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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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Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues Piano player Otis Spann. Enjoy!

Otis Spann/Muddy Waters - Nobody Knows My Trouble & Cold, Cold Feelin'

“We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program”

  -- President Franklin Roosevelt

News and Opinion

11DC! 11 DC! President Obama Is Only Putting Social Security Cuts In His Budget Because He Knows That Republicans Won't Think They're Big Enough! 11DC! 11DC!

Obama’s new budget will reportedly include GOP's beloved entitlement cuts

White House sources are now telling reporters that the president is “strongly considering” including entitlement cuts in his 2014 budget, to be introduced around April 10. The budget could lay out precise cuts to Social Security and Medicare, as well as Medicaid, that the president has reportedly been offering in futile negotiations with Republicans, but that he’s never officially spelled out. ...

Including entitlement curbs would be notable, the WSJ’s Damien Parella notes, “as Republicans often have criticized the White House for offering such steps in private negotiations but never fully embracing them as part of an official budget plan.”

But if he’s now embracing them publicly, doesn’t that remove them as something to bargain over?

Worms, Pond Scum and Economists

Young people today can expect many more years of dire labor market conditions, because the remedies that could turn around their job situations have been blocked by nonsense spewing from economists. ... The failure to see the largest asset bubble in the history of the world, coupled with the failure to prescribe an effective remedy to deal with the damage, should be sufficient to earn the economics profession the contempt of right-thinking people everywhere. But there is nothing too low for this group of professionals.

We are now seeing economists joining the crusade to cut Social Security and Medicare by implicitly or explicitly claiming that these programs are somehow responsible for the dismal economic plight of the young. The argument is that we can only free up money for helping our young if we take money from the old, a group with a median income of $20,000 a year.

By contrast, the upward redistribution of income to the richest 1 percent is equal to 10 percentage points of national income, or more than $1.3 trillion a year.

How banksters scapegoat granny after stealing your money

Like Nixon to China, it takes a Democrat to put the first knife into Social Security

For the owners of the country (and their paid national managers), the real emergency associated with Social Security isn’t the day the last dollar will leave the Trust Fund. It’s the day the first dollar will leave. That’s a whole different problem, and a whole different timeline, for them. ...

The Reagan tax cuts steadily lowered the rate on the top dollars earned (keep that “top dollar” point in mind; mere mortals never saw those rates) from 70% to 50%, then to 28%. Those tax cuts, plus his massive spending, made the deficit rocket skyward. Mission accomplished; beast starving.

But how to make that deficit look smaller to the easily fooled? Simple. Grab a huge pile of cash from the middle class, invest that cash in Treasuries, and declare those Treasuries off-budget. Voilà — beast looks partially fed. …

The real goal of [the Clinton, Obama] fix is to hide the looting of the last fix. Just like the last time, the goal isn’t [fixing] Social Security itself. The last fix hid the mounting deficit in off-budget Treasuries. But soon those Trust Fund Treasuries might actually get cashed. Since the government would have to borrow to replace them, that transfers the off-budget numbers back on-budget. Oops.

The Wonderful World of Austerity

Stagnant Wages and Speculation Triggered the Crisis

Inequality has risen in the United States and in many other countries quite substantially since the 1970s. So the share of income that goes to wages has fallen in the U.S. and many other countries, and real wages have declined for workers in the United States. And one of the results of this is that people have inadequate income to buy the goods and services that they normally would with declining income.

And so the link to the crisis is that corporations who depend upon sales as a motivation to invest, to create new jobs, and so forth have not had as much pressure to do that. But they have been awash with profits as wages have fallen. And so what they have done, of course, is channeled those profits into the financial sector. And so they may be paying down debt or they might be buying financial instruments for themselves.

And so we find the financial sector both less regulated and awash with what I would call bubble dollars--dollars from the housing bubble. And so what financial firms have done--that is, to lend those dollars--and when they ran out of creditworthy borrowers, they began lending to precisely those households who have been struggling as a result of the downward pressure on their wages, the downward contributions to pension funds, rising medical costs, and rising health-care costs.

So the inequality in a sense contributed to this financialization, to this flood of funds to the financial sector, who then sought to lend that money precisely back to those people who were struggling in the first place.

Celente: US has wars to fight, not eroding infrastructure to fix

Greedy Banksters and their Government Lackeys Create Eurozone Unemployment Catastrophe

Youth unemployment hit nearly 60% in Greece in February, according to new figures published on Tuesday by the Eurostat statistics agency, revealing widespread job losses across the Eurozone as austerity wreaks a "cycle of decline." ...

