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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 blues singer and guitarist Chick Willis.  Enjoy!

Chick Willis - Stoop Down Baby

“To steal from a brother or sister is evil. To not steal from the institutions that are the pillars of the Pig Empire is equally immoral.”

  -- Abbie Hoffman

News and Opinion

'Burglars' Revealed: Sixties Activists Who Stole FBI COINTELPRO Files

In an exclusive with the New York Times on Tuesday, published to coincide with a new book about a fateful plan more than four decades ago that helped bring down J. Edgar Hoover and expose the dark nature of the FBI's obsessive targeting of the dissident and anti-war left, the original burglars who broke into a bureau field office in 1971 have now stepped forward to discuss the meticously planned theft that altered the course of modern history.

As the Times reports:

They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups.

The burglary in Media, Pa., on March 8, 1971, is a historical echo today, as disclosures by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden have cast another unflattering light on government spying and opened a national debate about the proper limits of government surveillance. The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director.

“When you talked to people outside the movement about what the F.B.I. was doing, nobody wanted to believe it,” said one of the burglars, Keith Forsyth, who is finally going public about his involvement. “There was only one way to convince people that it was true, and that was to get it in their handwriting.”

Bank of America employs 20 full-time social media spies, watches anarchists and occupy protesters

Bank of America works with fusion centers, the FBI, state and local police, and campus security to monitor public protest in the United States, newly disclosed documents confirm.

A Washington state public records request has unearthed an email chain which includes a message from a Vice President of Global Corporate Security for Bank of America, describing efforts to combat economic justice organizing. The official explains that the powerful financial institution employs a staff of 20 full-time social media spies, and references public-private surveillance efforts directed at activists who aim to hold banks accountable for social crises like the foreclosure disaster. ...

The documents returned in the records request pertain specifically to police preparations for the Million Mask March in Seattle, Washington. According to the documents, the protestors, many of whom identify as anarchists, set out to oppose “the corporate control of all aspects of our daily lives,” and “the use and expansion of the FBI, DHS, NSA and other government agencies for the sole purpose of silencing free speech, and treating us like terrorists.” Little did the activists know that ‘homeland security’ agencies were busy monitoring their protest preparations, in cooperation with one of the most powerful banks in the country.

Perhaps it would be a good time to remind the corporations that you entrust your data and information to that your use of their services depends on their protecting your information...
New Decision Shows How Businesses Can Challenge Warrantless Records Collection, Even if You Can't

In Patel v. City of Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit found a city ordinance that required hotels and motels to turn over guest records without any judicial process violated the Fourth Amendment. The ordinance mandated hotels and motels keep a record for 90 days containing things like a guest's name and address, the make, model and license plate number of the guest's car, and the room number assigned and rate charged. The ordinance allowed police to inspect guest records without a search warrant or the hotel's consent at any time. The city believed that collecting the records would deter drug dealing and prostitution, as people would be less inclined to rent a room if police could get access to guest information at any time. Failure to turn the records over was a misdemeanor crime.

The court found that the hotels and motels had an expectation of privacy in their business records, even if those records didn't contain anything of great personal value to the hotel. This was true even if the users themselves didn't have an expectation of privacy in the records. Because the ordinance didn't have a mechanism to allow the hotels and motels to obtain judicial review of whether the demand was reasonable before applying criminal penalties for non-compliance, the Ninth Circuit ruled the ordinance violated the Fourth Amendment. This procedural requirement—obtaining judicial review—is important, so that companies aren't at the mercy of the "unbridled discretion" of officers in the field, who would be free to arbitrarily choose when, whom, and how frequently to inspect a particular business.  ...

As major tech companies have called for NSA reform and have taken steps to implement technological protections to safeguard their users' data, this decision shows that they can also make legal challenges in court. While Yahoo! unsuccessfully challenged an order requiring it turn over data to the NSA under the PRISM program, the phone companies themselves have made no legal challenges to the NSA's bulk collection of phone records, which at least one judge has found to be unconstitutional. This must change so that the public can take advantage of the conveniences of new technologies without having to sacrifice privacy.

