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.
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This evening's music features Chicago bluesman Magic Slim. Enjoy!
Magic Slim & the Teardrops - Going to Mississippi
“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.”
-- Oscar Wilde
News and Opinion
The Rise of ISIS: US Invasion of Iraq, Foreign Backing of Syrian Rebels Helped Fuel Jihadis’ AdvanceDrip, drip, drip...
US sends another 130 troops to Iraq to assess humanitarian crisis
Another 130 US troops arrived in Iraq on Tuesday on what the Pentagon described as a temporary mission to assess the scope of the humanitarian crisis facing thousands of displaced Iraqi civilians trapped on Mt Sinjar and evaluate options for getting them out to safety. ...
Another defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity to provide additional details on the sensitive mission, said the extra troops were Marines and special operations forces whose mission was to assess the situation in the Sinjar area and to develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond current US efforts there. Another official said the mission for the 130 troops could last less than a week.
That official said that while the troops were not being sent in to execute a rescue mission of the Yazidis on the mountain, they would assess the feasibility of a rescue and assist in the effort to evaluate the use of airstrikes to protect the Yazidis from attacks by the Islamic State militants.
Pentagon Proposing Ground Combat Operation for Yazidi Rescue
The US war in Iraq is escalating at a remarkable rate, and less than a week after the commencement of the air war, the Pentagon is putting the finishing touches on a proposal to send ground troops into open combat operations against ISIS.
It’s the exact thing US officials have repeatedly promised never to do – send ground troops into combat roles in Iraq. Yet with the Pentagon now having committed to air drops of aid to Yazidis, part of the new air war, they’re already looking toward the next step: a “rescue operation” that would put US boots on the ground, in direct combat with ISIS at the base of Mount Sinjar.
Despite several escalations of the war goals in the past 5 days, US officials are openly getting impatient with the current situation, insisting they have to “do something more than just drop water and supplies” to the Yazidis. That something, in keeping with the usual US strategy, is more war.
France to send arms to besieged Yazidi community in Iraq
France has announced it will send arms to the Kurds and ethnic Yazidis in Iraq immediately, to help them defend their territory against Islamic State extremists. ...
"In order to respond to the urgent need expressed by the Kurdistan regional authorities, the president has decided, in agreement with Baghdad, to deliver arms in the coming hours," Hollande's office said in a statement. "France intends to play an active role by providing, along with its partners and in liaison with the new Iraqi authorities, all the assistance required."
Iraq: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
A long-standing leader in the Islamic Dawa Party who spent decades in exile and returned to Iraq during the US occupation, quickly rising in the fledgling political scene. ...
Abadi is basically Maliki circa 2006, an adherent to the same Dawa ideology beholden to the exact same political interests. The primary difference is that he hasn’t got eight years of failures, and thus doesn’t have the public relations problems of the outgoing PM.
All the talk of Maliki’s divisiveness cost him the foreign support critical to remain Iraq’s ruler, but there is no indication at all that Abadi is planning any serious changes to the status quo, and plenty of reasons to believe he’ll go down the same failed path Maliki has.
What the U.S. should do in Iraq: Stop what is counterproductiveWow. Chris Hedges can deliver a jeremiad:
From a moral perspective, President Obama's response to the plight of Iraqi minorities targeted for extinction by vicious Islamists is justifiable and even commendable. ... The moral sensibilities that have apparently moved the Obama administration to renew the Iraq war are, to put it mildly, selective. Elsewhere in the immediate region, Washington has hesitated to confront wickedness and has stood by while innocents have been subjected to the cruelest treatment. Whatever the factors that have shaped the U.S. response to Syria's civil war, the military coup that terminated Egypt's experiment with democracy and Israel's assault on Gaza, moral concerns have figured, at best, as an afterthought.
If recent U.S. actions in the Middle East contain a common theme, it's this: a vague hope that suppressing rampant Islamic radicalism will restore order to a region that previous U.S. military efforts have done so much to destabilize. ... If restoring a semblance of stability to the Middle East is in the interests of the United States, as it surely is, the present moment requires two things.
Step one is to stop doing what's counterproductive. That means ending the excessive militarization of U.S. policy that Washington's inordinate preoccupation with Iraq has promoted. Nothing would be more foolish than for President Obama to allow himself to be drawn into another large-scale conflict, as he himself appears to appreciate.
Step two means setting sensible priorities, differentiating between what is truly essential and what is merely important. Washington's protracted obsession with Iraq over many years has badly skewed U.S. policy priorities. There are places that Americans should consider worth fighting and dying for. There are places on which the very fate of the planet may hinge. But Iraq is not one of those places. It's time to break free of the tar baby and move on.
