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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 Piedmont bluesman Pink Anderson from Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Enjoy!

Pink Anderson - She Knows How To Stretch It

“ 'Bipartisan' is a Washington code word for 'buying members of both parties.' ”

  -- Richard Eskow

News and Opinion

They're baaaaack!!! The "commission" that even failure to produce an acceptable report couldn't stop from becoming the basis of the Obama administration's policy is back and they want to strengthen save lots of money by diminishing your earned benefits through the mechanism of chained cpi when you get older...

Not New and Certainly Not Improved: Bowles-Simpson: V. 2.0

The corporate austerians released their ‘new’ Bowles-Simpson recommendations today. They claim that they are building upon their original plan, not replacing it. They framed their recommendations as the last two steps in a four step process. For Social Security followers, Step Three includes the chained CPI. And Step Four includes all of the previous cuts to Social Security which they recommended in their first plan.  Raising the retirement age starting in 2022 slowly to 69, cutting benefits through re-indexing and flattening  all future benefits for our recipients in 2050.

Climate policy comes out of exile

And then, perhaps most pernicious at this moment, is the strange culture of Washington that views climate as a niche, special interest issue relevant only to environmental groups and not every living human on the planet. While pundits, strategists, columnists and politicians absolutely obsess over budget projections for the year 2040, those same strategists, columnists and politicians seem remarkably sanguine about the fact that Arctic ice volume has shrunk by more than a third in the last decade and more and more recent data that indicate our previous climate models have underestimated the terrifying rate of change to our climate and overestimated just how much time we have left to get our collective asses in gear.

No one will care in 30 years what the deficit was in 2013. I guarantee you. Quick pop quiz: what was the deficit in 1953? or 1923? or, heck 1883? The right answer is: you don’t know because it doesn’t matter. What does matter are the molecules in the air, much much more than numbers on a balance sheet.

And I’m sorry to say the strange apathy about the climate extends past the usual suspects of deficit-obsessives to people that broadly constitute the president’s base.  ...

Washington will never make climate a priority until the left makes it a priority.

The ATM for Climate Denial: Secretive Donors Trust Funds Vast Network of Global Warming Skeptics

UN Urges Against Folly of Arctic Race for Resources

'What we are seeing is that the melting of ice is prompting a rush for exactly the fossil fuel resources that fuelled the melt in the first place.'

sea ice
An image of the Arctic sea ice on September 16, 2012, the day that the National Snow and Ice Data Center identified to be the minimum reached in 2012. The yellow outline shows the average sea ice minimum from 1979 through 2010. The sea ice is shown with a blue tint.
As part of their annual review, the UN says that melting of the world arctic waters should not be an excuse to encourage a race to exploit the mineral and energy resources that such melting have made accessible and urged international caution to avoid damage to the fragile Arctic environment.

Released as the UN Environment Programme's Year Book 2013 (pdf), the report discusses how retreat of Arctic summer ice cover has become more intense in recent years, culminating in a record low 18 percent below the previous recorded minimum in 2007 and 50 percent below the average in the 1980s and 1990s. Increasing the concern, land ice is also retreating and long-frozen permafrost is melting as well.

What's worse, however, is that the melting is being seen as an opening to previously inaccessible natural resources by oil and gas companies. The UN report says that increased human activity—such as drilling and the infrastructure needed to support such operations—would threaten the already fragile ecosystems and wildlife in those regions.

