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Late Night FDL: Flesh and Blood

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 8:00 pm

Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter & Sheryl Crow – Flesh And Blood

Mary Chapin Carpenter will be performing with her trio, and even with orchestras, this Spring…

Mary Chapin Carpenter, whose debut orchestral album, Songs From the Movie, was released a year ago this month, will continue her acoustic trio tour dates this spring featuring special guests, folk-bluegrass singer Aoife O’Donovan and Irish acoustic band Lúnasa.

Most dates on the trek will feature Carpenter’s longtime friends Jon Carroll (on piano) and John Doyle (on guitars and bouzouki), with music encompassing the award-winning singer-songwriter’s 13 albums. The tour marks her return to form after performing with orchestras in early 2014. (See a complete list of tour dates, including the remaining orchestral performances, below.)

Carpenter’s latest album, recorded in London, revisits her material alongside a 63-piece orchestra and 15-voice choir, putting an entirely new, cinematic spin on familiar tunes such as “Come On Come On” and “I Am a Town.” The album was arranged and conducted by six-time Grammy winner Vince Mendoza.

“The albums I’ve made throughout my career have been like concept albums…. It was good to do something different,” the musician told the Hartford Courant last year of Songs From the Movie. “It was a fascinating process, revisiting what I had recorded before and taking them to another place. It was a healthy exercise. A lot of recording artists revamp their songs when they tour. This was just taking it one step further.” {Tour Dates}

What’s on your mind tonite…?


Mining & Fracking Whirl: 27 Jan 2015

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 6:00 pm

“Dirty Water, Dirty Money: Coal Ash and the Attack on North Carolina’s Courts”

*Worldwide. It’s now 3 minutes ’til Doomsday, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Due to human-caused climate change.

*Worldwide. Ocean warming is accelerating rapidly as “more than 90 percent of human induced planetary warming goes into the oceans. Alarming charts and other info at the link. Update: Auklets are dying in unprecedented numbers from AK to CA. Update: Ice “disappearing at a truly astonishing rate in Austfonna”, Norway—very far north. Update: Melting glaciers predicted to contribute 48 million metric tons of organic carbon into the oceans by 2050, and nobody’s sure of the impact (see “Australia” below). Video.

*Davos. $100 billion in Europe could have been better spent on renewable power plants if there were “better cross-border coordination and bigger power cables between countries”. Update: Some of our oligarchs are worried. Update: Summary of the meeting at Davos (scroll down to video).

*Worldwide. Martyn Day of law firm Leigh Day, which won a protracted legal case against Shell oil in Nigeria, has a novel idea about legal representation of ordinary folks up against multinational corporations.

*Worldwide. BP’s Bob Dudley, sent to clean up after Tony Hayward messed up, says oil prices could remain low for 2 – 3 years. Meanwhile, an OPEC high muckety-muck said oil prices should take off “very soon” and hit $200/barrel.

*USA. Rep Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is urging the US Transportation Secretary“to take immediate action” to ensure oil-train tank cars are safe. The old, unsafe DOT-111s are still hauling oil on the rails despite the tragic conflagration in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec July 6, 2013.

*USA. The ‘80s world oil glut led to a 54% reduction in oil producers in the US. Will that be repeated? This article breaks it down, including companies that seem at greatest risk.

*USA. Around two-thirds of US conservatives support expanding oil, coal and natural gas, while large majorities of five groups of non-conservatives are for developing the alternatives. When it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, however, only a majority of “Solid Liberals” oppose it.

*USA. Republicans’ Keystone XL pipeline bill may soon be amended to include offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic from FL to DE. Update: Senate Democrats managed to stall the Keystone XL pipeline bill, much to Mitch’s embarrassment.

*USA. The US Supreme Court “declined to hear an appeal [by former BP exec David Rainey] . . . who contested whether he can be charged with obstruction of Congress for downplaying the severity” of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

*USA. Coal production is down for the first time in 20 years and its slow decline is expected through at least 2016 as natural gas replaces coal. International use of coal is expected to grow, but at a slowed growth rate.

*AK. Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bill Friday that would allow “oil production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” On Monday President Obama (D) proposed putting 12.28 million acres of the Arctic under wilderness protection, which means banning oil and gas drilling.

*AK. Saga of the Kulluk, Royal Dutch Shell’s huge ocean-going oil rig—a series of major crises each step of the way.

