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 jazz great Louis Armstrong. Enjoy!
Louis Armstrong - Basin Street Blues
"Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle."
-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
News and Opinion
Netanyahu asks U.S. lawmakers to help fend off war crimes charges
Palestinians are planning to join the International Criminal Court and accuse Israel of crimes against humanity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked United States legislators to assist Israel in fending off charges that Israel committed war crimes during its month-long operation in Gaza, the New York Post reported on Wednesday.
“The prime minister asked us to work together to ensure that this strategy of going to the International Criminal Court does not succeed,” Democratic congressman Steve Israel told the Post by phone from Tel Aviv. ...
Congressman Israel told the Post that Netanyahu “wants the U.S. to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to, number one, make sure the world knows that war crimes were not committed by Israel, they were committed by Hamas. And that Israel should not be held do a double standard.”
Netanyahu defended Israel's conduct of the war during a press conference on Wednesday, calling it both "justified" and "proportional."
"Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty," he said. "We do not target them …
Palestinians returning home find Israeli troops left faeces and venomous graffiti
When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.
He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.
If that was not clear enough, the words "Fuck Hamas" had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. "Burn Gaza down" and "Good Arab = dead Arab" were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.
"I have scrubbed the floors three times today and three times yesterday," said Owedat, 52, as he surveyed the damage, which included four televisions, a fridge, a clock and several computers tossed out of windows, shredded curtains and slashed soft furnishings. ...
His family of 13 fled their home after seeing troops and tanks advancing at 1am on 20 July, two days into the Israeli ground invasion. Several times, during the short-lived ceasefires in the following two weeks, they attempted to return only to find Israeli troops in their home instructing them to keep away. ...
Half an hour's drive north, a similar picture was found at Beit Hanoun girls' school, taken over by the IDF following the ground operation. ... Here too, said the school's caretaker, Fayez, who didn't want to give his full name, soldiers had defecated in bins and cardboard boxes, and urinated in water bottles. "You will be fucked here" and "Don't forget it's time for you to die" were chalked in English on blackboards.
Israel resumes air strikes after rockets fired from Gaza as ceasefire ends
Israel launched air strikes on Gaza on Friday morning after Islamist groups there refused to extend a ceasefire and resumed rocket fire.
At least 35 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel after a 72-hour ceasefire expired at 8am local time. Several more had been fired during the night.
By noon there were reports of air strikes in the north and east of Gaza and several audible explosions in Gaza City. There appear to have been some casualties, though details were unclear.
There were also reports of injuries in Israel from rocket strikes. At least one rocket appeared to have fallen short, landing in Gaza.
The Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told the AFP news agency: "All the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, have agreed not to renew the ceasefire because [Israel] is refusing to accommodate our demands."
An Israeli official said the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, had ordered the military to "retaliate forcefully to the Hamas breach of the ceasefire". The Israeli army said it had targeted "terror sites" across the Gaza Strip, and no Israeli soldiers had entered the Palestinian territory.
1st Palestinian death since collapse of #Gaza diplomatic efforts: 12 yr old Ibrahim Aldawawseh— Mohamed Yehia (@yeh1a) August 8, 2014
Ukraine Escalates Attacks Against East, Ditches Ceasefire at Crash Site
The Ukrainian military is continuing to escalate its attacks against the eastern portion of the country, announcing today that it is suspending the ceasefire at the area around the MH17 crash site. ...
The attacks continue to focus on the city of Donetsk, with intense artillery fire hammering a hospital in the city, hitting the pediatric dental wing and killing at least one civilian.
Russian Sanctions against the West
Russia has completely banned the importation of beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and the Kingdom of Norway.
He also noted that Russia is considering revoking or changing airspace rights over Russia’s Asia Pacific region or Siberia. This is not a small matter, and would make many flights from airlines in the affected countries far more expensive (while allowing their competitors, in countries which haven’t imposed sanctions on Russia to out-compete them.)
As zero-hedge points out, the agricultural ban will have a significant negative effect on the European economy, which is already sputtering, and will likely lead to more special monetary policy (giving money to the already rich).
Such policy is very good at pumping up stock markets, but as the US experience indicates, it does nothing for ordinary people, whose wages in the US have fallen (only the top 10% has seen increases).
Russia Sanctions Accelerate Risk to Dollar DominanceThose whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.
U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia threaten to hasten a move away from the dollar that’s been stirring since the global financial crisis. ...
While no one’s suggesting the dollar will lose its status as the main currency of business any time soon, its dominance is ebbing. The greenback’s share of global reserves has already shrunk to under 61 percent from more than 72 percent in 2001. The drumbeat has only gotten louder since the financial crisis in 2008, an event that began in the U.S. when subprime-mortgage loans soured, and the largest emerging-market nations including Russia have vowed to conduct more business in their currencies.
