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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This evening's music features jazz bandleader and trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Enjoy!
Louis Armstrong - Basin Street Blues
“The Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
Will democracy come to Montana?
Montana's Northern Cheyenne tribe fighting to secure voting rightsOne group of Americans struggles against the legacy of a small-minded racist, good-old-boy network, while the rest of us are left wondering at what point the Supreme Court will draw a line and say that a certain level of ludicrous capacity for the rich to control elections is "too much."
Mark Wandering Medicine has sacrificed more than most for his country. He served six years in the US marines, fought through the bloodiest years of the Vietnam war and almost lost a leg when his scouting unit was ambushed near the North Vietnamese border in 1972.
Since he returned home to the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana, however, he has received scant thanks for his service. He spent 13 years battling government bureaucrats before receiving his first disability payment. Like many Native Americans raised on desperately poor reservations in remote parts of the country, he has never lived far from the poverty line.
Now he is fighting once more, this time to overcome a century and a half of disenfranchisement and secure voting rights for his fellow Native Americans. He has barely voted over the past 40 years, not because he hasn't wanted to but because it is too difficult. The only sure way to register to vote, he says, is to make a 157-mile round trip from his home to the nearest county seat.
There is no public transport, and most people can't afford the trip – even assuming they have a working car with valid license plates and insurance, which is rarely the case. The few who do make the journey have to run a gamut of racism and hostility that, they say, can often land them in jail on charges of drunkenness and public disorder.
Democracy vs. 'Wealthocracy': People Rally Against 'Next Citizens United'Can we keep the vestiges of democracy in America safe from the predations of bankers and an all-too-complicit administration?
Starting next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin oral arguments in a case many are calling "the next Citizens United" for its potential to vastly enhance the power of money in politics beyond its already lethal hold.
Shaun McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission will begin court hearings on Tuesday. In the case, republican donor Shaun McCutcheon is challenging current campaign donation rules that limit individual donors to $123,000 in total spending on federal candidates and political parties during any two-year federal election cycle, known as aggregate campaign limits. ...
If McCutcheon and the RNC are victorious, it will be the first time in history that the U.S. Supreme court determines a direct contribution limit unconstitutional. ...
And a bevy of pro-democracy groups and activists have decided to stand up next Tuesday while the court begins its hearings and make their voices heard outside on the steps of the Supreme Court. A rally outside the court on First St NE, Washington, DC will take place October 8th at 9:30 am.
Is Homeland Security Preparing for the Next Wall Street Collapse?
Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why? ...
The shadow financial casino has only grown larger since 2008; and in the next Lehman-style collapse, government bailouts may not be available. According to President Obama in his remarks on the Dodd-Frank Act on July 15, 2010, “Because of this reform, . . . there will be no more taxpayer funded bailouts – period.” ...
When depositors cannot access their bank accounts to get money for food for the kids, they could well start breaking store windows and helping themselves. Worse, they might plot to overthrow the financier-controlled government. Witness Greece, where increasing disillusionment with the ability of the government to rescue the citizens from the worst depression since 1929 has precipitated riots and threats of violent overthrow.
Fear of that result could explain the massive, government-authorized spying on American citizens, the domestic use of drones, and the elimination of due process and of “posse comitatus” (the federal law prohibiting the military from enforcing “law and order” on non-federal property). Constitutional protections are being thrown out the window in favor of protecting the elite class in power.
Republicans defiant over US shutdown compromise amid Treasury warning
The Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, on Sunday accused Congress of "playing with fire" as the White House and Republicans remained entrenched over the government shutdown and the extension of the debt ceiling.
Appearing on CNN's State of the Union during a tour of the Sunday talk shows, Lew said there was no option that would prevent the government from defaulting on its bills should lawmakers refuse to vote to raise the debt ceiling before the 17 October deadline. Senior Republicans, however, lined up to insist in response that they would not compromise in their attempt to dismantle or defund Obamacare, the president's signature healthcare reform.
"There is no option that prevents us from being in default if we don't have enough cash to pay our bills," Lew said. Asked if President Barack Obama could bypass Congress and use other measures to raise the debt ceiling and avoid defaulting, Lew said the only available solution was through Congress.
