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.
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Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Austin, Texas singer Lou Ann Barton. Enjoy!
Lou Ann Barton + Stevie Ray Vaughn - Sugar Coated Love
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
-- Carl Sagan
News and Opinion
Obama's Choice of Frack-Friendly Energy Nominee a 'Nail in the Coffin' for Climate
Choice of MIT professor Ernest Moniz, known for championing gas fracking, as head of Department of Energy receives rebuke
Reports that President Obama is poised to nominate MIT professor Ernest Moniz to be the next head of the Department of Energy is raising serious concerns for those worried that the administration will betray its promise to take on the threat of the climate crisis by making a major domestic push for natural gas drilling using the controversial practice known as fracking.
The choice of Moniz, known for his adamant support for fracking—which he's called "paradigm-shifting"—seems to confirm reporting last week that a major part of Obama's plans for energy creation in his second term will be to "initiate widespread gas fracking in the US."
“Mr. Moniz is affiliated with the industry-backed MIT Energy Initiative, so we shouldn’t be surprised about his favorable position on fracking," said Mitch Jones from Food & Water Watch. "But President Obama could do a lot better."
"Appointing Mr. Moniz," Jones continued, "would be a nail in the coffin for one of his most lauded inaugural speech promises: a commitment to focus on climate solutions.”
With Little More Than a Note, Obama Deploys US Troops To Niger
West African that will host fleet of US drones will also have armed US soldiers with "boots on the ground"
With little more than a note to Congress, President Obama announced Friday morning that he has ordered the deployment of approximately 100 armed US soldiers to the west African country of Niger.
According to the Associated Press, Obama's letter stated that the mission would be to conduct "intelligence sharing" with French troops stationed in the neighboring country of Mali who have joined that country's army in a fight with Toureg fighters in the north.
As AP notes:The U.S. and Niger signed an agreement last month spelling out legal protections and obligations of Americans who might operate from the African nation. But U.S. officials declined at the time to discuss specific plans for a military presence in Niger.The announcement of "boots on the ground" in Niger comes just weeks after reports surfaced that the US was in negotiations to establish an airbase in the country so that a portion of its drone fleet could operate in the region.
Investigation Finds High-Class, Crisis-Peddling 'Astroturf Supergroup' Behind 'Fix the Debt' CampaignHat tip to Oaktown Girl for this one:
New investigative project looks to expose deficit debate subterfuge pushed by Pete Peterson, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson
A new online resource launched on Thursday aims to show that behind the scenes of the ongoing fiscal battles in Washington—including the current fight over 'sequestration'—a billionaire-funded and CEO-backed media campaign is operating as an 'astroturf supergroup,' using its outsized pocketbook and influence to peddle long-discredited policy prescriptions for the ailing economy.
According to a new joint investigative project between the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine, the 'Fix The Debt' campaign—which launched itself last year in the midst of an earlier episode in the "fiscal crisis charades" that have plagued Washington since the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in 2010— is "one of the most hypocritical corporate PR campaigns" created in Washington in decades.
Funded in large part by billionaire Pete G. Peterson—whose expressed mission is to spend nearly $1 billion of his hedge fund fortune to slash earned benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare—the CEO-laden campaign has now become an 'astroturf supergroup' which uses its outsized financial muscle and well-oiled media operatives (many of whom are former high ranking elected officials) to inject itself into the ongoing debate about the budget by pushing false solutions under the guise of "fiscal responsibility".
Ostensibly the group says it is just a friendly coalition of "non-partisan" business leaders, CEOs, and former politicians who want to "put America on a better fiscal and economic path."
But according to CMD, the group which pushes the wisdom of its co-founders, Erskin Bowles and Alan Simpson, as sacred doctrine, the group's sole purpose is to push an "austerity agenda" that puts the interests of the nation's wealthiest individuals and most powerful corporations ahead of the elderly, middle class workers, and the most vulnerable in society.
Deficit Hawks Scramble To Protect Their Pork From Sequester
In some lawmakers’ minds, there’s no stopping the sequester. So they’re making a plea to the Obama administration: Just don’t cut in my backyard.
