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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 West Coast guitarist Pee Wee Crayton.  Enjoy!

Pee Wee Crayton - Blues After Hours

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

  -- Benjamin Franklin

News and Opinion

Unhappy anniversary; it's now a decade since the Abu Ghraib scandal breaking in the press. This article is an excellent observance of the events and what ought to be a follow on scandal - that President Obama has embraced the torturers and created a culture of impunity, while going on to preside over his own brand of torture, the despicable treatment of Chelsea Manning in prison awaiting trial and the forced feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo.

The Road From Abu Ghraib - A Torture Story Without a Hero or an Ending

abu ghraibIt’s mind-boggling. Torture is still up for grabs in America. No one questions anymore whether the CIA waterboarded one individual 83 times or another 186 times. The basic facts are no longer in dispute either by those who champion torture or those who, like myself, despise the very idea of it. No one questions whether some individuals died being tortured in American custody.  (They did.) No one questions that it was a national policy devised by those at the very highest levels of government. (It was.) But many, it seems, still believe that the torture policy, politely renamed in its heyday “the enhanced interrogation program,” was a good thing for the country.

Now, the nation awaits the newest chapter in the torture debate without having any idea whether it will close the book on American torture or open a path of pain and shame into the distant future. No one yet knows whether we will be allowed to awake from the nightmarish and unacceptable world of illegality and obfuscation into which torture and the network of offshore prisons, or “black sites,” plunged us all.

April 28th marks the tenth anniversary of the moment that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were made public in this country.  On that day a decade ago, the TV news magazine "60 Minutes II" broadcast the first photographs from that American-run prison in “liberated” Iraq. They showed U.S. military personnel humiliating, hurting, and abusing Iraqi prisoners in a myriad of perverse ways.  While American servicemen and women smiled and gave a thumbs up, naked men were threatened by dogs, or were hooded, forced into sexual positions, placed standing with wires attached to their bodies, or left bleeding on prison floors.

Thus began America’s public odyssey with torture, a story in many chapters and still missing an ending. As the Abu Ghraib anniversary nears and the White House, the CIA, and various senators still battle over the release of a summary of a 6,300-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Bush-era torture policies, it’s worth considering the strange journey we’ve taken and wondering just where we as a nation mired in the legacy of torture might be headed.

Abu Ghraib’s Ghosts

Ten years ago today, “60 Minutes II” broadcast infamous pictures of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison then controlled by the United States. The photographs were heartbreaking. Naked men stacked up on top of each other in human pyramids. Prisoners forcibly staged in humiliating positions to mimic sex acts. Bags placed over men’s heads, denying their humanity. The most memorable image — a hooded man standing on a box, contorted Crucifixion-like with wires protruding from his hands — remains an indelible reminder that a country that long abhorred torture practiced it after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Those pictures shattered my belief that well-established democracies do not torture. I am a survivor of torture who owes his release from the Argentine junta’s notorious Unit 9 prison in part to U.S. pressure in the 1970s. If U.S. citizens and certain members of Congress had not written letters to the Argentine government inquiring about my situation, I might have become one of the thousands of people “disappeared” by the Argentine military in its Dirty War against political activists like me. I owe my life to the solidarity those Americans showed and their principled opposition to the military’s machinery of death and torture.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government that stood up to my torturers has been compromised — by both the Bush administration, which adopted torture as policy, and the Obama administration, which has kept evidence of U.S. torture hidden for years. It also is being compromised by the Central Intelligence Agency itself.

This leaves an obvious question: How will the whole truth come out when the perpetrators are the ones holding the black marker? The answer is obvious, too: It will not. That not only violates solemn obligations of the United States under international law but has real consequences for human rights.  ... The United States can once again become a full partner in the global movement for human rights, but only if it faces up to its dark side and atones for its torturous transgressions.

Guantanamo holds Sunday war-court session to hear from prisoner's psychiatrist

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - An Army psychiatrist testified Sunday that Guantanamo doctors, with no government account of what the CIA did to the accused USS Cole bomber, offered the captive a range of treatments for his mental health problems, such as antidepressants and exposure therapy.

