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 r&b singer Archie Bell of Archie Bell and the Drells. Enjoy!
Archie Bell & The Drells - Tighten up
"The war on terror is the most insane and immoral war of all time. The Americans are doing what they did in Vietnam, bombing villages. But how can a civilised nation do this? How can you can eliminate suspects, their wives, their children, their families, their neighbours? How can you justify this?"
-- Imran Khan
News and Opinion
Obama Informs Congress of Iraq Airstrikes Under War Powers ActObama's resumed the humanitarian killings...
President Obama formally notified Congress today of the beginning of airstrikes against the Iraqi town of Amerli, as required under the War Powers Act. Administration officials say the attack was “consistent with the military missions we have outlined to date in Iraq.”
Under the War Powers Act, the president is allowed only to launch such unapproved operations in the case of “a national emergency,” which would be a difficult case to make in Iraq, and also he can only continue the war for 60 days without a Congressional authorization for the use of military force.
The 60 day clock really should have been ticking from the start of airstrikes earlier in August, but could be argued to begin with the Amerli strikes, which are what the administration notified Congress about.
Either way, continuing the war beyond 60 days would be a blatant violation of the law, though not one without precedent. In 2011, President Obama informed Congress of the attacks in Libya, and continued US military involvement in the war for months after the 60 day deadline passed without authorization.
US Renews Airstrikes in Iraq as Part of 'Humanitarian' Mission
The United States carried out new air strikes in Iraq on Saturday night to accompany what the Pentagon said was a "humanitarian assistance operation" to help Shia Turkmen under a nearly two-month siege by Islamic militants.
According to a statement released by Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. Kirby, "These military operations were conducted under authorization from the Commander-in-Chief to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to prevent an ISIL attack on the civilians of Amirli. The operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli." ...
Though the Pentagon's statement assured military operations "limited in their scope and duration," in an op-ed in the New York Times this weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry wrote that "[w]hat’s needed to confront [the Islamic State's] nihilistic vision and genocidal agenda is a global coalition using political, humanitarian, economic, law enforcement and intelligence tools to support military force." He added: "Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy. A much fuller response is demanded from the world."
The U.S. has conducted at least 115 airstrikes on Iraq since Aug. 8.
Huge new Israeli settlement in West Bank condemned by US and UK
The UK and US governments have criticised, in unusually strong language, Israel's decision to approve one of the largest appropriations of Palestinian land for settlement in recent decades.
The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said he deplored the move as "particularly ill-judged".
However, Israel's economics minister, Naftali Bennett, who visited the Gush Etzion settlement in the occupied West Bank on Monday, applauded Sunday's decision as an "appropriate Zionist response to murder". Bennett said: "What we did yesterday was a display of Zionism. Building is our answer to murder."
The settlement affects nearly 400 hectares (1,000 acres) at Gvaot near Bethlehem, which have been designated as state land, as opposed to land privately owned by Palestinians, clearing the way for the potential Israeli building.
Israel's announcement comes after an apparently concerted effort by some of its officials and politicians to use the kidnap and murder of three religious students earlier this summer to justify the expropriation.
End of Gaza war doesn't translate into peace
A week after the guns fell silent in the Gaza war, Israel and the Palestinians seem to have little appetite or incentive for a return to U.S.-sponsored peace and statehood talks that collapsed five months ago. ...
The parties themselves, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bickering governing coalition and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, are on a collision course over threatened Palestinian unilateral moves toward statehood and exploration of war crimes prosecution against Israel in the absence of direct talks. ...
Under the Egyptian-brokered truce agreement, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to address complex issues such as Hamas's demands for a Gaza seaport and the release of Palestinian prisoners via indirect talks starting within a month.
With the start of those negotiations still up in the air, Netanyahu wants to see whether Abbas takes over responsibility from Hamas for administering Gaza's borders and that measures are taken to prevent the group from smuggling in weaponry. ...