With the automatic budget cuts set to strike all aspects of the federal government March 1, members of the House and Senate are beseeching administration officials — both in private and during public hearings — to spare key programs and employment hubs back home.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) recently asked the Army Corps of Engineers’ top civilian official if she had a way to steer the looming cuts within the agency, making the case that President Barack Obama can’t boost exports by underfunding water projects along the Mississippi River. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has been huddling with top Navy officials at the Pentagon and in the Capitol about how to protect thousands of jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and related contractors.
And Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) has been sounding the alarm about potential cuts to his state’s White Sands Missile Range and two national laboratories, which help manage the nation’s nuclear stockpile.
The panicked pleas from Capitol Hill offer a reminder about one big reason why Congress has failed to tame the $16.5 trillion debt: Politicians may talk a lot about tightening Washington’s belt, but they get the blame if federal pork stops flowing back home.
Obamacare is stumbling block as New England Grocery workers prepare to strike
A leading supermarket chain in New England began recruiting scabs on a large scale this week as the union representing some 40,000 of its workers girds for a potential strike later this month. ...
The most divisive issue in the contract talks is how to handle healthcare coverage for union members as the provisions of Obamacare are implemented. Stop & Shop is currently demanding the right to cut off insurance coverage for many part-time workers in early 2014, according to a statement from Rick Charette, chairman of the New England UFCW negotiating committee. The demand is based on the supposition that good health insurance coverage will be available to those workers through state-operated insurance “exchanges” envisioned by Obamacare, Charette indicated. ...
More part-time workers are expected to be covered by insurance, but there is little agreement on how it will be paid for, he says. Insurance exchanges may provide a solution, but such exchanges are so new that contract negotiators are unsure how they will work.
Immigration reform and private prison cash
Key lawmakers in the immigration debate are among the top recipients of campaign contributions from the prison industry
For-profit prison management has become a booming business in recent years. Much of that growth is driven by the government’s ramped-up immigration enforcement, which have boosted demand for privately-run prison facilities to detain suspected illegal immigrants until deportation hearings, and to incarcerate immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. ...
The nation’s two largest private prison operators, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, have more than doubled their revenues from the immigrant detention business since 2005, contributing to overall combined revenues that eclipsed $3 billion in 2011. Prison companies have spent heavily during this time to influence government: over the last decade, according to The Associated Press, the industry has spent more than $45 million on campaign contributions and lobbying at the state and federal level.
Some of the politicians who have benefited most from this largesse are influential Senators who are now playing key roles in shaping proposed immigration reform legislation.
Among members of Congress, the top two recipients of contributions from CCA are its home-state senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee. The Republican lawmakers, each of whom has received more than $50,000 from CCA according to data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, represent important swing votes for advancing a reform bill through the Senate. Another top CCA recipient is Arizona Republican John McCain, who has gotten $32,146 from CCA and is a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that is working to draft legislation. His fellow Gang of Eight member, Marco Rubio, ranks among the top recipients of contributions from the Florida-based GEO Group, receiving $27,300 in donations over the course of his career.
In recent years, each of these senators has sponsored bills that would have increased the detention and incarceration of immigrants. Legislation put forward by Alexander in 2009, for example, would have provided for “increased alien detention facilities.” And a 2011 bill cosponsored by McCain and Rubio sought to expand Operation Streamline, a federal enforcement program that makes illegal entry a criminal offense in some jurisdictions.
DHS says FBI “possibly funded” Terrorist Group
It was most surprising to come across the following entry at the website for the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses for Terrorism (known by the acronym START), which is run by the Department of Homeland Security out of the University of Maryland. ... The webpage concerns the “Terrorist Organization Profile” for the Secret Army Organization, a right-wing terrorist group in the early 1970s, a group START writes was “possibly funded by the FBI.”
According to START, “The Secret Army Organization (SAO), a right-wing militant group based in San Diego, was active from 1969 to 1972. They targeted individuals and groups who spoke out against the Vietnam War, especially those who organized public demonstrations and distributed anti-war literature.”
Indeed, if we could turn the clock back to June 1975, we would read an article in the New York Times, “A.C.L.U. Says F.B.I. Funded ‘Army’ to Terrorize Antiwar Protesters.”
