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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 the King of Zydeco Clifton Chenier.  Enjoy!

Clifton Chenier - Bon Ton Roulet

"We have a lot of work to do. It's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border."

  -- John McCain

News and Opinion

John McCain and Dianne Feinstein know best who should and should not be the democratically-elected leader of Iraq. Perhaps Victoria Nuland should be on stand-by just in case the US government needs to pick a new leader for Iraq. After all, consent of the governed is such a messy, drawn-out process and the voters are so often wrong and out of step with the demands of American elites and corporations.  The Kaganate of Nulands is far more efficient.

Maliki: I won't quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants

A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said he will not stand down as a condition of US air strikes against Sunni militants who have made a lightning advance across the country.

Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday made a public call on al-Arabiya television for the US to launch strikes, but Barack Obama has come under pressure from senior US politicians to persuade Maliki, a Shia Muslim who has pursued sectarian policies, to step down over what they see as failed leadership in the face of an insurgency.

Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, told a hearing on Wednesday that Maliki's government "has got to go if you want any reconciliation", and Republican John McCain called for the use of US air power but also urged Obama to "make very clear to Maliki that his time is up".

The White House has not called for Maliki to go but spokesman Jay Carney said that whether Iraq was led by Maliki or a successor, "we will aggressively attempt to impress upon that leader the absolute necessity of rejecting sectarian governance". The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said Washington was focused on the Iraqi people, not Maliki.

Obama can't declare a new Iraq war without approval. Even Bush knew that

A well-organized and blood-thirsty group of insurgents, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), is on the march. They may soon be headed for Baghdad. ... In the meantime, the Pentagon appears to be quickly gathering the information it needs "to gain clarity" for what the White House has termed "the days to come" as Secretary of State John Kerry says "nothing is off the table" – all while Senate majority leader Harry Reid insists "there has been sufficient authorization" for an air campaign. After a meeting with Congressional leadership on Wednesday afternoon, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said the president "didn't feel he had any need for authority from us".

But if President Obama wants to start a brand-new war, he will need prior approval from Congress to fight a brand-new enemy – and he'll need to mull his decision out in the open. Because Congress hasn't given a green light for Iraq 3.0. And justifying a new war on the basis of a false link to al-Qaida would amount to just that – a redux of the Bush administration's disastrous Global War on Terror. It would also overlook the hugely different array of forces, including local tribes in Iraq helping Isis, which could make this new war even worse than it already is. ...

Congress has only authorized, in the wake of 9/11 and before Reaper drones were even introduced, the use of force against al-Qaida – and potentially groups working in direct association with it. But Isis is very clearly not one of them.

If you read some news reports, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Isis and al-Qaida are essentially one in the same. ... Those misleading connections, it seems, came largely from the Obama administration itself: the US State Department called Isis "a branch of al-Qa'ida" and "a common enemy of the United States and the Republic of Iraq" late last year, and outlets like the New York Times repeated that frame of analysis without questioning it.

On various legal blogs, academics such as Deborah Pearlstein and Jennifer Daskal have been at pains to show how Isis is not associated with al-Qaida – far from it. Fissures grew between the two groups last year when Isis "repeatedly refused" instructions and advice from the head of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and outright opposed his goals and directives. This year, Zawahiri officially gave up and announced that al-Qaida would have nothing to do with Isis. Al-Qaida's senior leadership stated that it has "no connection" with Isis, and that Isis is "not an affiliate with the al-Qaida group and has no organizational relation with it."

As Iraq Teeters, Will U.S. and Iran Join Forces to Shore Up Embattled Shiite Gov’t?

Kerry says U.S. may share information with Iran over Iraq, not cooperate

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is interested in communicating with Iran to share information about the Sunni insurgency spreading across Iraq, but Washington is not seeking to work together with Tehran to address the crisis.

"We are interested in communicating with Iran. That the Iranians know what we're thinking, that we know what they're thinking and there is a sharing of information so people aren't making mistakes," Kerry said in an interview on NBC News that aired on Thursday.

Asked if the United States was considering working hand-in-hand with Shi'ite-led Iran, Kerry said: "No. We're not sitting around contemplating how we're going to do that or if we're going to do that. That's not on the table," Kerry added.

