Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.
Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here. This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.
Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jazz and blues pianist Fats Waller. Enjoy!
Fats Waller - The Darktown Strutters' Ball
“In times of widespread chaos and confusion, it has been the duty of more advanced human beings--artists, scientists, clowns and philosophers--to create order. In times such as ours, however, when there is too much order, too much management, too much programming and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relive the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption.”
-- Tom Robbins
News and Opinion
More lies by the Obama administration, John Brennan and Dianne Feinstein exposed:
First Leaked Pakistani Report on U.S. Drone War Undermines Claims of Low Civilian Toll
A leaked Pakistani government report has bolstered claims civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes are far higher than the Obama administration has been willing to admit. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has released figures from the Pakistani government’s own research into casualties from drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Pakistani report investigates 75 CIA drone strikes and five attacks by NATO between 2006 and 2009. It finds the attacks left at least 746 people dead, including at least 147 civilians, 94 of them children. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism says the figures are likely too low: A previous study based largely on media reports found the number of drone-related civilian casualties in Pakistan ranges between 411 and 890.
The high number of civilian casualties directly contradicts statements made by senior Obama administration officials and top lawmakers. During CIA Director John Brennan’s confirmation hearing earlier this year, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein said the number of civilians killed in drone strikes has been very small.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I have also been attempting to speak publicly about the very low number of civilian casualties that result from such strikes. I have been limited in my ability to do so. But for the past several years, this committee has done significant oversight of the government’s conduct of targeted strikes, and the figures we have obtained from the executive branch, which we have done our utmost to verify, confirm that the number of civilian casualties that have resulted from such strikes each year has typically been in the single digits.
Justin Amash's NSA Surveillance Amendment Ruled In Order
A little more than a month after secret National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs were leaked to the public, one GOP congressman is making headway with his push to defund those initiatives.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) took to Twitter on Monday, applauding news that his amendment aimed at gutting the programs behind the seizure of millions of Americans' phone records was ruled in order. ...
Amash's amendment received bipartisan support from the start, including backing from Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) upon the bill's introduction in June. From the House Rules Committee's website:Ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. Bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.
The racism that fuels the 'war on terror'
A new Gallup poll finds a majority of Americans oppose the drone-executions of US citizens on foreign soil. Then why do they support the Awlaki killing?
[I]t seems clear there is a much more odious factor driving some of this. Many Americans can (a) say that they oppose the targeted killings of Americans on foreign soil while simultaneously (b) supporting the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because, for them, the term "Americans" doesn't include people like Anwar al-Awlaki. "Americans" means their aunts and uncles, their nice neighbors down the street, and anyone else who looks like them, who looks and seems "American". They don't think those people - Americans - should be killed without charges by the US government if they travel on vacation to Paris or go to study for a semester in London. But the concept of "Americans" most definitely does not include people with foreign and Muslim-ish names like "Anwar al-Awlaki" who wear the white robes of a Muslim imam and spend time in a place like Yemen.
Legally - which is the only way that matters for this question - the New-Mexico-born Awlaki was every bit as much of an American citizen as the nice couple down the street. His citizenship was never legally revoked. He never formally renounced it. He was never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime that could lead to the revocation of citizenship. No court ever considered revoking his citizenship, let alone did so. From a legal and constitutional perspective, there was not a single person "more American" than he. That's because those gradations of citizenship do not exist. One is either an American citizen or one is not. There is no such thing as "more American" or "less American", nor can one's citizenship be revoked by presidential decree. This does not exist.
But the effort to depict Muslims as something other than "real Americans" has long been a centerpiece of the US political climate in the era of the War on Terror. When it was first revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration was spying on the communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law, a Bush White House spokesman sought to assure everyone that this wasn't targeting Real Americans, but only those Bad Ones that should be surveilled (meaning Muslims the Bush administration decided, without due process, were guilty):"This is a limited program. This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches."
Oh looky! The Obama administration is recycling the Bush administration's talking points about the bad, dangerous (brown) people who want to kill you. Compare the bolded text in the item above to this one:
General Alexander: NSA leaks causing sources to dry up
The U.S. Army general who runs the National Security Agency, in charge of the government surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden, say the disclosures and the resulting fallout have greatly distorted how they actually work and have caused some intelligence sources to dry up. ...
