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.
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This evenings music features Colin Linden
Colin Linden - Smoke 'em all
News and Opinion
Bolivia's Morales Calls for New Era of 'Peace and Unity' to Break Greed of Capitalism
The 'end of the world' it is not, says president of Bolivia, but rather an opportunity to dispose of 'capitalism's greed' and unite in happiness and unselfishness
Bolivian President Evo Morales is marking today's winter solstice and the much-discussed calendar date by celebrating a hopeful vision for a "new era of peace and love" in the world, one in which the spirit of community and respect for Mother Earth will win out over the greed induced by global capitalism.
In an open invitation to celebrate the day, Morales explained that "the Mayan calendar's 21 of December is the end of the non-time and the beginning of time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha, the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood, it is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism."
And continued, "The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a bio-centric life. It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love, the end of lies and beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness and the beginning of happiness, it is the end of division and the beginning of unity, and this is a theme to be developed. That is why we invite all of you, those of you who bet on mankind, we invite those who want to share their experiences for the benefit of mankind."
Morales, a champion of indigenous rights and himself a descendent of the Andean Aymara people, helped supplant the idea that the 2012 winter solstice marked the "end of times" or an "apocalypse" by clarifying that the lunar happening was simply an opportunity for spiritual renewal. Though auspicious for the Mayan people, most of the loud rhetoric clamoring about the "end of the world" is a Western invention, pushed by those who know little of the traditions or spirit of the indigenous people and their deeper history.
State of the Climate - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
November 2012 global temperatures were fifth highest on record
The globally-averaged temperature for November 2012 marked the fifth warmest November since record keeping began in 1880. November 2012 also marks the 36th consecutive November and 333rd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average.
Senator Whitehouse Shouts Out the Fossil Free Divestment Campaign
"The public is ready for us to take action, but we’re not. We are - as I’ve said in previous speeches - sleepwalking.
We are sleepwalking through history and we must wake up. Awaken to our duties... Awaken to our responsibilities... Awaken to the plain facts that lay all around us if only we would open our eyes and see them.
The public has every reason to want to grab us and give us a good shake. We are sleepwalking through this era, lulled as we sleepwalk by the narcotic of corporate money - Corporate money out of the polluters and their allies. We are lulled by the narcotic of manufactured doubt, planted in a campaign of disinformation by those same polluters and allies. History is calling us, loud and clear. History is shouting in our ear. Yet we ignore the facts, we ignore our duties and we sleepwalk on. It is irresponsible and it is wrong."
NDAA Lawsuit Brief Filed By Children Of Japanese-Americans Interned During World War II
The children of Japanese-Americans whose internment during World War II was upheld by the infamous Supreme Court ruling Korematsu v. United States are stepping into a new legal battle over whether the military can indefinitely detain American citizens.
Writing that their parents "experienced first-hand the injustice resulting from a lack of searching judicial scrutiny," the children of Fred Korematsu and other Japanese-Americans who were interned filed a brief on Monday in support of a lawsuit against the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. Critics say the law allows the military to lock Americans away without trial merely on suspicion of support for terrorist organizations.
"During WWII, President Roosevelt essentially issued the military a 'blank check,'" Korematsu's children wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief. The military's orders, "to which the Court uncritically deferred, culminated in the internment. In reviewing the NDAA’s new detention provision, the courts cannot afford to mimic the wartime Supreme Court’s failure."
The government says that law-abiding Americans have nothing to worry about, and that courts have no business intervening in the president's war powers. But for the children of Korematsu, those claims sound frighteningly similar.
During World War II, they said, the War Department fabricated evidence to paint all Japanese Americans as potential spies, and the Supreme Court failed to take a hard look at the government's facts. Earl Warren, who was the attorney general of California at the time and later went on to serve as chief justice of the court, said in his 1977 memoir he "deeply regretted" his support for that decision. Korematsu is not the sort of mistake the judiciary should make again, the brief's authors write.
Iran sanctions now causing food insecurity, mass suffering
The Economist this week describes the intensifying suffering of 75 million Iranian citizens as a result of the sanctions regime being imposed on them by the US and its allies:"Six years ago, when America and Europe were putting in place the first raft of measures to press Iran to come clean over its nuclear ambitions, the talk was of "smart" sanctions. The West, it was stressed, had no quarrel with the Iranian people—only with a regime that seemed bent on getting a nuclear bomb, or at least the capacity for making one. Yet, as sanctions have become increasingly punitive in the face of Iran's intransigence, it is ordinary Iranians who are paying the price.Pervasive unemployment, inflation, medicine shortages, and even food riots have been reported elsewhere.