Those negotiations, on creating a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, were already going nowhere, with Palestinians pointing to expanding Israeli settlement on land they claim as their own and balking at Israel's demand to recognize it as the Jewish homeland.
As Rebels Advance, Ukraine Spurns Calls for Peace Talks
The deputy premier of East Ukraine’s breakaway region headed to Belarus today, and rebel officials say they’re eager to negotiate a settlement of the ongoing war, with a goal of comparative autonomy instead of their previous pushes for secession.
But it takes two sides to make peace, and as usual, Ukraine’s pro-West government is spurning the calls for talks, insisting the war over the nation’s impoverished east is actually the start of a “great war” for all of Europe that must be won militarily. ...
Russia has been calling for Ukraine to adopt a federalist system as a way of resolving the war. The Ukrainian government insists the whole war is Russia’s fault, and that they want Western support for their massive war against Russia.
The US has been pushing Ukraine not to accept negotiated settlements, and the EU has piled on with threats of sanctions against Russia if they don’t forcibly disarm the rebels and end the rebellion.
NATO's "Military Hysteria" Undermines Hope for Peace in Ukraine, says Russia
In response to threats from NATO that it will be expanding its military capabilities eastward, Russia on Tuesday countered by saying such moves will only result in military recalibrations of its own.
Ahead of a NATO summit scheduled for later this week and citing repeated announcements by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that a new military "spearhead"— a 4,000-soldier "rapid response" fighting force—would be positioned in eastern Europe, high-ranking Russian officials were pushing back.
Public Chamber deputy secretary Sergei Ordzhonikidze, told a state news agency that Rasmussen's plans amounted to "military hysteria" and betrayed historic promises. He said Russia's only option would be to respond with "reciprocal measures" of its own.
“When NATO troops are approaching our borders, of course, we develop a plan," said Ordzhonikidze. "It is a threat when troops are being stationed next to your border. I recall NATO’s commitment not to expand the bloc’s territory eastward … All that remains to us is to somehow oppose this expansion of NATO.”
Rasmussen first publicly presented the idea for NATO's eastward expansion last week during a sit-down interview with European newspapers. Strikingly, those reports came out just as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko were sitting down in Minsk, Belarus for their first face-to-face meeting over the deadly crisis in Ukraine.
Will Ukraine Bid To Join NATO Unleash 21st Century Cold War?
In a move that could dramatically spike international tensions and escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Prime Minister of the Ukraine government in Kiev on Friday submitted legislation to Parliament declaring intention to join the western military alliance of NATO and longer-term ambitions to actually join the European Union.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk submitted the proposal on Friday just ahead of a NATO emergency meeting held in Brussels to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Following that meeting, NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen emerged to say NATO would "fully respect" Ukraine's effort to join the alliance.
In comments on Thursday, President Obama chastized Russia for its behavior in Ukraine, blaming President Vladimir Putin for the continued resistance shown by armed rebels in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk who have resisted submission to the government in Kiev which came to power in a coup earlier this year. "The violence [of the pro-Russian separatists] is encouraged by Russia," the president charged. "The separatists are trained by Russia. They are armed by Russia. They are funded by Russia. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."
Responding to such accusations on Friday, Putin dismissed the idea that Russia was solely to blame for the current situation as he praised the resistance fighters in eastern Ukraine and said the Kiev government--backed by western power--was guilty of killing civilians as the Ukraine Army has conducted mass shelling against rebel-held cities. According to the Moscow Times, Putin said the Russian takeover of Crimea earlier this year was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government violence and that continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April, was the result of a refusal by Kiev to negotiate.
Putin claims Russian forces 'could conquer Ukraine capital in two weeks'
Vladimir Putin has said Russian forces could conquer the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, in two weeks if he so ordered, the Kremlin has confirmed. ...
The Kremlin did not deny Putin had spoken of taking Kiev, but instead complained about the leak of the Barroso remarks.
Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, attended the EU summit and painted an apocalyptic picture of the conflict, with EU leaders dropping their usual public poise in a heated debate.
Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithuanian president, declared Russia was "at war with Europe". The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the main mediator with Putin, was said to be furious with the Russian leader, warning that he was "irrational and unpredictable", while David Cameron was said to have raised the issue of Britain discussing policy options regarding Putin.
Cameron likened the west's dilemma with Putin to relations between the then British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, with Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938, when Anglo-French appeasement encouraged the Nazi leader to launch the second world war the following year.
NATO and Ukraine: A Warning
MEMORANDUM FOR: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Ukraine and NATO
We the undersigned are long-time veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on Sept. 4-5.
You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.
We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicious of charges made by the U.S. State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
President Barack Obama tried on Aug. 29 to cool the rhetoric of his own senior diplomats and the corporate media, when he publicly described recent activity in the Ukraine, as “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now … it’s not really a shift.”
Obama, however, has only tenuous control over the policymakers in his administration – who, sadly, lack much sense of history, know little of war, and substitute anti-Russian invective for a policy. One year ago, hawkish State Department officials and their friends in the media very nearly got Mr. Obama to launch a major attack on Syria based, once again, on “intelligence” that was dubious, at best.
Largely because of the growing prominence of, and apparent reliance on, intelligence we believe to be spurious, we think the possibility of hostilities escalating beyond the borders of Ukraine has increased significantly over the past several days.
Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif acts to quell 'rebellion'
The Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, chaired a joint session of parliament as a deepening crisis over violent protests demanding his resignation prompted fears of an army intervention. ...
Pakistan has been in turmoil since mid-August when tens of thousands of protesters led by former cricketer Imran Khan and outspoken cleric Tahir ul-Qadri flooded into the capital, Islamabad, refusing to leave unless Sharif resigns.
The protesters accuse the government of corruption and Sharif of rigging the election last year. He denies that and has refused to step down.
The demonstrations turned violent over the weekend as protesters armed with clubs and wearing gas masks to protect themselves against teargas tried to storm Sharif's residence. At least three people were killed and hundreds wounded.
But the capital was quiet on Tuesday, with no reports of violence. As members of parliament streamed into the assembly, a crowd of a few thousand protesters massed peacefully just outside in the so-called Red Zone – a central area where Sharif's office, ministries and many embassies are located.
US troops mount attacks on al-Shabaab in Somalia
US military forces have attacked the Islamic extremist al-Shabab network in an operation in Somalia, the Pentagon said, in a strike a Somali official said targeted the group’s fugitive leader.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby said the US was assessing the results and would provide more information when appropriate. No further details were available.
A senior Somali intelligence official said a US drone targeted al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane on Monday as he left a meeting of the group’s top leaders. Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, is the group’s spiritual leader under whose direction the Somali militants forged an alliance with al-Qaida.
The Somali official, speaking on condition of anonymity since he was not authorised to speak to the media, said intelligence indicated Godane “might have been killed along with other militants”.
The official said the attack took place in a forest near Sablale district, 105 miles (170km) south of Mogadishu, where al-Shabab trains its fighters.
How the NSA Helped Turkey Kill Kurdish Rebels
On a December night in 2011, a terrible thing happened on Mount Cudi, near the Turkish-Iraqi border. One side described it as a massacre; the other called it an accident.
Several Turkish F-16 fighter jets bombed a caravan of villagers that night, apparently under the belief that they were guerilla fighters with the separatist Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). The group was returning from northern Iraq and their mules were loaded down with fuel canisters and other cargo. They turned out to be smugglers, not PKK fighters. Some 34 people died in the attack.
An American Predator drone flying overhead had detected the group, prompting U.S. analysts to alert their Turkish partners. ...
Documents from the archive of U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden that Der Spiegel and The Intercept have seen show just how deeply involved America has become in Turkey’s fight against the Kurds. For a time, the NSA even delivered its Turkish partners with the mobile phone location data of PKK leaders on an hourly basis. The U.S. government also provided the Turks with information about PKK money flows, and the whereabouts of some of its leaders living in exile abroad.