"The White House has spoken quite clearly to this," Lew said. "The president does not have the authority to take action in that kind of a way. The president consulted with his lawyers, and that's the conclusion that he's reached."
Government Shut Down - Another Grand Betrayal in the Works?
JAY: Now, in the past when we've seen this confrontation over--similar confrontations over the last couple of years, you've talked about President Obama and his grand bargain. And he's--I should say bargains, 'cause in one of our previous interviews, you went through--I think it was four or five of these, quote-unquote, grand bargains where President Obama essentially gives concessions that the Republicans want. I mean, is the outcome here not that he gives up on health care, but he gives another important concession somewhere else, and then everybody calls it a victory--Obama saved health care, but the Republicans actually get some other big cut either in the social safety net or something else of the sort?
BLACK: That's the obvious deal to be had. As you know, I think it's a terrible deal. It's the grand betrayal, as opposed to the grand bargain. But it's already being rumored on the Republican side, and it's the only climbdown for the Republicans that potentially works.
Of course, it would be, again, Obama snatching defeat from the jaws of political victory if he were to do all of those things, and it would be very bad for the U.S. economy. But the president still sees the grand bargain as his legacy. And so, yeah, really, for a good three years, the Republicans had victory anytime they could have kept the Tea Party restrained and could simply go forward with what they call the grand bargain. It was there to be had on the Obama side. ...
JAY: Just finally, if there is another grand betrayal, what might be on the table next? As we know or as you've pointed out before, President Obama wants a lot of this restructuring, and this kind of good cop, bad cop routine, you know, allows him to do some of this without looking like it's his fault. But what might be next?
BLACK: Oh, they're going after the safety net. In truth, it's the same old grand betrayal. They want to cut the safety net, they want to cut other social programs, again, in the midst of a relatively weak recovery where this could dramatically harm the recovery and potentially even throw us back into recession. So it's all the same terrible ideas recirculated. And again the indications are that the administration wants still what it calls the grand bargain.
Will Seniors Have to Pay for President Obama’s Victory on Budget Standoff?
It is widely reported that the Republicans are looking for a face-saving way to back down from the standoff they created on the budget and the debt ceiling. According to these news accounts, this route could involve another stab at the “grand bargain,” a deal that includes some tax increases and cuts to Social Security and Medicare. ...
What is not in dispute right now is that most seniors are not doing very well. The median income for a person over age 65 is less than $20,000 a year. Relatively few seniors are enjoying anything that could be considered a comfortable retirement. It is completely wrongheaded to look to make their situation worse by the reducing the Social Security cost of living adjustment by adopting the chained CPI as the measure of inflation. ...
Perhaps President Obama and the other grand bargainers who think these sorts of cuts to seniors make sense have some theory under which budget cuts in a downturn boosts private sector demand, but most of us have to live in the real world, not the dreams of budget cutters. At this point we have a vast amount of evidence; cutting spending in a downturn leads to slower growth and fewer jobs. That is not a debatable point. It’s sort of like the earth being round, it just happens to be true.
Some Tea Party-Backed Lawmakers Yield in Obamacare Fight
The first cracks are appearing in the Tea Party’s push to dismantle the nation’s health law as three House lawmakers with ties to the movement said they’d back a U.S. spending bill that doesn’t center on Obamacare.
Republican Representatives Blake Farenthold of Texas, Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Dennis Ross of Florida, all of whom identify with the Tea Party, said they’d back an agreement to end the government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling if it included major revisions to U.S. tax law, significant changes to Medicare and Social Security and other policy shifts. ...
Ross, ranked among the House’s most conservative members by both the Club for Growth and the American Conservative Union, said he shifted his position because the shutdown hasn’t resulted in changes to the Affordable Care Act. The shutdown also could hurt the party, he said. ...
Ross, 53, is pushing for other changes, such as basing Medicare premiums on income and switching to a formula that may make Social Security beneficiaries’ cost-of-living increases rise more slowly. Those would be “major reforms” that should win Republican votes.
Social Security issues debt-ceiling warning
The federal government shutdown hasn’t affected Social Security benefits. But it’ll be a different story if the government doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, according to the Social Security Administration. The Wall Street Journal’s Damian Paletta reports today that the administration has begun warning consumers who call in to ask about the effects of the shutdown that if Congress and the White House don’t reach an agreement to increase the government’s borrowing limit, it can’t guarantee that benefits will be paid in full.
