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 New Orleans singer Johnny Adams. Enjoy!
Johnny Adams - Walking on a Tightrope
"No extraordinary power should be lodged in any one individual."
-- Thomas Paine
News and Opinion
Judge Furious over Mysterious Censors at Guantanamo Bay Trials
'Who is this invisible hand?' Gitmo Defense lawyers ask
A military judge presiding over a pretrial hearing at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base ordered an end to a secretive U.S. government agency's censorship of what the media can and can't hear in the courtroom, following an unexpected blackout of hearings earlier this week. ...
The judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, said the the information that had been blacked out was not officially confidential, and thus should not have been censored.
Pohl said earlier that he did not previously know there was anyone outside of the court that could censor the proceedings. ...
The mysterious censor, who has had control over what reporters can and can't hear in the courtroom, is said to come from an Original Classification Authority, a term that could refer to a number of government agencies, Democracy Now! reports. ...
Pohl is also considering halting the entire case over allegations from defense lawyers that the same censors have been using technology to eavesdrop on the lawyers' private conversations with defendants in both the courtroom and in other parts of the detainee compound.
Navy Lt. Commander Walter Ruiz, attorney for one of the defendants, criticized the anonymous government monitoring system for curtailing the tribunal process.
"Who is the invisible hand?" Ruiz asked. "Who is pulling the strings? Who is the master of puppets?"
Ex-Gitmo Prosecutor: Obama's Drone Surge as Damaging as Bush Torture Program
Retired Air Force Col. Morris "Moe" Davis, once the lead government prosecutor for terrorism suspects at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, says that the US torture regime under Bush and now the drone assassination program run by the Obama administration have combined to make the world less safe and called both programs—whether they could be legally justified or not—"immoral."
"We are not the shining city on the hill," Davis told the small crowd gathered at Johnston Community College in North Carolina on Thursday night. "If we're the country we claim to be, we've got to get back to the values we claim to represent. Regardless of whether it's illegal, it's immoral."
"War is hell. But the rule of law makes it a little less hellish," Davis added.
The talk was part of a series given by Davis this week in which he lectured at several North Carolina colleges with the message that the United States' use of torture, secret detention and extraordinary rendition imperils the reputation of the country while also putting its own soldiers at increased risk of mistreatment in the future.
It’s Good to Be a Goldman
Shame on you, Goldman Sachs. Now here's your bonus
Here’s a get-out-of-jail-free card, and while we’re at it, take this obscenely huge bonus for having wrecked the economy. As the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program pointed out in a devastating report this week, “excessive” compensation was approved by the Treasury Department for the executives of the three companies that required the largest taxpayer bailouts to survive.
In a stinging rebuke of Timothy Geithner’s Treasury Department, the report “found that once again, in 2012, Treasury failed to rein in excessive pay.” Whopping pay packages of $5 million or more were allowed by the Treasury Department for a quarter of the top executives at AIG, General Motors and Ally Financial, the former financial arm of GM.
But that’s nothing compared with the $21 million for last year’s work garnered by Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, which is now free of TARP supervision. In addition to his paltry $2 million in salary, Blankfein received a $19 million bonus for his efforts. Not quite the $67.9 million bonus he got in 2007 before the market crash that his firm did so much to engineer, but times are still hard.
Barack Obama, Wall Street Co-Conspirator?
After all the big news last week about Barack Obama’s all-too-close relationship with Wall Street, my dad and I got into a back and forth email exchange about whether to feel optimistic about the president’s second term and about how to explain the administration’s refusal to prosecute a single banker connected to the financial meltdown.
Though my father is no Obama apologist by any stretch, his politics lean liberal, and so in response to watching last week’s PBS Frontline report, he asked me questions that were similar to those I’ve heard before. He wants to believe Obama really hopes to “hold Wall Street accountable,” as the president claimed, and so my dad wonders whether the president’s refusal to do so can be explained by something other than corruption. He wants to believe — or at least to explore the possibility — that the depressing situation isn’t simply about Obama raking in massive Wall Street contributions and then paying back his donors with immunity from prosecution — immunity, mind you, that the rest of us are not afforded.
Obama is a president who asserts the right to execute American citizens without judge, jury or trial. That means that in his role overseeing the Department of Justice, he (like his predecessors) clearly retains the lesser-but-still-serious power to tell his political appointees at the Justice Department to prioritize certain kinds of prosecutions. In fact, this is exactly what he just did when this month he issued an executive order instructing the Department of Justice to “maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.”
He could just as easily have a similar executive order after winning a presidential election on promises to “hold Wall Street accountable.” But he chose not to back then, just as he chooses not to today. ...
In this, he is not some weakling getting bowled over by more powerful forces. Like I told my dad, he is one of the strongest presidents in recent history, deftly leveraging the most powerful office in the world to get exactly what he and his Wall Street donors want. Those donors didn’t give him millions as an altruistic gift — they gave him millions as an investment. And he is paying back that investment every single day the bankers who cratered the economy are not prosecuted.
Americans shocked to learn that there isn’t actually a Social Security crisis
The Washington Post’s WonkBlog has a scoop: People don’t want to cut Social Security!
The post concerns a recent survey that is actually pretty useful, in that it supports what should already be common sense: People have been led to believe that Social Security faces a crisis in funding. When you tell people some proposals for fixing it, they a) overwhelmingly choose to fund it more generously and b) decide that the program actually does not face any sort of crisis at all. A marketing firm hired by the National Academy of Social Insurance surveyed a random sampling of Americans and discovered that what people want is to raise taxes on rich (and regular!) people in order to fund more Social Security benefits, which is a good idea because the program is currently pretty stingy by international standards and Americans don’t actually have pensions anymore. ...
Despite the staggering popularity and undeniable success of Social Security, a lot of political figures are obsessed with killing it. Some people want Social Security ended for honest ideological reasons, but most of the loudest voices in favor of “reforming” the program wish to do so because it would make them or their friends a lot of money by effectively forcing all Americans to gamble their retirements on the fluctuations of the giant Wall Street casino.
There’s also this common Washington thing where if a certain proposal is hugely unpopular with everyone in the country besides a tiny wealthy elite, supporting that proposal is considered “serious” and “bold” and “brave.” So despite it being a horrible and unpopular idea, proposals to weaken or effectively eliminate Social Security come up all the time in discussions of “the deficit.” One common trick is to say we need to rein in “entitlements,” which inexplicably lumps together Social Security with Medicare, another hugely popular program that, unlike Social Security, is going to cost more and more money to maintain in the medium term. Another common argument is to say that the program will face a shortfall in many years, making it urgently necessary to … cut benefits, to make sure the program “survives.”
Relax America, there will be no crippling shortage of bread and circuses, erm, chicken wings
In the run-up to Super Bowl Sunday, millions of American football fans can rest assured: there is no looming shortage of their beloved chicken wings.
The National Chicken Council estimates that the nation will wolf down 1.23 billion chicken wings over Super Bowl weekend, or nearly four wings for each and every American. ...
“There is sufficient frozen poultry in storage,” council spokesman Tom Super told AFP in an email, citing the latest data from the US Department of Agriculture.
“So no, there will be no wing shortage,” he said. “They might be a little more expensive, but there is and will be plenty to go around.”
Google Maps adds panoramic images of the Grand Canyon
Google Maps opened a virtual path to the wonders of the Grand Canyon on Thursday by adding panoramic images gathered by hikers with Android-powered camera systems strapped to their backs.
“These beautiful, interactive images cover more than 75 miles (120 kilometers) of trails and surrounding roads,” Google Maps product manager Ryan Falor said in a blog post.
So who is in charge of fracking wastewater, anyway?
With new evidence pointing to potentially dangerous levels of radiation in fracking wastewater, questions arise over just who regulates this stuff.
The short answer: No one, really.
Does the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or U.S. Department of Transportation step in, because this water is often transported across state lines? Does the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regulate the tanker trucks being driven around on the state’s roads? What about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitors every radioactive molecule emanating from nuclear power plants?
The answer, it seems, is a resounding no from every regulatory body except perhaps from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. State DEP officials say that yes, they are in charge of regulating the handling, transport and disposal of wastewater from natural gas drilling. But those same officials said they do not measure radium concentrations in fracking wastewater, a position they held until their announcement Thursday that they plan to launch a yearlong study of radioactive waste from the drilling procedure formally known as hydraulic fracturing.
“At present, there is no concerted effort that our Radiation Protection Program is aware of concerns measuring radium concentrations or activities in brine,” DEP spokesman John Poister had said earlier. “We did some surveys years ago, but nothing’s been done that routinely measures radium production during fracking operations.”
With Keystone XL in Limelight, Enbridge Plans 'Aggressive' Pipeline Push
As Transcanada's Keystone XL pipeline project has become the subject of increasing protests and scrutiny, the Edmonton Journal reports that Enbridge has quietly amassed a comprehensive network of pipelines capable of moving more than one million barrels of toxic tar sands per day (bpd).
According to the reporting, Enbridge's total "combination of line expansions and new construction represents more capacity than TransCanada’s 830,000 bpd Keystone XL pipeline."
Thus far, environmentalists and critics of tar sands have primarily focused their efforts on the Keystone XL pipeline, with tentative success. Increasing protests and awareness of tar sands' calamitous effects have temporarily curtailed Transcanada's pipeline project and, according to an "unnamed US official," the Obama administration has further postponed the final decision "to sometime at the beginning of the summer."
Congressional Auditorium in the Capitol Visitor's Center
East Capitol Street Northeast
Join the DC community to remember the life and work of Aaron Swartz, an accomplished activist, and call for Computer Fraud and Abuse Act reform. We will honor the contributions he made at the national level with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who shared his relentless commitment to make the internet free and open.
Attendees will include Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, Ben Wikler, Dean Baker, Robert Swartz, Larry Lessig, Senator Wyden, and several other members of Congress.
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
Johnny Adams - You're in for a big surprise
Johnny Adams - You Made A New Man Out Of Me
Johnny Adams - Garbage Man
Johnny Adams - RoadBlock
Johnny Adams - I Live My Whole Life at Night
Johnny Adams - The Night Is A Hunter
Johnny Adams - Who Will The Next Fool Be?
Johnny Adams - Up & Down World
Johnny Adams - Losing Battle
Johnny Adams - Reconsider Me
Johnny Adams - Salt of The Earth
Johnny Adams - I Dont Want To Know
Johnny Adams with George Porter Jr. - Lost Mind
Johnny Adams - I Can't Be All Bad
Johnny Adams - Danger Zone
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!