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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 musician Tab Benoit.  Enjoy!

Tab Benoit - One Foot in the Bayou

“Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate."

  -- Edward W. Said

News and Opinion

Crimea and Punishment: Imperial Blowback from Iraq to Ukraine

Russia’s brazen annexation of Crimea presents a vexing foreign policy crisis for the Western powers. How can these actions be denounced without pointing a finger back upon their own forays and interventions? Indeed, President Putin said as much in his recent addressin the Kremlin, chiding the West for its condemnations of Russia’s actions and stating that “it’s a good thing that they at least remember that there exists such a thing as international law – better late than never.” Putin reinforced this view by citing the “Kosovo precedent” – which he takes as “a precedent our western colleagues created with their own hands in a very similar situation, when they agreed that the unilateral separation of Kosovo from Serbia, exactly what Crimea is doing now, was legitimate and did not require any permission from the country’s central authorities.”

Without validating Russia’s motives and the ways in which such arguments provide rhetorical cover for its own imperial aspirations, there is a salient point here that coheres with arguments often cited by progressive voices in the West. In particular, as to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other interventions, there are echoes of anti-war perspectives to be found in the Russian President’s deflection of Western criticisms: “Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle ‘If you are not with us, you are against us.’” ...

In this light, we can read the Crimean crisis as a form of comeuppance for policies set in motion and continually reinforced by nations in general and the US in particular, bent on promoting a form of “security” that devolves upon control of resources and a penchant for unilateralism in achieving this end. In fact, President Obama unabashedly affirmed such policies in his speech to the UN in September 2013: “The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region…. We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends on the region’s energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.” As such, President Obama was not so much announcing a new policy as validating an ongoing one: the legacy of the Bush Doctrine based on unilateral action and calculated intervention. Once these terms of engagement have been set, it becomes difficult to condemn others taking up the mantle for their own purposes.

Former U.S. Ambassador: Behind Crimea Crisis, Russia Responding to Years of "Hostile" U.S. Policy

Obama: No military intervention in Ukraine

President Obama says the U.S. won’t take military action in Ukraine, where Russian President Vladimir Putin sent in troops to seize Crimea.

"We are not going to be getting into military excursion in Ukraine,” Obama told KNSD San Diego Wednesday, in one of six interviews he did with regional television reporters.

"I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge, for us to engage Russia militarily would not be appropriate and wouldn’t be good for Ukraine, either,” Obama added.

Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit

Though the Ukraine crisis has roots going back decades, the chronology of the recent uprising — and the neocon interest in it – meshes neatly with neocon fury over Obama and Putin working together to avert a U.S. military strike against Syria last summer and then brokering an interim nuclear agreement with Iran last fall that effectively took a U.S. bombing campaign against Iran off the table.

With those two top Israeli priorities – U.S. military attacks on Syria and Iran – sidetracked, the American neocons began activating their influential media and political networks to counteract the Obama-Putin teamwork. The neocon wedge to splinter Obama away from Putin was driven into Ukraine.

Operating out of neocon enclaves in the U.S. State Department and at U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations, led by the National Endowment for Democracy, neocon operatives targeted Ukraine even before the recent political unrest began shaking apart the country’s fragile ethnic and ideological cohesion.

Last September, as the prospects for a U.S. military strike against Syria were fading thanks to Putin, NED president Carl Gershman, who is something of a neocon paymaster controlling more than $100 million in congressionally approved funding each year, took to the pages of the neocon-flagship Washington Post and wrote that Ukraine was now “the biggest prize.”

But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself.” In other words, the new hope was for “regime change” in Kiev and Moscow.

Europe weighs Russia sanctions, energy security at summit

European leaders hold critical talks on Thursday about how to tighten the screws on Russia following its seizure of Crimea, how to support Ukraine's stricken economy and how best to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas in years to come.

With President Vladimir Putin celebrating Crimea's addition to the Russian Federation, and his officials mocking the EU's response so far, leaders are expected add around a dozen names to the 21 Russians and Crimeans already placed on a travel-ban and asset-freeze list.

