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 R&B musician and composer Sly Stone of Sly & The Family Stone. Enjoy!
Sly & the Family Stone - Thank You Falettin Me Be Mice Elf
"When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported al-Qaeda. None of this opinion is based on evidence, because there isn’t any. All of it is based on insinuation or to suggestion and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the "free press," that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests. Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multitiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.
Apart from the invented links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, we had the manufactured frenzy about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. George Bush the Lesser went to the extent—went to the extent of saying it would be suicidal for Iraq—for the U.S. not to attack Iraq. We once again witnessed the paranoia that a starved, bombed, besieged country was about to annihilate almighty America. Iraq was only the latest in a succession of countries. Earlier, there was Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya, Granada, Panama. But this time it wasn’t just your ordinary brand of friendly neighborhood frenzy. It was frenzy with a purpose. It ushered in an old doctrine in a new bottle: the doctrine of preemptive strike, also known as the United States can do whatever the hell it wants, and that’s official. The war against Iraq has been fought and won, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found, not even a little one."
-- Arundhati Roy
News and Opinion
Iraq War: An Eight-Year Massive Crime—But the US Political Class & Press Ask, ‘Was It Worth It?’
Do Iraqis think it was “worth it” to be invaded in 2003 so the US could prevent Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction that did not exist? Was it “worth it” to be occupied by US military forces and private military contractors for eight years? Do they approve of the invasion, which the Gulf War launched by President George H.W. Bush and the sanctions and air strikes against the country that occurred when President Bill Clinton was in office?
A Zogby poll of Iraqi public opinion in 2011 found 22% of Iraqis were happy, 35% were worried and 30% felt “both emotions.” Iraqis viewed Iran, the United States and Iraqi elites as key beneficiaries of the US invasion. “More than one-quarter of Iraqis” saw “al-Qaeda as a chief beneficiary of the war,” and “only 4%” thought “the Iraqi people benefited the most from the war.”
Let’s abandon this frame, which devalues Iraqi lives and the suffering Iraqis experienced. Let’s stay away from discussion of whether war was a “mistake” or not. It cannot be a “mistake” because the administration of President George W. Bush did not just happen to stumble into Iraq and bomb it with a campaign of “shock and awe.” The administration spent months constructing a case for war knowing there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein posed any imminent threat yet they fabricated arguments to convince government agencies, the political class, the press and the public that this was a war that had to be waged. All of which makes the war a crime, not a mistake.
New evidence: CIA and MI6 were told before invasion that Iraq had no active WMD
Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.
Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was “active”, “growing” and “up and running”.
A special BBC Panorama programme tonight will reveal how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries. ...
Panorama confirms that three months before the war an MI6 officer met Iraq’s head of intelligence, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti, who also said that Saddam had no active WMD. The meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, took place days before the British government published its now widely discredited Iraqi weapons dossier in September 2002.
David Frum, the Iraq war and oil
The former Bush speechwriter confirms what has long been the most ridiculed claim about a key reason the US attacked Iraq
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum, author of the infamous "Axis of Evil" claim in Bush's 2002 State of the Union address, has a Newsweek column this morning announcing that "all of us who advocated for the [Iraq] war have had to do some reckoning". His column is an attempt to provide such a reckoning, and contains numerous revealing assertions. ...
Frum's most interesting revelation comes from his discussion of Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile whom many neocons intended to install as leader of that country after the US took over. Frum says that "the first time [he] met Ahmed Chalabi was a year or two before the war, in Christopher Hitchens's apartment". He then details the specific goals Chalabi and Dick Cheney discussed when planning the war:"I was less impressed by Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration. However, since one of those 'others' was Vice President Cheney, it didn't matter what I thought. In 2002, Chalabi joined the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute near Vail, Colorado. He and Cheney spent long hours together, contemplating the possibilities of a Western-oriented Iraq: an additional source of oil, an alternative to US dependency on an unstable-looking Saudi Arabia."
As drone monopoly frays, Obama seeks global rules
President Barack Obama, who vastly expanded U.S. drone strikes against terrorism suspects overseas under the cloak of secrecy, is now openly seeking to influence global guidelines for their use as China and other countries pursue their own drone programs.
The United States was the first to use unmanned aircraft fitted with missiles to kill militant suspects in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. ...
"People say what's going to happen when the Chinese and the Russians get this technology? The president is well aware of those concerns and wants to set the standard for the international community on these tools," said Tommy Vietor, until earlier this month a White House spokesman. ...
Obama's new position is not without irony. The White House kept details of drone operations - which remain largely classified - out of public view for years when the U.S. monopoly was airtight.
That stance is just now beginning to change, in part under pressure from growing public and Congressional discomfort with the drone program. U.S. lawmakers have demanded to see White House legal justifications for targeting U.S. citizens abroad, and to know whether Obama thinks he has the authority to use drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil.
