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 North Mississippi bluesman R.L. Burnside. Enjoy!
R. L. Burnside - Rollin and Tumblin
“The Imperial forces must keep their hands off, but they find that they can do much even so. Each sector is encouraged to be suspicious of its neighbors. Within each sector, economic and social classes are encouraged to wage a kind of war with each other. The result is that all over Trantor it is impossible for the people to take united action. Everywhere, the people would rather fight each other than make a common stand against the central tyranny and the Empire rules without having to exert force.”
-- Isaac Asimov
News and Opinion
US Takes a Break From Condemning Tyranny to Celebrate Obama’s Visit to Saudi Arabia
Until this week. Tommy Vietor was President’s Obama National Security Council spokesman during the first term. ... On Monday, Vietor took to Twitter to try to publicly embarrass Oliver Stone for expressing support for the Maduro government in Venezuela:
This, of course, is nothing more than the long-standing favored tactic of official Washington: cynically feigning concern for human rights as a means to undermine the governments that do not comply with US dictates. To the Tommy Vietors of the world, the Maduro government isn’t bad because it “illegally jails opposition leaders”; it’s bad because it opposes US policy, refuses to obey US dictates, and defeats neo-liberal, US-subservient candidates in popular elections. ...
Today, Obama arrives in Riyadh to assure the Saudi monarchs that the US is as committed as ever to its close partnership in the wake of Saudi anxiety. He’ll meet with King Abdullah, “the president’s third official meeting with the king in six years.” The purpose of this trip: “trying to smooth relations with Saudi Arabia without making the longtime US ally seem like an afterthought.” Indeed, “top presidential advisors say the visit is an ‘investment’ in one of the most important US relationships in the Middle East.”
If you want to justify all of this by cynically arguing that it benefits the US to support repressive and brutal tyrannies, go ahead. At least that’s an honest posture. But don’t run around acting as though the US is some sort of stalwart opponent of political repression and human rights violations when the exact opposite is so plainly true. And if you’re someone who has worked extensively to provide the world’s worst regimes with all sorts of vital support, don’t hold yourself out as the leader of the mob condemning others for expressing support for far more benign governments.
Obama Whitewashes World War I
President Obama just went to Flanders Field in Belgium to pay homage to those who lost their lives in World War I.
But rather than use the occasion to point out the idiotic hideousness of that war, he whitewashed it, praising “the profound sacrifice they made so that we might stand here today.”
He saluted their “willingness to fight, and die, for the freedom that we enjoy as their heirs.”
But this was not a war for freedom. It was a triumph of nationalism, pitting one nation’s vanity against another. It was a war between empires for the spoils. ...
For the soldiers Obama praised did not die for “freedom,” but for something much more base.
They died for the same reason U.S. soldiers died in the Iraq War. As Howard Zinn noted, ten years ago, “They died for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the President. They died to cover up the theft of the nation’s wealth to pay for the machines of death.”
GCHQ and NSA Targeted Private German Companies and Merkel
Top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden viewed by SPIEGEL show that the British spies surveilled employees of several German companies, and have also infiltrated their networks.
One top-secret GCHQ paper claims the agency sought "development of in-depth knowledge of key satellite IP service providers in Germany."
The document, which is undated, states that the goal of the effort was developing wider knowledge of Internet traffic flowing through Germany. The 26-page document explicitly names three of the German companies targeted for surveillance: Stellar, Cetel and IABG.
The operation, carried out at listening stations operated jointly by GCHQ with the NSA in Bude, in Britain's Cornwall region, is largely directed at Internet exchange points used by the ground station to feed the communications of their large customers into the broadband Internet. In addition to spying on the Internet traffic passing through these nodes, the GCHQ workers state they are also seeking to identify important customers of the German teleport providers, their technology suppliers as well as future technical trends in their business sector.
The document also states that company employees are targets -- particularly engineers -- saying that they should be detected and "tasked," intelligence jargon for monitoring. In the case of Stellar, the top secret GCHQ paper includes the names and email addresses of 16 employees, including CEO Christian Steffen. In addition, it also provides a list of the most-important customers and partners. ...
Monitoring companies and their employees along with the theft of customer lists are classic acts of economic espionage. Indeed, such revelations ought be a case for the German federal public prosecutors' office, which in the past has initiated investigations into comparable cases involving Russia or China.