*CA. CA’s “shale formation holds less promise than . . . expected. Aging conventional wells are drying up.” Only half the oil rigs are operating now and drilling new wells is down 66%. Jobs? Ensign Energy Services may ax 700 of them.

*MA. Leaky natural gas pipelines in Boston are releasing “high levels of heat-trapping methane.”

*MD. In-coming Gov Larry Hogan (R) has tossed “regulations proposed in the final weeks of the previous Democratic administration”, such as restricting spreading even more chicken manure on fields saturated with it and taking firmer action against “smog-forming air pollution from coal-burning power plants.”

*MI. Uh-oh. “The first wind farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has reduced the property values of nearby residents, ruined people’s sleep and put . . . birds at risk, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.” Heritage Sustainable Energy and the US are being sued “to block any expansion”.

*MT. River ice will not contain the oil leaking from the Poplar Pipeline into the Yellowstone River since the oil is coming directly up from the pipeline running beneath the river. Benzene present in public water samples downstream. Drinking water distribution center set up in Glendive. Update: Now they’re telling residents it’s ok to drink the water. Update: Pipes that were supposed to be underneath the riverbed are, in fact, on top of it.

*MT. $1 million federal fine against Exxon Mobil Corp for its Silvertip pipeline rupture “in 2011 that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana’s Yellowstone River.” That’s on top of a “$2 million to settle a [landowners’] civil lawsuit”, which is in addition to the $1.6 million settlement with MT over water pollution violations. Seems there was a huge flood in July 2011 and all companies ordered their under-the-Yellowstone pipelines shut down—except Exxon.

*NE. TransCanada has filed eminent domain petitions against those landowners fighting to keep the pipeline off their properties (h/t wendydavis). It’s “just another step in the process” for them. Update: Hillary Clinton, in Winnipeg, “‘You won’t get me to talk about Keystone’.”

*TX. With oil down from $100/barrel in June to around $46 now, TX is anticipating a 2% growth rate for 2015. Jobs and tax revenues are at risk.

*TX. Schlumberger oil field services recently announced cutting 9,000 jobs. Now they’ve announced they’ll “pay $1.7 billion for a stake in Eurasia Drilling Co” in Russia’s energy industry.

*TX. Baker Hughes will be laying off some 7,000 workers (or 11%), anticipating a “downturn in orders because of the plunge in crude oil prices”.

*TX. BHP Billiton, based in the UK and Australia, is reducing its US shale oil rigs from 26 to 16 by mid-year, mainly in its Black Hawk operation in TX. They’re hurting: iron ore, one of their “core commodities” is down 47%.

*TX. More earthquakes in Irving, topping out at 3.0 mag.


The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 4:00 pm

The mass media have suddenly discovered Jeffrey Sterling — after his conviction Monday afternoon as a CIA whistleblower.

Sterling’s indictment four years ago received fleeting news coverage that recited the government’s charges. From the outset, the Justice Department portrayed him as bitter and vengeful — with the classic trash-the-whistleblower word “disgruntled” thrown in — all of which the mainline media dutifully recounted without any other perspective.

Year after year, Sterling’s case dragged through appellate courts, tangled up with the honorable refusal of journalist James Risen to in any way identify sources for his 2006 book State of War. While news stories or pundits occasionally turned their lens on Risen, they scarcely mentioned Sterling, whose life had been turned upside down — fired by the CIA early in the Bush administration after filing a racial discrimination lawsuit, and much later by the 10-count indictment that included seven counts under the Espionage Act.

Sterling was one of the very few African American case officers in the CIA. He became a whistleblower by virtue of going through channels to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2003 to inform staffers about the CIA’s ill-conceived, poorly executed and dangerous Operation Merlin, which had given a flawed design for a nuclear weapons component to Iran back in 2000.

Long story short, by the start of 2011, Sterling was up against the legal wall. While press-freedom groups and some others gradually rallied around Risen’s right to source confidentiality, Sterling remained the Invisible Man.

Like almost everyone, for a long time I knew close to nothing about Sterling or his legal battle. But as I began to realize how much was at stake in the government’s ongoing threat to jail Risen for refusing to betray any source, Sterling started to come into my peripheral vision.

Last spring, I worked with colleagues at to launch a petition drive titled We Support James Risen Because We Support a Free Press. As petitions go, it was a big success, for reasons well beyond the fact that it gained more than 100,000 signers with plenty of help from other initiating groups (The Nation, FAIR, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, The Progressive and Center for Media and Democracy).

