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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.  

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Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features early r&b singer Roy Milton.  Enjoy!

Roy Milton - Baby Don't You Know

"Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none."

  -- Thomas Jefferson

News and Opinion

Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack

Over the last decade, the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. ...

[N]ew [top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden] underscore the indispensable, direct involvement of the U.S. government and its key allies in Israeli aggression against its neighbors. That covert support is squarely at odds with the posture of helpless detachment typically adopted by Obama officials and their supporters. ...

Each time Israel attacks Gaza and massacres its trapped civilian population – at the end of 2008, in the fall of 2012, and now again this past month – the same process repeats itself in both U.S. media and government circles: the U.S. government feeds Israel the weapons it uses and steadfastly defends its aggression both publicly and at the U.N.; the U.S. Congress unanimously enacts one resolution after the next to support and enable Israel; and then American media figures pretend that the Israeli attack has nothing to do with their country, that it’s just some sort of unfortunately intractable, distant conflict between two equally intransigent foreign parties in response to which all decent Americans helplessly throw up their hands as though they bear no responsibility. ...

The new Snowden documents illustrate a crucial fact: Israeli aggression would be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government, which is anything but a neutral, peace-brokering party in these attacks. And the relationship between the NSA and its partners on the one hand, and the Israeli spying agency on the other, is at the center of that enabling. ...

Legal or not, the NSA’s extensive, multi-level cooperation with Israeli military and intelligence agencies is part of a broader American policy that actively supports and enables Israeli aggression and militarism. Every Israeli action in Gaza has U.S. fingerprints all over it. Many Americans may wish that the Israeli attack on Gaza were a matter of no special relevance or concern to them, but it is their own government that centrally enables this violence.

New docs reveal Washington provides intel and cash to Israel

Wiretapped: Israel Eavesdropped on John Kerry in Mideast Talks

SPIEGEL has learned from reliable sources that Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations. In addition to the Israelis, at least one other intelligence service also listened in as Kerry mediated last year between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, several intelligence service sources told SPIEGEL. Revelations of the eavesdropping could further damage already tense relations between the US government and Israel.

During the peak stage of peace talks last year, Kerry spoke regularly with high-ranking negotiating partners in the Middle East. At the time, some of these calls were not made on encrypted equipment, but instead on normal telephones, with the conversations transmitted by satellite. Intelligence agencies intercepted some of those calls. The government in Jerusalem then used the information obtained in international negotiations aiming to reach a diplomatic solution in the Middle East.

In the current Gaza conflict, the Israelis have massively criticized Kerry, with a few ministers indirectly calling on him to withdraw from peace talks. Both the US State Department and the Israeli authorities declined to comment.

"Everything That Moves in Rafah is a Target": Israel Continues Shelling of Gaza During Short "Pause"

Israel bombs 7th UN school refugee center in Gaza

Israel continues its war in Gaza today, and continues to hammer refugee centers at an alarming rate, hitting the seventh UN-run school of the current war this morning with a drone strike.

The drone strike landed in the street immediately in front of the school gates, killing 10 civilians and wounding dozens of others, including children who were clustered around the gate playing.

The UN has been using the schools as shelters for refugees, and gave the Israeli military exact coordinates, in theory to avoid them being mistakenly targeted.

US 'Appalled' by 'Disgraceful' UN School Shelling

The United States said declared Sunday it is "appalled" by the "disgraceful" shelling by Israel of a United Nations school sheltering some 3,000 displaced people in southern Gaza.

In language that was rare in its directness and severity, the U.S. denounced in a statement issued Sunday the attack earlier in the day that killed 10 people, noting that the school had been designated a protected location.

"The coordinates of the school, like all UN facilities in Gaza, have been repeatedly communicated to the Israel Defense Forces," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in the statement. "We once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties."

"Disgraceful," "Criminal Act": Israel Condemned as 10 Die in Another Strike on U.N. Shelter in Gaza

Israel declares partial Gaza ceasefire but fighting goes on in Rafah

Israel has declared a seven-hour “humanitarian window” in Gaza to start at 10am local time (7amGMT) amid international outrage at the third deadly attack on a UN school sheltering displaced Palestinians and mounting pressure for the bloodshed to end.