Gaza blast leaves several dead during attempt to disable Israeli missile
An unexploded Israeli missile in Gaza went off as bomb experts were trying to diffuse it, leaving five people dead, including an Italian Associated Press journalist, on the last day of a 72-hour truce.
The deadly incident in the northern town of Beit Lahiya occured on Wednesday as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Cairo tried to thrash out a more permanent end to more than a month of violence, ahead of a midnight deadline.
The missile detonated as bomb squad officers were trying to dismantle it, killing at least five and wounding another five, three of them critically, Kamal Adwan hospital spokesman Muayin al-Masri told AFP.
The foreign journalist was named as AP video reporter Simone Camilli, 35. Camilli and a translator working with the AP, Ali Shehda Abu Afash, were accompanying the ordnance team on the assignment when the explosion occurred. Police said four other people were seriously injured, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa.
The deaths came as Egyptian mediators scrambled to secure agreement from both sides to extend a three-day lull which expires at midnight. By then, negotiators must either agree on a permanent truce, accept an extension or risk a resumption of five weeks of bloody fighting that has killed more than 1,950 Palestinians, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel.
Glenn Greenwald: U.S. Intel Agencies Provide "Key Ingredient" in Enabling Israeli Aggression in Gaza
Israeli Backlash Follows UN Appointment of Gaza War Crimes Commission
The United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday announced the appointment of experts to carry out an independent commission charged with investigating possible war crimes during the month-long assault on Gaza that has killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
On July 23 the Council adopted a resolution to launch the inquiry into possible violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws during the assault. The United States issued the sole vote against setting up the inquiry.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office was quick to criticize the resolution, saying in July that the inquiry would be carried out by "a kangaroo court" and whose "predictable result will be the libeling of Israel."
The announcement Monday prompted backlash from Israeli officials who said that Canadian law professor William Schabas, who will head the three-member panel, holds an anti-Israel bias.
“The report has already been written and the only question is who signs it,” the Jerusalem Post reports the Israeli Foreign Ministry as saying.
Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Agence France-Presse Tuesday, "For this commission the important thing is not human rights but the rights of terrorist organizations like Hamas."
Schabas shot back, telling public radio, "I've frequently lectured in Israel, at universities in Israel, I'm a member of the editorial board of the Israel law review, I wouldn't do those things if I was anti-Israel."
Huge Russian aid convoy set to reach Ukraine border within hours
A huge Russian convoy allegedly carrying humanitarian aid is expected to reach the Ukrainian border on Wednesday afternoon, in an operation the west fears may be a prelude to a Russian invasion but which Moscow insists is designed to relieve the suffering of besieged residents trapped by conflict.
About 280 military trucks hastily repainted white by Russian soldiers trundled off from the Moscow region on Tuesday despite a lack of international agreement over where exactly they were heading or what they contained.
Ukraine said it would not allow the convoy to enter its territory. The prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said on Wednesday that Ukraine would only accept humanitarian aid from the Red Cross and within the framework of international law. He also promised his government would spend 10m hryvnia (£450,000) on vital supplies for eastern Ukraine and ordered several ministries to form Kiev's own humanitarian convoy. ...
The latest comments came after Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had claimed on Tuesday that a deal had been agreed with the Ukrainian side, which would allow the convoy to drive into Ukraine. Ukrainian officials and representatives from the ICRC and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe would accompany it, he said. The vehicles would also carry Ukrainian plates. Lavrov claimed an earlier plan to offload the cargo and transport it on Ukrainian trucks had been abandoned on the grounds of cost.
Planned U.S. cyber warfare program could hurt innocent countries: Snowden
A developing U.S. cyber security program would not only hunt down and halt potential computer attacks but also strike back without staff oversight, according to former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden.
In an interview with WIRED magazine made public Wednesday, Snowden said the program - MonsterMind - could hurt countries caught in the middle as hackers could disguise the origin of their attacks by routing them through computers in other nations.
"These attacks can be spoofed," Snowden told the magazine. "You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?"
It could also potentially start an accidental war, he said.
Snowden said that while other cyber warfare programs also automatically detect and block hacker attacks, MonsterMind was a greater threat to privacy because it would need to access nearly all private communications coming into the United States from overseas in order to work.
"If we're analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows. That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time," he told WIRED.
Senator urges FCC net neutrality hearings outside Washington
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on Wednesday called on the Federal Communications Commission to host hearings on its new proposed "net neutrality" rules outside of Washington, not just at its offices in the U.S. capitol. ...
The FCC is now planning six roundtable discussions in September and October at its offices in Washington, where the public can meet with FCC staff to talk about the proposed rules and how they may be changed.
Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, urged to expand the FCC's roundtables to other parts of the country, which the FCC has done in the past on other controversial issues such as changes to the rules restricting who can own how many and what kinds of media outlets in local markets.
"Most of (those who had commented on the proposed rules online) will not be able to come to Washington to participate in the roundtables that have been scheduled, but their voices are more important than industry lobbyists and Members of Congress," Leahy wrote to Wheeler.
Thousands might lose health insurance over missing documents
WASHINGTON — Some 310,000 people with inconsistencies in their citizenship and immigration materials might lose their federal marketplace health coverage Sept. 30 unless they provide proper supporting documents by Sept. 5, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.
In May, the Department of Health and Human Services began contacting about 2 million people about discrepancies or errors in the personal information they’d provided in their insurance applications.
The problems stem, in part, from an administration policy that allowed applicants to self-report information about their incomes, citizenship and household size, all of which contribute to determining their eligibility for tax credits to help pay for coverage.
The self-reporting system was adopted because the federal marketplace technology to verify all applicant information wasn’t fully functional. For the first year of operation, the federal exchange used a scientific sampling process to weed out applications that understated household income.
About 970,000 people had information about their citizenship or immigration status on their applications that didn’t match data in government records. ...
The final notices, in English and Spanish, remind recipients they must provide proper documents by Sept. 5 or risk losing their coverage at the end of next month.
New rules might recognize more tribes, create new casinos
As a proud Chinook Indian, Gary Johnson rejects the claim that his tribe in southwestern Washington state is extinct, even though that’s what the Bureau of Indian Affairs declared more than 12 years ago.
“They couldn’t be more wrong,” said Johnson, a former chairman of the tribe that helped Lewis and Clark navigate the Pacific Northwest in the early 1800s.
Rob Jacobs of North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe said it was silly that he couldn’t legally wear his eagle feathers because his tribe wasn’t among the 566 federally recognized tribes.
“We have to ask for permission to be Indian,” said Jacobs. “Think about it. It’s so sad.”
While no one bothers to count the tribes that have long gone unrecognized by the U.S. government, experts estimate the number at well over 200.
That might change, under new rules proposed by the Obama administration. They would give more tribes a faster track at joining the ranks of the recognized by making it easier for them to prove their legitimacy. ...
Winning such recognition makes a tribe eligible for more federal benefits and is a prerequisite to apply for the biggest prize of all: the right to run a casino.
While the rules have won backing from large tribal groups, they’re generating lots of controversy. ... Gambling opponents say the rules are too lenient and should be scrapped. Some smaller tribes say the rules are too onerous, fearing they’ll still be denied the recognition they’ve sought for decades.
NYPD urged to step up body-worn camera pilot after chokehold death
Had the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner not been caught on film, calls to outfit New York Police Department officers with cameras might have quietly faded. Instead, a bystander captured Garner locked in a chokehold as he repeated: “I can’t breathe.” ...
On Monday, the public advocate of New York, Letitia James, called on the city’s police department, once again, to begin a pilot program using the cameras. “We need action today,” she told a news conference. The NYPD, America’s most influential police department, confirmed that it is reconsidering the potential of such cameras.
Even as departments face scrutiny because of citizens’ videos, they are being pressed to adopt the technology themselves. Attempts to hold police accountable with video are not new, and neither is law enforcement’s distaste for being filmed. But the long history of avoiding the lens is bumping up against technology, as strapping cameras to officers themselves is increasingly considered good policing practice. ...
Civil libertarians have already signed off on police-worn camera programs, making it one of the few circumstances in which the organizations are calling for more, not less, surveillance.
“It serves more as a form of checks and balances against police power than it does for the government [control] over individuals,” said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Missouri police 'shoot second man' in city where teenager was killed
A second man has been shot by police in the Missouri city where an unarmed black 18-year-old was shot dead last weekend, according to multiple reports.
Police officials told local reporters that the man was shot in Ferguson by a St Louis County officer after pointing a handgun at him soon after 1am on Wednesday, following fresh demonstrations over the death on Saturday of Michael Brown. ...
A raucous convoy of about 250 young demonstrators, marching along a main route into downtown Ferguson, was halted about 30 yards from a wall of police assembled at the entrance to the street where Brown was killed by a still-unidentified officer on Saturday.
Officers in military-style uniforms, some carrying high-powered rifles and wearing balaclavas, formed a line at least two men deep and blocking the entire width of Florrisant Street, the main drag where angry protests over Brown's killing had flared for the previous two nights.
