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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 a blues and soul singer who sang prolifically about the affairs of the heart Little Johnny Taylor.  Enjoy your Valentine's Day!

Little Johnny Taylor - Everybody Knows About My Good Thing, Pt. 1 & 2

Heh, In lieu of a quote tonight, I'm going to insert a valentine here:

John Primer, Billy Branch - Sugar Sweet

News and Opinion

CISPA, the Privacy-Invading Cybersecurity Spying Bill, is Back in Congress

t's official: The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act was reintroduced in the House of Representatives yesterday. CISPA is the contentious bill civil liberties advocates fought last year, which would provide a poorly-defined "cybersecurity" exception to existing privacy law. CISPA offers broad immunities to companies who choose to share data with government agencies (including the private communications of users) in the name of cybersecurity. It also creates avenues for companies to share data with any federal agencies, including military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA).

As others have noted, “CISPA is deeply flawed. Under a broad cybersecurity umbrella, it permits companies to share user communications directly with the super secret NSA and permits the NSA to use that information for non-cybersecurity reasons. This risks turning the cybersecurity program into a back door intelligence surveillance program run by a military entity with little transparency or public accountability.”  

Last year, CISPA passed the House with a few handful of amendments that tried to fix some of its vague language. But the amendments didn't address many of the significant civil liberties concerns.

Action Center

This week, CISPA was reintroduced in the House of Representatives.

EFF is joining groups like ACLU and Fight for the Future in combating this legislation.

Last year, tens of thousands of concerned individuals used the EFF action center to speak out against overbroad and ineffective cybersecurity proposals. Together, we substantially changed the debate around cybersecurity in the U.S., moving forward a range of privacy-protective amendments and ultimately helping to defeat the Senate bill.

Now we need your help again. Can you send a message to your Representatives asking them to oppose this bill?

US Among World Governments Repressing Journalistic Freedoms

Prosecution of whistleblowers and secretive trials for suspected terrorists show that US press freedoms under attack

The imprisonment of journalists worldwide reached a record high in 2012, driven in part by the widespread use of charges of terrorism and other anti-state offenses against critical reporters and editors, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found.

In their accounting of the quality of press protections across the world, the CPJ's report,Attack on The Press: Journalism on the Front Lines, found an alarming international trend of government overreach and repression of journalistic freedoms with those in the United States not at all immune from the abuses of state power. ...

Specifically focusing on the US, the report found that under President Obama the government has been dangerously aggressive in its prosecution of government whistleblowers and harmful of press freedom by repeatedly blocking access to key information related to its anti-terrorism policies and what it terms "national security secrets."

As the report states:

The Obama administration continued to clamp down on officials who leak sensitive information to the news media. A former CIA officer pleaded guilty to criminal charges of leaking a covert operative's identity, effectively ending a legal battle by three journalists fighting government subpoenas to testify in the case. The director of national intelligence announced new rules to clamp down on leaks, and the Senate debated a bill that would further impede officials from sharing intelligence information with the press. In issues related to access, a military judge rejected a request by several media outlets to broadcast the Guantánamo Bay trial of suspects accused in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. And a number of news organizations appealed a military judicial decision to seal documents related to the court-martial of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who faced charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. Reporter James Risen, author Ed Moloney, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns continued to fight subpoenas that would force them to turn over their unpublished reporting or testify in criminal investigations. Several journalists were arrested covering demonstrations linked to the Occupy movement.
At Least 20 CIA 'Black Site' Prisoners Still Missing

In one of President Barack Obama first acts in the White House, he ordered the closure of the CIA’s so-called “black-site” prisons, where terror suspects had been held and, sometimes, tortured.  The CIA says it is “out of the detention business,” as John Brennan, Obama’s pick to head the agency, recently put it.

But the CIA’s prisons left some unfinished business.  In 2009, ProPublica’s Dafna Linzer listed more than thirty people who had been held in CIA prisons and were still missing.

Some of those prisoners have since resurfaced, but at least twenty are still unaccounted for.

Last week the Open Society Foundations’ Justice Initiative released a report pulling together the most current information available on the fates of the prisoners. ... The report counts 136 prisoners who were either held in a CIA black site or subject to so-called extraordinary rendition, in which detainees were secretly shipped to other countries for interrogation.

Many of the prisoners were tortured, either under the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” program or by other countries after their transfer. The report also lists 54 countries that assisted in some way with detention and rendition. The U.S. has not disclosed the countries it worked with, and few have acknowledged their participation.

