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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 harmonica bluesman James Cotton.  Enjoy!

James Cotton Blues Band - Born In Missouri

“[T]here is both an intrinsic and instrumental value to privacy. Intrinsically, privacy is precious to the extent that it is a component of a liberty. Part of citizenship in a free society is the expectation that one's personal affairs and physical person are inviolable so long as one remains within the law. A robust concept of freedom includes the freedom from constant and intrusive government surveillance of one's life. From this perspective, Fourth Amendment violations are objectionable for the simple fact that the government is doing something it has no licence to do–that is, invading the privacy of a law-abiding citizen by monitoring her daily activities and laying hands on her person without any evidence of wrongdoing.

Privacy is also instrumental in nature. This aspect of the right highlights the pernicious effects, rather than the inherent illegitimacy, of intrusive, suspicionless surveillance. For example, encroachments on individual privacy undermine democratic institutions by chilling free speech. When citizens–especially those espousing unpopular viewpoints–are aware that the intimate details of their personal lives are pervasively monitored by government, or even that they could be singled out for discriminatory treatment by government officials as a result of their First Amendment expressive activities, they are less likely to freely express their dissident views.”

  -- John W. Whitehead

News and Opinion

Flawed Oversight Board Report Endorses General Warrants

Tia_logo_largeThe Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) issued a legally flawed and factually incomplete report late Tuesday that endorses Section 702 surveillance.  Hiding behind the “complexity” of the technology, it gives short shrift to the very serious privacy concerns that the surveillance has rightly raised for millions of Americans. The board also deferred considering whether the surveillance infringed the privacy of many millions more foreigners abroad.

The board skips over the essential privacy problem with the 702 “upstream” program: that the government has access to or is acquiring nearly all communications that travel over the Internet. The board focuses only on the government’s methods for searching and filtering out unwanted information. This ignores the fact that the government is collecting and searching through the content of millions of emails, social networking posts, and other Internet communications, steps that occur before the PCLOB analysis starts.  This content collection is the centerpiece of EFF’s Jewel v. NSA case, a lawsuit battling government spying filed back in 2008.

The board’s constitutional analysis is also flawed.  The Fourth Amendment requires a warrant for searching the content of communication. Under Section 702, the government searches through content without a warrant. Nevertheless, PLCOB’s analysis incorrectly assumes that no warrant is required. The report simply says that it “takes no position” on an exception to the warrant requirement when the government seeks foreign intelligence. The Supreme Court has never found this exception.

PCLOB findings rely heavily on the existence of government procedures. But, as Chief Justice Roberts recently noted: "the Founders did not fight a revolution to gain the right to government agency protocols." Justice Roberts’ thoughts are on point when it comes to NSA spying—mass collection is a general warrant that cannot be cured by government’s procedures.

The PCLOB's proposed reforms for Section 702 are an anemic set of recommendations that will do little to stop excessive surveillance.  For example, rather than rein in government communications searches, the PCLOB simply asks the NSA to study the issue.

Some info:

A general warrant refers to a warrant providing a law-enforcement officer with broad discretion or authority to search and seize unspecified places or persons. A general warrant lacks a sufficiently particularized description of the person or thing to be seized or the place to be searched. General warrants are unconstitutional because they do not meet the Fourth Amendment's specificity requirements.

The surveillance state can't even keep track of how many people it's spying on anymore. Time to close the loopholes

Perhaps in an attempt to pre-empt the PCLOB report, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper finally just released what he promised Sen Ron Wyden months ago: the number of warrantless searches by the US government on American communications in its vast databases of information collected under the Fisa Amendments Act. This is the second giant problem with 702 surveillance. Wyden refers to these as "backdoor" searches since they're performed using data supposedly collected for "foreign intelligence" purposes – even though they still suck up huge amounts of purely US information. And it's exactly the type of search the House overwhelmingly voted to ban in its surprise vote two weeks ago.