Pitched behind two large armoured trucks, they repeatedly warned the demonstrators through a Tannoy system to "get out of the road or face arrest" – the same warning delivered on Monday night before officers fired teargas, rubber bullets and wooden baton rounds into the crowds.
But for 40 minutes, the protesters defied the threat. Some hung out of car windows, while others raised their arms aloft and repeated what has become their defining slogan: "Hands up, don't shoot." A police helicopter swooped around the dark sky above, shining a bright spotlight on the faces of the almost entirely African American crowd.
Michael Brown shooting: civil rights groups may sue to obtain officer's name
ACLU argues city authorities are breaking the law by concealing the name of the officer who killed the unarmed teenager
Civil liberties campaigners threatened on Tuesday to sue the police department of Ferguson, Missouri, for the name of the police officer who shot dead unarmed teenager Michael Brown, arguing that city authorities were breaking the law by keeping it secret.
Amid pressure from the Brown family’s attorney and supporters for the officer’s identity to be made public, the American Civil Liberties Union in Missouri said that it would ask a judge to force the release of the name if police chiefs continued to suppress it.
“We are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that there is transparency,” Tony Rothert, the ACLU’s legal director in Missouri, told the Guardian. “If there is not, then we will get involved. I would be confident in going to court to get it if it is not made public in short order.”
The unidentified officer, who has worked for the Ferguson force for six years, has been placed on paid leave pending an inquiry into his shooting of Brown, who was 18 and unarmed, on Saturday. Police have confirmed that the officer shot Brown several times.
Rothert said that under Missouri’s public records laws, police incident reports, comprising the names of officers, must be made public within 72 hours. Thomas Jackson, the Ferguson police chief, claimed on Tuesday that exceptional circumstances meant that did not apply in this case.
Bernie Says Don't 'Anoint' Hawkish Hillary as NomineePfffttttt!!!
Following criticism of Hillary Clinton's hawkish foreign policy remarks published Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders said in an interview on Monday that Clinton shouldn't be presumed as the Democratic nominee for president since the U.S. political process isn't one in which "we anoint people."
Sanders also hinted at his possible willingness to challenge her for the Democratic nomination for president.
Sanders spoke in an interview with ABC's Jeff Zeleny a day after The Atlantic published an interview with Clinton in which she slammed Obama's foreign policy, saying "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle." Sanders indicated his respect for the former Secretary of State, while at the same time cautioning against assuming that she will be the Democratic nominee before she's even announced her candidacy.
"What is her agenda? I don't know, you don't know. She hasn't said," Sanders pointed out.
White House loosens restrictions on lobbyists
President Barack Obama is loosening restrictions on lobbyists who want to serve on federal advisory boards, a White House official said on Tuesday, a setback to the president's efforts to tamp down special interest influence in Washington.
Obama came to office pledging to curtail the sway of lobbyists and banned lobbyists from serving on such panels, which guide government policy on a range of topics ranging from cancer to towing safety. ...
The head of a lobbying industry trade group called the change a positive step that will allow the government to draw on the expertise of people whose experience can be beneficial in making policy.
The Evening Greens
Tahltan protesters blockade Red Chris Mine over Mount Polley Tailings breach
On Friday, August 8th, a group of Tahltan Nation elders known as the Klabona Keepers began a blockade of Imperial Metal’s Red Chris Mine near Iskut in Northwestern British Columbia.
The Indigenous protesters blocked access to the mine and demanded that Imperial Metals’ employees stop working. They also prevented diesel fuel trucks and shuttle buses full of mine workers from entering the site.
The blockade was set up due to fears of another disaster like the recent Mount Polley Tailings breach on August 5th, which occurred when a fortification that was holding mining waste collapsed, causing toxic chemicals such as arsenic and mercury to flood into the Halzetine Creek and Quesnel Lake. This leak caused a state of emergency and drinking water ban in the surrounding area. ...
Imperial Metals had been issued repeated warnings by the Ministry of Environment and was also warned by a previous foreman at the mine, Gerald MacBurney.
The mine is currently in development and is scheduled to open later this year. ...
Although the Mount Polley breach is one of the worst environmental disasters to hit Canada in at least two decades, Imperial Metals has said that the breach will not delay the opening of the Red Chris Mine. Currently, local residents cannot bathe or drink in the water until British Columbia investigators conduct further tests on the water.
Neskonlith Indian Band issues eviction notice to Imperial Metals
The Neskonlith Indian Band has released a statement saying they have issued an eviction notice to Imperial Metals, the company that runs the Mount Polley Mine where the tailings pond breached more than a week ago.
