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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.  

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This evening's music features Chicago bluesman J.B. Lenoir and blues singer, songwriter and pianist Tommy Tucker.  Enjoy!

J.B. Lenoir with Freddy Below - The whale has swallowed me

"The 5th Amendment is an old friend and a good friend. one of the great landmarks in men's struggle to be free of tyranny, to be decent and civilized."

  -- William O Douglas

News and Opinion

The Filibuster

Progressives: Paul's Filibuster Against 'Extrajudicial Killing' on Target

Progressives may disapprove of the GOP messenger, but on Wednesday they found much to support in his long-winded challenge to Obama's claimed authority to target US citizens for extrajudicial killing.

During a filibuster led by Tea Party champion and Republican US Sen. Rand Paul journalist Jeremy Scahill sent out a tweet that summed up the position of many progressives who might abhor Paul's political philosophy broadly but couldn't help but champion his stand against a declaration by the Department of Justice earlier this week stating that President Obama could, in theory, target US citizens for extrajudicial killing, even while on US soil.

As Paul spoke during his filibuster that lasted nearly 13 hours, running from late Wednesday morning into early Thursday, Scahill tweeted:

You can be totally disgusted with many aspects of Rand Paul's views & still think he is doing the right thing here. Why is that so crazy?

    — jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) March 7, 2013

Drone Strikes - Is Rand Paul a Constitutional Hero?
Jon Stewart praises Rand Paul for shining light on ‘the execution of executive executions’

On his show Wednesday night, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart applauded Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for using an “old-school filibuster” to highlight the legality of drone strikes on American citizens.

“So Senator Rand Paul, to draw a little attention to the issue of the execution of executive executions, executed the old-school filibuster,” Stewart explained. “I mean, he is out there talking. This isn’t one of these, ‘eh, I’m not going to do anything.’ He is using the filibuster the way it is meant to be used.”

Rand Paul Filibusters Brennan CIA Appointment Over Drone Strikes
Rand Paul Filibusters John Brennan Nomination

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced on the Senate floor Wednesday he intended to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as director of the CIA, citing concerns about President Barack Obama's policy on civil liberties.

"I will speak until I can no longer speak," Paul said.

Paul, an outspoken libertarian, pointed to what he called the abuses of executive power and civil liberties under Obama's administration. In particular, he objected to the contents of a letter he received from Attorney General Eric Holder that asserted the U.S. government had the legal authority to kill a U.S. citizen on American soil.

"Where is the Barack Obama of 2007?" he asked, referring to then-presidential candidate Obama's criticism of Bush-era violations of civil liberties. "If there were an ounce of courage in this body, I would be joined by many other senators," he added. "Are we going to give up our rights to politicians?"

Rand Paul Filibusters Obama Pick, Invoking Alice In Wonderland

Meanwhile, the rest of the world wonders why navel-gazing Americans are so obsessed with drone strikes in their territory which haven't happened yet, while President Obama is arguably committing war crimes in some other countries:
Ben Emmerson, a British human rights lawyer and the United Nations’ special rapporteur for counterterrorism and human rights, announced the start of a formal inquiry into civilian casualties resulting from UAV strikes. In an opening statement, Emmerson said the legal theory for targeted killings annunciated in the U.S., that Western democracies are engaged in a global conflict against a stateless enemy, “is heavily disputed by the majority of international lawyers outside the United States of America.”

Emmerson said his team of experts will focus on 25 case studies from Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Palestine to determine whether there is “plausible” evidence of unlawful killings. He has been quoted in press reports as saying that he will follow the evidence wherever it takes him, which raises the prospect that President Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, could also be accused of being a war criminal. Emmerson plans to submit his report to the UN General Assembly in October.

Doctor: Children 'Traumatized and Re-Traumatized by Drones' in Yemen

A report from a clinical and forensic psychologist just back from Yemen offers a disturbing picture of the horror drones have inflicted on children, who are "traumatized and re-traumatized" by the strikes whose use "amounts to a form of psychological torture and collective punishment."

The findings come from clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Peter Schaapveld, just back from a week-long visit to Yemen, who presented at a press conference on Monday his evidence of a 'psychological emergency' in the country as a result of drone strikes, and of the particularly heavy toll they have on the mental health of children, plagued with PTSD as the mental anguish from the deadly strikes lasts long after the sound of the unmanned aircraft above.

