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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 guitarist and sideman to Howlin' Wolf in the early '50's, Willie Johnson. Johnson is variously credited as one of the pioneers of heavy metal rock guitar due to his use of distorted tones and as the originator of the power chord. The music in this diary is all from his work with Howlin' Wolf between 1951 and 1953. As a side note, Ike Turner plays the piano on many of these recordings.

Howlin Wolf - How Many More Years

"The left is back, and it's the only path we have to get out of the spot to which the right has sunken us. Socialism builds and capitalism destroys."

 -- Hugo Chavez

News and Opinion


Holder Claims Obama Can Kill With Drones Within US

Attorney General Eric Holder: Drone strike on U.S. soil ‘hypothetically’ possible

The Obama Administration could use lethal force on Americans within the United States and without trial during “an extraordinary circumstance,” Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday.

In a letter to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Holder said the Administration favored the use of law enforcement over the military when it came to fighting terrorist threats within the country. However, Holder refused to rule out the possibility that the President of the United States could use a drone strike on U.S. soil in an extreme situation. ...


“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States."

'Mockery' of Transparency Continues as White House Releases Additional 'Kill List' Memos to Senate Committee

Critics call for greater transparency and full disclosure of memos to Congress and American public

The White House has reportedly released additional top-secret legal memos claiming to justify the use of lethal drone strikes against US citizens to the Senate Intelligence Committee in a bid to appease lawmakers over the expected confirmation of 'kill list' architect John Brennan to CIA Chief.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Obama administration has provided "an additional but undisclosed number of Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the [killing] program to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees," though it continues to withhold a number of the opinions from the Committees and have not yet provided any to greater Congress or the American public.

The legal justification for the targeted assassination of non-citizens remains undisclosed.

Calling the move an "important baby step," ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders said the release still wasn't enough.

Rather than keeping the memos holed up with just a few dozen committee members, he said, they "should be available to all members of Congress and minimally redacted copies should be made public. It makes a mockery of the rule of law when the government hides the rules, or makes them up as they go along," stated Anders.

Speaking of Mockery... we live in a democracy "demockery" that has secret laws that the people are not allowed to know the content of, nor are we allowed to know just what it is that the government does in our names.
The Catch-22 That Prevents Us From Truly Scrutinizing the Surveillance State

Last week the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Clapper v. Amnesty International, a challenge to the surveillance law that afflicts our crazy times. Section 1881a of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) as amended provides in relevant part that our government may monitor certain communications by non-Americans located abroad subject to review by (secretive) courts, but without establishing probable cause or furnishing much in the way of details. The government must still comply with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures and, generally speaking, requires probable cause and a detailed game plan (particularity) to eavesdrop on citizens. This is a small comfort to foreigners.

Of course, the Fourth Amendment does apply to the Americans that foreigners talk to on the phone or by email. A coalition of American journalists, attorneys, and nonprofits challenged FISA on the basis that the government is very likely monitoring their communications with non-Americans located abroad in violation, they claim, of statutory and constitutional law. The members of the coalition could not know for certain they were being monitored because under FISA, the government does not have to tell them. But given who they were talking to, and how often, the coalition assumed the government was listening is on at least some of their conversations.

In a five-four decision written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court dismissed the collation's challenge to FISA for lack of standing (pdf). The doctrine of standing says that the parties before the court must have been injured in fact, and not merely speculating as to some possible harm.  ... The coalition could not challenge our secret surveillance laws because they are secret. There is no one who can complain of his or her rights having been violated, because anyone's whose rights have been violated doesn't know it. That's the catch when it comes to assessing the legality of the government's secret activities.

Hugo Chavez coverage

Hugo Chávez Dead: Transformed Venezuela & Survived U.S.-Backed Coup, Now Leaves Uncertainty Behind
Hugo Chávez Kept His Promise to the People of Venezuela

The facts speak for themselves: the percentage of households in poverty fell from 55% in 1995 to 26.4% in 2009. When Chávez was sworn into office unemployment was 15%, in June 2009 it was 7.8%. Compare that to current unemployment figures in Europe. In that period Chávez won 56% of the vote in 1998, 60% in 2000, survived a coup d'état in 2002, got over 7m votes in 2006 and secured 54.4% of the vote last October. He was a rare thing, almost incomprehensible to those in the US and Europe who continue to see the world through the Manichean prism of the cold war: an avowed Marxist who was also an avowed democrat. To those who think the expression of the masses should have limited or no place in the serious business of politics all the talking and goings on in Chávez's meetings were anathema, proof that he was both fake and a populist. But to the people who tuned in and participated en masse, it was politics and true democracy not only for the sophisticated, the propertied or the lettered.

