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 drummer, singer and in later years guitarist Sam Lay, who performed with a virtual who's who of Chicago bluesmen, including Willie Dixon Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. He is also noted for his later work with Bob Dylan and Paul Butterfield.
Sam Lay - Goin' Back To Alabama
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”
-- Harvey Milk
News and Opinion
The Gay Marriage Snowball and Political ChangeToday the Supreme Court heard arguments about DOMA, Bill Clinton's legacy of doing the politically expedient thing rather than the right thing which set back the rights of too many people for too long. Clinton now says he "regrets"
The shockingly rapid and radical collapse of the anti-gay framework demonstrates the baselessness of defeatism
The US Supreme Court this morning is hearing oral argument in two cases challenging the constitutionality of laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. It is expected that the Court will at least strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, as multiple lower courts have done, on the ground that it denies equal government benefits to same-sex couples (such as immigration rights). ...
There are reasons why such radical change on this issue is easier than on many others. Social issues don't threaten entrenched ruling interests: allowing same-sex couples to marry doesn't undermine oligarchs, the National Security State, or the wildly unequal distribution of financial and political power. Indeed, many of those ruling interests, led by Wall Street and other assorted plutocrats (including Obama's donor base), became the most devoted advocates for LGBT equality. If anything, one could say that the shift on this issue has been more institution-affirming than institution-subverting: the campaign to overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" continually glorified and even fetishized military service, while gay marriage revitalizes a traditional institution - marriage - that heterosexuals have been in the process of killing with whimsical weddings, impetuous divorces, and serial new spouses (as Rush Limbaugh might put it: I'd like you to meet my fourth wife). And these changes are taking a once marginalized and culturally independent community and fully integrating it into mainstream society, thus making that community invested in conventional societal institutions. ...
The discrimination has been rooted in centuries of intense social and religious indoctrination. That this is now being uprooted is a testament to how core political liberties - free speech and free associational rights - can enable all forms of political change. ... Defeatism is more often than not a psychological instrument designed to relieve one of the responsibility to act (if change is impossible, then I have no reason and no obligation to work or take risks for it). That is bolstered by the effort of all ruling interests to instill a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness in those they suppress; systemic power abuses are, above all else, designed to persuade people of the futility of opposition, to adopt a defeatist mindset. But it is a mindset that finds little to no support in political history. The rapid and relentless dismantling of the anti-gay legal and societal framework in the US is yet more proof for that proposition.
Widower of First Openly Gay Congressman Fights DOMA For Denying Benefits to Married Same-Sex Couples
America’s Other Dark Legacy in Iraq
Although the breathtaking violence that attended Iraq’s descent into sectarian nightmare has been well documented in many retrospectives on the 10-year-old war, what’s often overlooked is that by far more mundane standards, the United States did a spectacularly poor job of governing Iraq. ...
From 1990 to 2003, the UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq that were the harshest in the history of global governance. But along with the sanctions, at least, came an elaborate system of oversight and accountability that drew in the Security Council, nine UN agencies, and General Secretary himself. ... When the United States arrived, all semblance of international oversight vanished.
Under enormous pressure from Washington, in May 2003 the Security Council formally recognized the occupation of Iraq by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Resolution 1483. Among other things, this resolution gave the CPA complete control over all of Iraq’s assets.
At the same time, the Council removed all the forms of monitoring and accountability that had been in place: there would be no reports on the humanitarian situation by UN agencies, and there would be no committee of the Security Council charged with monitoring the occupation. There would be a limited audit of funds, after they were spent, but no one from the UN would directly oversee oil sales. And no humanitarian agencies would ensure that Iraqi funds were being spent in ways that benefitted the country. ...
By systematically removing nearly every form of oversight from their self-imposed administration of Iraq, the United States and its allies laid the foundation for the looting of an entire nation’s wealth, abetted by their own wanton indifference to the needs and rights of Iraqis. Ten years after the start of the war, the CPA’s disastrous governance of Iraq stands alongside the country’s horrifying descent into violence as a dark legacy in its own right.
US Never Planned to Pull Out Troops in Afghanistan by 2014, Says Top Commander
General John Allen said 'zero option' was never on the table; expect conflict well after 2014
The U.S. has never been serious about a so-called "zero option" in Afghanistan, a plan that would take all American troops out of the country by a 2014 deadline, according to the recently retired U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen.
Allen stated at a meeting at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Monday that reports of a "zero option" plan were untrue, that he was never asked to produce a report on the so-called "zero option", and that he expects the U.S. and its allies to remain in Afghanistan for a long time, the Guardian reports.