"The purpose of these programs, and the reason we use secrecy, is not to hide from the American people, not to hide it from you, but to hide it from those who walk among you who are trying to kill you."
Gen. Hayden’s Glass House
Former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden should not throw any more stones, lest his own glass house be shattered. His barrage Friday against truth-teller Edward Snowden and London Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald invited a return rain of boulders for Hayden committing the same violations of constitutional protections that he is now excusing. ...
[I]t is Michael Hayden who is in a class by himself. He was the first NSA director to betray the country’s trust by ordering wholesale violation of what was once the First Commandment at NSA: “Thou Shalt Not Eavesdrop on Americans Without a Court Warrant.” Not to mention playing fast and loose with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
While Hayden has implicitly offered a second-grader kind of excuse, that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney “made me do it,” that does not let Hayden off the hook.
Snowden cannot be extradited - head of Russian Migration Service Public Chamber
Former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who has requested that Russia grant him temporary asylum, cannot be extradited to the United States and cannot become a participant in any exchange programs, Vladimir Volokh, chairman of the Russian Migration Service's Public Chamber, said.
"The international convention and Russian legislation prohibit this," he said.
"Norms of international law apply to this situation. Russia joined the Geneva Refugee Convention. Russian laws contain the same norms as well," Volokh said.
International law and Russian legislation prohibit the extradition of a person to the state where that person faces persecution for political reasons and where his life is in danger, he said.
Secret court lets NSA extend its trawl of Verizon customers' phone records
The National Security Agency has been allowed to extend its dragnet of the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon through a court order issued by the secret court that oversees surveillance.
In an unprecedented move prompted by the Guardian's disclosure in June of the NSA's indiscriminate collection of Verizon metadata, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has publicly revealed that the scheme has been extended yet again.
The statement does not mention Verizon by name, nor make clear how long the extension lasts for, but it is likely to span a further three months in line with previous routine orders from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa). ...
According to Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein, the Verizon phone surveillance has been in place – updated every three months – for at least six years, and it is understood to have been applied to other telecoms giants as well.
UK's Scheme to Block Pornography a Threat to Open Internet: Critics
Britain's conservative Prime Minister David Cameron announced sweeping proposals on Monday that would force all internet users in the UK to "opt-in" if they want to view online content categorized as "pornographic" by the government.
In a public address Cameron said that the new rules are driven by a "moral" duty to save the "corroding childhood" impacts of sexual internet material, but critics say that the plan is a misguided and unworkable solution that simply opens the door to a further erosion of the guiding principles that have made an "open internet" possible. ...
According to Danny O'Brien, international policy director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the implications of Cameron's proposal exceed even these concerns. Amid the recent revelations surrounding the behavior of the US National Security Agency and growing public concern about online privacy, this is just the most recent example of government interference with the idea of an open internet.
"To have internet censorship, you also need surveillance," O'Brien told Common Dreams by phone. "In order to block content you need to know what people are looking at."
One of the most troubling aspects of Cameron's proposals, he said, is that private internet companies—both search engines and ISPs (internet service providers)—are being asked by government to "turn their algorithms into instruments of law enforcement."
"And that's a really harsh step," he continued, "because as everyone realizes, these companies have an enormous amount of background information on end-users."
Once this precedent is set, O'Brien warned, you begin to betray the tenants of a healthy and democratic media system, which are transparency, oversight and proportionality.
"But you can't have transparency when you maintain a secret blacklist. You can't have oversight when there's no clear regulatory authority guiding the program. And you can't have proportionality when you apply it to the whole of the internet," he said.
Counter-terrorism laws can stifle humanitarian action, study shows
The growing body of counter-terrorism legislation is having a direct impact on humanitarian action, restricting funding, stalling project implementation and resulting in an increased climate of self-censorship by aid workers, according to an independent study. ...
The study of the impact of donor counter-terrorism measures on principled humanitarian action was undertaken by independent researchers, and focused on two case studies: Somalia and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The US, the EU and Australia among others have laws in place designed to prevent international support to groups deemed terrorist organisations. ...
