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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 blues, jazz and boogie-woogie pianist and singer Blind John Davis.  Enjoy!

Blind John Davis - Everyday I Have The Blues

“What I think is absolutely true is it’s not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we’re doing the right thing. … There has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil. We respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counterterrorism operations outside of the United States. The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside the United States.”

  -- President Barack Obama

“Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it. I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims.”

  -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

News and Opinion

No 'War Crimes' To See Here, Please Move Along

Predator_and_HellfireWhile Western media focuses almost exclusively on events in Russia and Ukraine, it continues to ignore the growing calls for transparency and accountability for suspected war crimes and the most egregious of human rights violations from the Obama administration regarding its “targeted” killing program. That’s right; you might not know it, but the United States is being called to task for the very same violations of international law it so vehemently calls on others to obey.

The New York Times, for example, allotted just one paragraph to a United Nations Human Rights Committee report that condemned a wide array of U.S. counterterrorism policies, calling on the U.S. to “ensure that all cases of unlawful killing…are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in command positions, are prosecuted and sanctioned." The Western media has also ignored the intensification in the number of drone strikes in Yemen, including seven strikes in the first two weeks of March, resulting in “a sharp escalation in the number of reported civilian casualties." ...

Despite President’s Obama’s pledge of greater transparency, the United States chose to boycott a United Nations Human Rights Council discussion of a Pakistani draft resolution, which was later adopted with 27 states in favor, six against, and 14 abstentions, that urges states to "ensure transparency" regarding drone strikes and to "conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations whenever there are indications of any violations to human rights caused by their use."

What gets lost in the debate over transparency is the direct link between transparency and accountability. ... From the lack of transparency, it is clear the Obama administration fears that transparency will reveal violations of international human rights law and/or international humanitarian law (also known as war crimes). Allegations of such violations were recently levied against the United States by two internationally recognized members of the human rights NGO community, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

According to Amnesty International’s report on drone strikes in Pakistan, “[T]heir deliberate killings by drones … very likely violate the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of life and may constitute extrajudicial executions.”

CIA’s use of harsh interrogation went beyond legal authority, Senate report says

A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, a finding that challenges the key defense on which the agency and the Bush administration relied in arguing that the methods didn’t constitute torture.

The report also found that the spy agency failed to keep an accurate account of the number of individuals it held, and that it issued erroneous claims about how many it detained and subjected to the controversial interrogation methods. The CIA has said that about 30 detainees underwent the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

The CIA’s claim “is BS,” said a former U.S. official familiar with evidence underpinning the report, who asked not to be identified because the matter is still classified. “They are trying to minimize the damage. They are trying to say it was a very targeted program, but that’s not the case.”

The findings are among the report’s 20 main conclusions. Taken together, they paint a picture of an intelligence agency that seemed intent on evading or misleading nearly all of its oversight mechanisms throughout the program, which was launched under the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and ran until 2006.

Why aren't we putting US agencies on trial for financing El Chapo's drug war?

Nearly seven weeks ago, of course, El Chapo was captured by US and Mexican authorities after 13 years on the lam. Having achieved a cultural stature akin to that of a Bond villain, his capture naturally got all the limelight – while his US backers went more or less unmentioned.

But nearly seven weeks before an overnight capture at a beach resort, the Mexican newspaper El Universal reported how US agencies had armed and financed El Chapo's Sinaloa criminal empire for at least 12 years. That link has been substantiated by DEA and Justice Department court testimonies, and even US agents confirmed the financing had been approved by high-ranking officials and federal prosecutors. But the American media barely reported how entrenched the American government has become in the Mexican drug trade. ...

"The choice of news organizations to not make the connection reflects a choice [of] what media would like for us to remember and would like for us to forget," said Crystal Vance Guerra, a Latin American studies scholar at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She asked: Why don't we hold these agents and agencies to the same judgment as organized crime?

As we wait for the biggest gangster trial in years, why, indeed, aren't we putting American intelligence and drug agencies on trial for financing a drug war?

