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 singer and harmonica player Paul Butterfield. Enjoy!
Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Driftin' Blues
“Answers to leading questions under torture naturally tell us nothing about the beliefs of the accused; but they are good evidence for the beliefs of the accusers.”
-- C.S. Lewis
News and Opinion
Suspect in USS Cole bombing was tortured, expert says
The Saudi prisoner awaiting a death-penalty trial for the USS Cole bombing was tortured physically, mentally and sexually, an expert in treating torture victims testified Thursday at the war court.
Dr. Sondra Crosby offered the diagnosis in open court during carefully choreographed testimony that never once mentioned that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 49, got to Guantanamo after four years of CIA captivity, during which he was interrogated with waterboarding and threats to his mother and was threatened with a revving power drill.
"I believe that Mr. al-Nashiri has suffered torture - physical, psychological and sexual torture," Crosby said.
At issue is a defense claim - al-Nashiri's lawyers describe it as medical malpractice - that Guantanamo prison's military doctors have not treated him for the trauma he suffered at the hands of the CIA. A military medical board diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder last year. Now his defense lawyers want the judge to freeze Dec. 4 trial preparations until he is treated.
Case prosecutor Navy Lt. Bryan Davis tried repeatedly to block the testimony of Crosby, an internist who said she treats victims of torture daily in her Boston-based practice and has seen more than 500 victims or possible victims in her career.
But the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, accepted her expertise and allowed her to describe in some detail the basis for the diagnosis. Prosecutors then chose not to challenge her finding through cross-examination.
Guantánamo Bay detainees' release upon end of Afghanistan war 'unlikely'
Typically, when a war ends, so does the combatants’ authority to detain the other side’s fighters. But as the conclusion of the US war in Afghanistan approaches, the inmate population of Guantánamo Bay is likely to be an exception – and, for the Obama administration, the latest complication to its attempt to close the infamous wartime detention complex.
In December, when President Barack Obama and his Nato allies formally end their combat role in Afghanistan, US officials indicate there is unlikely to be a corresponding release of detainees at Guantánamo who were captured during the country's longest conflict.
The question has been the subject of recent internal debate in the Obama administration, which is wrapped up in the broader question of future detention policy.
Already human rights groups and lawyers for the detainees say they anticipate filing a new wave of lawsuits challenging the basis for a wartime detention after the war ends – the next phase in more than a decade of attempts to litigate the end of indefinite detention. ...
In December 2012 Jeh Johnson, the former top Pentagon lawyer and current Homeland Security secretary, mused in a speech at Oxford that even after the end of the AUMF, the US might possess residual wartime detention powers, citing a second world war precedent.
Obama Is Still Hiding the Legal Cover He Used to Kill an American
The Obama Administration has fought for years to hide its legal rationale for killing an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, after putting him on a secret kill list. ... Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon expressed frustration that, according to her legal analysis, the Freedom of Information Act couldn't force a disclosure. ... Americans ought to have been alarmed that, according to a federal judge, we're living in an "Alice in Wonderland" reality where leaders use the law to put themselves beyond the law. But no one paid much attention as The New York Times and the ACLU appealed the decision. On Monday, they won an important victory. ...
There's reason to celebrate a ruling that gets Americans one step closer to examining the logic Team Obama used to put U.S. citizens on a kill list despite the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which unambiguously declares that "no person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Perhaps we'll come to learn that Obama disgraced himself in the eyes of history with an unlawful killing, violating his solemn oath to "protect and defend the Constitution." After the innocent women and children who've died as a consequence of his drone war, unlawfully killing a higher-ranking member of al-Qaeda than many of those killed on his watch wouldn't be his worst sin.
It's still troubling that a court case is required to force clarity on the subject of who the president can kill, and that the outcome turns on the fact that Team Obama leaked to defend itself, as if the public's right to know the legal reasoning for a due process free killing ought to turn on whether the White House keeps mum about it.
It is lunacy to empower a president to kill American citizens in secret without any requirement that he explain his actions to anyone outside the executive branch. Anyone who tried to insert a provision like that into a country's constitution would be a villain of history. It is illiberal, unconservative, and unlibertarian, so in theory it shouldn't have much support. The fact that it's accepted without complaint by so many Americans, and actively defended by the Beltway establishment of both major political parties, shows the alarming degree to which we're willing to give fallible presidents dictatorial powers to fight terrorism.