The doctor, an Army major who was board-certified in psychiatry in 2012, said the man awaiting a death-penalty trial didn't agree to any kind of therapy and since participation was essential, it never happened.

Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 49, was held for four years by the CIA and, according to unclassified abuse reports, was interrogated with a waterboard and power drill and subjected to a mock execution. But the doctor testified, anonymously and by video-link from Fort Bliss, Texas, that medical records he consulted provided no CIA detention history on any of his patients.

"I have just assumed that they probably went through some form of hell at some point in their life," said the doctor, who wore the battle-dress uniform of an Army major and was called Doctor 97 in court. ...

At issue is a defense claim - Nashiri's lawyers describe it as medical malpractice - that Guantanamo prison's military doctors have not treated him for the trauma he suffered at the hands of the CIA. His lawyers want the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, to order specialized treatment, and asked Pohl to order training of Guantanamo medical staff treating former CIA prisoners by the torture expert who testified, Dr. Sondra Crosby.

Afghan Panel Claims to Find Secret US Prisons

A commission appointed by President Hamid Karzai to investigate detention facilities run by American and British forces in southern Afghanistan claimed Saturday to have uncovered secret prisons on two coalition bases, an allegation that could not be immediately confirmed but that was likely to further complicate relations between the Afghan government and its allies.

“We have conducted a thorough investigation and search of Kandahar Airfield and Camp Bastion and found several illegal and unlawful detention facilities run and operated by foreign military forces,” said Abdul Shakur Dadras, the panel’s chairman.

Mr. Dadras offered no evidence to support his assertion, though he promised to release more details after presenting his report to Mr. Karzai. ...

The accusations are the latest salvo in a dispute over the detention of Afghans by foreign forces. The issue reached a climax early this year, when the Afghan government released from the former American prison at Bagram dozens of prisoners the coalition claimed had killed American soldiers.

Before that, the transfer of the prison itself called attention to the deteriorating relationship between the Afghans and their American allies in a public way.

The Americans have accused the Afghan government of using the issue to score political points. The Afghans say the foreigners have unfairly imprisoned people without credible evidence and insist that they run all detention facilities in the country.

US sets new sanctions on Russian officials and companies close to Putin

The US on Monday announced sanctions on officials and companies linked to President Vladimir Putin's "inner circle", accusing Russia of provocative acts and undermining democracy in Ukraine.

The White House said the sanctions would target seven Russian government officials and 17 companies.

It said the penalties were being imposed because Moscow had failed to deliver on promises made in an international agreement aimed at de-escalating the tensions in Ukraine.

Neo-Nazis march in Lvov in honor of Ukrainian Waffen SS division

Hundreds took part in a march to mark the anniversary of the formation of the Ukrainian SS division, which fought for the Nazi’s against the Soviet Union during World War II, in the city of Lvov in the western Ukraine.

Around five hundred neo-Nazi supporters took to the streets in the center of the city on Sunday to celebrate the creation of the 14th SS-Volunteer Division ‘Galician’ on April 28, 1943.

Many of the participants wore embroidered national Ukrainian shirts and held SS Galician divisional insignias (a yellow lion and three crowns on a blue background) in their hands.

The demonstrators made their way from the monument to the Ukrainian nationalist icon of Stepan Bandera, and to the local cemetery where a memorial to the Galician soldiers is erected.

Bandera was the head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which collaborated with Nazi Germany, and was involved in the ethnic cleansing of Poles, Jews and Russians.

The action went on despite calls from the local administration to abstain from public gatherings on the day as it “may harm the unity of the country.”

Three Ukraine Troops Captured in East; Protesters Seize TV Station

Three members of Ukraine’s special forces have been captured in the eastern city of Horlivka today. Members of the Alpha ‘anti-terrorism’ unit, they were sent to capture the head of the Horlivka Self-Defense Force. ...  The three captured soldiers were transferred to Slovyansk, a nearby protester-held city. ...

Today, protesters forced their way into the state TV station in Donetsk and captured the building. They say that they intend to stop the rebroadcast of Ukrainian state media and replace it with a Russian-language station more friendly to their movement.