The government is expected to hit the current federal debt limit on Oct. 17. If the ceiling isn’t increased, the government will be limited to spending only the cash it has on hand and coming in the door, and the Treasury Department will have to decide who gets paid and who gets left in the lurch.
The GOP Might Lose the Shutdown Battle, but It's Already Won the Spending WarRethuglicans in Congress want to delay Obamacare for a year, New York for a millenium...
[T]oday's news is a data point in a much larger story: Republicans have, in the last two terms, masterfully whittled down federal spending, often with precisely this form of brinksmanship.
The Senate bill funds the 2014 government at a level 18 percent below the president proposed five years ago; 17 percent below the Democratic Congress proposed four years ago; 10 percent below Paul Ryan and Republicans proposed three years ago; and 8 percent below the debt ceiling compromise two years ago (see graph, via Michael Linden and Harry Stein). The Senate bill is less than 2 percent away from Paul Ryan's own 2014 budget. ...
Republicans have won round after around of the spending wars, from the debt ceiling negotiations, to small cuts in continuing resolutions, to the across-the-board cuts under this year's sequestration.
Computer Glitches Plague Obamacare Launch as New York Accidentally Says Site Won’t Be Up Until 3013
Is Obamacare Enough? Without Single-Payer, Patchwork U.S. Healthcare Leaves Millions Uninsured
Obama Expands Bush-Initiated 'War on Terror' to Africa
Two separate operations by US Special Forces over the weekend expose a military policy in Africa that critics say is a dangerous and unpredictable game.
Both in Libya and Somalia on Saturday, so-called 'capture or kill' operations were launched—speaheaded by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)—in which high-value leaders of Islamic militant groups were targeted for assassination or kidnapping.
In Libya on Saturday, a raid backed by the FBI and CIA but reportedly executed by elite military personnel, led to the reported capture of Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqqai—better known by his alias Abu Anas al Libi—an alleged high-level al Qaeda operative wanted in connection to several bombings leading back to the late 1990's.
Also on Saturday, on the other side of the continent in Somalia, an apparently unsuccessful raid by US Navy Seals on a seaside villa led to an extended fire fight between the elite soldiers and individuals at the house that ended in retreat. Speculation remained about the intended target and who was or wasn't killed during the operation, but outlets report the raid was planned in the aftermath of the recent Westgate Mall attack in Kenya which left nearly 70 people dead. Al Shabab claimed responsibility for that attack, saying it was retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia. ...
Secretary of State John Kerry warned critics of the raids that they should be careful not to "sympathize" with known terrorists.
Libya demands explanation for 'kidnapping' of citizen by US forces
Libya has demanded an explanation for the "kidnapping" of one of its citizens by American special forces, hours after a separate US military raid on a terrorist target in Somalia ended in apparent failure and retreat.
Kerry says US raid in Libya was ‘legal’, vows such operations will go on
Secretary of State John Kerry has justified the capture by US forces of a terrorism suspect in Tripoli as ‘legal and appropriate’. He thus responded to Libya governments’ demand for explanations over what happened.
Kerry has reacted to the ‘kidnapping’ complaint from the Libyan government by recommending it “not to sympathize with alleged terrorists but to underscore the importance of the rule of law."
"I hope the perception is in the world that people who commit acts of terror and who have been appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process, will know that the United States of America is going to do anything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and to protect our security," Kerry told reporters on Monday.
Libya voiced its concern on Sunday, a day after US forces captured in Tripoli a suspected senior Al-Qaeda leader, Nazih Abdul-Hamed Ruqai, known by his alias Abu Anas el-Liby, wanted for his alleged role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
Obama approved Libya raid that nabbed al Qaida figure
President Barack Obama personally approved a daring raid by the U.S. Army’s Delta Force and agents from the CIA and FBI that led to the capture of an al Qaida leader outside his home in Libya, according to officials who were briefed on the events.
The raid on Saturday nabbed a former lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqqai who’s better known by his alias, Abu Anas al Libi. The Defense Department said Sunday that he was being held on a U.S naval ship in the Mediterranean. ...