Obama Told House Democrats To Be The Party Of Social Security CutsOur elites posturing over whose constituency will pay for the 1%'s demands has resulted in critical losses for those that can least afford to help the 1% achieve their greed targets:
President Barack Obama told House Democrats this week that it’s better to make changes to entitlement programs when a Democrat is in office rather than risk doing so under a Republican chief executive, according to two lawmakers who attended.
Obama urged House Democrats at the Capitol March 14 to consider changes to Medicare and Social Security to make those programs more “sustainable” in the long run as part of a broader accord on deficit reduction, Democratic Representatives Robert Andrews of New Jersey and Peter Welch of Vermont said in separate interviews. ...
The president in the closed-door meeting with House Democrats said because Democrats created these entitlement programs they should overhaul them to protect their future, according to a person in the room during the meeting who asked not to be identified to describe the discussion. If Democrats accept a deal, it could help Obama sell other parts of his deficit-reduction plan -- such as revenue -- to Republicans. ...
Obama told Senate Democrats March 12 that they should be open to changes in entitlement programs to achieve a long-term budget deal. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin said Obama rebuffed his demand, joined by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, for an assurance that Medicare and Social Security benefits would be untouched in any “grand bargain” agreement.
Tribes plan for worst with looming budget cuts
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — When it comes to the automatic spending cuts that began taking effect this month, federal lawmakers spared programs that serve the nation’s most vulnerable — such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ assistance — from hard hits.
That wasn’t the case with programs for American Indian reservations, where unemployment is far above the national average, women suffer disproportionately from sexual assaults, and school districts largely lack a tax base to make up for the cuts.
The federal Indian Health Service, which serves 2.1 million tribal members, says it would be forced to slash its number of patient visits by more than 800,000 per year. Tribal programs under the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs that fund human services, law enforcement, schools, economic development and natural resources stand to lose almost $130 million under the cuts, according to the National Congress of American Indians.
“We will see significant impacts almost immediately,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told The Associated Press, referring to the BIA. “We will have to furlough some employees. It will mean that there’s going to be a slowing down of the processing of applications and so there will be an impact on the work that the BIA does on behalf of Indian Country.”
Shrinking the behemoth banks
JPMorgan is a prime example of where the too-big-to-fail policy has gotten us. Under international accounting standards, it is the largest bank on the planet: Its total assets stood at almost $4 trillion as of mid-2012, according to an estimate by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig. That’s equal to more than a quarter of the country’s entire annual economic output. The bank’s tangible equity, the bedrock capital available to absorb losses, amounted to just $121 billion, or 3.1 percent of tangible assets. In other words, a decline of 3.1 percent in the value of JPMorgan’s assets could be enough to render it insolvent and necessitate a taxpayer bailout.
Lately, the idea that we should stop paying banks to become dangerous has garnered support on both ends of the political spectrum. Notably, the American Conservative Union has invited a major proponent of caps on bank size, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher, to address its annual conference this week outside Washington, D.C.
The essence of Fisher’s solution is twofold. He would impose an asset limit on banks that, according to Bloomberg News, could force some of the biggest banks to shrink their consumer and commercial-lending units by more than half. He would also roll back government subsidies from banks’ trading and investment-banking operations by requiring them to be walled off from the units that take deposits and make loans.
Size constraints of some form could significantly reduce the subsidy enjoyed by the largest financial institutions. ... To make the whole system more resilient, banks need to get a larger share of their funding in the form of equity from shareholders, as opposed to loans from depositors and other creditors.
Cyprus Revolts Following Troika Demand to Seize Individual Savings
'Your-money-or-your life' ultimatum leaves critics calling bailout deal a 'neocolonial' 'raid'
The people of Cyprus were in continued uproar Monday following news over the weekend that the country's ruling government and finance ministers signaled willingness to impose a tax on individual saving accounts in order to secure a $10 billion bailout package from Europe's financial "Troika" - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
As the Cyprus Mail explains, "Under the terms of a deal brokered with euro zone finance ministers on Friday, Cypriot authorities were to impose a 6.7 per cent tax on bank deposits under 100,000 euros and 9.9. per cent on deposits exceeding 100,000 euros."
The news caused panic over the weekend, with many scrambling to ATMs (the banks are closed until Tuesday) trying to withdraw as much of their savings as possible.
Hell Breaks Loose in Europe as Banking Crisis Unfolds: Depositors' Money May Be Seized
Saturday morning we learned that after hours of tense negotiation, Europe has hammered out a 10bn euro “bailout” of Cyprus. I put the term bailout in quotes because the key feature of this deal is the bail-in of Cypriot depositors to the tune of 5.8bn euros, about a third of Cyprus’ GDP. This means that depositors went to sleep on Friday night and woke up Saturday to find that their money, deposited safely in Cypriot banks, had been seized and used to “bail out” the country. While the bail-in became official EU bank rescue policy during the Spanish crisis last summer, bank depositors were never mentioned at that time. I see this as an extreme measure which, if the European banking crisis continues elsewhere, will have very negative implications for bank depositor confidence in other European periphery countries. ...
