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 Nashville blues singer and piano player Cecil Gant. Enjoy!
Cecil Gant - Hit That Jive Jack
“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern."
-- C.S. Lewis
News and Opinion
How Austerity Is Literally Killing People
Austerity in the United States and Europe isn’t just placing an unnecessary drag on economic growth that has harmed the global economic recovery from the Great Recession. The rapid deficit reduction efforts are also making people less healthy, causing higher rates of suicide, depression, and infectious disease, according to research from Oxford University economist David Stuckler and Stanford University medical professor Sanjay Basu.
HIV rates have risen 200 percent in Greece as it has cut its HIV prevention budget, and the country also suffered its first malaria outbreak in decades after budget cuts to mosquito-related programs. Increased unemployment has led to higher rates of suicide and depression across the continent, and the United States is seeing the effects as well, Reuters reports:And more than five million Americans have lost access to healthcare during the latest recession, they argue, while in Britain, some 10,000 families have been pushed into homelessness by the government’s austerity budget.The United States has seen multiple outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in the last three years while budget cuts have targeted food safety and inspection agencies, and the first major modernization of its food safety laws was hamstrung by spending cuts. Education cuts have hit school lunch and other nutrition programs. Other deficit reduction efforts have hammered health programs.
“Our politicians need to take into account the serious – and in some cases profound – health consequences of economic choices,” said David Stuckler, a senior researcher at Oxford University and co-author The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills
“The harms we have found include HIV and malaria outbreaks, shortages of essential medicines, lost healthcare access, and an avoidable epidemic of alcohol abuse, depression and suicide,” he said in a statement. “Austerity is having a devastating effect.“
The Story of Our Time
There are, after all, people who insist that the real problem is on the economy’s supply side: that workers lack the skills they need, or that unemployment insurance has destroyed the incentive to work, or that the looming menace of universal health care is preventing hiring, or whatever. How do we know that they’re wrong?
Well, I could go on at length on this topic, but just look at the predictions the two sides in this debate have made. People like me predicted right from the start that large budget deficits would have little effect on interest rates, that large-scale “money printing” by the Fed (not a good description of actual Fed policy, but never mind) wouldn’t be inflationary, that austerity policies would lead to terrible economic downturns. The other side jeered, insisting that interest rates would skyrocket and that austerity would actually lead to economic expansion. Ask bond traders, or the suffering populations of Spain, Portugal and so on, how it actually turned out.
Is the story really that simple, and would it really be that easy to end the scourge of unemployment? Yes — but powerful people don’t want to believe it. Some of them have a visceral sense that suffering is good, that we must pay a price for past sins (even if the sinners then and the sufferers now are very different groups of people). Some of them see the crisis as an opportunity to dismantle the social safety net. And just about everyone in the policy elite takes cues from a wealthy minority that isn’t actually feeling much pain.
What has happened now, however, is that the drive for austerity has lost its intellectual fig leaf, and stands exposed as the expression of prejudice, opportunism and class interest it always was. And maybe, just maybe, that sudden exposure will give us a chance to start doing something about the depression we’re in.
What Deficit Reduction is Really About: Weakening Workers’ Bargaining Power
The policy of austerity has produced winners and losers, and the winners seem to have considerably more power. The high unemployment and weak labor markets of the last five years leaves workers with little bargaining power.
As a result, virtually all of the gains from productivity growth since the downturn have gone to employers. The after-tax profit share of national income is at the highest level since 1951. The rise in corporate profits had led to a booming stock market, which has recovered all the ground lost since the recession. ...
There are a relatively small number of people who own substantial amounts of stock. ... Of course campaign contributions come disproportionately from the tiny segment of the population who do own large amounts of stock. ... The leadership of both major parties is not seeking ways to reduce the budget deficit because there is any reason to believe this will be good for the economy. They are looking for ways to reduce the budget deficit because the wealthy are happy to sustain a situation in which high unemployment weakens workers’ bargaining power.
The imposition of austerity makes an opening for the corporate vultures to swoop in and strip Greece of its assets and destroy its environment for their profits:
Greeks Fight Canadian Corporate Gold-Diggers
Any sense of tranquility that hangs around the mountain of Skouries in northern Greece, 80 km east of Greece’s second largest city Thessaloniki, is a façade. Home to some of the oldest forests in Greece, the pristine region is now a battleground, as the local population takes on the Canadian mining giant Eldorado Gold Corporation and its local subsidiary, Hellas Gold. ...
A huge majority of this community of 40,000 opposes the extractive project, which aims to mine approximately 12 billion dollars worth of copper, gold, silver, zinc and lead that have been slumbering untouched under this mountain.
The corporation has pledged to invest 1.2 billion dollars into the creation of a huge open pit mine, as well as a network of smaller mines below the surface of the mountain. It says the project will generate over 1,000 jobs for locals and pump new life into Greece’s sputtering economy.
But residents say the mine will only rip into the mountain, destroying the environment and leaving Greeks with the bill for a massive clean-up operation.
A close analysis of the contract shows Greece will not pocket even a significant portion of the mines’ projected revenue. ...
This instability could impact attempts by the Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund to catch the eye of foreign investors in a 50-billion-dollar sale of most of the country’s wealth, a privatisation spree that many have termed a “total carve up” of the Greek economy.
Media coverage of the state’s heavy-handed repression of protests against this wave of privatisation could dissuade investors and spur support for local activists.
An Interview With John Stauber on the Impotence of the Progressive Movement
Most grassroots progressives haven’t realized that the professional paid staff and paid pundits of the Progressive media, think tanks and the non-profit movement organizations work for corporations. These corporations are completely responsible to their major funders, foundations and any business corporations that fund them. Some like CREDO actually are for-profit business corporations.
