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 R&B singer Martha Reeves. Enjoy!
Martha & the Vandellas - Heatwave
“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, "Wait on time.”
-- Martin Luther King Jr.
News and Opinion
Why didn't OWS transform into a political movement?
DESVARIEUX: Okay. And we can't talk about the successes of Occupy without discussing some of the failures. To what extent do you attribute things like internal conflicts, police oppression, or just not having really a clear agenda to the decline of the Occupy movement?
SCHNEIDER: Well, I think it's important to recognize first that when we talk about the failures of the movement, we're talking first of all about the ways in which the aspirations that the movement put in our minds weren't quite met by it. So in a lot of ways we wouldn't even be talking about these failures if the movement itself hadn't happened and set such high standards for what it might accomplish and such high ambitions.
But there was a lot of repression. This was a movement that was systematically torn apart by the security state, by the militarized police forces in cities all across the country. This was very clear. It was not only brute force. In meeting after meeting after meeting, there were clear infiltrators who were disrupting the discussions and making sure that no sustainable organizing practices could take hold. That was an incredibly significant problem.
But I think it's also important to recognize that this movement excelled in creating that rupture and that adrenaline-rush moment of the occupations driven by artists, forcing itself on the imagination.
And I think we're in a moment now where we have to transition. If this idea is to stay alive, we have to transition into more sustainable forms of organizing that can bring more and more people into the fold.
Yes, we can: Obama waives anti-terrorism provisions to arm Syrian rebels
The Obama administration waived provisions of a federal law which ban the supply of weapons and money to terrorists. The move is opening doors to supplying Syrian opposition with protection from chemical weapons.
The Arms Export Control Act (AECA) allows the US president to waive provisions in Sections 40 and 40A, which forbid providing munitions, credit and licenses to countries supporting acts of terrorism. But those prohibitions can be waived "if the President determines that the transaction is essential to the national security interests of the United States."
President Barack Obama ordered such a waiver for supplying chemical weapons-related assistance to "select vetted members" of Syrian opposition forces, the administration announced on Monday. ...
The US plan to provide chemical weapons-related assistance to Syrian opposition was in the works before the August attack a senior administration official said as cited by NBC News. Under the AEC rules, it will take at least 15 days before any of the materials can be officially shipped to Syria.
The Dead Rhetoric of War
... The high-blown rhetoric of patriotism and national destiny, of the sacred duty to reshape the world through violence, to liberate the enslaved and implant democracy in the Middle East, has finally been exposed as empty and meaningless. The war machine has tried all the old tricks. It trotted out the requisite footage of atrocities. It issued the histrionic warnings that the evil dictator will turn his weapons of mass destruction against us if we do not bomb and “degrade” his military. It appealed to the nation’s noble sacrifice in World War II, with the Secretary of State John Kerry calling the present situation a “Munich moment.” But none of it worked. ... The party is over. ...
We have listened to Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, concede that “there is a probability for collateral damage.” We know this means civilians will be killed to prevent the regime of Bashar Assad from killing civilians. Only the circular logic of war makes such a proposition rational. And this circular logic, no longer obscured by the waving of flags, the bombast of “glory and honor,” the cant of politicians, the self-exaltation that comes with the disease of nationalism, means that Barack Obama and the war machine he serves are going to face a wave of popular revulsion if he starts another war.
UN has allegations of 14 other gas attacks in Syria by both regime and rebels
U.N. inspectors, who Monday confirmed the use of chemical weapons against a rebel-held area in the Damascus suburbs, were in Syria by coincidence, intending to investigate other gas attacks where the national government claims the rebels are responsible.
Led by Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom, the inspection team said in the report that it has every intention of traveling at a later point to Khan al Asal, which is near Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, and two other locations, where one side or both are alleged to have used the long-proscribed chemical weapons.
In fact there are credible allegations that chemical weapons were used at more than a dozen locations in Syria since December 2012, according to a U.N. human rights watchdog body.
Israel Grants First Golan Heights Oil Drilling License To Dick Cheney-Linked Company
Israel has granted a U.S. company the first license to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights, John Reed of the Financial Times reports.
A local subsidiary of the New York-listed company Genie Energy — which is advised by former vice president Dick Cheney and whose shareholders include Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — will now have exclusive rights to a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights.
