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Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues guitarist Earl Hooker whose birthday occurred this week (Jan 15).

Earl Hooker - Off The Hook

“Colonies are the outhouses of the European soul, where a fellow can let his pants down and relax, enjoy the smell of his own shit.”

  -- Thomas Pynchon

News and Opinion

"Unintended Consequences of Military Intervention": Roots of Mali, Algeria Crisis Tied to Libya War
Napoleon in Mali

Before we can come to any appreciation of what is actually happening in Mali, the narrative we are being sold needs first to be debunked. News accounts refer to the rebels as "Islamists," an easy label to affix to groups very few know anything about. The reality, however, is quite different: the rebels are Tuaregs of Northwest Africa, a nomadic group whose historic homeland crosses the boundaries of Mali, Algeria, Libya, Niger, and Burkina Faso. They are herders and smugglers, whose caravans once provided the only source of commercial contact between the empires of central Africa and the Arab lands to the north. Their fight for independence precedes the existence of Al Qaeda by a hundred and fifty years.

In the Great Scramble for European colonies that began at the end of the 19th century, French colonialists invaded, seized the land, and subjected the locals to a program of forced "assimilation" into "French civilization." The Tuaregs have been fighting to regain their independence ever since. Today, however, that struggle has been reinterpreted as yet another example of "Islamic terrorism."

This is outright false. The Tuareg independence movement is led by the National. Movement for the Liberation of Awazad (MNLA), a secular organization that only wants autonomy for the Tuareg areas of Mali. There are active Islamists in Mali, affiliated with Ansar Dine, which has no known affiliation with Al Qaeda in the Mahgreb other than the fact that Ansar Dine’s leader, Ag Ghaly, is a cousin of AQIM commander Hamada Ag Hamada. "It is true that Ansar Dine have the black flags, but they are not Al Qaeda," said MNLA spokesman Ag Assarid. "They want stability on the streets," which the "government" of Mali is unable to provide, and "they are against Al Qaeda too." North African specialist Salma Belaala concurs: “We can’t make a systematic link between the AQIM and Tuareg. It’s completely false."

In any case, the tactical alliance between the MNLA and Ansar Dine has been an on and off affair: days after the "merger" of their forces was announced, the MNLA began to back off – and, a week later, the lash up was back on again. This link to "terrorism," never mind Al Qaeda, is tenuous indeed – but how else will the revanchist dream of a revived French empire in Africa be realized except under the rubric of the "war on terrorism"?

Stewart vs Krugman and the Religion of Austerity

Geithner sees too much economic pessimism: report

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned against too much pessimism about the US economy, in an interview published Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

“I think people are too dark about the economy now, in part because of the shadow of pessimism, skepticism about our political system today,” said Geithner, who is set to leave his post soon.

The Treasury chief was referring to the political gridlock that has gripped Washington as President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies battled with the US House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans for the past two years.

“But, and for the moment it’s very hard to do, if you look past the political dysfunction, the economy looks encouragingly resilient,” he told the Journal.

Bill Moyers Essay: The 'Crony Capitalist Blowout'

Study: Working Poor Cannot Meet Basic Needs

According to a new policy brief by The Working Poor Families Project, 32 percent of working families do not make enough money to support their basic needs.  The brief defines families as “working” if they work at least 39 weeks per year.  From the brief:

“……in 2011, more than 7 in 10 low-income families and half of all poor families were working.  They simply didn’t earn enough money to pay for basic living expenses.”
The brief also attributes the rise in low-income working families – from 10.2 million families in 2010, to 10.4 million families in 2011 – to a lack of middle-class jobs.  In other words, as the economy has been steadily improving, the jobs becoming available have been low-wage, low-benefit positions with little chance of upward mobility.  Families in this situation, the brief asserts, often must devote much of their income to necessities like housing and transportation, leaving little room for spending on education or other career-advancing endeavors.
Why "Important People" Hate Social Security

Criminalizing Pregnancy: As Roe v. Wade Turns 40, Study Finds Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women

A new study shows hundreds of women in the United States have been arrested, forced to undergo unwanted medical procedures, and locked up in jails or psychiatric institutions, because they were pregnant. National Advocates for Pregnant Women found 413 cases when pregnant women were deprived of their physical liberty between 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, and 2005. At least 250 more interventions have taken place since then. In one case, a court ordered a critically ill woman in Washington, D.C., to undergo a C-section against her will. Neither she nor the baby survived. In another case, a judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her from having an abortion

Can National Grassroots Push Depose the 'Billion Dollar Democracy'?

