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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 Godfather of Soul, the man whose picture appears in the dictionary beside "funky," Soul Brother number one - James Brown.  Enjoy!

James Brown - Papa's got a brand new bag

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

  -- Harry S. Truman

News and Opinion

Sooprise, Sooprize, Sooprize!  The Obama administration thinks anti-war dissenters are terrorists.  Do these people ever encounter the irony of an administration that meets on tuesdays to decide whom they wish to assassinate this week labeling people who have no blood on their hands at all, terrorists?

Anti-War Activists Targeted as 'Domestic Terrorists'

Anti-war activists who were infiltrated and spied on by the military for years have now been placed on the domestic terrorist list, they announced Monday. The shocking revelation comes as the activists prepare to sue the U.S. military for unlawful spying. ...

The activists, who blast the snooping as a violation of their First and Fourth Amendment rights, levied a lawsuit against the military in 2009.

"The spying resulted in plaintiffs and others being targeted for repeated harassment, preemptive and false arrest, excessive use of force, and malicious prosecution," reads a statement by the plaintiffs.

The Obama Administration attempted to throw out the litigation, but in December 2012 the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the case could continue.

When the plaintiffs were preparing their deposition for the courts two weeks ago, they were shocked to discover that several Olympia anti-war activists were listed on the domestic terrorist list, including at least two plaintiffs in the case.

Senators: NSA must correct inaccurate claims over privacy protections

Two senators on the intelligence committee on Monday accused the National Security Agency of publicly presenting "inaccurate" information about the privacy protections on its surveillance on millions of internet communications.

However, in a demonstration of the intense secrecy surrounding NSA surveillance even after Edward Snowden's revelations, the senators claimed they could not publicly identify the allegedly misleading section or sections of a factsheet without compromising classified information.

Senators Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) and Mark Udall (Democrat, Colorado) wrote to General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, to correct "inaccurate" portrayals about restrictions on surveillance published in a factsheet available on the NSA's homepage. The factsheet, concerning NSA's powers under Section 702 of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, was also supplied to members of Congress.

"We were disappointed to see that this factsheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the US government," Wyden and Udall wrote to Alexander, in a letter dated 24 June and acquired by the Guardian.

From the ACLU:
Misdirection: The House Intelligence Committee's Misleading Patriot Act Talking Points

This week the House Intelligence Committee circulated nine talking points to its members explaining why the dragnet collection of innocent Americans call records is both legal and effective at stopping terrorism. After reviewing the document, the ACLU has gone point-by-point, making notes that either refute or raise serious doubts about almost every assertion in the one-pager.  

[Document embedding failed, click here to see annotated document]

Patrick Leahy wants to give the government two years to clean up its act.  It's a tiny step forward, but, seriously. can't we do better than this?  I think the headline oversells Leahy's bill.
Finally, Some Sanity in Congress About Castrating the NSA's Total Surveillance Powers

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has introduced a bill that would put an earlier end to provisions in the FISA Amendments Act that authorized the Internet surveillance program known as PRISM. His bill, called the FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act, would sunset the authorization to June 2015, two years sooner than the current law. That would force an earlier examination of the law allowing the Internet surveillance program that authorized the U.S. government to request user data from technology companies.

Other parts of the Leahy bill include an amendment to the Patriot Act that would restrict the NSA’s ability to collect phone data. ... Leahy’s bill stipulates that the phone data would only be collected if it was an authorized investigation and, most importantly, if there was a definite link to a foreign terrorist group or power. ...

Leahy’s legislation would also sunset the Patriot Act provisions that allow “national security letters”--letters that are sent to phone and Internet companies that request data about Americans’ activity but that cannot be disclosed. Leahy’s bill would end the current law authorizing “national security letters” in 2015 as well--and force the letters to be made public unless the government gets a court order keeping them secret.

Putin: Snowden still in Moscow airport, won't be extradited

Edward Snowden never crossed border into Russia, says foreign minister

Russia's foreign minister has said the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden never crossed the border into Russia, deepening the mystery over his suspected flight from Hong Kong.

"I would like to say right away that we have no relation to either Mr Snowden or to his relationship with American justice or to his movements around the world," Sergei Lavrov said.

"He chose his route on his own, and we found out about it, as most here did, from mass media," he said during a joint press conference with Algeria's foreign minister. "He did not cross the Russian border."

