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 early delta bluesman Eddie "Son" House. Enjoy!
Son House - Grinnin' in Your Face
"Without equal access to the law, the system not only robs the poor of their only protection, but it places it in the hands of their oppressors the most powerful and ruthless weapon ever created."
-- Reginald Heber Smith
News and Opinion
And Justice for Some
"Well, I think we have really never confronted this problem of disfavored people in our society. I don't think we've actually done a very good job of embracing people who have been victims of our excess, our abuse, our bias, our discrimination. We've allowed these narratives that emerge, where we feel like it's okay to abuse certain kinds of people.
And I think that does have a lot to do with what we've seen over the last 200 years. I mean, you know, slavery really wasn't well understood in this country. I don't believe we actually did a very good job of appreciating that in America, we had a slave system that was actually a caste system. Where we enslaved people because we didn't think they were as good as the rest of us. And during that era, we redefined people who were formerly enslaved as criminals. We used convict leasing and other systems and lynching to basically create this narrative of criminality. And once you designate somebody as a criminal, you can do anything you want to do with them. And the Jim Crow era, the civil rights era was similarly, I think, compromised by a proper narrative.
We didn't finish the civil rights movement with the commitment to a process of truth and reconciliation, which is what other countries have recognized you have to do. After decades of human rights abuses, you can't just stop with the law and expect things will be okay. We didn't do that. We didn't spend time talking about the trauma, all of that humiliation, all of that degradation that African Americans experienced. All of that abuse that white people in this country experienced by being told that they were actually better than other people because of the color of their skin, we didn't deal with that.
And because we didn't deal with it, we then created, in my judgment, a new legacy, which is evident in our system of mass incarceration. We throw people away, we disfavor them. We're now seeing it in the immigration context. Where tens of thousands of people who are undocumented are being shelved into detention facilities, because that's what we do with our unwanted.
And we've got to understand that narrative, if we're going to actually get at effective remedies for dealing with things like the right to counsel, a fair treatment of the accused."
Prosecutor Seeks Stay of Execution for Texas Prisoner Duane Buck, Sentenced to Death for Being Black
School suspensions: Does racial bias feed the school-to-prison pipeline?Speaking of "Justice," I vaguely remember a time in America when torture was illegal and prosecutable as was destruction of evidence, rather than grounds for promotion. Gosh Obama administration, your changing the rules even allows for greater diversity in appointing the next
High rates of suspensions and expulsions for certain groups – particularly African-Americans, Hispanics, and those with disabilities – are evident in data gathered nationally by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Data from 72,000 American public schools in the 2009-10 school year, for example, show that while African-Americans make up 18 percent of the students in this large sample, they account for 46 percent of students suspended more than once, 39 percent of students expelled, and 36 percent of students arrested on campus.
White students, by contrast, represent 29 percent of multiple suspensions and 33 percent of expulsions – but 51 percent of the students. ...
Nearly two decades of a "zero tolerance" mentality has contributed dramatically to a spike in exclusionary discipline that involves racial disparities, youth and civil rights advocates say. It has led to what they call a "school-to-prison pipeline," and the implications of this unfair, even draconian, disciplinary system are enormous, they say.
Former CIA officer speaks out against new clandestine service chief
The name of the newly promoted director remains a secret, but the contours of her career were made public by the Washington Post's Greg Miller and Julie Tate in Wednesday's paper. The report explained that in 2005 the new director signed off on the destruction of dozens of interrogation tapes of al Qaeda members including Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri -- an incident that is still seen by some today as a concerted cover-up. In Thursday's New York Times, the paper reported that the new director and her boss, former clandestine service chief Jose Rodriguez, "were the two main drivers for years for getting the tapes destroyed." The new director also helped run the CIA's interrogation and detention program, and oversaw one of the agency's secret prisons. In justifying her ascent to the top of the clandestine service, a former CIA official told the Post that having a female lead the male-dominated department "would be a home run from a diversity standpoint."
Carle rejected that rationale. "Being a 'home run from a diversity standpoint' is not a qualification for the job," he told FP.
Carle, who served 23 years in the clandestine service, dealt firsthand with the enhanced interrogation program in the aftermath of 9/11 and discussed it at length in his 2011 book The Interrogator. He is the first former CIA officer to speak out publicly about the promotion. "My understanding is that the United States prosecuted Japanese soldiers after World War II for having waterboarded Allied soldiers," he said. "Perhaps we should avoid raising to the highest position in the Clandestine Services someone so directly implicated in the same practice ... this time engaged in by Americans."
Julian Assange may be unable to leave Britain until 2015
LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been confined to the Ecuadorean embassy in London since last June, is unlikely to be able to leave Britain before 2015 and his hosts are now hoping for a future Labour government to help break the impasse, a media report said. ...
"Ecuador wants to see the current situation resolved but has lost all faith in the current government's willingness to do that. They have approached the Labour Party in the hope of striking a deal for after the next election. They do not believe that it is beneficial for Mr Assange to be resident permanently in the London embassy," a source told The Independent newspaper here.
A Labour spokesperson, however, stressed that no meeting had been called to specifically discuss Assange but the talks are believed to have taken place on the periphery of a meeting between McCarthy and representatives of the Ecuadorean government in London.
Labour is unlikely to take an official stand on the issue before the elections in 2015.
Money for empire, money for bullets, money to protect the interests of wealthy industrialists... all this as social security payments are cut through Obama's chained CPI because politicians say we just can't afford it.
Paying the Costs of Iraq, for Decades to Come
A little over ten years ago, George W. Bush fired his economic advisor, Lawrence Lindsey, for saying that the total cost of invading Iraq might come to as much as $200 billion. Bush instead stood by such advisors as Paul Wolfowitz, who said that the invasion would be largely "self-financing" via Iraq's oil, and Andrew Natsios, who told an incredulous Ted Koppel that the war's total cost to the American taxpayer would be no more than $1.7 billion.
As it turns out, Lawrence Lindsey's estimate was indeed off -- by a factor of ten or more, on the low side. A new research paper by Linda Bilmes, of the Kennedy School at Harvard, begins this way:The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history - totaling somewhere between $4 to $6 trillion.As the paper lays out, a surprisingly large fraction of the long-term costs comes from the disability payments and medical obligations to people who served. People who were 18 or 20 years old when the war began, and who were injured or disabled (but survived), may need public help until very late in this century.
This Is What Happens When You Rip a Hole in the Safety Net
America’s social safety net, such as it is, has recently come under some scrutiny. Chana Joffe-Walt’s in-depth exploration of the increase in people getting Social Security Disability benefits at NPR got many listeners buzzing. Then in The Wall Street Journal, Damian Paletta and Caroline Porter looked at the increase in the use of food stamps, called SNAP. All three journalists look at the increasing dependence on these programs and come away puzzled: Why are so many people now getting disability and food stamp payments?
The answer is twofold. Recent trends give us the first part of the explanation. Yes, as Paletta and Porter note, the economy is recovering and the unemployment rate is falling. But, as they recognize, the poverty rate is also rising. And therein lies the rub: people are getting jobs but staying poor. The available jobs are increasingly low-wage and don’t pay enough to live off of. And the big profits in the private sector haven’t led to an increase in wages.
GDP and employment may be doing well, but that hasn’t done much for those at the bottom of the totem pole. As the WSJ article points out, 48.5 million people were living in poverty in 2011, up from 37.3 million in 2007, a 30 percent increase. This is despite an unemployment rate that’s fallen off its peak. Some of the fall in the unemployment rate has been driven by people simply giving up on looking for a job altogether. But those who do get jobs are likely trading their once middle-class employment for low-wage work. The National Employment Law Project has found that mid-wage jobs have been wiped out during the recovery in favor of low-wage work: low paying jobs grew nearly three times as fast as mid-wage or high-wage work.
Corporate Profit Share Hits Post-War HighThe Golden Revolving Door is squeaking and making a terrible racket, but the Obama administration doesn't notice it needs oiling, because they're too busy greasing the 1%'s glide path to total control. Once again Obama puts the fox in charge of the henhouse to the detriment of the public and any concept of equal justice that might still exist:
The revised GDP data for the fourth quarter released yesterday showed the profit share of corporate income hitting 25.6 percent. This is the highest since it stood at 25.8 percent in 1951. However if we look at the after-tax share of 19.2 percent, we would have to go back to 20.8 percent share in 1930 to find a higher number, excepting of course the 19.3 percent number hit last year.
To put this in context, the after-tax profit share was just 14.5 percent in Reagan's Morning in America days. The difference would have come to roughly $330 billion last year. To put this in the 10-year budgetary window that is the standard framework in Washington these days, the rise in after-tax corporate profits since the Reagan era can be seen as equivalent to a $5.0 trillion tax on the nation's workers.
