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 North Mississippi blues musician and juke joint proprietor Junior Kimbrough. Enjoy!
Junior Kimbrough - All Night Long
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
News and Opinion
UK detention of Reprieve activist consistent with NSA's view of drone opponents as 'threats' and 'adversaries'Looks like the Obama administration is once again using legal legerdemain to prevent the Congress from gathering the information that it needs to perform its oversight functions. We have finally elected an executive with neither honor nor shame.
A well-known and highly respected Yemeni anti-drone activist was detained yesterday by UK officials under that country's "anti-terrorism" law at Gatwick Airport, where he had traveled to speak at an event. Baraa Shiban, the project co-ordinator for the London-based legal charity Reprieve, was held for an hour and a half and repeatedly questioned about his anti-drone work and political views regarding human rights abuses in Yemen. ...
[P]erceiving drone opponents as "threats" or even "adversaries" is hardly new. Top secret US government documents obtained by the Guardian from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden characterize even the most basic political and legal opposition to drone attacks as part of "propaganda campaigns" from America's "adversaries".
One specific entry discusses "threats to unmanned aerial vehicles". ... [A]longside ... more obvious, conventional threats are what the entry describes as "propaganda campaigns that target UAV use".
Under the title "adversary propaganda themes", the document lists what it calls "examples of potential propaganda themes that could be employed against UAV operations".
One such example is entitled "Nationality of Target vs. Due Process". It states:Attacks against American and European persons who have become violent extremists are often criticized by propagandists, arguing that lethal action against these individuals deprives them of due process.In the eyes of the US government, "due process" – the idea that the US government should not deprive people of life away from a battlefield without presenting evidence of guilt – is no longer a basic staple of the American political system, but rather a malicious weapon of "propagandists." ... Although the document at one points suggests that some drone opposition may come from "citizens with legitimate social agendas", the section on "adversary propaganda themes" includes virtually every one of the arguments most frequently made in the US against the US drone policy,
Lawyer For Pakistani Drone Victims Says State Department Is Keeping Him Out Of The Country
Before he started representing Pakistani victims of U.S. drone strikes, Shahzad Akbar never had trouble entering the United States. But now the Pakistani lawyer claims the State Department is blocking his efforts to speak to Congress about drone strikes.
Akbar wants to come to the U.S. to serve as a translator and lawyer for Rafiq ur Rehman, a Pakistani schoolteacher who says a drone strike killed his 67-year-old mother and injured his children. Rehman hopes to speak to members of Congress about his experience, and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has welcomed his visit.
"I don't know what national security risk there is," Akbar told HuffPost over the phone. "Maybe the CIA is scared I will go speak with congressmen and tell them more about who our drone victims are."
Akbar said that since he started representing these victims of drone strikes, he has been forced to endure visa processing times of 14 months to enter the country.
"I don't have any issue getting a visa anywhere [else] within a few working days, it's only within the United States," he said. "It's only the drone work which has stopped my visas."
Pakistani drone victims' lawyer accuses US of blocking his visit to Congress
The US government is being accused of derailing a congressional hearing that would be the first to hear testimony from survivors of an alleged CIA drone strike by failing to grant the family's lawyer a visa. ...
Florida congressman Alan Grayson, who helped spearhead the effort to bring the Rehman family to the US, told the Guardian that the state department had not given "a specific reason as to why [Akbar]'s having trouble getting in".
"I don't know why the State Department has taken this action, but I think it's extremely important that when it comes to a national security matter like drone attacks, we hear not only from the proponents of these attacks, but also from the victims," Grayson said.
"We have a chronic problem in Congress that when the administration is involved in one side of the issue, we rarely hear about the other side of the issue.
"This is true with regard to NSA domestic spying. This is true with regard to proposed military intervention in Syria. And it's also true with regard to the drone attacks in Pakistan and in Yemen."
He added: "I think Congress and the American people simply need to hear both sides of the story, and that's why we invited these witnesses to come and testify."
Northrop Boosts Spending as Congress Stands by Its Drone
Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) tripled its political giving and increased spending on lobbying as it fended off Obama administration efforts to cut spending for a version of its Global Hawk surveillance drone.
The defense contractor’s political action committee made $1.3 million in federal campaign donations during the first six months of 2013. That was second only to Honeywell International Inc. (HON) and three times the $372,000 contributed during the same period two years ago, Federal Election Commission reports show. Northrop spent $9.3 million to lobby from January to June, up from $8.6 million in the first half of 2012, according to U.S. Senate filings.