Obama at a Crossroad of War or Peace

Barack Obama is at a crossroads of his presidency: one path leads to heightened conflicts favored by Official Washington’s neoconservatives and liberal interventionists; the other requires cooperation with past adversaries, such as Russia and Iran, in the cause of peace.

For the first five-plus years of his administration, Obama has sought to straddle this divide, maintaining traditional U.S. alliances that have pushed for Washington’s violent interference in the affairs of other countries, particularly in the Middle East, but also collaborating behind the scenes with Russia to ease some tensions.

But the days of such splitting the difference are ending. Obama will soon have to decide to either stand up to the still influential neocons as well as hawks in his own administration and seek help from Russia and Iran to resolve conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere — or join the neocon warpath against Russia, Iran and Syria.

The first option would mean breaking with old allies, including the Saudi monarchy and Israel’s Likud government, and rejecting their view that Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut represent the greatest threat to U.S. and their own interests in the Middle East.

This departure from the old ways would require realistic negotiations over the Syrian civil war, accepting the continued rule of President Bashar al-Assad at least for the near future; reaching an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program; and resolving the Ukraine crisis in a way that addresses Russia’s security concerns, including accepting Crimea’s decision to rejoin Russia, agreeing to a federated structure for Ukraine and keeping Ukraine out of NATO.

Sticking to the other route would follow the interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel into new conflicts: deeper intervention in Syria’s civil war with the goal of overthrowing Assad; rejection of Iran’s offers to compromise on its nuclear program; and intensified confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.

Senators to Pentagon brass: Did we waste billions in Iraq?

WASHINGTON — Senators challenged the nation’s top military leaders Wednesday over the recent chaos in Iraq, asking how Iraqi troops could be fleeing their posts after the United States spent billions training and equipping them. ...

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said she was dismayed to see how little resistance the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, have met in seizing territory and equipment on their offensive through Mosul, Tikrit and surrounding areas north of Baghdad.

“We provided $15 billion _ I don't need to tell you, and I'm well aware of your role _ in training and aid to the Iraqi forces,” she said. “And then when I saw so many of them cut and run against's just appalling and very disappointing.”

Hagel said he and other Pentagon leaders were blindsided by the recent collapse of Iraqi troops.

“We did not anticipate this,” he told the Senate Defense appropriations subcommittee. “We were surprised that the Iraqi divisions...just threw down their weapons.”

Cheney slams Obama for Iraq, starts new group to oppose him

Former vice president Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, are ripping into President Barack Obama’s handling of foreign policy with a blast in the Wall Street Journal and the launch of a new group they say “will advocate for a restoration of American strength and power.”

In the editorial -- the former vice president who championed the Iraq War in 2002 -- writes that “rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

Asked to respond, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deadpanned: “Which president was he talking about?” ...

Cheney and his daughter also released a video announcing The Alliance for a Strong America, a 501(c)4 grassroots organization that Cheney will lead as chairman, and Liz Cheney, as president.

Paging Smedley Butler:
US Marines Secure Chevron's Profits

The growing number of U.S. Marines in northern Australia is enhancing the security of the nation's burgeoning gas industry, which extends across the remote and sparsely populated northern coast, a senior American general said on Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Richard L. Simcock, Hawaii-based deputy commander of U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific, was commenting after an executive of U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp. told a conference of concerns that gas rigs off the Australian northwest coast and tankers shipping liquid natural gas through Southeast Asian waters could be vulnerable to attack.

"We are very much aware that they could be considered strategic targets," said Chevron Australia Pty. Ltd managing director Roy Krzywosinski, referring to gas platforms and shipping routes.

Krzywosinski told the U.S. Studies Center conference on the U.S.-Australian defense alliance that his company was "in very significant and close engagement" with Australian authorities on how to protect tens of billions of dollars in energy assets and product.

Simcock said that the growing Marine presence in the northern city of Darwin as part of the U.S. military pivot toward Asia was ensuring the Australian energy industry's security.

MPs demand control over CIA activity on British territory of Diego Garcia

The US must not be allowed again to use Diego Garcia, Britain's territory in the Indian Ocean, to transfer terror suspects, for combat operations, "or any other politically sensitive activity", without the explicit authority of the British government, a cross-party group of MPs insists.

