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 "The Grandfather of R&B," Roy Milton, a singer, songrwiter, drummer and bandleader. Enjoy!
Roy Milton - Baby Don't You Know
“The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.”
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
News and Opinion
US government shuts down some services as Congress exceeds deadline
Recriminations fly as Republican rancour over Obamacare leads to first federal shutdown in two decades
The US government was forced to begin closing swaths of non-essential services on Tuesday morning after frantic rounds of late night political sparring failed to avert the first federal shutdown in nearly two decades.
As a midnight deadline to extend Congressional spending authority ticked ever closer, Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend US health insurance.
Three separate attacks on the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, were staged by the House of Representatives, only to be rejected in turn by the Democrat-controlled Senate, which accused Republicans of holding the country to ransom.
Shortly before midnight, Senate majority leader Harry Reid marked the end of the process by rejecting House calls for formal talks to reconcile their conflicting positions, arguing it was impossible to negotiate with a “gun to our heads”.
Camp Lejeune golf course employees are considered essential personnel. Your US military, ladies and gentlemen.— B. A. Friedman (@brettfriedman) October 1, 2013
How are Mine safety inspectors, chemical safety inspectors, food safety inspectors, & banking regulators non-essential staff? #govtshutdown— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) October 1, 2013
As US Government Shuts Down the Poorest Set to Lose Most
As Wall Street looked shaky among uneasy implications for the economy, Imara Jones at Colorlines points out, "the parts of the government affected by the shutdown disproportionately impact economic opportunity programs for the working poor."
"Historically marginalized communities are likely to the feel the effects of a shutdown acutely as time goes on," Jones states.
According to Jones, those negative consequences include:
- delays in application processes for essential programs such as Medicare and Medicaid
- an impaired ability to fight disease as The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health will be forced to scale back
- closure of the Women Infants and Children Program (WIC)—a food aid program "which covers seven million children and infants, and their mothers"
- cuts in funding for programs designed for children in need such as Head Start, educational services for low income students such as Title I education grants, and student loan and grant application programs
Veterans Occupy World War II Memorial Closed Because of Shutdown
A group of World War II veterans aren't letting a pesky government shutdown stop them from visiting a Washington, D.C. memorial. These are your first, and probably only, bad ass heroes of the government shutdown. ...
Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane III was on scene when these veterans rebelled:
It's hard not to love this story. McShane reports the vets now "have control" of the memorial and don't seem keen to leave. They also didn't get past the guards without a little help. Apparently Rep. Steve King helped distract a park police officer while the vets tore down the fences keeping them from their memorial visit.
It's now a party down there, with Iowa veterans joining in on the fun. Shane reports park police have completely given up trying to keep people out of the memorial.
Rage of the Privileged
Mark Thoma has an excellent column at the Fiscal Times linking the fight over the debt ceiling to the larger issue of extreme inequality. ... I’d like, however, to suggest that the reality is even worse than Thoma suggests.
Here’s how Thoma puts it:Rising inequality and differential exposure to economic risk has caused one group to see themselves as the “makers” in society who provide for the rest and pay most of the bills, and the other group as “takers” who get all the benefits. The upper strata wonders, “Why should we pay for social insurance when we get little or none of the benefits?” and this leads to an attack on these programs.How, then, are things even worse than he says? Because many of the rich are selective in their opposition to government helping the unlucky. They’re against stuff like food stamps and unemployment benefits; but bailing out Wall Street? Yay! ...
The point is that the superrich have not gone Galt on us — not really, even if they imagine they have. It’s much closer to pure class warfare, a defense of the right of the privileged to keep and extend their privileges. It’s not Ayn Rand, it’s Ancien Régime.
We Hit the Debt Ceiling Months Ago. Nobody Cared.
It's not true that we'll hit the debt ceiling on October 18. We've already hit it. This happened first on December 31 of last year, and then, after a few months of legislative maneuvering, again on May 19. ... It's only when the Treasury has exhausted its ability to rob Peter to pay Paul, with all the attendant chaos this produces, that we've "really" hit the debt ceiling. Welcome to the new normal, courtesy of the Republican Party.
Wall Street Deregulation Bills Likely To Attract Bipartisan Support After Shutdown Negotiations
When the drama surrounding a government shutdown abates, the House of Representatives expects to take up legislation to expand taxpayer support for derivatives, the complex financial products at the heart of the 2008 meltdown. And while traditionally straightforward tasks like funding the federal government have become raucously contentious in recent weeks, a bill subsidizing Wall Street banks is likely to garner significant bipartisan support.
Also on the post-shutdown agenda is legislation that would prevent the Department of Labor and the SEC from implementing new consumer protection standards for 401(k) accounts and other retirement funds.
Both bills are efforts to roll back reforms that passed under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. A small cadre of liberal Democrats are marshaling opposition to the bills, but still expect dozens of Democrats to join a united Republican Party in passing the legislation.
