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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 fiddler Don "Sugarcane" Harris formerly of the doo wop group Don and Dewey.  Enjoy!

Don "Sugarcane" Harris - Where's My Sunshine

“All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.”

  -- John Steinbeck

News and Opinion

Arming ISIS in Syria … Then Bombing Them in Iraq?

So, it looks like the US will ultimately use aerial strikes (and undoubtedly, Special Forces and mercenaries) in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) at the same time it is supplying them with lethal weapons in Syria.

This bears repeating. The US is arming ISIS in Syria and is now considering military action against them in neighboring Iraq. ...

And Washington added more fuel to the fire in Syria by announcing on June 6 that it would be sending “lethal aid” to the opposition there. National Security Advisor Susan Rice insisted that US weapons will only go to "vetted" opposition groups. No one really believes this, particularly with the porous Syria/Iraq border and Obama’s previous waiver of the law preventing the US from arming terrorist groups.

The only question is, how many of the lethal weapons Washington sent to Syria are now inside Iraq?  Talk about blowback – weapons the US provided are being used to take down US puppet-partners in Iraq. ...

Though Washington will surely try to paint possible US airstrikes in Iraq as something less than another war, sending missiles into another country is war, and would be another unthinkable, tragic mistake by the US.

Why Take the Neocons Seriously?

As President Barack Obama ponders whether the United States should respond militarily to advances into Iraq by Sunni extremists, the more pertinent question may be why does the mainstream U.S. news media give so much attention and credence to the neocons who laid the foundations for this disaster a decade ago.

It seems that the go-to guys for commentary continue to be the likes of Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of the horsemen of this apocalypse, while many of the same editorial writers at the Washington Post and elsewhere who paved the way to this Iraqi hell still chastise Obama for pulling out the U.S. troops in 2011 and demand that he reinsert the U.S. military now. ...

Though now stalled, the ISIS offensive has become the latest rationale for arguing that Obama must recommit the U.S. military behind the neocon agenda. But the bigger question is why any American still takes the neocons seriously.

As Obama Considers Drone Strikes in Iraq, Could U.S. Military Action Worsen Sectarian Conflict?

Kerry: Obama Weighing Drone Strikes in Iraq

In response to the surging violence in Iraq, President Obama is considering drone strikes and partnering militarily with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry told news anchor Katie Couric during an exclusive interview on Monday.

Kerry said Obama was giving "a very thorough vetting of every option that is available," including drone strikes, Yahoo News reports, affirming that the Administration is considering an aggressive response to the escalating civil conflict in Iraq, despite the growing call against U.S. military intervention which critical voices say was the root of the sectarian violence.

"Since 2003, the inner fight has been based on dividing Iraqis into sects and ethnic groups, like Sunni, Shia, Arab, Kurd, religiously Christian and Muslim,"Sami Rasouli, founder of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, recently said on Democracy Now! "That’s what is going on after the invasion. Iraq was one piece; now we see it falling apart."

Isis takes another Iraqi city as US and Iran prepare for Vienna talks

Jihadists in Iraq have captured another city as senior US and Iranian officials are expected to discuss possible cooperation in Iraq on the sidelines of nuclear talks in Vienna.

The US deputy secretary of state, William Burns, who held secret nuclear talks with Iran in 2013, is due in the Austrian capital, along with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The main order of business is a comprehensive nuclear deal, which is supposed to be completed by 20 July, but sweeping gains by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) in northern Iraq have made the insurgency an urgent priority for Washington and Tehran.

Isis has taken the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, the mayor of the city of 200,000 people told the Associated Press. A resident in Tal Afar, 260 miles north-west of Baghdad, said militants in pickup trucks with machine guns and jihadi banners were roaming the streets as gunfire rang out.

Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, suggested on Saturday that Iran might work with the US to stop Isis, which continues to make military gains.

Iraq, Syria Coordinate Air Strikes Against ISIS

As you might imagine by their name, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a problem for the governments of both Iraq and Syria, and the governments are said to be working together in retaliation.

Other rebel factions have reported increased Syrian air force activity over the past 24 hours, focusing on ISIS bases in Raqqa Province and Hasakeh, with Iraq providing them intelligence on targets. Raqqa is seen as ISIS de facto capital.

