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 blues guitarist and singerBig Daddy Kinsey. Enjoy!
Big Daddy Kinsey - Mannish Boy
“Give me enough medals and I’ll win you any war”
-- Napoleon Bonaparte
News and Opinion
The Legacy of the Iraq War
This week with all of the focus on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, I've been reading a lot of analysis of the war and its legacy. I think that most of the commentators that I've read thus far have either missed or failed to appropriately assess the gravity of at least one legacy of the war.
I think that the crucial legacy of the Iraq war is how inconsequential the dissent of the people is to those that make the decisions. I was listening to Democracy Now the other day when they had Arundhati Roy on, and they said that 50 million people around the world had protested against the commencement of hostilities. If I am remembering correctly, I and my family joined between a million and a million and a half Americans around the country who marched in protest on that day.
The voices of millions of people didn't make a difference.
We pointed out that they were clearly lying. It didn't matter. They got their war on.
As time wore on and the war became increasingly unpopular, that didn't seem to matter, either. There was no stopping the powers that be.
They tortured people and disappeared people and later bragged about it on national teevee.
There have been no prosecutions, only a "forward looking" president who has expanded some of the worst policies of his war criminal predecessors. In the pursuit of his inherited wars and his own new ones, he has committed what many see as war crimes of his own. Among them are his assassination programs, "signature" murders and the cruel and inhuman punishment of at least one whistleblower.
Nothing seems to stop these people and there is no force in our "democracy" that seems to be up to the task of making things right.
That, I think is the most momentous legacy of the Iraq war - our system seems to be a military juggernaut that is utterly unaccountable to anyone.
Cheney's Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion On The Iraq War
The accounting of the financial cost of the nearly decade-long Iraq War will go on for years, but a recent analysis has shed light on the companies that made money off the war by providing support services as the privatization of what were former U.S. military operations rose to unprecedented levels.
Private or publicly listed firms received at least $138 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for government contracts for services that included providing private security, building infrastructure and feeding the troops. ...
The No. 1 recipient?
Houston-based energy-focused engineering and construction firm KBR, Inc. (NYSE:KBR), which was spun off from its parent, oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL), in 2007.
The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms.
Obama Marks Iraq War Anniversary with War Summit in Israel
According to the Guardian, Netanyahu plans on using the president’s trip “to try to persuade the US to carry out air strikes on Syria if there is evidence that Syrian missiles are to be handed over to Hezbollah in Lebanon, or at least to give full support to Israeli military action to prevent the transfer.” Tel Aviv, the paper adds, wants U.S. support for more preemptive Israeli strikes “even if they risk provoking a cross-border conflict with Hezbollah.”
“[A]s the United States ramps up its aid to Syria’s rag-tag rebels, whose backbone is comprised of radical Islamists and Sunni fundamentalists, some with ties to Al Qaeda,” Dreyfuss writes, “the CIA is busily engaged in combat inside Iraq with the very same radical Islamists and Sunni fundamentalists, some with ties to Al Qaeda.”
Such a strategy is only truly bizarre, though, if one assumes the Obama administration is actually seeking a resolution to the Syrian conflict. It is only bizarre if one ignores the possibility that working to stoke the war may just in fact be Washington’s strategy. After all, short of installing a client regime in Damascus, the destruction of Syria as a sovereign state and significant player in regional politics is the next best hope for the U.S. And this goes for Israel, as well. In fact, the weakening of the Syrian army by the prolonged conflict has already come to be cheered in Tel Aviv.
CIA's Gus Hunt On Big Data: We 'Try To Collect Everything And Hang On To It Forever'
The CIA's chief technology officer outlined the agency's endless appetite for data in a far-ranging speech on Wednesday.
Speaking before a crowd of tech geeks at GigaOM's Structure:Data conference in New York City, CTO Ira "Gus" Hunt said that the world is increasingly awash in information from text messages, tweets, and videos -- and that the agency wants all of it.
"The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time," Hunt said. "Since you can't connect dots you don't have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever."
Hunt's comments come two days after Federal Computer Week reported that the CIA has committed to a massive, $600 million, 10-year deal with Amazon for cloud computing services. The agency has not commented on that report, but Hunt's speech, which included multiple references to cloud computing, indicates that it does indeed have interest in storage and analysis capabilities on a massive scale.
Solution to $1T Student Debt Problem is to Get the Banks Out of the Education Business
"The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently released a study showing just why many young people are being strangled by student loans. It found that 43 percent of 25-year-olds had student debt in 2012, an increase from 27 percent in 2004."