Information about the extent to which the CIA used the island as a "black site" to transfer detainees is still being withheld, it suggests.

Inhabitants of Diego Garcia were forcibly removed by the Labour government in the 1960s to make way for a large US military base. The island has been used as a bomber base for air strikes against Iraq and Afghanistan. More controversially, it was secretly used as a refuelling transit stop for CIA aircraft rendering detainees to Guantánamo Bay.

In 2008, the Labour government was forced to retract assurances it had previously given to MPs about the CIA's use of the base. In its report on Thursday,, the Commons foreign affairs committee refers to a classified US Congress investigation that suggests the British government is still withholding information about the full extent of the CIA's use of Diego Garcia. ...

The committee refers to reports this year that the US Senate intelligence committee had found, after a four-year inquiry into the CIA's torture and rendition programme, that the CIA had detained "high-value suspects" on Diego Garcia and that the "black site" arrangement on the island was made with the "full cooperation" of the British government.

Judge in Guantanamo force-feeding case wants more evidence

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the government to turn over more videotapes showing the forceful removal of a hunger-striking Guantanamo Bay detainee from his cell.

Over Justice Department objections, District Judge Gladys Kessler directed that four additional videotapes be produced, showing encounters May 29 and May 30 between a specially equipped Guantanamo team and longtime detainee Mohammed Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

“We would like those to be produced to verify Mr. Dhiab’s account of extra-brutal treatment,” attorney Jon Eisenberg said, adding that the “team was particularly rough with him, and choked him.” ...

As part of her decision-making, Kessler will review the available videotapes. The additional videotapes she ordered turned over Wednesday will augment 28 tapes previously provided by the government, covering about 10 hours of so-called forced cell extractions and subsequent force-feedings of Dhiab.

“The process of producing and copying all of these materials is a burden on the government,” Justice Department attorney Andrew Warden said Wednesday.

The tapes already provided are being held in a secure facility, and a protective order prevents attorneys from describing their contents.

“I had a hard time sleeping last night,” Eisenberg said, when he was asked for his reactions to what he’s seen.

Ukrainian forces attack eastern cities after giving rebels ultimatum

Ukrainian government forces have attacked several cities in the country's east after an ultimatum failed to prompt pro-Russia rebels to surrender, apparently leaving the peace plan of the president, Petro Poroshenko, in tatters. ...

Kiev's "anti-terrorist operation" to take back the Donetsk and Luhansk regions told rebels they had three hours in which to give up their arms, according to the spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov. They dropped leaflets on the city of Krasny Liman, which has seen heavy fighting in past weeks, offering rebels a "last chance" to save their lives by putting down their weapons.

"You will all be destroyed! There will be no further warnings!" the leaflets read, according to a copy published by InfoResist – a thinktank linked to Kiev authorities. ...

With no response, government forces attacked Krasny Liman and several other cities at once, Seleznyov said. ... Reuters quoted a military source saying that as many as a thousand of fighters were engaged in fierce fighting around Krasny Liman, involving armoured vehicles, possibly tanks. ...

Thursday's events came less than 24 hours after Poroshenko announced a peace plan, which was intended to begin with a one-sided ceasefire followed by the disarming of "illegal military formations". ... Alexander Khodakovsky, the leader of one of the most battle-hardened rebel battalions, told the Guardian that Ukrainian forces had broken previous ceasefire agreements and that Poroshenko was not in control of all the irregular national guard and volunteer forces fighting alongside army units.

E. Ukraine combat rages as Pres Poroshenko's ceasefire vow hangs in air

Ukraine rebels speak of heavy losses in battle against government troops

One military source said 4,000 separatists were involved, while rebels sources in Donetsk said Ukrainian infantry supported by 20 tanks and many other armoured vehicles were storming the village of Yampil, about 12 km (7 miles) east of Krasny Liman.

A top rebel commander, Igor Strelkov, reported "heavy losses" in equipment and arms among the separatists, faced with a huge superiority in heavy armour on the government side at Yampil. ...

From the nearby town of Siversk, artillery blasts, small arms fire and machinegun-fire could be heard from about 3 km away. From high ground, smoke could be seen billowing from rebel positions under attack.