How an arrest in Iraq revealed Isis's $2bn jihadist network

Two days before Mosul fell to the Islamic insurgent group Isis (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), Iraqi commanders stood eyeballing its most trusted messenger. The man, known within the extremist group as Abu Hajjar, had finally cracked after a fortnight of interrogation and given up the head of Isis's military council.

"He said to us, 'you don't realise what you have done'," an intelligence official recalled. "Then he said: 'Mosul will be an inferno this week'.'

Several hours later, the man he had served as a courier and been attempting to protect, Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, lay dead in his hideout near Mosul. From the home of the dead man and the captive, Iraqi forces hoovered up more than 160 computer flash sticks which contained the most detailed information yet known about the terror group. ...

The group's leaders had been meticulously chosen. Many of those who reported to the top tier – all battle-hardened veterans of the insurgency against US forces nearly a decade ago – did not know the names of their colleagues. The strategic acumen of Isis was impressive – so too its attention to detail. "They had itemised everything," the source said. "Down to the smallest detail."

Over the past year, foreign intelligence officials had learned that Isis secured massive cashflows from the oilfields of eastern Syria, which it had commandeered in late 2012, and some of which it had sold back to the Syrian regime. It was also known to have reaped windfalls from smuggling all manner of raw materials pillaged from the crumbling state, as well as priceless antiquities from archaeological digs.

Bush Silent, But Blair says West Should Attack Iraq Again

Though President George W. Bush says he won't "weigh in" on the current crisis on Iraq, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has no such qualms.

As The Guardian reports:

The former prime minister said there was a huge range of options available, including air strikes and drones as used in Libya.

Blair was speaking on UK morning TV shows after writing a lengthy essay setting out how to respond to the Iraq crisis, including his belief that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not the cause of the country's implosion.

Both Blair and Bush are widely condemned as the two men most responsible for the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq that claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives and which many observers say led directly to the current catastrophe now taking place in the country and across the Middle East region.
Blair Has Finally Gone Mad

I have come to the conclusion that Tony Blair has finally gone mad. He wrote an essay on his website on Sunday (reproduced in the Telegraph) that struck me as unhinged in its refusal to face facts. In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help. ...

He tells us that Saddam was inevitably going to be toppled in a revolution, to be followed by a protracted and vicious religious civil war, and that therefore we (and more especially he) do not need to blame ourselves for our role in the catastrophe. As an attempt to rewrite history, this is frankly emetic.

The reality is that before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, there was no al‑Qaeda presence in that country, none at all. Saddam was a ruthless Ba’athist tyrant who treated his population with appalling brutality. But he did not have anything to do with the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre, and he did not possess Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The truth is that we destroyed the institutions of authority in Iraq without having the foggiest idea what would come next.

Chelsea Manning: Fog Machine of War: The US Military’s Campaign Against Media Freedom

As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan. I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance.

If you were following the news during the March 2010 elections in Iraq, you might remember that the American press was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success, complete with upbeat anecdotes and photographs of Iraqi women proudly displaying their ink-stained fingers. The subtext was that United States military operations had succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq.

Those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality.

Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and federal police, on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Detainees were often tortured, or even killed. ...

The embedded reporter program, which continues in Afghanistan and wherever the United States sends troops, is deeply informed by the military’s experience of how media coverage shifted public opinion during the Vietnam War. The gatekeepers in public affairs have too much power: Reporters naturally fear having their access terminated, so they tend to avoid controversial reporting that could raise red flags.

The New Cold War?

In Ukraine, a day of mourning shows nation divided

Church bells rang out over Kiev's Maidan square and hundreds of mourners bowed their heads in silence on Sunday, a national day of mourning, to honor 49 Ukrainian servicemen killed by pro-Russian separatists.

Few events illustrate more clearly the bitter chasm that has opened up between east Ukraine and the rest of the country of 45 million. Heroes to some, the 49 killed when a missile hit their plane on Saturday were enemies to others.  ...

[F]ew sympathizers could be found in east Ukraine, where leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) ignored Poroshenko's call for a day of mourning and did not arrange a minute's silence to remember the victims.

