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 jazz and blues composer and bandleader Duke Ellington. Enjoy!
Duke Ellington - C Jam Blues
“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
-- Frank Zappa
News and Opinion
Edward Snowden and the Real Issues
Both House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) have called him a traitor, which only shows how ignorant they are. Under our Constitution (and the Espionage Act of 1917), it is not enough for a leaker to do something that might arguable “aid or comfort” an enemy; the leaker must also have the intent, by his disclosures, to betray the United States. No proof exists the Mr. Snowden had either motive. ...
[T]he politicians don’t want to admit that Congress (and the courts) have failed to exercise adequate oversight over a giant network of secret agencies and corporations that is wasting billions of dollars on worthless surveillance and, in the process, invading the privacy of millions of Americans and endangering the capacity of reporters, leakers, and crusading members of Congress to check the secret abuses of secret government. ...
Senator Feinstein and her colleagues don’t want to admit it, but the secrecy system does not permit her and her colleagues to restrain secret government. Once they get a secret briefing, they are pledged not to discuss what they have learned, even with their staffs. Feinstein is such a weak overseer that she could not even persuade the secret FISA court to declassify its sweeping surveillance orders or the legal rationale behind them. ... This is not Senator Feinstein’s fault alone. It’s not even the president’s fault. The secrecy system is out of control.
This security system, which keeps Congress and the public largely in the dark about matters they ought to know in a timely fashion, is profoundly corrupt. Contrary to what the politicians say, its chief function is not to keep enemies ignorant; most secret information has nothing to do with the kind of details that might help an enemy. Its chief function is to protect bureaucrats and politicians from being held accountable for their failings, including their wasteful distribution of government contracts to companies like Booz Allen.
Edward Snowden: US-China relations tested as extradition battle looms
Chinese web portals and newspapers were awash with news of the scandal on Thursday morning, the first business day after a three-day national holiday. Snowden's revelations were "certain to stain Washington's overseas image and test developing Sino-US ties", said the China Daily newspaper in a front-page article, the first in China's state-run media to address Beijing's stance on the NSA leaks.
"For months, Washington has been accusing China of cyberespionage, but it turns out that the biggest threat to the pursuit of individual freedom and privacy in the US is the unbridled power of the government," Li Haidong, a researcher of American studies at China Foreign Affairs University, told the newspaper.
The article continued: "How the case is handled could pose a challenge to the burgeoning goodwill between Beijing and Washington given that Snowden is in Chinese territory and the Sino-US relationship is constantly soured on cybersecurity."
Beijing could intervene in Snowden's case if it decides that the outcome would affect its interests "in matters of defence or foreign affairs"
Snowden told the South China Morning Post that the NSA had hundreds of cyberespionage targets in mainland China and Hong Kong. "We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one," he said.
Inside the ‘Q Group,’ the Directorate Hunting Down Edward Snowden
The impact of the leak inside the NSA has been enormous. “There is complete freakout mode at the agency right now,” one former intelligence officer tells The Daily Beast. “There has never been anything like this in terms of the speed of referral of a crime report to the Justice Department. Normally this kind of thing takes weeks and weeks.”
Snowden’s disappearance in May was immediately noticed by the directorate, and when The Guardian published the first court order and then documents associated with a program called PRISM, Snowden immediately became the leading suspect in the leak, the intelligence sources said, adding that the FBI was now investigating the leak as well. ...
The former U.S. intelligence officers, however, said the case is already being treated as a potential defection. “I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom,” Snowden told The Guardian. “Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech."
NSA revelations only 'the tip of the iceberg,' says Dem lawmaker
Sanchez's remarks on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" came a day after House lawmakers were briefed by national security officials on clandestine data collection programs.
The briefing was meant to convince lawmakers that the surveillance programs are legal and necessary in fighting counterterrorism — an argument President Obama and other administration officials have made.
Lawmakers demanded the briefings after revelations last week about the NSA's collection of phone records and Internet data, and Sanchez said lawmakers were "astounded" by what they heard.
"I think it's just broader than most people even realize, and I think that's, in one way, what astounded most of us, too," Sanchez said of the briefing.
Members of Congress say they’re tired of playing ’20 questions’ with NSA
Some members of the Congress say that getting straight answers from intelligence agencies about top-secret surveillance is like playing the game “20 Questions,” where answers come only if a questioner knows exactly what to ask.
They say quality of closed briefings depends largely on who conducts the sessions and whether members go in with a working knowledge of programs and pointed questions.