So far, however, German Federal Public Prosecutor Harald Range has been struggling with the NSA issue. Some experienced investigators have had a problem applying the same criteria used to assess intelligence services like Russia's to those of the United States and Britain.
NSA Put Merkel on List of 122 Targeted Leaders
A series of classified files from the archive provided to reporters by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also seen by The Intercept, reveal that the NSA appears to have included Merkel in a surveillance database alongside more than 100 others foreign leaders. The documents also confirm for the first time that, in March 2013, the NSA obtained a top-secret court order against Germany as part of U.S. government efforts to monitor communications related to the country. Meanwhile, the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters targeted three German companies in a clandestine operation that involved infiltrating the companies’ computer servers and eavesdropping on the communications of their staff.
Der Spiegel, which has already sketched out over several stories the vast extent of American and British targeting of German people and institutions, broke the news last October that Merkel’s cellphone calls were being tapped by the NSA – sparking a diplomatic backlash that strained US-Germany relations. Now a new document, dated 2009, indicates that Merkel was targeted in a broader NSA surveillance effort. She appears to have been placed in the NSA’s so-called “Target Knowledge Base“ (TKB), which Der Spiegel described as the central agency database of individual targets. An internal NSA description states that employees can use it to analyze “complete profiles“ of targeted people. ...
NSA’s Special Source Operations unit, which shows that the Obama administration obtained a top-secret court order specifically permitting it to monitor communications related to Germany. Special Source Operations is the NSA department that manages what the agency describes as its “corporate partnerships” with major US companies, including AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft, and Google. The order on Germany was issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on March 7, 2013. The court issues annual certifications to the NSA that authorize the agency to intercept communications related to named countries or groups; it has provided similar authorization, Der Spiegel reported, for measures targeting China, Mexico, Japan, Venezuela, Yemen, Brazil, Sudan, Guatemala, Bosnia and Russia.
NSA revelations 'changing how businesses store sensitive data'
A survey of 1,000 business leaders from around the world has found that many are questioning their reliance on "cloud computing" in favour of more secure forms of data storage as the whistleblower's revelations continue to reverberate.
The moves by businesses mirror efforts by individual countries, such as Brazil and Germany, which are encouraging regional online traffic to be routed locally rather than through the US, in a move that could have a big impact on US technology companies such as Facebook and Google.
Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said the study confirmed "anecdotal evidence that suggests US tech firms are going to be hit hard in the coming years by a global backlash against technology 'made in America'".
"The Snowden revelations have led to a paradigm shift in how IT decision-makers buy technology," he said. "Now companies are not just competing on price and quality, they are also competing on geography. This might be the final nail in the coffin for the vision of a global, borderless internet."
NSA infiltrated RSA security more deeply than thought
Security industry pioneer RSA adopted not just one but two encryption tools developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, greatly increasing the spy agency's ability to eavesdrop on some Internet communications, according to a team of academic researchers.
Reuters reported in December that the NSA had paid RSA $10 million to make a now-discredited cryptography system the default in software used by a wide range of Internet and computer security programs. The system, called Dual Elliptic Curve, was a random number generator, but it had a deliberate flaw - or "back door" - that allowed the NSA to crack the encryption.
A group of professors from Johns Hopkins, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois and elsewhere now say they have discovered that a second NSA tool exacerbated the RSA software's vulnerability.
The professors found that the tool, known as the "Extended Random" extension for secure websites, could help crack a version of RSA's Dual Elliptic Curve software tens of thousands of times faster, according to an advance copy of their research shared with Reuters.
While Extended Random was not widely adopted, the new research sheds light on how the NSA extended the reach of its surveillance under cover of advising companies on protection.
RSA, now owned by EMC Corp, did not dispute the research when contacted by Reuters for comment.
Senate torture report examines hunt for bin Laden
From the moment of bin Laden's death almost three years ago in what was America's biggest counterterrorism success, former Bush administration and some senior CIA officials have cited the evidence trail leading to the al-Qaida mastermind's compound in Pakistan as vindicating the "enhanced interrogation techniques" they authorized after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
But Democratic and some Republican senators have disputed that account. They described simulated drownings, sleep deprivation and other such practices as cruel and ineffective. ...