London-based human rights charity Reprieve reports that Schaapveld said:

What I saw in Yemen was deeply disturbing. Entire communities – including young children who are the next generation of Yemenis– are being traumatised and re-traumatised by drones. Not only is this having truly awful immediate effects but the psychological damage done will outlast any counter programme and surely outweigh any possible benefits.
U.N.’s Drone Inquisitor: CIA Torture Was an ‘International Conspiracy of Crime’

As his inquiry into U.S. drone strikes gets underway, the United Nations special rapporteur for counterterrorism and human rights has stepped up his rhetoric against the agency he’ll inevitably investigate. The CIA’s torture program was at the center of an “international conspiracy of crime,” he told a U.N. panel on Tuesday. ...

The extent of international cooperation with the CIA’s torture, detention and rendition regime during the past decade was the focus of a recent Open Society Institute report. The Open Society Institute found last month that over 50 nations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa aided the CIA in holding suspected al-Qaida members, including people ultimately found to be innocent, in brutal conditions. A former Bush administration State Department official, Philip Zelikow, told his then-colleagues in 2006 that the CIA torture amounted to a “felony war crime.”

Emmerson, speaking to the U.N. Human Rights Council, called on the Senate intelligence committee to promptly declassify an extensive inquiry of its own into CIA torture. He said he was “concerned” that the Obama administration has declined to prosecute anyone for authorizing or inflicting torture, warning that such “impunity” undermined Western calls for entrenching democratic norms in the Middle East and North Africa.

Book 'em,  Danno!
Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres

General David Petraeus and 'dirty wars' veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organize the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows. ...

A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.

Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organize and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and returned to the country in 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.

The allegations, made by US and Iraqi witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, implicate US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an adviser to this abuse.

Operation Condor Trial Tackles Coordinated Campaign By Latin American Dictatorships, CIA and Henry Kissinger To Kill Leftists

A historic trial underway in Argentina is set to reveal new details about how six Latin American countries coordinated with each other in the 1970s and ‘80s to eliminate political dissidents. The campaign known as "Operation Condor" involved military dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. They worked together to track down, kidnap and kill people they labeled as terrorists: leftist activists, labor organizers, students, priests, journalists, guerrilla fighters and their families. The campaign was launched by the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and evidence shows the CIA and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were complicit from its outset.

Why Did the US Government and Big Oil Hate Chavez?

Elizabeth Warren Takes On Eric Holder's 'Too Big To Jail' Statement

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took on Attorney General Eric Holder's admission that some banks are too big for the Justice Department to prosecute, asserting that Holder's statement illustrates why the financial institutions should be held accountable.

“It has been almost five years since the financial crisis, but the big banks are still too big to fail," Warren said in a Wednesday statement. "That means they are subsidized by about $83 billion a year by American taxpayers and are still not being held fully accountable for breaking the law. Attorney General Holder’s testimony that the biggest banks are too-big-to-jail shows once again that it is past time to end too-big-to-fail."

Grayson: Obama must not give in to GOP’s ‘unquenchable thirst to hurt the needy’

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and freshman Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) announced Wednesday that they are drawing a “line in the sand” with President Barack Obama on cuts to social programs and possible deals to end the sequester. Grayson said that certain cuts are unconscionable and that progressives must rally against the Republican Party’s “unquenchable thirst to hurt the needy” and urge the president not to make cuts to programs that will disproportionately hurt the poor, the sick and the elderly.

Grayson and Takano have written a letter to the president stating that they will staunchly oppose any cuts to benefits in Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security “including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.” The congressmen hope that other Democrats and members of the House Progressive caucus will sign the letter as well.

On a Wednesday afternoon conference call with Bold Progressives announcing the letter, Grayson and Takano were joined by the National Organization for Women’s President Terry O’Neill, who also called upon legislators to make it clear that they oppose cuts to the social safety net.

EPA Accused Of Violating Clean Water Act, Blocking Scientific Advancement of Corexit In BP Cleanup

Oil Spill Eater International (OSEI), through the Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference group, issued a press release this week saying that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively blocked or otherwise delayed scientific advancement in the cleanup of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster by refusing to acknowledge the toxicity of the oil dispersant Corexit.

According to OSEI, the EPA is guilty of violations to the Clean Water Act because they knowingly used the toxic dispersant instead of opting for cleaner, less toxic methods of oil spill cleanup. ...

Given what we know about both the EPA’s actions and the scientific reports on Corexit’s toxicity, OSEI is not out of bounds saying that the regulatory agency violated the Clean Water Act.

Unfortunately, as [the EPA is] the group that enforces the Clean Water Act, the accusations are about as far as the case will go.