Up w/Chris Hayes discussion of Drone Issues

Desmond Tutu Blasts US Drones: American or Not, All Victims Are Human

Tutu: 'Does the US really want to tell those of us in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours?'

In a letter to the New York Times published Wednesday, South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu challenged the hypocrisy of the US and its citizens for accepting a killer drone program when it pertains to foreign suspects while demanding judicial review when those targets are American citizens.

He writes:

Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.

I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.

MSNBC's Droning Defense of Targeted Assassination

Obama DOJ Again Refuses to Tell a Court Whether CIA Drone Program Even Exists

As the nation spent the week debating the CIA assassination program, Obama lawyers exploit secrecy to shield it from all review

[The ACLU some time ago placed a FOIA request for information about the President's Drone Assassination Program, which was denied by the court which acquiesced to the President's assertion that the program, despite having been leaked about, discussed by administration officials including the President himself, is classified and therefore can neither be confirmed or denied.]

As ludicrous as the DOJ's secrecy claims were before, they have now reached Alice in Wonderland proportions. Just last week, Obama's nominee to lead the CIA, John Brennan, spent hours upon hours before the Senate Intelligence Committee praising the CIA targeted killing program and discussing the oversight he would make available for that program as CIA director. Then, GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers went on Face the Nation and did the same; when asked if "the administration has been straight with Congress in sharing information on what the rules are about using" drones, Rep. Rogers replied: "Monthly, I have my committee go to the CIA to review them. I as chairman review every single air strike that we use in the war on terror, both from the civilian and the military side when it comes to terrorist strikes."

Clearer and more definitive acknowledgment by the US government that the CIA has a drone program is impossible to imagine. As a result, late last week, the ACLU wrote a letter to the appellate court where its case is now pending to notify the court of these new public acknowledgments. Specifically, as the ACLU put it, Brennan and the Committee members "extensively discussed various aspects of the CIA's targeted-killing program, including the 'role' of the 'CIA director in [the] approval process' for targeted killings abroad". Moreover, Rogers openly "discusse[d] his committee's 'monthly' oversight of the CIA's targeted-killing program." Now, there is simply no way to deny in good faith that the US government has publicly and officially acknowledged the CIA drone program.

But good faith is no impediment to the Obama DOJ when it comes to its abuse of secrecy powers. This morning, the DOJ sent a letter to the court replying to the ACLU. Even after the events of last week, they have the audacity to claim that even the question of whether there is a CIA drone program must still be concealed. The DOJ argues - completely falsely - that the ACLU "identif[ies] no statement in which Mr. Brennan allegedly confirms purported CIA involvement in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for 'targeted killing'", but merely cite "general discussions of 'targeted killing' that do not address the involvement of any particular agency". They dismiss the admissions of Chairman Rogers on the ground that "statements made by members of Congress do not constitute official disclosure by an Executive Branch agency." ...

Such flagrant abuse of secrecy power is at once Orwellian and tyrannical. It has the effect of blocking even the most minimal transparency on the most consequential question: the government's claimed authority to execute anyone it wants without charges, far from a battlefield, in total secrecy. It yet again demonstrates that excessive government secrecy is an infinitely greater threat than unauthorized disclosures. This is why we need radical transparency projects and aggressive whistle-blowers. And it's why nobody should respect the secrecy claims of the Obama administration or believe the assertions they make about national security. What else do they need to do to prove how untrustworthy those claims are?

Secret courts will let UK security services off the hook

A clear sign of a democratic government's bad conscience is the way it defends a controversial proposal and how it attacks its opponents. The depths to which this government is prepared to go in defence of its ill-named justice and security bill, which will introduce a whole new category of secret courts, is being shown up by Ken Clarke, the unfortunate minister landed with the task of trying to steer it through the Commons.

The government is desperate to push the measure through. It is being pressed hard by MI5, MI6 and the CIA. For the bill is designed to prevent any sensitive or embarrassing information in their hands being exposed in open court ever again.

It is the result of decisions in the recent past by English judges to disclose information showing that MI5 and MI6 knew, from information provided by the CIA, that a British resident and terror suspect, Binyam Mohamed, had been subjected to inhumane treatment. In a case relating to other UK citizens and residents detained at Guantánamo Bay, the supreme court subsequently upheld the fundamental principle that allegations and evidence of wrongdoing by state agents must be heard in open hearings.

