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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 delta blues musician Kansas Joe McCoy, musical partner to both his wife Memphis Minnie and his younger brother, Papa Charlie McCoy with whom he formed the Harlem Hamfats .  Enjoy!

Joe McCoy - Evil Devil Woman Blues

“We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution.”

  -- Subcomandante Marcos

News and Opinion

Thorny Route: Snowden weighs 3 S. American asylum offers, itinerary unclear
Do we have a winner in the Snowden "Find a Home for a Hero Sweepstakes?"
Snowden Agrees to Asylum in Venezuela

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who has been holed up in a Moscow airport for more than two weeks, has agreed to an offer of asylum from Venezuela, a top Russian lawmaker said on Twitter on Tuesday before removing the post.

"As was expected, Snowden agreed to (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro's offer of political asylum," tweeted Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian lower house of parliament's international affairs committee.

"Apparently this option looked like the most reliable one to Snowden."

The announcement remained on his Twitter feed for around half an hour before it was removed.

Snowden update:

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed an emergency petition Monday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of phone records. Also on Monday, the London-based Privacy International filed a lawsuit over alleged spying on Internet and phone users in Britain. And Brazil, meanwhile, launched an investigation into whether telecommunications firms operating in the country cooperated with the United States. Over the weekend, the O Globo newspaper revealed Brazil was the top target in Latin America for the NSA’s global intelligence-gathering effort. This is Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

PRESIDENT DILMA ROUSSEFF: [translated] It is definitely a violation of sovereignty, without a doubt, just as it is a violation of human rights. Now we have to see, without rashness or prejudgment. We have to investigate. Brazil’s position is very clear and very strong: We do not agree in any way with these kinds of interferences, not just in Brazil, but in any country.
Snowden remains at a Moscow airport while trying to obtain asylum. Three countries have offered to protect him so far: Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro confirmed he had received Snowden’s official asylum request.
PRESIDENT NICOLÁS MADURO: [translated] We received an application letter for asylum from Snowden. He will need to decide when to fly here, if he definitely wants to fly here. The fact is that Latin America is humanitarian territory, and it’s growing every day. This would be probably the only humanitarian asylum or political asylum that will be given collectively in history. There are already a couple of countries participating. This is a collective humanitarian asylum in which the territory of our Latin America, which is always human, says to the young man, "You are always being persecuted by the imperialist. It’s best to come here."
Glenn Greenwald: Snowden Encouraged by Global Outrage over NSA Spying, Support for His Plight

Revealed: NSA Put Latin American Countries in Cyber-Spying Crosshairs

Spying by the US National Security Agency has been rampant across Latin America in recent years, according to the latest revelations made possible by documents released by Edward Snowden, with the powerful agency looking not only into military affairs but also into "trade secrets" of its southern neighbors. ...

As it did domestically and across Europe, the US agency employed the now familiar "Prism," "Boundless Informant," and other surveillance programs across the continent in order to look at the internet and telephone communications of people in Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile, Peru and El Salvador.

According to the report (roughly translated into English from the original Portuguese here):

One aspect that stands out in the documents is that, according to them, the United States does not seem to be interested only in military affairs but also in trade secrets - "oil" in Venezuela and "energy" in Mexico, according to a listing produced NSA in the first half of this year. ...

The "Prism" enables access to emails, chatting and voice calls from customers of companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and YouTube. Through it, the NSA collected data on oil and military purchases from Venezuela, energy and narcotics from Mexico, and have mapped the movement of Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Exclusive: Ecuador’s Foreign Minister on Snowden, Assange & Latin American Resistance to U.S. Spying

Evo Morales: Plane-grounding debacle will never be forgotten in South America

Bolivian President Evo Morales has threatened “measures” against European countries in response to the grounding of his plane in Vienna last week, demanding they reveal the source of false information that Edward Snowden was on board. ...

Morales confirmed that officials did not attempt to search the French-made Dassault jet, which would have been “illegal” under diplomatic conventions, but still attempted to find their way on-board.

“I said to the airport officials, ‘You can’t search the President’s plane. They said ‘We can’t unless you invite us for a cup of coffee’. They wanted me to invite them for coffee!” recalled a still-seething Morales.  ...

“The Europeans and Americans think that we are living in the era of empires and colonies. They are wrong. We are free people. They think that by intervening in our affairs, staging coups, installing neoliberals or military dictatorships they can suck out our resources. But this is in the past, they can no longer do this.”

Irish High Court refuses to grant arrest warrant for Snowden

The High Court has refused an application by the United States for an arrest warrant for the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

In a judgment issued this afternoon, Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh said he was “compelled” to reject the application for a provisional arrest warrant, which was made by the US embassy to the Department of Foreign Affairs last Friday, because it did not state where the alleged offences were committed. ...

According to the judgment, the US authorities made contact with their Irish counterparts on an informal basis on July 4th. The following day, the US embassy made a formal request for a provisional arrest warrant to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The request specified that, in documents filed on June 14th in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Mr Snowden was charged with unauthorised disclosure of national defence information, unauthorised disclosure of classified communication intelligence and theft of government property.

NSA Commercial

Progressives and NSA Spying - Whatever Happened to MoveOn.Org?

Ever since the Edward Snowden story about the NSA spying program erupted, there has been a disturbingly eerie silence from progressives. Yes, perfunctory articles have been written, the usual pundits have spoken, and the ACLU has filed a much needed lawsuit, but progressive action groups have scarcely eked out a handful of petitions. As we are facing what is arguably one of the greatest historic struggles of our time, there is barely a ripple in the progressive universe. ...

During a recent interview on KPFA, Norman Solomon, former congressional candidate and co-founder of RootsAction, questioned why MoveOn, the largest online progressive group, has not taken action asking, “Where are their clarion calls to defend and support Edward Snowden? Or for that matter Bradley Manning? They’re not happening….Can you imagine if these revelations had come out under Bush? What would the MoveOn national blasts have been like then?”

Some of this inaction is undoubtedly because we have a Democratic administration. With Obama in the White House, it is easier for progressives to ignore overreaches of power, including the fact that the current administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than have all other administrations combined. Is the relative apathy we are witnessing an all-too-common deference to the existing power structure?

During the Bush administration, a Pew Research Center poll of public attitudes towards the warrantless-wiretap program found that about twice as many Republicans as Democrats supported the program. Now those numbers have largely reversed. It appears that while Democrats did not support an NSA spying program under a Republican administration, it is acceptable under Democratic leadership.

Litany of Lies: NSA leaks, Iran, Syria true facts shatter voters' faith in Obama

The Army's Insurgent Tracking Software Is Now Being Used to Track Gangs

We all know that social media is the criminal's worst enemy. But this summer, a group of researchers are collaborating with police to test software that can reliably predict whether a person is part of a gang based on their social networks, building on similar software used to track insurgents in Afghanistan.

For the past decade or so, the Army has used a number of similar pieces of software to visualize the relationships between suspected and known insurgents involved with the development of improvised explosive devices. It works by grouping many individuals by levels of association—and by doing so, gives researchers a way to recognize system-wide patterns and predict who might be involved in a particular operation.

According to MIT's Technology Review, there are plenty of sociological similarities between insurgents and American street gangs. ...

The software is called Organizational, Relationship, and Contact Analyzer, or ORCA, and it groups people in a particular community by their known relationships, as well as their arrest records. Based on the algorithm, they can predict whether a particular person is likely to be a gang member; It's also able to map "corner crews," which operate hyper-locally, and "seed sets," or individuals who are highly influential.

NYC cases show crooked cops' abuse of FBI database

It's billed by the FBI as "the lifeline of law enforcement" — a federal database used to catch criminals, recover stolen property and even identify terrorism suspects.

But authorities say Edwin Vargas logged onto the restricted system and ran names for reasons that had nothing to do with his duties as a New York Police Department detective. Instead, he was accused in May of looking up personal information on two fellow officers without their knowledge.

The allegation against Vargas is one of a batch of corruption cases in recent years against NYPD officers accused of abusing the FBI-operated National Crime Information Center database to cyber snoop on co-workers, tip off drug dealers, stage robberies and — most notoriously — scheme to abduct and eat women. ...

The cases aren't confined to New York. In the last six years, authorities have accused a Memphis police officer of using the NCIC database to leak information to a confidential informant about a watch dealer who the informant believed had stolen a Rolex; a reserve patrolman in Clarkston, Ga., of running names and license plates for marijuana dealers; a Montgomery County, Md., officer of running checks on cars belonging to a woman who later reported that the vehicles had been vandalized; and a Hartford, Conn., police sergeant of supplying database records to a woman who used them to harass her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend.

Federal judge orders Secret Service to release files on Internet activist Aaron Swartz

The Secret Service’s files on deceased cyber-activist Aaron Swartz must be made public, a judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued her ruling in response to a lawsuit filed by Wired reporter Kevin Poulsen, who is investigating the reasons for the heavy-handed prosecution that spurred Swartz to commit suicide. ...

Poulsen was quick to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), hoping to learn what exactly the Secret Service dredged up on Swartz during its investigation. That FOIA request was denied in February, so Poulsen sued.

