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Hey! Good Evening!

Time to start  rollin’ with Tarheel Slim and the Number 9 Train

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
-- Henry David Thoreau 

Photos From Joe on the Road

Here is a note and some pictures received from joe last night.

evening! tonight i'm in mitchell, south dakota. we spent last night with friends in spearfish, south dakota which is in the northern tip of the black hills. their home is in a canyon without internet or cell service.

yesterday on the way to spearfish, we visited devils tower - an impressive geological formation that the natives call the bear lodge, a sacred site for natives which is now a national park/monument. i also got a bunch of shots of some prairie dogs, which are about as cute as rodents can get. a couple of them actually let me get very close. i made myself look as small as a guy my size can look and kind of inched up to them and they let me get within a few feet.

today we went through deadwood, south dakota, which turns out to be a huge tourist trap and gambling den with little else to recommend it. then we went through the black hills, which as i checked the temperature readout in the car hit 111 degrees at the hottest part of the day. it was baking hot all day out there, so i didn't stop and hike around much as i would have liked to have done.

we stopped in murdo, south dakota for gas and dinner and wound up hitting a tourist trap there which featured elvis' motorcycle. it's proof that mojo nixon was right, elvis is everywhere.

pictures to follow.

devils tower:

IMG_8265 (Small)

IMG_8249 (Small)

prairie dogs:

IMG_8297 (Small)

IMG_8285 (Small)

black hills:

IMG_8333 (Small)

IMG_8337 (Small)

IMG_8332 (Small)

elvis is everywhere (even murdo, south dakota):

IMG_8346 (Small)

[ Editor's Note: joanneleon and KBO will be holding down the Evening Blues fort while joe shikspack is on his roadtrip vacation.  When we can, we'll post photos and messages that he sends in and put them in this section of the diary.  He'll be checking in regularly when he has connectivity, so feel free to leave him some greetings in the comments.  Also, we would love to have your help with ideas for Evening Blues topics while he is gone, so feel free to lend your Blues and Roots music expertise and ideas in the comments! ]


(h/t to joanneleon)
Inept stenographers
The excuse of journalists for their bad behavior - it's necessary to get quotes - is both fictitous and irrelevant

A common criticism of establishment journalists entails comparing them to stenographers, on the ground that most of them do little more than mindlessly write down and uncritically repeat what government officials say. But stenography is a noble and important profession: they’re the court-licensed officers who, with astonishing speed and accuracy, transcribe the statements of all witnesses, lawyers and judges in judicial proceedings. If establishment journalists were to replicate actual stenography, it would be an improvement on most of the work they produce.

A confession in yesterday’s New York Times reveals that even the stenography produced by our nation’s most esteemed media outlets is anything but accurate: rather, it’s contrived and distorted by the very people whom these media outlets purport to cover adversarially. The article describes how many American media outlets, including the NYT, give veto power to the Obama campaign (and, less so, to the Romney campaign), as well as political offices generally, over the quotes of its officials that are allowed to be published:

Files on big political donations vanish at FEC
Records on political donations have been deleted at the election watchdog

We have discovered that sometime after January of this year, the FEC deleted a whole set of contributions totaling millions of dollars made during the 2007-2008 election cycle. The most important of these files concern what is now called “dark money” – funds donated to ostensible charities or public interest groups rather parties, candidates or conventional political action committees (PACs). These non-profit groups – which Washington insiders often refer to generically as 501(c)s, after the section of the federal tax code regulating them – use the money to pay for allegedly educational “independent” ads that run outside conventional campaign channels. Such funding has now developed into a gigantic channel for evading disclosure of the donors’ identities and is acutely controversial.

In 2008, however, a substantial number of contributions to such 501(c)s made it into the FEC database. For the agency quietly to remove them almost four years later with no public comment is scandalous. It flouts the agency’s legal mandate to track political money and mocks the whole spirit of what the FEC was set up to do. No less seriously, as legal challenges and public criticism of similar contributions in the 2012 election cycle rise to fever pitch, the FEC’s action wipes out one of the few sources of real evidence about how dark money works. Obviously, the unheralded purge also raises unsettling questions about what else might be going on with the database that scholars and journalists of every persuasion have always relied upon.

No Banksters Were Harmed in the Production of This Anti-Crime Video

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has rolled out a campaign to raise awareness of Transnational Crime.

$870 billion dollars a year. Including $250 billion on counterfeit goods. $320 billion on drugs. $32 billion on human trafficking. $250B on illegal arms.

But nowhere did the UNODC include the crimes of multinational banks.

Can We Trade Ben Bernanke for Mark Zuckerberg?

