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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 New Orleans blues guitarist Guitar Slim.  Enjoy!

Guitar Slim - The Things That I Used to Do

flog a banker

News and Opinion

Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev

DESVARIEUX: Okay. And can you describe who currently is in power right now in this transitional government? Is this more of the old old guard?

MONROE: Yes, it is. If you look at the original setup of the 2004 Orange Revolution, Tymoshenko, Yushchenko, and a variety of different power players and oligarchs which took over the power after this quote-unquote revolution, the same people are back in power. Although Tymoshenko's currently scheduled to run for president for next month's election, Mr. Turchynov has been a very close associate to her. There were a lot of allegations when he was one of the management people at Kryvorizhstal, which originally resulted in very criminal charges against Tymoshenko people, including one of them, Pavlo Lazarenko, that was arrested, actually, for fraud and is serving time here in the U.S., there are a lot of different unfinished--there's a lot of different things that point to a lot of unfinished business from that time. And you look at  Yatsenyuk, which basically is another person that goes back to the past that also served in Tymoshenko's government, and by his own recollection, even admission, he got very wealthy during the period. He basically is a millionaire. So you have this basically--a very continued presence of people who were compromised when they were running the country, and now they're--the same people are back in power.

And one thing I also would like to mention, which is not strongly emphasized enough, I think, in the media, the Maidan Square that started it still exists. The people are still protesting. And one of the major slogans that they had is that people who are right now in Kiev under the provisional government do not represent them. These are the people who really should not be in power, and they consider this revolution an unfinished business. That's why they're staying put.

Ukraine crisis: pro-Russian forces seize military combat vehicles - Guardian liveblog


• The hastily expanded Ukrainian military presence in the east, billed by Kiev as an "anti-terrorist operation," produced multiple standoffs with locals and opposition forces, but there have been no reports of casualties or of shots fired Wednesday.

• In multiple cases, Ukrainian troops appear to have surrendered to unarmed locals. “What were we supposed to do? Shoot peaceful protestors?” one soldier told the Guardian.

• Pro-Russian militia members seized Ukrainian combat vehicles and detained Ukrainian troops Wednesday, parading the vehicles through the eastern city of Samyansk, with some flying Russian flags.

• Dozens of Ukrainian troops were later loaded onto buses in Samyansk for a return trip to their base, reportedly in Dnepropetrovsk. Russian media reported that some of the troops defected to the pro-Russian side, but that could not be confirmed.

• A confrontation was ongoing between Ukrainian military members on personnel carriers and a crowd of locals south of Kramatorsk, in Pchyolkino.

• Armed militia members took over a city council building in the city of Donetsk and leaders of the so-calle "People's Donetsk Republic" held a news conference. Donetsk was also the scene Wednesday of an emergency meeting of the Party of Regions to support Ukrainian unity.

• Acting Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of orchestrating the unrest. "Russia has got a new export now, apart from oil and gas: Russia is now exporting terrorism to Ukraine," Yatsenyuk was quoted as telling a cabinet meeting.

• All sides prepared for a major four-way meeting Thursday in Geneva to seek an end to the crisis. The meeting is to include envoys from Ukraine, Russia, the EU and the US.

• Nato on Wednesday announced "further military measures to enhance our collective defense," including more surveillance sorties over the Baltic region and the deployment of ships "to the Baltic sea, the eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere."

Ukrainian troops 'demoralised' as civilians face down anti-terror drive

The situation has been repeated several times now across east Ukraine following Kiev's announcement of its anti-terrorist operation at the weekend: Ukrainian troops and their hardware are blocked by angry residents, who stop them in their tracks and convince them to turn round or even withdraw.

On Wednesday, pro-Russian militia captured six Ukrainian infantry fighting vehicles and, allegedly, 60 soldiers in Kramatorsk, driving them to nearby Slavyansk with a Russian flag flying.

The moment was a symbolic victory for pro-Russian forces in a conflict so far confined to isolated shootouts. Two people have been confirmed dead.