The NSA conducted "backdoor" searches 198 times in 2013 (and another 9,500 for internet metadata on Americans). Curiously, the CIA conducts far more warrantless searches of American information in the NSA databases than the NSA itself – almost 10 times more. But the FBI was the worst culprit, querying data on Americans so many times it couldn't even count. The DNI left it at this: "the FBI believes the number of queries is substantial."

The FBI has always been the NSA's silent partner in all its surveillance and has long been suspected of doing the dirty work on Americans' data after it's been collected by NSA.

Wyden, who has for years repeatedly pushed for this information to be released to the public, responded:

When the FBI says it conducts a substantial number of searches and it has no idea of what the number is, it shows how flawed this system is and the consequences of inadequate oversight. This huge gap in oversight is a problem now, and will only grow as global communications systems become more interconnected.
The PCLOB also went on to reveal in its report that the FBI can search the vast Prism database for crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism, or even national security. Oh, and how many US persons have had their data collected through Prism and other 702 programs? That government has no idea.

Unfortunately, the PCLOB chickened out of making any real reform proposals, leading Politico's Josh Gerstein to point out that the Republican-controlled House already endorsed more aggressive reforms than the civil liberties board.

Hmmm... so we are left to wonder, after the previous strong PCLOB statement about ending metadata searches, what happened to the alleged "privacy advocate" from the Center for Democracy and Technology...
Panel divides on surveillance reforms

A federal panel created to review the privacy impact of U.S. surveillance programs has divided over key reforms to government collection of large volumes of email and other data from popular web businesses and from the backbone of the Internet. ...

PCLOB Chairman David Medine and member Patricia Wald — a former D.C. Circuit judge appointed by President Jimmy Carter — said the FBI should generally have to get approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before searching the 702 data for information about an American, except in emergencies. Medine and Wald also recommended that CIA or NSA personnel seeking to search 702 data using an identifier related to a U.S. person be required to get advance court approval in most instances.

Former Bush Justice Department officials Rachel Brand and Elisebeth Cook said they would support requiring FBI agents to get supervisory approval for searches aimed at garden variety criminal activity rather than foreign intelligence matters.

The fifth member of the panel, Center for Democracy and Technology vice president James Dempsey, didn't squarely endorse either proposal. "For now, the use or dissemination of Section 702 data by the FBI for non-national security matters is apparently largely, if not entirely, hypothetical. The possibility, however, should be addressed before the question arises in a moment of perceived urgency," he wrote.

After 2 Years of Confinement, Will Sweden Resolve Assange's Case? Swedish Foreign Minister Won't Say

U.S. troops in Baghdad to fly Apache helicopters, drones

The nearly 500 American troops sent to Baghdad to bolster security for the US embassy are equipped with Apache attack helicopters and small unarmed surveillance drones, Pentagon officials said Tuesday. ...

The reinforcements will include troops to fly and maintain Apache attack helicopters and unarmed surveillance drones, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.

The drones were not Reapers or Predators but smaller Shadow robotic aircraft that are launched from a catapult, a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The Shadow aircraft, which have been heavily used by US forces previously in Iraq and in Afghanistan, are about 14 feet (4 meters) long and can fly at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters)

Pentagon denies 'mission creep' in Iraq as new U.S. troop presence reaches 650

The Pentagon insisted Tuesday that there is "no mission creep” in Iraq despite the rising number of U.S. troops in the embattled country with more on the way.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, confirmed that 650 American troops were on the ground in Iraq, all of them dispatched by President Barack Obama since June 16. ...

With Obama authorized under the War Powers Act to send up to 770 total troops to Iraq, or 120 more than are now there, reporters pressed Kirby on whether that number is a ceiling or could go still higher.

Kirby provided somewhat mixed responses.

The admiral said the 770 authorized troops should be enough to accomplish two stated missions: protect the U.S. Embassy and the Baghdad airport, which has been used in recent weeks to move some of the embassy’s 5,300 employees; and assess the current security situation and the capabilities of Iraqi security forces.

