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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 two great r&b singers of the 1950's and early 60's Clyde McPhatter and Little Willie John.  Enjoy!

Clyde McPhatter - A shot of Rhythm and Blues

"Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility."

  -- Daniel Webster

News and Opinion

After Crimea Votes to Secede, How Will U.S. & Russia Handle Gravest Crisis Since Cold War?

US announces sanctions against Russian officials

President Barack Obama on Monday imposed sanctions against Russian officials, including advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine.

The White House also announced that it is working to identify and target the assets of other individuals who aren't government officials but are supporting them. The Treasury Department also is imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians, including former President Viktor Yanukovych, a former top Ukrainian presidential adviser and two Crimea-based separatist leaders. ...

The sanctions were expected after residents in Crimea voted overwhelmingly Sunday in favor of the split. Crimea's parliament on Monday declared the region an independent state.

Business leaders worry sanctions on Russia over Ukraine could disrupt world economy

With diplomatic efforts having failed to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, political and business leaders are worried that plans to place sanctions on the Kremlin will create an economic meltdown in the economies of the European Union and Ukraine, both of which have important trade relations with Russia and depend on it for their energy supplies.

In 2013, the EU accounted for 45 percent of Russia’s $523 billion in exports, two-thirds of which were natural gas and oil, according to World Trade Organization statistics. Last year, Russia imported $344 billion worth of products, with machinery ($53 billion) and vehicles ($38 billion) among the biggest import items. The EU share of those imports are about one-third of the total.

Ukraine last year sold about $15.75 billion worth of products to Russia -- its largest market -- with iron and steel and cereals its principal export items. Russia is also major source of Ukraine’s imports, accounting for $25.6 billion of Ukraine purchases, or just under a third of the country's $77 billion total; the EU accounted for just slightly less.

By comparison, U.S. trade with Ukraine is negligible, just $2.9 billion in both directions last year.

Jean-Guy Carrier, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, warned that an escalation in sanctions will be very damaging to world trade.

“An escalation would be economic madness,” he said in an interview.

Ukraine’s Crisis: Economic Sanctions Could Trigger a Global Depression

The referendum in Crimea on March 16, 2014 will probably attach the peninsula to the Russian federation. While it is unlikely that NATO will intervene and seek a direct military confrontation with Russia, the United States and the European Union are already cooking some broad and unwise economic sanctions with which to punish Russia. Russia, for its part, has at its disposal some mighty economic weapons with which to retaliate, as needed. The economic pain from this tit for tat of sanctions will be, in particular, inflicted on the EU. Because of the interconnections between all economies and financial markets, mutual economic sanctions could drive a still fragile world economy to a financial crash. The West, acting as if it solely and arrogantly represents the international community, has formulated a hazardous policy to isolate Russia. This ill-advised strategy is extremely shortsighted on all levels. Unlike Iran, Russia is fully integrated into the global economy. ...

Russia, to prevent the announced freeze of its assets in the US, has already acted on the looming sanctions by liquidating more than $100 billion of its holdings in US Treasury Bonds. The bonds, which represent about 80 percent of Russia’s holding in US T-Bonds, were transferred out of the US Central Bank. The withdrawal was revealed by the US central bank when it announced that its holdings in T-Bonds dropped by $105 billion for the week ending March 12, 2014, from $2.96 trillion to $2.85 trillion. This abrupt sale is three times higher than any weekly sale was at the peak of the 2008 financial crisis. ...

Sanctions on Russian exports would greatly expose the EU. Europe imports 30 percents of its gas from the Russian state-owned company Gazprom. Russia is also Europe’s biggest customer. The EU is, by far, Russia’s leading trade partner and accounts for about 50 percent of all Russian exports and imports. In 2014, EU-Russia overall trade stands at around 360 billion Euros per year. Russia’s total export to the EU, which is principally raw materials such as gas and oil, stands at around 230 billion Euros, while Russia’s imports from the EU amount to around 130 billion Euros of mainly manufactured products as well as foodstuff. The EU is also the largest investor in the Russian economy and accounts for 75 percent of all foreign investments in Russia.

