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 Debbie Davies. Enjoy!
Debbie Davies - I Came To Play
“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
-- Smedley D. Butler
News and Opinion
This is the first of a series of four lectures; the first two are excellent, I eagerly anticipate the next two. I'll post the second lecture tomorrow. I highly recommend them.
Quantum Spying: GCHQ Used Fake LinkedIn Pages to Target Engineers
Elite GCHQ teams targeted employees of mobile communications companies and billing companies to gain access to their company networks. The spies used fake copies of LinkedIn profiles as one of their tools.
The Belgacom employees probably thought nothing was amiss when they pulled up their profiles on LinkedIn, the professional networking site. The pages looked the way they always did, and they didn't take any longer than usual to load.
The victims didn't notice that what they were looking at wasn't the original site but a fake profile with one invisible added feature: a small piece of malware that turned their computers into tools for Britain's GCHQ intelligence service. ...
The computers of these "candidates" were then infected with computer malware that had been placed using infiltration technology the intelligence agency refers to as "Quantum Insert," which enabled the GCHQ spies to deeply infiltrate the Belgacom internal network and that of its subsidiary BICS, which operates a so-called GRX router system. This type of router is required when users make calls or go online with their mobile phones while abroad.
SPIEGEL's initial reporting on "Operation Socialist," a GCHQ program that targeted Belgacom, triggered an investigation by Belgian public prosecutors. In addition, two committees of the European Parliament are investigating an attack by a European Union country on the leading telecommunications provider in another EU member state.
NSA: our analogue spying laws must catch up with the digital era
News that US intelligence services tapped the phones of allied leaders has generated understandable outrage in Europe. But far more significant is the American government's practice of monitoring the communications of millions of ordinary people, who have no legal redress in the United States because they are foreigners.
Electronic surveillance has become easy. Authorities can reconstruct someone's life with a simple request to their mobile phone provider, while the costs of storing and processing massive amounts of data have declined dramatically. We already live much of our lives through digital communications, and the trend will only accelerate, so we need swift reform, or the problems will escalate. The issue is not just our emails and mobile phones but also our calendars, address books and medical and banking records. Governments and corporations are increasingly able to track people's location, associations and communications.
Existing legal frameworks were devised in an analogue age, when cross-border communication was rare and online communication and social media were unheard of. In that pre-internet age, surveillance techniques were labour-intensive and time-consuming, which helped to constrain arbitrary and abusive practices. The law has to catch up. ...
It's time for governments to come clean about their practices, and not wait for the newest revelations. All should acknowledge a global obligation to protect everyone's privacy, clarify the limits on their own surveillance practices (including surveillance of people outside their own borders), and ensure they don't trade mass surveillance data to evade their own obligations. Of course it is important to protect security, but western allies should agree that mass, rather than narrowly targeted, surveillance is never a normal or proportionate measure in a democracy.
Cold War Kids: surveillance in Germany
A lesson in the abuse of information technology: when Edward Snowden started revealing the extent of NSA’s spying into not only US citizens private conversations, but also those of foreign individuals, government and entities, outrage fell over the world the way dominos fall all over each other, in a cascade, a cacophony of screams and gasps that were only as loud as the ignominy of the revelations themselves. Not everyone was equal in the face of seemingly impotent rage: Brazil was more vocal than a suspiciously quiet Sweden, and France tried hard to balance a diplomatic act that Germany – and more precisely, its press – thoroughly ignored. It’s become impossible to bypass the German rage, to simply take Angela Merkel’s reaction – or lack thereof – to face value. While the UK has remained more or less silent on GCHQ’s collusion, and Spain is trying to mend the broken pieces of its own intelligence shortcomings, Germany is boiling, culminating this week into an all-encompassing call to provide Edward Snowden with the political asylum he was once denied.
There are many reasons why Germany is seeing red, and one of them lies within our own lifetimes. If you are in the early thirties, you remember a time when Europe was divided by an iron curtain put in place by a paranoid and vindictive soviet empire. This paranoia was in part justified and in part an integral component to the regime it created in the DDR. It was 24 years ago, and for two whole generations, the system of surveillance implemented against Germans, both East and West, was intrusive, invasive, violating, violent, isolating, and extremely pervasive in its everyday implications: no one was immune, no trust could be built as part of the social contract, and everyone was preemptively considered a criminal. It permeated German society until nowhere and no one was safe. It created an unstable and flailing national psychology that the fall of the Wall could only begin to stabilize. And a short generation later, Germany wakes up, betrayed again, once again shackled to the whimsy of another nation’s interest, another pawn in the foreign relations chessboard on which national sovereignty is only to be invoked in the name of the war on terror. Once again, Germany loses its grasp on itself. ...