A new report released Thursday puts an exclamation point on the outlandish and outweighed influence that wealthy individuals and corporations have in a post-Citizens United world by showing that a mere 32 wealthy donors—with an average gift of almost $10 million each—gave as much money to largely unregulated Super PACs in 2012 than all the country's individual small donors gave to the Obama and Romney campaigns combined. ...

As the new report by U.S. PIRG and Demos, “Billion-Dollar Democracy,” shows, those 32 multi-million dollar gifts, in essence, outweighed the collective voice of 3.7 million individuals who gave individual and transparent campaign contributions to the candidate of their choice. Moreover, most did so under a veil of secrecy using shadow non-profit groups and shell corporations created specifically to launder political giving by masking the identities of financial sources.

“Americans who are wondering why it seems tougher to get ahead or even get a fair shake in today’s economy should look to big money politics for answers,” said Adam Lioz, report co-author and Counsel for Demos. “When a tiny group of wealthy donors fuels political campaigns, they get to set the agenda in Washington, and the rest of us are left to argue over that agenda.”

To voice their outrage and demand fundamental change, progressive groups—including Public Citizen, NAACP, U.S. PIRG, Common Cause, MoveOn, Organic Consumers Association, League of United Latin American Citizens, Hip Hop Caucus and others—have planned nationwide days of action called Money Out/Voters In taking place this coming weekend.

This is an interesting article, though I think the author's conclusions about the contrast between Hoover's FBI and the current octopus of federal agencies surveilling and infiltrating people and organizations are considerably premature. We don't have the full evidence on the table, nor should we restrict our focus to the FBI alone when calculating the oppressive nature of the system.
The FBI and protesters, then and now

Recently released FBI files about the Occupy movement do not reveal the kind of dirty tricks J. Edgar Hoover's bureau used against demonstrators in the Bay Area during the '60s, but they present some striking parallels to those dark days and have rightly raised concern among civil libertarians.

Though fragmentary, the records provide a window on the FBI's monitoring of protest and show that over the decades the machinery of surveillance remains much the same, even as expanded intelligence powers and technological advances magnify potential abuse.

As in the '60s, the FBI reports use sweeping language like "potential terrorist threat" to characterize nonviolent dissent. As then, the bureau exchanges information with a vast network of federal agencies, state and local police, campus cops and corporate security. Such activity, Congress found in the '70s, contributed to massive intelligence abuses. ...

Even while noting Occupy organizers do "not condone the use of violence," the records show that FBI field offices across the nation collected information on the premise the protests posed a potential "terrorist" or "criminal" threat. ... The bureau shared information on Occupy with police on joint terrorism task forces, which have raised concerns about skirting local surveillance restrictions, and with fusion centers, regional intelligence hubs recently criticized by Congress as violating civil liberties.

The day Aaron Swartz helped make the Internet go dark

Jan. 18, 2012: The Internet went dark. Google slapped a solid, black rectangle over its logo. Wikipedia turned to shades of gray with the words “Imagine a world without free knowledge” and a zip code tool for contacting Congress. More than 115,000 websites and blogs participated that day; many sites not only posted protest messages but also encouraged people to email Congress. Over four million emails were sent, 10 million signatures were collected by Google, eight million phone calls were made and three million tweets called on Congress to dump the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). It was anything but a dark day for the diverse and expansive community that came together to beat back the attack on the free Internet.

Jan. 11, 2013: Aaron Swartz, founder of Demand Progress and a key architect of this brilliant and successful SOPA/PIPA campaign, took his own life.

On the one year anniversary of this tremendous milestone for Internet freedom, the web is full of discussion about Aaron, the 26-year-old activist and technologist who died after putting so much of himself into fighting the aggressive reach of corporate money in politics and our daily lives. It is painfully fitting to commemorate, as a tribute to him, the victory against SOPA and PIPA, which involved a tremendous mobilization of tech companies, online gurus, street activists, nerds, students, suits and every kind of user imaginable joining together to defend the accessibility of information. His commitment to the free flow of information put him in the federal prosecutors’ line of fire.

Zero Dark Thirty's 'Almost Journalism': Another Word For Propaganda

Why aren’t film director Kathryn Bigelow’s claimed government sources, including employees of the CIA, in jail like Pfc. Bradley Manning? Or, at the very least, being investigated for their role in one of the most damaging leaks of national security information in U.S. history?