"After 2008, for example, when the US listed al-Shabaab [Somali insurgents] as a terrorist group, we saw an 88% decrease in aid to Somalia, between 2008 and 2010. In the OPT, beneficiaries can be excluded from humanitarian aid especially in Gaza, under Hamas control [also proscribed by the US]." ...
"The research uncovered a high level of self-limitation and self-censorship. This was particularly acute in organisations which perceived their reputation to be highly vulnerable, most notably faith-based Islamic NGOs. The risk of criminal prosecution, as well as of significant reputational damage, appears to be leading in some cases to overcompliance," it notes.
Detroit and Goldman Sachs: Makers and Takers
By now everyone has heard about Detroit's bankruptcy. One of the big bills in the city's payable box is the $3.5 billion in unfunded pension obligations. The story in many people's minds is that overly generous public sector wage and benefit packages pushed the city over the brink.
It's worth looking at this one a bit more closely. According to the city, the average retiree gets a pension of $18,275. That's better than many workers, but $1,500 a month in pension benefits will not put anyone on the Riviera. That's coupled with pay that averages less than $42,000 for active city workers. (They accepted a 10 percent pay cut last year.)
It's often difficult to get a sense of the meaning of numbers without a base of comparison. In order to know whether Detroit pensions are a lot or a little we can compare them to the pay at an organization that gets substantial support from the government, Goldman Sachs. ...
This sets up an interesting comparison, the subsidized pay of top executives at Goldman Sachs with the pensions of Detroit public employees. The graph shows the hourly wage of Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, based on his reported 2012 compensation of $13.3 million. (It was $16.2 million in 2011.) Assuming a 40 hour workweek (I know that Mr. Blankfein must work more than this), his compensation comes to $6,650 an hour. This means that in three hours he will earn more than a typical Detroit retiree gets in a year.
Detroit bankruptcy, Kevyn Orr's doubts discussed weeks before EM was hired, e-mails show
Weeks before a state financial review team found Detroit’s fiscal condition so dire that Gov. Rick Snyder would soon appoint an emergency manager, discussions behind the scenes indicated that an orderly Chapter 9 bankruptcy for the Motor City might be the best option, according to e-mails reviewed by the Free Press. ...
The e-mails also show that Orr expressed reservations about becoming the emergency manager in Detroit under Public Act 436, the Michigan law the Legislature quickly enacted late in 2012 after state voters in November repealed the previous version, Public Act 4. Orr indicated the Legislature’s hasty approval of the replacement law could be considered an end-run around voters who had rejected it, the e-mails show. ...
Discussions with colleagues show that one Jones Day lawyer told Orr that bankruptcy in Detroit was likely, and preferable to the political fight that appointing an emergency manager would bring.
“It seems that the ideal scenario would be that Snyder and (Mayor Dave) Bing both agree that the best option is simply to go through an orderly Chapter 9,” Jones Day lawyer Dan Moss, who worked with Orr on Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy, told Orr in a Jan. 31 e-mail. “This avoids an unnecessary political fight over the scope/authority of any appointed emergency manager and, moreover, moves the ball forward on setting Detroit on the right track.” ...
Davis, who shared the e-mails with the Free Press, said they call into question whether Orr, Jones Day and the state actually believed at any point that a bankruptcy was avoidable. Davis said he questions the commitment of Orr and Jones Day to negotiating out-of-court settlements because the law firm stood to make millions more in legal fees once the city filed for bankruptcy.
Washington's revolving door is opening for another former government official.
Corporate law firm Kirkland & Ellis is hiring Robert Khuzami, a former top cop at the Securities and Exchange Commission who announced six months ago he was leaving the agency.
Rohini Pragasam, a spokeswoman for the law firm, confirmed that Khuzami will join Kirkland, but declined to provide further details.
The New York Times, which first reported the appointment, said that Khuzami will earn $5 million per year at Kirkland.
The hiring could reignite a debate about cozy relations between officials at the SEC and the companies they regulate. At Kirkland, Khuzami could eventually represent some of the same companies the agency policed -- an arrangement that continues in Washington even as critics decry potential conflicts of interest.
Stop Larry Summers Before He Messes Up Again
Washington insiders are spreading an alarming news alert. Barack Obama, I am told, is on the brink of making a terrible mistake by appointing Lawrence Summers as the new chairman of the Federal Reserve. That sounds improbable, since Summers is a toxic retread from the old boys’ network and a nettlesome egotist who offended just about everyone during his previous tours in government. More to the point, Summers was a central player in the grave governing errors that led to the financial collapse and a ruined economy.