The US’ booming fracking business and its lobbyists in Washington view Ukraine’s crisis as an opportunity to expand into new markets. They argue that the US can provide Europe with all its gas needs and, by doing so, make obsolete Russia’s main economic weapon of shutting off EU’s main gas supply. ... Realistically, it would take at least three years to sort out the issues of transport, storage and distribution of the US-derived natural gas for Europe. Europeans have a choice: either stick to Gazprom’s cheap and reliable gas or rely on Uncle Sam’s pipe dream for their energy needs.

Europe fears its dependency on Russian natural gas as U.S, EU sanctions near

With the Crimea crisis souring relations between Russia and the European Union, many European nations are increasingly concerned about their heavy reliance on Russia for natural gas.

Many European countries get a significant part -- and in some cases all -- of their natural gas, a key source of energy, from Russia, and fear that as relations deteriorate over Ukraine, it could be just a matter of time before the supply is affected, either through disruptions to the supply routes that run through Ukraine or, as is considered more likely, the result of political moves from Moscow. ...

According to the German newspaper Bild, the EU already has drawn up a list of high level Russians who could be hit with travel bans and asset freezes. That list includes the CEOs of Russia’s largest energy companies.

The fear is that Russia will respond by disrupting the flow of natural gas to its clients in Europe.

European leaders have been warning of their vulnerability for weeks. Last week, Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, told a news conference that the dependence on Russian gas supplies would seriously hamper Europe’s ability to respond if Russia moved beyond Crimea.

“We will not be able to efficiently fend off potential aggressive steps by Russia in the future, if so many European countries are dependent on Russian gas deliveries or wade into such dependence,” he said.

Putin: Crimea secession vote legal

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin clashed over the Crimea referendum during a telephone call on Sunday, as the US president dismissed claims from his Russian counterpart that the vote was legal and warned him that Moscow would be punished.

Obama rejected an argument from Putin that the vote, which Moscow claims overwhelmingly endorsed Crimean secession from Ukraine to become part of Russia, was “fully consistent with the norms of international law and the UN Charter”, according to the White House. ...

A Kremlin statement said Putin also told Obama during the call, which the US initiated, that the case of Crimea was in line with the so-called “Kosovo precedent”. Putin has claimed that the recognition of the former Yugoslavian territory as a sovereign state in 2008 established a legal framework for secession that could be repeated by other separatist movements.

Pro-Russian Crimeans celebrate landslide vote for return to motherland

With Soviet-era music blaring from loudspeakers and the Russian tricolour everywhere, the overwhelming feeling in Sevastopol was that the city was finally "going home" after a 23-year stay in Ukraine.

The home of the Russian Black Sea fleet, and a bastion of pro-Russian support in Crimea, there was barely a dissenting voice in the port during Sunday's referendum, which most of the world considers illegitimate but here is seen as a just exercise in self-determination.

With half the ballots counted, Crimean officials said that 95.5% of voters had chosen union with Russia, with a turnout of over 80%. Given the absence of recognised election observers, it was impossible to verify how honestly the ballots were counted, but in Sevastopol at least, such figures did not seem implausible.

Russia Seizes Gas Plant Near Crimea Border, Ukraine Says

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Tensions mounted on the eve of a secession referendum here in Crimea as helicopter-borne Russian forces made a provocative incursion just outside the peninsula’s regional border to seize a natural gas terminal, while American and European officials prepared sanctions to impose on Moscow as early as Monday.

The military operation by at least 80 troops landing on a slender sand bar just across from Crimea’s northeast border seemed part of a broader effort to strengthen control over the peninsula before a referendum Sunday on whether its majority Russian-speaking population wants to demand greater autonomy from Ukraine or break away completely and join Russia. Whatever its tactical goals, the seizure of the terminal sent a defiant message to the United States and Europe and underscored that a diplomatic resolution to Russia’s recent takeover of Crimea remains elusive. ...

