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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 bluesman Eddie Kirkland.  Enjoy!

Eddie Kirkland & Wentus Blues Band live - Rainbow

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

  -- Oscar Wilde

News and Opinion

Stop Watching Us Rally


Meetup and speeches at Union Station:

stop watching us

Leaving Union Station to March to Reflecting Pool:

stop watching us

God Hates The NSA:

god hates the nsa


stop watching us

The place was crawling with media:

media at stop watching us

Somewhere behind that sign is Medea Benjamin riding Codepink's climate-friendly protest vehicle:

medea benjamin at stop watching us

A lovely, lively bunch:

stop watching us

More marching:

stop watching us

Masked marauders:

million masks at stop watching us

Heh, even Larouchies don't like being spied on:

larouchies at stop watching us

Thank you's for Edward Snowden were everywhere. It was a grateful crowd:

thank you edward snowden

Obama had a righteous patter:

obamacam at stop watching us

My favorite banner of the day:

government and media run by organized crime

The all-seeing eye was hovering nearby:

drone at stop watching us

A Congressional View of the March:

stop watching us

Come to the Capitol and have your picture taken for posterity by the State:

stop watching us

Here's some coverage of the rally:
"Stop Watching Us": As Diplomatic Fallout Grows, Thousands Protest NSA Surveillance in D.C.

'It Is Time for Reform': Thousands Rally to End Government Spying

Protesters marched to the National Mall where they convened in a Rally Against Mass Surveillance in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Among the speakers are former Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Social critic Naomi Wolf, Former senior NSA executive and whistleblower Thomas Drake and whistleblower and attorney Jesselyn Radack — who read a statement on behalf of Snowden. ...

Below is Edward Snowden's full statement.

In the last four months, we’ve learned a lot about our government. We’ve learned that the US Intelligence Community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance.

Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong.

We’ve also learned this isn’t about red or blue party lines. Neither is it about terrorism.

It is about power, control, and trust in government; about whether you have a voice in our democracy or decisions are made for you rather than with you. We’re here to remind our government officials that they are public servants, not private investigators.

This is about the unconstitutional, unethical, and immoral actions of the modern-day surveillance state and how we all must work together to remind government to stop them. It’s about our right to know, to associate freely, and to live in an open society.

We are witnessing an American moment in which ordinary people from high schools to high office stand up to oppose a dangerous trend in government.

We are told that what is unconstitutional is not illegal, but we will not be fooled. We have not forgotten that the Fourth Amendment in our Bill of Rights prohibits government not only from searching our personal effects without a warrant but from seizing them in the first place.

Holding to this principle, we declare that mass surveillance has no place in this country.

It is time for reform. Elections are coming and we’re watching you.

The rally comes at a crucial moment, on the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act and as the Senate Intelligence Committee plans to take up legislation to revise the NSA’s spying authority.

“The American patriots participating in this protest understand the fundamental truth [...]: a true democracy does not treat its entire citizenry as suspects," said Rep. Rush Holt, sponsor of the Surveillance State Repeal Act (H.R. 2818), which would repeal both the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act.

It appears that both party organizations are seeking to impose discipline upon their respective "troublesome" wings, the Republicans' libertarian wing and the Democrats' progressive wing who are finding common ground on a series of issues.  The powers-that-be apparently find this fraternizing quite frightening and a threat to their usual divide-and-conquer tactics implemented to maintain control.  They have loosed the hounds of both parties against what is apparently the "wrong sort" of bipartisan agreement.  Pretty damned creepy.
Conservative group smears Rep. Justin Amash as Marxist ‘fellow traveler’ for opposing NSA spying

A small conservative group has labelled a libertarian-leaning congressman a Marxist “fellow traveler” for speaking out against the U.S. National Security Agency.

USA Survival on Sunday uploaded video of Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) speaking at a “Stop Watching Us” rally in Washington, D.C. ...

“This isn’t a partisan issue,” Amash said at the rally. “This is for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, conservatives and liberals, everyone in between. I have to tell you that when we were fighting for that Amash amendment, and we took to the House floor and had that debate, that was the proudest moment for me as an elected official.”

[A portion of the hit-piece video is included here because Justin Amash's speech was featured within, which was not carried by Democracy Now.]