Arctic sea ice volume now one-fifth its 1979 level

The stunning loss of Arctic sea ice extent in recent years is undeniable--satellite measurements have conclusively shown that half of the Arctic sea ice went missing in September 2012, compared to the average September during 1979 - 2000. But the extent of ice cover is not the best measure of how the fire raging in Earth's attic is affecting sea ice--the total volume of the ice is more important. But up until 2010, we didn't have the measurements needed to say how the total volume of ice in the Arctic might be changing. Scientists relied on the University of Washington PIOMAS model, which suggested that the loss of Arctic sea ice volume during September might be approaching 75% - 80%. The model results were widely criticized by climate change skeptics as being unrealistic. However, in April 2010, a new satellite called Cryostat-2 was launched, which can measure ice volume by beaming pulses of microwave energy off of the ice. With two years of data to Cryosat-2 data to analyze, the results of the PIOMAS model have now been confirmed by a study published on-line in February 2013 in Geophysical Research Letters. In a University of Washington news release, co-author Axel Schweiger said, "people had argued that 75 to 80 percent ice volume loss was too aggressive. What this new paper shows is that our ice loss estimates may have been too conservative, and that the recent decline is possibly more rapid."

Obama Supports Clean and Dirty Energy

Bob Pollin: President Obama can’t possibly meet carbon emission targets he set and still support increased oil, natural gas and coal production

There is simply no way that we are going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing natural gas production to expand. I want to state that very strongly. Natural gas, purported to be a clean fuel alternative to coal and oil, a clean fossil fuel alternative, it is cleaner than coal, it is moderately cleaner than oil in terms of emissions per unit of energy produced, but it is not clean. It is not clean, according to a standard by which we say we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent as of 2030. That's the Obama administration's own standard, to cut greenhouse gas emissions relative to today by 40 percent as of 2030. It's a very, very ambitious agenda, and there is simply no way to get there if you were going to allow natural gas to expand. There is no way to get there.

So the fact that Obama is saying he wants natural gas to expand means that he isn't taking his own climate change goals for 2030—much less 2050—but for 2030, he is not taking them seriously.

This article by Medea Benjamin seems to say everything that one needs to know about the President's attitude towards the protesters hoping to influence him to make the sort of choices that will allow them and their children to have a future.
Playing Golf While the Planet Burns

President Obama spent the day of the Keystone XL protest golfing with a rich Texas Oilman

In parallel universes, President Obama spent his Sunday playing golf at an exclusive Florida gated community while 50,000 Americans poured into Washington DC, calling on the absent president to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline and stand up to Big Oil.  In an inspiring rally, indigenous women from the United States and Canada told the crowd how the tar sands and its infrastructure—from Northern Alberta where the oil is extracted to Texas where the Keystone pipeline is under construction—are threatening communities across North America. Canadian indigenous activist Crystal Lameman described how fish in northeastern Alberta have cancerous tumors, moose have “puss bubbles under the skin” and babies are airlifted to the hospital for drinking contaminated water.

Addressing President Obama, speakers said that his decision to accept or reject the 2,000-mile pipeline connecting Canada’s tar sands to Houston’s refineries was the most monumental decision he would make in his presidency.

But whether by design or by coincidence, the President had chosen to spend this very same day swinging at little balls in the warm Floridian sun—with an oil man.

Obama and Tiger Woods were joined on the golf course by a very wealthy fellow named Jim Crane. We all know who Tiger Woods is, but who is Jim Crane? The Texas businessman who hosted the president at his exclusive golf resort is owner of the major league baseball team Houston Astros. But Crane is also mucked up with the very “Big Oil” the activists were railing against. His extensive business deals include a partnership in Western Gas Holdings, a company engaged in gathering, processing, compressing and transporting natural gas and crude oil for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, one of the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas exploration and production companies.

"The President doesn't want a carbon tax, Jay Carney said so," said in reference to the Sanders-Boxer bill that has just been introduced.  According to this commentator, a carbon trading scam scheme that will enrich Wall Street is right up the President's alley.  It's interesting how bringing home the bacon for one's big donors is so much a part of the motivation for "doing the right thing."
On climate change, executive orders are needed 'to get around a hostile Congress'

Decolonize the Consumerist Wasteland: Re-imagining a World Beyond Capitalism and Communism

India has a surviving adivasi (aboriginal) population of almost 100 million. They are the ones who still know the secrets of sustainable living. ...