But while agreeing to expand the list to include figures closer to Putin will be one thing, it is a long way short of the financial and trade sanctions diplomats and analysts say are necessary to make Moscow pay attention. ...

What they are likely to be able to agree on - beyond the adding of a few names to the asset-freeze and travel-ban list - is financial support to the rest of Ukraine to help prop up the economy and bring the country closer to Europe's heart.

Leaders will sign the political elements of an "association agreement" with Ukraine's interim prime minister on Friday, opening the way for around 11 billion euros ($15 billion) of financial assistance to flow to Kiev as soon as it strikes a deal with the International Monetary Fund.

The EU has also agreed to bring forward trade benefits for Ukraine, cutting customs duties on nearly all Ukrainian imports, a measure that will deliver savings of around 500 million euros a year for exporters.

U.S.-Russia sanctions rhetoric shakes companies, investors

The potential for broader U.S. sanctions on Russia and Moscow's threat of responding in kind are raising concerns among U.S. corporations and investors about the economic fallout from the crisis over Russia's annexation of Crimea. ...

At stake from the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War is goods trade between the two countries that was worth about $38 billion in 2013. ...

U.S. companies also have $14 billion in direct investment in Russia, with about half that amount coming the other way, and mutual fund and hedge fund investments in Russian companies, many of them state-owned, is much higher.

Oil major ExxonMobil and aircraft maker Boeing are two companies with strong links to Russia and involved in joint ventures with Russian partners.

Other U.S. companies active in Russia include Chevron Corp, General Electric Co, Caterpillar Inc, John Deere, Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co, PepsiCo Inc, Mars, Cargill Inc, and Kraft Foods.

SEC contacted investment companies with Russian exposure

U.S. securities regulators contacted public funds with investments in Russia to make sure they are properly managing risks and disclosing their holdings to investors as political tensions rose over Crimea, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Attorneys with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission started to place calls to registered investment companies such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds more than a week ago, the sources said. ...

The contacts by the SEC began well before White House spokesman Jay Carney warned U.S. investors away from Russian stocks at a news briefing on Tuesday.

[It's nice to know that Obama cares enough about big bankers and investment firms to give them a lead over regular, little people investors when the administration tries to get people to dump investments. - js]

In an unusual statement, he said those stocks could lose value because of sanctions that the United States and European Union have put in place and others that they could add. The United States and the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on a number of officials from Russia and Ukraine after Moscow declared the Crimean Peninsula a part of Russia.

The SEC has been particularly interested in speaking with funds that have more than 10 percent exposure to Russian securities, including stocks and bonds, one person familiar with the agency's activities said.

Ukraine orders its troops to leave Crimea, Russia offers better pay for them to change sides

A pair of Russian generals have been visiting Ukrainian military bases in Crimea and offering soldiers there fat pay and pension packages if they join the Russian army before a Friday deadline, when Russia has said its patience with a Ukrainian presence in the Black Sea peninsula will run out.

A Ukrainian captain who was among the officers who met with them at a base in Perevalne, Crimea, said in a phone interview that at each base the generals make a very simple point: The Russian military would love to welcome Ukrainian troops into its ranks. ...

The captain said he expects many of his compatriots to accept the Russian offer, especially those who consider Crimea home.

“The pay is five times that offered by Ukraine,” he said. “The pensions are five times better, and will be offered 20 years sooner. We are told we would serve on the same military base. Defend the same soil, the homeland of many at these bases. Families living quite nearby the bases will be able to remain in their same homes.”

The tale he tells matches Ukrainian news reports, though there is no government confirmation, from either Russia or Ukraine.

But the prospect of some, if not most, of Ukraine’s Crimea-based military going over to the Russian side on Friday might be one reason the government in Kiev on Wednesday ordered its troops to withdraw, effective immediately. It was a surprising order, given that only Tuesday the government had told the troops to stand firm. It was not immediately clear how the soldiers reacted to the new order, and the captain’s cellphone was not answered later Wednesday.