Hey, remember Kos' old buddy and co-author Jerome Armstrong?  He was there, too.
Jerome Armstrong on the Failure of the Netroots

[L]ibertarians and progressives have a lot more in common than do either libertarians with the Republican party or progressives with the Democratic party. I’ve also come to believe that this alliance is where the next movement is.  It scares the shit out of the major parties, and the Government as a whole.

Yesterday, I was out on the DC Mall with this alliance. Against the surveillance state. Syria was another moment. SOPA also, and Audit the Fed. It’s a paradigm shifter, and it’s going to happen more and more. It could turn into something even bigger.

I don’t pretend that this alliance of progressives and libertarians is a cure-all or a new 3rd party movement. I also don’t think that obstacles like money or time or funding are in the way of making it grow and happen. This is available right now. The main obstacle is mental. Can you change your mind to see something different? There were way more libertarians showing up on the mall than there were progressives. Get beyond being a Democrat or a Republican. Trash that, and just be an individual willing to work with others on things we’ve in common. Life’s too short to be evolutionary stuck in partisan tribalism your whole life.

Juan Cole takes at face value Obama's claim that he was blissfully unaware of the NSA's spying on Merkel.  If this is true, as Cole points out, one is left to wonder why we are spending $52 billion a year for them to spy on people apparently for their own benefit and interest.
America’s Secret 4th Branch of Government: The NSA kept even Obama in the Dark

The revelation from the Snowden Papers that the National Security Agency had German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone under surveillance has produced a central fallout. Dueling leaks over the international embarrassment have forced the White House to a key admission: President Barack Obama did not know what the NSA was up to. ...

In attempting to repair Obama’s reputation with his colleagues at the G-20 ... the White House counter-leakers have made an epochal and very serious revelation: The President wasn’t in the know. (Even in the best case scenario that he was told in 2010, he wasn’t in the know for the first 18 months of his presidency!) ...

All of these revelations are being treated as bureaucratic infighting by the inside-the-Beltway courtier press.

It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone to ask what the implications are that an occult intelligence bureaucracy funded at $52 billion a year by your and my tax dollars keeps our elected leaders in the dark about its activities.

Glenn Greenwald: U.S. Spying on Allies Shows "Institutional Obsession" with Surveillance

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is introducing legislation that would codify the NSA spying, that would grant the NSA explicit authority to gather records, listing the numbers, duration and time of all U.S. telephone calls, Glenn.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. I mean, is there anything more indicative of just how broken Washington is, that the person who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is a committee that was created in the wake of the findings of the Church Committee in the mid-1970s, that was intended to serve as a restraint and a check on what the Intelligence Committee does, is the greatest loyalist and the most servile devotee of protecting and shielding the authority of that community, named Dianne Feinstein? I mean, it just shows how—what a complete joke and a travesty the idea of congressional oversight has actually become.

And what the Dianne Feinsteins and the John Boehners of the world are doing right this very minute is they know that the public is outraged by these revelations, that they need to be placated symbolically. And so, what they’re trying to do is to devise legislation that, with this very Orwellian tactic, will slap the word "reform" on it and say that it’s designed to reel in some of the abuses of the NSA, but which are really—in title, are designed to let the NSA continue to do exactly what they’ve been doing, and in many cases, as you just suggested, even strengthen the NSA further. Remember, these are the people who defended, who joined together—the Republican and Democratic party leadership defended, with the White House, the ability of the NSA to continue to bulk spy on American citizens, to collect all of our phone bills, showing all of the telephone calls we make and receive. And there’s a coalition of outsiders in Washington, both on the right and the left, who are working to undermine that. But the tactics of the NSA loyalists, like Dianne Feinstein, is to produce legislation that they can deceive people into believing is reform, when in reality it does the opposite.

NSA Collected Data On 60 Million Phone Calls In Spain Over Course Of One Month

An upcoming story in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports that the U.S. National Security Agency swept up data on 60 million phone calls in Spain over the course of one month in 2012.

This latest revelation comes from documents uncovered by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The El Mundo story was written by Glenn Greenwald and Germán Aranda.

NSA oversight dismissed as 'illusory' as anger intensifies in Europe and beyond

The Obama administration's international surveillance crisis deepened on Monday as representatives from a Latin American human rights panel told US diplomats that oversight of the programs was "illusory".

Members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the Organization of American States, expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of foreign nationals – something the agency argues is both central to its existence and necessary to prevent terrorism.