Okay, the ingredients seem to require that we have historically low borrowing/lending rates, we have an extremely credit-worthy borrower with a near infinite ability to focus wealth, we have an entity fully capable of bearing the risks — there’s little/no chance of default — and an economic situation that suggests these conditions are likely to extend well into the future.

Let’s see, who else faces these conditions?   . . . OMG! Ben!

So I hereby propose a trade.  We’ll give the private sector Ben Bernanke, and in exchange we get Mark Zuckerberg.  As the new head of the Federal Reserve, Chairman Mark’s mission will be to refinance the US debt and open its meeting notes to everyone.  Then he can change all the bankster’s e-mail addresses.

London 2012: an etiquette guide for Olympics visitors

• Canadians: I'm afraid that while you are here you will be repeatedly mistaken for Americans and blamed for all sorts of stuff you had nothing to do with. Unless you can think of a quick and simple way to distinguish yourselves at a glance – flower in lapel? Saddle shoes? Maple leaf eyepatch? – then you are just going to have to suck it up.

• Americans: While you're here, why not pretend to be Canadian? Very few Britons can tell the difference, and it will allow you to rescue yourself from awkward conversations about the death penalty.

God.  Go look at the picture.
Fukushima beach reopens to the public
As locals enjoy splashing in the sea for the first time since the tsunami and nuclear disaster, thousands protest in Tokyo

Holidaymakers have descended on a beach near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the first time they have been allowed to swim in the area since last year's triple meltdown.

Local authorities decided to open Nakoso beach, located just 65km (40 miles) south of the stricken plant, after declaring the water safe. Radiation doses in the air were also low, at up to 0.07 microsieverts an hour, far below those considered a threat to health.

On Monday, which was a national holiday held to celebrate the ocean, about 1,000 people, including young families, headed to the beach for the first time in two summers.

Legislation on Lejeune water woes to be pushed forward

WASHINGTON – Two U.S. senators hoping to help thousands of sick Marine veterans and their families say they will push ahead with legislation despite opposition from a South Carolina senator who is holding up the bill.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint says he is concerned about the potential for fraudulent claims in the wake of federal legislation that would provide health care for thousands of Marine veterans and family members suffering from illnesses due to decades of water contamination at Marine Base Camp Lejeune, N.C

Read more here:

Comic-Con 2012: the rise of the female geek?
This year's San Diego celebration of graphic novels, TV shows, movies and video games featured more strong female characters – and has attracted more women too

Juliet Starling, a high-school zombie hunter, is the lead character in new video game Lollipop Chainsaw and the latest sign that the annual US jamboree of graphic novels, television shows, Hollywood films and digital spin-offs is embracing strong female roles.

A trade show once famous for a male-dominated mix of nerdiness and casual sexism wrapped up its five-day gathering on Sunday with more female presence – fictional and real – than ever before. Some 40% of the 130,000 visitors who packed San Diego's vast convention centre were girls and women, thought to be the highest proportion in the event's four-decade history, and there were robust female characters on page and screen.

Dirty money thrives despite Mexico drug war

Cambridge, UK - Sitting in the smart office of a London-based financial security firm, Martin Woods seems far removed from the drug violence tearing at Mexico's soul.

A former compliance officer with the US bank Wachovia, Woods - despite his unassuming demeanor and upper-crust British manners - has seen the drug war and its illicit loot in a light unavailable to even the most seasoned observers.

[ ... ]

In 2010, Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo, settled out of court for the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act in US history. They paid a fine of $160m for laundering a whopping $378.4bn from Mexican currency exchange houses between 2004 and 2007. Much of this cash is thought to have been drug money, moved without proper documentation from Casa's de Cambio in Mexico to US banks.

Two years later, Woods said: "There was no consequence for anyone dealing with that money. Some other compliance officers broke the rules and they kept their jobs. I obeyed all the rules, blew the whistle and lost my job."

UN doctor on Pakistan polio campaign attacked
Doctor from Ghana and his driver shot at during immunisation campaign in southern port city of Karachi.
Gunmen have opened fire on a UN vehicle in Pakistan's port city of Karachi, wounding a foreign doctor working on a polio immunisation campaign and a local driver, officials have said.

[ ... ]

A health expert, speaking to the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the attack was the latest in an alarming trend of violence against polio workers.

He said there had been threats and announcements in mosques branding the vaccine anti-Islam and blamed "a new wave of attacks on polio workers" on the CIA's use of Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi to help find bin Laden.

The doctor was jailed for 33 years in May after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme as cover.

Arab instability and US strategy
Washington's assumption that dictatorships breed stability has been fundamentally challenged by the past year's events.