"Sometimes this comes as a surprise when I say this: that on January 1, 2015, there's still going to be fighting in Afghanistan," Allen said.
"Speculation on the size of the force ranges from about 6,000 through to 20,000," the Guardian reports. "Allen offered Obama various options about force size before retiring last month. He ruled out a full pullout, an option the White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes had said in January was on the table."
"I was never asked to conduct any analysis with respect to the zero option," stated Allen.
Half of all Iraq and Afghanistan vets report inadequate care from Veterans Affairs
Almost half of the 2.2 million troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan report difficulties on their return home, but many receive inadequate care from the US Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, according to a new study published on Tuesday.
The Institute of Medicine report, requested by Congress and funded by the Pentagon, expressed “serious misgivings” about methods used to treat the “significant numbers” of returning veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and substance use disorder. It cited tools and treatments used by the DOD which had “no clear scientific evidence base” and said more needed to be done to evaluate their effectiveness.
The study, aimed at examining lingering problems of veterans returning from both conflicts, also called into question a Defense Department policy which bans restricting access to private weapons “even if a service member is at risk from suicide”.
It examined veteran suicides, high unemployment rates and also the ramifications of the “high rates” of military sexual assault, all issues that have attracted recent congressional attention.
Red Cross Workers Arrive at Gitmo to Check Out Hunger StrikersGreenwald and others discuss the slimy tactics the Obama administration is using on jailed journalist Barrett Brown who analyzed and wrote about documents uncovered by Anonymous.
Red Cross officials have scrapped a planned visit to Guantanamo Bay in early April and instead came today, citing growing concerns with the state of hunger striking detainees, including at least three that were reportedly hospitalized because of failing health.
Red Cross spokesmen have urged the US to improve oversight at the prison and stop being so secretive about the status of so many held at the prison, particularly those who have already been cleared for release but who remain, seemingly forever.
Department of Justice spokesman for Eastern District of Virginia confirms grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks 'ongoing'
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia at the Department of Justice confirmed today that the grand jury criminal investigation into WikiLeaks was ongoing.
Peter Carr responded to my direct inquiries yesterday to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Peterson with the National Security Division and Lindsay A. Kelly of the Cyber Unit in Alexandria, Virginia regarding the status of the grand jury criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and statements made by special agents in the military prosecution of Bradley Manning, namely that the FBI was investigating civilians including Jason Katz, Julian Assange, or the "founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks".
House Judiciary Committee spits on grave of Aaron Swartz
In recent months, especially in light of Aaron Swartz’s suicide and Andrew ‘Weev’ Aurnheimer’s prison sentencing, calls for reform to or disposal of the Computer Fraud and Abuses Act (CFAA) have amplified to a fever pitch. If a draft cybersecurity bill from the House Judiciary Committee is anything to go by, however, these cries for change have fallen on deaf ears.
No Harsher CFAA! Support Aaron's Law Instead
It's a slap in the face: The whole Internet is clamoring for reform of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act because it stifles innovation and even imprisons activists and innovators like Aaron Swartz.
So what are some Republicans in the House thinking about doing? Expanding it, and instituting even harsher penalties.
This is completely unacceptable.
David Dayen has an interesting article on the convergence of interest between left and right over doing something about the too big to fail/jail banks. It's well worth reading all of it:
Banks Are Too Big to Fail Say ... Conservatives?
Members of the Federal Reserve don’t usually make the rounds at partisan gatherings. But amid the tri-cornered hats and “#StandWithRand” buttons of last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—the largest annual gathering of conservatives in the country—was Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. In a Saturday morning speech, Fisher quoted Revolutionary War hero Patrick Henry, who once said that while “Different men often see the same subject in different lights,” such quibbling had to be set aside in a time of “awful moment to this country.”
Fisher described the current time as an era of economic injustice in which the nation’s largest banks threaten our financial stability and act with immunity. He said that the Dodd-Frank financial reform law did not go nearly far enough to fix the problem, and that mega-banks still profited from being “Too Big to Fail.” His solutions included a proposal to limit the total assets held by the biggest financial institutions, keeping them at a size that would make them “small enough to save.” And he called on citizens of all political stripes to join him in this cause. “The American people will be grateful to whoever liberates them from a recurrence of taxpayer bailouts,” Fisher concluded. It was an indication of just how bipartisan the support for breaking up the big banks has become.
