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.
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This evenings music features blues guitarist Pee Wee Crayton. Enjoy!
Pee Wee Crayton - The Things That I Used To Do
"There’s a direct relationship between the ballot box and the bread box, and what the union fights for and wins at the bargaining table can be taken away in the legislative halls."
-- Walter Reuther
News and Opinion
How Many People Will Die if We Raise the Medicare Age to 67?
In September, 2009, Rep. Alan Grayson got on the floor of the House of Representatives and said that the Republican health care plan – leaving 44 million uninsured – was killing people. It was a famous speech, in which he said that the Republican health care plan consists of two steps. One, don’t get sick. Two, if you do get sick, die quickly. This speech threw the political world into a temporary tizzy, because Grayson actually made the point that health care is about living and dying, not making charts look nicer. The speech, while rhetorically zesty, was data-driven. It relied on this study from Harvard Medical School researchers showing that the death rate for those who are uninsured is 40% higher than those who have insurance (controlling for socioeconomic factors).
[math explanation at link]
At a 4% uninsurance rate, that’s 200,000 uninsured 65 and 66 year olds. The death rate for people in that age bracket is 1.576% annually, which means that 3152 of them would die as a matter of course. If the death rate is 40% higher for the uninsured in this bracket, which would be consistent with the Harvard Medical School study on working age populations, then this means that 1261 seniors will die because they don’t have access to Medicare. This number comes from back of the envelope but reasonably cautious assumptions. If Obamacare doesn’t work as advertised, or out of pocket costs for insured seniors go up (and they will), the number of dead goes up. In fact, if Obamacare doesn’t work, is repealed, or defunded, the uninsurance rate for 66 and 67 year olds would be about 15%, consistent with the rate for 50-64 year olds. That’s 6048 dead. In other words, raising the Medicare age to 67 while implementing Obamacare will kill an additional 1261 seniors, while raising the Medicare age to 67 without implementing Obamacare will kill an additional 1261 seniors. Or we could leave things as they are, with a Medicare age at 65, and no extra seniors need die.
This isn’t a story of heartbreak and sadness. It’s a story of murder by policy. Medicare isn’t a welfare system where people are getting charity from the state, it’s a social insurance system that these people have already paid for. Increasing the eligibility age for Medicare isn’t shared sacrifice it is simply confiscating the property that people prepaid for and that they need to stay alive. Morally, it’s no different than choosing 1261 people aged 65 and 66, disproportionately picking more black and/or poor people, and killing them so that you don’t have to honor the promise they paid for that they would get health care at 65.
Next time you hear someone talk about the need to “reform entitlements” and raising the retirement age, just remember what these words actually mean.
Death surge linked with mass privatisation
As many as one million working-age men died due to the economic shock of mass privatisation policies followed by post-communist countries in the 1990s, according to a new study published in The Lancet.
The Oxford-led study measured the relationship between death rates and the pace and scale of privatisation in 25 countries in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, dating back to the early 1990s. They found that mass privatisation came at a human cost: with an average surge in the number of deaths of 13 per cent or the equivalent of about one million lives.
The rapid privatisation programme, part of a plan known by economists as ‘shock therapy’, led to a 56 per cent increase in unemployment, which the study says played an important role in explaining why privatisation claimed so many lives. Many employers provided extensive health and social care for their employees, so through privatisation workers experienced the ‘double whammy’ of losing not only their livelihood but also their means of surviving the crisis. ...
During the 1990s, former communist countries underwent the world’s worst peacetime mortality crisis in the past 50 years – with over three million avoidable deaths and 10 million ‘missing’ men, according to the United Nations.
Bank repossessions hit 9-month high in November
U.S. home repossessions rose to a nine-month high in November, even as the number of homes starting on the path to foreclosure declined to the lowest level in six years.
Banks completed foreclosure on 59,134 homes last month, an increase of 11 percent from October and up 5 percent from November last year, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
Last month marked the first annual increase in bank repossessions since October 2010, when allegations of abuses by the mortgage industry compelled many lenders to temporarily halt foreclosures.
But the number of homes entering the foreclosure process or scheduled for auction for the first time, so-called foreclosure starts, sank to 77,494. That's a decline of 13 percent from October and a drop of 28 percent from November last year, the firm said.
Innocent Man Kidnapped, Stripped, Beaten and Drugged in Secret CIA Jail -- Court Rules in His Favor, Against CIA
European Court of Human Rights rules that German citizen was an innocent victim of extraordinary rendition by US agents.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favour of a German citizen, after finding he was an innocent victim of extraordinary rendition by the CIA.