Intelligence officials have scheduled several such briefings this week amid the furor over data collection by the National Security Agency after secrets were leaked to news outlets by Edward Snowden, an employee at an NSA contractor.
Although President Barack Obama insisted the Congress was “fully briefed,” many lawmakers said they were unaware of two programs exposed by Snowden that involved collecting billions of telephone records and monitoring Internet data through companies such as Google Inc and Facebook Inc.
“We, here, Congress needs to be informed of what’s going on, and we’re not, and that’s very disturbing to me,” said Democratic Senator Jon Tester, a sponsor of new legislation to force more disclosure to Congress.
NSA chief drops hint about ISP Web, e-mail surveillance
A secret interpretation of the Patriot Act led to the National Security Agency vacuuming up all of Verizon's phone logs. The NSA may be doing the same for e-mail and Web-browsing logs too.
The head of the National Security Agency hinted Wednesday that logs of Americans' e-mails and Web-site visits may be secretly vacuumed up by the world's most powerful intelligence group.
During a U.S. Senate hearing, NSA director Keith Alexander was asked specifically about whether "e-mail contacts" are ingested under the Obama administration's secret interpretation of the Patriot Act's surveillance powers.
"I don't want to make a mistake" and reveal too much, Alexander said, adding that disclosing details about such surveillance would cause "our country to lose some sort of protection." It would be appropriate, he said, to discuss e-mail and other metadata surveillance in a "classified session" that senators are scheduled to attend Thursday.
Among the small circle of outsiders who closely follow the NSA, the agency's close, long-standing relationship with AT&T, Verizon, and other telecommunications providers is an open secret -- so it would come as little surprise to find they're serving up exabytes of daily e-mail and Web-browsing logs as well. The Wall Street Journal reported last week, citing former government officials, that the NSA "obtains access to data from Internet service providers on Internet use such as data about e-mail or Web site visits."
Clarity from Edward Snowden and Murky Response from Progressive Leaders in Congress
As the largest caucus of Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Progressive Caucus could supply a principled counterweight to the bombast coming from the likes of Boehner and Feinstein. But for that to happen, leaders of the 75-member caucus would need to set a good example by putting up a real fight.
Right now, even when we hear some promising words, the extent of the political resolve behind them is hazy. ...
If the most progressive members of Congress aren’t willing to go to the mat against fellow-Democrat Obama over an issue as profound as the Bill of Rights, the result will be a tragic failure of leadership -- as well as an irreparable disaster for the United States of America.
And how about speaking up for Edward Snowden while some in both parties on Capitol Hill are calling him a traitor and pronouncing him guilty of treason? Public mention of the virtues of his courageous whistleblowing seems to be a congressional bridge way too far.
Left Forum Whistleblowers Panel - Raddack, Drake, Gosztola
Intro, Jesselyn Raddack
Crackdown on Turkish Uprising: Police Hammer Youth Revolt as Fight Continues Against Inequality and Repression
As a sea of riot police backed by water cannon trucks pushed past the barricades, seizing the center of Taksim Square in a barrage of teargas and rubber bullets, the small environmental protests-turned-urban anti-government revolt entered a new stage. In a bid to reclaim the square they occupied for the past week, Turkish youth, woken from their tents to the sound of exploding teargas canisters, erected new barricades, throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks in pitched battles with police throughout the day.
By nightfall, thousands of people hearing the 140 character calls on Twitter flocked to the square only to be chased down sidestreets by water cannon trucks dowsing them with pepper spray-laced water in what has become a widening government crackdown. While Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the protesters as radicals in Parliament, police detained dozens of lawyers supporting the movement at the courthouse and stormed the Socialist Democratic Party headquarters, detaining another 70 people. ...
The demonstrations in 78 cities, including the capital Ankara, have been met by a swift and punishing police response. As Erdogan took an increasingly dismissive and then hard line, opposition focused on his government, and the police became to be seen as an arm of his policies.
When labor joined the protests with widespread strikes from two major union federations on June 4 and 5, the actions gained a strong cross-class composition. Spurred on by strict organizing restrictions in Turkey and blunt police suppression to this year’s May Day protests in Taksim Square, union leaders saw a common fight with young people who had been beaten in the streets and an opportunity to air their economic grievances. As the protest coalition grew, the government's rhetoric became increasingly fierce. Erodgan's government lashed out at workers and claimed the protests were being organized by international agitators and leftwing conspirators. National division deepened as a result.