Crimean Tatars Asked to Exchange Land, Regional Official Says

Ukraine's breakaway region of Crimea will ask Tatars to vacate part of the land where they now live in exchange for new territory elsewhere in the region, a top Crimean government official has said.

Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev said Tuesday that the new government in Crimea, where residents voted Sunday to become part of Russia, wants to regularize the land unofficially taken over by Crimean Tatar squatters following the collapse of the Soviet Union. ...

The Crimean Tatars, a historic people of the region, were deported en masse to Central Asia by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin 70 years ago. Although many of them returned in the early 1990s, they were unable to reclaim the land they had possessed before their deportation.

Many Crimean Tatars have taken over unclaimed land as squatters by building houses, farms and mosques. Ukrainian authorities have in the past failed to settle the land disputes. ...

Temirgaliyev emphasized that members of the Tatar community could receive senior political positions in the new government, in an apparent move to ease ethnic tensions in the region.

"I think that Crimean Tatars will be well represented in the government and parliament," he said.

Obama boycotts UN Drone Talks

 Pakistan is trying to push a resolution through the United Nations Human Rights Council that would trigger greater scrutiny of whether U.S. drone strikes violate international human rights law. Washington, though, doesn't want to talk about it.

The Pakistani draft, which was obtained by Foreign Policy, urges states to "ensure transparency" in record-keeping on drone strikes and to "conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations whenever there are indications of any violations to human rights caused by their use." It also calls for the convening of "an interactive panel discussion" on the use of drones.

The Geneva-based human rights council held its third round of discussions about the draft on Wednesday, but the Obama administration boycotted the talks.

 It remains unclear what Washington will do when the Pakistani resolution is put forward for consideration next week.

Most resolutions in the Human Rights Council are adopted by consensus, but the United States has the option of forcing a vote on the resolution. But a State Department official made it clear that the United States would not support the resolution.

Neocon Con? US right stage media attack on alternative news

How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Stage Managed RT Anchor Liz Wahl’s Resignation

For her public act of protest against Russia Today’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory and supposedly advancing the agenda of Vladimir Putin in Washington, D.C., previously unknown news anchor Liz Wahl has suddenly become one of the most famous unemployed people in America. After her on-air resignation from the cable news channel, Wahl appeared on the three major American cable news outlets—CNN, Fox News, MSNBC—to denounce the heavy-handed editorial line she claims her bosses imposed on her and other staffers. ...

It was a full 19 minutes before Wahl resigned. Inside the offices of the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neoconservative think tank in Washington D.C., a staffer logged on to the group’s Twitter account to announce the following:

“#WordOnTheStreet says that something big might happen on RT in about 20-25 minutes.”

Then, at 5:16, exactly 10 minutes before Wahl would quit on air, FPI tweeted:

“#WordOnTheStreet says you’re really going to want to tune in to RT: #SomethinBigMayBeGoingDown”

Up until two minutes before Wahl’s resignation, FPI took to Twitter again to urge its followers to tune in to RT.

And finally, at 5:26 p.m., at the very moment Wahl quit, FPI’s Twitter account broke the news: “RT Anchor RESIGNS ON AIR. She ‘cannot be part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin.’ ”

The tweets from FPI suggested a direct level of coordination between Wahl and the neoconservative think tank. Several calls to FPI for this story were not answered.

Just over an hour later, an exclusive interview with Wahl appeared at The Daily Beast. It was authored by James Kirchick, a 31-year-old writer whose work has appeared in publications from the neoconservative Commentary to the liberal Israeli paper Haaretz. ...

In fact, Kirchick was a senior fellow at FPI, the neoconservative think tank that had hyped up Wahl’s resignation minutes before she quit. Launched by Weekly Standard founder William Kristol and two former foreign policy aides to Mitt Romney, Dan Senor and Robert Kagan (the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland), FPI grew directly out of the Project for a New American Century that led the public pressure campaign for a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq after the Bin Laden-orchestrated 9/11 attacks. ...