But defence experts in Kiev warned not to rule out the Ukraine government's "anti-terrorist" campaign, as the elite special forces designated to lead the operation had yet to see significant action. The troops most likely had orders not to attack civilians, they said.

The seizure of the six fighting vehicles was a huge black eye for Kiev, especially after some of the Ukrainian troops reportedly defected to the pro-Russian side.The acting defence minister, Mykhailo Koval, was on Wednesday on his way to east Ukraine.

Ukraine crisis: Nato to bolster forces in eastern Europe

Nato has announced it has decided on a series of immediate steps to bolster its forces in eastern European as pro-Russian militia rolled into towns across eastern Ukraine in armoured vehicles. ...

The announcement comes hours after pro-Russian separatists seized five armoured personnel carriers and a tank from the Ukrainian army, which they then drove in a victory lap through the centre of Kramatorsk in Ukraine's east and onto the nearby town of Slavyansk.

About 100 heavily armed men, some in balaclavas and wearing military fatigues, rode on top of the seized armoured vehicles, the first of which was flying a Russian tricolour. Several hundred locals gathered around the convoy, cheering, tooting their car horns and waving in support as it rolled past Kramatorsk's railway station, not far from the airfield where Ukrainian soldiers clashed with separatists on Tuesday.

Ukrainian military helicopters hovered above the dramatic scenes but there seemed to be no attempt by government forces to try to wrest back control of the situation.The seized armoured personnel carriers were driven to Slavyansk, where a Russian flag had been raised above a checkpoint at the city entrance. A jet plane resembling a Su-27 circled low over the town's square. ...

Pro-Russian protesters seeking independence from Kiev have occupied at least nine government buildings in the region for more than a week – but this is the first time that separatist forces deep inside Ukraine have managed to seize heavy military equipment and a further sign that the situation in the east is slipping out of Kiev's grip.

Bread not bullets: Ukraine’s locals and soldiers against war

As we saw the crowds gathering round the Ukrainian armoured personnel carriers parked near the railway tracks in Kramatorsk we thought we might encounter a hostile crowd.

But in fact the atmosphere was peaceful. “We don’t want war” said a man called Ruslan who spoke English. “That’s why we don’t want them to come into the town.” ...

Another four APCs roared up, one flying the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag. They too, were blocked by the growing crowd of people.

Some people were keen to explain to me that they were all Ukrainians, soldiers and civilians alike, they did not want to be in conflict.

Eventually the soldiers took the magazines from their weapons. Everybody cheered and clapped. ...

The Ukrainian government may want to force the separatist armed men out of buildings they have occupied in towns across eastern Ukraine, but their soldiers are very reluctant.

“I don’t want to shoot anyone,” one said to me. “Actually I was against this mission.”

Switching Sides: Ukrainian armored unit joins anti-govt protesters in east

Separatists fly Russian flag over Ukrainian armored vehicles

Pro-Russian separatists hoisted the Russian flag on Ukrainian army armored vehicles in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, mocking the pro-Western Kiev government's attempt to reassert control on the eve of crucial talks in Geneva on the country's future. ...

A soldier guarding one of six troop carriers now under the control of the rebels told Reuters he was a member of Ukraine's 25th paratrooper division from Dnipropetrovsk.

"All the soldiers and the officers are here. We are all boys who won't shoot our own people," he said, adding that his men had had no food for four days until local residents fed them.

A spokesman for the separatists and a witness in Kramatorsk said the Ukrainian troops had given up their vehicles to the rebels after talks.

German television report indicates Ukrainian opposition responsible for lethal shootings

Seven weeks after the right-wing coup in Ukraine, evidence is mounting that the Western-backed opposition at the time was responsible for the lethal shootings in Independence Square on February 20. This was suggested by a report on the German public television programme “Monitor” last Thursday evening, and which is available online (in German).

