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 hokum banjo player Ikey Robinson. Enjoy!
Ikey Robinson - My Four Reasons
"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy which requires citizens to take action."
-- Howard Zinn
News and Opinion
Obama’s UN Speech: Packaging Neoconservative Values in the Language of Peace & Liberation
The speech President Barack Obama delivered at the United Nations General Assembly was a neoconservative foreign policy speech, the kind of speech one might have heard President George W. Bush deliver in the midst of the Iraq War to defend decisions made by those ruling America.
Both Robert Kagan and William Kristol, leading American neoconservatives, argued in 1996, “Without a broad, sustaining foreign policy vision, the American people will be inclined to withdraw from the world and will lose sight of their abiding interest in vigorous world leadership. Without a sense of mission, they will seek deeper and deeper cuts in the defense and foreign affairs budgets and gradually decimate the tools of US hegemony.”
The hegemon or paramount power that neoconservative policy thinkers like Kagan and Kristol consider America to be passed on an opportunity to show “leadership” by striking Syria. Obama was acutely aware that the United States was not in control of the developing response to the crisis in Syria. His speech was an opportunity to reassert American power, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. ...
WMDs. The fight against terrorism. Oil. An express commitment to defend American empire. One of the few criticisms a neoconservative could have is that Obama had not gone further in expressing America’s right to flaunt its moral superiority.
Obama Reeks of Sulfur at the UN
President Obama went to the United Nations this week and declared war against the UN’s most fundamental founding principles, all the while claiming the U.S. is the world’s one indispensable, unique and exceptional nation. ...
Obama’s speech was one long threat against world order and the rule of law. He baldly stated that the U.S. is prepared to “use all elements of [its] power, including military force, to secure [its] core interests in the region” – a statement that is, on its face, a violation of the UN’s prohibition against the threat of the use of force against other nations. International law forbids the powerful from rattling their sabers over perceived challenges to their "interests" in other people’s countries. ...
Obama claims that “America is exceptional” precisely because it will go to war for so-called “humanitarian” reasons in order to prevent violence to civilians before it has occurred – that is, wars based on Washington's readings of its own crystal balls, such as NATO’s war against Libya. This is actually the doctrine of pre-emptive war, which is a blatant violation of the UN Charter whether the rationale is “humanitarian” or some other excuse.
Leaders of Latin American countries urge major push to promote social justice, end inequalityLooks like the US may be more rapidly losing its "soft power" than we perceived. The status of the Dollar as a a world reserve currency may be on its way out:
“We live in sovereignty and dignity; no longer dominated by the North American empire…no longer being blackmailed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” [Bolivian President Evo Morlaes Ayma] said, telling delegations gathered for the Assembly’s annual General Debate that when Bolivia had freed itself politically and economically, its social conditions had changed radically for the better.
Mr. Morales went on to say that while some of the statements he heard this week espoused peace, democracy and social justice, when he looked at the actions of the speakers – military intervention, blocking airspace, espionage and using companies to spy on private citizens – he wondered, “just what kind of peace and social justice are they talking about?”
“Those like the United States who follow such a course can not believe that they are masters of the world. They are not,” he said, stressing that if the Obama Administration and its allies really wish to fight terrorism, they should do so with policies, not military bases. If they really wanted to fight intolerance, they would do so with education, not weapons.
Citing a raft of grievances against the current Administration in Washington, he urged the international community to move to ensure that no President anywhere in the world be able to damage the lives of fellow human beings.
Rise of the PetroYuan
History is being written in the East. As the U.S. stays distracted with stone age warriors in Central Asia and the Middle East, the last platform of the American economic foundation, the U.S. Dollar's currency reserve status, is being underminded by their trade partners in Asia. Both Australia and Japan are set to start direct-trading in Chinese currency and they are not the only ones. There are almost 20 countries whom have currency swaps in place with China all in order to side-step the U.S. Dollar in global trade. At the China Money Report, we have written extensively on the "Rise of the Renminbi". What is new and largely unreported and what we will cover in this article is the "Rise of the Petroyuan," as China is now converting its oil imports into Chinese Yuan as opposed to U.S. Dollars. This will be a new challenge and possibly the fatal blow to the U.S. Dollar as the dominant global reserve currency.
With their industrial base all but gone, the housing market bubble popped, and the Federal Resereve funding the majority of the government debt with printed currency, the American economy can ill-afford a new challenge to its currency's reserve status. It is this very reserve status which has led to America being able to consume more than it produces for decades upon decades as foriegn countries were willing to trade consumer products for paper IOU's. The Dollar's reserve status came about naturally after WW2 as the U.S. was the world's larget trading nation, exporter, and creditor. Today, China occuppies all of these slots.
