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 bluesman Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers. Enjoy!
Smokey Smothers - You're Gonna Be Sorry
"Look at the tyranny of party -- at what is called party allegiance, party loyalty -- a snare invented by designing men for selfish purposes -- and which turns voters into chattles, slaves, rabbits, and all the while their masters, and they themselves are shouting rubbish about liberty, independence, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, honestly unconscious of the fantastic contradiction; and forgetting or ignoring that their fathers and the churches shouted the same blasphemies a generation earlier when they were closing their doors against the hunted slave, beating his handful of humane defenders with Bible texts and billies, and pocketing the insults and licking the shoes of his Southern master."
-- Mark Twain
News and Opinion
Faux-Progressive Propaganda Alert
John Nichols spews faux-progressive propaganda. He tells part of the truth. He explains that in, as he puts it a, "Dollarocracy," the ideas that get put forward are the ideas that have big money behind them, like cutting Social Security. He goes on to highlight the fact that austerity-loving-corporate-greedheads were able to get, "one of their own," Paul Ryan on a ballot to run for Veep to push their plans. What Nichols (dishonestly in my view) fails to mention is that those austerity-loving-corporate-greedheads were going to win no matter what this election. They already had a president who is promoting their agenda on the other ticket. Guess what, they won!?!?
-- Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, a Democratic leader (!?!)
Detroit’s New Bankster Plutocracy
On March 14 [Michigan Governor Rick Snyder] appointed corporate bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s “emergency manager.” ... Under Michigan’s neoliberal vanguard statute, the “Local Financial Stability and Choice Act,” Orr personally takes the place, and embodies all government powers, of Detroit’s local officials – including both the Mayor and the City Council. The rationale for this extraordinary new form of local government is of course the claimed need to deal with a local financial emergency in the form of government debt obligations, budget deficits and cash flow crises.
This authoritarian, one-man-rule emergency manager “solution” for the systemic ills of capitalist deindustrialization, poverty, homelessness, regional race conflicts and decades of corporate neoliberal economic “development” was much criticized, and overturned by voters in a referendum, even before Snyder’s extreme application of the policy to Detroit. ... Only a few days before Orr’s public appointment (and only an hour or so before Orr’s name was leaked publicly), the business-friendly Mayor of Detroit, former NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing reportedly announced that Orr’s giant, 2,400 lawyer firm of Jones Day – which prides itself on representing more than half the “Fortune 500” – would be hired as the city’s “restructuring council.”
To call this situation disturbing, where the pretext of Orr’s just-in-time resignation from Jones Day notwithstanding, the same law firm is effectively enjoying every conceivable opportunity for loot and plunder available to one serving simultaneously as attorney, client, and local government, is an understatement. In the flood of corporate media ‘coverage’ of the largest city ever placed under such a one-man dictatorship, the truly shocking policy, ethical and legal implications of this extraordinary off-the-shelf government by a single corporate law firm have hardly been mentioned.
Jones Day now effectively controls Detroit thru its own retainer as counsel and its recently resigned partner as local dictator, subject only to the statutorily provided unlimited discretion of the Governor and his State Treasurer, with power to realign, restructure, redevelop, and dispose of 139 square miles of under-utilized (i.e., cheap) urban real estate and other assets on the busiest international border crossing in North America, in the middle of the world’s greatest fresh water resources, and not incidentally the home community of about 700,000 People. The concerns raised by these facts go quite a bit beyond what lawyers usually talk about in terms of “ethics.” This is a corporate power and money grab of historic dimensions, ably assisted by corporate media’s refusal to print or broadcast the truth, or to even acknowledge any of the plutocratic implications.
Youth Will Pay the Price of Austerity
What's happening is the focus on the debt and austerity is really a Trojan horse, and that Trojan horse is to reduce the size of government. So if you have austerity, what you're doing is reducing public spending on particular goods and services. And what that means is that there's more space for the private sector to dominate in the provision of these goods and services.
So I think ultimately the real goal is to reduce the reach of government and to privatize more of the economy. ...
If people can get services from the government, if they can get public support for food stamps and so on and so forth, they have less need to borrow from banks, for example. So when you have public lending, if you will, to the public, to households, then the households have less to rely on in terms of borrowing from the financial sector. So I think that, you know, much of this is related to shrinking the reach of government and to--you know, weakened workers are more pliant workers in the workplace. And so I think that there is a lot that's ideological behind it.
The problem is that there is ongoing costs of austerity and those aren't being figured in. And one of the reasons they aren't being calculated by those who are really driving this austerity agenda is that we tend to overly focus on the market and not really take into account the negative effects of austerity on social reproduction, on our ability to take care of our kids, on our ability to take care of ourselves, to reeducate ourselves. We aren't taking into consideration the effect on lost skills, people that are unemployed for a long time, all of which ultimately will be costly to business as well as to the individuals that are suffering this. But because we overly focus on the market, we really miss the social reproduction and care sector of the economy.