At the same time, Kirby said that Obama must have the flexibility to make the best decisions to preserve U.S. interests in and around Iraq.

“Is there a grand total (of troops)? No. But in terms of the grand total limit, he’s the commander in chief. He makes these decisions. And he needs the freedom to make those decisions as he and the military commanders and the civilian leadership here in the Pentagon advise him to.”

Iraq to US: Bomb ISIS Or We’ll Ask Iran

Spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party Haider al-Abadi issued a warning today that the nation is running out of patience with the US on not intervening against ISIS yet.

Abadi went on to say that the US needs to launch immediate airstrikes against ISIS, and that if they don’t, Iraq would court Iran to launch the strikes for them instead.

UK Oil: Cashing in on Iraq collapse

Iraqi parliament session collapses amid political standoff

Iraq's apparently irreconcilable politicians have failed to start a process to elect new leaders, lurching the country ever closer to partition and defying desperate calls for unity from regional and global powers.

The much-anticipated session of the country's parliament started on Tuesday with enough members in attendance to ensure the nomination of a speaker would go ahead. However, the meeting quickly descended into farce, with Sunnis and Kurds using an unscheduled recess to withdraw their legislators, ensuring the session collapsed.

Both blocs insisted that Shia politicians name their candidate for prime minister before they revealed their own nominations for speaker. By convention in Iraq, the prime minister's position goes to the Shia, the speaker's position goes to the Sunnis, while the president goes to the Kurds.

The standoff underscored the deep divisions that run through the fragile state's political class, which has been unable to find unity even as a raging insurgency poses an imminent threat to Iraq's stability.

Hours before parliament met, the leader of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, said Iraq was already "effectively partitioned".

Barzani told the BBC he would hold a referendum on independence for the Kurds within months, a move that, if carried out, would spell the end of the modern state of Iraq and probably inflame the surrounding region.

Times public editor notes a disturbing trend.  Paper is still has warmongering neocon infestation.
Covering New War, in Shadow of Old One

The lead-up to the war in Iraq in 2003 was not The Times’s finest hour. Some of the news reporting was flawed, driven by outside agendas and lacking in needed skepticism. Many Op-Ed columns promoted the idea of a war that turned out to be both unfounded and disastrous.

Readers have not forgotten. Even now, more than a decade later, it’s one of the topics I hear most about. In recent weeks, with Iraq in chaos, military intervention there again has been under consideration, and readers are on high alert.

Clearly, the two situations are very different, and made even more so by President Obama’s statement that no ground troops would be involved. Beyond that, where President George W. Bush seemed intent on invading Iraq, President Obama has made his distaste for the war clear. And it’s still early in this crisis.

Nevertheless, given The Times’s troubled history when it comes to this subject, readers have good reason to be wary about what appears in the paper about military intervention in Iraq. And based on what I am already hearing from them, they are.

Many readers have complained to me that The Times is amplifying the voices of hawkish neoconservatives and serving as a megaphone for anonymously sourced administration leaks, while failing to give voice to those who oppose intervention.

I went back with the help of my assistant, Jonah Bromwich, and reread the Iraq coverage and commentary from the past few weeks to see if these complaints were valid. The readers have a point worth considering. On the Op-Ed pages and in the news columns, there have been very few outside voices of those who opposed the war last time, or those who reject the use of force now.

But the neoconservatives and interventionists are certainly being heard.

Poroshenko Vows to Rid Ukraine of ‘Parasites’ With New Offensive

A day after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced he was ending a ceasefire with the ethnic Russian rebels in the east, Ukrainian troops launched airstrikes and artillery barrages against rebel positions, and Poroshenko vowed to see the offensive rid Ukraine of “the parasites.”

The US State Department cheered the announcement of the ceasefire’s end, saying Ukraine’s military has a “responsibility” and “obligation” to respond to the eastern rebels militarily.