The most high-profile detainee linked to the bin Laden investigation was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times. Mohammed, intelligence officials have noted, confirmed after his 2003 capture that he knew an important al-Qaida courier with the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
But the report concludes that such information wasn't critical, according to the aides. Mohammed only discussed al-Kuwaiti months after being waterboarded, while he was under standard interrogation, they said. And Mohammed neither acknowledged al-Kuwaiti's significance nor provided interrogators with the courier's real name. ...
Aides said [Sen.] Levin and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who himself was tortured as a prisoner war in Vietnam more than four decades ago, are among those pushing hard to ensure the investigation's findings related to the bin Laden pursuit and CIA interrogations are made public.
Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev arrives in Crimea after Paris talks stall
Russia's prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has flown into Crimea to hold a cabinet meeting in the newly annexed territory. The meeting comes a day after four-hour negotiations between the Russian and US foreign ministers in Paris, aimed at resolving the Ukraine crisis.
The majority of western politicians believe that Crimea is as good as lost, and attention has turned to the rest of Ukraine, where a huge Russian troop buildup has been reported on the border in recent days.
After the talks, Russia repeated its demand that the US and its European partners accept its proposal that Russian-speaking regions of eastern and southern Ukraine be given extensive autonomous powers independent of Kiev as a condition for agreeing a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, told reporters Ukraine could not function as a "unified state" and should become a loose federation. He made the remarks after an inconclusive meeting with John Kerry, the US secretary of state, at the Russian ambassador's residence in Paris following a day in which tensions over Ukraine deepened appreciably. Lavrov called the talks "very, very constructive". Kerry told reporters the US and Russia agreed on the need for a diplomatic solution but made clear there had been no breakthrough, saying the Russian troop buildup along the border was creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine and was not helpful.
Ukraine’s Inconvenient Neo-Nazis
The U.S. media’s take on the Ukraine crisis is that a “democratic revolution” ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, followed by a “legitimate” change of government. So, to mention the key role played neo-Nazi militias in the putsch or to note that Yanukovych was democratically elected – and then illegally deposed – gets you dismissed as a “Russian propagandist.” ...
Over the past few days, the neo-Nazis have surged to the front of Ukraine’s unrest again by furiously protesting the killing of one of their leaders, Oleksandr Muzychko, known as Sashko Bily. The Interior Ministry reported that Muzychko died in a Monday night shoot-out with police in Rivne in western Ukraine.
But the right-wing paramilitaries claim that Muzychko was murdered in a cold-blooded contract hit, and these modern-day storm troopers have threatened to storm the parliament building if the interim Interior Minister is not fired. ...
To dismiss that inconvenient fact, the major U.S. media has stressed that the extreme rightists made up a minority of the demonstrators, which – while true – is largely irrelevant since it was the paramilitary Right Sektor that provided the armed force that removed Yanukovych and then dominated the “transition” period by patrolling key government buildings. As a reward, far-right parties were given control of four ministries. ...
And, that has been a consistent pattern for the supposedly objective U.S. news media. If the Russians say something, even if it is clearly true, the point must be contradicted. However, when a U.S. official states something about the Ukraine crisis, the claim goes unchallenged no matter how absurd.
For example, when Secretary of State John Kerry denounced Putin’s intervention in Crimea by declaring, “you just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext,” mainstream U.S. news outlets simply let the statement stand without noting that Kerry himself had voted in 2002 to authorize President George W. Bush to invade Iraq in pursuit of non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
You might think that Kerry’s breathtaking hypocrisy would be newsworthy or at least a relevant fact that should be pointed out to readers, but no. ... The bottom line is that the U.S. government and media have constructed a substantially false narrative for the American people, all the better to manufacture consent behind a $1 billion U.S. aid package for Ukraine and the launch of a new Cold War with the expectation of many more exciting confrontations to come – in places like Syria and Iran – all justifying fatter military budgets.
Our government is always hiding something
The Obama administration has used the Freedom of Information Act to increase rather than decrease government secrecy. In 2013, it increased use of exemptions to bar release of requested files by 22% over the previous year, according an analysis by the Associated Press. The government fully denied or redacted large portions of files in 36% of the 704,394 requests submitted. ...