“The crisis created a rethink of the dollar-denominated world that we live in,” said Joseph Quinlan, chief market strategist at Bank of America Corp.’s U.S. Trust, which oversees about $380 billion. “This nasty turn between Russia and the West related to sanctions, that can be an accelerator toward a more multicurrency world.”
Ukraine Threatens Oil and Gas Cut-Off in Russia Sanctions
Ukraine, which no longer receives any gas from Russia but acts as a conduit for its neighbor’s European shipments, is considering a “complete or partial ban on the transit of all resources” across its territory, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters yesterday in Kiev. It may also ban Russian planes from its airspace and cut defense-industry cooperation.
“There’s no doubt that Russia will continue its course -- started a decade ago -- aimed at banning imports of Ukrainian goods, limiting cooperation with Ukraine, pressure and blackmail,” Yatsenyuk said. “In the most negative scenario for Ukraine, losses during the first year may reach $7 billion, not only because of sanctions but also because of the Kremlin’s aggressive policy.”
The threat may signal that the government in Kiev calculates it has little to lose. It comes a day after Russia banned food imports from Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and other countries that have sanctioned it for what they say is stoking the worst geo-political crisis since the Cold War. Gas prices in western Europe rose on the news of Ukraine’s sanctions plan, which requires parliamentary approval.
US begins air strikes against Isis targets in Iraq, Pentagon says
Obama authorised targeted air strikes against militant jihadists on Thursday to assist in protection of civilians
The US military has begun air strikes against Islamic militant targets in Iraq, the Pentagon announced on Friday.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said aircraft struck artillery being used against Kurdish peshmerga forces defending the Kurdish stronghold of Irbil against fighters with the Islamic State, known as Isis or Isil. ...
Separate humanitarian air drops have already began to bring relief to thousands of minority Iraqis trapped on a mountain in the north-west of Iraq.
Campaign Mounts to Declassify 9/11 Report’s References to Alleged Saudi Involvement
Nearly 13 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the extent of Saudi involvement in the deaths of almost 3,000 people remains unclear — but according to members of Congress and the families of victims, information about this has been suppressed ever since the publication of a 2002 congressional investigation into the plot.
Prior to the release of the final report of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration classified a 28-page section in the name of national security.
Though speculations, accusations, and denials have swirled around these pages over the past decade, the call for their declassification has steadily grown since December 2013, when House Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced Resolution 428, a two-page document urging President Obama to release them to the public. Nine other representatives from both parties have co-sponsored the resolution. ...
In April, Jones and Lynch sent a letter to Obama reiterating their request. They are planning a September 11 press conference with relatives of victims to highlight the issue. Adding fuel to the campaign, various family members have recounted to the media how President Obama had promised them that he would release the material. ...
Former Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who co-chaired the joint Senate-House investigation, ... told VICE News that the redactions are a “cover up.”
“I’ve said this since the first classification of the 28 pages,” he remarked. “It’s become more and more inexplicable as to why two administrations have denied the American people information that would help them better understand what happened on 9/11.”
All Four Internet Service Giants Allegedly Violated Last Remaining Net Neutrality Rule
T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint accused of violating transparency rule in throttling cases as FCC considers abolishing net neutrality
All four major service providers in the U.S. have been accused of violating the last remaining net neutrality rule, a day after President Barack Obama said he was against the Federal Communication Commission's proposal to institute controversial internet "fast lanes" that would further threaten equality for web-based companies.
T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon have all been accused of violating the transparency rule left in place to help safeguard net neutrality after a federal appeals court ruling knocked down several anti-discrimination and anti-blocking regulations.
The transparency requirement was upheld to ensure that carriers disclose their information about network performance and management policies, but consumer watchdog group Public Knowledge on Wednesday sent letters to the companies accusing them of shrouding their throttling plans in secrecy and demanding that they disclose or suspend the practices.
Throttling is the intentional slowing down or limiting of customers' internet service by a provider — a controversial practice that has ended in court for cable companies like Comcast.
"Sprint and Verizon violate the transparency rule by failing to meaningfully disclose which subscribers will be eligible for throttling," Public Knowledge wrote. "AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon violate the transparency rule by failing to disclose which areas of the network are congested, thus subject to throttling. T-Mobile violates the transparency rule by preventing throttled subscribers from determining the actual network speed available to them."
Leaked Files: German Spy Company Helped Bahrain Hack Arab Spring Protesters
A notorious surveillance technology company that helps governments around the world spy on their citizens sold software to Bahrain during that country’s brutal response to the Arab Spring movement, according to leaked internal documents posted this week on the internet.
