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!
Tonight's music features blues singer, songwriter and civil rights activist Josh White. Enjoy!
Josh White - Free & Equal Blues
"There can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has."
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black
News and Opinion
DOJ Protects HSBC Fat Cats From Jail - Fines Company 4 Weeks Earnings for Aiding Terrorists, Money Launderers and Drug Criminals
Over the last year, federal investigators found that one of the world's largest banks, HSBC, spent years committing serious crimes, involving money laundering for terrorists; "facilitat[ing] money laundering by Mexican drug cartels"; and "mov[ing] tainted money for Saudi banks tied to terrorist groups". Those investigations uncovered substantial evidence "that senior bank officials were complicit in the illegal activity." As but one example, "an HSBC executive at one point argued that the bank should continue working with the Saudi Al Rajhi bank, which has supported Al Qaeda."
Needless to say, these are the kinds of crimes for which ordinary and powerless people are prosecuted and imprisoned with the greatest aggression possible. If you're Muslim and your conduct gets anywhere near helping a terrorist group, even by accident, you're going to prison for a long, long time. In fact, powerless, obscure, low-level employees are routinely sentenced to long prison terms for engaging in relatively petty money laundering schemes, unrelated to terrorism, and on a scale that is a tiny fraction of what HSBC and its senior officials are alleged to have done.
But not HSBC. On Tuesday, not only did the US Justice Department announce that HSBC would not be criminally prosecuted, but outright claimed that the reason is that they are too important, too instrumental to subject them to such disruptions. In other words, shielding them from the system of criminal sanction to which the rest of us are subject is not for their good, but for our common good. We should not be angry, but grateful, for the extraordinary gift bestowed on the global banking giant:"US authorities defended their decision not to prosecute HSBC for accepting the tainted money of rogue states and drug lords on Tuesday, insisting that a $1.9bn fine for a litany of offences was preferable to the 'collateral consequences' of taking the bank to court. . . .DOJ officials touted the $1.9 billion fine HSBC would pay, the largest ever for such a case. As the Guardian's Nils Pratley noted, "the sum represents about four weeks' earnings given the bank's pre-tax profits of $21.9bn last year." Unsurprisingly, "the steady upward progress of HSBC's share price since the scandal exploded in July was unaffected on Tuesday morning."
"Announcing the record fine at a press conference in New York, assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer said that despite HSBC"s 'blatant failure' to implement anti-money laundering controls and its wilful flouting of US sanctions, the consequences of a criminal prosecution would have been dire.
"Had the US authorities decided to press criminal charges, HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking licence in the US, the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilised.
Deutsche Bank Raided, Co-CEO, CFO Under Investigation For Tax Evasion
Deutsche Bank says its co-chief executive Juergen Fitschen and chief finance officer Stefan Krause are under investigation as part of a tax evasion probe linked to the bank's emissions trading business. ...
The Frankfurt prosecutors' office says 25 employees of the bank are suspected of serious tax evasion, money laundering and attempted obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors said 500 police officers swooped Wednesday on Deutsche Bank AG offices and private properties in Frankfurt, Berlin and Duesseldorf.
Obama official who arranged Mortgage Forclosure Settlement gets Revolving Door Reward at Wells Fargo
Bob Ryan, who served as a top housing adviser in the Obama administration, will depart for a senior mortgage-banking position at Wells Fargo & Co. next month, the bank said on Monday.
Mr. Ryan is currently a senior advisor to Shaun Donovan, the secretary for Housing and Urban Development. He joined HUD in 2009 as the first ever chief risk officer at the Federal Housing Administration and served briefly last year as the agency’s acting FHA commissioner. He previously spent 26 years at Freddie Mac .
Mr. Donovan called Mr. Ryan “a key source of advice and reason for the last three years at HUD,” in a statement. “We will miss his expertise, wisdom, and candor,” he said.
Mr. Ryan played a key role shepherding the $25 billion mortgage-foreclosure settlement between five of the nation’s largest lenders, including Wells Fargo, and 49 state attorneys general and federal regulators this past March. Wells faces a separate lawsuit over FHA-backed loans that was filed by federal prosecutors in October.
Greece: latest news of a tragedy
The situation in Greece is relentlessly deteriorating. With the country under intensive care of the European Union and the IMF, the social situation of the country is continuing to degrade. ... . Recently published statistics confirm it. Austerity is tantamount to a massacre for part of the population, particularly the most exposed groups such as those aged over 60, but also small children.
Meanwhile production continues to slump, which brings about a slump in taxes such as the VAT, the revenue of which decreased by 12% between October 2011 and October 20121. We can see unemployment literally exploding (ELSTAT – Unemployment data) and, along with it, the real income of the population is contracting very quickly. Unemployment reached, in September 2012, 26% of the active population and, at the present rate of progression, it should reach 33% in the course of 2013.