The Berlin Wall fell 24 years ago today. German citizens took their own freedom back from the state that protected its interests as opposed to those of its citizens. German citizens now seek independence from United States intelligence, shall they become, again, so soon, mere pawns on the national security chessboard. This is not security. This is abuse.
Intense Smog Is Making Beijing's Massive Surveillance Network Practically Useless
Beijing's surveillance network, one of the most extensive and invasive in the world, has been compromised by an unexpected foe: smog. The South China Morning Post reports that intense pollution in Beijing has reduced visibility to such an extent that "no surveillance camera can see through the thick layers of particles."
The problem is so serious that National Natural Science Foundation of China has commissioned two groups, one made up of civilians and the other military, to spend four years researching surveillance technology that can see through smog. A contingency solution? Radar. It might cause health problems, but it could penetrate smog particles that "are so many and so solid, they block light almost as effectively as a brick wall."
Seattle police department has network that can track all Wi-Fi enabled devicesChris Hedges:
The Seattle Police Department purchased a “mesh network” in February that will be used by emergency responders, but which will also be capable of tracking anyone with Wi-Fi enabled device.
The network is not yet turned on, according to Seattle Police, but once it is, it will be able to determine the IP address, device type, downloaded applications, current location, and historical location of any device that searches for a Wi-Fi signal. The network is capable of storing that information for the previous 1,000 times a particular device attempted to access a Wi-Fi signal.
Jamela Debelak, of the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU), is worried that police will use the network for more than just coordinating emergency responders. “They now own a piece of equipment that has tracking capabilities so we think that they should be going to City Council and presenting a protocol for the whole network that says they won’t be using it for surveillance purposes,” she told KIRO 7.
The Revolutionaries in Our MidstMedea Benjamin's description of Obama's big-spending, drone-murder apologist, corporate whore, historical revisionist nominee to run DHS deserves the full force of our disapproval, derision and work against his appointment.
On Friday the 28-year-old activist will appear for sentencing in the Southern District Court of New York in Manhattan. After having made a plea agreement, he faces the possibility of a 10-year sentence for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, which does work for the Homeland Security Department, the Marine Corps, the Defense Intelligence Agency and numerous corporations including Dow Chemical and Raytheon. ...
Hammond turned the pilfered information over to the website WikiLeaks and Rolling Stone and other publications. The 3 million email exchanges, once made public, exposed the private security firm’s infiltration, monitoring and surveillance of protesters and dissidents, especially in the Occupy movement, on behalf of corporations and the national security state. And, perhaps most important, the information provided chilling evidence that anti-terrorism laws are being routinely used by the federal government to criminalize nonviolent, democratic dissent and falsely link dissidents to international terrorist organizations. Hammond sought no financial gain. ...
The email exchanges Hammond made public were entered as evidence in [the lawsuit Hedges v. Obama] over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). ... Alexa O’Brien, a content strategist and journalist who co-founded US Day of Rage, an organization created to reform the election process, was [a] co-plaintiff. Stratfor officials attempted, we know because of the Hammond leaks, to falsely link her and her organization to Islamic radicals and websites as well as to jihadist ideology, putting her at risk of detention under the new law. Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled, in part because of the leak, that we plaintiffs had a credible fear, and she nullified the law, a decision that an appellate court overturned when the Obama administration appealed it.
Freedom of the press and legal protection for those who expose government abuses and lies have been obliterated by the corporate state. The resulting self-exile of investigative journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras, along with the indictment of Barret Brown, illustrate this. All acts of resistance—including nonviolent protest—have been conflated by the corporate state with terrorism. The mainstream, commercial press has been emasculated through the Obama administration’s repeated use of the Espionage Act to charge and sentence traditional whistle-blowers.