Overall unemployment in the Eurozone, broke previous records at 12% ...

When compared to less austerity strained countries, the country with the lowest unemployment was Austria at 4.8%. Germany's rate was 5.4% and Luxembourg's 5.5%. Overall unemployment in Greece stands at 26.2%, Spain 26.3%, and Portugal 17.5%.

Greece On The Auction Block: Country Seeks Bidders For Sale Of Its Railroad Infrastructure By Early 2014

The Greek government has been trying in recent years to sell everything short of its historic Parthenon in an attempt to climb itself out a massive debt hole.

Now, facing mounting pressure from international lenders to speed up its national yard sale, the government has announced it would begin the tender to sell the Hellenic Railways Organization, known by its Greek acronym OSE, by the end of the second quarter. ...

Greece initially unveiled plans in 2011 to privatize €15 billion ($19.3 billion) worth of state-owned assets by the end of this year and €50 billion by 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is peanuts compared to the €380 billion in bailout money the country has received from the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Cyprus finance minister Michael Sarris resigns as blame game begins

The Cyprus finance minister quit on Tuesday as a formal investigation began into the events leading to the country's €10bn bailout, under which savers are taking a financial hit in a first for the eurozone.

As Michael Sarris resigned he said his previous role as chairman of Laiki, the country's second largest bank which is being wound down, was likely to be subject to scrutiny.

"I believe that in order to facilitate the work of [investigators] the right thing would be to place my resignation at the disposal of the president of the republic, which I did," said Sarris, who had been finance minister for just six weeks.

Cyprus big depositors to lose up to 60%

Cypriot president angrily denies claims family member exported bank funds

Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades is under fire after reports emerged that a company run by a member of his family withdrew deposits from the island state ahead of its bailout.

A Cypriot TV station has published a list of more than 100 savers alleged to have transferred money out of the country before the rescue deal, which imposed heavy losses on wealthy depositors in Cypriot banks. ...

The president said the reports were an "attempt to defame companies or people linked to my family". ...

Anastasiades said that when the investigative committee assembled he would ask its members to look into this particular case.

America's Sell Out Intellectuals and the Perks They Get

And the rewards range from tenured professorships, to book contracts, television appearances, and generous lecture fees.

The rewriting of history by the power elite was painfully evident as the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Some claimed they had opposed the war when they had not. Others among “Bush’s useful idiots” argued that they had merely acted in good faith on the information available; if they had known then what they know now, they assured us, they would have acted differently. This, of course, is false. The war boosters, especially the “liberal hawks”—who included Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken and John Kerry, along with academics, writers and journalists such as  Bill Keller, Michael Ignatieff, Nicholas Kristof, David Remnick, Fareed Zakaria, Michael Walzer, Paul Berman,Thomas Friedman, George Packer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kanan Makiya and the late  Christopher Hitchens—did what they always have done: engage in acts of self-preservation. To oppose the war would have been a career killer. And they knew it.

These apologists, however, acted not only as cheerleaders for war; in most cases they ridiculed and attempted to discredit anyone who questioned the call to invade Iraq. Kristof, in The New York Times,  attacked the filmmaker Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist and wrote that anti-war voices were only polarizing what he termed “the political cesspool.” Hitchens said that those who opposed the attack on Iraq “do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all.” He called the typical anti-war protester a “blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist.” The halfhearted mea culpas by many of these courtiers a decade later always fail to mention the most pernicious and fundamental role they played in the buildup to the war—shutting down public debate.

Camp Nama: British personnel reveal horrors of secret US base in Baghdad

British soldiers and airmen who helped to operate a secretive US detention facility in Baghdad that was at the centre of some of the most serious human rights abuses to occur in Iraq after the invasion have, for the first time, spoken about abuses they witnessed there. ...

Codenamed Task Force 121, the joint US-UK special forces unit was at first deployed to detain individuals thought to have information about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Once it was realised that Saddam's regime had long since abandoned its WMD programme, TF 121 was re-tasked with tracking down people who might know where the deposed dictator and his loyalists might be, and then with catching al-Qaida leaders who sprang up in the country after the regime collapsed.

Suspects were brought to the secret prison at Baghdad International airport, known as Camp Nama, for questioning by US military and civilian interrogators. But the methods used were so brutal that they drew condemnation not only from a US human rights body but from a special investigator reporting to the Pentagon.