"With a program of this scope, it's obvious that any form of control becomes illusory when there's hundreds of millions of communications that become monitored and surveilled," said Felipe Gonzales, a commissioner and Chilean national.

Once Opposed, Key Lawmakers Back New Anti-NSA Bill

The primary sponsor of the Patriot Act will introduce a bill next week aimed at reining in the National Security Administration's domestic-surveillance programs, backed by about 60 cosponsors, including at least a half dozen who voted against a similar, narrowly defeated measure brought to the House floor this summer.

A date has not been finalized, but the Freedom Act, written by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., could drop as early as Tuesday. It follows an amendment introduced by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that failed by a razor-thin 205-217 margin in July.

"Six members who voted no and two who didn't vote on the Amash amendment are original cosponsors of the USA Freedom Act," Sensenbrenner spokesman Ben Miller told National Journal. "Had they voted for the amendment, it would have passed 213 to 211." ...

Sensenbrenner, who authored the Patriot Act, has become a vocal opponent of the NSA's sweeping surveillance apparatus since Edward Snowden, a former analyst at the agency, began leaking information about its programs earlier this year. Sensenbrenner has said that both the Obama and Bush administrations have misinterpreted a key part of the Patriot Act, Section 215, and used it as legal backing for its data collection.

"The NSA has gone far beyond the intent of the Patriot Act, particularly in the accumulation and storage of metadata," Sensenbrenner told National Journal earlier this month. "Had Congress known that the Patriot Act had been used to collect metadata, the bill would have never been passed."

Want to know who's spying on you online? There's an app for that

In an attempt to highlight just how many different firms are tracking our browsing habits online Mozilla has produced Lightbeam, an add-on that can be downloaded for the Firefox browser that captures who is watching you.

Every time you visit a site the tool logs every web address that is connecting to your machine, revealing how visiting a single website can result in your computer to connecting to many different web servers. Each of these servers may be controlled by different companies, and send and collect different information — for example, serving up images and adverts on the site or placing tracking cookies on your computer.

The log is rendered as an infographic that makes it clear which third parties are operating behind the scenes on each website you visit. Users can choose to watch or block individual sites from the tool.

Facebook May Join Forces With Police to Thwart Protests

Independent journalist Kenneth Lipp attended a law enforcement conference in Philadelphia on Monday in which he discovered that soon authorities may have control over what’s posted on social media sites. This includes allowing people to plan demonstrations using sites such as Facebook. Both Twitter and Facebook have proven to be indispensable tools for organization during movements such as the Arab Spring. But now it seems police officers want to find ways to obstruct protests, and they will likely do so with Facebook’s help. RT reports:

A high-ranking official from the Chicago Police Department told attendees at a law enforcement conference on Monday that his agency has been working with a security chief at Facebook to block certain users from the site “if it is determined they have posted what is deemed criminal content,” reports Kenneth Lipp…

Lipp reported throughout the week from the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, and now says that a speaker during one of the presentations suggested that a relationship exists between law enforcement and social media that that could be considered a form of censorship. ...

...Bloggers at the website acknowledged that former federal prosecutor-turned-Facebook security chief Joe Sullivan was scheduled to speak during the conference at a panel entitled “Helping Law Enforcement Respond to Mass Gatherings Spurred by Social Media,” and suggested that agencies could be partnering with tech companies to keep users of certain services for communicating and planning protests and other types of demonstrations. A 2011 Bloomberg report revealed that Creativity Software, a UK based company with international clients, had sold geofencing programs to law enforcement in Iran which was then used to track political dissidents. US Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) told Bloomberg that those companies should be condemned for being complicit in human rights abuses. And while this week’s convention in Philadelphia was for law enforcement agencies around the globe, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see American companies adopt similar systems.

The Obama administration opens up a new front in the War on Journalism:
Investigative journalist claims feds grabbed notes that included anonymous sources while searching her home for guns

Remember how the feds said they were going to be more careful about respecting freedom of the press and such? Not that anyone really expected that to happen, but late last week there was a scary report about how DHS officials and Maryland police were sent to do a search of Paul Flanagan's house to make sure he had no guns -- since he's been legally prohibited from owning a gun due to previous legal issues. But, while in the house, the officials apparently searched Flanagan's wife's documents and seized a bunch. That's a problem because his wife, Audrey Hudson, is a journalist and they took a bunch of her private notes, many of which revealed journalistic sources.