Ukraine military refuses Kiev's orders to attack protesters

Just after a deadline set by Kiev for protesters in eastern Ukraine to vacate seized buildings expired, Parliament-appointed PM Arseny Yatsenyuk pledged to push through a law allowing regional referendums in the country.

Holding referendums on the status of their respective regions was among the main demands posed by anti-Maidan activists, who have taken over a number of governmental buildings in eastern Ukraine this week. ...

The U-turn comes after Ukraine’s elite Alpha unit reportedly refused to obey an order to besiege protester-held buildings. At a session of law enforcement officials in Donetsk, one of the Alpha commanders said that he and his men are a force intended for rescuing hostages and fighting terrorism and will only act in accordance with the law, local media reported.

The unconfirmed act of defiance comes days after the siege by police of a protesters-seized building in Kharkov, which ended with dozens of activists being arrested. On Thursday, a local police lieutenant-colonel spoke to the media, claiming that he and other officers had been deceived by the Kiev authorities. He claimed that they were sent to take over the building under the pretext that it was held by dangerous armed bandits. In fact the protesters had only improvised clubs and offered no resistance to the storming troops.

The officer, Andrey Chuikov, said he would no longer take “criminal” orders and announced his resignation from the police, adding that he would be sacked anyway by his superiors for speaking to the press.

Satellite images reveal Russian military buildup on Ukraine's border

Nato has released satellite images of the Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s eastern border: a powerful concentration of fighter planes, helicopters, artillery, infantry and special forces which officials say could be ready to move with just 12 hours notice.

The images appear to undermine official suggestions from Moscow that there is nothing unusual about the troop movements, nor any reason to be alarmed.

The pictures show rows of hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles apparently waiting for orders in fields and other temporary locations around 30 miles (50km) from the frontier. The images, taken in the past two weeks, show some of what Nato said was around 100 staging areas that were almost entirely unoccupied in February.

One of the images showed the previously empty Buturlinovka airbase 90 miles from the border now hosting dozens of fast jets, even though there are no hangars or other infrastructure normally associated with such activity. Another, of Belgorod, 25 miles from the border, showed about 21 helicopters on a greenfield site – again with no hangers or infrastructure – which officials said could be part of a forward operating base.

Would NATO create propaganda? Hmmm...
NATO’s Russian troop build-up satellite images ‘show 2013 drills’

The satellite images released by NATO that allegedly show a current build-up of Russian troops near Ukrainian border were taken in August 2013 amid military drills, a source in the General Staff of the Russian Army has said.

NATO’s top military commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, on Wednesday claimed that there is evidence of what he says are 40,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, tweeting a link to satellite images.

The images, some of them colored and some black and white, appear to show multiple Russian tanks, helicopters, fighter jets and a “special forces brigade” with locations and dates added to them. The dates marked range from March 22 to March 27, 2014. Another image not available on the original webpage but used by some Western media has “April 2, 2014” stamped on it.

Upon looking at the photos, a senior official at the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces has confirmed to RIA Novosti the troops shown are indeed Russian ones and that they were photographed in the south of Russia.

There is one problem, though: the images were taken some eight months before the stated date, the source said.

“These shots, which were distributed by NATO, show Russian Armed Forces units of the Southern Military District, which in the summer of last year were taking part in various drills, including near the Ukrainian border,” the General Staff official told RIA Novosti.

Hmmm... In Venezeula, there was a spate of right-wing propagandists, um, appropriating images from unrelated events and claiming them as evidence of government repression.  What a surprise to see the same propaganda tactics being used in relation to Ukraine (not) ...
Ukraine Media War: Fake content triggers big news

Ukraine PM offers more power to eastern regions to quell crisis

In an attempt to quell the deepening crisis in eastern Ukraine, the interim prime minister has offered to devolve more power to the regions.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk met officials in Donetsk on Friday, where pro-Russian separatists are occupying government buildings and demanding a referendum on independence from Kiev.

Yatsenyuk did not meet with representatives of the protesters, nor did he offer any detail on how his vision of devolution differed from that of the separatists.

The officials whom Yatsenyuk met asked him to allow referendums on autonomy for their regions, not on secession. ...

The pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk, who have held the regional administration building since Sunday, initially called for a referendum on secession but later reduced the demand to one on autonomy, with the possibility of holding another later on whether the region would remain part of Ukraine or seek to become an autonomous region within Russia.

The West Can 'Win' Ukraine, But It's Going To Cost A Lot Of Money

[In “How the West can win Ukraine,” Katie]Engelhart openly suggests that Poland’s two decade-run of economic growth (described as a “golden age” by the usually-reserved World Bank) provides a template for transforming Ukraine from a bankrupt, corrupt, inefficient, oligarch-dominated, and poverty stricken mess into a modern European industrial democracy. ...

While it still has its problems, particularly the emigration of highly skilled and highly educated young people, Poland’s transformation into a vital part of the European Union is genuine. It ought to be celebrated not just because it represents a victory for “Europe” but because it has enormously bettered the lives of Poland’s citizens.  The problem, unfortunately, is that Poland hasn’t discovered some magic formula for reform-driven growth that can be subtly re-worked based on a particular country’s unique needs. ...

According to Engelhart Poland has “received more than $154 billion in foreign aid” over the just past decade and is scheduled to receive another $150 billion between 2014 and 2020. So over a roughly 20 year span Poland will have received over three hundred billion dollars worth of external assistance. That’s an enormous and sustained economic stimulus which puts Poland’s accomplishments in a very different light. “Country is heavily subsidized by its wealthier neighbors, experiences economic growth” isn’t a very captivating tale.

Now the United States and the European Union are capable of offering Ukraine a similarly generous deal. ... The problem, however, is not financial but political: Ukraine hasn’t been (and won’t be) much of a priority for the US or the EU while it is Russia’s single most important foreign policy objective. Given the still-ongoing economic turmoil in the developed world, slumping average wages, elevated unemployment, growing inequality, lackluster growth, it’s simply not realistic to expect the onset of a massive package of aid to Ukraine. ... If Ukraine wants to finds its way into Europe it’s going to have to do it on its own.

Ukrainian regime announces utility price hikes

Last week, the new Western-backed regime in Ukraine announced massive price hikes in utilities. The increases to the cost of natural gas for cooking and home heating will drive millions of families in Ukraine into poverty. The government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, which came to power in a US-backed coup in February, states that the hikes are necessary to meet the country’s budgetary constraints and the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Starting May 1, Ukrainian households will be hit with a 40 percent average increase in their gas bills. This will be followed by another 40 percent hike in 2015, and 20 percent in each of the two subsequent years.

Overall, the government promises to raise the average cost of gas by 120 percent over a four-year span, although commentators note that the total rise relative to what customers are currently paying may be much larger. It is unclear whether subsequent increases will be based on the 2014 price or the consecutively elevated prices year-over-year. ...

The government acknowledges that the policy will drive another 2.6 to 3 million families—about 9 to 12 million people—into poverty, but insists that this disaster will be mitigated by the fact that these households will now be eligible for subsidies to offset the price hikes to utilities.

The utility hikes come alongside a spate of measures that tear up whatever remained of Ukraine’s social safety net. Retirees whose pensions exceed 10,000 hryvnia ($845) will have to pay a 15 percent tax on these earnings. Benefits for state employees are to be axed. ... In an indication of how the Ukrainian government intends to overcome its fiscal crisis, the Ministry of Finance warned earlier this month that just 10 percent of the country’s planned expenditures on social services are actually funded.

US Mercenaries and Right Sector Fighters Move Into Donetsk – Militia Leader

DONETSK, Ukraine, April 10 (RIA Novosti) – A ragtag band of US mercenaries, Ukrainian National Guard soldiers, and fighters from the radical Right Sector movement have arrived in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk to raid a building occupied by anti-government protestors, a leader of a local militia group told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

“About a hundred people from the National Guard are housed at the Donetsk airport,” said Sergey Tsyplakov, the deputy director of a local group called the People’s Militia of the Donbas.

“Around a hundred Right Sector thugs are also in the city, as well as a hundred employees from a private US military company operating under contract with the Kiev junta,” he added.