The Justice Department, which had been aggressively pursuing Risen for a half-dozen years at that point, was set back on its heels by the major favorable publicity that came out of our mid-August presentation of the Risen petition in tandem with a news conference at the National Press Club.

Quick media ripple effects included a strong column by Maureen Dowd in support of fellow New York Times journalist Risen (though she didn’t mention the petition or the news conference, which she attended). In the fall, I teamed up with a colleague at, the incisive investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler, to write what turned out to be a cover story in The Nation, The Government War Against Reporter James Risen, providing the first in-depth account of the intertwined cases of Risen and Sterling.

But throughout the fall, for the mass media as well as all but a few progressive media outlets, Jeffrey Sterling remained the Invisible Man.

The principle of supporting whistleblowers as strongly as journalists is crucial. Yet support for the principle is hit-and-miss among individuals and organizations that should be clear and forthright. This need is especially great when the government is invoking “national security” claims.

As the whistleblower advocate Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project has said: “When journalists become targets, they have a community and a lobby of powerful advocates to go to for support. Whistleblowers are in the wilderness. … They’re indicted under the most serious charge you can level against an American: being an enemy of the state.”

We encountered this terrain when the same initiating groups launched a new petition — this one in support of Jeffrey Sterling — Blowing the Whistle on Government Recklessness Is a Public Service, Not a Crime.

Some groups that had been wonderfully supportive of the Risen petition — notably the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Committee to Protect Journalists — opted not to have anything to do with the Sterling petition. In sharp contrast, quick endorsement of the Sterling petition came from Reporters Without Borders and the Government Accountability Project.

Two weeks ago, Jeffrey Sterling went to trial at last. He was at the defense table during seven days of proceedings that included very dubious testimony from 23 present and former CIA employees as well as the likes of Condoleezza Rice.

When a court clerk read out the terrible verdict Monday afternoon, Sterling continued to stand with the dignity that he had maintained throughout the trial.

At age 47, Jeffrey Sterling is facing a very long prison sentence. As a whistleblower, he has done a lot for us. He should be invisible no more.

How Torture Wins In the US Marketplace of Ideas

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 2:00 pm

How did this happen? How did actions considered morally repugnant and war crimes in World War II, become acceptable now? And by Christians, goddamnit! Who made this happen, who let this happen, who helped it happen? And finally, is there a way to change this opinion?

As GOP Targets Social Security, Arguments Raised To Expand It

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 1:00 pm

CNN: Why is GOP going after Social Security? #GopDontCare #UniteBlue #TNTweeters — Brook Bufa (@jupiter896) January 27, 2015 Not surprisingly, the new Republican-led Congress is, once again, planning to attack Social Security as part of the party’s historic blood oath to undo anything associated with the New Deal no matter how successful. That [...]

DEA’s Massive License Plate Tracking Program Spies on Millions of Americans, Helps Agents Seize Property

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 11:00 am

The Drug Enforcement Agency operates a massive license plate tracking program that is open to various federal, state and local law agencies and was specifically designed to help the agency seize property through asset forfeiture, according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Sad Case of a Teen Convicted of Terrorism

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 9:00 am

Shannon Conley, a 19-year-old suburban Denver teen, was sentenced to four years in prison on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, ISIS. We’ll get to the specifics of Conley’s crime in a moment, but first some more details from her sentencing. Impartial Justice? U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore [...]

Koch And Friends Pledge To Spend Almost $1 Billion On 2016 Races

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 8:00 am

#Koch brothers spending versus #union spending. There's really no comparison — the Kochs outspend everyone. — #BoycottKoch (@GoodbyeKoch) January 19, 2015 Just as Republicans attempted to opportunistically use wealth inequality as an issue against Democrats news breaks that the Koch brothers and their comrades plan to spend nearly $1 billion on the 2016 elections. [...]

The Roundup

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 7:00 am

Good morning! International Politics Overall – Tony Blair: Even without the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I would have invaded it regardless; You heard it here folks! Let’s see what Bush and co. say about this. – Even looking at the MQ9 Reaper, a drone, gives an idea on how much drone strikes are valued by [...]

Over Easy: Shopping

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 4:55 am

I’m not fond of shopping. Particularly grocery shopping. I find supermarkets to be a bore. Apparently my father had the same view of shopping and supermarkets because he insisted on going only once a month, of course it rarely turned out that way. There were 2 IGA supermarkets and an A&P that we would go to and a smaller “Quicky Mart” type store up here then..

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