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 Boogie Woogie pianist Meade "Lux" Lewis. Enjoy!
Meade Lux Lewis - Boogie Woogie
"Obama to me is symptomatic to me of the liberal center. But the issue is much greater than him. I mean, the issue is in a system that is entirely broken. It's broken.
Elections are bought by big money. The political process is not in the hands of the people. It's in the hands of very few people. And it seems to me we have to ask ourselves what kind of formative culture needs to be put in place in which education becomes central to politics, in which politics can be used to help people to be able to see things differently, to get beyond this system that is so closed, so powerfully normalized.
I mean, the right since the 1970s has created a massive cultural apparatus, a slew of anti-public intellectuals. They've invaded the universities with think tanks. They have foundations. They have all kinds of money. And you know, it's interesting, the war they wage is a war on the mind.
The war on what it means to be able to dissent, the war on the possibility of alternative visions. And the left really has-- and progressives and liberals, we have nothing like that. I mean, we always seem to believe that all you have to do is tell the truth."
-- Henry Giroux
News and Opinion
Iran sanctions to be eased as US and west work out full Geneva deal
The west is likely to start easing crippling sanctions on Iran in the new year, following the breakthrough agreement in Geneva to freeze and reverse Iran's nuclear programme. ...
The accord reached in Geneva represents a first phase, lasting six months, and is to see $7bn (£4.3bn) in frozen oil sales assets returned to Tehran in instalments, cailbrated to Iran's observance of the terms of the agreement. Western sources insist the deal has been structured to ensure that the sanctions relief can be reversed if Tehran is found to be reneging on any parts of the agreement. ...
The deal releases just over $4bn in Iranian oil sales revenue from frozen accounts, and suspends restrictions on the country's trade in gold, petrochemicals, car and plane parts. In return, Iran undertakes to restrict its nuclear activities. Over the next six months Iran has agreed:
• To stop enriching uranium above 5% reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium – a major proliferation concern.
• Not to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
• To freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable.
• Not to fuel or to commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel.
• To accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits to some facilities.
Israeli Leaders Denounce Geneva AccordNaftali Bennett wins the Fearleader of the Year Award for the way he shakes those Pom-Poms of Doom:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared it a “historic mistake” on Sunday, while some of his top ministers deemed it “a surrender” and “the greatest diplomatic achievement for the Iranians.” ...
While most experts here said they could not imagine Israeli military action while the Geneva negotiations are underway, officials from Mr. Netanyahu on down were already raising the specter of a potential Israeli military strike on Iran. Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday repeated his mantra that “Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.” Mr. Bennett added, for good measure, that Israel “is capable of defending itself.”
Israeli PM Netanyahu: Iran nuclear deal 'historic mistake'Showing that folks in the US can play Middle East Sabre-Rattling, the Home Version...
Iran insists its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes, with no long-term goal of developing a nuclear weapons arsenal.
But such assurances haven't quelled sharp skepticism from Israel.
"If in five years, a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid," said Naftali Bennett, the Israeli minister of trade and industry, "it will be because of the agreement that was signed this morning." ...
[Hello, CNN irony department? You have a winner here...]
When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described the deal on Sunday, widows and children of slain Iranian nuclear scientists stood nearby as he addressed them in his speech.
Iranian officials have long accused Israel of planting bombs under the scientists' cars, and analysts have argued that's a likely scenario.
Israel generally refuses to comment on accusations and speculation. After one such attack killed an Iranian scientist last year, Israeli military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said in a Facebook post that he didn't know who'd targeted the scientist.
"But I certainly didn't shed a tear," he said.
Zbig Brzezinski: Obama Administration Should Tell Israel U.S. Will Attack Israeli Jets if They Try to Attack Iran
The national security adviser for former President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, gave an interview to The Daily Beast in which he suggested President Obama should make it clear to Israel that if they attempt to attack Iran's nuclear weapons sites the U.S. Air Force will stop them.
"We are not exactly impotent little babies," Brzezinski said. "They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? … We have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a 'Liberty' in reverse."
The USS Liberty was a U.S. Navy technical research ship that the Israeli Air Force mistakenly attacked during the Six Day War in 1967.
Overplaying Its Hand, Israel Still Holds Plenty of US Cards
In the short run, the belligerent responses from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are bound to play badly in most of the U.S. media. But Netanyahu and the forces he represents have only begun to fight. They want war on Iran, and they are determined to exercise their political muscle that has long extended through most of the Washington establishment.
While it’s unlikely that such muscle can undo the initial six-month nuclear deal reached with Iran last weekend, efforts are already underway to damage and destroy the negotiations down the road. On Capitol Hill the attacks are most intense from Republicans, and some leading Democrats have also sniped at the agreement reached in Geneva.
A widespread fear is that some political precedent might be set, undercutting “pro-Israel” leverage over U.S. government decisions. Such dread is inherent in the negative reactions from Netanyahu (“a historic mistake”), GOP lawmakers like House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers (“a permission slip to continue enrichment”) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (“we’ve let them out of the trap”), and Democratic lawmakers like Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Robert Menendez (“this agreement did not proportionately reduce Iran’s nuclear program”) and Senator Charles Schumer (“it does not seem proportional”).
Netanyahu and many other Israelis -- as well as the powerhouse U.S. lobbying group AIPAC and many with similar outlooks in U.S. media and politics -- fear that Israel’s capacity to hold sway over Washington policymakers has begun to slip away. “Our job is to be the ones to warn,” Israel’s powerful finance minister, Yair Lapid, told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday. “We need to make the Americans to listen to us like they have listened in the past.”
'Lack of Trust': Karzai Balks at US Security AgreementThe new Egyptian leadership repeats the American pattern of using threats, excessive bureaucracy and state violence to shut down public dissent. "Is our allies learning?"
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has surprised many by refusing to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement between his country and the United States that had received cautious approval from tribal leaders and the nation's elders after a loya jirga meeting in Kabul concluded on Sunday.
In the speech explaining his decision, Karzai said he wants more progress towards a peace agreement with the Taliban and assurances that U.S. soldiers will discontinue their abuse of the Afghan people by ending night raids on homes. Though the U.S. has demanded the deal be signed by the end of this year, Karzai said he wants to wait until after the next presidential elections, sheduled for April.
Egypt's Military-Backed Regime Bans Public Protest
In 2011, the Arab Spring hit its zenith in the streets of Cairo when hundreds of thousands of youth and pro-democracy activists upended the social order, cast off a dictator and declared the start of a revolution based on the simple but radical notion that they would no longer remain silent or allow their dignity as citizens be thwarted by a repressive regime that forbade their right to assemble, protest, or dissent. ...
Exemplifying the dashed hopes of the pro-democracy, the law bans all public assembly of more than 10 people without government approval and requires would-be protesters to seek seven sepearate permissions and notify authorities three days in advance of any proposed gathering. Further, the law grants security agencies, like the military-backed secret police, the right to prohibit any public gatherings, demonstrations or meetings if deemed a "threat to public order."
Following the release of an earlier draft, international watchdog Human Rights Watch noted the law "effectively give[s] the police carte blanche," saying it "mandate[s] the police to ban all protests outright and to use force to disperse ongoing protests.”
The crackdown comes a week after police fired teargas at protesters with the burgeoning Third Square movement in Tahrir Square, where the demonstrators commemorated the two year anniversary of the 2011 massacre by rallying against both the ruling "military junta" and deposed Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, who they say together "betrayed" the revolution.
From Quebec to Spain, anti-protest laws are threatening true democracy
The clash between neoliberal austerity and popular democracy has produced a crisis of 'ungovernability' for authorities
The Spanish government's punitive anti-protest draft laws are, critics say, an attack on democracy. That is precisely what they are.
In a number of recent front lines of popular protest, state capacities have been reconfigured to meet the challenge. In some instances, as in Greece, this has meant periods of emergency government. In Chicago, in Quebec and now in Spain, it has meant the expansion of anti-protest laws.
In 2011, the Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, requested that the city council pass "temporary" anti-protest measures in response to the planned protests around the Nato and G8 summits. The laws included a $1m insurance mandate for public protests, heavy policing and greater obstacles to obtaining a protest permit. By early 2012, the legislation had been made permanent.
Later that same year, as the administration of Jean Charest in Quebec sought to deal with a tumultuous uprising of students against increased tuition fees, it passed a piece of emergency legislation named Bill 78. With the support of the state's employers, it imposed severe restrictions on the ability to protest, including banning protests within 50 metres of a college and giving the right to change the route of a protest at short notice, with severe fines for those protesters who did not co-operate.
The "public safety" legislation proposed in Spain has an essentially similar basis. Demonstrating near parliament without permission will result in steep fines, while participation in "violent" protests can result in a minimum two-year jail sentence. In each case, the logic is to put a chill on protest. It is not just that it is a protest deterrent; it has a domesticating effect on such protests as do occur.
N.S.A. Report Outlined Goals for More Power
In a February 2012 paper laying out the four-year strategy for the N.S.A.’s signals intelligence operations, which include the agency’s eavesdropping and communications data collection around the world, agency officials set an objective to “aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age.”
Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.” ... The agency also intends to improve its access to encrypted communications used by individuals, businesses and foreign governments, the strategy document said. The N.S.A. has already had some success in defeating encryption, The New York Times has reported, but the document makes it clear that countering “ubiquitous, strong, commercial network encryption” is a top priority. The agency plans to fight back against the rise of encryption through relationships with companies that develop encryption tools and through espionage operations. ...
One of the agency’s other four-year goals was to “share bulk data” more broadly to allow for better analysis. While the paper does not explain in detail how widely it would disseminate bulk data within the intelligence community, the proposal raises questions about what safeguards the N.S.A. plans to place on its domestic phone and email data collection programs to protect Americans’ privacy. ...
Other N.S.A. documents offer hints of how the agency is trying to do just that. One program, code-named Treasure Map, provides what a secret N.S.A. PowerPoint presentation describes as “a near real-time, interactive map of the global Internet.” ... It collects Wi-Fi network and geolocation data, and between 30 million and 50 million unique Internet provider addresses — code that can reveal the location and owner of a computer, mobile device or router — are represented each day on Treasure Map, according to the document. It boasts that the program can map “any device, anywhere, all the time.”
[Are there really 30-50 million terrorists we need to track?
Also, see Marcy Wheeler's response to this article, "NSA Denies Their Existing Domestic Cyberdefensive Efforts, Again"]
Obama’s overhaul of spy programs so far cloaked in more secrecyRed Clown "conflict" with Beltway Bigtop Management exposed as sham...
President Barack Obama has faced withering criticism around the globe for his secret spying programs. How has he responded? With more secrecy.
Obama has been gradually tweaking his vast government surveillance policies. But he is not disclosing those changes to the public. Has he stopped spying on friendly world leaders? He won’t say. Has he stopped eavesdropping on the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? He won’t say.
Even the report by the group Obama created to review and recommend changes to his surveillance programs has been kept secret.
Critics note that this comes after he famously promised the most open administration in history.
“They seem to have reverted to a much more traditional model of secrecy except when it’s politically advantageous,” said Steven Aftergood, who directs the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, and is an expert on – and prominent critic of – government secrecy. “That’s normal but not consistent with their pledge.” ...
Mark Jaycox, a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he doesn’t expect the administration to change much even amid the intense criticism. This administration, he said, has always held fast against similar criticism. For example, it resisted for years bipartisan pressure to release more information about its top-secret targeted killing program.
“It’s a pattern of the Obama administration,” he said.
Tea Party Republicans Backed By Big Corporate Players Following Shutdown
Business groups waged a fierce lobbying campaign last month to convince Republicans to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling, but many of the most influential U.S. corporations have not cut off support to lawmakers who did not heed their appeal.
Eight of the most active business PACs wrote checks totaling $84,750 to 56 Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives after they voted against an Oct. 16 deal to re-open the government that had been shut down since Oct. 1 and avert an imminent debt default, according to a Reuters analysis.
They also gave $246,190 to Democrats and Republicans who voted for the deal.
Political action committees of companies like Honeywell Inc and Northrop Grumman contributed to Republican lawmakers who defied the wishes of the business community during last month's government shutdown, according to disclosure documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Along with Honeywell Inc and Northrop Grumman , Reuters analyzed PACs at AT&T, General Electric , Deloitte & Touche LLP, New York Life Insurance Co, United Parcel Service Inc and the American Bankers Association.
Swiss Voters Decisively Reject a Measure to Put Limits on Executive Pay
Despite opinion polls showing widespread dismay about huge executive paychecks, Swiss voters on Sunday rejected severe limits on executive pay.
The measure, known as the 1:12 initiative because it would have barred executives from earning more than 12 times as much as the lowest-paid employees at their companies, was rejected decisively by 65 percent of voters, according to provisional official results. ...
In March, Swiss voters approved by a wide margin an initiative that broadened shareholders’ power to limit executive pay. Popular support for the measure was perhaps surprising in a generally conservative country that has one of the highest standards of living in the world and unemployment of just above 3 percent. ... The 1:12 initiative was proposed by the youth wing of the Social Democratic Party and supported by the Green Party. As recently as October, the measure appeared to have a chance of passing, but support flagged during the last month in the face of determined opposition by business groups. ...
Supporters of pay limits said they would now turn their attention to a campaign to establish a national minimum wage of 4,000 francs, or $4,400, a month.
After the hunger cliff, a stark Thanksgiving
Welcome to the post-hunger cliff holiday season. At the beginning of November, the federal food stamps program was cut by $5 billion, meaning smaller benefit checks for the 47 million Americans who rely on the program. That cut has made this time of year more precarious than ever for millions of households.
Food pantries around the country are reporting a precipitous rise in the number of new visitors as people who were previously able to make do on food stamps get hit with cuts they can’t afford. It will be a long time before the effect of the cuts can be accurately quantified, but the raw numbers currently being reported are suggestive. ... New York City’s largest emergency food pantry, the Brooklyn-based Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, has reported a 35% increase in clients since November 1. The River Fund food pantry in Queens, which opens its doors to the community every Saturday, reported 824 client visits on one Saturday alone.
“Typically we would see between 600 and 700,” visitors, wrote Otto Starzmann, the pantry’s chief production officer, in an email. “So this is a marked uptick. For next Saturday, we’re bracing ourselves for even more people.”
In northern states, expenses generally increase during the winter months as heating bills rise. A 2010 survey [PDF] by the food bank network Feeding America found that nearly half of its clients—46%, to be exact—had at one point been forced to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities. In addition to losing food stamp money, about 300,000 families across the country have seen their home heating assistance get reduced as a result of the across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
The Evening Greens
U.S. air pollution authority faces Supreme Court tests
The U.S. government's authority to regulate air pollution nationwide, often against the wishes of Republican-leaning states, could face new curbs when the Supreme Court takes on two high-stakes cases in coming months. ...
The cases do not challenge whether the EPA can regulate pollutants, such as greenhouse gases, but instead how it uses the Clean Air Act to regulate a wide range of them.
The EPA's authority to interpret the statute broadly is vital to its mission in the face of resistance from Republicans and a handful of Democrats in Congress and some state governments. In the climate change context in particular, the Clean Air Act is the EPA's main tool for tackling greenhouse gas emissions after the U.S. Senate rejected a cap-and-trade bill in 2010.
In the first case, to be argued on December 10, the nine justices will consider the legality of a rule that regulates air pollution that crosses state lines.
The second case, expected to be scheduled for oral argument in February, concerns a challenge to the Obama administration's first wave of regulations targeting heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
Fracking-Friendly Bills Flourish as Industry Donations Skyrocket
'This week, House Majority Leadership showed that they’ll sacrifice just about anything for the oil and gas industry'
A wave of legislation friendly to the fracking industry in the House of Representative appears to be following skyrocketing donations from the fossil fuel industry.
A Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington report this week reveals that from 2004 to 2012, oil and gas industry contributions to Congressional campaigns climbed 231 percent in fracking states and districts.
Several bills passed in Congress this week suggest these contributions are paying off.
In a landslide 252 to 165 vote, the GOP-controlled House rammed through the fracking industry friendly HR 1900 on Thursday that would fast-track pipeline construction if signed into law.
It follows two other bills passed in the House earlier this week that would make it easier to get fast permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands and roll back federal fracking regulations.
Understanding Warsaw: Capitalism, Climate Change and Neocolonialism
The contradictions of world affairs are shifting into sharp relief in Warsaw. As the denouement of the climate conference approaches, political fissures are appearing that even the most diplomatic and experienced of civil service soothers are unable to paper over. The fractured lives and incendiary event of Typhoon Haiyan have been tossed into the most business-friendly COP yet.
The pain and suffering of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, and the anger of the Filipino delegation, screams for a rebalancing of global priorities for which the rich countries, intent on securing more get-out clauses than there are exits to the Norodowy Stadium, had not bargained. Commenting on Barack Obama's supposedly positive climate action plan, Lucille Sering, secretary of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, disputed its impact: "Somehow, when they negotiate, they always find some way to excuse themselves from doing anything. ... It's always either they can't do this or they can't do that." ...
Despite the absolutely obvious and clear urgency of discussing how countries least responsible for creating climate change and simultaneously least able to respond, even as they are hit the hardest, might gain new financial help from richer nations, the United States, the European Union and Australia all came out with statements in Warsaw saying that finance for extreme weather events would not be discussed until 2015 at the earliest. Similarly swept off the table was an immediately rejected Brazilian proposal for a scientific study to determine the amount of historical emissions for which each country is responsible. ...
To compound the legal, political and moral case, as of 2000, over the previous 30 years, the poorest countries have paid $550 billion in principal and interest to Western financial institutions, on a total debt of $540 billion - yet they still manage to owe $523 billion. For every dollar received in grants, the developing world commits $13 to debt repayment.
Developing nations are therefore fattening the coffers of institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and other Western financial houses by draining funds from desperately needed projects to address poverty, the lack of infrastructure development, agricultural facilities and their ability to adapt to climate change.
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
Meade Lux Lewis - Low Down Dog
Rod Piazza And The Mighty Flyers - Low Down Dog
Meade Lux Lewis - Honky Tonk Train Blues
Keith Emerson & Oscar Peterson - Honky Tonky Train Blues
Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons - Boogie Woogie Prayer
Meade Lux Lewis - Whistlin' Blues
Meade Lux Lewis - Cow Cow Blues
Meade 'Lux' Lewis - Don't Put That Thing in Me
Meade Lux Lewis - Bear Cat Crawl
Meade Lux Lewis - The Boogie Tidal
Meade "Lux" Lewis- Chicago Flyer
Meade Lux Lewis - Tell Your Story
Meade Lux Lewis - Roll 'em
Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis - Twos And Fews
Albert Ammons & Meade Lux Lewis - The Sheik of Araby
Meade "Lux" Lewis- Blues' Whistle
Albert Ammons / Meade "Lux" Lewis / Pete Johnson - Lady Be Good
Meade Lux Lewis - Yancey's Pride
Meade Lux Lewis - Melancholy Blues
Meade Lux Lewis - Doll House Boogie
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!