“According to research it appears unlikely that the shots on demonstrators came exclusively from the side of the old regime,” stated a press release made available prior to the program. In its report, “Monitor” raised the question, “Did radical oppositionists end up shooting in order to produce chaos and place the blame on Yanukovitch?” The presented videos, interviews and sound recordings suggest precisely this!

“Monitor” presented an extract of radio traffic from alleged sharp-shooters of the Yanukovitch regime, who were positioned on various rooftops in the centre of Kiev on February 20. The discussion was picked up by a Ukrainian radio amateur. One of the snipers can be heard asking his colleagues, “Hey guys, they are over there, on the right of the hotel Ukrayina. Who is shooting? Our people don’t shoot at unarmed civilians.” Then he calls, “Guys, there is a sniper who is aiming at me. Who is he aiming at from the corner? Look out.” A short time later someone else says, “Someone shot him. But not us. Are there more snipers over there? And who are they?”

On other videos, activists who marched along Institutska Street on February 20, can be seen being shot not only from the front, that is, from the direction of government buildings, but also from behind. Nikola, an eyewitness who is visible on several videos, confirmed, “Yes, on the 20th [February] we were shot from behind, from the Hotel Ukrayina, from the eighth or ninth floor. People were standing up there and shooting at us and we were also shot from the other direction.”

On the day of the shootings, the Hotel Ukrayina was firmly under the control of the opposition and was heavily guarded.

Is Putin Being Lured Into a Trap?

Russia is not responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. The US State Department engineered the fascist-backed coup that toppled Ukraine’s democratically-elected president Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with the American puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former banker. Hacked phone calls reveal the critical role that Washington played in orchestrating the putsch and selecting the coup’s leaders. Moscow was not involved in any of these activities. ...

Putin’s main interest in Ukraine is commercial. 66 percent of the natural gas that Russia exports to the EU transits Ukraine. The money that Russia makes from gas sales helps to strengthen the Russian economy and raise standards of living. It also helps to make Russian oligarchs richer, the same as it does in the West. ... The overriding goal of US policy in Ukraine is to stop the further economic integration of Asia and Europe. That’s what the fracas is really all about. The United States wants to control the flow of energy from East to West, it wants to establish a de facto tollbooth between the continents, it wants to ensure that those deals are transacted in US dollars and recycled into US Treasuries, and it wants to situate itself between the two most prosperous markets of the next century. ...

Putin has agreed to a meeting this week with foreign Ministers from The United States, the European Union, and Ukraine. This is another mistake. Originally, Putin refused to acknowledge the coup-government as legitimate. Now he’s changed his mind. Now he’s agreed to meet with their representatives. This is a victory for Washington and a defeat for Russia. The Obama team will see this as a sign of weakness, which it is. ...

There’s no sense talking to people who don’t want peace. It just makes them look like they are being sincere, when they’re not. Obama and Co. don’t want peace. They want regime change. They want to weaken and dismember Russia. They want to reduce Moscow’s influence over energy-dependent states in Europe by disrupting the flow of gas through Ukraine. And they want to create a justification for carrying out their imperial agenda, which means they need to make Putin look like a dangerous aggressor. The coup government’s crackdown on ethnic Russians in Donetsk and Kharkiv could lead to a Russian intervention which would provide the justification that Washington is looking for. However painful it is for Putin to watch Russian speaking Ukrainians get beaten and perhaps killed by Nazi thugs and foreign mercenaries dressed up as Ukrainian Security Forces, he should avoid sending in the troops. It’s a trap.

EU Sanctions Push Stalls Over Russia Not Invading Ukraine

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius promised a new round of European Union sanctions against Russia as soon as next week. That’s not going to happen, by all accounts.

Any EU sanctions have to be unanimous among the member nations, and the already existing divisions over the push for sanctions are only growing as predictions of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine haven’t panned out.

“If Russia doesn’t cross the red line of direct military intervention, then I don’t expect the EU to cross the red line of economic sanctions,” admitted former EU official Stefan Lehne.