The need to reverse this trend is evident in the critical role the FOIA has played in revealing secrets that, once public, led to major reforms. The revelation of COINTELPRO, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's secret illegal operations, is an example of the fundamental importance of the FOIA.
The files made public by the burglars who stole files from the Media, Pa., FBI office in 1971 gave Americans their first glimpse of Hoover's clandestine operations. But it was because of the FOIA that more Hoover information public and moved Americans to demand that all intelligence agencies be investigated by Congress. ...
A year after the Media files were revealed, NBC reporter Carl Stern noticed one of those files in the Senate Judiciary Committee office -- a routing slip that contained the term COINTELPRO. Wondering what the term meant, Stern asked Deputy Attorney General Richard Kleindienst for records that established and defined COINTELPRO. Kleindienst refused, saying the records must "be kept secret in the interest of the national defense and foreign policy."
Stern sued for the files under the FOIA. When a judge ordered the FBI to issue the files to him in 1973, he became the first journalist to receive FBI files under the 1966 FOIA. Those files, directives from Hoover, revealed that he had established COINTELPRO to "expose, disrupt ... or otherwise neutralize" the New Left. Repeatedly emphasizing that such operations be kept secret, Hoover used the tools of espionage, usually reserved for foreign enemies, against Americans whose ideas he disliked.
Plutocracy Without End - Why the 1% always defeats the middle class
I’ve been writing about what we politely call “inequality” since the mid-1990s, but one day about ten years ago, when I was traveling the country lecturing about the toxic curlicues of right-wing culture, it dawned on me that maybe I had been getting the entire story wrong. All the economic developments that I spent my days bemoaning—the obscene enrichment of the CEO class, the assault on the regulatory state, the ruination of average people—were very possibly not what I thought they were. ... What hit me that day was the possibility that my happy, postwar middle-class world was the exception, and that the plutocracy we were gradually becoming was the norm. Maybe what was happening to us was a colossal reversion to a pre-Rooseveltian mean, and all the trappings of ordinary life that had seemed so solid and so permanent when I was young—the vast suburbs and the anchorman’s reassuring baritone and the nice appliances that filled the houses of the working class—were aberrations made possible by an unusual balance of political forces maintained only by the enormous political efforts of its beneficiaries. ...
The One Percent have already broken every record for wealth-hogging set by their ancestors, going back to the dawn of record-keeping in 1913. But what if it all just keeps going? How much fatter can the fat cats get before they hit some kind of natural limit? Before the invisible thumb of history presses down on the other side of the scale and restores balance? ... That we are very close to such a limit—that the contradictions inherent in the system will automatically be its undoing—is an idea much in the air of late. Not many still subscribe to Marx’s dialectical vision of history, in which inevitable worker immiseration would be followed, also inevitably, by a revolutionary explosion, but there are other inevitabilities that seem equally persuasive today. ... It is an attractive fantasy, this faith that some kind of built-in restraint will stop all this from going too far.
The ugly fact that we must face is that this thing can go much farther still. Plutocracy shocks us every day with its viciousness, but that doesn’t mean God will strike it down. The middle-class model worked much better for about ninety-nine percent of the population, but that doesn’t make it some kind of dialectic inevitability. You can build a plutocratic model that will stumble along just fine, like it did in the nineteenth century. It requires different things: instead of refrigerators for all, it needs bought legislatures and armies of strikebreakers—plus bailouts for the big banks when they collapse under the weight of their stupid loans, an innovation of our own time. All this may be hurtful, inefficient, and undemocratic, but it won’t dismantle itself all on its own.
That is our job. No one else is going to do it for us.
Chris Hedges: Fighting the Militarized State
The Barack Obama administration, determined to thwart the attempt by other plaintiffs and myself to have the courts void a law that permits the military to arrest U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and indefinitely detain them, has filed a detailed brief with the Supreme Court asking the justices to refuse to accept our petition to hear our appeal. We will respond within 10 days.
