Evening Blues Preview 2-19-15

This evening's music features a musician with a really diverse career in rockabilly, r&b, soul, disco and country music, singer and piano player Big Al Downing.

Here are some stories from tonight's post:

'Nation's Top Censorship Officer': Targeted NYT Journalist Rebukes Eric Holder over Press Freedoms

Persecuted New York Times journalist James Risen accused U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of being the "nation's top censorship officer" in a searing rebuke to comments made by Holder on Tuesday that the way his department handled the case of the now-imprisoned CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling should exemplify "how the Justice Department can proceed."

During his comments, Holder further argued that the Department of Justice has been lenient on government whistleblowers, despite the fact that his office under the Obama Administration has overseen more prosecution of such leaks under the Espionage Act than every other administration combined.

After the comments were made public, Risen took to Twitter and unleashed a series of comments exposing what he said was Holder's "true legacy on press freedom."

Here's a horse-pill sized irony supplement:

The US Has Issued New Rules For the Foreign Sale of Military Drones

The United States has codified how it wants to export drone warfare to the rest of the world.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced new rules for the sale of military Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) to America's allies. While the US has sold armed drones to Britain and unarmed intelligence-gathering drones to NATO allies like France, Italy, and others in recent years, these new rules would force foreign buyers of General Atomics' Predators and Reapers, Northrup Grumman's Global Hawks, as well as other drones to adopt a set of principles before they deploy the remote-controlled aircraft into the field.

"As the most active user of military UAS, and as an increasing number of nations are acquiring and employing UASs to support a range of missions, the United States has an interest in ensuring that these systems are used lawfully and responsibly," a State Department fact sheet on the new policy said. The full text of the policy is classified.

The fact sheet says the US government will judge each request for drone sales on a case-by-case basis. But, when the sales are allowed, the new rules say foreign buyers must use their American-made drones in accordance with international law and only when the use of force is lawful, like for self-defense. The rules would also prohibit foreign governments from using American drones for unlawful surveillance or to attack their own citizens.

Lastly, the rules require governments to train drone pilots to avoid unintended casualties, a measure that appears to be aimed at addressing criticism of drone warfare. ...

Rachel Stohl, a senior associate at the nonpartisan Stimson Center think tank, notes that the new rules ironically impose stronger requirements on foreign governments than the US places on itself.

Eurogroup has only two choices: to accept or to reject the Greek request

The swift rejection by Berlin after what many viewed as near complete capitulation by Athens is just the latest in a series of breakdowns over how to keep the Greek government financed when the current EU programme expires next week.

But coming at the eleventh hour it raises the prospect that Athens will enter March without EU financial support for the first time since May 2010, which many eurozone officials fear will spark market panic and a possible bank run.

Reacting to the German comments on Thursday a Greek official said: “The government sent a letter to eurogroup seeking a six-month extension of the [bailout] loan agreement. Tomorrow’s eurogroup has only two choices: to accept or to reject the Greek request. This will show who wants to find a solution and who doesn’t.”

Accused of 'Terrorism,' Animal Rights Activists Head to Federal Court

Two activists are scheduled to appear in a federal district court in Chicago on Thursday, marking the first time that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)—which criminalizes protected speech and protest activities that cause an 'animal enterprise' to lose profits—will be legally challenged as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

"The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a poorly disguised attempt to chill legitimate advocacy by an unpopular group of activists," said Center for Constitutional Rights senior staff attorney Rachel Meeropol, who argued for the defendants in court. "Liberating animals is not terrorism."

Kevin Johnson, 27, and Tyler Lang, 25, face up to 10 years in prison for allegedly releasing thousands of mink and foxes from fur farms in the Midwest in 2013. They were indicted in July 2014 under the AETA on federal charges of conspiracy and interstate travel to damage and interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise.

"The recent charges brought against Kevin and me are not only wrong but egregious," Lang stated last year in response to the charges, on a blog dedicated to supporting the activists. "When we think of terrorism, we think of violence being committed against individuals. The government’s 'terrorist' targeting of two friends with a history of speaking out against injustice is an affront to the meaning of what violence really is, and a slap in the face to a public that sadly knows what terrorism actually looks like."

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MarilynW's picture

I am listening to the Kindle book "Pay Any Price." No wonder the government hates him. He's got the facts against them.

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Tammany Tiger's picture

The story about the interrogator who tortured Afghans, then came down with post-traumatic stress disorder and can barely function, was the most chilling part of the book.

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MarilynW's picture

there is one in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" which I tried to watch on Netflix. I fast forwarded the torture scenes and then when that torturer was looking for sympathy as if he had PTSD because of his hard job, saying he was tired of looking at naked male bodies i turned it off. It was sickening.

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shaharazade's picture

Oh my! This sounds like a doozey of a company 'General Atomics' Are they some left over cold war 'atomic' weapon maker? What the hell are we dropping down on people globally? Big Al is right the US = war criminals. In our present endless war state how much power does the defense industries have on our pathetic representative government. Our so called all powerful war (defense) dept. and the corporations that make a killing off killing, seem to be like the overt and covert security agencies totally in control of all 'foreign policy'. Endless war tailored to bring endless profit to all involved in the business of killing.

On the other hand love your musical selection this evening of Big Al Downing. This is is the intersection of blues, rhythm and blues and as a bonus rockabilly that I love the most. Big Al did is then piano player on this tune by one of my favs, Wanda Jackson.

James Risen rocks.

So glad to read the evening blues here. Thanks joe. As for the Greeks read this great article on the Guardian by Yanis Varoufakis the new Greek finance minister. It is as they bill it a long read but well worth it. So good to hear a world leader from the other side speak about capitalism as practiced in our new global order.

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