The pro-Russian government in Crimea issued a statement saying its “self-defense” forces had seized the gas terminal because Ukraine had turned off the supply of fuel, leaving homes, hospitals and schools without heat or electricity. The government also said that it found the terminal rigged with explosives “with the goal of totally destroying it,” which would cut off gas to eastern cities in Crimea.

Those claims, carried by the Interfax news service, were impossible to verify independently. Power in some parts of Crimea appeared to be disrupted in recent days, although it was possible that was because of power lines downed by high winds.

Right Sector leader: Kiev should be ready to sabotage Russian pipelines in Ukraine

The leader of ultranationalist group Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, has threatened to destroy Russian pipelines on Ukrainian territory if a diplomatic solution is not reached with Moscow.

In a fiery address loaded warmongering rhetoric, Yarosh told his followers they should be ready to resist the Russian “occupiers.” The leader of the Right Sector made his address to the coup-appointed government in Kiev, as Crimeans made their way to ballots Sunday to vote to join with Russia or to remain within Ukraine.

“We cannot allow the enemy to carry out a blitzkrieg attack on Ukrainian territory. We mustn’t forget that Russia makes money sending its oil through our pipelines to the West. We will destroy these pipelines and deprive our enemy of its source of income. ...

Let the ground burn under the feet of the occupiers! Let them choke on their own blood when they attack our territory! Not one step back! We will not allow Moscow’s beserk, totalitarian regime to spark a Third World War!”

The phrase “Not one step back!” was used in a famous order by Joseph Stalin during WWII and became a popular slogan for the Soviet people’s resistance against the Nazis. Yarosh’s use of this particular rhetoric attracted attention from many observers, given that the members of his Right Sector group are known to use Nazi insignia.

Russia put Yarosh on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism after he urged Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov to launch attacks on Russia over the Ukrainian conflict.

Yarosh has declared his intentions of running for Ukrainian president in May.

It appears to me that the headline overstates the case, here.  On the other hand, China has some serious investments in Ukraine, so Russia's actions do create a certain amount of potential contention of interests between the two states.
Beijing and Moscow Part Ways Over Ukraine

Days after Ukraine's deposed President Viktor Yanukovych fled his Kiev palace, an unassuming, mid-level Chinese diplomat appeared before the United Nations Security Council to highlight Beijing's support for the new pro-Western government, marking a rare diplomatic split from Moscow.

"We respect the choice made by the Ukrainian people on the basis of national conditions," Shen Bo, a counselor at China's U.N. mission said in a Feb. 24 statement that went largely unnoticed by the international press. ...

China has invested heavily in Ukraine, reportedly signing a deal in the fall of 2012 guaranteeing Kiev would export 300 million tons of corn each year to China in exchange for access to more than $3 billion in loans. Another more recent report indicates that two Chinese state-owned companies will operate a massive swath of farmland the size of Belgium in the eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk, planting crops and raising pigs for consumption back home. ...

In earlier eras, China objected to the Brezhnev Doctrine, which was used to justify Russian invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979, on the grounds that it constituted unwarranted interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation. China also broke with Russia after it intervened in neighboring Georgia in 2008 and stripped the pro-Western government of its provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In June 2009, Moscow vetoed a U.N. resolution authorizing the continued presence of nearly 150 U.N. peacekeepers in Georgia, effectively killing off a U.N. effort to monitor Georgia's border with the separatist territory. China abstained from the vote.

Neocons Have Weathered the Storm

Neocons played key behind-the-scenes roles in instigating the Feb. 22 coup that overthrew a democratically elected president with the help of neo-Nazi militias; the neocons have since whipped Official Washington into a frenzy of bipartisan support for the coup regime; and they are pushing for a new Cold War if the people of Crimea vote to leave Ukraine and join Russia. ...

After taking office, President Obama called for winding down Bush’s wars and doing some “nation-building at home.” The broad American public seemed to agree. Even some right-wing Republicans were having second thoughts about the neocons’ advocacy of an American Empire, recognizing its devastating impact on the American Republic.

