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.
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features "The King of Soul," Sam Cooke. Enjoy!
Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson - Cha Cha Cha
"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes… Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”
-– Napoleon Bonaparte
News and Opinion
Wall Street Banks Seize Opportunity to Profit from Nation's Unemployed
'Too Big to Fail' banks including JP Morgan Chase, U.S. Bancorp and Bank of America have seized on an opportunity to profit off the nation's jobless by siphoning millions of dollars in fees from state unemployment programs, according to a new report by the National Consumer Law Center.
Privatizing the task of distributing unemployment benefits, the banks have created a "fee-heavy" check card system. Instead of having payments deposited directly to bank accounts or recieving checks sent in the mail from their state governments, individuals across the nation are increasingly forced to use costly bank issued payment cards that are loaded with a "plethora" of costly fees for the recipient.
The large banks pitched the operation to states as a scheme that would "save millions in overhead costs" but have instead externalized such costs to America's jobless.
The Associated Press reports:People are using the fee-heavy cards instead of getting their payments deposited directly to their bank accounts. That’s because states issue bank cards automatically, require complicated paperwork or phone calls to set up direct deposit and fail to explain the card fees, according to a report issued Tuesday by the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit group that seeks to protect low-income Americans from unfair financial-services products.
Whistleblower John Kiriakou: For Embracing Torture, John Brennan a "Terrible Choice to Lead the CIA"
CIA Nominee John Brennan's Worry Over Torture Ended with Who Might Get Blamed
Though equipped with inside knowledge of the Bush era program, John Brennan took no visible steps to end it
As John Brennan readies for confirmation hearings as CIA director, re-surfaced episodes of how the spy operative and national security adviser dealt with knowledge about the torture program under the Bush administration shows that his reticence about painful coercive techniques employed by the CIA on suspected terrorists was less about the unlawful acts themselves, but about who would get the blame if and when word about them slipped out.
As Reuters reports Wednesday, citing unnamed officials with knowledge of those years, Brennan showed concern "that if details of the program became public, it would be CIA officers who would face criticism, rather than the politicians and lawyers who approved them."
Obama’s Flip-Flops on Money in Politics
When President Obama told supporters that he would morph his campaign into a new nonprofit that would accept unlimited corporate donations, the announcement set off a familiar round of griping from campaign finance reformers.
The creation this month of Organizing for Action, which will promote the president’s second-term agenda, appears to be the fourth reversal by Obama on major money-in-politics issues since 2008.
“No big bank or corporation will donate million-dollar checks to OFA without the expectation that it will impact which issues they engage on, and that’s very troubling,” said Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
The Washington Post noted that in reorganizing his campaign as a tax-exempt social welfare group, the president is embracing a structure that has been criticized for allowing anonymous money into politics.
PBS' Nova ‘Rise of the Drones’ Is Mostly a PBS Infomercial for the Military Defense Industry
The widely-acclaimed PBS program, NOVA, premiered a documentary on unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. The documentary, “Rise of the Drones,” was produced to explore how the technology is revolutionizing warfare and creating the next generation of cutting-edge surveillance. It was created to provide a glimpse at how the technology has advanced and how innovations might progress in the future.
Before the documentary began, PBS noted the program had received funding from the David H. Koch Foundation for Science. It also received “additional funding” from Lockheed Martin, which on its face looks like a violation of PBS’ underwriting guidelines.
Lockheed Martin is one of the nation’s biggest military defense contractors and is developing drones (in secret). The test PBS is supposed to apply to programs is three-fold and as follows:
Editorial Control Test: Has the underwriter exercised editorial control? Could it?
Perception Test: Might the public perceive that the underwriter has exercised editorial control?
Commercialism Test: Might the public conclude the program is on PBS principally because it promotes the underwriter’s products, services or other business interests?
Having Lockheed Martin provide any amount of money to a program that touts the amazing potential of innovations in drone technology appears to be a violation of both the “perception” and “commercialism” tests.
For further information about PBS violating its policies and contact information for the PBS ombudsman see this article by FAIR.
