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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.  

Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features the Rev. Gary Davis.  Enjoy!

Rev. Gary Davis - Slow Drag / Cincinnati Flow Rag

“Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.

Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.”

  -- Henry A. Wallace

News and Opinion

James Bamford on NSA Secrets, Keith Alexander’s Influence & Massive Growth of Surveillance, Cyberwar

Connecting the Dots on PRISM, Phone Surveillance, and the NSA’s Massive Spy Center

As someone who has written many books and articles about the agency, I have seldom seen the NSA in such a state. Like a night prowler with a bag of stolen goods suddenly caught in a powerful Klieg light, it now finds itself under the glare of nonstop press coverage, accused of robbing the public of its right to privacy. Despite the standard denials from the agency’s public relations office, the documents outline a massive operation to secretly keep track of everyone’s phone calls on a daily basis – billions upon billions of private records; and another to reroute the pipes going in and out of Google, Apple, Yahoo, and the other Internet giants through Fort Meade – figuratively if not literally.

But long before Edward Snowden walked out of the NSA with his trove of documents, whistleblowers there had been trying for years to bring attention to the massive turn toward domestic spying that the agency was making. Last year in my Wired cover story on the enormous new NSA data center in Utah, Bill Binney, the man who largely designed the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping system, warned of the secret, nationwide surveillance. He told how the NSA had gained access to billions of billing records not only from AT&T but also from Verizon. “That multiplies the call rate by at least a factor of five,” he said. “So you’re over a billion and a half calls a day.” Among the top-secret documents Snowden released was a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order proving the truth to Binney’s claim and indicating that the operation was still going on.

I also wrote about Adrienne J. Kinne, an NSA intercept operator who attempted to blow the whistle on the NSA’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans following the 9/11 attacks. “Basically all rules were thrown out the window,” she said, “and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans.” Even journalists calling home from overseas were included. “A lot of time you could tell they were calling their families,” she says, “incredibly intimate, personal conversations.” She only told her story to me after attempting, and failing, to end the illegal activity with appeals all the way up the chain of command to Major General Keith Alexander, head of the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command at the time.

Without documents to prove their claims, the agency simply dismissed them as falsehoods and much of the mainstream press simply accepted that.

On PRISM, partisanship and propaganda

The most vocal media critics of our NSA reporting, and the most vehement defenders of NSA surveillance, have been, by far, Democratic (especially Obama-loyal) pundits. As I've written many times, one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy has been the transformation of Democrats from pretend-opponents of the Bush War on Terror and National Security State into their biggest proponents: exactly what the CIA presciently and excitedly predicted in 2008 would happen with Obama's election.

Some Democrats have tried to distinguish 2006 from 2013 by claiming that the former involved illegal spying while the latter does not. But the claim that current NSA spying is legal is dubious in the extreme: the Obama DOJ has repeatedly thwarted efforts by the ACLU, EFF and others to obtain judicial rulings on their legality and constitutionality by invoking procedural claims of secrecy, immunity and standing. If Democrats are so sure these spying programs are legal, why has the Obama DOJ been so eager to block courts from adjudicating that question?

More to the point, Democratic critiques of Bush's spying were about more than just legality. I know that because I actively participated in the campaign to amplify those critiques. Indeed, by 2006, most of Bush's spying programs - definitely his bulk collection of phone records - were already being conducted under the supervision and with the blessing of the FISA court. Moreover, leading members of Congress - including Nancy Pelosi - were repeatedly briefed on all aspects of Bush's NSA spying program. So the distinctions Democrats are seeking to draw are mostly illusory.

The Sickening Snowden Backlash

It's appalling to hear the Washington bureaucrats and their media allies trash Edward Snowden as a traitor, when it's our leaders and the NSA who have betrayed us.

Since Edward Snowden came forward to identify himself as the leaker of the National Security Agency spying programs, the D.C. mandarins have been working overtime to discredit the man many view as a hero for revealing crucial information the government had wrongfully kept secret. Apparently, if you think hiding information about spying on Americans is bad, you are misguided. The real problem is that Snowden didn’t understand that his role is to sit and be quiet while the “best and the brightest” keep Americans in the dark about government snooping on private citizens. ...

