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.
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Tonight's music (and tomorrow night's as well) features sax player Big Jay McNeely. Check him out!
Big Jay McNeely - Jay Walkin
“We must powder our wigs; that is why so many poor people have no bread.”
-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau
News and Opinion
Saying “Fiscal Cliff” Is Taking Sides
The term "fiscal cliff" is a one-sided propaganda phrase that misinforms and triggers public fear and anxiety. The fiscal cliff is not a "cliff" and the country isn't going to fall off anything at the end of the year. Journalists: don't help the misinformers -- don't say or write "fiscal cliff." Congress: when people are scared and misinformed our Congress should pause, step back and help inform us instead of rushing to take advantage of the fear. ...
Everyone should settle down. There is no "cliff." No one is going to fall off of anything. And after the first of the year the President and progressives have much more leverage in this fight than they do now -- hence all the pressure to act before then.
When people are this misinformed and scared the Congress owes it to the public to stop, take a break, work to inform the public and not act in a panic. Journalists, especially, owe it to the public to inform, not misinform and scare.
Top Obama Aide On Fiscal Cliff: “This Is Going To Get Hairy”President Obama to meet with Vampire-Squid-in-Chief today! Will Obama be able to face himself in the mirror tomorrow?
Obama senior adviser David Plouffe predicted that the fiscal cliff negotiations are "going to get hairy" in the coming weeks, saying President Barack Obama is committed to achieving the elusive "big deal" on taxes and spending he and Speaker of the House John Boehner have tried to strike for more than 18 months.
In post-election remarks at the University of Delaware, Plouffe warned of "paralysis" if both parties remain beholden to their base, saying Obama is looking for a deal that sets the country on the right fiscal path for a 10- to 20-year period.
"The only way that gets done is for Republicans again to step back and get mercilessly criticized by Grover Norquist and the Right, and it means that Democrats are going to have to do some tough things on spending and entitlements that means that they'll criticized on by their left," Plouffe said at his alma mater in conversation with former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt.
Goldman CEO Blankfein Said to Meet With Obama TomorrowHere's who will be meeting with President Obama and the Vampire Squid in Chief today:
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein is among the business leaders invited to the White House tomorrow as President Barack Obama seeks their support for his approach to addressing the fiscal cliff, according to two people familiar with the matter. ...
Blankfein was at the White House in July to meet with Jack Lew, Obama’s chief of staff. He also is on the CEO fiscal leadership council of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, which was founded by the co-chairman of Obama’s fiscal commission. ...
The CEO councils’ principles call for Congress to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, “strengthen” Social Security and enact “comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform” that lowers rates, broadens the tax base, raises revenue and cuts the deficit.
Blankfein has urged policymakers to reach a compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff, including cutbacks to programs like Social Security and more revenue from the wealthiest Americans.
Here Are The CEOs Meeting Obama Today In Washington To Discuss The Fiscal Cliff Sellout of the New Deal
* Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
* Frank Blake, Chairman and CEO, Home Depot Inc
* Joe Echevarria, CEO, Deloitte LLP
* Kenneth Frazier, CEO, Merck & Co.
* Muhtar Kent, CEO, Coca-Cola Co
* Terry Lundgren, CEO, Macy's Inc
* Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo Inc
* Doug Oberhelman, CEO, Caterpillar Inc
* Ian Read, CEO, Pfizer Inc
* Brian Roberts, CEO, Comcast Corp
* Ed Rust, CEO, State Farm
* Arne Sorenson, CEO, Marriott International Inc
* Randall Stephenson, Chairman and CEO, AT&T Inc
* Patricia Woertz, CEO, Archer Daniels Midland Co
CEOs Looking To ‘Fix The Debt’ By Cutting Social Security Sit On Huge Retirement Accounts
Several CEOs — under the guise of a campaign known as “Fix the Debt” — have recently called for cuts to Social Security and other entitlements. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, for instance, said that “there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised.” “The solutions [to the fiscal cliff] are – it’s the retirement age; means testing Social Security and Medicare,” said Aetna CEO Mark Berolino. “We just need to get leadership.”