McCain mocks EU's Russia sanctions

Sen. John McCain of Arizona has dismissed the European Union's sanctions on Russia following the crisis in Ukraine as "almost a joke" during a tour of the Baltic countries.

Speaking in Estonia on Tuesday, McCain said the EU's sanctions against a handful of Russian individuals and one financial institution were "minimal."

Escobar on China/Russia 'Deal of the decade' & Europe's secret US deal blues

Russia mulls lawsuit against United States in WTO over sanctions

Russia is looking at the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the United States in the World Trade Organisation over sanctions hitting Russian banks, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said on Wednesday, according to Russian news agencies. ...

"The WTO gives us some additional possibilities," Ulyukayev was quoted by Interfax as saying on Wednesday. "We at the WTO council in Geneva talked about the possibility of filing lawsuits against the U.S. over the sanctions against Russian banks and we hope to use the mechanism of the WTO to keep our partners in check regarding this issue."

The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution

What Venezuelan ‘Regime Change’ Could Mean

For 15 years, the economic keystone of Latin America’s growing independence from U.S. domination has been energy-rich Venezuela’s willingness to provide discounted oil to many of its neighbors, a project now at risk amid violent opposition protests at home and threats of destabilizing sanctions from Washington.

The preferential financial terms for oil was the brainchild of Venezuela’s late leader Hugo Chavez who understood that the only way that he could counter America’s economic might was to use his nation’s petroleum to stabilize the fragile economies of Caribbean and Latin American countries, including longtime U.S. target, Cuba. ...

Though the prospect of Maduro’s ouster and a possible cascade of other “regime changes” may be appealing to Washington’s neocons and other hawkish policymakers, the impact on Latin America could be grim, a regression from the democratic gains and economic stability that the region has experienced the past two decades. ...

Despite the war of words with Washington and the clashes in the streets, the reality is that Venezuela is not a dictatorship, even if Maduro has taken an increasingly authoritative bent in an effort to reassert his power. Chavismo has won every electoral contest over the last 15 years and the fairness of the voting process has won praise from international observers.

Yet, if Maduro is unable to control the violence – or if he cracks down too hard and is hit with U.S. sanctions – he could easily fall prey to the kind of coup that has ousted elected governments in Ukraine and Egypt, “regime changes” that drew strong support from Official Washington’s still-influential neocons and State Department hardliners.

New York Drops Police Unit that Spied on Muslims, But Will it End Broader Profiling & Surveillance?

Clemency Denied: General Upholds Manning's 35-Year Sentence

A general has approved the 35-year prison sentence a military judge handed down to Chelsea Manning for releasing a trove of government and military documents to WikiLeaks, the U.S. Army said Monday.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan's approval of a judge's sentence and findings "means that no clemency was granted in the case," according to a media statement released by the Army.

Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, convicted Manning of 20 charges including espionage in July, and issued the 35-year sentence in August.

Buchanan's decision means the whistleblower's case now automatically heads to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

According to reporting by Kevin Gosztola,

Manning’s appeal will focus on the misuse of the Espionage Act, over-classification, selective prosecution of leaks by the government, “unlawful pretrial punishment” and speedy trial rights violations in the case.
That process, Gosztola continues,
could take over a decade, as the case goes through two appellate courts, potentially the Supreme Court and then maybe to another court as a habeas case.
Guantánamo judge adjourns hearings again over FBI spying claims

The judge overseeing the prosecution of five 9/11 terror suspects suspended preliminary hearings on Tuesday to allow the defense teams time to establish whether any of their past or current members had been secretly contacted by US law enforcement agencies.

Army Colonel James Pohl adjourned the troubled hearings until late Wednesday afternoon, a derailment caused by Monday’s revelation that the FBI attempted to get a classification specialist on co-defendant Ramzi bin al-Shibh’s defense team to become an informant.

Pohl also instructed the defense teams to tell him on Wednesday who else, if anyone, they believe the judge needs to hear from in the case – a potential prelude to the judge questioning the FBI directly.