"On October 1st and 2nd Iran's rial lost more than 25% of its value against the dollar. Since the end of last year it has depreciated by over 80%, most of that in just the past month. Despite subsidies intended to help the poor, prices for staples, such as milk, bread, rice, yogurt and vegetables, have at least doubled since the beginning of the year. Chicken has become so scarce that when scant supplies become available they prompt riots. On October 3rd police in Tehran fired tear-gas at people demonstrating over the rial's collapse. The city's main bazaar closed because of the impossibility of quoting accurate prices. . . .
"Unemployment is thought to be around three times higher than the official rate of 12%, and millions of unskilled factory workers are on wages well below the official poverty line of 10m rials (about $300) a month."
That sanctions on Muslim countries cause mass human suffering is not only inevitable but part of their design. In 2006, the senior Israeli official Dov Weisglass infamously described the purpose of his nation's blockade on Gaza with this candid admission: "'The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger." Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman justified the Iran sanctions regime this way: "Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that."
Even more infamously, the beloved former Democratic Secretary of State Madeleine Albright - when asked in 1996 by 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl about reports that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US-imposed sanctions on that country - stoically replied: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."
Julian Assange: WikiLeaks to release 1 million new documents
WikiLeaks is preparing to release more than a million documents next year, the controversial website's founder said Thursday.
Julian Assange did not provide details about their contents but said they "affect every country in the world."
Canada's First Nations protest heralds a new alliance
The grassroots IdleNoMore movement of aboriginal people offers a more sustainable future for all Canadians
Canada's placid winter surface has been broken by unprecedented protests by its aboriginal peoples. In just a few weeks, a small campaign launched against the Conservative government's budget bill by four aboriginal women has expanded and transformed into a season of discontent: a cultural and political resurgence.
It has seen rallies in dozens of cities, a disruption of legislature, blockades of major highways, drumming flash mobs in malls, a flurry of Twitter activity under the hashtag #IdleNoMore and a hunger strike by Chief Theresa Spence, in a tepee minutes from Ottawa's parliament. Into her tenth day, Spence says she is "willing to die for her people" to get the prime minister, chiefs and Queen to discuss respect for historical treaties.
The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan has dismissed the escalating protest movement, saying "that's social media, so we'll just have to see where that goes." He told international media that relations with First Nations are "very good". If only that were the truth. What remains unspeakable in mainstream politics in Canada was recently uttered, in a moment of rare candour, by former Prime Minister Paul Martin:"We have never admitted to ourselves that we were, and still are, a colonial power."Canadians have often turned a blind eye, having been taught to see the rights of aboriginal peoples as a threat to their interests. Dare to restore sovereignty to the original inhabitants, the story goes, and Canadians will be hustled out of their jobs and off the land. Or more absurdly, onto the first ships back to Europe.
But here's the good news. Amidst a hugely popular national movement against tar sands tankers and pipelines that would cross aboriginal territories, Canadians are starting a different narrative: allying with First Nations that have strong legal rights, and a fierce attachment to their lands and waters, may, in fact, offer the surest chance of protecting the environment and climate. ... After all, who would Canadians rather control enormous swathes of rural, often pristine land : foreign corporations who see in it only dollar signs over the next financial quarter, or aboriginal communities whose commitment to its sustainability is multigenerational?
Pelosi Says Chained CPI Would Strengthen Social Security
Republican craziness has stopped a deal from happening on the fiscal slope, and really nothing else. Because here’s Nancy Pelosi yesterday on chained CPI, a benefit cut to Social Security recipients that happens to be regressive and more painful as people age:Q: Members of your Caucus are organizing against the chained CPI that the President has put on the table in negotiations, is that something you can support in any deal at this point? I mean…She’s right that we don’t know if there’s a plan. But it’s well worth discussing. Chained CPI is a benefit cut. If it were a technical adjustment that had the effect of raising net Social Security benefits, nobody would support it. In fact, an accurate technical adjustment, which accounted for the cost of living of actual seniors who spend far more a percentage of their budgets on medical treatment, WOULD raise net Social Security benefits, because their cost of living is simply higher than the average person by virtue of being sicker in old age.