It’s the institutions that need to demonstrate respect for the public they allegedly serve. If Snowden or any other American is skeptical of institutional power, it is not due to any personal failing on their part. The lack of respect is a direct outgrowth of the bad behavior of the nation’s institutions, behavior that has undermined Americans’ trust in them. According to Gallup’s “confidence in institutions” poll, trust is at an historic low, with Congress clocking in at a 13 percent approval rating in 2012. Yes, this is the same Congress that has “oversight” of the government spying programs.

When one major institution (the Washington media establishment) so seamlessly partners with another (the U.S. government) in trashing a whistleblower, it’s not hard to understand why Americans might be jaded.

Peter King Goes All 1798 on the Bill of Rights

Growling that “legal action should be taken against (Greenwald),” the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security dismissed First Amendment concerns declares that: “No right is absolute!" -- and that includes the First Amendment right of the people to be served by a free press. ...

How very 1798 of him.

It was in that year that President John Adams presided over the enactment of the Alien and Sedition Acts, in a mad rush to disregard civil liberties and begin jailing his political and journalistic critics. In so doing, Adams and his allies opened what would be a definitional debate when it came to the American understanding of the freedom of the press protection in particular and the broader right to challenge the claims of the government.

It was an intense time, arguably the most dangerous moment faced by the new nation. Dissenters were accused of threatening the safety and security of the republic.

Those who did not meet with the approval of Adams and his cronies were punished for sharing information and ideas that provided citizens with dissented from the official line. Vermont Congressman Matthew Lyon was prosecuted and jailed for, among other things, publishing in his newspaper -- The Scourge Of Aristocracy and Repository of Important Political Truth – a condemnation of Adams’ "unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice."

Lyon believed that Adams was steering the United States toward war with France, and he wrote and spoke about the folly of that endeavor. Adams and his allies used the hastily enacted Alien and Sedition Acts to punish what was perceived as malicious writing with regard to the government in general, and Adams in particular.

The abuses of basic liberties were so extreme that the sitting vice president, Thomas Jefferson, openly broke with Adams and emerged as the outspoken leader of the opposition.

What Makes the American Security State Necessary?

The NSA, the National Security Agency, is also known as No Such Agency because it's by far the most secretive of all 16 of the U.S. intelligence agencies, and for a long time there was a denial that such a thing even existed.

One of the issues about it is that it's not supposed to be spying on Americans. That's not its brief. So the fact that what we've learned from this drop of such an enormous amount of documents, that the U.S. is vacuuming up, essentially, this enormous batch of virtually every phone call, every email sent to or from the United States, and we're being reassured that, well, don't worry, they don't have enough people and enough trained analysts to actually read this stuff, so that's supposed to make us feel better, that it's just being kept in a room somewhere, maybe in this new facility that's being built, a 1 million-square-foot facility in Utah to store all this stuff until the later time when they do have enough analysts and enough person power to go through it all, that doesn't make me feel any better. This is a very, very serious breach of any understanding of constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure. There's not even an allegation here that these are pieces of evidence in some kind of a crime, that even if you weren't directly involved, maybe there was a connection to someone who was. There's no one even making that claim. This is straight up vacuuming every bit of cyber information possible from every overseas phone line, every internet server, all the major companies--Google, Verizon, etc. This is massive. This is really a Big Brother operation on steroids. This is way beyond anything that has been confirmed before. And the scale of these violations against the rights of people in this country are far greater than anything that we had confirmed before.

Bluff successfully called.  Can the NSA deliver proof?
NSA to release details of attacks it claims were foiled by surveillance

The National Security Agency (NSA) plans to release details of terrorist attacks thwarted by its controversial bulk surveillance of Americans’ communications data, a senior US senator said on Thursday.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California), the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the NSA director, General Keith Alexander, would provide “the cases where this [surveillance] has stopped a terrorist attack, both here and in other places” as early as Monday.

The claim that the surveillance programs helped stop terrorist attacks has come under criticism from two US senators who sit on the intelligence committee.

“When you're talking about important liberties that the American people feel strongly about, and you want to have an intelligence program, you've got to make a case for why it provides unique value to the [intelligence] community atop what they can already have," Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, told the Guardian in an interview on Thursday.