How did the Japanese-owned Sony Corporation that released Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” gain access to information on the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, so highly classified that it was denied to the official 9/11 Commission that investigated the terrorist attacks? The opening frame of the movie states the crime, clearly claiming that “Zero” is “based on firsthand accounts of actual events.”

Those “actual events,” constituting the tenacious search for the country’s most- wanted terrorist, are matters of such carefully guarded secrecy that even the 10 members of the 9/11 Commission, all possessing the highest level of access, were forbidden to interview anyone with “firsthand” knowledge. The commission, which was created by President George W. Bush and Congress in 2002 and in 2004 released the only official public U.S. government examination of 9/11, was explicitly banned from any contact with the “key witnesses.” ...

In short, all of us, the great U.S. citizenry, have been denied open access to the facts essential to understanding the great national trauma justifying a war on terror that has done more damage to U.S. standards of freedom than any foreign enemy.

What are the German Bankers Thinking?

Former prime minister Paul Martin says Ottawa has 'no understanding' of native issues

Paul Martin has a keen interest in the issues raised by the Idle No More movement.

As Canada's 21st prime minister, Martin oversaw the signing of the 2005 Kelowna Accord, which envisioned the investment of $5 billion over 10 years for education and social welfare programs for aboriginal Canadians. The project fell apart when Stephen Harper took over that year as prime minister, and cut the funding. ...

Q: The relationship between aboriginal peoples and the rest of Canada seems to be at an impasse. How would you assess this era of activism?

A: Idle No More, while not unique – there have been other historic examples of it – is nonetheless a very different approach. It’s not violent. This is a huge grassroots movement in which a lot of non-aboriginals are participating. It arose from an issue that all Canadians should be outraged about – which was the slipping into budget bills [of] pieces of legislation that would gut, as an example, environmental assessments on freshwater rivers and lakes. I think what’s happening here is that aboriginals of all kinds are saying, “We’re not going to take this any longer.” And Canadians who understand the issues are saying, “You’re right, and we want to join with you.” If this isn’t unique, it’s certainly welcome.

[more interview at link above]

Study Shows Impact of Keystone XL Pipeline More Disastrous Than Previously Thought

As all eyes are on President Obama and his pending decision regarding the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project, new research released Thursday indicates that the pipeline's impact is much more disastrous for the planet than previously thought, putting a "strong nail in the coffin of any rational argument for the further exploitation of the tar sands."

Oil Change International’s new report “Petroleum Coke: The Coal Hiding in the Tar Sands” (.pdf) reveals that previous climate impact analyses of tar sands projects, though already appalling, are consistently underestimated because they have thus far failed to account for a devastating high-carbon byproduct of the refining process gifts the coal industry with an even dirtier, cheaper version of their black gold.

The menace, petroleum coke (known as petcoke), which is created during the tar sands refining process, emits 5 to 10 percent more carbon dioxide than coal and is "priced to move," enabling the continuation of the carbon burning industry.

"Commonly used as a cheaper, more carbon-intensive substitute to coal" the substance has already hit the market; the largest global petcoke trader in the world is Florida based Oxbow Corporation, reportedly owned by William Koch, brother of Charles and David Koch.

Oil Change International estimates that between January 2011 to September 2012, the US exported over 8.6 million tons of petcoke to China, "most of which was likely burnt in coal-fired power plants."

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin'

The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery

Revealed: The Wall Street Journal Has No Idea What is Happening in America

The Trillion Dollar Coin: A Debt Solution for the People

Without Comment: Lawrence Lessig on Aaron Swartz

Carmen Ortiz's Shameful Press Release

Defending our existence

A Little Night Music

Earl Hooker - Sweet Home Chicago

Earl Hooker - Is You Ever Seen A One Eyed Woman Cry?

Earl Hooker - The Hucklebuck

Earl Hooker - You Got To Lose

Earl Hooker - Two Bugs and a Roach

John Lee and Earl Hooker - Messin With The Blues

Earl Hooker - Blues for Dancers

Earl Hooker - Blue Guitar

Earl Hooker - Earl's Boogie Woogie

Earl Hooker & Junior Wells - Lazy Mule

Earl Hooker - Blues In D Natural

Earl Hooker - Apache War Dance

Earl Hooker - I Feel Good

Earl Hooker - Going On Down The Line

Earl Hooker - I Wanna Be Free

Earl Hooker - Tanya

Earl Hooker - After Hours


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

mood ring 1

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH.


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