Ruddock Creek Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of Imperial Metals, is hoping to operate an underground zinc-lead mine approximately 100 km northwest of Revelstoke.
In the statement, Chief Judy Wilson says “Imperial Metals failed to properly protect Secwepemc land and waters and our traditional and current uses in our territory (Secwepemculecw)”. The Secwepemc is made up of 17 bands representing the Shuswap Nation.
Wilson says in the statement they are concerned about the long-term impacts on their lands if something like the tailings pond breach were to happen at the Ruddock Creek Mine.
“As the Yecwiminte r Tmicw, the caretakers of our land and waters, Neskonlith, part of the Lake Secwepemc People, have an obligation to protect our land for our future generations,” the statement reads. “Neskonlith Indian Band cannot permit any mining development especially in these Sacred Headwaters that will contaminate the water or destroy our salmon habitat.”
Fossil Fuels Raising Mercury Levels in Oceans: Study
An alarming new study has found that human activities mostly associated with burning fossil fuels has resulted in a massive increase in the levels of toxic mercury in the world’s oceans.
Published last week in the prestigious international journal Nature, the study, A global ocean inventory of anthropogenic mercury based on water column measurements, revealed that levels of the environmental poison in marine waters less than 100 metres deep have more than tripled since the Industrial Revolution.
Using water samples collected during research trips in the Pacific, Atlantic, Southern and Arctic oceans from 2006 until 2011, scientists analyzed mineral mercury levels attributed to fossil fuels, mining and sewage in both shallow and deep seawater.
While they found that mercury levels in ocean waters less than 100 metres deep had increased by a factor of 3.4 since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, concentrations of mercury throughout the entire ocean had only jumped about 10 percent. ...
“With the increases we’ve seen in the recent past, the next 50 years could very well add the same amount we’ve seen in the past 150,” said Woods Hole marine chemist Carl Lamborg, who led the study.
“The trouble is, we don’t know what it all means for fish and marine mammals. It likely means some fish also contain at least three times more mercury than 150 years ago, but it could be more. The key is now we have some solid numbers on which to base continued work.”
Mexico urged to act and save world's smallest porpoise – the little sea cow
Wildlife groups demand action over danger from fishing nets to vaquita marina, whose numbers are estimated at under 100
The world's smallest porpoise faces imminent extinction unless the Mexican government eliminates gill-net fishing in its only habitat, the upper Sea of Cortez, scientists have warned.
Recent studies conducted using underwater acoustic technology show that since 2012 the population of the vaquita marina – Spanish for little sea cow – has fallen to fewer than 100.
The sharp rise in gill-net fishing has been triggered by a booming illegal trade in the totoaba fish driven by Chinese demand for its swim bladder, which is believed to have medicinal properties.
The porpoises face being caught up in the nets and with mature females, probably now numbering about 25, typically giving birth to one calf every two years, the species could potentially be wiped out in a short space of time by the end of the year.
Critic: Censored Report Shows UK Government has 'Something to Hide' About Fracking
Critics of fracking in the United Kingdom assailed the British government on Monday for their heavy-handed censorship of an internal government report on the impacts of the shale oil and gas drilling technique.
The draft government report, titled Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts, published by the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (or Defra), has information redacted 62 times in just 13 pages. ... Though the report still contains information regarding the negative impact on house prices in fracked areas, there is almost no visible mention of the environmental impacts of fracking or fracking waste.
Following the release of the censored report, Green Party Member of Parliament (MP) Caroline Lucas told BBC's Radio 4 Today that the "number of redactions would be almost comical if it weren’t so concerning."
"I think the only conclusion you can draw by looking at this report is that the government has something to hide and I think we need to know what it is," Lucas said.
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
Magic Slim & the Teardrops - Gravel Road
Magic Slim & the Teardrops - I'm a Bluesman
Magic Slim & the Teardrops - Crazy Woman
Magic Slim feat. Keb' Mo' - Help Me/The blues is alright
Magic Slim & The Teardrops - I Got Some Money
Magic Slim & The Teardrops - Ship Made Of Paper
Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Vienna 1991
Before You 'Cuse Me, You Upset Me Baby, I Ain't Doin' Too Bad, Talk To Me Baby
Magic Slim & The Teardrops - Hard Luck Blues
Magic Slim - Teardrop
Magic Slim & The Teardrops, "Gotta Love Somebody"
Magic Slim - Cold Women With Warm Hearts
Magic Slim - Bad Boy
Magic Slim & The Teardrops
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