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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.  

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Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Texas guitarist, singer and songwriter Roy Gaines.  Enjoy!

Roy Gaines - Worried ´Bout You Baby

“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.”

  -- Euripides

News and Opinion

Debtonation Defused: US avoids default as Congress reaches deal

Even When the GOP Loses, It Wins

Because the deal only includes minor concessions, the Beltway consensus is that it represents a resounding defeat for Republicans, who “surrendered” their original demands to defund or delay Obamacare. In the skirmish of opinion polls, that may be true, for now. But in the war of ideas, the Senate deal is but a stalemate, one made almost entirely on conservative terms. The GOP now goes into budget talks with sequestration as the new baseline, primed to demand longer-term cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And they still hold the gun of a US default to the nation’s head in the next debt ceiling showdown.

Surrender? Any more “victories” like this and Democrats will end up paying tribute into the GOP’s coffers.

Ezra Klein apparently agrees on something with Grover Norquist, who famously said, "Once the [Democrats] of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate.  They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such."
Ezra Klein: Democrats Should Return To Being Wimps Quickly

No matter which deal ultimately resolves the U.S. government shutdown, it’s almost certain to include a new bicameral budget commission. This will be the eighth major budget commission since 2010. Until now, every single one of them has failed for the same reason: taxes. And if nothing changes, this one will fail too.

But something should change: Democrats should admit the obvious. For the time being, they’ve lost on taxes. And you know what? That’s OK. At least, it could be, if they were willing to admit it and smartly negotiate the terms of their surrender.

The Tea Party and the Suppression of the Left

For the last 50 years, we as a people have felt it appropriate to criticize our school system, our energy system, our medical insurance system for the last two years, even our system of marriage. We criticize systems with one overwhelmingly obvious exception. That's the capitalist system. For 50 years it has been taboo in this country to criticize business, the business community, the economic system that puts them in the driver seat of our economic system. To do that has been to court a comment that you're either ignorant or somehow disloyal to America and things like that. So we have a long history of teaching people from the beginnings of school that when you're upset with things economic, your target should be government, not the economic system. At the Tea Party simply cashes in on that history by saying, look, the economic crisis is the worst we've had in 75 years (true enough), and therefore you should be really angry (and we're going to show you the way) at the government, which we are going to blame, because that's what everybody is used to. I think they're performing a function that makes it very easy to understand why they get such enthusiastic funding from all sorts of wealthy business interests, because, again, they're shifting the criticism and the upset about how this economy is working away from the capitalist system that is the way we organize production, away from the people who sit at the top of that system, and focusing it instead on the government.


[T]he Democratic Party bears a major responsibility for the success of the Tea Party. And when they berate the Tea Party and denounce it, there's something peculiar, since they're so complicit in this situation. You'd look long and hard in the history of the Democratic Party over the last 50 years to find a word of criticism of capitalism as a system. The Democratic Party avoids it. The Democratic Party joins in pretending that a political solution is adequate to deal with an economic system that has now collapsed twice in the last 75 years.

You know, I'm part of economics profession. We didn't as a profession foresee this crisis. We didn't imagine it would cut so deep. We didn't imagine it would last so long. And we didn't understand that it would resist the conventional fiscal and monetary policies that we'd been telling our students are more than adequate to manage capitalism. All of that wasn't true. But the Democratic Party has been consistently unwilling to engage in a honest debate about capitalism's strengths and weaknesses, the kind of debate that could identify what's wrong with it and enable people to fix it or, if it's unfixable, to go beyond it. And because they didn't, because they never offered a real alternative, they have kind of left the field open for the Tea Party folks to take that ball, a ball that says you can't criticize capitalism, you can only criticize politicians, and take it to its logical end, to the discomfiture of the Democrats.

S&P: The Shutdown Took $24 Billion Out Of The US Economy

The S&P has cut the annualized U.S. growth view closer to 2% from 3%, Bloomberg is reporting.

The ratings agency — which recognizes the Senate deal will be approved — says that the shutdown has taken $24 billion out of the economy and cut 0.6% off of yearly fourth quarter GDP growth.

"If people are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse, they'll remain afraid to open up their checkbooks. That points to another Humbug holiday season," S&P wrote in a release.

Escobar: More shutdowns ahead as US ruled by casino capitalism

China downgrades U.S. credit rating and accuses lawmakers of holding world hostage

A Chinese ratings agency downgraded its U.S. sovereign credit rating Thursday despite Washington’s resolution of the debt ceiling deadlock, warning that fundamentals for a potential default remained “unchanged.”

Dagong lowered its ratings for U.S. local and foreign currency credit from A to A-, maintaining a negative outlook, the agency said in a statement. ...

“The fundamental situation that the debt growth rate significantly outpaces that of fiscal income and gross domestic product remains unchanged,” Dagong said in the statement, adding Washington’s solvency was vulnerable as old debts were still repaid through raising new debts.

“Hence the government is still approaching the verge of default crisis, a situation that cannot be substantially alleviated in the foreseeable future,” it said.

There is no debt crisis

[D]ebt is not really the issue, because after all, debt is just one side of the balance sheet. There's the liabilities. That's the debt. But there's also the assets that you get for the debt.

The big problem for the United States is not the amount of debt that it owes, but it's the way that it's been investing in social assets--in education, in infrastructure, in all the things that can make the economy develop properly. There hasn't been enough investment in green technology and so forth. So we really should be focusing on the investments in the real economy, in the infrastructure and the education. And oftentimes those kinds of investments, they pay for themselves in terms of more and more revenue. But as the economy grows, the amount of debt relative to the GNP goes down anyway. And I think most economists, including at the Congressional Budget Office and elsewhere, realize that this whole debt is a secondary issue. So what is the issue? The issue, from the perspective of the Congress, financed by big billionaires, the right-wingers that are financed by big billionaires like the Koch brothers and others, their goal is to completely dismantle those aspects of the government that threaten them, and that includes threaten them with higher taxation, threaten them with environmental regulations, carbon taxes, etc. They want to paralyze the government so it's not able to impose those kinds of things. And this debt ceiling fight has gotten out of control. They can't necessarily control the system, and it's led to a very dangerous impasse.

A Simple Reform Could Save America From Wall Street and Boost the Economy: What’s Washington Waiting For?

It’s a simple tweak that would reign in an out-of-control financial sector, stimulate jobs, generate billions of revenue, and possibly prevent another heart-wrenching crisis. Nobel Prize-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman want it. Billionaires like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates want it. Polls show the majority of Americans want it. Even the Pope wants it.

We’re talking about a financial transaction tax (FTT) — a tiny tax of, say, less than half a percent: maybe 3 cents per $100  — on Wall Street trading. It’s simple, more than fair, widely supported by the public, and long overdue.

Over the last weeks, Americans have been kept from going to work and the fragile economy has been strained as members of Congress wrangled over another phony budget crisis, even as the deficit is shrinking. Meanwhile, Wall Street has been raking in billions of dollars in profits from financial transactions. And theypay not a penny in taxes on most of them.

Instead of talking about nickel-and-diming seniors by cutting their Social Security and Medicare, letting our infrastructure crumble, and forcing our children to go without proper education or medicine, we could be returning sanity and balance to our financial system. The FTT would put the breaks on the sort of reckless, breakneck-speed computer gambling that helped tank the American economy five years ago. It could raise hundreds of billions annually. Did you hear that, deficit hawks? We’d have enough to close the funding gaps in states that had their budgets destroyed by Wall Street’s risky behavior and predation. We’d even have enough to invest in new jobs.

NSA director Keith Alexander and deputy expected to depart in early 2014

The director of the National Security Agency and his deputy are expected to depart in the coming months, US officials said on Wednesday, in a development that could give President Obama a chance to reshape the eavesdropping agency. ...

Alexander has formalized plans to leave by next March or April, while his civilian deputy, Chris Inglis, is due to retire by year's end, according to US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

NSA Director Alexander Plans Departure

Alexander has now "formalized plans" to leave by spring of next year, according to a report from Reuters, who names the Navy's Vice Admiral Michael Rogers as a possible replacement. More surprisingly, NSA Deputy Director John Inglis may be out earlier, before the end of the year.

Luckily for Alexander and Inglis, they have a perk-filled escape route from the NSA controversy: A lucrative position at a Beltway contractor or consultancy. As much as 70% of the intelligence community's budget-nearly $11 billion for the NSA alone last year according to one Snowden leak-goes to contractors, writes Tim Shorrock, author of the book Spies for Hire. And plenty of those firms would be eager to employ someone with as much influence over that budget as Alexander. "This guy has incredible power," says Shorrock. "I expect he'll bring that to the contractor world. It's just too enticing."

NSA Revelations Kill IBM Hardware Sales In China

The first shot was fired on Monday. Teradata, which sells analytics tools for Big Data, warned that quarterly revenues plunged 21% in Asia and 19% in the Middle East and Africa. Wednesday evening, it was IBM’s turn to confess that its hardware sales in China had simply collapsed. Every word was colored by Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s hand-in-glove collaboration with American tech companies, from startups to mastodons like IBM. ...

This is the first quantitative indication of the price Corporate America has to pay for gorging at the big trough of the US Intelligence Community, and particularly the NSA with its endlessly ballooning budget. For once, there is a price to be paid, if only temporarily, for helping build a perfect, seamless, borderless surveillance society. The companies will deny it. At the same time, they’ll be looking for solutions. China, Russia, and Brazil are too important to just get kicked out of – and other countries might follow suit.

Pierre Omidyar commits $250m to new media venture with Glenn Greenwald

In an interview with Jay Rosen, media critic and NYU professor of journalism, Omidyar said he was committing an initial $250m to the as-yet-unnamed venture. Omidyar told Rosen the decision was fuelled by his “rising concern about press freedoms in the United States and around the world”. ...

“I developed an interest in supporting independent journalists in a way that leverages their work to the greatest extent possible, all in support of the public interest. And, I want to find ways to convert mainstream readers into engaged citizens. I think there’s more that can be done in this space, and I’m eager to explore the possibilities,” he wrote. ...

“As part of my learning process, I recently reached out to Glenn Greenwald to find out what journalists like him need to do their jobs well. As it turns out, he and his colleagues Laura Poitras [video documentarian] and Jeremy Scahill [author and national security expert], were already on a path to create an online space to support independent journalists. We had a lot of overlap in terms of our ideas, and decided to join forces,” wrote Omidyar.

Grilling Guardian: 'Cameron declares war on investigative journalism'

Washington Post Takes Govt's Lead on 'Kill List' Reporting

The Washington Post is reporting new revelations about how the National Security Agency uses its vast global surveillance capabilities to assist the CIA in its controversial worldwide drone assassination program.

To be more accurate, however, the Post is only releasing information deemed non-threatening to what it describes as "ongoing operations" and "national security," based on the guidance of the U.S. government itself.

The newspaper admits that it is "withholding many details [...] at the request of U.S. intelligence officials" and that the documents discussed in their redacted coverage may, in fact, "bolster the agency’s case that its resources are focused on fighting terrorism and supporting U.S. operations overseas."

It has long been suspected that the NSA has played a key role in the CIA's overseas drone operations and President Obama's so-called "kill list" program, but the documents reviewed by the Post are the first to confirm that role with internal documents.

Obama Administration fights quick Supreme Court review of NSA program

The Obama Administration is fighting an effort to have the Supreme Court immediately review the legality of the National Security Agency’s call-tracking program.

In a brief filed with the high court, the Justice Department argues that the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s petition asking the justices to weigh in on the issue is premature and that the issue should be allowed to percolate in the lower courts. ...

The government brief offers a short substantive defense of the NSA program, contending that data about virtually every phone call to, from, or within the U.S. in the past five years is “relevant” to terrorism investigations.

“Applying that broad understanding of relevance, lower courts, in appropriate circumstances, have authorized discovery of large volumes of information where the requester seeks to identify smaller amounts of information within the data that could directly bear on the matter,” the brief says. “Congress was aware of that broad understanding of the word ‘relevance’ when it passed Section 1861 [in 2001 and reauthorized it thereafter]. Absent any countervailing indications, therefore, this Court should presume that Congress intended to incorporate a broad understanding of relevance into Section 1861.”

Not everyone in Congress agrees with that. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who co-sponsored the Patriot Act, says the Justice Department has exceeded the bounds of the law and the intent of lawmakers by obtaining data on vast numbers of phone calls even when the vast majority of them have no relevance to any terrorism probe.

Hey looky!  In New York, it's a big deal when a Mayoral Candidate says that he will respect the constitutional rights of citizens:
De Blasio Tells Muslims He’ll End Broad NYPD Spying If Elected

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio told a group of Muslim supporters Wednesday that they won’t have to live in fear of being under constant surveillance if he’s elected mayor.

As WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported, de Blasio, the front-runner in the Nov. 5 general election, said that, on his watch, NYPD surveillance tactics would only be authorized to follow up on specific leads and that the police force would be under the supervision of a new inspector general. ...

Based on internal NYPD reports and interviews with officials involved in the programs, the NYPD has conducted wholesale surveillance of entire Muslim neighborhoods, chronicling daily life including where people eat, pray and get their hair cut, according to a series of reports by The Associated Press. Police also reportedly infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups.

In addition, the NYPD secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorism organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing, according to the AP.

Clintons' Pet Project for Privatized 'Aid' to Haiti Stealing Workers' Wages: Report

Haiti's Caracol Industrial Park—the U.S. State Department and Clinton Foundation pet project to deliver aid and reconstruction to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in the form of private investment—is systematically stealing its garment workers' wages, paying them 34 percent less than minimum wage set by federal law, a breaking report from the Worker Rights Consortium reveals.

Critics charge that poverty wages illustrate the deep flaws with corporate models of so-called aid. "The failure of the Caracol Industrial Park to comply with minimum wage laws is a stain on the U.S.'s post-earthquake investments in Haiti and calls into question the sustainability and effectiveness of relying on the garment industry to lead Haiti's reconstruction," said Jake Johnston of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in an interview with Common Dreams.

Caracol is just one of five garment factories profiled in this damning report, released publicly on Wednesday, which finds that "the majority of Haitian garment workers are being denied nearly a third of the wages they are legally due as a result of the factories’ theft of their income." This is due to systematic employer cheating on piece-work and overtime, as well as failure to pay employees for hours worked.

The Evening Greens

One Man's Bid to Become World's First Official Climate Refugee

A 37-year-old man is petitioning the government of New Zealand to grant him, and by extension his children, asylum as the world's first legally recognized climate refugee.

The case is of international significance, as global warming is already forcing tens of millions of people across the world to flee their homes.

This week, New Zealand resident Ioane Teitiota appealed the decision of the country's immigration courts to deport him to Kiribati, on the grounds that forced relocation to this South Pacific nation—where safe water, agricultural food supply, and ultimately human survival are under threat—would violate his human rights.

The media is reporting that Teitiota, who was born in Kiribati, moved to New Zealand six years ago where they had three children.

Kiribati is the lowest sea-level nation in the world consisting of 33 islands that scientists warn are poised to be some of the hardest-hit by climate change. Even the nation's president has urged its 100,000 citizens to leave, The Telegraph reports. The government of Kiribati recently moved forward to buy land from Fiji in case global warming forces mass relocation of its citizens, the BBC reports. ...

According to the International Displacement Monitoring Center and Norwegian Refugee Council, over 32 million people across the world fled their homelands last year due to severe weather events—98 percent of which were due to climate change. Africa and Asia were the hardest hit, but so-called developed nations were also severely impacted by such displacement, including the United States.

Hat tip Agathena:
Sudden disappearance of sardines has serious economic and ecological effects on the B.C. coast

A $32-million commercial fishery has inexplicably and completely collapsed this year on the B.C. coast.

The sardine seine fleet has gone home after failing to catch a single fish. And the commercial disappearance of the small schooling fish is having repercussions all the way up the food chain to threatened humpback whales.

Jim Darling, a Tofino-based whale biologist with the Pacific Wildlife Foundation, said in an interview Monday that humpbacks typically number in the hundreds near the west coast of Vancouver Island in summer. They were observed only sporadically this year, including by the commercial whale-watching industry.

“Humpbacks are telling us that something has changed,” he said. “Ocean systems are so complex, it’s really hard to know what it means. For one year, I don’t think there’s any reason to be alarmed, but there is certainly reason to be curious.”

Humpbacks instead were observed farther offshore, possibly feeding on alternative food sources such as herring, sandlance, anchovies, or krill, but not in the numbers observed near shore in recent years.

Natives reportedly torch police cruisers at anti-fracking protest in N.B.

HALIFAX - A Native anti-fracking protest turned violent Thursday after RCMP moved in to break up a standoff, with protesters hit with rubber bullets and pepper spray and then retaliating by torching cop cars.

Mounties were trying to enforce an Oct. 3 court injunction against the standoff near Rexton, where SWN Resources Canada is testing for shale gas.

Elsipogtog Mi'kmaq First Nation members have been blocking workers access to their trucks.

The protesters had been there since Sept. 30. ...

A moratorium on fracking was recently lifted by the provincial government.

Rally Against Mass Surveillance

October 26th, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

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 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. is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum.

Click here for more information

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Your life, under constant surveillance

President Obama's War on Social Security is back...this time, it's for real

Go Ahead, Celebrate — You're Celebrating Failure

WAPO's Report on NSA Involvement Glorifies Assassination By Drone Program

A Little Night Music

Roy Gaines - Isabella

Roy Gaines - Dream girl

Roy Gaines - Skippy Is A Sissy

Roy Gaines - Black Gal

Roy Gaines - Heavy Load

Roy Gaines - World's Biggest Fool

Roy Gaines and his Orchestra Tuxedo Blues - Pushing Out Pushing In

Roy Gaines - Roy's Theme

Roy Gaines - Too many miles between us

Roy Gaines - I got a break baby

Roy Gaines - Jump In My Cadillac

Fly Away to Glory - Roy Gaines and his Orchestra Tuxedo Blues

Charlie Musselwhite and Roy Gaines at the October 2011 Blues Cruise

Blues Guitar Duels - Grady Gaines & Roy Gaines, Clarence Holliman - Full Gain

Roy Gaines & the Blues For Life Band - I'm your sweet pig poker

Roy Gaines - Bumpin' At The Sunset

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 Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH and Canadian Kossacks.

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