“In total, there are around 300 professionals and well-trained and motivated fanatics,” Tsyplakov said. “This is a major force, but we are ready to fight.” ...

"Representatives of Kiev have repeatedly told us to lay down the firearms which, in their opinion, we possess. However, neither I, nor anyone else, have seen any weapons here. We are defending ourselves by impromptu means," Tsyplakov said.

Donetsk police have refused to disperse the protesters occupying the building.

Standoff between gvt, protesters intensifies, 24 hours before Kiev ultimatum ends

With 24 hours until Kiev’s threatened deadline to use force against anti-government protesters occupying buildings in eastern Ukraine, reports emerge of tanks around the city of Donetsk. Several locals were allegedly injured trying to stop the convoy.

An eyewitness confirmed the information about military forces arriving in the city in an interview with RT.

“At about 2pm we received information that military hardware had arrived at our local train station. We went there and saw APCs, military vehicles and troops. The whole town gathered nearby. The soldiers tried to start moving, and the people tried to stop the vehicles,” Lyudmila said.

She also noted the harsh response from the military when the locals attempted to stop them.

“The soldiers twisted the arms of pensioners, there were two men standing there and [the soldiers] drove over their feet [in tanks]. I was pulled back by local coalminers while I tried to stop the vehicles. They didn’t even look at who was in front of them. The men started shouting for them to stop, saying there were girls and women in front of them, but they didn’t care.”

According to a decree signed by coup-imposed leader Aleksandr Turchinov, the local administration building in Donetsk and surrounding territory is an “important government facility, which is a subject to state protection.”

Holocaust memorial vandalized in Odessa, Kiev protesters call to burn WWII hero symbols

The memorial to Holocaust victims in Odessa, erected on the square named after a Soviet commander Fedor Tolobyhin, has been vandalized overnight on Tuesday, local media reported.

Unidentified people painted the memorial with swastikas and wolf hooks, symbols that have been connected with Nazi ideology since the beginning of the 20th century. ...

This is not the first time WWII monument is vandalized in post-coup Ukraine. In late February the ‘Soviet Soldier’ – a monument commemorating the collective sacrifice of the Soviet army against Nazi forces – was toppled in the town of Stryi, western Ukraine.

Meanwhile, protesters in Kiev are demanding to send to prison for wearing St. George’s ribbons, symbol of WWII heroes, and other “Russian symbols.”

“We really want to rip off… St. George’s ribbon. It has stopped to be the symbol commemorating war, turning into a pro-Russian symbol” said the article “Rip off St George’s ribbon” in the a Ukrainian daily the “Commentary.”

Ukraine crisis: ‘If they storm us, they will end up killing a lot of civilians’, say pro-Russian occupiers of administrative building in Donetsk

One of the men tore off his balaclava, declaring he was not afraid to be identified; the face beneath was painted bright blue. Another was armed with what appeared to be a harpoon, others were preparing Molotov cocktails. Outside piles of tyres, bags of cement and rolls of razor wire were being assembled. The Peoples’ Republic of Donetsk was preparing fresh defences against an expected onslaught. ...

The acting interior minister in Kiev, Arsen Avakov, had announced that a “special police task force” had already arrived in Donetsk. There was, however, no security presence near the “siege” in the city centre. ... Twenty miles to the west, Ukrainian armoured personnel carriers and light artillery had been stopped by pro-Russian local people lined up across the road. There were prolonged arguments; the officers tried to stress that they were, in fact, headed for the border, across which 40,000 Russian troops are reported to be stationed.

The demonstrators accused them of lying, accusing them of trying to “invade Donetsk”. As the impasse continued, 63-year-old Liliana accused the soldiers of being rough earlier on. “They were pushing people on to the ground, twisting arms behind their backs” she said. “They were trying to part the way through women with their vehicles, I was in the army once. I thought the behaviour was disgusting.” ...

Svetlana Vorosilovina was adamant that the Donbass region could not stay with the west of the country, “because there is always the danger that those fascists from the Maidan [the centre of protests in Kiev] will come and do terrible things. Did you say you were in the Maidan? Then you must have seen they beheaded people there?” Mrs Vorosilovina, 76, simply would not accept that it did not happen.