"As we're trying to forestall a government shutdown, we've got these ugly financial services bills on the horizon," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. "It's a multi-pronged attack on the middle class."
Obama nominates former Romney advisor to post
President Barack Obama today nominated Lanhee Chen, policy director for the Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, as a member of the Social Security Advisory Board.
Obamacare Debate: Flowers vs. Baker
FLOWERS: ... What the Affordable Care Act does is it requires people to purchase private insurance. But that doesn't equate to actually being able to get the health care that you need. We haven't changed the behavior of the private insurance companies. And so they're still going to find ways to deny payment for care. And people are going to find that while they've paid out hundreds of dollars for health insurance, they won't have the money to actually pay for health services, because a lot of that cost is going to be coming up front first for the patients before their insurance even kicks in. ...
[W]hat we're seeing from the large private insurers is that because they're being required to accept people with pre-existing conditions, they're severely cutting back their networks. So hospitals that provide care to people with serious health problems are not included in their networks. They've restricted the number of physicians that are in their networks. And so people are going to find it more difficult to actually go to the places they need to go to to get care. And so if you're getting care outside of the network, that means more of the burden of paying for it falls on the patient. And people in this country just aren't able to afford that right now. ...
I don't see how giving more money to the very industries that are influencing this legislation in their favor is actually moving us towards a real health care system. What we see down the road and what's starting to happen is further privatization of our health care. So we see large employers are moving their retirees into the insurance exchanges. Medicaid is going into the exchanges. We heard Jonathan Gruber, whose--you know, he's an economist from MIT that talks a lot about health care--saying that Medicare--within five years he expected that Medicare would be put into the exchanges. So we're going to be seeing an erosion of our public health systems and further privatization. And that just really takes us in the wrong direction.
Edward Snowden - The Work of a Generation
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's words were entered as testimony at the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee in Brussels on Monday.
Jesselyn Radack of the US Government Accountability Project (GAP) and a former whistleblower and ethics adviser to the US Department of Justice, read Snowden's statement into the record.
A CEO who resisted NSA spying is out of prison. And he feels ‘vindicated’ by Snowden leaks.
Just one major telecommunications company refused to participate in a legally dubious NSA surveillance program in 2001. A few years later, its CEO was indicted by federal prosecutors. He was convicted, served four and a half years of his sentence and was released this month. ... After his release from custody Sept. 20, Nacchio told the Wall Street Journal that he feels "vindicated" by the content of the leaks that show that the agency was collecting American's phone records. ...
Nacchio was convicted of selling of Qwest stock in early 2001, not long before the company hit financial troubles. However, he claimed in court documents that he was optimistic about the firm's ability to win classified government contracts — something they'd succeeded at in the past. And according to his timeline, in February 2001 — some six months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — he was approached by the NSA and asked to spy on customers during a meeting he thought was about a different contract. He reportedly refused because his lawyers believed such an action would be illegal and the NSA wouldn't go through the FISA Court. And then, he says, unrelated government contracts started to disappear.
His narrative matches with the warrantless surveillance program reported by USA Today in 2006 which noted Qwest as the lone holdout from the program, hounded by the agency with hints that their refusal "might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government." But Nacchio was prevented from bringing up any of this defense during his jury trial — the evidence needed to support it was deemed classified and the judge in his case refused his requests to use it. And he still believes his prosecution was retaliatory for refusing the NSA requests for bulk access to customers' phone records. Some other observers share that opinion, and it seems consistent with evidence that has been made public, including some of the redacted court filings unsealed after his conviction.
CUNY Moves David Petraeus's Seminar to a Secure Location, but Students Plan to Continue Their Protests
Yesterday a series of emails were obtained by Gawker in which the CUNY administration discusses its intention to move David Petraeus's seminar to the 16th floor of West 57th Street due to security concerns. Though administrators posted the notice of the location change on the website a week ago, those announcements made no mention of the heightened security measures or the lockout of all other meetings using the 16th floor. Student protesters are aware of the impending move and are formulating a new protest strategy at the new location.
The emails reveal that the administration will require a CUNY ID to access the 16th floor on Mondays, the scheduled meeting day of Petraeus' seminar. The school will also move any other meetings held on that floor so that Petraeus and his class will be the only group meeting there.
The building at West 57th Street, a common classroom building for CUNY students, has a secured parking garage that will allow Petraeus to slip in and out of the building easily.
Binyamin Netanyahu urges Obama to keep Iran sanctions in place
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, used a visit to the White House on Monday to urge the US president to maintain or even increase sanctions against Iran, despite the promise of progress over Tehran's nuclear program.
"If diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place," Netanyahu said of the sanctions, which have proved economically crippling in Iran.
The two leaders met at the White House just days after Obama's historic 15-minute phone call with the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which has been interpreted as a possile prelude to a thaw in relations between the US and Iran.
