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 Byther Smith. Enjoy!
Byther Smith & the Chicago Kingsnakes - Little Voice
“Fear is the State's psychological weapon of choice to frighten citizens into sacrificing their basic freedoms and rule-of-law protections in exchange for the security promised by their all-powerful government.”
-- Philip G. Zimbardo,
News and Opinion
Holder Admits 75% of Americans Murdered By Obama's Drones Not Intended Targets
(So much for those claims about the "surgical precision" of drones!)
The Audacity of Eric Holder's Letter Admitting Team Obama Killed 4 Americans
While a total of four Americans have been killed in drone strikes, the Obama Administration says that it was only targeting one of them. This is an important fact to remember the next time you're told that their drone campaign is one of "targeted killing" or "surgical precision," or that drones can linger in the air for hours to make sure that only the intended targets are being blown up. ...
While the letter notes that three of four Americans weren't specifically targeted, including a 16-year-old, the letter offers no explanation of why young Abdulrahman was in fact killed, and gives no indication that his death is problematic. The American people are owed a full explanation of how he wound up dead. "We weren't trying to kill the 16-year-old American we blew up" isn't sufficient explanation, its an admission that a thorough, transparent investigation is needed. ...
The fact of the matter is that "the appropriate oversight committees in the Congress" have been frustrated by the Obama Administration's obstinate refusal to share information on many occasions, as Senator Ron Wyden can attest. In addition, while the President has "made clear his commitment" to sharing "as much information as possible" with Americans, he hasn't actually had or followed through on that commitment, as evidenced by the fact that he's just today decided to share information that many of us have known for months. At this late date in his tenure, it is worryingly delusional for Obama to hold himself out, through his subordinates, as a man every bit as committed to transparency as he was as a crusading presidential candidate.
Obama To Address 'Endless War' in Speech, But No Moves to 'End It'
In a highly anticipated speech today at the National Defense University, President Obama is expected to address the concept of the "perpetual war" on terrorism that has engaged the US military since 2001 when the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was first passed by Congress. ...
Acknowledging the limits of the AUMF will come as relief to critics who say the last decade of US foreign policy failures have rested on the back of the law that has allowed the US to treat the "whole world as a battlefield." That relief, however, will likely be short-lived given recent testimony by Pentagon officials at a Senate hearing which defended the president's military authority under the AUMF in ways that made Sen. Angus King (I-ME) exclaim: "This is the most astounding and astoundingly disturbing hearing I have been to since I have been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today." ...
[H]uman rights defenders also expressed concern that Obama will not go nearly far enough to reject the controversial policies that many clearly define as "war crimes" and "affronts to international law." Part of the goal of the speech, critics say, is to simply codify a system of extrajudicial execution with new euphemisms and illusions of transparency.
“The Obama administration continues to claim authority to kill virtually anyone anywhere in the world under the ‘global battlefield’ legal theory and a radical redefinition of the concept of imminence,” said Zeke Johnson of Amnesty International. “President Obama should reject these concepts in his speech [Thursday] and commit to upholding human rights, not just in word but in deed.”
ACLU Comment on President’s National Security SpeechPoor President Obama, Congress is forcing him to preside over the torture of Gitmo detainees. There's just nothing he could possibly do about it.
"President Obama is right to say that we cannot be on a war footing forever, but the time to take our country off the global warpath and fully restore the rule of law is now, not at some indeterminate future point. Four years into his presidency, President Obama has finally taken the first steps to jumpstart his administration's effort to make good on early campaign promises to close Guantánamo and recognized the human cost of failing to act. These are encouraging and noteworthy actions.
"To the extent the speech signals an end to signature strikes, recognizes the need for congressional oversight, and restricts the use of drones to threats against the American people, the developments on targeted killings are promising. Yet the president still claims broad authority to carry out targeted killings far from any battlefield, and there is still insufficient transparency. We continue to disagree fundamentally with the idea that due process requirements can be satisfied without any form of judicial oversight by regular federal courts. ...
The unconstitutional military commissions must be shuttered, not brought to the United States. While the president expressed appropriate concern about indefinite detention, he offered no clear plan for ending this unconstitutional policy for those have not been tried or cleared for release.