If there is any hope for the world at all, it does not live in climate-change conference rooms or in cities with tall buildings. It lives low down on the ground, with its arms around the people who go to battle every day to protect their forests, their mountains and their rivers because they know that the forests, the mountains and the rivers protect them.

The first step toward re-imagining a world gone terribly wrong would be to stop the annihilation of those who have a different imagination – an imagination that is outside of capitalism as well as communism. An imagination which has an altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfillment.

To gain this philosophical space, it is necessary to concede some physical space for the survival of those who may look like the keepers of our past but who may really be the guides to our future. To do this, we have to ask our rulers: Can you leave the waters in the rivers, the trees in the forest? Can you leave the bauxite in the mountain? If they say they cannot, then perhaps they should stop preaching morality to the victims of their wars.

Afghan Civilians Bear Brunt of Death, Injury as US War Continues

In a war that the US refuses to end in Afghanistan, the civilian population of that country continues to suffer the most with the UN reporting 2,754 civilian deaths and 4,805 civilian injuries in the country last year.

Though the report released by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says the casualty rates were down from 2011, it was cautious to note that the level of ongoing death and injury was nothing to celebrate.

"The human cost of the conflict remains unacceptable," said Ján Kubiš, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan and the head of UNAMA.

“It is the tragic reality that most Afghan women and girls were killed or injured while engaging in their everyday activities,” said Georgette Gagnon, Director of Human Rights section of UNAMA.

The Softball Question That Wasn’t

It should have been a softball question.

During a Google+ Hangout yesterday, conservative commentator Lee Doren asked President Obama whether he claims the authority to kill a U.S. citizen suspected of being associated with al Qaeda or associated forces on U.S. soil. Notice the question was restricted to only a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil (our concerns are, of course, broader and apply to the White House’s illegitimate claim of authority to kill people it unilaterally deems a threat, even if they are far from any battlefield, abroad).

What should have been a simple “no,” turned into this:

:Well first of all, there has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil. We respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counterterrorism operations outside of the United States. The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside the United States, in part because our capacity, for example, to capture a terrorist inside the United States is very different than in the foothills or mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. What I think is absolutely true is that it is not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we're doing the right thing."
That doesn’t sound like a no. And just so people don’t get the impression that this was an off-the-cuff remark, when President Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, was asked in a written follow-up to his February 7 confirmation hearing whether the White House could carry out a drone strike inside the U.S., he replied:  “This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so. “
Sen. Coons: U.S. will likely have more active military role in Mali

The United States is likely to play a more active military role in Mali, where French-led forces are battling Islamist rebels, after the country holds elections, the chair of a key Senate sub-committee said Monday.

Washington has been providing intelligence, transport and mid-air refuelling to France, which launched its intervention last month, but cannot work directly with the Malian army until a democratically elected government replaces current leaders who came to power after a coup, said Christopher Coons, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee’s Africa sub-committee.

“There is the hope that there will be additional support from the United States in these and other areas, but … American law prohibits direct assistance to the Malian military following the coup,” Coons told journalists in the Malian capital.

“After there is a full restoration of democracy, I would think it is likely that we will renew our direct support for the Malian military,” added the senator, who led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Mali to meet with interim president Dioncounda Traore and French and African defence officials.

Wall Street’s Misdeeds Cost Trillions, But It’s Main Street Who’s Getting Nickel-and-Dimed

The other day the GAO released a report on the costs of the 2008 financial crisis and the recession which followed – which is still going on for millions of Americans. The report confirmed and even increased previous estimates of the crisis’ cost, concluding that losses in American output could reach $13 trillion. ...

The GAO also estimates the loss in housing value for American families, which it pegs at $9.1 trillion, noting that “national home equity was approximately $3.7 trillion less than total home mortgage debt.”

What they’re describing is nearly four trillion dollars in money that Americans owe to their banks for real estate value that no longer exists.  They base that number on December 2011 figures, and it will have changed by now – both because some real estate markets have picked up, and because millions of homeowners have been foreclosed upon. But the figure is still in the $3 trillion range.