Poroshenko, installed as a president on June 7, is pushing a peace plan to end the rebellion which he said would be unveiled soon and presented to European Union ministers early next week.

US military and fusion center officials: antiwar activism is terrorism

The movement to stop the Iraq war failed. We are now learning more about why. If you care about living in a free society, you should care about this:

A lawsuit against the US military for spying on the antiwar organization Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) in Washington state has blown open a huge window into the security state's actual view of the people they are supposedly meant to protect.

Kevin Gosztola reports:

The lawsuit is known as Panagacos v. Towery. It accuses the US military of directing John Jacob Towery, who worked for the US Army Force Protection Division at Fort Lewis, to infiltrate a group called the Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) in Olympia and Tacoma, Washington. It also accuses the cities of Olympia and Tacoma of coordinating with the military to violate the First and Fourth Amendment rights of activists.

PMR organized demonstrations from 2006 to 2009 against the “use of civilian ports in Puget Sound for striker vehicles and other military cargo being shipped over to Iraq and then shipped to Pakistan or Afghanistan,” according to Larry Hildes, who is one of the National Lawyers Guild attorneys representing activists targeted by the military.  …

Thomas Rudd, head of Force Protection, is accused of directing [US military employee] Towery to identify activists “in order to facilitate their arrest without probable cause.” Rudd apparently instructed Towery to build friendships and provide reports on what activists were planning, which Rudd could share with government agencies.

Both Towery and Rudd are accused of coordinating with local law enforcement in the state of Washington to “silence” PMR activists.

Hildes told Gosztola that, in depositions with military and fusion center officials, it emerged that some among law enforcement and in the military view peace activists as domestic terrorists. Not "like" domestic terrorists, but actual domestic terrorists.
According to Hildes, Towery admitted during depositions that he had not only been paid by the Army to go to PMR meetings in private homes but was also paid to attend meetings related to actions planned for the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Chris Adamson, who was the director of a regional intelligence group of the Department of Homeland Security’s Washington Fusion Center and a lieutenant of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, stated in depositions that “civil disobedience is terrorism,” according to Hildes.

How Secret Partners Expand NSA’s Surveillance Dragnet

gotfiberHuge volumes of private emails, phone calls, and internet chats are being intercepted by the National Security Agency with the secret cooperation of more foreign governments than previously known, according to newly disclosed documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The classified files, revealed today by the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information in a reporting collaboration with The Intercept, shed light on how the NSA’s surveillance of global communications has expanded under a clandestine program, known as RAMPART-A, that depends on the participation of a growing network of intelligence agencies. ...

The NSA documents state that under RAMPART-A, foreign partners “provide access to cables and host U.S. equipment.” This allows the agency to covertly tap into “congestion points around the world” where it says it can intercept the content of phone calls, faxes, e-mails, internet chats, data from virtual private networks, and calls made using Voice over IP software like Skype.

The program, which the secret files show cost U.S. taxpayers about $170 million between 2011 and 2013, sweeps up a vast amount of communications at lightning speed. According to the intelligence community’s classified “Black Budget” for 2013, RAMPART-A enables the NSA to tap into three terabits of data every second as the data flows across the compromised cables – the equivalent of being able to download about 5,400 uncompressed high-definition movies every minute. ...

The secret documents reveal that the NSA has set up at least 13 RAMPART-A sites, nine of which were active in 2013. Three of the largest – codenamed AZUREPHOENIX, SPINNERET and MOONLIGHTPATH – mine data from some 70 different cables or networks. The precise geographic locations of the sites and the countries cooperating with the program are among the most carefully guarded of the NSA’s secrets, and these details are not contained in the Snowden files. However, the documents point towards some of the countries involved – Denmark and Germany among them.

Watchdog urges EU leaders to shield citizens from snooping

European Union countries need stricter controls to protect citizens from spying, a top data protection official said on Thursday, a warning that may rekindle a debate about snooping before an EU summit next week.

Revelations by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden about mass surveillance of global Internet traffic and phone records have prompted calls in Europe for tighter safeguards and a review of data-sharing agreements with the United States, but so far with few concrete results.