Rather than considering the scheduled question of Bin al-Shibh’s mental competence to be tried, the wartime court – already repeatedly snarled in attempting to bring justice for the 9/11 attacks – is now preoccupied with the unexpected intrusion by the FBI into its proceedings.

Pohl rejected the prosecution’s request that the pre-trial hearings proceed as scheduled, thereby pre-empting the planned testimony of the commander of Guantánamo’s most secretive detention camp.

Was Kansas Shooting Avoidable? White Supremacist Was Ex-Informant With Criminal Past & Hateful Views

Can White People Be Terrorists?

A former leader of the Ku Klux Klan who founded his own militant racist group was arrested for shooting and killing three people at two Kansas City-area Jewish community centers on April 13. When he founded the White Patriot Party in 1980, Frazier Glenn Miller said its goal was "the creation of an all-white nation within the 1 million square miles of mother Dixie"

In 1986, Miller declared "total war" on Jews, blacks and the federal government. He served three years in prison on weapons charges and for running a paramilitary organization in violation of a court order. He shouted "Heil Hitler" after being taken into custody after the Kansas City attacks.

But media are reluctant to label the shootings Miller is charged with as acts of terrorism, or even to raise the issue.

According to a search of the Nexis database, the word "terrorism" does not appear to have been used in connection with the Kansas shootings in the New York Times or the Washington Post. On much of the network news coverage, the killings were mostly discussed as hate crimes. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams (4/14/14) called it "a terrible outburst of violence."

It would be difficult to see how the crimes Miller is accused of committing would not meet the conventional legal standard (FBI,gov, "Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code"). But calling something an act of terrorism is not just a legal or law enforcement matter; it is also a political determination.

NM High court: State must recognize Fort Sill Apaches

The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the state on Monday to recognize the Fort Sill Apache tribe, which had been forced from its ancestral home in the state in 1886.

The high court issued its unanimous ruling with just 15 minutes of deliberation after hearing arguments from lawyers representing the tribe and Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration.

Tribal Chairman Jeff Haozous cheered the court decision as a rare victory for his tribe in its historically acrimonious relationship with government.

“In a way, it’s a turning point from being opposed by state governments to being allowed to return,” he said. ...

Jeremiah Ritchie, the lawyer representing the Governor’s Office, argued that the Fort Sill Apache tribe has neither the population nor infrastructure in New Mexico to be recognized by the state.

“That is a cruel irony of a fact, given that they were forcibly removed from their tribal land,” said Chuck Peifer, the lawyer representing the Fort Sill Apache tribe. ...

The Fort Sill Apache tribe numbers 712 members. About 47 percent of them reside in Oklahoma. After being forced out of New Mexico, Fort Sill Apaches were imprisoned at Army posts in Florida and Alabama before the federal government moved its tribal base to Oklahoma in 1894. The tribe’s best known member, the warrior Geronimo, was among those exiled from the Southwest. He is buried in Oklahoma.

Before they were forced from New Mexico, the Fort Sill Apaches were known as the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apaches. Their home was in northern Mexico and what now is New Mexico and Arizona.

Michigan, White House discuss federal money for bankrupt Detroit

Michigan officials and President Barack Obama's Administration are discussing a plan to free up $100 million in federal money to aid Detroit's retired city workers, the Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday.

Citing two people familiar with the talks, the newspaper said the talks were centered around federal money flowing to Michigan for blight removal. Under the plan, $100 million would be earmarked for Detroit, reducing the $500 million the city's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, plans to use to eliminate blight over the next 10 years.

The $100 million saved could then be used by Orr to ease pension cuts for retirees under the city's plan to adjust its $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, according to the report.

CEO Pay Soars, Workers Toil in Capitalism's New Gilded Age

paywatch2Here's the first number to know: 331.

That, according to a new report, is the number of times more the average CEO in the United States made in 2013 compared to the average worker.