All this talking and direct contact meant the constant reaffirmation of a promise between Chávez and the people of Venezuela. Chávez had discovered himself not by looking within, but by looking outside into the shameful conditions of Latin Americans and their past. He discovered himself in the promise of liberation made by Bolívar. "On August 1805," wrote Chávez, Bolívar "climbed the Monte Sacro near Rome and made a solemn oath." Like Bolívar, Chávez swore to break the chains binding Latin Americans to the will of the mighty. Within his lifetime, the ties of dependency and indirect empire have loosened. From the river Plate to the mouths of the Orinoco river, Latin America is no longer somebody else's backyard. That project of liberation has involved thousands of men and women pitched into one dramatic battle after another, like the coup d'état in 2002 or the confrontation with the US-proposed Free Trade Zone of the Americas. These were won, others were lost.

The project remains incomplete. It may be eternal and thus the struggle will continue after Chávez is gone. But whatever the future may hold, the peoples of the Americas will fight to salvage the present in which they have regained a voice. In Venezuela, they put Chávez back into the presidency after the coup. This was the key event in Chávez's political life, not the military rebellion or the first electoral victory. Something changed within him at that point: his discipline became ironclad, his patience invincible and his politics clearer. For all the attention paid to the relation between Chávez and Castro, the lesser known fact is that Chávez's political education owes more to another Marxist president who was also an avowed democrat: Chile's Salvador Allende. "Like Allende, we're pacifists and democrats," he once said. "Unlike Allende, we're armed.

Venezuela's Real Division Over Who Benefits from Oil Wealth

JAY: In Venezuela on Tuesday, President Hugo Chávez died after a long fight against cancer. The American media wasted no time establishing its line towards the death. Here's The New York Times: "Chávez dies, leaving a bitterly divided Venezuela." One of the articles: "Leftist's demise at 58 deepens crisis in a divided country." Another article: "A polarizing figure who led a movement."

Well, my question is: exactly which country is it on this planet which is not bitterly divided? United States, for example, which just ended recently an election permeated, dripping with racism, a country where one president has been assassinated, a civil rights leader was assassinated, a candidate for president was assassinated? Which country is it that isn't bitterly divided? And, of course, in a country with a lot of oil resources, there is going to be a big division about who owns those resources, just as there are exactly the same kind of divisions on every country on the planet. ...

So I guess what I'm saying is not that Venezuela isn't divided. And yeah, to some extent that division will be bitter, although we'll see exactly how this plays out. But every country is. But why is The New York Times making that their lead?

MAIN: Well, I mean, what we're seeing now today, the leads of many papers, is a really absurd caricature of what Chávez was and what Venezuela is that I think, frankly, is very insulting, really, for the Venezuelan people, who are transformed into sort of wild-eyed fanatics that, you know, worship Chávez like the messiah, although apparently he's driven the economy into the ground, if you believe what many of these media outlets are saying. And, you know, that's just so remote from the reality on the ground in Venezuela. ...

[Chavez has] taken it from a wasteland that was the case in the 1990s that neoliberalism created in Venezuela, where the state was reduced to nearly nothing and the state oil company, which is absolutely vital for the health of the economy, was being progressively privatized and really in the hands of a managerial class that did not have the interests of the country at heart.

So that oil industry was recovered under President Chávez with a great deal of division, polarization, and a real battle, as it turned out, a political battle that culminated in a coup d'état in April 2002, followed by a prolonged oil strike where this managerial class succeeded in closing down the oil industry and bringing the country to its knees economically. That was truly the worst time under Chavismo, and it was provoked by the opposition.

Since then, since 2004, the country's economy has actually been quite healthy, with a pretty steady rate of per capita GDP growth of about 2.5 percent per year, even when you include the effect of the global recession, which did hit Venezuela pretty hard in 2009 in particular. And today Venezuela is a much healthier place economically.

And we're also seeing something closer to, I would say, a social democratic state, not a radical socialist state—we're very far from that at the moment—but certainly where the state has a great deal more control of various strategic sectors of the economy, and particularly the oil industry, and is doing a much better job of distributing the oil revenues to people that had been traditionally marginalized poor of Venezuela, and that the amount of poverty has really been cut in half.

Chavez Democratized Venezuela Making it the Most Equal Country in Latin America

JAY: So, really quickly, just two or three of what you would consider the most important accomplishments. And then let's talk about things that and his supporters hoped he would have accomplished and didn't. But start with some of the numbers of what was accomplished.

WILPERT: Well, I guess in the economic or socioeconomic scale, there's—the most important thing is having turned Venezuela from being one of the most unequal countries in Latin America to one of the most equal ones, or actually the most equal ones in terms of income. It's a complete turnaround, and that's quite dramatic. If you look at statistics about income inequality, Venezuela has now the least income inequality of South America, right after Cuba, in any case. And then the other thing is that he halved the poverty rate. He decreased the extreme poverty rate by two-thirds. So those are very important changes in people's standard of living that have taken place. And then in the political sphere, I think the most important change was really the democratization and participation of the population, democratization of the polity that took place to a large extent through measures such as the communal councils, people's participation in social programs, and the introduction of self-managed workplaces and cooperatives and things like that.