According to WikiLeaks, which said it facilitated his travel, Snowden fled Hong Kong on Sunday morning to transit via Moscow to an undisclosed third country. He has applied to be granted political asylum by Ecuador, whose London embassy is currently sheltering the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

China's state newspaper praises Edward Snowden for 'tearing off Washington's sanctimonious mask'

China's top state newspaper has praised the fugitive US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden for "tearing off Washington's sanctimonious mask" and rejected accusations Beijing had facilitated his departure from Hong Kong.

The strongly worded front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist party, responded to harsh criticism of China from the US for allowing Snowden to flee.

The Chinese government has said it was gravely concerned by Snowden's allegations that the US had hacked into many networks in Hong Kong and China, including Tsinghua University, which hosts one of the country's internet hubs, and Chinese mobile network companies. It said it had taken the issue up with Washington.

"Not only did the US authorities not give us an explanation and apology, it instead expressed dissatisfaction at the Hong Kong special administrative region for handling things in accordance with law," wrote Wang Xinjun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science in the People's Daily commentary.

"In a sense, the United States has gone from a 'model of human rights' to 'an eavesdropper on personal privacy', the 'manipulator' of the centralised power over the international internet, and the mad 'invader' of other countries' networks," the People's Daily said.

WikiLeaks on Snowden: Whereabouts secret, more leaks to come

Snowden Snow Job: Leaker Fools Reporters on to Cuba Flight Without Him

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden was supposed to be on Aeroflot Flight 180 from Moscow to Havana. He wasn't. But "dozens" of journalists are. It just took off. And there's no booze service on board. Welcome to the Cuban Whistleblower Crisis. ...

[J]ournalists from AP, AFP, BBC and NBC News, among others, are trapped on a 12-hour flight from Moscow to Cuba. ... And worse (or, really, better?): Thanks to travel regulations in Cuba, they'll have to stay there three days before they'll be allowed to fly back.

The Pursuit of Edward Snowden: Washington in a Rage, Striving to Run the World

Rarely has any American provoked such fury in Washington’s high places. So far, Edward Snowden has outsmarted the smartest guys in the echo chamber—and he has proceeded with the kind of moral clarity that U.S. officials seem to find unfathomable.

Bipartisan condemnations of Snowden are escalating from Capitol Hill and the Obama administration. More of the NSA’s massive surveillance program is now visible in the light of day—which is exactly what it can’t stand.

The central issue is our dire shortage of democracy. How can we have real consent of the governed when the government is entrenched with extreme secrecy, surveillance and contempt for privacy?

The same government that continues to expand its invasive dragnet of surveillance, all over the United States and the rest of the world, is now asserting its prerogative to drag Snowden back to the USA from anywhere on the planet. It’s not only about punishing him and discouraging other potential whistleblowers. Top U.S. officials are also determined to—quite literally—silence Snowden’s voice, as Bradley Manning’s voice has been nearly silenced behind prison walls.

Insider Threat: Government Employees Urged to Tattle On Coworkers In Effort to Stop Classified Leaks
Obama numbers plunge into generation gap

President Barack Obama's approval rating dropped 8 percentage points over the past month to 45%, the president's lowest rating in more than 18 months, according to a CNN/ORC International survey released on Monday.

And Obama's disapproval rating soared 9 points to 54% since mid-May.

Even more surprising: The overall decline in his approval rating was partially fueled by a plunge in support from younger Americans, a huge base of Obama's support.

Last month, nearly two-thirds of those in the 18-29 age group gave the president a thumbs up. His approval rating among that bracket fell 17 points in Monday's poll and now stands at 48%.

Assange, Back in News, Never Left U.S. Radar

Interviews with government agents, prosecutors and others familiar with the WikiLeaks investigation, as well as an examination of court documents, suggest that Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks are being investigated by several government agencies, along with a grand jury that has subpoenaed witnesses.

Tens of thousands of pages of evidence have been gathered. And at least four other former members of WikiLeaks have had contact with the United States authorities seeking information on Mr. Assange, the former members said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a matter they were informed was confidential.

In response to recent questions from The New York Times and others, a Justice Department spokesman confirmed that it "has an investigation into matters involving WikiLeaks, and that investigation remains ongoing," but he declined to offer any details. ...

"Given the government'€™s aggression in the Snowden case, I would expect that the government will continue to move forward with the Assange case on a conspiracy theory, even though WikiLeaks would seem eligible for First Amendment protections," said James C. Goodale, a First Amendment lawyer who previously worked for The Times and is the author of "Fighting for the Press."

He added that no reporter had ever been successfully prosecuted on a conspiracy charge but that recent actions, like the investigation of a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, was evidence that the  government was "moving toward criminalizing the reporting process."