Here's the second number: 774.

That's the number of times more those same CEOs—some of the wealthiest individuals on the planet—made compared to the nation's minimum wage workers.

These two numbers are central to the AFL-CIO's latest 'Executive Paywatch' report, released Wednesday, which shows the astronomical disparity between the annual pay of the nation's top executives—which continue to rise year after year—and the stagnant wages that middle class and the working poor continue to suffer.

On average, according to the report, U.S. CEOs earned $11.7 million in 2013 while the U.S. worker earned $35,293. That means CEOs were paid 331 times that of the average worker.

"Many of the CEOs highlighted in PayWatch head companies, like Walmart, that are notorious for paying low wages," said the AFL-CIO in a statement. "In 2013, CEOs made 774 times more than those who work for minimum wage. And while many of these companies argue that they can’t afford to raise wages, the nation’s largest companies are earning higher profits per employee than they did five years ago. In 2013, the S&P 500 Index companies earned $41,249 in profits per employee, a 38% increase."

Lewis Black on Politics and Social Issues

The Evening Greens

IPCC report summary censored by governments around the world

A major climate report presented to the world was censored by the very governments who requested it, frustrating and angering some of its lead authors.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Sunday released the "summary for policymakers" in Berlin, intended to be a palatable synopsis of the technical conclusions of more than 200 experts on how to stop runaway global warming – and what that would cost.

However entire paragraphs, plus graphs showing where carbon emissions have been increasing the fastest, were deleted from the summary during a week’s debate prior to its release. Other sections had their meaning and purpose significantly diluted. They were victims of a bruising skirmish between governments in the developed and developing world over who should shoulder the blame for, and the responsibility for fixing, climate change. ...

The IPCC Working Group III report found that, in order to keep temperature change below two degrees, the world will have to quickly switch over to an energy supply dominated by renewables such as wind and solar power, with carbon-capture technology mopping up the remaining fossil fuel use.

However several authors said that teams of negotiators sent in by governments had refused to accept controversial parts of the report for inclusion in the summary of policymakers. Their work only survives in the full, technical report, which will be read by far fewer people, and was not released to the media on Sunday.

Canada becoming launch-pad of a global tar sands and oil shale frenzy

If you can be sure of one thing, it’s that oil companies didn’t get the United Nations’ latest memo on climate change: the world must urgently switch to clean, renewable energy. ... [A]s conventional oil reserves have dwindled, oil companies have done the opposite of embracing this shift: they’ve doubled-down on their business model by seeking out remote, more polluting fossil fuels, in harder-to-extract places.

Places like Alberta’s tar sands, a source of oil so dirty that renown ex-NASA climatologist James Hansen has described it as a “carbon bomb” whose full exploitation would spell “game over” for the climate. But if that worries scientists, it hasn’t made oil companies flinch. With little fanfare, Alberta’s extraction zone has become an inspiration and launch-pad for these companies’ ambitions – a world-wide expansion not only of the tar sands but also of oil shale, an even dirtier form of crude oil. ...

Oil shale exploitation, it turns out, is hugely indebted to Alberta. It’s where one of its most common extraction methods was invented and first used for tar sands. And as prices for oil have remained high, making oil shale as well as tar sands profitable to extract, companies from around the world have flocked to Alberta to learn and hone their techniques.

Middle eastern companies want to be “close to a champion." Estonians have tested new extraction technology. Chinese investors, who have bought huge ownership stakes in Alberta tar sands projects, don’t only want to take crude home – they want to take know-how to apply to their own oil shale.

And then there’s Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, which contain most of the world’s oil shale and huge deposits of tar sands – more than a trillion recoverable barrels, according to some estimates. To put that in perspective, Canada’s oil deposits hold about 200 billion recoverable barrels, Saudi Arabia’s 260. US government officials overseeing plans for this deposit, which has no comparison in the world, describe Alberta as their “template.”

