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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 blues singer and harmonica player Jerry McCain.  Enjoy!



Jerry McCain - Steady


"I began revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action."

  -- Fidel Castro


News and Opinion



[Editor's Note: Good evening, good people.  Standing in for joe here tonight.  He's off on vacation in an undisclosed location (poet and I don't even know it) and I'm bringing you some What's Happenin' news tonight.  joe should be back on Monday, we think :) Hope everybody is having a good Friday night.  -- joanneleon]

Houston, the president has a problem with a few of those statements he has made recently.

This is a fairly long article (two pages) from Barton Gellman and others, published in WaPo last night at 8:48pm.  I wonder if the "problem" found in 2009 where the NSA was collecting too many fields of information from the meta data was that they were collecting geolocation data from cell phone calls.  In other words, had the ability to track the movements at all times of every American with a cell phone.  I was particularly amused (in a gallows humor kind of way) and laughed out loud when I read this: "judges on the court have requested a visit to NSA headquarters to inspect the operations".

Court: Ability to police U.S. spying program limited

The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often the government’s surveillance breaks the court's rules that aim to protect Americans’ privacy. Without taking drastic steps, it also cannot check the veracity of the government’s assertions that the violations its staff members report are unintentional mistakes.
[...]
Walton’s comments came in response to internal government records obtained by The Post showing that National Security Agency staff members in Washington overstepped their authority on spy programs thousands of times per year. The records also show that the number of violations has been on the rise.
[...]
Two people familiar with the 2009 flaw said that the agency was collecting more “fields” of information from the customer records of telephone companies than the court had approved. The NSA declined to answer questions about the event.

One senior intelligence official, who was authorized by the White House to speak on the condition of anonymity, described the 2009 incident as a “major event” that prompted the agency to dramatically increase its compliance staff.
[...]
In January 2008, the NSA appeared to have mistakenly collected data on numerous phone calls from the Washington area code 202, thinking they were foreign phone calls from Egypt, whose country code is 20. According to a 2013 “quality assurance” review of the incident, a communications switch misread the coding of the calls and presumed they were international. The NSA has broad authority that is not subject to the FISA court to collect and monitor foreign communications under certain circumstances.
[...]
The court can always demand and obtain more details about cases, but it is unclear how often that occurs. In the past, while grappling with rules for implementing the surveillance programs, judges on the court have requested a visit to NSA headquarters to inspect the operations, the officials said.

This represents one year of NSA privacy violations, from 2nd quarter 2011 through 1st quarter 2012.  
NSA Privacy Violations by Quarter (4/1/11 - 3/30/12)

Incidents_privacy_violation

Another related article, also by Bart Gellman at WaPo. 2,776 violations on American or foreign targets since the FISA Amendments Act was passed in 2008.  This is a long, four page article.  Gellman notes that this detailed data is not routinely shared with either the FISA court or Congress. In one case that the NSA decided not to report and it was the collection of phone calls in the Washington, DC area code, by accident.  This was at the beginning of 2008, a critical presidential election year.

NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.

In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.

The Obama administration has provided almost no public information about the NSA’s compliance record. In June, after promising to explain the NSA’s record in “as transparent a way as we possibly can,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole described extensive safeguards and oversight that keep the agency in check. “Every now and then, there may be a mistake,” Cole said in congressional testimony.

WaPo also provides the source material. It's organized pretty nicely.
NSA report on privacy violations in the first quarter of 2012

This is the full executive summary, with names redacted by The Post, of a classified internal report on breaches of NSA privacy rules and legal restrictions.
The report covers the period from January through March 2012 and includes comparative data for the full preceding year. Its author is director of oversight and compliance for the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, but the scope of the report is narrower. Incidents are counted only if they took place within “NSA-Washington,” a term encompassing the Ft. Meade headquarters and nearby facilities. The NSA declined to provide comparable figures for its operations as a whole. A senior intelligence official said only that if all offices and directorates were included, the number of violations would “not double.”