The Progressive Movement we see, and in whose media and messaging we are immersed, doesn’t exist as an infrastructure to bring about change, it exists as parasitic marketing campaign, directed at those who want real change. It looks like it is a Movement, but it doesn’t function like one. It functions like any corporation. It exists primarily via marketing, PR and fundraising all in the name of public education and mobilization, but funneling all that energy and noise every two years into helping elect Democrats by bashing Republicans and promoting, if with pious and righteous reservations, Democratic candidates. ...
These big players — the paid activists at CREDO, Greenpeace, 350.org, MoveOn, the paid pundits at Nation and Mother Jones — they work for corporations who have their own agenda, a business agenda, and are primarily funded by wealthy Democrats and their foundations, or by “socially responsible companies” that these wealthy individuals and foundations invest in.
The real agenda of the Big Green groups, the Progressive Media and Progressive Think Tanks, is raising money for themselves. What they do is decided and directed by their small group of decision-makers who are funders or who play to the funders. The professional Progressive Movement I criticize and critique does not ultimately represent or serve any real progressive movement at the grassroots. It markets to them for followers and funding, and every two years votes for Democrats as the lesser of the evils.
So we've got 40 newly arrived medical personnel in Gitmo to keep the 100 men on hunger strike alive "humanely."— emptywheel (@emptywheel) April 29, 2013
100 Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Now Recognized by Military
The United States military has come out Saturday and acknowledged that 100 inmates at Guantanamo Bay prison are taking part in the hunger strike. ...
According to an email from Lt. Col. Sam House, twenty of the detainees are being force fed—a practice many decry as a form of torture—and five are currently in the hospital.
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Here are the states where "the magic of the marketplace" will fail most spectacularly
Remember, one idea behind ObamaCare is that savvy health care consumers will seek out the cheapest and/or best kidney transplants or slings for their broken arms because magic marketplace. And transparency! This theory is also called "patient empowerment," blaming the victim, the privatization of public health, and #FAIL.. Another idea behind ObamaCare is that health insurance companies will compete on the health exchanges to offer the best polices and/or the lowest prices instead of colluding to bankrupt the hapless
patientconsumer, again because magic marketplace. Of course, ObamaCare is implemented state by state, so that this theory won't work in states where there are monopolies. o how many of those states are there?[E]ven some stalwart supporters of the Affordable Care Act worry that in many states, people won’t have a lot of health insurance choices when the exchanges launch in October.So, in those -- one moment, I have to count -- ten states with insurance monopolies, the health exchanges aren't going to have the "choice" ObamaCare was supposed to provide. So, if you live there, no magic marketplace for you, Mr. or Mrs. Second Class Citizen!
Health economists predict that in states that already have robust competition among insurance companies—states such as Colorado, Minnesota and Oregon -- the exchanges are likely to stimulate more. But according to Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute, "There are still going to be states with virtual monopolies." Currently Alabama, Hawaii, Michigan, Delaware, Alaska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Wyoming and Nebraska all are dominated by a single insurance company. The advent of the exchanges is unlikely to change that, according to Blumberg.
“Homeland Security” Spending Overtakes New Deal
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself and we are apparently very afraid. The ever mutating concept of “homeland security” has garnered more public funds since 9/11 than President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Pretty amazing, who knew fighting phantoms could be so expensive?For decades, the Department of Defense has met this definition to a T. Since 2003, however, it hasn’t been alone. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which celebrates its 10th birthday this March, has grown into a miniature Pentagon. It’s supposed to be the actual “defense” department — since the Pentagon is essentially a Department of Offense — and it’s rife with all the same issues and defects that critics of the military-industrial complex have decried for decades. In other words, “homeland security” has become another obese boondoggle.
But here’s the strange thing: unlike the Pentagon, this monstrosity draws no attention whatsoever — even though, by our calculations, this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on “homeland security” since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.
Massive explosion rocks Detroit tar sands refinery
Detroit - A massive explosion has been reported at a tar sands oil refinery in Detroit, Michigan on Saturday afternoon, prompting a mandatory evacuation order for parts of a nearby city.
CBS Detroit reports that the blast occurred at the Marathon Detroit Refinery on South Fort Street. A thick cloud of black smoke rose into the clear afternoon sky and was visible for miles around.
Greenhouse gas levels highest in 3m years
Carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere are on the cusp of reaching 400 parts per million for the first time in 3 million years.
The daily CO2 level, measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, was 399.72 parts per million last Thursday, and a few hourly readings had risen to more than 400 parts per million.
''I wish it weren't true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400 ppm level without losing a beat,'' said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US, which operates the Hawaiian observatory.
''At this pace we'll hit 450 ppm within a few decades.''
The 450 ppm level is considered to be the point at which the world has a 50 per cent chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. Any higher and the odds of avoiding searing temperature rises of 4 or 5 degrees by the end of the century become prohibitively risky.
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
Cecil Gant - Playin' Myself The Blues
Cecil Gant - We're Gonna Rock
Cecil Grant - I Wonder
Cecil Gant - Loose As A Goose
Cecil Gant - I'm A Good Man But A Poor Man
Cecil Gant - Nashville Jumps
Cecil Gant - Rock Little Baby
Cecil Gant - Another Day, Another Dollar
Cecil Gant - Screwy Boogie
Cecil Gant - I Gotta Gal
Cecil Gant - It Ain't Gonna Be Like That
Pvt. Cecil Gant - Cecil's Mop Mop
Cecil Gant - Thats The Stuff You Gotta Watch
Cecil Gant - Sloppy Joe's
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.
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!