In a letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, data protection official Peter Hustinx expressed concern that EU heads of state might fail to make a strong enough commitment to protect their citizens.

"The allegations of mass surveillance by security services have rocked the trust in the ability and willingness of governments and businesses to protect individuals' personal information," Hustinx wrote, without singling out the United States or mentioning Snowden specifically.

"The importance of data protection in building the European area of freedom, security and justice cannot be overstated," he said.

Judge allows US Marshals’ seizure of stingray records, dimisses lawsuit

The American Civil Liberties Union has lost in its attempt to get the city of Sarasota, Florida, to hand over city records pertaining to the use of stingrays, or fake cell tower surveillance devices. ...

Federal authorities frustrated the ACLU’s efforts to learn how the devices are used in Sarasota after the US Marshals Service (USMS) deputized a local police detective. The USMS then physically moved the stack of paper records hundreds of miles away.

In a four-page decision issued on Tuesday, state circuit court judge Charles Williams found that his court lacked jurisdiction over a federal agency—effectively recognizing the transfer of the stingray documents to the US government. The case was therefore dismissed. ...

Michael Barfield, vice president of the ACLU of Florida, told Ars that he planned on appealing the decision and filing a motion to unseal these stingray records.

Assange to release new leaks despite self-imposed incarceration

Julian Assange to file fresh challenge in effort to escape two-year legal limbo

Lawyers for Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who on Thursday marks his second anniversary holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, are preparing to file a challenge to his detention order in Sweden in a move that could impact the state of legal limbo in which he is trapped.

Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s UK-based lawyer, told reporters that the legal challenge, which is due to be lodged with Swedish courts next Tuesday, was based on “new information gathered in Sweden”. She declined to give any further details until the filing had been made.

News of the challenge was the first indication in months of any possible way out of the legal deadlock in which Assange has fallen since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy on 19 June 2012. Since then, the embassy has been ringed with British police 24 hours a day, at a cost of more than £6m ($10m) to the taxpayer, as the UK government seeks to enforce an extradition order to send the WikiLeaks publisher to Sweden. ...

Assange and his legal advisers have always protested that were he to cooperate with the British and Swedish authorities, he would expose himself to an ongoing criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice. The DoJ is known to have opened a grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks’ publication of a vast tranche of secret official documents leaked by the US army private Chelsea Manning (Bradley Manning at the time).

Chris Hedges Interviews Noam Chomsky (part 3)

Egypt court calls for death sentence for Brotherhood leader

An Egyptian court signalled on Thursday that it wanted death sentences for the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 13 other defendants charged with murder and firearms possession, when it referred the case to the country's religious authorities.

Judicial sources said a judge at a court session held at a Cairo police institute had referred all 14 of the defendants to the Mufti, the highest Islamic legal official, who must give an opinion on death sentences before they can be confirmed. The court's final decision is expected on Aug. 3.

More than a thousand suspected supporters of Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood have already been given death sentences this year which were referred to the Mufti. Their cases have provoked outrage among rights groups and Western governments.

Thirty-seven of the sentences have been upheld, and more than six hundred others are awaiting a final decision. But so far none of the sentences has been carried out.

Argentina Alleges Extortion After Supreme Court Sides with Vulture Funds Preying on Sovereign Debt

Argentina says next bond payment 'impossible', default looms

Argentina threatened to default on its debt on Wednesday when the government called it "impossible" to pay bond service due on June 30, citing a U.S. court decision earlier in the day that increased pressure on the economically ailing country.

Buenos Aires is locked in a 12-year legal fight with creditors who refused to participate in two restructurings that followed Argentina's 2002 default on $100 billion in bonds.

The long impasse in the U.S. courts has kept the country from accessing international capital markets as its economy stagnates, inflation soars and central bank reserves fall.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Argentina in its battle against the hedge funds which refused to take part in restructurings offered in 2005 and 2010. This left intact a ruling by U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa in New York ordering the country to pay the hedge fund "holdouts". ...

In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday President Cristina Fernandez said Argentina was the victim of "extortion" by the holdouts, but that she was still open to negotiations and insisted she would continue to pay the more than 90 percent of creditors who accepted the restructuring terms.

