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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 early Chicago bluesman Big Bill Broonzy.  Enjoy!

Big Bill Broonzy - Worried Man Blues/Hey, Hey/How You Want It Done

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

  -- Robert F. Kennedy

News and Opinion

Manning_Kangaroo_Court -Cindy_Andrie

Today we saw the justice system that the US is rightly famous for around the world do its work.  In Fort Meade, Maryland the military judge Denise Lind sentenced whistleblower Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison. Meanwhile President Obama, on whose watch Manning was subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment," according to a report from the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, continued his efforts to create impunity for war criminals George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz.  Perhaps now that President Obama has a substantial record of committing acts that are traditionally seen as war crimes himself, his desire to stonewall accountability for his predecessors has increased.
Bradley Manning given 35-year prison term for passing files to WikiLeaks

Manning to forfeit pay and to be dishonorably discharged

Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks.

The sentence was more severe than many observers expected, and is much longer than any punishment given to any previous US government leaker. ...

The military judge presiding over the court martial, Colonel Denise Lind, walked into the courtroom at Fort Meade military base at 10.15am, dealt with some court admin, asked Manning to stand, then told him he was sentenced to 35 years.

She said Manning's rank was reduced in grade, to that of Private E1. He will also forfeit pay and allowances and be dishonourably discharged, though he was not fined.

After the judge left the court, Manning was quickly ushered out by guards. ...

He has to serve a minimum of a third of his sentence, meaning he will be eligible for parole in just over eight years, and, at the very earliest, could be released under parole soon as 2021. He can earn 120 days per year off his sentence for good behaviour and job performance.

Obama DOJ Asks Court to Grant Immunity to George W. Bush For Iraq War

In court papers filed today (PDF), the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law.

Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal theory that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II.

"The DOJ claims that in planning and waging the Iraq War, ex-President Bush and key members of his Administration were acting within the legitimate scope of their employment and are thus immune from suit,” chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said.

'Apache gunner should stand trial, not Bradley Manning'

So many of President Obama's statements about NSA have been wrong. But he's too smart not to understand the truth

With the latest major revelation about National Security Agency surveillance, there’s a huge taboo question that needs to be put out on the table: Has President Obama been deliberately lying about the NSA, or have his statements just been repeatedly “wrong”?

After Barton Gellman’s blockbuster story today about the NSA breaking “privacy rules or overstepp(ing) its legal authority thousands of times each year,” the Washington Post published an attendant commentary with a headline declaring the president was merely “wrong” in last week suggesting that the NSA wasn’t “actually abusing” its legal authority. The implication is that when Obama made that comment — and then further insisted the surveillance programs “are not abused” — he may have been inaccurate, but he didn’t necessarily deliberately lie because he may not have known he was not telling the truth.

This is not to single out the Post commentary because, of course, such a rhetorical dance is fairly standard for the official political discourse these days. Since at least the Iraq War if not before, the media and political class typically goes out of its way to avoid declaring a lie a lie. Simply put, from “we know where (the WMDs) are” to Obama’s “actually abusing” declaration, seemingly deliberately inaccurate statements are rarely ever framed as outright lies. Even when such statements come from those with vested interests in hiding the truth, words and phrases like “misstated,” “wrong,” “least untruthful” and “misspoke” are trotted out. ...

Just as it is utterly absurd to claim Director of National Intelligence James Clapper didn’t lie before Congress (and some reporters thankfully admitted that truth in the open), it has now become almost silly to insinuate or assume that the president hasn’t also been lying. Why? Because if that’s true — if indeed he hasn’t been deliberately lying — then it means he has been dangerously, irresponsibly and negligently ignorant of not only the government he runs, but also of the news breaking around him.

Evidence in NSA audit reveals a flawed organization

Obama Lied: NSA Scans 75% Of American Internet Traffic

Does President Obama know what his own government is doing or is he actively lying? According to the Wall Street Journal the NSA scans 75% of all American internet traffic often snatching emails and other communication information from Americans within the United States. This while Obama goes on television to tell Americans “we don’t have a domestic spying program.”