"We could hold a day of mourning every day for the children and ordinary citizens who are dead because of the Ukrainians," a DPR spokesman said. "In Kiev they're mourning the deaths of soldiers who were coming here to kill innocent people - it's unbelievable ... If they don't want soldiers to die, they shouldn't have violated Luhansk airspace." ...

"They wanted a war, now they can have it. War brings casualties and they have to face that," said Zina Demyanova, 60, an accountant.

Russia's Gazprom reduces gas to Ukraine after deadline passes

Russian natural gas exporter Gazprom reduced supplies to Ukraine on Monday after Kiev failed to meet a deadline to pay off its gas debts in a dispute that could disrupt supplies to the rest of Europe.

Announcing that Ukraine will now only get gas it pays for in advance, Moscow put the onus on its neighbour to guarantee the European Union receives supplies that transit through Ukraine.

Kiev and Moscow failed to agree overnight on the price of future gas deliveries, with both sides refusing to abandon well-established positions: Russia offering a discount and Ukraine rejecting it as a tool for political manipulation. ...

A source at Gazprom said supplies to Ukraine had been reduced as soon as the deadline passed. EU data suggested that volumes were broadly stable as of 0630 GMT, but it could take hours for data on Russian gas flows via Ukraine to reflect any reduction in supply in Slovakia or elsewhere.

Any reduction of supply could hit EU consumers, which get about a third of their gas needs from Russia, around half of it through pipelines that cross Ukraine. Earlier price disputes led to the 'gas wars' in 2006 and 2009 and Russian accusations that Ukraine stole gas destined for the rest of Europe.

"The gas for European consumers is being delivered at full volume and Naftogaz Ukraine is required to transit it," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told reporters.

The US government doesn't want you to know how the cops are tracking you

All across America, from Florida to Colorado and back again, the country's increasingly militarized local police forces are using a secretive technology to vacuum up cellphone data from entire neighborhoods – including from people inside their own homes – almost always without a warrant. This week, numerous investigations by major news agencies revealed the US government is now taking unbelievable measures to make sure you never find out about it. But a landmark court ruling for privacy could soon force the cops to stop, even as the Obama administration fights to keep its latest tool for mass surveillance a secret.

So-called International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers – more often called their popular brand name, "Stingray" – have long been the talk of the civil liberties crowd, for the indiscriminate and invasive way these roving devices conduct surveillance. Essentially, Stingrays act as fake cellphone towers (usually mounted in a mobile police truck) that police can point toward any given area and force every phone in the area to connect to it. So even if you're not making a call, police can find out who you've been calling, and for how long, as well as your precise location. As Nathan Freed Wessler of the ACLU explained on Thursday, "In one Florida case, a police officer explained in court that he 'quite literally stood in front of every door and window' with his stingray to track the phones inside a large apartment complex."

Yet these mass surveillance devices have largely stayed out of the public eye, thanks to the federal government and local police refusing to disclose they're using them in the first place – sometimes, shockingly, even to judges. As the Associated Press reported this week, the Obama administration has been telling local cops to keep information on Stingrays secret from members of the news media, even when it seems like local public records laws would mandate their disclosure.  ...

You may be asking: how, exactly, are the local cops getting their hands on such advanced military technology? Well, the feds are, in many cases, giving away the technology for free. When the US government is not loaning police agencies their own Stingrays, the Defense Department and Homeland Security are giving federal grants to cops, which allow departments to purchase the gear at the cost of $400,000 a pop from defense contractors like Harris Corporation, which makes the Stingray brand.

New Ruling Shows the NSA Can’t Legally Justify Its Phone Spying Anymore

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said no this week to tracking your movements using data from your cell phone without a warrant when it declared that this information is constitutionally protected.

The case, United States v. Davis , is important not only because it provides substantive and procedural protections against abuse of an increasingly common and highly invasive surveillance method. ... The prosecution had argued that cell tracking without a warrant is constitutional per the 1979 case Smith v. Maryland. In that case, the Supreme Court said that phone users have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in the phone numbers they dial, and therefore they aren’t protected under the Fourth Amendment. Key to the Smith case was the Court’s view that the suspect had knowingly disclosed the phone numbers to the phone company and therefore had no protection with regard to them. Additionally, Smith built on the 1976 case of United States v. Miller, which held that a person does not have Fourth Amendment rights in their bank records because they are the bank’s business records and not the customer’s private data. ...