Kirchick acknowledged having been in contact with Wahl since August, but cast himself as a passive bystander to the spectacle, claiming that they merely “stayed in touch periodically over the past 6 months, and I always encouraged her to follow her conscience in making a decision about her professional future.”

'Abby can criticise but Cenk Uygur lost his job': Martin & a Young Turk

Defense minister leans toward Israeli operation in Iran, as Obama portrays 'weakness'

Based on his evaluation that the United States isn’t going to do anything to frustrate the Iranian nuclear program, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday he’s changed his mind and now leans toward supporting unilateral Israeli action against Iran.

“We had thought the ones who should lead the campaign against Iran is the United States,” said Ya’alon, speaking during an event at Tel Aviv University. “But at some stage the United States entered into negotiations with them, and unhappily, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better.”

If Israel had hoped others would do the job for it, this is not about to happen, Ya’alon said: “Therefore, on this matter, we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.”

Venezuela mayor arrested for 'civil rebellion' over violent protests

Venezuelan intelligence agents have arrested an opposition mayor accused of fomenting violent anti-government protest, while another was jailed for 10 months in the latest move against opponents of President Nicolás Maduro.

Daniel Ceballos, mayor of western city of San Cristóbal, which has been a crucible of anti-government protest, was detained by the national intelligence service Sebin and accused of "civil rebellion".

The interior minister, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, who also heads Sebin, told state TV that Ceballos was detained by agents acting on an order from court in western Tachira state.

"This is an act of justice for a mayor who not only failed to meet his obligations under the law, but also facilitated and supported all the irrational violence in this city," he said. ...

Later on Wednesday, the supreme court jailed another opposition mayor, Enzo Scarano of San Diego in central Carabobo state, for 10 months and 15 days for failing to comply with a previous order to take down barricades there.

Venezuela legislators demand investigation into opposition deputy

Venezuela's congress has requested a criminal investigation be launched into opposition deputy Maria Corina Machado for crimes including treason in relation to her involvement in anti-government protests that have left at least 28 dead.

Machado, a 46-year-old engineer, has been one of the most visible leaders of six weeks of opposition demonstrations against socialist president Nicolas Maduro , the country's most serious unrest in a decade.

Ruling Socialist party legislators, who hold a majority of congressional seats, voted to ask the state prosecutor to investigate Machado for offences that range from damaging buildings to inciting civil war.

"We will not permit impunity. We will ensure revenge for those deaths. We will ensure these deaths will be paid for," said legislator Tania Diaz of the Socialist party. "Anyone who violates the right to life is violating the constitution."

The move comes a month after the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who along with Machado launched a national opposition movement at the start of the year under the banner The Exit aiming at ending 15 years of socialist rule.

Tuesday's theatrical session included the showing of a video chronicling Machado's anti-government activism over the past decade that highlighted her links to the US, the Venezuelan government's ideological adversary.

Google co-founder Larry Page: U.S. online spying is threatening democracy

Google co-founder Larry Page on Wednesday condemned U.S. government snooping on the Internet as a threat to democracy.

His comments came during an on-stage chat at a TED gathering, where a day earlier fellow Google founder Sergey Brin had a virtual encounter with National Security Agency whistle blower Edward Snowden. ...

“It is tremendously disappointing that the government sort of secretly did all this stuff and didn’t tell us,” Page said during the chat with interviewer Charlie Rose.

He reasoned that details of suspected terrorist threats, understandably, should remain cloaked but that the parameters of what U.S. intelligence agents do, along with how and why they do it, should be public.

“We need to have a debate about that or we can’t have a functioning democracy; it is just not possible,” Page said.

“It is sad that Google is in the position of protecting you and our users from the government doing secret things nobody knows about. It doesn’t make any sense.”

As smartphones and sensors synched to the Internet traffic in increasing amounts of data about where people are and what they are doing, it is imperative to make people aware and provide choices regarding how it is used, Page argued.

Why Isn't the Fourth Amendment Classified as Top Secret?

