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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 evening's music features Memphis blues singer and harmonica player Junior Parker. Enjoy!

Little Junior Parker - Driving Wheel

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”

  -- Eleanor Roosevelt

News and Opinion

Nonpartisan review concludes Bush knowingly ordered torture

A nonpartisan group led by a former top Bush administration official concluded a two-year review on Tuesday that finds the former president and his top advisers knowingly ordered interrogation techniques that U.S. officials have previously referred to as torture.

“After conducting our own two-year investigation, weighing the credibility of all sources and studying the current public record, we have come to the regrettable, but unavoidable, conclusion that the United States did indeed engage in conduct that is clearly torture,” former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), who served as undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush administration, said in an advisory.

The 577-page review, put together by the advocacy group The Constitution Project, includes interviews with dozens of people who have first-hand knowledge of the discussions about interrogation techniques and their implementation. Although Bush administration loyalists said at the time that “enhanced interrogation tactics” like stress positions, waterboarding, mock executions, sensory deprivation and prolonged diapering were not torture, this report aims to specifically and finally emphasize that these activities meet the clinical definition of “torture.” ...

All criminal investigations into the Bush torture program have been called off by the Obama administration.

Iraq bombing wave kills dozens days before vote

Insurgents in Iraq deployed a series of car bombs as part of highly co-ordinated attacks that cut across a wide swath of the country today, killing at least 55 on the deadliest day in nearly a month.

The assault bore the hallmarks of a resurgent al-Qaeda in Iraq and appeared aimed at sowing fear days before the first elections since U.S. troops withdrew. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but coordinated attacks are a favourite tactic of al-Qaeda's Iraq branch.

Iraqi officials believe the insurgent group is growing stronger and increasingly co-ordinating with allies fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad across the border. They say rising lawlessness on the Syria-Iraq frontier and cross-border cooperation with a Syrian group, the Nusra Front, has improved the militants' supply of weapons and foreign fighters.

Iraq cities hit by deadly bombings

Can the Boston Bombings Increase our Sympathy for Iraq and Syria, for All Such Victims?

The horrific bombings of the Boston Marathon produced inspiring images of a spirited, brave Boston refusing to be cowed. Some spectators surged forward toward the danger to apply tourniquets, offer first aid, share blankets, and later to give blood, for the victims. ...

The idea of three dead, several more critically wounded, and over a 100 injured, merely for running in a marathon (often running for charities or victims of other tragedies) is terrible to contemplate. Our hearts are broken for the victims and their family and friends, for the runners who will not run again. ...

What happened in Boston is undeniably important and newsworthy. But so is what happened in Iraq and Syria. It is not the American people’s fault that they have a capitalist news model, where news is often carried on television to sell advertising. The corporations have decided that for the most part, Iraq and Syria aren’t what will attract Nielsen viewers and therefore advertising dollars. Given the global dominance by US news corporations, this decision has an impact on coverage in much of the world. ...

Terrorism has no nation or religion. But likewise its victims are human beings, precious human beings, who must be the objects of compassion for us all.

Rights Groups, in Letter to Obama, Question Legality and Secrecy of Drone Killings

In a letter sent to President Obama this week, the nation’s leading human rights organizations questioned the legal basis for targeted killing and called for an end to the secrecy surrounding the use of drones.

 The “statement of shared concern” said the administration should “publicly disclose key targeted killing standards and criteria; ensure that U.S. lethal force operations abroad comply with international law; enable meaningful Congressional oversight and judicial review; and ensure effective investigations, tracking and response to civilian harm.”

The nine-page letter, signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundations and several other groups, is the most significant critique to date by advocacy groups of what has become the centerpiece of the United States’ counterterrorism efforts.

Arms Manufacturers Influence US Foreign Policy

Half of Egypt Can't Afford Beans, and the Only Help the US Sends Is 140,000 Tear Gas Canisters?