According to the Times, the ACLU compiled a 5,000 page report on the SAO, a group of former Minutemen and other right-wingers and violent home-grown fascists, for the benefit of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “alleging the Federal Bureau of Intelligence recruited a band of right-wing terrorists and supplied them with money and weapons to attack young antiwar demonstrators.”
But that’s not all, the SAO engaged in bombing and attempted assassination.
Washington state bill would forgive all minor marijuana convictions
Washington state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D) has a novel idea: now that marijuana is legal in the state, he wants people convicted of minor, state-level marijuana offenses to get a clean slate.
Fitzgibbon introduced H.B. 1661 on Feb. 5, a bill that he told Raw Story was inspired by Washington prosecutors who dropped all of their pending misdemeanor marijuana cases in December following legalization’s passage at the ballot box.
“That got me thinking of the thousands of Washingtonians who have a misdemeanor marijuana conviction on their record, and if there wasn’t something we could do to help them out, help them get a fresh start with their lives,” he said.
Many times a marijuana conviction can disqualify one for numerous jobs, public housing opportunities and educational financing: harms Fitzgibbon hopes to undo by allowing prior offenders to petition for their charges to be vacated.
Gohmert: Voters need ‘at least 50 rounds’ in magazines to take out drones
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) says constituents are telling him that high-capacity magazines should not be banned because people need “at least 50 rounds” to shoot down government drones.
During Thursday interview on Freedom 107 radio, host Jeff Akin asked the Texas Republican how he felt about using unnamed aerial drones for domestic law enforcement.
“It’s pretty offensive to most of us,” Gohmert opined. “Most of us think if you’re going to use a drone and fly over our homes to analyze what’s going on in our backyard — not a lot of talk’s been given — but if you can fly over in the backyard, you can use all kinds of technology to see what’s happening inside the home as well. And I know there’s been a judge, and this former judge sure thinks you ought to have a warrant to do that kind of thing.”
“But I had somebody last week in Washington from either Georgia or Alabama that was saying, ‘Look, this goes back to we have got to have at least 50 rounds in our magazines because on average that’s about how many it takes to bring down a drone.’ I hope he was kidding, I don’t know for sure.”
“It is serious when the government decides, let’s just watch every little thing Americans are doing,” he added. “It’s big brother taken to a whole new scale.”
Activists press for additional $25 billion in fines against BP over Gulf oil spill
BP should be on the hook for an additional $25bn to restore environmental damage from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, even if the company is hit with a record-breaking $17.6bn in fines at a civil trial next week, campaign groups said on Thursday.
BP will face the largest environmental fines in US history in a civil trial in New Orleans next week. The proceedings, which are expected to last until the fall, will apportion blame for the 2010 disaster between the oil company and its partners on the blown-out well, and assess fines based on how much crude oil actually flowed into the Gulf of Mexico.
John Kostyack, vice-president of wildlife conservation for the National Wildlife Federation, said BP should be held accountable for additional damage to the coast and waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
“If you look at about $25bn, that at least gets you in the right scale of payments,” adding that he had based his calculations on the environmental damage assessments that followed the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and then scaled up, in terms of barrels of oil spilled and inflation, to apply his findings to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster.
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
Jimmie Vaughan & Lou Ann Barton - Wheel Of Fortune
Lou Ann Barton w/The Thunderbirds - Rocket In My Pocket
Lou Ann Barton + Stevie Ray Vaughn - Tee Na Nee Na Nu
Jimmie Vaughan & Lou Ann Barton - In The Middle Of The Night
Lou Ann Barton, Angela Strehli, Marcia Ball - A Fool In Love
Lou Ann Barton - I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home
Lou Ann Barton + The Jimmie Vaughan Band - Bluesgarage
Lou Ann Barton + Stevie Ray Vaughn - Scratch My Back
Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton - Natural Born Lover
Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli, Lou Ann Barton - Good Rockin'
Lou Ann Barton - Let's Have a Party
Jimmie Vaughan & Lou Ann Barton - I'm in the Mood for You
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
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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