But the neocons were anything but finished. They had positioned themselves wisely.

They still controlled government-funded operations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED); they held prominent positions inside think tanks, from the American Enterprise Institute to the Council on Foreign Relations to the Brookings Institution; they had powerful allies in Congress, such as Senators McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman; and they dominated TV chat shows and opinion pages, particularly at the Washington Post, the capital’s hometown newspaper. ...

And, despite Obama’s opposition to the neocons’ obsession with endless warfare, he didn’t purge them from his administration. Neocons, who had burrowed deep inside the U.S. government as “civil servants” or “career foreign service officers,” remained as a “stay-behind” force, looking for new allies and biding their time. ...

At Clinton’s State Department, other neocons were given influential posts. Frederick Kagan’s brother Robert, a neocon from the Reagan administration and co-founder of the neocon Project for the New American Century, was named to an advisory position on the Foreign Affairs Policy Board. Secretary Clinton also elevated Robert Kagan’s wife, Victoria Nuland, to be State Department spokesperson.  ...

Nuland was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and took personal aim at the elected government of Ukraine, which had become a choice neocon target because it maintained close ties to Russia, whose President Putin was undercutting the neocons’ “regime change” strategies in their most valued area, the Middle East. Most egregiously, Putin was helping Obama avert wars in Syria and Iran.

So, as neocon NED president Carl Gershman wrote in the Washington Post in September 2013, Ukraine became “the biggest prize,” but he added that the even juicier target beyond Ukraine was Putin, who, Gershman added, “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

In other words, the ultimate goal of the Ukraine gambit is not just “regime change” in Kiev but “regime change” in Moscow. ... As dangerous – and even crazy – as this neocon vision is (raising the specter of a possible nuclear confrontation between the United States and Russia), the neocons clearly appear back in control of U.S. foreign policy.

If only America's neocon morons were so honest and forthright:
Foes of America in Russia Crave Rupture in Ties

As Russia and the United States drift toward a rupture over Crimea, the Stalinist writer Aleksandr A. Prokhanov feels that his moment has finally arrived.

“I am afraid that I am interested in a cold war with the West,” said Mr. Prokhanov, 76, in a lull between interviews on state-controlled television and radio. “I was very patient. I waited for 20 years. I did everything I could so that this war would begin. I worked day and night.”

Mr. Prokhanov is an attack dog whose career has risen, fallen and risen again with the fortunes of hard-liners in the Kremlin. And it is a measure of the conservative pivot that has taken place in Moscow in Vladimir V. Putin’s third presidential term that Mr. Prokhanov and a cadre of like-minded thinkers — a kind of “who’s who of conspiratorial anti-Americanism,” as one scholar put it — have found themselves thrust into the mainstream. ...

[I]t became clear last week, as the United States threatened to cut off Russian corporations from the Western financial system, that influential members of the president’s inner circle view isolation from the West as a good thing for Russia, the strain of thought advanced by Mr. Prokhanov and his fellow travelers. Some in Mr. Putin’s camp see the confrontation as an opportunity to make the diplomatic turn toward China that they have long advocated, said Sergei A. Karaganov, a dean of the faculty of international relations at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

“This whole episode is going to change the rules of the game,” Mr. Karaganov said of Crimea, which is holding a referendum on secession on Sunday. “Confrontation with the West is welcomed by all too many here, to cleanse the elite, to organize the nation.”

Tens of Thousands March in Moscow Against Crimea Intervention

More than 50,000 people poured into the streets of Moscow Saturday to protest military intervention in the Crimea in the largest opposition march Russia has seen since 2012 protests against president Vladimir Putin.

Termed the "March of Peace," the rally comes a day before the Crimean peninsula is slated to hold a referendum on switching to Russian rule.

Some interesting background:
NATO's Eastward Expansion: Did the West Break Its Promise to Moscow?