That geographic location will likely prove controversial. Israel seized the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. Its administration of the area — which is not recognized by international law — has been mostly peaceful until the Syrian civil war broke out 23 months ago.
Pentagon too broke to buy a new fax machine
The United States went ahead with major spending cuts earlier this year, slicing around $85 billion off the federal budget. But while most government offices remain afloat, a fax machine on the fritz may be too costly for the Pentagon to fix.
Investigative journalists working for the website Muckrock.com have identified one side-effect of the sequester that is only now starting to cause concerns. A facsimile machine at Defense Department headquarters has reportedly been out of commission for almost three weeks now and is hindering the ability for reporters to file Freedom of Information Act requests with the military.
“Starting two weeks ago, requests faxed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) started coming back as undeliverable. After several subsequent attempts and troubleshooting on our end, MuckRock reached out to the OSD. Sure enough, their fax machine is down,” journalist Shawn Musgrave wrote on the site last week.
What’s more, though, is that Musgrave reported that the fax machine in question — the only one at the Pentagon handling FOIA requests, according to him — may remain out-of-service for another month, if not more.
Government Hands More Than $1 Trillion to Wealthy While Deficit Is $642 BillionWow, first SOS Kerry wants to launch an "Unbelievably small" attack on Syria with Tomahawk missiles - seriously, those Syrians will hardly notice they're dying grisly, painful deaths. And now the Democrats want "relatively small" cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Why you'll hardly notice that the old, the poor, the indigent children of parents who passed away prematurely (perhaps from a lack of proper healthcare or one of Obama's stupid wars of choice), veterans, etc. are starving in the streets. Can't we do better than this?
While our government is laying off hundreds and hundreds of thousands and cutting services in the name of cutting deficits, a new report exposes that taxpayers are handing more than $1 trillion a year to the wealthiest.
Instead of focusing on jobs, Congress and the White House obsess on how to cut the budget -– the things We the People do to make our lives and economy better. While the “sequester” has already cost 900,000 jobs — 1.6 million thru 2014 — Republicans are threatening to shut down the government and force the country to default on its debt as leverage to force even more cuts. ...
But a report out today from the National Priorities Project (NPP) shows that the country is handing more than $1 trillion to the already-wealthy.
That’s right, the government is cutting services and laying off hundreds upon hundreds of thousands in the name of cutting deficits, while handing more than $1 trillion a year to the wealthiest. The rest of us pay taxes and suffer cuts in jobs and services to make up this lost money.
According to the report, lots of 1%ers will pay no taxes at all this year, while the country cuts jobs and services in the name of cutting the deficit.
What do the fucking Democrats mean by "relatively small" cuts to Social Security and Medicare?
MSNBC floats a trial balloon for this year's Grand Bargain:Democrats prefer a mix of tax increases and relatively small cuts in Medicare, Social Security and other spending.
Almost 50 million Americans now on food stamps as nation plunges into widespread poverty
As economic recovery continues to prove dismal if not illusory, American families are signing up for food stamps in record numbers, showing signs that poverty is increasing and the job market is far from recovering.
According to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) numbers, households on food stamps increased by 45,900 in one month, hitting a staggering new high in June of 23.117 million households, with an additional 125,079 individuals signing up for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a near-record 47.76 million people that is just below the December 2012 peak of 47.79 million.
More than 80% of those families receiving food stamp benefits are at or below the poverty line, with more than 61% of households drastically below the poverty line, making less than $14,648 in a year per household of three. ...
At the same time food stamp recipients have climbed sharply - reaching numbers nearly double those seen December 2007 before the collapse set it - the average benefit has declined. This forces those at or near poverty to stretch their food dollars even thinner, putting more items out of reach and lower quality items in the basket, as inflation touched 9.4% in recent weeks. Households received an average of only $274.55 under SNAP in June 2012, as compared with $293.89 per month as of October 2009, while individuals enrolled in SNAP received average benefits of $132.89 per month in June 2012, a statistical drop from $134.60 in October 2009.
A New Direction For the Fed?
With Larry Summers’ withdrawal from consideration as chair of the Federal Reserve Board, the odds jump dramatically for the nomination of Janet Yellen, the current Fed vice-chair, for the head of the institution that, according to journalist William Greider, “runs the country.” ...
