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Hey! Good Evening!

Tonight's music features a couple of perhaps lesser known, but amazing piano players, Amos Milburn and Willie Mabon, that everybody ought to get to know.

 Amos Milburn - Down the Road a Piece

"Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government too."
  --  Richard M. Nixon


Big Money's Effect on Big Media

Agriculture gag laws are violating press freedom in the US

Multiple states have passed what are known as "ag gag laws", designed to penalise investigative reporters who explore conditions on industrial agriculture operations. Many of these laws focus specifically on livestock, in the wake of numerous exposés on the abuses of livestock in industrial agriculture. These laws are a significant threat to the freedom of the press, and it's rather remarkable that they are being allowed to stand. More than that, they threaten the health and safety of consumers, in addition to making it difficult and sometimes impossible for consumers to make educated choices about the sources of their food.

The US should be in an uproar about ag gag laws, and it's not. That's a telling reflection of attitudes about agriculture, and illustrates the lack of interest among many people in the US about journalism and how it functions, and the purpose of investigative journalism in particular. Attempts to raise awareness about the issue are often met with indifference; they are not as interesting and seductive as celebrity scandals, evidently, even though they are far more scandalous, and impact people's lives more immediately and directly.

It should come as no surprise to learn that the source of the pressure behind ag gag laws is, of course, industrial agriculture. Big companies have pushed legislators heavily to pass laws limiting the freedom to report on conditions at livestock facilities, including ranches, feedlots, and slaughterhouses. With the benefit of lobbyists, they can exert pressure directly in the halls of the legislature, as well as doing so indirectly by contributing to the electoral process and deciding who gets elected. In states like Iowa, you have to be agriculture-friendly to get elected, and if you want a chance at beating the competition, you'd better be willing to toe the line on industrial agriculture so you'll get the needed support.

Climate Change: Hasn't Warming Happened Before?

How the Wisconsin Uprising Took the Wrong Turn

The results of Tuesday's elections are being heralded as the death of public-employee unions, if not the death of organized labor itself. Tuesday's results are also seen as the final chapter in the story of the populist uprising that burst into life last year in the state capital of Madison. The Cheddar Revolution, so the argument goes, was buried in a mountain of ballots. ...

The energy of the Wisconsin uprising was never electoral. The movement’s mistake: letting itself be channeled solely into traditional politics, into the usual box of uninspired candidates and the usual line-up of debates, primaries, and general elections. The uprising was too broad and diverse to fit electoral politics comfortably. You can't play a symphony with a single instrument. Nor can you funnel the energy and outrage of a popular movement into a single race, behind a single well-worn candidate, at a time when all the money in the world from corporate “individuals” and right-wing billionaires is pouring into races like the Walker recall.

Colin Millard, an organizer at the International Brotherhood of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers, admitted as much on the eve of the recall. We were standing inside his storefront office in the small town of Horicon, Wisconsin. It was night outside. "The moment you start a recall," he told me, "you're playing their game by their rules."

Obama’s collaboration with Big Pharma exposed

In order to secure his sweeping 2010 health care reforms, US President Barack Obama’s staff oversaw an unusually close collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry, documents show.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have uncovered a trove of emails and other memos showing how the Obama administration coordinated its $150 million advertising campaign with major pharmaceutical companies.

Nearly $70 million was spent through two Super PACs — political action committees — organized in part by White House officials, including Jim Messina, Obama’s former deputy chief of staff who is now managing his 2012 reelection campaign.

Memos released Friday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee revealed the close links between the Obama administration and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, also known as PhRMA.

Spain and the euro crisis: when €100bn doesn't fix much

Defending Spain's receipt of one of the largest eurozone bailouts yet, prime minister Mariano Rajoy on Sunday described it as a "victory": a victory both for Spain and for the European project. "It was the credibility of the euro that won." ...

There are the problems raised by the financial lifeline offered to Spain. First, for all the emphasis on the term "bank bailout", this is a debt that will be put on the government's balance sheets. Spanish taxpayers will eventually have to pay for it. In other words, the population with the highest unemployment rate in the EU will have to spend decades repaying a debt incurred to rescue feckless savings banks, often run by useless managers and their crony directors. How that's taken by the nation that kickstarted the protest movement that went on to become Occupy is an open question, but the most likely answer is: badly.

Nor should Spanish voters be impressed with Mr Rajoy's boast that this slug of cash does not come with the European/IMF austerity programme that was forced on Ireland, Greece and Portugal. It is not much of a secret that the previous Socialist prime minister, José Zapatero, was forced in 2010 to adopt an austerity programme after intense pressure from Angela Merkel. This latest lifeline also appears to have been thrust on Madrid, which is still awaiting its own commissioned report on the state of its banking sector – presumably to soothe any jitters in the market ahead of Greece's rerun of its general elections this weekend. But the no-strings loan to Mr Rajoy will encourage politicians in Athens, Dublin and Lisbon to push to renegotiate their own rescue packages. In Greece, Alexis Tsipras and the leftwing Syriza coalition will be using this argument in their campaigning.

Mexicans protest as presidential candidates hold debate

Mexico's presidential race entered a critical phase Monday after the four candidates clashed in a second debate as some 90,000 people protested in the capital against the frontrunner. ...

The top two rivals -- Enrique Pena Nieto of the long-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who lost by a narrow margin in 2006 -- hoped to get a boost from the event that could take them over the top. ...

For weeks, students under the Yosoy132 ("I am the 132"- a reference to the protest initiators) youth movement have mobilized online and in the streets to slam favorable media coverage of Pena Nieto they say aims to make his win look inevitable, accusing the PRI candidate, who is married to an ex-soap opera star, of corruption.

Cleanup of latest Alberta oil spill could take all summer

Plains Midstream Canada, which operates the pipeline that was built in 1966, shut a 10-kilometre section of its Rangeland South line. While the company is still investigating the cause and precise location of the spill, it estimated that 1,000 to 3,000 barrels of crude, or 160,000 to 480,000 litres, has leaked. About 90 workers were erecting booms in Lake Gleniffer, some 40 kilometres downstream, in an bid to prevent an oil slick from reaching Red Deer, Alberta’s third-largest city, which draws its water from the river.

But cleanup and containment won’t be easy and could take all summer, officials said.

The already engorged river could flood again as another storm system is in the weekend forecast. It may be equally difficult to undo the damage to Alberta’s energy industry, which has recently suffered a number of high-profile spills. But unlike previous incidents, this spill isn’t in a remote location and it comes as the continent is in the midst of heated debates over construction of the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines.

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.

What's Happenin'

Time to Ditch Our Profit-Hungry Corporate Economy: Here's What the Future Could Look Like Instead

US Labor Movement at the Crossroads, in the Crosshairs

2012 was warmest US spring on record

Quebec's Maple Spring

A Little Night Music

Willie Mabon - I'm Mad!

Amos Milburn - Rocky Mountain

Willie Mabon - Little Red Rooster

Amos Milburn - One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer

Willie Mabon - Why Did It Happen To Me

Amos Milburn, Cab Calloway & Joe Turner - Bad Bad Whiskey, Minnie the Moocher, Shake Rattle + Roll

Willie Mabon - I Don't Know

mood ring 1

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 03:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.


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