This third-party doctrine is what the NSA has used to justify its current warrantless bulk collection of phone call records — revealed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden — as well as its past collection of internet transactional information, and its suspected acquisition of financial information. ... The Eleventh Circuit federal appellate court has rejected the idea, however, that Smith and Miller allow warrantless acquisition of business records that reveal intimate matters. Instead, the court looked to a more recent Supreme Court case — United States v. Jones (2012) — which held that attaching a GPS-tracking device to a vehicle and using the device to monitor the car’s movements was a trespass that violated the Fourth Amendment because it interfered with the defendant’s property interest in the car. In concurring opinions, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and four other justices added that the GPS surveillance “impinge[d] on expectations of privacy” because it allowed authorities to monitor every place a suspect traveled and infer many things about a suspect’s private life based on that information. ...

The appellate judges in Davis, by refusing to apply Smith and Miller to a case involving stored records, have taken a giant step toward undermining the legal justification propping up many of the government’s targeted and bulk metadata collection practices.

Guantánamo Bay tribunal to hear arguments over suspected FBI probe

A US war crimes tribunal will hear arguments on Monday over a suspected FBI investigation that may have created a conflict of interest for lawyers representing Guantánamo Bay inmates accused of orchestrating the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The Guantánamo Bay military commission is weighing a defence motion whether to abate or modify proceedings against the five inmates charged for their alleged involvement in the 9/11 attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The tribunal was adjourned in April after defence lawyers said FBI agents tried to turn a defence team expert on classified materials into an informant. Defence lawyers claimed the attempt raised a conflict of interest between them and their clients.

Judge Colonel James Pohl said in a filing this month the commission was concerned that an outside counsel appointed to look into the allegations had not adequately dealt with issues raised by the defence about the alleged FBI probe.

The panel also was unsure whether other investigations had been carried out that the defence knew nothing about, Pohl said.

Dave Zirin on the World Cup You Won’t See on TV: Protests, Tear Gas, Displaced Favela Residents

There's some interesting economic prognostication in this article, probably worth a read:
The coming 'tsunami of debt' and financial crisis in America

Our macro models at the Levy Economics Institute are showing that the US economy is about to face a repeat of pre-crisis-style, debt-led growth, based on increased borrowing. Falling government deficits are being replaced by rising debts on everyone else's ledgers – well, almost everyone else's.

What's emerging is a new sort of speculative bubble, this time based on consumer and corporate credit.

Right now, America is wrestling a three-headed monster of weak foreign demand, tight government budgets and high income inequality, with every sign that these conditions will continue. With that trio in place, the anticipated growth isn't going to be propelled by an export bonanza, or by a government investment boom.

It will have to be driven by spending. Even a limping recovery like the one we're nursing along today depends on domestic demand – consumer spending not just by the wealthy, but by everyone else.

We believe that Americans will keep consuming at the same ever-rising rates of past decades, during good times and bad. But for the vast majority, wages and wealth aren't going up, so we're anticipating that the majority of Americans – the 90% – will once again do what was done before: borrow, and then borrow more.

By early 2017, with growth likely to stall even according to CBO predictions, it should be apparent that we're reliving an alarming history.

Economic Recession Linked to 10,000 Suicides

A new study has linked the economic recession to 10,000 suicides across North American and Europe, and revealed a "looming mental health crisis."

Researchers from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine used data from the World Health Organization on suicides in Canada, the U.S. and 24 EU nations and found an increase in the number of suicides from 2008 to 2010.

The suicide rate increased by 4.8 percent in the U.S. between 2007 and 2010. In the EU, the rate rose by 6.5% by 2009 and stayed at that level.

The three factors the study found to be the biggest risk factors were job loss, home repossession and debt.

Keiser Report: How water cannons can help with austerity

The Evening Greens

New Offshore Drilling Leases Seen as Betrayal of Obama Climate Pledge

An announcement by two federal agencies on Friday that opens the door to new offshore driling for oil and gas in the nation's coastal waters is receiving criticism as an example of the exactly wrong course of action at a time when serious efforts must be made to transition away from fossil fuels in the face of climate change.

