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 blues guitarist T Bone Walker. Enjoy!
T-Bone Walker w/ Jazz At The Philharmonic - Woman You Must Be Crazy
“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
-- Ray Bradbury
News and Opinion
Bradley Manning Verdict In. Sentencing Tomorrow
Bradley Manning verdict: guilty of most charges but not 'aiding enemy'
Amnesty International statement on Manning verdict
ACLU Comment on Bradley Manning Verdict
CIA 'tortured and sodomised' terror suspect, human rights court rules
Landmark European court of human rights judgment says CIA tortured wrongly detained German citizen
CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said in a historic judgment released on Thursday.
In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations.
Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA "rendition team" at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan.
It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture.
"The grand chamber of the European court of human rights unanimously found that Mr el-Masri was subjected to forced disappearance, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition outside any judicial process, and inhuman and degrading treatment," said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative.
Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta: Lawsuit Challenging Targeted Killings
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s targeted killing of three U.S. citizens in drone strikes far from any armed conflict zone. Oral argument was held on July 19 in Washington. ...
According to the legal complaint, the killings violated the right to due process under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, the prohibition on unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment, and, with respect to Anwar Al-Aulaqi, the ban on extrajudicial death warrants imposed by the Constitution’s Bill of Attainder Clause. The killings also violated international law, which is incorporated through the Constitution.
This case follows a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and CCR in 2010 challenging Anwar Al-Aulaqi’s placement on government kill lists, before his death. A federal district court dismissed the case, holding that the plaintiff, Al-Aulaqi’s father, lacked standing to bring suit, and that the request for before-the-fact judicial review raised “political questions” that the court could not decide.
The Surveillance State Strikes Back
According to experts who are advising U.S. email, cloud data storage, and social media companies, executives are concerned that foreign governments -- particularly ones with fewer protections for personal privacy and free speech -- are already beginning to demand that U.S. tech companies relocate their servers and databases within their borders. Under normal circumstances, companies would rarely comply with those migration demands, especially if those countries have reputations for heavy-handed internal policing. But now that the United States is being seen as a global spying power, they may have little choice.
Other governments can make their relocation demands in the name of protecting citizens from the intrusive powers of the NSA. Then those regimes can use U.S. tech to make their own law enforcement and intelligence agencies more NSA-like.
"Despite Snowden's sensational revelations, data will not be better protected outside the U.S. in countries where privacy is aspirational at best," said Al Gidari, a lawyer with the firm Perkins Coie who represents companies on surveillance and communications law. "Data stored locally will be the fuel for corruption, abuse and repression in most of those countries, especially in those countries that are complaining the loudest about U.S. surveillance activities."
‘Anonymous’ hackers attack New Zealand Prime Minister’s website over spying bill
The “hacktivist” group Anonymous on Tuesday briefly crashed New Zealand Prime Minister John Key’s website in protest at plans to allow the country’s intelligence agency to spy on local residents.
A group identifying itself as Anonymous NZ posted a clip on YouTube saying it had attacked Key’s website www.johnkey.co.nz and 12 others linked to the ruling National Party to show its opposition to “a despicable piece of legislation”. ...
New Zealand’s intelligence service, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), is currently barred from spying on New Zealand citizens or residents.
Key argues the restriction should be removed so it can cooperate more closely with agencies such as the police and military in an increasingly complex cyber-security environment.
The bill is currently before parliament and expected to pass by a single vote, although groups ranging from the Law Society to Internet giants Facebook and Google have raised concerns about the proposal.
The Chilling Effects of License-Plate Location Tracking
Location tracking has far-reaching implications for the way we live, even if we don't think we've done anything wrong. Our recent report, "You Are Being Tracked," shows that automatic license plate readers allow law enforcement to track every car on the road, not just those relevant to an investigation. This type of widespread tracking endangers our rights of protest and association and has the potential to reach deep into our lives and alter our daily decision making. ...