Revealed by Wikileaks: The Global Financial Deal You've Never Heard Of

Wikileaks published a previously tightly-held and secretive draft of a trade document on Thursday that, if enacted, would give the world's financial powers an even more dominant position to control the global economy by avoiding regulations and public acccountability.

Known as a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), the draft represents the negotiating positions of the U.S. and E.U. and lays out the deregulatory strategies championed by some of the world's largest banks and investment firms.

According to Wikileaks:

Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures, proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets. The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multi-nationals – mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt – into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers. The leaked draft also shows that the US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data.

TISA negotiations are currently taking place outside of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework. However, the Agreement is being crafted to be compatible with GATS so that a critical mass of participants will be able to pressure remaining WTO members to sign on in the future. Conspicuously absent from the 50 countries covered by the negotiations are the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The exclusive nature of TISA will weaken their position in future services negotiations.

Groups Appeal to UN for 'Humanity' as Detroit Shuts Off Water to Thousands

As thousands of people in Detroit go without water, and the city moves to cut off services to tens of thousands more, concerned organizations have taken the unusual step of appealing to the United Nations to intervene and protect the "human right to water."

“After decades of policies that put businesses and profits ahead of the public good, the city now has a major crisis on its hands, said Maude Barlow, founder of Blue Planet Project and board chair of Food & Water Watch, in a statement. “By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water."

The Submission to the Special Rapporteur was released Wednesday by the Detroit People’s Water Board, the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Food & Water Watch.

It calls for the "state of Michigan and U.S. government to respect the human right to water and sanitation" and for shut-offs to be halted, services restored, and water to be made accessible and affordable.

The report comes on the heels of the Detroit's city council's Tuesday approval of an 8.7 percent increase in water rates, part of a long-standing trend that, according to Food & Water Watch, has seen prices increase 119 percent over the past decade.

Meet the Navajo Activist Who Got the Washington Redskins’ Trademark Revoked: Amanda Blackhorse

US patent office strips Washington Redskins of 'offensive' trademarks

The US Patent and Trademark Office announced on Wednesday that it is to cancel six trademark registrations belonging to the Washington Redskins, ruling that the NFL team's name is disparaging to Native Americans.

In a landmark decision, the offices's trademark trial and appeal board found that the name cannot be trademarked under federal law, which prohibits the protection of names that “may disparage” individuals or groups, or “bring them into contempt or disrepute”.

“We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans,” the board wrote in its ruling. ...

The team said on Wednesday that it would appeal the decision and insisted that its right to protect its trademarks was not affected by the ruling, which would not take effect until the appeals process is complete.

President Obama Visits Native American Territory

Poll finds confidence in U.S. Congress at historic low

The U.S. public's confidence in its lawmakers in Washington, which has been on the decline for decades, is now at a historic low not just for Congress but compared to any major U.S. institution, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday.

Just 7 percent of Americans surveyed said they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence overall in Congress, down from 10 percent last year, the non-partisan polling firm said.

"This is the lowest confidence score Gallup has recorded for any institution - ever," Gallup said in a statement. "This is also the first time Gallup has ever measured confidence in a major U.S. institution in the single digits."

The dismal findings could portend even more trouble for incumbent lawmakers in November's congressional elections.

Horace Silver, US jazz musician, dies aged 85

Jazz musician Horace Silver, a composer known for pioneering hard bop, has died, National Public Radio said on Wednesday. He was 85.

Silver, a native of Norwalk, Connecticut, was shaped by the Portuguese influence in the islands of Cape Verde, from where his family emigrated to the United States.

Playing alongside noted jazz musicians such as bassist Oscar Pettiford and drummer Art Blakey, Silver, who played piano and saxophone, recorded exclusively for Blue Note Records over three decades before founding his own label, Silveto Records.

The Evening Greens

We Are "Sinking Beneath the Waves," says Pacific Island Leader

The interim prime minister of Fiji on Thursday condemned the international community for its continued failure to address the crisis of climate change, saying Pacific island nations like his have been left "to sink beneath the waves" as the planet warms and the oceans rise.

Speaking as host at the opening session of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), Fiji's interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama chastised world leadership across the world, saying "the collective will to adequately address the crisis is receding at a time when the very existence of some Pacific Island nations is threatened by rising sea levels." ...