The Union of Corporation and State

Michael Hayden, who used to run both the CIA and the NSA  says, “If I were the director and had a relationship with a company who was doing things that were not just directed by law but were also valuable to the defense of the Republic, I would go out of my way to thank them..."

While it is frightening enough to ponder what the NSA is getting from its corporate "friends," one also has to wonder how it is the NSA reciprocates... some of the possibilities are pretty scary.

U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms

Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. ... Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft (MSFT) and other software or Internet security companies have been aware that this type of early alert allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments, according to two U.S. officials. Microsoft doesn’t ask and can’t be told how the government uses such tip-offs, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. ...

The information provided by Snowden also exposed a secret NSA program known as Blarney. As the program was described in the Washington Post (WPO), the agency gathers metadata on computers and devices that are used to send e-mails or browse the Internet through principal data routes, known as a backbone.

That metadata includes which version of the operating system, browser and Java software are being used on millions of devices around the world, information that U.S. spy agencies could use to infiltrate those computers or phones and spy on their users.

Adam Smith said, “people of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”    

Here is evidence of that.  The government has been working hard to bring together businesses and intelligence and law enforcement.  What results has been a conspiracy against the public:

Police Trained to Treat Keystone XL Protesters as 'Terrorists'

It’s often difficult to gauge just how much fear activists instill in the powers that be. But on Wednesday, environmental activists protesting the Keystone XL pipeline saw firsthand how much TransCanada, the corporation in charge of the pipeline, is shaking in its boots.

Bold Nebraska, a grassroots landowner advocacy group, obtained TransCanada's presentation slides (below) via a Freedom of Information Act request to the Nebraska State Patrol. These slides revealed that TransCanada provided training to both federal and local police forces on how to crack down on environmental activists, even going so far as to train them to arrest the activists under anti-terrorism statutes.

Lauren Regan, legal coordinator for Tar Sands Blockade and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center  said, “This is clear evidence of the collusion between TransCanada and the federal government assisting local police to unlawfully monitor and harass political protestors.”

According to a press release the slides were presented last month in Nebraska, althought they date back to December, 2012. They specifically call out Occupy Pipe, Occupy Houston, STOP, Rainforest Action Network and Tar Sands Blockade in their presentations, which create an overall narrative that the activists are criminals and terrorists who need to be stopped.

This is a very well-documented article that has too much information embedded in it to excerpt it effectively. It is well worth your time to read it in full.  It details how MIC contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton "help military and civilian leaders envision the future."  It appears that the future they're helping the military and their civilian leaders envision is a dystopia where the services of firms like Booz Allen Hamilton will be essential to the survival of the military and civilian power structure.  

Read all about the corporate state's self-fulfilling prophecy machine:

Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks

NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that environmentally-linked disasters could spur anti-government activism

Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA's Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis - or all three.

The corporate state in action, warming up for the coming struggle for power with the little people:
Keystone XL Activists Labeled Possible Eco-Terrorists in Internal TransCanada Documents

Documents recently obtained by Bold Nebraska show that TransCanada - owner of the hotly-contested Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline - has colluded with an FBI/DHS Fusion Center in Nebraska, labeling non-violent activists as possible candidates for "terrorism" charges and other serious criminal charges. ...

An April 2013 presentation given by John McDermott - a Crime Analyst at the Nebraska Information Analysis Center (NIAC), the name of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded Nebraska-based Fusion Center - details all of the various "suspicious activities" that could allegedly prove a "domestic terrorism" plot in-the-make.

NAIC says its mission is to "[c]ollect, evaluate, analyze, and disseminate information and intelligence data regarding criminal and terrorist activity to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, other Fusion Centers and to the public and private entities as appropriate."

Among the "observed behaviors and incidents reasonably indicative of preoperations planning related to terrorism or other criminal activity" is "photography, observation, or surveillance of facilities, buildings, or critical infrastructure and key resources." A slippery slope, to say the least, which could ensnare journalists and photo-journalists out in the field doing their First Amendment-protected work.

TransCanada Calls Nebraska Ranchers Agressive and Abusive, Talks of Terrorism

TransCanada, the Canadian corporation behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is providing security briefings to Nebraska authorities warning them to look into the application of “anti-terrorism laws” on people who oppose the pipeline despite the fact that no Nebraskan has committed a crime in the state in their efforts to stop the pipeline.