Of course, these CEOs have little cause for concern if government retirement assistance is cut, as they have millions of dollars squirreled away in their personal retirement accounts:The 71 Fix the Debt CEOs of public companies have average retirement assets of $9.1 million. Of these 71 CEOs, 54 participate in their company‘s retirement programs and have collective pension assets of $649 million, or more than $12 million per CEO — enough to generate a $65,873 pension check each month for life. In contrast, the average monthly Social Security check for retired workers is $1,237.
U.S. clashes with France over Palestinians status at UN
The United States publicly disagreed with France, one of its closest allies, on Tuesday, after Paris said it would back a Palestinian bid for enhanced status at the United Nations.
“We obviously disagree with our oldest ally on this issue. They know that we disagree with them,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “But it’s their sovereign decision to make, how to proceed.” ...
The proposal is set to sail through as it has the backing of the majority of the UN’s 193 member states, with diplomats predicting that between 11 and 15 EU countries could back the Palestinian proposal.
Amid a flurry of US diplomatic efforts to try to head off a vote, Nuland also confirmed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been in touch with British Foreign Secretary William Hague on the issue.
Military feared independent reviews of Bradley Manning's Torture at Quantico
Quantico base commander Col. Daniel Choike revealed in testimony today that the military barred or delayed independent analyses of PFC Bradley Manning’s abusive confinement, claiming that Bradley’s defense could “exploit” such a review in the press, and instead sought reviews that would confirm and justify the military’s handling of the young private.
Col. Choike answered defense lawyer David Coombs’ questions for nearly eight hours today at Ft. Meade, Maryland, during the defense’s Article 13 motion to dismiss charges based on unlawful pretrial punishment that Bradley endured for more than nine months at Quantico. ...
Col. Choike testified at length about his specific role in reviewing and maintaining Bradley’s maximum security, the collective refusal to listen to brig psychiatrists’ recommendations for medium security, and just how involved three-star General George Flynn was in directing Bradley’s confinement.
Earlier this fall we learned that Gen. Flynn oversaw Bradley’s confinement from the Pentagon. Today, Col. Choike revealed that Gen. Flynn primarily wanted to be notified of changes in Manning’s status or new elements regarding his conditions before the media got wind of them, so that he could control the narrative regarding Bradley’s conditions, or, as Col. Choike said today, be “ahead of the disinformation campaign.”
U.S. firm to launch NAFTA challenge to Quebec fracking ban
A U.S.-incorporated energy firm, Lone Pine Resources Inc., is taking on Quebec’s stand against fracking, saying it violates the North American free-trade agreement and demanding more than $250-million in compensation.
Lone Pine Resources Inc., headquartered in Calgary but incorporated in Delaware, disclosed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week that on Nov. 8, it filed a notice of intent to sue the Canadian government under NAFTA’s controversial Chapter 11. ...
According to Lone Pine, Quebec passed legislation last June that, in addition to the moratorium, also completely cancelled permits for oil and gas activity in areas directly below the waters of the St. Lawrence River – including the revoking of a permit held by Lone Pine covering 33,460 acres.” ...
The NAFTA challenge, levelled at a major environmental policy, is fuel for critics of trade deals who are now attacking Canada’s proposed investor-protection agreement with China, which would extend similar rights to Chinese investors in Canada.
“It contradicts everything the government has said about the China investment treaty, about it having no impact on the environment and there being no threats to non-discriminatory environmental measures,” said Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership: What “Free Trade” Actually Means
The theoretical definition of a “free market” is one in which every individual actor in the realm of exchange exists in a state of equality of opportunity; where all compete with one another to produce the best products at the cheapest prices for consumers, thus the most innovative and efficient producers succeed while others fail, unregulated – and unhelped – by the state. ... The functional, or technical, definition of a “free market” is one in which the state regulates the market – the realm of economic exchange and activity – for the benefit of large transnational corporations and banks.