And if you're around
Gomorrah DC tonight... It's movie night at Jeh Johnson's place:
When: Monday, November 11, 7:00pm
Where: 2701 O ST NW, Washington DC
President Obama has nominated drone lawyer Jeh Johnson to head the Department of Homeland Security, and we say no way! Join us at a movie screening at his house featuring victims of the drone strikes Jeh Johnson provided legal authorization for. Bring a blanket!
Will Jeh Johnson Make the Homeland More Secure?
Jeh Johnson, President Obama’s pick to replace outgoing Secretary Janet Napolitano as head of the Department of Homeland Security, will appear before the Senate Homeland Security Committee this week for his confirmation hearing. Johnson is an obscure figure to the general public, but his likely confirmation does not bode well for human rights, or your civil liberties. Johnson is civil and criminal trial lawyer who made millions defending corporations such as Citigroup and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. His government positions included a stint as New York assistant US attorney and general counsel for the Pentagon from 2009 to 2012, during President Obama’s first term. ...
One reason for Johnson’s unexpected nomination might well have to do with money. He was a heavy-weight fundraiser for Obama, raising more than $200,000 during Obama’s first campaign for office, according to USA Today reported in 2009. During the 2008 race, Obama's campaign website listed Johnson as a member of his national finance committee. Federal records show that Johnson has personally contributed over $100,000 to Democratic groups and candidates, including influential senators such as Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and James Clyburn. ...
Johnson might also be receiving a kick upstairs for having been an unapologetic supporter and enabler of President Obama’s policy of drone warfare. His tenure at the Defense Department was marked by a dramatic increase in US drone strikes by both the military and the CIA. Johnson himself was personally responsible for providing the legal rationale for the military’s involvement in the drone program, and those legal memos remain hidden from the public and most of the Congress. ...
To the great dismay of civil rights advocates, Johnson also argued that U.S. citizens could be targeted in strikes. "Belligerents who also happen to be U.S. citizens do not enjoy immunity where noncitizen belligerents are valid military objectives," he said in a speech at Yale Law School. Johnson put his legal rationale into practice by authorizing the execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and Al-Qaeda supporter who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. Johnson's support of drone warfare could bolster the Department of Homeland Security's effort to beef up its fleet of domestic drones, including Predator drones, with "nonlethal weapons."
At a 2011 Pentagon commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr., Johnson made the controversial statement that King would have supported the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack,” he claimed. This is the same Dr. King who called the US was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, the same Dr. King who said that a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
Libyan separatists take over oil exports as PM warns of foreign intervention
A separatist Libyan region has announced an establishment of an independent oil company after taking over several commercial sea ports. As Tripoli struggles to regain control, the PM has warned of foreign intervention unless central govt rule is restored.
On Monday, protesters told staff at Mellitah port, in Libya's north, to cease gas exports to Italy as parliament and government had not given in to demands for wider political rights. ...
In the latest display of lawlessness since colonel Gaddafi‘s assassination and foreign invasion, an autonomy movement has seized several ports and plans to sell crude oil, as Tripoli is trying to regain the facility.
In the eastern Cyrenaica region, militias and local tribal leaders are trying to create a loose federal system of government, sharing power with Fezzan, the south western region of Libya.
The prime minister of the self-proclaimed Cyrenaica government made a live announcement on nationwide television claiming that an oil firm has been set up in Tobruk next to the Hariga port where the locals on Friday refused to allow a government-chartered tanker to load 600,000 barrels of oil bound for Italy. ...
The creation of a separatist oil firm that will be responsible for oil exports was undertaken alongside a plan to set up an eastern central bank as a mix of militias and tribes seek more autonomy.
For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man
Today in Texas, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime's only eyewitness that Morton wasn't the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson's career flourished, and he eventually became a judge.
In today's deal, Anderson pled to criminal contempt, and will have to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend 10 days in jail. Anderson had already resigned in September from his position on the Texas bench.
What makes today's plea newsworthy is not that Anderson engaged in misconduct that sent an innocent man to prison. Indeed, while most prosecutors and police officers are ethical and take their constitutional obligations seriously, government misconduct--including disclosure breaches known as Brady violations--occurs so frequently that it has become one of the chief causes of wrongful conviction.
What's newsworthy and novel about today's plea is that a prosecutor was actually punished in a meaningful way for his transgressions.
