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 was selected for you by guest deejay Johnny the Conqueroo. Thanks, JtC! Enjoy!
Black Cat Bone - Me and My Man
"No Revolutionary movement is complete without its poetic expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses, they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, fears, and hopes the loves and hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous , defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement; it is the dogma of the few and not the faith of the multitude."
-- James Connolly
News and Opinion
Edward Snowden's Not the Story. The Fate of the Internet Is
[T]he Snowden revelations also have implications for you and me.
They tell us, for example, that no US-based internet company can be trusted to protect our privacy or data. The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system. Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their "cloud" services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA. That means that if you're thinking of outsourcing your troublesome IT operations to, say, Google or Microsoft, then think again.
And if you think that that sounds like the paranoid fantasising of a newspaper columnist, then consider what Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, had to say on the matter recently. "If businesses or governments think they might be spied on," she said, "they will have less reason to trust the cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out. Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets, if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes? Front or back door – it doesn't matter – any smart person doesn't want the information shared at all. Customers will act rationally and providers will miss out on a great opportunity."
Spot on. So when your chief information officer proposes to use the Amazon or Google cloud as a data-store for your company's confidential documents, tell him where to file the proposal. In the shredder.
NSA faces backlash over collecting phone data
A reporter recently asked the National Security Agency's chief a blunt question: Why can't he come up with a better example of a terrorism plot foiled through the bulk collection of U.S. phone records?
In the weeks since Edward Snowden disclosed that the NSA had been collecting and storing the calling histories of nearly every American, NSA Director Keith Alexander and other U.S. officials have cited only one case as having been discovered exclusively by searching those records: some San Diego men who sent $8,500 to Al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia. ...
The government "has not done a good job justifying it," said Fred Cate, a privacy law expert and law professor at Indiana University. "I leave open the possibility that there are cases they can't talk about. It's also possible this is an entirely worthless program. Let's face it — a lot of government investments are."
If the government were to curtail the collection of telephone data or drop it entirely, the rollback would not be unprecedented. In 2011, according to Snowden's disclosures, the intelligence agencies quietly discontinued a then-secret program that collected email metadata on Americans — "to" and "from" information, not content — because it wasn't yielding much of value.
Lawmakers Protecting NSA Surveillance Are Awash In Defense Contractor Cash
The amendment failed as the White House and NSA director General Keith Alexander personally lobbied lawmakers to oppose the measure. At first glance, a look at the ‘no’ votes seems to suggest an odd coalition of establishment Republicans and Democrats rallying to support the administration’s position. Congressman Darrell Issa, a Republican who casts himself as a leader on privacy issues and as a tough opponent of most of President Obama’s domestic policies, voted against the Amash bill. So did minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who, as The Huffington Post reported, previously criticized the section of the Patriot Act enabling large-scale data-mining as a “massive invasion of privacy.”
Why would an anti-Obama Republican and a supposedly pro-privacy Democrat join forces to uphold the NSA’s surveillance policies?
MapLight, the Berkeley-based campaign finance website, has aggregated the numbers and found that lawmakers “voting to continue the NSA’s dragnet surveillance programs received on average 122 percent more money ($41,635) from defense contractors and other defense industry interests than did representatives who voted to end the programs (18,765).” Amash has received a mere $1,400 from industry PACs and individuals.
Chief Justice Roberts Stacks Secret Court with Govt 'Yes Men
NYT analysis reveals Roberts' preference for conservative judges with 'get the bad guys' mind-set
[A] New York Times piece published Thursday exposes the politically biased maneuvering that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has undertaken in his appointments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court.
According to the paper's analysis of every judge who has been appointed to the court since its inception in 1978, 86 percent of Robert's choices have been Republican appointees, and 50 percent have been former executive branch officials. ...
The 11 currently presiding judges, all hand-selected by Roberts, serve as the sole jurors for the entire US surveillance state.
Wyden: Patriot Act overreach wasn’t envisioned by ‘anachronistic’ 1970s FISA law
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) says that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court created in the 1970s is “just anachronistic” because it was not designed for the “astounding reach that the court has gone to with respect to the Patriot Act.”
In an interview that aired Sunday on C-SPAN, Wyden explained that the Patriot Act granted the government “essentially limitless” power to “get medical records, financial records, records about firearms… the government’s authority’s limitless.”
Associated Press National Security Writer Lara Jakes noted that Wyden had said that the government also had the ability to track cell phones and wondered if that authority was granted in secret by the FISA Court.
Wyden replied that he was barred from discussing FISA Court decisions.
Edward Snowden vs. Robert Seldon Lady Shows How Our One-Superpower World Works
After years in absentia — poof! — he reappeared out of nowhere on the border between Panama and Costa Rica, and made the news when Panamanian officials took him into custody on an Interpol warrant. The CIA’s station chief in Milan back in 2003, he had achieved brief notoriety for overseeing a la dolce vita version of extraordinary rendition as part of Washington’s Global War on Terror. His colleagues kidnapped Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a radical Muslim cleric and terror suspect, off the streets of Milan, and rendered him via U.S. airbases in Italy and Germany to the torture chambers of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt. Lady evidently rode shotgun on that transfer. ...
Last week, the Panamanians picked him up. It was the real world equivalent of a magician’s trick. He was nowhere, then suddenly in custody and in the news, and then — poof again! — he wasn’t. ... And that was that. Not another news story here in the U.S.; no further information from government spokespeople on what happened to him, or why the administration decided to extricate him from Panama and protect him from Italian justice. Nor, as far as I can tell, were there any further questions from the media.
The truth is: when it comes to Snowden, official Washington can’t shut up. Congressional figures have denounced him as a “traitor” or a “defector.” The world has repeatedly been lectured from the bully pulpit in our national capital on how necessary his return and trial is to freedom, justice, and global peace. ... Don’t make the mistake, however, of comparing Washington’s positions on Snowden and Lady and labeling the Obama administration’s words and actions “hypocrisy.” There’s no hypocrisy involved. This is simply the living definition of what it means to exist in a one-superpower world for the first time in history. For Washington, the essential rule of thumb goes something like this: we do what we want; we get to say what we want about what we do; and U.N. ambassadorial nominee Samantha Powers then gets to lecture the world on human rights and oppression.
First Reported Death in Calif. Prisoner Hunger Strike
Revelation comes as strikes pass day 20 and authorities escalate retaliation, refuse to negotiate
A California prisoner in solitary confinement—who supporters say was participating in a state-wide prisoner hunger strike—passed away last Monday.
The tragic death—revealed publicly by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition Sunday—is the first widely reported since the strike began July 8 as prisoners continue their hunger strike for an end to solitary confinement and other forms of abuse and torture.
Billy Sell, known to his friends as "Guero," had been participating in the hunger strike, according to his fellow prisoners, and had requested medical attention in the days prior to his death.
Meanwhile, prisoners face retaliation for participating in the hunger strikes, including undergoing further isolation, having their cells filled with freezing air, and facing destructive cell searches and denial of media and communications access.
California Governor Jerry Brown has remained completely silent as the hunger strikes have swept California prisons.
As Detroit Drowns, GOP says: 'Bailouts For Banks, Not People'
With fangs out, Republicans push to codify national abandonment of the city
The Obama administration is making no sign of helping Detroit as its emergency manager and republican governor steer the city towards bankruptcy proceedings.
Yet, that is not enough assurance for some in the GOP who are pushing for passage of a law explicitly banning the bailout of Detroit, and any other municipality for that matter. ...
Yet, when Wall Street took a hit from its self-made 2008 financial crisis—which devastated towns and cities across the US, including Detroit—Republicans and Democrats stood behind a massive federal bailout of big banks, pushed forward under George W. Bush, with President Obama picking up the baton.
Today, there is little interest from either side of the aisle to extend a helping hand to the largest city to file for bankruptcy in US history.
Is Kevyn Orr living too large in Detroit?
Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr came to Detroit making deep cuts across the board. ...
Many say Orr is living large in a Westin Book Cadillac hotel penthouse suite paid for by taxpayers while he has had plenty of time to find his own place and pay for it with his own salary of $275,000. ...
The emergency manager also is ringing up a nice room service bill -- almost $3,000 for crab cakes and steak bites, calamari and shrimp Caesar. He has been eating well while deciding who will lose their job and who will lose their pension.
Rosy Predictions of New York Insurance Exchange Might be Premature
The New York Times reported last week that New York State’s health plans are set to fall 50 percent in cost, which prompted a fierce debate between right wing critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its defenders. But missing from the conversation was the fact that insurance companies, who are driven not by the public’s interest but by profits, still control the market. ...
“One of the primary defects with the insurance exchange model of reform” in Massachusetts, Dr. Don McCanne wrote on the PNHP blog in 2011, “is that emphasizing affordability of health plans rather than health care itself results in a transformation to ever more inferior insurance products.
“The goal of reform should not be to take away choices in actual health care, nor to shift more of the costs to those who need health care. Yet those are precisely the trends that we are seeing and will continue to see under a model of competition between private health plans.”
Recession Forever? 10 Reasons American Workers Are Screwed
More than five years after the great recession hit, the US economy is still sputtering. The government revised GDP growth figures down last month to a meager 1.8% for the first quarter of this year. It doesn't take a PhD in economics to understand why: we have a demand problem. And we have a demand problem because the vast majority of consumers – aka workers – are not earning enough to pay for healthcare, education and retirement, let alone all the other stuff stores and service providers have to sell.