Russia, which sought to see the ceasefire extended, was harshly critical, and accused the US of “influencing” Poroshenko’s decision to restart the war. President Vladimir Putin also reiterated his intention to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine from being wiped out militarily, and urged the EU to help them get back to peace talks.

Ukraine retakes border crossing from rebels as Poroshenko goes on attack

Kiev forces claimed their first victories in Petro Poroshenko's renewed offensive against pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, taking back a key border crossing and three villages.

Ukrainian troops hit rebel positions with artillery and air strikes after the president declared an end to the ceasefire on Monday night, according to the defence ministry. But limited progress around rebel strongholds suggested the campaign would be a protracted one despite government forces' new vigour. ...

In a televised address late on Monday night, Poroshenko said he would not extend the ceasefire that both sides have accused each other of violating and promised to "attack and liberate our land" from "terrorists, rebels, looters". The president has been under pressure from officials and from the general population to take more decisive action in eastern Ukraine, with hundreds protesting against the ceasefire outside the presidential office on Sunday. ...

Reports on the ground around the east suggested a buildup of Ukrainian arms in key spots, as well as continued shelling of rebel strongholds. Government forces also intensely shelled the city of Kramatorsk overnight and throughout the day on Tuesday, according to the rebel commander of the city, Gennady Kim. Photographs published by the government-linked analytical centre InfoResist showed extensive damage to residential buildings there, while others showed a shot-up minibus with a body lying inside. Kim said the driver of the minibus had been killed and three civilians wounded, but said no rebels had been hurt.

He added that additional tanks and other armour had been deployed by government forces there in apparent preparation for an attack. "We have Molotov cocktails and grenade launchers, a few anti-tank weapons, and it will be very effective in urban setting," he said. "If they enter the city, we won't envy them."

Despite Peaceful Reputation, Sweden is a Major Weapons Exporter to Human Rights Abusers

Palestinian demonstrators clash with police after Palestinian teenager found dead

Violent clashes broke out on Wednesday in an already tense Jerusalem following reports that a body discovered in a forest on the western outskirts of the city was that of a reportedly abducted Palestinian teenager.

The immediate speculation in both Israeli and Palestinian media – and at the time of writing still not formally confirmed – was that the missing 17-year-old, Mohammad Abu Khdair, may have been the victim of a revenge killing by rightwing Jewish extremists for three Israeli teenagers abducted and murdered three weeks ago on the West Bank.

According to family and eyewitnesses Abu Khdair was bundled into a dark coloured car late by three men close to his home in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat while en route to prayers. ...

The latest incident has ratcheted up already high tensions between Israelis and Palestinians after a night in which extremist Jews rampaged through parts of Jerusalem chanting "death to Arabs" and beating several civilians. ...

Khdair's mother said that her son, a high school student,usually took a bottle of water to sat outside the shops next to the local mosque before praying.

"He' a good boy, not a troublemaker," she said as clashes took place outside her house. "I heard people say that someone was missing – someone had been kidnapped. I was so worried. I tried to find my son. When I couldn't I tried again. We need protection," she added. "We are surrounded by lunatic settlers who take our land and now take our children."

Inconvenient Truth: MSM mute on 'revenge attack' after covering Israeli teen tragedy

How sad is it to live in a country where most voters think that Ronald Reagan was the best president since WWII?
U.S. poll: more voters see Obama as worst president in modern times

Two years into President Barack Obama's second term, more voters say they are dissatisfied with his administration's handling of everything from the economy to foreign policy, giving him the worst marks of any modern U.S. president, a poll on Wednesday said.

In a survey of 1,446 registered voters, 33 percent said Obama was the worst president since World War Two, while 28 percent pointed to his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the worst, the poll by Quinnipiac University found.

Voters were split over which of the two most recent presidents has done a better job with 39 percent saying Obama has been a better president than Bush and, 40 percent saying Obama is worse.