Surely not, I thought, when I heard the gossip. But my source heard it from the White House. Obama’s senior economic advisers—still dominated by Clintonistas and aging acolytes of Robert Rubin—are pushing the president to choose Summers as the successor to Ben Bernanke, whose term ends in January. And they are urging Obama to make the announcement right now, before the opposition can get organized. ...
There are many reasons to oppose Summers as Fed chair, but the strongest objection is that Obama would be rewarding the same guys who got things disastrously wrong for the country—the Clinton-Rubin policy makers who danced to Wall Street’s tune of financial deregulation and collaborated with the Greenspan Fed and Wall Street to gut prudential regulation like the Glass-Steagall Act. Those actions set the stage for the crisis that devastated middle-class home owners and working people generally.
A Shuffle of Aluminum, but to Banks, Pure Gold
Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.
The story of how this works begins in 27 industrial warehouses in the Detroit area where a Goldman subsidiary stores customers’ aluminum. Each day, a fleet of trucks shuffles 1,500-pound bars of the metal among the warehouses. Two or three times a day, sometimes more, the drivers make the same circuits. They load in one warehouse. They unload in another. And then they do it again.
This industrial dance has been choreographed by Goldman to exploit pricing regulations set up by an overseas commodities exchange, an investigation by The New York Times has found. The back-and-forth lengthens the storage time. And that adds many millions a year to the coffers of Goldman, which owns the warehouses and charges rent to store the metal. It also increases prices paid by manufacturers and consumers across the country. ...
Only a tenth of a cent or so of an aluminum can’s purchase price can be traced back to the strategy. But multiply that amount by the 90 billion aluminum cans consumed in the United States each year — and add the tons of aluminum used in things like cars, electronics and house siding — and the efforts by Goldman and other financial players has cost American consumers more than $5 billion over the last three years, say former industry executives, analysts and consultants.
The inflated aluminum pricing is just one way that Wall Street is flexing its financial muscle and capitalizing on loosened federal regulations to sway a variety of commodities markets, according to financial records, regulatory documents and interviews with people involved in the activities.
Trayvon Martin Supporters Continue Sit-In at Florida Governor’s Office
In Florida, supporters of Trayvon Martin have continued their sit-in outside the office of Florida Gov. Rick Scott where they are demanding a special session to address the issues they say are at the heart of Martin’s killing by George Zimmerman — racial profiling and vigilantism bolstered by Florida’s stand-your-ground law. The group Dream Defenders began their occupation a week ago following George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the shooting death of the unarmed teen.
Egypt pre-dawn clashes leave six dead in Cairo
Pre-dawn clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt's ousted president near the main campus of Cairo University have left six dead, a senior medical official has said.
Khaled el-Khateeb, who heads the health ministry's emergency and intensive care department, said on Tuesday that the six died close to the site of a sit-in by supporters of Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the military on 3 July after a year in office. ...
In Qalioub, north of Cairo, three people were killed on Monday in clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi. Backers of the two sides also fought near the site of the main sit-in by Morsi supporters in an eastern Cairo district and in Tahrir Square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising that toppled the regime of Morsi's authoritarian predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.
More than 80 people were injured on Monday, according to Khateeb.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Fats Waller - If You're A Viper
Rosetta Howard - If You're A Viper
fats waller - blue because of you
fats waller - your feet's too big
Fats Waller - Handful of Keys
Fats Waller - All That Meat And No Potatoes
Fats Waller - The Joint is Jumpin'
Fats Waller - I've Got My Fingers Crossed
Fats Waller - Louisiana Fairytale (better known as the theme song for PBS' 'This Old House')
Fats Waller - Truckin'
Fats Waller - Viper's Drag
Fats Waller - Lulu's Back In Town
Fats Waller & James P. Johnson - piano duet
Fats Waller - Smarty
Fats Waller - E Flat Blues
Fats Waller - Sugar Blues
Fats Waller - Blues
Your Help is Needed
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Link to the diary by PDNC - Community Fundraiser: Paying it Forward for Tonya.
It's National Pie Day!
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