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 Chicago blues piano player Willie Mabon. Enjoy!
Willie Mabon - I'm Mad
“Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance.”
-- Obama-Biden Transition Project: Office of the President-elect and Office of the Vice President-elect
News and Opinion
Obama Administration Calmly Debates Killing More Americans
The critical reader could be forgiven for feeling like he or she had stepped into a surreal universe while reading The New York Times on Tuesday? When he read, in a demure column on the left-hand side, that the U.S. was debating slaughtering another American by drone strike. And that this “debate” was occurring in the hallowed halls of justice where according to the U.S. Constitution our duly elected leaders shoulder the not inconsiderable burden of ensuring not only our safety, but also our recourse to a fair trial should we fall foul of the law. That before we are tossed into that mixer of ruinous injustice known as the American penal system, our accusers must bring clear evidence before impartial judges. Evidence of our calumnies and crimes. Of our guilt.
A critical reader may have noticed that this debate was uniformed by any of the above considerations. That in fact it had moved beyond such thorny legal puzzles to more forthright questions such as which branch of the government ought to do the slaughtering. One envisions our suave and insuperable President bent in the thinking man’s pose in a chair before assembled military chiefs, their jowly faces and watery eyes lending a providential gravity to their badges and epaulettes. Settled on their haunches, their consciences unfettered, they listen to the Decider-in-Chief describe his preference that the Pentagon, and not his personal executive paramilitary (CIA), conduct strikes against Americans. Better for transparency, it is said to be. Although transparency must not a high priority, considering none but the brave are privy to the supposedly classified evidence that the American in question and in Pakistan is actually guilty of plotting against his own country. Not that the existence of the evidence alone would merit a sudden strike without a court ruling. ...
Surely, though, the unnamed threats espoused by the President, without foresight, by Intelligence Chief James Clapper, without proof, and by Mr. Rogers, without sense, take precedence over decades of finely calibrated international law? Law designed to protect weak from strong and defenseless from militant? Surely it is better to err on the side of paranoia than peace? We must prize security above all.
Former NSA chief Hayden praises Obama for “doubling down” on Bush-era spying
Michael Hayden, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), used a lecture at Oxford University Monday to candidly praise the Obama administration for constructing and exponentially strengthening the NSA’s illegal spying apparatus.
Hayden told his Oxford audience that while many people see Obama as being “quite different” than Bush, he had in fact “doubled down” on the NSA’s global espionage system. ...
Referring to the speech delivered by Obama last month announcing supposed “reforms” to the NSA’s operations, Hayden stated, “The president is essentially trading some restraint, some oversight, in order to keep on doing fundamentally what he has been doing.”
Put in the plainest terms: the government is employing some window-dressing to quell popular outrage over the NSA’s colossal ongoing violation of the Constitution and is also trying to ensure that leaks do not threaten the secret program’s legitimacy in the future.
Pakistani Drone Victim Abducted, Tortured & Interrogated About Investigations Into Drone Strikes Is FreedSpooky!
Kareem Khan, who has been pushing a legal case against the CIA and Pakistan government for killing his son and brother with a drone in December 2009, was abducted in the early hours of February 5 by at fifteen to twenty men. Some of them, family members said, were wearing police uniforms.
According to the human rights organization, Reprieve, Khan was taken to a cell in an “undisclosed location.” Later that day, on February 5, he was “blindfolded and driven for approximately 2-3 hours to another undisclosed location where he remained until his release.”
“While detained, Mr Khan was interrogated, beaten and tortured. He was placed in chains and repeatedly questioned about his investigations into drone strikes, his knowledge of drone strike victims and his work advocating on their behalf,” Reprieve reported.
Khan was driven to the Tarnol area nearby Rawalpindi, where he lives. His kidnappers threw him from the van and warned him “not to speak to the media.”
Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have enough uranium to build 200 nuclear bombs
Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank are quietly trying to get out of a business few people know they are even in: trading supplies of raw uranium known as yellowcake. ...
Now, under mounting political scrutiny of Wall Street’s role in physical commodities trading, and following a collapse in demand after the Fukushima disaster, both firms have put their uranium trading desks up for sale. ...