Al Libi, who’s been indicted for terrorism related offenses in New York, returned to his hometown of Tripoli in 2011 after U.S.-backed rebels toppled and killed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Benjamin Barber, author of two books on U.S. counterterrorism policies and a senior research fellow at New York University, said al Libi had been able to live openly in Tripoli because afer Gadhafi’s fall, the North African nation had become “a broken-down, rogue state” run by tribal militias.
“These are the folks we put into power,” he told McClatchy. “They released all the al Qaida guys (from prison). They let this guy (al Libi) back into the country. They are, in effect, protecting the clan or tribe that killed our ambassador in Benghazi. Those guys are still on the loose, and the regime can’t do anything about them.” ...
The Libyan government said Sunday it had not been told in advance of the U.S. raid, contradicting U.S. officials who claimed that there was some advance notice.
How the Pentagon Is Using Your Tax Dollars to Turn Italy into a Launching Pad for the Wars of Today and Tomorrow
The Pentagon has spent the last two decades plowing hundreds of millions of tax dollars into military bases in Italy, turning the country into an increasingly important center for U.S. military power. Especially since the start of the Global War on Terror in 2001, the military has been shifting its European center of gravity south from Germany, where the overwhelming majority of U.S. forces in the region have been stationed since the end of World War II. In the process, the Pentagon has turned the Italian peninsula into a launching pad for future wars in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.
At bases in Naples, Aviano, Sicily, Pisa, and Vicenza, among others, the military has spent more than $2 billion on construction alone since the end of the Cold War -- and that figure doesn’t include billions more on classified construction projects and everyday operating and personnel costs. While the number of troops in Germany has fallen from 250,000 when the Soviet Union collapsed to about 50,000 today, the roughly 13,000 U.S. troops (plus 16,000 family members) stationed in Italy match the numbers at the height of the Cold War. That, in turn, means that the percentage of U.S. forces in Europe based in Italy has tripled since 1991 from around 5% to more than 15%. ...
There are still more bases, and so more U.S. military spending, in Germany than in any other foreign country (save, until recently, Afghanistan). Nonetheless, Italy has grown increasingly important as the Pentagon works to change the make-up of its global collection of 800 or more bases abroad, generally shifting its basing focus south and east from Europe’s center. Base expert Alexander Cooley explains: “U.S. defense officials acknowledge that Italy’s strategic positioning on the Mediterranean and near North Africa, the Italian military’s antiterrorism doctrine, as well as the country’s favorable political disposition toward U.S. forces are important factors in the Pentagon’s decision to retain” a large base and troop presence there. About the only people who have been paying attention to this build-up are the Italians in local opposition movements like those in Vicenza who are concerned that their city will become a platform for future U.S. wars.
Leaked Snowden docs show Canada spied on Brazil’s Mining and Energy Ministry
Canada spied on communications at Brazil’s Mining and Energy Ministry, according to Canadian intelligence documents revealed Sunday by Globo television.
The documents were leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. His disclosures including that the United States spied on the same ministry, on President Dilma Rousseff and her aides, have greatly strained US-Brazilian ties.
In the disclosures broadcast on Globo, documents purportedly from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service leaked by Snowden show a detailed outline of the Brazilian ministry’s communications including phone calls, emails and Internet traffic.
Brazil’s Rousseff on Canada leak: US and allies must stop spying ‘once and for all’
In sharp reaction to the latest NSA leak revealing Canada’s acute interest in the Brazilian mining industry, President Dilma Rousseff condemned the “cyberwar” launched by the US and its allies against Brazil and demanded they stop the espionage. ...
“That is unacceptable among countries that claim to be partners. We reject this cyberwar,” the Brazilian President wrote.
On Sunday, Brazilian TV Globo released the latest leaks on the American and allied spying network obtained by Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald from the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The report detailed how the US National Security Agency (NSA) interacted with the Communication Security Establishment (CSE) of Canada to get data from phone calls and emails flowing out of the Brazilian ministry. ...
According to the report, Canada has been particularly interested in the Brazilian mining industry, Rousseff pointed out. This confirms that the espionage had economic and strategic reasons, she added.
Attacking Tor: how the NSA targets users' online anonymity
The online anonymity network Tor is a high-priority target for the National Security Agency. The work of attacking Tor is done by the NSA's application vulnerabilities branch, which is part of the systems intelligence directorate, or SID. The majority of NSA employees work in SID, which is tasked with collecting data from communications systems around the world.
