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 guitarist Lonnie Mack. Enjoy!
Lonnie Mack, Albert Collins & Roy Buchanan - Further On Down the Road
“People go to the movies instead of moving. Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them.”
-- Tennessee Williams
News and Opinion
Occupy Wall Street Is Dead, Long Live OccupyOoops... that UN report about sarin in Syria? It may not mean what you think it means. It's well worth reading this full article:
Tuesday’s anniversary at Zuccotti Park was small—around 100 people showed up. There were scattered gatherings elsewhere. It was tempting to conclude that the movement is well and truly defunct—something people were already saying on its first birthday). ... In light of Occupy’s ostensible demise, what are we to make of the events of the past week and a half? In New York, Bill de Blasio, echoing Occupy’s themes of income inequality, fat cat impunity, and police overreach, trounced the more centrist Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson in the Democratic primary for mayor. Liberal Democrats in the Senate helped to torpedo the candidacy of Larry Summers for chairman of the Federal Reserve after Summers was tagged, fairly or not, as too friendly to Wall Street. Similar concerns helped drive Bill Daley, President Obama’s former chief of staff and himself a former investment banker, to drop out of the Illinois Democratic gubernatorial primary, despite the deep unpopularity of the incumbent, Pat Quinn.
Several commentators have described this populist surge as the wakening of a newly assertive liberal wing of the party. Might it also be the legacy of the Occupy movement? ... [T]o give Occupy too much credit for this, [Michael Kazin, historian and co-editor of Dissent Magazine] argues, is to confuse cause and effect. Occupy, he argues, was a tactic, not a movement. “It was a long demonstration. I think it’s premature to see it as a movement, as opposed to one episode in a larger economic populist movement that is somewhat inchoate. A lot of things that Occupy people were saying have been said by people in unions and pro-union think tanks for years.”
Understanding something like Occupy as a piece of a bigger movement can prevent us from being blindsided by history when it happens. Take the Civil Rights Movement. ... [A]fter a few successes ... the movement was on the defensive ... Plenty of people argued that the movement was dead. But then in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the activists hit on the tactic of the sit-in—in ice cream parlors and lunch counters—to galvanize national attention and the movement once again caught fire.
Murky Clues from UN’s Syria Report
A United Nations field report about the Aug. 21 chemical weapons assault in Syria suggests a more limited area of attack than an earlier U.S. government report claimed and reveals that some inspected sites showed signs of possible manipulation of evidence.
Though the mainstream U.S. news media and some non-governmental organizations highlighted the UN findings that tended to bolster the U.S. government’s case against the Syrian government, a close reading of the 38-page report reveals contradictions to that conclusion.
For instance, the UN inspectors found surprisingly little evidence of Sarin gas at the first neighborhood that they visited on Aug. 26, Moadamiyah, south of Damascus. Of the 13 environmental samples collected that day, none tested positive for chemical weapons and the two laboratories used by the inspectors had conflicting results regarding chemical residue that can be left behind by degraded Sarin.
Russia will give UN 'proof' of Syria rebel chemical use
Russia will give the Security Council evidence implicating Syrian rebels in a chemical attack on 21 August, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.
Syrian officials supplied the evidence, which Mr Lavrov has not yet seen.
A UN report released on Monday concluded the nerve agent sarin was used in the attack in Damascus, which the US blames on the Syrian regime.
Russia has called the report one-sided and biased. The UN has hit back, saying its findings are "indisputable".
Assad to US: Want Our Chemicals Weapons? Take Them
Assad said that his country is now willing to destroy its stockpiles, but that doing so is both complicated and expensive.
"I think it is a very complicated technically and it needs a lot of money," said Assad about the weapons, adding that it could cost as much as $1 billion to do so safely.
Asked whether he would consider handing over his stockpiles directly to the US government, Assad said: "It is very detrimental to the environment. If the American administration is ready to pay this money and take the responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the United States, why don't they do it?"
West Backs Down: UN Resolution Won’t Authorize Use of Force in Syria
Last week’s US-Russian deal on Syrian chemical weapons disarmament has been through a bumpy past few days, but seems to be on track again after the US and France backed off another round of attempts to get the UN to authorize war with Syria.
The nations began pushing again on the war after the UN report was released on Monday, and was threatening to destroy the deal outright since Russia was unwilling to go along with the resolution adding a “use of force” option.
Qaeda affiliate overruns Syrian town near Turkish border: activists
Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant stormed the town of Azaz, 5 km (2 miles) from the Syrian-Turkish border and killed at least five Free Syrian Army members, they said.
The fighting was the most severe since tensions mounted earlier this year between the rebel factions fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. ...
Activist Abu Louay al-Halabi said the fighting broke out after the Storm of the North Brigade, a Free Syrian Army unit, resisted attempts by the Islamic State fighters to abduct a German doctor working as a volunteer at a private hospital in Azaz.
"By taking Azaz, the Islamic State is a step closer to controlling the crossing. Its objective seems to be taking over the whole countryside north of Aleppo," he said.
In an Age of ‘Realists’ and Vigilantes
In declassified tapes, Kissinger is heard planning with President Richard Nixon the overthrow of President Salvador Allende. They sound like Mafiosi thugs. Kissinger warns that the “model effect” of Allende’s reformist democracy “can be insidious”. He tells CIA director Richard Helms: “We will not let Chile go down the drain”, to which Helms replies: “I am with you.” With the slaughter under way, Kissinger dismisses a warning by his senior officials of the scale of the repression. Secretly, he tells Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West.” ...
Understanding Kissinger’s criminality is vital when trying to fathom what the US calls its “foreign policy”. Kissinger remains an influential voice in Washington, admired and consulted by Barack Obama. When Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain commit crimes with US collusion and weapons, their impunity and Obama’s hypocrisy are pure Kissinger. Syria must not have chemical weapons, but Israel can have them and use them. Iran must not have a nuclear programme, but Israel can have more nuclear weapons than Britain. This is known as “realism” or realpolitik by Anglo-American academics and think-tanks that claim expertise in “counter-terrorism” and “national security”, which are Orwellian terms meaning the opposite. ...
In 2006, I interviewed Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, who ran the CIA in Latin America in the 1980s. Here was a true “realist”. Like Kissinger and Nixon on the tapes, he spoke his mind. He referred to Salvador Allende as “whatshisname in Chile” and said “he had to go because it was in our national interests”. When I asked what gave him the right to overthrow governments, he said, “Like it or lump it, we’ll do what we like. So just get used to it, world.”
The world is no longer getting used to it. In a continent ravaged by those whom Nixon called “our bastards”, Latin American governments have defied the likes of Clarridge and implemented much of Allende’s dream of social democracy – which was Kissinger’s fear. Today, most of Latin America is independent of US foreign policy and free of its vigilantism. Poverty has been cut almost by half; children live beyond the age of five; the elderly learn to read and write. These remarkable advances are invariably reported in bad faith in the west and ignored by the “realists”. That must never lessen their value as a source of optimism and inspiration for all of us.
SWIFT Suspension? EU Parliament Furious about NSA Bank Spying
The recent revelations regarding the degree to which the US intelligence agency NSA monitors bank data in the European Union has infuriated many in Europe. "Now that we know what we have long been suspecting, we have to protest loudly and clearly," Jan Philipp Albrecht, a legal expert for the Green Party in the European Parliament, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. He is demanding a suspension of the SWIFT agreement, which governs the transfer of some bank data from the EU to anti-terror authorities in the United States. ...
European Parliament President Martin Schulz also demanded consequences. "European data protection regulations have to be the clear standard in dealings with the Americans," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. He said that simply abandoning the SWIFT agreement would be ineffective without an alternative for handling important international banking transactions. But the US government, he added, must live up to its obligations regarding openness with Europe. ...
