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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.  

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.  

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Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features a Chicago bluesman with a raw and unrestrained sound Hound Dog Taylor.  Enjoy!

Hound Dog Taylor & Little Walter - Wild About you baby

"I recently read some of the transcripts of Nixon's Watergate tapes, and they spent hours trying to figure out who was leaking and providing information to Carl and myself."

  -- Bob Woodward

News and Opinion

Justice Department Investigation of AP Part of Larger Pattern to Intimidate Sources and Reporters

As part of a new leak investigation, the Justice Department has secretly obtained the call records for twenty phone lines owned by the Assocated Press (AP), which could put sources for as many as one hundred reporters at risk. The AP called the move a "massive and unprecedented intrusion," saying they “regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”  ...

While this incident has brought the Justice Department's crackdown on leakers to a new extreme, it’s important to remember, this storm has been brewing for a while now. In five years, the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers under the Espionage Act than all other administrations combined, and virtually all these prosecutions have engulfed journalists one way or another.

As part of this current investigation, we've known the FBI has been data mining government officials’ phone and email records for months, looking for links to journalists on a systematic scale. The Washington Post reported in January, the FBI is using new, “sophisticated software to identify names, key words and phrases embedded in e-mails and other communications, including text messages, which could lead them to suspects.”

According to the Post, “The FBI also looks at officials’ phone records — who called whom, when, for how long.” Anytime the FBI found a government official has contact with the unknown number of “particular” journalists, FBI agents were “confronting” officials with this information.

AP: Justice Department seizure of phone records an unprecedented intrusion

Obama administration took records in apparent effort to track down source who disclosed alleged Yemen terrorist plot story

The Obama administration has opened up a new front in its battle against media freedom by seizing phone records from the offices of the Associated Press news agency in what appeared to be an effort to track down the source who disclosed an alleged Yemen terrorist plot story. ...

The attorney's office refused to say why the seizure had been made but it is almost certainly in relation to an AP exclusive report on 7 May last year in which it reported the CIA had stopped a plot by an al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen to destroy a US-bound airliner. ...

The alleged plot, apparently aimed to coincide with the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, contradicted a claim by the Obama administration earlier that it had no knowledge of any plans for attacks to mark the anniversary.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark Decries Government’s "Big Brother" Seizure of AP Phone Records

"It seems to be a terrible intrusion on the freedom of the press. I don’t see how the press can operate effectively if the public and people that talk to the press have to assume that Big Brother is listening in or can seize the conversations that they engage in. So, the impairment to freedom of the press would seem—the threat to freedom of the press would seem clear and substantial, and it ought not to be done."

The day the Obama administration went all Nixon on us

[T]he Watergate break-in happened 41 years ago, which means that more than half of all Americans weren't even born yet, so you can't blame a lot of voters if they don't know much about what Watergate and the related scandals of Richard Milhous Nixon were all about.

One of the biggest drivers of Watergate was the seemingly unending war in Vietnam. As opposition increased to a foreign war that ultimately killed 58,000 Americans, for goals that were murky at best, so did government paranoia. At the core of Watergate was a team of shady operatives that were nicknamed "the White House Plumbers" -- because they went after news leaks...get it? In May 1969, after news reports about U.S. bombing activities in Cambodia, Nixon and his then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger enlisted J. Edgar Hoover's FBI to wiretap journalists and national security aides. ...

Flash forward to 2012. America had at that point been in an undefined "war on terror" for 11 years -- the same amount of time from the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident that greatly expanded the Vietnam War to the 1975 fall of Saigon. Just as during the 1960s and early 1970s, this terror war had provided government with an excuse to greatly expand its domestic spying on American citizens -- some of that through a law called the Patriot Act and some of it even more dubious, constitutionally.

Then, on May 7, 2012, the Associated Press published an article about the Obama administration's conduct of its war in a country that we'd never declared war on (it was Cambodia in 1969, but Yemen in 2012) and Obama's Justice Department -- for reasons not yet fully known -- went crazy over the leak. ...

Nixon had Daniel Ellsberg, and Obama has Bradley Manning of Wikileaks. OK, so they didn't break into the office of Manning's psychiatrist, but they have detained Manning in a solitary confinement that a UN torture expert called "cruel, inhuman and degrading." Do you feel better about that? Because I don't. The war on whistleblowers, the treatment of Manning, and now this investigation of journalists are all hallmarks of a White House that promised transparency but has been one of the most secretive -- all to the detriment of the public's right to know.

