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 evenings music features Atlanta blues singer and guitarist Peg Leg Howell. Enjoy!
Peg Leg Howell - Rock And Gravel Blues
"The government does not want your guns; it wants your obedience. It’s not afraid of your assault weapons; it’s afraid of your noncooperation. An abusive government has no cause for concern as long as people believe that violence is the field on which to compete."
-- David Swanson
News and Opinion
Corporate-Occupied Government: A 'Redistribution Machine' for the Wealthy
'Redistributing Up': New Reuters series explores expanding US inequality
The income inequality gap has vastly expanded over the past 20 years thanks largely in part to federal policies, which have decreased large chunks of revenue through unprecedented tax cuts for the wealthy and redistributed what's left of that revenue away from public services and federally managed infrastructure programs to private contracts with multibillion dollar corporations—particularly defense contractors, weapons manufacturers, and security technology firms.
This, according to a new series by Reuters, called The Unequal State of America.
In the first article of the series, published Tuesday, Reuters traces the ways in which the federal government has acted as a wealth redistribution machine, not towards those in need, but upwards towards the already wealthy. According to the report, an analysis of decennial Census data, the federal government has "emerged as one of the most potent factors driving income inequality in the United States - especially in the nation's capital."
The report cites public policy decisions, government 'outsourcing' of projects to private firms, weakened unions, a shift in labor demand from low-skill jobs to high-skill professions and, most broadly, sweeping tax cuts, particularly during the Bush administration, that largely benefit top income earners and the corporations, lobbying firms, and law firms they work for.
"A cadre of Washington professionals advanced their careers by pushing through personal income-tax cuts during the administration of President George W. Bush that redistributed nearly 2 trillion dollars nationally over the past decade, mostly to high earners," the report states.
Court rules peace activists can sue the U.S. military for infiltration
In a potentially precedent-setting decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a Guild lawyer’s challenge to military spying on peace activists can proceed. The ruling marks the first time a court has affirmed people’s ability to sue the military for violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights.
“This has never been done before,” said NLG member attorney Larry Hildes, who is handling the case. “The U.S. government has spied on political dissidents throughout history and this particular plot lasted through two presidencies, but never before has a court said that we can challenge it the way we have.”
The ruling is the latest development in the lawsuit, Panagacos v. Towery, first brought by Hildes in 2009 on behalf of a group of Washington state antiwar activists who found themselves infiltrated by John Towery, an employee at a fusion center inside a local Army base. Fusion centers are multi-jurisdictional intelligence facilities which house federal and local law enforcement agencies alongside military units and private security companies. Their operations are largely secret and unregulated. There are currently 77 fusion centers in the United States.
The lawsuit names Towery as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies.
Conference committee drops ban on indefinite detention of Americans
A Congressional conference committee has dropped a provision the Senate passed earlier this year which proponents said would keep American citizens arrested on U.S. soil from being detained indefinitely under the laws of war.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) announced the removal of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's indefinite detention amendment Tuesday afternoon as he described the results of a House-Senate conference on the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
"The language of the Senate bill was dropped," Levin told reporters, according to POLITICO Pro's Juana Summers. He said that provision and language the House proposed was replaced with language that indicates that last year's NDAA shouldn't be interpreted to preclude Habeas Corpus suits by persons detained in the U.S. ...
Feinstein's amendment passed, 67-29, late last month. The California Democrat said it would keep Americans from being held under the laws of war, unless they were captured overseas.
“I was saddened and disappointed that we could not take a step forward to ensure at the very least American citizens and legal residents could not be held in detention without charge or trial. To me that was a no-brainer," Feinstein said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
The 2013 NDAA & Obama’s Expansion of Indefinite Military Detention Powers
The administration of President Barack Obama has gone much farther in defending and expanding indefinite detention powers than the administrations of President George W. Bush ever attempted. With the Feinstein Amendment in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), such powers are set to be further expanded, according to Bruce Afran, a lawyer who has helped a group of individuals bring a lawsuit against a provision of the 2012 NDAA that granted the United States military the authority to indefinitely detain US citizens without charge or trial.
Afran described “under the guise of adding protection for people in the US,” the amendment offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein makes the problem worse. If the 2013 NDAA is passed by the House and signed by the president, it will mean that people can be detained in the US indefinitely because now it will no longer be subject to interpretation. The law will expressly say people can be held in military detention indefinitely.
Though it was supposedly intended to fix problems created by an indefinite detention provision in the 2012 NDAA, the main aspect of the law being challenged in the courts will not change. All that will change is a regulation will be added that a US citizen or permanent resident must be given a trial.
“What kind of trial will that be? It will be a military trial because that’s the only thing that’s referenced in the NDAA,” said Afran.
There are no regulations in the 2012 law or 2013 amendment governing how a person would get to the civil courts. As Afran explained, “Everyone has a right to habeas corpus but the NDAA does not provide any rules the military has to create as to how a person can use that right. It doesn’t say how long they will have to contact the court, doesn’t say their family must be notified they’ve been detained, doesn’t specify they’ll be given counsel—It contains none of the procedural rules that allow people to use their rights.”
Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans
In a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime, according to a news report.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.
Whereas previously the law prohibited the center from storing data compilations on U.S. citizens unless they were suspected of terrorist activity or were relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation, the new powers give the center the ability to not only collect and store vast databases of information but also to trawl through and analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior in order to uncover activity that could launch an investigation.
The changes granted by Holder would also allow databases containing information about U.S. citizens to be shared with foreign governments for their own analysis.
A former senior White House official told the Journal that the new changes were “breathtaking in scope.”
