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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 folk and blues musician Taj Mahal.  Enjoy!

Taj Mahal - Fishing Blues

“The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.”

  -- Abbie Hoffman

News and Opinion

‘America has no functioning democracy’ – Jimmy Carter

Former US President Jimmy Carter lambasted US intelligence methods as undemocratic and described Edward Snowden’s NSA leak as “beneficial” for the country.

Carter lashed out at the US political system when the issue of the previously top-secret NSA surveillance program was touched upon at the Atlantic Bridge meeting on Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia.

"America has no functioning democracy at this moment," Carter said, according to Der Spiegel.

America is a Tinderbox

Has your doctor suggested more irony in your diet? Here's a free week's supply:
Obama May Cancel Moscow Trip as Tensions Build Over Leaker

President Obama may cancel a scheduled trip to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin in September as the standoff over the fate of Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor seeking asylum there, takes its toll on already strained relations between the United States and Russia, officials said Thursday.

 The conviction on Thursday of Aleksei A. Navalny, a prominent leader of the opposition to Mr. Putin, on embezzlement charges further underscored the deepening divide between the two countries as the White House pronounced itself “deeply disappointed” at what it called a trend of “suppressing dissent and civil society in Russia.” The verdict and five-year sentence came a week after the posthumous conviction of Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer investigating official corruption who was arrested and died in custody.

“We call on the Russian government to cease its campaign of pressure against individuals and groups seeking to expose corruption, and to ensure that the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of all of its citizens, including the freedoms of speech and assembly, are protected and respected,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.

John Kerry's next role will be to portray a mafia don in a summer blockbuster.
Kerry vows to put the screws to Venezuela over Snowden

US Secretary of State John Kerry has reportedly promised his Venezuelan counterpart to close NATO airspace to the country’s flights and stop crucial oil product deliveries if Caracas grants asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Last Friday night, just hours after Venezuela agreed to provide political asylum to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Kerry personally called Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, a Spanish ABC media outlet cites a source familiar with the conversation as saying.

Kerry threatened to ground any Venezuelan aircraft in America’s or any NATO country’s airspace if there is the slightest suspicion that Snowden is using the flight to get to Caracas.

The US’ top diplomat sent a clear signal that Venezuela’s Air Force One is not immune and President Nicolas Maduro could easily face the same fate as his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales, whose plane was grounded for inspection in Austria earlier this month in violation of all international diplomatic agreements.

If the people of Hong Kong needed a demonstration of the arrogance of the Obama administration, well, they got it:
We don't owe anyone an apology, says US consul over Edward Snowden affair

Hong Kong still waiting for US reply on Snowden hacking allegations, says security chief

Outgoing US consul in Hong Kong Stephen Young said on Thursday the US did not owe any country an apology in relation to the alleged hacking activities disclosed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

But Young did say the United States government would address queries made by Hong Kong officials on the issue in its own time and manner. ...

Earlier on Thursday, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok told Hong Kong lawmakers that Hong Kong was still waiting for a reply from the United States on claims made by Snowden that US agencies had hacked into the city’s computers. ...

Lai said that with regard to the Snowdon case, his allegations of US hacking into Hong Kong’s computer systems was the top concern of the city’s lawmakers and people.

‘Snowden won’t disclose more docs, I have thousands’ – Greenwald

Edward Snowden is unlikely to make new revelations since “he doesn’t want to end up in a cage like Bradley Manning”, said The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, adding that he himself decides what to publish from the thousands of leaked documents.

“I think there’s a real misconception over whether he’ll continue to leak,” Greenwald, who helped publish the leaks made by Snowden, told NBC News. “He turned over to us many thousands of documents weeks and weeks ago back in Hong Kong and we’ve been the ones deciding which stories get published and in which order. As far as I know he doesn’t have any intention of disclosing any more documents to us,” the Brazil-based journalist continued.

Greenwald confirmed he has thousands of documents from Snowden in his possession, but so far no government agency has requested that he turn them over.

European Parliament Wants Snowden, NSA Chief to Testify on Spying

The European Parliament is gearing up to launch an investigation into the recently revealed NSA surveillance programs—and lawmakers are drawing up an interesting list of witnesses who they want to invite to interview about the snooping.

In September, the parliament is set to begin a series of hearings as part of the inquiry, which was established following the exposure of sweeping spy efforts that extend across the world. Now, members of the parliament are putting forward names for individuals they want to call in to answer questions. Among those suggested so far are a series of high-profile figures at the center of the surveillance revelations, including Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who leaked the secret documents on the spying; NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander; and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who was passed the documents by Snowden and has published several scoops based on them in recent weeks.

Merkel Remains Mum on NSA Spying

Despite intense political pressure, German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered no new details on the extent of NSA surveillance activities in Germany during a Friday press conference. She told reporters that her government is applying "appropriate pressure" on the Obama administration.

Often, Angela Merkel's final press conference before summer vacation is a pretty boring affair. But not this year. Around 250 journalists turned out Friday to pose questions to the German chancellor. And most had only one thing on their minds: spying on Germany by America's NSA intelligence agency and its possible cooperation with its German counterparts as part of the Prism program.

The press conference provided Merkel with a perfect opportunity to shed more light on the data scandal and to burnish a government image that has been tarnished since SPIEGEL reported earlier this month that the NSA has been spying on the European Union and monitoring up to a half-billion German communications connections each month.

But she didn't take advantage of it. Merkel told reporters it was "entirely impossible" to deliver an analysis of Prism, adding that those hoping for more on Friday would be disappointed. The only thing she offered was: "The work is not complete. It is ongoing."

Criticizing military = Aiding the enemy?

‘Direct fire’: HRW urges Turkey to end ‘incorrect, unlawful’ teargas use, cites victims

Turkish police fired teargas canisters at close range and directly at people during the Gezi Park protests causing serious injuries, says a report by the Human Rights Watch. Those hit by canisters lost eyes and received life threatening skull fractures. ...

The report titled “Turkey: End Incorrect, Unlawful Use of Teargas,” which has been published on the group’s website, also calls to “strictly enforce” such policies, and hold non-compliant police officers accountable. ...

At least 11 people lost an eye after being hit by a teargas canister or a plastic bullet in Turkey up to June 27, says the statement by the Medical Association quoted in the report. Dozens of others received serious head or upper body injuries. nterviews of victims, witnesses, lawyers, and medical personnel cited in the report suggest that such injuries were caused by police firing tear gas from launchers directly at people, often at close range. The “scale and consistency” of such accounts point to “a clear pattern of misuse of teargas by Turkey’s police force,” HRW states.

"The Act of Killing": New Film Shows U.S.-Backed Indonesian Death Squad Leaders Reenacting Massacres

The film is set in Indonesia, where beginning in 1965, military and paramilitary forces slaughtered up to a million Indonesians after overthrowing the democratically elected government. That military was backed by the United States and led by General Suharto, who would rule Indonesia for decades. There has been no truth and reconciliation commission, nor have any of the murderers been brought to justice. As the film reveals, Indonesia is a country where the killers are to this day celebrated as heroes by many.

Detroit Bankrupt: Kevyn Orr Asks Federal Judge To Place City Under Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Protection

Once the very symbol of American industrial might, Detroit became the biggest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy Thursday, its finances ravaged and its neighborhoods hollowed out by a long, slow decline in population and auto manufacturing.

The filing, which had been feared for months, put the city on an uncertain course that could mean laying off municipal employees, selling off assets, raising fees and scaling back basic services such as trash collection and snow plowing, which have already been slashed.

Lac-Mégantic Victims Challenge Corporations Behind Deadly Explosion

Two residents of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where a runaway train derailed and caused an explosion and fire that killed 50 people, have initiated a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation for victims of the disaster.

Yannick Gagne and Guy Ouellet would seek damages from the Maine-based Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, Irving Oil and the company that extracted the crude oil the train was carrying.

No dollar figures are in the lawsuit, but it could be among the largest claims ever filed in Canada, said an attorney in the case.

The motion claims that the companies failed to ensure the oil was properly secured and safely transported. The lawsuit would seek compensation for any person or business affected directly or indirectly by the disaster.

It was not known Thursday when the court will rule on the motion.

Deforestation spikes in Brazilian Amazon by 103 percent

Deforestation has soared in the Brazilian Amazon since a new forestry code was passed last year at the urging of the agribusiness lobby, a non-profit environmental group said Thursday.

Between August 2012 and June 2013, 1,838 square kilometers (709 square miles) of forest were lost, a 103 percent hike over the same previous period, Institute Imazon said in its latest report. ...

The institute said deforestation in June totalled 184 square kilometers (71 square miles), up 437 percent over June last year.

The increased losses coincided with adoption of the new forestry code last year.

How the Obama Administration Is Making Fracking on Public Lands Easier

The Obama Administration has proposed new regulations for hydraulic fracturing on 756 million acres of public and tribal lands. The rules were written by the drilling industry and will be streamlined into effect by  a new intergovernmental task force, established by the president, to promote fracking — a practice that has been linked to water poisoning, air pollution, methane emissions and, most recently,  earthquakes. Environmentalists, many of whom are highly skeptical that fracking can even be regulated, hope to use a brief window for citizen participation in the rule approval process to leverage the growing anti-fracking movement.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — the government agency that manages the public lands in question — follows a dual and often conflicting mandate. Although it is charged with conserving lands for recreation and biological diversity, it must also ensure the commercial development of natural resources. The bureau tends to focus heavily on the latter part of its mission, and it has auctioned off public land for resource extraction, including oil and gas development, while following drilling regulations that were last updated in 1988, before fracking became a common practice.

“Under the old regulations, an operator would have to disclose non-routine techniques,” said BLM spokesperson Beverly Winston. “Now, hydraulic fracturing is routine, so nobody discloses it. It’s my understanding that probably 90 percent of wells on public lands use hydraulic fracturing.”

The newly proposed regulations will provide superficial environmental safeguards against industry excesses while shielding drillers and the government from the legal challenges that have begun cropping up. ... Those wondering what opportunity looks like to drillers in regions originally set aside for conservation need only visit the Allegheny National Forest in Western Pennsylvania, a state that has opened its arms to drillers in recent years. Nearly 4,000 oil and gas wells were  drilled in the Allegheny between 2005 and 2011.

“Where there were once remote areas of the forest there is now oil and gas infrastructure,” said Ryan Talbott of the Allegheny Defense Project. “If you are a recreationist going to go out and go hiking, camping, fishing, what might have been your favorite area before is now a sea of roads and pipelines and well sites.”

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Fruits of NAFTA

Christian "activists" hating on trans kids

The Caucus Project at Daily Kos

A Little Night Music

Taj Mahal - Queen Bee

Taj Mahal - Statesboro Blues

Todd Rundgren & Taj Mahal - She Caught The Katy

Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder - By & By

Taj Mahal - Corrina

Taj Mahal - Cakewalk into town

Taj Mahal - Blues With A Feeling

Taj Mahal - Checking Up On My Babe

Taj Mahal - Hoochi Coochi Coo

Taj Mahal & The Hula Blues - Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own

Taj Mahal & Toumani Diabaté - Catfish Blues

Taj Mahal - Lonely Avenue

Taj Mahal @ North Sea Jazz 2012

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 Jul 19, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.


Should Obama cancel his trip to Russia?

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