Brazil's president promises major reforms
EU rebukes Turkey on crackdown by delaying entry talks
And the (1915, 2013) Winner is . . . Business

Today’s opinions from the Supreme Court highlight how the conservative majority is reverting to judicial practices before the New Deal, but not in the way many commentators expected.  The justices are not restoring ancient doctrinal categories or dramatically cutting back on civil liberties.  Rather, as was the case in 1915ish, the big winner is business.  When business is not involved, the judicial majority is often at least as liberal if not slightly more liberal than the rest of the ruling regime. ...

The winner today, as in most days in the recent past, is business. All five conservatives torture a federal law in Vance v. Ball State University when concluding that people who direct work activities are somehow not supervisors.  The result is that when those people engage in racial (or sexual) harassment, the business which gave them supervisory responsibilities is not liable.  The pharmaceutical industry got a nice gift from the justices when in another 5-4 vote the justices in Mutual Pharmaceuticals v. Bartlett sharply limited state law remedies against inadequate warnings about design defects.  Finally, in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, the same five conservatives ruled that businesses are free to be motivated by a desire to fire people who complain about discrimination as long as that is not the only reason why employment was terminated.

Perhaps the lesson of these decisions is that all of us spend too much time on grand constitutional law, where we have been waiting for the conservative apocalypse that has never occurred.  Business enterprise either has little stake in such issues as abortion, same-sex marriage or affirmative action or actually may lean somewhat in favor.  In a time of legislative gridlock, the real action is in statutory interpretation, preemption and administrative law and here, largely out of the public’s eye, is where the conservative revolution in law goes on apace.

Fired Walmart Workers Arrested in Protest at Yahoo Headquarters

Five activists were arrested at Yahoo! headquarters Monday afternoon in a protest over the firing of eleven Walmart employees who this month went on strike. The planned civil disobedience action followed an hour-long demonstration in the Yahoo! lobby; about thirty workers and supporters gathered to demand a meeting with Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, who joined Walmart’s board last year. ...

A few workers arrived in the Yahoo! lobby just after noon today, and told the receptionist they were there to meet Mayer. After being told they couldn’t see her without an appointment, an organizer announced that they planned to stay until Mayer became available. One OUR Walmart member told the receptionist that the firings were an emergency; another offered to meet Mayer on her lunch break. Then a larger group arrived and lined up on either side of the lobby. Standing under a purple pillar of Yahoo logos, workers held signs, locked arms and told stories about their own firings or their co-workers’. Some had their children with them; one woman declared the scene “cute” as she walked between the rows of protesters. A handful of Yahoo! employees watched from a balcony above. Then Yahoo! management declared the lobby shut down, and a staffer told the crowd that he would call the police if they didn’t leave.

After the police arrived, those activists not planning to be arrested moved their protest outdoors; the remaining five sat down on the floor. ... Soon after, several police officers entered, gave the five activists a final chance to leave and then had them stand up one at a time and put their hands behind their backs. One visibly winced as an officer put zip ties around his wrists; a police officer and a Yahoo! staffer both took photos of each arrest. ...

Over the two years since its founding, OUR Walmart has repeatedly alleged retaliation and intimidation against its members, as have allied groups organizing subcontracted Walmart warehouse workers. But the latest allegations—including nine firings and eighteen other disciplinary actions in the space of three days—are the most serious ones since 2005, when Walmart shut down a Quebec store months after workers there won collective bargaining rights.

NLG Obtains $1M, OPD and Sheriff Reforms for Oscar Grant Protesters

U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson has granted preliminary approval to a $1.025 million settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by the National Lawyers Guild on behalf of 150 people who were arrested by Oakland Police during a Nov. 5, 2010, demonstration. The civil rights lawsuit, Spalding et al. v. City of Oakland, CAND No. C11-2867 TEH, challenged OPD's unlawful kettling and mass arrest of the 150, and their detention by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, following a march protesting the light sentence given Johannes Mehserle for killing Oscar Grant. ...

In addition to the $1.025 million monetary payment to the arrestees and their attorneys, the settlement agreement reaffirms, and provides for court enforcement of OPD's Crowd Control Policy for a period of up to 7 years. The Policy was the result earlier litigation over abuses against protesters. "We brought the lawsuit in order to protect the constitutional right to dissent in Oakland, and enforce the OPD Crowd Control Policy," explained lead attorney Rachel Lederman. "It is a model policy that gives the police many tools to respond to demonstrations without immediately resorting to mass arrests, weapons or force. Yet, OPD chose to scrap this policy in dealing with the Oscar Grant demonstrations. The policy, and the law, are clear that before police can stop First Amendment activity and make mass arrests, they must have a basis to believe that the individuals being arrested have broken the law. In most situations that means they must give demonstrators notice and opportunity to disperse, and there must be a constitutionally valid reason to do so. None of that occurred in this case. The 150 arrests were illegal, and the City has acknowledged that."