Gitmo Hunger Strikers Vow To Leave Cuba 'Alive Or In A Box'

Turmoil engulfing American prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was sparked by a new base commander whose aggressive approach to the detainees has backfired, according to defense attorneys. The camp is now in the midst of a full-blown revolt, with most of the inmate population committeed to a hunger strike, yet the commander, Col. John V. Bogdan, has rejected the simple demand made by the prisoners, the lawyers said.

With 86 U.S. detainees cleared for release, but held indefinitely nonetheless, the camp had become peaceful over the past few years, with detainees being given a measure of dignity and, for the most cooperative, additional privileges. That changed when Bogdan took control in June 2012 and began confiscating personal items such as photographs, letters and yoga mats, cranking down cell temperatures, and reimposing the practice of searching detainee Qurans for contraband.

It is the search of the Qurans that has the prisoners angriest, and which led to the hunger strike. The detainees told the the base command that they would prefer to surrender their Qurans rather than subject the Muslim holy books to search, as they had done in 2006, over a similar dispute. Bogdan, however, in a move that Joseph Heller would appreciate, is refusing to allow them to surrender the Qurans. A spokesman for the the military, Robert Durand, did not reply to a request for comment, but he told that the detainees "have presented no demands that we can meet” and said detainees were only engaged in hunger strikes to get publicity.

Venezuelan Election in Full Swing

Anger Over Plan to Sell Site of Wounded Knee Massacre

WOUNDED KNEE, S.D. — Ever since American soldiers massacred men, women and children here more than a century ago in the last major bloodshed of the American Indian wars, this haunted patch of rolling hills and ponderosa pines has embodied the combustible relationship between Indians and the United States government.

It was here that a group of Indian activists aired their grievances against the government with a forceful takeover in 1973 that resulted in protests, a bloody standoff with federal agents and deep divisions among the Indian people.  ...

And now the massacre site, which passed into non-Indian hands generations ago, is up for sale ... James A. Czywczynski of Rapid City is asking $3.9 million for the 40-acre plot he owns here, far more than the $7,000 that the deeply impoverished Oglala Sioux say the land is worth. Mr. Czywczynski insists that his price fairly accounts for the land’s sentimental and historical value, an attitude that the people here see as disrespect.

“That historical value means something to us, not him,” said Garfield Steele, a member of the tribal council who represents Wounded Knee. “We see that greed around here all the time with non-Indians. To me, you can’t put a price on the lives that were taken there.”

US naturalists report unusual climate pattern

A Canadian Oil Sands Project Was Just Dumped At An Enormous $1.65 Billion Loss

France’s Total SA (NYSE: TOT) will sell its 49% stake in its Canadian oil sands project to Suncor Energy Inc. for $500 million, netting the French oil giant a $1.65 billion loss on the beleaguered project.

Total would have had to spend another $5 billion (at least) on the Alberta oil sands Voyageur Upgrader project over the next five years—an investment that cannot be justified according to its executives. ...

Not only does the Total divestiture raise questions about the long-term viability of Canadian oil sands investments, it also raises questions about whether the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project is really in the US’ interests—at a time when US oil output is rising and Canada’s oil sands are becoming less strategically advantageous.

The Monsanto Protection Act? A Debate on Controversial New Measure Over Genetically Modified Crops

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Citing mystical vision, Obama rejects Keystone XL pipeline

Europe's south rises up against those who act as sadistic colonial masters

Communism, Welfare State – What's the Next Big Idea?

This is What Democracy Could Look Like

Two stories out of Maine -- bullying and inclusion

A Little Night Music

Spann's Blues - Otis Spann

Otis Spann - Blues Don't Like Nobody

Otis Spann - T'Aint Nobody's Business If I Do

Otis Spann - Otis in the dark

Otis Spann & Sonny Boy Williamson - Nine Below Zero

Otis Spann - Good Morning Mr. Blues

Otis Spann - 'Chicago Blues' and 'Nobody Knows Chicago Like I Do

Otis Spann - Evil Ways

Otis Spann with Fleetwood Mac - She's Out of Sight

Otis Spann - Divin' Duck

Otis Spann - Riverside Blues

Muddy Waters & Otis Spann -- I Live the Life I Love

Otis Spann - Must Have Been The Devil

Otis Spann - Hungry Country Girl

Otis Spann - It Was a Big Thing

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 Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.


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