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 Louisiana bluesman Silas Hogan. Enjoy!
Silas Hogan - Everybody Needs Somebody
“How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?”
― Howard Zinn
Here are a bunch of photos that I took the other day when we had a meet-up at Longwood Gardens:
News and Opinion
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure who did what in the early morning of 21 August.
He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’ Obama’s certainty was echoed at the time by Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, who told the New York Times: ‘No one with whom I’ve spoken doubts the intelligence’ directly linking Assad and his regime to the sarin attacks.
Revealed: spy agencies' covert push to infiltrate virtual world of online games
NSA and GCHQ collect gamers' chats and deploy real-life agents into World of Warcraft and Second Life
To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency's impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.
That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing online games, according to secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The files were obtained by the Guardian and are being published on Monday in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica.
The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which boasts more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games' tech-friendly users.
Games, the analyst wrote "are an opportunity!". According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a "deconfliction" group was required to ensure they weren't spying on, or interfering with, each other.
If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the the NSA document. They could be used as a window for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people's social networks through "buddylists and interaction", to make approaches by undercover agents, and to obtain target identifiers (such as profile photos), geolocation, and collection of communications.
World of Spycraft: NSA and CIA Spied in Online Games
This story has been reported in partnership between The New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica based on documents obtained by The Guardian.
The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players, according to the documents, disclosed by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. Because militants often rely on features common to video games — fake identities, voice and text chats, a way to conduct financial transactions — American and British intelligence agencies worried that they might be operating there, according to the papers.
But for all their enthusiasm — so many CIA, FBI and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat.
The documents do not cite any counterterrorism successes from the effort, and former American intelligence officials, current and former gaming company employees and outside experts said in interviews that they knew of little evidence that terrorist groups viewed the games as havens to communicate and plot operations.
Spies’ Dragnet Reaches a Playing Field of Elves and Trolls
Games “are built and operated by companies looking to make money, so the players’ identity and activity is tracked,” said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, an author of “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.” “For terror groups looking to keep their communications secret, there are far more effective and easier ways to do so than putting on a troll avatar.”
Contractors Receive Huge Raise on Same Day Income Inequality Discussed
On the same day that the President spoke eloquently and fervently about the rising income inequality in the United States, the ever-contractor-friendly Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) increased the maximum amount of contractor compensation that can be charged to government contracts from a mere $763,029 per employee per year to what OFPP apparently considers a much more reasonable $952,308 per employee per year. This increase primarily affects the employees of the largest government contractors—most notably defense and information technology firms. So taxpayers are now on the hook for paying up to nearly $1 million for every one of these contractor executives or employees every year.
OMB tried to excuse its scheme to enrich the wealthiest contractor executives and employees by including shallow lamentations that on the surface appear to decry the need for such a large increase in allowable compensation (OFPP acted similarly when the cap was raised in 2012). The OFPP notice essentially cries that “Congress makes us do it,” but the truth is, raising the contractor compensation cap is a discretionary act, which OFPP has managed to turn into a nearly annual contractor feeding frenzy—this year it becomes a massive holiday bonus for contractors, all while agencies are being asked to do more with less.
To add a final insult to injury, OFPP made the change retroactive to January 1, 2012, for most firms.
Internet companies demand spying overhaul after NSA revelations – live reaction
Eight American tech companies including Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have written to Barack Obama demanding an overhaul of US surveillance laws
Commenting on the tech giants' letter, Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union said:The tech giants' message couldn't be any clearer or more welcome - the government's massive spying authorities must to be reined in immediately.
Widespread support for reform will only continue to grow until Congress and the administration deal with out-of-control spying head on by prohibiting indiscriminate surveillance.
Police In Thailand Lay Down Vests and Barricades In Solidarity With Protestors
In a stunning turn of events today in Thailand, riot police yielded to the peaceful protesters they were ordered to harass and block. They police removed barricades and their helmets as a sign of solidarity.
The protesters explain that their goal is to destroy the political machine of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is accused of widespread corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin’s sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, is currently in power, and is seen as a puppet of her brother. ...
The move by police has surprised many, and marks a turning point in the protests and a potential shift in power.
St. Louis Church Ordered To Stop Handing Out Hot Meals To The Homeless
On Sunday, a Missouri street church that serves hot meals to the homeless was honored with a front-page feature in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. On Monday, city health department officials took notice and told the group to immediately cease handing out food. ...
Unlike most congregations, Churches on the Streets has no building to call home. They meet, with the private owners’ permission, at the Cotton Belt Rail Depot. “You have to go where there is need,” Ralph Valdes, an organizer with the church, told the Post-Dispatch. “A lot of the people here don’t feel welcome in the churches, which is sad. So we try to put out the idea that you are accepted here, that there is hope.” ...