This chilling effect may be especially pronounced for license plate reader data collection, where information about where you travel can be used to infer information about who you are. In some cases, merely having your car parked in a certain area may be enough to gain law enforcement scrutiny. The IACP report remarks that it may be useful to know whether a car was parked near a domestic violence call or previous crime scene, whether or not the owner of that vehicle was involved.
Unfortunately, these examples are far from improbable. In New York City, police officers used unmarked vehicles with license plate readers to track congregants at local mosques. In Colorado, as one of our public records requests revealed (page 7933 of this document), the Adams County Sheriff's Department demonstrated license plate reader technology by singling out music lovers for surveillance, sweeping a rave party and a concert at a country-western bar (first it's the line dancers, next they'll come for the swing dancers, and then the bedroom mirror dancers?).
Court Eases Prosecutors’ Burden of Proof in Leak Cases
In a new interpretation of the Espionage Act, a federal judge made it easier for prosecutors in leak cases to meet their burden of proof, while reducing protections for accused leakers.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the prosecution in the pending case of former State Department contractor Stephen Kim need not show that the information he allegedly leaked could damage U.S. national security or benefit a foreign power, even potentially. Her opinion was a departure from a 30 year old ruling in the case of U.S. v. Morison, which held that the government must show that the leak was potentially damaging to the U.S. or beneficial to an adversary. (In that case, Samuel L. Morison was convicted of unauthorized disclosure of classified intelligence satellite photographs, which he provided to Jane’s Defence Weekly. He was later pardoned by President Clinton.) ...
The Kim defense had argued that the requirement to show that the leaked information could cause at least potential damage was essential to a proper understanding of the Espionage Act statute. Without it, defense attorneys argued, the Espionage Act would become something like an Official Secrets Act, enabling the government to punish disclosure of anything that was designated classified, even if it was improperly classified. They cited a concurring opinion in the Morison case stating that its interpretation of the law was necessary “to avoid converting the Espionage Act into the simple Government Secrets Act which Congress has refused to enact.”
In a subsequent reply, the defense added that “The requirement that disclosure of the information be ‘potentially damaging’ is ‘implicit in the purpose of the statute and assures that the government cannot abuse the statute by penalizing citizens for discussing information the government has no compelling reason to keep confidential’ .”
The Saudi monarchy’s harsh crackdown on dissent
Saudi Arabia is a human rights horror show, especially for women, religious minorities, and migrant workers, who make up a majority of the workforce. Under a guardianship system, men treat women as minors. Girls as young as nine are forced to marry. In 2009, a female victim of gang rape was accused of “adultery,” beaten, and imprisoned. An absolute monarchy and theocracy that has no written penal code, the government prohibits the public exercise of any faith other than Islam, has beheaded people for “sorcery,” and routinely imprisons people without charge or trial and tortures them.
Yet in 2012, according to Human Rights Watch, not once did a U.S. official publicly condemn Saudi Arabia for human rights abuses. American priorities are clear. On June 25th, two days after Saudi police killed Shiite activist Morsi Ali Ibrahim al-Rabah, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared in Jeddah with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and said that “protecting the stability” of the monarchy and other governments in the region is “the most important” issue. ...
At a recent energy conference, Ryan Crocker, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, had reassuring words for attendees. “If Saudi Arabia were to become unhinged,” he said, “the consequences are almost impossible to imagine—politically, economically, at every level. But I don’t see it happening.”
This might not be a wise bet. While the regime won’t fall any time soon, it probably won’t be able to preside for many years over a population that’s increasingly young, wired, and unemployed. And if there’s one thing we should’ve learned from ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, it’s that the stability created by repression is illusory.
Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Hides 'Assault On Democratic Government'
Members of Congress have been provided with only limited access to the negotiation documents. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) told HuffPost on Monday that he viewed an edited version of the negotiation texts last week, but that secrecy policies at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative created scheduling difficulties that delayed his access for nearly six weeks. The Obama administration has barred any Congressional staffers from reviewing the full negotiation text and prohibited members of Congress from discussing the specific terms of the text with trade experts and reporters. Staffers on some committees are granted access to portions of the text under their committee's jurisdiction.
"This, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system," Grayson told HuffPost. "They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I'm a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don't want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I'd be releasing classified information." ...
"What I saw was nothing that could possibly justify the secrecy that surrounds it," Grayson said, referring to the draft Trans-Pacific deal. "It is ironic in a way that the government thinks it's alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away." ...
"Having seen what I've seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty," Grayson told HuffPost. "And I would further characterize it as a punch in the face to the middle class of America. I think that's fair to say from what I've seen so far. But I'm not allowed to tell you why!"
The Corporate Strategy to Win The War Against Grassroots Activists: Stratfor’s Strategies
Divide activists into four groups: Radicals, Idealists, Realists and Opportunists. The Opportunists are in it for themselves and can be pulled away for their own self-interest. The Realists can be convinced that transformative change is not possible and we must settle for what is possible. Idealists can be convinced they have the facts wrong and pulled to the Realist camp. Radicals, who see the system as corrupt and needing transformation, need to be isolated and discredited, using false charges to assassinate their character is a common tactic. ...
“Corporations wage war upon activists to ensure that corporate activities, power, profits and control are not diminished or significantly reformed,” said Stauber. “The burden is on the activists to make fundamental social change in a political environment where the corporate interests dominate both politically and through the corporate media.”
Call For UN Intervention Against Human Rights Disaster Facing Chicago Schools
Chicago human rights advocates are demanding a United Nations investigation into the human rights abuses stemming from the closure of 49 public schools throughout the city.
The Midwest Coalition for Human Rights—a coalition of over 50 social justice organizations, service providers, and university centers, sent a "letter of allegation" to the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in Switzerland, written by University of Chicago law professor Sital Kalantry with wide community input.
The letter charges that the mass school shutdown stands in direct violation of multiple human rights treaties of which the US is a signatory, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
New York fast food workers go on strike for a living wageEllen Brown:
Hundreds of workers at McDonald’s and other fast food outlets across New York went on strike Monday for higher wages in a movement organizers hope will spread nationwide.
Sporadic walkouts left managers to serve customers at flagship McDonald’s outlets on Times Square and 5th Avenue in Manhattan.
Organizers said the strike had hit around 60 restaurants operated by McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC and Burger King across the New York area.
The striking workers are demanding the introduction of a standard wage of $15/hour, more than twice the $7.25 minimum wage that many fast food employees earn here. The average wage in the sector in New York is around $9/hour and, unlike staff in mainstream restaurants, employees cannot count on their income being topped up by tips.
How Monetary Policy Could Stimulate EmploymentSlap on the wrist department. Hat tip cosmic debris:
The Fed could avoid collateral damage to the shadow banking system without curtailing its quantitative easing program by taking the novel approach of directing its QE fire hose into the real market.
One possibility would be to buy up $1 trillion in student debt and refinance it at 0.75%, the interest rate the Fed gives to banks. A proposal along those lines is Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill, which has received a groundswell of support including from many colleges and universities.
Another alternative might be to make loans to state and local governments at 0.75%, something that might have prevented the recent bankruptcy of Detroit, once the nation’s fourth-largest city. Yet another alternative might be to pour QE money into an infrastructure bank that funds New Deal-style rebuilding.
The Federal Reserve Act might have to be modified, but what Congress has wrought it can change. The possibilities are limited only by the imaginations and courage of our congressional representatives.
U.S. says JP Morgan manipulated market; settlement seen
Traders used improper bidding tactics in California and the Midwest to boost profits, officials said in a statement that brought to light some details of an extensive investigation. ...
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff has found "eight manipulative bidding strategies" used by a JPM affiliate in 2010 and 2011, the regulator said.