China will soon occupy a new slot: That of the world's largest oil importer. OPEC has confirmed on April 4th of this year that they expect China to surpass the United States as the world's largest oil importer in 2014. This shift in global oil flows is being driven by the twin pillars of a booming Chinese economy and America’s newfound booming domestic oil and gas supply. This shift in the oil trade carries with it massive geopolitical implications that will reshape the world as we know it.
Revealed: NSA spied on Martin Luther King and senators opposed to Vietnam WarI wonder if the NSA is spying on Senator Ron Wyden as it spied on Senator Church when he had the hubris to represent the interests of the public and investigate the actions of the NSA...
The National Security Agency eavesdropped on civil rights icon Martin Luther King and heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali as well as other leading critics of the Vietnam War in a secret program later deemed “disreputable,” declassified documents revealed Wednesday.
The six-year spying program, dubbed “Minaret,” had been exposed in the 1970s but the targets of the surveillance had been kept secret until now.
The documents showed the NSA tracked King and his colleague Whitney Young, boxing star Ali, journalists from the New York Times and the Washington Post, and two members of Congress, Senator Frank Church of Idaho and Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee.
The declassified NSA historical account of the episode called the spying “disreputable if not outright illegal.”
The documents were published after the government panel overseeing classification ruled in favor of researchers at George Washington University who had long sought the release of the secret papers.
Senate Bill Seeks to Roll Back NSA Surveillance
Four senators have unveiled a measure to rein in the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency. The bill from Democratic Senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall, and Richard Blumenthal, as well as Republican Sen. Rand Paul, is the most sweeping congressional response to date since Edward Snowden exposed widespread NSA spying in June. At a news conference, Senator Wyden cited what he called "sea change" in public opinion as a result of Snowden’s leaks. Sen. Udall, meanwhile, said the measures in the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act would protect Americans from unjustified intrusion into their private lives, in part by ending the bulk collection of telephone records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Here’s how Ron Wyden wants to rein in the NSA
End bulk collection of Americans' communications records. ... The senators' proposal would change three provision of [Section 215] that could be interpreted to allow bulk record collection [of every American's phone calls].
Limit the legal authority for the PRISM program. ... Their bill would strengthen the prohibition on "reverse targeting" of Americans—that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American. The bill would also require the NSA to more aggressively filter out and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.
Reform the secret surveillance court. ... The Wyden bill would require declassification of significant opinions by the FISC. It would also name an independent constitutional advocate who would "argue against the government when the FISC is considering significant legal and constitutional questions," according to a bill summary provided by the senators.
Increase transparency. ... [The legislation] would allow private companies to disclose more information about their participation in government spying programs. And it would require the government to disclose more information about its surveillance activities.
Quote of the Day: Control Over the Internet Is the "Struggle of Our Generation"
From Glenn Greenwald, in an interview with Noam Sheizaf of Haaretz:The promise of the Internet was that it would liberate people and bolster democracy, but it has become a tool for suppression and control. In fact, it is one of the most powerful instruments of control ever invented. The most essential challenge we face today is related to the real effect of the Internet. Will it impart power to people and liberate them, or will it impart more strength to the centers of power and help them oversee, control and suppress the population? That is the struggle of our generation, and it has yet to be decided.
Justice Antonin Scalia: courts will determine legality of NSA surveillance
Scalia addressed NSA wiretapping on Wednesday in a speech to the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Asked about technology companies' role in protecting customers' privacy when their data has been unconstitutionally collected, Scalia said the high court originally ruled that there were no constitutional prohibitions on wiretaps because conversations were not explicitly granted privacy protection under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against Americans against unreasonable search and seizure of "their persons, houses, papers, and effects".
That 1928 opinion, in Olmstead v US, was overturned nearly 40 years later by the Warren court, which found, Scalia said, "there's a generalized right of privacy that comes from penumbras and emanations, blah blah blah, garbage".
"The consequence of that is that whether the NSA can do the stuff it's been doing … which used to be a question for the people … will now be resolved by the branch of government that knows the least about the issues in question, the branch that knows the least about the extent of the threat against which the wiretapping is directed," he said.