Her granddaughter, Natalya, smiled: “She’s a bit confused, maybe she is confusing it with Syria, isn’t that what people backed by America and Britain are doing, cutting off peoples’ heads? A big emotion here is fear, maybe some of it is due to propaganda, but we see all these right-wing people getting into government in Kiev and for people like my grandmother, it brings back memories of the War, of Nazis. People in the West wouldn’t understand that.”

The Modern History of Venezuela

Angela Merkel denied access to her NSA file

The US government is refusing to grant Angela Merkel access to her NSA file or answer formal questions from Germany about its surveillance activities, raising the stakes before a crucial visit by the German chancellor to Washington.

Merkel will meet Barack Obama in three weeks, on her first visit to the US capital since documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been monitoring her phone.

The face-to-face meeting between the two world leaders had been intended as an effort to publicly heal wounds after the controversy, but Germany remains frustrated by the White House's refusal to come clean about its surveillance activities in the country.

In October, Obama personally assured Merkel that the US is no longer monitoring her calls, and promised it will not do so in the future. However, Washington has not answered a list of questions submitted by Berlin immediately after Snowden's first tranche of revelations appeared in the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, months before the revelations over Merkel's phone.

The Obama's administration has also refused to enter into a mutual "no-spy" agreement with Germany, in part because Berlin is unwilling or unable to share the kinds of surveillance material the Americans say would be required for such a deal.

Merkel is intensely aware of the importance of the surveillance controversy for her domestic audience, and is planning to voice Germany's concerns privately with White House officials and leading senators. She will also be "forthright" in confronting the issue if she is asked by reporters during a press conference with Obama, according to a well-placed source with knowledge of the trip.

Trial of Occupy activist struggles to find jurors impartial to protest movement

It is the most important question being asked of dozens of New Yorkers lined up as potential jurors for the trial of Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist accused of assaulting a police officer: what do you think of her protest movement?

Unfortunately for those keen on the swift procession of justice, a series of Manhattan residents who presented themselves at the criminal courthouse this week declared that they strongly disagreed with it – and could not promise to be impartial about one of its members.

“I’m involved in Wall Street things. I’m on the Wall Street side, not their side,” George Yih, one of a group of prospective jurors whose names were plucked from a tombola by the clerk, said under questioning from Judge Ronald Zweibel on Wednesday. “They can protest all they want, but they can’t brainwash my mind.”

Yih was removed from a shortlist for the panel that will decide if McMillan, 25, assaulted Officer Grantley Bovell by striking him with her arm at Zuccotti Park in March 2012. McMillan denies the felony charge and says that she was reacting to having one of her breasts grabbed from behind. She faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

But Yih’s remarks were only the first in a succession of criticisms against the anti-capitalist movement made throughout the day by other would-be jurors. Each said that he or she had ties to a finance industry that holds about one in nine jobs in New York City and pays more than a third of the total wages earned annually in Manhattan.

And as one after the other was rejected – either by McMillan’s attorneys, state prosecutors, or the judge – a jury selection process that the defence had hoped would be completed in one day reached the end of a second with only seven of the 12 jurors’ seats filled.

"Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA": New Book Envisions Greater Democracy, World Without Capitalism

SEC eyes test that may lead to shift away from 'dark pools'

U.S. securities regulators are considering testing a proposed reform that could drive business to major stock exchanges and away from alternative trading venues such as "dark pools" that critics say may be hurting investors by reducing the quality of pricing.

The proposal, which has so far only been discussed among staff involved in policymaking at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, could limit how much trading occurs inside brokerages and in dark pools, according to people familiar with the matter.

The measure aims to address a concern among some regulators and academics about the increasing level of trading that happens outside of exchanges.

They say that the amount of trading being done in the "dark" means that publicly quoted prices for stocks on exchanges may no longer properly reflect where the market is, meaning that investors may not be getting the best prices for their trades. ...

Dark pools were created to allow large investors to trade big blocks of trades without tipping off the broader market. Brokerages also offer similar dark markets internally to their clients. ...

