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 blues harmonica ace Big Walter Horton. Enjoy!
Floyd Jones & Big Walter Chicago Blues
"Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors... After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
-- Major General Antonio M. Taguba
News and Opinion
US drone strikes being used as alternative to Guantánamo, lawyer says
Lawyer who drafted White House drone policy says US would rather kill suspects than send them to Cuban detention centre
The lawyer who first drew up White House policy on lethal drone strikes has accused the Obama administration of overusing them because of its reluctance to capture prisoners that would otherwise have to be sent to Guantánamo Bay.
John Bellinger, who was responsible for drafting the legal framework for targeted drone killings while working for George W Bush after 9/11, said he believed their use had increased since because President Obama was unwilling to deal with the consequences of jailing suspected al-Qaida members.
"This government has decided that instead of detaining members of al-Qaida [at Guantánamo] they are going to kill them," he told a conference at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
White House says moratorium remains on sending Guantanamo detainees to Yemen
The White House said Wednesday that despite President Barack Obama’s pledge to do what he can to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, a moratorium on sending cleared detainees back to Yemen “remains in place” – a policy that, if unchanged, provides perhaps the biggest obstacle to shuttering the controversial island prison.
The moratorium on transfers to Yemen, the home country for more than half the men detained at Guantanamo, reflects the irony of Obama’s dilemma: While he’s blamed Congress for blocking closure of the offshore prison he calls a recruitment tool for extremists, his policies are also contributing factors – something human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say he could rectify by taking steps on his own.
Amid Hunger Strike, Obama Renews Push to Close Cuba Prison
"The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Howard P. McKeon, Republican of California, noted that the Obama administration had never exercised the power it has had since 2012 to waive, on a case-by-case basis, most of the restrictions lawmakers have imposed on transferring detainees to countries with troubled security conditions.
Human rights groups also urged Mr. Obama to direct the Pentagon to start issuing waivers, and said he should appoint a White House official to run Guantánamo policy with the authority to resolve interagency disputes. For example, because of disagreements over evidence tainted by torture, the administration has missed by more than a year a deadline to begin parole-style hearings by so-called Periodic Review Boards.
Another group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents detainees, urged Mr. Obama to lift his self-imposed ban on repatriations to Yemen, where a branch of Al Qaeda is active. Of the 86 low-level detainees who were designated in January 2010 for potential transfer but remain incarcerated, 56 are Yemenis."
Guantanamo attorney dead in apparent suicide
An American lawyer representing detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp has been found dead in an apparent suicide.
The body of Andy P. Hart, a 38-year-old US federal public defender, was found last week with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to Truthout, an investigative blog, news of the attorney’s death came only this Wednesday from an investigator working on Guantanamo detainees’ habeas corpus petitions. That investigator requested anonymity. ...
On Wednesday, the United Nations human rights office declared that the force-feeding of hunger strikers at Guantanamo amounted to torture and a breach of international law.
Andy Hart was one of several lawyers who signed a March letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel urging for immediate action to end the growing hunger strike.
The Pope Called One Of The Foundations Of The Global Capitalism System 'Slavery'
Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned as "slave labour" the conditions for hundreds of workers killed in a factory collapse in Bangladesh and urged political leaders to fight unemployment in a sweeping critique of "selfish profit".
The pope said he had been particularly struck by a headline saying workers at the factory near Dhaka were being paid just 38 euros ($50) a month.
"This is called slave labour!" the pope was quoted by Vatican radio as saying in his homily at a private mass in his residence to mark May Day. ...
"How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation!" he said, as protesters in May Day demonstrations around the world rallied against unfair work conditions and unemployment.
"Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!" the pope said in his strongly-worded address.
Too-Big-to-Fail Takes Another Body Blow
Last week, on April 24th, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Louisiana Republican David Vitter introduced legislation called the "Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness Act of 2013 Act," or the "Brown-Vitter TBTF Act" for short. The bill is a gun aimed directly at the head of the Too-Big-To-Fail beast.
During the Dodd-Frank negotiations a few years ago, Brown teamed up with Delaware Democrat Ted Kaufman to introduce an amendment that would have physically capped the size of the biggest banks. The amendment was bold and righteous but was slaughtered on the floor by a 61-33 margin, undermined by leaders of both parties – 27 Democrats voted against it.
Brown-Vitter offers a different and, in a way, more elegant solution to the problem than Brown-Kaufman. Rather than impose size limits, it simply insists that banks with over $500 billion in assets maintain higher capital reserves than are currently required. Companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America will have to keep capital reserves of about 15 percent, about twice the current amount.