War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and The National Security State -- Official Trailer

Eric Holder Must Go

What in the several hundred names of god do these people think they're doing? ...

This isn't hard. This is what made Egil (Bud) Krogh famous. This is what got people sent to jail in the mid-1970s. This is the Plumbers, all over again, except slightly more formal this time, and laundered, disgracefully, even more directly through the Department Of Justice. ...

The White House on Monday said that other than press reports it had no knowledge of Justice Department attempts to seek AP phone records. "We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department," spokesman Jay Carney said.
That is all my arse. At the least, this was a counter-terrorism operation. (Why else would Brennan have been questioned already?). Which puts the whole business inside the White House. And you'd have to be a toddler or a fool to believe that Eric Holder could go off on his own and take as politically volatile a step as this. But, let us take the White House at its word. Eric Holder did this by himself. He should be gone. This moment. Not only is this constitutionally abhorrent, it is politically moronic. Nobody likes the press, I will grant you that, but the administration is soft if it thinks the public distrusts the press that much. And to have this genuinely chilling revelation emerge simultaneously with the Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! mummery and the IRS dumbassery is pretty much a full broadside below the water line of this administration's credibility. Good god, this is going to be one long-ass summer.
Obama Nominates Cable Industry Lobbyist and Campaign Bundler New Head of FCC

So let's start with why is this guy important to Obama. He is what we call a major donor, not just of his own money, but a bundler. ... And this fellow, this Tom Wheeler, he pulled together some $700,000 to $1 million (there's some difference as to how much) and contributed that to Obama's campaign. So we start off with the fact that we've got somebody who's sort of bought this appointment.

Number two, this is a really serious position. I mean, normally these large donors, you know, they let them sleep a night in the Lincoln bedroom in the White House or they give him an ambassadorship to a country that even the new ambassador has never heard of where they can't do too much harm. So in this case, they've handed this fellow what I think is the single most important independent regulatory commission in the lives of Americans--parents, children, minorities, working class, you name it, for reasons that we can describe later. ...

Now, third, as some of those presidential candidates would count, (A), (B), and third, he's a fellow who is from this industry. The president of the United States has appointed a lobbyist to regulate lobbyists who lobby on behalf of the corporations that he lobbied on behalf of. He was a trade association president. He was a lobbyist for all those hundreds of companies, plus more, lobbied the FCC , lobbied the Congress, in and out of the White House seeking influence there. And finally, as if all of this was not enough, he's a venture capitalist who has money in some of these companies.

Cornel West: Obama 'Is a War Criminal'

Despite invoking Dr. King, Obama 'tied to Wall Street and drones,' said West.

In an interview with the Guardian published on Sunday, renowned professor and prolific critic of the "military-industrial-complex" and rampant "plutocracy" in the U.S. and around the world, Dr. Cornel West explained his views on the state of America today and his fall from grace, by design, with President Barack Obama: "He's just too tied to Wall Street. And at this point he is a war criminal."

"They say I'm un-American," West told interviewer Hugh Muir, referring to Obama's team.

But from someone who actively campaigned for the man, only to be quickly and vastly disappointed, West sees in Obama the epitome of Washington corruption:

"He talked about Martin Luther King over and over again as he ran," West said of their campaign stops together, adding later, "You can't just invoke Martin Luther King like that and not follow through on his priorities in some way." ...

You can't meet every Tuesday with a killer list and continually have drones drop bombs. You can do that once or twice and say: 'I shouldn't have done that, I've got to stop.' But when you do it month in, month out, year in, year out – that's a pattern of behavior."

Afghan Officials: 'Significant Evidence' of US Involvement in Torture of Civilians

Following the expulsion of US Special Operation Forces, officials report American men were behind the disappearance of locals from Wardak region

Confirming earlier allegations that US forces were involved in the torture and extrajudicial killing of civilians in Afghanistan's Wardak province, the New York Times reported Sunday that Afghan officials are saying they have "substantial evidence of American involvement" and are pursuing the arrest of an American-born individual who they claim was a key member of a US Special Forces team that engaged in kidnappings, torture, and murder.