As The Hill reports:

The [new] request, published in Friday's Federal Register, officially opens the books to a wide range of options. Interior must consider sales in all 20 outer continental shelf planning areas.

Prominent oil lobby American Petroleum Institute (API) is pressing the department to consider areas that are otherwise off limits.

"The department should thoroughly analyze the entire resource-rich areas of interest," API policy adviser Andy Radford said on a call with reporters Friday.

Radford added that Interior should "draft an expansive leasing plan that maintains current leasing areas and seeks to unlock new areas that are currently off-limits."

But critics are raising serious objections to the new wave of potential leases and offshore drilling.

“It’s troubling to see the Obama administration pushing to expand offshore drilling, especially as his own scientists are sounding the alarm about global warming," said Miyoko Sakashita, an expert on ocean policy for the Center for Biological Diversity.

These Reefs Are Beautiful—But Most of the Coral is Dead

Coal's share of energy market at highest level since 1970

Coal has reached its highest market share of global energy consumption for more than 40 years, figures reveal, despite fears that its high carbon emissions make it a prime cause of climate change.

The use of coal for power generation and other purposes grew by 3% in 2013 – faster than any other fossil fuel – while its share of the market breached 30% for the first time since 1970, the BP Statistical Review reports.

The figures were published as Prof Nick Stern, author of the influential climate change report the Stern Review, said his latest research indicated the economic risks of unchecked climate change were bigger than previously estimated.

Europe is among the regions using more coal, increasing imports from the US, where coal has been displaced in power stations by even cheaper shale gas. But developing countries such as China and India are also huge coal users, although BP pointed out that energy growth overall in China dropped to 4.7% last year from 8.4% in 2012.

US “Not Immune” to Oil Price Hike

For years the American oil industry has argued that the ongoing U.S. oil boom will bring about “energy independence” and drive gasoline prices  down. Americans are supposed to be enjoying an era of cheap, plentiful energy. ...

Not so. As the Energy Policy Information Centre pointed out, at the end of last month. “Despite all the promise of the oil boom, for most Americans, its economic benefits remain an abstract concept in the absence of relief at the gas station.” ...

And here comes the real irony. Despite the US reaching a record production peak, last week the price of Brent crude rose 4 per cent, its biggest one-week rise since July last year. Wholesale US gasoline rose with it and thus US consumers will notice higher pump prices probably as soon as this week.

And the reason is the ongoing turmoil in Iraq. The escalating violence there is threatening supplies from OPEC’s second largest producer, which produces in excess of 3 million barrels of oil a day. ...

What this shows, as Ed Crooks, points out in today’s Financial Times is that, despite its own fracking revolution, “the US is not immune to the effects of disruption in world markets.”

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Robert Fisk: The old partition of the Middle East is dead. I dread to think what will follow

Chris Hedges on Noam Chomsky: American Socrates

Yes, frackers can forcibly drill your land, even if you don’t want them to

This article is the worst piece of crap that the New York Times has printed in years, and that's saying something considering that both Judith Miller and Tom Friedman have their stuff in the rag:

The Lack of Major Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth

More Damning Truths By The Day: Update On Surveillance of Peaceful, Domestic, Political Activists

History of the Workers

Roeland Park, KS delays vote on anti-discrimination ordinance one more time

A Little Night Music

Don Sugarcane Harris - Out of the pocket

Don & Dewey - Blues in an Icebox

Don & Dewey - Leavin' It All Up to You

Don ''Sugarcane'' Harris - So alone

Don Sugarcane Harris - You Could've Had Me Baby

Don Sugarcane Harris - The Buzzard's Cousin

Don Sugarcane Harris - Generation Of Vipers

Pure Food And Drug Act - My Soul's On Fire

Sugarcane Harris - Elim Stole My Baby

Don and Dewey - Justine!

Don and Dewey - Kill Me

Don and Dewey - Farmer John

Don & Dewey - Mammer Jammer

Don & Dewey - Koko Joe

Don & Dewey - Big Boy Pete

Don Sugarcane Harris - I'm Unconscious

Don & Dewey - Miss Sue

It's a Beautiful Day - Don and Dewey

Kind of a poor recording, but interesting nonetheless:

Rory Gallagher, Sugarcane Harris and John Mayall - Texas Flood

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 Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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