Leader Pelosi: Well, whatever the final arrangement is, we’ll have to have balance. So, we’ll see where that figures. But I’ve said to the Members: “express yourselves.” You know, speak out against, because I’m not thrilled with the President’s proposal, I mean, it is what it is in order to save the day. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll all identify with every aspect of it. So, they go forth with my blessing.
Q: Do you consider that a benefit cut?
Leader Pelosi: No, I don’t. I consider it a strengthening of Social Security. But that’s neither here nor there. There’s no use even discussing that because we don’t even know if we have a plan.
And Robert Greenstein can make all the arguments he wants about the “protection of the vulnerable” through some birthday bump-up at age 85 (because the loss of money compounded from 65-85 doesn’t make life more difficult for seniors in the interim), but he and virtually nobody else points out the 50 other programs that rely on an inflation index for a cost of living adjustment or income-based eligibility. These include things like food stamps, Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, veteran’s benefits Supplemental Security Income, the Child Tax Credit and child nutrition programs. Nobody has come out and said that chained CPI will or will not apply to all of those programs (and they’ve been incredibly vague on whether it would apply to tax brackets, creating a regressive tax increase). But the reason to incorporate chained CPI into government planning is to reduce the federal government’s spending burden in the out years, and so I would imagine they’ll apply it to as many areas as possible. And the federal government doesn’t spend too much on non-tax expenditure social programs on the rich. Virtually all that money flows to the vulnerable; that’s why they qualify. And chained CPI would give them less across all those programs.
Liberals Back to Giving Obama a Pass
If I were to describe a president who escalated a cruelly pointless war, raised more than twice as much campaign money from large individual donors as from small ones (including more than $27 million from lawyers and lobbyists), engaged in widespread violations of civil liberties and the Constitution, and whose most vaunted legislative achievements were to protect banks and pave the way for transfers of large amounts of money from the public treasury to private insurance companies, you would probably assume I was talking about a right-wing Republican.
But I’m talking about President Obama, a Democrat, and more than a month after he defeated Mitt Romney for re-election, I remain mystified by the hysteria that took hold of liberals when it appeared, briefly, that he might lose. Liberal guilt over the president’s numerous broken pledges and his early passivity in dealing with a discredited Republican minority can partly explain the outraged tone of the American “left” whenever it got the chance to blast Romney.
At the same time, attacks on Obama from the far right provoked reflexive defenses from people disgusted by such idiotic paranoids as the “Birthers.” However, this doesn’t entirely account for the cravenly soft treatment accorded the incumbent over the past four years. And now that Obama appears poised to push substantial parts of Social Security and Medicare over the “fiscal cliff” — in exchange for a paltry, largely symbolic, increase in the top marginal income-tax rate — we might ask whether liberals will once again rise to Obama’s defense, no matter how indefensible his actions. ... These days liberals seem to flee confrontation with anyone who calls himself a Democrat. Thus we see virtually no primary challenges from the left, no threats to bolt the party, hardly any public protests, and no boycotts of the Democratic Party’s fundraising apparatus.
Struggling homeowners may lose critical tax break in fiscal cliff talks
Among the tax breaks at risk in the negotiations between the White House and Congress to avert the “fiscal cliff” is a measure aimed at helping struggling homeowners. ...
Since 2008, more than 800,000 homeowners have been allowed to sell their homes for less than they were worth, known as a short sale, through a government program. In other cases, banks have lowered the balance owed on mortgages to make the payments more affordable and to encourage homeowners not to walk away. ... In a short sale, the difference between what is owed on a mortgage and the price at which a homeowner is allowed to sell his or her home could be considered taxable income. The same is true when the principal balance of a mortgage is reduced.
That tax liability was waived under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which expires at the end of this month.
Housing advocates say the loss of the tax break would not be fair to financially strapped homeowners who are hardly in a position to pay.
Number of veterans who die waiting for benefits claims skyrockets
After seven months of delay, the Department of Veterans Affairs finally approved World War II veteran James Alderson’s pension benefits last week.
But it was not a cause for celebration or relief for Alderson, whose life’s work was the farm supply store he founded near Chico after returning home from the Battle of the Bulge.