There is widespread agreement among all political parties in Moscow, from the Patriots of Russia to the Communists to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, that the West broke its word and short-changed Russia when it was weak.

In an interview with SPIEGEL at his residence outside Moscow in early November, President Dmitry Medvedev complained that when the Berlin Wall came down, it had "not been possible to redefine Russia's place in Europe." What did Russia get? "None of the things that we were assured, namely that NATO would not expand endlessly eastwards and our interests would be continuously taken into consideration," Medvedev said. ...

After speaking with many of those involved and examining previously classified British and German documents in detail, SPIEGEL has concluded that there was no doubt that the West did everything it could to give the Soviets the impression that NATO membership was out of the question for countries like Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia.

On Feb. 10, 1990, between 4 and 6:30 p.m., Genscher spoke with Shevardnadze. According to the German record of the conversation, which was only recently declassified, Genscher said: "We are aware that NATO membership for a unified Germany raises complicated questions. For us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east." And because the conversion revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: "As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general." ...

What the US secretary of state said on Feb. 9, 1990 in the magnificent St. Catherine's Hall at the Kremlin is beyond dispute. There would be, in Baker's words, "no extension of NATO's jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east," provided the Soviets agreed to the NATO membership of a unified Germany. Moscow would think about it, Gorbachev said, but added: "any extension of the zone of NATO is unacceptable."

Now, 20 years later, Gorbachev is still outraged when he is asked about this episode. "One cannot depend on American politicians," he told SPIEGEL.

Venezuela troops fire teargas at anti-Maduro protesters

Venezuelan troops have stormed a Caracas square to evict protesters who turned it into a stronghold during six weeks of demonstrations against President Nicolás Maduro.

National Guard soldiers fired teargas and turned water cannons on hundreds of demonstrators who hurled rocks and petrol bombs before abandoning Plaza Altamira, in affluent east Caracas, which has been the scene of daily clashes.

Soldiers rode into the square on motorbikes and rounded up about a dozen demonstrators, witnesses said. One protester flashed a "V" for victory as he was driven away while another shouted for help. The troops then began demolishing protesters' barricades, apparently carrying out Maduro's vow to retake the square.

"We are going to carry on liberating spaces taken by the protesters," the 51-year-old successor to late leader Hugo Chávez said in a speech at a pro-government rally in Caracas on Sunday.

Snowden Docs Expose How the NSA "Infects" Millions of Computers, Impersonates Facebook Server

Compare the NSA’s Facebook Malware Denial to its Own Secret Documents

On Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald and I revealed new details about the National Security Agency’s efforts to radically expand its ability to hack into computers and networks across the world. The story has received a lot of attention, and one detail in particular has sparked controversy: specifically, that the NSA secretly pretended to be a Facebook server in order to covertly infect targets with malware “implants” used for surveillance. ...

In response, the NSA has attempted to quell the backlash by putting out a public statement dismissing what it called “inaccurate” media reports. The agency denied that it was “impersonating U.S. social media or other websites” and said that it had not “infected millions of computers around the world with malware.” The statement follows a trend that has repeatedly been seen in the aftermath of major disclosures from documents turned over by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in which the NSA or one of its implicated allies issues a carefully worded non-denial denial that on the face of it seems to refute an allegation but on closer inspection does not refute it at all.

A particular short excerpt from one of the classified documents, however, has taken on new significance due to the NSA’s statement. The excerpt is worth drawing attention to here because of the clarity of the language it uses about the Facebook tactic and the light it shines on the NSA’s denial. Referencing the NSA’s Quantum malware initiative, the document, dated April 2011, explains how the NSA “pretends” to be Facebook servers to deploy its surveillance “implants” on target’s computers:


It is difficult to square the NSA secretly saying that it “pretends to be the Facebook server” while publicly claiming that it “does not use its technical capabilities to impersonate U.S. company websites.” Is the agency making a devious and unstated distinction in its denial between “websites” and “servers”? Was it deliberate that the agency used the present tense “does not” in its denial as opposed to the past tense “did not”? Has the Facebook QUANTUMHAND technique been shut down since our report? ...