The reality is that we're hollowing out the middle class by wiping out well-paid jobs with benefits and replacing them with low-wage ones that often lack them. That's damaging not only to people who are living on smaller paychecks – or who are indeed unemployed – but also to the health and viability of the overall economy.
No matter what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and his followers say, we are not living in a "sharing economy". We are living in a zero-sum economy – in which a handful of investors and owners win at everyone else's expense.
The United States of... Class War, Inequality, and Poverty
New economic data obtained and analyzed by the Associated Press appears to show that when billionaire financier Warren Buffett says, “There’s class warfare, all right.. and we’re winning," he knows what he's talking about.
According to the report by AP, four out of every five American adults will "struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives" revealing the strained fabric of a national economy which once saw the meteoric rise of the middle class returned to a state where increasing inequality is the norm and class tensions—though often muted for popular discussion—is undermining the prospects for tens of millions.
The resulting analysis of the numbers by AP points to an "increasingly globalized U.S. economy"—in which companies search the globe for low wages, minimized regulation, and corporate-friendly tax rates—as the main driver of the "widening gap between rich and poor" and the destruction of the manufacturing base that historians and economists credit for previous and more widely shared prosperity.
Responding to the survey, William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who specializes in race and poverty, told AP: "It's time that America comes to understand that many of the nation's biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position."
'Outrageous': BP Ad Claims 'American Businesses' Real Victims of Gulf Disaster
A full-page ad placed prominently in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Thursday—paid for by BP and painting "American businesses" as the victim in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster—is just a bit too much for some. ...
The ad, featuring comments from both the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, criticizes the process by which local residents, small-business owners, and impacted communities have been compensated. Saying that BP "had bent over backwards to make amends for the catastrophe" the letter from the Chamber's CEO Thomas Donahue says that in the future, businesses will be smart to "litigate" rather than "settle" with communities following industrial disasters.
"Outrageous," said Aaron Viles, deputy director of the Gulf Restoration Network, which works to support the communities and Gulf ecosystems so devastated by the 2010 disaster that gushed an estimated 5 million barrels of crude oil into the ocean.
According to Viles, making big business out to be the victim is absurd. "BP and their team of lawyers signed off on this deal, and now they are crying foul? The truth of the matter is that BP's historic release of oil and application of toxic dispersant made the Gulf and our communities the victims," he said. "BP needs to follow through on their commitment to our coast."
‘Nobody understands’ spills at Alberta oil sands operation"The company guilty of criminal negligence is barely getting a slap on the wrist. The Department of Justice is fining Halliburton a mere $200,000. I know, it sounds like a lot for you and I, but the company made that money back in the mere time it took me to just read this sentence."
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has been unable to stop an underground oil blowout that has killed numerous animals and contaminated a lake, forest, and muskeg at its operations in Cold Lake, Alta.
The documents indicate that, since cleanup started in May, some 26,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with surface water have been removed, including more than 4,500 barrels of bitumen. ...
The company’s operations use an “in situ” or underground extraction technology called “cyclic steam stimulation,” which involves injecting thousands of gallons of superhot, high-pressure steam into deep underground reservoirs. This heats and liquefies the hard bitumen and creates cracks through which the bitumen flows and is then pumped to the surface.
[A government] scientist, who asked not to be named for fear of losing their job, said the operation was in chaos.
“Everybody (at the company and in government) is freaking out about this,” said the scientist. “We don’t understand what happened. Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.”
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
Read this. James Bamford does an excellent backgrounder on NSA spying and lying:
A Little Night Music
Contemporary Blues (1990-Present)
Hey Blues Mongers! Let me begin by thanking Joe for the opportunity to guest host tonight's Evening Blues. It's an honor to sit in for such an astute aficionado of the blues genre.
The Blues are alive and well, most of the old masters are gone but they have passed down the soul, the grit, the essence and intensity of the everyday experiences that the blues engenders. The old forms live on, 8 bar, 12 bar, 16 bar, boogie, shuffles, gut wrenching wails deep from within, as long as there are humans to emote, the blues will be with us. Enough philosophizing, let's get on with it, a one, a two, a one two three four.
John Campbell - The World is Crazy
The Rumpshakers - Boogie Through the Night
Thirsty Perch Band - Help Me
Sharrie Williams - What's Wrong With You
Hans Theessink - A Hundred and Ten in the Shade
The Casanovas - Just Getting By
Jorma Kaukonen - Another Man Done Gone
Michael Messer & Second Mind - Lucky Charms
Alex Jenkins & The Bombers - Hey Pretty Baby
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!