[B]eyond the personalities in any contest for office, progressives need to take this opportunity to begin a larger debate about how the Fed has failed to do its job under Bernanke, and how it must transform both itself and the financial sector to avoid continuing the bubble and bust instability of the economy in recent decades. And if one takes a more in-depth look at Fed policies, Yellen seems at best a cautious reformer, and her record as Fed vice-chair suggests that she is not as likely to rein in the speculation of big, interconnected banks or to use the Fed to aggressively promote jobs as some equally qualified economists whom Obama is unlikely to consider, such as Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman.
Fellow economists and some progressives praise Yellen for her relatively prescient forecasts and recognition of the housing bubble, and she has generally supported other Fed governors who take seriously their responsibility to maintain high employment as well as low inflation (although she has not always taken that position; in the late ‘90s, Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker says, Yellen urged the Fed to raise interest rates as unemployment dropped, while chair Alan Greenspan bucked such conventional wisdom, ultimately demonstrating that low unemployment need not trigger problematic inflation). But while Yellen, as Fed vice-chair, has supported an innovative variety of Fed actions since the start of the financial crisis, many progressives see those policies as having tilted towards saving bankers rather than reviving the economy.
As Fed vice-chair, Yellen generally sided with Bernanke on the bailout of the banks, which Bloomberg News reported in 2011 as having involved $7.7 trillion in largely secret loans, and the Fed subsidies to the big banks of about $83 billion a year. She also supported many aspects of the bailout that favored banks without giving the public adequate control or payback in the form of job creation.
Fisa court: no telecoms company has ever challenged phone records orders
No telecommunications company has ever challenged the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court's orders for bulk phone records under the Patriot Act, the court revealed on Tuesday.
The secretive Fisa court's disclosure came inside a declassification of its legal reasoning justifying the National Security Agency's ongoing bulk collection of Americans' phone records.
Citing the "unprecedented disclosures" and the "ongoing public interest in this program", Judge Claire V Eagan on 29 August not only approved the Obama administration's request for the bulk collection of data from an unidentified telecommunications firm, but ordered it declassified. Eagan wrote that despite the "lower threshold" for government bulk surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act compared to other laws, the telephone companies who have received Fisa court orders for mass customer data have not challenged the law.
"To date, no holder of records who has received an Order to produce bulk telephony metadata has challenged the legality of such an Order," Eagan wrote. "Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 Order has challenged the legality of such an order, despite the mechanism for doing so."
That complicity has not been total. Before the Bush administration moved the bulk phone records collection under the authority of the Fisa court, around 2006, Qwest Communications refused to participate in the effort.
How Mike Rogers’ Excessive Secrecy in 2011 Might Kill the DragnetTake some time at some point and watch this. Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange, David Coombs, Alexa O'Brien and Robert Manne, moderated by Bernard Keane.
The FISA Court just released an August 29, 2013 opinion that reaffirms the court’s prior support for the Section 215 dragnet.
But as I have shown, because of Mike Rogers’ actions, a very large block of Congresspersons — the 93 freshmen legislators elected in 2010, save the 7 who were on the Intelligence or Judiciary Committees — appear to have had no such opportunity to learn about the program. Indeed, 65 members who voted in favor of PATRIOT reauthorization appear to have had no way of learning about the dragnet. Furthermore, we have documentary evidence that then FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni (who was informed about abuses in the program on January 23, 2009), and then FBI Director Robert Mueller (who had to write a brief responding those abuses in August 2009) lied about whether there had been abuses in response to a question clearly designed to learn about the secret use of Section 215 during a May 13, 2011 hearing purportedly designed to replace the letter the Administration sent.
This opinion relies on a claim that has now been proven false (and actually had been by the time the opinion was written).
NPR's New Boss: Financial Industry Lobbyist, GOP Donor, Right-Wing Think Tank Booster
The NPR press release states that Haaga's "accomplished career" included a stint as "chairman of the Investment Company Institute"–the powerful lobbying group of the mutual fund industry. As the Los Angeles Times once reported, "Mutual funds have been mostly shielded from the reforms forced on the financial world–thanks in large part to the efforts of the Investment Company Institute."
NPR also adds that Haaga has ties to right-wing think tanks–he is "a member of the National Council of the American Enterprise Institute" and he sits on "the Board of Overseers of Hoover Institution at Stanford University."
Haaga is also a fairly regular contributor to to Republican politicians. According to OpenSecrets.org, this year he made a $32,400 donation to the Republican National Committee; in the previous two years, he made contributions of around $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. He's also given four-figure checks to a large number of mostly Republican candidates, including Rep. Paul Ryan, George Allen and Mitch McConnell.
Massive Federal Prosecutorial Misconduct Results in Overturned Ruling Against New Orleans Police
A federal judge on Tuesday overturned the convictions of five New Orleans police officers tied to the shooting of unarmed civilians during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, finding that prosecutors in the case had engaged in “grotesque” misconduct.
In a blistering and meticulously detailed 129-page ruling, U.S. Distr..ict Judge Kurt Engelhardt found that federal prosecutors in New Orleans had anonymously posted damning online critiques of the accused officers and the New Orleans Police Department before and during the 2011 trial, a breach of professional ethics that had the effect of depriving the officers of their rights to a fair trial. ...
The judge’s ruling excoriated two former top attorneys in the federal prosecutor’s office in New Orleans, as well as a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division who had played a role in the case. The prosecutors posted comments about the Danziger case on NOLA.com, the website of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, as the case was still unfolding. The comments included a variety of attacks on the police department, calls for guilty verdicts and encouragements to other anonymous commentators to take apart the defense being offered by the five officers.
Engelhardt wrote that he was unaware of any other case in which “prosecutors acting with anonymity used social media to circumvent ethical obligations, professional responsibilities, and even to commit violations of the Code of Federal Regulations.” He called the behavior of prosecutors “bizarre and appalling.”
The Justice Department, in a statement, said it was disappointed in the judge’s action.
The Evening Greens
Colorado frack-site flooding - September 2013
Historic flooding across large portions of Central and Eastern Colorado has caused an unprecedented amount of damage. Along with the rise in water levels came elevated concern over the tens of thousands of frack wells that scar the region's landscape. In one of the hardest hit areas, Weld County, there are over 20,000 frack wells alone.
Wave power funded for commercialization
EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- A Scottish decision to dole out funds to support marine energy will help accelerate the commercialization of a wave power device, an executive said.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced Monday the government gave its consent to projects designed for wave and tidal energy. Scotland aims to get all of its electricity through renewable energy resources by 2020.
Big Oil’s Big Lies About Alternative Energy
Since the Gulf oil disaster in 2010, BP has spent hundreds of millions of ad dollars to cleanse its image as a dirty-energy giant. In the company’s latest TV ad, wind turbines whirl in the sun as a voiceover touts the number of American jobs created by BP and promises, “We’re working to fuel America for generations to come.” There’s just one problem: BP’s commitment to wind energy is virtually nonexistent.
In April, BP announced that it is selling off its entire $3.1 billion U.S. wind energy business – including 16 farms spread across nine states – as “part of a continuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company,” according to a company spokesperson. Indeed, though it famously rebranded itself “Beyond Petroleum” in 2000, BP also exited the solar energy business back in 2011. Today, its alternative energy investments are limited to biofuels and a lone wind farm in the Netherlands.
And BP is far from alone. You wouldn’t know it from their advertising, but the world’s major oil companies have either entirely divested from alternative energy or significantly reduced their investments in favor of doubling down on ever-more risky and destructive sources of oil and natural gas.
Not that those commitments to alternatives were ever particularly grand. Using very generous estimates, BP holds the oil industry record for the highest percentage of expenditures committed to alternatives, with just 6 percent of its overall expenditures in 2011, right before it started selling off its solar operations. Chevron and Shell run a distant second with highs of 2.5 percent; none of the others have ever even cracked 1 percent.
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
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Nowhere To Run
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Come and Get These Memories
Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing in the Streets
Martha Reeves + Dusty Springfield - Wishin' and hopin'
Martha & The Vandellas - Jimmy Mack
Martha & The Vandellas - I'm Ready for Love
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Show Me The Way
Martha Reeves - Power of Love
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas Easily Persuaded
Martha & The Vandellas - I Can't Wait Till Summer Comes
Martha Reeves, Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins - Many Rivers To Cross
Martha Reeves - No one there
Martha Reeves - Higher and higher
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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