The National Security Agency—which possesses only limited legal authority to spy on U.S. citizens—has built a surveillance network that covers more Americans’ Internet communications than officials have publicly disclosed, current and former officials say.

The system has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic in the hunt for foreign intelligence, including a wide array of communications by foreigners and Americans. In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology, these people say.

Right. That is absolutely a “domestic spying program” by any metric. Seventy-five percent of all American internet traffic.  Sorry words have meaning.
US doesn't know what Snowden took, sources say

More than two months after documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden first began appearing in the news media, the National Security Agency still doesn’t know the full extent of what he took, according to intelligence community sources, and is “overwhelmed” trying to assess the damage.

Officials, including NSA Director Keith Alexander, have assured the public that the government knows the scope of the damage, but two separate sources briefed on the matter told NBC News that the NSA has been unable to determine how many documents he took and what they are.

Sources said authorities believe the trove of unreleased materials includes details of data collection by U.S. allies, including the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These English-speaking allies, known along with the U.S. as the "Five Eyes," are critical to U.S. intelligence efforts.

'UK closer to police state after crackdown on Snowden files

Cameron was behind UK attempt to halt Snowden reports

British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered his top civil servant to try to stop revelations flowing from the Guardian newspaper about U.S. and British surveillance programs, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

News that Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood had contacted the Guardian drags Cameron into a storm over Britain's response to media coverage of secrets leaked by fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden....

The government had tried to distance itself from Rusbridger's allegation that the Guardian was made to destroy the computer hard drives, and from the detention of David Miranda, partner of reporter Glenn Greenwald who has led the paper's coverage of the Snowden leaks.

It has argued that these were operational security matters.

Black Helicopters: Britain's Blind Faith in Intelligence Agencies

The spies expect preemptive subservience and discretion from the country's press, and they often get what they want. There is no other explanation for the matter-of-factness with which government officials and GCHQ employees contacted Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger to demand the surrender or destruction of hard drives. What is surprising is the self-assurance that led the powerful to believe that none of this would ever come to light. According to the newspaper, after the hard drives had been destroyed in the Guardian's basement, an intelligence agent joked: "We can call off the black helicopters."

Those words reflect the government's need for chummy proximity. Journalists must avoid such attempts at ingratiation from the powerful, even if it means that they are occasionally denied information and exclusive stories from intelligence sources. The hours Miranda spent being interrogated at Heathrow Airport and the destruction of the hard drives in the Guardian basement show that the British security authorities are serious about the information war that has just begun.

It is a war that also revolves around deterrence and intimidation. The agent's comment about the black helicopters may have been meant as a joke, but it doesn't seem all that unrealistic in the country. Why else would the government, as Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger describes in detail, exert pressure on the paper long after the Snowden leaks became public?

And why else would it destroy hard drives, even though it stands to reason that the data on the drives had already been copied to other storage devices? The incident, at any rate, offers the British a prime opportunity to re-think their cozy relationship with their intelligence service.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich Calls for Shutting Down NSA & Praise for Whistleblower Edward Snowden

KUCINICH: "It's time to punch the NSA's ticket here.... They've ruined the brand. They've destroyed the idea of privacy.... We talk about the death penalty for individuals, which I oppose, but I think there needs to be for government agencies that so broadly betray the public interest.... There needs to be a measure of responsibility. And if they go beyond the pale, which the NSA has, they just ought to be abolished. We don't need the spying."

KUCINICH: "It's illegal to lie to Congress, but everyone lies to Congress. As soon as they raise their right hand, watch out! Clapper should be held responsible, but he won't be, because that's the condition we're in right now."

KUCINICH: "In a just world, Snowden, we'd be having ticker tape parades for him. But that's not what's going to happen. So we have to go back to political solutions. This has to be politicized at a district level, at a state level and national."

U.S. Air Force can’t find enough people willing to be drone pilots

The US Air Force is unable to keep up with a growing demand for pilots capable of operating drones, partly due to a shortage of volunteers, according to a new study. ...

In 2012, the Air Force had a goal to train 1,129 “traditional” pilots and 150 drone pilots to operate Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk robotic aircraft.

But the Air Force “was not able to meet its RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) training requirements since there were not enough volunteers,” the report said. ...

One of the factors behind the shortfall is a high rate of attrition among the drone operators, which is three times higher than for traditional pilots, it said.

Another factor is the intense tempo of operations for drone missions over the past decade.

Judge appoints $600-an-hour attorney to keep tabs on Detroit bankruptcy legal fees

The legal bills are quickly adding up in Detroit’s bankruptcy — and the person assigned to monitor the legal spending is charging some big fees of his own.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes on Monday appointed a fee examiner to monitor legal bills in Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Rhodes named attorney Robert M. Fishman of the Chicago-based firm Shaw Fishman Glantz and Towbin to ensure the city’s legal fees and consulting bills don’t become exorbitant. Fishman also will be charged with making sure the fees are public information.

But in a sign of how expensive bankruptcies can be, even the person responsible for preventing excessive fees will be well paid. Fishman’s hourly rate will be $600 an hour. That’s a discount from his typical hourly rate, which is $675.

50 Years Later, the Untold History of the March on Washington & MLK’s Most Famous Speech

How low can you get: the minimum wage scam

Income inequality is as bad as it has ever been – and the reason is simple.

Low-wage workers can't even care for their own health without giving up some other necessity. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, it took a minimum-wage worker 130 hours to earn a year's worth of health benefits in 1979. That is only three-and-a-half weeks of full-time, minimum -age work. By 2011, the same health coverage cost 749 hours, or 19 weeks of full-time, minimum-wage work. Working nearly half the year to afford only healthcare, and nothing else, is a ridiculous demand to make of low-wage workers.

The low minimum wage is also as costly for the government as it is cheap for companies. While McDonald's or other fast food companies save pennies and boost their profitability by paying a low wage, their workers cannot survive on that amount and often end up taking welfare benefits. In 2012, 4.3 million people received welfare benefits and 47 million received food stamps. The number of Americans getting food stamps – a national hunger crisis – has risen in tandem with the number of people unemployed or out of the workforce.

The minimum-wage salary is eaten up fast by necessities like food and healthcare: US minimum-wage workers don't just lack cash; they lack benefits, and this ends up costing the government. Each of the 23 million households on food stamps is getting an average benefit of about $274 a month from the government to pay for meals. About 40% of food stamp recipients live in a household where at least one person is earning money, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

That means that the money being spent on food stamps is money that the government is paying to subsidize company profits: as businesses pay a minimum or near-minimumwage, their workers are forced to turn to government programs to make ends meet. There is, as they say, no such thing as a free lunch.

Obama Goes to Bat for Big Tobacco in TPP

The Obama Administration has backed down from a proposal revealed 15 months ago to protect health from Big Tobacco under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the pending free trade agreement with 11 other countries. New language concerning tobacco, the exact text of which has not been released, is expected to be proposed later this week at the next TPP negotiating round in Brunei. Legal analysts for the public health community, who were briefed Friday morning in a closed session by administration officials, agreed that the new proposal will do little to protect governments’ right to regulate tobacco. ...

In May 2012, the United States Trade Representative announced a draft “safe harbor” clause to protect tobacco measures under the TPP. While the legal impact of that draft was quite narrow, the public health community applauded it as a good starting point and urged the administration to propose it in the TPP negotiations. However, the reaction from industry and pro-tobacco politicians was loud, negative and sustained. After 15 months and eight negotiating rounds, the “safe harbor” had still not been proposed.

“To its shame, the bulk of the corporate world stood shoulder to shoulder with the tobacco industry, demanding that no products receive special treatment,” said Laurent Huber, director of Action on Smoking and Health, the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization. “Their success will mean more lives lost, both here in the US and abroad.”

Tobacco killed about 100 million people during the 20th century, and globally tobacco use is rising rapidly. According to the World Health Organization, unless drastic action is taken it will claim 1 billion lives this century.