Around 40 percent of all U.S. stock trades, including almost all orders from "mom and pop" investors that go through brokerages, now happen "off exchange," up from around 16 percent six years ago.

Some corrupt Rethugs and anti-union jagoffs need to be smacked down hard:
Evidence of GOP Interference in VW Election Is Now Overwhelming

Last week's disclosure by respected Tennessee journalist Phil Williams concerning Republican dirty tricks in the Chattanooga union election demonstrates beyond any doubt that the GOP committed grand theft at Volkswagen. The confidential documents obtained by Williams show that Governor Bill Haslam offered Volkswagen $300 million contingent on the outcome of the election, and that Sen. Bob Corker's chief of staff coordinated anti-UAW messaging with Tennessee Republicans and anti-union groups. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must restore democracy and overturn the flawed election. ...

Neither Haslam nor his staffers have been able to explain the revelations. ... Media coverage of the confidential documents has focused on Haslam's chicanery, but equally significant is the evidence of collusion between Republicans and anti-union professionals. The day before voting started, [Sen. Bob] Corker's chief of staff discussed messaging around the three ["union avoidance" firm] Projections' videos with various anti-union organizations, thus showing a high degree of coordination, which Republicans had previously denied.

Speaking of corrupt Rethug jagoffs that need to be smacked down hard, here's pension-stealing Rhambo:
How corrupt Chicago politics fueled the high-frequency trading mess

The New York Times this week reports that the buzz surrounding Michael Lewis’s new book “Flash Boys” has “revived support in some quarters for a tax on financial transactions, with backers arguing that a tiny surcharge on trades would have many benefits.” Noting that President Obama’s argument against such a tax is that financial firms would inevitably circumvent it, the Times’ editorial board says that translates into: “No politician has the courage to enforce a tax on Wall Street,” at least “until campaign finance reform is a reality.”

Not coincidentally, Obama’s hometown seems to prove this truism. In the course of Pando’s recent investigation into Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) and his ties to high-frequency traders like Kenneth Griffin, the link between campaign cash and giveaways to the financial industry was a recurring theme. One of those giveaways, in fact, occurred at the intersection of taxation, technology and financial speculation at various securities exchanges in Chicago. ...

In 2011, Chicago’s Inspector General issued a report noting that with more than 3 billion stock trades passing through the city, and with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) now “the largest derivatives exchange in the world,” the city could raise roughly $37 million a year with a tiny $.01 tax on each contract traded. It was a proposal championed by, among others, the Chicago Political Economy Group.

The beauty of the proposal was that if the tax didn’t raise Chicago the projected revenues, that would probably be because the levy at least interfered with – and perhaps slowed down – the high-frequency trading that has been harming regular investors. This might have had a broad positive impact on the larger market, considering that, according to the Wall Street Journal, the CME has been one of the key venues for high-speed trading and its attendant abuses.

Yet, with Emanuel raking in campaign money from Griffin and employees at his high-frequency hedge fund, and with CME being one of Emanuel’s largest donors, politics in Chicago and Illinois ignored the financial transaction tax proposal and moved in exactly the opposite direction. As one firefighter told the Chicago Reader after personally pitching the transaction tax proposal to the mayor: “The idea that you can actually tax these pricks is not something he’s going to do. Better to cut the pensions of retired firefighters.”

Those proposed pension cuts from Emanuel came this year, of course. Before that, though, came the tax giveaways of 2011. That year, CME publicly defended high-speed trading and Emanuel, a former board member of CME, helped make sure that the city and state not only failed to enact the transaction tax, but actually went ahead and slashed existing taxes on electronic trading.

Fuck The Poor?

The Evening Greens

Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit Their Highest Point In 800,000 Years

MaunaLoaKeelingCurveThe concentration of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that drives climate change, hit 402 parts per million this week — the highest level recorded in at least 800,000 years.

The recordings came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which marked another ominous milestone last May when the 400 ppm threshold was crossed for the first time in recorded history.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels spike every spring but this year the threshold was crossed in March, two months earlier than last year. In fact, it’s happening “at faster rates virtually every decade,” according to James Butler, Director of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division, a trend that “is consistent with rising fossil fuel emissions.”