He also pointed a figure at major countries—including the U.S., Canada, China, and Australia—who contribute a disproportionate majority of the world's carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, saying, "History will judge you harshly if you abandon us to our apparent fate of sinking below the waves because you don't want to make the necessary adjustment to your domestic policies."

Pipeline Opponents: This Means 'War'

“It’s official. The war is on,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told a crowd of hundreds who had flooded the streets of Vancouver late Tuesday following the announcement that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline.

Phillip, who is president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told reporters that people are prepared to go to jail over this fight, "because that’s what it’s going to take.”

Phillip's statement exemplified the widespread condemnation and vows of resistance that swiftly followed news that the Canadian government had greenlighted the controversial project. ...

Canadian Indigenous groups, which have long-fought the pipeline, are vowing to defend their land and their sovereignty 'without surrender.'

In an unprecedented show of unity, 31 First Nations and tribal councils have signed a letter announcing their intention to "vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project."

"We have governed our lands, in accordance to our Indigenous laws, since time immemorial," read the statement, which was distributed by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. "Our inherent Title and Rights and our legal authority over our respective territories have never been surrendered."

Hat tip agathena:
Green Party on Northern Gateway pipeline decision

How Politicians Are Using Taxpayer Money To Fund Their Campaign To Sell Off America’s Public Lands

The recent Cliven Bundy debacle in Nevada put a national spotlight on the long-running, and long-failing, effort by right-wing Western legislators to seize federal public lands and either turn them over to the states or sell them to the highest bidder.

While the renewal of this so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” has thus far been carried out with limited resources by part-time legislators like State Rep. Ken Ivory (R-UT), new research shows that its leaders are now using taxpayer money from at least 42 counties in nine Western states to advance an aggressive and coordinated campaign to seize America’s public lands and national forests for drilling, mining, and logging.

According to a ThinkProgress analysis, the American Lands Council (ALC) — an organization created to help states to claim ownership of federal lands — has collected contributions of taxpayer money from government officials in 18 counties in Utah, 10 counties in Nevada, four counties in Washington, three counties in Arizona, two counties in Oregon, two counties in New Mexico, and one county in Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming. In total, county-level elected officials have already paid the ALC more than $200,000 in taxpayer money. A list of these counties and their “membership levels” can be seen on the ALC website.

Since its inception in 2012, the ALC has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative front group backed by the oil and gas industry and billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, to pass state-level legislation demanding that the federal government turn over federally owned national forests and public lands to Western states. So far, Utah is the only state to have signed a law calling for the seizure of federal lands, but Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana have passed bills to study the idea and further action is expected in statehouses during 2015 legislative sessions.

Legal experts report that Utah’s law, and similar bills being advanced by ALC and ALEC are in clear violation of Article IV of the Constitution, are in conflict with the laws that established Western states, and would be overturned if ever tested in federal court.

Blog Posts of Interest

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

Read this:

Slavoj Žižek: How WikiLeaks opened our eyes to the illusion of freedom

What happens in Iraq doesn’t matter to U.S. economy

Your irony supplement:

'Baghdad Bob' and His Ridiculous, True Predictions

War on the Homeless

A Little Night Music

Clifton Chenier - I'm a Hog for You

Chenier, Clifton - Boppin' the Rock

Clifton Chenier & The Louisiana Ramblers - Tighten Up Zydeco

Clifton Chenier - Black Gal

Clifton Chenier - Jambalaya

Clifton Chenier - I'm Coming Home

Clifton Chenier - Breaux Bridge Waltz

Clifton Chenier - Zydeco Sont Pas Salés

Clifton Chenier - Choo Choo Ch'Boogie

Clifton Chenier - Louisiana Blues

Clifton Chenier - Hot Tamale Baby

Clifton Chenier - Hot Rod

Clifton Chenier and The Red Hot Louisiana Band

Clifton Chenier - Boogie Louisiane

Clifton Chener - Je me reveiller le matin

Clifton Chenier - Josephine Par Se Ma Femme

Rod Bernard & Clifton Chenier - My Jolie Blonde

Clifton Chenier - Frog Legs

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 Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH.

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