At the same time Northrop is boosting its Capitol Hill advocacy, U.S. lawmakers are considering rejecting, for the second consecutive year, the administration’s effort to reduce funding for the Global Hawk version known as Block 30. The Defense Department said the unmanned surveillance aircraft isn’t “affordable in an austere budget environment” and that upgraded models of the 58-year-old U-2 spy plane can fly the missions.
“There doesn’t appear to be any other pending issues that would cause such a dramatic change in campaign contribution behavior” by Northrop, the fifth-biggest Pentagon contractor, said Craig Holman, who lobbies for stricter campaign-finance laws for the Washington-based advocacy group Public Citizen. “There’s too much at stake. Their campaign contribution patterns reflect that.”
What Obama Didn't Say in His UN Speech
"The President addressed Russian and Chinese obstructionism on Syria. Their abuse of veto power has, in the words of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, held the Security Council “hostage.”
But the President wasn't willing to acknowledge U.S. obstructionism and abuse of its own veto power. Since China joined the United Nations in 1971, that country has used its veto power eight times, while Russia (and formerly the Soviet Union) during that same period used its veto power eighteen times.
By comparison, the United States has used its veto power during this period 83 times, most recently when Obama ordered a veto of an otherwise-unanimous UN Security Council resolution reiterating the illegality of Israeli settlements in territories under foreign belligerent occupation and calling for a freeze on the construction of new settlements." ...
U.S. exceptionalism cannot be based on military and economic power alone, but on a willingness to apply the values Obama and other American leaders have espoused as universal principles—not as political talking points to be applied narrowly for our own geo-political purposes.
Mikulski calls for grand bargain by mid-November on sequester, taxes, spending
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) called on Congress Tuesday to adopt a spending resolution that funds the government through mid-November, and then hammer out a grand bargain that would cancel the sequester, look at mandatory spending cuts, and raise taxes. ...
"Nov. 15 keeps the pressure on … both sides of the aisle to get the job done," Mikulski said on the Senate floor.
She defined "get the job done" as finding some way to find an agreement on issues that have split the two parties since Republicans took over the House in 2011. ...
"We can do that through additional strategic cuts," she said, noting the first part of her equation. "As an appropriator, I'm willing to look at them."
D.C. Considers Defying Congress by Refusing ShutdownSadly, since bankers are misidentified as white collar criminals rather than terrorists, the FBI is pursuing fewer of them.
Over coffee and orange juice at a roundtable breakfast Tuesday morning, Mayor Vincent Gray, members of the D.C. Council and District officials hashed out radical plans to defy Congress and keep the District government running in the event of a federal shutdown Sept. 30.
“This is an opportunity for the District of Columbia to stand up and say ‘enough is enough,’” declared Councilmember David Grosso, who proposed an Oct. 1 council vote on emergency legislation that would declare all city government employees essential, in theory giving D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi the legal authority to pay them for their work.
At issue are the funds raised from District taxpayers, used to pay D.C. workers for city services. Under current law, D.C. needs a federal appropriation to spend that money. An emergency bill to keep the city operating would require the support of nine councilmembers. If passed and signed by Gray, it would be implemented immediately and effective for 90 days.
FBI pursuing fewer white-collar crime cases, group finds
The FBI has recommended only 2,001 white-collar cases for criminal prosecution so far this fiscal year, on pace for a nearly 7 percent drop from last year, according to a report Tuesday by a research group affiliated with Syracuse University.
It would be one of the lowest years on record and would extend a years-long trend, according to government data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC. ...
It's not for a lack of resources. The number of criminal investigators has risen, to 13,812 this year from 11,097 in 2001.
But the number of white-collar cases has fallen as the FBI has focused its efforts on fighting terrorism, according to the TRAC report.
Hedge fund manager: Fed robbing poor to pay richThis article has a good, concise, layman-friendly explanation of the Bernanke Fed's 5 year failed financial crisis recovery programs, ZIRP and QE. I'm going to skip to the conclusion here, however:
The Federal Reserve isn't just inflating markets but is shifting a massive amount of wealth from the middle class and poor to the rich, according to billionaire hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller.
In an interview on "Squawk Box," the founder of Duquesne Capital said the Fed's policy of quantitative easing was inflating stocks and other assets held by wealthy investors like himself. But the price of making the rich richer will be paid by future generations.
"This is fantastic for every rich person," he said a day after the Fed's stunning decision to delay tightening its monetary policy. "This is the biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich ever." ...
"I mean, maybe this trickle-down monetary policy that gives money to billionaires and hopefully we go spend it is going to work," he said. "But it hasn't worked for five years."
Crushing the Middle Class
After 5 years of monetary policy that has failed to produce a strong, sustainable recovery, reasonable people have begun to wonder if Bernanke’s real objectives are different than those in his official pronouncements. After all, the Dow Jones and S & P 500 have more than doubled in the last 4 years, corporate earnings just hit an all-time high of $2.1 trillion, the banks announced record profits of $42 billion in Q2, and–according to a new study by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at UC Berkeley— the top 10% of earners in the US captured 50.4% of total income in 2012, a level higher than any other year since 1917.” (LA Times) Meanwhile, 47 million people are scraping by on food stamps, labor’s share of productivity gains have never been smaller, median household income has plummeted by 7.3 percent since the end of the recession, (Sentier Research), and 46.5 million Americans now live in poverty. (US Census Bureau). Inequality– which is already at levels not seen since the Gilded Age–continues to widen at an accelerating pace while the battered and rudderless economy drifts from one crisis to another.
To pretend that the objectives of ZIRP and QE are different than the results they’ve produced (ie–greater concentration of wealth and political power, and the crushing of the middle class) is laughable given the fact that they’ve been in place for more than 5 years without any significant change. This suggests that the Fed’s policies are doing what they were designed to do, shift more wealth upwards to the uber-rich while political leaders dismantle vital safteynet programs which protect ordinary working people from the ravages of unregulated capitalism. The Central Bank and the political establishment in Washington are working hand-in-hand to restructure the economy along the same lines as they would any third world banana republic. And that’s the real goal of the current policy.
AIG CEO Says Getting Yelled At On Blogs For Obscene Bonuses Is Just Like Getting Hanged From A Tree By Your Neck Till You're Dead
Fitzgerald and Hemingway were both right. Rich people, and most notably CEOs of rapacious companies, are different from us: They have not just more money, but more arrogance, grandiosity, moral blindness and self-delusion. Thus do we have Robert Benmosche, the CEO who took over AIG after it helped crash the global economy and then got bailed out by $700 billion from taxpayers, telling the Wall Street Journal that the uproar over insane bonuses to executives despite their utter incompetence was "just as bad and just as wrong" as lynching blacks in the South, and why were all those people "out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses" calling them bad names which is pretty much the same as being brutally murdered.
The economist who predicted the financial crisis just sounded another alarm—it would be wise to listen this time
[Raghuram] Rajan [the new governor of the Reserve Bank of India] has issued another warning by increasing the benchmark rate in India, shortly after the US Federal Reserve decided to keep on buying $85 billion of securities per month under its quantitative easing 3 program, to the general happiness of financial sector managers and traders. The Fed’s announcement spurred an immediate mini-boom in all financial instruments. The day after the announcement, I published an article in Quartz in which I argued that the current high rate of monetary creation and the extremely low interest rates caused by QE3 are unsustainable and that, sooner than later, interest rates are bound to increase. I argued further that the long prevalence of extremely low interest rates is likely to be creating the conditions for a serious financial crisis; all the economic activities that are profitable due to low rates will become unprofitable and will not be able to repay their obligations.
For this reason, it is necessary to prepare for such eventuality. This is what Rajan is doing by increasing interest rates in India, by easing the appetite for unsustainable activities that can survive only with low rates. The Financial Times quotes his rationale: “Let us remember that postponement of tapering is only that—a postponement…Let’s not lose the chance, the warning that we have been given, because this is going to come back and what we need to do is put our house in order before.”
Greek police arrest one of their own while raiding neo-Nazi party’s offices
Greek police raided the offices of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn and arrested a police officer, authorities said, amid a major probe on the links between law enforcers and far-right politicians.
A 45-year-old officer, who is working as the bodyguard of a Golden Dawn lawmaker, was detained during the raid at party offices in central Greece, a police source said.
The officer had been suspended from his duties last September over suspicions that he joined a Golden Dawn politician and other neo-Nazis in smashing up the street stalls of migrant peddlers.
The links between Golden Dawn and police have come under intense scrutiny in Greece after the murder of an anti-fascist musician by an alleged member of the party.
The Evening Greens
For Democrats Nationwide, Pennsylvania Offers a Lens on the Widening Rift Over Fracking
The Democratic Party has a few problems. Recently, President Obama has been forced to confront growing discord within his own party over a number of issues, from foreign policy to economics and the nomination of a new Federal Reserve chair. But another fissure between the Obama Administration and rank-and-file Democrats across the country, one that’s been slowly developing for years, has suddenly cracked wide open. It threatens to split the party in two, just as it quite literally splits the bedrock beneath our feet. It is the extreme gas drilling and extraction process know as fracking.
In large, solidly Blue states like California and New York, where Democrats with national responsibilities (or national aspirations) consistently look for inspiration and cash, local grassroots movements against fracking have evolved and expanded into mainstream statewide forces. But perhaps more notably, resistance to fracking among Democrats has also recently flourished in states less reliably liberal, less environmentally inclined, and situated smack in the middle of oil and gas country. States like Pennsylvania.
After years of destructive and dangerous fracking in Pennsylvania, it all became too much to bear. Too many cases of poisoned drinking water. Too many cases of serious health effects, including asthma, nausea, dizziness, eye and skin impairments, and the like. ... So the Pennsylvania Democratic Party finally said “enough.” In June, its state committee passed a resolution calling for an indefinite moratorium on fracking. But as many party activists and officials cheered, the debate intensified. Democrats aligned with Obama’s naïve, uninformed vision of gas fracking as a “bridge” to American energy utopia immediately struck back, defending the companies that have long filled their campaign coffers. According to the group Common Cause, the natural gas industry gave $8 million to Pennsylvania political candidates from 2000 to 2012 and spent an astounding $15.7 million on in-state lobbying between 2007 and 2012. ...
As President Obama’s misguided reign over our nation’s energy policy ebbs on, Democrats that seek to succeed him would be wise to pay heed to the widening chasm over fracking that is increasingly dividing the party.
Oil Spills In Flooded Colorado: 'We're Going To Have Dozens, If Not Hundreds, Of Toxic Sites'
The catastrophic flooding that washed over Colorado last week has damaged more oil and gas fields around the state than previously thought, resulting in spills totaling more than 22,000 gallons from the sites surveyed so far, state regulators confirmed to The Denver Post on Friday.
"We are going to have dozens, if not hundreds, of toxic sites," Wes Wilson, former EPA engineer and current anti-drilling activist said to The Denver Post, "and they've got to be cleaned up." ...
The size of the affected area is immense and the long-lasting environmental and business impact of the flooding and oil spills in Colorado is difficult to assess as it continues to develop. The Denver Post reported that there are 20,500 operating wells in Weld County, more than 300 in Boulder County, about 250 in Larimer County and just under 100 in Broomfield County. All these counties were deeply affected by the flooding.
U.S. Accused Of Human Rights Violations In Puerto Rico
The National Lawyers Guild and other groups have filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against the U.S. government in a case involving Puerto Ricans living in the island of Vieques, which was once used as a bombing range.
The petition accuses the U.S. of abuses following decades of live-fire training on the island by the U.S. Navy. ... The petition was filed Monday on behalf of 10 Vieques residents who had cancer or have relatives who are sick.
Right now the NSA is spying on everyone's personal communications, and they’re operating without any meaningful oversight. Since the Snowden leaks started, more than 569,000 people from all walks of life have signed the StopWatching.us petition telling the U.S. Congress that we want them to rein in the NSA.
On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the US Patriot Act, we're taking the next step and holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We’ll be handing the half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us -- and we won’t tolerate mass surveillance any longer.
StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum.
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
"My songs, they have just the one chord, there's none of that fancy stuff you hear now, with lots of chords in one song."Junior Kimbrough - Sad Days, Lonely Nights
-- Junior Kimbrough
Junior Kimbrough - Most Things havent Worked Out
Junior Kimbrough - Meet Me in the City
Junior Kimbrough - I Gotta Try You Girl
Junior Kimbrough - Feels So Good
Jr Kimbrough - Done Got Old
Junior Kimbrough - Pull your clothes off
Junior Kimbrough - My Mind is Ramblin
Junior Kimbrough - Do the Romp
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!