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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Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features "The Father of the Texas Blues, Blind Lemon Jefferson. Enjoy!
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Match Box Blues
"I don't give a goddamn. I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way. ... Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"
-- George W. Bush
News and Opinion
Chomsky: Instead of "Illegal" Threat to Syria, U.S. Should Back Chemical Weapons Ban in All Nations
AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama addressing the nation last night. Professor Noam Chomsky, your response to his description of those who oppose military strike against Syria for a chemical weapons attack?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, once again, what’s particularly interesting is what he didn’t say. So, yes, a good idea to look at the videos of the gas attack in Syria. But then we could also look at the photos of deformed fetuses in Saigon hospitals still appearing decades after John F. Kennedy launched a major chemical warfare attack against South Vietnam, 1961, dousing the country with poisonous dioxin-laced Agent Orange. Dioxin is one of the major carcinogens. The attack was aimed at food crops, in an effort—and at ground cover, part of a general assault against the country—a huge number of atrocities, millions of people killed. The chemical—the effects of chemical warfare are felt until today, partially by American soldiers, too. Or we could look at the photos of other deformed fetuses coming regularly in Fallujah, attacked by U.S. Marines in November 2004, killing several thousand people, destroying much of the town, using weapons which—of unknown character, but which left radiation levels that epidemiologists have estimated are comparable to Hiroshima. And the effects of that on high cancer rates, on deformed fetuses, on children devastated by horrifying deformities, that we could look at, too. Now, those are the ways in which the U.S. has brought—has been the anchor for global security for seven decades. Can run through the record, if there were time, but everyone should know it. These, of course—that’s not said.
The U.S.—the idea that the U.S. has introduced and imposed principles of international law, that’s hardly even a joke. The United States has even gone so far as to veto Security Council resolutions calling on all states to observe international law. That was in the 1980s under Reagan. No state was mentioned, but it was evident that the intention was to request the United States to observe international law, after it had rejected a World Court judgment condemning it for what was called unlawful use of force—it means international terrorism—against Nicaragua. In fact, the U.S. has been a rogue state, the leading rogue state, radically violating international law, refusing to accept international conventions. There’s hardly any international conventions that the U.S. has accepted, and those few that it has accepted are conditioned so as to be inapplicable to the United States. That’s true even of the genocide convention. The United States is self-authorized to commit genocide. In fact, that was accepted by the International Court of Justice. In the case of Yugoslavia v. NATO, one of the charges was genocide. The U.S. appealed to the court, saying that, by law, the United States is immune to the charge of genocide, self-immunized, and the court accepted that, so the case proceeded against the other NATO powers but not against the United States. In fact, the United States, when it joined the World Court—it helped introduce the modern World Court in 1946, and joined the World Court, but with a reservation. The reservation is that international agreements, laws, do not apply to the United States. So the U.N. Charter, the charter of the Organization of American States, the U.S. is immune to their—self-immunized to their requirements against the threat and use of force, intervention and so on.
It’s kind of astonishing. I mean, by now it’s hard to be astonished, but it should be astonishing that a president of the United States, who is furthermore a constitutional lawyer or a graduate of Harvard Law School, can say things like this, in the full knowledge that the facts are exactly the opposite, radically the opposite. And there are millions and millions of victims who can testify to that. Right today is—happens to be an important date, the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of the parliamentary democracy of Chile, with substantial U.S. aid, because we insisted on having a vicious dictatorship, which became a major international terror center with our support, rather than allowing a Democratic Socialist government. Well, that’s—these are some of the realities of the world. Now, the picture that the president presented is—it doesn’t even merit the name fairy tale.
Al-Qaeda's air force still on stand-by
In theory, the Russian plan of having Damascus surrender its chemical weapons arsenal works because of its inbuilt Chinese wisdom; nobody loses face - from Obama and the US Congress to the European Union, the UN and the even more farcical "Arab" League, which is essentially a Saudi Arabian colony. ... Needless to say, that is absolutely unbearable for the plutocrats in charge of unleashing the new Syria (lethal) production. A brand new propaganda/manufactured hysteria campaign must be unfurled to justify war. And that's exactly what the Anglo-French-American axis is working on.
No wonder the French proposal for a new UN Security Council resolution falls under the UN's Chapter 7 - which would explicitly allow the use of force against Damascus in case of non-compliance. As it is, this resolution will inevitably be vetoed by Russia and China. And that will be the new pretext for war. The (farcical) emperor may easily invoke plausible deniability, stress he made "every effort" to avoid a military conflict, and then convince skeptics in the US Congress this is the only way to go.
CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed IranMore from the selective outrage department:
The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq's favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration's long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn't disclose. ...
In contrast to today's wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein's widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.
CIA document from 1983 indicates Israel built chemical weapons stockpile
A newly discovered CIA document indicates that Israel likely built up its own chemical weapons arsenal.
Intelligence circles in Washington believe that Israel amassed a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons decades ago to complement its alleged nuclear arsenal, Foreign Policy reported Monday on its website.
Information about Israel’s chemical weapons production appears in a secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate obtained by Foreign Policy.
American spy satellites in 1982 uncovered “a probable CW (chemical weapon) nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert,” the CIA document reported. “Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.
Americans are hostages of the 'terrorists' of Wall StreetThis is for all those 11th Dimensional Chess Players who assert that Obama really meant to provoke Syria into giving up it's chemical weapons and doesn't really want to loose the dogs of war:
When are America’s leaders going to step up and protect us from the most threatening terrorists, hedge fund managers?
Sure, some Islamist nutcase might be able to set off a bomb on a bus or in a building, but, horrific as that may be, the damage to our society is not nearly as great as the wrecking ball that can hit us all when one of the greedy schemes of aggressive and unscrupulous financiers goes awry. Yes, Islamic terrorists took down the World Trade Center in 2001, but the financial terrorists took down the world economy in 2008. ...
Right now, we are in a period of recovery from the 2008 financial disaster. Finally, there are more jobs for more people. But, structurally, nothing much has changed. We still live at the mercy of the financiers, and it is hard to imagine that they will not blow everything up again, unless someone steps in to stop their kind of terrorism.
Kerry Shocked to Be Taken Seriously
Secretary of State John Kerry said today that he was “shocked and flabbergasted” that the Russians heeded his suggestion about Syria’s chemical weapons, telling reporters, “After four decades in public life, this is the first time someone has taken me seriously.”
“Whether as a senator, a Presidential candidate, or Secretary of State, I’ve devoted countless hours to thunderous and droning speeches that people have consistently tuned out,” he said. “So naturally, to be listened to all of a sudden came as something of a shock.” ...
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney welcomed the Russians’ engagement in the Syria crisis, but warned that “further actions based on John Kerry’s remarks will not be tolerated.”
Tammy Baldwin Comes Out Against Military Action In Syria
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) announced her opposition to U.S. military action in Syria on Tuesday, just hours after President Barack Obama met with senators on Capitol Hill.
"I strongly believe that our response to this situation must not be a unilateral military action," Baldwin said in remarks on the Senate floor. "This is not America's responsibility alone. And it is not in our interest to set the precedent that it is our responsibility alone. Syria violated international laws and should be held accountable by the international community."
"The use of chemical weapons is a global atrocity and demands a global response," she added. "That is why I oppose going to war in Syria. And that is why I oppose authorizing military involvement in Syria's civil war."
Republican says he'll OK Syria strikes if Obama returns Nobel prize
A Republican lawmaker said he'll vote to authorize military action against Syria if President Obama returns his Nobel Peace Prize.
Freshman Tea Party Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) suggested the swap in a press statement Tuesday ahead of the president's primetime address to sell strikes to a skeptical public. Stockman said Obama must answer 11 questions to gain his support — including whether the president is willing to return his 2009 prize. ...
The other questions mostly touch on the potential consequences of a U.S. strike and reflect the deep skepticism in Congress.
US Borders: Secret Paths for Interrogation, Seizure, Detention of Whistleblowers' Associates
Government documents reveal widespread abuse of border authority to violate civil liberties
It turns out that the U.K. isn't the only country abusing its border authority to carry out politically motivated detentions, seizures and interrogations of travelers, as illustrated by the case of David Miranda.
Internal government documents released Monday by the ACLU show that U.S. government agencies collude with local authorities to use border crossings to bypass civil liberties protections and seize and search electronic devices that belong to people who associate with whistleblowers and other political targets.
The documents detailing this abuse were publicly exposed by 26-year-old David House, a fundraiser for campaigns to support WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning. House was detained and interrogated while traveling through Chicago’s O'Hare International Airport on a return trip from Mexico in 2010. House's laptop computer, mobile phone, camera and USB drive were seized, with all but his phone held for 7 weeks. ...