Lanny Breuer Cashes in After Not Prosecuting Wall Street Execs, Will Receive Approximate Salary of 4 Million DollarsFrom the Dubious Economic Achievements Department:
It's official, and former Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Division Chef Lanny Breuer is bragging about it. He'll return for the third to time the white collar (now expanding its clients internationally) legal defense firm of Covington & Burling, but this time at a whopping salary.
According to the New York Times: "Mr. Breuer is expected to earn about $4 million in his first year at Covington. In addition to representing clients, he will serve as an ambassador of sorts for the firm as it seeks to grow overseas."
As BuzzFlash at Truthout has speculated before, one can argue (and the same holds true for Eric Holder, also a Covington & Burling alumni appointee), Breuer was building his value in the marketplace at the DOJ, while Wall Street executives who nearly destroyed the American economy went unprosecuted. And his future value to his old white collar defense firm was dependent, in large part, on him not angering the people who would be the clients of Covington & Burling when he left the Department of Justice. The result, one can contend: no prosecutions of banks "too big to fail" execs as publicly stated as a policy by both Breuer and Holder.
Gender Wage Gap is Shrinking - Male Wages are Going DownThe politicians everywhere seem to have their little tricks for keeping the 99% from reclaiming their institutions and their lives:
The general thing is that the gender wage gap overall over the last, say, 30 years has shrunk. But most of that so-called improvement doesn't come so much from women who are relatively less wealthy doing fabulously in terms of income; it comes from the fact that men in lower income brackets are doing horrifically. They've just fallen off the cliff over the last 30 years or so. And so the gender wage gap has fallen, but it's not exactly something that anybody wants to celebrate.
Putsch: Iceland‘s crowd-sourced constitution killed by parliamentNow this is a kind of sequester that we'll probably need more of, given the current actions of the 1%:
Following its spectacular plunge from grace in 2008 when its banking system crashed, inflicting huge damage on foreign creditors as well as on local residents, Iceland caught attention for trying to come to grips with what happened by bringing court cases against bankers and others allegedly responsible for the crash as well as for inviting the people of Iceland and its directly elected representatives to draft a new post-crash constitution designed inter alia to reduce the likelihood of another crash. ...
A National Assembly was convened comprising 950 individuals selected at random from the national registry. Every Icelander 18 years or older had an equal chance of being selected to a seat in the assembly. Next, from a roaster of 522 candidates from all walks of life, 25 representatives were elected by the nation to a Constitutional Assembly to draft a new constitution reflecting the popular will as expressed by the National Assembly. Believe it or not, the Supreme Court, with eight of its nine justices at the time having been appointed by the Independence Party, now disgraced as the main culprit of the crash and in opposition, annulled the Constitutional Assembly election on flimsy and probably also illegal grounds, a unique event. The parliament then decided to appoint the 25 candidates who got the most votes to a Constitutional Council which took four months in 2011, as did the framers of the US constitution in Philadelphia in 1787, to draft and unanimously pass a new constitution. The constitutional bill stipulates, among other things: (a) electoral reform securing ‘one person, one vote’; (b) national ownership of natural resources; (c) direct democracy through national referenda; (d) freedom of information; and (e) environmental protection plus a number of new provisions designed to superimpose a layer of checks and balances on the existing system of semi-presidential parliamentary form of government. The preamble sets the tone: “We, the people of Iceland, wish to create a just society where everyone has a seat at the same table.” ...
The bill was not brought to a vote in the parliament, a heinous betrayal – and probably also an illegal act committed with impunity by the president of the parliament. Rather, the parliament decided to disrespect its own publicly declared will as well as the popular will as expressed in the national referendum by putting the bill on ice and, to add insult to injury, hastily requiring 2/3 of parliament plus 40% of the popular vote to approve any change in the constitution in the next parliament, meaning that at least 80% voter turnout would be required for a constitutional reform to be accepted in the next session of parliament. ... In her farewell address, the outgoing Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, declared this to be the saddest day of her 35 years in parliament.
French workers hold company heads captive after they’re fired without pay
Workers at a French greetings card firm on Friday sequestered the head of their company and the chief of the Dutch firm which owns it after sacked employees were told they would not get their dues. ...
The trouble began Friday when the management told those laid off that they would not be given their severance dues agreed earlier “as there is no money,” Danielle Casanovas, from the company’s works council said.
She said the two men were being allowed to freely move within the company premises.