Unwilling to have the evidence and allegations of UK involvement exposed – something, they said, that would jeopardise national security – ministers instead agreed to out-of-court settlements in which they paid millions of pounds in compensation to the Guantánamo detainees. It also agreed to pay more than £2m to the family of a Libyan dissident, Sami al-Saadi, who in 2004 was abducted and rendered, with British help, to Muammar Gaddafi's secret police.

Wall Street wins again

A year ago, President Obama gestured toward the first lady’s box at the State of the Union address at Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York.  Schneiderman had just agreed to co-chair the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities working group, an initiative between state and federal law enforcement officials and bank regulators, designed to investigate and prosecute fraudulent Wall Street activity that led to both the creation of the housing bubble and its collapse. In exchange, Schneiderman dropped his objections to a settlement over some of the banks’ fraudulent post-crash activity, particularly around fraud in foreclosure processing.

Recent profiles of this event have called last night’s State of the Union the “anniversary” of the formation of the working group.  But you can’t really have an anniversary of something that never existed in the first place.  There never was a Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities working group, never a so-called task force dedicated to ferreting out Wall Street fraud — the deceptive origination of mortgage loans, sale of worthless mortgage-backed securities for huge sums, and subsequent unloading of toxic debt to unsuspecting buyers. The working group fails to exist as a tangible entity to this day. What does exist is the same years-old Financial Fraud Enforcement Group that serves as a conduit for press releases about investigative actions already in progress.

Within a few months of the State of the Union announcement, a hearing in the House Financial Services Committee confirmed the essentially invisible nature of the task force.  Maxine Waters, then a senior member of the committee and now the Democratic ranking member, asked Robert Khuzami, then the head of enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission, whether the entity had sufficient resources to investigate.  Khuzami replied that the agencies involved – the SEC, the New York AG’s office and the Department of Justice – were supplying the resources.  No new dollars were dedicated to the effort.  When Waters asked when the task force would hire an executive director, Khuzami said they hired a “coordinator” to facilitate inter-agency activity.  Specifically, he uttered this incriminating evidence: “We hired a coordinator, but most of the investigative work being done here is not really being done by a staff that belongs to the task force, it’s being done by the individual investigative groups that make up the task force.”

This is the key point.  There are no offices, no phones and no staff dedicated to the non-task force.  Two of the five co-chairs have left government.  What “investigators” there are from the task force are nothing more than liaisons to the independent agencies doing their own independent investigations.  In the rare event that these agencies file an actual lawsuit or enforcement action, the un-task force merely puts out a statement taking credit for it.

Obama promises rebirth of U.S. manufacturing industry

A day after vowing to ignite America’s economic engine, President Barack Obama hit the factory floor Wednesday, to promise a rebound in job-creating manufacturing industry. ...

Obama touted his plans to train workers, end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs to low wage companies overseas, and to encourage investment in US jobs, and said he needs help from Republican foes in Congress.

Corporations funded secret elections group long before ‘Citizens United’

Some of the nation’s biggest corporations donated more than a million dollars to launch a Republican nonprofit that went on to play a key role in recent political fights.

Like the nonprofit groups that poured money into last year’s elections, the decade-old State Government Leadership Foundation has been able to keep the identities of its funders secret. Until now.

A records request by ProPublica to the IRS turned up a list of the original funders of the group: Exxon, Pfizer, Time Warner, and other corporations put up at least 85 percent of the $1.3 million the foundation raised in the first year and a half of its existence, starting in 2003.

The donor list is stamped “not for public disclosure,” and was submitted to the IRS as part of the foundation’s application for recognition of tax-exempt status. If approved, such applications are public records.

The foundation and other similar nonprofits are allowed to take anonymous and unlimited donations from individuals or corporations. That’s because they are classified as “social welfare” nonprofits, which are supposed to benefit the community at large, and not just one group or political party.

Banks refusing to issue $208m in insurance checks for Hurricane Sandy victims

Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank and JP Morgan Chase are reportedly sitting on $130 million in insurance checks for thousands of victims of Hurricane Sandy, and are simply refusing to issue them, and no one knows exactly why.  (A total of $208 million in insurance checks are still outstanding.)

At this point it’s really difficult to say what the banks have to do to get into enough trouble that someone finally holds them accountable for their actions. ...

Few expect the bankers to have any morals, but one would expect to hear a lot more from the political class about this.  ... The most troubling aspect of this is that the banks in question all received TARP funds to keep them alive.  Surprise!

