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 one of Motown's finest musicians Marvin Gaye. Enjoy!
Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues
“I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”
-- Eugene Victor Debs
News and Opinion
Obama: Mortgaging the Living to Save the Wealth of the DeadHat Tip to BOHICA:
At the start of his second term, events pushed President Obama to choose between the living and the dead. He chose dead millionaires over elderly people living on Social Security. The wealthy were given a most generous reduction in the estate taxes to be collected when they die. Social Security beneficiaries were told to live with smaller benefit checks. Instead of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, Obama went the other way. ...
How could this have happened with a Democratic president in the White House? In early January, under pressure to make a “fiscal cliff” deal with Republicans, the president signed a new estate tax law that delivered a gorgeous windfall for those with accumulated wealth—or, rather, for their children or others who inherit the family fortunes. All rich people are now entitled to an estate-tax exemption of $5 million. That is seven times larger than the exemption that existed in the last years of the Clinton administration ($670,000) and more than double George W. Bush’s ($2 million).
Furthermore, because this new estate-tax exemption is indexed to protect against inflation, the exemption will keep growing bigger year after year. For 2012, the exemption rose by $120,000 and another $130,000 for 2013. That’s an annual inflation-driven increase of about 2.5 percent, though Social Security recipients received an increase of only 1.7 percent at the same time.
The new cost-of-living index Obama has proposed for Social Security would work in the opposite direction. It is designed to reduce Social Security benefits in future years, less than what people would get from the present calculation.
History will have to be his judge, because President Obama will not allow him to be prosecuted for his war crimes.
Celebration in Texas Opens New Library for War Criminal
"This is such a singular moment," said MSNBC's David Gregory in the interlude between the presentation of the First Ladies and the subsequent introduction of President Obama and the former US presidents: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter. "It's not just pomp and circumstance," Gregory said as the US Army band rolled drums and the trumpets blared. ...
MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews set the frame for the network's coverage by saying, "No one wants to talk about Iraq on a day like this." Instead Matthews repeated time and again, what people really wanted to know was what Obama and former first lady Barbara Bush, seated next to one another on stage, were chatting and giggling about. ...
The library, officially called the George W. Bush Presidential Center, is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas and was designed to honor—critics argue 'to re-write'—the legacy of the former US president whose administration led the country into two foreign wars, opened the Guantanamo Bay prison camp as a way to avoid judicial oversight of detainee treatment, initiated rendition and torture programs within a global network of CIA-run black site facilities, oversaw the creation of a vast national surveillance apparatus, and ushered in the largest financial crisis of the modern era.
Outside the event, more than 200 peace activists protested behind police barricades against what they called Bush's crimes against humanity.
US Courts Unlikely to Defend Human Rights of Guantanamo Hunger Strikers
As human rights advocates call it 'torture' the US justice system puts prison 'order' first
As a mass hunger strike continues within the offshore US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, a Reuters legal analysis on Friday shows that US courts are likely to be of little use to the strike's participants.
Critics of Obama's policy to force feed the prisoners call strapping men to a chair and forcing a feeding tube into their a stomach a form of torture, but the president has spoken little about the controversial practice and done nothing to address the grievances of the detainees who claim they have no other recourse to fight their indefinite detention by a US government that will neither charge them, try them, or set them free.
Department of Defense Must Release Names of Notorious Torture School Instructors, Trainees
SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois says court ruling "a victory for transparency and human rights, and against government secrecy.”
In a "victory against government secrecy," a federal judge has ordered the Department of Defense to release the names of instructors and trainees at the notorious School of the Americas, a facility one watchdog group reports as being "connected to torturers, death squads and military dictators throughout the Americas."
Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch, a group that seeks to close the facility now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), hailed the decision and called it "a victory for transparency and human rights, and against government secrecy.”
Members of SOA Watch, which had already compiled through DOD disclosures the names of trainees and instructors at the facility from 1946 to 2003, had sought the more recent names under a Freedom of Information Act.
While the veil of secrecy over the names of instructors and trainees began in 2004 under the George W. Bush administration when it began only releasing the names of SOA instructors and trainees to Congress in classified documents, the Obama administration chose to continue it, saying that exposing the names could expose the trainees to "violence and harassment. [WTF - we're in the business of protecting torturers from violence and harassment!?!]"
Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever
You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets."
That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.
Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It's about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.
It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.
Spaniards Surround Congress in "Day of Liberation" Against Austerity
As country's unemployment reaches record highs, demonstrators call for a government in which "the majority decides"
As Spanish unemployment reached record highs Thursday, thousands of Spaniards will march on Congress to denounce the government's crippling austerity policies and to call for a new government in which "the majority decides."
Thursday's demonstration is the latest in a string of demonstrations fueled by mounting anger towards the politics which have prolonged the country's ongoing recession and unemployment, which the Spanish National Institute of Statistics announced Thursday reached a record high of 27.2 percent.
The action was organized by the platform "En Pie"—translating to "on your feet"—which also was behind the national mobilization against austerity last September 25.
Obama Secretly Authorizes More Spying on Americans
Senior Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications carried on portions of networks operated by AT&T and other Internet service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws.
The secret legal authorization from the Justice Department originally applied to a cybersecurity pilot project in which the military monitored defense contractors' Internet links. Since then, however, the program has been expanded by President Obama to cover all critical infrastructure sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.
"The Justice Department is helping private companies evade federal wiretap laws," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained over 1,000 pages of internal government documents and provided them to CNET this week. "Alarm bells should be going off."
Those documents show the National Security Agency and the Defense Department were deeply involved in pressing for the secret legal authorization, with NSA director Keith Alexander participating in some of the discussions personally. Despite initial reservations, including from industry participants, Justice Department attorneys eventually signed off on the project.
The Justice Department agreed to grant legal immunity to the participating network providers in the form of what participants in the confidential discussions refer to as "2511 letters," a reference to the Wiretap Act codified at 18 USC 2511 in the federal statute books.
Washington Republicans file bill to legalize discrimination against LGBT people
A bill filed by a group of 12 Republican state senators in Washington would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious or “philosophical” beliefs.
Earlier this year, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against a florist who said that she could not supply flowers for a gay couple’s wedding “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”
In response, state Sen. Sharon Brown (R) and 11 other of the 23 Republicans in the Washington state Senate want to legalize discrimination against gay and lesbian couples with Senate Bill 5927. The measure goes far beyond religious exceptions, allowing business to discriminate based on “philosophical beliefs” or even “matters of conscience.”
Fracking Debris Ten Times Too Radioactive for Hazardous Waste Landfill
A truck carrying cuttings from a Pennsylvania fracking site was quarantined at a hazardous-waste landfill and sent back after its contents triggered a radiation alarm showing the load was emitting 96 microrem of radiation per hour; the landfill rejects waste with levels above 10 microrems. ... Pennsylvania, which is currently studying radiation contamination associated with fracking wells, claims to be the only state that even requires landfills to monitor radiation levels.
New Mexico Earthquakes Linked to Wastewater Injection
An ongoing earthquake swarm in New Mexico and Colorado, which includes Colorado's largest earthquake since 1967, is due to underground wastewater injection, researchers said Friday (April 19) at the Seismological Society of America's annual meeting in Salt Lake City.
The earthquakes are concentrated near wastewater injection wells in the Raton Basin, where mining companies are extracting methane from coalbeds. The basin, which is actually a series of rock layers exposed in the Rocky Mountain foothills, stretches from northeastern New Mexico to southern Colorado.
Since 2001, seismicity has increased rapidly in the region, said Justin Rubinstein, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research geophysicist and lead author of one of several studies on the Raton Basin presented at the meeting. The rapid rise in earthquakes followed a significant increase in wastewater injection starting in 1999, he said. ... There were 20 times as many magnitude-3 or larger earthquakes between 2001 and 2011 as there were from 1970 to 2001, Rubinstein said.
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
Marvin Gaye - Heard It Through The Grapevine
Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine (A capella)
Marvin Gaye - Whats Going On
Marvin Gaye - Mercy, Mercy Me
Marvin Gaye - Ain't no Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye - Lets Get It On
Marvin Gaye - Got to give it up
Marvin Gaye - Trouble Man
Marvin Gaye - Ain't That Peculiar Live
Marvin Gaye - Live at Montreux Jazz Festival
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!