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 r&b singer Archie Bell. Enjoy!
Archie Bell & The Drells - Tighten up
"Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit. When all today's isms have become yesterday's ancient philosophy, there will still be reactionaries and there will still be revolutionaries. No amount of rationalization can avoid the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on the planet. I still believe in the fundamental injustice of the profit system and do not accept the proposition there will be rich and poor for all eternity."
-- Abbie Hoffman
News and Opinion
Jailed Anonymous hacker Jeremy Hammond: 'My days of hacking are done'
Hammond calls his 10-year sentence a 'vengeful, spiteful act' by US authorities eager to put a chill on political hacking
Jeremy Hammond, the Anonymous hacktivist who released millions of emails relating to the private intelligence firm Stratfor, has denounced his prosecution and lengthy prison sentence as a “vengeful, spiteful act” designed to put a chill on politically-motivated hacking.
Hammond was sentenced on Friday at federal court in Manhattan to the maximum 10 years in jail, plus three years supervised release. He had pleaded guilty to one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) flowing from his 2011 hack of Strategic Forecasting, Inc, known as Stratfor. In an interview with the Guardian in the Metropolitan Correction Center in New York, conducted on Thursday, he said he was resigned to a long prison term which he sees as a conscious attempt by the US authorities to put a chill on political hacking. ...
Most pointedly, Hammond suggested that the FBI may have manipulated him to carry out hacking attacks on “dozens” of foreign government websites. During his time with Anonymous, the loose collective of hackers working alongside WikiLeaks and other anti-secrecy groups, he was often directed by a individual known pseudonomously on the web as “Sabu”, the leader of the Anonymous-affiliated group Lulzsec, who turned out to be an FBI informant.
Hammond, who is under court orders restricting what he says in public, told the Guardian that Sabu presented him with a list of targets, including many foreign government sites, and encouraged him to break into their computer systems. ... “It is kind of funny that here they are sentencing me for hacking Stratfor, but at the same time as I was doing that an FBI informant was suggesting to me foreign targets to hit. So you have to wonder how much they really care about protecting the security of websites.”
He invoked the memory of Aaron Swartz, the open-data crusader who killed himself in January while awaiting trial under the CFAA for releasing documents from behind the subscription-only paywall of an online research group. “The same beast bit us both,” Hammond said. “They went after Aaron because of his involvement in legitimate political causes – they railroaded charges against him, and look what happened.”
Feeding the Flame of RevoltMore treachery in support of corporate-surveillance-state tyranny by the robed masters:
The sentence was one of the longest in U.S. history for hacking and the maximum the judge could impose under a plea agreement in the case. It was wildly disproportionate to the crime—an act of nonviolent civil disobedience that championed the public good by exposing abuses of power by the government and a security firm ...
The severe sentence—Hammond will serve more time than the combined sentences of four men who were convicted in Britain for hacking related to the U.S. case—was monumentally stupid for a judge seeking to protect the interest of the ruling class. The judicial lynching of Hammond required her to demonstrate a callous disregard for transparency and our right to privacy. It required her to ignore the disturbing information Hammond released showing that the government and Stratfor attempted to link nonviolent dissident groups, including some within Occupy, to terrorist organizations so peaceful dissidents could be prosecuted as terrorists. It required her to accept the frightening fact that intelligence agencies now work on behalf of corporations as well as the state. She also had to sidestep the fact that Hammond made no financial gain from the leak.
The sentencing converges with the state’s persecution of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Barrett Brown, along with Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum, Laura Poitras and Sarah Harrison, four investigative journalists who are now in self-imposed exile from the United States. And as the numbers of our political prisoners and exiled dissidents mount, there is the unmistakable stench of tyranny.
This draconian sentence, like the draconian sentences of other whistle-blowers, will fan revolt. History bears this out. It will solidify the growing understanding that we must resort, if we want to effect real change, to unconventional tactics to thwart the mounting abuses by the corporate state. There is no hope, this sentencing shows, for redress from the judicial system, elected officials or the executive branch. Why should we respect a court system, or a governmental system, that shows no respect to us? Why should we abide by laws that serve only to protect criminals such as Wall Street thieves while leaving the rest of us exposed to abuse? Why should we continue to have faith in structures of power that deny us our most basic rights and civil liberties? Why should we be impoverished so the profits of big banks, corporations and hedge funds can swell? ...
Hammond has abandoned faith not only in traditional institutions, such as the courts, but nonviolent mass protest and civil disobedience, a point on which he and I diverge. But his analysis of corporate tyranny is correct. And the longer the state ruthlessly persecutes dissidents, the more the state ensures that those who oppose it will resort to radical responses including violence. “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable,” John F. Kennedy said. And the corporate state is not only making peaceful change impossible but condemning it as terrorism.
Supreme Court Rejects Case Challenging NSA Phone Spying
The Supreme Court today rejected a challenge to the National Security Agency’s once-secret telephone metadata spying program.
The justices, without comment, declined to entertain a challenge from the Electronic Privacy Information Center seeking to halt the program that was disclosed in June by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
The court’s inaction means that the there isn’t likely to be any court resolution to constitutional challenges to the metadata program for years. Legislation, however, is pending to gut the program.
What’s more, several cases challenging the snooping are pending in federal courts across the country. EPIC’s petition was unusual in that it went directly to the Supreme Court without first being litigated in the lower courts.
The Washington, D.C. based non-profit privacy group went straight to the justices after Snowden’s leak because of the gravity of the phone spying, which includes telephone companies having to provide the NSA the phone numbers of both parties involved in all calls, the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number for mobile callers, calling card numbers used in the call, and the time and duration of the calls.
News report charges U.S. with conducting illegal operations from German soilThese Obama administration lies would be funny if they weren't so revolting:
BERLIN — The breach in U.S.-German relations seemed likely to widen Friday after a joint German newspaper and television investigation titled “Secret War” reported that American intelligence and military use this nation for “tapping, code cracking, recruiting informants, observing suspects, kidnapping and abducting foreign enemies.”
What’s more, the reports added: “The Germans have known all that for years.” ...
The news organizations – the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and German public television station NDR, two of Germany’s most respected – say that the eight reports they published Friday were just the first of many that will come in the next few weeks. ...
The series uses the example of Khaled al Masri, a German-Lebanese whom the CIA in 2003 confused for a terrorist and kidnapped while he was on vacation in Macedonia. Masri would later testify that he was tortured while being interrogated in Afghanistan, and eventually dropped in a forest at night. Years later, Macedonia paid him restitution for not preventing his kidnapping. The series notes that this operation was run by a private American security company called CSC that has an office in Germany. ...
In the years since, the stories allege, [Africom, which 18 African nations declined to host], which is based in Stuttgart, has been used to run a drone campaign in Africa that many say violates both German and international law. Conducting any form of execution from German soil violates the German constitution.
German expose of America's "Secret War" attracts quick, strong U.S. rebuttal
BERLIN — To appreciate the scope and impact of a joint investigative series by the highly regarded German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and German public television station NDR on the depth of American trespasses in this country, you don’t even have to read a word of the reports, or watch the videos.
All you really have to do is take a look at the U.S. Embassy rebuttal of the series.
From Obama administration the press statement:The article in today's Sueddeutscher Zeitung, ‘The Secret War: Germany and the Role of America,’ is full of half-truths, speculation, and innuendo. For many decades there have indeed been military facilities in Germany for our mutual security under Status of Forces Agreements, but the fact that they are closed to the public in no way implies that illegal activities are being organized there. Although we do not comment on specifics, as a matter of policy the United States does not engage in kidnapping and torture, and does not condone or support the resort to such illegal activities by any nation. Germany is one of the closest allies and partners of the United States, cooperating in areas ranging from counter-terrorism to international economic sustainability. Outrageous claims like those raised in this article are not helpful to the German-American relationship and to our shared global agenda.”The newspaper reaction to that reaction: "The American Embassy also comments and rejects the reports as innuendo. They are stating the the United States "are not kidnapping and torturing on principal." This is a daring claim. Only seven months ago a commission made up of Democrats and Republicans called it "undeniable" that the United States tortured inmates following the terror attacks of 2001. Even President Barack Obama said in 2009 that the American practice of water boarding was torture."
The bloody disaster of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan is laid bare
In each case – Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan – it was easy to see evil in the prevailing regime. These are bad guys that we need to go after, said the Americans. Yet the removal of law and order from a nation is devastating, however cruel that order may have been. Iraqis today repeat that, whatever the ills of Saddam Hussein, under his rule most ordinary citizens and their families could walk the streets at night without fear of murder or kidnap. Religious differences were tolerated. Iraq should have been an oil-rich modern state. Even the Kurds, scourged by Saddam in the past, enjoyed autonomy and relative peace.
In each of these cases Britain and its allies, chiefly America, intervened to overthrow the army, disband government, dismantle the judiciary and leave militias to run riot. ... "Nation building" was a fiasco. ...
It is hard to exaggerate the misery and chaos created by so-called "liberal interventionism". It is hard to think of a more immoral foreign policy, roaming the (chiefly Muslim) world, killing people and sowing anarchy. That is why the blood-stained consequence should be splashed across headlines. Those who seek political kudos by visiting violence on foreign peoples should never be allowed to forget their deeds.
U.S. Military Considers a Mission to Train Libyan Security ForcesHat tip cosmic debris:
The United States military is considering a mission to train Libyan security personnel with the goal of creating a force of 5,000 to 7,000 conventional soldiers and a separate, smaller unit for specialized counterterrorism missions, according to the top officer at the United States Special Operations Command.
Speaking on Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library here, the commander, Adm. William H. McRaven, said no final decisions had been made about a training mission to support Libya, where militia violence has increased in recent days.
“There is probably some risk that some of the people we will be training with do not have the most clean record,” Admiral McRaven said. “At the end of the day, it is the best solution we can find to train them to deal with their own problems.”
North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials say the alliance has sent specialists to Libya to assess how best to run a training program, perhaps in Bulgaria or Italy. American officials said at the forum here that a small number of United States military personnel had also traveled to Libya to assist in the planning.
Esperanza Spalding - We Are America
Take a stand. Call the US Capitol Switchboard (1-202-224-3121) to connect you to your two US Senators and your Congressional Representative. Tell them:
I am your constituent and I want you to support closing Guantanamo.
Indefinite detention and unfair trials are illegal, un-American and unnecessary.
Behind the Pentagon’s doctored ledgers, a running tally of epic waste
In its investigation, Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date. It has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors; how much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known. And it repeatedly falls prey to fraud and theft that can go undiscovered for years, often eventually detected by external law enforcement agencies.
The consequences aren’t only financial; bad bookkeeping can affect the nation’s defense. In one example of many, the Army lost track of $5.8 billion of supplies between 2003 and 2011 as it shuffled equipment between reserve and regular units. Affected units “may experience equipment shortages that could hinder their ability to train soldiers and respond to emergencies,” the Pentagon inspector general said in a September 2012 report.
Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year.
The Obamacare Disaster and the Poison of Party LoyaltyPaul Krugman quotes Larry Summers and agrees with his conclusion; the best that our American capitalist economy can squeeze out for 99% of its people is diminishing returns that fail to provide sustenance for all of us. You heard it here folks! Krugman doesn't go so far as to admit it, but, America is over for the 99%. If decades of decline, increasing inequality and working more to make less are not your cup of meat, then it's time to pitch this system.
[A]t this point there’s no doubt [Obamacare is] a disaster in political terms — igniting the Mad Hatter Tea Party’s phony populism, heightening prospects for major right-wing electoral gains next year and propagating the rancid notion that the government should stay out of healthcare.
That ominous takeaway notion was flagged days ago on the PBS NewsHour by commentator Mark Shields, who worried aloud that “this is beyond the Obama administration. If this goes down, if … the Affordable Care Act is deemed a failure, this is the end—I really mean it—of liberal government, in the sense of any sense that government as an instrument of social justice, an engine of economic progress… Time and again, social programs have made the difference in this country. The public confidence in that will be so depleted, so diminished, that I really think the change—the equation of American politics changes.” ...
It should now be painfully obvious that Obamacare’s little helpers, dutifully reciting White House talking points in 2009 and early 2010, were helping right-wing bogus populism to gather steam. Claiming that the Obama presidency would sink without signing into law its “landmark” healthcare bill, many a progressive worked to throw the president a rope; while ostensibly attached to a political life preserver, the rope was actually fastened to a huge deadweight anvil.
In the process, the political choreography included a chorus of statements by Congressional Progressive Caucus members before ultimate passage of the Affordable Care Act. Having previously removed the words “single payer” and “Medicare for all” from their oratorical vocabulary while retaining the laudatory language—and after later excising the words “public option” in a similar way—those legislators still pretended that passage of the ACA would be an unalloyed positive triumph. Like the president, they resolutely oversold Obamacare and made believe it would bring about an excellent healthcare system.
With such disingenuous sales pitches four years ago, President Obama and his Democratic acolytes did a lot to create the current political mess engulfing Obamacare—exaggerating its virtues while pulling out the stops to normalize denial about its real drawbacks. That was a bad approach in 2009. It remains a bad approach today.
Krugman and Summers - American Capitalism is Dead
What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades? ... In fact, the case for “secular stagnation” — a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm, with episodes of full employment few and far between — was made forcefully recently at the most ultrarespectable of venues, the I.M.F.’s big annual research conference. And the person making that case was none other than Larry Summers. Yes, that Larry Summers. ...
Mr. Summers began with a point that should be obvious but is often missed: The financial crisis that started the Great Recession is now far behind us. Indeed, by most measures it ended more than four years ago. Yet our economy remains depressed.
He then made a related point: Before the crisis we had a huge housing and debt bubble. Yet even with this huge bubble boosting spending, the overall economy was only so-so — the job market was O.K. but not great, and the boom was never powerful enough to produce significant inflationary pressure.
Mr. Summers went on to draw a remarkable moral: We have, he suggested, an economy whose normal condition is one of inadequate demand — of at least mild depression — and which only gets anywhere close to full employment when it is being buoyed by bubbles.
Time to Cash In: Geithner to Head Wall Street Private Equity FirmJoseph Stiglitz:
Ex-US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's key economic adviser since 2009, is joining private-equity firm Warburg Pincus, according to a statement on Saturday.
Geithner, who has spent the last 26 years in 'public service', will become president at the Wall Street-based corporate buyout firm starting on March 1st, according to a press release today from Warburg Pincus.
When Geithner left his post with the Treasury Department in January 2013, Matt Taibbi told Democracy Now: “He’s the architect of “too big to fail. When this all blows up — and it’s going to blow up, for sure, because things can’t continue the way they are right now — people are going to look back in history, and they’re going to say, “Who was to blame for this?” And Timothy Geithner is going to be the guy who designed this entire system.”
The Insanity of Our Food Policy
The House has proposed cutting food stamp benefits by $40 billion over 10 years — that’s on top of $5 billion in cuts that already came into effect this month with the expiration of increases to the food stamp program that were included in the 2009 stimulus law. Meanwhile, House Republicans appear satisfied to allow farm subsidies, which totaled some $14.9 billion last year, to continue apace. Republican proposals would shift government assistance from direct payments — paid at a set rate to farmers every year to encourage them to keep growing particular crops, regardless of market fluctuations — to crop insurance premium subsidies. But this is unlikely to be any cheaper. Worse, unlike direct payments, the insurance premium subsidies carry no income limit for the farmers who would receive this form of largess.
The proposal is a perfect example of how growing inequality has been fed by what economists call rent-seeking. As small numbers of Americans have grown extremely wealthy, their political power has also ballooned to a disproportionate size. Small, powerful interests — in this case, wealthy commercial farmers — help create market-skewing public policies that benefit only themselves, appropriating a larger slice of the nation’s economic pie. Their larger slice means everyone else gets a smaller one — the pie doesn’t get any bigger — though the rent-seekers are usually adept at taking little enough from individual Americans that they are hardly aware of the loss. While the money that they’ve picked from each individual American’s pocket is small, the aggregate is huge for the rent-seeker. And this in turn deepens inequality.
The nonsensical arrangement being proposed in the House Republicans’ farm bill is an especially egregious version of this process. It takes real money, money that is necessary for bare survival, from the poorest Americans, and gives it to a small group of the undeserving rich, in return for their campaign contributions and political support. There is no economic justification: The bill actually distorts our economy by promoting the kind of production we don’t need and shrinking the consumption of those with the smallest incomes. There is no moral justification either: It actually increases misery and precariousness of daily life for millions of Americans.
Wal-Mart Asks Workers To Donate Food To Its Needy EmployeesSpeaking of WalMart... guess who is represented among the 600 corporations and business interests specially favored by the Obama administration to know the details of and influence the design of the TPP...
Wal-Mart logic: instead of paying workers a living wage, we can encourage low-wage workers to donate to less well-off workers.
Wal-Mart doesn’t pay its employees enough of a wage so that they can afford to buy quality food for Thanksgiving. So one store in Cleveland had a novel idea: launch a food drive for its own employees. It’s targeted at the low-wage workers who could afford to donate food to other, even more low-wage workers.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported on the story, and now it’s being picked up by a number of outlets, including Business Insider. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” read a sign advertising the drive affixed to a tablecloth.
"That Wal-Mart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers — to me, it is a moral outrage,” Norma Mills, who lives near the Wal-Mart in Cleveland, told the Plain Dealer. Some workers at Ohio Wal-Marts went on strike today.
The TPP Insider List
It's a honking long list of insiders — 605 names long, give or take a few duplicates. What do all of them, mostly from corporate America, know about the secret playbook U.S. trade officials are using next week in San Diego to negotiate a potentially huge international agreement?
Five U.S. senators and 132 members of the House of Representatives wish they knew. They've been asking U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the official in charge of such negotiations, to pretty-please let all members of Congress see the working text, or at least chapter summaries, of the deceptively benign-sounding Trans-Pacific Partnership, now in the works. ...
The names are listed on 23 different websites, so, when taking a recent intercity bus ride, I downloaded them all into one spreadsheet. Is it really "more than 600" lobbyists? Close. It’s probably a bit fewer than 600, since some people are on two different committees. Most are from corporations such as Wal-Mart and Cargill or from industry groups, but there are a few nonprofits represented, including — irony alert! — Transparency International.
Oh, and the Obama administration told registered lobbyists in 2009 that they couldn’t serve on the committees, so maybe these aren't technically lobbyists—just corporate employees telling the government what they want it to do. See the difference?
The Evening Greens
Fukushima workers start removing spent fuel rodsHat tip Don midwest. Apparently, "Mayor 1%" Mike Bloomberg has, along with developing his racist, storm-trooper, stop-and-frisk militia, his racist, bigoted cia- cooperating spy-on-muslims unit both inside and outside his jurisdiction and his jihad against soda containers larger than 16 fluid ounces - done something of value. He's begun preparations for climate change in New York City.
Workers have begun the delicate task of removing spent fuel rods from a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, more than two-and-a-half years after the facility suffered a triple meltdown. ...
Tepco brushed off fears that removing the spent fuel rods from a storage pool near the roof of reactor No4 could cause a serious accident. Some experts have warned that a collision involving the fuel assemblies, a sudden loss of coolant water or another big earthquake could cause a chain reaction and the release of huge quantities of radiation into the atmosphere.
[A]nti-nuclear campaigners have voiced concern over Tepco's ability to complete the work without incident following revelations that up to 300 tonnes of radioactive water are leaking from the site into the sea every day.
The utility also came under fire this summer for installing poorly designed tanks that leaked toxic water. ...
The head of Japan's nuclear safety agency, Shunichi Tanaka, recently warned that removing the fuel involved huge risks, particularly if any attempt was made to force fuel assemblies that have become impeded by debris. "The process involves a very large risk potential," he said. "In a sense, it is more risky than the radioactive water crisis."
Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy: Climate Change and the Future of New York City
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his city the world leader in the fight to defend against climate change and reduce carbon emissions. ...
Experts say New York’s accomplishments rank among the most comprehensive of any of the world’s leading cities, despite rarely capturing the attention of the public during the mayor’s tenure or earning mention in media assessments as the mayor prepares to leave office.
Bloomberg’s PlaNYC has decades of implementation ahead – if it continues – but already it has reduced energy use in large buildings and improved air quality, re-imagined and reconstituted the urban landscape, and set the city on a trajectory to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030 below 2005 levels.
[ ... and the trains will run on time.]
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
Archie Bell & the Drells - There's Gonna Be a Showdown
Archie Bell & the Drells - Here I go again
Archie Bell & The Drells - Wrap It Up
Fabulous thunderbirds - Wrap it up
Archie Bell & The Drells - Here I Go Again
Archie Bell and the Drells - Houston, Texas
Archie bell & the Drells - I Can't Get Enough Of Your Love
Archie bell & the Drells - Dog eat dog
Archie Bell &The Drells - Love Will Rain On You
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!