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Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.  

Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here.  This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.  

Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features one of the Three Kings of the Blues, Freddie King.  Enjoy!

Freddie King - Boogie Funk

“The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority.”

  -- Stanley Milgram

News and Opinion

The problem is not civil disobedience, it is obedience

ACLU tells New York court that program breaches first and fourth amendments and NSA is overreaching its powers

Civil liberties campaigners told a New York court on Friday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of all US phone records violates the constitutional rights to freedom of association and privacy.

The American Civil Liberties Union called for the NSA's program, first revealed by the Guardian in June, to be ended, arguing that it breached the first and fourth amendments as well as exceeding the authority Congress gave to the government through the Patriot Act.

“This kind of dragnet surveillance is precisely what the fourth amendment was meant to prohibit,” ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, said before the hearing. “The constitution does not permit the NSA to place hundreds of millions of innocent people under permanent surveillance because of the possibility that information about some tiny subset of them will become useful to an investigation in the future.”

The case, ACLU v James Clapper, director of national intelligence, Keith Alexander, director of the NSA and others, was filed in June, shortly after the Guardian published a top-secret court order requiring Verizon to pass personal call data from millions of its customers to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis”. The revelation was the first in a series of articles exposing the scale of the NSA’s operations based on documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

ACLU’s lawsuit argues that the government’s blanket seizure of its phone records compromises its ability to work with clients, journalists, advocacy partners, whistleblowers, and others.

UN surveillance resolution goes ahead despite attempts to dilute language

Failed attempt by US, UK and Australia shows increased isolation of 'Five-Eyes' nations amid international controversy

The US, UK and their close intelligence partners have largely failed in their efforts to water down a United Nations draft resolution expressing deep concern about “unlawful or arbitrary” surveillance and calling for protection for the privacy of citizens worldwide. ...

The co-sponsors of the draft resolution, Brazil and Germany, made several concessions, diluting some of the language to appease the US, Britain and Australia but keeping intact the bulk of the original version.

Crucially, the draft retains language which says the right to privacy should apply no matter the citizenship of the individual. US citizens currently have greater protections from NSA surveillance than foreign nationals.

The final draft agreed on Wednesday after more than a week of negotiation says the UN general assembly is “deeply concerned at the negative impact that surveillance and/or interception of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance and/or interception of communications, as well as the collection of personal data, in particular when carried out on a mass scale, may have on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights”.

A vote at the UN general assembly on the resolution is scheduled for Tuesday but only if a member state calls for one. Otherwise it will pass automatically as a consensus measure. The US may decide against calling for a vote rather than find itself, as diplomats and officials based at the UN predict, in a tiny, embarrassing minority.

The New US “Red Line” – No Privacy Rights For Foreigners

Colum Lynch has a fascinating blog at Foreign Policy based on a leaked memo reflecting the United States’ latest “redline”:  that no privacy rights be recognized for foreigners abroad. ...

The Bush administration notoriously argued  that the prohibition on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that is contained in the Convention Against Torture did not apply to foreigners overseas – so that it could authorize CIA interrogators to engage in waterboarding and other obviously cruel, inhuman, and degrading tactics.  When this secret interpretation became public, Congress gave President Bush the most resounding defeat of his term, enacting the McCain Amendment in the Detainee Treatment Act, and affirming that the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment applied to all human beings — not just those in the United States or holding a US passport. ...

If privacy is going to survive into the digital age, it is essential that we begin to recognize that protecting an individual’s privacy against his own government is not sufficient.  The preservation of privacy, a value everyone professes to hold dear,  requires safeguards against foreign as well as domestic snooping.  This doesn’t mean an end to foreign surveillance.  No country bars all surveillance in the name of privacy. But it would put limits on the kind of suspicionless dragnet surveillance that the NSA seems to favor these days. And that, apparently, is the US’s new “red line.”

Who is the millstone around the neck of the principled progressive organizing against illegal and unethical NSA spying? ...
Who's Least Critical of NSA Syping? Democrats

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Thursday poll reveals that while a growing number of Americans feels that the National Security Agency violates privacy, the party the least critical of the agency's surveillance activities are Democrats.

The poll found that, overall, an increasing number of Americans believes that the NSA's activities intrude on their privacy. Sixty-eight percent said that the agency's activities violate the privacy of some Americans. Forty-eight percent said that those intrusions were unjustifiable; that's up from 40 percent in a July poll. ...

Only 37 percent of Democrats responded that the surveillance agency "goes too far"; that's compared to 47 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents.

Also, asked if the NSA intrusions on "some Americans' privacy rights" were justifiable or unjustifiable, Democrats were 18 points less likely than Republicans and independents to say they were unjustifiable.

Corporate Espionage and the Secret War Against Citizen Activism

A chilling report released Wednesday unveils the well-funded and shadowy world of corporate espionage of social justice organizations, through infiltration, intrusion, spying, wiretaps and more.

According to the study by the Center for Corporate Policy—a project of the Ralph Nader-affiliated Essential Action, today's 'Pinkerton Thugs' are staffed by former law enforcement, CIA, NSA, FBI and military employees, funded by some of the biggest-name corporations in the world, and backed by highly-secretive investigative firms that operate as spy agencies for the private sector. ...

Numerous case studies show that multinational corporations, trade associations and big banks have attempted to or actively conducted acts of espionage. This includes (but is not limited to) the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON.

[I]ntelligence experts suggest the world of corporate espionage is vast. "The private sector has virtually all the same techniques as the government,” said Jack Devine, a 32-year veteran of the CIA, and former acting director of its foreign operations, interviewed for the report.

Ikea France executives under investigation amid spying accusations

Three senior Ikea executives in France were put under investigation on Wednesday over allegations they spied on disgruntled customers and former staff.

The head of Ikea France is among those accused of employing a firm of private detectives to snoop on individual employees, particularly union activists, job applicants and even unhappy customers, and of fraudulently obtaining personal information from police files. ...

Since January, a total of 10 people have been arrested and put under investigation for "fraudulent use of personal information", including four police officers and Ikea's former head of security. ...

The accused are said to have requested a range of personal data, including criminal records and confidential details about the targets' dealings with the police or courts, even as witnesses or victims. Scores of people were alleged to have been snooped on, including a union official

'US wants troops in Afghanistan permanently, treats it as colony'

Pentagon’s bosses thwart accurate audit of DOD’s main accounting office

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service was created in 1991 by Dick Cheney, then the secretary of defense, to help the government’s biggest agency get on top of its spending after President Ronald Reagan had overseen a massive military buildup the previous decade to counter the Soviet Union. Cheney also sought to prevent repeats of the $435 hammers, $37 screws and other embarrassing disclosures of excessive spending.

But more than two decades later – after another big military buildup, this time in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks – a McClatchy investigation has found troubling signs that the system set up to strengthen accountability for Pentagon spending is broken.

Among the signs of dysfunction, according to interviews with key players, internal emails, memos and other documents obtained by McClatchy, are:

  • Outside audits by a certified public accounting firm of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s books turned out to be shoddy, according to the Pentagon’s own accountants, although that same CPA firm had endorsed the agency’s previous fiscal records for years.
  • In reaction to the skeptical evaluations, Pentagon officials pressured their accountants to suppress their findings, then backdated documents in what appears to have been an effort to conceal the critiques.
  • The Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General, which was brought in to watchdog the audit, not only helped squelch the critical work but also allowed the outside firm to be paid despite the serious questions about the quality of its work.
Obama’s Image Machine: Monopolistic Propaganda Funded by You

"As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist's camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government," reads a letter delivered today to [Jay] Carney by the WHCA and several member news organizations including The Associated Press and The New York Times.

The letter includes examples of important news events that were not covered by media photographers, and yet pictures were taken by the White House image team and widely distributed via social media. This happens almost daily.

Unlike media photographers, official White House photographers are paid by taxpayers and report to the president. Their job is to make Obama look good. They are propagandists – in the purest sense of the word.

The letter reminds Carney that Obama promised to run the most transparent administration in history. It argues that the restrictions "raise constitutional concerns" and amount to "arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities." ...

Journalists understand that the president's family and national security events must be off-limits at times. Journalists also don't object to the White House using social media; those are platforms as legitimate as televisions and print. The problem is that the Obama White House is simultaneously restricting access of independent media while flooding the public with state-run media.

Again, this is propaganda – utterly lacking a skeptical eye. The irony is that Obama is using technology that democratized and flattened the media to centralize and strengthen the powers an institution, The Presidency.

Living Debt: Rising costs in UK force millions to borrow

Which Side on Your On? Anti-Austerity Cops Face Off Against Riot Police in Portugal

Continued cuts to public sector pensions put security unions on the protest side of the barricades

Defending their pensions from the threat of ever-deepening austerity cuts, as many as ten thousand off-duty police officers and state security agents in Portugal found themselves on the other side of the barricades Thursday night as they faced down their on-duty colleagues in riot control gear.

With a march through Lisbon that ended at the steps of parliament, the anger police and security union members broke through security fences, and even briefly occupying the entrance to Parliament before the night was over.

The proposed cuts in public pensions are being demanded by the nation's creditors in exchange for a government bailout package received in 2011.

A Daring Swiss Bid to Stomp Out CEO Pay Excess

1-12-bSomething astounding is happening in Switzerland. For the first time ever, voters in a modern developed nation are going to be voting on whether to create what amounts to a “maximum wage.”

The vote will come Sunday, November 24, on a ballot initiative that bans any Swiss corporate executive compensation that runs over 12 times worker pay. ...

This past spring, the 1:12 effort filed enough signatures for ballot status — and Corporate Switzerland has been feverishly attacking the initiative ever since.

Any move to limit CEO pay to 12 times worker pay, charges SwissHoldings, the federation of Swiss-based multinationals, would constitute “a frontal attack on freedom” — and “prosperity,” too! If the measure passes, the SwissHoldings anti-1:12 manifesto declares, “almost all” of Switzerland’s 57 corporate giants “would be forced to restructure or move parts of their companies abroad.”

One Swiss lawmaker, Zurich’s Ruedi Noser, has ratcheted up the hysterics to an even higher level. A “yes” vote on the 1:12 proposition, he’s claiming, would turn Switzerland into the “North Korea of Europe.”

Pacific Rim Representatives from 12 nations begin new round of negotiations; Joined by protesters opposed to TPP

Outside Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel on Tuesday, the rains fell, the speakers rose, the marchers chanted.

Inside, top trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations perhaps discussed imports and exports, profits and products, prices and patents. The exact topics aren’t known. The talks were closed.

And that concerns critics most of all as parties from the Trans-Pacific Partnership launched a 19th round of negotiations — this time in Utah — in search of a sweeping free-trade agreement.

Tuesday’s rally, organized by a coalition called the Citizens Trade Campaign, of Washington, D.C., drew 100 or so protesters, who worry that the high-level talks have been conducted behind closed doors with only multinational corporations given access to proposed provisions.

Lawmakers Vote to Keep Drone War Deaths Secret

The House Intelligence Committee rejected on Thursday what its supporters called a "modest" proposal to require that the Obama administration publicly report those killed by U.S. drone strikes overseas.

"By blocking transparency the House [committee] denies accountability for the slaughter committed against innocent lives in drone strikes," said Suraia Sahar of Afghans United for Justice in an interview with Common Dreams. "This is a gross disregard for human life."

The provision, proposed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), had already passed the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month. It would have required that U.S. agencies involved in drone wars produce annual reports in which they account for all deaths in U.S. drone strikes overseas and identify the civilians and alleged combatants killed.

"The production of this report will require minimal resources, but will provide a modest but important measure of transparency and oversight," said Schiff in a statement released Thursday. While the bill failed along party lines, with Republicans voting "no," Schiff said he plans to continue efforts to advance the legislation in the House. Supporters say that in order for this bill to move forward, constituents must pressure Republicans both in the House and Senate to get on board.

EU develops 'humanitarian' drone program

Iran, six powers may be edging toward compromise nuclear deal

Iran and six world powers appeared closer on Friday towards clinching an elusive interim deal under which Tehran would curb its contested nuclear program, with diplomats saying a major sticking point may have been overcome.

A compromise deal over Iran's insistence that its "right" to enrich uranium be internationally recognized has been proposed, they said, possibly opening the way to a breakthrough in intensive negotiations that began in Geneva on Wednesday.

The United States and other Western powers say there is no such thing as a right to enrich - a process that can yield both electricity and nuclear bombs - but Iran views it as a matter of national sovereignty and crucial to any deal that would resolve a decade-old standoff over its nuclear intentions. ...

Under discussion is Iranian suspension of some sensitive nuclear activities, above all medium-level uranium enrichment, in exchange for sanctions relief. That could involve releasing some Iranian funds frozen in foreign bank accounts and allowing trade in precious metals, petrochemicals and aircraft parts.

The United States might also agree to relax pressure on other countries not to buy Iranian oil.

Cleansing Nazareth: Israeli mayor turns racism to social policy

Rocky Mountain High

First U.S. pot stores will open Jan. 1; Central City, Colo., gets first license

The nation's first retail marijuana stores --- more than 100 of them --- are expected to open in Colorado on Jan. 1.

So far, the star of the show is Annie’s, currently a medical marijuana outlet in Central City and the recipient of the first local recreational license on Thursday. That means Annie's will be allowed to expand its pot sales to all adults 21 and older, not just medical patients.

Pot backers noted that the Central City chief of police hand-delivered the license to Annie's, part of an eight-location local chain called Strainwise. ...

The official openings will come more than a year after state voters approved a plan to begin taxing and selling marijuana, much like alcohol.

The Evening Greens

As Environmentalists Walk Out of UN Talks, Top US Envoy Says No to Reparations for Climate Damage

No Keystone XL? No Problem. Tar Sands Production Moving Full-Steam Ahead

Energy outlooks predict surge in tar sands, with or without Keystone XL pipeline

President Obama's approval of the Keystone XL is still uncertain, but that isn't stopping booming production and flow of Canada's tar sands. ...

In a report issued Thursday, Canada's National Energy Board foresees production of oil in the country surging almost 75 percent between now and 2035, going up to 5.8 million barrels per day, with "situ oil sands production mak[ing] up the majority of the increase."

"Major operating companies have announced expansion plans and foreign entities are investing significant amounts of capital to buy oil sands interests, in many cases forming partnerships with Canadian companies," the outlook states.

All this crude needs to get to refining facilities, but energy companies aren't being held up by a decision on TransCanada's Keystone XL.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "If we don't do the [Keystone XL] pipeline, more and more [oil] is going to be coming in via rail."

"You’ve Made a Wager of Our Future": Somali Youth Activist Pleads to U.N. Summit for Climate Action

These Members of Congress Are Bankrolled by the Fracking Industry


The growing fracking industry is "yielding gushers" of campaign donations for congressional candidates—particularly Republicans from districts with fracking activity—according to a new report from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The report, "Natural Cash: How the Fracking Industry Fuels Congress," examines a period spanning from 2004 to 2012. In that time, CREW finds, contributions from companies that operate hydraulic fracturing wells and fracking-related industry groups rose 180 percent, from $4.3 million nine years ago to about $12 million in the last election cycle.

These donations are flowing to members of Congress at a time when some legislators are trying to increase regulation of fracking, a process in which drillers inject a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals into the bedrock to release oil and natural gas reserves. ...

"So far, the industry has successfully fended off almost all federal regulation of fracking," CREW's report notes. The report adds that the biggest increase in donations from the fracking industry came between 2010 and 2012, when Congress was particularly active on fracking issues.

Carbon Trading a "False Solution" Pushed by Bankers and Bureaucrats

Hat tip Agathena

An interesting article. At face value, its embrace of native rights is quite refreshing.  However, given its right-wing publication provenance, it's hard to ignore the underlying suggestion that "buying off" natives (giving native communities money and "a seat at the table") is a way to drive a wedge between the native community and green activists.  The article suggests that green activists would lose influence without the force of native legal status to promote their demands.

170 legal victories empower First Nations in fight over resource development

Canada is orchestrating a big push to accelerate development of its natural resources, but behind the hype there is a shifting and tense legal landscape. First Nations are on a big winning streak in the courts that has empowered them to have a say on projects in big parts of the country. ...

The new landscape means the “minimalist approach” used by many resource companies in dealing with Canada’s aboriginals is inadequate.

The new approach will have to involve revenue sharing, building trust and treating First Nations as full partners, perhaps even invite them to be co-applicants before regulatory boards — that’s what it will take to win backing for pipelines in the future, including Northern Gateway, he said. ...

Locking up First Nations support goes a long way to tempering environmental movement opposition, Mr. Gallagher said, because the green groups don’t have the same legal standing without aboriginal co-operation. ...

There are suggestions that won’t be easily embraced by resource developers, whose tendency is to balk at requests for revenue sharing or for sharing power with aboriginals, with whom they have little in common. ... But this is an area that badly needs new thinking, and Mr. Gallagher is offering ideas, supported by the Assembly of First Nations, that Canadian resource developers can no longer dismiss, because the alternative is more of the same — projects going up in flames, confrontation and billions in real and missed opportunity costs.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

The telecom industry should be embarrassed by its silence on surveillance.

Transgender Day of Remembrance, 2013

A Little Night Music

Freddie King - Palace of the King

Freddie King - Have You Ever Loved A Woman

Freddy king - I'm Tore Down

Freddie King - Same Old Blues

Freddie King - Something You Got

Freddie King - Woke Up This Morning

Freddie King - Shake your Bootie

Freddie King - Dust My Blues

Freddie King - Woman Across The River

Freddie King - Swooshy

Freddie King - She Put a Whammy On Me

Freddie King - Papa's Got A Brand New Bag

Freddie King - Live in Europe 1973 & 1974

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 Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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