The Evening Greens

Ecuador approves Yasuni national park oil drilling in Amazon rainforest

Ecuador has abandoned a pioneering conservation plan in the Amazon that attempted to raise funds from the international community instead of drilling for oil in a pristine corner of the Yasuni national park.

The collapse of the Yasuni ITT initiative is a devastating blow for activists who are trying to save one of the world's most biodiverse regions from development and pollution. It also kills climate campaigners' hopes that the Ecuador plan could provide a model for other nations to resist the lure of oil money and leave fossil fuels under the ground.

President Rafael Correa blamed the failure on the lack of foreign support, after a trust fund set up to manage the initiative received only $13m (£8.3m) in deposits, a tiny fraction of the $3.6bn goal.

Ecuador had won international praise in recent years for its seemingly progressive environmental policies, including the world's first constitution that recognises the rights of nature, and the ITT initiative, which was widely seen as one of the boldest and most innovative approaches to conservation in the world. But the government is increasingly beholden to energy firms and China, which has extended generous loans to Ecuador backed by oil sales.

The initiative was set up in 2007 after drilling firms discovered 796m barrels of crude under the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini region of Yasuni.

This is an area of the Amazon that contains more species in one hectare than all the wildlife in North America.

'Ecological Debt Day' Reached: World in Resource Overdraft

We have now overshot the Earth's resources for the year, meaning all consumption from here borrows from future generations

Tuesday, August 20 marks an unnerving annual milestone: "Earth Overshoot Day"—when humanity has used up all of the natural resources and waste absorption that the Earth can provide in a year, meaning that human consumption for the remaining 4.5 months of 2013 is borrowed from future generations.

"It is like having a bank account," Juan Carlos Morales of the independent think tank Global Footprint Network told Common Dreams. "If you don't have money available, you have to take out credit. We are depleting resources faster than Earth can regenerate."

The concept, originally developed by the New Economics Foundation and carried forward by the Global Footprint Network, reveals a disturbing trend.  "Earth Overshoot Day," also called "Ecological Debt Day," is arriving earlier each year since it was first calculated in 1987, roughly three days earlier each year since 2011. Global Footprints says this trend is unequivocal since "Human consumption began outstripping what the planet could reproduce" in the mid-1970s.

How the Fracking Boom Could Lead to a Housing Bust

Fracking leads to a "haircut on a property’s values."

Lawyers, realtors, public officials, and environmental advocates from Pennsylvania to Arkansas to Colorado are noticing that banks and federal agencies are revisiting their lending policies to account for the potential impact of drilling on property values, and in some cases are refusing to finance property with or even just near drilling activity.

Real estate experts say another problematic trend is that many homeowners insurance policies do not cover residential properties with a gas lease or gas well, yet all mortgage companies require homeowners insurance from their borrowers. ...

Last month, a landowner in Madison, N.Y., was surprised when their insurance company refused to renew their homeowners policy because there is a conventional gas well on their property.

While the media and environmental groups have focused on shale drilling’s potential to poison the soil, water, and air, they’ve largely overlooked its potential to poison the real estate market.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Letter From Santa Reveals He Watches Everyone All The Time, NSA Jealous

And now, a message from our (Saudi) sponsors - Pepe Escobar

How NSA Bypassed the Fourth Amendment for 3 Years - Marcy Wheeler

Surveillance States and the End of Freedom

Transgender Labor

EFF Wins court battle: Secret FISA court opinion released!

A Little Night Music

Big Bill Broonzy - Baby Please Don't Go

Big Bill Broonzy: Black, Brown and White

Big Bill Broonzy - Long Tall Mama

Big Bill Broonzy - Backwater Blues

Big Bill Broonzy - Diggin My Potatoes

Big Bill Broonzy - Key to the Highway

Big Bill Broonzy - Trouble In Mind

Big Bill Broonzy - Good Liquor Gonna Carry Me Down

Big Bill Broonzy - I Feel So Good

Muddy Waters - I Feel So Good

J.B. Hutto - I Feel So Good

Life & Times of Big Bill Broonzy

Low Light & Blue Smoke - Big Bill Broonzy

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 Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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