Macedonia was ordered to pay Khaled el-Masri $78,000 on Thursday for arresting him and handing him over to the US in December 2003.
El-Masri spent five months in secret CIA jails for suspected links to armed Islamist groups.
The decision is a victory for El-Masri who has been trying in the US and Europe to get authorities to recognize him as a victim.
El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese origin, was arrested, held in isolation, questioned and ill-treated in a hotel in the Macedonian capital Skopje for 23 days, the court's press service said.
He was then transferred to CIA agents who brought him to a detention facility in Afghanistan, where he was further badly treated for over four months.
The European court, based in Strasbourg, France, ruled that El-Masri's account was "established beyond reasonable doubt" and that Macedonia "had been responsible for his torture and ill-treatment both in the country itself and after his transfer to the US authorities in the context of an extra-judicial rendition".
Assange to run for Australian Senate, start Wikileaks party
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says he intends to run for a seat in the Australian Senate in next year’s federal election and will announce the formation of a WikiLeaks party. He made the announcement from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange has been living in the embassy for the past six months, in an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden and possibly the US.
The whistleblower told Fairfax Media that plans to register the political party were “significantly advanced” and added that “a number of very worthy people admired by the Australian public” have expressed their availability to run for election on the party ticket.
However, there remains one small problem – Assange is still holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, with no signs of leaving anytime soon.
But Assange says that’s only a minor obstacle, because it is “inevitable” that the US will eventually drop its investigation into WikiLeaks.
They Can Hear You Now: Verizon Patent Could Listen In On Customers
Verizon has filed a patent for targeting ads that collect information from infrared cameras and microphones that can detect the amount of people and types of conversations happening in customers’ living rooms.
The set-top box technology is not the first of its kind – Comcast patented similar monitoring technology in 2008 that recommended content to users based on people it recognized in the room. Google TV also proposed a patent that would use video and audio recorders to figure out exactly how many people in a room were watching its broadcast.
Verizon filed for the application in May 2011, but the report was published last week due to laws stating that all patent applications be published after 18 months.
FierceCable first publicized the Verizon patent that gives examples of the DVR’s acute sensitivity in customers’ living rooms: argument sounds prompt ads for marriage counseling, and sounds of “cuddling” prompt ads for contraceptives.
Senate Judiciary chair floats federal marijuana legalization
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested to U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske in a letter released Thursday (PDF) that Congress may consider legalizing marijuana in the wake of Colorado and Washington voting in favor of regulating the drug similarly to alcohol.
But, Leahy wrote in the letter, he wants to know where the administration stands on the laws before the committee takes up the question.
“How does the Office of National Drug Control Policy intend to prioritize Federal resources, and what recommendations are you making to the Department of Justice and other federal agencies in light of the choice by citizens of Colorado and Washington to legalize personal use of small amounts of marijuana?” Leahy asked Kerlikowske. ,,,
Leahy’s letter also explained that he plans to hold Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the Obama administration’s marijuana strategy sometime next year.
Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke
If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.
Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank. ...
This is the disgrace to end all disgraces. It doesn't even make any sense. There is no reason why the Justice Department couldn't have snatched up everybody at HSBC involved with the trafficking, prosecuted them criminally, and worked with banking regulators to make sure that the bank survived the transition to new management. As it is, HSBC has had to replace virtually all of its senior management. The guilty parties were apparently not so important to the stability of the world economy that they all had to be left at their desks.
So there is absolutely no reason they couldn't all face criminal penalties. That they are not being prosecuted is cowardice and pure corruption, nothing else. And by approving this settlement, Breuer removed the government's moral authority to prosecute anyone for any other drug offense. Not that most people didn't already know that the drug war is a joke, but this makes it official.
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
Pee Wee Crayton - Huckle Boogie
Pee Wee Crayton - Blues After Hours
Pee Wee Crayton - The Telephone Is Ringing
Pee Wee Crayton - Red Rose Boogie
Pee Wee Crayton - My Idea About You
Pee Wee Crayton - Do Unto Others
Pee Wee Crayton - Peace Of Mind
Pee Wee Crayton - When It Rains It Pours
Pee Wee Crayton - Texas Hop
Pee Wee Crayton - Change Your Way Of Lovin'
Pee Wee Crayton - Daybreak
Pee Wee Crayton - Running Wild
Pee Wee Crayton - Every Night
Pee Wee Crayton - Blues At Daybreak
Pee Wee Crayton - You Know Yeah
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Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky