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 Chicago bluesman Magic Slim who passed away at age 75 last week.
Magic Slim & the Teardrops - Going to Mississippi
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
News and Opinion
Sequestration: Washington’s Stupid, Destructive GameObama is still eager to cut your earned Social Security, Medicare benefits, the deal with Boehner is still what Obama wants. Obama has offered them repeatedly and put them on the chopping block.
It’s Monday morning in America. That means we’re about to endure another week of pointless debate over the precise methods by which our federal government will impose more needless misery on the hapless population, instead of addressing its eminently fixable economic problems. ...
The “sequester” debate is the latest stage of an ongoing hostage crisis that’s forcing austerity economics on an unwilling population – cloaking it in a false debate about how to do it, not about why we shouldn’t do it at all. ...
The president is once again boasting of past spending cuts, even as their harmful effects ripple throughout our economy. He’s giving immediate deficit reduction a higher priority than much-needed investment. And he’s proposing two dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in revenue, which is a pretty right-wing way of going about it. ...
The president is insisting on $100 billion in cuts to Social Security payments for the elderly and disabled – an offer that Republicans have shrugged off but which he has placed back on the table again and again. Those offered cuts are accompanied by other proposed cuts to Medicare, which seem to include limits in choosing medical providers. ... The president is also proposing further cuts to the postal service, which will mean more lost jobs. And some of his “nondiscretionary savings” – e.g., “reform TSA security fees” and “strengthen solvency of UI (unemployment) trust fund” – look a lot like regressive taxation that’s been run through Mr. Orwell’s Newspeak machine.
Pete Peterson has wound Obama up and he's ready to go again:
White House Wants Everyone to Know Obama Supports Cutting Social Security Benefits
Just in case you haven’t gotten the message already, the White House wants to make sure everyone knows President Obama supports cutting Social Security benefits. They are even bragging about Obama’s desire to cut Social Security benefits on the official White House blog:And he’s laid out a specific plan to do more. His proposal resolves the sequester and reduces our deficit by over $4 trillion dollars in a balanced way- by cutting spending, finding savings in entitlement programs and asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share. As a result the deficit would be cut below its historic average and the debt would fall as a share of the economy over the next decade. Just two months ago Speaker Boehner said there was $800 billion in deficit reduction that could be achieved by only closing loopholes and reducing tax expenditures. So we know we can get this done. Let’s be clear: the President’s proposal to Speaker Boehner is still on the table. Here it is again
When Will Rep. Issa’s Hearings On Aaron Swartz Begin?
Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, gave an impassioned speech at the Aaron Swartz Memorial Service in D.C. committing to reforming the law and investigating the abuses of the Swartz case. But when will the hearings begin?
According to the Huffington Post, Justice Department officials have already disclosed to members of Congress that Swartz’s politics played a role in the prosecution, specifically a political manifesto Swartz wrote in favor of open access to information.Swartz’s 2008 manifesto said sharing information was a “moral imperative” and advocated for “civil disobedience” against copyright laws pushed by corporations “blinded by greed” that led to the “privatization of knowledge.”…
The “Manifesto,” Justice Department representatives told congressional staffers, demonstrated Swartz’s malicious intent in downloading documents on a massive scale…
[Associate Deputy Attorney General Steve] Reich told congressional staffers that the Justice Department believed federal prosecutors acted in a reasonable manner, according to the sources. He also made clear that prosecutors were in part influenced by wanting to deter others from committing similar offenses.
The White House’s Self-Authorization to Use Military Force in Algeria and Mali
Back when the Administration dug in its heels over releasing 7 OLC memos on targeted killing, I suggested at least some of the authorized targeted killing in places we’re not at war.
ThisNational Journal story seems to suggest that that’s correct, at least in the case of Mali and Algeria.Others may have been signed with the leaders of Algeria and Mali, the legal expert said. Given the widespread unpopularity of the drone program, the disclosure of these agreements could prove extremely embarrassing both for the United States and partner governments.I have also suggested (though usually verbally) that others of the missing 7 memos authorize signature strikes in the two places we’re using them — Pakistan and Yemen. And while the NJ story is more confused on this point (it seems unclear how many memos there are, for example), it does appear that several of the memos involve secret protocols with those two countries.
A senator who sits on the Intelligence Committee and has read some of the memos also said that the still-unreleased memos contain secret protocols with the governments of Yemen and Pakistan on how targeted killings should be conducted. Information about these pacts, however, were not in the OLC opinions the senator has been allowed to see.
The Drone Industry Wants a Makeover
It's been a rough couple of months for drone advocates. John Brennan's CIA confirmation hearing and the Department of Justice's leaked white paper on the government's "kill list" have finally brought the issue of targeted killing to the forefront of the U.S. foreign policy debate. At the center of that debate is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, both internationally and domestically. Though using UAVs to carry out targeted killing in places like Yemen and Pakistan is still popular, the idea of domestic drones populating U.S. skies doesn't sit nearly as well with a lot of people – as the Seattle police department recently discovered when it had to cancel a planned drone program amid public outcry.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the primary trade group that advocates for drone manufacturers, is working to counter those negative impressions. Late last year, they launched a website called IncreasingHumanPotential.org, which sounds like an Orwellian cyborg-development project – an impression only strengthened by the creepy Vitruvian Man homage they're using for a logo. The site highlights the positive aspects of drones, such as their ability to survey farmland and gather data in storms that would otherwise be impossible to collect. It's a simple strategy, and one probably best taken with the same skepticism that should accompany a tobacco lobbyist carrying on about how smoking is a great way to meet people. In fact, most resistance to domestic drones is based on the completely rational fear that they will be used as surveillance devices on people's private activities – not on the straw man argument that UAVs are incapable of performing other valuable tasks.
The drone industry is afraid of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia – where local lawmakers instituted a two-year moratorium on police drone use in criminal investigations or arming drones with so-called less-lethal weapons – spreading to other cities and states. The Virginia General Assembly approved instituting a similar state-wide two-year moratorium, and state legislatures across the country have taken up bills that would require police to obtain a warrant before using UAVs.
#23F: Citizens' Tide of Austerity Protests Swamps Spain
Feb 23 marks the anniversary of an attempted coup in 1981 by right-wing military forces
Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched across Spain Saturday in a massive "citizens' tide" of protests against austerity.
Protest groups joined forces under the slogan "Citizens' Tide, 23F," choosing February 23 since it marks the anniversary of an attempted coup in 1981 by right-wing officers who tried to crush Spain's young democracy and restore military rule.
Today's protest organizers say Spain is facing a new coup -- a "financial coup" -- and called on people to march against what they said was government favoritism toward banks and monied interests at the expense of the 99%.
Citigroup’s Man Goes to the Treasury Department
Jack Lew is the nominee for Treasury secretary whose own bonus as an investment banker was bailed out by the Treasury Department when it rescued Citigroup Inc. (C) in 2008. He owes much to America’s taxpayers. He should also be grateful to Citigroup for agreeing to let him rejoin the government without suffering much for it financially.
An intriguing revelation from Lew’s Senate confirmation hearing last week was that he stood to be paid handsomely by Citigroup if he left the company for a top U.S. government job, under his 2006 employment agreement with the bank. The wording of the pay provisions made it seem, at least to me, as if Citigroup might have agreed to pay Lew some sort of a bounty to seek out, and be appointed to, such a position.
Professor: Why Teach For America can’t recruit in my classroom
Several years ago, a TFA recruiter plastered the Fordham campus with flyers that said “Learn how joining TFA can help you gain admission to Stanford Business School.” The message of that flyer was: “use teaching in high-poverty areas as a stepping stone to a career in business.” It was not only disrespectful to every person who chooses to commit their life to the teaching profession, it effectively advocated using students in high-poverty areas as guinea pigs for an experiment in “resume-padding” for ambitious young people.
In saying these things, let me make it clear that my quarrel is not with the many talented young people who join Teach For America, some of whom decide to remain in the communities they work in and become lifetime educators. It is with the leaders of the organization, which enjoys favor from the Obama administration, captains of industry, members of Congress, the media, and the foundation world. TFA alumni have used this access to move rapidly into positions as heads of local school systems, executives in charter school companies, and educational analysts in management consulting firms.