"President Obama's efforts to repair his legacy in the eyes of future historians will require that he continue to double down if he is to fully restore this nation's standing at home and abroad. The ACLU realizes that Congress has thrown significant barriers in closing Guantánamo. But in some areas Congress has been more progressive, having recently demanded legal memoranda that claim to authorize the illegal killing program.
Obama is certainly a most artful dodger of accountability for his own actions.
Obama Drones, Guantanamo Policy Laid Out In Major National Security Speech
A hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay has grown to over 100 prisoners. Thirty of them are being force fed, which the United Nations considers torture.
Obama addressed the force-feeding Thursday. "Is that who we are? Is that something that our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?" he asked.
Shocker: Republicans Protect New Deal Program From Obama's Depredations
Obama's scheme to sell off the Tennessee Valley Authority gets push-back from Tennessee Republicans who know the benefits of a publicly-owned facility.
Buried within the fine print of the 2014 Obama budget is a startling bit of history-changing policy. The government, the administration says, should consider selling off the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the nation’s largest publicly operated—that is, “socialist”—institutions, and the largest public power provider in the country.
The TVA is a non-profit, free-standing public authority established by the Roosevelt administration during the Depression—a very large utility, if you like. It provides 165 billion kilowatt hours of power to 9 million Americans, has $11.2 billion in sales revenue, employs more than 12,500 people, and provides other educational, training and related services (such as navigation and land management, flood control, and economic development) to the people in the states and region around the Tennessee river basin.
Strikingly, it’s the free-market Republicans who object to this proposed privatization. ... [T]his “socialist” institution is immensely popular. It has given the people of the region good service for roughly eight decades, and its prices are lower than those of many private corporations. An analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that consumers in Alabama and Tennessee pay considerably less for power than the national average. The low rates, former TVA Chairman S. David Freeman suggests, have earned TVA “the ‘mother love’ of a politically conservative region.”
So why is the Obama administration pursuing a sell-off? Mainly for short-sighted budget appearances. Privatizing public assets like the TVA will generate some near-term revenue and help pay down a (very) small fraction of the nation’s debt. The White House also claims the TVA will likely have to issue more debt securities in the future in order to raise money to modernize its aging infrastructure, which would—in a purely accounting sense—slightly increase the deficit.
Pritzker Understated Income, Files Amended Disclosure
Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker inadvertently understated a portion of her income by at least $80 million in a disclosure form required for her nomination to be U.S. Commerce secretary and has amended the document.
Forms released online last night by the Office of Government Ethics show that Pritzker earned additional income for consulting work on hundreds of trusts, including family trusts, beyond what she disclosed last week. The omission, discovered by Pritzker’s financial advisers, was due to a clerical error, said Susan Anderson, the nominee’s spokeswoman. ...
The nominee is worth more than $1.5 billion, according to estimates from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. If confirmed, she would be among the wealthiest Cabinet officials in U.S. history.
Senator Vitter Offers -- and Senate Democrats Accept -- Stunning Amendment With Racially Tinged Impacts
In today's Senate debate on the farm bill, Senator David Vitter offered -- and Senate Democrats accepted -- an amendment that would increase hardship and will likely have strongly racially discriminatory effects.
The amendment would bar from SNAP (food stamps), for life, anyone who was ever convicted of one of a specified list of violent crimes at any time -- even if they committed the crime decades ago in their youth and have served their sentence, paid their debt to society, and been a good citizen ever since. In addition, the amendment would mean lower SNAP benefits for their children and other family members.
So, a young man who was convicted of a single crime at age 19 who then reforms and is now elderly, poor, and raising grandchildren would be thrown off SNAP, and his grandchildren's benefits would be cut.
Given incarceration patterns in the United States, the amendment would have a skewed racial impact. Poor elderly African Americans convicted of a single crime decades ago by segregated Southern juries would be among those hit.