How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet

On June 6, 2013, Washington Post reporters called the communications depart­ments of Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and other Internet companies. The day before, a report in the British newspaper The Guardian had shocked Americans with evidence that the telecommunications giant Verizon had voluntarily handed a database of every call made on its network to the National Security Agency. The piece was by reporter Glenn Greenwald, and the information came from Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old IT consultant who had left the US with hundreds of thousands of documents detailing the NSA’s secret procedures.

Greenwald was the first but not the only journalist that Snowden reached out to. The Post’s Barton Gellman had also connected with him. Now, collaborating with documentary filmmaker and Snowden confidante Laura Poitras, he was going to extend the story to Silicon Valley. Gellman wanted to be the first to expose a top-secret NSA program called Prism. Snowden’s files indicated that some of the biggest companies on the web had granted the NSA and FBI direct access to their servers, giving the agencies the ability to grab a person’s audio, video, photos, emails, and documents. The government urged Gellman not to identify the firms involved, but Gellman thought it was important. “Naming those companies is what would make it real to Americans,” he says. Now a team of Post reporters was reaching out to those companies for comment.

It would be the start of a chain reaction that threatened the foundations of the industry. The subject would dominate headlines for months and become the prime topic of conversation in tech circles. For years, the tech companies’ key policy issue had been negotiating the delicate balance between maintaining customers’ privacy and providing them benefits based on their personal data. It was new and contro­versial territory, sometimes eclipsing the substance of current law, but over time the companies had achieved a rough equilibrium that allowed them to push forward. The instant those phone calls from reporters came in, that balance was destabilized, as the tech world found itself ensnared in a fight far bigger than the ones involving oversharing on Facebook or ads on Gmail. Over the coming months, they would find themselves at war with their own government, in a fight for the very future of the Internet.

A Huge Company That Tracks And Sells Your Prescription History Now Wants To Go Public

If you thought only you, your doctor, and your pharmacist know what prescriptions you take, you’re wrong.

IMS Health also knows, and it’s now taking its multibillion dollar company public.

The global health data-collection company, which started in 1954, has kept a fairly low profile while tracking and selling patient information over the past several decades. The data — which includes disease diagnoses, treatments, their costs, and whether or not the patient followed the treatment plan or filled the required prescriptions — is then sold to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, government agencies, and finance firms. ...

Even though patient identifiers aren’t included, privacy advocates worry that patient privacy is still at risk if IMS’ data is combined with other available information. IMS acknowledged advocates’ concerns for whether simply “de-identified, anonymous or pseudonomized health information are sufficient,” but offered no recourse. The company did say, however, data protection and privacy laws pose a significant business risk and would hinder its “current and future activities,” according to the SEC filing.

Court Ruling on Gay Marriage Ban Makes Utah an Unlikely New Front in Struggle for LGBT Equality

It's Time To Discuss The Secret CIA Operation At The Heart Of The US Mission In Benghazi

In eight months since an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi left four Americans dead, a Republican-led investigation has focused on potential missteps by the White House — and come away with nothing significant.

There has been little attention given, however, to covert actions by the Central Intelligence Agency that were partially uncovered during the September 11, 2012 attack. ...

Among the questions are whether CIA missteps contributed to the security failure in Benghazi and, more importantly, whether the Agency's Benghazi operation had anything to do with reported heavy weapons shipments from the local port to Syrian rebels.

In short, the CIA operation is the most intriguing thing about Benghazi.

I hope that they're taking note of this in The Hague:
CIA Lawyer: Stopping Torture 'Would Have Been Easy,' But I Approved It Anyway

John Rizzo, the chief legal counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush presidency in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 has been opening up about what he experienced during those years as the administration, the agency, and its operatives, in the words of former Vice President Dick Cheney, "took the gloves off" in their war against terrorism.

In his latest confessional piece, titled "I Could Have Stopped Waterboarding Before It Happened," published in Politico Magazine, Rizzo recounts a visit from unnamed members of the White House's Office of Legal Council (OLC) in April of 2002 and how they described for him the series of what they called "enhanced interrogation techniques" or EITs they were hoping to employ on CIA-held detainees.