Cyprus’ finance minister Michalis Sarris said large deposit withdrawals would be banned. Jörg Asmussen, a German member of the ECB board and a key ally of Angela Merkel, added that the part of the deposit base equivalent to the actual bail-in levies would be frozen immediately so the funds could be used to pay for the “bailout”. ...
Bailout fatigue is the driving force behind the Cyprus bank deposit bail-in. The logic here is the same logic that was at work in the confiscation of subordinated debt holders’ money in the Dutch bank SNS Reaal’s bankruptcy. The principle is that the direct lenders of banks will now become the main parties to lose money in any future EU bailout deal. Significantly, sovereign balance sheets will not take a hit unless nationalized banks’ direct lenders do first. No loans and no guarantees will flow before appropriate haircuts are given to the direct bank lenders. And we can see now that this includes depositors. This approach was first adopted as principle during the Spanish crisis last year.
Wildfires rage in Colorado as fears grow over continued drought
Two wind-driven wildfires erupted in northern Colorado on Friday, prompting the evacuation of about 50 residents and signaling an early start to the wildfire season in the parched Rocky Mountain west. ...
The early-season wildfires could be a bad omen for drought-stricken Colorado, which had one of its worst ever wildfire seasons in 2012.
All of Colorado is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor.
Big Oil Attempts to End-Run Keystone XL with Congressional Approval
"Just once, we wish these Senators would break the trend and listen to the thousands upon thousands standing up against this pipeline, instead of the Big Oil benefactors lining their campaign war chests."
The oil industry is planning an end-run around the President and State Department as they linger over the impending decision on whether to authorize the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by pushing for Big Oil friendly Congressional approval of the project.
On Thursday, Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced a bill which authorizes Transcanada Corp. to construct the pipeline, opening up more than 800,000 barrels a day of heavily polluting tar sands oil.
The announcement of the bill reads: "The senators’ bill would approve the 1,700-mile, high-tech project under Congress’s authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8."
Reportedly, Hoeven last year secured an opinion from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirming Congress’s constitutional authority to approve the project.
According to Oil Change International, "the co-sponsors of this new bill have enjoyed massive contributions from the fossil fuel industry through their careers."
Wyoming regulators OK Encana aquifer waste wellWay to stay on top of things, Obama administration!
Wyoming's oil and natural gas commission approved a plan Tuesday to dispose of wastewater into an aquifer used in some parts of the state for drinking water, overruling no votes from the two geologists on the commission.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved an Encana Oil and Gas request for permission to inject water produced from the company's operations into the Madison formation at a rate around 25,000 barrels -- or about 750,000 gallons -- per day for 50 years. The well would serve existing operations in a small field about 60 miles west of Casper.
The commission, which includes Gov. Matt Mead, voted to approve the plan after a lengthy discussion about the proposal at a Tuesday hearing in Casper. The commission approved the plan largely on the grounds that it would be too expensive to pump and treat water from the 15,000 foot-deep aquifer.
EPA orders Enbridge to dredge river two years after oil spill
More than 21/2 years after a Canadian pipeline rupture spilled heavy oil into a Michigan river, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ordering Calgary-based Enbridge to perform additional dredging to remove submerged oil.
The agency said it has repeatedly found oil in sections of the Kalamazoo River. ...
A letter sent Thursday to Rich Adams, vice-president of operations for Enbridge’s U.S. operations, from EPA co-ordinator Ralph H. Dollhopf, said the oil mixed with river sediment and organic matter had turned to sludge, “making it difficult to find and recover.” ...
“Enbridge’s comments challenged the validity and interpretation of the data relied upon by U.S. EPA in making its determination … ,” said a 36-page response. In it, the agency discounts Enbridge’s suggestion that allowing the oil to biodegrade is the best option for dealing with the remaining oil.
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
Long before Sly Stone started making incredible funky, psychedelic soul records in the 60's he was a kid from a very religious family who was encouraged to perform gospel music. It's interesting to note how much gospel and blues music resemble each other. Here's a song from his gospel period in 1952:
Sly Stone - Walking In Jesus' Name
Sly and The Family Stone - I Want to Take You Higher
Sly & the Family Stone - Dance to the Music
Sly and The Family Stone - Chicken
Sly and the Family Stone at the Harlem Cultural Festival
Sly and the Family Stone - Love City
Sly & the Family Stone - Every Dog has his day
Sly & Family Stone - You Can Make It If You Try
Sly And The Family Stone - Sing A Simple Song
Sly & The Family Stone - There's A Riot Goin' On
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.
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