Barriers to profits, such as environmental, labor, safety and financial regulations, are dismantled. Meanwhile, subsidies and legal rights and protections are granted to major corporations, undermining competition and supporting monopolization. So while the rhetoric of “free markets” tends to be all about reducing state interference in the economy, in actuality state interference increases – but only for the benefit of large corporations and banks.
At the same time, state “interference” decreases in sectors that benefit the actual population, such as welfare, social services, pensions, healthcare, education, labor protections and so on. In the actual “free market,” these protections are dismantled, subjecting populations to “market discipline” quite unlike the large corporations and banks that receive direct protection against “market discipline.” The most obvious example of this is the post-2008 bank bailouts.
Peru Passes Monumental Ten Year Ban on Genetically Engineered Foods
In a massive blow to multinational agribiz corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, and Dow, Peru has officially passed a law banning genetically modified ingredients anywhere within the country for a full decade before coming up for another review.
Peru’s Plenary Session of the Congress made the decision 3 years after the decree was written despite previous governmental pushes for GM legalization due largely to the pressure from farmers that together form the Parque de la Papa in Cusco, a farming community of 6,000 people that represent six communities.
They worry the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will compromise the native species of Peru, such as the giant white corn, purple corn and, of course, the famous species of Peruvian potatoes. Anibal Huerta, President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission, said the ban was needed to prevent the ”danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”
Coastal cities in danger as sea levels rise faster than expected
Sea-level rise is occurring much faster than scientists expected – exposing millions more Americans to the destructive floods produced by future Sandy-like storms, new research suggests.
Satellite measurements over the last two decades found global sea levels rising 60% faster than the computer projections issued only a few years ago by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The faster sea-level rise means the authorities will have to take even more ambitious measures to protect low-lying population centres – such as New York City, Los Angeles or Jacksonville, Florida – or risk exposing millions more people to a destructive combination of storm surges on top of sea-level rise, scientists said.
Scientists earlier this year found sea-level rise had already doubled the annual risk of historic flooding across a widespread area of the United States.
A new report by Food & Water Watch reveals the many flaws in the oil and gas industry’s claims about fracking and U.S. energy security. But nothing is more revealing about the industry’s deceptive energy security rhetoric than its push to export liquefied natural gas overseas. Alongside the industry’s patriotic rhetoric, this push to export LNG is the height of hypocrisy.
As drilling and fracking for shale gas boomed, natural gas was overproduced. By April 2012 the “wellhead price” for natural gas had fallen from over $10 per thousand cubic feet in July 2008 to under $2. In 2010, ExxonMobil bought into the shale gas boom, becoming the largest producer of natural gas in the country with its purchase of XTO Energy, but by June 2012 CEO Rex Tillerson stated that because of low natural gas prices, “We are all losing our shirts today…. We’re making no money [on natural gas]. It’s all in the red.” Natural gas prices were far below those needed for the industry to break even, given the cost of drilling and fracking new shale gas wells.
In exporting natural gas, the industry sees a way out of this bind. As opposed to oil, the supply chain for natural gas is not yet globalized, and natural gas prices in Asia and Europe have remained high. This gives the oil and gas industry an opportunity not just to profit from exporting natural gas, but to avoid falling off of its drilling and fracking “treadmill” – that is, because shale gas production declines so steeply, and because the highest producing wells are the first to get drilled and fracked, the industry must keep increasing the rate of drilling and fracking just to maintain a constant level of shale gas production.
Representative Ed Markey has introduced two bills in the U.S. House that could foil the industry’s plan. The first bill, H.R. 4024, would keep the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from approving any new LNG export facilities until at least 2025. The second bill, H.R. 4025, would ensure that natural gas extracted from U.S. public lands is not exported, and further that no new pipelines on public lands would transport natural gas for export.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Big Jay McNeely - There Is Something On Your Mind
Big Jay McNeely and Detroit Gary Wiggins - Deacon's Hop