"€œThis settlement is an important victory for democracy," said NLG attorney Bobbie Stein. ”People are reluctant to express their political opinion if they can be arrested and thrown in jail for it. Oakland and Alameda County made a smart decision to settle this case and to agree to uphold the First Amendment in policing future demonstrations, rather than continuing to abuse people and subject the taxpayers to this type of liability.

Was Michael Hastings' Car Hacked? Richard Clarke Says It's Possible

The peculiar circumstances of journalist Michael Hastings' death in Los Angeles last week have unleashed a wave of conspiracy theories.

Now there's another theory to contribute to the paranoia: According to a prominent security analyst, technology exists that could've allowed someone to hack his car. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is "consistent with a car cyber attack."

Clarke said, "There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers" -- including the United States -- know how to remotely seize control of a car.

"What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, to launch an air bag," Clarke told The Huffington Post. "You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard."

"So if there were a cyber attack on the car -- and I'm not saying there was," Clarke added, "I think whoever did it would probably get away with it."

Study: Drinking Water Contamination Linked to Fracking, Horizontal Drilling

Concentrations of methane in drinking water near gas wells six times higher than levels farther away

Led by Robert B. Jackson of Duke University, the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that drinking water wells in close proximity to natural gas wells that use horizontal drilling or fracking were contaminated with stray gases including methane, ethane and propane, with methane concentrations an average of six times higher than those wells farther away.

“The methane, ethane and propane data, and new evidence from hydrocarbon and helium content, all suggest that drilling has affected some homeowners’ water,” lead author Robert B. Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said in a statement.  “In a minority of cases the gas even looks Marcellus-like, probably caused by poor well construction.”

The researchers, who studied 141 drinking water wells primarily in northeastern Pennsylvania, found methane in the drinking water of 82% of the houses sampled, and the methane concentrations in wells of homes less than one kilometer from a gas well were six times higher on average than those located farther away.

A similar pattern emerged for ethane, with concentrations of the gas found 23 times higher on average for homes less than one kilometer from a gas well.   The researchers found propane in 10 of the 133 homes they studied for this gas, all close to a gas well.

"The ethane and propane are signatures of fracking," USA Today reports Jackson as saying.

Meanwhile Obama's business friendly EPA lifts up the rug again and tries to sweep some more dirt onto the mountainous mound it is attempting to hide in behalf of Obama's savvy business friends:
Duke Study Links Fracking to Water Contamination As EPA Drops Study on Fracking Water Contamination

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) kicked the can down the road on a key study designated to examine the connection between hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming.

A study originally scheduled for release in 2014 and featured in Josh Fox's "Gasland 2," it will not be complete until 2016 in a move that appears to be purely politically calculated by the Obama Administration, akin to the EPA's dropped and censored groundwater contamination study in Weatherford, TX.

Now, just days later, a damning study conducted by Duke University researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences again links shale gas fracking to groundwater contamination. The Duke researchers did so by testing samples of 141 drinking water samples of Pennsylvania's portion of the Marcellus Shale basin.

This is the Duke professor's third study linking fracking to groundwater contamination, the source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of citizens in the Keystone State. The industry is likely to come out with the familiar chorus that the contaminated water is "naturally occuring," but the latest Duke study shows otherwise.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Top Ten Ways US TV News are Screwing us Again on NSA Surveillance Story

How Barrett Brown shone light on the murky world of security contractors

Map: How to stay out of reach of US extradition treaties

Justice Alito's Inexcusable Rudeness

Postcard from Ecuador: A Living, Breathing Democracy

Victory: All we ever wanted was for Coy's school to treat her the same as other little girls.

The Speech - Action Items

A fact about the attack in Kabul

A Little Night Music

James Brown - I Got The Feelin'

James Brown - Get up offa that thing

James Brown - Give it up or turn it loose

James Brown - Please, Please, Please/Night Train

James Brown - Sex Machine

James Brown - Living In America

James Brown - Try Me

James Brown - That's Life

James Brown - Get on the Good Foot

James Brown - Medley live in Kinshasa Zaire, 1974

James Brown - I Feel Good

James Brown - Soul Train Performances

James Brown - Every Beat of My Heart (instrumental w/JB on the organ)

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 Jun 25, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.


Will Snowden have to apologize to Cuba for sending them a plane load of angry stenographers?

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