It is particularly significant that youth unemployment (for those aged under 25) is literally exploding. Reaching beyond 55%, it is of particular significance in that it translates into facts the hopelessness of a whole generation of young Greeks. The psychological dimension of the phenomenon is decisive here, with the youngest part of a population losing all hope in the future.
Twinkie CEO Admits Company Took Employees Pensions and Put It Toward Executive Pay
Twinkie-maker Hostess continues to screw over its workers. The company is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs. More troubling – they could lose their pensions.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal , Hostess’ CEO, Gregory Rayburn, essentially admitted that his company stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay (aka “operations”). While this isn't technically illegal, it's another sleazy theft by Hostess executives - who've paid themselves handsomely while running their company into the ground. Just last month, a judge agreed to let Hostess executives suck another $1.8 million out of the bankrupt company to pay bonuses to CEOs.
If there's no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then we the taxpayers - through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. - will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get the retirement money they paid in.
Hostess shows us clearly what Bain-style predatory capitalism is all about: big bucks for the very few rich executives, layoffs and poverty for the workers and their communities.
Michigan pro-union protests escalate as former congressmen gets pepper-sprayed
Former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI) was pepper-sprayed by police at Michigan’s capitol building amid an escalating protest against so-called “right to work” bills passed by the legislature on Tuesday that critics say will strip public and private unions of their bargaining power.
Schauer said he and other protesters gathered outside the Capitol’s northern entrance on Tuesday afternoon when officers came to clear them away.
According to The Battle Creek Enquirer, he tried to negotiate a line between police and the demonstrators, but instead he was pepper sprayed.
Israel must stop attacks on Palestinian NGOs and human rights defenders
Early on Tuesday 11 December 2012, members of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) raided three Palestinian NGOs in Ramallah, seizing computers, work files and equipment and ransacking their offices in what Amnesty International says is part of a “pattern of harassment” against campaigners in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
"This Israeli raid against the Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, the Palestinian NGO Network, and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees is part of a wider onslaught against Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations and their staff,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director. ...
The Israeli authorities frequently restrict the movement of human rights defenders and other activists in the West Bank based on secret information, and prevent travel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. NGOs in Gaza were also directly affected by the recent Israeli military operation there. ...
The Israeli authorities frequently prevent Addameer lawyers from visiting the prisoners and detainees they represent. Most disturbingly, according to his lawyer, Addameer researcher and human rights defender Ayman Nasser was tortured during the lengthy interrogation following his arrest by Israeli forces on 15 October.
Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations
Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations, according to documents obtained by a news outlet.
The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases, according to the Daily, which obtained copies of contracts, procurement requests, specs and other documents.
The use of the equipment raises serious questions about eavesdropping without a warrant, particularly since recordings of passengers could be obtained and used by law enforcement agencies.
It also raises questions about security, since the IP audio-video systems can be accessed remotely via a built-in web server (.pdf), and can be combined with GPS data to track the movement of buses and passengers throughout the city.
NY AG Schneiderman leads coalition of 7 states suing EPA for violating Clean Air Act
Seven Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states announced plans Tuesday to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, saying it is violating the Clean Air Act by failing to address methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, which has boomed in nearby states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a news release Tuesday that the EPA is violating the Clean Air Act by failing to address the emissions. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and the oil and gas industry is the largest source of emissions in this country. Other major sources come from landfills and livestock. ...
Schneiderman said that the coalition of states "can't continue to ignore the evidence of climate change or the catastrophic threat that unabated greenhouse gas pollution poses to our families, our communities and our economy." He said Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont joined in sending a required 60-day notice of intent to sue to EPA.
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio — all states with intensive oil and gas drilling — didn't join in the campaign. None of the states that sent the notice to the EPA are major producers of oil or gas.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Josh White - Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
Josh White - Jelly Jelly
Josh White - Little Brother Blues
Josh White - Lord, I Want To Die Easy
Josh White - Hard Time Blues
Josh White - Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho, Blind Man Stood on the Road
Josh White - Back Water Blues
Josh White - One Meatball
Josh White - Empty Bed Blues
Josh White - Black And Evil Blues
Josh White - Bad Depression Blues
Josh White - Trying To Get Home
Josh White - While The Blood Runs Warm In Your Veins
Josh White - When The Sun Goes Down
Josh White - New D.B.A. Blues
Josh White - Sissy Man
Josh White - Pigmeat And Whiskey Blues
Josh White - I Don't Intend To Die In Egyptland
Josh White - There's A Man Goin' Around Taking Names
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky