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.
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This evening's music is provided by Keith930 and features multi-instrumentalist David Lindley. Enjoy!
GE Smith & David Lindley - Play It All Night Long
“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
Air strike kills 15 civilians in Yemen by mistake: officials
Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.
The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.
"An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital," one security official said.
Five more people were injured, the officials said.
The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network.
Snowden: 'Surveillance of the Public Must Be Debated by the Public'
At a Wednesday evening reception in Washington, DC, [Edward Snowden] the thirty-year-old former surveillance contractor was honored by Foreign Policy magazine by being placed at the #1 spot on its annual list of 100 Leading Global Thinkers (interactive).
"Today we stand at the crossroads of policy, where parliaments and presidents on every continent are grappling with how to bring meaningful oversight to the darkest corners of our national security bureaucracies," Snowden said in remarks prepared for the occasion. "The stakes are high. James Madison warned that our freedoms are most likely to be abridged by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power. I bet my life on the idea that together, in the light of day, we can find a better balance."
According to Foreign Policy, Snowden was chosen for special note not just because he has become "the public face of an international debate over surveillance," but because his actions have had enormous and verifiable international impact, including compelling "foreign governments targeted by U.S. spying to seek a U.N. resolution about the rights of individuals to retain their privacy on the Internet."
[Snowden's full statement follows:]It's an honor to address you tonight. I apologize for being unable to attend in person, but I’ve been having a bit of passport trouble. Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras also regrettably could not accept their invitations. As it turns out, revealing matters of "legitimate concern" nowadays puts you on the list for more than "Global Thinker" awards.
2013 has been an important year for civil society. As we look back on the events of the past year and their implications for the state of surveillance within the United States and around the world, I suspect we will remember this year less for the changes in policies that are sure to come, than for changing our minds. In a single year, people from Indonesia to Indianapolis have come to realize that dragnet surveillance is not a mark of progress, but a problem to be solved.
We've learned that we've allowed technological capabilities to dictate policies and practices, rather than ensuring that our laws and values guide our technological capabilities. And take notice: this awareness, and these sentiments, are held most strongly among the young – those with lifetimes of votes ahead of them.
Even those who may not be persuaded that our surveillance technologies have dangerously outpaced democratic controls should agree that in democracies, surveillance of the public must be debated by the public. No official may decide the limit of our rights in secret.
Today we stand at the crossroads of policy, where parliaments and presidents on every continent are grappling with how to bring meaningful oversight to the darkest corners of our national security bureaucracies. The stakes are high. James Madison warned that our freedoms are most likely to be abridged by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power. I bet my life on the idea that together, in the light of day, we can find a better balance.
I'm grateful to Foreign Policy Magazine and the many others helping to expose those encroachments and to end that silence.
With the NSA looking for terrorists on video games, it's now time to be afraid
The expanding digital net of our nation's security agencies appears to have stretched to the point of absurdity.
What else are we to make of the news that our spies infiltrated online games like "World of Warcraft" and "Second Life" to hunt for terrorist plots -- without any evidence that's where the terrorists were plotting? ...
The agents pretended to be players, tried to recruit informers and collected data and conversations.
But according to the Snowden documents, there were so many agents from American intelligence agencies on "Second Life" that the bosses worried that spy avatars were colliding into each other -- and maybe spying on each other. A "deconfliction" group was created to keep avatars and identities straight. ...
The foray into gaming is the most solid evidence we have that there are few controls on what our security agencies do. They can go on a digital fishing expedition with no real target in mind. The documents make scant mention of people's rights to privacy or legal constraints such as getting a warrant. There is no weighing of risks and benefits. It's all about what interesting games spies can play, not whether they should.
Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agrees. "This shows that the NSA wants a world in which there is no privacy, no spaces outside the watchful eye of the government, and without oversight," he told me.
Exactly What the State Says to Deceive You About Surveillance
Remember when multiple Obama Administration figures said the NSA doesn't collect cell-phone location data? It turns out that wasn't true.
[Follow the link for a redux of NSA distortions, misleading assertions, "least untruthful" responses and lies.]
Obama Administration officials carried out all this deception even though they knew that Snowden's cache would likely reveal the truth about the collection of location data. Sure enough, the truth came out a few months later, but it wouldn't be correct to suggest that their efforts had no consequences. Their behavior on this matter perfectly illustrates why neither the press nor the public should ever take anything a surveillance-state official says at face value. Even if they usually (though not always) say things that are technically true, they are also masters of deception, willing to egregiously mislead with their rhetoric if doing so will help them maintain maximum secrecy a bit longer.
Glenn Greenwald: What I've Learned
Eisenhower laid out the challenge fifty years ago, right? That these institutions are becoming more powerful than democratically elected leaders. And there hasn’t been somebody since who’s been willing to embrace the existence of that danger, let alone take it on. The promise of the Obama candidacy was that he would make Washington work for different interests. And that’s exactly what didn’t happen. When people perceive that things have gone dramatically wrong enough, that’s when it will happen. ...
I’d like to see Internet systems that are routed places other than the United States, to thwart their control. I’d like to see countries band together to raise the cost of allowing U.S. corporations and the U.S. government to construct this spying system. I’d like to see other big Internet corporations crop up that are geared toward protecting privacy rather than destroying it, to compete with the companies that don’t seem to value that much. I’d like to see ongoing eyes being opened to the role of the United States in the world and what its relationship is to their countries.
The Peaceful Protest the US Military Doesn't Want World to See
First it was the force-feedings, genital searches, and transfers to solitary confinement. Then came the media blackout.
In its latest bid to deprive Guantánamo Bay inmates of what Algerian prisoner Ahmed Belbacha has called their "sole peaceful means" of protest, the U.S. military announced it will stop providing information to the press about the ongoing hunger strikes within the notorious offshore prison.
"The hunger strike has been the only way the prisoners can effectively protest and force world attention back on Guantánamo Bay," said Omar Farah, staff attorney for Center for Constitutional Rights, in an interview with Common Dreams. "The government has tried to undermine that in many ways. We saw that in the summer with raids on Camp 6 and forcing prisoners into solitary confinement. This is a new and different way to silence the protests."
In an interview with Al Jazeera-America published Wednesday, Navy Commander John Filostrat acknowledged that the withholding of information is a deliberate move to undermine public knowledge of a protest that has garnered international support. “It’s [the strikers'] desire to draw attention to themselves, and so we’re not going to help them do that," he stated. ...
162 people are still incarcerated at the military prison in Cuba that has been widely condemned for abusive and inhumane conditions, systematic torture, and lack of due process—including indefinite detentions without trial or formal charges. More than half of all inmates languish in prison despite having been cleared for release.
U.S., Britain suspend aid to north Syria after Islamists seize weapons store
The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria after Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in the wrong hands.
The rebel Free Syrian Army fighting President Bashar al-Assad said the U.S. and British moves were rushed and mistaken. "We hope our friends will rethink and wait for a few days when things will be clearer," FSA spokesman Louay Meqdad said.
The suspension underlines a crisis for the FSA leadership, which needs international backing to reinforce its credibility and to stop its fighters joining al Qaeda-backed Islamist militants who now dominate the war with Assad.
Fighters from the Islamic Front, which groups six major rebel brigades and which said last week it had quit the FSA, seized headquarters of the Syrian Military Council, nominally in charge of the FSA, and weapons warehouses at the Bab al-Hawa crossing on Syria's northwestern border with Turkey.
A U.S. official said FSA leader General Salim Idriss had fled into Turkey during the takeover of the warehouses, which contained trucks, food, medical packs and communication equipment including laptops and radios.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based anti-Assad monitoring group, said the Islamic Front had seized anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons from the SMC arms stores in fighting on Saturday.
Jeremy Scahill Accuses US Government Of Executing Bin Laden - 'An Unarmed, Elderly Man'
“My personal opinion is that they executed Bin Laden,” begins Jeremy Scahill, unblinkingly.
“If you strip it down, what you had is an unarmed elderly man, in his bedroom, shot in the face by the most elite force in the world. Almost everything that the White House officials told us that happened in the compound that night turned out to be a total fabrication.
“I would have loved to have seen Bin Laden put on trial for his crimes. He had been indicted, in the 1990s, and was a reprehensible criminal, but I don’t believe for one second they were given orders to capture him, I think the whole point was to kill him.”
“I wasn’t like, boo hoo, Bin Laden’s dead, but I wasn’t jumping. America’s a very nationalistic country, and in episodes like that of his death, it becomes jingoism. People are drinking, dancing in the street, chanting USA like they’re at the World Cup, like they won it… It’s sick that we turned it into a sporting event.”
Will Shifting Loyalties in the Middle East (and Fracking) Bring Truth about 9/11?Obama nailed for hypocrisy again:
As the IBT reported yesterday, Congressman Walter Jones recently managed to get intelligence gatekeeper Mike Rogers to share the 28 redacted pages of the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry into 9/11 that show Saudi involvement in the plot.It took Jones six weeks and several letters to the House Intelligence Committee before the classified pages from the 9/11 report were made available to him. Jones was so stunned by what he saw that he approached Rep. Lynch, asking him to look at the 28 pages as well. He knew that Lynch would be astonished by the contents of the documents and perhaps would join in a bipartisan effort to declassify the papers.He has now joined with Stephen Lynch in an effort to allow all of us to read about Saudi involvement in 9/11.
“I was absolutely shocked by what I read,” Jones told International Business Times. ”What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me. I cannot go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain confidential. But the information I read disappointed me greatly.”And it’s not just the original findings about Saudi financial support for the terrorists. As IBT also notes, more recent reporting from Florida reveals possible ties between Saudi princes and the hijackers.
The public may soon also get to see these secret documents. Last week, Jones and Lynch introduced a resolution that urges President Obama to declassify the 28 pages, which were originally classified by President George W. Bush.
Palestinians draw parallels with Mandela's anti-apartheid struggle
The death of Nelson Mandela has given fresh impetus to Palestinian efforts to portray the Israeli occupation as a form of apartheid that should be confronted with a similar international campaign that took on South Africa's white regime.
Mandela's message of solidarity from a 1997 speech in which he said "our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians", has been repeatedly invoked across Palestine in the past week. ...
Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail who is sometimes described as a potential "Palestinian Mandela", wrote an open letter to the late South African leader: "From within my prison cell, I tell you that our freedom seems possible because you reached yours. Apartheid did not prevail in South Africa, and apartheid shall not prevail in Palestine.... The ties between our struggles are everlasting."
On Wednesday, 12 Palestinian human rights groups published a statement commemorating Mandela, saying "the success of the South African struggle against apartheid... provides us with faith that we, the Palestinian people, will also succeed in our struggle against the Israeli occupation and its practices of apartheid and colonialism."
Mandela Was a Terrorist
That’s just a fact. He was also the father of his country, and I believe he was a great man and a good man. In 1985 he was offered release from jail if he would unconditionally renounce violence, he refused.
One might want to think about the fact that a great man and a good man was a terrorist. ...
The problem here is the word terrorist is meaningless. A word we use to demonize others. ...
Terrorism seems to be different from what governments do only in that it is not sanctioned by government and kills a lot less people.
One could say “only political violence sanctioned by a State is legitimate” and that would be far closer to the real meaning of “terrorism” as we use the word. A terrorist is someone who does, less effectively, what the State does, without a State saying “this is ok” ...
When is violence legitimate? Who is a terrorist? If we want to keep the word terrorist as something more than a propaganda tool, do we have to acknowledge that sometimes terrorism is legitimate? If not, can we pretend that what States do that is no different except that it is sanctioned by a State? Where do we change from Terrorist to War Criminal? Mandela was a terrorist, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are War Criminals? The difference being that Bush and Obama killed a ton more people without nearly as legitimate a reason as opposition to Apartheid?