Bold Nebraska obtained TransCanada documents from the Nebraska State Patrol through a Freedom of Information Act request and was alarmed to discover what they describe as efforts to build distrust between Nebraska police and citizens who have organized to oppose the pipeline which threatens their air, land and water.

“It’s outrageous that a foreign corporation would come into our state to sow fear of landowners and citizens,” said Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska. “Every meeting, rally, and action that we have done in Nebraska has been peaceful, non-violent and lawful.”

U.S. Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels: Where is the Skepticism About Chemical Weapons?

US Drums of War Beat Louder in Syria

In a statement released Thursday evening, the Obama administration is claiming to have proof that Syrian president Bashir al-Assad has been using chemical weapons—crossing Obama's "red line" established to justify U.S. military action.

The deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said: "The president has made a decision about providing more support for the opposition and will be providing further support to the SMC (Supreme Military Council) and that includes providing military support. I can't detail what types of support yet."

He added: "We have not made any decision about a no-fly zone … The best thing we can do is help the opposition on the ground."

On cue, Senator John McCain beat the drums a little louder.

"I applaud the president's decision and I appreciate it," he stated.

'Red Line' crossed: US to give military support to Syrian rebels

Protesters Skeptical as Turkish PM Flips from Threats to Concessions

Turkey's embattled PM Recep Tayyip Erdoganis told protesters last night that he will halt plans to redevelop Gezi Park until Turkish courts rule on an appeal and launch a public referendum if the rule falls in the government's favor.

The move comes a day after European parliament voted to condemn the PM's violent crackdown on Turkey's ballooning protests that has left five dead and over 5,000 injured.

Erdogan's Wednesday threats to shut down the protests in 24 hours were followed by Thursday late-night private meetings with members of the Taksim Solidarity, one organization behind the Taksim Square protests that has gained heightened visibility.

The Washington Post reports that it is not a given that protesters will be satisfied by Erdogan's latest move.

Many protesters have been skeptical of plans for a referendum, saying that they do not believe elections can be fair when Erdogan holds tight sway over the media. Others mistrust the judiciary, saying that Erdogan controls them too.
PM Erdogan orders end to protests in "24 hours"

This is a really interesting commentary making a very interesting and timely point:
Human Rights Suppression: Tear gas EU's tool to quell civil unrest?

Victory for Patients: SCOTUS Rules Against Gene Patents

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, a victory for "patient care and medical innovation," that will allow greater access to genetic testing and more affordable treatment for cancer patients, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

The court decision invalidated patents on two genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on behalf of women's health groups and thousands of researchers, health professionals and patients.

The case concerned patents on human genes held by Myriad Genetics, a Utah based corporation, on human genes that are tied to the risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer—an issue that received public attention in May when actress Angelina Jolie revealed she had a preventive double mastectomy. The news spawned debate over the procedure that is out of reach for most patients because of the extremely high costs related to Myriad's monopoly over the genes.

Myriad's patents had allowed them to set the terms and cost of testing the genes and "made it difficult for women to access alternate tests or get a comprehensive second opinion about their results," the ACLU explains.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

While working for spies, Snowden was secretly prolific online

Surprise, surprise, surprise! NY Times endorses transgender equality

A Little Night Music

Reverend Gary Davis - If I Had My Way

Grateful Dead - Samson and Delilah

Rev. Gary Davis - Candyman

Roy Bookbinder - Candy Man

Little Feat - Candyman

Rev. Gary Davis - I Am The Light

Jorma Kaukonen & Barry Mitterhoff - I Am The Light Of This World

Rev. Gary Davis - Cocaine Blues

Rev. Gary Davis - Twelve Gates To The City

Rev. Gary Davis - Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning

Jorma Kaukonen w/ David Bromberg - Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning

Rev. Gary Davis - Death Don't Have No Mercy

Rev Gary Davis w/ Sonny Terry - You've Got To Move

Rev. Gary Davis - You Got To Go Down

Rev. Gary Davis - Hesitation Blues

Reverend Gary Davis - How Happy I Am

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 Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.


Are corporations and the state merging in America?

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