenge governments than reinforce their power, and transnational networks funnel resources and confer credibility on non-state domestic groups that pursue their own agendas -- including challenging the state.
Technology has enabled the public to mobilize without state direction. Every day brings new headlines that support this shift: The hacker collective Anonymous targeted Israel when it attacked Gaza, and then turned its attention to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy when he arrogated excessive powers to himself. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Occupy Sandy movement used simple platforms such as Google Docs to coordinate greater volumes of assistance to displaced people than FEMA. And while the United States has responded to WikiLeaks' exposure of countless diplomatic cables with greater secrecy, this has only further inspired the growing ranks of whistleblower websites that enable the anonymous disclosure of material. ...
Though most states do not find themselves in the throes of revolution, dozens can be characterized as "areas of limited statehood," in which the writ of the central government does not fully apply and the government provides minimal public services in areas within its domain. This is true not only in failed states like Somalia, but even rising powers such as India, where the loosely organized Maoist Naxalite insurgency afflicts dozens of the country's 583 districts. As such sub-state groups acquire domestic leverage and international voice, they can claim greater fiscal and territorial autonomy as well. This is already the case everywhere from Spain's Basque region to Indonesia's Aceh, and is also brewing in Scotland, Catalonia, and many other areas where secessionist feeling runs high. ...
Soon, novel alliances among sub-state civil society groups and transnational commercial ventures might even emerge that promote parallel economic self-governance. Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, a digital currency unpegged to any real world currency, could become a vital medium for enabling the trade and exchange of virtual goods and services. Sweden-based Pirate Bay, already a key leader of the anti-copyright movement, now plans to elevate private data-sharing to a new level by locating servers in Arctic caves and plans to fly them on drones in international airspace -- or perhaps house them on Blueseed. Through such tools, the sovereign mandate and regulatory power of central governments is diminished in favor of technologically enabled horizontal networks of consumers and civic groups, as well as the technology providers whose software allows them to evade government control.
OECD calls for overhaul of tax rules in crackdown on multinationals
Governments face growing demands from voters to force multinational companies to pay more corporate tax
A sweeping overhaul of international corporate tax rules is urgently needed to stop savvy big companies escaping the payment of billions of euros to cash-strapped governments, the OECD has said.
Governments face growing demands from voters to force big companies with extensive international business to pay more tax amid mounting evidence that many use differences between countries' rules to reduce their tax bill.
The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said multinational companies were increasingly reporting profits in different countries from where their revenues were generated to avoid taxes.
The trend comes against the backdrop of falling taxes on businesses, as OECD governments have trimmed their statutory corporate income tax rates to an average of 25.4% in 2011 from 32.6% in 2000. However, the effective tax rate paid by companies is often far lower due to deductions, allowances and a range of measures that firms use to reduce what they pay to the tax authorities.
Protesters Confront CEO and "Fix the Debt" Leader over Corporate Tax Breaks
"Fix the Debt," the CEO-led campaign promoting fear and what some have called near-hysteria over the national debt, has met its grassroots nemesis: "Flip the Debt." While speaking at a Fix the Debt conference on Monday, Honeywell International Inc. CEO David Cote was interrupted several times by Flip the Debt protesters over tax loopholes that allow companies like Honeywell and General Electric to pay far less taxes than ordinary Americans.
Three minutes into Cote's keynote address, the first heckler trumpeted:
"Fix the Debt claims to seek bipartisan solutions to reduce the deficit, but Fix the Debt is nothing more than a CEO lobby whose real objective is huge corporate tax breaks and drastic cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. David Cote and his CEO friends receive a lot from government: In 2011, Honeywell received $725 million in government deals, making it the 35th largest federal contractor. However, Honeywell and other companies pay next to nothing in taxes. Honeywell's tax rate from 2008-2011 was 2 percent. Does anyone in this room pay 2 percent?" ...
After police escorted the protesters out of the conference, at St. Anselm's College in New Hampshire, Cote stated that "entitlements" like Social Security and Medicare are bankrupting the United States. Cote's Honeywell retirement amounts to $78 million - enough to qualify for monthly retirement checks of $428,000 starting at age 65. By contrast, the average Social Security payment to retirees is $1,237 per month.
Billionaire Banker Bandit Likely To Become Next Commerce Secretary
A parade of media reports this week name Penny Pritzker as Obama's prime choice for Secretary of Commerce. No longer will criminal bankers have to lobby the administration - because now they'll have one of their own in the Cabinet.
We never heard of this guy Barack Obama until 2004. Less than three years before taking the presidency, he was in the Illinois state senate, a swamp of scammers, backhanders, and party machine tools - not a stellar launch pad for the White House. And then, one day, state Sen. Barack Obama was visited by his fairy godmother. Her name is Penny Pritzker. ...
Pritzker had taken this state senator/community organizer from the ghetto, made him a US Senator, then, as Obama's campaign finance chairwoman, raised a mind-blowing three-quarters of a billion dollars to make him president.
In return, in 2008, Obama decided to make his patron Penny the Secretary of Commerce. But then, in November 2008, just as Obama was about to submit her nomination to Congress, a bunch of Pritzker's victims marched on Washington. They were not from her busted bank, but unhappy workers from the lucrative nursing homes that her family owns through a string of complex offshore trusts. Obama slammed the door on Penny pronto.
The Pritzker family made its billions mostly from Hyatt Hotels and Hyatt nursing homes. Penny, on the Hyatt board of directors, is an infamously combative anti-union apostle. UNITE HERE, the union that represents Hyatt workers, has called for an international boycott of Hyatt hotels. In 2012, UNITE HERE and its parent, the AFL-CIO, were crucial to Obama's winning Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. So, in this last campaign, Obama had to keep his billionairess heiress on the down-low.
But today, with the unions' money and votes already pocketed and counted, Obama can give working folks The Finger and give Penny her pound of flesh: the Commerce post.
UN’s Water Agenda at Risk of Being Hijacked by Big Business
UNITED NATIONS - Amidst growing new threats of potential conflicts over fast-dwindling water resources in the world’s arid regions, the United Nations will commemorate 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation IYWC.
But Maude Barlow, chairperson, Council of Canadians and a former senior advisor on water to the president of the U.N. General Assembly in 2008-2009, warns the U.N.’s water agenda is in danger of being hijacked by big business and water conglomerates.
“We don’t need the United Nations to promote private sector participation under the guise of greater ‘cooperation’ when these same companies force their way into communities and make huge profits from the basic right to water and sanitation,” Barlow told IPS.
At this time of scarcity and financial crisis, she said, “We need the United Nations to ensure that governments are fulfilling their obligations to provide basic services rather than relinquishing to transnational corporations.”
At 12 Noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.
"Forward On Climate" Blogathon: February 11 - February 15, 2013
President Obama: Don't cut Social Security
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
Floyd Dixon - Hey Bartender (live)
Floyd Dixon - Please Don't Go
Floyd Dixon & His Band - Roll Baby Roll
Floyd Dixon - Telephone Blues
Floyd Dixon - Doin' The Town
Floyd Dixon - Sad Journey Blues
Real Lovin' Mama - Floyd Dixon + Mary Jones
Floyd Dixon - What Is Life Without A Home
Floyd Dixon - Bad Neighborhood
Floyd Dixon - Let's Dance
Floyd Dixon - Too Much Jelly Roll
Floyd Dixon - Ooh Little Girl
Floyd Dixon - Route 66
San Francisco Blues - Floyd Dixon
Floyd Dixon - Call Operator
Floyd Dixon - Dallas Blues
Floyd Dixon - Don't Send Me No Flowers
Floyd Dixon - My song is don't worry
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!