The judge wrote Friday that the DHS has until August 5 to explain how long it will take to release its trove of files on Swartz, in accordance with FOIA law.

Obama should review force-feeding at Guantanamo: judge

A US judge Monday rejected a legal bid by a Guantanamo detainee to have his force-feeding blocked, but urged President Barack Obama to review the issue to see if the controversial practice should end. ...

US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that laws passed by Congress prevent her from intervening in aspects of detention at Guantanamo.

“Even though this court is obligated to dismiss the application for lack of jurisdiction, and therefore lacks any authority to rule on petitioner’s request, there is an individual who does have the authority to address the issue.”

Kessler cited the president’s speech of May 23, in which he referred to the force-feeding of terror suspects on hunger strike.

“Is that who we are?” Obama asked in his speech. “Is that the America we want to leave to our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that.”

Bradley Manning lawyer calls for 'aiding the enemy' charges to be dropped

Defence lawyers acting for Bradley Manning, the US soldier who fed a trove of state secrets to WikiLeaks, have called for several of the 22 counts against him to be dismissed, including the most serious charge that he "aided the enemy".

Manning's lead lawyer, the civilian attorney David Coombs, has filed four motions with the military court in Fort Meade, Maryland, asking the judge to drop several charges because of lack of evidence. In addition to aiding the enemy, the relevant counts include the allegation that Manning stole or purloined US property in the form of unauthorised intelligence drawn from Afghan and Iraq warlogs, Guantánamo detainee files and hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables from embassies around the world.

Coombs has also filed a motion to dismiss the allegation that Manning violated section 1030 of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by "knowingly exceeding authorised access" on a secret military network and transmitting documents to WikiLeaks, "with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation". ...

Coombs opened the defence stage of the trial of Manning by playing the court the video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack on a group of civilians in Baghdad. The video is one of the most famed releases by WikiLeaks which posted it in April 2010 under the title Collateral Murder. ...

Coombs also entered into the court record an excerpt of The Good Soldiers by the Washington Post reporter David Finkel. The lawyer said that the excerpt was designed to show that the Apache video had not been "closely held" by the US government – in other words, it was not regarded as so secret as that it must never be made public.

Eurozone throws Greece a €3bn lifeline

Greece's eurozone creditors threw the battered country a summer lifeline on Monday evening, deciding to give Athens €3bn (£2.58bn) between now and October to prevent a fresh eruption of the sovereign debt crisis, while piling the pressure on the government to further slash jobs and spending.

Greece is to get a new €2.5bn in loans this month plus a further €500m in October, a meeting of eurozone finance ministers decided. In addition, the European Central Bank is to return €2bn in profits earned from Greek bonds while the International Monetary Fund is expected to supply €1.8bn in August .

With ultimatums and deadlines being set by the eurozone in advance of Monday evening's meeting of finance ministers of the 17 countries, last-minute negotiations resulted in a tentative green light to release more bailout funds.

Talks over the weekend between the Greek government and the troika of officials from the European commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund resulted in a last-minute agreement on a new package of spending cuts, job losses and fiscal reforms in Greece in return for the bailout funds.

Police fight with anti-govt protesters in Turkey
Humanitarian Nightmare in Gaza as Egypt's Unrest Spreads to Rafah Crossing

The border blockade escalates Gaza's fuel and water crises and leaves thousands stranded

The unrest gripping Egypt threatens humanitarian catastrophe in Palestine, with Egyptian authorities moving quickly to toughen the siege of Gaza as the densely populated area spirals into fuel and water crises.

The Egyptian military shut down the Rafah border crossing and tunnels connecting Egypt to Gaza on July 5, stranding thousands at the border and choking off one of the few openings that the 1.7 million people living in Gaza have with the rest of the world.

The closure "led to shut tunnels that are described as the only main lifeline to provide Gaza with fuel supplies, commodities, and goods that alleviate impacts of the Israeli siege," Euro-mid Observer warns.

Gaza border authority officials say that the numbers of people stranded will climb to tens of thousands in just a few days, Al Monitor reports. Numbered among them are workers, students, patients seeking medical care, and people making the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Rafah closure has cut off the supply of Egyptian fuel, which provides approximately half of the fuel needed to keep Gaza's hospitals and schools open and generator-fueled electricity running, Euro-mid Observer reports. This means that only Israeli gas is available to many, at a price that is prohibitively expensive in an area beset with high unemployment and poverty.

Over 50 Killed in Egypt As Country Braces for More Violence
Private paramilitaries guard Wisconsin mining site from protesters

Heavily-armed, masked paramilitary forces descended upon the Gogebic Taconite mining site in Wisconsin over the weekend, much to the chagrin of local residents and elected officials. ...

