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This evening's music features Chicago bluesman and harmonica innovator Snooky Pryor.  Enjoy!

Snooky Pryor - How'd You Learn To Shake It Like That


News and Opinion

Obama postures as an opponent of inequality

Having presided for the past five years over an unprecedented growth of social inequality, President Barack Obama, down in the polls because of popular indignation over his fraudulent health care “reform,” adopted the unlikely pose of tribune of egalitarian values in a speech on Wednesday sponsored by the pro-Democratic Party Center for American Progress in Washington DC.

In typical fashion, Obama decried the growth of inequality in America as though he were an innocent bystander and had absolutely no role in the process he was criticizing. The most remarkable aspect of the speech was the contempt for the intelligence of the American people it expressed.

Calling the growth of income inequality the “defining challenge of our time,” Obama declared that “the combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe.”

That this multimillionaire can mouth such a string of clichés with a straight face, when “our way of life” has become a celebration of avarice for the few and a nightmare for the many, only demonstrates his unlimited capacity for hypocrisy. ...

Anyone with a decent respect for the views of ordinary people would feel obliged to explain how this happened under his watch. But Obama did no such thing.

David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show'

America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity. ...

I'm not a Marxist in the sense that I don't think Marxism has a very specific clinical answer to what ails us economically. I think Marx was a much better diagnostician than he was a clinician. ... But he was really sharp about what goes wrong when capital wins unequivocally, when it gets everything it asks for.

That may be the ultimate tragedy of capitalism in our time, that it has achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress. ...

That we've gotten to this point is astonishing to me because basically in winning its victory, in seeing that Wall come down and seeing the former Stalinist state's journey towards our way of thinking in terms of markets or being vulnerable, you would have thought that we would have learned what works. Instead we've descended into what can only be described as greed. This is just greed. This is an inability to see that we're all connected, that the idea of two Americas is implausible, or two Australias, or two Spains or two Frances. ...

And so in my country you're seeing a horror show. You're seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you're seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You're seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs that is in fact merely a war on the poor and has turned us into the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we've put in American prisons and the percentage of Americans we put into prisons. No other country on the face of the Earth jails people at the number and rate that we are.

We have become something other than what we claim for the American dream and all because of our inability to basically share, to even contemplate a socialist impulse.

A Hard Lesson from Motown: They Will Steal Your Pension

News leaking out this week from the Motor City tells how the enormous gap between the pensions workers earned and the money set aside to pay for them will be closed. By stealing from the workers.

Courts, legislatures, and corporations are all working in concert not to pay the full benefits owed. For decades, political and business leaders failed to set aside the right amount of money each payday to cover the pensions workers earned and, in some cases, covered up the mismanagement of pension fund investments.

This is nothing short of theft, as pensions are simply deferred wages, that is, money that workers could have taken as cash in their regular paychecks had they not opted to set it aside. ...

Norman Stein, a Drexel University law professor who is an expert on pensions, said that if the Detroit order stands it will become standard practice to slash benefits

Judges, legislators, corporations are conspiring to steal public pension funds

A pension is deferred wages, not a bill that comes due

Pensions really are deferred wages. At contract negotiation time, when union and management reach a wage agreement, they first agree on total dollars. The union then decides how they want to allocate those dollars. Their choices are — as current wages, as deferred wages (payments to the pension fund), or as health insurance and other benefits. Remember, though; the first agreement is on total dollars. That’s the wage agreement.

It’s against the law to steal wages. But I guess we’ll be finding out whether that’s still true. At one time, it was against the law for a brokerage firm to steal customer funds. Now, not so much, if you’re a member of the protected “lord and master” class.

1 out of 3 Bank Tellers in NY on Public Assistance

Afghan president accuses U.S. of conducting ‘psychological war’ against his country

President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday accused the United States of conducting psychological war against the Afghan people in one of his strongest attacks to date on Washington’s policy in his country. ...

The Afghan leader went on reiterate long-standing grievances over the number of civilians killed by US drone attacks and other military operations against suspected militants.

He said attacks to track down a “self-proclaimed, unknown Taliban were causing suffering and the deaths of women and children.

“Launching psychological war is the act of an adversary,” he said, adding that it appeared to be aimed at getting foreign companies to leave Afghanistan and to withdraw their investments in the country.