400 ppm was long considered a very serious measurement but it isn’t the end — it’s just a marker on the road to ever-increasing carbon pollution levels, Butler explained in an interview on NOAA’s website. “It is a milestone, marking the fact that humans have caused carbon dioxide concentrations to rise 120 ppm since pre-industrial times, with over 90 percent of that in the past century alone. We don’t know where the tipping points are.”

Naomi Klein: Why US fracking companies are licking their lips over Ukraine

The way to beat Vladimir Putin is to flood the European market with fracked-in-the-USA natural gas, or so the industry would have us believe. As part of escalating anti-Russian hysteria, two bills have been introduced into the US Congress – one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6), one in the Senate (S. 2083) – that attempt to fast-track liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, all in the name of helping Europe to wean itself from Putin's fossil fuels, and enhancing US national security. ...

The industry's use of the crisis in Ukraine to expand its global market under the banner of "energy security" must be seen in the context of this uninterrupted record of crisis opportunism. Only this time many more of us know where true energy security lies. Thanks to the work of top researchers such as Mark Jacobson and his Stanford team, we know that the world can, by the year 2030, power itself entirely with renewables. And thanks to the latest, alarming reports from the IPCC, we know that doing so is now an existential imperative. ...

Given this, it's up to Europeans to turn their desire for emancipation from Russian gas into a demand for an accelerated transition to renewables. Such a transition – to which European nations are committed under the Kyoto protocol – can easily be sabotaged if the world market is flooded with cheap fossil fuels fracked from the US bedrock. And indeed Americans Against Fracking, which is leading the charge against the fast-tracking of LNG exports, is working closely with its European counterparts to prevent this from happening.

Responding to the threat of catastrophic warming is our most pressing energy imperative. And we simply can't afford to be distracted by the natural gas industry's latest crisis-fuelled marketing ploy.

Momentum on Fossil Fuel Divestment Grows As Harvard Professors, Desmond Tutu Call For Action

Desmond Tutu: We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet

This week in Berlin, scientists and public representatives have been weighing up radical options for curbing emissions contained in the third report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The bottom line is that we have 15 years to take the necessary steps. The horse may not have bolted, but it's well on its way through the stable door.

Who can stop it? Well, we can, you and I. And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so. ... It is clear that those countries and companies primarily responsible for emitting carbon and accelerating climate change are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money. They need a whole lot of gentle persuasion from the likes of us. And it need not necessarily involve trading in our cars and buying bicycles!

There are many ways that all of us can fight against climate change: by not wasting energy, for instance. But these individual measures will not make a big enough difference in the available time.

People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies. We can demand that the advertisements of energy companies carry health warnings. We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil-fuel industry. We can organise car-free days and build broader societal awareness. We can ask our religious communities to speak out.

We can actively encourage energy companies to spend more of their resources on the development of sustainable energy products, and we can reward those companies that do so by using their products. We can press our governments to invest in renewable energy and stop subsidising fossil fuels. Where possible, we can install our own solar panels and water heaters.

We cannot necessarily bankrupt the fossil fuel industry. But we can take steps to reduce its political clout, and hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up the mess.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Homeless Lose a Longtime Last Resort: Living in a Car

Black Pathology and the Closing of the Progressive Mind

Barack Obama pulls a George W. Bush: Lies, misinformation and chemical weapons

40 Central Banks Are Betting This Will Be The Next Reserve Currency

Teaching while transgender

A Little Night Music

Blind John Davis - I Almost Lost My Mind

Blind John Davis - My Own Boogie

Blind John Davis & Eddie Taylor - Groundhog Blues

Blind John Davis - Alley Woman Blues

Blind John Davis - When The Blues Birds Come Out To Sing

John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson w/Blind John Davis - Stop Breaking Down

Blind John Davis - No Mail Today

Blind John Davis - Run Away Boogie

Blind John Davis - Pine Top's Boogie Woogie

Doctor Clayton w Blind John Davis - Moonshine man blues

Memphis Minnie w/Blind John Davis - Shout the Boogie

Blind John Davis interviewed by Studs Terkel

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 Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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