JPMorgan declined to comment.
Two industry sources said a settlement over the trades could come as early as mid-morning on Tuesday. The bank is expected to pay around $400 million to end the investigation and the settlement could include other payments, according to reports and an industry source.
'Skies Roast' Above North Dakota as Natural Gas Flaring on the Rise
Bright torches of natural gas are to become an ever-more common sight along the horizon of North Dakota as the environmentally devastating practice of flaring, or burning off natural gas as a byproduct of oil production, continues to skyrocket, according to a report released Monday by sustainability research group Ceres.
Analyzing oil and gas production data on the Bakken oil fields, researchers estimate that the volume of flared gas "more than doubled between May 2011 and May 2013," and in 2012 alone, the greenhouse gases emitted from flared wells was equivalent to "adding nearly one million cars to the road."
Internal EPA report highlights disputes over fracking and well water
An EPA staff report suggests methane from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, contaminated wells near Dimock, Pa., but the agency says the water's safe to drink.
One year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency finished testing drinking water in Dimock, Pa., after years of complaints by residents who suspected that nearby natural gas production had fouled their wells. The EPA said that for nearly all the 64 homes whose wells it sampled, the water was safe to drink.
Yet as the regulator moved to close its investigation, the staff at the mid-Atlantic EPA office in Philadelphia, which had been sampling the Dimock water, argued for continuing the assessment.
In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Tribune/Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production.
The presentation, based on data collected over 4 1/2 years at 11 wells around Dimock, concluded that "methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality." The presentation also concluded that "methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking [hydraulic fracturing] and other gas well work."
Critics say the decision in July 2012 by EPA headquarters in Washington to curtail its investigation at Dimock over the objection of its on-site staff fits a troubling pattern at a time when the Obama administration has used the sharp increase in natural gas production to rebut claims that it is opposed to fossil fuels.
EPA's Ability to Assess Fracking Is Under Question
Environmentalists see an agency that is systematically disengaging from any research that could be perceived as questioning the safety of fracking or oil drilling, even as President Obama lays out a plan to combat climate change that rests heavily on the use of natural gas.
Over the past 15 months, they point out, the EPA has:
► Closed an investigation into groundwater pollution in Dimock, Pa., saying the level of contamination was below federal safety triggers.
► Abandoned its claim that a driller in Parker County, Texas, was responsible for methane gas bubbling up in residents' faucets, even though a geologist hired by the agency confirmed this finding.
► Sharply revised downward a 2010 estimate showing that leaking gas from wells and pipelines was contributing to climate change, crediting better pollution controls by the drilling industry even as other reports indicate the leaks may be larger than previously thought.
► Failed to enforce a statutory ban on using diesel fuel in fracking.
"We're seeing a pattern that is of great concern," said Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington. "They need to make sure that scientific investigations are thorough enough to ensure that the public is getting a full scientific explanation."
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
T-Bone Walker - Goin' to Chicago
T Bone Walker - T-Bone Shuffle
T-Bone Walker's first recording Wichita Falls Blues 1929
T-Bone Walker - She Is Going To Ruin Me
T-Bone Walker - I Got A Break Baby
T-Bone Walker - Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You
T-Bone Walker - The Hustle Is On
T-Bone Walker - Guitar Boogie
T-Bone Walker- Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong
T-Bone Walker & BB King - Sweet Sixteen
T-Bone Walker - Hey Baby
T-Bone Walker - Long Skirt Baby Blues
T-Bone Walker + Chuck Berry - Everyday I have the blues
T-Bone Walker -Glamour Girl
T Bone Walker - Pony Tail
Tuesday Caption Contest
Tonight's Tuesday Caption Contest graphic is provided by Johnny the Conqueroo. Place your contest entry in the thread provided by Johnny in the comments below. The winner gets, um, probably nothing except the distinction of being this week's leading smart-ass. B)
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!