“The administration’s unstated goal appears to be to get court to agree that [the administration] has the authority to use the military to detain U.S. citizens,” Bruce Afran, one of two attorneys handling the case, said when I spoke with him Sunday. “It appears to be asking the court to go against nearly 150 years of repeated decisions in which the court has refused to give the military such power. No court in U.S. history has ever recognized the right of the government to use the military to detain citizens. It would be very easy for the government to state in the brief that citizens and permanent residents are not within the scope of this law. But once again, it will not do this. It says the opposite. It argues that the activities of the plaintiffs do not fall within the scope of the law, but it clearly is reserving for itself the right to use the statute to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely.” ...
The government in the brief makes it plain that all of us can be subject to this law:Petitioners further assert that at the initial hearing in the district court, the government declined to offer assurances that they would not be detained under any circumstances. Pet. 14, 34-38. But no legal principle requires the government to provide litigants with such advance assurances or otherwise to delineate the bounds of its authority—particularly in the context of armed conflict—in response to speculative fears of harm asserted in litigation.“The brief argues that the government reserves the right to use the military to detain and indefinitely hold journalists under this law, although the 2nd Circuit stated that the law did not apply to U.S. citizens,” Mayer told me Sunday. “We have already seen journalists such as [you] and Laura Poitras detained and denied access to a lawyer and due process. This law will make legal any such detentions. It will permit the military, on American soil, to throw journalists and activists in a military prison without trial or due process.” ...
Once arbitrary and indefinite detention by the military is lawful, the government will use it. If we do not win this case, all those deemed to be hostile or critical of the state, including some Muslims, journalists, dissidents and activists, will find themselves under threat. ... This law, if it is not struck down, will essentially replace our civilian judiciary with a military one. Those targeted under this law will not be warned beforehand that they will be arrested. They will not have a chance to get a lawyer. They will not see the inside of a courtroom. They will simply vanish.
Albuquerque police-shootings protest turns into 'mayhem'
A protest over deadly police shootings turned from peaceful into "mayhem", Albuquerque's mayor said late on Sunday, as officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators.
People are angry over Albuquerque police's involvement in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal, since 2010. Critics say that is far too many for a department serving a city of about 555,000.
The US Justice Department has been investigating the department for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force.
Alexander Siderits, 23, said he was participating in the protest because he was "fed up" with how police treat citizens. "It has reached a boiling point, and people just can't take it anymore," he said.
Managing disorder: towards a global state of control?
When an Egyptian judge condemned 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death this week, he underlined in one fell swoop the terrifying reality in which the world finds itself today. The revolutionary euphoria and constituent impulse that shook the global order back in 2011 have long since given way to a re-established state of control. Violent repression of protest and dissent — whether progressive or reactionary — has become the new normal. The radical emancipatory and democratic space that was briefly opened up by recent uprisings is now being slammed shut. What remains are dispersed pockets of resistance under relentless assault by the constituted power. ...
In Turkey, Prime Minister Erdoğan — who back in 2011 criticized Mubarak for his hard-handed repression of the popular uprising — just blocked access to Twitter and YouTube. ... In Spain, meanwhile, the right-wing government of Mariano Rajoy is reverting to old-fashioned Francoist tactics to suppress the country’s powerful anti-austerity movement. ... Spanish Parliament voted last year to outlaw demonstrations in front of government buildings and to criminalize the act of calling for such protests on social media. Those who get caught face hefty fines of up to 600,000 euros and serious jail time.
It is no coincidence that the intensification of long-standing patterns of state repression appears to be particularly acute in the countries that experienced large-scale street protest in the past three years. Ruling classes around the world have clearly been shaken to their very core by the sudden re-emergence of the multitude in the streets. The United States is no exception in this respect. This week, news emerged that, despite a recent ruling, the FBI continues to withhold information on an assassination plot — possibly involving a “law enforcement agency” — targeted at organizers in the Occupy movement. ...
Rather than tackling poverty, inequality, alienation, police brutality or the legitimation crisis of representative democracy more generally, governments try to administer the resultant social unrest and steer it in the right direction (just think of how the Egyptian military effectively guided the people’s revolutionary energy towards a situation in which it could overtly reassert its control after deposing President Morsi). ... If the mass death sentences in Egypt, the social media crackdown in Turkey, the anti-protest laws in Spain, the favela pacification scheme in Brazil, the NSA surveillance program in the US, and the undeclared state of exception around the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands have anything in common, it’s that they all point in the direction of an inexorable slide into a new form of authoritarianism — an ostensibly “democratic” authoritarianism that hides behind a facade of free markets, fair elections and respect for the rule of law to secure the increasing concentration of wealth and power by shrinking the public space for democratic participation and popular dissent.
Erdogan declares victory in Turkey election and threatens opposition
The Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, declared victory for his party in local polls and said he would "enter the lair" of enemies who have accused him of corruption and leaked state secrets. "They will pay for this," he said.
Erdogan, fighting the biggest challenge of his 12-year rule, addressed supporters from a balcony at AKP headquarters, after the end of a long and bitter election campaign in which he had labelled his opponents "terrorists" and an "alliance of evil".
The harsh tone of his balcony address suggested he felt he now had a mandate for strong action against his enemies. "From tomorrow, there may be some who flee," he said.
The election campaign has been dominated by a power struggle between Erdogan and a moderate US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of using a network of followers in the police and judiciary to fabricate accusations of corruption in an effort to topple him. Erdogan has purged thousands of police and hundreds of judges and prosecutors since anti-corruption raids in December targeting businessmen close to him and sons of ministers.
"We will enter their lair," he said. "They will pay the price, they will be brought to account. How can you threaten national security?"
Grayson: Cokie Roberts Attacks Us: This Is How DC Works
Recently, ABC infohack Cokie Roberts, doyenne of the D.C. Establishment, attacked me in her nationally syndicated column. Why? Because I dared to speak the truth about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a so-called “free trade agreement” that has lobbyists and Washington insiders alike clamoring to stuff their pockets with corrupt corporate cash. And because I dared to speak the truth about “Fast Track,” legislation whose sole purpose is to cram TPP and other corporate rip-offs down our throats. ...
Let’s look at the facts. Our corporatized “free trade” policy has been an abject failure. It began with NAFTA, which impoverished workers in both the United States and abroad, solely for the benefit of wealthy corporate special interests. So has every “free trade” deal since. For the past dozen years, every year, the United States has run the largest trade deficits of any country, anywhere in the world, at any time in history. Since NAFTA went into effect, our trade deficits total $10,000,000,000,000.00, or one-sixth of our national net worth. We are buying foreign goods and services, putting foreigners to work. Instead of buying our goods and services, they are buying our assets, driving us deeper and deeper into debt. We lose – twice.
For five years now, our so-called “Trade Representative” has conspired in secret with multinational corporations to give away our sovereignty, refusing even our elected representatives access to negotiations. “Fast Track” legislation simply is a ploy to jam the resulting surrender to multinational corporations through Congress, without hearings, without mark-ups, without amendments and even without significant debate. The real problem today is our towering trade deficit, and both “Fast Track” and TPP would make that worse.
But that’s not how Cokie Roberts, the daughter of two Members of Congress and a consummate Washington insider, sees it. ... She touts the fact that the United States exports $2 trillion in goods and services each year. While she ignores the fact that the United States has been importing nearly $3 trillion in goods and services each year. (Note to Cokie: three is more than two.)
The Evening Greens
If This Terrifying Report Doesn't Wake You Up to the Realities of What We're Doing to This Planet, What Will?
The impacts of climate change are likely to be "severe, pervasive, and irreversible," the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Sunday night in Yokohama, Japan, as the world's leading climate experts released a new survey of how our planet is likely to change in the near future, and what we can do about it.
We're already feeling the impacts of climate change. Glaciers are already shrinking, changing the courses of rivers and altering water supplies downstream. Species from grizzly bears to flowers have shifted their ranges and behavior. Wheat and maize yields may have dropped. ... Europe faces freshwater shortages, and Asia can expect more severe flooding from extreme storms. In North America, major threats include heat waves and wildfires, which can cause death and damage to ecosystems and property.
Globally, food sources will become unpredictable, even as population booms. Especially in poor countries, diminished crop production will likely lead to increased malnutrition, which already affects nearly 900 million people worldwide. Some of the world's most important staples—maize, wheat, and rice—are at risk. The ocean will also be a less reliable source of food, with important fish resources in the tropics either moving north or going extinct, while ocean acidification eats away at shelled critters (like oysters) and coral. Shrinking supplies and rising prices will cause food insecurity, which can exacerbate preexisting social tensions and lead to conflict. ...