Veterans Administration again accused of covering up the causes of ‘Gulf War Syndrome’

The federal Institute of Medicine to much fanfare recently reported that “preliminary data” suggest that veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from the same disease — commonly called Gulf War Syndrome or Illness — that has plagued veterans of Desert Storm for over two decades. Meanwhile, an alarming but widely-ignored report by a federal panel of high-level scientists charged with advising the government on the disease accused the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of covering up the true nature and cause of a profound systemic illness that medical scientists have traced to wartime exposures — including neurotoxins, depleted uranium, and microbes, among others.

The culprits, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses claims, are bureaucrats in the Veterans’ Administration Office of Public Health, whose coordination of a robust strategic plan for Gulf War Illness (on which RAC had consulted) has “gutted” science, “focus,” “energy,” and budgetary resources (reduced from from $15 to $4.9 million for 20013). The Office has promulgated “fictions,” the RAC asserts, that are “contrary to well-established science,” resurrecting a discredited theory of the syndrome belied by decades of scientific research validated by the Institute of Medicine. That scientific research shows that Gulf War Syndrome or Illness is a real and profound multi-system illness appearing with an array of conditions.

Bill McKibben: Stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline for Good

Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks

Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives.

The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more. ...

The money flowed to Washington thinktanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore.

Sens. Sanders and Boxer to introduce bill that funnels carbon taxes to American families

A piece of legislation being introduced on Thursday seeks to force the nation’s largest polluters to pay a fee for their carbon and methane emissions, proposing the revenue be used to send a monthly rebate check to American families for costs stemming from the fight against climate change.

Though the full text of the bill, sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), hasn’t been released yet, a Sanders aide told Raw Story some of its aims. Chief among them is a fee on carbon and methane production within the U.S., and a tariff on oil and gas imports from countries that do not charge a carbon fee. The bill aims the fee at the whole carbon energy production sector, made up of “about 3,000″ different companies like Exxon and Shell, in hopes of generating about $1.2 trillion in government revenues over 10 years.

While much more simple than prior attempts to regulate emissions, the bill ropes in “the vast majority of emissions by covering carbon and methane,” the aide explained. “The other thing the legislation does is provide a significant rebate program to ensure families are protected from companies being charged this fee that try to jack up their prices, that way those costs could be offset by a monthly rebate as part of the revenue.”

48 Arrested at Keystone Pipeline Protest as Sierra Club Lifts 120-Year Ban on Civil Disobedience

Action Center

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.

What: The largest climate rally in U.S. history.

When: February 17, 2013, Noon - 4:00 p.m. (please arrive by 11:30 a.m.)

Where: The National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Gather at the northeast corner of the Washington Monument
(Closest Metro subway stations: Federal Triangle and Smithsonian)

For more details about the rally -- including information about coordinating and riding buses to Washington -- please read our FAQ. Also check out the nearly 100 organizations leading and supporting this rally!

"Forward On Climate" Blogathon: February 11 - February 15, 2013
This week, you can find diaries for this DailyKos blogathon at the Climate Change SOS group.
President Obama: Don't cut Social Security

As part of the fiscal showdown negotiations, President Obama has proposed cutting Social Security for almost all current and future beneficiaries.

Social Security should not be a part of the negotiations. It does not contribute even $1 to the deficit, and according to even the most pessimistic projections it is 100% solvent for more than 20 years.

Send an email to the White House telling President Obama to immediately stop proposing any cuts to Social Security.

White House:
Phone:(202) 456-1111
Fax:(202) 456-2461

[This is an email campaign led by DailyKos]

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin'

Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail

Robert F. Kennedy JR: On His Arrest & The Keystone Pipeline

A Little Night Music

Little Johnny Taylor - Somebody's Got To Pay

Little Johnny Taylor - Part Time Love

Little Johnny Taylor - Somewhere Down The Line

Little Johnny Taylor-If You Love Me (Like You Say)

Little Johnny Taylor - I Smell Trouble

Little Johnny Taylor - Since I Found A New Love

Little Johnny Taylor - Miracle Maker

Little Johnny Taylor - Double Or Nothing

Little Johnny Taylor - How are You Fixed for Love?

Little Johnny Taylor - You Gotta Go On

Little Johnny Taylor - You Win, I Lose

Little Johnny Taylor - All I want

Little Johnny Taylor - You'll Need Another Favor

Little Johnny Taylor - Zig Zag Lightning

Little Johnny Taylor - I'll Make It Worth Your While

Little Johnny Taylor - Make Love To Me Baby

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!

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH.


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