Asked to approve them, Rizzo contemplated rejecting the "most frightening and terrifying" techniques—including the well-known water torture the OLC lawyers called 'waterboarding.' However, even though he admits forbidding them "would have been a relatively easy thing to do," he decided (while smoking a cigar and walking around CIA headquarters) that use of most of the practices should go forward.

That euphemism of "enhanced interrogation techniques" became a famous fill-in for torture sanctioned by the Bush White House, but even before the techniques became public knowledge (years later), Rizzo acknowledges he knew immediately that the CIA was about to go over the line.

Fallujah Fight: US rushing to send drones & missiles to Iraq

Iraq moves up tanks, guns for looming Falluja assault

The Iraqi army deployed tanks and artillery around Falluja on Tuesday, security officials said, as local leaders in the besieged city urged al Qaeda-linked militants to leave in order to avert an impending military assault.

Security officials and tribal leaders have said that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agreed to hold off an offensive to give people in Falluja time to push the militants out. But it is not clear how long they have before troops storm the town, close to Baghdad, where U.S. forces fought notable battles a decade ago. ...

Many in Iraq's once dominant Sunni Muslim minority, the main group in Anbar, share ISIL's dislike of Maliki's Shi'ite-led government. But tribal leaders in the province are trying to steer a path between the army and the al Qaeda fighters.

"If the army attacks Falluja to fight a handful of al Qaeda elements, that will have dire consequences by triggering endless violence," one Sunni tribal leader in Falluja told Reuters, adding that it could spread to other Sunni districts. ...

The violence has underlined how civil war in Syria has inflamed a broader confrontation across the Middle East between Shi'ite Iran, the main ally of President Bashar al-Assad, and Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia, which back the Syrian rebels.

Water Wars: Land snatched from Syria supplies third of Israel's H2O

French workers at Goodyear tyre plant take bosses captive

Workers at a French tyre factory threatened with closure have taken two company executives hostage and promised to hold them until given "enormous amounts of money".

The "kidnapping" was carried out at the Goodyear plant in north Amiens that was at the centre of an international spat a year ago after an American businessman called the workers there lazy.

The two men – the firm's production manager, Michel Dheilly, and the human resources director, Bernard Glesser – were due to meet union representatives on Monday morning.

However, 200 workers also turned up to pressure management and refused to let the executives leave, blocking the door of the meeting room with a tractor tyre.

The Goodyear factory is due to close throwing 1,173 workers out of work. Staff were due to receive redundancy notices this month.

Your defense dollars at work:
Drone crashes into battleship, causes $30 mln in damages

A US Navy battleship suffered $30 million in damages after a drone accidentally crashed into it during a military exercise and injured two sailors.

The incident occurred last November near Point Mugu, California, but the website USNI just recently reported the Navy will need about six months to fully repair the USS Chancellorsville.

According to the original Navy Times report on the accident, a malfunctioning Northrop Grumman BQM-74 crashed into the port side of the Chancellorsville during a training exercise that involved a routine radar test. The ship “was heavily damaged by the impact of a test target,” while the 13-foot drone itself “crippled a key computer center integral to the ship's cutting-edge combat systems.”

The Chancellorsville had about 300 crewmen onboard at the time of the collision. Two were treated for minor burns, though the Navy did not say how the individuals were injured. Sailors had only a four-second warning once drone operators realized they lost control over the BQM-74.

Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For

trickle downIt's a new year, but one thing hasn't changed: The economy still blows. Five years after Wall Street crashed, America's banker-gamblers have only gotten richer, while huge swaths of the country are still drowning in personal debt, tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed – and the new jobs being created are largely low-wage, sub-contracted, part-time grunt work.

Millennials have been especially hard-hit by the downturn, which is probably why so many people in this generation (like myself) regard capitalism with a level of suspicion that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. But that egalitarian impulse isn't often accompanied by concrete proposals about how to get out of this catastrophe. Here are a few things we might want to start fighting for, pronto, if we want to grow old in a just, fair society, rather than the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.