According to the report, we can expect climate change to have a negative impact on health in many parts of the world, especially poorer countries. Why? Heat waves and fires will cause injury, disease and death. Decreased food production will mean more malnutrition. And food- and water-borne diseases will make more people sick.
A Massive Chemical Plant Is Poised to Wipe This Louisiana Town off the Map
In 1790, a freed slave named Jim Moss found a place to settle down on a bend in the Houston River in the bayous of southwest Louisiana. Although never formally incorporated, the village of Mossville became one of the first settlements of free blacks in the South, predating the formal establishment of Calcasieu Parish by 50 years. But over the last half century, Mossville was surrounded. More than a dozen industrial plants now encircle the community of 500 residents, making it quite possibly the most polluted corner of the most polluted region in one of the most polluted states in the country. Now, a proposal to build the largest chemical plant of its kind in the Western Hemisphere would all but wipe Mossville off the map.
The project, spearheaded by the South African chemical giant SASOL, will cost as much as $21 billion, but stands to benefit from more than $2 billion in incentives (including $115 million in direct funding) from the cash-strapped state budget. ... One study from Louisiana State University projected that it would have a total economic impact of $46.2 billion. It is the largest industrial project in the history of Louisiana. ...
An analysis conducted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in February determined that the new project "will result in significant net emissions increases" of greenhouse gases, promethium, sulfur oxide, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide. By its calculations, the plant will spew out more than 10 million cubic tons of greenhouse gases per year. (By contrast, the Exxon-Mobil refinery outside Baton Rouge, a sprawling complex that's 250 times the size of the New Orleans Superdome, emits 6.6 million tons.)
Nonetheless, the DEQ determined that the facility would have no impact on the soil or air quality, and wouldn't significantly affect the water supply, although "some change in existing water quality may occur." It cleared SASOL under the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, and recommended moving forward with plans to build the facility on three square miles near Mossville, an unincorporated, predominantly African American community in the mostly-white Lake Charles suburb of Westlake.
There are 14 industrial facilities around Mossville, a community that's just five square miles in area. A 1998 EPA study found chemical toxins in the hamlet's air 100 times higher than the national standard. Another study found that 84 percent of residents had some sort of central nervous system disorder. Its residents at one point appealed to an international court, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on the grounds that the continued pollution of the neighborhood constituted environmental racism. (That appeal is ongoing.)
Japan told to halt Antarctic whaling by international court
Judge rules that Japanese whaling program is not scientific and that it failed to justify the number of minke whales it kills
The International Court of Justice has ordered a temporary halt to Japan's annual slaughter of whales in the southern ocean after concluding that the hunts are not, as Japan claims, conducted for scientific research.
The UN court's decision, by a 12-4 majority among a panel of judges, casts serious doubt over the long-term future of the jewel in the crown of Japan's controversial whaling programme. ...
The sale of meat from the hunts in restaurants and supermarkets, while not illegal, prompted accusations from Australia and other anti-whaling nations that Japan was cloaking a commercial operation "in the lab coat of science".
Tuesday's decision, though, leaves room for Japan to revamp its whaling programme to meet an international whaling treaty's requirements for scientific whaling.
And it does not mean the end to all whaling. Japan also hunts a much smaller number of whales in the northern Pacific, while Norway and Iceland continue to kill whales for their commercial value, in defiance of the IWC ban.
Japan has slaughtered more than 10,000 whales since the IWC moratorium came into effect, according to the Australian government.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
A Little Night Music
RL Burnside - Goin' Down South
R.L. Burnside - Miss Maybelle
R.L. Burnside - Poor Black Mattie
RL Burnside - Big Boss Man
R.L. Burnside - Poor Boy A Long Way From Home
R.L. Burnside - Long Haired Doney
RL Burnside - Someday Baby
R.L.Burnside - It's Bad You Know
R.L. Burnside - See My Jumper Hanging On the Line
RL Burnside - Let My Baby Ride
R.L. Burnside - Two Trains Runnin'
RL Burnside - Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues
R.L Burnside - .44 Pistol
R.L. Burnside - Skinny Woman
R. L. Burnside - My Baby Caught The Train
R.L. Burnside - Meet Me In The Bottom
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!