The same is true of the NSA’s denial that it has not “infected millions of computers around the world with malware” as part of its hacking efforts. Our report never actually accused the NSA of having achieved that milestone. Again, we reported exactly what the NSA’s own documents say: that the NSA is working to “aggressively scale” its computer hacking missions and has built a system called TURBINE that it explicitly states will “allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants).”

Top Democrat on House intelligence panel offers new NSA reform plan

Supporters of a stalled congressional effort to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ metadata are looking warily at an alternative proposal by a key NSA advocate purporting to seek the same goal.

This week, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, who represents the Maryland district home to the NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters, came out in favor of a remedy for the controversial surveillance.

Ruppersberger, in interviews with the Washington Post, National Journal and Politico, said he was working to craft a proposal that would require court orders for government requests for Americans’ phone records – perhaps on an individual basis – from the telephone companies, without requiring the companies to expand retention of their customer records beyond current practice. ...

But his idea also attracted suspicion. Not only has Ruppersberger been a staunch advocate for the NSA – and a fervent critic of Snowden – but his proposal would compete with the civil-libertarian alternative, the USA Freedom Act, that has 163 co-sponsors in both congressional chambers and would go further than Ruppersberger’s effort, as initially described.

Ruppersberger’s office concedes that the details of the proposal, which are crucial in the arcane world of surveillance authorities, are still being worked out – something giving privacy advocates pause.

U.S. Set to Give up Its Last Power Over the Internet

The U.S. government will give up its last measure of control over the Internet, possibly as soon as next year.

An agreement between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is set to expire in 2015 and will not be renewed if a changeover plan is developed.

"To support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet policymaking and governance, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announces its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community," the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, wrote in a press release.

ICANN was founded in 1998 by the U.S. government and oversees the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which regulates IP addresses and the Domain Name System (DNS), in addition to other responsibilities.

The U.S. role in web domain management has been among the last pieces of the Internet under the government's control. The contract through which the U.S. exerts influence over ICANN was renewed in 2006.

White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe

Big banks need point person for money-laundering lapses: regulator

Big banks should designate senior managers to oversee efforts to police transactions for criminal activity and take responsibility when lapses occur, a top U.S. financial regulator said on Monday.

Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said "murky" lines of accountability at the biggest banks in the United States have prevented regulators from determining who was to blame for major anti-money laundering compliance failures.

"Management at large banks needs to eliminate these accreted compliance weaknesses so that institutional structural flaws do not become an excuse for a lack of accountability," Curry said on Monday to a group of anti-money laundering specialists.

Compliance with these rules has become a hot issue after London-based HSBC Holdings agreed to pay $1.9 billion in 2012 to settle claims it flouted rules to prevent money laundering and transactions with countries under U.S. sanctions.

How to rob a bank: William Black

Black Caucus calls Rep. Paul Ryan's remarks on poverty 'highly offensive,' invite him to meeting

The Congressional Black Caucus has invited House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., to attend its weekly meeting when Congress returns from recess to explain what the group considers "highly offensive" remarks he made about inner-city men and their work ethic on a conservative talk radio show.

Appearing on Bill Bennett's nationally-syndicated "Morning in America" program, Ryan said there is a 'tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work."

'Your comments were highly offensive,' CBC Chair Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and Gwen Moore, D-Wisc., wrote in a letter to Ryan inviting him to the CBC meeting. 'A serious policy conversation on poverty should not begin with assumptions or stereotypes. Poverty in our nation is a critical problem that must be approached with diligence and the utmost respect for those who are trapped by poverty's grasp.'

Paul Ryan: Black Men Are Lazy, That's Why There's Poverty

The Evening Greens

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?

A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. ...

Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:

".... appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature."
Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that "with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites."

In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most "detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners", allowing them to "continue 'business as usual' despite the impending catastrophe." The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)."