Jury acquits Occupy protesters

A Common Pleas Court jury today acquitted 12 Occupy Philadelphia demonstrators arrested in a 2011 sit-in in a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Center City.

The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated a total of about 13 hours since Friday before it returned, shortly before noon, to announce the verdicts: not guilty of conspiracy and defiant trespass against each of the 12 protesters.

The 12 - one woman and 11 men - were arrested Nov. 18, 2011 when they staged a sit-in inside the Wells Fargo branch at 17th and Market Streets. The protesters said they wanted to call attention to what they called Wells Fargo's "racist predatory lending" policies that caused a disproportionately large number of home foreclosures in African American neighborhoods.

"If this jury has found us innocent then it must mean that Wells Fargo is guilty," said an elated 71-year-old Willard R. Johnson, one of the 12 on trial.

Last July, Wells Fargo, the nation's largest mortgage lender, agreed to pay $175 million to settle allegations by the U.S. Justice Department that independent brokers originating its loans charged higher fees and rates to minority borrowers than they did to white borrowers with similar credit risks.

VP Biden Beats Drums of War Against Iran at AIPAC Conference

The annual AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference was the stage for U.S. and Israeli leaders to affirm their message that "all options are on the table" against Iran. ...

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden affirmed the White House's openness to a military threat against Iran. He began his address at the conference saying that he "did more fundraisers for AIPAC in the ‘70s and early ‘80s than just about as many as anybody." He said that "President Barack Obama is not bluffing" in his commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and said that "all options, including military force, are on the table" to do that.

It is not only in Israel's interest -- and everybody should understand -- I know you understand this, but the world should -- it's not only in Israel's interest that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, it's in the interest of the United States of America. It's simple. And, as a matter of fact, it's in the interest of the entire world.

Iraq's [sic] acquisition of a nuclear weapon not only would present an existential threat to Israel, it would present a threat to our allies and our partners -- and to the United States. And it would trigger an arms race -- a nuclear arms race in the region, and make the world a whole lot less stable.

So we have a shared strategic commitment. Let me make clear what that commitment is: It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Period. End of discussion. Prevent -- not contain -- prevent.

Beppe Grillo’s Parliamentarians Threaten Nuremberg Trials for Corrupt Italian Politicians

Former Italian senator Sergio De Gregorio confirmed over the weekend that he’d been bribed by Silvio Berlusconi in 2006. “The Cavaliere paid me,” he told La Stampa nonchalantly about the €3 million he’d received. “Of course I took the money, as I clarified to the prosecutors,” he said.

Utterly frustrated with this sort of daily display of corruption in their country, 8.7 million angry Italians from all walks of life voted for Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star movement. While 25.5% of the popular vote isn’t nearly enough to govern without being part of a coalition, which he has so far rejected, it’s enough to give the political establishment conniptions—and show that anger and frustration finally count.

“The existing political class must be expelled immediately,” he told the New York Times. Hence his refusal to form a coalition. He wants the political system to collapse. From it, he’d construct “something new,” something truly democratic. “We can change everything in the hands of respectable people,” he explained.

But wasn’t it reckless to try to destroy the system? “How can we be accused of destroying something that’s already destroyed?” he asked. “They’ve devoured the country, and now they can’t govern.” ...

Gregorio told La Stampa that he’d decided to cooperate with prosecutors when it became clear to him that the new members of parliament, the Grillini, as the media dubbed them, were demanding a sort of “Nuremberg for Politicians,” reminiscent of the Nuremberg Trials for the Nazis. “I didn’t want to go down in history as the senator who leaves the Palazzo Madama”—the palace in Rome where the Senate meets—“in handcuffs.”

Corporate Profits Are Eating the Economy

Here are two things that are true about the economy today.

(1) The Dow Jones industrial average is poised to set a new record as corporate profits stretch to all-time highs.

(2) There are still fewer working Americans today than there were before the start of the Great Recession.

The fact that these two things can be true at the same time might outrage you. But it shouldn't surprise you. In the last 30 years, there has been a great divergence between growth and workers' incomes, as the New York Times reminds us today. Corporate profits have soared, in the last decade especially, particularly because of three things: Globalization has pushed down the cost of labor available to multinational corporations; technology has allowed companies to make more with fewer workers, in general; and Big Finance has gobbled up the economy, as the banks' share of total corporate profits has tripled to about one-third since the middle of the last century, according to Evan Soltas.

corp profits v labor income

Billionaires' club has welcomed 210 new members, Forbes rich list reports

Many of the world's largest economies may be weathering the toughest recessionary storms in living memory, but for those at the top there has rarely been an easier time to join the billionaires' club.