“The Americans cannot corner us like this,” he said.

“They cannot benefit from our state of dependance,” Karzai said, terming it a “classic case of colonial exploitation.”

The Phony Pullout From Afghanistan

Those wondering what lies in store for Afghanistan need only look at the way the British Empire ruled Iraq in the 1920’s. As Shakespeare wrote, “what is past is prologue.”

Imperial Britain created the state of Iraq after World War I to secure Mesopotamia’s vast oil deposits that had become vital for the Royal Navy. To control this artificial nation seething with unrest, Britain imposed a puppet king, Faisal, and created a native army commanded by British officers.

Britain’s colonial rule was formalized by the 1930 Anglo-Iraq Treaty, a deal between puppet and master.

But real power in Iraq was held by the Royal Air Force, which was “granted” two permanent bases at Habbaniyah and Basra. The RAF ruled supreme over the open wastes of Iraq.

Winston Churchill, patron saint of today’s war-lusting neoconservatives, authorized the RAF to use poison gas against “unruly” tribesmen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Britain created public institutions and sham political parties in Baghdad that had no links at all to Iraq’s population, which mostly hated their British rulers.

British Iraq was the prologue to today’s Afghanistan. The British Empire’s heir, the American Imperium, plans to duplicate the Iraqi Brittanica in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s US-installed current ruler, Hamid Karzai, a former CIA “asset,” may stay on after 2014 or be replaced by another US-designated president. Change the title of president to king, and, voila!, Iraq’s puppet king, Faisal.

Washington says it will withdraw all US combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014. But read the fine print. As of now, 14,000-16,000 US troops will remain on so-called “anti-terrorism” missions and for “training” – though Washington admits there are not more than 50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan.

In other words, the old British system of white officers commanding native troops. A good $4-5 billion annually from the US and allies will go to hiring up to 400,000 pro-government troops (under US command).

White House scoffs at Seymour Hersh claims that Obama lied about Syrian WMDs

The White House has flatly denied a new report by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh that claims the Obama administration manipulated intelligence reports to support its case for military intervention in Syria.

Hersh, who exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and reported American mistreatment of detainees at Iraq’s Abu Graib prison, said the Obama administration “cherry-picked intelligence” to blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for an Aug. 21 nerve-gas attack.

“In some instances, (President Barack Obama) omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts,” Seymour reported Sunday in The London Review of Books.

“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.” ...

A former senior intelligence official told Hersh that the Obama administration had altered the timing and sequence of some available information to give the appearance that it had been picked up and analyzed in real time, as the attack happened.

The official compared the distortion to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Lyndon B. Johnson administration had reversed the sequence of intelligence intercepts to justify one of the early bombings in North Vietnam.

Here are a couple of the world leader speeches at Mandela's funeral that you won't see on American teevee.  There are others at Democracy Now's site.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff: Mandela Gave World "An Unmatched Example of Humanism"

Cuba's Raúl Castro Praises Nelson Mandela's "Unwavering Dedication to the Revolutionary Struggle"

"The United States had provided surveillance intelligence to the apartheid regime in the early 1960s that located Nelson Mandela in hiding, that led to his arrest and subsequent 27 years in prison."

Nixing Mandela funeral as too costly, Bibi shows world what he's truly made of

In his eleventh-hour decision against attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela, Benjamin Netanyahu proved that he is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He's something worse. ...

The problem is the reason Netanyahu chose to give: Money. The trip would cost too much. The problem, then, is the message Netanyahu has chosen to send:

My Israel, which so craves and demands legitimacy and recognition as a full partner in the community of nations, does not consider a man like Nelson Mandela, or a nation like South Africa, or the sentiment of an entire world, worth the price of a plane flight.

His message is clear: My Israel, which spends untold tens of millions on such matters as bolstering and protecting settlement construction during peace negotiations with the Palestinians, or erecting detention facilities for African asylum seekers rather than formulating coherent and just refugee policies, has nothing left over for this man Mandela.