New FBI Director Thinks President Obama's Surveillance Program Is Great
I imagine this will surprise absolutely no one, but new FBI Director James Comey has said that the administration's surveillance efforts are perfectly wonderful and legal all at the same time. Remember this is the same James Comey who refused to answer some of the questions about his views on the surveillance effort prior to the Senate's approval of his appointment. Now that he's in charge, apparently he has no problem admitting that he's not much of a fan of the 4th Amendment.
Leak Investigators Increasingly Using Telephone Metadata to Find Culprits
The National Security Agency says that the telephone metadata it collects on every American is essential for finding terrorists. And that’s debatable. But this we know for sure: Metadata is very useful for tracking journalists and discovering their sources.
On Monday, a former FBI agent and bomb technician pleaded guilty to leaking classified information to the Associated Press about a successful CIA operation in Yemen. As it turns out, phone metadata was the key to finding him. ...
After the AP published its big scoop on the Yemen operation, on May 7, 2012, FBI investigators started looking for the source of the story. They interviewed more than 550 officials, but they came up short.
So, in a highly controversial move, investigators secretly obtained a subpoena for phone records of AP reporters and editors. The records, which included the metadata of who had called whom, and how long the call lasted, covered a period in April and May of 2012. That was right around the time that the AP was reporting the Yemen story.
The phone metadata wasn’t just the key to Satchleben. It sped up the investigation dramatically. The FBI had conducted 550 fruitless interviews, and with one scan of a reporter’s phone record, they had their man. It’s no wonder that the Obama administration is going after leakers so often. Metadata is the closest thing to a smoking gun that they’re likely to have, absent a wiretap or a copy of an email in which the source is clearly seen giving a reporter classified information.
NSA planted bugs at Indian missions in D.C., U.N.
Two of the most important nerve-centres of Indian diplomacy outside the country — the Permanent Mission of India at the United Nations and the embassy in Washington, DC — were targets of such sophisticated bugs implanted by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that entire computer hard disks might have been copied by the American agency. The U.N. Mission building in New York and the embassy premises, including its annex, in Washington were on a top-secret list of countries and missions — many of them European allies of the U.S. — chosen for intensive spying.
According to a top-secret NSA document obtained by The Hindu, the NSA selected India’s U.N. office and the embassy as “location target” for infiltrating their computers and telephones with hi-tech bugs, which might have given them access to vast quantities of Internet traffic, e-mails, telephone and office conversations and even official documents stored digitally.
Since the NSA revelations began in June, U.S. President Barack Obama and other top American officials have all claimed that the surveillance activities were aimed exclusively at preventing terrorist attacks. But the targeted spying of Indian diplomatic buildings could have been done for political and commercial reasons — not the core responsibility of the NSA.
Human Rights Watch urges Israel to stop displacing Bedouins
Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged Israel to stop trying to displace Bedouin families in the West Bank, where the army last week manhandled European diplomats on an aid mission.
“The Israeli military should end its unjustified attempts to forcibly remove a decades-old community,” the New York-based watchdog’s Middle East director Joe Stork said in a statement.
“Israeli forces didn’t just rough up diplomats, they demolished every single building in Makhul and ordered the residents to leave and never come back,” he said. ...
HRW said that under international humanitarian law, the forced transfer of civilians in an occupied territory is a “prosecutable war crime”.
Israel has destroyed more than 500 Palestinian-owned properties in the West Bank and mostly Arab east Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 862 people, according to OCHA.
Where Did Syria’s Chemical Weapons Come From?
In the wake of a recent Russian-U.S. deal averting American airstrikes, Syria has begun to answer questions about its chemical weapons stockpile. One thing inspectors don’t have the mandate to ask is where those weapons came from in the first place. But evidence already out there suggests Syria got crucial help from Moscow and Western European companies. ...
A Special National Intelligence Estimate dated Sept. 15, 1983, lists Syria as a “major recipient of Soviet CW [Chemical Weapons] assistance.” Both “Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union provided the chemical agents, delivery systems, and training that flowed to Syria.” ... Last week, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that intelligence sources in the country are convinced blueprints for four of the five Syrian poison gas plants came from Moscow. ...
But the Soviets don’t appear to be the only ones who provided some help.
“Soviets provided the initial setup, then the Syrians became quite proficient at it. Later, German companies came in,” Crocker said.
As then- CIA director William Webster said in Senate testimony back in 1989: “West European firms were instrumental in supplying the required precursor chemicals and equipment.” Asked why the companies did it, Webster answered: “Some, of course, are unwitting of the ultimate destination of the products they supply, others are not. In the latter case, I can only surmise that greed is the explanation.” ...