The accusations against Zakaria Kandahari and the assertion by Afghan officials that he and much of his unit are American are a "new turn," writes the Times, in the allegations against US Special Forces which were behind Afghan President Hamid Karzai's earlier demand for US troops to withdraw from the Wardak province. ...

According to investigators, the Special Forces team detained a total of 15 local Afghan civilians in "sweeps," despite families' claims that deny any association with rebel factions; 7 of those 15 "are known to have been killed" while the remaining 8 are still missing "and almost certainly dead."

US military officials told the Times their investigations turned up no evidence of wrongdoing by US troops, but Afghan officials told the newspaper that the video and other evidence strongly implicate the US forces' involvement.

Russia’s Plan For The BRICS To Dismantle The Dollar System

The status of the US dollar as the world reserve currency gives the US a number of advantages over other countries. The world’s most important commodities are priced and traded in dollars, even if most of these commodities are not produced in the US. The fact that the world’s financial system is based on the dollar allows the Federal Reserve to export inflation to other countries, while the Federal Government runs a huge deficit with impunity.

So far, only China has been active in challenging the dollar supremacy. The internationalization of the yuan is an official priority of Chinese leaders. Currency swap agreements with major trade partners like Brazil, France, or Australia are small but important steps in the Chinese strategy. Changing the world financial system is not an easy task and certainly a very challenging undertaking for China. Now, it seems that Beijing has found an ally in the Kremlin. And there appears to be a consensus between the BRICS countries: the urgent necessity to dismantle the dollar system. ...

In Russia, politics are Byzantine; the fact that the Kremlin decided not to hide the document or leak it to a chosen few journalists, but publish it outright is a very strong signal, a very vocal angry signal directed at the US. A signal that the Western media chose to ignore. ...

The goals are clear. In the section titled “Strategic goals,” the first point on the BRICS’ agenda is the reform of the world financial system in order to make it “fairer, more stable, and more efficient.” In the later chapters, it is spelled clearly that this “reform” is actually a dismantling of the dollar system.

The Obamacare gravy train

According to this exclusive AP report published last week, the state of California is going to spend “nearly $458 million on outside vendors by the end of 2014, covering lawyers, consultants, public relations advisers and other functions” to set up the state’s insurance exchange provided for by Obamacare. That suggests the birth of a new multi-billion dollar nationwide industry for people who can sell themselves as experts in building an electronic consumer marketplace for health insurance, which until now has mostly been marketed to employers rather than individuals.

So, who’s leading the charge to cash in and how are they doing it?

The AP story suggests that there is one obstacle, as least in California, to finding out. AP reports that unlike in other states, where the books of the agencies overseeing the insurance exchanges are subject to open records laws, legislators in California inserted an usual provision in its law setting up the exchange support apparatus that allows that all the new spending to be kept secret. (How that happened would, itself, be a good story.) But the books are open in other states, and even in California a good reporter ought to be able to find out who’s getting in on the action and what strings they are pulling along the way.

JPMorgan Chase and other big banks are accused of running a frightening scam collecting on credit card debt.

Gangsta-style big banks have taken up where this character left off. They may not send a guy to break your kneecaps, but they are working in the shadows, chasing down debts from credit cards using methods that are both fraudulent and unlawful. They do this whether you actually owe the money or not.

Here’s the skinny: After widespread outrage over the big banks’ last crime wave against the American consumer – the “robo-signing” scam in which homeowners were hustled out of their houses by banks that sent fraudulent paperwork through the courts, they are at it again. This time, banksters are accused of helping debt collectors pursue faulty judgments against credit card customers by various dirty tricks that include – surprise! – robo-signing.  ...

Another nasty trick Chase is accused of deploying is what’s known, appropriately, as “sewer service.” This means that Chase failed to properly serve notice of debt collection lawsuits against consumers (it dumped the notices “in the sewer”), but then lied and said it did. This means, you, as a consumer, have no idea that a lawsuit has been launched against you. So here’s what happens: you get a default judgment that automatically favors the debt collector. The credit card company can then garnish your wages or freeze your bank account to get the money it says you owe. And you might not even owe it! Banks are sometimes chasing down consumers who have already paid their debts. Other times they are jacking up the size of the debts by adding bogus fees and interest costs.