Press refuses to ask about guns during Obama’s first-ever gun control press conference
Following last week’s slaughter of 20 children in Connecticut, President Barack Obama on Wednesday held his first-ever press conference about gun control, but the press corps insisted on asking at least the first six questions about the so-called fiscal cliff. ...
With that, the president invited the press corps to ask questions, beginning with The Associated Press’ Ben Feller, who wanted to know, “Are we likely to go over the cliff?”
White House ‘no specific agenda’ yet on gun violence
The White House said Monday it so far has “no specific agenda” to announce on preventing shooting massacres, as a clamor grew among Democrats and in the media for action on tighter gun controls.
President Barack Obama promised victims’ families at a vigil Sunday for 26 people including schoolchildren killed in Connecticut on Friday that he would use the power of his office to try to end a rash of mass killings.
But the White House said it had yet to frame an approach, adding that Obama would engage Americans in the “coming weeks” on the way forward, as America tries to process the horror and shock of the Newtown shootings.
“I don’t have a series of proposals to present to you,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, when pressed by reporters to explain what the president had meant during his tender eulogy for the slain children.
“I don’t have a specific agenda to announce to you today. I will simply point you to what the president said last night about moving forward in the coming weeks. I would look for him to do that.”
Neil Barofsky Meets with Occupy Wall Street
Neil Barofsky met with several Occupy Wall Street working groups Sunday for nearly two hours.
One of his major themes was that the unwillingness to mete out meaningful punishments to miscreant banks means that the authorities are providing incentives to engage in criminal activity. It’s now more profitable to break rules than abide by them. Barofsky stressed that the current form of corruption was worse than having officials take bribes; at least you could catch people like that and when you did, their behavior was recognized as outside the pale. By contrast, Barofsky stressed that the officialdom honestly believes things that most of us would regard as nonsensical, such as bank executives can be relied upon to behave responsibly, the SEC and Department of Justice have done a good job on the financial services front given their limited resources. Barofsky stressed didn’t see a way to break the dynamic. He believes a crisis is inevitable, given that we are now rewarding predatory, destructive behavior, and thinks that financial services industry critics and the public need to be ready to put forward a reform agenda when it occurs. ...
Barofsky also addressed why the various enforcement agencies were so bad at doing their jobs. He attributed it to a loss of skills. In the early 2000s, there was still some expertise in prosecuting accounting fraud at the DoJ and the FBI. But FBI resources were diverted to terrorism and the SEC focused more on insider trading. When Barofsky worked at SIGTARP, he found the staffers at the DoJ didn’t know how to conduct the investigation; their reflex was to look at trading records, which is not where you go digging with accounting fraud. Barofsky enlisted the Post Office’s fraud unit, which was very capable but has since been taken out of the business of pursuing complex white collar frauds as a result of budget-cutting.
Iran Worried U.S. Might Be Building 8,500th Nuclear Weapon
Amidst mounting geopolitical tensions, Iranian officials said Wednesday they were increasingly concerned about the United States of America's uranium-enrichment program, fearing the Western nation may soon be capable of producing its 8,500th nuclear weapon. ... "Obviously, the prospect of this happening is very distressing to Iran and all countries like Iran. After all, the United States is a volatile nation that's proven it needs little provocation to attack anyone anywhere in the world whom it perceives to be a threat." Iranian intelligence experts also warned of the very real, and very frightening, possibility of the U.S. providing weapons and resources to a rogue third-party state such as Israel.
[From the Onion]
The Jobs Project: Unemployed Coal Miners Install Solar Panels In West Virginia
A group devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia is building a first for West Virginia's southern coalfields region this week – a set of rooftop solar panels, assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors.
The 40- by 15-foot solar array going up on a doctor's office in Williamson is significant not for its size but for its location: It signals to an area long reliant on mining that there can be life beyond coal.
People were skeptical when the idea was first floated about a year ago, says Nick Getzen, spokesman for The Jobs Project, which is trying to create renewable energy job opportunities in West Virginia and Kentucky. In the southern coalfields, he says, people have only ever gotten electricity one way – from coal-fired power plants. ...
The Jobs Project teamed up about a year ago with a solar energy company from the Eastern Panhandle, Mountain View Solar & Wind of Berkeley Springs, to develop a privately funded job-training program. The 12 trainees are earning $45 an hour for three days of work, while some local laborers are earning $10 an hour helping out.
Mountain View owner Mike McKechnie is also buying all his electrical supplies from a local business.
Legal challenges could put a lid on the shale gas boom in Ohio
Ohio's anticipated energy boom from hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits has oil and gas companies, investors and property owners scrambling for a piece of the action.
On the way to digging up the expected treasure, though, are legal sand traps that could slow or even stop production. They go well beyond the basic issue of who owns the buried oil and gas rights, disputes hashed out in courts since the start of the Utica shale rush in 2010.
Emerging battles concern possible threats to endangered species, Clean Air Act violations and claims that oil and gas drilling in Ohio is abnormally dangerous.
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
Peg Leg Howell - Skin Game Blues
Paul Geremia - Skin Game Blues
Peg Leg Howell - Turtle Dove Blues
Peg Leg Howell - Fairy Blues
Peg Leg Howell - Broke and Hungry Blues
Peg Leg Howell - Peg Leg Stomp
Peg Leg Howell - Moanin' And Groanin' Blues
Peg Leg Howell - Too Tight Blues
Blind Blake - Too Tight Blues
Peg Leg Howell - New Prison Blues
Peg Leg Howell - Coal Man Blues
Peg Leg Howell - Tishamingo blues
Peg Leg Howell - Ball And Chain Blues
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