And interestingly, on the morning that this breaking news was published by WaPo, their web site was hacked, supposedly by Syrian rebels. I wasn't aware that Syrian rebels were interested in hacking web sites of U.S. news media organizations.  I thought they had their hands really full right now trying to overthrow their government and killing people.  I'm sure it would be outrageous to even consider the possibility that it could have been any of the U.S. Cyber Command, the hacker branch of our military, whose commander is General Keith Alexander, so don't even go there.
Washington Post website hacked

NEW YORK (AP) — The Washington Post said Thursday that its website was hacked. A group that supports Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime claimed responsibility.

Washington Post Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz said in a statement that for about 30 minutes Thursday morning, readers of some Washington Post stories were redirected to the website of the Syrian Electronic Army.

What's amazing is that only two senators spoke out about this at all. Two.  The rest of them were perfectly willing to allow it to continue without giving any signal to the American people.  They all should be removed from office for violating their oath and dereliction of duty, IMHO, if we had a way to remove them.  We don't.  But the constitution is amendable.
Q&A: Senator Ron Wyden on NSA Surveillance and Government Transparency
'If we don't recognize that this is a truly unique moment in America's constitutional history, our generation's going to regret it forever.'

Terms like "bulk data collection" and "PRISM" may have only recently entered the national conversation, but Sen. Ron Wyden has been talking about them for years – or at least, trying to. The Oregon Democrat, who has come out as one of Congress' most vocal opponents of NSA surveillance, has been worried for nearly a decade that the government is violating Americans' privacy rights, and, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he's also been aware of the details. But given the stringent rules governing what elected officials with high level security clearances can and can't say, he's been unable to speak about these programs, let alone critique them. "For all practical purposes, there's almost a double standard with the rules," Wyden, a tall, jeans-clad 64-year-old, tells me in his Senate office overlooking Capitol Hill. "Leaders in the intelligence community can go out to public forums and say, 'We don't hold data on US citizens,' but I can't pop up the next day and say, 'Holy Toledo! That's just not right!'"

emptywheel cites and excerpts small parts of the articles above and draws this bitter conclusion.  I hope that people realize the importance and significance of these revelations after the president and all the president's men have been justifying their actions by claiming there was oversight by all three branches of the government.  At this point, two of those branches have admitted that they could not do anything like real oversight.  Federal judges can't, as admitted by the head of the FISC and Congress can't because most of them don't even have access to the things they need and sometimes things are deliberately kept from them.  Which leaves the executive branch holding the bag and all the cards. And the latest excuse about how there have been no abuses of the domestic surveillance?  Well that's down the crapper too with the revelatio of these new reports and make sure you take BIG notice of the fact that NSA and the executive branch does NOT provide all of the details that you're seeing in those reports to either Congress or the FISC.  Some oversight, huh?  And this does not even take into consideration other ways which the NSA and other agencies might have to get at that data under higher than top secret presidential directives or with no official authorization at all.
All Three Branches Conduct Vaunted NSA Oversight!

Vaunted. For well over 2 months. This is what they’ve been hailing.

Facing 90 Years, Bradley Manning Expresses Regret for "Unintended Consequences" of Leaking Docs

Robert Parry.
Bradley Manning and America’s Upside-Down Morality
Pvt. Bradley Manning has prostrated himself before his court-martial judge, apologizing for leaking documents on U.S. government wrongdoing and referencing his psychological problems as reasons for mercy. The sad spectacle underscores how upside-down American morality now is.

Having covered the U.S. government for nearly 36 years, I am not so naïve as to expect perfection or even anything close. But there are times when the immoral dimensions of Official Washington stand out in the starkest shades, not in variations of gray but in black and white.