Russia offers proposal to resolve Ukraine crisis
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, appears to have offered a deal to resolve the crisis in eastern Ukraine, suggesting that if the country's government clears out the nationalist protest camp in Kiev, then pro-Moscow separatists will lay down their arms.
Western officials greeted the proposal with scepticism, noting that such confidence-building measures were at the heart of an international agreement reached last week, but which failed to end the separatists' occupation of public buildings in eastern Ukraine. They said the protest camp in Independence Square in Kiev, erected in February during the uprising that toppled the Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych, was already being dismantled. ...
In unusually blunt language, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said on Thursday that unless Moscow took immediate steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, Washington would have no choice but to impose additional sanctions. He said it would be a grave and "expensive mistake". ...
Officials in Washington angrily rejected Moscow's characterisation of clashes with Ukrainian soldiers that raised tensions between the two cold war foes to dangerously high levels.
US to Russia: End Ukraine Protests or Face Immediate Sanctions
After Ukrainian troops killed five protesters today in Slovyansk, the odds of the protesters simply giving up and embracing the pro-US government are slim to none, and the Obama Administration is still holding out hope Russia can somehow “order” the protesters to stop their protesting.
It’s not so much a hope as a demand, really, as the White House and the State Department are both presenting it as an obligation Russia has under the terms of last week’s Geneva deal, at least near as the US sees it.
President Obama insists the next round of anti-Russia sanctions are all “teed up” and ready to go, saying Russia needs to publicly condemn the “malicious” protesters seeking autonomy in Ukraine’s east. ...
Russia has insisted that they don’t have the authority to order the protesters to abandon their calls for autonomy, and has chided the US for endorsing military action against them as an acceptable solution.
Merkel warns Putin to do more to end Ukraine crisis
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Friday that she told Vladimir Putin that Russia had not done enough to implement the Geneva accord and EU foreign ministers would meet as soon as possible to contemplate further sanctions against Russia.
At a news conference in Berlin with Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk, Merkel said Russia had the means to convince the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine to take a peaceful route but showed no sign of doing so.
"I spoke to the Russian president this morning and made clear again that on the one hand Ukraine has taken a whole series of steps to implement the Geneva accord but on the other side I see no Russian backing for the accord which would of course have an effect on the separatists in Ukraine," she said.
"We will therefore have to react. This will be a joint European action and an action by the G7 ... because of the lack of progress we will have to contemplate further sanctions within the second stage of sanctions."
John Kerry calls out Russia Today, but for some reason fails to mention that the New York Times just had to retract a front page story about Ukraine based on information given to it by the US Government and endorsed by it. Why, the US Government would never use the American privately owned media system to spread propaganda, because it dosen't own the mockingbird so that it could run a military information operation.
Vladimir Putin warns of 'consequences' after Slavyansk skirmishNuland's puppet stopped eating the cookies long enough to make a ridiculous accusation:
Thousands of Russian troops launched exercises along the Ukrainian border on Thursday and President Vladimir Putin threatened "consequences" after the Kiev government attempted to wrest back control from pro-Moscow separatists in the east of the country.
An operation by Ukrainian troops near the rebel-held town of Slavyansk led to clashes on the outskirts of the city in which Kiev claimed five separatists had been killed. Local reports suggested only two casualties and the small Ukrainian force did not enter the city centre.
After the skirmish, the government soldiers retreated to a checkpoint six miles out of town after what appeared to be a more symbolic than strategic move.
Putin's response was immediate. "If the Kiev government is using the army against its own people this is clearly a grave crime," he declared as Russian units from among the 40,000 troops massed on Ukraine's eastern border went on manoeuvres.
Russia's defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said the drills would involve ground troops and warplanes. Referring to the Ukrainian operation around Slavyansk, he said: "If today this military machine is not stopped, it will lead to a large number of the dead and wounded ...We have to react to such developments."
Russia wants to start third world war, says Yats
The Ukrainian prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, has accused Russia of wanting to start a third world war by occupying Ukraine "militarily and politically".
"The world has not yet forgotten world war two, but Russia already wants to start world war three," he told his interim cabinet in remarks broadcast live. "Attempts at military conflict in Ukraine will lead to a military conflict in Europe."
In some of the strongest language he has used so far during the crisis, Yatseniuk accused Moscow of acting like a gangster supporting terrorists.
"It is clear that Russia's goal is to wreck the election in Ukraine, remove the pro-western and pro-Ukrainian government and occupy Ukraine politically as well as military," he added.
Ukraine’s far-right leader moves HQ to the east, forms new squadron
Ukrainian radical neo-fascist Right Sector group has moved its main headquarters from Kiev to Dnepropetrovsk to “closely monitor” the developments in the east, its leader said, announcing the formation of yet another paramilitary squadron in Ukraine.
“I moved my headquarters to Dnepropetrovsk. The purpose is to prevent the spread of the Kremlin infection,” Ukrainian presidential candidate and Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh announced at a press conference in Dnepropetrovsk.
He says the vital industrial city in Ukraine, Dnepropetrovsk provides a better platform to observe the situation in Donbass where pro-federalization protests are flourishing, after the coup in Kiev.
Yarosh, placed by Russia on an international most wanted terrorist list, also announced that he started forming a special squad of fighters called “Donbass.”
“We coordinate all of our actions with the leadership of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security service of Ukraine,” Yarosh said.
Local media reports that the unit will comprise about 800 fighters.
Beneath the Ukraine Crisis: Shale Gas
Ukraine has Europe’s third-largest shale gas reserves at 42 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. While for years U.S. oil companies have been pressing for shale gas development in countries such as Britain, Poland, France and Bulgaria only to be rebuffed by significant opposition from citizens and local legislators concerned about the environmental impacts of shale gas extraction – including earthquakes and groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – there has been considerably less opposition in Ukraine, a country that has been embroiled in numerous gas disputes with the Russian Federation in recent years. ...
On Nov. 5, 2013 (just a few weeks before the Maidan demonstrations began in Kiev), Chevron signed a 50-year agreement with the Ukrainian government to develop oil and gas in western Ukraine. ... On Nov. 27, the Ukrainian government signed another production-sharing agreement with a consortium of investors led by Italian energy company Eni to develop unconventional hydrocarbons in the Black Sea. ... Royal Dutch Shell is also engaged in the country, having signed an agreement last year with the government of Yanukovych to explore a shale formation in eastern Ukraine. When it comes to Crimea, numerous oil companies including Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, Repsol and even Petrochina have shown interest in developing its offshore energy assets. ...
It is clear that all of these oil and gas companies – backed by their governments, including those of the Russian Federation and the United States – are deeply embroiled in the Ukrainian crisis, with much invested and much at stake. But with their disproportionate influence over Ukraine’s future, it should be kept in mind that the number one responsibility of any corporation is to increase profit margins for its shareholders, not necessarily to promote the democracy or sovereignty of the countries they are operating in.
This is particularly the case for Chevron and Shell, both of which have been implicated in major human rights violations in Nigeria. Chevron has been accused of recruiting and supplying Nigerian military forces involved in massacres of environmental protesters in the oil-rich Niger Delta, and Shell has faced charges of complicity in torture and other human rights abuses against the Ogoni people of southern Nigeria.
Putin calls internet a 'CIA project' renewing fears of web breakup
Vladimir Putin gave his clearest signal yet that he aims to break up the global nature of the internet when he branded the network a "CIA project" on Thursday.
The Russian president told a media conference in St Petersburg that America's overseas espionage agency had originally set up the internet and was continuing to develop it.
Putin has long hinted that he wants a Russian-run alternative. The idea of breaking up the internet has gained ground in Germany, Brazil and elsewhere round the world in the light of the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the extent to which the US National Security Agency has infiltrated Facebook, Skype and other social media.
Snowden's critics say that an unintended consequences of his revelations has been to undermine the global nature of the web as well as playing into the hands of dictators. His supporters counter that it is the NSA rather than Snowden that has damaged trust in the service. ...