IMF sets terms of Cyprus bailout
The International Monetary Fund has demanded that Cyprus cut state pension costs and reform its welfare system as the price of a €1bn (£854m) loan to help bail out the stricken island.
The IMF's managing director, Christine Lagarde, said the poorest Cypriots would be protected from the worst of the cuts, but Cyprus must press ahead with measures to bring its annual state budget into surplus by 2018.
The deal, agreed in principle by the Cypriot government, provoked an immediate reaction from trade unions, which called on bank workers to strike over potential pension cuts. Officials from the Cyprus Union of Bank Employees called on bank staff in Nicosia to walk off their jobs at lunchtime on Thursday, and gather in a protest march towards the parliament.
NRA’s "School Shield" Call for Armed Guards Seen as Path to Further Criminalize Youth of Color
?We’ve got to stop moving in the way of militarization of our schools and making them prison-like environments, but instead get to the hard work. The hard work is the prevention. The hard work is putting more counselors. You know, we’re letting the NRA co-opt this conversation and actually get us off of the conversation of gun control and mental health, and instead they are giving us a plan that looks at how we put more police, more guns, fences around our schools, more cameras. That’s their answer, instead of getting at the root causes and fixing this problem over the long haul."
Monitoring Peaceful Demonstrations and Activists as a Matter of Policy
Government documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) through its FOIA records requests reveal that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency created after the September 11 attacks under the rubric of combating terrorism, conducts daily monitoring of peaceful, lawful protests as a matter of policy. ...
The new documents reveal DHS surveillance of protests in Asheville, NC; Tampa; Ft. Lauderdale; Jacksonville; Lansing, MI; Denver; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Boston; Dallas; Houston; Minneapolis; Miami; Jersey City; Phoenix; Lincoln, Nebraska; Chicago; Salt Lake City; Detroit and others.
In preparation for planned protests in New York City on October 15, 2011, the DHS documents show coordination between federal and local authorities to use New York City’s permitting scheme to frustrate, obstruct or stop free speech activities. ...
The documents show a Department of Homeland Security that appears obsessed with the question of whether any and all protests that are being surveilled receive media attention and coverage. Reporting within the DHS on media coverage of First Amendment protected activities, even in the smallest places, appears to be a routine part of DHS intelligence reports. None of the documents explain why media coverage of peaceful demonstrations is of interest to law enforcement or concerns “homeland security” in any way. ...
“This production of documents, like the FBI documents that the PCJF received in December 2012, is a window into the nationwide scope of DHS and FBI surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement. Taken together, the two sets of documents paint a disturbing picture of federal law enforcement agencies using their vast power in a systematic effort to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations. The federal agencies’ actions were not because Occupy represented a 'terrorist threat' or a 'criminal threat' but rather because it posed a significant grassroots political challenge to the status quo,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the PCJF.
"We do not spy on US citizens, just anti-government groups," says fusion center directorThere's a silver lining in the sequester:
An official from an Arkansas State Fusion Center recently spoke to the press to clear up what he called "misconceptions" about what his office actually does, with depressingly hilarious results. ...
The Arkansas fusion center director, after having flatly denied that his office spies on US citizens, told the reporter the following:"I do what I do because of what happened on 9/11," Davis says. "There's this urge and this feeling inside that you want to do something, and this is a perfect opportunity for me."So the fusion center does in fact spy on US citizens! Among them, "groups that are anti-government." ... Disliking the government isn't a crime. But that's not stopping many fusion centers from associating dissent with terrorism.
Davis says Arkansas hasn't collected much information about international plots, but they do focus on groups closer to home.
"We focus a little more on that, domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government," he says. "We want to kind of take a look at that and receive that information."
Budget Cuts Are Set to Hit U.S. Military’s Drone FleetAnd soon, people all over the world will be wearing silver linings:
For all the ongoing hype about the U.S. military’s arsenal of flying robots, they’re anything but safe from budget cuts. Pentagon officials anticipate spending significantly less on their surveillance and attack drones over the next several years, effectively ending the drone boom of the previous decade.
The impending budget cuts are expected to affect each major funding source for the drones: the research and development accounts that keep new models coming online; the operations and maintenance accounts that keep current ones in the air; and the procurement accounts that keep the military purchasing them.
Already, the Pentagon is signaling that the boom times for drones are coming to an end, even as the robots remain one of the U.S.’s signature counterterrorism weapons.