[Here are the five categories, for detail, go to article link]

1. Guaranteed Work for Everybody
2. Social Security for All
3. Take Back The Land
4. Make Everything Owned by Everybody
5. A Public Bank in Every State

Seattle Swears In a Socialist

Monday afternoon’s inauguration of City Council member Kshama Sawant, arguably the most prominent socialist elected to local office since Bernie Sanders became mayor of Burlington, Vermont, thirty-three years ago, has inspired a striking level of excitement. As officials moved the swearing in for Sawant and Mayor Ed Murray—Seattle’s first openly gay mayor—from the city council chambers to the much larger lobby of the city hall, local media predicted “the largest turnout ever for a Seattle inauguration ceremony.”

Reporters from around the country and around the world were interviewing Sawant, who in November upset a veteran council member with a campaign that promise to fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. ... Sawant argues that “the social conditions that have meant that people are living in a circumstance of enormous inequality in the wealthiest country in the world” are not distinct to Seattle. At a time when “poverty is skyrocketing, housing is basically unaffordable” and unemployment and under-employment are serious issues in communities across the country, Sawant says it should not be surprising that “nearly 100,000 people voted for a socialist in Seattle.”

Because of the strength of the vote she received, and the excitement about her election, Sawant was able to influence Seattle politics even before she took office. Last week, Mayor Murray ordered city administrators to develop plans to pay all municipal employees at least $15 per hour—a move that will lead to wage hikes for at least 600 Seattle workers. And Sawant will be working, on the council and if necessary via a referendum push, to establish a city-wide $15-an-hour base for workers.

The US declared war on poverty 50 years ago. You would never know it

This 8 January marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's declaration of "unconditional war on poverty". The statement came in a state of the union address that, because of its often drab prose, has rarely drawn much praise. But a half century later, it's time to re-examine the case Johnson made in 1964 for remedying poverty in America.

In an era such as our own, when – despite a poverty rate the Census Bureau puts at 16% – Congress is preparing to cut the food stamp program and has refused to extend unemployment insurance, Johnson's compassion stands out, along with his nuanced sense of who the poor are and what can be done to make their lives better.

Johnson's 1964 ideas on how to wage a war on poverty (today a family of four living on $23,492 a year and an individual living on $11,720 a year are classified as poor) not only conflict with the current thinking of those on the right who would reduce government aid to the needy. They also conflict with the current thinking of those on the left who would make the social safety net, rather than fundamental economic change, the answer to poverty.

Death By A Thousand Cuts: The Silent Assassination Of European Democracy

Since taking off its mask of benignity in the wake of the financial crisis, the EU has pulled off one of the most audacious and ruthless power grabs of modern history — and without firing a single shot!

Instead of using traditional means of warfare, it has employed much subtler — but in many ways no less brutal — forms of economic warfare to achieve its aims. And those aims are by now crystal clear: to slowly, almost imperceptibly, weaken nation-state institutions to the point of total dependence on Brussels; and then have them supplanted with EU institutions. It is the financial equivalent of death by a thousand cuts.

As the Transnational Institute notes in its working paper “Privatising Europe: Using the Crisis to Entrench Neoliberalism“, the dark irony is that “an economic crisis that many proclaimed as the ‘death of neoliberalism’ has instead been used to entrench neoliberalism.”

Predictably, privatisation has played a central role in this process, despite the fact that the funds thus far raised from state auctions represent a meager fraction of each nation’s total outstanding public debt. That niggling little detail, however, has not deterred the Troika from demanding fire sales of virtually all publicly owned assets and companies in Greece, as well as many in Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy. ...

The Fiscal Compact, which entered into force on January 1 2013, grants even greater decision-making power to the European Commission and Council over member state deficits. The strict deficit requirements force members states to implement austerity during crises and over the longer term. These binding budget rules will be implemented in national laws, and failure to do so may result in financial sanctions.