According to a top-secret NSA presentation provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, one successful technique the NSA has developed involves exploiting the Tor browser bundle, a collection of programs designed to make it easy for people to install and use the software. The trick identified Tor users on the internet and then executes an attack against their Firefox web browser. ...
After identifying an individual Tor user on the internet, the NSA uses its network of secret internet servers to redirect those users to another set of secret internet servers, with the codename FoxAcid, to infect the user's computer. FoxAcid is an NSA system designed to act as a matchmaker between potential targets and attacks developed by the NSA, giving the agency opportunity to launch prepared attacks against their systems.
Once the computer is successfully attacked, it secretly calls back to a FoxAcid server, which then performs additional attacks on the target computer to ensure that it remains compromised long-term, and continues to provide eavesdropping information back to the NSA.
Over 8.000 Killed in Iraq so Far in 2013
A sectarian civil war that was fought alongside of the US occupation through the last decade came and went, but is seemingly back with a vengeance in 2013, as a massive spike in violence in the summer has left well over 8,000 people killed in Iraq so far this year, and nearly three whole months to go. ...
The 2013 Iraq fighting didn’t really start kicking off in earnest until late April, when Iraqi military forces attacked Sunni civilian protesters. That set off a series of attacks by Sunni militants, and has been used by those factions to recruit civilians fed up with the Maliki government’s refusal to follow through on pledged power-sharing.
Cairo aflame as at least 44 dead in pro-Morsi clashes with police
At least 44 people were killed in clashes in Egypt on Sunday, the health ministry said, after supporters and opponents of the country’s deposed president Mohammed Morsi took to the streets for rival protests.
Forty people were killed in Cairo and four south of the capital, as another 246 people were wounded across Egypt, senior health ministry official Khaled al-Khatib told state news agency MENA. ...
The protests fell on the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, also known as the Yom Kippur War – a surprise attack against Israel that eventually led to the to the recovery of the Sinai Peninsula in a 1979 peace treaty. The war is celebrated each year in Egypt on October 6 as a national holiday.
The Evening Greens
Four Days Into Government Shutdown, Economy and Environment Heading South
We've now entered the fourth day of the government shutdown, and the economic impacts are already being felt by states all over America. As it turns out, the environmental services provided by the government – everything from running our national park system to renewable energy development – is quite an important part of our economy.
The most obvious and immediate effect is the loss of roughly $76 million every day from the closure of national parks and zoos. This loss of revenue will have a ripple effect throughout local economies, impacting small businesses, restaurants, lodges, and so on. ...
The economic impacts of the shutdown could potentially be felt for years to come, depending on how long the shutdown lasts, and what type of funding deal is struck to end it. Renewable energy projects being funded by the government have ground to an abrupt halt, and the longer they remain shuttered, the longer we’ll have to wait for renewable energy.
From The Energy Collective:The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has stopped all new offshore wind demonstration project permitting.
The Department of Energy’s leading research and technology development offices, such as the Office of Science and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, are currently being run by a skeleton crew, dramatically decreasing stewardship of the National Labs and program management of nearly $5 billion in clean energy innovation projects.
Research activities at NIST and NOAA, including climate and weather research, material science, nano-science, and energy science, have been stopped.
Non-essential research and procurement at the Department of Defense, such as investments in clean energy (roughly $1 billion worth), is halted which is slowing down development of next-generation batteries, microgrids, and power electronics as well as early markets for solar panels on bases.
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'
This is a very well written, interesting article:
A Little Night Music
Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash - Blue Yodel No 9
Louis Armstrong - Potato head blues
Louis Armstrong - St. James Infirmary
King Oliver's Jazz Band w/Louis Armstrong - Dipper Mouth Blues
Louis Armstrong - Got No Blues
Billie Holiday & Louis Armstrong - The Blues Are Brewin
Louis Armstrong - Black And Blue
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Learnin' The Blues
Bettie Boop / Louis Armstrong: I'll Be Glad when You're Dead You Rascal, You
Louis Armstrong - Dixie Music Man
Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World
Louis Armstrong - Knockin' A Jug
Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington - Duke's Place
It's National Pie Day!
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Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
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