Congress: From "Starving the Beast" to Starving Real People
New budget proposals that tightens belts by emptying stomachs
The House of Representatives and Senate have proposed the United States “tighten our belts” by slashing billions of dollars from poor people’s food budgets. The main mechanism for shrinking the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding is the removal of “categorical eligibility.” Basically, most states have used this policy to streamline enrollment: Families are made eligible for food stamps based on their receipt of other benefits, such as housing or childcare subsidies. That often means broadening eligibility for working-poor families or those with overall household income or savings that exceeds regular, stricter thresholds for qualifying for food stamps.
Now the House and Senate farm bill proposals, particularly the House plan, seek to “save” billions more by cutting categorical eligibility. Under the House farm bill budget, which cuts $20.5 billion in SNAP over 10 years, benefits would be eliminated for “nearly 2 million low-income people, mostly working families with children and senior citizens,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). (The Senate bill also cuts SNAP but only by about $4 billion over 10 years). In addition, the cuts would devastate poor students, because SNAP eligibility has enabled 210,000 low-income children to qualify for free school meals. That means more hunger pangs for kids in the cafeteria, and an emptier refrigerator waiting for them at home. Meanwhile, their working-poor parents may find themselves buying cheaper, less nutritious food to stretch budgets, or turning to the local food pantry, or facing cruel trade-offs like delaying rent payments to pay for groceries or leaving a health problem untreated. ...
In addition to bumping people out of categorical eligibility, the House proposal would hit the so called “heat and eat” policy — a mechanism used by some states to coordinate heating assistance payments with food stamps. As a result, according to the CBPP, “about 850,000 low-income households, which include about 1.7 million individuals, would lose an average of $90 a month in SNAP benefits.”
Chicago Teachers Build a Movement
Thousands of Chicago teachers and their community allies marched and rallied for three days in opposition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked school board’s plans to close 54 public schools, almost all of them in Black neighborhoods – the biggest round of closings anywhere in the country, to date. Parents and teachers say the plan puts children at greater risk as they cross the boundaries of different gangs’ turf; destabilizes neighborhoods that will lose their schools; and is part of a larger scheme to further decimate the teaching ranks and convert more schools to charters. Teachers Union president Karen Lewis says “study after study” has shown that shuffling children around from school to school accomplishes nothing unless the new schools are significantly better – yet, most of the cross-city movement in the mayor’s plan is from one poor neighborhood to another.
The mayor claims that the closings are necessary cost-cutting measures. But a report by the Chicago Tribune, which is no friend of the teachers, shows that Emanuel’s minions have fudged the numbers. For example, a school was marked for closing because it lacked adequate air conditioning, but students were then slated to be transferred to another school that also lacks sufficient air conditioning. Another school was put on the shut-down list because it would cost almost $10 million to fix. But the students’ new school requires nearly as much money for repairs. The report concludes that it would cost millions more to renovate the schools where the displaced students would be assigned, than to fix the old schools.
So, this is not about costs; that’s just a cover story. It’s about further privatizing the public schools, destroying the union, and destabilizing neighborhoods full of people that the mayor and his big business cronies would, ultimately, like to expel from the city, entirely. The teachers know it, and so does a growing portion of the community, who have joined in common cause.
Rahm Emanuel's Zombie Pigs vs. Chicago's Angry Birds
It all starts with the person who seems committed to win the current spirited competition as the most loathsome person in American political life: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. This is part of a mammoth redevelopment project on South Lakeshore Drive consisting of a convention center anchored by an arena for a non-descript basketball team that has gone 47-111 over the last five years. It’s also miles away from DePaul’s campus. These aren’t the actions of a mayor. They’re the actions of a mad king. ...
The only explanation for this is that Rahm is scratching someone’s back in the DePaul Catholic hierarchy of Chicago. This is power politics the likes of which Chicago has honed into a crude, low art form, with the myriad public officials behind bars to prove it. In this case, the hottest rumor is that approval of legalized gambling is on the horizon and the convention center’s locale will be its epicenter. The arena is, in effect, a Trojan Horse for a casino.
If true, Chicagoans should shudder. Even better, they should take a field trip four hours east to Detroit. The Motor City has gambling, and I’ve been to their casinos. If you ever want to see exhausted families spend their last dollars in hopes to make enough to last the month, go to a Detroit casino. That’s the future Rahm Emanuel dreams about for the working people of Chicago. The difference now is that the pigs aren’t feeding at an overflowing trough. They’re feeding on the last grizzled meat sticking to our bones. There’s simply not enough slop to go around and people are fed up with being fed upon.