In the U.S. 49.7 Million Are Now Poor, and 80% of the Total Population Is Near Poverty
If you live in the United States, there is a good chance that you are now living in poverty or near poverty. Nearly 50 million Americans, (49.7 Million), are living below the poverty line, with 80% of the entire U.S. population living near poverty or below it.
That near poverty statistic is perhaps more startling than the 50 million Americans below the poverty line, because it translates to a full 80% of the population struggling with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on government assistance to help make ends meet.
In September, the Associated Press pointed to survey data that told of an increasingly widening gap between rich and poor, as well as the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs that used to provide opportunities for the “Working Class” to explain an increasing trend towards poverty in the U.S.
But the numbers of those below the poverty line does not merely reflect the number of jobless Americans. Instead, according to a revised census measure released Wednesday, the number – 3 million higher than what the official government numbers imagine – are also due to out-of-pocket medical costs and work-related expenses.
Anti-LGBT groups acquire enough signatures to repeal California law protecting transgender students
Opponents of a controversial new California law that protects the rights of transgender students appear to have acquired the 500,000 signatures required to have an initiative to repeal it placed on the ballot. ...
Groups like the Faith and Public Policy Center and the Pacific Justice Institute insist that the law allows any male who claims to be transgender to have full access to female facilities, and that this has led to a string of incidents that include everything from harassment to rape.
No such incidents have been found in either school records or police reports.
Unless Social Security Is Expanded with Increased Funding, We Face An Unprecedented Crisis of Millions of Baby Boomers In Poverty
A majority of Americans, especially women and people of color, will spend their final years living in poverty in coming decades unless Social Security is improved and expanded—not cut back as Republicans and President Obama seek—and there are many fair ways to accomplish that, experts told a congressional briefing last week. ...
“There is a retirement income crisis. It’s huge. Two-thirds of working Americans cannot maintain their standard of living in retirement—and that assumes they work until 65,” said Syracuse University’s Eric Kingson, co-director of Social Security Works, which convened the day-long session with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. “Somewhere in the discussion about Social Security we forget that its purpose is to assist the American people… The end is the kind of society we want; the kind of support we want.” ...
“We’ve seen substantial reduction in benefits,” said Dean Baker, an economist and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, describing how benefits have been parred back since Congress' last major revision of the law in 1983. “They come to a reduction of about 25 percent from what they were back in 1983. The idea that we have not seen a big hit to benefits is flat-out wrong.”
Baker described four ways Congress has chipped away at Social Security benefits, now averaging $1,261 a month for an individual before taxes and other expenses, such as Medicare premiums. Congress has delayed cost-of-living increases. It set those increases below the real inflation rate. It raised income taxes on Social Security and raised the age when full retirement benefits can start. ...
What was especially striking about last Tuesday’s Social Seurity briefing is that the solutions are well known by anyone who’s taken a fair-minded look at the problem. Every advocacy group present passed out reports with variations on these same remedies, a mix of progressive tax increases implemented over time, and a focused and compassionate expansion of benefits based on specific age-group and income-based needs.
Greek coalition survives no-confidence vote
Leader of leftwing opposition Syriza party accuses government of being under foreign control
Greece's conservative-socialist coalition government has survived a no-confidence motion, following a heated three-day parliamentary debate.
The motion, tabled by the radical leftwing opposition Syriza party, fell well short of the 151 votes needed to pass, with 124 lawmakers voting in favour and 153 against.
"Thousands of people are looking in the rubbish for food," the Syriza leader, Alexis Tsipras, said, as the motion was debated in parliament.
Syriza was supported by the Communist party, the rightwing populist Independent Greeks and the extreme right Golden Dawn. Democratic Left, a coalition partner for a year until June, voted "present". One socialist lawmaker voted in favour of the motion and was promptly expelled from her party's parliamentary group.
Although the motion of no confidence had limited chances of passing, Syriza used the debate to lambast the government over its policies, claiming it was taxing the poor to protect the rich.
US, Israel Lose UNESCO Voting Rights
The United States and Israel lost voting rights at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Friday after missing a deadline to repay dues the countries had accumulated since Palestine became a member to the world body.
In 2011, the U.S. and Israel cut off tens of millions of dollars in annual contributions after the Paris-based body admitted Palestine as a member. Palestine's admission to UNESCO was referred to as "tragic" by Israel and "regrettable" by the U.S.. ...