Such was the gut-wrenching moment on Wednesday when Pvt. Bradley Manning, who exposed U.S. government war crimes and other wrongdoing, made a groveling apology for doing the right thing – when there has been next to no accountability for the officials and their media collaborators who did innumerable wrong things.

While no one in power seems to expect even an apology from – let alone punishment of – former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their subordinates who facilitated acts of torture and who deceived the American people into an unprovoked invasion of Iraq, 25-year-old Bradley Manning finds himself having to beg for mercy to avoid what could be a 90-year prison sentence.
[...]
But there has been no serious evidence that Manning’s disclosure of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government records “hurt people” – and they only “hurt the United States” in the sense that many of Official Washington’s misdeeds and manipulations were exposed for the world to see. Some of Manning’s critics say U.S. diplomats now won’t be so forthcoming in describing these realities out of fear that some future Manning might do more leaking, but there’s no evidence of that either.

Massacre in Cairo: Egypt on Brink After Worst Violence Since 2011 Revolution

At least 525 people were killed in Egypt on Wednesday when security forces cracked down on two protest camps filled with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood says the actual death toll tops 2,000 and has called new rallies for today. The Egyptian military has defended the crackdown and declared a state of emergency. We're joined by three guests: in Cairo, Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who covered Wednesday's violence and visited the makeshift field clinics overrun with the dead and wounded, and Lina Attalah, chief editor and co-founder of the Cairo-based news website, Mada Masr. In Washington, D.C., we're joined by Chris Toensing, executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project and co-editor of the book, "The Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest, and Social Change in Egypt."

Juan Cole's take on this.  Unfortunately, I advise always using a grain of salt, given his strong support for intervention and overthrow in Libya.  But this looks pretty solid.
Egypt’s Transition Has Failed: New Age of Military Dictatorship in Wake of Massacre

In my view Morsi and the Brotherhood leadership bear a good deal of the blame for derailing the transition, since a democratic transition is a pact among various political forces, and he broke the pact. If Morsi was what democracy looked like, many Egyptians did not want it. Gallup polls trace this disillusionment.

But the Egyptian military bears the other part of the blame for the failed transition. Ambitious officers such as Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Morsi’s Minister of Defense, were secretly determined to undo Morsi’s victory at the polls. They said they wanted him to compromise with his political rivals, but it seems to me they wanted more, they wanted him neutered. When the revolutionary youth and the workers and even many peasants staged the June 30 demonstrations, al-Sisi took advantage of them to stage a coup. Ominously, he then asked for public acclamation to permit him to wage a war on terror, by which he means the Brotherhood. I tweeted at the time: “Dear General al-Sisi: when activists call for demonstrations, that is activism. When generals do, that is Peronism.”

Although al-Sisi said he recognized an interim civilian president, supreme court chief justice Adly Mansour, and although a civilian prime minister and cabinet was put in place to oversee a transition to new elections, al-Sisi is in charge. It is a junta, bent on uprooting the Muslim Brotherhood. Without buy-in from the Brotherhood, there can be no democratic transition in Egypt. And after Black Wednesday, there is unlikely to be such buy-in, perhaps for a very long time. Wednesday’s massacre may have been intended to forestall Brotherhood participation in civil politics. Perhaps the generals even hope the Brotherhood will turn to terrorism, providing a pretext for their destruction.

The military and the Brotherhood are two distinct status groups, with their own sources of wealth, which have claims on authority in Egypt. Those claims were incompatible.

This is just so silly, and we've paid scarce tax dollars for this and we have no reason to believe that it's not still happening with "dissidents".
CIA Admits Spying on Noam Chomsky

After multiple denials the CIA has finally admitted to what more or less everyone assumed was true – that the CIA had spied on Noam Chomsky. In theory Chomsky’s American citizenship and lack of being a threat to national security should have prevented this, but no.

For years, the Central Intelligence Agency denied it had a secret file on MIT professor and famed dissident Noam Chomsky. But a new government disclosure obtained by The Cable reveals for the first time that the agency did in fact gather records on the anti-war iconoclast during his heyday in the 1970s.