After a long period of silence, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström has also since weighed in, demanding clarity from the US. But Social Democrats, Liberals, Greens and leftists in the European Parliament want more. They have demanded the suspension of the SWIFT deal between the US and the EU. "The Americans are apparently breaking into the system. We are being played for fools and spied on without limits," said liberal European parliamentarian Sophie in 't Veld.
'Unleashed and Unaccountable': FBI's Post-9/11 Abuse of PowerThe comedic stylings of former NSA chief Michael Hayden, assclown:
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress and successive attorneys generalloosened many of the legal and internal controls that a previous generation had placed on the FBI to protect Americans’ constitutional rights. As a result, the FBI is repeating mistakes of the past and is again unfairly targeting immigrants, racial and religious minorities, and political dissidents for surveillance, infiltration, investigation, and “disruption strategies.”
But modern technological innovations have significantly increased the threat to American liberty by giving today’s FBI the capability to collect, store, and analyze data about millions of innocent Americans. The excessive secrecy with which it cloaks these domestic intelligence gathering operations has crippled constitutional oversight mechanisms. Courts have been reticent to challenge government secrecy
demands and, despite years of debate in Congress regarding the proper scope of domestic surveillance, it took unauthorized leaks by a whistleblower to finally reveal the government’s secret interpretations of these laws and the Orwellian scope of its domestic surveillance programs.
The report describes major changes to law and policy that unleashed the FBI from its traditional restraints and opened the door to abuse. Congress enhanced many of the FBI’s surveillance powers after 9/11, primarily through the USA Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments. The recent revelations regarding the FBI’s use of Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act to track all U.S. telephone calls is only the latest in a long line of abuse. Five Justice Department Inspector General audits documented widespread FBI misuse of Patriot Act authorities in 2007 and 2008. Congress and the American public deserve to know the full scope of the FBI’s spying on Americans under the Patriot Act and all other surveillance authorities.
Former NSA chief: ‘Morally arrogant’ Snowden will probably become an alcoholic
Gen. Michael Hayden, a former NSA and CIA chief, shared a lot of opinions during a discussion at a Washington church Sunday, beyond his thoughts on terrorists' love for Gmail and the U.S. government's approach to the Internet. Discussing the "tension between security and liberty" at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House, Hayden criticized the reporting of NSA surveillance programs, argued that society must make a choice between security and liberty, and took personal shots at NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Responding to a question from the audience about U.S. prospects for capturing the source of the National Security Agency leaks, Hayden predicted a bleak future for Snowden. Describing the former NSA contractor as a "defector," Hayden also called him "a troubled young man -- morally arrogant to a tremendous degree -- but a troubled young man."
Hayden further compared Snowden's prospects to those of defectors during the Cold War, saying, "I suspect he will end up like most of the rest of the defectors who went to the old Soviet Union: Isolated, bored, lonely, depressed -- and most of them ended up alcoholics." ...
Hayden was particularly up in arms about the August report on NSA audits that found the agency broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, which he described as focusing on the numerator rather than the denominator. Hayden says he asked the agency "how many inquiries were made during that three-month period" that Gellman obtained an audit for and was told 61 million. Evidently, Hayden believes that the public would be less outraged about the errors if they knew just how much spying was being done.
'Declassified' Doc Seen as Failed Attempt to Show NSA Oversight
A document purported to be a "declassifed" opinion by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was released on Tuesday, but legal and civil rights experts say it should be seen for what it truly is: an attempt by the US government to appear transparent and accountable that instead reveals the corrupt and negligible oversight process that governs the NSA's sweeping surveillance programs.
In the FISC document released Tuesday—which was only authored on August 29, 2013, months after the NSA scandal broke following disclosures from whistleblower Edward Snowden—the ruling by the court articulates why it believes the government's vast network of programs that collect consumers online and telephonic data are constitutional and do not violate the privacy rights of Americans. ...
“The secret court endorsed the government’s ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the national security program at NYU Law School's Brennan Center for Justice. “In the NSA’s eyes, all of us are potential suspects, and none of our personal information is off-limits. Courts are supposed to protect Americans from this kind of overreaching, not enable it. But the opinion fails to consider or even mention some of the strongest arguments against bulk collection – including the NSA’s own history of non-compliance with the Court’s orders.”
[Jameel] Jaffer [deputy legal director, ACLU] also pointed out that the document released on Tuesday is not a historical document at all, but one that was only recently composed after public outrage that followed from revelations made possible by NSA documents leaked to the media by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Phone companies remain silent over legality of NSA data collection
America's top telecommunications companies are refusing to say whether they accept that the bulk collection of their customers' phone records by the National Security Agency is lawful.
The phone companies are continuing to guard their silence over the controversial gathering of metadata by the NSA, despite the increasingly open approach by those at the center of the bulk surveillance programme. On Tuesday the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court declassified its legal reasoning for approving the NSA telephone metadata program periodically over the past six years.
Verizon, the telecoms giant that was revealed in June to be under a secret Fisa court order to hand over details of the phone records of millions of its US customers, was one of the firms that declined to answer Guardian questions relating to the legality of the scheme. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile US also declined to comment.
Verizon's Plan to Break the Internet
Verizon has big plans for the Internet. And if that doesn't worry you, it should.
The company is trying to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Order, which prevents Internet service providers from blocking, throttling or otherwise discriminating against online content.
And in court last Monday, Verizon lawyer Helgi Walker made the company's intentions all too clear, saying the company wants to prioritize those websites and services that are willing to shell out for better access.
She also admitted that the company would like to block online content from those companies or individuals that don't pay Verizon's tolls.
In other words, Verizon wants to control your online experience and make the Internet more like cable TV, where your remote offers only the illusion of choice.
In New York, Having a Job, or 2, Doesn’t Mean Having a Home
With New York City’s homeless population in shelters at a record high of 50,000, a growing number of New Yorkers punch out of work and then sign in to a shelter, city officials and advocates for the homeless say. More than one out of four families in shelters, 28 percent, include at least one employed adult, city figures show, and 16 percent of single adults in shelters hold jobs.
Mostly female, they are engaged in a variety of low-wage jobs as security guards, bank tellers, sales clerks, computer instructors, home health aides and office support staff members. At work they present an image of adult responsibility, while in the shelter they must obey curfews and show evidence that they are actively looking for housing and saving part of their paycheck.
Advocates of affordable housing say that the employed homeless are proof of the widening gap between wages and rents — which rose in the city even during the latest recession — and, given the shortage of subsidized housing, of just how difficult it is to escape the shelter system, even for people with jobs.
Greek prime minister calls for calm after murder of leftwing musician
The Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, has appealed for calm, urging people to settle "differences democratically" after the murder of a leading leftwing musician allegedly at the hands of a member of the far right Golden Dawn party unleashed a wave of violent clashes overnight. ...
With tensions running high between Greeks on the left and right following the stabbing of 34-year-old Fyssas, the beleaguered government has pledged to clamp down on Golden Dawn, arguably Europe's most extreme far-right group.
More than 300 attacks – starting with the murder of a Bangladeshi immigrant in May 2011 – have been attributed to the openly racist organisation whose meteoric ascent on the back of economic desperation has ensured it is now Greece's third-biggest party and fastest-growing political force. Recent opinion polls have shown it has the support of 15% of voters – almost double the figure it won in elections 14 months ago. ...
Samaras's centre-right New Democracy party has been accused of soft-peddling on Golden Dawn for fear of further alienating traditional conservative voters who have migrated to the group since Greece plunged into fiscal chaos almost four years ago. In recent months ruling conservatives have ratcheted up their rhetoric in a bid to lure voters back.
"The Greek government has been inexcusably tolerant with the phenomenon that is Golden Dawn," a senior official told the Guardian.
Greek Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn member arrested over murder of leftwing hip-hop artist
The alleged murder of a prominent leftwing hip-hop artist by a self-confessed member of the far-right Golden Dawn party has sent political tensions soaring in Greece.
As the crisis-hit country was brought to a standstill by striking workers on Wednesday, police raided several Golden Dawn offices in Athens after the fatal stabbing late on Tuesday of 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas, a well-known activist on Greece's vibrant anti-fascist scene.
The raids came within hours of a 45-year-old man being arrested in connection with the murder. The alleged perpetrator, who has not been named, reportedly admitted having links to the extremist group, according to police. ...
Activists, who have accused the extremist group of increasingly targeting leftists, claimed police stood by when a mob of neo-Nazi thugs assaulted the singer. ... "Golden Dawn is intensifying its attacks [because it is] enjoying complete asylum from the police," the anti-racist group Keerfa said in a statement.
Greek law enforcement officers have been increasingly accused of colluding with Golden Dawn, whose calling card appears to be open-ended violence.
The Evening Greens
Beating Swords Into Solar Panels
Budget cuts at the Pentagon were long considered an impossibility and a formula in Congress for political suicide. Now, the austerity movement’s first major initiative in Washington, known as “sequestration,” those mandated, take-no-prisoners, across-the-board cuts in federal spending instituted by Congress, have in fact accomplished what nothing else could: the first downsizing of our defense spending in this century.
Admittedly, in the scheme of overall U.S. military spending, those cuts remain marginal. Sequestration shaved around $40 billion from the Pentagon’s funding this year -- which is a modest figure relative to that $600 billion budget. Still, it’s a start. With these cuts already underway and slated to continue in 2014, we can at least begin to imagine what sort of resources it might be possible to free from the military economy and how, if we’re smart, these could help fuel our transition to a low-carbon, twenty-first-century economy that would work for us and for the planet.
That’s because it’s possible to “harvest” military-generated technology and repurpose it for this task. As the sequestration cuts begin to bite into the defense sector, some high-tech production facilities and the workforce that goes with them will need to find a new purpose. Taxpayers have invested billions of dollars over decades in developing inventive technology, building infrastructure, and training skilled workers to fulfill military contracts for the war economy. It’s time for the American public to start seeing all this harnessed to new purposes, first among them tackling our climate crisis.
As it happens, some savvy and forward-looking outfits in the military sector have already begun converting their know-how into green-tech manufacturing.
Take, for instance, Bath Iron Works, the largest employer in Maine. For several decades, the company has gotten most of its revenue from building and maintaining destroyers for the Navy. Now, however, it has joined an initiative to develop deep-water, offshore wind power, with the goal of making Maine the leading state in the nation in such technology and the production systems that go with it.
Pennsylvania State Senator Announces Fracking Moratorium Legislation
At a press event today, State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Pittsburgh) announced the introduction of the Natural Gas Drilling Moratorium Act, Senate Bill 1100, that would place a moratorium on issuing new permits for fracking in Pennsylvania. He was joined by PennEnvironment, Food & Water Watch, other community and environmental advocacy groups, and concerned citizens.
“Since the advent of the shale gas industry in Pennsylvania, I have advocated for a more cautious approach to natural gas extraction from our precious natural resources,” said Sen. Ferlo. “We have seen the damage wrought by careless oil and gas drilling companies on our land, water, air, property, families and livelihoods.”
There are more than 14,000 permits already issued for unconventional wells in Pennsylvania in various stages of operation. SB 1100 would cease granting new permits for fracking while an appointed commission prepares a study analyzing the agricultural, environmental, economic and social impacts of drilling for natural gas, due in January 2017.
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
Lonnie Mack - Memphis
Lonnie Mack - Satisfy Susie
Lonnie Mack - Why
Lonnie Mack - Too Rock For Country, Too Country For Rock And Roll
Lonnie Mack - Cincinnati Jail
Lonnie Mack - Suzie Q
Lonnie Mack - Oreo Cookie Blues
Lonnie Mack - Riding The Blinds
Lonnie Mack - Down In The Dumps
SRV & Lonnie Mack - Wham
Lonnie Mack - You Aint Got Me
Lonnie Mack - Long Way From Memphis
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!