Chris Hedges: 'The Last thing US wants in the world is democracy. It wants control'

Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia

Putin’s resistance to [neocon] Ukraine plans makes him the next focus of “regime change.”  ... In just the past week, the New York Times has run two  lead stories [attempting to demonize Putin]. The first, last Monday, trumpeted supposed photographic evidence proving that Russian special forces had invaded Ukraine and were provoking the popular resistance to the coup regime in Kiev.

Two days later, the Times buried deep inside the paper a grudging retraction, admitting that one key photo that the Times said was taken in Russia (showing the supposed troops before they were dispatched to Ukraine) was actually taken in Ukraine, destroying the whole premise of the earlier story.

Then, on Sunday, the Times led the paper with a lengthy report on the “Search for Secret Putin Fortune” with the subhead: “U.S. Suggests Russian Leader Has Amassed Wealth, and That It Knows Where.” Except the story, which spills over to two-thirds of an inside page, presents not a single hard fact about Putin’s alleged “fortune,” other than that he wears what looks like an expensive watch.

The story is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s propaganda campaign against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega for wearing “designer glasses,” a theme that was picked up by the major U.S. news outlets back then without noting the hypocrisy of Nancy Reagan wearing designer gowns and Reagan’s beloved Nicaraguan Contra leaders profiting off arms sales and cocaine smuggling.

Spreading suspicions about a target’s personal wealth is right out of Propaganda 101. The thinking is that you can turn people against a leader if they think he’s ripping off the public, whether he is or isn’t. The notion that Ortega’s glasses or Putin’s watch represents serious corruption – or that they are proof of some hidden fortune – is ludicrous, but it can serve a propaganda goal of creating divisions.

But what would it mean to destabilize Russia? Does anyone think that shattering the Russian political structure through a combination of economic sanctions and information warfare will result in a smooth transition to some better future? The Russians already have tried the West’s “shock therapy” under drunken President Boris Yeltsin – and they saw the cruel ugliness of “free market” capitalism.

Stephen Cohen & John Mearsheimer discuss Russia policy

Abbas denounces Holocaust, a Palestinian first

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday issued a statement calling the Holocaust “the most heinous crime” against humanity in modern times and expressing sympathy with families of the victims.

The statement, on the eve of Israel’s observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, was the first of its kind by a Palestinian leader, and appeared to be part of an effort to reach out to Israelis following a reconciliation deal reached last week between Abbas’s Fatah movement and the militant Islamist group Hamas that prompted Israel to suspend U.S.-brokered peace talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed Abbas’ declarations, saying that they were meant to “placate international public opinion” after the Palestinian leader had made a pact with Hamas, a group that “denies the Holocaust while trying to create another Holocaust by destroying the state of Israel.”

Abbas’ statement on the Holocaust came a day after the Palestinian leader said that the planned unity government under his leadership would recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Uh oh! Trouble in the Kaganate of Nulands...
Israel risks becoming apartheid state if peace talks fail, says John Kerry

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has warned in a closed-door meeting that Israel risks becoming an "apartheid state" if US-sponsored efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement fail.

In an apparent sign of Kerry's deep frustration over the almost certain collapse of the current nine-month round of peace talks – due to conclude on Tuesday – he blamed both sides for the lack of progress and said failure could lead to a resumption of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens.

The remarks were made on Friday at the Trilateral Commission, a non-governmental organisation of experts and officials from the US, western Europe, Russia and Japan. A recording was acquired by the Daily Beast website.

Kerry also suggested that a change of either Israeli or Palestinian leadership might create more favourable conditions for peace and the final, long-delayed agreement on the shape of a Palestinian state.

Kerry's remarks represent a significant departure, as senior US officials historically have avoided the word "apartheid" relating to Israeli policies. It is believed to be the first time a US official of Kerry's standing has used the contentious term in the context of Israel, even if only as a warning for the future. ...

The Emergency Committee for Israel, whose chairman is the prominent neo-conservative William Kristol, said: "On Friday, secretary of state John Kerry raised the spectre of Israel as an 'apartheid state'. Even Barack Obama condemned the use of this term when running for president in 2008. It is no longer enough for the White House to clean up after the messes John Kerry has made. It is time for John Kerry to step down as secretary of state, or for President Obama to fire him."