Krugman's Advice to Cyprus: 'Leave the Euro. Now.'
Economist says best thing nation coud do is save itself the pain by making immediate exit from the Eurozone
Asked to put aside the obstacles of political reality or feasibility and simply offer his unadulterated advice to the nation of Cyprus, Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman spoke bluntly and plainly by agreeing to say what he would do if it was up to him.
"Cyprus should leave the euro. Now," Krugman said on Tuesday. ... "The reason is straightforward," He continued. "Staying in the euro means an incredibly severe depression, which will last for many years while Cyprus tries to build a new export sector. Leaving the euro, and letting the new currency fall sharply, would greatly accelerate that rebuilding."
The exit plan itself would be murky, admits Krugman — acknowledging "it all sounds kind of desperate and improvised"— but such actions would be appropriate given the situation.
"We’re talking about Greek-level austerity or worse in an economy whose fundamentals, thanks to the implosion of offshore banking, are much worse than Greece’s ever were," he said.
Ecuador auctions off Amazon to Chinese oil firms
Indigenous groups claim they have not consented to oil projects, as politicians visit Beijing to publicise bidding process
Ecuador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, angering indigenous groups and underlining the global environmental toll of China's insatiable thirst for energy. ...
According to the California-based NGO Amazon Watch, seven indigenous groups who inhabit the land claim that they have not consented to oil projects, which would devastate the area's environment and threaten their traditional way of life. ...
Critics say national debt may be a large part of the Ecuadorean government's calculations. Ecuador owed China more than £4.6bn ($7bn) as of last summer, more than a tenth of its GDP. China began loaning billions of dollars to Ecuador in 2009 in exchange for oil shipments. More recently China helped fund two of its biggest hydroelectric infrastructure projects. Ecuador may soon build a $12.5bn oil refinery with Chinese financing.
"My understanding is that this is more of a debt issue – it's because the Ecuadoreans are so dependent on the Chinese to finance their development that they're willing to compromise in other areas such as social and environmental regulations," said Adam Zuckerman, environmental and human rights campaigner at Amazon Watch. "The message that they're trying to send to international investors is not in line with reality."
State Department’s Keystone XL Contractor ERM Green-Lighted BP’s Explosive Caspian Pipeline
Almost 11 years ago in June 2002, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Group declared the controversial 1,300 mile-long Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline environmentally and socio-economically sound, a tube which brings oil and gas produced in the Caspian Sea to the export market.
On March 1, it said the same of the proposed 1,179 mile-long TransCanada Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline on behalf of an Obama State Department that has the final say on whether the northern segment of the KXL pipeline becomes a reality. KXL would carry diluted bitumen or “dilbit” from the Alberta tar sands down to Port Arthur, Texas, after which it will be exported to the global market. ...
Like the Keystone XL, the BTC Pipeline – owned by a consortium of 11 oil and gas corporations, including BP, State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Eni and Total – was controversial and inspired a bout of activism in the attempt to defeat its construction.
Referred to as “BP’s Time Bomb” by CorpWatch, the BTC Pipeline was first proposed in 1992, began construction in May 2003 and opened for business two years later in May 2005. ... Part of the BTC Pipeline’s circuit runs through the Borjomi Mountain Gorge, an area known for its landslide hazards, and the source of Georgia’s massive bounty of mineral water. The pipeline also makes over 1,500 river crossings, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Spills and explosions, both in the Caspian Sea that feeds the pipeline with oil and gas and in the pipeline itself, have also occurred.
The most prominent blowout, subject to a mainstream media blackout, was the 2008 BP Caspian Sea oil platform explosion that preceded the infamous 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. BP, to this day has never admitted it was an explosion – describing it simply as “a gas leak“ - but its plausible deniability cover was blown in the form of a Wikileaks cable discussing the matter, and via whistleblowers who contacted investigative reporter Greg Palast.
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
The Sam Lay Blues Band - You´re So Fine
The Sam Lay Blues Band - Eight Feet Baby
Sam Lay - I Got Two Women
Sam Lay Blues Band - Shuffle Master
The Sam Lay Blues Band - Mystery Train
Sam Lay - Trouble No More
Billy Branch and Sam Lay - Katie Mae
Sam Lay Band with Billy Branch - Walkin' Thru The Park
Sam Lay - Boogie Chillen
Sam Lay + Bob Corritore - Close to you
Sam Lay : Rock Me Baby / King Bee
The Sam Lay Band - Mojo Hand
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!