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 bluesman J.B. Hutto. Enjoy!
J.B. Hutto - Got My Mojo Workin'
"How ironic is that? We wanted a president who listens to all Americans. Now we have one"
-- Jay Leno
News and Opinion
Has the US become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum?
Americans are familiar with stories of dissidents fleeing repressive regimes such as those in China or Iran and seeking asylum in the United States. Snowden is in the opposite position. He’s an American leaving the land of his birth because he fears persecution. ...
[Bradley] Manning was held for three years without trial, including 11 months when he was held in de facto solitary confinement. During some of this period, he was forced to sleep naked at night, allegedly as a way to prevent him from committing suicide. The United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture has condemned this as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 16 of the convention against torture.” ...
If Snowden had chosen to stay in the United States, he would have faced a stark choice: accept a multi-year prison sentence for actions he believed to be in the public interest or go to trial and risk decades in prison if the courts were not persuaded by his legal and constitutional arguments. The American activist Aaron Swartz was facing exactly that choice when he committed suicide in January.
If Snowden had surrendered himself to U.S. authorities, he almost certainly would have faced charges that carry penalties of decades in prison. He might have rationally feared being subject to years of pretrial detention and the kind of degrading treatment Manning faced. And if he had chosen to fight the charges, he would have risked spending decades in prison if he lost.
Edward Snowden, The N.S.A. Leaker, Comes Forward
[Edward Snowden] is the reason our country has, in the last week, been having a conversation on privacy and the limits of domestic surveillance. That was overdue, and one wishes it had been prompted by self-examination on the part of the Obama Administration or real oversight by Congress. But both failed, and it came in the form of Snowden handing highly classified documents—a lot of them—to journalists.
He did so, he said, because he had seen “abuses”—the framework for an “architecture of oppression”—and had come to “realize that these things have to be decided by the public, not someone who is hired by the government.” Snowden, of course, is someone hired by the government, and will be asked why he thought the decision to expose secrets was his. He offered, in his interview, several answers: one is that the normal processes were broken. The second was that he is willing to come out in the open himself. Saturday night, the N.S.A. asked for a criminal investigation into the leaks. ...
So far, [documents] have revealed that the N.S.A. was collecting records from Verizon Business (and, it emerged, any number of other companies) for every phone call placed in the United States; that, with a program called Prism and some degree of coöperation from technology companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple, it is looking at the private data of both foreigners it targeted and—“incidentally”—Americans a degree or even two removed from them; that another program, called Boundless Informant, processed billions of pieces of domestic data each month, and many times that from abroad. We also learned that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, flat-out lied to the Senate when he said that the N.S.A. did not “wittingly” collect any sort of data on millions of Americans. And we were reminded of how disappointing President Obama can be. These were all things the public deserved to know.
Obama and the Final Measure of DevotionIsn't it funny how the oily apologists sound exactly the same no matter what country they're from?
Over the course of five years, President Obama has demanded much from him supporters from promising not to prosecute officials for torture to ordering warrantless surveillance to the quashing of dozens of public interest lawsuits seeking judicial review of his policies to the recent attack on the free press. He even claimed, under his “Kill List” policy , the right to kill any U.S. citizen that he believes to be a threat to the United States. Yet, most Democrats stuck with Obama. Now, however, Obama is demanding the final measure of devotion — he is asking supporters to abandon privacy principles in a move that will fundamentally alter our society. Indeed, he and congressional allies are trying to convince Americans that they can free themselves of fear by simply redefining privacy in a new and surveillance friendly image.
At issue are massive surveillance programs through which the administration has seized data on every call made by every citizen. At the same time, data on millions of emails are being stored showing addresses, subject lines, and attachments. The effort allows citizens to be tracked in their associations and communications. In other words, total transparency of citizens in a new fishbowl society. In response to the outcry last week, Obama and others assured citizens that they have nothing to fear from the government collecting their calls and data. ... Obama explained these are just modest intrusions in the new concept of government-approved privacy. He insisted that so long as the government did not read your emails or listen to your calls, there is no danger to privacy. Likewise, Sen. Lindsay Graham scoffed at the notion of any concern over privacy so long as you don’t call a terrorist. ...
The new privacy model would protect only the content of your emails and calls — unless the government wants to read them. ... Consider who you have called or emailed in the last month. The government can learn a great deal about you from just the people you call and subjects of your emails. Your “metadata” can reveal peculiar tastes and associations that you may consider hidden from all but your closest friends – and now a few thousand government monitors. The government will now know not only who you are calling but how long you are speaking, how often you call people or groups, where you call from, and even attachments like photos that you send.