All of this, of course, is unlawful. But it’s happening on a massive scale. ...

The really chilling message sent in this new plot to squeeze cash out of hard-pressed Americans is that the big banks are completely undaunted by their exposure in the foreclosure robo-signing scam. Whatever penalties or bad publicity they have received have not restrained them one iota from pulling the exact same fraud again on hapless consumers. Neither has the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which now hangs in limbo with the endlessly delayed confirmation of Richard Cordray as head.

US squares up to Germany over austerity and banking union

George Osborne has warned finance ministers from the world's largest economies that they must "nurture" the global economic recovery, as the US prepared to square up to Germany over its austerity plans at a G7 meeting in Buckinghamshire on Friday.

While Osborne, who will host the two-day meeting, stressed that the countries attending have "more in common than separates us", US officials said they would use the meeting to call on Berlin to relax its stringent austerity policies and boost its own domestic demand, in response to more than three years of single currency crisis.

And in a less direct dig at the Merkel government, Washington also called for the faster implementation of the proposed banking union across the eurozone.

"Strengthening European demand is the most important immediate imperative in reviving growth in the advanced economies and thereby global growth," said a senior US Treasury official. ...

But at a conference in London on Thursday organised by the Business department, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, said it must be the priority for governments to reduce their borrowing to regain confidence. He said the determination of Berlin to balance its budget had not only won support from international lenders but also German businesses and consumers, who felt able to invest once they saw the public finances were sustainable.

Victory in Seattle as Teachers Win Battle in Standardized Test Boycott

Controversial test will not be given in high schools next year, but teachers vow to continue until test is removed at all grade levels

Seattle teachers who took a strong and public stance by refusing to administer a "flawed" but mandatory standardized test earlier this school year are celebrating a victory after an announcement by the school district saying the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test will not be given to high school students next year.

"Finally, educators’ voices have been acknowledged,” said teacher Jesse Hagopian, who teaches history at Garfield High School in Seattle where the boycott movement began. “This is a great moment in the movement for quality assessment.”

"The teachers at Garfield are overwhelmed with joy," Hagopian said. “I think this is a real vindication of the movement that was started at Garfield High School by teachers but was quickly joined by parents and students at our school, and around the city, and really around the country.”

The district's decision was announced in a letter sent to school administrations throughout the city on Monday and followed on the recommendations of a review panel that looked at the testing regime and determined it was not "effective for high school-age students."

California Domestic Workers Demand Bill of Rights

New climate report has grim predictions

A new report says that much of the world's plant and animal life could be decimated by the effects of climate change over the next century. Worldwide levels of carbon dioxide are the highest they've been in almost two million years.

Will Climate Change Make You Homeless?

New report: disasters displaced 32.4 million people in 2012, with most due to weather- or climate-related disasters

Climate change and weather-related disasters forced over 31 million people to flee their homes in 2012, according to a new report, offering a grim look at what the future holds as climate-related disasters are set to rise.

According to the assessment released Monday from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), disasters displaced 32.4 million people in 82 countries last year, with most—98%—being the result of weather- or climate-related disasters likes floods and wildfires.

Call them "IDPs" (internally displaced persons) or "refugees," and it's tempting for those who have as of yet been unscathed by such disasters to see displacement as a distant problem.  But as the world reaps more and more of what the world's fossil fuel addiction has sown, the distance may be shrinking. ...

As Hurricane Sandy showed, climate refugees aren't limited to the developing world.  Over three-quarters of a million people in the U.S. were displaced in 2012 by "the costliest storm disaster" in the nation's history, the report states.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

60 Minutes and the Billionaire Agenda

Why the TransPacific Partnership is a Scary Big (So-Called Trade) Deal

Updating old stories

A Little Night Music

Hound Dog Taylor - Give Me Back My Wig

Hound dog Taylor And the Houserockers - She's Gone

Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers - Sadie

Hound Dog Taylor - It's Alright

Hound Dog Taylor - It Hurts Me Too

Hound Dog Taylor - Standing at the Crossroads

Hound Dog Taylor - Hideaway

Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers - Kitchen Sink Boogie

Hound Dog Taylor - Goodnight Boogie

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 May 14, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.


What is it about Obama that most reminds you of Nixon?

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