The bill only has such tough requirements for just those few megabanks, which sounds unfair, except that the aim of the bill, precisely, is to level the playing field. Right now, the biggest U.S. banks enjoy a massive inherent market advantage in that they're able to borrow money far more cheaply than other banks, because everybody on earth knows the government will never let them fail and will always bail them out in a pinch, making their debt essentially U.S.-government guaranteed. Studies have shown that these banks borrow money at about 0.8 percent more cheaply than other banks, and that this implicit government subsidy is worth about $83 billion a year just to the top 10 banks in America. This bill would essentially wipe out that hidden subsidy and make the banks bailout-proof.
Obama To Nominate Penny Pritzker, Mike Froman For Economic Jobs
President Barack Obama on Thursday will nominate a longtime fundraiser to run the Commerce Department and a top economic adviser as the next U.S. Trade Representative, a White House official said.
USTR nominee Michael Froman is one of Obama’s senior economic advisers and a former Citigroup executive. ... Commerce nominee Penny Pritzker, a businesswoman, philanthropist and Hyatt hotel heiress, is Obama’s final pick to fill vacancies among Cabinet secretaries in his second term. ... If confirmed, Pritzker would become the fourth woman serving as secretary in Obama’s current Cabinet. She also would be the wealthiest in the Cabinet by far, with Forbes estimating her net worth at $1.85 billion and ranking her as the 277th richest American.
Pritzker is a lifelong Chicagoan who has known Obama since the 1990s and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for both his presidential campaigns. She was his finance chairwoman in 2008, served as co-chair of Obama for America 2012 and gave $250,000 to help put on his inaugural festivities in January.
'Deficit Hawk' CEOs Pocket Hundreds of Millions with Tax Loopholes
Executives behind austerity group 'Fix the Debt' make millions off the backs of those whose benefits they want to slash
As America's top CEO's push aggressively for austerity cutbacks in government programs that benefit ordinary citizens under the guise of the lobby group Fix the Debt, those same individuals are pocketing hundreds of millions in taxpayer subsidies, says a new report published Thursday.
The study, Fix The Debt CEOs Enjoy Taxpayer Subsidized Pay—by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Campaign for America's Future—reveals that thanks to a tax loophole which allows corporations to deduct unlimited amounts off their income taxes for the expense of executive stock options and other so-called “performance-based” pay, Fix the Debt member firms have raked in over a billion dollars of taxpayer-funded bonuses.
"The performance pay loophole serves as a critical subsidy for excessive compensation," says the report. "The larger the executive payout, the less the corporation pays in taxes. And average taxpayers wind up footing the bill."
Kochs Form "Business League," Will Keep Political Spending In the Shadows
The right-wing network funded by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers is being revamped after the 2012 elections, starting with a new nonprofit called the "Association for American Innovation" that will act as a hub for funnelling undisclosed spending towards the Kochs' political projects. With ambiguous IRS rules and a deadlocked Congress, they might get away with it.
The role for the group, according to the Huffington Post, is to serve as a financing vehicle for the Koch political network, which includes organizations like Americans for Prosperity. In some respects it appears to be playing a similar role as the Center to Protect Patient Rights, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit run by Koch operative Sean Noble that funnelled nearly $55 million to other front groups, which in turn ran ads attacking Democrats in the 2010 elections.
The Association for American Innovation will likely help the Kochs and their allies continue avoiding transparency in political spending.
The Association is organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the tax code, setting it apart from many of the dark money groups active in the 2010 and 2012 elections, like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS or Americans for Prosperity, which are organized as 501(c)(4) "social welfare" nonprofits.
Belief in biblical end-times stifling climate change action in U.S.: study
The United States has failed to take action to mitigate climate change thanks in part to the large number of religious Americans who believe the world has a set expiration date.
Research by David C. Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H. Bearce of the University of Colorado uncovered that belief in the biblical end-times was a motivating factor behind resistance to curbing climate change.
“[T]he fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76 percent in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them,” Barker and Bearce wrote in their study, which will be published in the June issue of Political Science Quarterly.
The study, based on data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, uncovered that belief in the “Second Coming” of Jesus reduced the probability of strongly supporting government action on climate change by 12 percent when controlling for a number of demographic and cultural factors. When the effects of party affiliation, political ideology, and media distrust were removed from the analysis, the belief in the “Second Coming” increased this effect by almost 20 percent.
Punishing Vieques: Puerto Rico Struggles With Contamination 10 Years After Activists Expel U.S. Navy
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
Big Walter Horton - All Star Boogie
Big Walter explains the harp:
Big Walter Horton - Card Game
Walter Horton - They Call me Big Walter
Walter "Shakey" Horton - Shakey's Blues
Johnny Shines & Walter Horton - Evening Sun
Big Walter Horton - Southern Women
Big Walter Horton-Hard Hearted Woman
Big Walter Horton- Walter's Blues
Big Walther Horton - That Ain't It
Big Walter Horton - Rockin' My Boogie
Big Walter Horton - Have A Good Time
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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