Enviromental and Economic Lessons for St Patrick's Day

[C]rop failure in Ireland affected only the potato—during the worst famine years, other food production was robust. Michael Pollan notes in The Botany of Desire, “Ireland’s was surely the biggest experiment in monoculture ever attempted and surely the most convincing proof of its folly.” But if only this one variety of potato, the Lumper, failed, and other crops thrived, why did people starve?

Thomas Gallagher points out in Paddy’s Lament, that during the first winter of famine, 1846-47, as perhaps 400,000 Irish peasants starved, landlords exported 17 million pounds sterling worth of grain, cattle, pigs, flour, eggs, and poultry—food that could have prevented those deaths. Throughout the famine, as Gallagher notes, there was an abundance of food produced in Ireland, yet the landlords exported it to markets abroad. ...

More than a century and a half after the “Great Famine,” we live with similar, perhaps even more glaring contradictions. Raj Patel opens his book, Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System: “Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight.”

The Dubliners - Skibbereen

Linda Thompson - Paddy's Lamentation

Drought beginning to change how people think about growth in the Sacramento region

More people are coming. More water probably isn’t.

Sacramento area leaders are planning for hundreds of thousands of new homes in the coming decades, pegging the region’s economic growth to population growth and new housing starts. Those new residents – along with their houses and lawns – could gulp 50 billion additional gallons of water per year by 2035, if population projections hold and if they consume in the same manner as current residents. ...

“In the past, the basic stance of the average developer and average water provider has been, ‘There’s plenty of water out there,’ ” said Mike McKeever, chief executive officer for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, a regionwide planning agency. “At the moment, that premise seems like it’s almost certainly false.”

The drought is starting to change how people think about growth, said McKeever and more than a dozen local officials, water-conservation experts and planning officials interviewed. It could be a needed jolt for leaders and residents, several said – a trigger for action similar to the urgent conversation about levees and 100-year storms that emerged in flood-prone Sacramento after Hurricane Katrina buried New Orleans under several feet of water.

It could also be a chance, some said, for everyone involved in Sacramento development to accept some hard truths. Among them: Residents will have to use less water to make room for new neighbors. The era of large lots and lush lawns is ending. And water-supply issues deserve the same level of attention that government leaders give to levees, traffic and sprawl.  ...

But tomorrow’s conservation will look different from yesterday’s and may require more work, several experts said. The conservation measures of the recent past have largely relied on new indoor technology such as low-flow shower heads and water-efficient toilets.

Water needed for future growth increasingly will come from changing behavior instead of changing appliances. Los Angeles has reduced systemwide water demand by about 25 percent since 1990 – despite adding 5 million people – by going beyond traditional appliance rebates and paying residents to use rain barrels and soil moisture sensors, and to take out their lawns.

Smeared Skies Made from Hundreds of Stacked Photographs by Matt Molloy

You've got to check out this guy's work. Here's his flickr page.

Mind-Blowing Smeared Sky Photography by Matt Molloy1

Red Swoosh

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Ukraine, Russia and the world: Five Questions to 3 Authors

The Crimean Referendum of Independence

Mainstream US Media Is Lost in Ukraine

Chris Hedges: Israel’s War on American Universities

‘Most Transparent Administration Ever™’—Obama Administration Makes Mockery of Open Government

A Little Night Music

Clyde McPhatter - Little Bitty Pretty One

Little Willie John - I'm Shakin'

Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters - Money Honey

Clyde McPhatter - That's Enough For Me

Little Willie John : All Around The World

Clyde McPhatter - Honey Hush

Clyde McPhatter - Since You've Been Gone

Clyde McPhatter - I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday

Little Willie John - Leave My Kitten Alone

Clyde McPhatter - I'll Love You Till The Cows Come Home

Little Willie John - Fever

Clyde McPhatter - Deep Sea Ball

Clyde McPhatter & The Dominos - Have Mercy Baby

Little Willie John - Tell It Like It Is

Clyde McPhatter - Pretty Girls Everywhere

Little Willie John - My Nerves

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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 Mar 17, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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