The unilateral ceasefire is the eighth temporary pause in fighting, nearly all of which have broken down amid mutual accusations of violations.

The Israeli army has exempted the area around the southern town of Rafah, where the UN school was struck on Sunday and fighting was continuing. Troops were working on destroying a cross-border tunnel in the area. ...

As the conflict entered its 28th day, airstrikes continued overnight in and around Gaza City though of lesser intensity than previous nights. Rockets were fired by Hamas in the hours before the ceasefire was to come into effect.

The attack on a UN school, killing at least 10 people and injuring dozens more and coming just four days after a similar attack in Gaza City caused international shock and anger, was denounced as a “moral outrage and a criminal act” by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

It was “yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities.” He called for a swift investigation, saying “those responsible [must be] held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act.”

The Israel Defence Forces had been “repeatedly informed of the location of these sites,” said Ban.

Palestinians Arrive in Cairo for Gaza Talks, But Will Israel Show Up?

A Palestinian delegation has arrived in Cairo to present Egyptian mediators with their proposals on a settlement to end the ongoing Gaza War. The Egyptian junta will relay the demands to Israel’s delegation, if and when Israel ever bothers to send one.

That may not happen, however, as Israeli officials are talking up not ending the war at all, and are refusing to say if they’re going to send anyone to Egypt to deal with the negotiations. ...

This has two apparent purposes for the Israeli government. Primarily they want to avoid giving any chance for Hamas to present the war as a “victory,” but with soaring civilian tolls they also want to avoid any post-war probe, insisting they will have their own probe only after the fighting ends. If the fighting never formally ends, that means they can basically punt on the matter forever.

Likely Solution for a Lasting Ceasefire was on the Table Before Israeli Assault & Over 1,800 Dead

Israel-Gaza Conflict: What Has Israel Achieved in 26 Bloody Days?

As Gaza is devastated by a new paroxysm of violence, what has Israel achieved by its 26-day bombardment and ground intervention? The outcome so far is similar to that of past Israeli wars in Lebanon and Gaza: massive firepower is used to inflict heavy losses on the other side, the great majority of the casualties being civilians. But, as the war goes on, Israeli leaders find that Israel’s military superiority is failing to produce comparable political gains.

Worse, from the Israeli point of view, it is the Palestinians and, in this case, Hamas, who are in a stronger position than they were a month ago. By its actions, Israel has put the Palestinian issue firmly back on the international agenda from which it had largely disappeared since the Arab uprisings of 2011. Only a few months ago, a friend sympathetic to the Palestinians lamented to me that, in his travels in the US, Europe and the Arab world, he had seldom heard the words “Palestine” or “Palestinians”. Gaza, at horrendous cost to its people, has changed all that.

Usually, the sufferings of the four million Palestinians penned into Gaza and the West Bank are invisible to people in the rest of the world. But over the past month we have seen, night after night, pictures of Palestinian families, with their maimed and terrified children, vainly seeking safety amid shattered houses and hospitals. Israeli spokesmen sound shifty and heartless as they claim that there is no proof of Israel’s culpability for the shelling of a UN hospital or a children’s playground, suggesting that a Hamas rocket might have fallen short. These denials and evasions might work in a short war but, by the time 264 Palestinian children had been killed, as of Friday, they only serve to convince people that Israelis do not care how many Palestinians they kill.

A truly excellent essay worth reading in full:
Chris Hedges: Why Israel Lies

All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories—required under the rules of American journalism—although we know they are untrue.