The inevitable result is that decisions that viscerally affect the lives of 500 million voters are now taken by anonymous, unaccountable bureaucrats rather than politicians responsible to their voters. As Obourne points out, “by a hideous paradox the European Union, set up as a way of avoiding a return to fascism in the post-war epoch, has since mutated into a way of avoiding democracy itself.”

The Evening Greens

West Coast sardine crash could radiate throughout ecosystem

If sardine populations don't recover soon, experts warn, the West Coast's marine mammals, seabirds and fishermen could suffer for years.

The reason for the drop is unclear. Sardine populations are famously volatile, but the decline is the steepest since the collapse of the sardine fishery in the mid-20th century. And their numbers are projected to keep sliding.

One factor is a naturally occurring climate cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which in recent years has brought cold, nutrient-rich water to the West Coast. While those conditions have brought a boom in some species, such as market squid, they have repelled sardines.

If nature is responsible for the decline, history shows the fish will bounce back when ocean conditions improve. But without a full understanding of the causes, the crash is raising alarm.

An assessment last fall found the population had dropped 72% since its last peak in 2006. Spawning has taken a dive too.

In recent years scientists have gained a deeper understanding of sardines' value as "forage fish," small but nutrition-packed species such as herring and market squid that form the core of the ocean food web, funneling energy upward by eating tiny plankton and being preyed on by big fish, seabirds, seals and whales.

Now, they say, there is evidence some ocean predators are starving without sardines. Scarcity of prey is the leading theory behind the 1,600 malnourished sea lion pups that washed up along beaches from Santa Barbara to San Diego in early 2013, said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service. ...

Biologists also suspect the drop is hurting brown pelicans that breed on California's northern Channel Islands. The seabirds, which scoop up sardines close to the ocean surface, have shown signs of starvation and have largely failed to breed or rear chicks there since 2010.

Weather Whiplash: As Polar Vortex Brings Deep Freeze, Is Extreme Weather Linked to Climate Change?

From Sandy to Haiyan, Year of Extreme Weather Brings More Coverage of Climate Change

Stephen Harper: 'I'm confident Keystone XL will proceed'

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday he was confident that TransCanada Corp's controversial Keystone XL pipeline would be eventually approved by US authorities.

US President Barack Obama is set this year to decide the fate of the northern leg of the proposed project, which would carry crude from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to the US Gulf Coast. Obama is under heavy pressure from environmental activists to block the pipeline.

"I am confident that in due course - I can't put a timeline on it - the project will one way or another proceed," Harper said during a question-and-answer session at the Vancouver Board of Trade. ...

The timeline for US approval has slipped repeatedly and Harper said Obama had "punted" the decision.

Drilling Contamination Found in Well Water in 4 States

In at least four states that have nurtured the nation's energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen.

The Associated Press requested data on drilling-related complaints in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas and found major differences in how the states report such problems. Texas provided the most detail, while the other states provided only general outlines. And while the confirmed problems represent only a tiny portion of the thousands of oil and gas wells drilled each year in the U.S., the lack of detail in some state reports could help fuel public confusion and mistrust.

The AP found that Pennsylvania received 398 complaints in 2013 alleging that oil or natural gas drilling polluted or otherwise affected private water wells, compared with 499 in 2012. The Pennsylvania complaints can include allegations of short-term diminished water flow, as well as pollution from stray gas or other substances. More than 100 cases of pollution were confirmed over the past five years.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

FBI Admits It's Not Really About Law Enforcement Any More; Ignores Lots Of Crimes To Focus On Creating Fake Terror Plots

Transgender People and the Police (3 stories)

angelajean has a diary up about a twitter townhall dealing with the plan to screw servicemen and women out of the retirement benefits they contracted for:

Thank You For Your Service

A Little Night Music

Chick Willis - Pleading

Chick Willis - C C Rider

Chick Willis - What Am I Living For

Chick Willis - This is my life

Chick Willis - How To Do The Hucklebuck

Chick Willis - It's A Monster's Holiday

Chick Willis - The Old Man

Chick Willis - I Want A Big Fat Woman

Chick Willis - Gas Is Too High

Chick Willis - Nuts For Sale

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!

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