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 innovators of boogie woogie piano playing, Albert Ammons. Enjoy!
Albert Ammons & Pete Johnson - Boogie Woogie Dream
“One hundred years ago, everyone could have personal privacy. You and your friend could walk into an empty field, look around to see that no one else was nearby, and have a level of privacy that has forever been lost. As Whitfield Diffie has said: "No right of private conversation was enumerated in the Constitution. I don't suppose it occurred to anyone at the time that it could be prevented”
-- Bruce Schneier
News and Opinion
Starts about 3 minutes in:
Glenn Greenwald addresses European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Merkel compared NSA to Stasi in heated encounter with Obama
In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up. ...
Livid after learning from Der Spiegel magazine that the Americans were listening in to her personal mobile phone, Merkel confronted Obama with the accusation: "This is like the Stasi."
The newspaper also reported that Merkel was particularly angry that, based on the disclosures, "the NSA clearly couldn't be trusted with private information, because they let Snowden clean them out."
Snowden is to testify on the NSA scandal to a European parliament inquiry next month, to the anger of Washington which is pressuring the EU to stop the testimony.
Snap Out of It
If you have been lulled into a state of somnolence about former government contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations that the government is collecting records of every phone call you’ve made, for years, it’s time to snap out of it. That’s the bracing effect of Judge Richard Leon’s Monday ruling that the National Security Agency is probably violating the Constitution with its 7-year-old program for collecting “telephony metadata”—the euphonic phrase for whom you call and whom you receive calls from.
In June, when we learned about this NSA program in the first wave of news about the huge trove of documents that Snowden leaked, some responses were too dismissive, saying that what the NSA is doing isn’t all that invasive, since this isn’t about the contents of phone calls, and in any case, collecting and trawling through all that metadata is a crucial tool for thwarting imminent terrorist attacks. Judge Leon didn’t accept the first claim and has eviscerated the second one. This is what judicial review is all about—checking government power and calling government bullshit. And it comes today from a judge appointed by President George W. Bush who has previously ruled in favor of “expansive government power,” as Glenn Greenwald, breaker of much of the Snowden news, puts it. In other words, if Judge Leon didn’t buy the government’s argument about why it needs to collect and keep all this metadata, other judges—and many of the rest of us—may see it the same way.
NSA’s Top Geek: ‘I Don’t Know’ If There’s Another Snowden
On June 17, Chris Inglis, the deputy director of the National Security Agency, and Lonny Anderson, the agency's director of technology, went to the White House to brief officials on one of the biggest leaks of classified information in U.S. history. ... White House officials asked Anderson, who manages the agency's computer networks, point blank: "Is there another Snowden?"
"I don't know," Anderson replied. As he recalled months later, "That wasn't the answer they were hoping to hear."
It was a frightening conclusion, but a logical one. That's because, contrary to much of what's been reported about Snowden's work at the NSA, it wasn't his position as a systems administrator and the broad access to networks and databases that came with it that allowed him to steal so many secrets. Rather, Anderson said, "the lion's share" of the information Snowden obtained was available to him because of his top-secret security clearance -- TS/SCI -- which allowed him to access so-called sensitive compartmented information.
That's an important distinction, because it means any number of the thousands of people at the NSA with the same clearance level could have done what Snowden did -- not just the smaller number of systems administrators, who have a kind of "super user" access that isn't granted to all other employees. That helps explain why Anderson couldn't tell the White House that there were no more Snowdens. Theoretically, there could have been thousands of them.
Under Amazon’s CIA Cloud: The Washington PostOh looky, some senators don't like it when CIA stonewalling points out what a joke congressional oversight of the intel community is.
News media should illuminate conflicts of interest, not embody them. But the owner of the Washington Post is now doing big business with the Central Intelligence Agency, while readers of the newspaper’s CIA coverage are left in the dark.
The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon -- which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA. But the Post’s articles about the CIA are not disclosing that the newspaper’s sole owner is the main owner of CIA business partner Amazon. ...
Amazon has a bad history of currying favor with the U.S. government’s “national security” establishment. The media watch group FAIR pointed out what happened after WikiLeaks published State Department cables: “WikiLeaks was booted from Amazon’s webhosting service AWS. So at the height of public interest in what WikiLeaks was publishing, readers were unable to access the WikiLeaks website.”
How’s that for a commitment to the public’s right to know?
CIA nominee Caroline Krass angers intelligence committee by claiming legal opinions on torture are beyond its scope
An argument about a secret congressional committee's ability to review the US intelligence agencies exploded into rare public view on Tuesday as angry senators demanded legal memos from a nominee to run the CIA's legal office.
Caroline Krass, a top justice department lawyer, sparked the ire of several Senate intelligence committee members by claiming that crucial legal opinions about intelligence matters were beyond the scope of the committee.
Asked directly and repeatedly if the Senate panel was entitled to the memos, which several senators claimed were crucial for performing their oversight functions, Krass replied: "I do not think so, as a general matter." ...
The Senate intelligence committee, whose public hearings are increasingly rare, is usually a bastion of support for the CIA and its sister intelligence agencies. The exception is the committee's prolonged fight with the CIA over a 6,300-page report on the agency's torture of terrorism detainees in its custody since 9/11. ...
The panel said at the hearing that the CIA is stalling on the provision of documents to the committee that will help it complete its work. Krass, a former White House official who worked alongside Brennan there, did not assure the committee she would help provide them.
9/11 suspect ejected by Gitmo judge after mentioning secret CIA prisons
One of the men suspected of planning the September 11, 2001 attacks was twice ejected from a US military court Tuesday after making outbursts about secret CIA prisons and torture.
Yemeni defendant Ramzi Binalshibh, who is accused of helping the hijackers enter the United States and of financing the airliner attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, also claimed that the judge hearing the case was biased. ...
The suspect’s departure came shortly after his lawyer suggested that guards were using sleep deprivation tactics at the US military prison’s notoriously tightly-guarded Camp Seven.
“He could not sleep at all last night because of the noise he is exposed to,” said Navy Lieutenant Commander Kevin Bogucki. “He is too tired to pay attention.” ...
Commander Bogucki said Binalshibh’s cell was continually subjected to banging and knocking sounds — an allegation the US government denies, but which the judge said had not been proven either way. ...
After being warned that it was not his time to speak, the Yemeni suspect, whose alleged crimes include helping the hijackers find flight schools in the United States, cited the words “secret CIA prison” during a muffled speech.
Judge Pohl then told Binalshibh — who the defense insists is not delusional — that he would be removed if he did not stop talking. But the suspect continued and US military guards were instructed to take him to the court’s holding cell.
Court finds S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley violated civil rights by arresting Occupy protesters
A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) could be sued for violating the civil rights of Occupy Columbia protesters who were removed from the Statehouse grounds and arrested in 2011.
A month after the activists set up tents on the Statehouse grounds in October of 2011, Haley ordered the Bureau of Protective Services to arrest anyone who camped at the site past 6 p.m. in the evening. Officers eventually placed zip ties on the wrists of a number of protesters and took them to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.
Trespassing charges against the protesters were dropped two weeks later.
In the Monday ruling, the court found that Haley had violated the civil rights of the protesters because there was no regulation in place preventing camping on the Statehouse grounds.
AP survey: US income gap is holding back economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The growing gap between the richest Americans and everyone else isn't bad just for individuals.
It's hurting the U.S. economy.
So says a majority of more than three dozen economists surveyed last week by The Associated Press. Their concerns tap into a debate that's intensified as middle-class pay has stagnated while wealthier households have thrived.
A key source of the economists' concern: Higher pay and outsize stock market gains are flowing mainly to affluent Americans. Yet these households spend less of their money than do low- and middle-income consumers who make up most of the population but whose pay is barely rising.
"What you want is a broader spending base," says Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James, a financial advisory firm. "You want more people spending money."
Spending by wealthier Americans, given the weight of their dollars, does help drive the economy. But analysts say the economy would be better able to sustain its growth if the riches were more evenly dispersed. For one thing, a plunge in stock prices typically leads wealthier Americans to cut sharply back on their spending.
Progressives on the Take
[President Obama's] tough speech on income inequality earlier this month was delivered at the Center for American Progress, founded by John Podesta. As chief of staff to Bill Clinton, Podesta helped lead the charge to deregulate Wall Street, which resulted in the banking bubble that wiped out the savings of tens of millions of Americans.
But instead of chastising Podesta for the errors of his ways, Obama in 2008 appointed him to oversee his presidential transition team. That led to the appointment of Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner, two former Clinton officials responsible for the banking meltdown, to repair it. Just this past week, it was announced that John Podesta would be reappointed as a senior adviser to the Obama White House. ...
As The New York Times reported after John Podesta’s recent appointment, he will “arrive at the White House after having run an organization that has taken millions of dollars in corporate donations in recent years and has its own team of lobbyists who have pushed an agenda that sometimes echoes the interests of these corporate supporters.”
Podesta will be welcomed at the White House by chief of staff Denis McDonough who was a senior fellow at CAP, and Obama communications director Jennifer Palmieri who was a lobbyist for the organization. They are the faces of the so-called progressive wing of the Democratic Party that, like the president himself, will talk a good game of reducing income inequality, while catering to the interests of the very corporations that have initiated the problem. ...
Democrats bear as much responsibility as Republicans for allowing our once promising democracy to degenerate into a plutocracy of the irresponsible super-rich. It is they who betrayed the New Deal legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to rein in the Wall Street greed that caused so much suffering for ordinary folks. Obama is great at bemoaning a reality that his party helped establish.
Lament of the Plutocrats
On a recent afternoon, executives at Goldman Sachs invited a few hundred major investors to the Conrad Hotel in lower Manhattan. The bankers and their guests filed into a large room and turned their eyes to Hillary Clinton.
Ordinarily these masters of the universe might have groaned at the idea of a politician taking the microphone. In the contentious years since the crash of 2008, they’ve grown wearily accustomed to being called names—labeled “fat cats" by President Obama and worse by those on the left—and gotten used to being largely shunned by Tea Party Republicans for their association with the Washington establishment. And of course there are all those infuriating new rules and regulations, culminating this week with the imposition of the so-called Volcker Rule to make risky trades by big banks illegal.
But Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish. Striking a soothing note on the global financial crisis, she told the audience, in effect: We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it. What the bankers heard her to say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy—it needs to stop. And indeed Goldman’s Tim O’Neill, who heads the bank’s asset management business, introduced Clinton by saying how courageous she was for speaking at the bank. (Brave, perhaps, but also well-compensated: Clinton’s minimum fee for paid remarks is $200,000).
Finance Executives Are Confused About Why the Nation Loathes Them
Last week’s Politico Magazine ran a story quoting Wall Street executives who have become saddened and bewildered by how little pull they have in Washington:“… it may be the first time since the Great Depression that the New York banker class has been this disconnected from both parties simultaneously. The pervasive dismay, alienation and hopelessness comes through in recent conversations with CEOs, hedge fund managers and private equity officials—all of them major Wall Street donors who’ve seen their influence in Washington tested and who are now uncertain whether and how to re-engage. ‘Like the rest of America, Wall Street is looking at Washington and saying whether we agree or disagree, they’re looking at both parties with complete revulsion,’ one private equity executive told us.”The executives, almost all of whom declined to go on the record, say they don’t feel they’ve enjoyed either public respect or a private connection with the Obama administration. At the same time, they feel Mitt Romney was a terrible messenger, and they’ve been “turned off” by the Republicans this year. This puts the executives in a strange and awkward position: They don’t know who to give their money to.
The article doesn’t name specific policy grievances the bankers have. It’s possible that’s because they don’t really have that much to complain about. ... These specifics are not to be found among the bankers’ anonymous laments to Politico. Their complaints come down to respect. They don’t feel they’re getting it, in the pre-2008 sense that they get every meeting and everything they want. The article inadvertently builds a powerful case that Wall Street has spent the last five years realizing there are people other than donors whom elected officials answer to, and these people have some power, too.
How Washington’s Elections Watchdog Became Completely Dysfunctional
Today, the Center for Public Integrity’s Dave Levinthal published an important report looking at the roots of the agency’s dysfunction:An analysis of thousands of records and interviews with more than 50 current and former commissioners, staff members and associates reveals:
The commission over the past year has reached a paralyzing all-time low in its ability to reach consensus, stalling action on dozens of rulemaking, audit and enforcement
matters, some of which are years old.
- Despite an explosion in political spending hastened by key Supreme Court decisions, the agency’s funding has remained flat for five years and staffing levels have fallen to a 15-year low.
- Analysts charged with scouring disclosure reports to ensure candidates and political committees are complying with laws have a nearly quarter-million-page backlog. Commissioners themselves are grappling with nearly 270 unresolved enforcement cases.
- Staff morale has plummeted as key employees have fled and others question whether their work remains relevant. Among top FEC jobs currently unfilled or filled on an “acting” basis: general counsel, associate general counsel for policy, associate general counsel for litigation, chief financial officer and accounting director. The staff director doubles as IT director.
As the nation heads into what will undoubtedly be the most expensive midterm election in history and a 2016 presidential election that, in no small way, has already begun, the FEC is rotting from the inside out.
The Evening Greens
Regulator: North Dakota oil rail shipments expected to spike
BISMARCK, N.D. — The percentage of North Dakota oil shipped by rail will likely jump significantly in the next year as producers increasingly turn to trains to reach U.S. refineries where premium prices are fetched, the state's top oil regulator told lawmakers Thursday.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, told the Legislature's Government Finance Committee that he expects as much as 90 percent of the state's crude will move by rail in 2014, up from about 60 percent at present.
North Dakota, the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas, is on pace to surpass 1 million barrels daily early in 2014, Helms has said. ...
The benchmark price for light sweet crude is set in Cushing, Okla. Oil from North Dakota and Texas is "flooding" that major crude hub where most U.S. shipments are sent, Helms said. Crude shipped by rail to East, West and Gulf Coast refineries can fetch up to $30 more per barrel than the benchmark set at Cushing, Helms said.
Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in water at fracking sites
Water samples collected at Colorado sites where hydraulic fracturing was used to extract natural gas show the presence of chemicals that have been linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer, scientists reported Monday.
The study, published in the journal Endocrinology, also found elevated levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in the Colorado River, where wastewater released during accidental spills at nearby wells could wind up.
Tests of water from sites with no fracking activity also revealed the activity of so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs. But the levels from these control sites were lower than in places with direct links to fracking, the study found.
"With fracking on the rise, populations may face greater health risks from increased endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure," said senior author Susan Nagel, who investigates the health effects of estrogen at the University of Missouri School of Medicine.
For First Time, Anti-Terrorism Law Used to Have Americans Protesting Keystone XL Pipeline ArrestedHat tip agathena for this story from her area:
A demonstration against Devon Energy and the company’s role in fracking and tar sands mining, including the Keystone XL pipeline, ended with four individuals being placed under arrest last week. Two of them were arrested by police on the basis that they had violated an Oklahoma anti-terrorism law prohibiting “terrorism hoaxes.” ...
In an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, two individuals locked themselves with a bike lock inside one of the multiple revolving doors that lead into the atrium of Devon Tower. Two other individuals unfurled a banner from the second floor. The banner had the Mockingjay emblem on it from The Hunger Games and a slogan read, “The odds are never in our favor.” Simultaneously, another banner was unfurled that indicated support for indigenous activists in Canada who have been fighting to prevent energy extraction on their land.
According to attorney Douglas Parr, who is representing the two individuals who unfurled The Hunger Games banner, glitter “fell off the banner” and on to the floor of the atrium. ... Stefan and Bailey were booked into jail for a violation of an Oklahoma felony statute called “terrorism hoax.” The statute is intended to prohibit people from “willfully faking a terrorist attack. The two individuals, who locked themselves in the revolving door, were charged with trespassing. ...
Both Stefan and Bailey have not been formally charged with violating a “terrorism hoax” statute, a felony which carries a potential sentence of ten years in prison. They were arrested with “terrorism hoax” as the basis and reports have to be submitted to the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office will ultimately decide if they will be charged.
BC Solar Company Wins Award
Victoria BC – A Victoria based solar technology company has been awarded Canadian Distributor of the Year by the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA). HES-PV sold over 1000 home and commercial solar systems in 2013, one of over 650 companies in Canada heading towards a goal of generating 3.48 GW, enough energy to power 350 000 homes, by 2018.
“Despite the low electricity prices in Canada, the trend to take control of rising energy costs is made much easier for consumers since solar electric power has become so affordable. The cost of residential solar systems has dropped 40% over the past three years due to the global solar boom, and more Canadians are taking advantage of this technology” Dave Egles, founder HES
While recognizing the success of programs and initiatives like Solar Colwood (www.solarcolwood.ca) in the Capital Regional District, and others around the province and country, the patchwork of incentives at the municipal, provincial and federal level make it difficult for consumers to access clean energy technologies.
The renewable energy sector has enormous potential to reduce energy costs for residences and commercial operations, and to produce quality, well paid, jobs in all regions of British Columbia.
November Was the Warmest November Since We Started Keeping Track
If you live in the eastern half of the United States, last month probably seemed like a normal November for you, perhaps even a bit chilly.
But, historically, the month was anything but.
According to NOAA, November 2013 was the warmest November since at least 1880, the year when NOAA's global temperature records begin. During the 20th century, the average global temperature for November was 55.2° F; in 2013 we managed to beat that by 1.40° F.
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
Albert Ammons - Boogie Woogie Stomp
Albert Ammons - Chicago In Mind
Albert Ammons - Shout For Joy
Albert Ammons - Swanee River Boogie
Albert Ammons - Why I'm Leaving You
Albert Ammons - The Boogie Rocks
Albert Ammons - Bedroom Blues
Albert Ammons Rhythm Kings - Nagasaki
Albert Ammons - Mr. Bell Boogie
Albert Ammons - Early Mornin' Blues
Albert Ammons - Tuxedo Boogie
Albert Ammons & His Rhythm Kings - Mile-Or-Mo Bird Rag
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!