Some 210 multi-millionaires were propelled into the premier league of extreme wealth in the last 12 months as they achieved 10-figure fortunes and the world now plays host to a record 1,426 dollar billionaires, according to Forbes magazine's study.

This super-rich set together sit on wealth estimated at $5.4tn (£3.6tn) – equal to more than a third of the annual output of the US, the world's largest economy. Last year the billionaires' club held a combined wealth of $4.6tn.

New data shows Eurozone sinking deeper into recession

The 17-nation eurozone sank further into recession in the last three months of 2012 as the debt crisis continued to exact a heavy price, official data showed Wednesday.

The eurozone economy shrank 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the third quarter when it contracted 0.1 percent, the Eurostat data agency said, confirming initial estimates given in February.

For the full 27-member European Union, the economy was 0.5 percent smaller in the fourth quarter after a marginal gain of 0.1 percent in the third, Eurostat said. ...

Eurostat said that for 2012 as a whole, the eurozone economy contracted 0.6 percent and the EU 0.3 percent.

More news about the continuing federal project to turn peace officers into militarized shock troops:

DHS Acquires Over 2,700 MRAP ‘Light Tanks’ For Use on US Soil

The Department of Homeland security has made yet another outrageous purchase, adding 2,700 MRAP ‘military grade, mine-resistant domestic tanks’ to their stockpile of over 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition and other heavy duty vehicles.

After digging through non-English reports, it turns out the Spanish version of Russia Today confirmed the purchase by DHS of 2,700 MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles that have actually been used in Afghanistan to protect against landmines. ...

Holding 10 to 11 agents and offering firing points for heavy weaponry in addition to enhanced protection from bullets and other projectiles, this ‘light tank’ is not just beyond any domestic type vehicle we’ve seen in the past — it’s literally a military vehicles with even further upgrades. A military vehicle that has not only transitioned from Afghanistan war zones to the streets of US cities (namely Texas where the DHS is actually generating PR videos about the MRAP), but has transitioned into an even higher powered weapon of warfare.

The addition of MRAP vehicles into the equipment arsenal of the DHS follows the mass bullet purchases seen by the organization over the past year, which now totals over 1.6 billion (while simultaneously calling for gun bans).  The department has also purchased other bizarre items like bulletproof booths for traffic control and previous domestic-based heavy vehicles. The recent acquisition of over 2,700 MRAP vehicles fits right in line with the purchase history of the organization and will likely not be the last on the list for 2013 and beyond.

La seguridad interna de EE.UU. se 'blinda' y acumula municiones

El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de EE.UU. (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés) ha adquirido 2.700 vehículos blindados superprotegidos y resistentes a las minas MRAP, para el servicio en el territorio de Estados Unidos. Los MRAP fueron usados con frecuencia en Irak y Afganistán.

Además, el año pasado el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional acumuló más de 1,6 millones de cartuchos, principalmente de calibres 40 y 9 milímetros.

Recientemente el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, a través de un contrato cerrado por el Pentágono, ha modernizado 2.717 de estos vehículos resistentes a minas para su servicio en las calles de Estados Unidos.

ACLU Launches Investigation Into The Militarization of Policing in America

Towns Don't Need Tanks

American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war. Federal funding in the billions of dollars has allowed state and local police departments to gain access to weapons and tactics created for overseas combat theaters – and yet very little is known about exactly how many police departments have military weapons and training, how militarized the police have become, and how extensively federal money is incentivizing this trend. It’s time to understand the true scope of the militarization of policing in America and the impact it is having in our neighborhoods. On March 6th, ACLU affiliates in 24 states filed over 177 public records requests with law enforcement agencies and National Guard offices to determine the extent to which federal funding and support has fueled the militarization of state and local police departments. Stay tuned as this project develops.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Analysis: Obama faces skepticism from Democrats on budget deal

'More Alive Than Ever': World Reacts to Loss of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez

Majority FM podcast: Nikolas Kozloff: Hugo Chavez’s Death & Political Legacy

In Harris County, Judges Violate Notions of Fairness and Humanity

Thank ALEC For Prison Labor Jeopardizing Small Businesses and Jobs – Nevada Latest Battleground

Yes, the Sequester is President Obama's Fault. These are facts.

Insisting transgender kids be put at risk - Part 2

Answer the question, Mr. President

A Little Night Music

Moanin' at Midnight- Howlin' Wolf

Howlin' Wolf - Passing By Blues

Howlin' Wolf - The Wolf Is At Your Door

Howlin Wolf - Crying At Daybreak

Howlin' Wolf - My Baby Stole Off

Howlin' Wolf - I Want Your Picture

Howlin' Wolf - Howlin' Wolf Boogie

Howlin' Wolf - California Blues

Howlin' Wolf - Look-A-Here Baby

Howling Wolf - Smile At Me

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 Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH.


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