At the same time, the Snowden documents also show that Turkey is one of the United States’ leading targets for spying. Documents show that the political leadership in Washington, D.C., has tasked the NSA with divining Turkey’s “leadership intention,” as well as monitoring its operations in 18 other key areas. This means that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, which drew criticism in recent weeks after it was revealed it had been spying on Turkey, isn’t the only secret service interested in keeping tabs on the government in Ankara.
Homeland Security was built to fend off terrorists. Why's it so busy arming cops to fight average Americans?
For three weeks and counting, America has raged against the appalling behavior of the local police in Ferguson, Missouri, and for good reason: automatic rifles pointed at protesters, tank-like armored trucks blocking marches, the teargassing and arresting of reporters, tactics unfit even for war zones – it was all enough to make you wonder whether this was America at all. But as Congress returns to Washington this week, the ire of a nation should also be focused on the federal government agency that has enabled so much of the rise of military police, and so much more: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ...
But the problem with DHS is much larger than just combat gear: Homeland Security is also transferring tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in high-tech spying technology to local police through a sprawling backroom operation surveilling your neighborhood, much of which may be unconstitutional. ... DHS has its own fleet of Predator drones roaming the US border and far beyond, which it has loaned out to police over 500 times for myriad unknown reasons. ... Homeland Security is also handing out millions of dollars to local police to “accelerate and facilitate the adoption” of smaller drones that police can fly themselves. Cops claim they want these “middleman” drones for “emergencies,” but in places like California’s Alameda county, documents show they’ll end up using them for “crowd control” and “intelligence gathering”.
Local police have also received millions of dollars in grants for Stingray surveillance devices, the invasive and controversial spying tool that police have been using to secretly suck up cellphone data from entire neighborhoods – then covering it up. ... Recently, DHS planned to build a nationwide database for license plate tracking, only to scrap it under rare public scrutiny. But the database – filled with billions of private records – already exists in other forms. ...
Early in this Congressional session, the Senate committee that oversees the Department of Homeland Security will hold a public hearing on how, whether and why the local police look like they’re doing battle in the Iraq war. ... We’ve learned a lot from Ferguson; the least we can take away from it is that we don’t need more “good guys” with billions of dollars in guns.
Louisiana Judge Partially Blocks State's New Restrictive Abortion Law
A Louisiana judge on Sunday partially blocked the state’s restrictive new abortion law, set to take effect on Monday, which would require doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
Four doctors challenged the law on the grounds that they were not given enough time to acquire those privileges. They said the law would have forced all five of Louisiana’s abortion clinics to close down. One of the plaintiffs had admitting privileges within 30 miles of his office, but said that he feared for his safety if he were to become the only abortion provider in the state.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the ruling protected Louisiana women “from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights.”
In his temporary decision, Judge John de Gravelles ruled that the four doctors would not be subject to penalties or sanctions while they were in the process of seeking admitting privileges. Their risk of being prosecuted and losing their licenses outweighs any injury to the state, de Gravelles said.
Detroit presents plans to cut debt as historic bankruptcy trial begins
Lawyers for Detroit will attempt to convince a federal judge at the city’s bankruptcy trial that its plans to wipe out billions of dollars in debt should be approved. ...
Detroit expects to cut $12 billion in unsecured debt to about $5 billion, which is “more manageable,” according to Bill Nowling, a spokesman for emergency manager Kevyn Orr. ...
The plan includes commitments from the state, major corporations, foundations and others to donate more than $800 million over 20 years to soften cuts to city pensions. In return, pieces in the city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts would be placed into a trust to keep them from being sold to satisfy creditors.
General retirees would take a 4.5 percent pension cut and lose annual inflation adjustments. Retired police officers and firefighters would lose only a portion of their annual cost-of-living raise.
Fast food workers plan biggest US strike to date over minimum wage
America’s fast food workers are planning their biggest strike to date this Thursday, with a nationwide walkout in protest at low wages and poor healthcare.
The strike is the latest in a series of increasingly heated confrontations between fast food firms and their workers. Pressure is also mounting on McDonald’s, the largest fast food company, over its relations with its workers and franchisees.
Workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and other large chains will strike on Thursday and are planning protests outside stores nationwide, in states including California, Missouri, Wisconsin and New York.
The day of disruption is being coordinated by local coalitions and Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, union-backed pressure groups which have called for the raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour for the nation’s four million fast-food workers.
The Evening Greens
United Nations predicts climate hell in 2050 with imagined weather forecastsThere is lots of fascinating information in this article, it's worth reading the whole thing.
The United Nations is warning of floods, storms and searing heat from Arizona to Zambia within four decades, as part of a series of imagined weather forecasts released on Monday for a campaign publicising a UN climate summit.
"Miami South Beach is under water," one forecaster says in a first edition of "weather reports from the future", a series set in 2050 and produced by companies including Japan's NHK, the US Weather Channel and ARD in Germany.
The UN World Meteorological Organization, which invited well-known television presenters to make videos to be issued before the summit on 23 September, said the scenarios were imaginary but realistic for a warming world.
Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we're nearing collapse
The 1972 book Limits to Growth, which predicted our civilisation would probably collapse some time this century, has been criticised as doomsday fantasy since it was published. ... Research from the University of Melbourne has found the book’s forecasts are accurate, 40 years on. If we continue to track in line with the book’s scenario, expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon. ...
The [book's authors] modelled data up to 1970, then developed a range of scenarios out to 2100, depending on whether humanity took serious action on environmental and resource issues. If that didn’t happen, the model predicted “overshoot and collapse” – in the economy, environment and population – before 2070. This was called the “business-as-usual” scenario.
The book’s central point, much criticised since, is that “the earth is finite” and the quest for unlimited growth in population, material goods etc would eventually lead to a crash.
So were they right? We decided to check in with those scenarios after 40 years. Dr Graham Turner gathered data from the UN (its department of economic and social affairs, Unesco, the food and agriculture organisation, and the UN statistics yearbook). He also checked in with the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the BP statistical review, and elsewhere. That data was plotted alongside the Limits to Growth scenarios.
The results show that the world is tracking pretty closely to the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario. The data doesn’t match up with other scenarios.
Youths sue U.S. government over climate inaction
Young people across the country are suing several government agencies for failing to develop a climate change recovery plan, conduct that amounts to a violation of their constitutional rights, says their lawyer Julia Olson.
Their futures are at stake, say the young plaintiffs. ...
The federal suit, which has made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is part of a groundbreaking nationwide legal campaign spearheaded by youth and backed by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and legal scholars.
The case, filed by five teenagers and two nonprofits — WildEarth Guardians and Kids vs. Global Warming — representing thousands more youth, relies on the public trust doctrine, which requires government to protect resources essential to the survival of all generations.
“With the United States as the largest historic emitter of carbon dioxide, the atmospheric resource cannot be restored without government action,” Olson told Al Jazeera.
Supported by more than 30 environmental and constitutional professors, the young plaintiffs name six federal agencies in their suit — the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Defense departments. ...
In addition to the federal suit, actions were filed in all 50 states, with help from Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit that supports young people through legal efforts.
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
Archie Bell & the Drells - There's Gonna Be a Showdown
Archie Bell & the Drells - Here I go again
Archie Bell & The Drells - Wrap It Up
Fabulous Thunderbirds - Wrap it up
Archie Bell & The Drells - Here I Go Again
Archie Bell and the Drells - Houston, Texas
Archie bell & the Drells - I Can't Get Enough Of Your Love
Archie bell & the Drells - Dog eat dog
Archie Bell &The Drells - Love Will Rain On You
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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