Last week, the German government acknowledged that between 2002 and 2006, it had approved the export to Syria of more than 100 tons of so-called dual-use chemicals. ... The British government also recently acknowledged exports of dual-use chemicals to Syria.
Massive Disparity Between Military and Humanitarian Aid to Syria
NOOR: So, Rania, what can you tell us about this disparity between the money spent to kill people versus the money spent to help people in Syria?
KHALEK: You know, it's really striking, because, you know, we've been hearing a lot about how there's all these outside actors, you know, fueling the violence in Syria. And it's true Syria's turned into a huge proxy war, where you've got certain countries like the United States and Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Jordan and Turkey on one side supporting the rebels, and then on the other and you've got Russia and Iran.
So it's really interesting if you look at these countries who have been arming either side and are largely, I would say, at least, you know, are partly to blame for the violence. What you see is that they're spending way more money on arming the side that they want to win and, you know, flooding the country with weapons than they are on the humanitarian crisis that has resulted with refugees, which I think number now in something like 6 million, 2 million outside of Syria and 4 million displaced. ...
First off, the United States has spent somewhere around $1 billion at least giving what they called nonlethal aid to the opposition. So, I mean, that doesn't seem like the biggest deal in the world, but at the same time, this is things like, you know, trucks and radios and, you know, medical equipment. ... But on top of that, the United States has also been actively funding a CIA program to basically arm the opposition. We don't know how much has been spent on that, because it's been mostly covert. They've also--according to various news reports, the U.S. has been, you know, covertly training Syrian rebels. So we don't know how much that's costing us either, but I would imagine it's not cheap. ...
And the same goes for, you know, [incompr.] the two countries that have really been, you know, spending the most money on arming the opposition in Syria, which are Qatar and Saudi Arabia. I mean, with Qatar they've spent $3 billion on arming the rebels, and compare that to $2.7 million, I believe, which is going to humanitarian aid for Syrians, and that's a huge difference.
And the same thing with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia spent something like $50 million or maybe a little bit more than that on humanitarian aid, and, you know, they haven't taken in any refugees as far as I know. And they've spent, you know, billions and billions of dollars. They've been one of the main backers. We don't know exactly how much, but it's more than Qatar is spending, so it's billions of dollars, on arming the opposition.
Why The Debt Ceiling Is A Dinosaur
The bottom line is that the debt limit is an entirely political, not economic, animal. We require the federal government to go through the motions of selling bonds only because we want to constrain our policy makers. There is no economic reason why a debt ceiling should even exist because the US government can never go bankrupt in a currency that it issues.
What does this mean for the October 17 deadline? There may well be questions to be raised regarding the areas that are now or have recently been under fire, including the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, the National Science Foundation, Homeland Security, Veterans Benefits, education, Medicare, defense, et cetera. But their fate should be based entirely on whether or not they achieve the ends we have set out for them, not on whether or not we can “afford” them. Those framing the discussion in the latter terms are either ignorant or are simply fear mongering to get their way. Surely we can discuss these things in an honest and rational manner. If Obamacare is flawed, fix it or trash it. But don’t say we don’t have the money, because we do. Dump the debt ceiling and focus on the real issues.
Tell Democrats: Don't let Republican hostage-takers put Medicare and Social Security benefits back on the chopping block.
Congress is headed for two major showdowns over federal spending and Republican hostage-takers are once again trying to force weak-kneed Democrats in Congress to agree to cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.
Petition the Democrats in the House and the Senate to protect these vital programs.
You Really Ought to Be More Terrified of the Debt Ceiling
The truly scary thing about going over the debt cliff isn't what we think will happen—a scramble to prioritize payments, delayed checks to groups like veterans and senior citizens, and angry, confused investors.
The truly scary thing is that we actually have no idea what will happen. We don't know if it's even possible for the government to prioritize payments to millions of different clients. Households, businesses, and investors don't know how long they'll have to wait for their money, whether it's a defense contract deal, a doctor's reimbursement, or a Social Security check. And nobody will know how long the nightmare will go on. Our international economic reputation—reflected in our low interest rates, the safe haven status of Treasuries (when everything goes haywire, investors clamor for U.S. debt), and our status as global reserve currency—rests on the assumption that Washington isn't completely insane. ...
Even when the blade doesn't fall, it can still have consequences. The Summer 2011 showdown that nearly resulted in default cost taxpayers $19 billion this decade in elevated interest rates as investor panic began to build. That's the price of playing with the full faith and credit of the United States.