Hudson claims that the search concerning her husband was nothing more than a ruse to uncover details of government sources she had quoted in a recent article about Air Marshals. While not definitive, there appear to be an awful lot of coincidences that lead to the seizure of her documents. First, one of the people on the "search" was with the Coast Guard Investigative Services, and the Federal Air Marshals are a part of the Coast Guard. Admittedly, Hudson's husband, Flanagan, works for the Coast Guard. However, the investigator who did the search asked Hudson if she had authored that particular article, so he was well aware of it going in. Furthermore, the search warrant was just about guns, so it seems odd that they'd go searching her computer.

Phone-hacking trial of Murdoch protégé Rebekah Brooks opens in London

The first trial from the phone-hacking scandal that sank Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World opened on Monday with his key aide Rebekah Brooks and the prime minister’s former media chief Andy Coulson in the dock.

They are among eight defendants facing a jury for the first time over the scandal two years ago that rocked the British newspaper industry and sent shockwaves through the British establishment. ...

The defendants face charges ranging from illegally hacking the mobile phone voicemails of 600 people including a murdered schoolgirl and celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Jude Law, plus bribing public officials for stories and hiding evidence. ...

The jury is expected to hear explosive testimony about the scandal that forced Australian-born Murdoch to shut down the News of the World in disgrace in 2011, and threatened to drag in Prime Minister David Cameron’s government.

A thoughtful piece by Chris Hedges worth reading in full:
Our Invisible Revolution

As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define itself. Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal. It is a question of which ideas will capture the public’s imagination. ...

The corporate state seeks to maintain the fiction of our personal agency in the political and economic process. As long as we believe we are participants, a lie sustained through massive propaganda campaigns, endless and absurd election cycles and the pageantry of empty political theater, our corporate oligarchs rest easy in their private jets, boardrooms, penthouses and mansions. As the bankruptcy of corporate capitalism and globalization is exposed, the ruling elite are increasingly nervous. They know that if the ideas that justify their power die, they are finished. This is why voices of dissent—as well as spontaneous uprisings such as the Occupy movement—are ruthlessly crushed by the corporate state.

Obama's Top Economic Adviser Tells Democrats They'll Have to Swallow Entitlement Cuts

This morning, Gene Sperling, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, appeared before a Democratic business group for what was billed as a speech about the economy after the shutdown, followed by a Q&A session. The White House didn’t push this as a newsmaking event, so it didn’t get much billing. ... In his usual elliptical and prolix way, Sperling seemed to be laying out the contours of a bargain with Republicans that’s quite a bit different that what most Democrats seem prepared to accept. What stood out to me was how he kept winding back around to the importance of entitlement cuts as part of a deal, as if he were laying the groundwork to blunt liberal anger. Right now, the official Democratic position is that they’ll accept entitlement cuts only in exchange for new revenue—something most Republicans reject. If Sperling mentioned revenue at all, I missed it.

But he dwelt at length—and with some passion—on the need for more stimulus, though he avoided using that dreaded word. He seemed to hint at a budget deal that would trade near-term “investment” (the preferred euphemism for “stimulus’) for long-term entitlement reform. That would be an important shift and one that would certainly upset many Democrats.

US food stamp assistance to be slashed next week

Benefit payments from the US government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, will be slashed drastically on November 1, the first across-the-board cut in food stamp benefits in US history.

The cuts will amount to $5 billion per year and a total of $11 billion through 2016. The average household of three will receive a benefit cut of $29 a month, or $319 per year.

“The depth and breadth of the SNAP cuts that take effect in November are unprecedented,” wrote Dottie Rosenbaum and Brynne Keith-Jennings of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). “Past cuts have affected specific states or groups, but they have not affected all participants nor been as large as these cuts.”

The CBPP noted, “The cut is equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of the US Agriculture Department’s ‘Thrifty Food Plan.’” Once the cuts go through, SNAP assistance will amount to less than $1.40 per person per meal, according to the CBPP.

One in seven Americans receives food stamp assistance, up from 9 percent of the population in 2008 to nearly 15 percent in 2012. The program helps feed 48 million people, up from 26 million in 2007.

The Evening Greens

North Dakota recorded 300 oil spills in two years without notifying the public

AP obtained records of 750 'oil field incidents' after officials kept the massive September wheat field spill quiet until discovered

North Dakota, the nation's No2 oil producer behind Texas, recorded nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, state documents show. None was reported to the public, officials said.

According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the pipeline spills, many of them small, are among some 750 "oil field incidents" that have occurred since January 2012 without public notification. ...

Dennis Fewless, director of water quality for the state Health Department, said regulators are reviewing the state's policies for when to publicly report such incidents after a massive spill was discovered last month in northwestern north Dakota by a wheat farmer. State and company officials kept it quiet for 11 days — and only said something after the AP asked about it.

North Dakota regulators, like in many other oil-producing states, are not obliged to tell the public about oil spills under state law. But in a state that's producing a million barrels a day and saw nearly 2,500 miles of new pipelines last year, many believe the risk of spills will increase, posing a bigger threat to farmland and water.

Climate Policy Already Headlining 2014 Midterm Elections

The U.S. may still be more than a year out from the 2014 midterm elections, but Republicans in Congress are already making the Obama administration’s climate policies a key issue for voters.

Republican Representative Ed Whitfield from Kentucky announced this week that he intends to make the President’s climate change policies, specifically stricter standards on coal-fired power plants, a top talking point during the coming campaign season.  Whitfield also announced that he would introduce legislation to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate coal plant emissions. ...

Representative Whitfield claims that the new EPA standards will force countless coal-fired power plants to shut down, which will lead to rampant joblessness across the country.  This is going to be his talking point in next year’s midterm election, as he tries to dupe the American public into voting for dirty energy by playing on their fears.

Energy Boom Puts Wells In America's Backyards

Over the summer, something sprang up in the view from Dorsey Johnson's back deck north of Denver, where she watches sunsets over Colorado's front range.

It was a noisy, towering rig, drilling a new oil well.

"There was clanking. There were trucks going by," she says. All she wanted was for the rig to go away.

Across the U.S., new oil and gas wells have turned millions of people into the petroleum industry's neighbors. For many, the oil and gas companies are welcome newcomers bearing checks. Others consider the new arrivals loud, smelly and disruptive. The drilling boom is firing up resentment in some communities when one person's financial windfall means their neighbors abut a working well.

The Wall Street Journal analyzed well location and census data for more than 700 counties in 11 major energy-producing states. At least 15.3 million Americans lived within a mile of a well that has been drilled since 2000. That is more people than live in Michigan or New York City.

Meanwhile in Canada...
Federal government backs off oilsands assessments

OTTAWA – The federal government has confirmed that the fastest-growing sector of the oil sands won’t come under federal environmental assessment, one day after acknowledging it won’t come close to meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

A final list of the types of projects that will require a federal environmental assessment was released Friday. The list contains no mention of in-situ oilsands mines, which are expected to be the industry’s most common type of development in the future.

“This is the largest single source of (greenhouse gas) growth in the country and yet the federal government is not going to be playing a role there,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace. ...

In-situ mines involve heating underground bitumen deposits enough to soften them so they can be pumped up. ...

Environmentalists have pointed out they still result in habitat fragmentation on the surface through seismic lines and roads to wellheads. But their most significant impact results from heating the bitumen, usually through steam. Generating that steam burns a lot of natural gas, increasing the carbon intensity of the resulting barrel of oil.

The industry’s gradual shift toward in-situ production is generally blamed for a recent rise in the average amount of carbon dioxide released per barrel of oilsands crude. About 80 per cent of the resource can only be recovered using in-situ methods.

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin'

Three degrees of separation: breaking down the NSA's 'hops' surveillance method

A Little Night Music

Eddie Kirkland & Wentus Blues Band & Sven Z - Pick Up The Pieces

Eddie Kirkland - Train Done Gone

Little Eddie Kirkland w/John Lee Hooker - It's Time for lovin' to be done

Eddie Kirkland - I love you

Eddie Kirkland - Good, Good Day

Eddie Kirkland & His Houserockers - I Must've Have Done Something Wrong

Eddie Kirkland - Democrat Blues

Eddie Kirkland - Have Mercy On Me

Eddie Kirkland - Chill Me Baby

Eddie Kirk - The Hawg

Eddie Kirk - Hog killin time

Eddie Kirk - Monkey Tonight/Let me walk with you

Eddie Kirkland - No Shoes

Eddie Kirkland - All I've Got To Offer

Eddie Kirkland - Write My Baby A Letter

Eddie Kirkland - Love Don't Love Nobody

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!

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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