[Putin's] remarks come in the wake of a law passed by the Russian parliament this week requiring foreign social media websites to keep their servers in Russia. The law also requires them to save all information about their users for at least six months.
“Utopian Potential of the Internet”: Astra Taylor on How to Take Back Power & Culture in Digital Age
Ecuador expels US military staff
Ecuador has ordered all 20 Defense Department employees in the US embassy's military group to leave the country by month's end, the Associated Press has learned.
The group was ordered to halt operations in Ecuador in a letter dated 7 April, said embassy spokesman Jeffrey Weinshenker. ...
President Rafael Correa had publicly complained in January that Washington had too many military officers in Ecuador, claiming there were 50, and said they had been "infiltrated in all sectors." At the time, he said he planned to order some to leave. ...
In November, Correa's government said it was asking the US Agency for International Development to end operations in the country, accusing it of backing the opposition.
USAID is to end operations in September when programs it is funding have run their course.
Turkish soldiers inside Syria abducted by Islamist rebels, news reports say
ISTANBUL — Turkish troops conducting a resupply mission to a small Turkish military post inside Syrian territory were ambushed and detained Wednesday by Islamic extremists affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to Turkish media reports.
The troops were later returned to Turkey, news outlets in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa said. But it wasn’t clear what happened to the four armored personnel carriers they’d been traveling in. One report said ISIS had kept the vehicles, which had been seen flying ISIS flags.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday confirmed that a convoy had been sent to the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. The tomb lies about 15 miles inside Syria, but Turkey claims sovereignty over the area under a 1921 territory. Erdogan said the convoy had been sent to deliver supplies to the Turkish military contingent assigned to guard the tomb.
He did not, however, mention the ISIS ambush or the abduction of the Turkish troops, an incident that could put Turkey’s military, widely regarded as the region’s best equipped, on a collision course with ISIS, whose militants are fighting both Syrian government forces and other anti-government rebel groups for control of eastern Syria.
Israel suspends peace talks with Palestinians after Fatah-Hamas deal
Israel has hit back hard following an agreement on Palestinian unity by suspending already faltering peace negotiations just days before the expiry of a deadline for the US-brokered process.
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, accused the western-backed Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, of forming an alliance with Hamas, which he called "a terrorist organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel" – and hinted at further retaliatory measures. ...
On the face of it, the decision to suspend talks is a blow to the US secretary of state, John Kerry, who has spent almost nine months trying to coax Israelis and Palestinians into an agreement about the conflict's most contentious issues. ... Israeli anger at the Fatah-Hamas deal was predictable. But some observers suggested the situation suited Israel's prime minister. "With the deal, Netanyahu had a perfect alibi," wrote Noam Sheizaf. ...
The reconciliation has grown out of the failure of the peace talks. It has advantages for Abbas, who faces a crisis of legitimacy and has nothing to show for his moderation – enemies call it "collaboration" –except more Israeli settlements.
Lots of pomp but no trade deal in Obama’s visit to Japan
TOKYO — President Barack Obama spent his first full day of a weeklong Asia trip aimed at renewing U.S. ties to the region with the red-carpeted pomp of a state dinner, a visit to a shrine _ where he left a prayer card _ and the “full trust” of Japan’s prime minister that the U.S. will back it in a tiff over disputed land with China.
Obama isn’t leaving here with a long-sought agreement on opening up Asia to trade with the United States, but he heads Friday to South Korea with a measure of support from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who repeatedly called him “Barack” during a joint news conference. (The president countered with just one mention of “Shinzo,” otherwise sticking with “Prime Minister Abe.”)
Pennsylvania prison builder in 'kids-for-cash' scandal to be sentenced
Federal prosecutors say two Luzerne County judges took $2.1m in kickbacks from Robert Mericle, builder of a pair of for-profit youth detention centers. Former judges Mark Ciavarella Jr and Michael Conahan are serving lengthy prison sentences for their roles in the so-called "kids for cash" scandal.
Mericle pleaded guilty to concealing a felony. He faces eight to 14 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines but could receive less based on his testimony against Ciavarella. Mericle will be sentenced by a federal judge in Scranton.