Legal experts say that documents reveal systemic abuse of borders to erode civil liberties protections. "House’s case provides a perfect example of how the government uses its border search authority to skirt the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment," the ACLU declared in a statement. "The government enjoys wider latitude to search people and their belongings at the border than it possesses elsewhere, for the purpose of protecting our borders... It was simply an opportunity to conduct a suspicion-less search that no court would ever have approved inside the country."
NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel
The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.
Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.
The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process "minimization", but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state. ...
Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to "destroy upon recognition" any communication "that is either to or from an official of the US government". Such communications included those of "officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)".
Docs: Officials Misused US Surveillance Program
Government officials for nearly three years accessed data on thousands of domestic phone numbers they shouldn't have and then misrepresented their actions to a secret spy court to reauthorize the government's surveillance program, documents released Tuesday show. ...
The documents, which the Obama administration was compelled to release as part of a lawsuit by a civil liberties group, show that National Security Agency analysts routinely exceeded their mission to track only phone numbers with reasonable connections to terrorism. ...
In a sweeping violation of court-imposed surveillance rules that went on daily between 2006 and 2009, the documents show the NSA tapped the bulk telephone records and compared them with thousands of others without "reasonable, articulable suspicion," the required legal standard.
Wyden and Udall Statement on the Declassification of FISA Court Opinions on Bulk Collection of Phone Data
When the executive branch acknowledged last month that ‘rules, regulations and court-imposed standards’ intended to protect Americans’ privacy had been violated thousands of times each year we said that this confirmation was ‘the tip of a larger iceberg.’ With the documents declassified and released this afternoon by the Director of National Intelligence, the public now has new information about the size and shape of that iceberg. Additional information about these violations was contained in other recently-released court opinions, though some significant information – particularly about violations pertaining to the bulk email records collection program – remains classified.
In addition to providing further information about how bulk phone records collection came under great FISA Court scrutiny due to serious and on-going compliance violations, these documents show that the court actually limited the NSA’s access to its bulk phone records database for much of 2009. The court required the NSA to seek case-by-case approval to access bulk phone records until these compliance violations were addressed. In our judgment, the fact that the FISA Court was able to handle these requests on an individual basis is further evidence that intelligence agencies can get all of the information they genuinely need without engaging in the dragnet surveillance of huge numbers of law-abiding Americans.
We have said before that we have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence that couldn’t be gathered through less intrusive means and that bulk collection should be ended. These documents provide further evidence that bulk collection is not only a significant threat to the constitutional liberties of Americans, but that it is a needless one.
NSA admits it wrongly put 16,000 phone numbers on an 'alert list'
The National Security Agency admitted in documents released Tuesday that it had wrongly put 16,000 phone numbers on an "alert list" so their incoming calls could be monitored, a mistake that a judge on the secret surveillance court called a "flagrant violation" of the law.
The documents are the latest to show that not only did the secret spy agency collect more data than most Americans suspected, its agents sometimes went too far when tapping into the data. ...
[I]n January 2009, top officials of the intelligence agency learned that about 18,000 phone numbers were on the "alert list" that could subject them to daily monitoring. Of these, about 16,000 had not been shown to be reasonably linked to a terrorist. The agency notified the judges of the mistake and said they were making needed changes in their software that tracked phone numbers.
Judge Reggie Walton, a member of the special court, said he was "very disturbed" about the incident and said the agency's explanation "strains credulity."
Obama Administration Dishonestly Wants Public to Believe It Voluntarily Declassified Secret NSA DocumentsHave you had your irony supplement lately?
Hundreds of documents on the government’s secret interpretation of a section of the PATRIOT Act and the NSA’s abuse of a massive database of Americans’ phone records have been released. President Barack Obama would like the public to believe this is part of the administration’s effort to be the “most transparent administration in history.” However, that is completely dishonest because the administration never wanted to release these documents.