The documents show that FinFisher, a German surveillance company, helped Bahrain install spyware on 77 computers, including those belonging to human rights lawyers and a now-jailed opposition leader, between 2010 and 2012—a period that includes Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. FinFisher’s software gives remote spies total access to compromised computers. Some of the computers that were spied on appear to have been located in the United States and United Kingdom, according to a report from Bahrain Watch. ...
On its website, FinFisher says it sells surveillance technology “exclusively to government law enforcement and intelligence agencies.” The company has previously denied reports that it sold spyware to Bahrain, claiming that examples researchers identified could have come from stolen or demonstration copies. The new documents, showing sustained correspondence between individuals in Bahrain and customer service, undercut that claim. FinFisher did not respond to requests for comment.
Long Live Gridlock and Paralysis of Both Big Business Parties
The corporate media, whose job is to create impressions of reality while revealing nothing of actual substance, is full of scorn for the now adjourned 113th Congress, which, according to the New York Times, is “in a race to the bottom” with the previous Congress as the most “do nothing” ever. Media associated with the Democratic wing of the ruling duopoly are especially upset that the Republican faction has not cooperated with President Obama to get something – anything! – done, as if the nation and the world would be a better place if the two big business parties would only collaborate more closely with one another. The current state of congressional gridlock is, according to the pundits, the worst of all worlds.
The truth is, were it not for gridlock, President Obama would have engineered the utter annihilation of what’s left of the social safety net in a Grand Bargain with the Republicans during his first term office. That was his plan from the very beginning, when the new president announced that all entitlements, including Social Security, were on the chopping block. Before his first year was out, Obama had crushed the jellyfish that call themselves progressive Democrats in the health care debate. With his arms spread wide to embrace the Republicans as partners in the Age of Austerity, Obama offered to lead the wrecking crew that would finally demolish Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. But, the Republicans were so consumed with racially fueled fervor to destroy the First Black President, they rejected the Grand Bargain and chose gridlock, instead. Lucky for us! Given the circumstances, it was the best thing that could happen.
Gridlock has been the order of the day for the past four years, dramatically inhibiting the flow of legislation. Since the Left is non-existent on Capitol Hill, and barely evident in the society at large – and with Black America, historically the most progressive constituency in the nation, now in its seventh year of self-imposed political irrelevance – nothing good can possibly emanate from the executive and legislative branches of government. The only kinds of measures that can sail through the gridlocked Congress are those designed to start a war with Russia or increase the killing power of the Israeli apartheid regime.
Argentina files legal action against the US at The Hague over debt default
Argentina has asked the international court of justice (ICJ) in The Hague to take action against the United States over an alleged breach of its sovereignty as it defaulted on its debt. ...
A statement issued by the ICJ, the United Nation's highest court for disputes between nations, said Argentina's request had been sent to the US government. It added that no action will be taken in the proceedings "unless and until" Washington accepts the court's jurisdiction. ...
Buenos Aires maintains it has not defaulted because it made a required interest payment on one of its bonds due in 2033, but a judge in the US district court in Manhattan blocked that deposit in June, saying it violated an earlier ruling.
Argentina said in its application to the court that the United States had "committed violations of Argentinian sovereignty and immunities and other related violations as a result of judicial decisions adopted by US tribunals."
The Evening Greens
Get used to toilet-to-tap water, Californians told
The golden state’s historic drought is forcing once-squeamish Californians to take a new look at “toilet-to-tap” water re-use. Or as they prefer to call it in Fountain Valley, “showers to flowers”.
The town in conservative Orange County is home to the largest water recycling plant in the world and an example during this epic drought of the life-altering changes California will have to make to avoid running out of water. ...
“Our sources of supply are literally drying up,” said Michael Markus, general manager of the Orange County water district, on a tour of the water plant. ...
The water re-use plant currently produces 70m gallons a day, turning residential waste water – from dishwashers, showers, washing machines and toilets – into potable water. ...
Markus said the cost was significantly lower than importing water from northern California, and about half the cost of desalinating sea water – and the supply was guaranteed.
'Outrage' Follows USDA's Advancement of New Genetically Engineered Crops
Watchdog groups are denouncing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recommendation on Wednesday to approve new varieties of genetically engineered corn and soybeans as a path towards more toxic pesticides that threaten the environment and public health. ...
The new crops are Dow AgroScience’s 2,4-D- and glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans. They are made to be used with Dow's Enlist Duo herbicide, which contains 2,4-D and glyphosate and is also under review by the USDA.
The decision to advance the crops towards full deregulation flies in face of warnings by food and environmental groups, doctors, scientists, 50 members of Congress, as well as thousands of public comments to the USDA.
The calls not to green-light the crops focus on the dangers of 2,4-D, whose use the USDA admits will increase at least three-fold with the Enlist package. ...
Writing at Environmental Working Group's (EWG) AgMag blog, Mary Ellen Kustin and Soren Rundquist detail the group's analysis showing that over 5,600 American schools are within 200 feet from a field where 2,4-D could be sprayed if the Enlist Duo package is fully approved, a particularly noteworthy finding as 2,4-D has been linked to Parkinson's, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer and other health problems.
Pennsylvania Sacrificing Public Health, Environment to Advance Fossil Fuel Industry: Report
State regulators consistently fail to properly permit, inspect, and monitor well drilling and fracking operations
On the heels of news that natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale hit an all-time high in July, as well as the revelation that new fracking wastewater leaks have contaminated groundwater and soil south of Pittsburgh, the environmental non-profit Earthworks released a report Wednesday documenting the failure of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to oversee the rapid expansion of oil and gas drilling.
"[O]ur findings indicate that Pennsylvania is making a choice to sacrifice the health of its communities and environment in the interest of supporting and rapidly expanding the gas and oil industry," says the report, titled Blackout in the Gas Patch: How Pennsylvania Residents are Left in the Dark on Health and Enforcement (pdf).
It continues:Not only is it very difficult for residents to know whether a nearby operation poses risks to their health and families, and why, but regulators themselves are not capable of reliably answering that question. In the midst of a statewide rush to drill, DEP is unable to sufficiently respond to citizen concerns, conduct inspections and investigations, collect the information needed to enforce regulations, and uphold the agency’s own mandate.After reviewing everything from permits and testing results to facility records and maps, Earthworks concludes that: there are huge information gaps related to the extent and effects of air and water pollution; water contamination from oil and gas operations is likely understated; residents bear a heavy burden of proof of contamination; and waste management procedures don't comply with regulations.
Overall, the report shows the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to be overly lenient with and accommodating to oil and gas operators.
Climate Change – Point of No Return
Two large craters, one more than 200 feet in diameter, were recently discovered in the remote Yamal peninsula of northern Russia. In an extreme case of irony, Yamal is said to mean “end of the world” in the local Nenets language. Scientists have concluded that the holes were formed when a mixture of salt, water and natural methane gas exploded underground. They theorize that rising temperatures made the permafrost unstable and released methane, the key ingredient in the explosions. A temperature rise of only two degrees centigrade is enough to make permafrost thaw and begin a chain of terrible events.
All of the bad news is relevant as the United Nations prepares to host a Climate Summit on September 23, 2014 in New York. Past climate conferences haven’t provided much in the way of relief, as the United States and other industrialized nations subverted the 2009 Copenhagen climate accords. The supposedly environmentalist president Barack Obama and his European cohorts forced an agreement that allowed a two degrees increase in temperature. This seemingly small amount will kill humans and other species and brought the giant holes to Siberia and now more dangerously, methane from the sea. Climatologist Jason Box recently made this pithy comment on Twitter. “If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we're f'd.”
As the situation is dire, so must the solutions be truly radical. The free for all of capitalism is deadly in so many ways as financial collapse, exploitation and wars bring misery to millions of people. Money is the problem and not individual decision making. We may feel useful when recycling trash or driving hybrid vehicles but these are bandages when the world needs major surgery. “Green capitalism” is doomed because capitalism can’t be green. The imperative to maximize profits is in direct conflict with environmental and human sustainability. The profit motive must be eliminated in favor of managed economies that limit growth, fairly distribute resources, regulate the polluting industries and activities, and end the gross inequalities of this gilded age.
Money is the elephant in the climate change room. Corporations are beholden to no one but themselves, only claiming to be like human beings when they really want to get their way with governments and citizens around the world. “Corporate personhood” is a one way street and everything from income inequality to planetary destruction is the proof.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
A Little Night Music
Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash - Blue Yodel No 9
Louis Armstrong - Potato head blues
Louis Armstrong - St. James Infirmary
King Oliver's Jazz Band w/Louis Armstrong - Dipper Mouth Blues
Louis Armstrong - Got No Blues
Billie Holiday & Louis Armstrong - The Blues Are Brewin
Louis Armstrong - Black And Blue
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Learnin' The Blues
Bettie Boop / Louis Armstrong: I'll Be Glad when You're Dead You Rascal, You
Louis Armstrong - Dixie Music Man
Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World
Louis Armstrong - Knockin' A Jug
Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington - Duke's Place
It's National Pie Day!
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Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
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