The disclosure also reveals that Chomsky’s entire CIA file was scrubbed from Langley’s archives, raising questions as to when the file was destroyed and under what authority.

Matt Taibbi.
Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal
The federal government has made it easier than ever to borrow money for higher education - saddling a generation with crushing debts and inflating a bubble that could bring down the economy

The thing is, none of it – not last month's deal, not Obama's 2010 reforms – mattered that much. No doubt, seeing rates double permanently would genuinely have sucked for many students, so it was nice to avoid that. And yes, it was theoretically beneficial when Obama took banks and middlemen out of the federal student-loan game. But the dirty secret of American higher education is that student-loan interest rates are almost irrelevant. It's not the cost of the loan that's the problem, it's the principal – the appallingly high tuition costs that have been soaring at two to three times the rate of inflation, an irrational upward trajectory eerily reminiscent of skyrocketing housing prices in the years before 2008.
[...]

How is this happening? It's complicated. But throw off the mystery and what you'll uncover is a shameful and oppressive outrage that for years now has been systematically perpetrated against a generation of young adults. For this story, I interviewed people who developed crippling mental and physical conditions, who considered suicide, who had to give up hope of having children, who were forced to leave the country, or who even entered a life of crime because of their student debts.

They all take responsibility for their own mistakes. They know they didn't arrive at gorgeous campuses for four golden years of boozing, balling and bong hits by way of anybody's cattle car. But they're angry, too, and they should be. Because the underlying cause of all that later-life distress and heartache – the reason they carry such crushing, life-alteringly huge college debt – is that our university-tuition system really is exploitative and unfair, designed primarily to benefit two major actors.

What the heck?  There are details here, too many to excerpt, that make it easier to understand what's happening here.  So it's worth reading this full article.
Lobbyist Secretly Wrote House Dems' Letter Urging Weaker Investor Protections
Thirty-two liberal Democrats signed onto a letter drafted by a financial-industry lobbyist that aims to block protections for millions of Americans' retirement accounts.

A letter that a group of progressive Democrats sent to federal regulators opposing new protections for millions of Americans' retirement accounts was drafted by a financial-industry lobbyist, according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.

The Department of Labor, which oversees the federal law setting minimum standards for many retirement plans, would like to require retirement investment advisers to act in the best interest of their customers, as opposed to their own best interest.

But 28 out of the 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)—a group of African American members of Congress that advocates the interests of low-income people and minorities—signed onto a June 14 letter opposing the rule. So did Democratic lawmakers Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Ed Pastor of Arizona, and Jim Costa of California.

The letter's metadata indicates it was drafted by Robert Lewis, a lobbyist who works for the Financial Services Institute (FSI), an investment industry trade group [...]  In the letter, the lawmakers caution the Labor Department against proposing new regulations, warning that a strict new rule on retirement advisers may cause many of them to leave the market and thus "could severely limit access to low-cost investment advice" for "the minority communities we represent."

Lest there be any doubt, here's a Marine Colonel telling you what's happening in this country.  "What we're doing here, and let's not kid about it: We're building a domestic army and we're shrinking the military because the government is afraid of its own citizens. The last time more than ten terrorists were in the same place at one time was September 11, and all these vehicles in the world wouldn't have prevented it, nor would it have helped anybody. So I don't know where we're going to use this many vehicles and this many troops.  Concord is just one little cog in the wheel. We're building an army over here and I can't believe that people aren't seeing it.  Everybody's blind?
"We're building a domestic army" -Marine Corps Colonel speaks out

One of the weirdest things I've ever seen.  I'm sure there's a meme that could spring out of this one.  Yes, there's video.  Could this be a fake? Can this really happen? Both parts are able to function while severed, for some period of time anyway.
Decapitated copperhead snake's head bites itself - video

A copperhead snake, decapitated in Huntsville, Alabama, manages to bite its own body after its head has been severed.