I saw small boys baited and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis. The soldiers swore at the boys in Arabic over the loudspeakers of their armored jeep. The boys, about 10 years old, then threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and the soldiers opened fire, killing some, wounding others. I was present more than once as Israeli troops drew out and shot Palestinian children in this way. Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire. I was in Gaza when F-16 attack jets dropped 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on overcrowded hovels in Gaza City. I saw the corpses of the victims, including children. This became a surgical strike on a bomb-making factory. I have watched Israel demolish homes and entire apartment blocks to create wide buffer zones between the Palestinians and the Israeli troops that ring Gaza. I have interviewed the destitute and homeless families, some camped out in crude shelters erected in the rubble. The destruction becomes the demolition of the homes of terrorists. I have stood in the remains of schools—Israel struck two United Nations schools in the last six days, causing at least 10 fatalities at one in Rafah on Sunday and at least 19 at one in the Jebaliya refugee camp Wednesday—as well as medical clinics and mosques. I have heard Israel claim that errant rockets or mortar fire from the Palestinians caused these and other deaths, or that the attacked spots were being used as arms depots or launching sites. I, along with every other reporter I know who has worked in Gaza, have never seen any evidence that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields.”

There is a perverted logic to Israel’s repeated use of the Big Lie—Große Lüge—the lie favored by tyrants from Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin to Saddam Hussein. The Big Lie feeds the two reactions Israel seeks to elicit—racism among its supporters and terror among its victims.

By painting a picture of an army that never attacks civilians, that indeed goes out of its way to protect them, the Big Lie says Israelis are civilized and humane, and their Palestinian opponents are inhuman monsters. The Big Lie serves the idea that the slaughter in Gaza is a clash of civilizations, a war between democracy, decency and honor on one side and Islamic barbarism on the other. And in the uncommon cases when news of atrocities penetrates to the wider public, Israel blames the destruction and casualties on Hamas.

De-Escalation? US to train Ukraine National Guard, EU lifts arms ban

Russia holds huge military exercises near Ukraine border

Russia has began major military exercises involving more than 100 aircraft near the border with Ukraine.

The war games on Monday came as the conflict intensified around Donetsk, a city of a million people held by the pro-Russian rebels who have been fighting Kiev government forces since April. Heavy artillery fire continued there on Sunday night, according to the city administration. Ukraine's national security council said on Monday that government troops had begun "liberating Donetsk from the north after encircling the city". ...

A map published by the national security council showed government forces had made significant gains, cutting the rebels in Donetsk off from those in Lugansk. Ukrainian troops had taken back three-quarters of the territory formerly controlled by the rebels, the council said.

Last Friday, the Pentagon said 10,000 Russian troops stationed near Ukraine had moved to within 30 miles of the border and continued to build their military capabilities. ... Russian and Ukrainian authorities offered differing explanations of how 438 Ukrainian soldiers and border guards wound up on the Russian side of the border overnight. Russia's federal security service said the troops had destroyed their weapons and asked for asylum.

How The World Bank & IMF Plan to "Dismantle" Ukrainian Economy

USAID programme used young Latin Americans to incite Cuba rebellion

• HIV workshop was ‘perfect excuse’ for political goals
• Revelations follow failure of ‘Cuban Twitter' effort

An Obama administration programme secretly dispatched young Latin Americans to Cuba using the cover of health and civic programs to provoke political change, a clandestine operation that put those foreigners in danger even after a US contractor was sent to a Cuban jail.

Beginning as early as October 2009, a project overseen by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) sent Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of ginning up rebellion. The travelers worked undercover, often posing as tourists, and traveled around the island scouting for people they could turn into political activists.

In one case, the workers formed an HIV-prevention workshop that memos called “the perfect excuse” for the programme’s political goals – a gambit that could undermine America’s efforts to improve health globally.

But their efforts were fraught with incompetence and risk, an Associated Press investigation found. Cuban authorities questioned who was bankrolling the travelers. The young workers nearly blew their mission to “identify potential social-change actors”. One said he got a paltry, 30-minute seminar on how to evade Cuban intelligence, and there appeared to be no safety net for the inexperienced workers if they were caught. ...

The travelers programme was launched when newly inaugurated President Barack Obama’s administration was talking about a “new beginning” with Cuba after decades of mistrust, raising questions about whether the White House had a coherent policy toward the island nation.

Senate Republicans to issue minority report on CIA 'torture' techniques

Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee will soon release a minority report asserting that the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques helped bring down Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, the panel’s top Republican said on Sunday.

“Information gleaned from these interrogations was in fact used to interrupt and disrupt terrorist plots, including some information that took down Bin Laden,” the Georgia senator Saxby Chambliss said on CBS’s Face the Nation. ...