A year and a half into what US media and officials began to refer to as the "Arab Spring",  there has been little democracy achieved across Arab countries, even in those countries that saw the overthrow of their despotic US-supported regimes. The main change in the region has been its loss of regime stability and a new instability that reflects negatively on imperial capital investment and the overall imperial strategy in the region.

[ ... ]

Instability without democracy

In Yemen, the US has become the new direct absolute ruler of the country, no longer ruling through a dictator agent. They are killing and maiming Yemenis at will under the pretext of fighting the terror of al-Qaeda, which did not even exist in Yemen before the United States decided to intervene in that impoverished country. The terror that US forces and their ambassador Gerald Feierstein have imposed on the country has been the major achievement of the Obama administration since the Arab revolts started in January 2011. The other Arab country where the US commands immense control is Bahrain, though all attempts by the Bahraini dictatorship, the Saudi mercenaries - reportedly aided by US and British military and security support and consultation - to crush the revolt have been valiantly resisted by a fearless oppressed population.

[ ... ]

In Libya, the instability has been legion, except in the oil sector, a situation that parallels that of Iraq nine years after the US-led invasion and occupation of the country. The recent Libyan elections have confirmed NATO's man in power, Mahmoud Jibril, though his ability to control the country (the oil fields, which are in NATO hands, excepted) is next to nil. As for the Qatari-Saudi election competition in Tunisia and Egypt (Saudis support the forces of the anciens regime and the Salafists, while Qatar supports the Muslim Brothers), the Qataris won hands down, though the Saudis are imposing their conditions.

US officials, as expected, play all sides, allying both with the military rulers of Egypt and with the Muslim Brothers, not to mention the liberal secular parties.[ ... ]

As usual, it's necessary to read the whole Escobar article, but I will try to excerpt it to give you a sense of it.
China talks deals, not sanctions
Beijing invests billions in Iran while trying to reach consensus with its South China Sea neighbours.

Iran is reportedly China's third-largest oil supplier, behind Saudi Arabia and Angola. Two-way trade will go beyond $50bn by 2015. In June, China imported around 524,000 barrels of oil a day from Iran - almost 40 per cent more than in April.  

Now let's see how China applies "sanctions" against Iran.

Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi announced that China will invest $20bn - for starters - in developing two of the country's top oil fields: Azadegan (one of the world's biggest, with an estimated 42 billion barrels of reserves), and Yadavaran (in Khuzestan, near the Iraqi border). This is a windfall for Beijing, in the long run, an extra 700,000 barrels of oil a day.

[ ... ]

Yet the expansion never stops. Premier Wen Jiabao has just proposed a free trade agreement between China and the Mercosur, the South American common market. A torrent of energy from all over - Siberia, Central Asia, Iran, the Middle East, Africa, South America - is needed to keep the mercantilist dragon going.

So investing billions in Iran and promoting joint energy exploitation in the South China Sea are just natural developments for Beijing. This can be no time for sanctions or war drums - but for one deal at a time, all the time.

I can't excerpt this. You have to read the whole thing.
Robert Fisk: Where is a Goya who could chronicle today's conflict?
The Long View: Women dragged off for rape, men shot by death squads – such atrocities take place by the hour

For I fear that those who visited this greatest of all anti-war manifestos must have looked at these sketches – women dragged off for rape, men emasculated on tree branches, shot down by death squads – and thought not of Lebanon at its darkest hour but of cities 250 miles to the east of here, in the towns of Syria, where such atrocities are now taking place by the hour, where these etchings fit picture-perfect on to the YouTube videos that pop up on our screens each night.

Blog Posts of Interest

What's Happenin'? 7.18.12 by joanneleon on dailykos

Hey, Something DOJ Gets Right: Opposing Voter Photo ID Law by Jesselyn Radack on dailykos

Weaving Reality III: Nebulous answers to cogent questions by rserven on dailykos

Snapshots of an Era of Bank Greed and No Accountability by David Dayen on FDL News

With needed defense cuts on the horizon, industry forces rev up the propaganda machine by Robert Greenwald on dailykos

A Little Night Music

Here’s Slim with Little Ann and “It’s too Late”

and again with Ann “ You Make me Feel so Good”

Here are 3 songs from 1949; I Have Found No Friend, You're A Little Too Slow, On The Road To Glory

Back again with Little Ann in 1959 to sing “Much too Late”

From 1974 “Some Cold Rainy day”

Again from 1974 “Screaming and  Crying”

And finishing with Little Ann and “Lock me in Your Heart”


Envision… a cyber home with a bold vision of a better world, and a determination to create it.

Another world is possible.

We will investigate strategies for building personal and community empowerment as a means of lessening the influence of corporate power and increasing equality.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"

 ~ Robert F. Kennedy

mood ring 1

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Team DFH.

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