Europe’s robust financial-transactions tax
The details of Europe’s new financial transactions tax won’t be made public for a few weeks, but the FT’s Alex Barker has seen a draft, and it looks impressively robust. The tax is being implemented by 11 countries, including most importantly Germany and France, and it’s going to be levied at two levels: 0.1% on securities trades, and 0.01% on derivatives trades. It’s also going to be very difficult to dodge: any trader whose institutional headquarters is in one of the 11 countries will have to pay the tax, as will all transactions taking place in those countries, and all transactions involving securities issued in those countries.
The tax will have two main purposes. The first is to raise substantial tax revenues on the order of $45 billion per year; the second is to discourage financial speculation. ... It’s good to see real leadership here from France and Germany. They’re going to implement a sensible tax, which will raise much-needed revenues at minimal societal cost. What’s more, if you pierce corporate veils to find out which individuals will end up paying the tax, it’s going to look a lot like a wealth tax, rather than an income tax. That’s good news, in a world where the wealthy tend to pay much lower taxes than those with high incomes.
Massive security hole lets hackers control millions of cameras, printers and routers
A newly discovered exploit in a technology standard known as “universal plug and play” (UPnP) is big enough that hackers on the Internet could remotely access and control “millions” of compatible devices like cameras, printers and routers, security researchers said Tuesday.
Researchers working for the security firm Rapid7 said they found bugs in the UPnP standard that exposes personal devices to being remotely accessed and controlled. That means an enterprising hacker could, say, exploit the bug to print unwanted messages on a personal printer, or turn on a webcam unbeknownst to the owner.
A hole this large has likely already been exploited on a selective, individual basis, researchers warned, noting that something like 40 to 50 million network devices make use of UPnP.
Rapid7′s announcement was confirmed Tuesday night by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), which warned that “hundreds of vendors” that supply network-enabled hardware rely upon UPnP, including major firms like Cisco’s Linksys, D-Link, Belkin and Netgear. The agency recommended those manufacturers begin immediately updating their software to close the vulnerability — a process which could take months.
Assange to run for Australian senate: WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will run for a seat in the Australian Senate during this year’s elections, his organisation announced Wednesday.
WikiLeaks unveiled the plan with a tweet that read “Australia: Julian Assange has confirmed he will run in the 2013 national election for the Australian Senate”, just hours after Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the nation would go to the polls on September 14.
Assange said last year that he was planning to register a WikiLeaks party with the Australian Electoral Commission, The Age newspaper reported at the time.
To do so he would require the support of 500 eligible voters, the paper said, adding that if he were elected while still out of the country a nominee would occupy the Senate seat.
It was unclear whether being elected a senator would have any bearing on his status in Britain and whether London would allow him to leave the country of his own accord.
Despite the allegations against him Assange remains a popular figure in Australia.
Little-known database sells millions of Americans’ salary information to debt collectors
The credit reporting agency Equifax has created a little-known database that uses employment records, often given freely by human resources departments around the country, to track detailed information on millions of Americans’ pay history, in effect leading employers to help debt collectors extract money from their workforce.
An Equifax subsidiary called The Work Number, according to an investigative report at MSNBC, is often used by larger companies to automate employee work information calls, giving the firm access to human resources data.
Using that business model they obtain as much employment-related information possible and sell it to debt collectors and other financial companies, among various ways of monetizing that data. Up to one-third of all Americans are in the database, MSNBC noted.
FBI's Stuxnet investigation to target journalists?
The unprecedented number of leaks of classified information was one of the issues that plagued the Obama Administration during its first term. Perhaps the highest profile leak was that of a joint US - Israeli computer virus that attacked Iran's nuclear power plants and-- more specifically-- its uranium enrichment facilities. Stuxnet, as it came to be called, has now resulted in a massive federal investigation into the source of the leaks. Federal investigators are tapping the emails and phones of all officials familiar with the case in order to find the leaker. To do that, they are looking into the communications these people had with any and all journalists during that time.
Call to Action! Hedges v. Obama Appeals Court Date – Feb. 6, 2013
If you are in the New York City area on Feb. 6, join the action at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit - Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, Room 1505 on 15th floor.
On September 12, 2012 we had one of the biggest victories for civil liberties and against government overreach in a decade. Federal Judge Katherine Forrest granted a permanent injunction against Section 1021(b)(2), the government promptly filed an appeal, and then went further: they requested a stay of execution on the injunction from Judge Forrest, once again providing no evidence and failing to answer all of her questions and concerns, while again claiming that the detention powers of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2001, (the law that allows the president to detain those who were involved in the 9/11 attacks and/or are members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban) and the NDAA’s Section 1021 powers are precisely the same.
This is disingenuous. Section 1021 provides sweeping powers of detention through incredibly vague and undefined terms, that are missing in the AUMF. The government is completely contradicting itself. Judge Forrest made it clear that her ruling did not touch the AUMF. And in their request for an emergency stay, the government claimed “irreparable harm” would be incurred if they do not have the powers of Section 1021. On October 2, 2012, a stay against the permanent injunction was granted by a three judge motions panel of the Second District US Court of Appeals, pending appeal on the merits.
Climate scientists predict future with lower average rainfall
Climate scientists said Wednesday they found evidence to back predictions for a future with lower average rainfall, even though Earth’s past warming episodes had led to more precipitation, not less.
Writing in the journal Nature, researchers said they had found proof that global warming caused by Man’s greenhouse-gas emissions has a different effect on rainfall than warming caused by increased solar radiation. ...
The introduction of heat-absorbing greenhouse gases leads to a narrowing of the usual temperature difference between different layers of the atmosphere — thus a more stable atmosphere that is less conducive to rain, said the report.
“For the same increase in temperature, solar heating will induce an overall higher level of rainfall than greenhouse gases,” said a Nature press statement.
“Less rainfall (under the greenhouse-gas warming scenario) means on average increasing chances for droughts,” said co-author Bin Wang of the University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center.
Shell acquitted of 4 of 5 Nigeria pollution charges
Shell was acquitted in a Dutch court on Wednesday morning of most of the charges against it for pollution in Nigeria, where disputed oil spills have been a long-running source of contention between the oil company, local people and environmental campaigners.
The case involved five allegations of spills in Nigeria, and four of these were quashed by the court. On the fifth count, Shell was ordered to pay compensation, of an amount yet to be decided.
The case was brought in the Netherlands because of Shell's dual headquartership, being both Dutch and British, and was brought by four Nigerian farmers co-sponsored by the international green campaigning group Friends of the Earth.
In a statement, Friends of the Earth Netherlands said: "This verdict is great news for the people in lkot Ada Udo who started this case together with Milieudefensie [Friends of the Earth Netherlands]. But the verdict also offers hope to other victims of environmental pollution caused by multinationals. At the same time, the verdict is a bitter disappointment for the people in the villages of Oruma and Goi – where the court did not rule to hold Shell liable for the damage. Fortunately, this can still change in an appeal."
Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International's Africa programme director, said: "Clearly it's good news that one of the plaintiffs in this case managed to clamber over all the obstacles to something approaching justice. However, the fact that the other plaintiffs' claims were dismissed underscores the very serious obstacles people from the Niger Delta face in accessing justice when their lives have been destroyed by oil pollution."
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
Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cooke- Another Saturday Night
Sam Cooke - Cupid
Sam Cooke - Chain Gang
Bring it on home to me - Sam Cooke
Nothing Can Change This Love - Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke - Twisting The Night Away
Sam Cooke Having A Party
Sam Cooke - You Send Me
Sam Cooke - Summer time
Sam Cooke - Frankie And Johnny
Sam Cooke - Good Times
That's Where It's At - Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke - Nobody knows the trouble the i've seen
Sam Cooke - That's It, I Quit, I'm Moving On
Sam Cooke - Wonderful World
Sam Cooke - Fool's Paradise
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us? Well you'll see why very soon. So what are you waiting for?! Head on over now and be one of the first!