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 blues guitarist John Primer. Enjoy!
John Primer - Pay The Price
“The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.”
-- Umberto Eco
News and Opinion
RIP Hugo Chavez (1954-2013)
Hugo Chávez Dead at 58; US Military Attache Expelled
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said just now on Venezuelan television. Chavez died Tuesday at 4:25 p.m.
Maduro teared up as he announced the news: "We must unite now more than ever. Our people can count on having a government of men and women committed to protecting them," Maduro said. ...
Maduro said US Air Force attache David Delmonaco has been spying on the Venezuelan military, meeting with right-wing military officers and planning to destabilize the country. Delmonaco has been given 24 hours to leave the country.
Maduro also said, “This official has been given the task of looking for active military members in Venezuela in order to propose destabilization projects to the Armed Forces... We want to denounce that we have certain clues of elements that make up this poisonous picture, which seek to disrupt the social life of our country and give it a beating. The enemies of the country, who aim to destroy democracy, have decided to go ahead with plans to destabilize Venezuela and damage the crux of a democracy...they have intensified the attacks against the economy and against goods and services.”
Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chàvez, mi Amigo
Venezuelan President Chavez once asked me why the US elite wanted to kill him. My dear Hugo: It’s the oil. And it’s the Koch Brothers – and it’s the ketchup.
So what made Chavez suddenly "a dangerous enemy"? Here’s the answer you won’t find in The New York Times:
Just after Bush’s inauguration in 2001, Chavez’ congress voted in a new “Law of Hydrocarbons.” Henceforth, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70% of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising toward $100 a barrel.
But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezeula’s prior government into giving them 84% of the sales price, a cut to 70% was “no bueno.” Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty – just one percent – on “heavy” crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they’d now have to pay 16.6%.
Clearly, Chavez had to be taught a lesson about the etiquette of dealings with Big Oil.
On April 11, 2002, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nation’s Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela – giving a whole new meaning to the term, “corporate takeover.”
We Are Bradley Manning
This trial is not simply the prosecution of a 25-year-old soldier who had the temerity to report to the outside world the indiscriminate slaughter, war crimes, torture and abuse that are carried out by our government and our occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a concerted effort by the security and surveillance state to extinguish what is left of a free press, one that has the constitutional right to expose crimes by those in power. The lonely individuals who take personal risks so that the public can know the truth—the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Ron Ridenhours, the Deep Throats and the Bradley Mannings—are from now on to be charged with “aiding the enemy.” All those within the system who publicly reveal facts that challenge the official narrative will be imprisoned, as was John Kiriakou, the former CIA analyst who for exposing the U.S. government’s use of torture began serving a 30-month prison term the day Manning read his statement. There is a word for states that create these kinds of information vacuums: totalitarian.
The cowardice of The New York Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel and Le Monde, all of which used masses of the material Manning passed on to WikiLeaks and then callously turned their backs on him, is one of journalism’s greatest shames. These publications made little effort to cover Manning’s pretrial hearings, a failure that shows how bankrupt and anemic the commercial press has become. Rescuing what honor of our trade remains has been left to a handful of independent, often marginalized reporters and a small number of other individuals and groups—including Glenn Greenwald, Alexa O’Brien, Nathan Fuller, Kevin Gosztola (who writes for Firedog Lake), the Bradley Manning Support Network, political activist Kevin Zeese and the courtroom sketch artist Clark Stoeckley, along with The Guardian, which also published the WikiLeaks documents. But if our domesticated press institutions believe that by refusing to defend or report on Manning they will escape the wrath of the security and surveillance state, they are stunningly naive. This is a war that is being played for keeps. And the goal of the state is not simply to send Manning away for life. The state is also determined to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and try him in the United States on espionage or conspiracy charges. The state hopes to cement into place systems of information that will do little more than parrot official propaganda. This is why those with the computer skills to expose the power elite’s secrets, such as Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in January, and Jeremy Hammond, who is facing up to 30 years in prison for allegedly hacking into the corporate security firm Stratfor, have been or are being ruthlessly hunted down and persecuted. It is why Vice President Joe Biden labeled Assange a “high-tech terrorist,” and it is why the Bradley Manning trial is one of the most important in American history. ...
Manning has done what anyone with a conscience should have done. In the courtroom he exhibited—especially given the prolonged abuse he suffered during his thousand days inside the military prison system—poise, intelligence and dignity. He appealed to the best within us. And this is why the government fears him. America still produces heroes, some in uniform. But now we lock them up.