Notice how much the Fourth Amendment tells our enemies. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated," it states, "and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The Framers are usually considered patriots. Yet they gave traitors and criminals in their midst such powerful knowledge about concealing evidence of skullduggery! Today every terrorist with access to a pocket Constitution is privy to the same text. And thanks to the Supreme Court's practice of publishing its opinions, al-Qaeda need only have an Internet connection to gain a very nuanced, specific understanding of how the Fourth Amendment is applied in individual cases, how it constrains law enforcement, and how to exploit those limits.

Will Democrats let Rand Paul steal this issue? Stay tuned!
Rand Paul denounces government surveillance

Anger over a covert U.S. surveillance program has united in common cause a libertarian Republican weighing a White House bid with students at a Californian university famed for its left-wing politics.

Rand Paul, a favorite of the fiscally conservative Tea Party, told a largely welcoming, younger crowd of several hundred at the University of California, Berkeley, that U.S. government surveillance programs threatened their rights.

His choice of traditionally left-leaning Berkeley as a venue to denounce government meddling was unusual, but the Kentucky senator is keen to broaden the Republicans' appeal, particularly among young voters, as he considers a presidential bid in 2016.

"I'm not here to tell you what to be. I am here to tell you, though, that your rights, especially your right to privacy, are under assault," said Paul, pressing one of his trademark themes. ...

"I believe what you do on your cellphone is none of their damn business," said Paul, brandishing his own phone and drawing raucous applause from students of a university that has long prided itself as a bastion of free expression. ...

Paul called for a bipartisan congressional committee, modeled on a group that probed CIA abuses in the 1970s, to investigate reports of government spying.

Attorney General to State Police: Stop photographing protesters at Chris Christie town halls

TRENTON — Amid mounting criticism that their tactics violated civil liberties, the state attorney general today ordered the State Police to stop taking pictures of protesters at Gov. Chris Christie’s town hall meetings — for any reason.

The order came a day after a man who identified himself as a member of the State Police photographed people who disrupted one of the governor’s usually highly orchestrated events.

In a statement issued to The Star-Ledger, acting Attorney General John Hoffman said he and State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes had "instructed the State Police to no longer photograph at these events for security or any other purposes."

Christie plans to hold another town hall meeting Thursday in Flemington.

In calling for a halt to the practice, Hoffman said: "The State Police is responsible for the safety and security of the governor and the public at town hall meetings. In doing so, the State Police are careful to guarantee that First Amendment rights are respected and the public — whether expressing positive or negative sentiments toward the governor and his policies — have ample opportunity to make their positions known."

Floyd Abrams, an expert in First Amendment law, said in an interview that he was hard-pressed to find an acceptable reason for State Police to take pictures of people critical of the governor.

"This is not a situation where there appear to be concerns that terrorists or individuals are engaging in criminal conduct," said Abrams, a partner at Cahill Gordon and Reindel in New York. "If that’s so, the only reason for photographing people is either to chill their speech in the future or otherwise seek to persuade them to stay away. These are not reasons consistent with the First Amendment."

Abu Ghraib Case Challenges 'Lawlessness' of Private Contractors in Times of War

Roughly eleven years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, human rights lawyers called on a federal appeals court on Tuesday to reopen a case brought by four former Iraqi detainees who were tortured at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison against the private military contractor who ordered the atrocities, CACI Premier Technology, Inc.

“U.S. courts must at last provide a remedy for the victims of torture at Abu Ghraib," said Baher Azmy Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights who is representing the former detainees. "CACI indisputably played a key role in those atrocities, and it is time for them to be held accountable."

"The lower court’s ruling creates lawless spaces where corporations can commit torture and war crimes and then find safe haven in the United States," said Azmy. "That’s a ruling that should not stand.”

Guantánamo prosecutors: How did KSM 'propaganda' document get out?

The war court prosecutor has asked the Sept. 11 judge to investigate how Huffington Post and a British television station got a copy of some commentary by the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

The emergency motion itself was still under seal Tuesday at the war court website. But Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins and his fellow 10 prosecutiors divulged its contents in a correspondence to Sept. 11 victims’ family members distributed by the Pentagon’s victims liaison, Karen Loftus.