But on Monday, the St. Louis City Department of Health told Churches on the Streets that they must cease serving hot homemade meals because they lack a permit.
The group had previously believed they were in the clear because they were serving food on private property, but Pat Mahoney, a supervisor in the health department, explained that that isn’t the case. “They’re doing a good thing, they really are,” Mahoney said. “It’s because they’re serving the public. The moment you start inviting the public to attend, that’s when we get into it.”
The Evening Greens
Welcome to Gasland: Denton, Texas Residents Face Fracking Impacts From EagleRidge Energy
In Denton, Texas, 40 miles northwest of Dallas, residents and students at the University of North Texas are getting a free course in what it’s like to live in the middle of a fracking field.
Although Denton officials created an ordinance mandating that fracking sites be at least 1,200 feet from homes, sites with gas wells already in place are exempt from the new rule. Some are less than 200 feet away from homes. Since Denton is full of existing drill pads, many find themselves living in the shadow of a fracking installation that exposes them to chemicals, noise and bright lights. ...
In February 2012, the Denton city council passed a temporary moratorium on fracking. It was a minor victory as industry used the “vested rights” loophole that allows them to work on sites with existing gas wells.
When the students and larger numbers of the public began attending city council meetings, industry started to bring in their own representatives. Hinojosa says, "Fake grassroots organizations would send vans full of people with prepared speeches that claimed fracking to be safe and clean. No matter how hard we worked on our speeches, our voices seemed mute compared to the fracking industry."
Texas Fracking Executive Mark Grawe Threatened to Label Residents "Terrorists"
Eagleridge Inc. Chief Operations Officer Mark Grawe brought an armed cop with him to a November 13 Homeowners Association meeting in Mansfield, a suburb of Fort Worth, Tex., and told residents that anyone who protested his company's gas wells — some of which are located less than 200 feet from homes, schools and playgrounds — would find themselves on Department of Homeland Security terrorist watch lists.
Though “terrorism” is understood to mean the use of violence and intimidation for political coercion, Grawe showed no sense of irony bringing a guard armed with a gun, a taser and a can of pepper spray to a neighborhood meeting to help deliver his pro-fracking message.
A Note From Joel Salatin
Why do we need more farmers? What is the driving force behind USDA policy? In an infuriating epiphany I have yet to metabolize, I found out Wednesday in a private policy-generation meeting with Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McCauliffe. ...
The big surprise occurred a few minutes into the meeting: US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack walked in. He was in Terry McCauliffe love-in mode. And here is what he told us: for the first time–2012– rural America lost population in real numbers–not as a percentage but in real numbers. It’s down to 16 percent of total population.
I’m sitting there thinking he’s going to say that number needs to go up so we have more people to love and steward the landscape. More people to care for earthworms. More people to grow food and fiber.
Are you ready for the shoe to drop? The epiphany? What could the US Secretary of Agriculture, at the highest strategic planning sessions of our land, be challenged by other leaders to change this figure, to get more people in rural America, to encourage farming and help more farms get started? What could be the driving reason to have more farmers? Why does he go to bed at night trying to figure out how to increase farmers? How does the President and other cabinet members view his role as the nation’s farming czar? ...
Are you ready? Here’s his answer: although rural America only has 16 percent of the population, it gives 40 percent of the personnel to the military. Say what? You mean when it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, the bottom line–you know all the cliches–the whole reason for increasing farms is to provide cannon fodder for American imperial might. He said rural kids grow up with a sense of wanting to give something back, and if we lose that value system, we’ll lose our military might.
So folks, it all boils down to American military muscle. It’s not about food, healing the land, stewarding precious soil and resources; it’s all about making sure we keep a steady stream of youngsters going into the military.
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
Silas Hogan - You're too late baby
Silas Hogan - Ain't It Sad
Silas Hogan - Lonesome La La
Silas Hogan - Hoodooman Blues
Silas Hogan - Rats And Roaches In My Kitchen
Silas Hogan - I'm in Love With You
Silas Hogan - I'm Gonna Quit You Pretty Baby
Silas Hogan - Every Saturday Night
Silas Hogan - Honey Bee Blues
Silas Hogan - Just Give Me a Chance
Silas Hogan - Out And Down Blues
Silas Hogan - So Glad
Silas Hogan - Baby Please Come Back To Me
Silas Hogan - Airport Blues
Silas Hogan - Looking For My Baby
Silas Hogan - Tell Me Baby
Silas Hogan - If I Ever Need You Baby
Silas Hogan - Sweet Little Things You Do
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!