Obama Offers to Cut Social Security, Medicare and Popular Programs (Again)
Move fulfills progressive predictions that deficit fear-mongering will pave the way for inevitable 'grand bargain'
According to new reports, President Obama is once again offering cuts to popular social programs such as Medicare and Social Security as a bargaining chip in the ongoing sequester debate.
Such a move by the president is one that many progressives foresaw and warned against, saying that deficit fear-mongering would only pave the way for an inevitable "grand bargain."
According to White House senior economic official Gene Sperling, Obama "reached out" to lawmakers from both parties on Saturday floating a proposition to cut spending in order to appease Republican demands and the 'deficit scolds' who claim, despite evidence to the contrary, that cutting such programs is somehow fiscally responsible.
The Sequester Is President Obama's Fault
Now that we are counting up the days of the sequester instead of counting down, it would be a good time to cast blame. And my candidate is President Obama.
I'm not blaming Obama for the reasons that Bob Woodward came up with in his fantasyland. I am blaming President Obama and his administration for trying to be cute and clever rather than telling the public the truth about the economic crisis. The result is that the vast majority of the public, and virtually all of the reporters and pundits who deal with budget issues, does not have any clue about where the deficit came from and why it is a virtue rather than a problem. ...
The real issue is what President Obama did after the stimulus package passed. He could have told the country the truth. He could have said what all his advisers claim they told him at the time: the stimulus was not large enough and we would likely need more. He could have used his presidency to explain basic economics to the public and the reporters who cover budget issues.
He could have told them that we need large deficits to fill the hole in demand that was created by the collapse in private sector spending. He could have shown them colorful graphs that beat them over the head with the point that there was very little room for investment to expand even under the best of circumstances.
US to purchase fleet of enhanced drones despite budget cutsThe Feds are continuing to militarize local police forces. You betcha, this is to protect you. Don't you feel more secure? Wanna bet that funding won't be cut for militarizing the police due to the sequester?
The sequester won’t stop the US Air Force from acquiring new extended-range drones for overseas operations, a recent report says. Experts speculate why the US is so keen on advancing the drone program, allegedly pushing it to the 2014 budget.
According to a report issued by Defense News, an extended-range (ER) version of the unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 Reaper is due to be purchased by the US Air Force. The new drone’s design would allow it to operate for 42 hours, or 35 hours if loaded with a missile, significantly extending UAV’s flying range.
Although there has been no official comment on related budget submissions, a senior Defense Department source told the media that a request for funding the program will be considered by Congress as early as this March.
“The program is going to go forward,” Chris Pehrson, Director for Strategic Development with Reaper builder General Atomics was quoted as saying. “They’ve approved it; it’s a matter of details now,” he added, declining to comment further on budgetary expectations.
US “Stalling” Could Force Acceptance of Onerous TPP
As negotiators head into a 16th round of talks this week in Singapore, around 400 organisations are urging the U.S. Congress to demand greater transparency in the proceedings.
On Monday, the first day of the negotiations, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), a humanitarian group, called on President Barack Obama’s administration to “end its stall tactics and revise its proposals for what otherwise promises to be the most harmful trade deal ever for access to medicines in developing countries.”
Look at who has a seat at the table, with the public shut out and more than 600 corporate lobbyists...
The Singapore talks will extend through Mar. 13. Critics say civil society and other critical stakeholders have been systematically shut out of the negotiations, supplanted by corporate interests.
And with the Obama administration now saying it wants to wrap up the negotiations by October, some TPP negotiators are reportedly worried that some of the most controversial issues up for discussion are being pushed to the very end in an attempt to “run out the clock”.
According to a new brief released by MSF, U.S. TPP negotiators are pushing for rules that would “enhance patent and data protections for pharmaceutical companies, dismantle public health safeguards enshrined in international law and obstruct price-lowering generic competition for medicines”.
The result could be restrictions on access to affordable generic medicines for “millions” of people.
Swiss Overwhelmingly Vote For "Fat Cat Initiative" To Control Executive Pay
Nearly 68% of the voters supported plans to give shareholders a veto on compensation and ban big payouts for new and departing managers.
Business groups argued the proposals would damage Swiss competitiveness.
But analysts say ordinary Swiss are concerned about a growing economic divide in the country. ...
The BBC's Imogen Foulkes, in Berne, says multibillion dollar losses by Swiss banking giant UBS, and thousands of redundancies at pharmaceutical company Novartis, have caused anger in Switzerland - because high salaries and bonuses for managers continued unchanged.