What exactly is that template? It’s not simply about dumping enough carbon into the atmosphere to fry the planet, though that is one of its least pleasant features. It’s also about hollowing out your country’s manufacturing industry, hitching your public finances to a disastrous boom-and-bust resource cycle, poisoning downstream indigenous communities, and fostering an increasingly authoritarian government that is willing to dismantle any regulation in the way of the oil barons while treating dissent like criminal behaviour.

Killing Nature’s Defenders: Study Finds Global Surge in Murders of Environmental Activists

Radioactive Waste Booms With Fracking as New Rules Mulled

Oilfields are spinning off thousands of tons of low-level radioactive trash as the U.S. drilling boom leads to a surge in illegal dumping and states debate how much landfills can safely take.

State regulators are caught between environmental and public health groups demanding more regulation and the industry, which says it’s already taking proper precautions. As scientists debate the impact of small amounts of radiation on cancer risks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there’s not enough evidence to say what level is safe.

Left to police the waste, state governments are increasing their scrutiny of well operators. Pennsylvania and West Virginia are revising limits for acceptable radiation levels and strengthening disposal rules. North Dakota’s doing the same, after finding piles of garbage bags filled with radioactive debris in an abandoned building this year.

A Single Pot Plant Uses HOW Much Water?!

A rogue grower tending a plot on a California state park isn't worried about running afoul of state fish-and-wildlife authorities for illegally diverting a stream for irrigation. Instead, he's scrambling to avoid being busted on federal drug charges—and will thus grab any resource necessary to churn out a fast-and-plentiful pot harvest.

And with California's drought settling in for a long, hot summer, that's bad news for ecosystems that rely on the state's increasingly scarce surface waters—including the once-prolific northern California salmon run. A recent article in the Mendocino County Press Democrat shows just how dire things have gotten in the state's pot-farm-heavy "Emerald Triangle" (Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties).

The piece looks at a forthcoming study from the California Fish and Wildlife Department on three key Emerald Triangle watersheds. Using satellite imagery, the researchers found that pot cultivation had skyrocketed in the areas since 2009, rising between 75 percent and 100 percent. The three watersheds contain an average of 30,000 pot plants each, they found. (Here's a nifty map). And they're thirsty. According to the Press Democrat, "Researchers estimate each plant consumes 6 gallons of water a day. At that rate, the plants were siphoning off 180,000 gallons of water per day in each watershed—all together more than 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools over the average 150-day growing cycle for outdoor plants." ...

Already, the region's salmon tributaries are under severe pressure—as many as 24 went dry last year, the Press Democrat reports. And even without the drought, there just isn't enough water available to keep the pot crop humming and the salmon moving along, state Fish and Wildlife Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Bauer told the paper. ...

But since pot farming is illegal, growers have little incentive to act as land stewards. Indeed, they tend to sneak onto—and trash—state and federal parkland to plant their illicit crop. If pot farms were legal, growers could be held accountable for their environmental footprint. As one activist told Harkinson for his Mother Jones story, "It is not the growers who are a disease. They are just a symptom. The real disease is the failed drug war."

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus

Piketty in Washington: How to Reverse the Increasing Concentration of Wealth

Behind Closed Doors, the Pentagon Is Talking About America's 'War' in Africa

False Flags and Imperial Facades: Tales of 'Progressives' in Power

A Little Night Music

Guitar Slim - I'm Guitar Slim

Guitar Slim - Quicksand

Guitar Slim - Trouble Don't Last

Guitar Slim - Sufferin' Mind

Guitar Slim - You Give Me Nothing But The Blues

Guitar Slim - Story of My Life

Guitar Slim - Letter To My Girlfriend

Guitar Slim - It Hurts To Love Someone

Guitar Slim - Well, I Done Got Over It

Guitar Slim - Bad Luck Blues

Guitar Slim - Twenty-Five Lies

Guitar Slim - If I Had My Life To Live Over

Guitar Slim - Later For You 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!

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH and Canadian Kossacks.

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