This is America’s worst regulator (and JPMorgan’s best pal)
At times it doesn’t seem like JPMorgan Chase runs any legal businesses. The good news is that some in the federal government appear to be slowly catching up to their illicit enterprises. Unfortunately, there’s one regulator whose negligence is beyond problematic, and damaging the country. Meet Thomas Curry, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). ...
The case involves litigation practices by JPMorgan in various collections, and a failure to comply with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), a statute that protects members of the military in financial transactions. It turns out that JPMorgan conducted its credit card, auto and student loan collections in the same illegal fashion as it did its foreclosure operations: using affidavits where low-level employees testified to personal knowledge of the cases without actually knowing anything about them.
This is called “robo-signing,” and it means that fraudulent sworn documents were filed as evidence in court so JPMorgan could obtain judgments against borrowers. Often the sworn documents would have inaccurate financial information, so the bank was attempting to collect false sums from the borrowers. And it rarely complied with the SCRA, which sets maximum interest rates charged to service members and bans legal proceedings for service members in active duty in a war zone. JPMorgan couldn’t even manage that, suing soldiers while they served in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere.
Unlike the SEC, the OCC agreed to a settlement without forcing JPMorgan Chase to admit or deny wrongdoing. Worse, they are giving the bank several months to design their own punishment, a fairly common but nonetheless appalling practice. It’s like arresting someone who knocked over a 7-Eleven and telling them they have 180 days to figure out how much of the money they stole they should have to give back.
JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon holds talks with Justice Department
JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon held talks with the Department of Justice Thursday on a possible $11 billion deal to settle alleged violations, a source close to the matter said.
Dimon and US Attorney General Eric Holder met in Washington amid intense negotiations to wrap up a slew of misbehavior allegations against JPMorgan, the biggest US bank by assets.
“The majority of the conversation is around mortgage-backed securities,” the source said.
The Justice Department has more than a half-dozen investigations open into the bank, and it faces potentially expensive charges — both civil and criminal — from other regulatory bodies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Free to Be Hungry
The word “freedom” looms large in modern conservative rhetoric. Lobbying groups are given names like FreedomWorks; health reform is denounced not just for its cost but as an assault on, yes, freedom. ... Conservatives seem, in particular, to believe that freedom’s just another word for not enough to eat.
Hence the war on food stamps, which House Republicans have just voted to cut sharply even while voting to increase farm subsidies. ...
Conservatives are deeply committed to the view that the size of government has exploded under President Obama but face the awkward fact that public employment is down sharply, while overall spending has been falling fast as a share of G.D.P. SNAP, however, really has grown a lot, with enrollment rising from 26 million Americans in 2007 to almost 48 million now.
Conservatives look at this and see what, to their great disappointment, they can’t find elsewhere in the data: runaway, explosive growth in a government program. The rest of us, however, see a safety-net program doing exactly what it’s supposed to do: help more people in a time of widespread economic distress.
Minimum wage for tipped workers has been kept at $2.13 for 21 years
DESVARIEUX: So, Saru, first tell us how--we're talking about $2.13 of wages that people are paid hourly. How long has this been going on?
JAYARAMAN: So, actually, back in 1996, the National Restaurant Association, which has been named the tenth most powerful lobbying group in Congress and which we call the other NRA, struck a deal with Congress saying that they would not oppose an increase to the overall minimum wage as long as the minimum wage for tipped workers stayed frozen forever. And so it has been stuck at $2.13 an hour.
And what's really important to understand is that we're talking about the second-largest and fastest-growing private sector employer in the United States. It's over 10 million workers. One in 12 Americans right now works in the restaurant industry. It's one of the only industries to grow over the last couple of years of economic crisis rather than decline.
But it's also the absolute lowest-paying employer in the United States. So seven of the 11 lowest paying jobs in the U.S. and the two absolute lowest paying jobs are restaurant jobs, which means that you've got the largest and fastest growing industry in the United States proliferating the absolute lowest-paying jobs because of these behind-closed-door deals that the NRA has struck decade after decade with Congress and with local and state legislatures across the country.
The Evening Greens
Obama's Top Official Pushing Tar Sands in Secret Trade Deal
As President Obama publicly promises to curb carbon emissions, his top trade official is pushing for tar sands industry handouts and influence in the highly secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, launching attacks on EU tar sands regulations that green groups say are already too insufficient.