Egyptian judge sentences 720 men to death

A judge in Egypt has sentenced to death 720 men, including the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a pair of mass trials that were both completed after two brief court sessions.

In the first case, 683 men – including the Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Badie – were sentenced to death on charges of killing a policeman in a southern Egyptian town last August.

Minutes later, in a second and separate case, the same judge, Saeed Youssef, upheld the death sentences of 37 of the 529 men he notoriously sentenced to hang last month. The remaining 492 had their sentences commuted to 25-year jail terms, with all 529 convicted of killing a second police officer in a neighbouring town on the same day.

In a separate development on Monday, a Cairo court banned the 6 April youth movement, the liberal protest group charged with playing a leading role in Egypt's 2011 revolution. A spokesman for the group, Ahmad Abd Allah, said the move highlighted the extent of Egypt's counter-revolution.

"It shows that it's not just the Islamists who are being targeted, it's also liberal groups like us. And [the government] will continue all the way to close down all democratic forces," Abd Allah said. "What else did you think a military coup would do? It's something expected from a military regime that has killed thousands of people, and imprisoned thousands more. And it's just the beginning." ...

Mohamed Elmessiry, an Amnesty International researcher who attended the hearings, said: "In each trial, the defence were not able to present their case, the witnesses were not heard, and many of the accused were not brought to the courtroom. This lacks any basic guarantees of a fair trial – not only under international law, but also Egyptian national law.

Blessed by US, Egypt's Assault on Human Rights in Overdrive

Less than a week after receiving news that the Obama administration had approved the sale of a fleet of U.S. Apache attack helicopters to Egypt, uproar is following a pair of court decisions Monday that critics say reveal the military-controlled government's vicious attack on human rights and democratic values.

On Monday, a judge in the country sentenced 720 men to death in a pair of separate rulings.  ... Despite these attacks on democratic values, the U.S. government continues to support the Egyptian government with more than $1.5 billion in foreign aid, most of which is directed towards the military and security apparatus. In addition, as the controversial court rulings took place on Monday, Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy was in Washington, DC on an official state visit.

Ralph Nader on TPP, GM Recall, Nuclear Power & the "Unstoppable" Left-Right Anti-Corporate Movement

Chris Hedges: The Crime of Peaceful Protest

Cecily McMillan, wearing a red dress and high heels, her dark, shoulder-length hair stylishly curled, sat behind a table with her two lawyers Friday morning facing Judge Ronald A. Zweibel in Room 1116 at the Manhattan Criminal Court. The judge seems to have alternated between boredom and rage throughout the trial, now three weeks old. He has repeatedly thrown caustic barbs at her lawyers and arbitrarily shut down many of the avenues of defense. Friday was no exception.

The silver-haired Zweibel curtly dismissed a request by defense lawyers Martin Stolar and Rebecca Heinegg for a motion to dismiss the case. The lawyers had attempted to argue that testimony from the officer who arrested McMillan violated Fifth Amendment restrictions against the use of comments made by a defendant at the time of arrest. But the judge, who has issued an unusual gag order that bars McMillan’s lawyers from speaking to the press, was visibly impatient, snapping, “This debate is going to end.” He then went on to uphold his earlier decision to heavily censor videos taken during the arrest, a decision Stolar said “is cutting the heart out of my ability to refute” the prosecution’s charge that McMillan faked a medical seizure in an attempt to avoid being arrested. “I’m totally handicapped,” Stolar lamented to Zweibel.

The trial of McMillan, 25, is one of the last criminal cases originating from the Occupy protest movement. It is also one of the most emblematic. The state, after the coordinated nationwide eradication of Occupy encampments, has relentlessly used the courts to harass and neutralize Occupy activists, often handing out long probation terms that come with activists’ forced acceptance of felony charges. A felony charge makes it harder to find employment and bars those with such convictions from serving on juries or working for law enforcement. Most important, the long probation terms effectively prohibit further activism.