"The decision to withhold the dues was in the interest of the foreign policy 1 percent—Israel and its most hard-line supporters in the U.S.–not in the interest of the rest of us," wrote Middle East analyst Phyllis Bennis in the wake of the 2011 move. "There has rarely been a clearer example of domestic politics—in this case influence of the pro-Israel lobbies—undermining national interests," Bennis continued.
Family of Malcolm X sues to prevent publication of diary
The family of Malcolm X has launched a lawsuit to stop the publication of a diary of the late civil-rights leader's last year.
The Diary of Malcolm X, a reproduction of a private diary kept as he travelled to the Middle East and Africa immediately before his assassination, is due to be published this week ... [Co-editor, journalist Herb] Boyd said the diary took in the activist's trips to the Middle East and Africa. According to the company's website, the diary "described the deep emotional connections [Malcolm X] developed during a period that was constantly colored by his prophetic sense of impending tragedy". Text on the website also says that the writings, which set out a "unique action plan for African Americans", were recently recovered from the memorabilia maintained by the family.
The journals are part of a trove of papers that were loaned to the New York Public Library by Malcolm X's daughters in 2003.
The Evening Greens
'Climate Crisis Madness': Philippines Demand Action at UN Climate Talks in Warsaw
'Can humanity rise to this occasion?' asks lead negotiator from nation struggling in aftermath of deadly, record-setting typhoon
At the opening plenary of the latest round of UN Climate Talks in Warsaw this afternoon, Naderev “Yeb” Sano, the lead negotiator from the Philippines, made a powerful and emotional appeal to his fellow nations to take bold action to address the climate crisis in the wake of the devastation caused Super Typhoon Haiyan. ...
“The science has given us a picture that has become much more in focus,” he said. “The IPCC report on climate change and extreme events underscored the risks associated with changes in the patterns as well as frequency of extreme weather events. Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm.” ...
Addressing a representative from the Polish government, who acts as President for the Conference of the Parties, or COP19, as the negotiations are known, Sabo said, “In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”
Sano concluded, “Let Poland, let Warsaw, be remembered as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness. Can humanity rise to this occasion?
Internal Docs Expose Oil Industry 'Profit over Planet' Mentality
Internal documents exposed publicly Friday have pulled back the curtain on the Canadian oil industry's war against carbon-curbing regulations in a bid to protect its profit margin over the planet.
Emails between the Canadian federal government and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP)—released through provincial freedom of information laws and publicly posted by Greenpeace Canada researcher Keith Stewart—reveal that last spring the oil industry successfully delayed a proposed carbon tax increase of $40 per ton in the province of Alberta by lobbying the Canadian federal government.
“The industry in these documents is clearly saying delay, delay, delay and then do as little as possible,” Stewart said Friday in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “And the federal government seems to be taking that as marching orders.”
In the exposed emails, CAPP officials vigorously oppose "costly new burdens on the industry and the economy." Numbered among their concerns is that the profit margin of the tar sands industry could be harmed.
Train carrying crude oil derails, cars ablaze in Alabama
A 90-car train carrying North Dakota crude derailed and exploded in a rural area of western Alabama early on Friday, leaving 11 cars burning and potentially bolstering the push for tougher regulation of a boom in moving oil by rail.
Twenty of the train's cars derailed and a number were still on fire on Friday afternoon, local officials said. Those cars, which threw flames 300 feet into the night sky, are being left to burn out, which could take up to 24 hours, according to the train owner, Genesee & Wyoming. No injuries were reported.
A local official said the crude oil had originated in North Dakota, home of the booming Bakken shale patch. If so, it may have been carrying the same type of light crude oil that was on a Canadian train that derailed in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic this summer, killing 47 people.
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
Debbie Davies - Done Sold Everything
Debbie Davies - I Wonder Why
Debbie Davies - Down At the Honky Shack
Debbie Davies, Tab Benoit & Kenny Neal - Deal With It
Debbie Davies - Okie Dokie Stomp
Debbie Davies - Blue and Lonesome
Debbie Davies - Percolatin'
Debbie Davies - Wrong Man For Me
Debbie Davies/Peter Green - Nature's Disappearing
Debbie Davies - My Time After Awhile
Debbie Davies - If You Love Me Like You Say
Debbie Davies - Half Caf-Decaf
Debbie Davies - Just Stepped In The Blues
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!