Not Just the Bees: Bayer's Pesticide May Harm Birds, TooHat tip to Lady Libertine:
Once again this spring, farmers will begin planting at least 140 million acres—a land mass roughly equal to the combined footprints of California and Washington state—with seeds (mainly corn and soy) treated with a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. Commercial landscapers and home gardeners will get into the act, too—neonics are common in lawn and garden products. ...
But bees aren't the only iconic springtime creature threatened by the ubiquitous pesticide, whose biggest makers are the European giants Bayer and Syngenta. It turns out that birds are too, according to an alarming analysis co-authored by Pierre Mineau, a retired senior research scientist at Environment Canada (Canada's EPA), published by the American Bird Conservancy. And not just birds themselves, but also the water-borne insect species that serve as a major food source for birds, fish, and amphibians.
The article isn't peer-reviewed, but Mineau is a formidable scientist. In February, he published a peer-reviewed paper in PLoS One concluding that pesticides, and not habitat loss, have likely been driving bird-population declines in the United States.
That paper didn't delve into specific pesticides. For his American Bird Conservancy paper, Mineau and his co-author, Cynthia Palmer, looked at a range of research on the effects of neonics on birds and water-borne insects, from papers by independent researchers to industry-funded studies used in the EPA's deregulation process and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Their conclusion: Neonics are highly mobile and persistent once they're unleashed into ecosystems, and they pose a serious threat to birds and the insects they feed on. The EPA, they continue, has in some cases severely underestimated the danger and in other cases simply ignored it.
The Blue Trees
Konstantin Dimopoulos’s temporary public art installation The Blue Trees comes to Houston and Galveston this March as part of the international conversation about deforestation and its global impact. Houston Arts Alliance, in partnership with Galveston Arts Center, has invited Dimopoulos to recreate his living outdoor project in Houston and Galveston as a response to the loss of millions of trees during the drought of 2011 and the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. The Houston/Galveston installations extend and reinterpret the original project launched in April 2011 at the Vancouver Biennale.
With the help of local volunteers, Dimopoulos will color tree trunks with biologically-safe, water-based ultramarine mineral pigments, bringing attention to our trees. In a region of Texas known for its love of trees, the vibrant shade of blue in contrast with the bright green of new leaves will garner even greater awareness of our native trees and the need to prepare for extreme weather conditions that may harm them.
Seven States Running Out of Water
The United States is in the midst of one of the biggest droughts in recent memory. At last count, over half of the lower 48 states had abnormally dry conditions and are suffering from at least moderate drought.
More than 80% of seven states were as of last week in “severe drought,” characterized by crop or pasture loss, water shortage and water restrictions. ... U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist and Drought Monitor team member, Brad Rippey, explained that when the drought began in 2012, the worst of the conditions were much farther east, in states like Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan — the corn belt states. ... By the fall of 2012, drought conditions continued to expand westward to its current epicenter — states like Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma. ...
In addition to severe drought conditions, relatively large areas in the worst-off states are in “exceptional” drought, which the USDA identifies as “exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses, shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies.” More than 70% of Nebraska is currently classified as being in a state of “exceptional drought,” which includes Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies.
[click here for detail on the 7 states]
Who'd a thunk it? ruptured Exxon pipeline was carrying tarsands crude insideclimatenews.org/news/20130330/…— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) March 30, 2013
Major Exxon Tarsands Spill in Arkansas 'Likely to Stoke' KXL Debate
Exxon Mobil on Sunday continued to try to cleanup a major pipeline spill that poured thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude into a suburban Arkansas neighborhood Friday as opponents of tar sands oil development pointed to the incident as another reason not to build the Keystone XL line.
The 20-inch 'Pegasus' tar sands pipeline ruptured late Friday near Mayflower, Arkansas, spilling thousands of barrels of oil in what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is categorizing as a "major spill." Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson said the EPA has estimated the spill at 84,000 gallons. ...
Exxon Mobil said the pipeline was carrying western Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude at the time of the leak.
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
Son House - Death Letter Blues
White Stripes - Death Letter Blues
Son House - Preachin' Blues
Son House - John the revelator
Gov't Mule - John The Revelator
Son House w/Buddy Guy - My Black Mama
Son House - Empire State Express
Son House - Mississippi County Farm Blues
Son House - Pearline
Son House - Levee Camp Blues
Son House - Jinx Blues
Son House - Camp Hollers
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!