Further on in the editorial, they say:
"According to the new study, student debt almost tripled between 2004 and 2012, and is approaching $1 trillion, while the percentage of borrowers who were more than 90 days delinquent had risen to 17 percent, from 10 percent in 2004. In addition, student loan debt was the only kind of household debt that continued to rise through the Great Recession, and it is now the second largest after mortgage debt."
"The Federal Reserve study estimates that nearly 18 percent of borrowers now have student loan debts of $25,000 to $50,000, and nearly 4 percent have balances greater than $100,000."
Cypriot "no" inspires Greeks to rail against austerityHere are a couple of items from the Guardian's Eurocisis Live blog today:
Greeks and opposition parties inspired by the Cypriot rejection of an unpopular bailout deal urged Athens on Wednesday to stand up to foreign lenders whose demands have resulted in repeated rounds of austerity that have made Greek life a misery.
Cyprus's parliament on Tuesday rejected a levy on bank deposits demanded in return for aid, raising the specter of a default for the island nation that could mean enduring wave after wave of spending cuts and tax rises, just like Greece.
"See what Cyprus did? We are proud of them," said Fey Papadopoulou, 22, a university student. "They should be an example for our politicians, who have succumbed to every demand." ...
"Cyprus said 'No' on our behalf too," said Odysseas Panagiotou, a 45-year old clerk. "It's about time that our traitors - politicians - say a big 'No' to the troika demands."
The "no" vote from Nicosia comes just days before Athens and its lenders resume delicate talks on the implementation of the country's bailout, with creditors pushing Athens to respect past pledges to fire civil servants and stick to unpopular tax rises.
Cyprus crisis: Government to create 'solidarity fund' after ECB issues Monday ultimatum - liveOnce again, the Congressional Progressive Caucus puts forward and anti-austerity budget that addresses both the problems of the demand shortage and the deficit and the Democratic "Leadership" and the Obama administration failed to support it, consigning it to the usual scrapheap of ideas that fail to serve the demands of the 1%:
[Those plucky Cypriots are working their way through the crisis while the austerity pimps taunt them]Reports out of Cyprus in the last few minutes suggest that the country's leaders have decided to create "national solidarity fund", at this morning's talks in Nicosia..
Averof Neophytou, who is the deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Rally party, made the comments to reporters in Nicosia.
There's no word on what the fund would includes - but reports last night suggested pension assets, various state assets, and even property owned by the Church of Cyprus.
The parliament's speaker has also been speaking, suggested that a vote will not take place on the plan today. He also indicated that the leaders did not consider the issue of a bank levy -- suggesting a savings tax might now be off the agenda
[The people of Greece prick up their ears...]In Athens the left-wing firebrand leader, Alexis Tsipras, has held a press conference at which he declared his Syriza party was 'in solidarity' with Cyprus.
Tsipras told a press conference that the Cypriot parliament had delivered a blow to "neoliberal policies in Europe.” It bolsters Syriza's argument that Greece can, and should, renegotiate its own austerity package, he added
"It has opened a window of opportunity.
We call on all Greeks to show solidarity with Cyprus and its decision to say 'no'."
Budgets Votes in House Cast Long Shadow as 'Grand Bargain' Looms7 Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee voted the wrong way on this bill to stick the 99% with the casino bills of the 1%:
The budget put forth by the Progressive Caucus (CPC) in the House went down in expected defeat on Wednesday with a vote of 84-327. ...
The Senate budget, approved by the Democratic-controlled upper-chamber, was also voted down in the House by a margin of 154-261. Among those who voted against it were 35 Democrats.
Also struck down was the the budget proposed by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). That vote was 105-305, with Democrats split with 105 in favor and 80 voting against it.
A vote on the Republican House budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, is expected for a vote on Thursday. It will likely pass, of course, but will be dead on arrival in the Senate. ...
Above all, the failure to pass a budget agreement in Congress pushes President Obama to stay on a trajectory to willingly foster cuts—in the name of "compromise" and "shared sacrifice"—to key social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as he succumbs to the invented mantra that instead of a massive crisis of unemployment and income inequality, the US economy is suffering from annual deficits or a tax code not preferential enough to corporate interests.
In the name of this 'fabricated crisis,' Obama and other Democrats, according to economists and progressive critics, are falling victim (or willingly playing along) to the Republican budget intransigence that has been their hallmark since Obama first took office in 2008.