The organization’s facile circumvention of the grinding, difficult, but profoundly empowering work of teaching and administering schools has created the illusion that there are quick fixes, not only for failing schools but for deeply entrenched patterns of poverty and inequality. No organization has been more complicit than TFA in the demonization of teachers and teachers’ unions, and no organization has provided more “shock troops” for education reform strategies which emphasize privatization and high-stakes standardized testing. ...
But the most objectionable aspect of Teach For America — other than its contempt for lifetime educators — is its willingness to create another pathway to wealth and power for those already privileged in the rapidly expanding educational-industrial complex, which already offers numerous careers for the ambitious and well-connected. An organization which began by promoting idealism and educational equity has become, to all too many of its recruits, a vehicle for profiting from the misery of America’s poor.
1.5C rise in temperature enough to start permafrost melt, scientists warn
A global temperature rise of 1.5C would be enough to start the melting of permafrost in Siberia, scientists warned on Thursday.
Any widespread thaw in Siberia's permanently frozen ground could have severe consequences for climate change. Permafrost covers about 24% of the land surface of the northern hemisphere, and widespread melting could eventually trigger the release of hundreds of gigatonnes of carbon dioxide and methane, which would have a massive warming effect.
However, any such melting would be likely to take many decades, so the initial release of greenhouse gas would probably be on a much smaller scale.
The researchers, led by experts from Oxford University, studied stalactites and stalagmites in Siberian caves that have formed over hundreds of thousands of years. The stalactites and stalagmites formed during periods of gradual melting, when meltwater dripped into the caves, but stopped growing when temperatures fell again and the permafrost refroze. Scientists can measure the growth and halting of stalactite and stalagmites by cutting through the structures at various points corresponding to given time periods in the Earth's history.
They found the stalactites in one far northern cave on the boundary of continuous permafrost grew during a period 400,000 years ago when temperatures were 1.5C higher than in pre-industrial times. That indicates that permafrost was melting at that time, and therefore that it could thaw again if temperatures rise to similar levels.
The Most Influential Climate Science Paper Today Remains Unknown to Most People
Though just six pages long, its dense, technical writing makes it largely incomprehensible to non-experts. And yet this paper is transforming the climate change debate—prompting the financial world to rethink the value of the world's fossil fuel reserves and giving environmental activists a moral argument for action.
That's because behind its complicated terminology is a simple question that affects every aspect of society and business: How much time do we have before the burning of fossil fuels pushes the climate system past tipping points? In a worst-case scenario, about 11 years at current rates of fossil fuel use, according to the paper.
The paper, "Greenhouse-Gas Emission Targets for Limiting Global Warming to 2C," was published in April 2009 in Nature, the prestigious science journal. It was the work of researchers from Germany, the UK and Switzerland, led by Malte Meinshausen, a climatologist at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact.
What they found was stark: To have a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees, humans would have to stick to a carbon budget that allowed the release of no more than 1,437 gigatons of carbon dioxide from 2000 to 2050.
To have an 80 percent chance of avoiding that threshold, they would have to follow a stricter budget and emit just 886 gigatons.
The paper found that by 2006, nations had already spent a quarter of that amount, or 234 gigatons. Meaning, the planet's carbon budget would be exhausted by 2024—11 years from now— if emissions levels stayed the same, or even earlier if they continue their upward trend.
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
Magic Slim & the Teardrops - I'm a Bluesman
Magic Slim & the Teardrops - Crazy Woman
Magic Slim & The Teardrops - Mama talk to your daughter, Get your busness straight
Magic Slim & The Teardrops - I Got Some Money
Magic Slim & The Teardrops - Mustang Sally
Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Vienna 1991
Before You 'Cuse Me, You Upset Me Baby, I Ain't Doin' Too Bad, Talk To Me Baby
Magic Slim & The Teardrops - Hard Luck Blues
Magic Slim - Teardrop
Magic Slim & The Teardrops, "Gotta Love Somebody"
Magic Slim - Cold Women With Warm Hearts
Magic Slim - Bad Boy
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!