Edward Snowden: Republicans call for NSA whistleblower to be extradited
The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was condemned by US politicians and threatened with prosecution by the country's intelligence chief on Sunday after revealing himself as the Guardian's source for a series of explosive leaks on the NSA and cyber surveillance.
A spokesman for the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said Snowden's case had been referred to the justice department and US intelligence was assessing the damage caused by the disclosures.
Bob McChesney on Internet Giants and the National Security State
The reason that Google and Facebook provide the services they do is that they're collecting everything on you–and they're using that material, and they're using it to sell you stuff and let other people sell you stuff, and you're sacrificing your privacy completely.
And that becomes an especially frightening thought when you consider that 13 of these companies rank among the very largest in the world, and they have a very close relationship with the U.S. government. This has now slowly been coming out, that the national security agencies in the United States, and the police authorities, are working hand in hand with Google, with Facebook, with Apple and Amazon and Microsoft and all these companies to share data on us.
And it's really the worst possible scenario for a free society, when you have an economy dominated by a handful of monopoly giants…working hand in hand with sort of a national security state that's completely off-limits to public review to monitor the population. It's not a tenable situation for a free society.
Hundreds Rally to Declare "I Stand with Snowden"
Mass demonstration in New York City seeks to elevate 4th Amendment cause of NSA whistleblower
In a massive outpouring of support for the 29-year-old systems administrator behind last week's National Security Administration surveillance leak, hundreds of civil liberties advocates and concerned citizens are staging a mass demonstration in New York City's Union Square Monday at noon to declare: "I stand with Edward Snowden."
The demonstration follows revelations Sunday on the identity of the whistleblower, a contracted employee for the private defense company Booz Allen Hamilton, after he came forward in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. Snowden was the source behind the outlet's multiple breaking news stories on the NSA's massive surveillance mechanism.
Monday's solidarity protest is the first of many events planned in cities across the country as a "groundswell of concern for Snowden's welfare" has erupted in the wake of his confession, according to demonstration organizers.
Edward Snowden: Saving Us from the United Stasi of America
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: "It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp."
For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know.
The fact that congressional leaders were "briefed" on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country.
The Judicial Lynching of Bradley ManningAnd now another exciting episode of "Looking Forward":
The military trial of Bradley Manning is a judicial lynching. The government has effectively muzzled the defense team. The Army private first class is not permitted to argue that he had a moral and legal obligation under international law to make public the war crimes he uncovered. The documents that detail the crimes, torture and killing Manning revealed, because they are classified, have been barred from discussion in court, effectively removing the fundamental issue of war crimes from the trial. Manning is forbidden by the court to challenge the government’s unverified assertion that he harmed national security. Lead defense attorney David E. Coombs said during pretrial proceedings that the judge’s refusal to permit information on the lack of actual damage from the leaks would “eliminate a viable defense, and cut defense off at the knees.” And this is what has happened.
Manning is also barred from presenting to the court his motives for giving the website WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, and videos. The issues of his motives and potentially harming national security can be raised only at the time of sentencing, but by then it will be too late.
The draconian trial restrictions, familiar to many Muslim Americans tried in the so-called war on terror, presage a future of show trials and blind obedience. Our email and phone records, it is now confirmed, are swept up and stored in perpetuity on government computers. Those who attempt to disclose government crimes can be easily traced and prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Whistle-blowers have no privacy and no legal protection. This is why Edward Snowden—a former CIA technical assistant who worked for a defense contractor with ties to the National Security Agency and who leaked to Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian the information about the National Security Council’s top-secret program to collect Americans’ cellphone metadata, e-mail and other personal data—has fled the United States. The First Amendment is dead. There is no legal mechanism left to challenge the crimes of the power elite. We are bound and shackled. And those individuals who dare to resist face the prospect, if they remain in the country, of joining Manning in prison, perhaps the last refuge for the honest and the brave.
Supreme Court Ends Torture Lawsuit Against Donald Rumsfeld
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from two American whistleblowers who claim U.S. forces tortured them in Iraq and who want to sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The justices' action Monday leaves in place a federal appeals court ruling that found Rumsfeld cannot be held liable for actions taken by subordinates that may have crossed legal bounds.
Tens of Thousands Rally to 'Demand an Answer' from Turkish Government
Following nights of violent clashes, thousands rally in largest demonstration since protests began
Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Istanbul's Taskim Square Sunday in the largest showing since the mass demonstrations began 13 days ago.
What began as a protest against government plans to raze Gezi Park in Taksim Square to make room for a shopping mall have spiraled into movement against, what the protesters are calling, an authoritarian regime run by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Edrogan and his AK Party. ...
Demonstrators have been camping out in the square for over two weeks, despite the heavy-handed response of the police force which, night after night, has responded to the protests with tear gas and water cannons.
Thus far, three people have been killed in the clashes—two protesters and a policeman—and thousands have been injured, AFP reports.
US Inequality Now Literally Off the Chart
It is well known that the level of income inequality stretches much higher in the United States than in the other developed countries of Europe and North America. Now a report from the International Labour Organization shows that U.S. inequality has literally gone off the chart.
Income inequality in the United States is soaring so high, in fact, that the authors of the ILO’s new 2013 World of Work report couldn’t even place the United States on the same graph with the other 25 developed countries their new study examines.
Income inequality reflects the sum total of all the differences between the incomes enjoyed by different households in a country. Differences between rich and poor households, rich and middle-income households, middle-income and poor households all enter into total income inequality.
Researchers usually measure income inequality using a statistic called the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient runs from a minimum of 0 (perfect equality in incomes across all households) to 100 (one rich household gets all the income for an entire country).
The ILO report places the US Gini coefficient at 47.7, or almost half way toward the extreme where one rich household gets everything and everyone else gets nothing.
Naomi Klein: 'Anti-Shock Doctrines' Show the Way to Resist
In the midst of the current "final colonial pillage" for natural resources and a bombardment of "there is no alternative" to austerity messages, Shock Doctrine author Naomi Klein urged the left to seize this "crucial moment" to build real resistance movements that offer a "message of critical hope."
Speaking this week at the Vio.Me worker-run factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, Klein, who is in the country doing research for a book and film, said the building materials factory was the perfect place to be speaking as it is "known in resistance movements around the world" and provides an example of what she said is "the anti-Shock doctrine"—a situation where rather than bowing down to the forces at hand, the crisis has put a fast-forward on coming up with creative alternatives, where workers "refused to have their lives and livelihoods sacrificed on the altar of economic crisis, and instead found reserves of power and ingenuity."
Describing Vio.Me, economist Marjolein van der Veen explained:In May 2011 when the owners could no longer pay their bills and walked away, the workers decided to occupy the factory. By February 2013, after raising enough funds and community support, the workers started democratically running the company on their own. (They do not intend to buy out the owners, since the company owed the workers a significant amount of money when it abandoned the factory.) They established a worker board, controlled by workers’ general assemblies and subject to recall, to manage the factory. They also changed the business model, shifting to different suppliers, improving environmental practices, and finding new markets. Greek law currently does not allow factory occupations, so the workers are seeking the creation of a legal framework for the recuperated factory, which may enable more such efforts in the future. Vio.Me has received support from SYRIZA and the Greek Green party, from workers at recuperated factories in Argentina, as well as from academics and political activists worldwide.In Greece, Klein said, "alternatives to austerity are presented by media as apocalypse."
But the Vio.Me factory is an example of an alternative "that must be known, must be disseminated .. because many factories are now being closed as the crisis unfolds, and workers are not being given the opportunity to reshape the ownership, when in fact the workers should be the first ones asked if they want to be the creditors and run the factories themselves."
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
J.B. Hutto - Thank You For Your Kindness
J.B. Hutto - Too Much Alcohol
J.B. Hutto - Pretty Baby
J B Hutto - Lone Wolf
J B Hutto - I feel so good
J B Hutto - Married Woman Blues
JB Hutto & His Hawks - Hide & Seek
J.B. Hutto - Send Her Home To Me
J. B. Hutto & his Hawks - 20% alcohol
J.B. Hutto - Why Do Things Happen To Me
J B Hutto and his Hawks - Please Help
J.B. Hutto - Walking the dog
JB Hutto - Landromat Blues
J B Hutto and The New Hawks - That's The Truth
J.B. Hutto - You Don't Have To Go
J.B Hutto - Lullebelle's Here
JB Hutto - Now She's Gone
J.B. Hutto - Worried Life Blues
J B Hutto - Serves Me Right To Suffer
JB Hutto - Blues Do Me A Favor
J B Hutto - 20% Alcohol (live)
J.B. & His Hawks - Lovin' You
It's National Pie Day!
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