The Democrats’ majority report is expected to allege that the CIA’s use of techniques, such as waterboarding, did not help yield valuable intelligence and was not necessary. It is unclear when the report will be released because the committee chair, Dianne Feinstein, has said she may challenge some of the redactions by the Obama administration.

President Barack Obama, who banned the practices after taking office in 2009, said on Friday that the CIA had in fact “tortured some folks” during President George W Bush’s tenure.

Hayden: Torture was America's Program

President Barack Obama admitted on Friday that the U.S. "tortured" some al-Qaida detainees captured after the 9/11 attacks — but retired Gen. Michael Hayden was disconcerted at Obama describing the controversial CIA practice that way at a news conference.

"Torture is a narrowly defined legal concept," Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency, told Newsmax in an interview. "I'm disappointed that he chose to use that term in describing some of what the agency did.

"It's important to point out that what the agency did wasn't the agency's program," Hayden added. "It was America's program."

Hat tip: Don midwest
The media’s big torture lie: “Enhanced interrogation” and the politics of false equivalence

“U.S. Senate ’Torture’ Report Summary to Be Declassified in a Few Days,” a Reuters headline reported Tuesday, complete with scare quotes around the word “torture.” In the article, journalist Mark Hosenball reported that “CIA’s use of harsh ‘enhanced interrogation’ methods such as waterboarding, or simulated drowning, on a handful of prisoners, and other stress tactics on a larger set of captured militants, did not produce any significant counter-terrorism breakthroughs.” The next paragraph helpfully noted that, “Human rights activists and CIA critics, including some U.S. politicians, have described the CIA’s techniques as torture.” Near the end, Hosenball explained where “the militants subjected to enhanced interrogation” — with no scare quotes this time — were captured.

It has been more than 10 years since pictures from Abu Ghraib first revealed the U.S. was torturing detainees. Since that time we’ve seen the CIA’s own inspector general describe how CIA exceeded the limits set by the Department of Justice and the CIA. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse laid out the U.S. court precedent — ignored by John Yoo when he rubber-stamped CIA’s torture while at the Department of Justice — that concluded waterboarding is torture. Gitmo’s own convening authority, Susan Crawford, admitted in 2009 we tortured Mohammed al-Qahtani at the prison. A top British court called our treatment of detainee Binyam Mohammed “at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” making it a violation of the Convention Against Torture. The European Union Court of Human Rights declared Poland complicit in our torture of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri. And we’ve seen Republicans — both those voting for and against the declassification of the torture report — calling CIA’s torture “torture.” ...

And yet journalists (Hosenball is by no means the only one) still use the Bush administration’s euphemism, “enhanced interrogation,” as if using the language of propaganda somehow marks them as objective reporters. They still introduce torture by insinuating that only human rights advocates or CIA (or Bush) critics would consider all this torture. They still wield scare quotes to separate such nasty issues from their own journalistic voice.

Many journalists and news outlets continue to use a euphemism to describe torture long after independent arbiters have deemed it as such.

Profitable Secrets: NSA hiding ex-director’s financial data

The Evening Greens

Farming practices and climate change at root of Toledo water pollution

The toxins that contaminated the water supply of the city of Toledo – leaving 400,000 people without access to safe drinking water for two days – were produced by a massive algae boom. But this is not a natural disaster.

Water problems in the Great Lakes – the world’s largest freshwater system – have spiked in the last three years, largely because of agricultural pollution. Toledo draws its drinking water from Lake Erie.

Residents were warned not to drink the water on Saturday, after inspectors at the city’s water treatment plant detected the toxin known as microcystin. The toxin is produced by microcystis, a harmful blue-green algae; it causes skin rashes and may result in vomiting and liver damage if ingested. It has been known to kill dogs and other animals and boiling the water does not fix the problem; it only concentrates the toxin. ...

The main cause for such algal blooms is an overload of phosphorus, which washes into lakes from commercial fertiliser used by farming operations as well as urban water-treatment centres. Hotter and longer summers also promote the spread of the blue-green scum.