"The U.S. has no business rolling back any kind of protection from the world's dirtiest oil at a time when we're supposed to be making progress on climate," Eddie Scher of the Sierra Club told Common Dreams.
Questioned before the House Ways and Means Committee in late July, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman railed against a proposed change to the EU Fuel Quality Directive that requires a 6 percent reduction in gas and diesel emissions by 2020. The ammendment under question would label bitumen—oil extracted from tar sands—as a high-emissions diesel, a rating that would 'discourage' but not prevent EU fuel suppliers from buying tar sands oil.
Environmental groups say that the regulation that Froman is attempting to gut is already grossly insufficient. "The regulation is not really doing anything," Scott Parkin of Rainforest Action Network told Common Dreams. "It's just saying tar sands should be called something different. We are saying that tar sands need to stay in the ground. Period."
Shale Gas and Foreign Policy: A "Highly Uncertain" Gamble for America
The geopolitical sway promised by a vast new supply of American fossil fuels may be one of the oil and gas industry’s most alluring talking points to politicians. Members of both parties have begun banking on the continuation of the shale boom to promote their agendas both domestically and abroad. Export the gas, they say, and U.S. influence will grow.
Proponents of exporting natural gas are blunt in describing their motivations. ““Allowing our strong allies like NATO and Japan to have access to Oklahoma’s abundant natural gas improves our foreign policy posture and encourages domestic energy expansion,” said Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), as he promoted a bill he co-sponsored in January, the“Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013.”
The Trans Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated will have major implications for U.S. natural gas exports to Japan. And the promise of natural gas has been a major incentive for Japan to join that free trade agreement, especially in the aftermath of Fukushima. ...
But if plans to export natural gas come to fruition, the U.S. will be staking not just its domestic energy policy, but also its foreign policy on industry projections that the fed’s own experts say are “highly uncertain.”
Republicans See Keystone Pipeline as a Card to Play in Last-Minute Fiscal Talks
As a possible government shutdown looms, environmental activists who oppose construction of the Keystone XL pipeline say they are increasingly alarmed that the project might become a bargaining chip in last-minute negotiations between Republicans and President Obama to avert a fiscal crisis.
Republicans who support the pipeline have already signaled that they intend to demand approval of a permit for its construction in exchange for their willingness to support Mr. Obama and raise the nation's debt ceiling next month.
''We feel like this is our only option,'' said Representative Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican who is one of the leading pipeline supporters. Mr. Terry said members of his party were working to draft legislative language that would ''deem'' the pipeline to be approved if an agreement is reached to raise the debt ceiling.
Leading climate change economist brands sceptics 'irrational'
Climate change sceptics who claim the dangers of global warming are small and far-off are "unscientific" and "irrational", and should not dissuade governments from tackling rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions, the author of the world's landmark review of economics and climate change said.
Lord Nicolas Stern told the Guardian: "It is astonishing, irrational and unscientific to suggest the risks are small. How can they say they know the risks are small? The clear conclusion from 200 years of climate science and observations show a strong association between carbon dioxide rises and global surface temperature.
He added: "The science is unequivocal and shows there is serious danger. What is coming from [sceptics] is just noise, and should be treated as noise."
He said some sceptics were in the pay of hostile industries, with a vested interest in contradicting the science, and were being "deliberately naive" in claiming the world could wait decades to deal with rising emissions.
"It (the sceptic response) looks very well-organised," he said. "They are deliberately distorting the way we understand risk."
Right now the NSA is spying on everyone's personal communications, and they’re operating without any meaningful oversight. Since the Snowden leaks started, more than 569,000 people from all walks of life have signed the StopWatching.us petition telling the U.S. Congress that we want them to rein in the NSA.
On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the US Patriot Act, we're taking the next step and holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We’ll be handing the half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us -- and we won’t tolerate mass surveillance any longer.
StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum.
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
Ikey Robinson - A Minor Stomp
Ikey 'Banjo' Robinson - Get Off Stuff
Ikey Robinson + Hot Antic Jazz Band - Ikey´s Blues
Ikey Robinson, Ted Bogan, Howard Armstrong - Darktown Strutters Ball
The Hokum Boys - Gin Mill Blues
Hokum Trio - You've Had Your way
Jabbo Smith and his Rhythm Aces - Take your Time
Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces - Boston Skuffle
Clarence Williams' Jug Band - Chizzlin' Sam
Jabbo Smith & His Rhythm Aces - Sau-Sha Stomp
The Hokum Boys - I Had to Give Up Gym
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!