Wall Street Deregulation Advances As Top Democrat Warns That Vote Could 'Haunt' Congress"Great minds" are at work in Arizona preserving the purity of our public bathroom experiences:
A House Committee approved six new bills to deregulate Wall Street derivatives on Wednesday, advancing legislation that would expand taxpayer support for derivatives and create broad new trading loopholes allowing banks to shirk risk management standards created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank bill.
The House Agriculture Committee passed all six bills with broad bipartisan support, just five days after Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) released a report detailing extensive failures to contain derivatives risks at JPMorgan Chase -- troubles that lead to billions of dollars in losses from a single trade.
The legislation will next be considered by the full House of Representatives.
The most controversial bill to advance Wednesday is explicitly designed to expand taxpayer backing for derivatives. It was the only legislation that lawmakers were required to cast individual votes for or against; the others were all approved by unanimous voice votes. The bill to increase taxpayer support for bank derivatives dealing was approved by a vote of 31 to 14.
Prior to the vote, the top Democrat on the Agricultural Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), gave a speech warning that the legislation could repeat the deregulation debacles of the 1990s.
Arizona bill would jail transgender people for using the ‘wrong’ bathroom
Republican legislators in Arizona are attempting to pass legislation that forces transgender people to only use public restrooms, dressing rooms and showers associated with the gender listed on their birth certificate. According to the Associated Press, conservative lawmakers are proposing the legislation in response to a human rights bill passed by the city of Phoenix which prohibits gender identity discrimination in public accommodations.
Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh of Phoenix is leading the charge to make it a criminal offense for transgender people to use public restrooms not associated with their birth gender.
According to U.K. paper The Independent, violation of the new law would be a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by fines as high as $4,000 and up to six months in prison.
Judge Rules In Favor Of Journalists, Unseals Fracking Court RecordsThere's an interesting wrinkle in the fracking case above. The judge in the case found that a business has no right to privacy under the Pennsylvania constitution. I wonder if this case will get appealed further by the defenders of corporate personhood:
Harrisburg, PA — A judge ruled today in favor of journalists seeking access to information about a fracking pollution court case.
Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca reversed an order by a Washington County court sealing the record in a case in which a Pennsylvania family sued several gas companies over property damage and health impacts related to air and water pollution from nearby natural gas operations.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Observer-Reporter had intervened in the case to unseal the records, while gas companies unsuccessfully fought to keep the records out of the public eye.
Washington County judge orders Marcellus Shale development settlement records unsealed
The defendants claimed they had the right to privacy to protect the record from being unsealed.
But Judge O'Dell-Seneca wrote that Article I of the state Constitution, which reads, "All men are born equally free and independent," cannot apply to them.
"There are no men or women defendants in the instant case; they are various business entities. ... These are all legal fictions, existing not by natural birth by operations of state statutes. ... Such business entities cannot have been 'born equally free and independent,' because they were not born at all."
The opinion calls it a clearly "emerging question in national jurisprudence" and joined with two courts that have already discredited it.
Canadian Government Fights US Opposition to Tar Sands Pipeline
"The Harper government is basically freaking out about the possibility that Obama would say no to the pipeline. They've launched a full-court press in terms of lobbying in the U.S. for the pipeline. John Baird, the foreign affairs minister, just the other day said it's been the number-one priority for more than two years for a Canadian team based in Washington at the Canadian embassy there. ...
So the aggressiveness of the lobbying campaign is unprecedented, I think, certainly in the history of recent Canadian relations with the U.S. To have a government in this country so aggressively, basically, in a battle, political battle with a social movement in the U.S. is not something that, I think, maybe has ever been seen in the history of Canadian-U.S. relations. ...
And one of the things that's interesting about the Canadian lobbying is just how involved Canadian diplomats are with American oil companies and working with the American oil companies and really stoking their lobbying for the pipeline. It's really an alliance, Canadian government really working in alliance with the most reactionary and big oil interests within the U.S."
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
Big Daddy Kinsey - For The Love of a Woman
Big Daddy Kinsey - Good Mornin' Mississippi
Big Daddy Kinsey & the Kinsey Report - Bad Situation
Big Daddy Kinsey - Little Red Rooster
Big Daddy Kinsey - Gary, Indiana
big daddy kinsey & the kinsey report - slow down
Big Daddy Kinsey and Sons - Howlin' Wolf
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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