'Agri-Terrorism'? Town's Seed Library Shut Down

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture tells Mechanicsburg library its seed library is a violation

Launched on April 26, the seed library at Mechanicsburg's Joseph T. Simpson Public Library would have held all heirloom, and preferable organic, seed. Its first seed trove, with help from the Cumberland County Commission for Women, came from Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving heirloom seeds.

Library patrons could "check out" the seeds to plant, and, if all went well, at the end of the plant's growing season, they'd save its seeds and return them to the library to replenish the stock. If the crop failed or the borrowers were just unable to save seeds, they were allowed to bring back store-bought heirloom seeds instead. ...

According to reporting by the Carlisle Sentinel on July 31, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture sent a letter to the library stating that the seed library violated the state's Seed Act of 2004. :

[Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle] Darr explained that the Seed Act primarily focuses on the selling of seeds — which the library was not doing — but there is also a concern about seeds that may be mislabeled (purposefully or accidentally), the growth of invasive plant species, cross-pollination and poisonous plants.

The department told the library it could not have the seed library unless its staff tested each seed packet for germination and other information. Darr said that was clearly not something staff could handle. ...

Some of the commissioners questioned whether that was the best use of the department’s time and money, but commissioner Barbara Cross noted that such seed libraries on a large scale could very well pose a danger.

“Agri-terrorism is a very, very real scenario,” she said. “Protecting and maintaining the food sources of America is an overwhelming challenge.

40 Million People Depend on the Colorado River. Now It's Drying Up.

[T]he "water security of the Colorado River basin" is an important concept, if you are one of the 40 million people who rely on the Colorado River for drinking water, a group that includes residents of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, and San Diego. Or if you enjoy eating vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach during the winter. Through the many diversions, dams, canals, and reservoirs the river feeds as it snakes its way from the Rockies toward Mexico, the Colorado also provides the irrigation that makes the desert bloom in California's Imperial Valley and Arizona's Yuma County—source of more than two-thirds of US winter vegetable production.

But the new paper ["Groundwater Depletion During Drought Threatens Future Water Security of the Colorado River Basin"] suggests that the situation is even worse than we previously knew. In addition to rapidly drawing down Lake Mead, the region's thirst for water has extended underground: to the region's aquifers. ...  To make up for the gap between what the Colorado River supplies and what people and agriculture demand, farmers, landowners, and municipalities are dropping wells and tapping underground aquifers at a much faster rate than had been assumed. Between December 2004 and November 2013, the Colorado Basin surrendered almost 53 million acre-feet of underground water—roughly equal to about 1.5 full Lake Meads, siphoned away in just nine years.

"Quite honestly, we are alarmed and concerned about the implications of our findings," study coauthor Jay Famiglietti. ... Famiglietti's alarm stems from the fact that in the West, groundwater is essentially a nonrenewable resource. "When we use it, it's gone," he writes. No one knows how much is left, but it's pretty clear that the region can't keep draining its aquifers at the rate of 1.5 Lake Meads worth every nine years.

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 Drug Dealer in the Cupboard: How The Prescription Drug Epidemic Revived Heroin in America

The Fourth Branch: The Rise to Power of the National Security State

Dear President Obama, Eat My Sanctimonious Shorts

Real Times in Baltimore

A Little Night Music

Roy Milton - You Got Me Reeling and Rocking

Roy Milton + Mickey Champion - Rocking Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu

Roy Milton - True Blues

Roy Milton - One Zippy Zam

Roy Milton - Milton's Boogie

Roy Milton and his Solid Senders - T-Town Twist

Roy Milton - RM Blues

Roy Milton and his Solid Senders - Hop, Skip, and Jump

Roy Milton w/Mickey Champion - You're Gonna Suffer Baby

Roy Milton - Have It Your Way

Roy Milton - The Hucklebuck

Roy Milton - So Tired

Roy Milton - Baby, You Don't Know

Roy Milton - Keep a dollar in your pocket

Roy Milton - I Can't Go On

Roy Milton - Big Fat Mama

Roy Milton - Red Light

Roy Milton - Baby I'm Gone

Roy Milton - Oh Babe

Roy Milton - Fools Are Getting Scarcer

Roy Milton - Information Blues

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!

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