That’s $3 trillion in debt that homeowners took because the banks a) systematically drove up the costs of housing by lowering underwriting standards and creating a boom in mortgage-backed securities, b) knowingly bilked investors by selling them lousy risks (which the so-called “credit rating agencies” labeled “AAA”), and then c) accepted a government bailout when the inevitable collapse followed.

And in yet another enormous favor to the banks, they continue to carry this worthless value on their books. They collect payments on it, or use it to foreclose on families.

Supreme Court case could eliminate the few campaign spending limits Citizens United left behind

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could affect the historic Citizens United verdict. According to the Political Wire blog, the Republican National Committee and one wealthy Alabama donor will argue before the court that, while donors are limited to giving no more than $2,500 directly to any candidate per election cycle, they believe that to impose an overall limit to the amounts that can be given to candidates, PACs and political parties combined is unconstitutional.

Donor Shaun McCutcheon of McCalla, Alabama and the RNC believe that it is unconstitutional to prevent McCutcheon from donating more than $46,200 to political candidates and $70,800 to political committees and PACs. The Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals ruled against McCutcheon, hence the case’s arrival at the Supreme Court.

Rick Hasen of the Election Law Blog wrote on Tuesday morning, “A ruling in this case could have important implications not only on the issue itself, but on the broader question whether the Court will change the standard for judging the constitutionality of limits on contributions, an issue the Court expressly declined to address in Citizens United.”

On February 23, international protests of Bradley Manning’s 1,000th day in jail without trial

PFC Bradley Manning has been in jail awaiting trial for nearly 1,000 days for exposing war crimes, corruption, and widespread abuse. When he returns to court in Fort Meade, MD, for a pretrial hearing from February 26 to March 1, Judge Denise Lind will rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss charges for lack of a speedy trial.

As defense lawyer David Coombs said in the motion, “PFC Manning’s statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights have been trampled upon with impunity.” In court, he laid out the ways in which the government has made an “absolute mockery” of Manning’s right to a speedy trial by violating the 5th and 6th Constitutional Amendments, Rule for Court Martial 707, and Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 10. Prosecutors were supposed to arraign Manning within 120 days but took well over 600. They’re also supposed to remain actively diligent throughout the proceedings, but Coombs has showed substantial periods of their inactivity and needless delay. Manning’s due process rights have been clearly violated, and the only legal remedy is to dismiss charges. Judge Lind could dismiss charges with prejudice, if she determines the government intentionally delayed Manning’s trial, which would set the young Army private free. She could also dismiss without prejudice, which would allow the government to simply retry the case and restart the speedy trial clock. If she dismisses the motion altogether, she will condone the government’s unconstitutional delays and the deprivation of Manning’s due process rights. Manning would then proceed to trial, currently scheduled to start June 3, 2013 — over three years after his arrest in May 2010.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

On Angola, America's Racist Slave History is Celebrated

Arms Producers Turning to 'Cybersecurity': Report

Elizabeth Warren Upsets Beltway At First Committee Hearing

Yeah, lots of employers are going to drop health coverage


A Little Night Music

Pink Anderson - In The Evening

Pink Anderson + Simmie Dooley - C.C. & O. Blues

Pink Anderson - Greasy Greens

Pink Anderson - Travelin Man

Pink Anderson - I Will Fly Away

Pink Anderson - I got mine

Pink Anderson - I Had My Fun (Going Down Slow)

Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley - Every Day in the Week Blues

Pink Anderson - Meet Me In The Bottom

Pink Anderson - Weeping Willow Blues

Pink Anderson - In The Jailhouse Now

Pink Anderson - Mama Where Did You Stay Last Night

Pink Anderson - Thousand Woman Blues

Spartanburg Music Trail Concert: Pink Anderson's "Chicken"
Freddy Vanderford & Brandon Turner

Roy Bookbinder - Travellin' 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!

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH.


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