Egyptians are getting hungry.  The fall of the Egyptian pound to just 60% of its 2012 exchange rate against the dollar has priced everything but bread out of the reach of the poorer half of the population, and the bread supply is now at risk.  ...

Egypt's finances have been in free fall since the mid-2000s, when prices for food and other essential imports soared while export earnings for cotton and other products stagnated. ... The half of Egyptians that lives on $2 a day no longer eats beans, let alone milk products. ...

The only basic foodstuffs still available to poor Egyptians are state-subsidized bread, sugar and oil. ...The Financial Times April 11 reported that the Egyptian government will be short 3 to 4 million tons of wheat imports this year. By overestimating the local wheat crop by more than a third, the newspaper quotes an American agricultural attache, Cairo has slashed orders for imports. ...

The only practical assistance the US has provided to the Morsi government took the form of a shipment of 140,000 teargas canisters. This arrived at the Abadeya Port in Suez, the  Egypt Independent reported April 8. As matters stand, Morsi will need them. Perhaps Washington could follow up by donating coffins.

Republicans embrace Obama’s offer to trim Social Security benefits

President Obama’s offer to trim Social Security benefits has perplexed and angered Democrats, but GOP leaders are embracing the proposal and rushing to jump-start a debate that will delve even more deeply into the touchy topic of federal spending on the elderly.

This week, two House subcommittees plan to hold hearings on “reforms to protect and preserve” programs for retirees, starting with Obama’s proposal to apply a less generous measure of inflation to annual increases in Social Security benefits.

Also on the table are higher Medicare premiums and reduced benefits for better-off seniors, and a higher Medicare eligibility age.

At the same time, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he has moved to tamp down criticism of Obama’s proposal, which quickly bubbled up from GOP lawmakers in swing districts, such as Rep. Chris Collins (N.Y.), who accused the president of cutting spending “on the backs of our seniors.” And Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), the chairman of the House Republican campaign arm, called Obama’s plan “a shocking attack on seniors.”

Obama Joins the Club

Mr. Obama has, finally and forever, joined the club. He has sided with the people who stole the Social Security trust, and who now argue that the only "responsible" thing to do is to make old, sick people pay the freight for that theft. They don't want to pay back what they took, and the president has chosen to play their game. He did not have to do this - indeed, he was elected twice on the promise to defend what he now begs to give away - but he did it anyway, and in doing so, he sold out the people who put him where he is.

A lot of people still think George W. Bush was stupid, and a failure as president. All he did was translate billions of taxpayer dollars into the bank accounts of his friends by way of tax cuts and war profiteering. He was not stupid. In fact, one can argue that, according to the metrics of those he most closely represented, Mr. Bush was the most successful president in American history.

Mr. Obama is not stupid, either.

It was no mistake, and according to the metrics of those Mr. Obama most closely represents, this will also be considered a success. The final attack on Social Security has begun, and it was a Democratic president who struck the blow. Even if his budget goes nowhere, or is voted down by his fellow Democrats, the deed is done.


More tales from the golden revolving door:
Obama: The Buckraking Starts Here

It has become depressingly normal to hear of senior Administration officials going immediately for the golden ring when they leave public service. But for every Mary Shapiro joining Promontory and Lanny Breuer returning to Covington & Burling for $4 million a year, there are even more operatives at similar or lower levels who make a very juicy return on their association with Obama but don’t get the same level of attention in the mainstream media.

Norm Scheiber, in a must-read article in The New Republic, “Get Rich or Deny Trying:How to make millions off Obama,” chronicles how this process works. It’s even uglier than you might imagine. ...

Scheiber uses major Obama fundraiser, former UBS chairman Richard Wolf as an example. Wolf never held an Administration post, so he can’t necessarily be expected to hew tightly to the unwritten code. But one of the no-nos is trading, or being perceived to trade, on one’s connection to Obama. Wolf has staffed his consulting firm 32 Advisors with Obama luminaries such as Austan Goolsbee and important insiders like Kevin Varney, the former chief of staff of Ex-Im Bank. Wolf maintains that Obama would never lift a finger to help him while also saying the President is supportive and playing up official relationationships in his website and marketing materials.