But that's only the beginning. With a wink and a nod to the settler right, the academic rabid right, and the KKK-esque far right, Netanyahu is sending an even stronger message:

This is where I stand on this Palestinian-lover, Mandela. And this is where I stand on his Palestinian-lover heirs.

israel letter to sa 1974
British police spied on anti-apartheid campaigners for decades

Nelson Mandela is feted today as a hero, but in the past British police put anti-apartheid campaigners under extensive surveillance

British politicians have been queueing up to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela in recent days. There were many times of course when the British establishment did not give him and the anti-apartheid movement such whole-hearted support.

Today Conservative politicians such as David Cameron may laud him as a hero, but back in the day, Cameron's real hero, Margaret Thatcher, denounced the African National Congress as "a typical terrorist organisation". ...

It should also not be forgotten that the British police went to enormous lengths to infiltrate and disrupt the campaign in this country to help sweep away apartheid.

Previously confidential official files released under the freedom of information act show how Special Branch penetrated the Anti-Apartheid Movement from top to bottom over 25 years. The infiltration stretched at least from 1969 to 1995, according to the files.

Snowden document shows Canada set up spy posts for NSA

santa nsaA top secret document retrieved by American whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals Canada has set up covert spying posts around the world and conducted espionage against trading partners at the request of the U.S. National Security Agency.

The leaked NSA document being reported exclusively by CBC News reveals Canada is involved with the huge American intelligence agency in clandestine surveillance activities in “approximately 20 high-priority countries."

Sections of the document with the highest classification make it clear in some instances why American spymasters are particularly keen about enlisting their Canadian counterparts, the Communications Security Establishment Canada.

"CSEC shares with the NSA their unique geographic access to areas unavailable to the U.S," the document says.

The Evening Greens

Fault Lines: Elsipogtog, The Fire Over Water

“Rogue State” Canada “Running Out of Time” on KXL

The Reuters news agency is reporting that Canada is running out of time to offer President Barack Obama some kind of concession on climate change that might allow Obama to approve the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.

Experts have told Reuters that Canadian concessions would make approving KXL more “politically palatable”.

Earlier this year, Obama put climate change issues at the heart of his administration’s review of KXL, telling the Canadians that they could “potentially be doing more” to curb carbon emissions from the tar sands development.

Curbing carbon emissions, at the same time as exploiting the carbon intensive tar sands, is proving difficult as Canada’s oil and gas industry continues to resist costly curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.

The bottom line is that increasing tar sands production will mean that Canada will miss its target of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

This Stock Has Collapsed: Warm Water Cancels Shrimp Season

For the first time in 35 years, fisheries officials have recommended shutting down the 2014 Northern shrimp season in the Gulf of Maine, where water temperatures have been running about 5 degrees warmer than the previous hundred year average. They cite a "collapsed" stock, adding, "Three successive years of recruitment failure and continuing warm temperatures indicate poor prospects for the near future."

Petition site: Gray Wolves in Grave Danger – Deadline 12/16

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering removing nearly all Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states which could lead to a return to devastating state-led wolf hunts.

Nearly 1,400 gray wolves have been trapped or killed in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho in just the two years since gray wolves lost federal protections in those states and another eight collared Yellowstone wolves were killed outside the park's boundaries.

[Click on the link above to sign the petition.]

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Hedges: Shooting the Messenger

The Over-Policing of America and Criminalizing Everyday Life

Stop Spying on Santa!

Future Leaders

Spoiler Alert: Cantor, Dems Amend On Iran Action?

A Little Night Music

Snooky Pryor - Crazy 'Bout My Baby

Snooky Pryor & Mel Brown - Dirty Rat

Snooky Pryor - I've Got My Eyes On You

Snooky Pryor, Johnny Nicholas & Derek O'Brien - Can't Stand Your Evil Ways

Snooky Pryor - Keep Your Fat Mouth Out Of My Business

Snooky Pryor - Judgement Day

Snooky Pryor - Fire, Fire

Snooky Pryor - School Day

Homesick James & Snooky Pryor - I Believed I Get Married

Snooky Pryor & Mel Brown - Let Your Hair Down, Woman

The Kendall Wall Band w/Snooky Pryor & Morgan Davis - My Baby's Been Gone

Snooky Pryor - Stockyard Blues

Snooky Pryor - Boogy Fool

Snooky Pryor - I Want To Go Fishin'

Snooky Pryor + Johnny Shines -  Trouble In Mind

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 Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Team DFH and Canadian Kossacks.

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