The 89-year-old veteran had died three months earlier in a Yuba City nursing home.
“My father was a very proud person,” Alderson’s son, Kale, said. “Whenever I saw him, he would ask if I’d heard from the VA and whether his money would hold up. It really took a toll on him.”
The VA’s inability to pay benefits to veterans before they die is increasingly common, according to data obtained by The Bay Citizen. The data reveals, for the first time, that long wait times are contributing to tens of thousands of veterans being approved for disability benefits and pensions only after it is too late for the money to help them.
In the fiscal year that ended in September, the agency paid $437 million in retroactive benefits to the survivors of nearly 19,500 veterans who died waiting. The figures represent a dramatic increase from three years earlier, when the widows, parents and children of fewer than 6,400 veterans were paid $7.9 million on claims filed before their loved one’s death.
Why the US media ignored Murdoch's brazen bid to hijack the presidency
So now we have it: what appears to be hard, irrefutable evidence of Rupert Murdoch's ultimate and most audacious attempt – thwarted, thankfully, by circumstance – to hijack America's democratic institutions on a scale equal to his success in kidnapping and corrupting the essential democratic institutions of Great Britain through money, influence and wholesale abuse of the privileges of a free press.
In the American instance, Murdoch's goal seems to have been nothing less than using his media empire – notably Fox News – to stealthily recruit, bankroll and support the presidential candidacy of General David Petraeus in the 2012 election.
Thus in the spring of 2011 – less than 10 weeks before Murdoch's centrality to the hacking and politician-buying scandal enveloping his British newspapers was definitively revealed – Fox News' inventor and president, Roger Ailes, dispatched an emissary to Afghanistan to urge Petraeus to turn down President Obama's expected offer to become CIA director and, instead, run for the Republican nomination for president, with promises of being bankrolled by Murdoch. Ailes himself would resign as president of Fox News and run the campaign, according to the conversation between Petraeus and the emissary, K T McFarland, a Fox News on-air defense "analyst" and former spear carrier for national security principals in three Republican administrations.
All this was revealed in a tape recording of Petraeus's meeting with McFarland obtained by Bob Woodward, whose account of their discussion, accompanied online by audio of the tape, was published in the Washington Post – distressingly, in its style section, and not on page one, where it belonged – and, under the style logo, online on December 3.
Mosque arsonist tells court: ‘I only know what I hear on Fox News’
An Indiana man convicted of setting fire to a mosque in Ohio told a judge on Wednesday that he committed the crimes because Fox News and conservative talk radio had convinced him that “most Muslims are terrorists.” ...
Linn explained to the court that he had gotten “riled up” after watching Fox News.
“And I was more sad when Judge [Jack] Zouhary asked him that, ‘Do you know any Muslims or do you know what Islam is?’” one mosque member who attended the hearing recalled to WNWO. “And he said, ‘No, I only know what I hear on Fox News and what I hear on radio.’”
“Muslims are killing Americans and trying to blow stuff up,” Linn also reportedly told the judge. “Most Muslims are terrorists and don’t believe in Jesus Christ.”
New bill intends to end abusive bandwidth caps
Internet service providers who impose arbitrary data caps and fees on customers who supposedly access too much information are the targets of a new bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The Data Cap Integrity Act (PDF) would charge the Federal Communications Commission with developing a standard for how ISPs can measure data usage and implement a rule which mandates all digital content be treated equally when utilizing that standard to create data caps. ...
Although carriers that use data caps, like AT&T and Comcast, insist they are necessary to keep the network operating smoothly, a study published last week by The New America Foundation found that they’ve only served to enhance profits and limit competition.
The study found that broadband providers have enjoyed increasing profits and decreasing costs, to the point where many are seeing “gross margins as high as 95 percent,” by some estimates. “For these companies, selling broadband packages even to the heaviest users is still quite profitable,” researchers wrote.
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
Colin Linden - Terraplane Blues
Colin James w/ Colin Linden - Limelight
Colin Linden - Southern Jumbo
Colin Linden - Big River
Colin Linden - Moon Follow Me Home
Colin Linden - From The Water
Colin Linden - Sugar Mine
When the Carnival Ends - Colin Linden
Colin Linden - Too Late To Holler
Colin Linden + Chris Thomas King - John Law Burned Down the Liquor Store
Colin Linden - Big Mouth
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
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