In a post on the Tumblr for the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI), which was only launched in August after stories on documents from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden began to be published, DNI James Clapper states:In June of this year, President Obama directed me to declassify and make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive intelligence collection programs undertaken under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) while being mindful of the need to protect national security. Consistent with this directive, today I authorized the declassification and public release of a number of documents pertaining to the Government’s collection of bulk telephony metadata under Section 501 of the FISA, as amended by Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. These documents were properly classified, and their declassification is not done lightly. I have determined, however, that the harm to national security in these circumstances is outweighed by the public interest.Clapper did not make any independent determination that “public interest” in the documents “outweighed” any potential “harm to national security” that might occur from their release. And, while “direction” from Obama may have formed some of the reasoning behind what was released, ODNI decided to release documents because the Justice Department would be releasing documents pursuant to a July 19, 2013, order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The court order was the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Release of these documents reflects the Executive Branch’s continued commitment to making information about this intelligence collection program publicly available when appropriate and consistent with the national security of the United States. Some information has been redacted because these documents include discussion of matters that continue to be properly classified for national security reasons and the harm to national security would be great if disclosed. These documents will be made available at the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (www.dni.gov), and on the recently established public website dedicated to fostering greater public visibility into the intelligence activities of the Government (IContheRecord.tumblr.com).
Guantánamo judge makes secret ruling on secret motion in secret hearing
During a secret hearing at Guantánamo, the military judge in the 9/11 death-penalty case ruled against a secret government request to withhold information from defense lawyers for accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four alleged co-conspirators, according to a partially redacted transcript released Tuesday.
The hearing, held Aug. 19 at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, was the first closed pre-trial hearing of the Sept. 11 capital case. The subject matter was so secret that the judge cleared the court of the public and the five men who, if convicted, could be executed for conspiring in the worst attack on U.S. soil, including 2,976 counts of murder.
And, while the 31-page transcript of the 29-minute hearing is so riddled with redactions it is unclear what the Pentagon prosecution team was trying to shield from the defense attorneys, it shows the judge denying the request.
“I’m ruling it is discoverable,” Army Col. James L. Pohl said in response to a secret prosecution motion that argues something “is not discoverable.”
At issue in the hearing was a pretrial motion labeled AE52 by the prosecution that sought a secret ruling from the judge. It was called a “government consolidated notice regarding ex parte, in camera filing and motion for finding” on the Pentagon’s war court website whose motto is “fairness, transparency, justice.”
Hold Wall Street accountable for discriminatory lending practicesRemembering Condi's 9/11 lies:
We've just learned that the ACLU’s lawsuit against Morgan Stanley will go forward. This is the first time a bank is being held responsible for its instrumental role in racially discriminatory lending practices.
The 2008 housing collapse affected all corners of America, but was especially devastating to African-Americans. So this is a big day for Rubbie McCoy, a plaintiff in our case—she will finally get her day in court. A single mother of four in Detroit, she received a toxic loan from a subprime lender and got slapped with excessive fees. Years later, Rubbie still deals with the stress and fear of foreclosure every day. She was the victim of the same predatory and discriminatory lending practices that devastated Black and Latino communities and led so many people to lose their homes.
The Evening Greens
Neil Young: Tar Sands Fields 'Look Like Hiroshima'
Fresh off a trip to Canada's tar sands oil fields in Alberta, famed singer Neil Young spoke out at a conference in Washington, DC on Monday against the controversial oil extraction and its export through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, calling Fort McMurray, the town nearest Alberta's vast tar sands, a "wasteland."
"This is truly a disaster," said Young, painting a dire picture in which the people, land and animals of the region are greatly suffering.
“The fuel’s all over – the fumes everywhere – you can smell it when you get to town," Young recalled. "The closest place to Fort McMurray that is doing the tar sands work is 25 or 30 miles out of town and you can taste it when you get to Fort McMurray. People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this.”
“Yeah it’s going to put a lot of people to work," Young said of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is slated to transport the excavated tar sands to export terminals in Texas and Louisiana. "I’ve heard that, and I’ve seen a lot of people that would dig a hole that’s so deep that they couldn’t get out of it, and that’s a job too, and I think that’s the jobs that we are talking about there with the Keystone pipeline,” he said.
Soaring Radiation in Fukushima Groundwater Going Directly Into Ocean
Groundwater that flows directly into the ocean from the area surrounding the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is highly contaminated with radioactive substances, the plant's operator announced late Monday following sample testing.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) took samples from a well at the site, which showed a spike in previously detected high levels of radioactive substances, including strontium, a known carcinogen.
Similar reports have been documented, but Monday's findings forced TEPCO to admit that it "now seems more likely" that contaminated water tanks are leaking directly into groundwater—a direct outlet to the sea.
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
Blind Lemon Jefferson - See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Black Snake Moan
Blind Lemon Jefferson -- That Growling Baby Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Jack of Diamonds
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Shuckin' Sugar
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Hot Dog
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Lemon's Worried Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Piney Woods Money Mama
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Bed Springs Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson - One Dime Blues
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.
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