Cloud computing is a trap, warns GNU founder Richard Stallman
Cloud computing – where IT power is delivered over the internet as you need it, rather than drawn from a desktop computer – has gained currency in recent years. Large internet and technology companies including Google, Microsoft and Amazon are pushing forward their plans to deliver information and software over the net.
But Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the computer operating system GNU, said that cloud computing was simply a trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that would cost them more and more over time. ...
The 55-year-old New Yorker said that computer users should be keen to keep their information in their own hands, rather than hand it over to a third party. ...
"One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control," he said. "It's just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else's web server, you're defenceless. You're putty in the hands of whoever developed that software."
You Wouldn't Believe Bank of America's Latest Scam
It’s appears that big bank Bank of America is up to the same old dirty tricks that helped contribute to America’s financial meltdown in the first place.
According to the American Banker magazine, Bank of America is using a misleading sales pitch and a flood of fine print to sell you and me on mortgage refinancing plans.
The American Banker reported Monday that a mailer in New Jersey from Bank of America, “sounds eerily like a sales pitch from the bubble days of 2005.”
The mailer talks about annual savings of more than $4,000 if borrowers refinance their mortgages, but according to National Consumer Law Center attorney Andrew Pizor, the refinancing offer would actually add more than $37,000 to the cost of a borrower’s loan.
Basically, the mailer focuses on lowering monthly mortgage payments, while neglecting to mention that the borrower would end up paying a higher overall interest rate, and would be adding 10 more years to the overall length of their loan.
Obama Nominates America’s Biggest Walmart Cheerleader as His Chief Economic Adviser
Jason Furman thinks Walmart is a “progressive success story.”
On June 10, 2013, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Jason Furman to become the next chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. This is a big-time, highly influential post. So what kind of economist is Furman?
One who thinks Walmart is the best thing since sliced bread.
For Furman, Walmart is nothing short of a miracle for America’s poor and working-class folks. For him, progressives should be cheering the firm: he even wrote a 16-page paper titled, "Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story," which was posted on the Center for American Progress website. Here’s a sample of Furmanomics:“By acting in the interests of its shareholders, Wal-Mart has innovated and expanded competition, resulting in huge benefits for the American middle class and even proportionately larger benefits for moderate-income Americans.”
White House Ups the Ante on Cost of Carbon Pollution to the Public
New estimate for cost to society of projects like the Keystone XL is up about 66%. Some say it still low-balls today's price for tomorrow's warming.
The Obama administration has sharply increased its cost estimates for the global-warming damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions, a calculation that could significantly affect government policies about fossil fuel projects, including the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The new estimates could influence many other government actions, such as setting efficiency standards for appliances and industrial equipment and establishing emissions standards for new and existing power plants. It will also factor into the running debate on whether to impose a carbon tax or find some other way to put a price on carbon emissions.
At issue is what economists call "the social cost of carbon," a measurement of the price society ultimately pays for the damages caused by each additional ton of carbon dioxide emitted. The higher the social cost, the more economic sense it makes to impose strict but expensive emission controls.
If the administration applies its new social-cost calculations to the emissions attributed to the oil sands crude that would be carried by the Keystone XL pipeline—a project that is still under review and needs a presidential permit to proceed—the calculation would show tens of billions of dollars in additional costs to society over the pipeline's lifetime. ... For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has urged the State Department to do just this kind of calculation as part of its environmental review of the Keystone project. But the State Department has never done so.
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
Duke Ellington - Blues In Orbit
Duke Ellington - Black And Tan Fantasy
Duke Ellington - Isfahan
Duke Ellington - Crescendo + Diminuendo In Blue
Django Reinhardt + Duke Ellington - Honeysuckle Rose
Django Reinhardt + Duke Ellington Orchestra - Tiger Rag
Duke Ellington - Such Sweet Thunder
Duke Ellington - Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Joe Jackson - Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Duke Ellington - Jumpin' At The Woodside
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra - VIP's Boogie / Jam with Sam
Duke Ellington and his Orchestra - The Mooche
Duke Ellington - Blues to be there
Duke Ellington - East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Jubilee Stomp - Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington Trio - Rem Blues
Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges - Basin Street Blues
Duke Ellington - Blue Pepper (Far East Blues)
Duke Ellington + Johnny Hodges - Beale Street Blues
Duke Ellington - Blues for New Orleans
Duke Ellington - Blues Of The Vagabond
Django Reinhardt & Duke Ellington - Blues Riff
Duke Ellington, The Intimacy of the Blues
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!