The Occupy Wall Street movement was not only about battling back against the rise of a corporate oligarchy that has sabotaged our democracy and made war on the poor and the working class. It was also about our right to peaceful protest. The police in cities across the country have been used to short-circuit this right. I watched New York City police during the Occupy protests yank people from sidewalks into the street, where they would be arrested. I saw police routinely shove protesters and beat them with batons. I saw activists slammed against police cars. I saw groups of protesters suddenly herded like sheep to be confined within police barricades. I saw, and was caught up in, mass arrests in which those around me were handcuffed and then thrown violently onto the sidewalk. The police often blasted pepper spray into faces from inches away, temporarily blinding the victims. This violence, carried out against nonviolent protesters, came amid draconian city ordinances that effectively outlawed protest and banned demonstrators from public spaces. It was buttressed by heavy police infiltration and surveillance of the movement. When the press or activists attempted to document the abuse by police they often were assaulted or otherwise blocked from taking photographs or videos. The message the state delivered is clear: Do not dissent. And the McMillan trial is part of the process.

Did the FCC just kill net neutrality?

Net Neutrality Will Be Saved Only If Citizens Raise Hell

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2007, he earned a great deal of credibility with tech-savvy voters by expressing support for net neutrality that was rooted in an understanding that this issue raises essential questions about the future of open, free and democratic communications in America. ...

And President Obama certainly sounded right in January 2014, when he said, “I have been a strong supporter of net neutrality. The new commissioner of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, whom I appointed, I know is a strong supporter of net neutrality.”

The president expressed that confidence in Wheeler, even as concerns were raised about an appointee who had previously worked as a cable and wireless industry lobbyist.

Now, barely three months after the president identified him as “a strong supporter of net neutrality,” Wheeler has rolled out a proposal that our most digitally engaged newspaper, The Guardian, delicately suggests would “axe-murder Net Neutrality.” ...

There is a way to save net neutrality. And if ever there was a time for citizens to urge the FCC to go the right way, this is it.

Why the New Members of the FCC Are About to Kill the Internet

Like so many problems in American government, the [FCC's] policy shift may relate to the pernicious corruption of the revolving door. The FCC is stocked with staffers who have recently worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality. ...

The backgrounds of the new FCC staff have not been reported until now.

Take Daniel Alvarez, an attorney who has long represented Comcast through the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. ... Today, someone in Comcast’s Philadelphia headquarters is probably smiling. Alvarez is now on the other side, working among a small group of legal advisors hired directly under Tom Wheeler, the new FCC Commissioner who began his job in November. ...

As soon as Wheeler came into office, he also announced the hiring of former Ambassador Philip Verveer as his senior counselor. A records request reveals that Verveer also worked for Comcast in the last year. In addition, he was retained by two industry groups that have worked to block net neutrality, the Wireless Association (CTIA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

In February, Matthew DelNero was brought into the agency to work specifically on net neutrality. DelNero has previously worked as an attorney for TDS Telecom, an internet service provider that has lobbied on net neutrality, according to filings.

Around the time of Delnero’s hiring, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, a former associate general counsel at Verizon, announced a new advisor by the name of Brendan Carr.

Pai, a Republican, has criticized the open internet regulations, calling them a “problem in search of a solution.” It should be of little surprise that Carr, Pai’s new legal hand, has worked for years as an attorney to AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, and the U.S. Telecom Association, a trade group that has waged war in Washington against net neutrality since 2006. ...

Beyond campaign contributions and other more visible aspects of the influence trade in Washington, moneyed special interest groups control the regulatory process by placing their representatives into public office, while dangling lucrative salaries to those in office who are considering retirement.

Merkel urged to press Obama on NSA scandal ahead of Washington talks

Angela Merkel should ask Barack Obama to destroy her NSA file when she meets the American president in Washington this week, a leading German opposition politician has told the Guardian.

The Greens warn that failure to address the intelligence monitor scandal would risk undermining the credibility of the western alliance during the Ukraine crisis.

"Close co-operation between western allies requires joint values – also in relation to the activities of our intelligence services," said Omid Nouripour, the Green party's foreign policy spokesperson. ...

Above all, the Snowden revelations have caused great damage to America's image in Germany, with NSA surveillance frequently employed as the chief argument by Germans expressing sympathy or understanding for Russia's position.

An April survey by public broadcaster ARD showed that only 45% of Germans felt their country should position itself as an integral part of a western alliance, while 49% believed Germany's proper role was as a buffer between the west and Russia.

U.S. government advises using alternatives to Microsoft Internet Explorer

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security advised computer users to consider using alternatives to Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer browser until the company fixes a security flaw that hackers have used to launch attacks.

Surprise! President Obama wants the police to be able to search your smartphone without a warrant.  Love that Hope and Change!
In legal matters, are smartphones too chatty for your own good?

WASHINGTON — The Founding Fathers will meet the selfie generation next week when the Supreme Court dials up the case of a California man incriminated by his smartphone.

Loaded with pictures, some of them imprudent, David Leon Riley’s Samsung Instinct was searched by police in 2009 without a warrant. He got busted. Now the justices, who sometimes seem uncomfortable with new technologies, will consider a quintessentially 21st-century problem. ...

“A modern smartphone,” Stanford Law School Professor Jeffrey L. Fisher noted in a brief, “is a portal into our most sensitive and confidential affairs. The digital contents of such a device should not be subject to a fishing expedition.”

Fisher is representing Riley, the San Diego man whose case will be heard along with a separate flip-phone search challenge filed by a Boston-area native named Brima Wurie. The cases pose potentially far-reaching consequences for police and phone users alike.

Privacy advocates fear that a ruling against Riley and Wurie would render vulnerable the secrets of the 90 percent of U.S. adults who own cellphones, a growing number of which are outfitted like the various iPhone, Samsung or Android models. ...

California Solicitor General Edward C. Dumont, whom President Barack Obama once nominated to the federal bench, will join with Obama’s Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreeben in urging the court to give law enforcement leeway in searching smartphones.

US Magistrate Judge Rules Search Warrant May Include Email Account Hosted Overseas

There is an interesting ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis in New York. The case stems from a search warrant sought by the government for the contents of an individual’s e-Mail account that was hosted by Microsoft but stored on a server located in Dublin, Ireland.

Magistrate Francis stated that internet service providers such as Microsoft or Google cannot refuse to turn over customer information and emails stored in other countries when issued a valid search warrant from U.S. law enforcement agencies.

In a statement, Microsoft said it challenged the warrant because the U.S. government should not be able to search the content of email held overseas.

“A U.S. prosecutor cannot obtain a U.S. warrant to search someone’s home located in another country, just as another country’s prosecutor cannot obtain a court order in her home country to conduct a search in the United States,” the company said. “We think the same rules should apply in the online world, but the government disagrees.”

Microsoft determined that the target account is hosted on a server in Dublin and asked Francis to throw out the request, citing U.S. law that search warrants do not extend overseas. ...

Aside from the concerns of US citizens might have if the ruling is allowed to become practice there would be a great disincentive for individuals residing outside the United States to subscribe to U.S. based internet providers under fear the US government will then be allowed access to their private information even if that information is stored in their home country. It could also be the case where citizens who might through the laws of their country have a greater expectation of privacy than in the US might still have their privacy compromised because their account is hosted by a US based provider. This issue likely will cost revenue for American companies and even for wholly owned subsidiaries that are actually based in those foreign nations.

TPP Unraveling?

Chicago's violence tied to policies of Rahm's past

After 45 Chicagoans were shot over Easter weekend, including six children, Mayor Emanuel made another angry speech, talking about values and responsibility.

But he shares a portion of responsibility, too — particularly for his role pushing through a series of policies in the 1990s that have devastated the communities now plagued by violence.

As detailed in Kari Lydersen's book, Mayor 1%, Emanuel was chief arm-twister in ramming the North American Free Trade Act through a very reluctant Congress in 1993. (It passed although a majority of Democrats opposed it.) NAFTA was supposed to bring back manufacturing jobs, but it didn't: within ten years it had caused the loss of an estimated 1 million U.S. jobs.

Chicago had been losing the kind of manufacturing jobs that supported black working-class neighborhoods since the 1970s, but NAFTA didn't help: between 2000 and 2010, Cook County lost 90,000 manufacturing jobs — more than any county in the nation except Los Angeles. Today, thanks in part to a free-trade regime championed by Emanuel, which values corporate profits over communities, there is massive unemployment.

Emanuel also pressed hard for welfare reform — over the opposition of leading cabinet members — that established limits on benefits and ultimately contributed to the growth of poverty and homelessness. Years later Emanuel celebrated welfare reform for "connecting a generation of children with a culture of work." Others argued that in reality, the initiative created a new underclass.

The Evening Greens

Green Group Sues US Govt For Hiding Tar Sands Plan

The National Wildlife Federation filed a lawsuit this week charging the U.S. State Department is refusing to disclose public information about a pipeline company's possible plans to transport dangerous tar sands oil from Montreal to the coast of Maine.

The lawsuit takes aim at the oil industry's repeated claims that there is no plan to transport the dirty oil through New England, despite numerous indications that such a plan indeed exists.

A 70-year-old, 236-mile pipeline, owned by Portland Pipeline Corporation (which is majority owned by Exxon-Mobil), currently transports crude oil from freighters in the city of South Portland, Maine to Montreal.

Yet, environmental and community organizations say there are strong signs that PPL and parent company Montreal Pipe Line Company is planning to reverse the flow of the pipeline in order to transport tar sands oil from Canada to South Portland where it would then be distributed to international markets via oil tankers and an upgraded terminal.

NWF is accusing the State Department of refusing to respond satisfactorily to a Freedom of Information Act request (pdf) filed over two years ago for public documents about such plans.

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, the NWF charges that the State Department has neglected to hand over a "key 2008 document from Exxon-owned Portland Pipe Line Corporation’s attorney detailing a previous plan to reverse the pipeline for tar sands use"—information the environmental group says provides critical information about the company's future intentions to move tar sands.

Cowboy Indian Alliance Protests Keystone XL Pipeline in D.C. After Latest Obama Admin Delay

In Nation's Capital, It's Native Americans and Ranchers vs. KXL 'Death Warrant'

Native American tribes, farmers and ranchers, and thousands of their allies flooded the National Mall Saturday with a ceremonial procession calling for President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

In the biggest mobilization yet of a five-day protest encampment, participants rode horses, waved signs, and carried banners as they moved past tipis erected beside national monuments.

Saturday's action culminated with the delivery of a hand-painted tipi to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian—a gift to President Obama symbolizing hope for protected land and clean water.

“Keystone XL is a death warrant for our people,” said Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer, who helped lead the presentation of the tipi to the Smithsonian. “President Obama must reject this pipeline and protect our sacred land and water. The United States needs to respect our treaty rights and say no to Keystone XL.”

Native American communities and ranchers have joined in the nation's capital in a historic "Cowboy Indian Alliance" to stop the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline that directly threatens their environment. Included among them are First Nations representatives, hailing from Alberta, Canada, where indigenous communities are invoking treaty rights in a bid to halt dangerous tar sands production on their land.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

John Kerry’s Sad Circle to Deceit

Thomas Piketty is a rock-star economist – can he re-write the American dream?

Excerpt from The Battle for Justice in Palestine

Save the Internet

A Little Night Music

Pee Wee Crayton - Huckle Boogie

Pee Wee Crayton - When I'm Wrong I'm Wrong

Pee Wee Crayton - Rockin' The Blues

Pee Wee Crayton - You Know-Yeah

Pee Wee Crayton - Let the Good Times Roll

Pee Wee Crayton - The Telephone Is Ringing

Pee Wee Crayton - Red Rose Boogie, Medley

Pee Wee Crayton - But On The Other Hand

Pee Wee Crayton - Poppa Stoppa

Pee Wee Crayton - Dizzy

Pee Wee Crayton - Texas Hop

Pee Wee Crayton - Running Wild

Pee Wee Crayton - My Kind Of Woman

Pee Wee Crayton - Don't Go

Pee Wee Crayton - E.T. Blues

Pee Wee Crayton - Change Your Way Of Lovin'

Pee Wee Crayton - Every Night

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 Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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