Ohioans Elect Two Dozen City Councilors on Independent Labor Ticket
After one too many sell-outs by the local Democratic Party, the Lorain County central labor council decided to draw "a line in the sand" and run their own city council candidates on an Independent Labor Party ticket.
Union-dense Lorain County, Ohio, is now home to an independent labor slate of two dozen newly elected city councilors—recruited and run by the central labor council there. All labor’s candidates had strong showings last month, and all but two were elected.
“This was a step we took reluctantly,” said Lorain County AFL-CIO President Harry Williamson. “When the leaders of the [Democratic] Party just took us for granted and tried to roll over the rights of working people here, we had to stand up.”
A series of disputes between organized labor and the Democratic leadership led the labor council and its allies to recruit and run their own slate in this Democratic stronghold, home of Ohio’s largest steel and auto facilities.
Obama hires retreads from Clinton admin to salvage failing administration
John D. Podesta, who was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and is one of the Democratic Party’s most experienced strategists, is joining the White House to help President Obama salvage what has become a difficult second term.
Podesta, who has been an outside adviser to Obama since leading his presidential transition after the 2008 election, will formally join his inner circle as White House counselor for a year, according to sources familiar with the move.
Podesta’s arrival comes at a critical juncture for Obama, as the president tries to regain credibility after the flawed rollout of the insurance marketplaces under his signature health-care law. Obama also has recruited Phil Schiliro, the legislative affairs director during the president’s first term and a veteran congressional operative, to return to the White House and spearhead health-care issues.
The Evening Greens
TransCanada Begins Injecting Oil Into Keystone XL Southern Half; Exact Start Date A Mystery
Keystone XL's southern half is one step closer to opening for business. TransCanada announced that "on Saturday, December 7, 2013, the company began to inject oil into the Gulf Coast Project pipeline as it moves closer to the start of commercial service."
The Sierra Club's legal challenge to stop the pipeline was recently denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, so the southern half, battled over for years between the industry and environmentalists, will soon become a reality.
According to a statement provided to DeSmog by TransCanada, "Over the coming weeks, TransCanada will inject about three million of [sic] barrels of oil into the system, beginning in Cushing, Oklahoma and moving down to the company’s facilities in the Houston refining area."
In mid-January, up to 700,000 barrels per day of Alberta's tar sands diluted bitumen (dilbit) could begin flowing through the 485-mile southern half of TransCanada's pipeline, known as the Gulf Coast Project. Running from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas, the southern half of the pipeline was approved by both a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit 12 and an Executive Order from President Barack Obama in March 2012.
Exxon Presses to End U.S. Ban on Oil Exports
Exxon Mobil Corp., the nation's largest energy producer, is calling for the U.S. to lift restrictions on exporting domestic oil that date back to the Arab oil embargo of 1973.
The Irving, Texas, company's public support for crude exports comes as it forecasts decades of abundant supplies of petroleum in the U.S. and elsewhere as well as increasing global demand for oil, according to its annual energy outlook set to be released on Thursday. ...
Oil and gas are becoming more abundant, Exxon contends, as new technologies make it possible to draw the fuels from deep under the world's oceans, oil sands deposits and tight rock formations like shale. The sheer abundance of oil and gas in the U.S. poses challenges for Exxon. Booming production has overwhelmed U.S. demand, pushing domestic prices lower and eroding profit margins for energy producers.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' is on hiatus
A Little Night Music
David Lindley Ukes! at the 2012 Reno Ukulele Festival
Ry Cooder + David Lindley - Jesus on the Mainline
David Lindley - Ain't No Way
David Lindley & Wally Ingram - Cat Food Sandwiches
David Lindley & Wally Ingram - Spodie
Ry Cooder & David Lindley - Vigilante Man
David Lindley - Little Sadie
David Lindley - Papa Was A Rolling Stone
David Lindley - The Indifference of Heaven
Jackson Browne & David Lindley - Tikki Torches At Twilight
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!