Millions of poverty-stricken Italians unable to afford heat, meat amid economic crisis
As a severe recession and unprecedented unemployment sweeps Italy, millions of people are struggling to make ends meet. The number of those receiving food assistance has doubled in the past two years, according to a government report. ...
Fourteen percent of Italy’s population – 8.6 million people – is living on food assistance, a number that has doubled over the past two years, according to the report.
Nine poverty indicators were taken into account while carrying out the study; if a family meets more than four, it is considered to be seriously deprived. Some 15 million people – 25 percent of Italy’s population – are living in families that meet three or more of the poverty indicators, the research found.
For instance, one poverty indicator is being unable to heat one’s home, something one in five Italians cannot afford. Also, 16.6 percent of the Italians cannot afford a protein-based meal such as meat every two days, from just 6.7 percent in 2010. ...
Italians' purchasing power also fell by 4.8 percent last year, an "exceptionally steep" decline caused largely by aggressive tax hikes aimed at battling the economic crisis gripping the country.
'Tremendous Victory' in Growing Rebuke of Citizens United
Los Angeles joins more than 175 cities in national push for constitutional amendment
The resolution, Proposition C, calls for a constitutional amendment that would overturn the 2010 Supreme Court ruling and limit the rights of corporations so that spending money on campaigns is not constitutionally protected speech.
Further, Proposition C demands that Los Angeles elected officials and area legislative representatives promote this mandate and push for a constitutional amendment in Sacramento and Washington D.C.
"The voters have spoken loud and clear that they want big money out of our elections," said Derek Cressman with the political watchdog group Common Cause. "Now it’s up to the Los Angeles congressional delegation to heed the call from their constituents."
Keystone pipeline: House votes to bypass Obama for approval
Congress has voted to shut Barack Obama out of the biggest environmental decision of his presidency – the fate of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline – and claimed the authority to approve the project.
The vote to approve the pipeline, which passed 241-175 in the Republican-controlled house, was pure political theatre.
The measure would dispense with additional environmental reviews of the pipeline and would allow only 60 days for legal challenges.
The bill was unlikely to pass in the Senate and the White House said on Tuesday it would veto any measure that attempted to bypass the current permit process.
But the vote – the seventh time Republicans in Congress have voted to speed up or approve Keystone – keeps up the pressure on Obama to approve the project.
Oklahoma Government Favored Oil Companies Over Shelter For Children
Plaza Towers Elementary school was directly in the path of this horrific storm. Even though Moore, OK, resides in the middle of tornado alley, Oklahoma politicians denied the children of this school, a tornado shelter.
These children were denied the freedom to be properly sheltered from Mother Nature’s wrath. Instead, these kids were forced to depend only on the walls of the school to protect them from an F5 tornado. ...
Politicians claim that the state lacks the funds necessary to build community and school shelters. However, the state of Oklahoma paid out or accrued $645 million in tax rebates and credits to the oil industry over the last 3-year period.
How many storm shelters could have been built with $645 million?
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
Byther Smith & Jim Kohler Band - You Treat Me Like Dirt
Byther Smith - Funky Man
Byther Smith - 35 Long Years
Byther Smith - I Don't Like To Travel
Byther Smith & Jim Kohler Band - The Thrill Is Gone
Byther Smith & The Night Riders - Mississippi Kid
Byther Smith - Come on in this house
Byther Smith - I Got So Much Love
Byther Smith - I'm movin' on
Byther Smith - The Man Wants Me Dead
Byther Smith w/Bobby Radcliff and Brad Vickers - Got My Mojo Workin'
Byther Smith w/Bobby Radcliff and Brad Vickers - Sweet Home Chicago
Byther Smith w/Bobby Radcliff and Brad Vickers - I'm A Mad Man
Byther Smith - 300 Pounds of Joy
Byther Smith - Play the blues in Paris
Byther Smith - I'm A Mad Man
Byther Smith - Live On and Sing the Blues
Byther Smith - Money Tree
Byther Smith - Hold That Train
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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