Through its nuclear trading desk, known as NUFCOR International Limited, Goldman has a deal to market the vast majority of South Africa’s uranium production from one of the country’s largest miners. ...
Filings with UK authorities and nuclear industry sources say the two banks’ combined stockpiles of uranium are valued at more than $400 million, or around 5,000 metric tonnes (5511 tons) of yellowcake. That would be enough to fuel 20 standard nuclear power plants for a year, or, uranium experts say, to build 200 nuclear bombs.
Both Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank declined to comment on questions about their uranium trading businesses.
Dear Mr. President: Don't You Dare Cut Social Security, Medicare, MedicaidA fine article written by kossack letsgetitdone; it's worth clicking the link to read all of it.
A letter spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), signed by fifteen Democratic colleagues and sent to the White House on Friday warns President Obama against calling for—as he has previously—cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid in his upcoming budget proposal. ...
As the letter from the 15 senators states, "Social Security has not contributed one penny" to the current deficit. In fact, it continues, the program "has a surplus of more than $2.7 trillion and can pay every single benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 19 years."
The message to Obama is not a new one, but progressive critics of the president have been repeatedly aghast at how willing he has been to include cuts to social programs in his proposals—the same kind of cuts called for by Republicans who have made attacks on the social safety net a cornerstone of their political agenda for more than forty years.
Dear Dr. Krugman: Please Let Me ExplainThis is not from the Onion.
Paul Krugman can't explain why the deficit issue has suddenly dropped off the agenda. He says:. . . quite suddenly the whole thing has dropped off the agenda.Why indeed are they so quiet? Could it be because the deficit hawks have succeeded in getting the short-term result they want, which is a likely deficit too small to sustain the private savings and import desires of most Americans, and also because the political climate is such right now that they cannot make progress on their longer term entitlement-cutting program until after the coming elections have resolved the issue of whether there will be strong resistance to such a campaign if they renew it? ...
You could say that this reflects the dwindling of the deficit — but that’s old news; anyone doing the math saw this coming quite a while ago. Or you could mention the failure of the often-predicted financial crisis to arrive — but after so many years of being wrong, why should a few months more have caused the deficit scolds to disappear in a puff of smoke?
The deficit/debt hawks now need a breather. They needed to go into wait-and-see mode to see what the elections of 2014 produce.
If they produce the right mix of tea partiers, and Republican and Democratic debt hawks. They may be able to produce a new “Grand Bargain” early in 2015 before 2016 election pressures become intense, and the influence of Hillary Clinton's candidacy on Democrats in Congress becomes too great. I say this not because I think that Clinton will necessarily oppose any such bargain in the long term; but because such a bargain would be risky for her candidacy and the Democrats in the run-up to the elections of 2016.
1% Corporate whore makes bold demand for corporate welfare
A $4 Minimum Wage Can Get People Back to Work
Economics has long known that the long-term unemployed are less likely to find a job than workers who have been unemployed for only a few weeks or months. ... What can the federal government do to help these workers today? One goal should be to make it easier for companies to hire the long-term unemployed. And a step forward would be to let companies pay the long-term unemployed less by lowering the minimum wage for them. ...
Fundamentally, we are talking about risk. Because of the federal minimum wage, the company knows that it has to take at least a $7.25-an-hour chance on a worker. If we knocked the minimum wage down to, say, $4 an hour, we would significantly mitigate employers' risk from hiring a long-term unemployed worker. Allowing employers to pay this group of people 45 percent less than other minimum-wage workers provides a strong incentive for businesses to give the long-term unemployed a shot.
Of course, we can’t just lower the minimum wage for the long-term unemployed to $4 an hour and leave it at that. Society must have as a goal that no one who works full time and heads a household lives in poverty. This policy would have to be paired with an expanded earned-income tax credit, or with more straightforward wage subsidies -- federal transfer programs that supplement a worker’s labor market earnings with tax dollars.
Why Are GOP Politicians and Anti-Union Groups Interfering With the VW Vote?
Republican politicians in Tennessee repeatedly have attempted to pressure the company into fighting the UAW - without success - and to intimidate workers into voting against the union. Sen. Bob Corker complained that VW's decision not to fight the union was "almost beyond belief." When state officials first recruited VW to Tennessee, one GOP politician explained, respecting workers' choice on unionization, even if that meant bringing in the UAW, was "not part of the deal." Another state representative stated that a vote for the union would not be in the "best interests of Tennessee." Republicans might cancel future financial incentives, even though this would likely result in Volkswagen expanding production in Puebla, Mexico, rather than in Chattanooga. GOP politicians, it seems, would sooner destroy jobs in their own state than allow workers to choose UAW representation. Republicans in the South have an extensive record of using the bully pulpit of their office to intimidate pro-union workers. But their outrageous behavior here has taken political interference in a union election at a private company to an entirely different level.
Finally, the most notable feature of the VW campaign has been the unprecedented campaign of intimidation by shadowy anti-union organizations. Right-wing activists, including Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers, are furious that VW management has not attempted to pressure workers to vote "no." So they have stepped into the breach. Ludicrously misnamed organizations such as the Workplace Fairness Institute, Worker Freedom Institute and Center for Worker Freedom have attempted to transform the union election into a sleazy political campaign: They have suggested that UAW-represented auto companies are bankrupt, when in fact they are thriving, with Ford posting record profits; they have told workers that unionization would "imperil the fate of their employer," when in fact VW would be delighted to have a cooperative relationship with unionized workers within the plant; and they have spread ludicrous right-wing fantasies, such as the union "wants your guns." No other democratic country has organizations such as these - peddling outright falsehoods - that are dedicated to undermining workers' right to choose a union.
In the course of the ill-tempered anti-union campaign, the union has been denounced as "black-shirted thugs," the "vilest of cancers" and even "Ichneumon wasp larvae." But many of the Chattanooga autoworkers understand what is really going on here. Writing in a local newspaper, one VW worker stated: "What I really don't understand is why our employer is remaining neutral and respecting our right to make our own choices, but outside groups aren't."
Obama weighs in on contentious union vote at Volkswagen plant
President Barack Obama on Friday waded into a high-stakes union vote at Volkswagen AG's plant in Tennessee, accusing Republican politicians who oppose unionization of being more concerned about German shareholders than U.S. workers. ...
The vote has faced fierce resistance from local Republican politicians and national conservative groups who have warned that a UAW victory could hurt economic growth in Tennessee. While voting was under way on Wednesday, Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker said VW could announce new investment in the plant if the UAW lost the secret ballot.
Facing accusations that he was seeking to influence the ballot process, Corker defended his statement as "true and factual" in an interview with Reuters, despite Frank Fischer, chief executive of VW Chattanooga, saying that there was "no connection" between the vote and the possible investment. ...
Over the past week, however, several Republican politicians from Tennessee have added their voices to the growing anti-union chorus, implying that further subsidies to attract additional VW investment in Chattanooga could be threatened by a UAW victory.
Study on protesting finds non-violence better communicates the illegitimacy of a situation
Who has a more positive impact on public opinion: The anti-whaling activists who spray Japanese ships with butyric acid, or the people who post on your Facebook profile asking you to sign a Change.org petition against fracking?
New research published in the February issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin seeks to help answer that very question.
The study, by Australian researchers Emma Thomas of the Murdoch University and Winnifred Louis of the University of Queensland, examined the dynamics of mobilizing supportive public opinion with collective action. It found non-violent social protest was more effective at communicating the illegitimacy of the status quo than violent action. ...
“Generally speaking we found that violence is less persuasive than non-violence because non-violence more effectively communicates the illegitimacy of a situation and promotes a sense of agency (efficacy),” she explained. “However, when the political system or authority is known to be corrupt, this pattern changes. In this situation, non-violence actually (perhaps paradoxically) promotes support for more extreme methods.” ...
The researchers wrote that their findings suggest that “corruption may ultimately set up the conditions for the emergence of violence.” Previous research, Thomas and Louis added, has “shown that the indiscriminate and illegitimate use of force by an authority (the police) plays a crucial role in radicalizing crowd dynamics.”
The Evening Greens
Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048
The apocalypse has a new date: 2048.
That's when the world's oceans will be empty of fish, predicts an international team of ecologists and economists. The cause: the disappearance of species due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. ...
"This isn't predicted to happen. This is happening now," study researcher Nicola Beaumont, PhD, of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, U.K., says in a news release.
"If biodiversity continues to decline, the marine environment will not be able to sustain our way of life. Indeed, it may not be able to sustain our lives at all," Beaumont adds.
Already, 29% of edible fish and seafood species have declined by 90% -- a drop that means the collapse of these fisheries.
But the issue isn't just having seafood on our plates. Ocean species filter toxins from the water. They protect shorelines. And they reduce the risks of algae blooms such as the red tide.
Obama's 'Bridge Fuel' Causing More Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Thought
The amount of methane leaking from natural gas emissions is far higher than previously estimated, a new study shows, more evidence, as one expert says, that urgent action must be taken to reduce these greenhouse gas emissions.
The findings, based on a review of over 200 previous studies, was published Friday in the journal Science.
Methane is about 30 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so while President Obama has championed natural gas as a "bridge fuel" to address global warming, the climate implications of this "leaky" industry deserve scrutiny.
"People who go out and actually measure methane pretty consistently find more emissions than we expect," said lead author of the study Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University.
"Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate emissions around 50 percent more than EPA estimates," said Brandt. "And that's a moderate estimate."
The amount could be as high as 75 percent greater, the researchers found.
Tomblin, Huffman and the Patriot Coal SpillThis is a really interesting article about the land reform movement in Brazil, I can't do it justice in excerpting it. It's worth a read.
MetroNews Talkline host Hoppy Kercheval was astonished by the bad timing of Patriot Coal’s spill of 100,000 gallons of coal slurry, which blackened six miles of Fields Creek in Kanawha County, West Virginia. ...
Kercheval’s first guests on this morning’s show were West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Randy Huffman, Tomblin’s Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. ...
During the 2012 election, Tomblin was a beneficiary of Patriot Coal’s largesse, taking in more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from company executives and political action committees. ...
West Virginia Citizen Action Group’s Norm Steenstra said that while Huffman is a nice enough guy, it’s time that he and his boss, Governor Tomblin, consider resignation.
“It’s a failure of leadership,” Steenstra said. “They have created a culture of non enforcement. North of here, huge amounts of water are being ruined by fracking. And south of here, there are many impoundments that are holding chemicals. And the mountaintop removal is destroying the water south of here. It’s not just the chemical spill or the slurry spill. It’s a statewide culture of non enforcement.
Brazil's Landless Workers Movement renews protest on 30th anniversary
Criminalised, marginalised and often subjected to murderous attacks, Brazil's Landless Workers Movement celebrates 30 years on the agricultural frontline this week with a raucous gathering in Brasilia that aims to set a new course for the flagging campaign for agrarian reform.
An estimated 15,000 activist farmers have descended on the capital, setting up camp outside the World Cup stadium, marching on the president's palace and clashing with police in a cloud of teargas.
They have come from settlements across the country to attend the first congress in seven years of a group that has been variously described as the most important social movement in Latin America and a menace to the Brazilian economy.
Over the past three decades, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) has fought to settle "unproductive" plots of land held by the state, banks or big landowners, putting activists in the vanguard of campaigns against monocultures, genetically modified crops, forest conservation and inequality. ...
Their struggle is usually carried out in remote and lawless hinterlands, but on Thursday it was taken to the state palace and president Dilma Rousseff, who is accused by the MST of doing more than any previous national leader to promote the interests of Big Agro. ...
"Dilma's government has taken a step back on agrarian reform because she is in an alliance with conservatives," said national co-ordinator Marina dos Santos. "Industrial capital has appropriated the countryside and brought agrarian reform to a standstill."
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
Hat tip Keith930:
The Rise (and Rise and Rise) of the 0.01 Percent in America
A Little Night Music
Willie Mabon - I Don't Know
Willie Mabon - Little Red Rooster
Willie Mabon - Poison Ivy
Willie Mabon - Monday Woman
Willie Mabon - Seventh Son
Willie Mabon - World Of Trouble
Willie Mabon - Got To Have Some
Willie Mabon - You're A Fool
Willie Mabon - Just Got Some
Willie Mabon - Say Man
Willie Mabon - I'm the Fixer
Willie Mabon - I Got To Go
Willie Mabon - Some More
Big Willie (Mabon) - Bogey Man
Willie Mabon - Knock On Wood
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!