In January, The Huffington Post and Britain's Channel 4 published 36 pages of computer printout commentary — much of it invoking religious themes — on a range of religious and social topics attributed to Mohammed. ...

While the judge in the case has ruled that not everything a former CIA captive says is necessarily classified, their writings and lawyers’ motions are considered classified until an intelligence agency decides which portions to black out.

Homeless veteran 'baked to death' in New York prison cell

Jerome Murdough was just looking for a warm place to sleep on a chilly night last month when he curled up in an enclosed stairwell on the roof of a Harlem public housing project where he was arrested for trespassing.

A week later, the mentally ill homeless man was found dead in a Rikers Island jail cell that four city officials say had overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently because of malfunctioning equipment.

The officials told the Associated Press that the 56-year-old former marine was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have made him more vulnerable to heat. ... “He basically baked to death,” said one of the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss specifics of the case. ...

Advocates for mentally ill inmates in New York say the death represents the failure of the city’s justice system on almost every level: by arresting Murdough instead of finding him help, by setting bail at a prohibitive $2,500 and by not supervising him closely in what is supposed to be a special observation unit for inmates with mental illnesses. ...

Of the 12,000 inmates who make up the nation’s second-largest jail system, about 40% are mentally ill, and a third of them suffer from serious mental problems the department said. Advocates and others have long argued that correction officers are not sufficiently trained to deal with mentally ill inmates whose needs are complex.

Giroux: Neoliberalism, Youth and Social Justice

An 87 Percent Vote for a $15-an-Hour Wage

Political insiders and prognosticators at the national level were, barely a year ago, casting doubts on the question of whether proposing a great big hike in the federal minimum wage was smart politics. While President Obama had proposed a $9-an-hour wage, Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Congressman George Miller, D-California, broke the double-digit barrier with a $10.10-an-hour proposal. But there was still skepticism about whether raising wages for the hardest-pressed American workers was a winning issue. ...

Even as they re-elected Governor Chris Christie last fall, New Jersey voters gave landslide support to a measure that not only raised the state minimum wage to $9 an hour but indexed future increases to keep up with inflation. On the same day, voters in Sea-Tac, Washington, approved a $15 hourly wage, while voters in Seattle elected socialist Kshama Sawant on a “Fight for $15” platform.

Now comes a powerful signal from Chicago.

When voters in the city went to the polls to cast ballots in Tuesday’s statewide and local primary elections, thousands of them faced an economic question: would they support a $15-an-hour minimum wage for large employers in the city?

The results were overwhelming. With 100 of the 103 precincts where the issue was on the ballot reporting, 87 percent of voters were backing the $15-an-hour wage. Just 13 percent voted against the advisory referendum. That huge level of support will strengthen the hand of activists who are encouraging the city council to consider a major wage hike.

Georgia Activists Confront GOP Rejection of Medicaid as Moral Mondays Spread Across South

Paul Ryan whitesplains his ‘inner city men’ remark to a black voter at town hall

At a town hall meeting in Racine, WI on Wednesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was confronted by a black constituent about his remarks disparaging lazy “inner city” men as a drain on the economy.

Think Progress reported that 61-year-old Alfonso Gardner of Racine asked the erstwhile vice presidential candidate exactly what he meant when he said “we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular of men not working, and just generations of men not even thinking about working and learning the value and culture of work.”

“You said what you meant,” said Gardner to Ryan during the question and answer section of his appearance. When Ryan said “inner city,” Gardner contended, it was “a code word for black.”

Ryan acted offended that Gardner brought race into the discussion, saying, “There is nothing whatsoever about race in my comments at all.”

Gardner was overreacting, he said, “I think when we throw these charges [of racism] around, it should be based on something.”

Think Progress’ Scott Keyes spoke to Gardner after the event, who said, “He’s out here shucking and jiving. He’s been in Congress eight terms and just now talking about poverty?”