The new measures will give Switzerland some of the world's strictest corporate rules, our correspondent adds.
Shareholders will have a veto over salaries, golden handshakes will be forbidden, and managers of companies who flout the rules could face prison.
The "fat cat initiative", as it has been called, will be written into the Swiss constitution and apply to all Swiss companies listed on Switzerland's stock exchange.
What it Means that Monsanto Holds the Patents on Life
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments in a seed patent infringement case that pits a small farmer from Indiana, 75-year old Vernon Hugh Bowman, against biotech goliath Monsanto. Reporters from the New York Times to the Sacramento Bee dissected the legal arguments. They speculated on the odds. They opined on the impact a Monsanto loss might have, not only on genetically modified crops, but on medical research and software.
What most of them didn’t report on is the absurdity – and the danger – of allowing companies to patent living organisms in the first place, and then use those patents to attempt to monopolize world seed and food production.
The case boils down to this. Monsanto sells its patented genetically engineered (GE) “Roundup Ready” soybean seeds to farmers under a contract that prohibits the farmers from saving the next-generation seeds and replanting them. Farmers like Mr. Bowman who buy Monsanto’s GE seeds are required to buy new seeds every year. For years, Mr. Bowman played by Monsanto’s rules. Then in 2007, he bought an unmarked mix of soybeans from a grain elevator and planted them. Some of the soybeans turned out to have been grown from Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready soybean seeds. Monsanto sued Mr. Bowman, won, and the court ordered the farmer to pay the company $84,000. Mr. Bowman appealed, arguing that he unknowingly bought soybeans grown from Monsanto’s seeds, not the seeds themselves, and that therefore the law of “patent exhaustion” applies. ...
The real issue is this: Why have we surrendered control over something so basic to human survival as seeds? Why have we bought into the biotech industry’s program, which pushes a few monoculture commodity crops, when history and science have proven that seed biodiversity is essential for growing crops capable of surviving severe climate conditions, such as drought and floods?
Third Maine Town Passes 'No Tar Sands' Resolution to Fight Pipeline
The small town of Waterford, Maine over the weekend became the third town in the state to pass a resolution declaring opposition to a plan aimed at bringing Canadian tar sands oil through an existing oil pipeline running from Montreal to the New England coast.
“This project is about money,” said pipeline opponent and town resident Paula Easton ahead of the vote. The risks to the local environment—including the Crooked River watershed that provides drinking water to a huge portion of southern Maine—were "unacceptable and irreversible” she said.
According to the Lewiston (Maine) Sun Journal, Easton was in the majority who ultimately voted for the resolution in a 56-34 split at the open town meeting on Saturday.
Residents were especially concerned about the possibility of a spill and remained unconvinced by industry executives present at the meeting.
“The 7.8 mile Waterford section of the pipeline holds nearly one million gallons of oil. From the Raymond shut-off valve to the Waterford shut off valve the 25 miles holds over 3 million gallons of oil,” says Waterford resident and retired scientist and educator Earl Morse. “If this antiquated, 62 year old pipeline carries tar sands and ruptures like what happened in Kalamazoo, Michigan in July 2010, the Crooked River watershed and Sebago Lake would be devastated.”
Japan worries about smog drifting in from China
A local government in southwestern Japan on Tuesday advised residents to stay indoors or wear masks when they go outside in the nation’s first official health warning over smog drifting in from China.
Officials in Kumamoto, on Kyushu island, said the quality of air was likely to be substantially below national standards, amid warnings of health risks for the young and the sick. ...
A thick fog of pollution has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities a number of times over recent weeks.
Last month Japanese media reported a swirl of pollution was making its way to Japan from China, further complicating already-strained relations between Tokyo and Beijing, who are squabbling over disputed islands. ...
The toxic haze that blankets China has been blamed on emissions from coal burning in power stations but also on exhaust fumes from vehicles on the traffic-clogged streets of the world’s largest largest auto market.
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
John Primer - I Held My Baby Last Night
John Primer - Hideaway
John Primer - Hoochie Coochie Man
John Primer - Somebody Have Mercy
John Primer - It Only Takes One Minute
John Primer - Red Hot Mama
Billy Branch & John Primer - Sugar Sweet
John Primer - Red House
John Primer - The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock and Roll
John Primer - Canary Bird
John Primer - Double Trouble
John Primer - "Don't Ask Me No Questions"
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!