The Evening Greens
Why do car dealers and Republicans want to eliminate Tesla?
Republicans often proclaim to be the party of small business, and they've been particularly boisterous of late in claiming that Democrats impose job-killing regulations on businesses or impose laws – like clean energy bills – that favor some businesses over others.
But the other week, it was New Jersey governor Chris Christie putting his finger on the economic scales, signing into law a ban on Tesla's direct-to-consumer sales model at the behest of his state's powerful auto dealership lobby.
In doing so, New Jersey joined the ranks of Arizona and Texas to outright ban Tesla from selling its electic cars directly to consumers through a Tesla showroom. Customers can still head to existing showrooms to inquire, look at design options and go for a test drive, but employees are forbidden by law to discuss any type of pricing or help the customer ... actually buy a car. A sign in the back informs would-be car buyers that any of that has to be done online or over the phone.
Why are dealerships spending so much time and money lobbying against a startup that only sold about 22,450 cars last year?
Because Tesla's innovative business model cuts out the monopolies created by the dealer system, and the profits they reap as middlemen. ... But the recent lobbying tactics aren't just aimed at squashing Tesla; car dealerships would like to unplug electric cars as a whole ... before they gain enough infrastructure and market presence to negatively impact the sales of gasoline-based vehicles.
Dealerships make most of their profit from regular maintenance services, but all-electric cars require less routine maintenance than gasoline ones. ... But instead of adapting, car dealers are spending their money to get state Republicans and Democrats to help them to hold onto their monopolies to fight Tesla.
Sweeping new Chinese laws tackle mounting pollution problems
BEIJING — China’s lawmakers approved sweeping new environmental protections this week amid mounting concerns over pollution poisoning the nation’s air, water and soil.
The amendments, approved Thursday by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, are the first revisions to China’s environmental protection law since it took effect in 1989, Chinese state media reported Friday.
Environmentalists inside and outside the world’s largest country are hopeful that the amendments will result in tougher fines against polluters, taking away the incentive many industries have to pay meager penalties instead of investing in cleaner technology. ...
Taking effect next Jan. 1, the new law eliminates China’s cap on environmental fines. ... The new law also modifies the evaluation system for government officials, ensuring that environmental protection is considered along with performance in meeting economic growth targets. It also would give nongovernmental organizations more ability to take legal action against polluters.
This last change could prove particularly significant, since citizens have been repeatedly blocked in using the courts to address damage caused by factories and power plants.
US Unprepared for Arctic Oil Spill
A warming Arctic and the clamor for more unconventional energy resources bring increased interest by fossil fuel giants in exploiting the fragile region's potential vast resources.
Yet a new report warns that the the United States is inadequately prepared to deal with an oil spill in the Arctic.
The nearly 200-page report issued Wednesday by the National Research Council follows years of warnings from environmental groups that there is no way to safely drill for oil in the Arctic. ...
From a changing climate to lack of infrastructure, lack of data about cleaning up oil in such a harsh environment, gaps of vessel traffic monitoring, the remote location, low Coast Guard presence, and shortfalls in scientific information on deterring wildlife from spills, the nation is not prepared to deal with the risks that will accompany drilling for oil in the Arctic, the report states.
"The lack of infrastructure in the Arctic would be a significant liability in the event of a large oil spill," the report notes.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
A Little Night Music
Paul Butterfield - Slowdown
Paul Butterfield - In My Own Dream
The Band (feat. Paul Butterfield) - Mystery Train
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Everything Going To Be Alright
Rick Danko & Paul Butterfield - Born in Chicago
Paul Butterfield Blues Band - I Got A Mind To Give Up Living
Paul Butterfield - Thank you Mr. Poobah
Muddy Waters & Paul Butterfield - Why Are People Like That?
Butterfield Blues Band - One More Heartache
Muddy Waters & Paul Butterfield - Long Distance Call
Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Mellow Down Easy
Chuck Berry, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield - It Wasn't Me/Sad Day, Long Night
Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Get Out Of My Life, Woman
Paul Butterfield Blues Band - LIVE - WPLJ 1970
It's National Pie Day!
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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.
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