The company brought in the paramilitary forces after being confronted by a group of about 15 protesters in June. At least one of the demonstrators, a young woman, was hit with misdemeanor charges for trying to take a camera away from one of the company’s geologists. Gogebic claims they’ve since caught several people illegally camping on their property and did not want to take any chances.

The company hired by Gogebic is Arizona-based Bulletproof Securities, which boasts that many of their employees are ex-military and many of their clients are celebrities and government officials. ... The mining site they’re protecting in the Penokee Mountains is highly controversial and critics say in violation of a treaty with Native Americans.

State Department Admits It Doesn't Know Keystone XL's Exact Route

The State Department's decision to hand over control to the oil industry to evaluate its own environmental performance on the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has led to a colossal oversight. ...

Generic maps exist on both the State Department and TransCanada websites, but maps with precise GIS data remain the proprietary information of TransCanada and its chosen oil industry contractors.

Thomas Bachand, a San Francisco-based photographer, author, and web developer discovered this the hard way. A year and a half after he first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the GIS data for his Keystone Mapping Project, Mr. Bachand received a troubling response from the State Department denying his request.

In the letter, the State Department admits that it doesn't have any idea about the exact pipeline route - and that it never asked for the basic mapping data to evaluate the potential impacts of the pipeline. ...

Where will KXL intersect rivers or cross ponds that provide drinking water? What prized hunting grounds and fishing holes might be ruined by a spill? How can communities prepare for possible incidents?

The U.S. State Department seems confident in letting the tar sands industry - led in this instance by TransCanada, whose notorious track record with Keystone 1 includes more than a dozen spills in its first year of operation - place its pipeline wherever it wishes.

Shameful: Keystone XL Proponent Using Deadly Lac-Megantic, Quebec Oil Train Tragedy To Promote Pipeline

In a commentary piece published in the Globe and Mail on Sunday, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a "senior fellow" at the Exxon- and Koch-funded Manhattan Institute writes,

"After Saturday’s tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Que., it is time to speed up the approval of new pipeline construction in North America. Pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil and natural gas, and we need more of them, without delay."
No kidding, Furchgott-Roth wants no more delay in the Keystone XL pipeline, since she has been advocating on behalf of the oil industry in one form or another for more than 25 years, with stints as an economist at the American Petroleum Institute and the oil industry-backed American Enterprise Institute.

Working for oil company front groups is one thing, but using the tragedy still unfolding in Quebec to argue for more oil pipelines is a whole new level of low.

Mich. Officials Step Up Scrutiny of Enbridge After Water Law Violations

An oil pipeline being built across the southern part of Michigan is drawing new scrutiny from state regulators who recently cited the pipeline's operator—Canadian-owned Enbridge, Inc.—for violating laws that protect Michigan's waterways.

The violations occurred when Enbridge allowed nearly all the water it was using to test the pipeline's strength to escape into a creek instead of capturing some of it for treatment—and when the company did not self-report the violation to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), as required by law.

MDEQ officials told InsideClimate News they will now re-examine reports Enbridge filed after conducting similar tests on two other sections of the line. The new pipeline is supposed to replace Line 6B, which ruptured in 2010 and poured more than a million gallons of heavy Canadian crude oil into the Kalamazoo River.

The reports are important because the agency relies on pipeline operators to follow regulations and to inform officials when things go wrong.

[What could possibly go wrong with a process that depends on polluters to self-report? Hey, Michigan could save a pile of money on State Troopers by asking motorists to report when they exceed the speed limit!]

Blog Posts of Interest

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

I Really Don't Care Anymore...I Just Want to Get Out Alive

“Todd Gitlin, Are ‘Intelligence’ and Instigation Running Riot?”

NSA spies and Democrats look away

Massachusetts Equal Access Act

State Secrets, Slightly Rolled Back

A Little Night Music

Kansas Joe McCoy - Well, Well

Kansas Joe McCoy - Pile Driver Blues

Kansas Joe McCoy - What's The Matter With You?

Kansas Joe McCoy - My Babe, My Babe

Kansas Joe McCoy - I'm Alright Now

Kansas Joe McCoy - The World's A Hard Place To Live In

Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie - Joliet Bound

Kansas Joe McCoy - Something Gonna Happen To You

Kansas Joe McCoy - One More Greasing

Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe - Wild About My Stuff

Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe - When The Levee Breaks

Harlem Hamfats - Weed Smoker's Dream

The Harlem Hamfats - Don't Start No Stuff

Rosetta Howard & the Harlem Hamfats - The Candy Man

Harlem Hamfats - Oh! Red

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 Jul 09, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.


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