The anti-drone hoodie that helps you beat Big Brother's spy in the sky
I am wearing a silver hoodie that stops just below the nipples. Or, if you prefer, a baggy crop-top with a hood. The piece – this is fashion, so it has to be a "piece" – is one of a kind, a prototype. It has wide square shoulders and an overzealous zip that does up right to the tip of my nose.
It does not, it's fair to say, make its wearer look especially cool. But that's not really what this hoodie is about. It has been designed to hide me from the thermal imaging systems of unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles – drones. And, as far as I can tell, it's working well.
"It's what I call anti-drone," explains designer Adam Harvey. "That's the sentiment. The material in the anti-drone clothing is made of silver, which is reflective to heat and makes the wearer invisible to thermal imaging."
The "anti-drone hoodie" was the central attraction of Harvey's Stealth Wear exhibition, which opened in central London in January, billed as a showcase for "counter-surveillance fashions"
Revoke President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize
On Tuesday, progressive campaigners Roots Action launched an online petition calling for the revocation of President Obama's 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
"President Obama has made perpetual war look more perpetual than ever," reads the petition, which the group plans to send to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. And continues: "Today, there are more U.S. troops in Afghanistan than when Obama took office. His presidency has widened the use of drones and other instruments of remote killing in several countries."
Human rights and peace advocates have long-contested the awarding of the esteemed peace prize to an individual who has been called "one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades" for his escalation of a widespread killer-drone campaign, prolonged wars in the Middle East, and enablement of prisoner abuse and indefinite detention.
Tennessee Legislators Move To Kill Voucher Bill To Avoid Funds Going To Muslim SchoolThe National Plutocracy Radio Network strikes again:
Republican lawmakers in Tennessee seem intent on confirming the religious motivations behind the system this week in opposing vouchers because it has occurred to them that Muslim schools might be able to receive funding with Christian schools. They are threatening to block Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s school voucher bill unless they can find a way to deny it to Muslim schools — a suggestion that brings sectarian prejudices to the forefront of the debate.
State Sen. Jim Tracy (R) raised his “considerable concern” that tax dollars could go to schools that teach principles from the Quran . . . . as opposed to those schools that teach the principles from the Bible. ... He wants to amend the law to exclude Muslim schools — something that is not just an act of raw prejudice but completely unconstitutional.
For NPR, Fracking Fight Is Between Farmers & Movie Stars
So many people believe fracking–a method of releasing oil or gas from rock–to be unsafe that hundreds of U.S. communities have voted to ban it. If you’re unsure how to feel about it, NPR would like to help with that.
The network–which receives funding from America's Natural Gas Alliance, a pro-fracking industry group–ran a report March 20 that began by explaining that despite "all the money coming out of the ground in some places," New York doesn’t allow fracking, which "causes landowners to feel they're being left behind." ...
Who stands between these hard-working people and money and jobs coming out of the ground? It’s "actor Mark Ruffalo," who is "one of many artists and celebrities who have embraced the anti-fracking fight." Landowners, we're told, "increasingly resent the antis, who they see as meddling outsiders who will never be convinced that fracking can be done safely." Rather than hear why they should be convinced, we hear from a resenter, a woman with "six kids, three mortgages and no health insurance," who wishes those people would "stay in Hollywood."
Nuclear Waste Site at Risk of Hydrogen Explosion, Report Warns
Tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation which sits on the Columbia River in Benton County, Washington face dangerous risk of hydrogen build up which could trigger an explosion of radioactive materials, a nuclear safety board announced on Monday. ...
The board expressed concern over the potential for hydrogen gas buildup within the underground tanks, particularly those "double wall" tanks which contain the highly radioactive material that was previously pumped out of leaking single-shell tanks.
Earlier this year, investigators found six single-shelled underground storage tanks leaking up to 1,000 gallons of radioactive sludge each year—a situation that noted theoretical physicist Michio Kaku called a "ticking time bomb."
Federal officials have thus far evaded any long term, sustainable clean up of the 56 million gallons of highly radioactive material currently held at the former Manhattan Project site.
The Trouble With Tar Sands
At Oil Spill Clean-Up in Arkansas, Exxon Running the Show, Not Federal Agencies
Toxic and Tax Exempt
State Dept. Keystone XL Contractor ERM Also Green-Lighted Explosive, Faulty Peruvian Pipeline Project
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
Smokey Smothers - I Got My Eyes On You
Smokey Smothers - I've Been Drinking Muddy Water
Smokey Smothers - I Ain't Gonna Be No Monkey Man No More
Smokey Smothers - I can't judge nobody
Smokey Smothers - Hello little school girl
Smokey Smothers - Black cat girl
Smokey Smothers - Blind and Dumb Man Blues
Smokey Smothers - Give It Back
Smokey Smothers - Things ain't what they used to be
Smokey Smothers - Twist with me Annie
Smokey Smothers - Honey, I ain't teasin'
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!