The Obama Pipeline News

Critical Part of State Department Keystone Report Done by Firms with Deep Oil Industry Ties

Two consulting firms provided State Department with key analysis of whether the pipeline would speed development of Canada's oil sands.

The State Department's recent conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline "is unlikely to have a substantial impact" on the rate of Canada's oil sands development was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project.

EnSys Energy has worked with ExxonMobil, BP and Koch Industries, which own oil sands production facilities and refineries in the Midwest that process heavy Canadian crude oil. Imperial Oil, one of Canada's largest oil sands producers, is a subsidiary of Exxon.

ICF International works with pipeline and oil companies but doesn't list specific clients on its website. It declined to comment on the Keystone, referring questions to the State Department.

Parts of ‘State Dept.’ Keystone XL Report Actually Written by TransCanada Contractor

The State Department’s “don’t worry” environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, released late Friday afternoon, was written not by government officials but by a private company in the pay of the pipeline’s owner. The “sustainability consultancy”  to Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanadawrite the statement, which is now an official government document.  The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline’s massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable.

The department’s contractor-written Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement even says the pipeline will be safe from the climate impacts to which it will contribute.

The documents from the ERM-TransCanada agreement are on the State Department’s website, but payment amounts and other clients and past work of ERM are redacted. In the contract documents, ERM partner Steven J. Koster certifies that his company has no conflicts of interest. He also certifies that ERM has no business relationship with TransCanada or “any business entity that could be affected in any way by the proposed work” (notwithstanding the impact statement contract itself). In a cover letter, Koster promises State Department NEPA Coordinator Genevieve Walker that ERM understands “the need for an efficient and expedited process to meet the demands of the desired project schedule.”

An investigation by Inside Climate News finds that ERM’s report draws from work done by other oil industry contractors, Ensys Energy and ICF International.

Van Jones Reacts to Keystone XL Report

Exemplifying Direct Democracy, 28 Vermont Towns Vote Against Tar Sands

Residents in over two dozen towns across the state of Vermont expressed their oppositon to tar sands oil on Tuesday by passing resolutions against a possible plan to allow the "dirty fuel" from running through an existing pipeline that crosses the state.

According to 350 Vermont—a state group affiliated with the international campaigners at, co-founded by Vermont resident Bill McKibben—a total of twenty-eight towns passed resolutions against the project. ...

Vermont—where citizens still celebrate the New England tradition of direct democracy through annual town hall meetings at which many items can be brought forth for community consideration—is just one of the states fighting a regional battle against a plan to bring tar sands—often cited as the 'world's dirtiest fuel'—from Montreal, Canada to the coast of Maine for export.

Town resolutions have recently been passing in nearby Maine as well, where the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line begins at a pumping station on the shores of Casco Bay.

Red Lake Nation Tribal Members Blockade Enbridge Pipelines - Orders Enbridge Pipeline Off Their Land

Braving frigid temperatures and intense snowfall, a group of Red Lake Nation tribal members are now on their seventh day of a blockade of an Enbridge oil pipeline, which they say passes illegally through their sacred tribal land in northern Minnesota.

The occupation utilizes a pipeline safety law which states that if a person or thing remains situated above a pipeline for over 72 hours the pipeline must be shut off. The protesters hope that the demonstration will slow down the production of tar sands in Canada.

The encampment began on February 28th, with the 72 hour mark passing days ago. Though Enbridge has not yet "stopped the flow," Cobenais said in an email, the group "continues to stand the line."

Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. told reporter John Hageman, from the Bemidji Pioneer, that "the Red Lake band has known about this trespass for many years."

"We have had talks with Enbridge but nothing meaningful came of those talks," he said, "so the Red Lake band ordered them to vacate tribal lands and move their lines," to no avail.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Petraeus, Detention and Torture Connected

Birth Control and "The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition"

What Rightwingers Rand Paul and Ted Cruz Exposed About the Drone Strikes

AUMF Creep

Update from Emerson College

A Little Night Music

J.B. Lenoir - I feel so good

J.B.Lenoir - Slow Down

J.B.Lenoir - Alabama Blues

J.B. Lenoir - Born Dead

J.B. Lenoir - Talk to Your Daughter

J.B. Lenoir - Vietnam Blues

J.B Lenoir - The Mojo Boogie

J.B. Lenoir - Feelin' Good

J.B. Lenoir - Man Watch Your Woman

JB Lenoir - Natural Man

J.B. Lenoir - I've been down so long

Tommy Tucker - Hi-Heel Sneakers

Tommy Tucker - Long Tall Shorty

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!

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH.


Rand Paul's filibuster

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