Most voters said Ronald Reagan, who served two terms in the 1980s, was the best president since 1945, the survey showed.

The Survivor - How Eric Holder outlasted his (many) critics

[A]s the 2012 elections approached, another irritant emerged. Plouffe and other campaign veterans were increasingly annoyed at the Justice Department’s sluggish efforts to prosecute high-level bankers at the heart of the mortgage meltdowns, seeing a potential election problem. Plouffe and Axelrod (who had gone to work for the Obama campaign in Chicago) were terrified of being perceived of meddling with law enforcement, so they didn’t pressure Holder directly to take action on any particular cases. But they made it clear in joint White House-campaign strategy sessions that they thought the department should be doing more. At one meeting in 2011, an exasperated Plouffe told a campaign aide, “We need fewer big speeches and more guys in suits being marched out in handcuffs,” according to an attendee. ...

Holder and the head of the department’s criminal division, Lanny Breuer—a former Clinton impeachment defense lawyer—were reluctant to pursue criminal charges against individual bankers after a test case resulted in an embarrassing acquittal. Breuer and Holder argued that existing law was not stringent enough to result in convictions. (Later, both would assert, providing no evidence in support, that prosecuting big-shots would create systemic risk, a claim critics on the left derisively labeled “Too Big to Jail.”)

Obama grew impatient and announced in his 2012 State of the Union address that he would create a new task force, overseen by Holder in coordination with states and local federal prosecutors, to target the “abusive” mortgage lending that led to the housing crisis. Holder told associates he had gotten the message, that he planned to “recalibrate,” and he began holding case review meetings every couple of weeks.

But the presidential election came and went, and with it the campaign-induced urgency. As of today, there has been no significant surge in criminal cases stemming from the financial crisis, to the profound annoyance of Democrats who see aggressive prosecution as the only deterrent for future fraud. ...  In a scathing report released in March, the Justice Department’s own inspector general found that the criminal division’s efforts to hold Wall Street executives accountable were a low priority—in some cases, the lowest priority—despite Holder’s claim that it was at the top of his to-do list. “It was never his priority,” a former top Holder deputy told me. “He cared about national security and civil rights. … Wall Street wasn’t even on his radar.”

Holder, people close to him say, isn’t much hurt by the criticism over Wall Street, Gitmo, KSM or even the leaks; he remains confident that his decisions ultimately reflected the priorities of his boss.

Of course the fed couldn't have done anything.  It's not like they have any regulatory oversight of banks.
Yellen: Fed couldn’t have prevented financial crisis

The Federal Reserve was slow to understand how the collapse of the housing market would lead to a profound financial crisis, Chair Janet Yellen acknowledged Wednesday, arguing that even if it had acted more aggressively the crisis could not have been prevented.

In a speech at the International Monetary Fund’s Washington’s headquarters, Yellen said that the Fed’s mission of monetary policy via higher or lower interest rates could offer only limited help in holding back the crisis.

“A review of the empirical evidence suggests that the level of interest rates does influence housing prices, leverage ... but it is also clear that a tighter monetary policy would have been a very blunt tool,” Yellen said in a speech on monetary policy and financial stability.

Oh looky! Obama has found a new way to complete his mission from Pete Peterson to destroy Social Security.  If he pulls this off, I bet the golden revolving door sheds ultra-lovely parting gifts on Obama.
A Secret Plan to Close Social Security’s Offices and Outsource Its Work

For months there have been rumors that the Social Security Administration has a “secret plan” to close all of its field offices. Is it true? A little-known report commissioned by the SSA the request of Congress seems to hold the answer. The summary document outlining the plan, which is labeled “for internal use only,” is unavailable from the SSA but can be found here.

Does the document, entitled “Long Term Strategic Vision and Vision Elements,” really propose shuttering all field offices? The answer, buried beneath a barrage of obfuscatory consultantese, clearly seems to be “yes.” Worse, the report also suggests that many of the SSA’s critical functions could soon be outsourced to private-sector partners and contractors.

Do Public School Teachers Have Any Friends in the Obama Administration?

We are living in an era when the very idea of public education is under attack, as are teachers' unions and the teaching profession. Let's be clear: these attacks and the power amassed behind them are unprecedented in American history. Sure, there have always been critics of public schools, of teachers, and of unions. But never before has there been a serious and sustained effort to defund public education, to turn public money over to unaccountable private hands, and to weaken and eliminate collective bargaining wherever it still exists. And this effort is not only well-coordinated but funded by billionaires who have grown wealthy in a free market and can't see any need for regulation or unions or public schools.

In the past, Democratic administrations and Democratic members of Congress could be counted on to support public education and to fight privatization. In the past, Democrats supported unions, which they saw as a dependable and significant part of their base.

This is no longer the case. Congress is about to pass legislation to expand funding of charter schools, despite the fact that they get no better results than public schools and despite the scandalous misuse of public funds by charter operators in many states.

The Obama administration strongly supports privatization via charters; one condition of Race to the Top was that states had to increase the number of charters. The administration is no friend of teachers or of teacher unions. Secretary Duncan applauded the lamentable Vergara decision, as he has applauded privatization and evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students. There are never too many tests for this administration. Although the president recently talked about the importance of unions, he has done nothing to support them when they are under attack. Former members of his administration are leading the war against teachers and their unions.

Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Home Care Workers

Unions were bracing for the worst: a Supreme Court decision that could have created a national “right to work” policy for the entire public sector.

That didn’t happen. The court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn this morning was narrower.

But it will still be a hard hit on the unions that have staked their futures on unionizing the rapidly growing home care sector, notably AFSCME and the Service Employees (SEIU). ...

Harris v. Quinn comes on the heels of another legal block for public sector workers. A June 10 ruling in California courts, Vergara v. California, declared teachers’ tenure and seniority to be unconstitutional and a threat to students’ equal access to education. That case is being appealed.

Public sector unions also took a hit two years ago when the Supreme Court decided another lawsuit against SEIU over dues and assessments. In Knox v. SEIU, the court ruled that the choice to opt out wasn’t enough: workers have to opt into any special dues assessments, in that case a 2005 levy to help California's SEIU Local 1000 fight anti-union ballot measures.

While the latest ruling will affect how unions collect dues, it doesn’t limit their ability to organize. To regain their footing, Burns suggests, unions should change the way they interact with members, and take a turn back towards grassroots activism.

“Striking was illegal all through the 1960s, yet hundreds of thousands of workers struck,” Burns points out. Public sector unions were weak, and labor laws were stacked against them—until the wave of militancy pushed many states to legalize public worker collective bargaining. As his book describes, it was these illegal strikes that created the public sector labor movement.

The Evening Greens

Half a Million People to EPA: Stop 'Largest Expansion of a Known Toxic Herbicide'

As the EPA appears poised to OK new herbicide duo containing 2,4-D, watchdogs sound alarm.

Over half a million people including scientists, doctors and food safety advocates have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to approve a new herbicide mix proposed by Dow because they say it would open the floodgates to a vast increase in toxic spraying that puts public health and the environmental at risk.

At question is Dow AgroSciences' Enlist Duo herbicide, a mix of 2,4-D and glyphosate—the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup—made to be used on 2,4-D ready corn and soybean crops. Dow states that its proprietary blend "will control and help prevent further development of herbicide-resistant weeds" on the genetically engineered crops.

Food safety, environmental and health watchdogs, however, say that it's an unsustainable and harmful approach to dealing with the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds, or "superweeds," that exist because of the systemic issues underlying the "genetically engineered crop strategy" that keeps farmers on a "pesticide treadmill."

"American agriculture stands at a crossroads," stated Bill Freese, science policy analyst at Center for Food Safety. "Approval of these crops and pesticides would set American agriculture down a dangerous path that will only exacerbate the problems farmers are already facing."

The groups and health professionals are sounding particular alarm over 2,4-D, which has been linked to numerous health problems including increased risks of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson's and immune system problems.

Detroit Citizens Vow Direct Action to Protect Their Right to Water

Rallying on the steps of the Michigan governor's office in Detroit, activists and religious leaders on Monday called for an immediate moratorium on the city's plan to shut off water to tens of thousands of households.

“This is everybody's fight, water is a human right!” the protesters chanted. In recent weeks, activists in Detroit have mobilized against the city's efforts to cut off the water supply to 120,000 delinquent accounts, or over 300,000 city residents.

News of the shut-offs has spread following a statement issued last week by the United Nations that the city's plan "constitutes a violation of the human right to water." Now, with Detroit under the media microscope, activists are hoping that the state government halts its plan to deprive residents of this essential human right and instead adopt an affordable payment plan based on an individual's income.

The threat has catalyzed many individuals and groups in the community to act. The Detroit Water Brigade, which has begun distributing water and information to Detroiters facing shut off, vowed: "We are prepared to take direct action to prevent shut-offs if the city does not immediately cease and desist."

"The whole world is watching what is happening here and how Detroiters and their allies are responding to this human rights violation," the DWB continued.

Mountaintop removal mining reduces fish population, new study says

Appalachian streams affected by mountaintop removal coal mining can have fewer than half as many fish species and a third as many total fish as other regional waterways, according to a new study published this week by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Using data from several time periods to track changes in fish diversity and abundance in West Virginia’s Guyandotte River basin, USGS experts observed persistent effects of mountaintop removal associated with water quality degradation and found no evidence that fish communities recovered over time.

“The Appalachian mountains are a global hotspot for freshwater fish diversity,” said Nathanial Hitt, a USGS research fish biologist and lead author of the study. “Our paper provides some of the first peer-reviewed research to understand how fish communities respond to mountaintop mining in these biologically diverse headwater streams.”

The paper, by Hitt and USGS biologist Douglas Chambers, appeared online Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Freshwater Science. The USGS issued a news release on Tuesday to highlight the findings. Fish data for the study was originally collected by a Penn State University team between 1999 and 2001, and the USGS collected additional data from 2010 to 2011. ...

The study is the latest in a long series of scientific findings that show environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal, a controversial practice that most West Virginia political leaders support. Other studies have shown that coalfield residents living near mountaintop removal mining operations face increased risks of serious illnesses and premature death.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: A Visit to the Hole

The Return of Ahmad Chalabi

Hat tip Agathena:

PHOTOS: Famed Photographer Alex MacLean’s New Photos of Canada’s Oilsands are Shocking

Cross-sex hormone therapy determined to be safe

Baby Critically Injured by a Swat Team Flash Bang Grenade Will Live. He's Going Home.

A Little Night Music

James Cotton - Slow Blues

James Cotton - Mississippi Mud

James Cotton - Easy Lovin'

James Cotton - The Creeper

Muddy Waters & James Cotton - Got My Mojo Working 1966


James Cotton & Mark Hummel - Don't Start Me To Talkin', She Moves Me + Blow Wind Blow

James Cotton - Dealing With The Devil

Magic Slim w/ James Cotton - Ship Made Of Paper

James Cotton Band - Ain't Doin Too Bad

James Cotton - Hold Me In Your Arms

James Cotton - Cotton Crop Blues

James Cotton - Diggin' My Potatoes

James Cotton, Junior Wells, Billy Branch, Carey Bell - Black Night

James Cotton - Don't start me talking

James Cotton - I Don't Know

The James Cotton Blues Band - Feelin' Good

James Cotton Band - Creeper creeps again

The James Cotton Blues Band - Fallin' Rain

James Cotton - You Got My Nose Open

Taj Mahal + James Cotton - Honky Tonk Woman

The James Cotton Band - Live & On The Move

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 Wed Jul 02, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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