While Scheiber discusses some of the places that offer a lucrative landing for former Obama team members, like SKDKnickerbocker, he makes clear how easy it is to profit if you’ve acquired the right connections:

But it turns out the highest-profile White House grads don’t so much join consulting firms these days; they found them. A boldfaced Obama name can rake in upward of $25,000 per month from a client just by dialing into a conference call and drafting a memo from time to time. Four clients means more than a million dollars a year with virtually no overhead. “You can run a business like that on an iPad and a cell phone,” says the former administration official.
STOCK Act Reversal Signed by President

President Obama has just signed a rollback of key transparency provisions of the STOCK Act.

Late Thursday night ... the Senate gutted the disclosure requirements by approving S.716, an act amending the requirements of the 2011 law. The House followed suit the next day, and the president signed the bill minutes ago.

The bill doesn't just eliminate a controversial requirement that personal financial disclosures of tens of thousands of high level federal employees be made publicly accessible online. It also reverses two critical components of the original STOCK act: mandatory electronic filing of PFDs by the president, his cabinet and members of Congress, and the creation of a publicly accessible database.

Click here to tell President Obama what you think of his enacting legislation that rolls back government transparency requirements.

Oh look, something seems a bit off regarding prosecutions of banksters across the pond, too.  
It's 'odd' UK bank bosses have avoided formal charges

Britain's chief financial regulator, Andrew Bailey, has said it is “more than odd” that the chairmen and chief executives who were at the helm of the failed banks have avoided formal charges.

 The chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) said that it was a “source of some surprise” to him that authorities had brought cases against junior bankers but not senior directors.

Speaking at a conference in London, Mr Bailey said it was “not the job of the regulator” to say if individuals should go to prison.

But he added: “It is to my mind a very striking observation and difficulty with the crisis that no formal action has been taken against any chief executive or any chairmen of a failed institution. Not because I have a personal vendetta against them but it is more than odd that action has been taken against people lower down institutions but not at the top.”

Venezuela declares Maduro president-elect amid violent protests

Federal judge blocks Mississippi from closing down state’s only abortion clinic

A federal judge in Mississippi on Monday temporarily prevented the state’s only abortion clinic from being closed down.

“Today’s ruling provides the state’s only abortion clinic and its doctors with critical protection to continue providing the safe and legal reproductive health care to which Mississippi women are constitutionally entitled,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III extended an injunction he had issued against a law that threatened to shut down the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Jordan said the state Department of Health could not shut down the clinic while a legal challenge to the measure continues.

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin'

The ‘Very Serious People’ Are Very Silly About Plans To Cut Social Security and Medicare

Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment Does What Government Won't

RFK Speaks to Us About Violence Today

Breaking! Efforts Today To Rah Rah Dem Caucus For Chained CPI Fall Flat

Lives will be saved

A Little Night Music

Mystery Train-Little Junior's Blue Flames and Elvis Presley

Little Junior Parker - Five Long Years

Little Junior Parker - Feel So Bad / Sittin' At The Bar

That's Alright - Little Junior Parker

Junior Parker - Man Or Mouse

These Kind Of Blues - Little Junior Parker

Next Time You See Me - Little Junior Parker

Little Junior Parker-Dangerous Woman

Junior Parker - Just Like A Fish

Junior Parker - Pretty Baby

Junior Parker - Barefoot Rock

Junior Parker - Backtracking

Junior Parker - i got money

Little Junior Parker - Worried Life Blues

Junior Parker - I Need Your Love So Bad

Junior Parker - Love Aint Nothin But A Business Goin On

Junior Parker - I Wanna Ramble

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.

Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us?  Well you'll see why very soon.  So what are you waiting for?!   Head on over now and be one of the first!

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.


Is it time for a criminal investigation into the Bush Administration's torture program?

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