The Evening Greens

10,000 gallons of crude oil spills onto Hamilton Co., Ohio nature preserve

Sunoco oil pipeline leaks in Ohio nature preserve

A major oil pipeline owned by Sunoco Logistics Partners LP leaked thousands of gallons of crude oil into a nature preserve in southwest Ohio late on Monday.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 gallons (26,000-38,000 liters) of sweet crude leaked into the Oak Glen Nature Preserve about a quarter of a mile from the Great Miami River, according to early estimates from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. ...

Some oil reached a wetland a mile away and on Tuesday, clean-up crews were preparing to vacuum the wetland, located 20 miles north of Cincinnati.

The oil did not appear to have reached the Great Miami River, though tests were still being completed, the EPA said.

Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill

Fracking California's Coast: Billions of Gallons of Fracking Pollution Legalized By Feds

If an energy company accidentally spilled 9 billion gallons of toxic waste into the ocean, the media, the public, and the government would be all over the situation.  But when it isn’t an accident, there is no reason for anyone to pay attention.

Such is the case with the fracking industry operating in California’s Santa Barbara Channel.  Federal regulators have given fracking companies the green light to dump as much as 9 billion gallons of waste into the waterway every single year.  This is in the same body of water that was devastated by millions of gallons of crude oil during a spill in 1969 that occurred as a result of a blowout on an oil rig operating in the area.  This environmental catastrophe led to the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Dos Cuadras Offshore Resources (DCOR) has been granted permits for four “mini” fracking exploration projects in the Santa Barbara Channel, all of which have been granted with certain environmental exclusions. ... How is DCOR able to get away with dumping 9 billion gallons of fracking waste into the Santa Barbara Channel?  The answer goes back to the “Halliburton Loophole” that exempts fracking waste from EPA review and federal clean water standards.  Additionally, the exemptions granted to DCOR allow the company to avoid any form of NEPA review, which is ironic considering the fact that they are dumping waste into the same body of water that gave us NEPA reviews.

2 Million Keystone XL Comments on The State Department

Coal Exporter United Bulk Sued For Polluting Mississippi River

A coalition of environmental advocacy groups filed a lawsuit earlier this week against United Bulk, alleging that the company is responsible for numerous violations of the Clean Water Act for polluting the Mississippi River.  United Bulk operates coal export terminals along the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast.

The suit alleges — along with plenty of photographic evidence to back up the allegations — that United Bulk has left piles of coal debris and petroleum coke (petcoke) along the banks of the river for the last five years.  These piles are left unattended, unsecured, and uncovered in the elements, allowing wind and rain to easily sweep these pollutants into the Mississippi River and nearby marshes.

A press release from the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition lays out the basics:

The suit contends that United Bulk has illegally discharged coal and petcoke into the river every day that it has operated for at least five years. It points out that coal and petcoke—an oil-refining byproduct with high levels of arsenic, mercury and other toxins hazardous to human health and aquatic life—have been discharged into the river in enough quantities to produce visible spills on a regular basis. The suit also cites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s determination that stormwater runoff from coal piles “can flush heavy metals from the coal, such as arsenic and lead, into nearby bodies of water.”
United bulk 3
Photo credit: Gulf Restoration Network/Southwings

Blog Posts of Interest

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

The Wall Street Etiquette Guide to Helping Oneself to Other People’s Money

Lily Cole: welcome to the gift economy, where the kindness of a stranger rules

No Russian Ever Called Me a Terrorist

Exposing the U.S. Corporate Interests Behind Ukraine Coup

US prepares to ‘gas’ Russia into submission

More Evil Than Genius? How iPad and Google Glass Makers Are Secretly Scamming America

A Little Night Music

Tab Benoit - Nothing Takes The Place Of You

Tab Benoit - I Got Loaded

Tab Benoit - Shelter Me

Tab Benoit - Night Train

Tab Benoit - Medicine

Tab Benoit - Why Are People Like That?

Tab Benoit - Down In The Swamp

Tab Benoit - Dirty Dishes

Tab Benoit - Muddy Bottom Blues

Tab Benoit - Travelin' South

Tab Benoit - Hot Tamale Baby

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 Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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