The Evening Greens



I was surprised to find this climate piece in the Rolling Stone.  It's done in a very stylish way, something I haven't seen in other Rolling Stone articles.  The photos are stunning, the headline very modern and artistic and it has an animated header graphic above it. The story itself, though, is terrifying.

Greenland’s ice sheets are disappearing faster than anyone predicted. Climatologist Jason Box has a radical theory why – and even more radical ideas about upending the global-warming science establishment.

A few weeks ago, on a blue-sky day on the west coast of Greenland, our helicopter swooped along the calving front of the Jakobshavn glacier, flying dangerously close to a 400-foot-high wall of ancient melting ice that stretches for about six miles across Disko Bay. Jakobshavn is the fastest-moving glacier in the world, and it is sliding into the sea at a top speed of 170 feet a day. How quickly this giant slab of ice and snow – and hundreds like it across the North and South Poles – disappears is the biggest uncertainty in the world of climate science. The faster these glaciers melt, the faster seas will rise, inundating cities throughout the world, and the more unpredictable the world’s weather system is likely to become. Our future is written in ice.

The chopper cruised back and forth at the southern edge of the glacier, looking for a patch of open ground that Jason Box, a 40-year-old glaciologist who is leading the expedition, had identified in satellite photos. Box and the pilot exchanged words on the intercom, then Box gave a thumbs up. The chopper touched down on an unremarkable stretch of rocky tundra about the size of a Walmart parking lot, and Box jumped out, followed by a videographer. “Welcome to New Climate Land,” he announced and then launched into a giddy, erudite stand-up monologue for the camera that would have made his high school science teacher proud. “For thousands of years,” he explained, this spot had been covered by a tall building’s worth of ice and snow. But now, in the past few months, the final traces of that ancient ice had disappeared. “We are likely to be the first human beings to ever stand on this piece of ground,” Box said excitedly.

Texas Towns Frack Their Way To Drought Conditions

Hot Century Ahead: Study Finds Onslaught of Heat Waves Now Inevitable
Report comes as North Asia temperature spike kills dozens in the midst of a blistering summer

A new study dishes out some very bad news about the global warming crisis.

It is too late to stop a "several folds" increase of deadly heat waves caused by greenhouse gases—and the floods, fires, and storms they bring.
[...]
Published Thursday in the Environmental Research Letters, the study tracks trends in heat increases, finding that "3-sigma" heat wave events, in which climates are warmed to 3 times their normal temperature for over 3 weeks in a row, have been on the rise since the 1950s and today cover approximately 5 percent of the earth's land surface.

VIDEO: Constituents Give GOP Congressman A ‘Climate Denial Award’

GRANITE BAY, California — A group of 20 constituents presented Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) (in absentia) with a Silver Unicorn Award for his continued denial of climate science at an event Tuesday afternoon.








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



Jerry McCain - She's Tough

Jerry McCain - I'm a Ding Dong Daddy

Jerry Mccain - Juicy Lucy

Jerry Mccain - Rough Stuff

Jerry "Boogie" McCain - Twist "62"

The Shindigs (Jerry McCain & Sam The Sham) - Pussycat A Go-Go

Jerry McCain 'The Jig's Up'

Jerry McCain - Honky tonk

Jerry McCain - She's Crazy 'Bout Entertainers/Love Ain't Nothin'

Jerry McCain and his Upstart - That's What They Want

Jerry McCain - I've Got The Blues All Over Me

Jerry McCain - 53 Year Old Man

Jerry 'Boogie' McCain - Deadbeats

Jerry McCain - I'm a King Bee

Jerry Boogie McCain




Where's Waldo Joe?

Following Mallard Fillmore around?

IMG_2355 (Small)

Checking out unidentified wildlife?

20130815_160951 (Small)

Herding clouds?

IMG_2372 (Small)





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!

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