Chemical disarmament inspectors cross into Syria
The team of some 20 international inspectors who have been issued the task to ensure that Syria chemical weapons are destroyed have crossed the border into the country.
On Monday, international chemical weapons inspectors completed investigations surrounding the alleged Sarin gas attacks in the country.
On the same day the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) left the Netherlands to begin a complex mission of finding and dismantling an estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal, which includes sarin and mustard gas, scattered across some 45 different sites nationwide.
The mission follows a UN resolution which demanded that Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal be destroyed. The procedure to purge the country of chemical weapons stocks has a target finish date of mid-2014.
US diplomats expelled from Venezuela for conspiring with 'extreme right'
President Nicolás Maduro announced on Monday the expulsion of the top US diplomat in Venezuela and two other embassy employees for allegedly conspiring with "the extreme right" to sabotage the economy and power grid. ...
Maduro said a group of embassy officials that his government had been following for months was "dedicated to meeting with the Venezuelan extreme right, to financing it and feeding its actions to sabotage the electrical system and the Venezuela economy".
"I have proof here in my hands," he said, though he did not offer any details on the diplomats' alleged transgressions other than to say they met with opposition and labour leaders in the south-west state of Bolivar, which is home to a number of troubled state-owned foundries and Venezuela's main hydroelectric plant.
Expelled were charge d'affaires Kelly Keiderling, the top embassy official in the absence of an ambassador, consular officer David Moo and Elizabeth Hoffman, who works in the embassy's political section.
NYC's yearly cost per inmate almost as expensive as Ivy League tuition
New York is indeed an expensive place, but experts say that alone doesn't explain a recent report that found the city's annual cost per inmate was $167,731 last year — nearly as much as it costs to pay for four years of tuition at an Ivy League university. ...
The city's Independent Budget Office annual figure of $167,731 — which equates to about $460 per day for the 12,287 average daily New York City inmates last year — was based on about $2 billion in total operating expenses for the Department of Correction, which included salaries and benefits for staff, judgments and claims as well as debt service for jail construction and repairs.
The Evening Greens
Boom in Unregulated Natural Gas Pipelines Posing New Risks
Thousands of miles of pipelines are being built at natural gas drilling sites throughout the nation without supervision or regulation by state or federal authorities.
These specialized pipelines, known as gathering lines, carry gas from wells to nearby separation facilities for processing. Many of the pipes are as large as regulated pipelines and operate at the same or higher pressures. Some run close to homes and businesses. ...
Pipeline accidents involving natural gas are among the most feared industry accidents, because gas is so explosive. ... To try to prevent such tragedies, PHMSA [the federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration] has traditionally focused on regulating transmission lines, which carry gas to refineries, and distribution lines, which carry gas to businesses and homes. ... Earlier gathering lines were much smaller and operated at far lower pressures than transmission and distribution lines. Most were also in rural areas, where mishaps would be less likely to cause widespread damage or loss of life.
But the technology that triggered the U.S. drilling boom—hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—has changed that equation. To accommodate the volume and pressure of the gas coming out of fracked wells, gathering lines are now 12 to 36 inches in diameter, instead of 2 to 12 inches. They operate at much higher pressures, too.
B.C. and Alberta Move Closer to Canadian Oil Sands Pipeline Agreement
B.C. Premier Christy Clark says her province is moving closer to an agreement with Alberta that would lay a path for oil sands bitumen to reach B.C. ports.
A series of high-level meetings are under way to discuss how the two provinces can open up the path to B.C.’s coasts, and then Asian markets. An agreement is not imminent, but officials for both the provinces are working on a framework to address B.C.’s five conditions.
“I get more confident about that as the weeks pass,” Ms. Clark said in an interview. “We are engaged at the highest level of the bureaucracy, the deputies are meeting about the five conditions and talking about how we can meet them together.”
Talks between Alberta and B.C. were stuck in political stalemate after Ms. Clark demanded a “fair share” of the financial benefits stemming from any oil sands pipeline crossing her province, along with other environmental and First Nations conditions being met. ...
Fast-forward to the B.C. election last May – where Ms. Clark’s Liberals won a surprise victory against their NDP challengers – and a friendly summit in Kelowna this June, and the two premiers seem to be working hard to show the relationship has begun anew.
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
Roy Milton - You Got Me Reeling and Rocking
Roy Milton + Mickey Champion - Rocking Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu
Roy Milton and his Solid Senders - T-Town Twist
Roy Milton - RM Blues
Roy Milton and his Solid Senders - Hop, Skip, and Jump
Roy Milton - So Tired
Roy Milton - Baby, You Don't Know
Roy Milton - Keep a dollar in your pocket
Roy Milton - I Can't Go On
Roy Milton - Baby I'm Gone
Roy Milton - Oh Babe
Roy Milton - Fools Are Getting Scarcer
Roy Milton - Information 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.
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!